Deluge (Issue One, Fall 2013)

Page 1

Deluge Magazine


FALL 2013









FALL, TWENTY-THIRTEEN DELUGE is the official literary magazine of Radioactive Moat Press. DELUGE seeks poetry and prose, translations, essays, review, criticism, poemfilms, photography, art, art, and any variations of [anti]

Photograph “Reverie” by Alex Kang








Darling, it’s so nice to see you in everyone else I see How about I show you your look next season? who you’re going to be

(a poem by model/writer, Chris Scott)




Photograph: Devon Toy

Model: Chris Scott


[p. 11]





k.r. huppert

[p. 29]


[p. 41]


[p. 47]


[p. 51]


[p. 56]


[p. 63]


[p. 66]


[p. 69]


[p. 71]




OLIVIA CRONK [four poems]

But we’re going to mid-day mass in cornsilk face powder and you put me in absolute beasts. In the alley, I am moving metal to the red bubble. We walk on zippered sandals to a mattress by the river. Someone named Nips gets our bag. We have to leave the money in a plastic baggie. I saw that my lipstick tube had melted on it a little. I was anxious. Their bookshelf was a fucked-up xerox machine.



The valley was its own show of horse. There coulda been about a hundred shake-stems rattling just at a foot. the community and sipping and passing massaged into conflationary space And it was all threat, from every pouch and coin.

The costumes were some vague combination of headshop dresses with junky sequined layers and then Swedish fashion blog stuff: streetwear for the very mobile. Some of the men wore crushed lavender and some of the kids wore tie-dyed turbans. The contact had no knack for conversation, but he was kind and curious and cautious— and this seemed enough.



In an eavesdropping: The long corridor and the hole like a stash of hot something behind a painting. The long telescopic silent film angle, down a snowy path, down the collar of a bejeweled type, down into some sort of sacred and hideous birth. We are watching you, motherfuckers. We are seeing golden. We are putting you in the beasts, necky necky,




The woods groan with the magical disease. A gem has been re-assigned. A gushing of the water has surprised some yokels. A Lady has been turned into a boy because she has to hide from rapists, with whom she now fraternizes at the fire pit. There are announcements carried by animals. There is, over a kind of back-lot-savanna-clearing, a silvery plate hanging in the air blinging in suspension. And behind it, a woman paints a Dracula face onto her abdomen, she readies for her performance and squirts perfume onto her dirty cape, she uses her lighter to sharpen her eyeliner.





ELISABETH WORKMAN [On Listening & Regurgitation] Somehow I know that it is Hegel who is haunting

This morning Lisa Robertson quotes Severo Sarduy

people through their electronic devices. Andrew

(from Cobra, 1972) on Facebook: "We must correct the

gesticulates wildly regarding this phenomenon and


seems to know how to address it—he’s all business

Benvenistean— "but per picere, gentlemen, this is not

in a somewhat crumpled black suit, white shirt, black

like shooting fish in a barrel!” Not like, as Kasey

tie, identical to E’s ska revival nostalgia uniform. N

Mohammad posted yesterday: “Today on the Harriet

kills himself because he has been haunted. And I

blog I bash Robert Frost (yes, yes, fish in a barrel, etc.).”






know it’s the context we need to change, but I’m looking for a way out of the building so dim with

Dear Carrie, when you asked about the process for the

fake wood paneling and waning yellow light bulbs,

listening poems, I think I responded in a really literal way

which I associate with flies and flies I associate with

and now feel like I owe you a better answer. Levé:

Emily Dickinson, and in thinking of her I am

“Sometimes I realize that what I’m in the middle of

reminded of poetic isolation.

saying is boring, so I just stop talking.” The more I think about it, the more I want to reclaim regurgitation. Like

For like ten years I lived in remote places with no

wolf mothers. Not its negative denotation of repeating

poetry communities. I’ve been thinking a lot about

without analyzing, but as a physical behavior, as contact

the importance of tribes and finding your people.

and embodiment of nutrition, a mixing of juices, the self

Are these listening poems a fantasy construction of a

with the other, then bleh. Some bulimics are really good

dream community? Someone I love questions my

at this. Some mothers are, too.

artistic kinships, talks about operating at competitive levels, and pillars of achievement. Bleh.

According to Wikipedia flesh flies blow bubbles as part of their eating and regurgitation process. I heard a bubble

“I prefer a ruin to a monument,” says Édouard Levé

pop when I died. Regurgitation in most animals is natural

in “When I Look at a Strawberry, I Think of a

and voluntary. Also: “Honey is produced by a process of

Tongue.” Was the building a monument to

regurgitation by honey bees, which is stored in the

dialectics? It was sprawling and confusing and I

beehive as a primary food source.” Honey is nectar (from

think the outside beyond it was regarded by others

the sex organs of flowers) that has touched the

as if a B-horror forest.

mysterious vibrational insides of bees—this is an erotics



of attention & relationship. Maybe in the dream I was exhibiting symptoms of

antagonisms and paraphernalia. Or as you say in your

Colony Collapse Disorder, looking to get out, to

response: "mEIKAL often talks of 'writing through.'"

abruptly disappear. Either Hegel or the flies were coming.






Maybe because the idea of being “after” anything is so

encouraged him to have a “Get-Fuck-Out Plan.”

problematic, I want to say the listening poems are a

And that N kills himself. N must be a stand-in for

kind of deliberate messing around, a daily exercise in

narcissism—identity fixation disorder. In one of her

getting lost. “--after…sort of,” as Shanna has said. Or

annotations to Edward Said’s essay “On Jean

during. Simultaneously. And often thinking about

Genet” in Revolution: A Reader, Lisa Robertson

how listening might change us. An erotic confusion of

writes, “Identity is very ungenerous and completely

material. “I prefer desire to pleasure.” The poem that

non-erotic. If we can’t live without striving to lose

comes out becomes something other, one that

every aspect of our putative self-knowledge in our

touched the desiring spot then came back deformed,

search for the other, there is no hope for


relationship, and hence for politics. It is this crucial

loss that the regulatory state would prevent. In revolution, we must become unrecognizable to ourselves, divested.” The regulatory state says stop your messing around ah-ah-ahhhhhh. Revolution makes honey. Dear Maria, I think often that my poetics is one of "writing against," but I'm increasingly, by virtue of these listening poems, wondering how that is limiting and what would writing "beyond" be. Beyond what. Beyond against. Beyond the limiting confines of the Tyranny of the I and its lock-step



What’s that? A detail more or less…Paris? A bellybutton that sticks out like a dangerous thing to say? A real work of art the artist would never dream to show. The visions —vibrations and intensities— enter things not ourselves—koalas, ideas, delicatessens, brouhahas ha ha—a bellybutton that sticks out! To discern what one is looking for from non-life to life is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has access to fissure trembling in fantasy everyone has a funny-looking belly-button. Primordial society hides behind it. As archaic as anxiety, you shouldn’t play with your bellybutton just because you think desire has no use. Before you were born



doesn’t need humans. Another subject is not-I. Cords connect us. The cords bring yearning a silent trampling into the world and you gradually depend on it. Without meaning you very soon got bigger and equally invested in it. Then one day you streamed out in light, maybe music. The doctor tried to sell you Coca-Cola. The doctor did not see things not doctor. A cord was cut. Now you sucked light from milk days long passage. The end of the cord talked about foreclosure. The end healed and dropped off—

(meeting Jun Nanao’s Contemplating Your Bellybutton with Bracha Ettinger’s talk “Maternal Subjectivity and the Matrixial Subject”)



ELISABETH WORKMAN [WHAT MATTERS IS RELATION & NOT WHOSE THEORY IS CORRECT] One was anxiety about possibility & its other. Two held victim & victim in place & kept mutability away. Elements distribute their own volition see how many Cheez-its you can place on the cat before he wakes up! Some of the reoccurring curdles & maelstrom eats maelstrom if necessary by force & Max says I’ll eat you up! & Johnny says I’ll eat all of you! & the lion ate Pierre the all the any the where.



Vulcans are not the main thing eaten by vulcanism. Such a cost masticates “the other can only be the other of that profoundly limited world.” A new world doesn’t really change the idea of a hypothetical disappearance. Unknown children will evolve beyond our wilderness software. And we phrase our terrible phrases & gnash our trembling gnashes & trees fly through the air. Even the idea of upheaval demands the impossible. To have not have happened at all goes unsaid.

(meeting Rei Terada with Maurice Sendak)




When I dwarf on a personal street I face papercuts—swarms! lice! a horde-face! If I recite come-on’s or ambient curtsy I have to burn my administrative body its American sugar its cut-out necks Of course how now parasite plug-in but what I found in hollow weird headgear of flickering indicators I spewed in margin spasms on its receivers otherwise ruffle and screaming cotillions Is this like gallows hanging upside down or attention surplus akimbo I don’t know There was a disorder thank god thwack let’s say a shared energy parachute puffy precipitation of universality it fell upon all of the deeds & the looting & in the scattered end-time fetes who was replicating pain-shunned hieroglyphs



fantasia without the creepy security impossible pan-paroxysm without knowing each other though everyone was drenched Maybe beast tenderness secretes regardless makes this body YESSSSSS & wetness a ONENESS

(meeting Bruce Andrews with Charles Fréger’s interview re: Wilder Mann)





In my dainty floral dress, I see a little girl on the passenger’s side of a pickup truck, her dad at the wheel. An ex-army man/nursing student took me to rescue a rabbit from a deadbeat sanctuary, to which I had erroneously committed the dear partly-lame-legged animal, a tiny girl of blue eyes and white fur and pink ears, and as I got into his red pickup truck, the man told me, I throw deer I hunt in the back (the big tray of the car). This is Missouri, and maybe the girl and her dad have a pickup truck for the same purpose, to throw does and bucks in back (maybe not the bambis, those are left to mewl and wander). Maybe that little girl claps a downed doe, which seems to me like mockery of girlhood, the way I used to stamp on ants- an inverse child, bad joke, of sulfur stink, string of rosary beads turned loop for bind (rodeo) or hang (of misaccused, or apt-accused of a made-up crime- the put on hack block of billy meh (spasm/tier/skip-rock sound like doll cry box when toy baby dives, is turned feet up crown down to hear her lament), offal, yet palpitant, serpentine-horned, flicker-tailed, buoyant), unknowingly. On the campus shuttle bus, a college girl gets on with her boyfriend, and they are both in bush camouflage, they tout this way, and she says to a buddy she meets on the bus that over the break she and her family, dad and brothers, went hunting and bagged a couple of does. ‘Awesome!’ ‘Yeah, it was fun!’ The pimp in the news article had bagged a couple of hoes, who were preteen runaways when they met new massah, daddy, lover, beater, ‘bank’. On the shuttle, I writhe in my seat, I am a hysteric, I have to find ways to tell my inner see. The girl catches my sour mouth and solemn eyes, and my bumping in place. I say nothing; we both keep class. Everything persists as before. I was a girl like the girl in the pickup truck, and when I was a girl, I went with my parents on a vacation to Spain, one of our few trips abroad. Papi has cousins in Bilbao, and they have land in a place where bulls can be spotted meandering, at least it was so then, in the 1980s, maybe it has changed since then. And cows moseying on the town’s dirt roads, like they own ‘em. The cousins lived on a wide tract of land, land that would have gone to my dad, and so to me, but they swindled his aunt out of the land; she was old, and they tricked her into signing papers. She would have left her land to my dad, because my dad had been her baby boy, she never had children of her own, like maybe my story will pan out, by sewn-eyed chance. They had rabbits in hutches. At that time, I had a thing for bunnies, because I was a girl, grown on Disney, but I had not yet had them as companions; now I know them. My dad took a rabbit out of its hutch, its temporary box, and he, mom, and me went for a walk toward, to in, to atop one of, the green hills surrounding the house. We climbed steepnesses, and the rabbit did not know what was happening. My dad gave me the rabbit to hold early on our way, still by the house, but I was scared, I had never held not even a dog I think, I did not have it comfortably, and it jerked, pommeled its hind legs, and I dropped it. So my dad held onto him, or her, after that. On the top of a jewel green hill, I was with my parents, and the rabbit was with us. All around, emerald hills and white-cotton-bouffant blue above. My dad thought to free the rabbit; they didn’t know, like me. They didn’t know that a kept rabbit cannot be released into the wild, it will not know a whit what to do. He put the little white rabbit on the grass at our feet, the summit we were on, with other hills shining slick green like Jack’s-Giant camel humps all around, under that sun that has stayed risen in my inner see. The rabbit did not move. My mother was cooing the whole time, except she had been miffed when I’d let the rabbit fall, hard to the ground. The rabbit did not know what to do, and it stayed at our collected feet. So Papi picked it up, took its one chance back, and we returned to the house and the hutches, and he put the rabbit back inside with the others. But, the instinct to free a caged being was slipped to me slap to me like



like tag of small palm, thrill of election, in way of me the people, me the fry, where you thrash could I, and I know it like taste in mouth, itch close by bone; his silly city mutton-hair-twixt-cogs ignorance (or scarecrow with nest of wool curls in its burlap balloon, knot-neck, top) was on the side of dream, of what it can be here, and an instinct, too, but not of kill, and not of flaunt, not of, I’ll show you rabbit, I’ll show you, deer, who is who here. Papi thought the rabbit had an inner see, and so would like to be free. Imagine that.



LIANUSKA GUTIERREZ [Santería and the University] What would red Gerbera daisies have done instead of the white, in the metal cook pot, the yanked flower heads, petals in a mix with water and Agua de Florida, for me to pour over myself in my bath while saying prayers, while beseeching the interested spirit, the one (whose name I remember) who would take Arcadio’s body for conduit, sloshing the sweet water over my head (no shampooing again, to not offend and to keep potency in this immediate window of incantation, of connect) and on my body, while imploring also all good, saints and ancestors, the loved ones of Mamí and Papí, God. White flowers for purity, for wash clean the bad gaze, wishes of those with envy, or who have, but want it only, their corazón does not share, they are capitalist to the netting of their skin, hand palm webbing, throw of lines loose and long like candy floss wasp-vines for spool. Maybe red petals would have invoked Carmen, her bull-eyed intent, dilated nostrils, the dervish of her stamping in the flamenco versions of the tale, her bust heaving, philtrum damp, twirling hands like whirlpooled corollas. A ferocity functional but that then spills over onto embankment, breaks dam, so that she must be put to death, unless she can convince. In my bath, I am a carmen in waiting, she is there, but she cannot say herself yet, this is the era of her founding thornings, this is when she becomes first angry, and then more later, for a long time to come. Before the anger is the hurt, is the cause. Before the committal (note intent, note protect the innocent), is the make of you a concavity, scoop you, U you, shape you like a sickle, so that the matter has to find other parts to reside in for a time, skirts to your extremities, enclaves to hide, loses equilibration in defense. The proud body is proportionate and round, the flame sits in the center, but the one who is outnumbered, the rose the flame of him must peer from pockets of the carnival flesh, matter motional, from veins close to the skin, just under the skin, seething there, feel my temperature.

The DGS here does not trust me. I told a dean that a student mean for no reason I can own, just piggery, scared me a bit, should not be in my class, and they took this for my announcement of a threat, a call for armed guards. The security was not sent, but almost. The man on top (not the dean, the other) doubted, my intuition, what I know about a dynamic between me and another. He wanted me as whore for the kid, he wanted me to take it, take it in. And I was spooky to his mind, ‘cause I said I got a feeling, not a feeling like to wing-beat my feet in slide across stage like James Brown or MJ, but a feeling of hmmm, runnnn. I was playing with people’s records in protecting myself, in wanting that energy away; so they would play with me, they would make me forfeit, they would make it hard for me, like I don’t know hard, like I should be shown. But bad eyes I was grown with. Not him, he don’t know, he don’t know santeros, he don’t know azabaches, he don’t know the turn round and round as Arcadio brushes you with a bouquet sprayed with agua de florida in his spirit room, pictures of Jesus and the saints all around, candles burning in the dim light, in the Upper West Side rent-controlled apartment belong to them since aquí from Havana. He don’t know what that Afro-Cubano knew, who would writhe in his seat, his gut contort, as the spirit swooped in. Then he wouldn’t be there anymore (or he’d be off to the side within the body, pressed to the inner wall, like a fairy flat in a tome), ‘T.J.’ would, and he’d shake hands with us in greeting, after some exhalations and patting his forehead with a kerchief, exhaustion from the travel, from the effort the borrow-body of chosen-one had made. Then he’d tell us things that a mortal cannot know, private things, he would name names, he would make promises- this receipt, this guarantee, to know, in look back, See, sí. We would live it and remember his words, given in Spanish and Yoruba. (When we didn’t know a word he was using, he would mime it for us.) Since the time I came aware of the unfairness (even if guiltless) basting me, since the time I was outskirted, he


helped me, he told me, They’ll see, you have something waiting that will make them see, and where I went to university knocked them on their rears, made them leave me be. Since the time I got sick because of the capitalism, the meanness that misses a cause. I got sick in staying well, to say no, a no just well up, no plan, from soul, from deep, no, my being said no, and they call that sick, and still do it today since the time I gat sick by stay well, he been with me, ayudandome, for he know. A person is a force field, and when they have intent, good or ill, they can be contaminous. I was taught that. It is not weakness; pull your ferocity, and you are okay. But yes, to be not on guard, you are a ninny. One time we drove by the Hudson with a dove in a cardboard box, and what the dove would do upon release would tell how it would be for me for the next four years. The disoriented dove, when let out its dark box after the car ride, after confinement of hours, flapped up and sat on a branch. It had been hoped that he would soar . . . But he is a dove, he is innocent, ferocity intent come from recognition, from naming in anger, from This is not how it has to be, this is of you, I have lost sunlight and have no coo susurrant partner no little eggs, because you want. Oh, I’m sorry, a dove is a bird, a bird who cannot say no to hands. A dove is not a big-man or Sarah Palin, a dove is not in charge when giants fi-fo. A dove is in charge of his world, but the kingdom of column-legged Sades and T-bone heads, of anteater noses and expanded chests, needs his accustoming. A dove may need a hand, may need say yes to hands. A dove may be taken for ritual or pageantry in a cage, and cowboyness does not change that fact. Just that other do, and gloat, say nah-nah with hands on hips, dove don’t have to, and he is not for put low. Keep on with your body an armor.

26 Lo que sea be this magic, I am wrapped to you and you to me, and any no one can take, can harm. It all begins with energy. To have lots of it is to attract, to bind with those who see your good, to war with those who see it, too. The academic listens only to speeches; the animal of lock-box and fortune palpates, sniffs navel, feels how his pinions his bristles stand up.


LIANUSKA GUTIERREZ [Hope poem; others rally for the one made meat; killer did not anticipate, for does not know the better]

I know about the bury alive old tribe or Civilization Inca Aztec (any) Chief’s daughter misbehaved some way probably parted legs to one and let him love (and maybe he then carried her with him for ever, his crystal peg plugged in to glow and to shine him within, to make him lift, and yearn, to give his life a reason joy he had once; or if not, in ponder of back time he recalls a piss a piss that for her cost Before she was put in dirt kicking, throat raw from screaming her dad had a bunch of blokes rape her fanged monkey crawl on top monkey screech and whoop no baby pet hug with furry arms looped around your neck but the big muscular grown chimpanzees, much stronger than human men (as it would seem to any under, to the one made ground to stomp) who bite out chunks of thou men but who like it in a way the monkeys do and don’t; blindness in both, relish in both, but in the hairy more instinct is responsible; in the human, broke ideas make the glee, the fantasy they hood her with; fantasy means more think; attack with more intent; you should more blame; tho still, tho still, they know naught Blood and semen dripping from her broken , Outrage (is that the word?) how to tell the criminal chair zigzag burn-smell spikes they give with cackle, lunge, joy In that state high trauma daddy gave to suffocate soil down the mouth all up the nose (Got any more violational notes for garnish, to give a lil’ something more, chaplet of violets, baby’s breath for the bouquet? Ah if her dog had been beheaded, or fluffed and thrown in with her, now That would have been It.)



There is that, to person, to animal; there are many who get no justice, no put-back no erase of what has no floor, what cannot keep one feet to ground, life from then on hover ghost, if life left There is that, so how to nose the holy, the will to bear a child, to give to here It’s up to you, it’s either way; not one way to tell maybe; but we need your army ; top hat and finger point question is to spare a person this or to give to them the Other Half, which is, too; you as the daddy or mama can give them the other infinite, you know it, you know what can be gifted, and it is guaranteed them, by tie to you, guide by you ( if you’re that kind). No matter what done to them, becomes of them when you cannot prevent still (now this other--), the good in them sacrificed, marred, and made to fight, is a worth; peg-leg with the will to hug, who can see, the blow-up made them see more; the hurt knows the best what is filth and affirms loves the more the love and gentle the god who bikes here with floret vines from head in flow behind myrrh and jasmine and any scent that puts you back to childhood traced from his swift past. You make an army with lamb you give, you give more who see, who suffer (is your willing correct?), who do not cross some lines; any hurt put on your baby makes them fiercer in the love; or if he she is made gone, those like him like you watching, will know, will deepen in their plunge of heart; will love him vigil her as much as more than killer wanted to erase him her; the push of good, its fiddlehead its zygote charge, gets fed by any bad. In that sense, let the conan come, the more mess, the more holy this place becomes, not by the scimitar, the act that claims cause, but by the killer’s enemy, the lamb he sees as dog; let them kill the kings let them hump the value of: honor gentleness; heart so big will grow by their acts, it will enclose the Earth, even if they never know it.




k.r. huppert [Haunting & Utopian State(s) of Being] I use the term haunting to describe those singular yet repetitive instances when home becomes unfamiliar, when your bearings on the world lose direction, when the over-­‐ and-­‐done-­‐with comes alive, when what's been in your blind spot comes into view. Haunting raises specters, and it alters the experience of being in time, the way we separate the past, the present, and the future.5

Haunting, as employed by Avery Gordon, allows us to experience a collapsing of multiple temporalities in on

themselves, where the past, present, and future simultaneously converge and are in conversation with one another. This cross-temporal space is where I am most interested in locating utopia, or perhaps more precisely, the utopian. I want to move away from conceptualizing utopia as at once ahistorical, in that it has not yet occurred and may never truly manifest itself, and simultaneously bound to a linear notion of futurity. By attempting to trap utopia within the realm of the material, a tangible and pre-conceived state of existence that need only be rationally mapped out and then intentionally executed, we have already failed to produce an adequate utopia. This framework constructs a sort of temporal binary where utopia must always be what has not already transpired and all that is not currently happening. And while there is certainly something to be said for the imaginative potentiality underlying that structure which forces us to envision an “elsewhere” and “otherwise,” it forecloses the possibility of engaging any differently than we already are with our social and political ghosts. We do not have the ability to make a clean break from both the past and the present, and those violences will inevitably come back to haunt our future “utopic” state. And above all, to ignore the ways in which oppressions continue to manifest and rearticulate themselves allows us to abandon too easily our reparative responsibilities to one another. We cannot produce our appearance, and thus our ability to act in the here-and-now, of our own volition; it is always a precarious negotiation of legibility between ourselves and another. And if that alliance formed between us constructs not only a utopian method of relationality that seeks to grant complexity and agency to our “Others,” but



also the space of utopia itself, then we can begin to see that utopias are predicated on an ethical interdependency. Thus if we wish to appear, to act of our own accord or in concert with others, to vacate the normative order for an “elsewhere” and “otherwise,” we cannot leave one another behind. When we explore, as Verwoert states in his discussion of high performance culture and utopian potentialities, “this link between indebtedness and empowerment,”6 where the inspiration we draw from another’s actions is ultimately what then empowers us to act, we invalidate the capitalist “utopia” where one’s success is always conditional on another’s failure. Our inherent interdependency is both our source of power to act in the present moment as individuals and collectively, as well as what fosters the potentiality to act again in the future. Thus, presently occurring utopias are what produce the possibility of enacting future utopias. And to deny our “Others” legibility in the here-and-now forecloses our own opportunity to reach the utopian realm, as to exist as part of sociality predicated on reliance “means to realize ‘I Can because You Do,’”7 that we may act precisely because we have granted another the supports in which to act. But it is not enough to simply engage in a utopian method of relationality in the present, as those who have been denied appearance both currently and in the past must be continuously reckoned with, and the utopias of the present and future do not rectify the unlivability of the past. Interdependence means that we have a responsibility to acknowledge the ways in which past violences impede our abilities to act collectively in the here-and-now (and therefore again in the future). If, as Gordon argues, “we’re haunted, as Herbert Marcuse wrote, by the ‘historic alternatives’ that could have been”,8 to deny another appearance and thus the supports necessary to act is to deny us all the “historic alternative” of producing the sort of momentary utopia that all future utopias are predicated on. Thus, we have to do justice to the past; we have to break down the temporal divides between what has happened, what is happening, and what will be. They must have a critical conversation with the specters of trauma, how harm and oppression leave lasting marks on beings and their behaviors, and are never simply over–and-done-with.9



The best we can do for each other then is to acknowledge that we possess, though never in equal measure, the propensity for violence and also a vulnerability to another’s violence. And no measure of force will ever override our susceptibility to harm. But to do so requires being in process with each other, being in constant conversation with the ways in which our individual utopias may reflect and diverge from one another, and the inherent value in that exchange. As Butler states,

the very fact that we live with others whose values are not the same as our own, or who set a limit to what we can know, or who are opaque to us, or who are strange, or are partially understood, that just means we live with a kind of humility, that means we are decentered. And that is to say, who I am is not the center of this world. I live in a world in which I am constantly decentered with the differences of others.10

This decentering allows us to enact utopias that must be produced between us, through the process of engaging with multiple desires, logics, and ways of being that invoke the ghosts of past violences whose presence then alters our experiences of being in the world. These critical meetings of bodies and temporalities move us out of, however temporarily, the oppressive normative order and into the utopian realm. But just as we cannot produce our own appearance, we cannot decenter ourselves alone. We require our “Others,” those “who are opaque to us,” in order to enact the space of utopia between us. They possess a transgressive force of power that displaces us, and it is this act of displacement that allows us to not only imagine, but reach, an “elsewhere” and “otherwise.” As Gordon writes, power flows through innumerable avenues, forces, and ways of being. It

can be invisible, it can be fantastic, it can be dull and routine. It can be obvious, it can reach you by the baton of the police, it can speak the language of your thoughts and desires. It can



feel like remote control, it can exhilarate like liberation, it can travel through time, and it can drown you in the present. It is dense and superficial, it can cause bodily injury, and it can harm you without seeming ever to touch you. It is systematic and it is particularistic and it is often both at the same time.11





We are constantly drowning in the present (and its injustices) because we are policing the boundaries of humanity when, in reality, none exist. American citizens should not be divided by first and second class. Democracy does not mean excluding entire populations from the right to vote, nor systematically limiting, or altogether denying, their ability to reach the polls in the first place. We are crushing entire populations of people under the weight of poverty, debt, incarceration, unemployment, eviction, and then, to quote Malcolm X, “penaliz[ing] them for not being able to stand up.” Systems of oppression transform in often immeasurable and innumerable ways, but they do not cease to exist. No matter how we reorganize social and political structures, redistribute wealth, or flip hierarchical relationships, a pre-designed and actualized utopia will not be universally just, as those who imagined it cannot know whom they have left behind. We all bring our own ghosts to the table and we cannot possibly know what others are haunted by if we cannot first admit that one person’s trauma does not take away some imaginary space or importance from our own. Trauma is limitless, it is inter and extra-generational, it is as unquantifiable as the many-handed reach of its affects. And a static, or permanent state of, harmony cannot be reached until we put all these specters to bed once and for all. But that’s just it, simply stated: we cannot. That is the very nature of haunting,

the domain of turmoil and trouble, that moment (of however long duration) when things are not in their assigned places, when the cracks and riggings are exposed, when the people who are meant to be invisible show up without any sign of leaving, when disturbed feelings cannot be put away, when something else, something different from before, seems like it must be done.12

Hauntings are both ephemeral and permanent, and we can never anticipate when they might choose to make themselves known, and that very enigmatic quality is what gives them such a commanding hold over us, and temporality in general. We cannot know in advance how they might change and disturb us, or what, in the end,



“must be done” about them. Much like power they are simultaneously particularistic and systematic. And for that precise reason I want to locate my own conceptualizations of utopia as they intersect with the animated state of haunting. I want to find the ways in which we reach utopian states of being, rather than a utopic state. But in order to do that we have to be willing to meet each other exactly as we are, as flawed and traumatized, violent and vulnerable, silenced and the silencers of others. And also acknowledge that this must be an unending process of practicing and failing at relating differently to ourselves and our “Others,” a conversation that will never cease to be relevant, will and should not ever be resolved, and one in which there can never be too many voices in the room. However, we cannot be in process with one another without first granting, to borrow another term from Gordon, “complex personhood” unilaterally:



Complex personhood means that all people (albeit in specific forms whose specificity is sometimes everything) remember and forget, are beset by contradiction, and recognize and misrecognize themselves and others. Complex personhood means that people suffer graciously and selfishly too, get stuck in the symptoms of their troubles, and also transform themselves. Complex personhood means that even those called "Other" are never [,] never that. Complex personhood means that the stories people tell about themselves, about their troubles, about their social worlds, and about their society's problems are entangled and weave between what is immediately available as a story and what their imaginations are reaching towards…Complex personhood means that groups of people will act together, that they will vehemently disagree with and sometimes harm each other, and that they will do both at the same time.13

This means recognizing that our “Others” will not always be recognizable to us. That trauma does not register for each of us at equal levels, that it stops and stalls and presents and hides itself, and is ultimately unmanageable and often animated beyond our own corporeal limits. Complex personhood means allowing everyone to fail one another and then demanding that each and every one of those failures be addressed to the best of our abilities. Our best will not always be enough, and that will inevitably come back to haunt us.

But if we welcome our ghosts, glorify the ways in which they may displace us, then we have not really failed at all. It all becomes part of the conversation, of practicing utopia in the here-and-now, of pushing boundaries and constantly redefining the shifting limits of the possible. If we cannot allow each other to fail,





then we paralyze ourselves into an apathetic or terrified state of being where no one will risk trying at all. And that is far, far worse than simply facing the ways in which our choices will undoubtedly haunt us later. As queer subjects we are constantly commanded to not show ourselves, to forget complicated histories of oppression because others would rather not acknowledge the myriad ways in which they continue to infiltrate and inform our society politically, culturally and socially. But we are equally guilty of perpetrating the same systems of illegibility within our own communities, and further “othering” bodies and ways of being that supposedly threaten the intelligibility of our own queer identities and logics. We have to be willing to be decentered, and recognize that this sort of displacement is not the same as effacement. It means to embrace the melancholic and haunting aspects of the utopian – that it is both a joyful (re)articulation of what sometimes is and also what could be, as well as an act of mourning. Sometimes our visions of utopia are what can never be, and that loss is a heavy ghost to carry with us. We are constantly losing ourselves in the process of living under the often-unbearable weight of being demanded not to exist exactly as we are, of the dissidence between how we wish to be seen and the lack of control we have over when our “Others” choose to see and not see us. And we inevitably replicate these false boundaries of intelligibility within our own communities, as we fear engaging with complexity and un-recognizability, that affinity is somehow intrinsically safer. But this means we are consciously choosing to leave one another behind and actively reproducing the injustices we are supposedly attempting to combat in the first place. Queer bodies are always beset by contradictions of privilege, and we need to allow each other to be marked by that, to “suffer graciously and selfishly too, get stuck in the symptoms of [our] troubles, and also transform [ourselves].”14 We will not always grapple with our traumas and our privileges well; we will harm one another intentionally and unconsciously. And above all, we will often fail to allow anyone else in the room because we are constantly navigating the micro-politics of relationality, and the fear of not being seen and heard time and time again. That if we do not at least attempt to claim all the available space for our own desires and needs, we will again be relegated into unintelligibility. But part and parcel of that ideology is that we are not granting complex personhood to our “Others” either – we have to trust that even if we are not



always recognizable to one another we can still graciously traverse the convoluted terrain of difference, to grant each other “appearance” unilaterally. And we have to be willing to negotiate the consequences of inevitably failing to do so occasionally, or even often. We have to show up for one another and be willing to engage with all of our ghosts exactly as they are. Thus, a utopian state of being, or engaging with, one another also requires that we show up fully. It means actively participating, which is not one and the same as speaking or acting. Participating in the process often means self-censoring, being acutely aware of how much space you are taking up (and have taken up previously) and whether or not that is at the cost of someone else. And it means allowing everyone to offer up their ghosts alongside one another – not above, below or in place of another’s.

To return again to the intersections of “democracy” and “utopias,” the sort of utopian relationality I am calling for requires the production of a(n adequately) democratic space. It means engaging in,

modes of encounter, modes of democratic participation, which actually work to foster understanding, without mandating unity. And it also means that when I take responsibility it is not a grandiose act, it's not a narcissistic act, in which I am responsible for the entirety of the world. No, I place myself in a vividly decentered way in a world with others, who are their own centers, and which I must understand to live socially, to live democratically, to live in a polity, is always to in some sense be displaced by the subject. It is partially what it is to live in a culturally diverse, democratic culture…But one cannot take collective responsibility alone. It is something taken with others.15



We will not all be able to do this well, we “will vehemently disagree with and sometimes harm each other.” But it shouldn’t feel like success, as that crosses over into the dangerous territory of over-and-done-with. It should be humbling and almost impossible and the terrifying and tumultuous beginnings of collective healing. But before any healing can commence we must first fully mourn, recognize what was lost, broken, damaged, or entirely destroyed along the way, and that is a step I often see missing in discussions of utopia. That we are being haunted by some collection of forces because we have refused to acknowledge traumatic losses and mourn each and every one of them properly. When we choose to mourn or not to mourn it is always an inherent value judgment, whether or not what was lost was valuable enough to miss or be beset by. And to mourn is always a political act of recognition and reverence, especially when we are commanded not to (whether overtly or in far more subtle ways). A utopian state is not good feelings all around, golden palaces and perfect gardens, it is melancholia and (often unnamable) mourning and enough anger to fuel the mechanisms of change and collective action. It is simultaneously envisioning something better as you are currently living, drowning in, and contending with an unbearable past and present, and the haunting fear of an equally unbearable future. It is the collapsing of temporalities in on themselves as they speak to one another and bring forth each other’s unresolved ghosts.




(emphasis mine) Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis,1997, p. xvi.


Verwoert, Jan. “Exhaustion and Exuberance: Ways to Defy the Pressure to Perform.” In Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want. Sternberg Press, 2011, p.48.


Verwoert, Jan. “Exhaustion and Exuberance: Ways to Defy the Pressure to Perform.” In Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want. Sternberg Press, 2011, p.49.


Gordon, Avery. “Some Thoughts on Haunting and Futurity.” Borderlands 10, no. 2 (2011). <>, p.5. Accessed: 3/24/2013.


A phrase borrowed from Avery Gordon. See: Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997.


(emphasis mine) Butler, Judith. Manuscript on file with the author. (For further development of the argument, see: Butler, Judith. Giving an Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005).


Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997, p. 3.


(emphsis mine) Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997, p. xvi.


Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis,1997, pp. 4-5.


Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis,1997, pp. 4-5.


(emphasis mine) Butler, Judith. Manuscript on file with the author. (For further development of the argument, see: Butler, Judith. Giving an Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005).


Tyler Gobble [Wendy Xu Poem]

I read ‘nuclear’ as ‘unclear.’ I sit down beside the fire. Here it comes, a new pulse. We sold everything we had in our yard, but still there was more. We were so stoked when May arrived we didn't even notice all the trees fell. The boatload of boats got here much sooner than expected. There are green eyes shimmering in the branches. You wear that yellow shirt. This chair like the object form of grace. What can I say that hasn't already been dismantled? I rub my hands against the inside seam of my sweats and a white van hustles away. Everyone cups their ears. My mouth becomes its own kind of clothesline. Now you pick at the leaves in my hair. When the embers whistle, we start hunting for fireflies with our textbooks.



Tyler Gobble [Abraham Smith Poem]

jerked aloose aloof chicken on the doorstep is this the almighty gate nope nuh uh cracked gaffed tinted winder i’m tired of yr purr clucks pluck it and feather it masculinity messaged god god hollered back old timey construction morose code telegrams stunted stop STOP stop STOP buzzzzzz beaks got green got mechanical bull got maniacal teethed awake and eat or be eaten on the couch on the porch chomp nailed chomp tasked to the eternal buhbye holy creature creatured you and shit you out as flecks of the time capsule with the next young’in jerk me one more time and i’ll swallow greater than yr dust yr lust and fibers i’ve been fibbing exaggerating excavated commune of hickish propensity LORD my man arms swelled like a fine painting on papaw’s church wall heater pooped dead shucks then popped


DELUGE the thermometer 106 this may made the scarred belly of ol jc undried and dripped drooled my computer tan my aching knobs my existential hairdo i slice the gizzard straight off the cock national geographic box cutter peek-a-booed outta the junk drawer as in sad belt rooster cluck no pals hands for these oodles of noodles dropped flesh in the buckle loops and droops for the days the laughter I’m sorry for jerked noggins looped de looped on the America slide jerked lemon chicken stubbed on the stick jerked chain chained to another chain jerked cloud evaporated its tiny pieces like angel mullets jerked sundresses way off decades in a field sage and age and wisdom in this tin can i’m keeping eye on the creep spiders inching their octopods the glistening manes listen for a hubbub moth to titter tatter into the beckoning wings meaning grow into your teeny shirt and march the parade meaning change the pipe drained lot of the necks meaning keep your hands but also the rocket fuel shop stickers meaning you’ll impress the mess outside into its own can go on get on i’ll scooch at the tile with my eclipse butt sadness and summons paused here the video tape of the last muck gutter



Tyler Gobble [Joshua Ware & Natasha Kessler Poem]

Or hillsides blooming under skin of whale bellies, the pipe guiding our sail boat of impenetrable language. Our mouthparts reek of decay. Or a mountaintop quenched of the culprit. The one became broken, the one of haunted signals glistens out of the cooped-up sky. Secretion and distinction of dust. Miraculous feathers skimming the peaks of water, up to the neck and green. Part of the mission haloed over our heads, each of us tyrannical in our autonomy, piercing slits of terror into the day's body. Plankton as the son of god biting his fucking crown. Clarity reeks of the landscapes our mouthparts can’t get enough of.



Tyler Gobble


[C a r r i e L o r i g P o e m]

my barrel catches your mitten and muffs as it melts. thaw earth and thaw some. this is over is overt is ova wanting prosperous. a ghost in the trees i wish to call paincattle but i know i’m no hurter. i scatter and i blur. my armpits burp like a leak of crescent moons. my hair shallows the colorful mask you inhabit. i mean inhibit. i mean i inhibit your habit etc. here’s a beer for the hours you’ve spent in this shadow (mm). and now this continues. should i say a sorry excuse me uhhmmmmm yesmam never again? blister tangled in my parka and you only wish to exit. i continue and count and constant. begone, Irkfrost. begone, Sledhooves. begone, Preciouspricklycicles. what isn’t overhead is hooves leftover (mm). with them i trample the bedsheets as you blather in your ball. i fear the fishes you were as flip-flops when you sleep. i walk out your door and nearly die. oh poor me i’ve fallen inside the grain elevator of love. you walk out the door and nearly deep sea dive. the puddle it has risen. oh sorry you’ve fallen inside my very own nod. shall i continue this in your unknowing? the landscape is spackled then hurriedly bedazzled. the animals latch onto balloons like teats. the animals plus the balloons take a trip to the beach. in a minute the waves become my egret of regret. my two knees down to ask forgiveness. are my knees the only parts pleading? perhaps and more. the herds hoard and devour my toes and my digits. the numbers numb as you call them out. 212 here. 356 gorged. a million shrunken mouths. like flower petals gone stubbed. like junk mail electricity. like fishing line never unspooled (i tempted to mess with spooled / spoiled / oiled/ soiled / run boiled). i cackle and i famish in my familiarity. i tickle the paincattle still near and they all butt. i dust off my widget as i bleep out of the rose bush. hi, Windowabove. hi, Remarkable. hi, Dustcatcherofdreams. what more do i need to bleed into the night? bleep bleep i bleed into the night. no bandages exist to suffer beside me. no badges suffer the terrible burden of me. no dreams remain to buffer my insides. no insides outside because i am not dead. but barely but. i bleed until. i bleed until you turn cottonsoft, Bbquakes. i squeal until the oats of the day suffocate my skull. this haircut is hideous and should be hidden. my armpits pretend they know how to dance. yet here is the world aglow. a glow translates my sadness into dots on the colorwheel. i plow into this buzz and hope to cultivate. today the new products. iPlow and iSqueal and iBleed and iDust. my best parts are below kicking the mist. they click the buttons in this crushed remote. the britches are off the legs and the stool is underfoot. i mash my globe against the window fog. i am like this _ . (haha) you’ve begun writing the next chapter with fire. you’ve begun a series of handkerchiefs. we are all left batteries low lowing in the fields. the fields glow on on on on on on. onlyone.


Tyler Gobble [Matt Hart Poem]

My breakfast this morning made of baffling indifference Bagels and bites I woke up thinking of microwaves Hallelujah sung into jars One can’t help but feel guilty for never turning from hunger Good morning I like the way you look in that gown Fresh stretcher to straighten my stiff body The peanut butter glues shut my gums Orange juice like the rising My wife in the other room A burnt orange in the spring matching the paint of these walls She sings along with Jimmy and her alarm clock rings Which comes first True love or panic Rise or shine And it is the first I remember: This time I'll go to Texas Indifference unthawed The desk boxed up Wiped off the dust And now the towel needs washed A bull steps out of the gutter and horns me into the future Pencils all sharpened up Rhyming dictionary Though I never rhyme Who has the time 6:31 it's the 10th of this month The shirts with less stripes than I like And Dean with his new Okie heart Fresh awakening Saucer full of gravy and nowhere's a biscuit My dog claws the door from the inside Though maybe this has all been reversed Indifferent baffling Roasted peanuts on the ride to the airport The ring alarms The plane is ready for you to board, Mr. Hart I am in coach but I’d rather in envelope Sealed and not a bit hassled Searching for a place to put in Agnes I can hear the stewardess louder and getting Crayon scribbles in my hair



CJ Waterman [Exit Onset]

Heatseeking device up & left me & I wept. Holes in places there ought not be holes displease me. Armed birds invented ejection seats I sprung from test dummily. Pioneers of industry feed me daily horoscopes. Flocks of wrens illustrate my medical charts. I exhale exhaust fumes. Torrid boo boos mockingly joke of pacemaking my heartbeat to marching formation. I’m in the moon’s eyerange. I ride the line of sight until it settles down. Bullet riddling is an expeditious way for light to pass through me.




CJ Waterman [Impeded Circulation In an Overemphasized Emergency]

Fences grow tender in the heat of the moment my skin grows blistery. Abscesses are obsessed with me. Chainlink meant to cage me hides me. Maps me. City block gridframed to my torso suggests a route I’ll take a walking tour all over myself. Neverending drone of autotuned grenade shouts. Pools of tears I take a dip in in the summer. Albatross screeches accompanying tourniquet applications.


Alex Kang [Bubble]



Alex Kang [Double]



Philip Sorenson [five poems]

we impersonators make purchases, caressing, caressing, caressing the tongue filling our mouths, standing still, wetting the gauze with our breath like a dialogue between statues a hole that we recognize in every face the image of the thing is always some other’s —thrown, unsure of our own skins we impersonators, making purchases, caressing, filling our mouths, standing still “I know I’m human. I can’t prove it either. One of us two is a liar.”



making it itself the thing it is not as “The giant shows us what would be possible if the body were not a container” the Thing shows us that the body is not a container but a letter the pornographic re-memory AS THE MEDIUM FOR COMMUNICATION WE CHOOSE THE BODY AND THE HYDRA sliding between the walls the serpent hangs in the whisper the seals rush under the ice they are a single body that breaks the monster-insulted glass and flees on featherless wings



the webbing covers the face leaking as it trembles I could see the rear of a dog passing behind a fence and presumably down an alley I am not outside the world I am a wisp a ruined wall pocked and mercilessly un-left un-gone after the arrival ashore or the melting of the ice remediation or stuckness the dirty thing wags and grins we are your mouth we are for your mouth



unwholesome thing crouching under the night stand duplications and printings and words when spilling the skin off the body is so beautiful so vile dangling from the mouth tangle of hands



learn bread learn weaving how can we learn difference how can we know their names gross body lick trunk small insert wash the world away father a single body make me you-thing stitch up my asshole with your words and stars make my mouth your mouth let all of the words be the same word drive us into the sea and transform us there into our own cow-children seal skinned and perfumed our moon suites our lilies and willows romantic and still like a sheet from a line a prairie laced with dragonflies



Devin Suozzi-Rearic [a theory of ghosts] There is literally no way to express actions occurring simultaneously.1 If haunting describes how that which appears to be not there is often a seething presence, acting on and often meddling with taken-for-granted realities, the ghost is just the sign, or the empirical evidence if you like, that tells you a haunting is taking place.2 i. being haunted is important to me; remembering is important to me. i forget things too easily, there are large blank patches in my memory where important things should be, i know. i feel them heavy in my chest, my solar plexus, weighted with what i’ve lived through & can’t recall. i do not remember my mother sitting my sister & i down to gently tell us our father was moving out. i do not remember the words she used to make her two little kids understand. i do not remember the confusion or sadness or anger i must have felt. The ghostly haunt says, Something is happening you hadn’t expected. It says, Something is making an appearance to you that had been kept from view. It says, Do something about the wavering present the haunting is creating.3 it is strange, the experience of forgetting. things i know happened, that i was present for, that someone else who was also there remembers. too much of my life has been told to me by someone else. some moments i remember only as photographs. some of these i know are real photos that exist & i’ve seen before, but some i’m not sure of. i have too many memories of not being in my body—i am somewhere else looking at myself, watching the scene unfold as an invisible bystander. Following the ghosts is about making a contact that changes you and refashions the social relations in which you are located. It is about putting life back in where only a vague memory or a bare trace was visible to those who bothered to look. It is sometimes about writing ghost



57 stories, stories that not only repair representational mistakes, but also strive to understand the conditions under which a memory was produced in the first place, toward a countermemory, for the future.4

i saw my first ghost when i was very little. i can’t remember exactly how old, just that my parents were still together. it was a shadow on a wall downstairs. standing in profile, it had its open palms facing each other, hands slowly circling. i was the only one to see it. i ran to get my mother & she checked all the rooms & found nothing. from then on i wanted to know what had happened in that house before us— had someone died, had something terrible happened—anything to explain the apparition i had seen. Haunting and the appearance of specters or ghosts is one way … we are notified that what’s been concealed is very much alive and present, interfering precisely with those always incomplete forms of containment and repression ceaselessly directed toward us.5 over a decade later i now realize this ghost wasn’t necessarily a remnant from people & events past. perhaps this ghost was instead speaking to something in me or my family that was going unsaid; something my child-eyes couldn’t see any other way. like how, years later, i’d learn that around the time i saw this ghost, my mother was slowly discovering my father’s alcoholism & figuring out what to do; or how my mother may or may not have been cheating on my father with her now-husband; or maybe it was my father’s constant struggle with depression & anxiety, which of course his children inherited. or maybe, even more ominously, was this specter my father’s ghost come from the future of his death back to a time that he may have, in hindsight, labeled as ‘happy’? Even when we trace our roots, our family trees, our communal heritage, in the most humble of fashions, we know that we have missed something, have missed many things, perhaps everything.6 ii. i’ve never doubted the existence of ghosts the way i’ve doubted the reality of some kind of ‘higherpower’. perhaps, for some, there isn’t much difference between a ghost & a god/dess, & perhaps it

DELUGE doesn’t make sense to believe in one type of apparition over another, but for me ghosts have always been a reality, not a question. i see the wavering evidence suggesting the actuality of both ghosts & higher powers & i understand it. & i also understand how some might find my preference for ghosts pointless given their potential relationship in terms of a narrative of post-death existence. but, the thing is, ghosts aren’t just the souls of dead folks walking around, searching for closure. ghosts are emotions traveling across time through electrical impulses, ghosts are our secrets & our pasts made corporeal, ghosts are the ways we keep those we love alive even after they’ve passed. The ghost is not simply a dead or a missing person, but a social figure, and investigating it can lead to that dense site where history and subjectivity make social life. The ghost or the apparition is one form by which something lost, or barely visible, or seemingly not there to our supposedly well-trained eyes, makes itself known or apparent to us, in its own way, of course.7 iii. time is not linear. in fact, it’s not even close. the idea that the past is done & the present is here & the future is yet to come is completely wrong. It is as if I could dip my hand down into time and scoop up blue and green lozenges of April heat a year ago in another country. I can feel that other day running underneath this one like an old videotape—here we go fast around the last corner up the hill to his house, shadows [...]

Time in its transparent loops as it passes beneath me now still carries the sound of the telephone in that room [...].8




i believe time in general is a big mess of intersecting threads & tangles of people, places, & events. however, in specific geographic locations, i see time as being stacked.9 each moment that has or is or will10 take place there is layered on top of one another. most are benign, not strong enough to seep into others with such a powerful force as a ghost. but then there are those moments where the emotions of the people & the events taking place are so intense that they bleed into other times. it’s as though a single point in time is not strong enough to contain everything that is happening & being felt & so it appears elsewhere, in other times. step into a building heavy with history—the floors are uneven & squeak in certain places; the windows shake & rattle & let the wind in making the whole place cold & drafty. there is a weight when you enter such a site; a sense you are disturbing someone or something, & perhaps you are. iv. it is a common theory that paranormal activity is composed of electrical impulses & can therefore be measured & detected as such. it is also a common theory that brain & spinal cord activity is similarly a series of electrical impulses. & although it may not feel that way, this means every emotion is an electrical occurrence in your brain.11 it seems to follow then that strong emotions can cause paranormal activity. therefore, not only can time sometimes not hold all that is occurring, but neither can bodies. when a body cannot contain all of the emotions occurring, they are expelled elsewhere. there is a long history of poltergeists & their connection to someone going through a period of extreme emotional distress.12 unable to carry so much upset, the individual, consciously or unconsciously, externalizes their turmoil into a mischievous spirit who wreaks havoc wherever the person happens to be. Many paranormal investigators believe that poltergeists tend to manifest around people that have been psychologically suppressed or injured in some way, such as mental or sexual abuse. In this type of situation the agent, or epicentre, finds it hard to talk to outsiders and as a result keeps a lot of emotion locked up inside unable to express themselves. After these emotions have built up to a degree where the epicentre cannot take any more, they reach a breaking point where they subconsciously lash out to release the built up pressure and it is believed that this lashing out can be so concentrated that it is enough to form a poltergeist. This


60 This may go some way to explain why only one person at a time is the epicentre.13

v. i hold ghosts inside my body—i work hard to keep them, holding these losses, bodily. within me they stay alive, somehow. Robert Montgomery, THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE…14 there is a narrative of normative mourning15 in our culture. we are meant to go through five stages of grief16 & by the end we’ll be more or less ‘cured’ of our loss & be able to move on with our lives. i suppose in some ways this is comforting—someone else has already identified these steps in order to feel better so if i just make sure i follow them, everything will end up okay. it’s comforting to some to have psychiatric specialists tell them that this too shall pass. Therefore mourning, more than all else, is disfigured, deliberately turned into the social formality which, for the hardened survivors, the beautiful corpse has always been.17 but what about those of us who refuse to let go of our grief? who continue to feel it inside our bodies so strongly that we are sure there is more than just a loss there, more than just an absence; it is an absentpresence. it is possession by ghosts, history & people living inside your body. it can be as simple as remembering, refusing to forget, or as complex as feeling the dead unfurling their limbs inside of yours, taking root in your body, present in a way perhaps not even you have been; it is like those days when you have a hole in your stomach & no matter how much you eat, for some reason you can never fill this emptiness & the only way to cure it is to go to sleep & hope it won’t be there tomorrow; it is knowing that wherever the hole(s) are in your body, they are not empty but filled with someone who you are providing a home for within your body with your refusal to let go of their presence once they have died.



i cannot remember the first time i encountered robert montgomery’s stunning piece, but i know that as soon as i saw it, i was not able to rid my mind of his words. ...melancholia might be said to constitute … an ongoing and open relationship with the past— bringing its ghosts and specters, its flaring and fleeting images, into the present.19 this continual carrying, this refusal to let go, this need to keep ghosts alive inside myself wherever i go. i do not feel the past is closed & over, i feel it leaking, bringing with it new losses, new ghosts. just as time is layered in specific places, i feel losses piling on top of one another inside myself.20 1.

NOTES Fanny Howe, “Bewilderment”. throughout this piece i try not to use words or phrases that create time as a linear experience or existence, but language makes that very hard, nearly impossible…


Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis. MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, p. 8.


ibid., p. 179


Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis. MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, p. 22.


Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis. MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, p. xvi.


Redding, Arthur. Haints: American Ghosts, Millenial Passions, and Contemporary Gothic Fictions. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2011, p. 37-8.


Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis. MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, p. 8.


Anne Carson, The Glass Essay


stacked, but not in any particular order based on time


it’s almost impossible to say this without linear-time words.


“Luc Antoine Montagnier, a French virologist and Nobel laureate for work identifying the HIV virus, found that some supposedly sterile solutions, which were carefully filtered to remove pathogenic bacteria, turned out to have bacteria colonies after two or three weeks of incubation. The holes in the filters were much too small to allow any of the bacteria to get through, yet somehow the bacteria reappeared. Montagnier then diluted some newly filtered solutions in water and found something odd — extremely highly [sic] dilutions of the ‘sterile’ solution carried electromagnetic traces of the


62 bacteria. These electromagnetic traces contain genetic information that Montagnier is now using to detect minute traces of disease, but this work raise [sic] larger implications. If bacteria leave behind measurable energetic traces that contain significant information, shouldn’t people be capable of the same thing?” Jawer, Michael. “The Anatomy of a Haunting.” Spirituality & Health.


Large proportions of these agents seem to be in their early teens, going through puberty and suffering from high amount [sic] of stress.” Neal. “The Definitions Of Ghosts, Spirits & Poltergeists.” Ghost Science: A Milton Keynes Ghost Hunting Team.




Montgomery, Robert. THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE. Recycled Sunlight, 2010. 37.html.


“Mourning is regularly the reaction to the loss of a loved person, or to the loss of some abstraction which has taken the place of one, such as one’s country, liberty, an ideal, and so on. In some people the same influences produce melancholia instead of mourning and we consequently suspect them of a pathological disposition. It is also well worth notice that, although mourning involves grave departures from the normal attitude to life, it never occurs to us to regard it as a pathological condition and to refer it to medical treatment. We rely on its being overcome after a certain lapse of time, and we look upon any interference with it as useless or even harmful.” Freud, Sigmund. “Mourning and Melancholia.” In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metasychology and Other Works. London, UK: Hogarth Press, p. 243-4.


First Stage: Denial & Isolation, Second Stage: Anger, Third Stage: Bargaining, Fourth Stage: Depression, Fifth Stage: Acceptance. Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. New York, NY: Touchstone, 1969.


Adorno, Theodor W., and Max Horkheimer. “The Theory of Ghosts.” In Dialectic of Enlightenment: Fragments. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002, p.




“I've lost a couple of really close friends who have died very young. My two closest friends from art college already died for example and I think when that happens it makes you turn to those questions. I find ideas of angels and ghosts very comforting in that context. I find the idea that somehow love can triumph over death an idea I need to keep sane. After my close friend Sean Flynn died I made quite a lot of work about death. The most uplifting piece I think is the one I showed Basel this year – THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE BECOME GHOSTS INSIDE OF YOU AND LIKE THIS YOU KEEP THEM ALIVE. It’s made from recycled sunlight – the sculpture recycles sunlight to illuminate itself, as a metaphor for what we do when we remember someone we love.” Montgomery, Robert. Robert Montgomery: The Ghost in the Machine.


Eng, David L., and Kazanjian, David, eds. “Introduction: Mourning Remains.” In Loss: The Politics of Mourning. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003, p. 4.


“The ability of the melancholic object to express multiple losses at once speaks to its flexibility as a signifier, endowing it with not only a multifaceted but also a certain palimpsest-like quality. This condensation of meaning allows us to understand the lost object as continually shifting both spatially and temporally, adopting new perspectives and meanings, new social and political consequences, along the way.” ibid., p. 5.


Parker Tettleton [We’re This Time For Now]

The first sentence is a sound I make to not. We sidewalk a train for one for one of us. Saturday afternoon’s mirror is a cat, another. She hears me from a pasture. I stand silent to sit where I think.



Parker Tettleton [We Feel Anything Else]

The sound is a sold animal between walls, which is to say there is a preposition. A second sentence crosses acorn corduroy in spring – a bar, features featuring. Who’s before the apostrophe? I look less like me in light.



Parker Tettleton [I’m Thinking of Eight Letters]

When we talk about where I am half of us. The second sentence is sounds made next to each other outside. The memory is a hike or a parking lot. There’s a film about films on a screen in front of me.



Joe Milazzo







Kallie Falandays [We All Blossom in the Morning]

& we shove our skin back to say hello there how are you are you looking all right, then we will turn our backs on our backs and go to someone else's home and we will say to their honeys I'm home and after they welcome us and they will welcome us we will say what did you make us for dinner, then? And then when we're tired of eating their beef we will find someone else's and we will say to them honey honey and it sounds more bitter than it is.








OLIVIA CRONK’s first book was Skin Horse (Action Books, 2012). She teaches Composition and Creative Writing at Northeastern Illinois University. She lives in Chicago. KALLIE FALANDAYS is the editor of mojo magazine and Kenning Journal. You can find her poems in PANK, Paper Darts, ILK, Zymbol, Dirty Napkin, and Letterbox. TYLER GOBBLE is the editor of Stoked, associate editor of Magic Helicopter Press, and a contributor to Vouched Books. He’s the author of four chapbooks, most recently 48 Pornos (Safety Third Enterprises, 2013). More info at LIANUSKA GUTIERREZ studied at Harvard and Fordham, and she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Other work can be found in Counterexample Poetics, Split Lip Magazine, Eratio Poetry Journal, Yemassee, Gesture Literary Journal, Wicked Alice, and others. k.r. huppert was born during a mid-April blizzard in Vermont. They have since acquired a B.A. in queer theory and studio art from Hampshire College, as well as a bizarrely colored rescue pup named Oliver. Soon you will find them doing bigger and better things, whilst underemployed, in Chicago. You will hear (& see) more of them in upcoming issues of THEM. Until then, they can be found here < > ALEX KANG was born in South Korea but currently resides in Dallas, Texas. She attends the University of Texas at Arlington, studying Photography. She prefers to work with black and white film. Visit her at JOE MILAZZO is the author of The Terraces (Das Arquibancadas) (Little Red Leaves Textile Series, 2012). His writings have appeared in Antennae, H_NGM_N, The Collagist, Drunken Boat, Black Clock, and elsewhere. Along with Janice Lee and Eric Lindley, he edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing]. Joe lives and works in Dallas, Texas, and his virtual location is < > CHRIS SCOTT is currently in school for cosmetology after finishing a batchelor’s program at Slippery Rock University. His artistic endeavors include modeling, drag performance art, and writing. He currently resides in Pittsburgh where he can be found spitting blood and/or writhing on stage at his home bar, The Blue Moon. More here: < >



DEVIN SUOZZI-REARIC is a recent graduate of Hampshire College where he studied poetry and queer theory. His piece, “a theory of ghosts,” is from his senior thesis “extempore: on becoming haunted,” which was a collection of poetic writing infused with queer theory. Currently residing in Western Massachusetts, Devin hopes to someday escape the east coast and publish his own collection of writing. PHILIP SORENSON teaches composition and literature in Chicago; his first book of poems, Of Embodies, was published last year by Rescue Press. PARKER TETTLETON’s work is featured in &/or forthcoming from Gargoyle, Word Riot, PANK, Used Furniture Review, & E-ratio, among others. His grocery shopping collection, GREENS, is available from Thunderclap! Press. More or less is here: DEVIN TOY is a Pittsburgh-based photographer. A graduate of the The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Devon specializes in landscape, urban scene, and subject photography. CJ WATERMAN is a performance artist currently posing as underemployed millennial. He once lived in the great state of Indiana and earned a MFA in Poetry from the University of Notre Dame. Recent poems appear / are forthcoming in Gobbet and Metazen. He blew his trust fund on Reese’s Puffs cereal. ELISABETH WORKMAN’s chapbooks include a city_a cloud; Maybe Malibu, Maybe Beowulf (Dusie, Dusie, Dusie); and, Megaprairieland (Grey Book Press). Her first fulllength collection Ultramegaprairieland is forthcoming from Bloof Books. She lives in Minneapolis.



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