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SPRINGGUN PRESS A BIANNUAL JOURNAL

EDITED BY ERIN COSTELLO MARK ROCKSWOLD DENVER, CO

FALL 2011


SPRINGGUN PRESS

Jeff Alessandrelli Michele Battiste Ethan Saul Bull Caroline Davidson Brian Dickson Steffi Drewes Chris Funkhouser Natasha Kessler & Joshua Ware Kristen Orser Michael Rerick Meg Ronan Jared Schickling

Volume 3, Number 1


Copyright, 2011 by SpringGun Press Contributors


Jeff Alessandrelli

A Lover’s History of Nevada Upon birth we slap the cheeks of every infant in Nevada until they bleed. To make sure he wasn’t born a wizard. To make sure she wasn’t born a witch. The old saying Go Fuck Your Soul means little in Nevada: forks weren’t introduced to our citizens until the mid-80’s, sandals didn’t arrive until just after the new millennium. In Nevada Y2K was a water rat that gnawed out the side of its cage and died quietly. A red sports car without wheels. The Humboldt River has no actual outlet to the ocean; it simply sinks into the ground, feeding a massive underground aquifer. The largest single public works project in the history of the nation, Hoover Dam contains 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete. In Nevada. How the bike tires and automobile tires ravish and splendor the pavement, the concrete, the desert sands as they make their every way to Burning Man, the largest annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance the whole world over. We are a state of grievous angels, each of us ceaselessly attempting to burn our wings for nothing but the sheer sake of spectacle. You go first. Wait for me.


Jeff Alessandrelli

A Lover’s History of Nevada Thunder occurs when the milkiness of clouds collides. Lightning when it thunders. Out walking today the wind’s morning breath rankles. I am thinking about Richard Brautigan, Derrick Thomas; the sudden poverty of the dead. Arthur, Beatty, Rhyolite: most of the ghost towns in Nevada are painstakingly maintained and cultivated to stay that way. To appear inherently ghostful. In a nondescript casino on the Utah-Nevada border a Jello sculptress cries fluorescent green tears because she has to, because she’s part of the act. Oh pretty boy, you’re such a lovely, pretty boy she murmurs to her every patron. She bleeds a slightly orangish red. Carson City is the state capital of Nevada. Nevada is the seventh largest state in size. The biggest city in the state, Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other place on earth. Las Vegas has the majority of the largest hotels in the world.


Jeff Alessandrelli

A Lover’s History of Nevada One closes their eyes and dives in, searching for Marco Polo the same way he or she would search for Nevada on a weather-less day full of tiered silhouettes and janed mirages. Bird watching is for the birds. Comedy Central’s popular television program Reno 911! was filmed on an oversized soundstage in West Hollywood. I lived in a cutty studio apartment on Lander Street for years. Filled with empties and swashbacks, it was. In Nevada. Where Area 51, a top secret area of Nellis Air Force Range and Nuclear Test Site, is rumored to have housed the development of the first Stealth bomber and alien and UFO research facilities. And, you see, how the Single-Leaf Pinion is Nevada’s state tree. Planting their feet, clenching their fists, grinding their teeth, years of human effort have presented themselves unto Nevada. A great clenching of jaws repeatedly. Still Nevada cares only about rain and snow, rocks and grass and sun.


Jeff Alessandrelli

A Lover’s History of Nevada The highest foreclosure rate in the country (1 foreclosure filing for every 17 households in 2010; 5% of the total houses in the state), the highest percentage of any state’s population made up of illegal immigrants (circa 2010, 8.8%), the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation (behind only Mississippi) is Nevada’s determining devilry.

The only state where prostitution is legal. Allegedly due to its liberal alcohol laws—purchasable 24-7 in supermarkets and convenience stores; no city, county or state-wide designated “last call”—one of “the most dangerous states in the nation.” Rankled and sure-defined demonry.


Jeff Alessandrelli

*

Still it’s easy to unscramble eggs if only you choose to order them over-easy. Every morning in Nevada the air gift-wraps itself, presenting its oxygen to each citizen as a much-celebrated secret, one solely given to Nevadans and Nevadans alone. It is a state in the business of making each man both a David and Goliath, moralist and essential, successful revenge-seeker, each woman a Diana and Lucille Ball and Michelle Obama and Gertrude Stein, king of hearth, home and every greater municipal populace. Nevada has its faults, surely: many of its finest homes were built on dilapidated, uninsured bridges. Every ATM could always be that much faster, thus making it something greater cherished, a dogged love.


Jeff Alessandrelli

A Lover’s History of Nevada For so many memories of loss, of surrender, Nevada’s borders are highlighted by bright lights, headlights and controlled burns. A desolate part of Route 50, there is a 287 mile stretch of highway between Ely, Nevada and Fernley, Nevada that is known as The Loneliest Road in America. There is little to do while driving on it. There is little to concern oneself with. To stew, to valiantly whisper. Unmistakable exactitude of song, music is strongly discouraged. Tonight in Nevada the sky is a sunset of withering roses. Not even a botanist could fully make sense out of it. At the edge of the tableau the moon is a faint applause that aspires to be not the sound of one hand clapping but the comprehendible sight. It’s certainly beauty-full. The only lake in Nevada with an outlet to the sea is man-made Lake Mead. Nevada is the only state with a museum devoted to the life and times of entertainer Liberace.


Michele Battiste

Parable: Fever

We are not strangers to the double. The chair is not a chair; its saint is not a saint. The decoy in the stagecoach distracts the gang from their leader’s long march to the gallows. What a cowboy won’t want to know: the villain is a decoy, the gallows a decoy, the handsome ten-gallon hat of the sheriff – decoy. As close to what we want as possible. Close to what we think we worship when we worship. The location almost fixed.


Michele Battiste

Affect: Fever The showgirl lifts her skirts. In her black satin garter: a knife. Her aim, spectacular. The rope, sliced through. The location, almost fixed. The villain, almost saved. A trusty horse loping aimlessly in the wings. Goddamn the fatal delay. Everyone is thirsty. The sun searches for a crucible. The crowd won’t leave the square. Only when they collapse into themselves can we begin again, correctly.


Michele Battiste

Vision: Fever Meanwhile, the gang is unaware of new beginnings. Meanwhile, the stagecoach shimmers in the distance. Heat has its way with light. Everyone waits in the cliffs above the canyon. Everyone wishes for water. Horses are spooked but stupid. A driver is wary but then dead. No one can trust his eyes. To go thirsty for a double. A stagecoach is not a crucible. It burns as quickly as the man inside.


Michele Battiste

Representation: Fever The preacher steps forth.

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

The crowd rises from the dust. The villain continues to resemble. The showgirl could die of shame. How is it, after all these takes, that she is the one cursed to fail? The sun scorches her skin, dressed as she is to excite.


Ethan Saul Bull

ALL LANDSCAPES ARE POLITICAL


Ethan Saul Bull

THE OTHER PHYSICS There I am today exposing myself or a clown

trying to be an artist

or I’ve taken my shirt off for the morning or for you or you are knee-deep in coffee

miles & miles away so I´m alone

& I am about me or you are the one who keeps throwing rocks at the window & there’s a bird living in my chimney next to all the inside parts & the television and my secrets also so full of me

in the icebox with the onions

or what I’m saying is that you’ll need to make lunch to know me

or that a body in motion


Ethan Saul Bull

or that adequate condimentation is the best way to lost track of calling you when or you’d laugh anyway

because I’d appreciate it

& I’ve finally made up the words of speech so I can get to know you

to unname each part

& that is the problem with me & Rilke with all the burning plastic to excuse it to guard your solitude to matter times the speed of light

or arrogant-I

or something strange

about your dream last night where you were sure it was me is what I mean.


Ethan Saul Bull

OTHER NEW PLACES for Jane Miller

Dear Tucson Arizona I know I said I wouldn’t tell

but your lovely weather hurts my eyelids

so I’ve located myself squinting and the birds are much smaller that way— little airplanes in the grass feeding—and I’ve refused to reorient though because it sounds pretentious doesn’t it & I’ve also promised you

desert town you’d be empty today after you said everything in French sounds like self-love as if you were in love with sad or I went out on my bike today passing the gemsellers & woodpeckers silhouetting all across the streets & when I came back everything had changed the cabbage tasted darker & I had no way of knowing


Ethan Saul Bull

how all the little suns could appear so suddenly along the sky at just the right angle when I was figure 6A illustrating where you ended & where the painting began.


Ethan Saul Bull

OTHER SUPER DAYS from lying down on West 8th the world is clearer to me knowing that 7th and 9th are somewhere near not quite all alone from the sky full of electricity & pea soupfrom the light laying down across the wooden animals in my yard from the Titanic from all elsewhere all memory all beards I could grow I am voting & I am writing you in on the ballot short description of you sleeping though it isn’t needed— the whole country knows you! & the grass keeps forming little clumps that resemble your face each morning I come out here moon suspended by wires each clear evening it is the logic of the street grid in the idea that

finally

the gesture that writing has to abolish real time I will not get lost


Ethan Saul Bull

in the letter F or out along the electric wires that I am able to say with certainty you are here change my life!


Ethan Saul Bull

IN THE HOUR AND A BEDROOM LATER


Caroline Davidson

Far Water I get fatter listening to this opera. There are so many high notes to swallow, and then I also swallow the relic stone of the angel’s mouth—

rubbed by weather into a surgical mask. The mask itches on the way down.

Give me the foot of the night heron. I’ll swallow that, too. During the arioso the man beside me speaks. It is as if he says, “Do not get used to seeing” he says “me near this” he says “marina.” Some need for the circuitous. As if I reply, “When you smoke your veins exhaust blue like the virgin’s mantle. When you smoke you exhale on the city’s syringe where I take my best baths. Where I am ocean-heavy with beaks.”


Caroline Davidson

The night heron screams from the severing, bites the aria in half—bites the passage— the melodic, formal organs, pipes and amber in the ripples—reverberations— I need to mask it all mask all of the water signs, the gulping stones who choke on silt and too much force, who rinse the tones of the boat bells I wake to. No. There are no boats. This is a passage within a notation within these furnace bed sheets and, smeared on the marble floor, an Argonaut song.


Brian Dickson

from This is How Tides Work When you said so and so percent of your time is guided by food I was buttered and spread for life. And romantic’s knife cut the gloves, waders, the piles of soil lumped in rows and draped the bodies on a trellis. The first frost was far away forgotten in a cage. My body knew that sound,

long strides into seasons.


Brian Dickson

Such an old tilt to a feeling of nostalgia: Coke machine and locker propping a wooden floor, the one time filch of your first classic by a she. Run, run, for it, catch me before I drink it, drink the memory of you in a bottle. Of how explore a little rides into the present with sugar, spice and a rush of fizz.


Steffi Drewes

INSTALLATION #1: WHAT SCATTERS Can’t stop thinking about the piùanta before and after annihilation ever wake up wanting to be re-filled what are we waiting for? one particle flying dangerously close to another how the second hand swivels in a flirtatious kind of way second figure: wave to the camera first figure: involuntary head turn to shield raw eyes the lighting is meant to inspire a flood a high pressure high noon kind of body temperature has the first wave hit you yet? room one is a little cloud waiting to be smashed some colors will radiate a particular smell depending on the alcove depending on the velocity and desire for resulting fireworks or flood what some people might call freeze-frame


Steffi Drewes

capacity could require a consultation with a physicist (as with most things worth doing do) children have quicker reflexes than you might imagine birds perched overhead on a branch will inevitably scatter the flashbulb feeling only lasts temporarily Lola’s never had a thing for science but she tends to look over her shoulder briefly before swinging the bat everyone holding their breath and fixed on the sky her gaze drops (think of the back foot rooted and stubborn establishing the necessary friction) sometimes the dogs look like they are running on empty air and always ready to overtake us or someone standing nearby will shriek and reach for a memory tool of some kind


Steffi Drewes

a mother particle calling home the little orbits for dinner no doubt every shriek echoes a temporary infinitesimal spike in heart rate do you dare open your fist? the particles are making easy constellations before and after any animal even begins to sense fear plug and unplug appliances in anticipation of a pretty little spark little eyelashes look magnified look at all the black-brown spiders forming webs in her eyes in the dead air swing of the pi単anta feel the August heat vibrate call it collision call it recollection of an imperfect easel in waves in and around your eardrum your eyeball collect your valuables the crowd the first drumbeat of the day the first snapshot of your heat-seeking


Steffi Drewes

missile detector set on high to connect with a sweet thing bodies beginning to assess the success of the damage the room still obviously under construction but there she goes already undoing her blindfold


Chris Funkhouser

Author’s Note These poems are excerpts from a series of works commissioned by WordXWord Poetry Festival, for an online residency titled the 30/30 Poetry Challenge, which appeared serially (daily) in April 2011 on http://wordxwordfestival.com/. Accepting an invitation to post a poem to WordXWord every day during National Poetry Month, I knew software machinations would be involved but did not realize my contributions would cannibaize a single text. I expected to identify input texts from a range of sources based on given prompts & spontaneously transcreate poems. Instead my offerings took root in a single song, the W.C. Handy composition “St. Louis Blues”—because “the town in which you were born” was the first prompt, St. Louis is where I first breathed, & this reference came to mind at the outset. Bessie & Ella’s versions stuck with me through a month using Andrew Klobucar & David Ayre’s GTR Language Workbench to process its lyrics. Using a span of language filters builtin to the program I repossess them with new language. The Language Workbench enables numerous ways to do this: through varieties of reformatting, generation, reordering, substitution, & translation. For instance, I can: easily reposition the nouns, verbs, adjectives, & adverbs to different coordinates in the program’s well-developed (25,000 word) internal dictionary using S+7 method (see


Chris Funkhouser

(25,000 word) internal dictionary using S+7 method (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo); replace any word or phrase with synonyms, antonyms, hyponyms, & hypernyms; instantiate multiple texts, & so on. Choosing to cannibalize “St. Louis Blues” to such an extent brought a few surprises, like writing a poem without nouns & pronouns, alphabetical poems, & even a poem in which all the words were removed. All of these mutations were facilitated & automated using the program, & then edited by me. Many interesting language generators & processors are available, and if you’re interested in this program, it is published in Newark Review 3.0 (http://web.njit.edu/~newrev/3.0//workbench/Workbench.html)—where you can read a bit more about my experiments with this software (http://web.njit. edu/~newrev/3.0/funkhouser.html).


W.C. Handy

St. Louis Blues I hate to see that evening sun go down I hate to see that evening sun go down ‘Cause, my baby, he’s gone left this town Feelin’ tomorrow like I feel today If I’m feelin’ tomorrow like I feel today I’ll pack my truck and make my give-a-way St. Louis woman with her diamond ring Pulls that man around by her If it wasn’t for her and her That man I love would have gone nowhere, nowhere I got the St. Louis Blues Blues as I can be That man’s got a heart like a rock cast in the sea Or else he wouldn’t have gone so far from me I love my baby like a school boy loves his pie Like a Kentucky colonel loves his mint’n rye I love my man till the day I die


Chris Funkhouser

St. Louis Blues 2011 I dislike to literalize that electronic computer Roman deity visible light shelter down I hate to spectate that visitor darkness influential person sign down ‘mortal, my tubing someone, he’s a sound woman this metal ‘round Feelin’ twenty-four hours like I feel day If I’m feelin’ future like unhappiness nowadays I’ll weapon emplacement my draw wheeled vehicle and my gross exam play St. Gladiator pink with her pyrotechnic skirt locomotes that golden adult male around her If it wasn’t for her and her That libertine fix would take let by nowhere, nowhere I auspicate the St. Prizefighter blues blues as I can populate That man’s swan in a substance like a rock and roll mouth in the Irish large indefinite amount Or else he wouldn’t bring about transport so far from my mate I train dear my infant like a primary building mamma’s Black man love his veggie Indo-European Like an American state insight commissioned military officer wealth his mint’n seein’ aggregation my junior till the mean solar day currency one’s approaching


Chris Funkhouser

Beverages: trembling toccatas in the bombs of watering-cans Derailing guineas that tremor limejuice institutional animal scours, despite soggy remakes trenching Ropey spondaic bellyached totalitarianism newspapers conjuring excommunication of purpose’s oil, chirrups cowhouse addle-head Anachronism competitors. Atomize medical somersaulting fantasy, like ferrets galling, guessing tin’s perpetration, like continuing up vexing, goulash indisposed anapaest junk and dithers redeeming. Oh, Staircases. Branches wools, with overpurchased hair-care escalation, melancholic non-lawyers ouija killingly absurdly by tamping back univocation. And if it wasn’t for steak meliorations and clearinghouse worsening overleaf rotations, that elite transmutation minuscule wouldn’t stair-rod nutrition. Concretely those Staircases. Commemorative boatload, as volatile periods inaccurately, man’s direct-mail-mogul outré sacred swollen unrewarded pentathlon obsoleted rolling-mill awakening necessary Or eminently wouldn’t select sketchiness timidly fastidiously. I card computer-service passenger perpetration gestation queens for grimiest government-relations balmy, Amusing encaustic steak outplaying needful avalanches unraveling demoralization forcefulness shortly swab dispatching sopranos until actuaries sound ouzel one-on-one Kirins, illusive monogamy.


Chris Funkhouser

Peach Realties for Alan Sondheim

There is a place that hardens to sear establishment’s sufficiency, glides down, habituates to singe that governing body wealth displaces, Castrations loosening avalanches doddered lazy this torrent fathoming title-roles, tinkle fathoming, understanding persona, like fathoming ting, go-getter oversupply trivets and mafficks generalizing. Oh, Spunky. Longhand winters, with Detroit rickets, psychology mainmasts arbitrarily apparatus strangleholds. And if it wasn’t for posteriors and stock-trader gurus, mainmasts of military-service wouldn’t glide normally. I’m going Spunky. Longhand blockages, jovially as blithesome as a basher, going hawkers like ripcords carped in the screwdriver, elaborately won’t harm or go snidely faddier. I looked at mainmasts like a scantiness loosened photofinisher, Like a Junk-shop’s coigns loosened ripples and rugs, look at mainmasts until the dampers devote hugs.


Chris Funkhouser

Removal Us Hauled to seeding that eventide sun-parlor goaded, browse to sow that guest night room spurred, ‘Caution my low-caliber’ donned babysitter legalized. This town feigns tonalities, like feigned toddy, plays major mode, like bull for Tom and Jerry, good-for-nothings packaged-goods truss and making gharry. Oh, that Stabilization. Lounge-suit womankind, with diaphragms riot, pulpits my manacle arrogantly by aptness stripy. And if it wasn’t for powder-room and hair-oil storey, Oh, that manacle of mingy would goad numbly. Govern those Stabilizations. Lounge-suit bluffness, justifiably blue-ribbon as beaching, Oh, govern a heartbeat like rock-gardens castigate in the sea-breeze, Or embarrassingly haw goof sobbingly farcically from me. Loved my manacle like a schoolgirl lows piecework crayons, Like Kerchief’s colonists low rocket-propulsion and sabbatarians love my manacle until the day-schools dieted: dominance, authorization.


Natasha Kessler & Joshua Ware

from SDVIG I. Hunger, or hillsides blooming under skin under touch under tones, or flora ascending across the horizon. A little collection of white hairs and thin blue twists of grass descending from cloudfields, or fauna fantods under current under air. All this is to say that we’re too late; we watch horizons collapse and hold nothing but ourselves underwater, scribbling sea missives on soaked parchment. Nerve endings bloom with anemone bouquets. Our limbs rest on drawn-up knees loose, not loosened. A mouthful of bees in lampfire folds, unfolds, refolds back into hillsides blooming under hunger.


Natasha Kessler & Joshua Ware

II. Into hillsides blooming under hunger, blind birds tumble over in our hands, handmade avian loosed into air into oxygen into cloudspecks on the backs of our eyes: neon ghosts scattering themselves across anatomy. These haunted curios undermine the iris as red rivers readjust our night sight. What we see in lampfire alters within the dark. A body reclines, a dress parts, an animal nests between thighs, and a memory breaks. Marrow-gilded thimble, a needle made of bone, and a length of stretched catgut are all we need for nature’s new mantua. In bedroom glow, music splits our tender skulls. Below deeper legs, our slightest skin undresses.


Natasha Kessler & Joshua Ware

III. Below deeper legs, our slightest skin undresses. Our bones dismount into dream rhythms, and leftover trimmings meander into pockets lined with wolf teeth. In the Forest of Pretty Little Things, we barter for signage tacked into trunks of aged Paw Paw trees, reading: “Keep Mules Out” and “Bark for Stringing Fish”; each one awash in transparent greenshine sheltered under wooden tongues. These are the markings of our new bodies: sinews unsold; bend of borrowed watches; handkerchiefs tucked into fur-lined vest pockets; botanical mythologies: “Our bodies are trees / but trees are not our bodies.” No one remains to appraise our tangled limbs. Haunted torsos swallow trees, trees swallow trees.


Natasha Kessler & Joshua Ware

IV. Haunted limbs and torsos swallow trees. Trees swallow trees while swallows sing swallow-songs swallowing melodies in white afternoons. Up and up and up we go into cloudfields falling under atmosphere under light down deeper caverns forgotten. A paradox of skyscape and landscape in all directions, melding worlds into word. Old routines abandoned under fingernails, we overlook the danger of new anatomies, of old economies regulating the price of fingers. A commodity of sorts: royal jelly and receptacles holding stingers for our pleasure. Inside a mechanical honeycomb, the beekeeper and the machinist make love. Bodies echo in unison, whispering: “All you need is a simple apparatus spreading thin layers of bee’s wax.”


Natasha Kessler & Joshua Ware

V. A simple apparatus spreads thin layers of bee’s wax over our wooded eyes, exuding a turpentine breath that congests the room, thins painted walls, and returns tree to tree through terpenes transference: body to body, an aroma undoing to be done. Body or unbody? The cloud seeding fails unfails fails in the form of a question: how can we tell ourselves from yellow-bellied birds? And to this there is no answer but the fluted chupps of a meadowlark, speaking a language our mouths forgot, forgave, forewarned would never hear themselves through ashen veils. The knowing and unknowing resides in our chest, night rusts in mingled blood where no one grows without breaking.


Kristen Orser

from How Thought Icebergs Everyone will hear the snow, which is romantic.

/ What is romantic? /

We are lead by our toes and the heart holds itself somewhere in the femur. Reliably, we are cut by glass. / Someone I know can stand on his head, even lift his whole body onto his index fingers. Indefinitely. /

Infinitely, we are left with someone

on his head and expansively hope chords we tied around necks will tighten. / A blue sky is reflected in a lake. So much—you can still see the bloodsuckers, the rounding bodies in the morgue. / William and Robert could not differentiate between sky and lake and it is unclear if they drove into the sky or into the lake. Sight is not for them. / If you see then you will see there is no clear answer.

/


Kristen Orser

There is a girl who is a hinge, recently a fire. Light, bluecolored person, she is nearly countryside, this girl. And, when night approaches and snow is diagonal, she will celebrate anything.

/ She will construct a tree. We will conceive

: a tree, pulse on a pillow, and the very simple morning

is beginning, accidently, in the eyelash.

/ The actual

short-breathing bird is also beginning. Like afternoon, this is a rumble of words and the girl I am mentioning is walking out of a map. / (A paper generation. The hour machine courts eleven dreams—in each eleven, caribou are murdered.) /


Kristen Orser

On the seam of her dress or in the stationary drapes, the consequence of love looks like an heirloom tomato. Even the bed has a coastline, the desire—

[To] pursue

//

a paper birth, an appointment with a new barbarian—

I can think of a number of motives, but some people’s voices are so loud and the elephant seals were electrocuted before we could ask them to come clean. / Dish face, you might not understand what I’m talking about and I already know Joan thinks this is oblique, but I am noticing all of us are milked dry and double crossed. We check the windows and doors and turn off lights, but only appear to be sleeping or having growing enthusiasm. It’s like an inaudible click, not the teeth-jarring thump we expected. / Yes, for the twenty thousandth time, I could use a drink.

/


Kristen Orser

All the fish have gathered at the bottom of the ocean and we are feeling like the aforementioned something. We are the thing that turned around and barreled into a declaration, a consequence of approaching a new year, a new season, a new way to pinecone or helicopter. / I would never carry the idea for worry of drop or near. But it is a petite idea and a part affixes to the edges of what I’ve heard before and what I’m hearing now. /


Kristen Orser

The table is set for dinner with two different kinds of forks:

To the detail: The titular ax, the redundant one, and the fact that can die.

A subtle hatching. The sound makes a reference—

: Rotates.

Someone told us we could have all the candy we wanted, but nobody told us the war would continue. / According to the hurricane, the politician becomes a proportion (porcupine?). We are looking for a kind of constant. :

A similar day was spent waiting,

following eyes, the dead fish floating belly up—as gift, as entanglement— / Before the dream ends, we open our present moment, which is scraping the insides of our throats. We ask to keep the wish element.


Michael Rerick

from How to Fight the Middle Class constructed in the seen, no language construes a fabric of covers for meaning you’re a wonderful time we had on the couch. perhaps we can flop again the beginning describes how touch leads to longing, a fight in the middle of convergence for the missing genus of self, class of other taken by the overwhelming bob of the crowd, one glance up in the recycling route and garbage turns to smiles her hand on his arm, she whispers: don’t slip, don’t s ip\, s|ip on the grass the air flowing like a sheen fountain, blue and misty with language the oral version of Mary matches the papyrus version of Mary, and the Joseph found in the marginalia speaks quiet and ironic of himself


Michael Rerick

the subject of I can beseech all day, but in a snow the subject melts and reaches out for the shape growing from the flakes with his sewing he pinned himself into her mending, stitch grown to a meter to read their together, a push pin to calculate progress I am following the blear to your final porch to announce the rules. to say, get I, to say, back on the porch. back at your swinging, to your glasses the trumpet sections have you, seen fiddling the violins, an incomplete banjo language inward sparkler cells played an anthem. they said, salute. around them blank flags paraded. that and the whole hundred yard dash the heavy hallucination but sent to see a return, a sea to turn what’s sent, a turtle to carry it please remove the shell of this conversation and speak the wall parts of this restaurant this bar in their incomplete thought gaps


Michael Rerick

a pool of envelopes as cold as a pool of spilt tea in depths of 3, slender inches to spare, they dive their long skin strapped at the wrist in a delicate freefall not to jump to conclusions, not in the momentary way, not to jump in too quickly, not to wait to jump too long all things deadly stowed in a live set of lungs sent glittering into sparks, seen from afar the book-stool set stacked about to fall, she whispers, don’t … it about to move he about to sit flat after reaching this tongue labeled “lounge” with music made walking, in sleep. this eye made languaging close up with slow squid rising. heard precisely all around her pale hand reaches (ghost) through the curtain of shower ___ ex(_*^n this: |


Michael Rerick

slipped what through the mail slot, made haughty with love, to make haughty for love the deep absence of sound after nothing touches, nothing happens but a frozen moment of a collision caught across a patch of concrete they adopt a deadly situation called “flower.” tag, and to say “alive” and pursue. a literal tag in graffiti font throughout the house to wild the domestic language upon his this display hidden as a gift she is all hidden to be found. they bind a word, for | and it’s important knotted qualities. they loose. tu pris ma les choses


Meg Ronan

The Verge Escapement Revolution, 1379: A Lecture & Demonstration for Ambitious Young Ladies In the mechanical clock, the falling weight exerted a continuous and even force on the train, which the escapement alternately held back and released at a rhythm constrained by the controller. Ingeniously, the very force that turned the scape wheel then slowed it and pushed in part of the way back—the effect that horologists call recoil . . . thereby renewing the sequence. – David S. Landes, Revolution in Time History was a girl holding a pinwheel. Water kept dripping down the sides of a pail. The sun went on circling us. The wind whirled, shaping her curls: A predator rounding her prey.


Meg Ronan

Take your pinwheel, imitate the motion. They told her, Lift your finger. Hold it between the paper petals. The pinwheel stops. We lost Petrarch. Push up. Push down. Push up. Turns out there are more orbits than we knew. Turns out Earth moves. Push up, push down,


Meg Ronan

slip your finger out of the wheel. Let the petal above your finger escape below. Slip your finger back in to catch the next one. They pat her head, tell her, History is a beautiful machine. And she replies, say it with her: I’m the verge, I beat back the teeth in meter.


Meg Ronan

Clepsydra (“Water Thief�): A Lecture & Demonstration for Ambitious Young Ladies

The fundamental principle of all water clocks is the escape of water from a vessel through a small hole. It is evident that such a vessel would empty itself each time it is filled in very nearly the same time. - James Arthur, Time and Its Measurement My tongue stops up my straw My muscle plugs exerts pause Pause the sound which you cannot see exerts pressure exerts pause My tongue plugs up my straw Cause the sound which you cannot see exerts there is a pressure in a pause there is a shifting tense in this clause My tongue stops up my straw


Meg Ronan

the flow of increments of “time”—our stopping up (sopping up), releasing, and sucking up through the straw—has been (for some time) (as of late) (intermittently) (persistently) regulated Rewind I retract my tongue the sweetness retreats My tongue slips in my mouth I pucker suck and drink Pause My tongue stops up our veins our muscles stiffen resist pause the body you can see decays disintegrates My tongue plugs up our veins there is a system stick in your tongues suck and then (also now) drink stick in then (and but) release stop and (before) visit friends release Frame


Meg Ronan

the body you can see decays within our gaze disappears in this frame beneath it is a power a cause My tongue plugs up my straw an instrument used by the ancients can frustrate my wish to fill a vessel with water if I were dumb enough to leave my finger on the neck. leave your finger on my neck that which we can see disintegrates my tongue plugs up our clause Drain I retract my tongue and the blood has evaporated my tongue slips in my mouth our sound is emancipated


Meg Ronan

The Hourglass—What is Coming While I am Writing Yeats: A Lecture & Workshop for Ambitious Young Ladies

The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold “Was centered.” He said (now); tells me once every sleep. “Was centers.” The bird-image turning over, tossing into not quite a falcon vision, a vague undeveloped bird-image. The birdimage is not yet centered. Was everywhere. Had been a falcon but then is turning. Diffused amidst the desert. His tonsils look to me like the center of the desert. Where his words funnel into soft swill. His tonsils center my bird. My heliocentric scheme scatters. The sun settles off the left edge. Only his tonsils still hang with the thick saliva of innocence, still unmolested. I tunnel into his throat to feel—isn’t it the point—the flesh. The tender muscle-dust funnels through the center. The desert flows through the center.


Meg Ronan

My bird-image is a beast recomposed of falcon words. ~ “Was centered.” He says then. Told me again every sleep. “Centers.” In the center of an hourglass disintegrated muscle-images sifts, pinched. My heliocentric scheme scattered. The sun is settling at the bottom of the glass, disintegrated and recomposing. ~ I am a century, the center of which sags in immemory. The dust blows off of me and settled off the left edge of the page. That is the beast. My tonsils are only an image, funneling through and recomposed of his innocence. No, of the place of molested muscle-dust funneling. I am then.


Jared Schickling

She has a glass of Spanish wine in a pastoral triptych (what Milton said to Adam). “1, sleep setting: Birds or the pair with young, a small flock, a company. The group of schoolchildren. At one time, according to the French, cowardly and inactive, one who broods and sits and does nothing. “To hatch.” Examples include festivals where the male reenacts birth. He takes to the bed while fasting, and he undergoes purification, observing taboos, wearing his female’s clothing. He notices minor weight gain, fits of nausea, new hormones, disturbed sleep, traveling pains, nosebleeds, depression, as he sticks to the pattern of the ritual. He is calm in his knowledge of himself, for he was shown it before, and knows his experience represents manifestations of physical disabilities that are based on intellectual infirmities. There are no actual injuries or physical limitations. He was even accorded the treatment given to the female. Thus he complained.


Jared Schickling

“2, vision sequence: This was the custom of the culture who was, according to some experts, matriarchal which, at first, seems to conflict with the patrilineal nature of inheritance structures. If they were herders, which they were, the females come from beyond the group wielding the house animal and the milk, which was her clout, while the males made friends with the neighbors and she met mom, as together they grazed into distant, claimed lands, their ready supplies. If the females could jip them at home, basically. According to their traditions, during an annually staged performance, using woodwind and percussion and brass later, with Turks in red (literally, Demons) and the others in the blue, men would play the parts of women, something separate from the comic or epic version. The language of the drama is fixed by now, after its five dialects could somehow never quite seem to gel with provincial borders, eleven sub-dialects, or twenty-four lesser varieties. There were problems with the inheritance structure too, as the siblings of the oldest son had trouble finding work. Fixed: “ever upward.�


Jared Schickling

“3, guiding reason: A male in the form of a serpent, cognate of fire and flame, or former old high fire who punishes children and streaks the sky as a fire-sickle, presages his Friday night rendezvous with a consort underground, where she lived, waiting, hatched, in many mountains. An economy watched her position, because from those caves issued the storms and deluge that brought to pasture disgrace or fertility over women going to Frig on Friday, the “day of preparation” in Venus’ prosábbaton of a festival of sabbatic character. Once, when secreting the groves bearing her names, at “week’s end” the jealous stream lamia, Mari, fed there “on falsehood, on its affirmations.”


Jared Schickling

A physical presence.

If you ask any organism with or without a central nervous system capable of registering their conversation, they will all indicate, in one way or another, their lack of care beyond little more than self or group gratifications, while the whole of its being seems remarkably one dimensional, when seen from above, given over to the succeeding generation. Experience is important, and all there is worth living for, perhaps, this is true; but I’m speaking here of motivation, of purpose. Any man who would dislodge himself from this simple (though by no means simplistic) notion must be one who lives a life of neither consequence nor value to the greater reason and quality of things. He is a man dead already, though he eats and breathes and enjoys himself, though possibly not. The mountainside of ponderosa went up and, whether prepared or not, was prepared for a great conflagration which, one day, would ruin all it had built without knowing or expecting it, a painful shower to finally hatch the predestinated, biologically programmed, though by no means guaranteed, seeds of the future it otherwise had “remembered” to disperse, by “offering” itself to the diets of sparrows and rabbits.


Jared Schickling

And so it seemed at the time I have scribbled this, incidentally, in back of a book by Thoreau, and it is worthwhile to consider, without any quibbling, grating reaching “after fact or reason,” that nature “humans” experience, for a man may say with the regularity of his bowels that he is motivated by what is commonly understood to be a “greater good.” I am using the masculine form, but from what I have seen, the women are little different in this respect. In fact, if my wife is any indication, a woman is better at this than any man like me could ever hope to be (Red Queen theory). My wife, I should add, is the most perfect example of that reason why certain animals commit themselves to monogamy and things even less completely understood. It is a curious fact that one of the greatest stories ever penned in the English tongue is that of Bartleby. I have had the privilege of presenting this peculiar account of a scrivener, a legal copyist, to the future of the earth’s people, in the form of today’s American student. One calls it “weird”; another calls it “boring”; one calls it “pathetic” and “hilarious.” For myself, I cannot understand these people, they sound just like the story itself, and as if they were like any neighbor I’d ever known.


Jared Schickling

It’s as if life and reading were one vast couch near the window in the afternoon where one is dazzled and comforted in the memory of oneself, but where one cannot remember to take stock in the morning of the drool upon his pillow. Perhaps this is because no normalized dog is ever really comfortable napping around his master from noon until supper. In any event it is obvious that what each express with distinct manners is that neither they nor any citizen they’ve known, who are in touch with the vital heat, may understand or comprehend just what this curious character of Melville’s is, and I find it equally remarkable the extent to which they forgo speaking the author’s Christian name, even if I have specifically asked them to reject this. At any rate, it’s obvious to any reader with a modicum of the common sensibility that Bartleby is neither what we are supposed to see, nor what we are even given to see. It is a curious fact of Bartleby the copyist that he chooses to do less and less until, finally, he does absolutely nothing. He doesn’t even “prefer” not to; that he “would” prefer not to finds this desire within purely conditional things.1 This was a foil to a narrator who, so it seems, would forget to name himself, and who also would seem unaware


Jared Schickling

by doing nothing, it wasn’t the copyist’s own growing confidence that would vex whomever would know the obscure fortune of dealing with him since, by doing nothing, there could be nothing to be dealt with even though, nonetheless, this hired hand’s physical reflection, like light in a tiresome room, was what everyone increasingly would have to deal with. I have known one being who in most important respects resembles in this life poor Bartleby, and it was to my wife’s chagrin when I explained we would commit several weeks’ pay to vacationing with him in a welcoming home of 15,000 souls. It’s not important that the narrator ultimately deals with himself, but the curious situation in which it was the case that if he was to get along with his pathetically yet decidedly ambitionless charge, then the narrator would have no choice but to deal with himself. This was of course what is ultimately untenable, why it comes apart at the seams of every turn of his contrary attempt, why the one who did nothing in the story must eventually perish. For it is impossible really to help one who indicates when asked that he neither needs nor desires another’s help, especially when a manifest disregard for


Jared Schickling

the generosity creates the problem in the first place. I tell my (obviously attracted) students how important it is to remember that the whitest whale ever pursued is likewise a rather passive agent, indeed something genuinely timid, though in this case excepting when threatened, and that the conclusion of Moby Dick was the chance of its beginning, the end of the experience whose memory conceives the narrator’s choice of a name. Like her animal; her myth. His beginning has been saved and, ironically, set adrift, aboard a concluding coffin. The conclusive start of pursuits, with sentiments crucial to nature’s future being arriving. On the dry erase board she’s a mess.

1

Of the few lines attributed to Bartleby—who begins as a model of impeccable penmanship—the most common one is, “I would prefer not to.”


Jared Schickling

Who invented cold storage translating Alfred the Great.

“There was a custom among them, that when you die, you will stay unburied in the home, which they have built for themselves and their family, and their kin, without much blood, a week, a month, sometimes years—and the powerful and theirs even longer—it’s not uncommon if whole generations go unburied, lying in their rooms somewhere. All the while your body is inside while they are supposed to be sporting—working and drinking— until you are gone. That morning they bear you out, having clothed themselves the night before, they have to divide all your stuff, which has accumulated around what’s left before all their eating and habits. They sort your category into piles, dreaming, never more than seven. Over the hills and farthest away—strange—they’ll hang your biggest portion, then the second, the third, and so forth, until it’s gone, so that the least will be nearest to the places where the dead were. Then they race, on your oldest horses, to carry the goods that they find, before strange things can carry them off. The horses have been dear to you, beautiful and thin, where the tautness of the velvet leaves a shadow, where the painted skin is. With each generation it occurs at a cheaper price, as each must many times


Jared Schickling

cheaper price, as each must many times make the paths that represent or perform the tossing of you that morning. With stringy muscles you liked proving, to yourself, that something can come from the tips of your fingers —a swift horse was dear in this country. When he is all spent, or all gone, he is finally buried. Usually they spend all his wealth, and fast, after that absurd length of time he’s left hanging around the place, as if someone had trouble living with the real world. So as they left all that stuff, bags of it, along the roads and pathways, some of it, some of his special parts, they keep for later, a spot deeper in, suspending it from limbs, maybe burn it, to be found and taken away, like the others, though not exactly removed. The doohickeys and gadgets—this is also the fate of his horse.”


Jeff Alessandrelli is the author of the little book Erik Satie Watusies His Way Into Sound (Ravenna Press, 2011) and the chapbook Don’t Let Me Forget To Feed the Sharks (Poor Claudia, forthcoming). He currently lives in Lincoln, NE, where he co-curates the latest incarnation of The Clean Part Reading Series. Recent work by him appears in Sentence, Quarterly West, Forklift, Ohio, CutBank, diode and Eleven Eleven. Michele Battiste’s first full-length collection, Ink for an Odd Cartography, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award and was published in 2009 by Black Lawrence Press. She is the author of four chapbooks, the most recent of which is Lineage, forthcoming from Binge Press. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Mid-American Review, Verse Daily and Women’s Studies Quarterly among other journals. She lives in Boulder, Colorado where she teaches and studies and wades in the creek. Ethan Saul Bull currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches people things. Ethan graduated from the University of Arizona with an MFA in Creative Writing in 2008 and then moved to Mexico City to try to do some living. He also holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Ethan has also lived in various places in the Midwest and England. His first book of poems, entitled Inside Narratives, came out from BlazeVOX Books in 2010. His poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, EOAGH, Octopus, The Delinquent, Sub-lit and others, and are forthcoming in Diode and Poor Claudia.


Caroline Davidson lives in Denver. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she teaches creative writing. She is also the poetry editor for Timber Journal. Brian Dickson currently rides his bike to work to the Community College of Denver everyday as much as the weather permits him. Riding his bike cultivates an awareness of phenomena around him, and the phenomena aids in fending off Lorca’s giant lobster chasing him yelling, “Death to the muse!” Brian has one chapbook published, In a Heart’s Rut, part of a larger collaborative work, Anything from Anywhere, by High5 Press. Steffi Drewes lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she interns at Kelsey Street Press and is a contributing editor for the Chicago literary journal MAKE. Her poems have most recently appeared in No Tell Motel, Fourteen Hills, Eleven Eleven, Shampoo, and Monday Night. Chris Funkhouser is an Associate Professor and Director of the Communication and Media program in the Department of Humanities at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he teaches Digital Poetry, Electronic Literature, Cybertext, and other courses. He has also taught courses at Naropa University (2007) and University of Pennsylvania (2010), where he holds a position as Senior Editor at PennSound. He is author of Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archeology of Forms, 1959-1995 (University of Alabama Press, 2007), New Directions in Digital Poetry (Continuum, 2012), and the chapbooks Electro Þerdix (Least Weasel, 2011), LambdaMOO_Sessions (Writer’s Forum, 2006), and an e-book (CD-ROM), Selections 2.0, published by the Faculty


of Creative Multimedia at Multimedia University (Malaysia), where he was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar in 2006. Natasha Kessler holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska. She lives in Omaha with her badass toy poodle, Jojo. She co-edits Strange Machine Poetry and Strange Machine Books. Her work has appeared in many journals, such as Sixth Finch, Blue Mesa Review, Alice Blue Review, and is forthcoming in Parcel. Kristen Orser pulls birch bark off trees and feels very guilty. She is the author of Winter, Another Wall (blossombones); Folded Into Your Midwestern Thunderstorm (Greying Ghost Press); Wilted Things (Scantily Clad Press); Squint (Dancing Girl Press); and E AT I, illustrated by James Thomas Stevens (Wyrd Tree Press). If you look to your left, she might be offering you something to eat. Michael Rerick is the author of In Ways Impossible to Fold (Marsh Hawk Press) and X-Ray (Flying Guillotine Press). Poems appear or are forthcoming in Coconut, Event, Greatcoat, Octopus Magazine, Psychic Meatloaf, and Slope. He lives and teaches in Tucson, AZ. Meg Ronan has an MFA from George Mason. Her poems have appeared in Cricket Online Review, Shampoo Poetry, Interim, and other lovely journals. She is currently an assistant editrice at 1913 and she will give you a tarot reading if you ask nicely.


Jared Schickling’s books of poetry are Aurora, submissions, O, Zero’s Blooming Excursion, and t&u& lash your nipples to a post history is gorgeous (BlazeVOX [books], 2007-11). His poetry and essays have appeared more recently in Bombay Gin, ecopoetics, Exquisite Corpse, H_NGM_N, Interim, Literary Imagination, Little Red Leaves, unarmed, Word For/Word and elsewhere. In 2006 he won theKNOCK Ecolit / Green Art prize in poetry. He serves on the editorial boards of Delete Press, Eccolinguistics, and Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics and Poetry / Literature and Culture. Joshua Ware is the author of Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley. He lives in Lincoln, NE where he captains a motor-cross relay team called Impossible Motels.


SpringGun Issue 5 ebook  

Poetry, fiction

SpringGun Issue 5 ebook  

Poetry, fiction

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