BOISEAN V. 1 I. 1
HEIDI KRAAY Born in upstate New York, HEIDI KRAAY grew up all over these United States as a young Navy brat and is happy to call Boise her present home. Primarily a playwright, HEIDI dabbles in everything creative. Her plays, including Me and My Shadow, Kilgore, Robots in the Ring, Survivors and Carny Veil, among others, have been produced, read and developed through companies like id Theater (NYC), Seven Devils Playwrights Conference (McCall, ID), The Boise Creative and Improvised Music Festival (2009 and 2012), Home Grown Theater and a variety of Boise art galleries. Her other work has been published by The Cabin, The Zodiac Review, The Used Gravitrons and others. Current projects include Where the River Runs Red, a novel in collaboration with local musicians, a song lyric project in preparation for Thomas Paul’s next album release, working with The Cabin as a teaching writer, a brand new play and many more. HEIDI holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Boise State University and is always looking forward to her next creative endeavor. HEIDI SUGGESTS: The Enigma of Arrival by V.S. Naipaul Etched in Skin on a Sunlit Night a play by Kara Lee Corthon
kiss. That was edging on too much and for germ’s sake, I
SURVIVORS a monologue play
got up to pull her away. But then I was entranced by the white bubble starting to blow out from the ants’s pinpoint black end. Right where Amelia was leaning in, the cocoon kept growing rounder and more enormous. Soon it was the size of Amelia’s blond head and I stood paralyzed. She was fascinated herself by this harmless creature, harmless because I said so. I shouted at her. Get away from it, Amelia. Come over here by me.
She didn’t move. My heart was beating so fast, but I was transfixed. Fear stuck my feet to the pavement. When I finally unlocked myself from the asphalt and ran to pick her
Underground. DANI is on the run, covering walls and doors to keep out the world that is collapsing around her. All of what she says is played overhead and at times she interjects, overlapping her thoughts.
up, the white sap was as big as her five-year-old body. At an instant, that pulsing ball of white sparked brilliant. It shone strong like fancy, automated concert lighting. It pulled Amelia inside. It grabbed her before I could reach her. Ame-
lia was there and then she was gone, sucked through the
The bug ate her. That sweet girl. Matthew’s daughter. I saw
that was more afraid of her than...I stopped. I stared. I
it happen. She was wearing her white party dress. It was
backed away. I ran. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t scream. I
tiny. Its bitty wings folded in and barely worked, and I told
just left. I was speechless. I never trusted my eyes or what I
Amelia that the little insect was harmless. I said it was more
thought I knew again. Matthew had trusted Amelia to me.
afraid of her than she was of it. Amelia believed every
You can bet I didn’t speak to him ever again. I was too
word. She trusted me, she looked up to me, she believed me
afraid to tell him.
ant’s thorax, killed by curiosity for inspecting something safe
and then put her nose close up to the flying ant to give it a 2
That was the first one. There were more after that, an infestation of little bugs that swarmed down mercilessly and quickly for months upon months, chasing us. We were always looking over our shoulders. Nobody knew how many there were. Once you heard them, it was over. And when they’d come flying at me, they knew what I was thinking, where I was going to go, what I was going to do. You’d hear them target us into their radar. Then at night, sitting in bed, sleep
I wonder if he’s still alive. We never thought they would fight back this hard. I don’t know how many of us there are left. Not many. It took no time before our whole species was outnumbered. I could be the last one. I try to remember when it started, but it’s been surging up for so many years now, for decades, centuries, so it’s hard to remember.
impossible, you’d see one come in. One was more than
I remember bolting at full speed from Fred Meyer, the gro-
enough. So small. They were too small and fast. They got
cery store, when the spiders were at our backs. Running.
into our bloodstreams and poisoned our memories and
That’s what every day was this year. Running and dying. Af-
killed our brains and used us for hives.
ter the surge of bugs, all the mammals attacked, the birds, reptiles, ocean animals. People tried to hit them with bats, shot at them, bombed them. None of our devices worked.
Our bodies became their food, their homes. Then came the
For a while, there was a man with me. He was a friend. He
no had ever seen. Everything. Humans were under attack.
forces of earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes like
was helping me. I don’t even remember his face or his name, anymore, but he told me what the bugs were. Why he thought they were here. How to avoid them best. They don’t care if we repent what we’ve done to their planet, he’d say. It’s the earth’s turn for violence, he’d say. He drew me a map to his shelter and taught me how to reinforce it and find food underground. They’re angry, he said. They’re going to annihilate us no matter what. If it hadn’t been for him...
3. Dani is waiting behind the walls she’s constructed. It’s been months at least, a hard and lonely time. DANI 3
I don’t want to live in a world like this anymore. It’s unfair to
Now after all the inhumane things I did to stay alive, life it-
still be alive. I’ve sat for a long time down here. It’s exhaust-
self seems a wasted effort. But death does, too. I sure hope
ing. The air is thin. And musty. There’s nothing left worth
there is something worth hanging on for out there.
Did anyone else survive? It sure would be nice to see a
The sun’s about to set. I can tell by the warmth leaving the
friend again. Scott. That was his name. Scott’s the reason
walls. I’m too tired to keep going. There’s no food left.
I’m still here. He never met me here, after all. I’m sure he’s
Barely. It’s impossible for these rations to last any longer.
dead now. I want to join them. I know I should be careful
Before the earth battled us and won, before the swarming
what I wish for but it’s too late for that.
monsters and the devastation, before all the death, I used to
The earth survived, at least. The animals and plant life must
wonder what was enough. What that meant. What Just
be teaming out there, like I’ve never seen before. No more
Enough looked like. I have just enough down here. Enough
endangered species. Except...We were the highly evolved
food, enough rations, just enough water to last me. For at
creatures and they wiped us out. They survived. They fought
least a few more weeks, I’ve got all I need.
and won. They were fed up. All of nature was fed up. So
That phrase. ”Take only what you need.” It feels like forever since I’ve heard it said. Philosophers and priests used to say that. Naturalists, too. I heard them and nodded. Now I see exactly what that means, to take just enough to stay alive. I overindulged completely, even in my restraint. I sought bal-
much fear and terror surrounding these tiny things. They were smaller than a tear drop, but how fierce they were. Scott said after a year of quiet, it should be safe to resurface. It’s been quiet for a long time, but maybe not a year. I wish I had a way to know. Guessing will have to be enough.
ance but had no concept of what that looked like. It’s sure embarrassing to think about. I wasted life. And then I saw my family die. All of them. All
my life I saw what got thrown away, saw our excess. The
My daily routine seems so far away. My needs have
rule of balance said that we were taking from someone else,
changed. Everything has changed. Now I need to portion
from somewhere else. What we took was from our future.
my food so it lasts. And I need my water to hold out. I need 4
to remember to breathe. I need the patience to stay down
glass. I saw the sun dazzling neon under the clouds and
here as long as I can.
hazy smoke and knew it was a window to a new dimension.
What if we could start over? Patience. I want it to be worth it. All this hanging on. To see if it mattered. Maybe I won’t be so lonely out there after all, now that the beauty is back. Though it is cold down here, it doesn’t bother me. Though these walls that protect me and trap me are grey, musty, moldy and rough, I love them. They are my friends and loved ones.
I remember thinking that as I was smiling at it with my eyes, not just my lips. I memorized the scene and so wanted to verbalize my admiration to Matthew. To tell him how much I loved what I saw and then tell him how much I loved him. But I kept my mouth shut. I worried about sounding vain and idiotic. My fear won over my desire. I stayed silent. I wish I hadn’t. She wanders through the empty landscape. There is no one left. Too much time alone used to bother me, but it’s peaceful now. It’s so quiet. It’s like submitting to being sick, to being
5. In the third part, Dani is tearing down the walls. DANI
poor, to being wrong. That’s when I can see everything clearly, finally, and see everything I’ve lost. I’m lucky to have learned anything at all. If I had known how soon we’d all be gone, I’d do better to treat every minute with delicate love and appreciation. Remembering bitterness and hatred, I wish I’d never felt them.
Years ago, I was walking with Matthew in the dry bitter freeze. We were heading downtown on our way to dinner.
She is amazed at the quiet and the freshness. It’s a new
The chilled lights were mesmerizing there on 8th Street. My
eyes were stuck to my left on the big glass windows in the legal building across the road. I saw the reflection of one of the office buildings kitty corner to the giant reflective wall of
That dream last night. The madwoman. She’s babbling on the corner. She looks like an elephant, the way she’s 5
dressed in layers of clothes. I need her to speak but can’t
We just made a mess out of our backyard. It took care of us
hear her for all those ramblings. I need her voice. I want her
for a while as it’s taken care of me so far, but it never
voice. She will tell me the truth, I know it, and the more I un-
needed us. I don’t know how long I’ll last. I don’t even know
cover her layers, trying to hear her, the louder she gets. But
why I’m still alive. The best thing that happened was the
I still can’t make any sense of what she says. Then at the last
earth taking back control. I want to say that if we started
article of clothing there is nothing left to her. I’m standing,
over and I could go back in time, I’d do something better.
holding her piles of clothes, stinking in my arms.
I’d bring us out of it. But that’s a silly promise to make.
Then I see her again, the madwoman. She’s ranting her ravings and again I want to hear her. She sounds like music. I want her to open up and speak clearly. Not tangentially. I run to her and she disappears. I don’t understand. Then I know that because I wanted her, because I wanted her truth, because I wanted her truth to be mine and no one else’s, I destroyed her. I grabbed what she had to offer me and then she was no use to me and I ate her. I loved her but overwhelmed her until she had nothing left for me.
6. She is settling into her new home. Every day is hard work. For food. For water. For life. But it’s fresh. The leaves are brighter than they used to be. So at least there’s that much. We could never destroy the earth. 6
JR WALSH JR WALSH was born in Syracuse, NY and lives in Boise, Idaho. He has studied at both SUNY Oswego and Boise State. His written work is found in Alba, Juked, Glass, Caffeine Destiny, The Anemone Sidecar, Alice Blue and Esquire. He's at work on his first novel and is on several government lists. JR SUGGESTS: Point Omega by Don Delillo Anything by Dorothy Parker or Marguerite Duras Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre Little Murders Everywhere by Rebecca Morgan Frank The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa Mere Anarchy by Woody Allen Self Help by Lorrie Moore Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: Stories by Haruki Murakami Labyrinths Jorge Luis Borges The Stories of Richard Bausch Reasons to Live Amy Hempel Every biography of the 1986 World Series Winning, New York Mets. Though the books are not very good, they sure did a lot of drugs, but their focus was still victory.
THE SOUND OF ONE HAND HIGH-FIVING
The artist could not do hands. Sketched, charcoaled, sculpted, painted — media didn’t matter. At the art academy he focused on busts. He could do wrists. But delicate dangling bracelets always roped and wrangled letters into the space where hands go. Five block printed letters, “H A N D S.” One “H A N D S” for each hand, every time. If he tried to paint without a sketch, the words appeared in cursive. When using clay, he was a third dimension of failure. The artist dreamt of hands all over his body, his own hands. He was a human millipede. But these hands were crinkly husks of hands. Hands dried by centuries. He spoke with a priest. He pressed his hands together, his right middle finger in slight dominance. “The word keeps creeping into my work.” The priest quoted Thomas Paine: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The priest said, “And Adam Smith…” The artist said, “God!” In a meat packing plant, the artist worked. No. He didn’t. He dreamt of packing meat into a houseplant. Like you do with fingernails, unless you snip them on the subway. He was sleeping sixteen hours a day. There was no subway in Wyoming.
A mysterious stranger came into town. The artist forgot his Welcome Wagon duty. The town mechanic picked up the slack. Is it so hard to believe the mysterious stranger had no hands? His background? Theater and meat packing. While the artist slept, the mysterious stranger commissioned the mechanic for a bust. (He dabbled.) An extra joyous palette of body filler came in handy. The mysterious stranger’s face was pocked like an old New England fender. When awake, the artist had stopped working with visuals. He started writing. And yet, when describing a situation, he was unable to describe a situation. He wrote dialogues. The mysterious stranger was nosy and had an eye on the artist. He gave the artist a hand with stage directions. Town mechanic leaves bust on stage. He exits through trap door. Artist: You know the situation. (He yawns.) Mysterious stranger: Yes, just look around. Mysterious stranger paints a picture with words and gestures arms. Artist: You really paint a picture. Look at those arms go! Mysterious stranger: Well, you know the situation. Artist and Mysterious stranger exit. Conversation continues offstage. Artist: Nice bust. Mysterious stranger: Gimme five. 8
duced me to Art’s lady-friend. She smiled a thousand or so moving vans. Dad was crying at the church and cemetery and everyone forgot about him except Uncle Art. “Oh brother,” he says. “The new switchboard. It’s Iranian! Imported from Japan.” Everyone dies when you go on vacation, especially to Florida. Before flying back home, I said, “It’s amazing how sonically similar the words 'reason' and 'liaison' are, isn’t it?” No one wanted to enter that discussion over the phone so I forgot to bring them oranges.
History was over. Grandma Walsh died and the door to her house got forced open by a spread of rolls and griefappropriate cold cuts like turkey. Pastrami was deemed too too. Gramma Gramma hadn’t entered that house in decades. I offered her a drink. She said, “No thank you. I don’t indulge.” I re-offered the beverage, re-classifying it ginger ale. She held it close to her makeup, but didn’t drink any. The bubbles fizzed suspiciously. Uncle Art owns this juke joint now so he’ll talk about work if wants to and he wanted to. Respect was paid in toilet flushes and wrist glances. “Those are new curtains,” everyone was saying. “Those are old newspapers,” everyone else was saying.
I snuck down the street to Gramma Gramma’s with Gramma Gramma. Inside her wooden piano bench was a videocassette of Casablanca still in shrink-wrap. I tried to pocket it like a flask, but I didn’t have a jacket. When she turned her back, I wrapped Bogey in newspaper like a fish. I will reoffer the gift at Christmas. I played piano though I don’t play piano. I played the black keys Irish or I played them Chinese. Then I cut her name in half. Gramma did “Somewhere My Love” from Dr. Zhivago. I said, “You played it for her, you can play it for me.” She offered me cold cuts. The turkey was stained with the sports section. She calls me Seamus which is almost Sam and which was her dead dog’s name.
My uncle’s work schedule will change when he has hip surgery. “But there’s nothing hip about it,” I said. No one intro9
I say a-u-n-t like ant, whether she’s in the country or we’re on a picnic or bowling. She’s not really my aunt, but a lapsed godmother who doesn’t go to church despite the love of a good red and a wardrobe full of robes that we never see/saw. Whenever Mom was gone it was: My robes, my robes, you’ll see. I go back and forth on the issue. When I lived in Boston, I wanted desperately to call her aunt. But if I thought about actually calling her, she’d hang up because probably she had caller ID and I’d moved recently and it’d been almost 10 years anyway. Or she’d hang up because saying aunt was putting on airs. Now I live elsewheres and everything I do is putting on airs. Growing up, I knew one girl who said ant, aunt. Awwntuh. I couldn’t outrun her. She kicked me in the shins. It was fashionable at the time, these girls and their shin-kicking. I’m sticking with ant and if I get a calling card, I’ll call a hundred times my weight. 10
BREONNA KRAFFT BREONNA KRAFFT was raised in Pennsylvania but has lived in many places both real and imaginedâ€”the balmy tropics of Thailand falling somewhere in between. Her poetry and non-fiction has been published in apt, Opium Magazine, Timber, BlazeVOX, and others. She now makes her home in Boise with her dog Max. BREONNA SUGGESTS: In No One's Land by Paige Ackerson-kiely The Transformation by Juliana Spahr Neck Deep and Other Predicaments by Ander Monson
: beginning : the lungs, sputtering under baptismal waters, drowning in individual moments as bradycardia slows from hummingbird to whale : the left hand, covered in cellophane, removed from deep freeze and dropped casually in the biohazard bin : the donation of eyes, one hazel one fully green, from the body of a dead child to the body of a live one : rediscovering the ocean after years of land-lock, years of dry : the heart, wrapped in butcher block, reinserted into the cracked cavity of the chest : ending
See See See See
also: also: also: also:
salinity. mythology. probability. biology.
Aphrodite choked on sea-foam, puked seawater until salt turned her skin white. The giant cockle shell scooped her up, consumed her, digested her until bone turned pearl to be spit onto the sand. Pearl grew legs. Pearl grew breasts. Pearl grew locks of gold. Pearl grew curves and toes and fingers. Pearl grew into Aphrodite, her beauty buoyant in the waves. Aphrodite’s apples perky in the cold, the red delicious scalloped, shelled, reflected. Woman turned pearl turned woman turned goddess turned and turned and turned.
An awkward child, Aphrodite’s: ears like saucers under the uncontrollable frizz of pre-pubescent blonde curls; huge blue eyes hidden behind acorn shaped bottle-thick glasses; long arms with hands large enough to carry boxes and boxes of crayons. She got a reduced price meal ticket from the kind cafeteria ladies at lunch; could read and count and understand far sooner than any of her classmates. They hated her. Except it wasn’t really hate at all, just an easy way to band together so they didn’t feel so alone. Aphrodite coiled, pulled her legs underneath her body, laid her head down on the cold Formica desk and dreamt of the ocean, interrupted only by the periodic gentle brush of her teacher’s acrylic nails on the back her neck. Aphrodite cried. At 16 her family moved to a different town in a different state. She got Lasik, pushed her shoulders back when she walked, lifted her chin from its resting place against her sternum, and learned how to control the curls that now hit her waist. She was beautiful and the new school loved her. Aphrodite gossiped and was Prom Queen and Poseidon noticed her popularity; claimed her as his own.
So small the waltzing between sperm and egg, between freedom and fertilization. It was not immaculate. No fireworks exploded, no stars formed in the eyes of lonely man or lonely woman connected for moments in the closest of ways. Cells turn to fingers (slightly webbed) turn to fingerprints and the skeleton from rubbery to bone and then eyebrows and eyelids and then she can see and follow a light and then there are lungs and she waits to feel breath and thenâ€”
1897: French mongrel, fur matted like tangled rosaries, like starvation, found wandering the streets lapping leftover rain. Scientists lured her easily: hands soft like kindness, meat fresh like love. She hesitated, wagged her dirty tail so slightly, and followed unknowing, unexpecting. They strapped her to a table and with a needle drained her; all of her blood through her femoral artery until her skin lost all pigment and she did not breathe and she did not bark and she did not stir. They filled her with seawater, watched as her belly bloated and her veins ballooned. They expected her to die in hours. In two days she slumped around the lab, dragged her paws and ate slowly. In eight her fur shone and her eyes glowed and she did not resemble, in the slightest, the starving dog before. They named her Aphrodite. They thanked the gods of all kinds of water. Sea and blood and dog: all flowing, unexpected, dependant on each other; all living and breathing and moving.
So soft and slippery the path from womb to world. Child birthed from amniotic sea, placental island. Aphrodite human.
Baby girl abandoned on the pier in Depot Bay; her fleece blanket moist from fog, stiff from salt. She stared at the vast and blue above her, listened to the tide scratch the barnacles clinging to the piles beneath her; lulled to sleep by the slow sighing of each small wave, each crest falling over and over and over one another. She did not cry. Fishermen, their beards vined and heavy with the sea, found her on their return to land, this small bundle of soft and pink and blonde and blue and quiet and wavey and living, definitely living, like the sea and the fish and the sky. Their hands: bigger than her head; their skin: rougher than dry coral. But with her: soft like the impermanence of footprints left in sand. They named her Aphrodite, raised her in the belly of their boat where she smelled like fish and her lips tasted like salt, where she never developed the ability to stand on dry land without the swaying. She was beautiful and she loved the fishermen and the fishermen loved her, but sometimes she stood on deck and watched the desperate fish panic as they suffocated on the air and she felt very alone. She made up stories: sea foam and cockle shells and parents in the sky and in the water who fought until they gave her up completely. She made up stories and eventually believed them.
Diagram of the heart contains: aorta arteries atriums valves veins ventricles Diagram of the female reproductive system: cervix fallopian tubes fundus ovaries uterus vagina
There is no overlap. Nothing to explain the condition of unconditionality, of love, of family or connection. Nothing to explain the chemical makeup of blood and the ocean. Nothing to explain the loneliness, the little death, the internal drought, occurring without either.
Aphrodite always felt so connected to the sea, to the tideâ€™s regenerative coming and going, felt as if its life force existed in her veins. (Deep seawater matches blood chemically; every mineral known necessary to human tissue exists in matching ratios in the ocean.) When she wandered too far inland, too far into the mountains or deserts or plains, she ached everywhere. She felt dry, gritty like the salt inside her tried to push its way through her skin, felt her knees rubberband and the topsoil so stubborn and unforgiving. (Every naturally occurring element exists in seawater; the collision of all things earthly and spiritual. While its pull is not understood, its existence undeniable.) Aphroditeâ€™s fortune post cheap Chinese food read Go back to your roots so she watched SpongeBob, read missed connections on craigslist to see if the ocean noticed her too, and wondered how she could be a part of the sea, fill her veins and lungs and cells, and survive. How she could reconnect. How she could rediscover her origins, which she was certain came from something miles under the water, something not even the sun, with its infinite power, could reach.
Ouranos mixed with the sea. Sea foam: frothy, fertile, malleable. Blood and seawater: interchangeable. Semen, seawater, blood and Aphrodite: bred from hermaphrodite castration creation again and again and
MATT TRUSLOW MATT TRUSLOW is a Boise native and has been writing for the last few years. He was published in Boiseâ€™s own GEM and has a chapbook coming out on Wicker Suit press. MATT SUGGESTS: Selenography by Joshua Marie Wilkinson Libra by Don Delillo & anything by Jack Spicer
Moth: Boat Sonnet This boat reception holds my wedding friends, holds their teeth, another tongue cups a hold of beer. A boy with food goes to down ships, palm fondant mend, rip, some buoy hit, land’s back sang, a knock of tears. Light- scatter clusters a bride along the wall. What naked will tow this cake, un-tailor the guts? What reek of salt will birds swallow on locks of fall? What culls copper to spill fog cuffs amongst our struts? Now lake fells- the bride loosens trace to faded boat light tips on, rift of swallows, call the skying down, call wads of moon wrap suits through, suits through, igloo, Crane inside lies ice to there too, the ice holding. Raft passes upon us under its rails of sky. Raft of sky, dawn, pluck a hedge of lofts to lyre.
Moth: House Sonnet
Moth: Dream One
House outranged a stake, places to set tethers from- thought marks the bar a holler to take walls against some space to line out sketches left, make strange our thumb- bloom faucets, hungers bulb, word fetches, coppernets.
Sweet Dreams- Moth
Page- space me a stain clocks can’t hatch in acid, stairs to hang fire at the building that quelled it, cigarette blooms a room close-as spells- SOME PLASTIC ON HANDS- bone out a song, tug space from its pallet. I caught a trend to pleather through your suitor line. There’s a moon full of knives I fend their thread upon. O’ caution ye pants ye’r throbs with hatchet fashions tax rills of night takes hold a clugg my sleep set off west. I will drive inside the desert and die with you. How else to say, my name is Moth, smile-already.
Hope- Your day Parted the fog with Present(s) to bow And the hills Lokd your wings On a grip of birds Hope- they take it here Here- as a smile to live among A tongue to touch even the ribs (Let its lung flock cull the ardent wall) Your smile to only see only inside Of phones and the skirt of birds Traking some fog Mine- Moth Yours- A city left
Moth: Dream 2
Moth: Parents Sonnet
Moth- a new season Beams about the last
Was a happy jazz there blowing horns electric States, lapped damp as mississip took pulls of moon gin. Ive not baptized yet the river gurgles, rhythmic Tithes swelled in youths pants splitting the air like cotton.
Fits a strangeness to Wing- word heaves or Smoke or tongue wields Some day- past with tangents About the lightness of a cigg Old sweet cask of skin Wont- Moth Take me in your river softness Loft me a snow coming- close My mouth in thighs of
This is your chasm to have and me for feeling, Whose shore your skin left its denim heaves to bathe beside River cramps our thigh casts line peels word for peeling. (I love you still but cannot so) close as night derives. Unclose my gullet freeze the ice of rivers in Not just booze fire to wilt your legs in last calls Last girl dancing the linoleum wet dancing The earth to slop at least to swallow every kiss. Every bit lip pounds of flesh drowns its body left.
(Damp of snow coming) Dreams locket the sobbing moss Rapp moths once- at once my bone Opened like a bone fountain-murmur
I pull this river up like a skirt or a song does. And you’re a moth gone too and only light pulls in.
And though whisky spills your eyes And trees spread to skiffs there No laurel plucks for you And almost your hairs hang like their pictures And almost like moths sing at hands For a common violence to die in
Moth: Dream Three
Moth: Dream Four
There are places still, As poems, where earrings Break their sequins off for, miles Only light flutter.
The faults in California Its ocean closeness And what earthquake does hold itself For seeing the young flood from youth
And still A park bench in Holland I’ve laid on.
Lesions felled out their salt Toppler of meadow gin wet
And still in sleep Standing cows spill inside Their dreams together. A pasture, Boise can’t fold Itself a song for. Yet a cigarette as your hand put Miles unto where light cleaves The moon unto. No Gathers of ash can fill a season, Not jazz even the most reckless of
Show where else Im young at once And there is love A moth corpus in your hands Almost handed your lungs in For the barn with the stranger hiding
Its dead. Enough, to blot 1,000 lights 1,000 laurels fell quiet for only Your face to take. Only light burns for you And this is not worth dying for. But I will, For you only burn. 21
Moth: Dream Five (or) 2 OR 3 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER I do take French to get fucked Frenched so too sick this language now Kiss lacquer back in boys speak Cock reaches And is more my mouth itself But fine Courting loneliness gets cheaper Gets coffee just How you like Language is the house Man lives in I heard that in French actually Read it I mean our movie Fills with ash and candy People leave in cinemas You will understand This one day As I do
Moth: Dream Six (or) Locket: What lovers are we Of cinema As the darkness is Then gazes too Its bulb stretches Glitter milk in the hair Dark sounds In the glittering dust You say as The film happens His eyes look like That car parking Cradlers of his justice And tender cigarette As I need some bright thing to quit For our child impending But for him only dusk sickens Is gone in anyway from here Already my cigarette flash And I need another
Moth: (or) Dream Seven: Again, dreams therein that planet’s sadness. It is dust ,water almost, we watch the hardness of space as it leaves us at dawn.
CHARLES GABEL CHARLES GABEL is the author of the poetry chapbook Pastoral, out from Strange Machine Books; his poems can also be found in Alice Blue Review, 751 Magazine, and GEM. Charles was born in Cincinnati, and he studied Classical Civilization at Loyola University Chicago and Poetry at Boise State.Â CHARLES SUGGESTS: The Nonconformist's Memorial by Susan Howe The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
the melody wakes the melody wakes the dust between the treeline and the dead fish is a painting at rest begin the image swatting out at the moon this melody made willfully—tighten the will here and here slip, a bruised melody at rest in your back or under your ribs under your ribs I hold on let’s lift off the bruises in lines to make a portrait dashing apart the treeline brushed on your neck pull back to the wake of wings chased across your chest
real naked snow or coupled moons
the dead come down through the trees to begin
the deer wrest from each other a dust—light cut: my song’s buttress
the harvest of my breath the dead, ready to
light cut along the curve of I where the lyric drips
brace the slough of the written— pillowy weirding back to the poet’s page
deer hooves start at the earth and snow wicks around me, asks the
show me dismissal or padding here
shadows it makes: “I love you?”
voiced to my middle parts somewhere between passive selves
earth starts finding around my wrists
the dead flecked back to us coupled up moons make their own hips
and the booze tills to my hands here and
for me, pulled along, the harvested to land among us
here sun husks—horrible strikes dashed frost—on your chest
real naked snow lifted though the water now
I place my hand and lift the poem from it
cut snow, cut to make the moon’s swallows of meat ribs pulling down into the trees in exchange for such witness to write I 26
Displacement Test limping pastoral—a work on your cheek inset like Psyche, not the glove of a vision
smirks of meadow dumb meadow struck fumes in me—how close? how close can we find each other here?
no—written to a will of this is crutched into touch unbuttoned into song
Rimbaud seasonally slit on my fingers bashed knuckle wind to phone —thuggish wind on the lake
then we’ll stitch back to song or sew it up in our mouths
no more poems
simple missive: I live between the ink and where the ink lives
so sorry said to the mark on your cheek
apprehend a refrain that crows no—crawls
I say Beatrice send me some songs and O’Hara grass
cold cold limps from a mouth then I said I live leaves of moonlight between the ink and where the ink lives
my way to maybe
dearest leaves of moonlight caught in the ripples of a minnow’s eye—don’t listen to that dirty dirty moon
my pastoral marks wound to the beer glass river scars what bad trees tricking around as if radio were slots of ourselves made the moon 27
a simpler ink edge we are evidence of the moon rippling in the water to make little gods appear—you, pick them up they’re all wet like the moon does us
BENJAMIN HALE BENJAMIN HALE was born in a mini-van on one of many cross country family moves, leaving him with an awful case of gypsy feet before finding his niche here in Boise. He is a poet and fiction writer with work published in GEM and Oedipus Text. When he isnâ€™t stringing together words in inventive and beautiful ways, he can be found spending time with his cat Carrickfergus or mastering the arts of brewing beer and drinking whiskey. BENJAMIN SUGGESTS: Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
NESSIE There is no such thing as a cyborg. I have not spent the last decade of my life developing processors built from living tissue. I have never built a brain from these processors. And I am not keeping a cyborg in the spare bedroom of my 42nd floor loft in Manhattan. This cyborg, the one that doesn’t exist, does not dream. Neither does she record her dreams in prose, poetry, canvas or dance. This cyborg does not make art. I don’t fix this cyborg toast in the morning, and I have never made an asparagus tomato omelette for her. She doesn’t take cream with her coffee and she never drinks high-pulp orange juice. The one thing that all the frequenters of my art gallery agree on is, for someone who works over forty hours a week at a biochemistry lab and twenty more at a technological research institute, I find a lot of time for mosaic, watercolor, airbrushing, gouache, visual poetry, stenciling and marquetry.
“I barely have the energy for my nine to five. Where do you find all the inspiration, the creativity, the time?” And less often, “What kind of sweat-shop labor do you use for your art?” And there, the pang of guilt. But even if I am exploiting a cyborg for her art she has it pretty easy. Plus, I fucking created her—hypothetically, of course. The most I ever ask of her is to read to me when my eyes are too tired from looking into microscopes all day. Or when I don’t want to put away the dishes, I’ll have her handle a few pots and pans. I’m not forcing her to be an artist, it is a natural release for the superabundance of information constantly in her brain. And I never make her cook. She prefers my mac and cheese over anything she attempts. Her preference is well founded—she is useless in the kitchen. I don’t want you to think I’m making mac and cheese for her all the time. I usually stop by the yuppie market on my way home and buy overpriced local, organic groceries for dinner. We rarely have leftovers. Braised pork with cranberry sauce, fried tilapia with lemon-dill artichoke, fresh mozzarella and basil pizza, roasted potatoes topped with bacon gravy and fresh chives. When she decided to go vegan for a few weeks I could hardly stand it. Spinach salad with strawberries and lime-cilantro dressing. Spaghetti squash and tofu meatballs. Split pea soup without bacon. Rhubarb and jacama and so much fucking zucchini. I’m glad that phase is over. Bring on the corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick’s Day, the roasted lamb with all-red potatoes for Christmas and the sautéed onions with baked apples
and sun-dried tomato sausage for no special occasion. Cooking is my only potentially lucrative art. I have named her. I was calling her Golem during the early stages of development but after watching a Discovery Channel special on the Loch Ness monster I decided on Nessie. The main difference between her and the dinosaur is that, as far as I know, she has never been spotted and there isn’t a TV special about her. Yet. Nessie doesn’t find much use in clothes, which isn’t to say she is walking around naked all the time. She has about forty bathrobes of different styles and colors that she rotates weekly, daily, hourly. And on those days after a dreamless sleep, I imagine she changes her bathrobe every forty-five seconds or so. It is a harmless game of clothing roulette—when she reaches her last clean bathrobe, she wears it until I get home and do six loads of bathrobe laundry. Permanent press with scent-free detergent and medium heat dry with cool down cycle. She doesn’t like for me to hang her bathrobes. She arranges them by sleeve length, hem style, color, robe length, length of waist tie, fineness of fabric, softness of fabric—she arranges them about as often as she changes them on a day after dreamless sleep, and still she tells me she has no use for clothes. On the mornings after Nessie doesn’t dream I blame myself. I can see the sadness in her eyes and I know I haven’t stimulated her enough. Usually after dinner we watch a movie or read together. Since she memorizes books and movies instantly, there are few that have replay value. There Will Be
Blood and The Secret Garden are the only two movies she is almost always in the mood for and I usually have to talk her out of reading either the Tao Te Ching or Of Mice and Men because even I have these memorized by now. Some days I am too tired or too disinterested to settle into stimulation. Some days I just want to sit on my balcony and smoke handrolled cigarettes and watch the traffic forty-two stories below me. Nessie doesn’t drink but she doesn’t object to my whisky and she tells me she can see the practical application. And I always respond, “that’s more than I can say for my family.” She likes that. On my first day off in weeks I woke up to find Nessie’s bedroom/studio covered in paint. I own this loft so I don’t mind. We finished The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus around two in the morning and I was surprised by her response. I couldn’t shut up about it but she hardly said a word. Usually we talk for hours about movies of this caliber. But she just walked over to her treadmill and started jogging with a five pound weight in each hand. I went to bed. In the morning I realized she had liked it. More than I had, for that matter, as she not only recreated Mount Parnassus but did so in some kind of tach-realism, a genre of art that exists about as much as Nessie. “This is one of my favorites, Nessie. I mean that.” “That’s usually what you say. Thirty four out of fifty seven times.” Nessie remembers everything. And she reduces fractions: out of the four hundred and fifty six pieces she has com31
pleted, I have said two hundred and seventy two of them are “one of my favorites.” I wouldn’t say that means I usually say it, but she is the cyborg and has access to more mathematics than the Library of Congress. She can connect with the wireless Internet in my apartment by closing her eyes. (The closing-the-eyes bit is something I designed specifically so I would know when she was cheating in our Scrabble games. I had forgotten during our first couple games that she could just download the Scrabble dictionary before the game and access it while telling me about some pigeon that ate crumbs out of her hand on our balcony. I refuse to play against her in chess. You should see her finish a crossword puzzle. Seconds.) She knows when I am looking at pornography, which is seldom, and lets me know she disapproves by marching around singing “another man’s dick, make yourself sick” which is a rhyme she must have made up on a day after dreamless sleep. The one thing I have to watch for in Nessie is suicidal tendencies. Because she is made of technology and human DNA she is prone to human emotion. I don’t want to explain my theories on why depression manifests itself in humanity but I will say that I didn’t expect suicide to be one of the major problems in having a cyborg as a roommate. I was more afraid of being choked to death in my sleep, but unwarranted violence is nowhere to be seen in her genetic makeup. The faculty for it is certainly there but with this little Shangri-La of an existence I’ve created for her I doubt she will ever need to execute the fatal attacks she has learned from top secret military documents or YouTube videos. I have seen her practice on stuffed animals.
Nessie’s depression after a night of dreamless sleep just kills me. The day I stop discovering evocative films or books or poems is the day I will regret creating her. But for now I can’t see an end to the mental and artful stimuli. Every time I discover an obscure Korean director or Irish author or SriLankan poet I can see weeks of inspiration lined up for Nessie. And myself—her insatiable thirst for knowledge has done wonders for my own cognition. § I met Cholera at an exhibit premiere in my gallery of Nessie’s art. I chuckled at her name and she explained that her eccentric parents, both lawyers, read too much Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the night of her conception. It is such a beautiful word for such a terrible thing, her mother justified to me, not that our Chol is a terrible thing, I just, I mean— and I saw in her eyes that she regretted it even if her daughter fully embraced it. Most people called her Chol but I enunciated every syllable every chance I got. She thought I was flirting, which I never do. I was thinking about getting home to Nessie. I left her with the original Star Wars trilogy which I had been saving for a special occasion. After the champagne toast I switched to whiskey and Cholera slowly became more and more interesting. She was fascinated by my art and repeatedly complimented my feminine touch. I told her she should see my interpretive dance to 8½, Fellini’s masterpiece, and felt an instant twinge of reproach. I didn’t know a single step of Nessie’s original ballet. Chol-
era suggested I perform the dance at her house, in the privacy of her bedroom. On my end it was long overdue. It had been years since I had sex. I didn’t miss it until I had it and then I couldn’t have enough. In became a very regular thing. Nessie was left for the most part to her own devices. I would come home after work, cook dinner for her, drop a stack of DVDs by the television and leave to meet Cholera. I didn’t tell Nessie about her but insisted that work was getting hectic. Lying to a cyborg is like palming a card in a game of poker against a magician. I designed her to identify bullshit and I was trying to feed it to every night. § The first thing I felt upon coming home from an evening with Cholera was selfish fear. Outside my building emergency lights lit up the entire block. And when I reached the 42nd floor I smelled smoke and saw firemen in my loft through my open door. My secret is out. Goodbye, quiet life, hello Scientific American, National Geographic, Discovery Channel. Goodbye, Nessie. A police detective came out of Nessie’s room, jotting things down on a pad of paper. “Sir, do you live here?” “Yes.” “Alone?” “Yes.” He glanced over his shoulder at Nessie’s closet full of bathrobes. “Officer, what the hell is going on?”
“It seems there’s been an intruder, though there’s no sign of forced entry. A lot of your property has been destroyed, mostly artwork and books. There appearss to be no structural damage. Does anyone else have a key to your apartment?” “No.” “This wasn’t some random break-in. It must’ve been someone you pissed off. This was malicious destruction of property. Anyone like that you can think of?” I shook my head no. Nessie. It wasn’t malicious. There is a delicate boundary being crossed when creating a cyborg. A computer can’t feel emotion, but a human can’t memorize the Encyclopedia and reference it for you by volume, page, paragraph. But no matter how programmed my Nessie was, there was enough human in her that I forgot about the processors. I forgot about about the hard drives and the circuitry. And still I forgot about the heart. The human heart, built from my DNA. Tomorrow, in the news, I’ll learn about a homeless protester whose cause was lost in a suicidal fire in Queens. Some Jane Doe in a bathrobe, whose legacy is as blurry as a photograph of the Loch Ness monster. This cyborg, the one that doesn’t exist, does not dream.
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