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y k ns i l u a I S S UE#17 S UMMER2011

Tarpaulin Sky Press Grafton, VT 2011

Tarpaulin Sky Literary Journal Issue #17 Summer 2011 Cover art by Noah Saterstrom Layout by Colie Collen Tarpaulin Sky Press PO Box 189 Grafton, VT 05146 For more information on Tarpaulin Sky Press and Tarpaulin Sky Literary Journal, including subscriptions, submission guidelines, reading periods, previous issues, distribution, personal and institutional orders, and catalog requests, please visit our website:

Christian Peet Publisher

Colie Collen Editor

Laynie Browne Karla Kelsey

Poetry Editors

Blake Butler Joanna Howard

Fiction Editors

Duncan B. Barlow Christine Wertheim

Annie Guthrie Jac Jemc Joseph Mains Erin Mann Eireene Nealand Josh Neely Janna Plant Michael Rerick Mark Rockswold Amanda Skubal Julie Strand Amish Trivedi Laura Woltag

Michael Tod Edgerton Brian Mihok

Megan DiBello Michelle Puckett

Sandy Florian Lily Hoang

Other Editors

Rebecca Brown Elena Georgiou Bhanu Kapil Selah Saterstrom

Advisory Editors

Associate Editors

Assistant Editors


Events Coordinators

TAble of contents Christopher Janke


[1] from Blepharism

Sandra Doller


Two Poems

David Buuck & Juliana Spahr 10

A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cities

Susan Maxwell


Infinite Regress

Ben Segal


Writing Excercises

Sean Labrador y Manzano


from Radical Co-Prosperity

Scott Butterfield


Stop, Watch

Lance Phillips


from Nietzsche’s Bed

Anjali Mullany


The Collagist

Lucy Ives


Blue Flowers

Max Winter


from The Communications

Christian Nagler



Bronwen Tate


Three Poems

Aaron Patrick Flanagan


Inside [,] A Sago Echoing

Christina Mengert


And the Morning Stars Sang Together

Catherine Imbriglio


Three Poems

Kate Schapira


Sex or Wings?

Anne Gorrick


Titania/Titanium: A Wedding

Stella Corso


An Opera for Madame Lavoisier

Patrick Crerand


The Return Leg: Fragments

Aimee Parkison


Bodies in the Sand

Roxane Gay


How the Waters Ran So Cruel So Deep

Jeremy Davies


The Mirror Solution

Deborah Richards


After the Love Has Gone

Laura Vena



Joshua Cohen


Two Pieces

Daniel Y. Harris


The Actor in My Ear

Molly Gaudry


from Rosalia

Catherine Kasper



Roxanne Carter 144

Beyond this Point Are Monsters: Episode Nine

Janalyn Guo


Something Close

Thorin Klosowski


The Note

Sean Kilpatrick



Susan McCarty



Donna Stonecipher


from Model City

Patrick Jones


from Tipping Point Australia




Christopher Janke [1] from blepharism * step int o a cl oud

from anot her cloud


a cost



be for ea bo dy

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an in side



to so me outside


the world before you

bef ore you the wor ld


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br oke


and you, blinking

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Sandra Doller Annumal rights Fear of animal (animal) I knew it was a big one (big one) A horse on its hinds can kill you (you) (insert list of animals + positions in which they can kill you) + Axes Great white oak tree in riotous abandon shifts From manure tea lemon verbena jockey club on bare scapes hooves = cultivars Touch-me-not mixes well with others wild bleeding heart is native form a native form needs sun You may self-sow or succumb a tender annual animal in the showy garden And they may succumb or be eaten in salads Must have rambled hard Sweet peas are intolerant prefer a dry situation


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‘The Shah in Mittens’ smitten Spicily in mittens who prefer sandy loam wild in in moist situations She confessed herself her spring tiny in the wild fritillaria Dig it, dig fritillaria or not at all Stout and formal animals have a chance to multiply Under optimum expect only moderate non-killing If purchased through the mail in their original shopping bag dig a pony, dig a hole If in doubt a spoonful careful not to puncture Feed lilies animals and wither Eagles or eglantine probably the swamp ‘The hip is the ripened accessory’

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Or train it against a wall at the corner of the wall until destroyed Flat creamy bluish blush who grows wild in France This noisette deep cup rosarian in mixed beds can’t kill you Is no threat there there


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Three to the two She had three people with doors to mouth towards fixed it When she moved in borried borrow buried To bear more I had commentary on eating and later I had more camo for nervous How many Alices live next door to Tom? answer: very answer: damn answer: rained hard The doctor bills we all have collected will save us shave us down shewer me with: -bills -orange gum -philosopher’s rings Back up your righteous old venting machine goes rose rose old venting tv cellular roses they wish they could sue you pock marked donkey the build Many people like to speak in sentences I know these are my handles because I hold them I held them Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Slander the way we share the bills slant electric burned a coal in my kitchen come up come to the coal burning in our kitchens share the bill, George, eat Unfortunate how the women wait the offices their good time chair pattern putty rug I have daytimes and daytimes to fill wait for my slow show I saw a town that exciting camouflage in the most excruciating takey blue Fema Fema, these are the songs my trailer, your water my tail, a date Help me help the water to the door Sweet braids like Suki’s a strap a looking eye boyfriends, what a car. Attached pls find my job. Can. On the floor have I noticed no Ameris want to die right no belief in nothing suicide an evolution of the palm cyanide cutie kick me


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Will you watch tv with me for the rest of my life? Will you watch me watching tv? At the bar here we are woolly responsibility icky trade so many femininas share luster If your skin hurts your ribs press here. Tell me how to choose. Please get me I stick a hunch a harm only Symphony of of of that one note that won two teddies Doctors order doctor’s other notes Is itching a synonymy with the mortal sensations? Why not discuss the living in front of them?

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David Buuck & Juliana Spahr A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cities The Bay Area can boast of having both many great poets and many mediocre poets. Among the mediocre were two poets better known as Demented Panda and Koki. These two poets thought of themselves as living life in pursuit of both the intellectual and the social pleasures of poetry. In this they were like most people who considered themselves poets and unlike most people who did not consider themselves poets. It is important to realize that in the time of Demented Panda and Koki, poetry was an art form that had lost many of its reasons for being. It was no longer considered, because of its ties to song, the superior way for a culture to remember something about itself. And at the same time it was also no longer considered to be the superior way for a nation to inspire patriotism and proclaim with elaborate rhyme and rhythm that its values were great and universal values. This was especially true in the nation that claimed Demented Panda and Koki, without their consent it is important to note, as among its citizens. This nation had a government that realized that the best way to inspire patriotism and convince other nations that its values were great and universal was to offer a series of tax breaks and incentives that encouraged the distribution in other countries of colorful moving pictures and songs that told stories that prominently featured as representative of the nation characters who were mainly consumers. It was in part because poetry had lost its cultural and national importance that Demented Panda and Koki were so devoted to poetry. And as they were devoted to poetry, they met frequently to take long walks together and on these walks they talked about poetry and its particular lostness. When they walked they took up a lot of room on the side walk. Demented Panda usually brought on these walks his two dogs and they tended to yip and yap at anyone who passed by on a skateboard and Koki frequently pushed a baby in a stroller. Demented Panda and Koki thus walked down the street with three other sentient beings in tow, talking loudly, sometimes, like the baby, laughing and delighting in the sun which was often accompanied by a cool breeze, and sometimes, like the dogs, getting in each others’ way and then being annoyed and snippy with each other or with the world at large. During the walks what they would talk about could probably be best described as gossip although it was about about poems and poetry. They didn’t gossip about poetry they didn’t like. So they didn’t talk much about poetry that tended to portray in a quiet and overly serious tone with a studied and crafted attention to line breaks for emphasis, and a moving epiphany or denouement at the end the deep thoughts held by individuals in a consumerist society. Instead they talked about poetry that they liked, the sort that stretches language to reveal its potential for ambiguity, fragmentation, and self-assertion within chaos, the sort that used


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open forms and multicultural texts, the sort that appropriated images from popular culture and the media and refashioned them, even if they often talked as if they disliked the poems written this way. During their walks they often played a sort of game where one of them would say something negative about some poem and then the other would say something positive and then one of them would say something negative and this would go on and on for some time. They were fairly ecumenical in their approach. They talked in negatives and positives about their own work and each other’s work and the work of others. It was a sort of narcissism to them, this moving of their brains between saying something negative and then something positive. It was a game of one-upmanship that they played with each other and with the poem itself. Some days Demented Panda was more negative and Koki more positive. But other days Koki was more negative and Demented Panda more positive. But when it came down to it, at the end of the flipping back and forth, the poems always won the game and if they made a list of work that they liked, their lists would probably be remarkably similar and it would be the work that they talked about together, no matter what they said about it in complaint on a walk some afternoon. One summer day, a particularly nice mostly sunny day of 69 degrees, while on one of their many walks, Demented Panda and Koki decided to collaborate. They would, they said to themselves, write something that they would come to call A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cities. Demented Panda and Koki lived only 1.4 miles from one another but they lived in different cities. They said to themselves that they wanted in A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cities to think some about urban theory, postmodernist criticism in art and architecture, debates concerning identity politics and the public sphere, and the problem of neighbor-love and its accompanying issues that were fundamental to ethical inquiry and that suggested a new theological configuration of political theory. And they wanted to think about the siting of writing as more than an artistic problem and how the site can be a complex cipher of the unstable relationship between location and identity in the era of late capitalism. To begin this project, Demented Panda and Koki did not choose an obvious part of the border between the two cities, such as the intersection where people had once marched against one of the many wars that their nation started from Koki’s city to Demented Panda’s city and when the marchers got to Demented Panda’s city they met up with the police and a motorcycle gang and a brawl had ensued, even though this brawl more or less summed up the mythic histories that their two cities told about themselves, one claiming to be bad ass and the other claiming to be lefty. Koki had wanted to begin this project by having each of them walk towards each other from their respective places of residence and then to write about the spot where they met. But Demented Panda wanted to locate their picturesque story on a plot of land that was between their houses and that included the border between the two cities. This plot of land was small, about .27 miles around its perimeter. And it was hard to say what exactly the plot of land was. They could tell from looking at it that it was flat. And somewhat rectangular in shape, with the distended sides of the rectangle going north-south. But the plot was not really a rectangle in any meaningful way as it had a hump on the northeast side and further it came to a point on the southern-most tip. A heavy rail public rapid transit system emerged from a tunnel and traversed the north-south

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axis of the rectangle on an elevated platform. On the south western corner, ten lines of traffic met, regulated by three stoplights and a large number of security cameras that were supposed to catch those who ran red lights. A sidewalk was available for pedestrian access and there were benches every so often along the sidewalk. The wood in the benches was both rotting and recently painted by children who for some reason felt compelled to feature self-improvement slogans such as “drink 8 glasses of water a day” in their art. On the south side of the small plot of land a series of tiles that featured prints of children’s hands had been embedded in the concrete. Along the north-south axis there was a metal sculpture on the southwest corner that somewhat gestured to the nearby border between the two cities as it spelled out the words “here” and “there”; “here” was north of “there” and “here” read north to east while “there” read south to east. In order to collaborate on the writing of A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cities, Demented Panda and Koki met several times a week all summer on the small plot of land. There they sat in the partly cloudy 78 degrees or in the sunny 77 degrees or in the sunny 76 degrees, the dogs panting at their feet, the baby cooing with pleasure at each passing truck, and talked. Those passing by might have mistaken them for sunbathers or picnickers enjoying a summer’s respite from the hard labor of toiling in the intellectual mines of the academy but Demented Panda and Koki had only one thing on their mind and it was the small plot of land. Their conversations frequently turned to critique urban theory, postmodernist criticism in art and architecture, and debates concerning identity politics and the public sphere. And as they did this they talked frequently and repeatedly about how they were not really interested in the small plot of land. And then they would talk about how it made them feel uncomfortable to be there on the small plot land attempting to write about it when they were not interested in it and also, they had no right to write about it because of who they were, although they always left who they were unspecified. They talked about conceptual squatting as an unintended after-effect of conceptual art. And they talked about how they did not want to present the small plot of land as uninhabited because they imagined that people lived and slept on the small plot of land. They talked a lot about how they didn’t want to bother these people but they didn’t want to ignore them either and the ethical issues around this sort of neighbor-love. But as they spent more time on the small plot of land they began to realize that no one bothered to live or sleep on the small plot of land. The small plot of land was probably both too isolated and too exposed. So the people that they imagined lived and slept on the small plot of land and that they talked about not wanting to bother either only passed by the small plot of land, despite its many park benches, on their way to slightly more accommodating plots of land, like the corner where Koki lived that had both more foot traffic and also hedges for privacy. As they talked about the small plot of land they also talked about themselves. They talked about how their writing can sometimes do the right kind of political work but still leave them dissatisfied. And they talked about their own tendency to write things so as to show others that they themselves had the right attitudes about various things. And they talked about the fickle nature of observation, about how they would walk to the small plot of land not really noticing anything but then once they got there they would perk up and


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begin to put on their “picturesque story” mindset and then to look around for things to write about. And they wondered if they should go through life using the “picturesque story” mindset all the time or if they should refuse the “picturesque story” mindset when they were at the small plot of land or if it was okay to use it some of the time and not other times. They did not even know what to call the small plot of land that they had settled on for their picturesque story. They agreed that it was not a park, despite the presence of park benches and trees and grass. It was certainly never used as a park because it was surrounded by large amounts of traffic and every few minutes the heavy rail public rapid transit system careened through it with its decibel high pitched screech. But they were also hesitant to call it a median strip because it was a little wider than most median strips. And so they kept on referring to it as the small plot of land. When they talked, Demented Panda usually said things in the negative and Koki usually took notes. Every so often Koki would make the face, the not quite exasperated yet thinking hard about it but also frustrated face. And when Koki made the face Demented Panda usually made a joke or he would claim that the answer was to do something that was a mess and that brought on messasperation. Demented Panda liked to talk about the dialectics of mess, sometimes using and sometimes not using the word dialectics but almost always punning with the word mess. Demented Panda was all about the mess. Demented Panda would often talk about what he called his messes, how he would hold his messes back or would hold his messes in his back. He would talk about the messes he was maybe going to make, or the ideas for messes he was maybe going to make but maybe wouldn’t, or talk about the messes he had already made but weren’t quite done somehow, or about how his back hurt from holding all his mess there, or about his never-finished messertation, that he thought maybe was no longer a good or a relevant messertation, or about his messuscripts that he thought maybe were no longer good or relevant messes, that had maybe been cleaned up or framed too much so that they were now recognizable messes. And when he got bored with all the punning on the word mess, Demented Panda would turn and talk to his dogs in a voice that mocked itself in direct proportion to its seeming earnestness, as if the dogs could only understand philosophical questions or aesthetic questions or political questions if rendered in a cartoon voice. Demented Panda often thought of himself as a cartoon, sometimes he felt like a cartoon that Koki drew without his consent. And sometimes he felt like a cartoon that he drew himself, and since he couldn’t draw that well such a cartoon would be quite a mess as well. And then at other moments, Demented Panda would just remain quiet and make his version of the face, the not quite exasperated yet thinking hard about it but also frustrated face. As Demented Panda would talk about how his messes snuck out of his body in messy ways that weren’t messuscripts but were just plain messes, the sort that just hung there in the air, Koki would agree. Sometimes Demented Panda had a tendency to take his ball sack out in inappropriate places. And Demented Panda might try to frame his ball sack and its messes by claiming that the messes had quotation marks around them, as if any complaint about the mess was a failure on the part of the complainer to see that it was not a mess but was about the mess. After all, Demented Panda would mumble to himself, isn’t it clear that I am a Demented Panda, isn’t it clear that Demented Pandas are going to make Demented Panda

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messes, are going to express their mess, are going to express their Demented Pandatude thus? As if Demented Pandatude or messitude excused or explained or framed the messes in such a way that one could look at the mess from the other side of the frame and have the right attitudes about it, or see oneself in it, or see oneself having the right attitudes about it, or whatever. So this is how they spent their summer, talking about themselves as they talked about the small plot of land and the more they talked about the small plot of land and themselves at the same time the more they began to consider this talking their art practice, an art practice of meeting in the partly cloudy 78 degrees or in the sunny 77 degrees or in the sunny 76 degrees and while there doing some talking instead of doing some doing. Demented Panda and Koki in setting their proposed picturesque story on the small plot of land were somewhat right that nothing much dramatic had happened there. Even the story of the heavy rail public rapid transit system that passed through it, a story that in the city of Demented Panda was accompanied by the razing of vibrant, multi-ethnic working class communities, had not been that dramatically controversial as it had replaced an already existing railroad line that had been in place since the turn of the century. Yet looked at another way, the plot of land had all the histories of the surrounding areas, some of them sad, some of them triumphant. It had for thousands of years, three thousand most said, been populated by various humans, by various animals, such as rabbits and other small rodents, larger deer, elk, and antelope, and by various birds, some migratory and some not. The humans hunted these animals and they burned the grasslands regularly and they harvested roots and tubers that they planted. They call themselves various names and spoke various languages. This history Demented Panda and Koki were not able to know all that well and was only vaguely told in their time. But the history that came after they knew fairly well. In the quick telling of this history, despite the humans who had for three thousand years been hunting the animals and burning the grasslands and planting and harvesting the roots and tubers, the land had been considered unclaimed and unpopulated by an expedition of people sent by another nation far away who then claimed it for another nation and then a representative of this nation gave the land that included the small plot of land to a member of an expedition. From then on different nations and many different people claimed the land. There were many lawsuits. A couple of armed skirmishes. And various deals were made and continue to be made. The land was now claimed by an entirely different nation than the one who sent the expedition and now supposedly owned by many different people, as long as they defined ownership similarly to the nation who now occupied the land. To return to Demented Panda and Koki, as they sat on the grass of the small plot of land in the partly cloudy 78 degrees or in the sunny 77 degrees or in the sunny 76 degrees, they mainly talked. When it came to the writing of poetry, Demented Panda and Koki were badly matched. Their unalikeness could be seen in the accoutrements that they used in their writing life. Demented Panda carried at all times a notebook, but a notebook that might be called the littlest of notebooks. He kept this notebook in his front pocket and it was so small


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that there was never an unsightly bulge. He carried a notebook at all times because he was a poet but he carried a littlest notebook because he didn’t want to have to commit to writing anything really and the littleness of the notebook made him unable to really write anything even if he had wanted to. Koki, on the other hand, carried with her at all times a backpack. In this backpack she kept no fewer than five identical pens lined up for easy access in the pen holder section. And in the backpack itself she always kept at least one large and thick notebook and a book for reading in case she was stuck for some reason somewhere for a long period of time with nothing much to do, along with the usual detritus of modern female life like lip balms and tampons and small tins of painkillers. But even with their different approaches, they both worked all summer on A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cites and they both wrote the same amount on it, which was more or less nothing. It is true that by the end of the summer Demented Panda had some notes in his notebook that he kept promising to type up and send to Koki along with audio recordings he had made of the traffic on the small plot of land but he never did. And it is true that Koki had written pages and pages but her pages were so wandering and incomprehensible that they were the same as nothing. So the days wore on. It was a sunny 78 degrees one day and then partly cloudy 77 degrees the next and then a more sunny 79 degrees the day after that and then a slightly sunny 76 degrees followed by mostly sunny 75 degrees. Then finally the summer was over. And Demented Panda and Koki agreed to meet one last time on the small plot of land and talk one more time about A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cities. Demented Panda decided for this last meeting that he was going to do a spell and mumbled something about how the first poems were probably spells and Koki mumbled to herself that of course Demented Panda would choose a spell because spells are short and do nothing but nonetheless she eagerly agreed to be a witness to it. So one day she walked in the mostly sunny 76 degrees one more time to the small plot of land and there met Demented Panda. Demented Panda’s spell was a simple one to gather energy from the place. And Demented Panda thought to himself that because the place didn’t have much energy, as it just had a lot of traffic surrounding it, when the spell did not work, it would of course make sense and then he would write about that in the littlest notebook that he kept in his front pocket. To begin his spell, Demented Panda sat down and crossed his legs and then adjusted his stomach over his lap and then reached down and pulled his ball sack forward so he could really clear his mind and become one with himself. After he cleared his mind, he cleared his mind again; he felt that he really needed a clear mind to make the spell work, or as he figured it, not work. Then he held out two of his arms, or legs, and made his paws into fists. He felt then some sort of energy, perhaps the energy of the universe like the spell’s instructions promised, enter his recessive paw and flow up out of his ball sack and through his body and into his projective paw. He let the energy build up in his projective paw until he felt he had an immense amount of energy. Then he flung his paws to the right, opened his projective paw and while doing this, he envisioned the energies flying. He then recited a quick chant, one that went “give orange give me eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me

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you,” a chant that was something Nim Chimpsky, the famous chimp who had been taught sign language by human caretakers had liked to sign when he was hungry for an orange. Demented Panda had decided to use the mumbling signs of Nim Chimpsky as a chant because they were slightly absurd, slightly meaningless, and reeked a little of dubious science, all of which seemed the perfect combination for his goal of performance art, not alchemy. Despite Demented Panda’s skepticism and his desires of performance art not alchemy, the spell worked, in a certain sense of that word, and what happened next began rather mundanely although it can best be described by resorting to the language used by Tommy Lee in his description of the party that Pamela Anderson threw for him for his thirty-third birthday, and various first person accounts of the Woodstock concert of 1999, and Livy’s description of the Bacchanalia in his History of Rome. What happen next began with shit. Raw sewage began pouring out of the heavy rail public rapid transit system tunnel and collecting in a series of small pools or lakes at the small plot of land. At first, Demented Panda and Koki just sat there as if slightly stoned from the shock of the spell working and looked at the pool of sewage seeping up and out of the small plot of land. The sewage appeared to be twenty feet long and perhaps a foot deep and soon it flowed over the laps of Demented Panda and Koki and into the intersection where cars continued driving through the sewage. The smell of the raw sewage seemed to only intensify Demented Panda’s spell-casting desires and so he got up from his seated position and stood in the middle of the small plot of land whirring his arms over his head as if signaling to an invisible fleet of helicopters that it was time to land and as a result of this whirring there suddenly appeared two rows of flames stretched out for hundreds of feet in front of him and then just as suddenly midgets appeared all around him and they sang “give orange give me eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you” over and over as they unrolled a red carpet between the lines of fire. Clowns and acrobats materialized, filling the air with confetti. A giant on stilts dressed as the devil walked through the tangle of midgets, parting them like a sea. There was a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, contortionists in boxes, caged lions, and bubble machines. Demented Panda looked around and he noticed all kinds of stands filled with hawkers of food, such as Dove Bars, Frozen Lemonades, Iced Mochas, Orange Mango Drinks, Sprites, Pepsis, Cokes, Nachos, Tenders and Poppers, Jelly Buns, Fat-Free Soft Serve Ice Creams, Gourmet Butter Salt Potatoes, Caramel Apples, Jelly Bellys, Doughnuts, and Arepas. There were excesses of all kinds and the small plot of land was surrounded by mobile production trucks and then in the shadows behind mobile production trucks were empty buses parked in double rows stretching out for at least a quarter of a mile and then in the darkness behind buses were oversized tractor-trailer trucks, the kind that transport forklifts and boilers and other heavy industrial equipment on superhighways at night. All these vehicles had brought all the excesses to the small plot of land. All of these trucks and buses had their air conditioners and refrigeration units running, so they gurgled as they idled, spewing fumes. And soon the small plot of land was covered with a dense brownish-yellow hazy cloud filled with the oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons.


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Demented Panda and Koki wandered through the small plot of land muddling their way through the lakes of raw sewage that were slowly filling with empty pizza boxes and crushed Sprite bottles watching all of this. The scenes they watched were part of a larger story of their time, which in turn was a very minor episode in the history of debauchery and excess in civilization. And as the night wore on impertinent beings in white face and breasty girls in top hats began to practice debaucheries of every kind, as every person found at hand that sort of enjoyment to which he or she was disposed by the passion predominant in his or her nature. Nor were they confined to one species of vice such as the promiscuous intercourse of eating high levels of refined sugar, white flour, trans fat, polyunsaturated fat, and salt or the burning of excessive amount of fossil fuels by endlessly idling busses and trucks. From this store-house of villainy proceeded the punching, slapping, and kicking of detainees; the jumping on their naked feet; the videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees; the forcibly arranging of detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing; the forcing of detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time; the forcing of naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear; the forcing of groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped; the arranging of naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them; the positioning of naked detainees on an MRE box, with a sandbag on head, and wires attached to fingers, toes, and penis to stimulate electric torture; the writing of “I am a Rapest” on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked; the placing of a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female soldier pose for a picture; the allowing of a male MP guard to have sex with a female detainee; the using of military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee; the taking of photographs of dead detainees; the breaking of chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; the threatening of detainees with a charged 9mm pistol; the pouring of cold water on naked detainees; the beating of detainees with a broom handle and a chair; the threatening of male detainees with rape; the allowing of a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; the sodomizing of a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick; the using of military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee. Many of these audacious deeds were brought about by treachery, but most of them by force and they served to conceal the violence so that none of the cries uttered by the persons suffering violence or murder could be heard abroad. While all of this went on around them Demented Panda and Koki joined in, holding their thumbs up, contorting their mouths into idiotic grins, whimpering. Demented Panda, as if bereft of reason, uttered complaints, with frantic contortions of his body, mumbling over and over to himself that all he had wanted to do was write nothing about an unremarkable place, write a picturesque story of a pastoral plot of land. Koki was silent for a long time. And then she looked down at her hands. Koki’s hands were normally were fuzzy, with sharp black claws, but one of them had now mutated into a pink and fleshy handgun that was oozing and dripping amniotic fluid. Koki knew this dripping flesh handgun well for a hand

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oozed and dripped with amniotic fluid whenever one for some absurd reason thought they were immune from whatever was going on around them. Koki thus suddenly knew her role and in the habit of Bacchantes, with her hair disheveled, her claw now a flesh-gun dripping and oozing amniotic fluid, went down into the tunnel that the heavy rail public rapid transit system used and she began shooting from her flesh-gun hand an unextinguishable flame composed of native sulphur and charcoal. As she did this Demented Panda followed along behind her plaintively asking her what she wanted and she looked at him for a moment and then shrugged, as if the answer should be obvious to anyone who has spent the summer visiting a small plot of land in an attempt to write A Picturesque Story About the Border Between Two Cities. “I want to burn it down,� Koki said. And Demented Panda found it hard to argue with that and so he sat down beside her, his eyes alight with the simple anticipatory pleasure of throwing more wood into the fire. Eventually, everything burned. And by the time everything had burned and all that was left was smoldering ashes, the spell ended. The mobile production trucks, buses, oversized tractor-trailer trucks, and careening ambulances vanished but the raw sewage remained. With nothing holding them together, Demented Panda and Koki sat in the raw sewage, aware that all that was left was the feeling of sitting in raw sewage and knowing aloneness deep inside them. There is an analogy, although far from perfect, that may shed some light on what went on that day. Imagine Edible Fig. Edible Fig was first domesticated outside his native region, in Mesopotamia, in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in what is today Iraq and then he traveled to what is now California beginning in 1769. It is not clear to Edible Fig nor to anyone else how Edible Fig spreads into preserves and wild areas, but he does and then once there, he grows quickly and spreads vegetatively by root sprouts, forming dense thickets that exclude most other plants. This story though is not just the easy and obvious one of invasion from afar. There are other ways that this analogy works. Most figs are dependent on a species-specific agraonid wasp and Edible Fig is no exception. And so one afternoon Fertilized Female Wasp squeezed through the scale-covered ostiole in the end of the synconia of caprifits of Edible Fig and laid one egg in each of several of the short-styled female flowers that Edible Fig was growing. Eventually, still inside the synconium, Adult Male Wasp emerged and quickly cut into the flower containing Female Wasp Larvae and mated with her. Female Wasp then gnawed her way out of the synconium two or three weeks after this and then she searched for another, younger synconium and squeezed through that narrow opening to reach the flowers inside. This opening was so small that some of the pollen on the body surface of Female Wasp was scrapped off as she passed through. There she inserted her ovipositor down the style tube to deposit her eggs, but the styles of Edible Fig were so long that Female Wasp could not easily deposit her eggs, so she had to insert her ovipositor down the style tube again and again and as she attempted this again and again she deposited pollen and fertilized the flowers vigoriously even though she realized that she would never be able to leave the synconium.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


stone and the faces that resemble faces from them.

now— of the runaway inside reflection: a cessation of

A clear ending. The mirror fills the photo and likewise.

do—Who moves you—Each thing exactly. Black

in its place— cessation of thought. To say reflection—I do

metaboles lightsick and the bird like that, frippery, sky.

speech. Consider life inside an oven. Consider hammer and

the living— cessation of speech rather than—if the senses—

Box driven deeper, we are in among the cherry trees,

One defends the truant other. Dante: What I would not

and sargasso and bosphorus each math more—among

the sea-round stone or their tremulant, false as water.

And pursued it as addict or mathematician. Either


Susan Maxwell

Ben Segal WRITING EXERCISES EXERCISE #1—Journaling This page you are reading should be also printed in braille. The opposite page should be this page but in braille and might even be if this is printed how it should be printed. The braille should be knobbed and hard and black. If I have been allowed, if I am given such grace and budget, the braille is thick smeared with nutrient paint. It is apricot braille and tea tree oil. If this is printed in braille and nutrient smeared on the page opposite this page, you should take this page opposite this page and press it hard into your face. Scrub and press with this text of cleansing abrasion. Raw your face with this text if this text is proper and braille. Raw yourself to a thin, clean, fresh skinned face. Let the page opposite this page that is printed with this text as braille text become the well of your oils and the teeth to scuff away your dying.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011



Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

This page should be a new page. This page should be the next page after the page that has been printed in braille and after the back of the page that has been printed in braille because the back of the page that has been printed in braille should have been and possibly was left blank as a canvas for the seeping through of your skin and dirt and oils. The back of the page that is or should have been printed in braille is or should have been a Rorschach test or oracle in which to read your cleanliness or fate. The darkened wetted paper that is your excess that is what the back of the page that is or should have been printed in braille is or should be is called autobiography.

exercise #2—writing what’s right for the moment Did you shower and drink beer in the shower? Did you set the water to the hottest that you can take and then push yourself to improve yourself at your extremes by then increasing the temperature by one degree? If you have pushed yourself to improve yourself at your extremes by increasing the water temperature to one degree beyond what you can tolerate and you did not drink any beer in the shower, drink six beers. If you did not desire a better self through wet heat and you did not drink any beer in the shower, you are not in an appropriate state of being and should not complete EXERCISE #2 until tomorrow. If you drank beer in the shower, telephone the first person of the same sex that you secretly desired but never admitted desire to and tell that person that you wished always a little or more than a little for them to take you up in a secret and out-of-time space and roughly do with you what you only ever at that time had done with yourself. Transcribe.

exercise #3—writing with constraints Take every sixth word in this exercise and pretend that you love someone you ought to but can’t quite. Take someone like your last significant other.

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exercise #4—writing what you know Cut your face shaving. Cut your legs shaving. Mix the leg blood and face blood in the water of your stopped up sink. Take a sheet of the most expensive paper you can afford and dye it in the blood sink. Hang this expensive blood paper to dry. Do not use a hair dryer, towel, fan, or other device. This sheet of paper should dry by hanging in the air, dripping and staining slowly into what will be its proper final mottling. Write the name of the person you most love in the world and write that name over that name and write that name over that name and write that name over that name again and again on the expensive piece of blood-stained/blood-mottled paper until you cannot even read that name, until the name of the person you love most in the world has blackened and blotted and massed onto itself so thoroughly as to tear entirely through your thick expensive self-bloodied sheet of paper, until that name has indelibly impressed itself in the oak of your desk.

exercise #5—writing from prompts Burn every photograph of your family that you own and imagine that they have disowned you. Describe your memories of the photographs you have just burned and then insert the phrase “who molested me” after every mention of a family member. Send this text to your mother and father for Christmas and transcribe their responses when you talk to them about it on the telephone. Replace all uses of the word ‘love’ with the phrase ‘lust after’ and replace all mentions of sadness with historical asides about famous shipwrecks. Send this text to your mother and father along with a series of photographs of your bruised and naked body. Title the photograph series ‘Arousal’. Videotape your mother and father weeping in response and write a short text describing their physical failings in such moments of discomposure. Write as if your mother and father are naked, writhing, dripping with sweat. Remember that ‘creative writing’ means ‘the shameful exploitation of everyone who you have ever loved or been loved by in exchange for marginal personal gain’.


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Sean Labrador y Manzano from Radical

Co-prosperity: 12 chained Illokano sonnet duplos

1. Radical Co-prosperity when Military Advisory Group lifts quarantine. Visiting Forces agree not to pursue private armies’ withholdings. Will test bombs elsewhere in exchange for “pleasure models.” Armed Forces Entertainment co-authors loyalty oath. Victory Liner conducts conscription. Weary terminals marvel short-time “shoulder-to-shoulder” hotel rates. Would not their reliability turn the course of war? When Utrecht School refuses to be impressed, kerosene wicks meconium stylus. KFC awards 176 franchises

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to 176 cooperative eponymous colonels. Cockfights’ vanquished find themselves Original or Extra-Crispy. Spoliarium standard as lobby art. Combatants cast into deep fryer. Avian flu abated when birds are hot winged. Orientalism as environmental protection, as endangered species list, as kangaroo court nominates world heritage. Anting antings priced to move. Middle passage bunks field ninjas, FAMES’s euphemism for Priority Worker’s business class travel. Cabinboys at least evaluate the captain’s ampoletta.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

2. Once around the world dispatching maroon colonies, the seabed unpacks East India Company’s reprisal. Sea beggars indemnify fiscal responsibility and censor monopolies, private armies diversify portfolios, the colonels enter boardrooms, broker relics, evaluate Balikbayan box contents. There are lengths of my hair scaled for tensile strength, the oracle misreads Sunsilk’s blacker than black henna. Pusod. The knot wraps prosody her skilled labor is not nimble, it is to be expected when you have long hair like mine. Mamasan’s commission pays

concierge’s exaggeration. Sweatshop hands

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are credible when piecing work. Revisionists envy how heroes are made, propaganda by the deed propagates feminist overture: motherboards, this time. Revolutionary tax collectors are marginalized when collecting monthly lechon when Freeport Zone gentrifies Niggertown, dampens chitterling trade. Remember when galleons foreclosed Dutch Illocandia? The Coy Mistress ran the blockade. Treaty of Munster would plot no return. Castilians’ forced removal of Illokos tipped balance


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Scott Butterfield Stop, Watch 1:01 am Along the banks of the Gamtoos River the ichanti emerge from the deep

and, water still dripping from their glistening bodies, snatch the soul of a griot in his tent, toothless and asleep. 2:45 am A convergence of the Caribbean and Nazca plates occurs under Guadalupe and yawnswallows nine hundred and eighteen people. 3:13 am Narco-gangs seeking to clear–cut tropical forest for illicit cultivation massacre seventeen members of the Farmers Organization of Southern Sierra who stood against them, emphatic: “The earth is our mother. We are prepared to die to defend her.” 5:43 am A sparrow wolfs down a mudstruggling earthworm. 7:47 am A banded granite rock dislodges the tire of a tanker carrying LN2, the driver swerves hard, breaks through the concrete divider and into oncoming traffic, creating eight human–metal masterpieces. 9:09 am The main control rods malfunction at a nuclear power plant just east of Tokyo, and the chain reaction of Uranium nuclei releases enough energy to vaporize all four hundred and twenty employees. 10:11 am His Majesty of Spain, with a generous entourage, feeds a Russian show bear named Mitrofan a mixture of honey and vodka then pushes him out into an open field, where the king, after six bullets, finally triumphs. 11:22 am At his home in a southern border town, Mr. Rosewater—an explorer whose footprints fall in the Galapagos and San Lorenzo—falls down fifteen stairs and busts open his head. 12:50 pm Two wellgroomed kids, ages three and four, living in Montevideo and Ljubljana, respectively both choke on a small orange Lego included in a space station play set. 3:45 pm In the midst of her annual transcontinental voyage an albatross is sucked into the propellers of a Jumbo Jet, which begins to break down, and as the plane plummets to the Pacific all three hundred and thirteen passengers remain serene and contemplative, until the water breaks the silence. 4:20 pm Near a central city park, a malnourished horse drops dead on the hot asphalt and its own excrement while carrying two socialites, one recently released from prison on tax fraud. 6:16 pm Disturbed from the nice daydream a former U.S. Marine Corps marksman, hearing deep voices, knowing the voices are wrong, unable to stop the voices, takes an M9 Beretta 9mm and two clips from his closet cigar box and retires seventeen of his neighbors before the voices tell him one last thing. 8:00 pm. On a rural Wyoming farmstead, in a lavish, antique bed, a mother is poisoned with cyanide by her son, crying as he does it, because he has

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


no ability to care for her, and she will not go into strangers’ company, hence her words to him, so long ago, “I am going to die with those I love by my side.” 9:18 pm In the vacant south wing of a hospital in Siena, the brain of a fabulist, renowned for its storytelling abilities, drowns in blood from a hemorrhage. 11:37 pm A Red-eared slider gobbles up a goldfish in the simple tank of a high-school herpetologist. 12:01 am Her weary eyes drift from the page and the stenographer, stretching beyond the sharp cone of lamplight striking her desk, brushes her hand against something in the dark and she is perfectly content to leave it be, just float to her room, collapse on a pillow, curl up and kill the candle flame in her head, sleeping with the thought of death, waking with the knowledge that she will not live long.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Lance Phillips from

Nietzsche’s Bed

Nostril produces the nouns

divided from themselves: pearl the summer sky, happening

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Digs throat through liriope doe rabbit

Smile yes toad The red inside fennel stalk from Prometheus


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

**struck dumb **winter apples **slowly those motions from tree to mouth approaching **gag **forced the field

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Figuration: fly’s leg for scale, groping finger

Method: spider Constraint: laced into pear tree’s crotch


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

By lips, lips by moon lit

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Anjali Mullany The Collagist I. Origins My mother’s third son died of Thalassemia. Little Manik’s disease was borne of his bones, his body an inhospitable home for red blood cells. My father was a hematologist, but now he is mostly kind of a recluse. He lives in Itasca County with a woman named Paula, formerly Agah Baran, formerly Sister Paula of Saint Mary’s Hospital and the Winona Diocese. Her parents married in a fairly large Turkish city called Izmit, though Paula grew up in Cyprus; her family escaped to America after some political and personal turmoils in the 1970s. Paula’s neck is ringed by an irregular mulberry stain, wine in yellowed Styrofoam. On my mother we would call such a thing a stretch mark. When Paula was still Agah and when she was fourteen, her brother tried to cut off her head while she slept in the dark motel room they shared, somewhere between LaCrosse and St. Croix Falls. I believe this is what lead to her Catholic conversion. She and my father live in a geodesic dome, it’s quite hard to get to. There’s only one narrow unpaved road that leads there, and it runs through the big state park, beneath the towering sentinel red and white pines, quaking aspen seventy feet high, then through a lovely white alley of shimmering paper birch. From what I once gathered, my father and Paula rarely venture off their property. I suppose that makes sense, at least in winters, when snow piles toward the glittering leafless canopy, the cotton-blowing chimney. The forestry road is not plowed. It’s not even plowable. White-tailed deer chew carious birdseed, frozen barks. It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s a fact that nowdays my father hunts. He hunts with a bow and an arrow. One time we were up there, he took us with him, but not because we wanted to go. He didn’t “catch” a damn thing, though he managed to lose both my sister’s knit mittens (the ones with little round-eyed, lidless, perpetuallysurprised owl puppets sewn into the fingers) and one of his leather gloves. The whole time we were wandering the woods, he kept saying lend me your ____ for a second. Lend me that ____, I need it but I’ll give it right back. When we got back to the dome, Paula boiled water for tea. She looked out a window, opaque with steam, and drew a little cross on the glass. Her fingers, like the rest of her, are plump. She didn’t care much for hunting, she said, though she frequently and willfully conjured the image of a deer, the eyeballs disconsolate, transparent holograms, gradations of dark, dense as chocolate, the chest piebald white, sorrel brown, and fey, a carmine heart. My father employed us in a heated debate (on his side) over the differences between a dome and a yurt. At the conclusion of the argument he retired to his area of the dome, my sister and I went to our room and played cards, if you are to think that I am interested in what Paula got up to then you, my friend, are wrong.


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II. The Sweet Escape Superior Court said, “Cut down your pin oaks.” This pleased my father’s neighbor. The neighbor’s solar panels lay in my father’s shade. The oaks were tall and they hosted broad, branchy crowns. Paula told my father don’t worry, the hearty uses after timber, dewy kindling under the logs, titian tables, legs as the spidery fawn. My father sat in his dome with his wife, his neighbor at home with his dryer. In the evenings the roaming bear gnarr felled them. A distant threat from the libidinous forest. The consequential snows. Paula told my father to hush now. She told him to dream the consequence: the mum sorrel owl. The champion orb, inexorable. Mornings. Lemon light, sheer as a bride’s veil, vibrate as a waking animal’s stretch.

III. Origins My mother lives in Stewartville, a small town with a main street called Broadway in it, near Rochester, two towns that straddle humble stretches of U.S. 52, close to the I-90 junction. Very few trees. The land is flat and developed by neat squares of agriculture. There is a pond and a river, though they have been rechanneled, shored with smooth stones, and look fake. Mother works in Rochester as a painter. She paints houses for money. Ceilings, walls, floors. She dislikes stucco. She paints sticks and rocks for art. She can turn a branch into a figure skater wearing a figure skating skirt or a pom-pom hat. Upon request from a client (she has had a few commissions), a medium piece of landscaping pebble becomes a lump of Christmas coal or a fetal-position dog or a resentful lover. My mother’s college degree is in biology, though she claims to have forgotten everything she learned when she was twenty. I live with her now. Me, Mother, Manik’s dead, Abhimoda’s dead, Debashish gone now for a very long time. All us children boys save for my large sister Alaka, the ends of her inky seaweed hair eel to the backs of her knees. At the weekends we drive to Lake Pepin and swim in the dirty water. The shore shells smell of fish. Alaka emerges from the icy surface, a phosphorous scent in her scalp, in her skin. Alaka works in Rochester, and goes to high school there, she goes to Mayo High School, which is shaped like a circle and is made of concrete and is unattractive. She has friends. She did a report for a class in her school and I helped her. Lake Pepin is the widest part of the long grim river, naturally speaking, unless you count the end, where it spreadeagles in the warm waters of the Mexican Gulf. Mother stayed there first, down in New Orleans. She lived there for the university, but quit that when she met my father. No, that’s not right. She quit after she met my father, a few months before Debashish and I were born.

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IV. Success I made my fortune accidentally. Believe it or not, I wrote a book. A series of them. Not a book with a lot of words in it, mind you, but a sort of pictogram that wasn’t hard to make. I cut out pictures from glossy magazines. I’ve been doing that a very long time. I did it when I was a kid. When Manik was in the hospital I made him a card that was a collage of things he loved, such as firetruck, caterpillar, potato, stethoscope, Ganesha, Canadian Goose, April O’Neil, Bryan Adams, toilet, Kit Kat and on the inside I told him what I loved with another collage, and some of the things we loved were the same. Abhimoda got a lot more cards, better ones because I knew him more and also I was older. Mother saved all my cut-out paintings in a large decorated porcelain Meissen box beneath her vanity, she still has them and I’m glad, I would probably have held it against her if she hadn’t saved them, Alaka has some and I wouldn’t know what Debashish did with his. Probably not threw them away, but I’m sure they are kept somewhere where he never sees them, that’s okay, I can live with that. He’s my brother. If my father has seen my book, he hasn’t said anything about it. Who cares what Paula knows. But the book is very popular because it has aesthetic appeal. It looks good on a table, even if you don’t have the time to look all the way inside. It’s quick if you want to just flip through. It’s not hard to do what I do, you can try it some time. The best way in my opinion is to pick out all your background pieces first. These should be the largest things you cut out. Maybe a bigger-than-life cherry from an ad, or a city skyline. You can put those in the middle or on the top. In the corners or on the side, you might want to add a picture of cracked bricks or a berber carpet, to give the painting some texture or to give the impression of a border or exotic art frame. Then you cut out smaller images. I make piles of things that have to do with each other, that in some way seem to fit. Sometimes I put in things that seem opposite of other things, because it gives me a queer sensation to look at and because I know by now that’s exactly what the critics are watching for. I cut out these things carefully. If you cut out a picture of say, Cindy Crawford, it doesn’t do much good to accidentally cut off her finger or her head, except for the rare circumstance you were trying to do such a thing, which I would emphasize you should only do quite sparingly or over time that technique will totally lose all its effect, its meaning. I use a translucent scotch tape, I wear powder-free latex gloves to avoid stamping the collage with oily finger spirals. I try to put smaller pictures over seams between larger pictures. I try to hide in-betweens, to create the impression of tidiness, order. On the back of my book, William Gass finds my creations a divine marriage of chaos and order, death and life, beauty and corrosion. He sees rhythms, songs. There are fugues and ritornellos! I had to look those words up on, then I had to check out the CDs from the library. William Gass believes that my pieces should not be called collages, but instead should be called sentences. I am less uncertain than apathetic yet I am still inclined to agree. Mother was happy for me. She wanted me to succeed. She had pushed us to work hard in school, though none of us except Debashish have ever excelled in our studies, but he didn’t go to medical school he went to law school and now he’s in Cincinnati, he’s got a girlfriend who also went to law school, he has a house and a driveway that neither Mother nor my father have ever seen, neither have I nor Alaka. I wasn’t bad at tennis, I didn’t have enough resolve to play through senior


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

year. I don’t think anyone can blame me. Alaka spends most of her time outside school at her job, which is in the hematology lab at the Mayo Clinic, which as you know is where my father used to work, because she wants to be a doctor though Mother has told her she won’t make it to a good med school if she doesn’t buck up in college, do a better job than in high school and junior high . I’m terribly, terribly proud of my big brother! Alaka said at the formal dinner in St. Paul, before the hip and happening release party. She was wearing the most beautiful dress, green, lustrous, low-cut, Mother was wearing emeralds and uncut diamonds, which she called her polki set. I had brought a girl with me, Kirsten Svengaard who I met because she was a waitress at the Canadian Honker in Rochester and I had taken to frequenting the bar there because a friend of mine from high school was the manager, but Kirsten Svengaard spent much of dinner exchanging text messages with a mysterious partner, by the dessert course Kirsten Svengaard had left. I raised my glass of Pinot Noir high in the air, splashes of burgundy turned pink in the light, and by the end of the night I was rip-roaring drunk! Jon Hassler introduced me to Garrison Keillor, and they both asked me how long our family have lived in Minnesota. I’ve since written and presented entire speeches on the history of my family’s immigrations, all of these speeches well-received and reproduced in print editions and on the Internet, I’ve read them at awards dinners, gallery openings, in bookstores (since it is difficult to actually read from my book, all I can do is sign it, and present speeches based upon my life and personal history as a means of conveying the meaning of my collage work), though the contents of these speeches are technically untrue, and my mother’s name is not Agah. Robert Bly’s wife I found very charming, older than me of course, not stylish but magisterial, given to using her hands, sanding faces with her roughlooking pupils, or so it all seemed to me, and now it turns out that she has, since the party, died. It depends on the day, sometimes this makes me feel better, sometimes it makes me feel worse, that I thumped her on the back and called her husband a latent homosexual. She suggested I attend one of his revived men’s retreats, there was one coming up in Pipestone and another in Wisconsin. Maybe she didn’t understand some people could never participate in a thing like that. I felt anxious about my behavior when I woke up in the morning. I had a headache above my eye, and was terribly thirsty.

V. Wish Fulfillment I am willing to bet that Paula dreams of killing my mother. Something quiet, something invisible or from the inside, like a cyanide pill or a drowning, perhaps a botched abortion. Sister Paula was a virgin and a nun until the day my father pushed her sallow, gelatinous thighs tight against a gummy gurney on the third floor of St. Mary’s Hospital, one of the two hospitals associated with the Mayo Clinic (Rochester branch, not Jacksonville or Scottsdale, I think now there’s even one in Dubai), the other hospital in the Rochester system is called Methodist, near the Gonda Building, which is a deceptively soothing polished steel structure, the exterior walls are made of curved glass, so that the walls appear to ripple as

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silver waves, all in tune to the music, which is exquisite and echoes through the building, played on a black baby grand Steinway in the marble-floored atrium by (depending on the day and time of day) either a grey-haired woman or a grey-haired man, the day Manik died it was Mendelssohn, but the day Abhimoda died, Rachmaninov! The Gonda Building is very reassuring I imagine if you are sick of something terrible, like AIDS or Cancer and have traveled a long way to be treated, but a bit misleading and perhaps even evil all the same because chances are high that you are going to die and you’ve wasted lots of gas money. I think the building is less reassuring if you live in the area and have seen that building many times before, when you were well, so the Gonda Building is less of a pleasant surprise for you than for the sick person who has been on a long journey and is expecting something more clinical, less like a wealthy art gallery. The entrance is designed in sort of an art deco cinema marquee style and fancy old hotels flank the building on one side, across the street is a well-manicured park with a statue in it, there are lots of well-cleaned taxis outside, it feels sort of exciting, like the 1920s or the Oscars! Inside the Gonda Building there are Warhols and Rodins. There are nice blown glass chandeliers by Chihuly which have in the past inspired my work with collage, yellow and blue and green, protruding from the center in every direction are whirlygigs and squiggles and trumps and hooleyhoos and skadaddies and scrimshaws and whistlebaits. These Chihulys are as chaotic and unalarming as if: someone gets up on a stage, perhaps in a tuxedo, perhaps with a spirited or bright bow-tie, and they says prepare yourself for a trumpet blast, then a few other men, probably in tuxedos if the first man was in a tuxedo, stand on the stage and produce a cacophony of trumpety sounds, not a song really, but sounds that sort of go together well in a clashing way. This lascivious image of my father lustfully gurneying Paula below her dingy black habit isn’t a product of my imagination, in fact my father told me so, personally I find thinking or discussing it gravely appalling, powerfully disgusting. Paula was Manik’s nurse, no she was Abhimoda’s. Abhimoda was five when he started wearing diapers again. Hardly any children have ever developed Myeloma. It’s hard to find a record. My mother said, my children’s blood, their bones, when the doctor broke the news. I remember thinking how artificial it sounded, what she had just said, then she spoke again, no, God! She turned her face away from little Abhimoda’s cot and she cried so hard she couldn’t stop coughing and her nose was running, she coughed so hard that after a while a little bit of blood came out. The doctor did try to explain all about Abhimoda’s plasma and cells. Abhimoda was weak and it’s debatable whether or not he cared. My father had the courtesy or the cowardice to wait until after Abhimoda’s cremation, which was (I was surprised) attended by almost the entire population of his kindergarten class and was therefore a fairly noisy occasion, also the most Scandinavian crowd of all the funerals our bleak shrinking family has ever hosted. Then my father and fat Paula drove North on 52 in his pearly ’91 BMW, past the tall sun-blistered men who detassle corn, past the miniscule ‘international” airport and Menards (a regionallysuccessful hardware superstore) and the giant corn cob tower that really looks like a cob above Seneca Foods. My father left Mother the Jaguar, and he only ever came back once. What am I going to do with a Jag in winter, my mother asked me over the breakfast table, which was not really a table at all but a Kashmiri rug we spent much of the day lying on, which we had littered with candy wrappers, unwashed blue and white Spode cereal bowls,


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empty Ziploc bags, picked dinner cadavers. There’s no place to have it fixed! The chicken carcasses are smelling, throw them away. Is Alaka still alive? She can’t possibly be. My back. Chest pain! No, God! I can’t remember how many children I have. Surely there is something wrong with me. I can’t distinguish between the living and the dead.

VI. Drive Paula and I take turns at the wheel. We are driving to Detroit Lakes to find my father at the hospital. St. Mary’s Regional Health Center, compared to the Mayo Clinic, is very small. Maybe there are eighty beds. My father is no longer a hematologist. He is an outpatient, not a janitor, but in my mind he sweeps linoleum floors. Yesterday, in Stewartville, my mother made eggplant, yellow dal, gobi alu, butter chicken and chana: (an easy recipe: chickpeas, vegetable oil, onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, extra turmeric, a little bit of cayenne, extra black cumin - not ground, seed), delicious, my favorite, my father’s favorite, and plain basmati rice. Each of these dishes she packed in several semi-clear plastic containers, to one container with a rubber band she strapped several roti wrapped in waxed paper, and on top of that burfi decorated with very thin silver foil for appearances’ sake, to be eaten but not necessarily for some good or bad taste. The containers are small, they used to contain hot and sour soup from the take-out counter at Hunan Garden, which is my favorite restaurant in Rochester. Mother froze the food solid in the containers before I left, she kept the containers on the back porch all night long, that’s how she froze them, anyway the freezer was full, mostly we eat things that come frozen. I drove out of Rochester for an hour and twenty minutes, I sped past Minneapolis, I stopped in Stillwater because there’s a soda fountain I like there even when it’s winter, I considered riding the little trolley but it’s not fun, it’s a waste of time, then on the road again, through St. Cloud, kept going, skipped ahead on the CD, stopped at a Kwik Trip for gas and Sunchips and coffee, was really starting to enjoy myself, fewer fields, more pines, logging trucks driven by terribly polite drivers, five hours later I was near Itasca, took a break, drove another hour to my father’s, had to go slow because it’s really hard for a car, let alone a Jag, let alone a really nice Jag, to go through more than an inch of snow, also bad. And the food in the trunk was still frozen through. The dome was different, there was an altar near the entrance, draped in an orange and yellow swastika and paisley cloth, incense burners and incense ash, as if they had actually been performing puja, as if the temple had not been thrown together just to add an Indian element to the décor, so I began to suspect it was “real”, bruised rotted petals, little bronze and clay statuettes and postcard pics of four-armed Saraswati strumming a lute, a meditative Shiva, Vishnu with Lakshmi, Krishna’s skin was blue as though he was submerged in terribly cold water, or dead. Also, cut out from newspapers, photos of the popes, John Paul and Benedict. Actually Paula met me before I reached the door, your father’s not here, he’s at the hospital, no let’s not wait for him to come here, let’s get in your car and drive to Detroit Lakes, he’ll be so happy to have a hot meal, we can all come back together, no it doesn’t

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matter that we’ll be in two different cars. I pointed out that the food will take a long time to warm, the trunk is full of blocks of “masala ice”, not a funny joke, she said there is a microwave there, she said I am bringing napkins and plates, utensils too, there’s a soda machine, if you don’t drink soda they have juice, coffee, water, even more beverages. She brought a thermos of “çay”, she called it “çay”, I said that past experience had taught me there’s no difference between “çay” and Earl Grey, she said I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I’ve got a mouth and a tongue and tastebuds and for that matter an attitude problem like the festering warts on a horse’s backside, yes we have horses now, yes you can see them but later, when it’s time for them to be fed. I made her drive the forestry road because I am the one who had already traveled all day, though I cringed, she flooded the engine, made the tires spin when we were stuck, and then when we finally got the tires out of a hump of slush the tires squealed, the car fishtailed, bolted off the road like a pig with an electric shock up its ass and this was all really bad for the axles, the alignment, in general just very, very bad for the car, and I told her so, that watching her try to drive was like watching a beluga whale try to sew buttons on a vest. It was stressful, I wanted to grab the wheel! I made her pull over and now I am back in control, driving through the more popular sections of the park, though not in winter, past the Indian Cemetery, past Wegman’s Log Cabin, near Douglas Lodge, out of the woods, if this were the summer then we would see the tall grasses of the slight “hills”, the dry blades brushing against one another, soft and sibilate behind the rushing breeze entering the open windows, the poplars near grassy roadside puddles of water, the incandescent undersides of leaves as the wind blows against the trees’ lay, in August there are purple echinacea, black-eyed susans, sunflowers, papery orange monarchs and painted ladies, rams’ head lady slippers in the alvars. Perfect, dry skincasts of the june bugs, not one fragile leg or eyeball broken, cling to the edge of the puddles, grey hollow fossils which once held a stout little life. Cocoons, bloodless and empty and cracked, dangle from the tip of every milkweed and lanky cosmo. Fat spangly dragonflies the length of my palm and diving black-and-white loons in every little body of water I drive past, more often than not I stop and get out. When the air moves, the grassland shudders, ripples as I imagine the ocean would on a sunny day. Different shades of wave. Every week the grass is a different color. All the varieties of green, yellow, red, brown, pink, even blue and violet and black. It gives me peace, the summer landscape, and my trips up there are often not such peaceful times. I have to go to the bathroom, I brake and pull over, unzip my pants and go by the side of the road, it’s bitterly cold, snow whips from the ground up my face, I purposely leave the car door open. The snot is frozen in my mouth. I think I froze my penis. This is not something Paula wants to know! She is driving again. It is convenient for her, she says, that my father is being treated in this hospital, part of the Benedictine Health System which is run out of Duluth. But what does that have to do with you, I say, you were never part of that Benedictine order, A, and B, you’re not a nun, C you were a nun but then you broke all your vows, D you slept with my father, E you left town with him even though he already had a wife and after his son’s god damn cremation, not five minutes after the funeral, F have you ever been to Duluth, G and H and I and J you got married to a mortal, you’re supposed to be married to Jesus or to God, to top it all off you’re a freak in addition to being a liar, you’re supposed to be a Muslim, you’re strange, you’re fucking obese, you need to get


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over yourself, I resent your existence on this earth, you were a nurse at St. Mary’s in Rochester, not St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes, you are a shitty driver, and one of these days you will get all of us killed! W X Y Z! There’s something seriously wrong with you. I don’t even know my dad anymore, he’s under your spell. Bows and arrows? A dome? Incense? What the fuck, stop showing off your neck. It’s nothing to be proud of. Just drive. Detroit Lakes sucks. It seriously sucks. The downtown of Detroit Lakes looks like the olden days. It looks like a movie set in a small town in the 1950s. There is a little 1950s-style department store full of old 1950s-style women. There’s a diner full of ancient, tobacco-stained men. They spend the whole day gossiping and drinking coffee and grunting and being silent. There’s a contemporary movie theatre, not downtown but near the highway, only the suckiest movies of course to match this sucky town, also near the highway there’s all the things you would expect, McDonalds, Subway, even a Chinese restaurant. There are resorts on the lake. People go there to jetski and snowmobile. Nearby of course there’s Itasca State park, you can walk ankle-deep across the Mississippi. There’s actually lots of things to do but still it sucks! I don’t know why anyone would choose to live here, it’s the town my father and Paula go to on the rare occasion they want to leave their dome, and I think why would you want to go there, why would that be the place you go, the people don’t travel, they all work in restaurants and hotels, they talk so slow, about nothing as far as I can tell. So I should face the facts, there is no reason to go and I resent having to drive there to see my father, any decent father would drive down to Stewartville and visit his children and his childrens’ memorials and his wife, I don’t care how blood-sick he is. And to top it all off now Paula is telling me that they are planning a trip to India, they will first fly to Ankara because there are people Paula wants to see, distant relatives, childhood friends, apparently they all miss her, want her to come home. She has a strong desire to speak her mother tongue, to be spoken to in her mother tongue. Then they will go to Delhi, my father wants to see it all, some he’s seen before, some he hasn’t, Paula thinks he is worried that the end will come before he has a chance to go, so he must go, the Hanuman Temple, Lotus Temple, Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi Zoo, Lal Quila, Junter Munter, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Safdarjung’s Tomb, Qutab Minar, wants to visit his brother-in-law who owns part of Haldiram and is extremely wealthy, and bring sweets back for Mother because even though you may want to deny it he is a very good man, he wants to see his sisters and his sisters’ children, is heartsick, misses his little nieces and nephews, plus there is his brother’s daughter’s wedding, there will be twelve hundred people at the wedding, and important people, five different functions requiring Paula to be fitted for and purchase five different wedding sari, churidaar and lengha, and most urgently my father no longer believes in Western Medicine. Your father and I think it important he is treated properly, most likely at Bhole Babaji Ayurvedic Hospital and Research Centre, it’s somewhere in the UP, your father has sent them a lot of money. On top of all the tourist sites, Paula explains that my father wants to visit all his teenage haunts like various shops and good places to eat in CP, though he has heard that now it is called Indira Gandhi something or other, and that people like to go to malls, and he wants to go to Moti Mahal in GK Market, the one in the old city is too filthy, though they had such great qawwali singers, mostly he just wants to eat!, Amrapali in Khan Market to purchase love jewelry for Paula, and also my father wants to go to as many movies as he can while he is

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there. This is very shocking to me as my entire life I have never known my father to watch a Hindi film, his favorite movies were Die Hard, Die Hard 2, The Rock, National Treasure, National Treasure 2 and The Fugitive (in that order), his favorite actor was Nicholas Cage, and my memory insists that he and my mother primarily enjoyed listening to classical music and pop radio, my father was the one who insisted we all study the viola and the piano and Debashish, who excelled at music, also for a time took up the electric guitar and the drums. Paula would like to lose weight, there is something called a Panchakarma diet and lifestyle she can be instructed in by a trained Ayurvedic nutritionist, to cleanse her body. And internal oleation (by taking ghee or castor oil), also warm oil on the forehead, opening the srota channels of circulation, eliminating doshas and toxins from the body on every level (those being the physical, emotional, and spiritual), simple and beneficial yoga exercises, herbal enema, herbal purgation, therapeutic vomiting, pulse examination and diagnosis, snehan massage, sandalwood body dusting, swedan steam baths, foul-tasting elixirs eliminate hot blood from the stomach, which is very bad for the digestion and is contributing to Paula’s obesity, there have already been several telephone consultations between the doctors at Bhole Babaji and my father, I wonder if the Babaji got on the line himself or one of his colleague-jis, at the end of the calls Paula would get on the line to speak of her own, lesspressing health concerns. There is an Ashram they will stay in as they are both currently experiencing a profound religious conversion. While my father has told her that he thinks it’s a hackjob, Paula has been to several appearances around the upper Midwest featuring Amma, a “hugging saint”, and been hugged by Amma, and at one appearance one of Ammaji’s gurus told Paula that he has seen with his own eyes Amma-ji suck the pus from the putrid fingers of a leper, and that days later the leper was miraculously healed, but Amma-ji herself did not contract the terrible disease! And Paula is studying the Ramayana. We vaguely park in the half-full parking lot outside St. Mary’s Regional Health Center. Paula falls on the ice while attempting to exit the Jag. Her body makes a nice, satisfying thump, I enjoy it. I am collecting the food containers from the trunk, all of them, there are too many, Mother always makes too much, she has too much time on her hands, business is bad, no one wants her to paint their house, she doesn’t do a good job, her work is uneven, she is argumentative, she is distracted, she steals items off the tops of tables in living rooms and for no apparent reason (Alaka and I find strange objects, like Precious Moments figurines, in our house and we know that they belong to one of Mother’s clients), she helps herself to something to eat without asking or being offered, she doesn’t remove her shoes, she isn’t careful when laying tarp over the carpet, she disturbs children when they are trying to study, it is not her place to punish them, when she bends over you can see her bumcrack, people understand that she in fact doesn’t need the money so there is no guilty desire to help this widow, which is what she calls herself. Paula pushes herself up with the palms of her hands on the pavement, she is not wearing gloves, I go inside but I have to wait in the lobby for her as I don’t know where to go. Over the PA system music is aired, it is O Come Let Us Adore Him, Paula sings along, oh come let us adore him. Her voice is high, shrill, interrupted by some seriously stentorian bursts, she increases the pace of her singing as she sings, so that by the end of the song she is like a record played at the wrong RPM rate, every single person in the entire hospital thinks that she is a raving lunatic, she is! We enter a small


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kitchen, Paula seems to know all the people she sees, they greet her, hello Paula, in this kitchen there is a refrigerator and a microwave, we peel off the frosted lids of the containers, Paula chips away at the dal with a plastic knife until a large piece has been excavated, she does the same in the other containers, she places a paper plate, sagging beneath frozen chunks of food, in the microwave, she sets the microwave to ten minutes, she gives me several one dollar bills, I leave the kitchen, I go down the hall take the first right then the first left, I find a waiting room and a line of soda machines, I purchase a Sprite, but it gets stuck inside the machine, I have to purchase another Sprite to push the first one out, the second one gets stuck too so in the end I only got one Sprite, when I return to the kitchen Paula is quite miffed because she feels the amount of money she gave me indicated her desire that I should purchase a soda for her, I give her the remaining one dollar bills, she leaves to purchase a beverage and I begin to hack more food out of Mother’s containers, to prepare another plate for the microwave. When Paula returns the buzzer on the microwave goes off, I replace the plate in the microwave, which is now quite wilty and soggy from the heat and the oil and the general humidity of cooking, with a plate of frozen food. Paula asks me if we can please start over and try to be friends, if not for any other sake than the sake of my father, you see he is quite ill, she doesn’t think I understand yet that he is in bad shape, his body fetid, his heart grey and seasonless, it would bring him some degree of joy should I seem happy about his choice of life. A permed nurse enters the room on scuffed white Keds with a cardboard packet of Lean Cuisine lasagna, she asks us how long we will tie up the microwave, she remarks that the smell in this room is overpowering, that the smell permeates everything, that it will be ages before the smell goes away, she will go home at the end of her shift, the smell of “curry” will stick to her bones and turn off her husband, who has to work very hard all day, harder than most people because he is a foreman and because he only has one arm. The buzzer goes off, there is only one plate left to warm up, the ones we have warmed up already Paula wraps in foil to keep them hot, ten minutes to go Paula tells the nurse, the nurse kicks the refrigerator, howls, throws the Lean Cuisine away, exits the room. Paula says that woman has an attitude problem. When the food is ready, we carefully carry it to the waiting room where I purchased my Sprite, of course Paula only carries one plate, while I carry two plates and squeeze two very cold cans of Sprite between my body and my elbows, this is so typical I won’t bother to go on about it, my father is sitting there at a small plastic card table near the window, on the window someone has arranged vinyl snowman and Santa Claus decals. A humungous Rudolph grins beatifically. I am aback because I am happy to see my father. The circles around his eyes are the color of eggplant. And he smells of moldy mushroom. Hello Dad, you look well! He is smiling. He asks me how my mother is, I tell him Mother is well! He asks me how Alaka is, I tell him Alaka is well! He asks if she is doing well in school, I tell him I think so. He wants to know about Debashish and I tell him what I know of him, that Debashish is a lawyer, that he has a house and a girlfriend and he lives in Cincinnati. My father says that I haven’t told him anything new about Debashish, my father thinks it’s a shame that I am not in closer contact with my brother, I explain to him that this is not really of my doing, Debashish does not return my calls, does not respond to email, does not log on to Gchat or MSN Messenger or AOL Instant Messenger or ICQ or Yahoo! Messenger, even though I know for a fact he has accounts with all of these free services, but

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my father is seemingly unwilling to accept that this is not my fault, explains to me that for the sake of our parents we should be making more of an effort, plus who will we have to turn to when our parents have died? Both my little brothers are dead. Paula did not play enough of a role in their care or anything else, for that matter, for she is useless, to have had anything to do with their deaths. I tell Paula this. I tell her this and I think that I have to remember harder, piece together what it is that brought us here together. But I cannot bear to remember these things. I am attempting to speak to my father, but I am not able to utter a single sentence, yet Paula replies in my father’s stead. She says she hopes that all is well in Stewartville and then she answers her own question by saying that everything is in fact well in Stewartville. Shut up, I tell her! You fat, retarded familial dilettante, fuck you! My father tells me to quit my yakking, and I do. We sit before our paper plates. Paula opens my father’s Sprite. He drinks from it, noisily. He tilts back his head. Paula forks my mother’s food into her red, adulterous mouth.

VII. Halcyon Days When Debashish and I were eight and Manik was five and Abhimoda was three and Alaka was about to be born. My mother wore her hair down or high off her neck, my father lifted and kissed her exceptionally (almost strange!) smooth elbows, nights they encouraged us to turn the radio up high.

VIII. In The Gloaming You’re not getting it, I tell my father, you don’t seem to understand, I am trying my best here, I don’t know what I am trying to do, but I am trying, I am sorry you are so sick I didn’t know but I am trying. I reach for the scissors and the latex gloves. He and I and Paula are sitting in papasan chairs in his dome, days have passed, it’s the middle of the night and we’re all three of us awake, my father woke up because it was time for his purple medication and he couldn’t get back to sleep, Paula was up because she is a light sleeper and is now used to being disturbed in the night by my father, I woke up because I had a dream that Paula had kidnapped Manik and Abhimoda, kept them in another dome, for a few moments before getting out of bed I was sure I would soon find Paula and torture her with knives, rape her with the worst instruments, tie her undead body to a tree, smear a tantalizing blood trail from her feet up and down the frozen forest floor in order to tempt the bears, I would go as viciously far as I had to until she told me where I would find my brothers, I would enjoy it, when I found Manik and Abhimoda I would kill Paula anyway, because it is a necessary thing to do, it would be glorious!, already I am planning to continue this dream when I go back to


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sleep. Now my father wants to go hunting, fine I say, let’s go, let’s hunt, let’s get your bow and arrows, let’s kill something, sounds like a good idea. Let’s leave her behind. Paula crosses her arms but she seems sad, I say so, and then I say, good! I’ll keep it up, I hope you die of sorrow, relentless, aching, distorting! My father tells me shut up. I put on all my clothes, on top of that my coat, my hat, my gloves, my scarf, same for my father, but he wants to borrow my gloves. You’ve lost the plot, I tell him, but I give them to him anyway. He looks at me with one bloodshot eye as if to say so have you. We enter the cold night. How sad I am. My father does not seem to want to do anything to salve this terrible sadness. There’s a narrow path lined by bleeding sugar maples draped-over by dried-up creepers, you could tap syrup I say, my father says he doesn’t like pancakes, but I say, but he’s already ahead of me on the trail, already out of breath, I run ahead and relieve him of the gear. When I was a kid he wouldn’t go fishing, that was not the kind of thing he’d do, now he’s a god damn bow hunter! I played Little League. He didn’t like sports, he was interested in shopping and betting. We in fact spent an entire day shopping and betting, there were three days relatively early on in this whole thing when my father changed his mind about the dome and Paula, he came back to our house in Stewartville, he gave my mother a long hug, they spent much of the first night talking, quietly, the second day they were quiet, I spent most of my time on the back porch either cutting things out of the Target catalog or looking across the hosta garden and the borderless lawn into the neighbor’s window, they weren’t home, I could clearly see their mossy fish tank, the third day we took a family daytrip, we spent the daylight hours in the Mall of America, me my father Mother Alaka and Debashish, we went to Camp Snoopy and rode the rollercoaster, the water log ride, the video mine ride, the bumper cars and the ferris wheel, we ate a great pizza in Tucci Benucch, which was decorated to look like the inside of an Italian family’s cozy kitchen, the kind of people who really value their family and their heritage, the kind of people who would take out with baseball bats and metal rods any outsider who dared to speak ill of one of the family matriarchs, on the wall hung retro chairs and sepia portraits of uni-browed children, from the ceiling hung cloves of garlic and below a sea of red-and-white checkered tablecloths, Mother was happy and said the décor was very appropriate on this momentous and wonderful day, after lunch we went to the hot pepper theme store, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Sears, Alaka went to Contempo Casuals for a short electric blue plastic dress that my father was against but Mother let her buy, I bought a model classic car which I planned to assemble and display in my room, but the directions were hard, a few weeks later Debashish ended up taking it from me, successfully constructing it, he gave it to a girl, but he’s my brother and not just my brother but my other half, then my father, Debashish and I drove to Treasure Island and my father gave each of us five hundred dollars to bet, I put eleven dollars in the slot machine and spent the rest of the time with Debashish and an overly-friendly lady named Shirley in the bar. It took my father four hours to win twelve hundred dollars at blackjack and lose three hundred dollars at craps, in the Jag on the way home he told us that today had been one of the best days of his life, that nothing makes a man happier than being with his gorgeous family, I remind him of this now, he says that he’s not with his family right now, he’s only with one of his sons. It must be ten below, it’s windy, so it must be something like minus 40, I pull my coat sleeves down as far as they will go over my hands. All the twigs are quivering, the dry leaves

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shaking. The sky is clear, there are stars, but it is snowing, maybe just from the wind moving through the trees. There is enough light, I can see my father’s face, his long hairy nose, dark eye circles, lizardy lips. I wonder out loud what would happen if we saw a bear, my father says he’d kill it with his bow, right between the god damn eyes. This doesn’t reassure me. Let me borrow your hat for a second. I say no. His hand hovers in front of my mouth, he decides to press. Quiet now. Did I know he was going to study Ayurveda and receive treatment from the Babaji in India? Yes I tell him through his hand, which is to say through my glove, but what exactly does it mean, Bhole Babaji, does it mean the Babaji is saying something, not that Bhole is his name? He tells me shhhh, this isn’t going to work unless we’re quiet. He brushes snow off a log with my glove and sits down. I lower the hunting gear to the ground, then I sit down next to him. He should have taught me Hindi if he was going to go off and become some sort of practicing Hindu in his life. He’s getting really mad. He butts me in the shoulder with his head, it’s a startling thing to do. They can hear you, he tells me. He lights a match and stands up and crouches along the path. What the hell are you doing? He says he is looking for deer tracks. Also excrement. When I was five I shit my pants during the James Bjorkland School Christmas Pageant. I was the back end of a donkey. I left the stage, which is to say that two of the donkey’s grey felt legs appeared deflated and dragged across the floor, found Mother in the audience, she took me home, put me in the shower and helped me clean my legs, but she only laid out my pajamas, as I vigorously pointed out I was too old to be dressed by someone else. Debashish was a holy angel on high (on a chair), at the end of the show my father brought him and Manik and baby Abhimoda home but by that time I was watching Nickelodeon, Mother told everyone that I am not feeling well, it was probably that before the pageant I had the fish sandwich with tartar sauce and everyone else had chosen Chicken McGrill. The match goes out. Do you eat the meat you catch? My father says if I say one more word he’s going to leave me here in the woods for the rest of my god damn life. Again he sits on the log, and he tells me that this is an enterprise which takes a lot of patience and even more importantly, quiet. I nod my head to signal my agreement and pull my hat over my eyes. The wind is whistling. My father tells me that I am very cruel to Paula. A blast of air arrives and chomps at my face. Manik had to have so many blood transfusions, two bone marrow, upon hearing he was scheduled for another one his tiny face would scrunch up, he would cry, he would say it felt like he was being bitten from the inside so please don’t make him go through that again, Abhimoda had a great trick for this, he would say no cry Monkey, which was his name for Manik, and Abhimoda would say look I am drunk and keep throwing his small boy’s body to the ground in a sweet childish interpretation of what drunkenness is, until Manik would finally laugh, though of course Manik would have to go through with the blood transfusion anyway, but you know what, he died anyway, we knew he would, so why in the name of God and all that is holy and fine did we make him go through all those horrid blood transfusions? Why didn’t he die sleeping and serene in our parents’ bed, me Manik Abhimoda Debashish Alaka Mother and my father? Why? Don’t fall asleep my father says. He removes my hat. Let me borrow that, I’ll give it right back, I notice he’s no longer wearing my gloves. I pick up the crossbow and an arrow. I load the bow. My father tells me not to waste his ammo. I peer down the arrow, looking for something to aim at. I set my marks on the moon and pull


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

back. I let go so hard I have to take a few steps backward. The arrow hits a tree branch and disappears in the underbrush. I pick up another arrow, load the bow. My father shouts at me, his voice sharp as a bark in the early morning twilight. You stop being wasteful he says, he stands up, I aim the bow with the arrow blade at his face, pointing at the corner of his eye. He ducks, I shove him down, I pin him on the chest with my knee, I am on top of him, I aim the arrow at his throat. Manik dead, Abhimoda dead, Debashish gone a long time. Me, Mother, Alaka, You. My father doesn’t look scared. He looks irritated. All that would mean is I wouldn’t go to India, he says. He purses his lips. You’ve lost the plot, I say again, but saying it a second time has made it lose all its meaning. I keep the bow pointed at my father but I’m not holding it taut. Mostly I want to keep sitting on my father like this, to continue to inhale his foul fatherly breath. I want him to hold me. The back of his neck must be cold, submerged in the snow. I toss the bow to the side and try to rest my head on my father’s chest, but he pushes me off, the effort makes him pant. I lie on the ground next to him and feel jealous. The sky changes. Clouds drift past the small moon like pulled wool.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011



Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

task and the injunction one in The Same

men with a knife Twins from a book lead me to a tree of metal Next one is meant to Hide oneself Are not the

The story proposes a task it proposes a Conflict There is a mountain of smooth glass The tree with Apples

not disturb their dreams of waking Inside sleep Of watching Life go on

his own screen in whichever past Yeah halfway over means a lot What can we do with that Move Logically do

us An alley with a roof of trees got long If I like you, have a good time the poster on the internet Wrote down

lean down Just a dip however in the pavement Stars fleeing up the Sky The year set on its setting and it passed

going to know what to do And Walked straight into Gates and letters In the distance I saw a man I thought

Now is the time we are very much paying for I liked That expression so much I went out and thought I was

Blue Flowers

Lucy Ives

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which She sends this email “Who will survive” That something continues is a pleasant Guarantee But let me

It sweetens you this guess at symmetry “That was cute” Also it sleeps in my arms a house for a holiday from

civilization which is Memory

a lifetime he pronounces sitting down to Sleep Books lining his pockets are companions it is not a joke

forgotten where he was going And as such stars come out he follows the forest floor As ever the beginning of

chases monkey with a long stick monkey carting laurel back to his Collection Believes in practice but has

Mystery the name of a man who builds his house of Straw feebleness of a wall to hold back story as Rabbit


smiled on you with eyes of Butter You took him out to lunch saying I guess a great number of persons are

case how you take that into yourself like that Victory one pale fort rectangular it was You dearest student he

And looks out one hand shading her brow her two eyes Rolling When you are publishing I don’t know in any

what I was thinking I guess I was thinking Maybe she comes to the end of the place where she was meant to Be

People who are attached to living I think this Poem is for you No I know it’s still my poem sorry I don’t know


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Y of a tree an appointment then leads To other parts of living chrysanthemum Fell open and rose in the Air

Gaze Three years earlier handing an Iris to who was then a total Stranger He hid in his red windbreaker in the

Feelings not because they are strong but Because what can they do Something rises up under them a kind of

any container keeps the lack of light Inside it the top of my right hand was numb I walked along the park No

not see clouds Hung there keeping their shadows behind Them It is September and hot as June But hiding Like

Wished briefly to be returned To Sleep I walked up the stairs to the train and sun lay in a Red Corridor I could

throws His hand across the Table That changes something if you haven’t noticed How you grew quiet how you

Names I call on you Explain Yourselves It’s an old device used by scholars and then also a man who simply

sun is setting Lights do come on

mouth of a mother The thief puts on the shirt of a beggar The priest covers himself in the skin of a sheep The

And Where else can such beautiful stone be found The snake becomes a ringing bell The sorcerer speaks in the

kettle speaks to them offers them Hay They come to a river Tell me where the children of the king have gone

Meanwhile girls are late returning they walk in a garden A mouse speaks to them shows them an unseen road A

see what I am seeking The man with coal for eyes tips his hat Mushrooms spin

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and I swear it’s possible An image No place to cross to it and yet there it is near and there Like bearing towards

the mark is very small And yet it rises as if on stage All else sinks Mechanic transformed to a falling pin I say so

something “So many people are” I begin to say but realize it is a tic The problems again ones of scale and size

soft And filled with beads of metal in the underworld I do suppose I could feel good but what is that Other

According to writers I know The nothing one thinks is also like thinking something It is something to think

the nicest iceberg Ever And collapses

you’re Not I stand up at least to this Typing Well that works for me Hung with White my ship went out to Sea

Meanwhile they are talking on the floor above And where they walk the floor Groans I am getting taller no


One man is a beautiful Species and can be suspended from two fingers Another Walks backwards free from

animal appears under my hand In Dream

What can I know I see badly if at all I get apologies on another day not when I am asking The Forehead of the


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

A man whose coat is overspread with Mirrors Moves sometime out of shade


blue lion symbol of Mortimer an earl Greengage A plum named for the owner of a hall Greet which means to

As each word gives evidence of what it was The Lion grateful for Kindness basks at the feet of the knight The

The comb discarded was a mountain Thread from my shirt a Line of trees

what feeling truly is Area of low pressure Cloud with a face swoops down

I think it’s incredible How Of a piece it truly is And you are allowed to feel bad in your journal since this is

A Subject for which plain language arranges Chairs

shoulder The image I saw Since who gets famous and how do they do it

me on its back a habitation A shack with one bright eye a window Winking Before it leaps on one leg over my

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


There it leaps away from me too many places to have been and yes Unsure A car makes the red sound of its


do what is Mine I will be like that which is to Say Identical and yet no part of the collection that is my own

Even the poem cut from another Page I will wish to have written When asked where I am going I will Say To

come away from the Window the screen My eyes flick on they look I started writing someone else’s poem

fellow men what color was it White White stone Buried slowly In green grass Can you understand this can you

Breath” or “The Journey Up-County” That great stone Chair from which he watched how small Were his

not To sell What it says goes beyond the market Into our Hands What I am spending Is a book titled “On

leave dangle We are ourselves and I imagine We do it very well what is Money It is paper like a book written

someone shall take Away from me I’ll follow And I shall be gone from myself It is spring again in January and

should I sent you Home In that prose my novel I keep It keep it! It’s mine And from now on whatever

suppose A packet arrives in the Mail and where it comes from someone feels awkward Should I sell you out

What is a posset? asked Ted Berrigan in an interview I don’t really know either something like a Jacket I


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

And I knew him Not I seek out acquaintances There and in that moment

this dream Paper flowers and white paper Leaves And peering through the flawless stems the face of Silenus

arrangement we Hid beside plates of food on our laps food with dreams with its salt taste And the flowers of

manmade river A highway museum one can never say if one is leaving it or not And here the flower

man is a Suit and here lightning seen from a speeding car And here is here are haloes And ducks along the

in no one’s way Well here is the berry on the branch And here the Squirrel lies flat on his stomach And here a

With everything extremely possible and just five minutes left by me in Advance of myself trying to open a road

that jay in a nest of thorns I smiled at berries so like eyes I pledged truth to the forms water takes when it rises

liking you Less than what I am writing It is in this sense I saw in what you Did something Already mine I was

wrong note It seems to have taken a very long time to believe in this And yet we do not stop I am forever

What do you want says the boy in the Store The teacher smiling is uncomfortable It keeps on closing on the

bough and water shifts A little ledge on its face folding the sky in Can I go home now says the photographer

as the date Would it improve would it be more revelatory Yes Says one I never know Yellow pears bob on the

Happen I wanted to change in advance My hands were wheels my Mouth was wheels the feeling mine as much

alarm One black bird drips from the sky I don’t know it’s not that I’m hard on myself but I want something to

Max Winter from The


Christian Nagler

gemini Stop foaming at the mouth, Gemini! You are and will always be an immigrant and an emigrant. You immigrated into this world by pure accident and will emigrate from it without fanfare. You screech because you’re afraid, mortally afraid. You feel that your body is growing rigid and gradually drying up. That’s why you’re afraid, why you call for your police. But even your police have no power over the truth. Even your policeman comes to us stars with his troubles: his wife’s in bad shape, his children are sick. His uniform and gun hide what’s human in him. But he can’t hide it from us. We stars have seen your policeman naked.

sagittarius People deny you, deny the child you, see? In November the title the stars have for you is she or he who has problems with many things. But that’s ok, right, because Sagittarius can always now be no larger than the thumb, and is then ever enshrined in the heart of all breads. Sagittarius, we must always be prepared for things to happen in accordance with bread, unless we the stars interfere, and we don’t. People, Sagittarius, and animals, secretly treat their own particular form of bread with consideration, and in that lies the whole secret of the eccentricities of their behavior toward you. When walking they do their utmost not to put any weight on the hurt part of the foot; when eating, to spare a wandering tooth. They have hidden breads about them, and in each case variously situated. There are only a few bodies that finish off what all minds in general have begun, and that is Sagittarius body, smaller than the thumb, hiding in the heart of bread.

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capricorn Come down? Into that? No, thank you, says Capricorn. But why hug despair without a cause transforming or other? Come to your senses and develop a bowl walk instead. Laugh and be fat, then dance to keep the fat down. That is a sound program. We stars refer you back to beloved melodies. Melody means organ and organ is heartbeat, but it’s flat on purpose. All there is is a beat line. How can you get a melody in your bowl walk with the minimum of notes? For instance, we the stars have zero-note melodies, one-note melodies. This, here, Capricorn, would be a twonote melody, that is to say, a rhythm. Name That Tune. If you are very good, you might name it in two notes, sometimes in one note, in none. It would be fantastic.

aquarius Imagine this is the case, Aquarius: that an animal’s dying became very deeply engraved on your memory. It was your only love object, and because of its death, you have not been able to feel attached to anyone else much. Since then you have been alone, aloneness became your nature. The animal’s death freed you forever from all relation. Its death became for you the death of all attachment. Afterwards you could not establish bonds with anything. Whenever your relation to anyone began to draw out into focus, the death of that animal stared at you. For you, love became invariably associated with that death. Then you came to feel that this close observation became a blessing. If such a death had occurred at a later age, perhaps you would have found substitutes for that animal. If you had become interested in the substitute you would have lost the opportunity.


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pisces Pisces are no longer fish but ants. Go ant Pisces and ask for a good world. Ask for our world. Ask for the world person. Do not deny divinities. Do not deny divinities who tell the truth. We the stars have seen where someone thrashes about. We have seen where someone speaks nonsense. We have seen where someone eats at the church of this here meal. Big two-legged Pisces, shake the animals, shake the crazies. They are a soul father. May the ants hear the souls. It is a soul, non-anguish, may the ants hear the souls. It is a soul, thing-to-die, may the ants hear the souls. Pisces children of the ant, your father is coming. Come Ant Father and say: Someone who was poor will not see poor again. Someone who was rich will not see rich again. And one who was poorest will not see poorest again. Any city where Pisces is, the growling of her ant hammer will be heard afar. Any state where she walks, the ant hammer will walk far. The camp of the closed laws will be struck. We stars heard the throbbing and we said Uh Huh. There was shouting, ants shouted, we heard the sound and said Uh Huh.

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aries The thing about you, Aries, is that you can grind, chew steel in your teeth to atoms, can break and mince it all into a tub of milk until the spoon can stand in it still and vertical. Then you twist up your long hair, open your mouth similar to the entrance of some cavern, and thrusting your hands under the tub you devour its contents to the very end. Aries, you can grind, chew steel in your teeth to atoms and then spit it towards heaven right before the cavalry rides in to cart us all off scattering us into the alleys and if there’s one thing we stars know how to do it’s scatter so we all disperse into the sky and rejoin ourselves later. But you refuse this escape, Aries, because you have so many bitter stories to tell and only the JUDGE to tell them to.

taurus Taurus’ opposition—what comes at her—always anthropomorphist, herds every idea into fable, constructs, finishes, as the overdesigner cannot build a leg or handle but it ends in a bull’s head; and this we take to be Taurus’ own quality. But Taurus—despite received ideas—has no terrible and beautiful condensation to counter with. She can and will not precipitate a figure from her hurt and so she runs with it, towards it, in it, at.

leo This is what we stars learn from you, Leo: to pay our debts in silence, calling in the planets to witness and sanction. If it is your part to kill or abandon, you kill in the face of day, abandon while staring hard at your little one, with the applause of the universe, real or imagined.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

virgo The first glance Virgo gives at anything, the angle at which she sees any object, contains all her future. But she loves to vary the applications indefinitely. See: she makes good hard hits all the time, by successive shocks making the drunk sober and the sober drunk, running rings around these longevities. She knows how to sing a song to make trees bear fruit God never gave them. The only thing we stars can tell Virgo she doesn’t already know is: Go to the dead and love them. There is one tree at the center of the world in whose proximity nothing gives an echo, in whose proximity nothing that is perfectly straight casts a shadow, and it is this tree to which Virgo carries her qualities in her hand like a bird she knows will go. To see from the point of view of that tree is perhaps important. And the bird.

libra No land is bad, Libra, but land is worse, ok? If a Libra owns land, the land owns him. Now let him leave home, if he dare. Every tree and graft, every hill of pumpkins, every row of beans, every nut swallowing the sun in the evening and giving birth to it in the morning, every hedge, all he has done and means to do, stand in his way like creditors when he so much as turn his back on his house. But of course all these warnings are nothing under the sound of one bit of Libra speech which slips the leash of a fleet dog to trot over in one second a thousand tons of gravel from that blowing sandheap onto this boggy meadow of mind where now the streets are waving over a million acres.

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scorpio Your mother taught you to use your things with care, right Scorpio? So this time should be titled, The Umbilicus, the Cord that Ties the Small One to the One Who is Less Small. And in front of you you see a weapon. It is a cutter, but if you don’t want to see that, you can say, “No, it is not a cutter, it is a toy.” It is a game between what is and what is a toy. You thought wrongly, Scorpio, that you could frighten people. For instance, if you have a terrific tantrum, you think wrongly that people are going to be impressed, that you are going to frighten them. They are not afraid at all. They laugh and they say, “Sit still, Scorpio, ok?”

cancer In your next life, Cancer, you will be reincarnated as a deaf–blind–mute. You may never learn to walk. You might spend thirty years in bed, trying to understand this world that directs nothing at you but its hand. Shore up for that time, Cancer. If you can carry some things over from this life to that one, one or two words—maybe wasp, maybe hun—then you’ll finally have the chance to figure some things out: that thoughts are the shadows of our feelings, always darker, emptier, and simpler. That we think with words which in themselves are touches that, despite what they are, bring us back, like cries. Nothing with which to build a world –system except perfected cries. Deaf–blind Cancer, leaning against the bedroom wall, stringing together in an arbitrary order cries of hunger, fear, and love from the forests and deserts and fields, cries to which have become attached, bit by bit, meanings believed to be abstract only because they are used loosely. Don’t fear, Cancer, that the succession of cries, of touches, which composes a little volume of knowledge in that deaf–blind void, will teach you so much about the world that you could no longer go on living in it.


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Bronwen Tate THE TYRAnNY OF THE PARTICULAR So the flowered tamarix blooms in season. The street lamp its own small moon, reverberating luster. A baby babbles like a bird or like a fountain. I kiss the salt flower of possibility. Send the dandy to purchase lozenges from the branch outlet, weigh him down with parcels. Say Boeotian, but I am not from Athens. Say Philistine, I hadn’t thought of it that way recently. A wooden toy with a lump of lead bobs back up to greet you like an idol, all belly. I hug a bolster and ask for discounts against the chill.

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AND SO THE SAME EVENT SPREADS OPPOSING BRANCHES I sit astride my destiny in the crook of limbs, cheek against the mossy sullen bark. My dress a flaw not unlike white taffeta. I read the sundial where past and future overlap. Painted wooden boats in a pond brightly knock against each other like fate. First spring shower still a cousin to the snow. The ill it births kills the joy it caused. And so your black lace slip like a banister. So your unrecognizable portrait in sable wrap and poison ring. A painted screen transforms your salon to cloisters. I choose a seat by the fire, by the violet blue tulips, by the wisteria window.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

THAT WE BELIEVE IT TO BE SO Dust motes beneath the trellis, sieve the evening light through thin fingers. The desire, the need we have, suffices. Today I have no mistaken flowers. Neither bird, nor worm, you are the reward of the early, a hoard, a nest egg. To tawdry sectarians, my twisted crocus, my blight. Nothing straight-away or at first sight. The frayed edge of thought invites a ship with delicately carved fox for figurehead. And then lapping waves. Returning gently, awkward as first frost, pale as hail stones. Would I choose the pock-marked cheek or the reedy voice? We no longer speak.

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Aaron Patrick Flanagan Inside[,] a Sago Echoing Monday, January 2nd 2006— Anna watched Randal drive off to work just after 4 am the two have known each other since grade school and been together for 12 years they just bought a mobile home that sits on a large piece of rural property 6 am17 crews were entering the Anker West Virginia Mining Co after mine was closed for holidays an explosion just down the road an underground geological fracture and then “bad top” or roof problems or say mystery and then six miners descending behind the thirteen able to escape four went back four went back 260 feet beneath the surface they shuffled through the ever collecting black muck 20


Fred Ware Jr., 59, of Tallmansville in deep earth you whisper a genealogy a sweat and in these places rings are not formed by a growing out but are formed by the pressure gravity’s consequences accepted like a telegram stop you are here breathe [17 1910—A decade that bears witness to 2,000 annual mining deaths ends.] [15 2004—International Coal Group is formed by WL Ross & Co LLC and declares itself “union free.” At the ground breaking ceremony for its headquarters, CEO Ben Hatfield and other ICG dignitaries are pictured alongside West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, shovels in hand. By this time ICG mines have won eleven safety awards, though never in West Virginia.]


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260 feet beneath the surface four went back they shuffle through the ever collecting [5March 23rd 2006—During his interview with federal investigators, Sam Kitts, VP of ICG, refuses every request to discuss all past investigations concerning ICGs extensive catalog of safety violations.] Tuesday, January 3rd 2006— 260 feet beneath3 [19Wednesday, April 26th 2006—Randal McCloy, 26, of Simpson, Sago’s lone survivor, pens a letter to his fellow victims’ families. After 41 hours of exposure to poisonous gases, after suffering brain and multiple organ failure, doctors still cannot explain his survival when they finally release him from the hospital on March 31st, nearly four months post-rescue. 11He is dubbed the “Miracle Miner.” Gov. Joe Manchin is on-hand for his release, and upon his return home, Manchin unveils the sign erected by state workers that redubs McCloy’s home street, Miracle Road.] by this morning members seemed to retreat into Sago Baptist Church on Monday the church became the designated gathering place for those praying for a miracle inside pews removed replaced by banquet tables loved ones periodic updates progress of rescue efforts pizza delivery drivers from local shops slosh through mud in their cars men carried boxes bottled water toilet tissue paper towels on lawns mine’s neighbors leaned on pickup trucks and sat in lawn chairs some held each other pastor Wease Day on an impromptu pulpit in the back of a pick-up told gathered not to be alarmed by arrival of mobile morgue “it’s standard procedure5”

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breathe Jack Weaver, 52, of Phillpi down here yonder land a down here, a somewhere below water tables, we disappear hard forms licking the seal on tomorrow, the air grandfathered as our own breathe the entrance to the mine across railroad tracks and a small muddy river 260 feet beneath the surface “we’ll stay here one way or another14” [3Benwood, Marshall County, 1924—An explosion in a Wheeling Steel Corp. mine kills 119 men.] [111921—As time passes, The Battle of Blair Mountain becomes known as “The Miners’ March” and “The Redneck War.” After converging on Charleston, West Virginia’s capitol, 10,000 striking miners armed themselves and marched south into the coalfields, into Mingo and Logan counties, together. They wore red handkerchiefs around their necks.] [14Sago had 145 employees] like many West Virginians the Tolers went down into the mines for financial incentive “You can’t beat the money” around mining so long 2usually didn’t give safeness of work much thought only took the mining job because it was full-time and she is a homemaker has worked in the mining industry ever since high school sister was inconsolable couldn’t talk about her brother


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

breathe Terry Helms, 48, of Newburg speak the sound of a cane on a porch floor speak the sound of a black cough in a baby’s cradle curdling inside, crushing outside breathe because air quality tests have shown such dangerous levels of carbon monoxide officials weren’t ready to send rescue workers 1,300 parts per million the absolute limit for breathable air is 400 parts per million

that level can sustain life for only 15 minutes

260 feet beneath the surface vigil in a damp foggy bottom in this tiny Upshur County they were waiting to hear news4 breathe Marshall Winans, 49, of Talbert a puddle of dusty water unable to escape soaked up in your clothes will make the faces a yer loved ones, how the sun glints on an invisible line bearing the weight, all life is surface, my friend breathe [2January 3rd 2006—Kitts is credited in the Charleston Daily Mail as saying Sago’s safety record had improved by 80% between the second and fourth quarters of 2005.] Loretta Ables leaned against wet split-rail fence covered in hard green fungus “We’re standing on his land,” held a white cup full of black coffee spilled over brim trembled “I got him up after five o’clock this morning told me he would see me this evening told me

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


he love me” the two had been planning a Valentine’s Day wedding when a relative called Ables said she punched the wall breathe David Lewis, 28, of Philipi down here, we all assume flatter, the lacking and the lessening, and the solace collapses outward, away from its own immeasurability away from the rise and fall of your sternum breathe the rescuers made it about 9,000 feet into the mine “we believe more can be gleaned by the robotics search” a robot was going to be sent into the shaft earlier this morning beneath the surface 260 feet breathe Martin Toler Jr., 50, of Flatwoods Tell All I see Them On The other side JR.

It Wasn’t BAD Just Went To Sleep

I Love you breathe full note to his family


faintly scrawled in ink on the reverse side of an insurance


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application found with his body [10Fairmont, Marion County, 1926—98 men are killed and some 76 burned alive when the Everttsville mine explodes at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon those trapped began constructing stoppings to filter the poisonous air as their safety classes had instructed all died before they could complete them only 2 bodies could be identified three scraps of paper were found two penned by H. Russel, a Scotsman the third was unsigned19 “We do not feel and pain. Try to stay in U.S.A. Love to the kids.”] [18Paint and Cabin Creek Strikes, 1912-1913—Baldwin-Felts mine guards murder Francis F. Estep, nicknamed Cesco, and Cleve Woodrum, who was shot in the face after 100 rounds of machine gun fire riddled his house day later Baldwin-Felts deputies fired into the crowd gathered for Woodrum’s funeral] [4Between October 4th 2005 and December 22nd 2005 Sago was cited 46 times by federal inspectors] some bad thoughts came to Judy on Monday hard to push them out “somebody gave me a pill to help” “When Terry gets out he’s not coming back” Ables pointed to a man named Roger able to escape he sat in a pickup guarded by a few men18 wouldn’t let anyone near him Roger hit in the eyes by the explosion Roger wore sunglasses breathe Jerry Lee Groves, 56, of Cleveland, W.Va. swing, swing, swing with each swing, the distance between you and you being heard grows and falls like a shot bird mid-climb, a down-spiral a feathers at a distance one mistakes for a cluster of dried leaves, autumn ochres given over

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to a long learned prayer breathe Helms an avid golfer and hunter just shot an eight-point near his home this season Randal loves nothing more than to play with their two children when he’s not working she broke down repeatedly but promptly regained composure Anna watched Randal drive off breathe Alva Martin Bennet, 50, of Buckhannon please, do not be afraid, please, do not, we all, we all will follow you as days follow the minutes they contain, like water caught passing through a minnow seine breathe [6Farmington, Marion County, 1968—an explosion Consol No. 9 kills 78 men which leads to federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act 1969] [7Across 2004 and 2005 Sago is fined for 276 violations]

Junior Hamner, age unavailable,

of Gladyfork said been talking to her husband about getting out of the mine rescue workers drilled a 6¼ inch hole6 tapped on steel pipe for ten minutes heard nothing [7Monongah, Marion County, 1907—a methane explosion kills 362 men] [9Welch, McDowell County, August 21st 1921—over one year after The Battle of Matewan began after Sid Hatfield simultaneously shot two Baldwin-Felts agents point-blank in their heads after guards evicted miners from their homes Hatfield and Ed Chambers unarmed are gunned down by agents on the front steps of the county courthouse their deaths spark The Battle of Blair Mountain] this morning


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they tried unsuccessfully to hear some sign of life [16A typical Sago crew 10 miners and 1 foreman] a camera inserted into the hole no signs of life or any barricades put up to block off harmful gases 260 feet beneath [12Eccles, Raleigh County, 1914— an explosion New River Collieries’ 5 and 6 183 men] [8north Logan County border, September 3rd, 1921—a cease fire is called the Battle of Mountain 61, of Philipi

quiets] Jim Bennet,

silence signifies no more fallings silence that also signifies no progress, it’s absence felt darkeningly breathe they would try to find an area that was breathable elementary school

an impromptu pulpit a long-close

[16Sago was a drift mine

now a newly opened morgue a mine that follows a coal seam canisters

into the mountain]

no more than six

filled with an hour’s worth of air

to go around

Jesse Jones, 44, of Pickens oxygen squeezed into coal is never squeezed into the same mine twice, you can never step from the same mine twice12 [11913—West Virginia is

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


home to more than 70,000 miners each earned 48 ¢ per ton of coal


a pick miner’s annual wage was by 1919 breathe

annual expense budget for average American family of 5 April 26th

$2,243.94] Tom Anderson, 39, of Rock Cave [20Wednesday,

2006—Randal McCloy writes, “about three weeks before end of our shift Junior Toler

and I


gas pocket


while drilling a bolt

reported up the line

to our superiors

mine filled quickly fumes and black smoke

nearly unbearable

shared my rescuer

Toler Jesse Jones Tom Anderson


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

with Jerry Groves Junior sought help from others

not enough



to go around


returned to coal rib

where we hung

a curtain8

to protect ourselves

to signal our location

took turns

an enclosed area

had to take off rescuers

effort caused us

We never heard

behind curtain

found a sledge to hammer

to breathe much harder

a blast or shot from a surface

grew worse

I tried to lie

as low as possible

about 35

beating mine bolts and plates

as hard as we could


Toler and Tom

take shallow breaths




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to find a way out

there was

began to accept

our fate

all in

just so much gas

Junior Toler

led us

the Sinner’s Prayer1

someone suggested

we each

write letters

very dizzy

light headed

some drifted off


deep sleep

one collapsed


nothing I could

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

fell off his bucket


last person

sitting near me


I remember

was Jackie


God’s will as room the gas


I passed


and smoke



grew still

speaking to


how a quiet canary


through slightly bent


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011





and yawls

the un-

knotting air

down in


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


down and in

Christina Mengert And the Morning Stars Sang Together What is a Nightmare? Is it a Kind of Horse? —H.D. Said the twig to the flower, the flower to the twig— a sound, paint spread over a raincoat, happy trembling lovers.

“I desire my dust to be mingled with yours”

for a time—reserved hours (like wanting) blinked into form. “But you are iron”—lightning rose up, the living birds scattered. Nevermind, nevermind,

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is it a nest? Is it a kind of mind? The sweet–bitter and wildness of two and two: lilies, lily–pads, laurels, branches

The way to know a thing, she said, is by the catalogue that succeeds it. Slowly, in frames look over: a rose.

A sea rose? See: there is no wind under water. The petals’ fabric in stalled swish. “Not roses at all, not orange blossoms even” Nor rain, nor raincoats, the absorbed body shot through with stiff earth. One ear turned to hear what calls birdlike, accurate: rose, rose, rose,


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Catherine Imbriglio ON THE GRAVESTONES THEY CARVED SHEPHERDS She picked blue when it came to flesh tones, bent them back like a bather on the median strip. There was a floater in each eye, part of the aging process, but if her coupon-timing was right, she could get 28 soap bars for 68 cents. At night, the only activities outside those rooms were dog snores, so she mopped her least soiled floors first, moving to heavier dirt before returning to rinse. She wished they would offer more cleaning money, but she knew that hope was wrong-headed, like soliciting the bone surgeon for rent. When she drew him the sheep, they came back for her like wind-up feet. (No one could tell it was intentional.) These were deformed beauties, but at the gate they were off, the sun with five billion years left.

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FREE WILL INTIMACY I She was chasing after “you” illusions like those black birds racing for the trees. A “you” can cast her attention on flight, a soaring after, or on atomization below the level of the spine, which Mei-mei I borrow from you, my thinking about spines, figural refusal or assent within some fated person in a garden, this one being teased into picking some of the foxgloves: go ahead, no one will notice, why not take a few of those white and purple bells. The Adirondack chair where she sits is on the river side of the garden, so her bird-watching can be a mealy-mouthed occupation, in which she blames incomplete information, out-of-sight out-of-mind slippages, bird visions fading the longer she fixates on them. If each neural hemisphere has a different sense of intention awareness, how do you distinguish mealy plum aphid, mealy starwort, colic root from within a grammatical person, neither here nor there in parceling out “you” treeing indeterminacy wisdoms. Seducing her will, seducing her won’t. Meanwhile, underneath spines, gree eill trlsyiond trhulstly (free will relations regularly) cross explanation boundaries, covering over what you resemble it resembles, obscure use of devious language, free will incoherence opening and closing upon your choice no choice temptation windows. Just as amateur caregiving is an obligation well underway before a “you” is conscious of her will to do it, “No cause no cause” comes only long after Cordelia chooses. Me: I thank you much. She: Io imbriglio. Io imbriglio.

II Places you wouldn’t go otherwise Human in the nonhuman


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III Later on, two fishermen on the river rocks, in line with the afternoon glare, so many light needles entering the eyes: water strobe light fishermen strobe light: what separates you from what you resemble, it resembles: jerky-eyed stop and go traffic – water filament flash flash body filament flash flash – “any chance you would” a cheap trick honking on your spinalhoods. Touch: touch touch touch: go. Within intimacy limits, there like accidental graphics calling out for better zone laws, sex work, sick person hygiene: I only meant, I would never mean to. And then the light path vanishes, settling vision water into every-day water, exploding silhouette into fisherman silhouette, needled eyes into common eyes, inclining without necessitating. Must you carry on. Ring ring hello. Household feeding is largely responsible, an unpaid labor of planning, shopping, catering, in which the relation of human to individual is utter susceptibility to debts, moods, food acquisitions, brain nuisances. Conscious will may retain a right to veto action in the last milliseconds, for which there would be a neural preparation, local economy of favors, many saccadic pulsatings. The ability to do otherwise. Touch: touch touch touch go. Not all parties agree in this matter, you as a free will species with wayward letter TactiC8s, noticing hollyhocks, impatiens, lobelia, depending upon your olighthentsnglemsnts (light entanglements). You’re not as sold. Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, John Stuart Mill. In you: them. On purpose (tangle) in no purpose. Like light. When carrying on with its character(s). Whippoorwill. Whippoorwill. Whippoorwill.

NOTES: Sources for some of the language include: Viviana Zelizer, The Purchase of Intimacy; Robert Kane, Contemporary Introduction to Free Will. Io imbriglio is the first person present tense of the Italian verb imbrigliare, variously translated as to harness, to bridle, to curb, to dam. Since it is easily confused with the English noun imbroglio (complicated situation, mess), all these associations are “intended” here.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011



for Reginald Shepherd (1963 – 2008) I The hinge method of communication is a cultural tool for thinking upside down. TUD is an impure aesthetic, useful for backing up intimations of abnormality in the eyelid wars. Hinging in the dark it mimes the dark: how to pace your zounds. I do not hold to hinge transparency, though I respect anyone’s need for believing in it. A hinge is a type of communication longed for, argued over, negotiated, according to the goods in bivalve shells. If you practice TUDs according to bivalves, you can swing from ancient rotation axes through which your every good has been hinged. Do not take hinge rotations lightly: Hinging is a reliable technology for reconciling qualitative self-management with quantitative therapeutic scores. Circle whatever applies: Foresight, hindsight, ox, head, eye, door. Once you calculate your results, you may wish certain hinge tendencies could be nixed, but everyone must take her hinge medicine: best with the sea shuttling beach stones over beach stones, with what they give as opposed to what a hinge gives off.

II Viz.: His decency is wider than mine, his indecency is wider than mine.

III Archaeological studies show that on the sides of Egyptian mountain passes the earliest traveler alphabets were hinged. Consequently, the contours of a hinged life should fill social closeness with the baggage of a travel surrogate. On my own walks, intimacy sometimes becomes a clown word for hinge. Clown goes summer assaulting into the night, got stilts, got nails, got rubber bands, clown goes seeping into the hingework, got corpse, got star height, got quite a huge repertoire of hinge. Stumbling down a steep trail to Mohegan beach, I found a walking stick on which my own clown limbs could fasten. So as on the beach each beach bend was serially hinged. That afternoon the bluffs were clay cat paws, gullied long and riveting. Every second a new clown jaw was being hinged. What holds you or it together, that rocky shore, the sea flipflashing? Dear metalepsis, love echolalia. To the traveler who pray-told the want from his experiences: (please find) some hinge through what you see there, for the what you were here to see.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Kate Schapira Sex or Wings? To be read in conjunction with the 7 May 2004 CIA memo on Counterterrorism, Detention and Interrogation Activities. []

C is what happens if you follow A to its logical destination. A and B happen in the present: A in the car, B in a classified location.

A: Pancakes or waffles? Waffles. Waffles or shoes? Waffles. Waffles or cars? Waffles. Waffles or deodorant? Deodorant. Deodorant or fertilizer? Fertilizer. Fertilizer or bikes? Fertilizer. Fertilizer or lakes? Lakes. Lakes or birds? Lakes. Lakes or feet? Lakes. Lakes or arms? Arms. Arms or sex? Sex. Sex or wings?

B: Pages 3-4, heading 6, lines 10-13. Did someone decide to threaten to rape the prisoner’s wife? Pages 42-43, heading 94, lines 4-11. Did someone decide to rape

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


the prisoner’s wife? Did anyone else declare their intentions? Has he decided to talk yet? Page 15, list of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, items 2, 5 and 7. Can he breathe if he breathes in? Page 15, list of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, item 10, and page 37, heading 79, lines 1-14. What is “for real”? What he doesn’t have. Is the music in his mind? Page 30, heading 63, line 10. Once you take something away no one else can use it, it’s gone from the world. If that something is air, it’s for real.

C: Over the puckered beds of the dry lakes the slug–trails of bodies Abandoned at ankle and shoulder Reddened and caked, scored and tangled Armless, footless, rib–callused, born this way The women and the men writhe and rear up


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

An effort of the stomach shows brown muscle and gripping teeth A ripple crosses the water of the air The armless footless babies take notice

A: “Pancakes or waffles?” is a deprivation antic. The game of the game is to draw a player open—to find out what they hold. Not just by what they’d give up but what they’d deny to everyone, what they would let the world keep. Play is often accompanied by groaning and cursing. How serious is it? When players agree, what do they agree to?

C: When tufts appear below the rounds of the shoulders and between the stumps When writhing and rubbing get more intricate, serious, prolonged, they make a choice

B: Page 5, heading 10, lines 3-8. Tell us, or we’ll choke you. Tell us, or we’ll hang you up. Tell us, or we’ll chop off your hands. These are perfectly common, ignoring and made possible by previous removals on every side. There is no eardrum.

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No way of knowing. Page 15, list of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, items 5 and 6. You can keep darkness. You can keep fear. Keep cramp deep in confinement both outside and inside, choose cramp when the muscles are deprived of blood, air, light, motion, option. When you are out of circulation interrogators and debriefers are moving around your outside: page 25, heading 51, line 1. Then precision. Then only blotted out, pages and pages blotted out.

A: False or forced choice. Undocumented or blank choice. What if you choose this now or what if you lose this later. What will you move, lose or leave, one by one, when it’s your turn? When choices are forced, who forces them, depriving them of meaning? When you have two essential things to lose, is it the loss or the choice that contorts you? Let’s say it’s sex, what sex means in the new world. Sex or safety. Sex or working, what works. Sex or homework, the future. Sex or waking up. Sex or respect. Sex or being very sure. Sex or arguing, breaking up. Sex or staying in at night. Sex, but getting yelled at, slapped, or shamed. Sex or truth or consequences, weakness or fairness. Sex or losing sleep over it.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

A: I should probably mention that we’re on the way to my parents’ house to swim in their pool. The choices whose deprivations we inherit within and outside the container of the family are false: school or work, brown or white, fighting or biting it back. She says, “I think I’m more red than dark.” Big swaths of trees open in front of us and close behind us. In a game to pass the time, we start out with the world, where everything is fine and nothing is missing.

C: If they choose wings they undergo a redistribution Their genitals shrink and close Shoulder muscles crack and fledge out It’s painful and confusing but then they’re up From a powerful squat to ease and circling their parents And then their parents’ shelters grow smaller

B: What kinds of choices will you make when someone, or several someones with different voices, have taken your arms away. Will the small or large box crack open and wing you? Don’t make the mistake of thinking

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


you’ve suffered enough. Page 16, heading 37, quote from the Torture Convention. When the licensed perpetrators emerge from their cocoons of paper, their motions are different. Some ask for amnesty. Some insist. How have the shapes changed their next set, page 15, list of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, item 9, propped their eyes, having set out to rob, to spirit away, do they lose sleep, so no one has it, no one can.

C: Because they choose, it’s different but irrevocable The ones who choose sex can fully roll into the world of their desire Can move over around and through So wonderfully with meaningless effort


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

A: You can also tell a lot by what the other player makes you choose between. I got stuck on shampoo because she chose it from Exit 6 to Exit 3 and I wasn’t willing to make her take away from the game the things that the world has taken away from her. She had no problem stripping the waters from their hollows, the birds from their wires, the limbs from their bodies. “Napoleon,” I called her.

A: One of the very first questions I asked her, in fear for her: “Are you guys sleeping together?” Leaving desire out of it. Saying, “Deprive yourself of it.”

C: Desire redistributed into an alar process

ABC: What “Pancakes or waffles?” really asks for is false equivalency. Which do you value more— everything, she wants everything she knows about. False equivalency through time—which will you value more tomorrow? Everything she names is just another future deprivation. Who or what takes? Follow the trail of limbs. In the car it’s just a game that sooner or later gets to the part where every choice is bad or desperate. In C, that’s just the way it is. In B, there’s a perpetrator. Look for blame hidden in the black site of the past, at the very beginning of choices, where nobody knows where that is.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


B: Page 15, list of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, item 6. How define “harmless.” How define permanent. The skin crawls and heaps up but can’t escape. What’s happening outside? The false meanings and wordings of sounds whose wings inflate with horror.

A: I asked for more time to think about it and at Exit 2, our exit, she said, “Okay, time’s up.” I said, “Sex.” She said, “Flying wasn’t worth it?” I said, “Yeah, but you know, I went with the safe choice. What if flying was even better than sex? Even better than we can imagine?” In thinking about it, you have to imagine yourself with as well as without it. Without it, it’s hard to imagine yourself with it. What did you relinquish before the choices got false or bad, and is it your fault, was it yours at first, your individual freedom?

C: From the air the people of the ground may appear disgusting or graceful but unrelated And the same looking up from the ground People making faraway motions Quickly engulfed in what’s happening here The choice they didn’t make vanishes


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

B: We act like it’s deciding when sometimes it’s probably flailing or nothing, but even without deliberation pages 69-81, “Specific Unauthorized or Undocumented Techniques,” headings 164-196, then blackness amputates further information. Air leaves the room to throw up. Deprived of training. Faced with situations. Making decisions.

A: Disrespect or disrespect? Disapproval or disapproval? Disbelief or disbelief? Dysfunction or dysfunction? Disability or disability? Amputation is in the word. Disparity or disparity?

C: No one choosing sex or wings knows what they will find there

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AB: What, if anything, must you remove from yourself first: page 37, heading 79, lines 1-14. Must you make yourself. In a basement. In a dark room. In a too-bright room. Looking someone in the face you just hit with precision: page 15, list of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, item 5. The questioners in the game change positions because it’s a game, it does end, and everything is restored.

C: The cramps, the belly, the uterus, the thigh stumps, the throat The cramps, the shoulder stumps, the neck, the throat The skin scrapes groin aches nature left behind Devoted to who’s moving outside the loss of living Where is the lodestone And where is the heart’s flame In tandem, one invisible In lockstep with something surrendered


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

A: If a player keeps choosing the same thing, when is the game over? One player gives up. What’s missing is how deprivation transforms: the person who goes second is meaner than the one who goes first, taking away one thing after another until little is left, but this isn’t just a matter of order. All the things I let go at the beginning are still gone, the world getting drier, shadeless. When the game ends between its hot windows do I expect gratitude, relief— she gets to wash her hair? I get to use my limbs?

AC: You don’t hear “deprived child” much anymore—phrase absolving everyone, including the user, who may be the remover of clean air, toys, money, kindness, shelter or greenery. When I deprive myself of something, she doesn’t receive it. Time, planning, transportation, logical conclusion. A way to correct. If your parents chose sex, you exist, you inherit the scored dry world, limited mobility, possibility of pleasures.

B: Violence happens offstage if you’re the spectator. Pages 103104, heading 261, lines 911. Everyone watches deprivation, the people doing, being and watching.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


C: In the quickening mud some have armless, footless babies Roll them to clean them with an extra effort Telling or not telling them about the sky option

B: Page 104-105, heading 264, lines 1-9. If you choose to place your attention on one you’ll miss the other. If you choose disbelief you don’t necessarily believe anything else. You don’t have what you took away—there’s no extra useful limbs joined to your body, no extra peaceful sleep.

A: As choices where neither loss is crucial give way to choices where every loss is crucial, so much is missing, everything said in the car seems to repeal itself through motion, opening the air for another question. When you think you know, someone takes something away. Removal sucks through the air to create a wake and this, too, deforms, the trees sucked back by speed as they go by, the stubble and the road flattening out. How fast we are moving seems to scour the world. She says, “How did we become friends?”


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

B: Page 41, heading 90, lines 6-14; also, the top of every page. Whoever amputates the past is a thief. What else can he steal: quiet. Spouses. Integrity of flesh. Freedom of movement. Sleep. Integrity of personality. An upright carriage. A true mirror. The future. Which moves under the rupture.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Anne Gorrick Titania/Titanium: A Wedding

Cedar-wing novella

through a tiled forest

Carpet of frantic reddish

The dress white then not white Tungsten undress

Her belly against his hand hung between now Scatter and flung

stellaria invitation

A color field flung onto

“Germanium please� and ever ever

Negligent evening nets


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

An Italian fracture

neon Genoa terror

gone too soon

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Stella Corso An Opera For Madame Lavoisier 1. The pedantry of a woman, small wrinkle at the right-hand turn of her mouth, defies measurement. 2. Anything scrutable begins with the formation of liquids and ends in alchemy. 3. A trivet, with one leg removed, will still stand if prompted. 4. A woman may invent her own nomenclature and then kill its use, a lesson on combustion. 5. A trivet, legs twice removed, may still stand if leaning. 6. Two molecules unite and then lose substance, the dispute over oxygen. 7. A trivet, without legs and now rusted, will still hold a pear. 8. The pear, with bruised skin removed, may yet reveal an edible flesh. 9. A woman will turn and change shape beneath burnt lens, a memoir on heat. 10. The pear, with body soft as rot, may still be used for baking. 11. Do diamonds burn? 12. Two molecules disperse and what was lost is somewhere gained, however immeasurable. 13. The pear, without the trivet, is still a pear. And ever sweet.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Patrick Crerand The Return Leg: Fragments The January after my grandfather died from knee cancer, the postman delivered a certified letter for him from the IRS. Before he knocked on the door, the postman stopped and watched a dog, a black lab named Grendel, squat across the street. Through the thick fog of exhaust that had encircled his Jeep, he could see the curl of shit had frozen on the dog’s anus. No matter how hard Grendel scooted on the snow, the curl would not loose. The postman bared his teeth. It was cold, he thought, too cold to be walking.

“No one walks anymore,” my nana says right after Thanksgiving dinner. She is too blind in her right eye to walk farther than the property line. I am lying on the carpet covered with a blanket, pants unbuttoned, my fly exhaling. Before her eyes went, she used to walk eight miles a day, sometimes more when she visited from New Jersey. If I ever tried to go with her, she’d shoo me away like I was some kind of stray. Eventually she confided that she liked to pass wind when she walked and didn’t want to do so in front of us.

The shape of a delivery truck is pleasingly dignified. The blunt nose is all box and business but the rounded brow leads to a back door that rolls up easy as snack cake foil. Diapers, ice cream, bread, Hostess cupcakes, janitorial supplies, big sacks of money, SWAT teams: they all use the same basic design. If that back door opens, something special is coming out.

Each night my wife and I walk our son in the neighborhood. I point out tree frogs lodged in bark and the bleached skeletons of armadillos marooned in the grass. She always walks faster than me on the return leg. I often think if a plane were flying overhead—one of those unmanned drones or a kite with eyes—it must look like we get halfway to some unknown destination when I reveal I am carrying an ancient and deadly disease.

I always say hello to the UPS man just in case he wants to give me a package. They keep extra in the truck for such occasions, or so I am told. It’s like that tradition when hot air balloons land in your yard. You might get a free magnum of champagne.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


“The Jeep is sinking.” My grandfather writhes on a bed, febrile with carcinogenic dreams. “Bon voyage, mes dents! Quel dommage! Quel dommage!”

On her way back from prom, my nana and her sister were broadsided by a bread truck. Her sister died in the intersection. No cloy burn of an airbag, no seatbelts, no shatterproof glass. They only sent one ambulance. My nana slept the whole ride. She cracked her pelvis and then spent six months in traction, asking for her sister. From May to November, whenever her mother visited, she changed out of her black clothes so my nana wouldn’t know her sister was dead.

“When will I be old enough to fart without regard for other people?” I ask my wife. We are in Hartsfield airport, circling the B gates to get the blood out of our legs. “You’re thirty-one years old,” she said. She pointed to a wrinkled man hunched over a walker waiting outside the jet way and narrowed her eyes. “He’s eighty and he can’t even get away with that yet.”

D-Day +2. Messerschmitt bullets strafe the pink sand of Omaha Beach white. My grandfather hits the gas on the Jeep and drives off the unloading ramp and straight down into six feet of North Atlantic. His teeth crack on the steering wheel. Incisors, cuspids, bicuspids, all of them lost at sea. He walks 25 miles to the nearest dentist. “No good ever came from a Jeep,” he says and never rides in another again.

The longest I ever walked was no more than a few miles. Nothing biblical. Six miles down High Street: from my dormitory to a temporary office in a mall’s basement to interview for a Christmas job at a UPS distribution center. By the time I got there, I was fifteen minutes late, panting; my face chafed and ruddy as a Christmas ham from the headwind. I had to stand behind a guy with a neon tattoo on his neck that read “STAY BACK 200 FEET.” Not even my rep tie could help my lateness. A week later, I traded in the tie for a pair of coveralls and a mop at a department store where I stuffed pressed-wood office furniture into subcompact cars. At night, we drew straws. Short man cleaned the ladies’ stalls. The winner walked the store alone, pushing the broom down that white river of tile.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Aimee Parkison Bodies in the Sand When I found her, she was another woman—not the Mallory I remembered, but a woman with the same name. I suppose it could have been Mallory. I suppose it was. But the photos told a lie. Now she was not the Mallory I thought I knew. Her eyes were smaller somehow, lost in her face, which was softer and larger—heavy and falling gently under the weight of flesh. I set up cameras, making sure they were both pointed in the right direction, and the light was right. “Lonnie,” she whispered. Just as sundown painted the greenish waters orange and red, we drank the stuff she mixed with red wine. Then, we watched each other gasping and heaving in the fading light. I coughed a lot. My mouth tasted like blood. Remembering not to look at the cameras, I started trembling, but not as violently as Mallory in the last moments. Waves caressed our naked bodies. We watched each other understand. Even though we could barely breathe, we held each other. We touched each other’s faces, our fingers examining what should have been familiar bone structures. I shuttered, wondering if more suffering could make everything right. I felt like I was dying, but I didn’t believe it. It wasn’t possible for me to die—or, so I thought. Back then, I thought the world couldn’t go on without me. I believed in guardian angels, and thought we all had one. Now, I don’t know what to believe, except in endlessness.

*** “We’re dead,” Mallory finally said, pointing to what she claimed were our bodies on the sand. Even though I had loved her since childhood, all of a sudden I hated her and didn’t know why I thought she was a liar. Even dead, we were trapped inside the memory of our bodies and the lives we had left behind. We felt very much alive from the shock of our passing. I hadn’t felt this thrilled since I was young. Yet there I was, staring down at two corpses. She had loved me all those years, when she was still breathing, when the heart beat inside her flesh, still warm. She had loved me in her own way and made my flesh sing. No matter what she said to persuade me, I was convinced the bodies on the sand were the bodies of two other women. We should have turned the bodies over right away so that we could have examined the faces. I was the one who said no. I was afraid to disturb them. It didn’t seem right. “They’re ours,” she whispered, “even though they don’t belong to us.” When the faces were still our faces, waves started to turn the bodies.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Roxane Gay How the Waters Ran So Cruel So Deep




Two (2) pairs of Phat Farm Jeans, received from your favorite uncle in Boston for your 21st birthday

1,250 gourdes, sold to your best friend Henri who is gonna look like a real gangsta, man, in his new denim

Dell laptop, four years old, weight 7.2 lbs., 512 MB Ram, 60 GB hard drive

$25 US, sold to boss’s son, a real asshole who saw the computer and said, “I’ll add this to my collection.”

4 Avril

Collection of Michael Jackson compact discs, a gift from your father, in Brooklyn, last seen or heard from four years ago

340 gourdes sold to the old man next door, who always makes nasty comments about your girlfriend and sits in front of his house, bare-chested all day long

7 Avril

Yamaha keyboard, well-used from when you started a band and vowed to become more famous than Wyclef or Sweet Micky

$60 US, sold to your band mate, Innocent who is not a very good guitar player and hopes the keyboard will bring better fortune

23 Avril

1992 Toyota Camry, cardboard rear view window, no spare tire, rear doors don’t open, axles need to be replaced

$175 US, also to your best friend who promises to drive the car as well as you have all these years

18 Mars


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

1 /3 share in the house your father built with his two hands, where you were born, where you and your brothers played, and .35 hectares of land

$7500 US, sold to your brothers and their wives who refuse to pay you what your share is worth because they’re angry you’re leaving

Money belt to wear around the waist, the better to hide your money with

$58 US, bought from a UN soldier who does a little commerce on the side

Concealable knife with fiveinch blade, because you’ve heard stories about what happens on boats drifting in the middle of dark oceans

$111 US, bought from the same UN soldier who does a little commerce on the side

4 Mai

Passage for you and your wife on a somewhat seaworthy vessel from Cap-Haitien to Provinciales, Turks & Caicos, then the United States

$3250 US, bought from a smuggler who deals in all manner of cargo

6 Mai—17 Mai

Daily levy for continued passage on the boat

$375 US, bought from a smuggler who deals in all manner of cargo and firmly believes in the power of continuous negotiation

14 Mai

Continued passage and not being thrown overboard when the boat begins taking on water and the captain needs to reduce weight

Two hours alone with your wife in the captain’s quarters, sold to the captain, and two other men

18 Mai

Not being sent to a detention center upon being apprehended by a US Coast Guard cutter off the coast of North Carolina

$1500 US, bought from two enterprising Coast Guard officers who quickly learned that looking the other way can be lucrative

1 Mai

3 Mai

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011



2 Juin

Forged passports

$750 US, bought from a guy your uncle knows

3 Juin

One month’s room/board

$600 paid to your favorite uncle with whom you and your wife are living until you find a place of your own.

26 Juin

Over the Counter Sleeping Pills; small bottle of rum

$16.99 to help you and your wife sleep, to forget, bought from CVS

26 Juin

EPT Pregnancy Test

$13.95, bought from CVS

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Jeremy M. Davies The Mirror Solution from Fancy Rumrill said: When you yourselves come back from a long day doing whatever work it is you both do, and walk in the front door of my house, and are assailed by its atmosphere, by its geography, by the low wattage of my bulbs, you may find the continuity of your time here taking care of my cats edges out the continuity of the work you do outside. You may find even the physical evidence of your activities outside the house lacking a certain substantiality in the face of your duties here. He added: You should consider this house a stronghold. Rumrill said: Additionally, or conversely, you may develop a certain anxiety regarding the substantiality of my home on those occasions when you’ve left it. That is, when you’re out in the world, away from my home and your duties here, you may begin to worry my home and those parts of it that have become most familiar to you or comforting or in any case emblematic of its atmosphere have ceased, or, perhaps, disappeared. He added: That’s how I feel when I go out. Rumrill said: Given that such departures mean for me, despite their likely brevity, saying what feels like a lasting, irreversible goodbye to all the things I hold most dear and secret, this feeling I’ve described may explain my reluctance to venture out. It does little good telling myself as I always do that this supposedly lasting, irreversible goodbye is no more lasting or irreversible than the goodbye one bids to his room when he closes his eyes before going to bed or than that one bids to the sun when it sets or that one bids to a friend when she runs to the toilet or that one bids to a mouthful of food when he swallows it or that one bids to the words of a book when he closes its covers. He added: Though, come to think of it, I have to wonder why these and other, similar leave-takings aren’t just as terrifying for me. Rumrill said: I need to know that my house is present and continuous in order to apprehend the world outside my house with any clarity—or, to be honest, courage. That is, the knowledge that I can return to my house makes the world outside my house navigable, not only in that I know where I am in relation to my house and know what route I would need to take in order to return there, but in the perhaps more significant sense that my having a house to return to makes the world outside my house comprehensible, characterized as an interregnum in my ongoing presence at home. He added: In safety.

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Rumrill said: Given what I might refer to as my condition—this inability to believe that locations in the world persist in my absence in the same way that they persist when I’m present to perceive them—it follows that, in order for my house to be present and continuous, I would need to be in attendance perceiving it as such. That is, in order to know I have a home to return to, in order to be safely in the world outside my house, I would need to be in my house. He added: I would need another Rumrill. Rumrill said: Rumrills being in short supply, I tested a number of interim solutions over the years. These were not initiated in a spirit of scientific inquiry but were what I would characterize as desperate improvisations, developed over the course of my attempt to lead what you might call a full and satisfying life in this world alongside my fellow human beings. He added: Of whom, thankfully, there seem to be less and less. Rumrill said: An example of an interim solution: arranging a series of mirrors to reflect a portion of the exterior of the house to me at great distances. By “great distances” I mean a mile or two, since the exigencies of arranging such an apparatus over distances greater than this is beyond me. He added: And I felt uncomfortable hiring an outside contractor. Rumrill said: There was a month when I became convinced that the practical and palpable simultaneity of a mirror—as opposed to the ersatz relationship between a live transmission or recording and its source—would be an effective means of defusing my anxiety. I was able, with the help of the neighborhood hardware store, to acquire a series of small square mirrors the size of my two hands placed side by side with their two thumbs folded under. He added: And a hammer and some nails. Rumrill said: I chose a sunny weekday morning to install my solution. I dressed warmly and walked, I think, with a purposeful step. He added: Leaving earlier than usual to give me time to finish the job before heading to my shift at the library. Rumrill said: The idea was to provide myself a safe path at least as far as the train station, following which I would always be able to confirm easily the continued existence of my home. I would tack from mirror to mirror, following a zigzag path, until I reached the train. He added: Following, that is, the same path as the reflected light coming from my home. Rumrill said: The first four or five hundred yards were uncomplicated. I began by using the siding of the house opposite mine. He added: It splintered some but held the nail and the mirror. Rumrill said: I moved to a telephone pole. I made use of a number of these, since they are regularly spaced and of an ideal thickness.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

He added: Their curvature too is helpful for this kind of work, allowing the greatest possible flexibility in terms of angles of refraction. Rumrill said: I hadn’t anticipated the noise of the work. It was a sunny weekday morning, and my neighbors and their neighbors weren’t used to having their early hours disturbed by the sound of nails being hammered through tin, glass, plastic, and wood (or other materials). He added: Also, I should have worn gloves. Rumrill said: I reached the train station, which was as far as this experiment could take me, only to discover that, through gradual misalignment, the view I’d established, from the optimal location—squatting at an altitude of about four feet six inches below and to the right of the final mirror, located outside the grocery—was mainly empty air save for a small portion of the lower left-hand quadrant of a second-floor window on the southeast façade of my house. I also discovered that, during daylight hours, which were the only reasonable hours the mirror solution could be employed, due both to available light and the likelihood of my being out of my house to employ it, I had been cheated of even the minimal comfort I could probably have derived from this unsatisfying view. He added: Since the portion of the frame containing a fragment of my house was—thanks to a trick of optics that in retrospect I recognize was the only logical conclusion to my experiment— nothing more than a reflection of the view into a window of the house next to mine. Rumrill said: I became preoccupied in time with the idea that I might utilize my mirror corridor, though a clear failure as a remedy to my condition, for other purposes. Admittedly, titillating oneself on a street corner on a weekday in the daylight hours is not a simple matter. He added: But I considered myself a man of rare ingenuity. Rumrill said: My neighbor at this time was not a comely young woman, as far as I was aware. I had no evidence of there being a comely young woman residing in my neighbor’s house. He added: But I could conceive of his inviting one into his home at some moment in the near future. Rumrill said: A plausible scenario: my neighbor inviting a comely young woman into his home after an evening drinking liquor at a neighborhood bar. Surely a comely inebriated young woman of the sort to frequent one of our neighborhood bars would follow my neighbor, who was not an unpleasant man, back to his home, on our street, which even in those days was rather quiet. He added: Though not so quiet as now. Rumrill said: They would wake up late the next morning, because of their inebriation, too late for work, which they would skip, first one and then the other telephoning a sham excuse to their employers. I would have kept an unaccustomed watch of my neighbor’s activities the night before and so would be prepared to call in my own sham excuse to my supervisor at the

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


library as necessary. He added: No one there would have begrudged me a day off. Rumrill said: I would then hike to the train station as when leaving for work in the morning on the sort of ordinary day the mirror solution had been conceived to facilitate. I would stop and assume the proper-altitude squat at the proper place on the street and so see into some of my neighbor’s bedroom, where a comely young woman was likely to be located. He added: And she might stray into the frame. Rumrill said: The woman with whom I went on occasion into the stacks at the library was comely to an uncommon degree. The logic of my memories of the events she precipitated would demand that she be so. He added: Though I’ve been wrong before. Rumrill said: It stands to reason that I had a longstanding relationship with the woman with whom I went into the stacks. The logic of human interaction insofar as it has been made plain to me indicates that a longstanding relationship would more often than not underlie such intimate familiarity. He added: Unless of course she’d mistaken me for someone else. Rumrill said: There is also the possibility that, rather than our sharing a longstanding relationship, the woman in the stacks was simply the sort of woman in or out of stacks for whom it is desirable to fuck men about whom she knows nothing and about whom she intends to learn little more than what fucking such a man might teach her. If so, it would be unfair of me to describe what I might call our friendship as having been carried out without our ever having communicated. He added: Since what we did together in the stacks was itself our means of communicating. Rumrill said: It would be accurate to say that whatever acts I anticipated my next-door neighbor and a comely young local woman engaging in, thinking they were unobserved, in the comfort or in any event shelter of that bedroom parallel to my own, took the form, in my mind, of those same acts I remembered—clearly, in those days; the days, I mean, when I went around nailing mirrors to telephone poles—as having once taken place between myself and the woman with whom I went on occasion into the stacks. Or else, it would be accurate to say that when I try now, as an aged cat-fancier, to picture to myself what I, as a younger, mirrornailing man, looking into a partially shattered and certainly warped hand mirror in full view of traffic on a sunny morning, was hoping to see at the other end of his corridor of reflections, probably a mile or a mile and a quarter away, I am unable to populate that parallel bedroom— or parallel quarter-bedroom, since my view on the street by the grocery store and the train station was hardly comprehensive—with any other series of actions aside from those that myself as a still-younger man had engaged in with his (by this mirror-nailing point already long-since-departed) female coworker. He added: Presumably comely.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Rumrill said: On my back, in my bed, in the incongruous maritime light, listening to the river running down my street, perhaps it occurred to me that, if the woman with whom I’d gone into the stacks were indeed the sort of person to seek out encounters with strangers such as she had initiated with me at the library, then she might have left the part of the big world containing our stacks and library and my train station and grocery with the goal of engaging in further liaisons now in a timbre better suited to her tastes. That is, I assume: dangerous and dramatic, precarious and perilous, in diverse languages. He added: Far more anonymous than a Rumrill—as her fellow countryman—could provide. Rumrill said: In actuality, thanks to the sun and the abundance of stimuli susurrating at the corners of my eyes on the morning I constructed my mirror corridor, I was distracted from my thoughts of the likelihood of catching my neighbor and a local woman “pleasing to the eye” engaged in the selfsame acts that I and the woman with whom I went into the stacks had in those bygone days pioneered by the unfortunate coincidence of spotting my own quarterreflection several yards away, across an intersection, blackened and transparent in a shop window, mitigated by clouds, cars, and the criminal silhouettes of neighborhood passersby. A pitfall I should have anticipated. He added: Giving myself, at the least desirable moment, accidental confirmation of my own substantiality via the practical and palpable simultaneity of this shop-window reflection: caught in the process of anticipating and even visualizing—at the other end of my mirror corridor, in the quarter-bedroom of my neighbor—myself with my cock, for instance, in the mouth of the woman with whom I had gone into the stacks. Rumrill said: I could have turned my head back again to avoid seeing myself if not leering grotesquely then in any case guiltily receptive to the hoped-for sight of a man better able than I to persuade a comely young woman to accompany him back to his bedroom for the purpose of reenacting for no audience what had once gone on in the stacks of a nearby public library, but the knowledge that the reflection was there, visible, invariable, accessible to my eye, accomplished for myself the perfect, confirmable stability I so hoped, in those days, to achieve for my home. While my home—which, at that moment, for all I knew, was nothing more than a single window suspended at second-story height in who-knows-what sort of viscous and uninhabitable ontological material—remained elusive, despite its relative size, its lack of mobility, indeed its thus-far invariable persistence at the same address and circumstances in which I had first found it. He added: I myself had become a certainty when I least wanted to be certain of myself. Rumrill said: Curious to say, though I have substantial evidence as to the changes Rumrill himself has undergone over the course of his life—typed and stored under a variety of headings in my many filing cabinets, for example: Shame, Illnesses, Dreams, Routes Through the Neighborhood, Thefts (Suffered) and Thefts (Perpetrated), Women Encountered, Conversations (Overheard) and Conversations (Imagined), Cats (Deceased), Things I No

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Longer Remember, Spaces Through Which I could Navigate Even were I Blind—I still feel I am in essence the same Rumrill as when I first began being Rumrill. What led to my discontinuing my recordkeeping, in fact, upon revisiting many years’ worth of my records, was discovering there ample evidence that I already bore little resemblance to the memory I still carry of the Rumrill I was when setting out as a Rumrill, despite the regularity with which I thought I had been ordering my movements, and thus habits, and thus thoughts, and thus continuation. He added: But who, if not Rumrill, could I be?


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Deborah Richards After the Love has Gone we used to joke about how those big bands of the 70s like maze heatwave rose royce divided the money up after each gig when the performers would smooth out the notes before slipping them into their slinky pockets then we wondered how they could afford those outfits

as they were always on the radio we reckoned they made enough money to have themselves a good time in their platform shoes weighting down their skinny skinny legs and the afros were as light as muffin tops and not an inch of fat would detract from the funk

and what about the women with biased-cut dresses with one shoulder bare to the glare of lights and the lip gloss made that fantasy possible and when we saw them later the years on the road had barely marked their faces and we argued about which one she was

there was maurice and paul bailey and maurice’s brother verdine with the wild hair and eyes and a whole bunch of them when they did boogie wonderland with the emotions they moved forward like golden show horses towards the camera like they were going to fall off

and we imagined that we’d be always the same that we’d keep going to the family christmas parties with the 12” records and a microphone to sing aint no body loves me better makes me happy makes me feel this way though the photos were blurred we kept them safe

then they were going to leap into outer space they were the future and the past and the world looked good in spangly jumpsuits you had to be prepared for sweet surrender and being free was a feeling too hard to choreograph you had to be there

some people live in the present but more live in the past and others put their happiness on the future and planning is important if you want good grades or to have the wedding party with enough seats for the guests but there’s no guarantee that everyone will turn up

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


some people live to a long age and some people die young the good ones they say and some go suddenly and some fall through the cracks and get trampled underfoot and some take their time and some will make a big sound and we will ask why and how

where was the car that was paid for and the money held for others and the women he helped and the drugs he smoked the children he neglected we knew about the tears that were cried long after the trust had gone we all make mistakes and we are hurting

we thought it funny how they lived in the movies but we believed the lyrics reflected our soulful secrets we thought the good times would persist if we kept dreaming and waiting love would be captured naturally and if sadness was all we shared we would


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Laura Vena

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Joshua Cohen Odessas sounds of odessa

I was sitting at a café in the city’s historical center, surrounded by bubbly fountains and refurbished façades. Romantic, very. From behind me I heard a resounding “clip-clop”— hooves on the cobbles, and turned to expect a leisurely coach, pulled by fine horses in dainty lockstep, but no—it was only the sound of a woman’s highheels, the mating call of golddiggers and whores.

sights of


If Potemkin Villages are fake villages, are Potemkin Stairs real stairs?

odessa fashion

Odessa fashion is extremely resourceful: A sailor’s stripes are the same as a convict’s.

odessa at work

It seems that that man wants money just for owning a monkey.

odessa geography

Wherever an ashtray is, is the center of the table.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


While traveling, and sitting perfectly still, he could feel the many objects in his many pockets all pressing in on him. He felt his wallet press against his right leg, while his left leg bore the weight of an American passport, forty American dollars in tens, and an oversized key to a seventh–floor apartment he rented in Yalta, Crimea. Train tickets, clipped together, pressed against his left buttock. Three cigarettes left in a pack pressed up against his left breast from his pocket there above his heart. Their combined weight pressured him, regularly, constantly, pushing through his pockets and into him, until he himself was pocketed—all that was left of him an essential point, which had to bear these weights, still beating.

a A lowercase a is the most difficult letter to form while writing by hand on moving train. 


Posterity might think I had terrible handwriting. Truth is, I wrote everything on trains.


I met her in the lobby. She spoke exclusively in euphemisms, like the menu of a fancy restaurant. I treated. “Tatar’s Purse” was a heap of meats in pastry.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Later, “Going up to her room” cost me three years.

a certain angle

Remember, he said, when loaning it to me, this pen won’t write unless held at a certain angle.  

the most important thing

The most important thing, about this pen, is to maintain ink flow: (the idea that) the ink must flow and continue flowing, at all times.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Magazine If you read this I am dead.* Back when I edited Magazine that’s as far as I would get. Bad first lines augur only worse. Dénouements. Whose only undoing is lack of appropriate accent. Now that I’m dying I might as well tell you about the first Vietnamese Magazine ever “published.” That was the last I’ll ever use quotation marks. Last time in my life.

But to begin, about Magazine. Which is always to be referred to as Magazine, never The Magazine. Anyone who says The Magazine is not affiliated with Magazine, not affiliated in any capacity, especially not in the capacity of rejection. I’m fairly sure we were created during the War or just before War’s conclusion, Paree! Paree! though I wasn’t involved until I was graduated from Yale (and went abroad). Yale is only better than Harvard because New Haven is closer to 42nd Street than Cambridge is. It was one night down in the Village however about a week before classes ended that a tweedier former professor of mine suddenly emerged from a phonebooth I was about to use to tell me he’d read—perused—a few of my poems in a Yale student journal and, why didn’t I send him a few others presuming I had them? He had a friend, he said, who was starting a review—a fraternitybrother from Harvard actually or who’d just taken a leave from Harvard English to work on Nazi scientist recruitment, though his personal interests were entirely literary. Hungover next morning I found the address scrapped on a matchbook: always check interior coatpockets, and from then on the well known history is well known (at least in–house and, quid nunc, among writers). Of course I was rejected immediately, the sase came back in usual fashion: with a sentence of fulsome praise, a sentence of polite demurral, and a oneway ticket to Paris. Rue de Tournon. The digs made immediate impression. Paris postwar was giddily faded but Magazine’s office was a splashy palace lately reconditioned from a collaborator Baron. Bright young American girls with tits: one tit a birthday hat, the other an ice cream cone. And legs, clickerclacker typewriter legs, bold knees, capital thighs. They were sorting through submissions, rejecting

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


everything, accepting nothing. Rejecting everything but reading everything too. These girls were readers. These girls were also great whores and would blow your cock in corridors and bathrooms. French food wasn’t bad either. We talked future issues over horsemeat medallions soaked in meaux mustard companied by a finefumed cabernet—Plumptan my predecessor and I. He was emeritus serious even then. He’d publish only the best, the most deserving, he said, he was demanding but not in any intimidating way, but in the way that made you want to do well for him, to make perfect but also to produce. He was loved for this and this only and was feared mostly for the wrong reasons—mostly because Magazine paid so well. Took care of its contribs. Plumptan was proud of my unanimous rejection, hated what he called my new work (which I hadn’t written yet, which I wouldn’t write), told me how easy it had been saying the requisite decisive No. Try to say this in your head in his voice: you’re no writer, Dreiserooney (he called everyone by the names of American Realists), you’ve got redaction written all over you…that voice that Brahmin paarked–the– caar. Redaaaktion. We’d been talking chapbooks and broadsheets (broadsides?), efficacy of pastoral verse in an increasingly technological society, necessity/impossibleness of any sort of sustainable suburban avant–garde, and he said he had a proposition. A job offer. He said, you could go places if you’d just do us a teensy favor, Steinbeck. Then he took from under his false moustache a photo. Phan, he said, deputy minister of culture and info for the Vietnamese Communist Party. A poet of significant education/pedigree, with talent to waste. He’s become ever so troubling to our hosts in this mess we’ve titled First Indochina. We’d be prepared to offer you junior editorship were you to go tonight at 23:59 to XXX Rue de Repos and publish this Vietnamese. Just then the maître d’ set down a silver cloche he uncovered to, voilà! an envelope. I still think it’s silly to pass a gun in an envelope. But that’s how it was done: simpler days!


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Daniel Y. Harris The Actor in My Ear “…to succeed in shifting the signified a great distance and in throwing, so to speak, the anonymous body of an actor into my ear.” —Roland Barthes The Pleasure of the Text

scene i

Disfigure the spine of the prattling text—the makeshift blank, the pause, staid and violent, touched and shoved down to a single word: unit of milky phoneme to a speck of flaw—“actor.” The poem is a farce acting its way back—foretells its sociolect on stage/backstage: the one tamped down is hollowed out. Method is rendered friable and applied to the face, that surrogate loss of verbal desire as whiteface: stock images, snide vacuity, agreement to express the right motion—in this case, a sort of islet within a silicon body. Call them avatars of an alias, or members of the Lobe Proscenium

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


now playing in the palm of the hand with touch screen. The male lead is a cotton swab excavating waxy iambs and diluted tmesis.

scene ii

The critic said that “it granulates, it crackles, it caresses, it grates, it cuts, it comes: that is bliss,” but “it” is a neuter pronoun—not the elegance of the Anima Poetae, rather more frigid, the third–person with an index finger. “Take your pleasure with gutturals,” says the actor—what he means is bliss, arched and short of breath, that the geno–text has moved beyond a person to a thing. Center stage is in the ear canal. Lights dim. A faint sound of medieval horns and modern beats is heard. Enter a thin man with wire–rimmed glasses. He speaks: “In the Logomachy Of Things, there’s an actor in my ear. He is anonymous, a stick–figure, gender neutral, without race, shibboleth nor portmanteau. He is no more a he than an it is a he/she. In the Logomachy Of Things, there’s a glossy syndeton known as the shy ampersand.”


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

scene iii

Exit. Stage left with bits of formulae: the “X” anonymous bit upon which so much depends, may retire the form—to write the last poem named “The Kill Poem.” Eyes burn and fill with blood. In a few minutes the reader is dead. “Nothing more than La petite mort,” says the actor aping ends. “Not this time” says the dreaded voice of the writer. “X” has merit as rhetor, logophile, word–parser, but “X” can boast no organs, therefore no petite mort. Backstage, “X” sticks his fingers in his ears, that is those ears covered by a skin suit and thinks of his truncated career as a speleologist in the Grotte des Faux–Monnayeurs in France—one last sortie and—voila— the over–emptied gift of recall as computer virus–cum–“X” poisoning millions of eyeballs. There is no accounting for leaps when bearing the burden of an eared actor. It’s in the ear of the beholder. Then it’s an error or a misprision. Ears or eyes? Eyes are bleeding as we speak and the actor is eared. Logical deduction or induction?—and the answer is—expiry. Ultimately, there is a defense to the body count piling up from “The Kill Poem,” armatured in the first line—the disfigured spine is unreadable.

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scene iv

A glass eye shatters in a thousand pieces. Sound expands and contracts. Fatality and misdirection at intermission. Concessions include iced coffee, truffles, candied plums, lemon tarts, crème brulee and raspberry mousse. “I am incapable of choice,” says the retired semiconductor engineer. A dollop of afternoon rain. Traffic. An angry laundry van diver jerks his leg to the brake and hits an old man.

scene v

Roland died, struck by a laundry van. Survived by a confluence of nothing, our spent millennial angst penetrates the scene—call it bliss/ter and prick it: vis–à–vis identity to call our screen-savers—“saved” and fine down the one limit that can’t be reached: surveillance.

scene vi

They twitter the dead, create firewalls and agitprop.

scene vii

On Tuesday night an assembly of hackers take an oath. Their obscure antipathy and digital soteriology bears the moniker “Arminius.” It is a convenient umbrella for a larger grouping of monikers, each with incrementally less connection to their historical figureheads. A futile annoyance. A ban on tracking delivered as code. Wissenschaft. They face the Elder, the author of the Sobig Worm, MyDoom, Nuclear RAT and Koobface viruses.


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scene viii

a) b) c) d) e) f) g)

He is weary—Priapic. She is distant—Aphroditic. A relapse—mental shrapnel. No halcyon days exist—shut the window! The form has been decommissioned. It is useless as a potlatch. A cleavage.

scene ix

versions of a comatose state living blanket unwilling foul goes flat released in all good time conjures the trick of a black velvet ear scale of ripeness newly hording permitted things black against red and blue selfsame spare or alternate stand in is spit out still unharmed but changed into a threshing machine as there is no way to spin it for an unlikely pairing of reincarnation and literary debt designed to produce ovoids and reassemble the discarded shapes of the canon into the body of a human being resistant to the intensified minute by minute directive from no place higher than a text message pulsing in the hand

scene x

Y_hw_h twitches in the spasmodic void of his lustful solitude. His M_n is an anal bead, sphincter–Writ—the only creature to be blown with the breath of life. Animals are given no flap of elastic cartilage—no foreplay. Y_hw_h’s orbicularis oris is made of semen and dirt. The penis–torso has a surgical extension, the rib, the original Sybian machine. His W_m_n is a metalepsis. With her, the spurt of his pudendal nerve by arch and tightening— then driblets. Y_hw_h dies.

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Molly Gaudry from Rosalia [chapter one]

the women of Rosalia prepare for Rosalia knowing one among them will not survive it

Rosalia has claimed a woman’s life every year since I was born

many believe if only I would give birth to a girl the women of this town might be spared this town was built on superstitions

was named for the first woman buried in it

or born in it

folks disagree

the one that died

Rosalia the mother

was thirteen and took her final breath in the thirteenth hour of labor


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it is her daughter Rosalia the great who made this town what we know it to be now

who started Rosalia the annual three-day feast around a stage and fire pit that ends anymore with a human sacrifice that folks say is the doing of the angry spirit of Rosalia

who survived when nobody thought it possible who was named Rosalia in honor of her mother

my own mother like Rosalia died bringing a daughter into this world

second only to giving birth to a daughter there is no greater honor in Rosalia than to die for a daughter

Rosalia’s only living descendent I am thought responsible for the deaths of twenty-nine women

wives and mothers of Rosalia

we are all thinking it

that the woman whose life will be taken this year by the spirit of Rosalia should be me for what other purpose did I ever serve but to honor her and the town that honors her with a daughter that they might name Rosalia

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I am trouble

it would be easier if I were in trouble because my not being in trouble has the power to convince the town that there is something wrong with me because how hard is it to be overtaken by passion and get into trouble or if romance is what I want then how hard is it to settle with the first person who will treat me nicely and offer to buy me dinner once in a while and then buy me dinner for the rest of my life once I am wearing his ring on my left hand

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a book called The Left Hand of Darkness and I have not read it but I think my kind of trouble must be what her book is about

I would like to know how that book ends

it is difficult to get books here all we have in the Rosalia Public Library are encyclopedias and atlases

as the librarian I read them and wonder when will anyone else come read them

so I am a librarian and will be thirty in three days

tomorrow kicks off the first day of Rosalia

these are important details I think

and this

I am being courted by three of Rosalia’s finest they have been courting me as long as I can


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more aptly the town has put them in the position of courters for as long as I can remember

this is not hyperbole

in pre-school there was a buddy system and I did not have one buddy but three the youngest in front and his elders on either side

it went like this and still goes except I am to sit with just one on the first float of tomorrow’s parade

to choose one will honor their parents who were unlucky to have had three sons

I would like to know why it is my responsibility to introduce honor to their family and why beyond that the brothers would want to marry me

I would prefer to sit with Ursula instead

not one of the brothers has ever come to the library although all three have taken me to their favorite places in Rosalia

as the town likes to say not just anyone is a suitable suitor for the only living descendant of Rosalia

but I would like to hope for someone literate at least

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the whole town wants me to choose the whole town might be happy if I chose all three and brought them home because then I might have three daughters

one by each

who might go on to have daughters of their own and then that would be the end of all these deaths of wives and mothers in Rosalia during Rosalia for a good long while

if that is what I wanted

I would have done it by now


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Catherine Kasper Kindling The two who begat me hungered over a hot caldron, pressed leaves for fabric, for grouting in the walls, for a mattress of sadness. They stitched costumes of twigs and mud. Their progeny shocked them with needs and voices, with our obstinate hunger. There’s only two of us left now, the end of the wheedling line, with letters implanted in our skin, ciphers of a futureless few, here awhile, mocked awhile, aching, and lost to the wind like shredded paper. The words break like limbs; the snaps echo. What the eyes have seen darkens them now, dims the last pleasure. What came before is what is now. They say what has been always will be and yet the hornets and toads disappear; what remains is buzzing and croaking, the always will be warning. Those two who made us were called hoarder and weeder. They were dizzy with life and trembling with depravity; their feet were worn down by trying to hide from shame. They built an enclosure and fashioned a nest; they thought they could perform normalcy like mimicry. Words crack like an iron kettle hitting stone. I prefer the soft seed pod innards, the stringy, orange guts; I prefer the warm teas accompanied by silence. The spores were carried through the rootless city. That is why, the reports said, the screaming followed. That leaves alone could have created moisture; their roots would interrupt the vast mushroom patches. Reports also said that everything that was given might have provided; we had destroyed so much. I wake up to powdered rain and fall asleep to mold. Moss is comforting like a worn coat, like a clock never set to alarm, and the small shell of daily routine. For this I am thankful. I gather the heat, pour a dram through the sieve. A drink from the little brown fruits that have bloomed. In the daylight, the wood thrush, at night, the chickadee. Every season rewired. Bats in the sunlight flutter their farewells. Or so you imagine the reverse with stripped irises: the soar and dive of a dawning hour; the earth, like us, here for a limited time. Scorching oblivion. In the street, two small ones argue over a cobblestone. A chipped hunk broken free, dusty with contamination. Once each cobblestone held a vibrant tiger’s eye: golden, cerise, emerald green, obsidian. Streets perceived frailty in our footsteps, saw the ends we’d bring ourselves to. Mechanical eyes embedded in concrete bridges, on steeples facing the heavens, searching for things simple and straightforward. We worshipped simplicity. We held our dolls as we should

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have our children. The dolls could not leave us and children looked through the seeing eyes and knew who we were. Greedy. The blank stare of formaldehyde faces. They also evaporated. We all came from one thing: the sticky of the body or of the tube. Only later was the grafting, but the results were deciduous. There were two lines formed and we were asked to spell our names, then the names of our breeders. The dolls were in cases. It was promised. As the lines proceeded, it was evident no promises would be kept. In the evening of my history, we squatted over a dyed vermillion cloth, lapped tamarind from green ceramic bowls. My mouth was cold sweet bean; a toad under my jacket leapt. The last things. Nothing was said. To say anything would be like the sulphured fumes from the steeples, that later made us gasp, then retch. It was shortly after that things changed suddenly; things that had been changing all along. The apparatus they gave each of us was heavy, and the mouthpiece insoluble. The weight remained after it was removed. We were inconsolable. We wanted to rewind. Even to the moment when the dolls were removed and placed in the flames. Because every one agreed on one thing then. First this, then that. If we had even the smallest doubt, none of the spores would have bloomed. We did not ask questions. We were taught one thing and we held it firmly like a golden tiger’s eye. We would not learn another thing. Dusk is the saddest, because others begin to sing; insects crawl out of the cobblestones to their quick deaths, and the moon glows its injury. It is too soon to forget, too early to swallow our warm drams. We spend evenings counting every kernel of our error. Those who begat me counted me as one; my siblings as two through five. I hope to disturb this cycle by not listing them. But they are there, in the line I was made to march in, where you are from, imprinted on the silver coin embedded near the shoulder blades, the coin that gives an ongoing auscultation to decide the hour and the day. I make a list of only them, but there are no tremors. No world is righted. If I could call them anything, the words would taste like rust, not legume. In the evenings, there is the sweeping, the shutting of everything; every thing in a place. There are the quilted layers, insect-eaten and pebbly, with their odors of worn feet and dead skin. This is more than the others have. I lie where they had lain to breed me for the incentive. A sugary trace on the tongue until they come to collect their names. There is no more silence, just a haze that smothers the city. Were there leaves that shone emerald green, that protected those underneath, both innocent and guilty? That camouflaged words? The shouts of those who labored to beget me, who rubbed my face into it to see if I could still breathe? I do not understand what they were saying. Their words were like the eyes in the streams: evaporating and searching for a source. They took hold.


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A warm tea was offered later, by others who dreamed; this is for the record. They made the drams drunk late in the evenings to block out the sounds of the troops. The footsteps like words, words heavy as boots and unyielding as tanned skins. In the beginning, there was the beating, later the naming. The coin surgically clung to those left. Its silver eye scans my travels to the time of leaves and the start of the pleading. Those who begat me full knowing. A sticky warmth, the kind of thing that repulsed them as much as our cricket voices. Seedcake was given to the breeders. Who is to say they otherwise would have lain together? It was not the injections then, but the friction of skin. We would be silenced first, then ordered to sing; we would be catalogued by our past histories. No one gets to choose where they came from.

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Roxanne Carter Beyond This Point Are Monsters Episode Nine 9.1 A few drops of sweat attend her body—anemones, bracketed by nylon and lace. She throws open the width, observes an opposing movement: the house withdrawing into itself, anger spiked by embroidery floss, spun sugar. The cat glides onto the roof, dropping down to feast on wood-sorrel. A dove-coloured girl jumps from peril, runs from the red room to the casement. As the sun sets, Darling finds herself alone. Her alarm lasts through the night; she’s a girl too enamored of locks. I am encouraged to call her once every hour: to let the phone ring three times. She takes a breath only out of necessity: otherwise, the simple word overwhelms; only the cry is precious. She doesn’t want to move, to disturb her remarkable smallness, the heat of honey blazing the curtains—swaddling the room in cinders and ash. Her sweet way of saying she’d like to see someone coming down the stairs to fetch her. I drag on; it may rain, the aster thin on the ground. I hurry downstairs and back up, my hands drifting through vales of light. I repeatedly shift positions. I saw by her look that she is no longer interested in me; something beyond the window caught her. I start by emptying the milk glass into the kitchen sink. I try the pilot, leave the cat to her sentry. I want to say something, but my mouth stiffens, burdened, as if some heavy creature has nested on my tongue. I imagine myself, for a few moments, somewhere else: a stooping forest, a path punctured without demand. In response, I abandon the wall canvassed by a gold-veined mirror, the dirty shoelace dangling from the unshaded light. Rather than drink, I find something easy to hold. Darling no longer wishes to say anything. Darling stands and gathers her dress, drawing it off; a softly uttered hiss against skin. She is all down and brutal wool, plucking the errant hair from her clavicle, flicking a crust from her nostril. Something could be missing; the intense echo of silverware clattering on glass. the difficulty of slender nettles thundering against the door. The first barrier, brought by those who can tell what would have come to pass if she hadn’t stood in shadow. The house opens and closes, spits out tropical lobsters and sow bugs; a clot of bees and walking sticks. the interruption is sweet, if disruptive. The neighbors did not believe the roses had been shipped several hundred miles. The sea extends a palm of salt, a blessing to keep the dark at bay.


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There should have been quicksilver, a convulsion of light. Darling begins by turning off every switch: carefully examining, and opening, every drawer. Where will I start? In the sawdust? Without silence, without distractions: always the bluster of traffic, clouds careening in the sky, refusing to untangle the light.

9.2 I waited for the opportunity. Darling turned; the door had been left open. Look! Duchess cried in bewilderment. A bruise around every light, expanding and contracting. While I looked I listened for footsteps on the stairs. I did not need to step through the door to witness the proximity of the sea. A girl who was not afraid could jump very easily, could narrowly miss the rocks. I assured myself that such a thing would never happen. I looked away. Darling could be anywhere around here, miles away in the woods. I kept my watching eyes that way—the sea very far from strong today. What is it to be false? Duchess called out the direction in which Darling had run. The waves passed along the shore. How could I hurry? A vicious turning of the chamber, a curve from which Duchess could not reach the telephone. From the door to the phone sprawled the broken body of the house. The whine of a hinge like a dog from below, the screen rolling open: a way to escape the feeling of being enclosed. Her eyes watched the big clock, the tender hours. She’d seen all the wrong things. Duchess avoided Darling’s eyes. Darling glanced at the clock with a start. She went to the door and looked into the room, doubting what she saw. I saw what happened, Darling said. Of course, darling, Duchess said. Duchess closed her eyes completely.

9.3 Duchess knows where to look; she won’t waste these moments scouring the woods. Darling could be out, making laps around the house. She’s missed the original airdate. The lights are burning late tonight. She’d talked like she was going away, like silk leaves and plaster tree trunks would part and tip her onto a concrete floor.

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Morning settling in and the house empty, upstairs and down. Duchess banging against the wall; the only sound her fist against fiber board. Not a sound like the anxiety of gulls whirling over the sea. The window wiped clean of fingerprints; the cat pleased. Duchess guides her flashlight beam, so near that I want to scream. A clock rattling in the adjacent room, a spot on the floor she steps over on her way. crossing the hall anxiously, certain that I will not see her sidestep, a small movement she has to make in order to proceed. I have no idea where she could be…Duchess says, striding through a maze of diamonds woven in wool. She will handle this. The tide was in, the beach and the lower part of the cliffs were bare. Duchess pushes disasters to the side. I don’t like to see her like this, to see her closing each cupboard quietly.

9.4 I keep swallowing. a patch of darkness moved. I swallowed and then I started. a patch of darkness moved, and stopped. She had hidden in the forest, found a bird, and thump, thump, thump. A patch of darkness moved, stopped and moved again. Everything has to move, yes yes move and stop. Everything so still she said stop but keep moving she kept moving keeps moving now so she can make it stop. She makes it slow; Duchess had told her to run and Darling caught her breath and came back. All the trees marked with X, a girl wondering. Hunger slithering in her stomach, she woke folded on the ground, scenes missing. She laced her fingers behind her head, came forward step by step, her little eyes covered by hair. She knows that it will never happen to her. It was the seaweed rising up through the floor. It was the salt taste of her palm when she licked her fingers clean. It was the fire that filled the room. She should go in; when Darling saw that the light had gone out she thought it was the end. When she saw the X marked on the door she thought she should go in. She’d seen this before; she heard the ordinary, everyday sounds. A door I don’t want to go in. She followed her shadow along, a saw slicing through a trunk, the rhythm she called softly, a head mounted on the wall. Ashes falling from the tree. A failure of warmth, of comfort. She made it stop - at other times it felt like end; now she has a reason to stay.


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9.5 The house was intended to be a home. Everything had been tried to make it comfortable; darkness was required, and in this window, light. The floor was left deliberately dirty, and silhouettes left careening round the fire. The seashore would always be soaking wet, and the smell of jasmine would gradually become intense. What mattered was the placement of the foundation on the hill, and the direction of the wind. Some afternoons she would sit in her casement gazing out at nothing. A breeze would lift off the water to stir her; her mouth, ever more red, would fill with saliva. Her effort in watching lead to unseen movements and a triumph over passing ships. The image of fish hanging from the trees in the forest beyond her sight appeals to her. At an enormous distance she appears as nothing more than a speck covered with glass sealed up in marble, wood and stone. I found a key, Darling says. A key? says Duchess. You don’t mean a key? Darling hangs her head and says, I found it. A key, nearly buried on the beach. The key glittered on her open palm and her hair was stuck over her eyes so she didn’t stare, and her open mouth was clogged with salt water. The key felt cold and hard in her hand. Her lips moved gently. I found a key, Darling says. Darling had arrived and found the house upon the hill. Darling had dared to climb the hill, aware of the dark brambles around her, insects vibrating in the air. She had wanted only to creep back towards her train. She had looked up at the house, long and low and built of rough stone. Then she looked beyond the chimneys to a line of pine trees, dipping towards a vast edge of jagged rock. Somewhere below the sea clutched the cliff and broadcast a bewildering wail. There was a wind, and Darling had shivered, a long, slow sob reverberating in her body. As she came closer and closer the house got larger, the windows began to swarm and somehow Darling knew the secret was meant for her, she knew this house; knew the inarticulate warmth, the terrible sorrow locked away in its rooms.

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Janalyn Guo SOMETHING CLOSE The Claw broke again, and when the repairman came to look at it, he left a large brown stain on my bedroom rug, which he came back the next day to clean up. My house was in shambles. While the repairman sang along to opera and rubbed the stain out upstairs, woodworkers downstairs stripped the rooms to their frameworks and trimmed to precision new wood beams with lathes. I was redecorating, remodeling on a grand scale. After spending several years abroad in different cities, I didn’t want to travel anymore. I wanted to remain, to put down roots. I had recently come into some money and decided to put it all into transforming this house into a miniature replica of a castle I had seen on an ocean cliff in Wales. Things I wanted: secret passageways, dumbwaiters, long hallways with suits of armor bathed in moonlight, towers to sleepwalk into. With all the noise going on in the process – the opera, the saws – I tried to retreat into an empty room. There are moments when I require a place for contemplation, where I know I will not be disturbed. Machine sounds streamed into my usual haven. This time, I had to seek quiet externally. I rang the doorbell of my dog-walking client next door and asked to borrow Trudee for some quiet company. Living in the heart and safety of Forest Manor Estates, where the streets sprawled into cul-de-sacs, many of the homeowners raised pets. I had a couple of dog-walking clients in the neighborhood because it was enjoyable – not for pay. I’ve always considered borrowing more rewarding than owning my own pets; a short moment of camaraderie kept the feeling fresh. The key to extracting the purity of companionship was to keep the experience fleeting. Some afternoons, I walked five or six dogs at once. They were good companions for wandering; I could guide and be directed at the same time. “Here, Trudee,” I called. I heard the click clack of her paws on the linoleum before she appeared in the doorway. Her big mastiff tongue licked my face wet. I drove to a wooded area nearby. A jungle gym peeked out among the treetops like a net; we ventured in. Trudee burrowed through low hanging branches, detecting something, some scent, and I followed, entering a thick sprawl of reddened leaves. As soon as we made it to the trunk, we were in a domed sanctuary, alone in an autumnal space. The thick red enclosure made me breathe the air in deeper than I normally would. This felt like a moment in which something needed to take place. I unzipped my fly and relieved myself. Trudee began to bark. Through the leaves, an old man looked at me as if he knew me. I waited for the intruder to pass so that I could continue on. I followed a path in the woods which approached the playground and then curved around a small body of water. The old man sat on a bench, hidden by the brush, and by the time I saw him, it was too late for me to turn back. “What were you doing back there in the bushes?” the old man asked. “Just following the dog,” I said. “Don’t mean to butt,” he said, “but you’re supposed to have control over the dog, or it’s going to run all over you.” I


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looked down at Trudee; she was tugging, dragging my hand away from my side; I watched my hand pull away from me, the leash tighten. I looked back at the man. “I’ve got her under control,” I said. “I usually walk six dogs at once.” The old man started to laugh. He pointed at Trudee. Her snout had found its way to a bike rack, and she was already chewing a bicycle seat. This is what happens when we stop: we veer off course, I warned myself, there are consequences to these pauses. I tried to pull her away from the seat, but she had a stubborn, unbudging neck. The old man laughed again and looked out toward the water. The seat was one of those cushy ones, wide and donuty, specially made. Because it looked wrecked for good, I searched for an owner. The kid was probably playing in the fields surrounding the body of water, among the big group of boys there. I tried to fish someone out from among the heads as I gestured their way. They played with a boomerang, and I watched as it flew out over the water and then curved back for someone to catch. A boy came running. The boy said, “Fuck.” He had very big ears, level with my belt buckle if I had been wearing a belt. I told him, “I’m sorry, I can replace it.” All I had was a credit card and a pocketful of change. “I can send you a check,” I said, “if you give me your address.” I searched my body for a pen, but the boy was already shaking his head. “I can’t give you that information,” he said, “you’re a stranger.” “If you wait here,” I said, “I can run home and write one to you right away.” “How do I know you’ll come back?” he said. “I don’t have enough cash on me,” I said, giving him a look of defeat. “You could get me another bike,” he said. The old man looked up from his reading. He said, “There’s a Walmart over there.” He gestured someplace past himself. “I know where the Walmart is,” I said. So, I propped the kid and the bicycle and Trudee into the back of my truck, and I sat alone in the front. As we cleared the park, I looked in the rearview mirror and thought that this felt very close to having a family. I drove slowly. I looked into the rearview mirror and watched the kid rake Trudee’s back with the curve of his hand. I pulled up to the Walmart logo. The star had been moved, from between the “L” and the “M” to between the “M” and the “A” by some fault of the lettering guy. I ran over an orange cone and whipped my head around to make sure the boy and the dog were okay. Just a little shaken up, it seemed. It occurred to me I was liable for both of them, and this worried me. As we walked from the parking lot to the store, I told the boy I was just going to take him in to choose a new seat, a quick in and out. He said, “In order to replace a bike seat, you have to get them custom made. The store doesn’t have my kind of bike seat. My mother ordered it for me after a crook stole my first one. My bicycle only cost me fifty dollars, so I think the best idea is if you purchase me a new one.” I asked him, “Where did you learn how to speak like that?” He said, “I know when I have the upper hand.” I nodded. “O.K.,” I said. “That sounds fine. Just make it fast.” We walked into Walmart, the boy, the dog, and me. Near the entrance, a woman stood frozen in a block of ice in a soda machine. She wore a lacy white gown, and her body hovered vertically in a frozen prism in the space where the drinks usually sat. We looked at her for a minute, and then the three of us turned to go to the long rows of bicycles lined up like there was a big sale. The price tags were all face down by default and the kid flipped the price tags over to read them as he stopped at each bicycle. The kid tried out a couple of bicycles,

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making a loop through sporting goods, bedding, girl’s clothing, electronics, pet food, toys, and back. I took Trudee for a brisk stroll through the aisles. Lit by florescent lights, each aisle extended before us. We strolled past the cylindrical containers full of rubber fitness balls rising ceiling-high, the impeccably minimalist aisles of health food in sleek packages, and the glowing space-age corner with glass displays of electronic doohickeys no bigger than my pinky nail. The boy passed Trudee and me on a different bike each time we saw him. As he contemplated each model, his face looked like it was frozen in midair, waiting to be caught. The boy chose one, a metallic blue ride with octagonal reflectors. “This one’s $79,” I said. He shrugged. “It was the cheapest one here,” he said. “The seat’s not even that good,” I said. “I like the color,” he said. He pressed his finger into the seat so that it dimpled in the middle. “It’s O.K.,” he said. As we pushed the bike towards the cash register, we passed the woman in the ice, and at the check out line, the boy’s face changed suddenly, like it had been redrawn, and he said, “That woman scared me.” I didn’t answer for a moment. I bent down next to him and said, “Well, we can look at her again. We should look at the woman in the ice until we are no longer afraid.” I was under the impression that you could do one of two things with fears, either put them out of your mind with distractions or look at them long enough, so they’d become as commonplace as the rest of you. When one didn’t work, you tried the other. So, we retraced our steps and stood there looking at the woman in the ice. She stood positioned like a figurehead, leaning like one would on the bow of a boat. She had white frost around her eyes, which were half-open, and in that crevice, I could see each individual eyelash sealed in a crystal of water. Fat icicles had formed around clumps of what was, from what I could see, long black hair. Yet, though stiff, she looked attractive. She wore a long lacy white gown, elegant like a wedding dress, but not nearly as formal, more like something meant for wearing to sleep, something more breathable. “My mother,” the boy said, “had me when she was thirty-five. She had me through artificial insemination.” “Your mom told you this?” I asked. “Yes,” he said, “as she was afraid of the natural process of, as she put it, ‘involving people.’” The boy stared hard at the woman in the ice, his own reflection imposed on the woman; I stared at the boy in the same way until he looked more at ease. “My mother tells me lots of things, like she would a spouse,” he said. He left me to stare at the ice by myself. I wanted to know more about his mother but kept quiet. I looked up at the lady one more time. Perhaps this was something one volunteered to do, to sequester oneself in a soda machine? I could do it, stand in a machine, I thought, have it placed next to this one. If I sported some sort of matching outfit, we’d be a couple, the two of us. “Could I get a horn?” the boy said. He held up a horn attached to a red rubber device, sealed in plastic. “I don’t owe you anything else,” I said. He looked down at the horn and did not move. “You could be kind,” he said. I wheeled the bike to the cash register, and the boy followed me closely, stepping on my heels and holding tightly onto his new horn. I asked the elderly lady at the cash register about the woman in the soda machine. Her eyes met mine with disinterest. “If you want to purchase the woman in the soda machine, you just have to deposit the correct amount of coins,” she said. “I don’t understand,” I said. The woman let out a groan and picked up


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her cane. She flicked her light off and hobbled over to the soda machine. We followed her closely. She pointed at the coin slot. “It’s fifty cents,” she said, tapping the plastic. She hobbled back to her station and turned her light back on. I dug into my pocket. I found four quarters. I gave two of them to the boy. Trudee started whimpering, growing impatient. Illustrations of sodas decorated the frame of the machine: fizzy lemon, orange, grape, apple, and cherry, whole fruits bursting out of the cans. I put two quarters into the machine and pushed the button; there was only one to push. The machine prompted me with questions that I had to answer through a keypad: my age, weight, height, salary, and the final question being the address of my abode. A walmart brand drink appeared at the bottom of the machine, and that was all. The boy gave me back my money and told me he wasn’t thirsty. He thanked me for the bicycle. I gave the woman one last look, and then we walked out. “Drop me where I left off,” the boy said, when I hoisted him into my vehicle. With the kid and Trudee and the double bicycles secured in the back, we departed. At the park, I hoisted the boy out of the back of my truck and then brought down his new bicycle. The boy walked back into the woods, into the jungle gym net, and probably took his original place as if nothing had changed. His old bicycle sat ownerless in the back of my car. I ripped the seat off to let Trudee have it, but feeling it myself for the first time, I took careful notice. It was lumpy. I peered into the tear, and inside it, there were wooden beads and corn kernels nested between the fibers. The seat itself smelled of animal hide and when I pushed against it, it contoured to my hand, like a travel pillow would for a neck. On the corner of the seat, there was a tag upon which was written a website. “No wonder,” I thought. Even I had an itch to chew. “Interesting kid, that one,” I said, looking deep into Trudee’s eyes through my rearview mirror. Behind me, the sky looked like it was going to split. My neighbor was not home when I rang his doorbell, so I decided to bring Trudee back to my place. From the exterior, scaffolding surrounded my house like fencing, and I noticed that, yes, the house itself was already beginning to look taller. When we entered, it was quiet; five woodworkers sat around my island kitchen with their feet up on the counters. They passed around a bag of grapes, and the sixth was handling a live fish flopping in the sink. I told them on their first day that they could use the kitchen and to treat it like their own because they were in for a lot of work. When I walked in, they saw me and waved. Spaces in the house had been transformed, opened up, eventually to become towers. I peeked my head into the kitchen and asked, “Is it safe to take a look around?” Martin pressed down on the fish firmly with both hands before he addressed me. “Sure, though you won’t want to lean on anything,” he said. I walked around the house. There was a hole in the center of it, and I could see straight up into a tunnel of scaffolding; this was where the spire would eventually go. Where there was once wall were now holes for ornate future windows, and there was now wall where my square windows had once been. My shipment of iron grills had come in, I noticed; they had not yet been installed. I went back into the kitchen and asked Pete about them. “We,” he said as he beckoned at the five others, “weren’t sure you still wanted them.” I nodded. “We wanted to ask you.” I nodded again. I considered a decision. “In the castles in Wales,” I explained, “the windows are not just for light, they had to be built thinking of defense. I’d like to be exact.”

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I drank my soda as I made my way upstairs and paid them no more mind. I went up to my room to check on the Claw. The repairman was gone; the stain was gone. The Claw looked pristine, correct. I laid my prototype, the rice-stuffed dummy, a replica of myself, flat into the launcher and pressed the red button on the side of the machine. It slammed the dummy into the air. My prototype flew upwards fifteen feet – I had high ceilings – and landed in my bed. The target projection was right on track. Last time, the Claw had thrown the thing straight into the floor, and the rice had spilled all over the place. That could’ve been me. To protect myself, I got the thing repaired. Now, the dummy lay serenely on my bed. I inserted my body into the launcher and closed my eyes. Some days, I got into the Claw face down, and other days face up. I got in face down and pushed the button by rote. I felt my body rise into the air, hovering just for a moment, and then I twisted my body over and landed face planted into my pillow, a pressure against my jaw. My bed lurched like a stomach and flung my body upward again. Then, it lurched me up a second time. Some nights, it takes quite a few launches from the Claw to get me to sleep. I wasn’t tired yet. I turned on the computer and searched for the website that advertised the bike seat, designed for supreme comfort. It was called a Bikfort. Each Bikfort was made of all natural materials to make it cushy: fiber, dried corn kernels, wooden beads. I read through a full explication of yin and yang forces at work beneath the outer contours of its donuty shape. The boy’s new purchase was really going to disappoint his mother. The doorbell rang. Trudee barked, sensing a stranger behind the wood. Her barks were piercing and anxious. I walked down the stairs. The woodworkers were gathered around the island kitchen, making a commotion. “We should get this going,” I heard. “You gotta pick the kids up tonight or what?” “Yep, got another dinner waiting at home.” Then Martin’s voice. “Mind if I take some of this home for my wife to try? Don’t think I’ve cooked a better fish.” There were sounds of assent. I peeked in. It looked like a birthday party. I could see a banner out of the corner of my eye, for Pete. A giant fish laid out on a long oval plate sat at the center of the kitchen table. I lingered behind the wall separating the kitchen from the hallway, peering at my workers. When the doorbell rang a second time, I made my way to the door. A woman stood there holding a red purse as small as a lip, only big enough to fit two quarters snugly. “I am timing myself with the parking meter,” she said. “There is thirty minutes of time.” I said, “It is after six; you don’t need to feed the meter.” She didn’t care. I asked her how she found me. She said she followed me from the store to my home. She was wet from the defrosting as if she’d walked here in rain, and her white gown clung to her body and had become translucent; but otherwise, she looked like the woman in the soda machine. A sentiment seized me, and I carried her through the threshold of my wooden home and laid her gently on my couch. The woodworkers paid her no mind and went on with their festivities. “What can I do for you?” I asked, and she didn’t speak for a while. “Please,” she said, “there’s not very much time for the formalities.” She got up and walked around me. I noticed a wet spot on the couch. The woodworkers sat around the kitchen table and ate their fish. They had a clear view of everything. Even if they were paying her no mind, I couldn’t feel privacy. I led her up to my room. Trudee rested her body on the woman’s feet. We lay next to each other on the bed looking at the ceiling. The Claw stood in the corner; I could see its


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arm in the periphery. She said, “I want to partake.” She rethought what she had already said. “I mean, it takes much convincing my body, which has already taken a course of its own otherwise. Half of this,” she said, lifting her dress and pointing at her dewy flesh, “is programmed machinery. It wants what it is built to crave, I suppose. After all, it is dying.” “What are those things?” I asked. “Closeness, excitement, love, I think,” she said. She puffed her chest out. She stroked Trudee with her toes. “If you could turn off the lights and lie on top of me and do the motions...If that’s not too much to ask, could you do that?” She straightened out her white dress and as I walked over to the light switch, she laid herself face-down on the bed. “Face down?” I asked. She nodded into the mattress. In the darkness, I climbed on top. My body covered hers like a shell. I started sweet-talking. She told me to stop. She said, “I derive more pleasure from lip- reading and never getting the actual words. Just move your lips if you don’t mind.” I obeyed and only moved my lips, which took a course of their own, it seemed. I could hear them parting and pressing together in the dark. I thought about what I was saying which wasn’t really being heard or looked at and felt self-conscious, so I stopped altogether. “Keep talking,” she said. I took a deep breath and continued to move my lips to words I thought in my head as they came. She fell asleep beneath me. I could only see half her face. Sniffing the back of her ear, I thought it smelled of that dampness found in flooded cellars, that smell of age-old items in storage. I could feel her bones through the dress. Not wanting to wake her, I stayed where I was and let my mind drift. I felt like I’d fallen into some current, hadn’t really known what I’d done in the interval of fumbling, only that I’d survived. Thirty minutes later, she woke up on her own. She slipped out from under me and picked up her tiny lip purse, empty, from the table. She’d left a damp feeling on my sheets. I followed her downstairs, rubbing my eyes. Everywhere around us: a film of dust and a smell of timber. It’s a nice scent, I thought, though possibly harmful. The kitchen was clean, the table cleared. Three woodworkers remained. They moaned under their loads of beams as they transferred them from the porch to the kitchen. Trudee had chewed up the woman’s shoes. I apologized for her behavior. I said, “She doesn’t have a lot of restraint for a trained dog.” She nodded. She got up and walked to the car, barefoot and holding her shoes in her hands. When she was ready to get into the driver’s seat, I hesitated, fumbled around in my pocket. “If I put two more quarters into the machine, will you come back in?” I asked. She nodded. “First,” she said, “give the coins to me.” I gave her the coins. She put them in her lip purse. We both stood side by side next to each other for some time. She stood pensively, like she was resetting herself. Then she took the coins out of her purse like they were hers. She dropped the coins one by one into the meter. Seeing the workers when we walked back in, I gave them a polite nod. We went back to my bedroom. “This is the Claw,” I said, pointing to my machine. “Can I try it?” she asked. I shook my head. “It is only calibrated to my weight and size. If anyone else used this guy, they’d risk severe injury.” She wanted me to show her how it worked, so I gave her a demonstration. I launched myself, face-down, and landed solidly in the center of my bed. She clapped her hands and inched towards the Claw. Before I could stop her, she had crawled into the launcher herself and pressed the button. I watched in horror as she flew in an arch right over the bed, right over me, and hit the wall, landing in

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a heap on the floor, leaving a wet mark that looked more like a splatter. She jumped up and laughed, though her lip was bleeding. She spat out a tooth. I rushed over to her. I led her into my bathroom and sat her on my toilet lid. I dabbed at her lip until the beads of blood stopped forming. I cleaned off her tooth and put it in her pocket. She walked out of the bathroom, and I followed her out. Because she was set on knowing the feel, we moved the Claw until the change in trajectory would compensate for her size. When she pushed the button on the launcher, I waited near my bed, ready to catch her in my own arms. Making her calculations, she moved the claw according to where she landed each time. And with one final try, she landed directly in the center of the bed. I was attracted, now, to her sheer resourcefulness, to her adaptability to my way of life. I wanted to hold onto her, to squeeze her tight to the point of violence, but she was already pulling herself backwards, making her way to her car because the time limit was approaching. This was distressing! I didn’t have enough quarters to keep her. Next time I go to Walmart, I thought, I’ll buy a soda and wait at home for her with flowers and a bag of quarters, an X drawn on the floor with chalk where the Claw would go for me and another X for her. We’d get thrown into each other, colliding in the most intense way. I watched her drive away from my porch. All around me was a smell of timber, raw wood. I swiped my thumb against the banister and collected a thumb-shaped clump of wood dust and walked inside. All the woodworkers were gone. Now, it was really quiet. I placed my thumb into my mouth and sucked it clean. Leaning back against a wall, I swished the cloud of wood dust in my mouth until it scratched its way down my throat. The wall behind me started to budge, so I immediately removed my weight. Trudee stood at the doorway, fixed, gazing outward. I looked out alongside her, wary of another presence. A figure emerged from the darkness and came closer. I felt something akin to excitement. I was not sure if I recognized its shape as someone I should know or expect. Trudee let out a reverent bark, so I let go of her collar and opened the door so that she could give a proper greeting before her owner stepped into the porch light. When they’d left, I waited by the door for a little bit longer. I wondered if I had enough information on the woman to build a prototype. In that interval, a few cars passed; a streetlight turned on. Evening slid into a quiet night. A jumbo jet cut the sky in half. Now that Trudee had returned home with her owner, I made myself a sandwich and ate it without any time in between. The watermarks were already disappearing, from the couch, from my bedroom floor, from my sheets. The Bikfort bike seat sat on my computer desk trickling little beads onto the floor like a waterfall. I slipped into the Claw for sleep. Before I launched myself, I noticed a tiny, barely-perceptible bleach stain on the carpet where the previous stain had been. I made a mental note to call the repairman in the morning and then shut my eyes, tight.


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Thorin Klosowski The Note 01.01

A B-flat creates the universe.

01.02 In 203 BC, a B-flat note erupts from nature as a rock falls from a mountain and lands on another rock. 01.02.01 A dashing young caveman hears the note. Thinking this would be an excellent way to woo the women of the area, he recreates the note by bashing a rock against another rock. A spark emerges and catches a nearby spot of dead grass on fire. 02.03 110 AD, Dülong tribesmen sacrifice two hundred people to a fire pit while playing a melody utilizing a B-flat. Considered the first arpeggio, the tune followed a B-flat major to B-flat minor. 02.03.01 The explorer Josephus is one of the two hundred people sacrificed by the Dülong tribesman. At the time he was working on a theory involving exploration via the means of a musical instrument. His journal, found some 300 years later, revealed plans of an ocarina–like instrument that created portals to different lands when played in B-flat. 02.04 410 AD, Bryn Olfa ingests a small amoeba while searching for the remains of the Josephus party. The amoeba finds its way into Bryn’s stomach and infects him with the first known case of amoebic dysentery. It is well known that diarrhea comes out in a rough, B-flat chorus. 02.04.01 Interestingly, the amoeba found it’s way out of Bryn Olfa and onto the floor, where it quickly found its way into his sister and fellow travel-mate, Aryn Olfa. A prolific reproducer, she has since passed down the amoeba to several generations. 03.05 1941 AD, World War II, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra is playing for soldiers overseas. After hitting a B-flat repeatedly, the orchestra finds the resident alligator, Oscar, has started bellowing in unison.

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03.05.01 Oscar the alligator has been a musical aficionado for the majority of his life. In fact, he fancies himself to be a rather accomplished harpsichordist. On the day in question, the B-flat hit him so powerfully that he felt he must sing along, to participate, to become part of the world around him and to no longer live a private life. It was a valiant move and permanently cemented Oscar as one of the greatest B-flat bellowing alligators in the history of music. 03.06 1956 AD, Humming a B-flat, Rusty, a young boy orphaned in a Native American

raid inadvertently attracts the attention of a German shepherd. The boy names the dog Rin Tin Tin and the two have several adventures together, Rusty always using the B flat as a call. 03.06.01 1970 AD, Unrelated to the dog, a young Belgian reporter by the name of Tintin is caught up in the case of the missing B note. With his dog Snowy, Tintin adventures across the globe in search of the note, only to find it strapped to a narwhal’s horn in the Arctic Circle. When removed, the B note falls flat and sinks into the water. The narwhal, disheartened, lectures Tintin on the importance of politeness. 03.07 2007 AD, A black hole opens up over the state of Kansas where Stephen Hawking happens to be visiting his brother for the holidays. Nonplussed by the events, Hawking witnesses himself being stretched into spaghetti while a dull B-flat note hums throughout his mind. After what seems like an eternity he finds himself once again sitting on the porch of his brother’s cabin, talking about string theory with his 4-year-old niece. 04.01

???, The reverberation from the first B-flat hits the planet of Xacduchious, which is located in the Esterplixion Galaxy just off the U-39 exit on the way to Dupeshuchion. A male native, Gaxon hears the note and is inspired enough to write his first symphony: “Ill Edestructionies oof Lonsi Eeartho.” It is a wild success despite causing riots on its first showing.


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Sean Kilpatrick ABOVE “A woman wants out of aging. Being born pays her fines.” She traced faces on the ceiling. They stayed above, would not see her. She wept at noises, craned her neck, talked and talked. She listened to her sons shed their skin loud as sirens night to noon, lullaby for what she could not touch. She closed the fridge door on her hand. “I feel grown within their steps, all I see. Their footfalls, like fretting stenographers, use my skull.” The more she loved, the smaller her stature. When she found no kiss, her body refused blood. Beneath fur, something like a stomach shined. She had visions from the darling button. The ceiling flaked, she thought, lowered. “Jessie,” she fixed her clit between the cradle bars, “I can lift it back.” A circle of milk was forming. The bible lost scars in her children, deceived as paragraphs. She tugged her shirttail over a child’s face to mend the air of pregnancies. The child skipped the hotness of her folds between its teeth, dashed for her spine in suffocation. She latched herself to the child, punching the neck, biting lids from eyes for proper audience, scratched off the lips, free space for teeth, poured sugar in the ears, calmed the chest by licking, cut lifting under ribs, the stink of pepper touching walls, stripped cuticles back to knuckle, sucked green cartilage, inserting her arm in the mouth, broke the jaw to rest upon the collar, choked the throat inside, fucked breath through the lacerated stomach valve, drank the piss, held the carcass shakily above her head and let all that dangled from it adorn her, spiders entering the flaps. Bestrode her work, full and barely conscious, they coagulated in tandem. She entered a house in the city, clawed boards off the window, ran with rats. In the basement, people huddled. She joined them, smiling. “You are all my children,” and they sucked of her, the blood from her nipples like jewels that pardon. She argued herself out of menopause for the sacred purposes of what she could give birth to, the zoo inside her a miracle. The police set her hair on fire. “In a nest between my palms I fuck it safe.” Their cum seared on her like a second hat. Her hands smelled of bleach. She tossed bleach at people everywhere she went. Asked for solidarity.

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She ate batteries to continue. Stripped walls clean of wires to know her way. She scooped a clutch of mildew to rub her gums. “I’m shining,” she croaked. She hit herself with a cane to masturbate. “I’ll find god this way.” Blood flecked her knees. She limped the batter into her shoes. “I am sixty-three.” Her bed was uselessly big. She brought anything in by virtue of its size. The skin around her pussy wore to nubs. She refused sitting. A dog attacking her found itself fellated, ashamed. She drooled so much of him on the ground he lost his concept of territory. She broke the animal to Wagner, vertebrae to pelvis, peeling toward her mouth until the contents gave. She ate while dancing. She cleaned under spells. “Did I eat today?” she belched. She fired an Uzi from the window as advertisement. The feces completed, she crammed a spoon up her skirt. “How I tow myself along.” Naked in a hamper, she pulled bugs from her underwear, ate the floor in pieces. Her breath fogged the ceiling. The paste below her another floor. “I feel 100 percent,” eyes dimming, left arm emaciated in clutch, she drooled ice cream, the rest melting over her fists. Her face became a rash. Roped to her wheelchair, dried shit caught spokes. She rubbed herself with Lysol. “Swam through Clorox to reach heaven, scattering half-blind about its aisles, and wanted home.” A clerk explained his mother’s cancer as celebration. “Now I can stay out late with my friends. We conduct masturbation contests.” She pawned what of the carpet rolled free, having stretched her labia ear to ear. The cash register filled with cheese. “My anus bled ever since birthdays.” She held her purse open in libraries. Passersby spat; the full weight eventually dislocated her shoulder. At the bank she collected deposit papers, urinating. “Need them to time my death rattle. It’s okay. I’m a teacher.” She thought a girl without panties clasped a walnut between her thighs and rubbed a magazine across until the slit lost color. “I put out fires by stabbing.” Her knife grew hot inside the kicking mass. She bit the handle, bilingual with flame. The girl became still, took a seat, burning in silence the rest of the way. Ghettos got her wet. People brought dogs when they saw her. She dragged her legs up sidewalks full of weeds, rendered a concussion being bit. She fell through the porch of a


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vacant house. Stayed beneath the rotted wood in prayer. Rats removed her glasses, entered her mouth, fearless. She could see the awning of the porch in daylight, days lingering by, and patterned a religion about it. Her head was a doormat she kept living. She goose-stepped for Jesus, found a corner of fat where he might live. She was already flaking faster than she could reproduce. She rode the walls empty of paint. She slurped cereal off dirty marble. The morgue was full of echoes. “In order to keep current, everyone’s the same.” Everyday she threw her shoes at the ceiling. When her sons poked their cocks through the small hole that formed, she mistook them for a chandelier. She drained her hydrocephalus shunt in a diaper and proctored fashion. She shat a crucifix above the sun to indoctrinate all seeing. She ripped her maxi-pad of hair and snorted kernels, rocks of blood. She gripped a child like a battering ram and slammed the head at the vagina of a second child. She slid her dentures into the second child’s bruise. She hit next to the head with a baseball bat until chattering. She bashed a dildo of boys’ teeth glued together in the guts and twisted alphabets. She screwed a tube of girls’ tongues sown together up the arm, cut circulation. She used a clamp to stretch the labia worn around gargantuan tears from which everything was leaving the body at once. She put her fingers inside, sloshing to clap, brought the skeleton toward her, cortex unmoved. She took her cigarette from its holster beneath the eyelid and screamed it alight. The smoke was red. The first child she scalped bite by bite over two days. Ribbed and browning, maggots lifted as she wiped her anus with the nostrils. Air lathered her hole: the heart still a baser function. She tapped the spot as if to conjure more, stroked the penis crooked to this rhythm. Her long fingernail fitted the urethra wider, blood smacking down her wrist. She pried a rose stem within the cavity, sucked into a pelvic groove until, waking, the child died of fright. She tied the broken cadavers before rigor mortis, a knot of all directions. She thought the continuing bruises meant they lived. She thought the hardening an appreciation, her most prized possession. She bit off foreskins, spat a pile. “That pile has harmony,” she said. The boys’ fists smashed her shoulders, knocked vertebrae loose within the torso. She cracked every inch of herself. Their ears bled. She broke her neck, tilting to smile, boys crying louder. She squeezed the tip of her tongue and yanked it longer hand over hand until her teeth caught sphincter. All she ate and used for process warmed their feet. She fired caulk in a boy’s nose. It came from his eyes. She kicked him through the window. Grabbed another’s face so hard her fingernails popped loose. The boy jumped out of his shoes. “I miss you boys.” The furniture shifted. Her pockets full of teeth. “Bad construction.” She poked her tummy. Portioned a boy’s pupil, blade flat, white meat suctioned on, seasoning pried macula, toward the nerve “It’s coming.” Her contractions stopped. She dabbed the

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wound; carved until her fist fit the skull. “So braided.” Growing tired of her voice, she spoke in every voice. The boy’s mouth opened and closed with hers. “Bead-a-beads for the picnic.” She circumcised herself with a ladder. Smeared bible paste around. “Busy skeeters.” She removed a squashed tit, long as her arm, shook. “Holla big milk, Steve.” She imitated temperatures. “People say I’m arrogant.” A man asked for her change. She leaned against him, diaper a plastic bag, rigid skin, sun-burnt black, twat grease a pond ankle deep, evaporated eyes; they hugged. She stumbled past wrecked cars through the trash to hold hands. She saw a man’s head transparent, bullet spinning within, read to him from her scars. “I’ve been here a thousand years. People say I’m arrogant.” She removed the bullet through the man’s ear with two fingers, made it vanish. She fell on her ass, sprinkled the bag, chewed her fingers. Nights went. A gang set their dicks on her head. She cracked her face against the warehouse bricks, spat her tongue loose. She tapped the veins level in her arm, dug them free. Stripped sticky artery to bone, she rooted out her circulatory system, tubes slapping hot cement, banged away gravity. Strung the flap flag high and saluted no direction. “True messiahs never share.”


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Susan McCarty Anamnesis Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, mumps/measles/rubella, polio, yellow fever, influenza (semiannually), typhoid.

Untimely death of mother, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, stroke-related dementia, stomach cancer, immolation, airplane crash, quadriplegia, loneliness

Multiple incorrect self-diagnoses including malaria, cancer, blood clot, bipolar disorder, color blindness, celiac disease, seasonal affective disorder, diabetes type II, carpal tunnel syndrome, tetanus

Worked in food service while suffering from mononucleosis (1998: Perkins Family Restaurant store MADISON II, 1410 Damon Road, Madison, WI)

Naxopren sodium (2200mg), ibuprophen (2000mg), escitalopram oxalate (1330mg), sildenafil citrate (500mg), varenicline tartrate (17mg), lorazepam (12.5mg), clonazepam (5mg)

General hygiene average–to–good dependant upon workload, relationship status

Increase in stress and concurrent cigarette smoking results in recent weight fluctuations. Prognosis: purchase of tighter jeans, shirts, slightly shorter skirts

Consistently under–hydrated

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Walgreen’s brand “Scar Gel” applied negligently. All scars still present.

Atypically anallergic to plants in the Anacardiaceae family

Childhood eczema

Family history of psoriasis: not inherited

Month–long full–body outbreak of hives in college misdiagnosed as syphilis; unexplained

Tattooed with Starbrite Black Outlining Ink (may include iron oxide, carbon and logwood extract), age 28. Psychological status leading to tattoo acquisition—chronic. Times New Roman font—already faded.

Two pennies removed from left nostril at age 2 by steady–handed, mustachioed pediatrician.

Head lice (age 9) leads to preference for mentholated shampoos

Tongue bit through in gym class, age 7, healed one month later; tongue pierced at age 19 (Hall Mall complex, Iowa City, IA), healed one week after removal, age 23.

Despite early fluoridation efforts, six cement–filled cavities

Eyes: relatively flat, “football” shaped High risk of retinal detachment


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Corneas: heartbreakingly thin

One year of counseling following parents’ divorce

Hormonal cystic acne treated with Retin–A, Retin–A Micro, Aloe Vera gel (CVS brand), benzoyl peroxide (2.5%), salicylic acid (1.5%), toothpaste (Classic Crest®), human tears.

“Brain shudders” caused by Lexapro withdrawal not unpleasant

Occupational use of cocaine while waitressing

Chin stitches at Bellevue ER while seated next to patient under influence of crystalline methamphetamine hydrochloride. Status of patient’s left testicle and upper thigh after staple removal: unknown

Removal of chin stitches: average cost of $28 per second.

Recurrance of dream about being set on fire by masked stranger diminishing in frequency with age

Imitrex for migraine headaches may worsen pre–existing anxiety disorder

3 concussions

Temporomandibular joint disorder weakening jaw structure, increasing likelihood of dislocation and future dysfunction. Surgical correction likely to be necessary within 10 years.

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Wisdom tooth extraction: first introduction to benzodiazepines and benzodiazepinederivatives; beginning of long, fruitful relationship

Hands of ex–boyfriend cause slight tracheal damage but produce no bruises to photograph

Regulated breathing during scuba diving, snorkeling and some types of yoga may trigger feelings of claustrophobia/exacerbate pre–existing anxiety disorder

Chantix for three months, enough to quit smoking for eight

Move from sea level to 4,226 feet, age 31: lung capacity diminished

Greater–than–average risk for myocardial infarction could lead to scar formations in heart

Moderate paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (inherited) episodes marked by extremely rapid heartbeat due to a “short circuit” in electrical system. Breath–taking, but not life– threatening

One failed relationship ending in death

Potential for breast cancer: better than average (maternal history)

Love of own pets occasionally experienced as stomach pain

Swings taken at men other than father: 2


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Student health IV–drip for drug–related dehydration strangely comforting

Thumb (right) nearly split with handsaw while unsupervised (YMCA Camp Wapsie, Coggon, IA); recovered full function

Tip of index finger (left) nearly severed in metal door (Cambridge, MA); recovered full function

Tip of index finger (right) rat–bitten while intoxicated; recovered full function

Recent dog–bite on knee (left) treated with Augmentin for 10 days. Relationship with dog tentatively optimistic

Hallux valgus tendencies in bones of both big toes. Probable surgical correction necessary by late fifties

Fifth toe (left) broken during drinking game (regionally known as “Beirut;” identical to nationally recognized “Beer Pong”). Never set

Semi–annual pedicures increase risk of fungal infections, prettiness

Evangelical church camp (age 8) causes temporary excess of sexual guilt/body shame; permanent avoidance of Bon Jovi.

Frequency of masturbation: too often or not often enough dependant upon time of year and status of rechargeable batteries

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Average number of new sexual partners per year decreasing steadily since age 26

Human papilloma virus

Point of infection: Bipolar musician

Treatments: cryotherapy, cervical colposcopy

Cancer risk: high

No scarring

Negative for syphilis when tested

Negative for gonorrhea when tested

Negative for chlamydia when tested

Negative for herpes simplex II when tested

Negative for hepatitis C when tested

Negative for HIV when tested

Negative for pregnancy when tested

Negative for bipolar disorder when tested


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Negative of evidence, an experiment, the results of a test, etc.: providing no support for a particular hypothesis; indicating the absence or non–existence of a specified substance not exhibiting evidence of the presence of

[Scar from Greek eschara—place of fire

To scarify to scratch to make incisions to wound to subject to merciless criticism to make incisions in the bark of to anoint

To make] a road

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Donna Stonecipher from

Model City 25

It was like the architect sitting at the edge of the ocean and thinking about buildings, studying the structure of the waves and the ornament of the seafoam, construction and destruction, construction and deconstruction.


It was like the architect thinking about the wave insisting on its own ridged architectonics, on the dialectics of building solutions and dissolutions, on liquid Baukunst, as he espies spiral seashells in the sand.


It was like the architect thinking he’d like to build rooms in which the sleeper falls asleep to the sound of the waves, a sound like overlapping stadia filling and emptying, a bedroom like a spiraled seashell.


It was like the architect wanting to construct the rooms out of the sound of the waves, to construct a space made of that sound, so that he and others could fall asleep to it — in it — of it — a structural part of it.


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26 It was like passing the public flowerbed on your way to work and noticing that the tulips have been torn out to make way for violets, which will be torn out to make way for roses, which will be torn out to make way for pansies.


It was like thinking about all those torn-out flowers lying in heaps in wheelbarrows to be carted away for the sake of the beautiful illusion of perpetual bloom, about sacrifice and waste, meaningless labor, graft.


It was like sitting at home after work thinking of one’s own meaningless labor, of all the money spent on public gardens, of this social contract upon the meaning of beauty, one of the few on which the many agree.


It was like thinking about all those torn-out tulips and violets, roses and pansies, lying in meaningless heaps on wheelbarrows, the irrationality of an economy of beauty, the flower-like ecstasy of the irrational.

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27 It was like the city planner falling asleep in a Lucite chair and dreaming of a city built entirely of Lucite, dreaming of living in that city that can’t be lived in, a Lucite life.


It was like the city planner dreaming of a great translucent happiness all hers as she goes about her life in the city built of Lucite, as she feels herself slowly turning into clear Lucite as she dreams.


It was like the city planner admiring the well-planned plazas and promenades of the Lucite city, marveling at the Persian-style gardens and fountains made of Lucite, that in fact she herself has planned.


It was like the city planner planning an unlivable Lucite city in her dream and being unable to recognize her own capacity to plan perfection, her own intolerance for the non-Lucite, her own Lucite will.


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28 It was like walking through the model city to get to field after field of blue forgetme-nots planted by the city and wondering, what was it, again, the difference between memory and history?


It was like remembering to stoop down to pick forget-me-nots to press into your notebook to remember later the answer to this question, posed and answered within the city limits, and within history.


It was like remembering that history is codified memory as you take off your dress to lie intoxicated among the forget-me-nots, their tiny blue faces both curious and blank, as you forget your own curiosity.


It was like slowly putting your dress back on and leaving the field of civic forgetme-nots, forgetting your notebook in the field, your head slowly refilling with memory and history — with what you’d hoped to forget.

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29 It was like traveling to Granada to see the Alhambra and spending most of the day there in the Alhambra documentation center, watching films of the Alhambra.


It was like feeling that only in the films one was best able to actually experience the Alhambra, the black-and-white gardens, the grainy hand of Fatima carved in the portal, the sepia Palace of the Nasrid.


It was like getting lost in the labyrinth of the intricate history of the Alhambra, the ceilings of the baths poked through with daylight stars flickering in a film.


It was like wanting never to leave the documentation center of the Alhambra, buying sepia postcards of Lorca in the gardens sketching the view, and deleting your own photographs of the fortress.


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Patrick Jones Tipping Point Australia presentation, 30 october 2010 malthouse theatre

Today I speak on behalf of my household, the Artist as Family, and our very intentional practice of transition away from pollution based ideology. We believe there is a direct exchange between the resources we consume and the kind of art we make. I call this exchange permapoesis. Our first project, as a collective, was to spend 17 days in Newcastle, as a kind of family holiday, foraging for anthropogenic waste along the coastline and in the city. After nearly three weeks we amassed a monumental pile of food and drink packaging. We shared our day-to-day experience of collecting it and the social exchange we had there, on our blog. There is barely a government in the world who is not championing growth capital ideology, which means there’s barely a government in the world who isn’t championing hiking fossil fuel consumption and wholesale deforestation, and thus biodiversity depletion. Governments today simply don’t know how else to function. The mountain of petrochemical garbage we collected in Newcastle is merely one corollary of governmentsponsored corporatism. Gertrude Stein once said, “People are the way their land and air is.” With our collected waste we put this sentence on full display, in a museum in the heart of the city. Our practice is one of doing saying1. We don’t participate in bottled water consumption and we audit, as best we can, every food kilometre that comes into our home. We don’t fly and we haven’t shopped at supermarkets for over three years. Doing saying means walking and bike-riding the talk, powering our home from the sun, composting our waste, digging swales on contour in the garden for passive water harvesting of intermittent rains and our everyday bath waste, learning to identify edible and medicinal wild plants, growing our food as an ecosystem, and sharing produce and gardening tips with community friends and neighbours. Our art practice, in a sense, is applied ecology. Wealth begets pollution. It’s an unambiguous exchange. The wealthier we become the more we pollute. Therefore ecological crisis is a crisis of wealth, of growing capital. By shredding wealth we lessen our emissions and free up hoarded resources, hoarded capital; we begin to taste again cyclical time, time that is uncapitalised and thus less compressed; we can now grow more and more organic food, which in turn results in the need for less and less synthetic medicines. An expanded foraging commons provides a pharmacopeia of medicinal plants. These plants grow autonomously, so we again reengage in wild cycles. Our practice is increasingly one of a digi-mycelial primitivism, Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


which enables us to relocalise resources while remaining globally connected, exchanging our transitions with others all over the world—no copyright! Creative commons, foraging commons; gift- ecology economics. For Artist as Family art can be a resource unto itself. Not just an intellectual, spiritual or an emotional resource, but a biophysical one. We recently installed a permanent food forest in Sydney as a public artwork commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art. We step back from that project now and the local community have sovereignty over that resource indefinitely. It’s a work that champions biodiversity and offers up a tiny alternative response to cities who are responsible for 75 per cent of global energy consumption and 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions2, despite being home for just over 50% of the world’s population. As Derrick Jensen states in his immense tome Endgame, no centre large enough to be reliant upon transporting its resources can ever be truly sustainable. Our work Food Forest is the combination of applied ecology and social warming in the face of social and ecological injustice; it’s a poetic space, a garden that supplies food for a soup kitchen, a physical poem set on a disused church lawn; a temporary home to marginalised urban dwellers, wildlife and bourgeois organisms:

here in the Forest of food where the expulsiOn has been overruled – Reloaded and gender re-distributed – the despotic Greeks And Romans, Jews, Muslims and Christians plouGhed deep into the soil; thE earthworms and Portuguese millipedes assail heRe in the forest of food clAys will ‘solve the salty habits, reuniTe bulls and lunar crescents and the mangy agrI-peasants will be bOrn primitive again; free from the digi-mechaNical stoops and tooth decay And the Diabetes in black gowns walking their rounds will buLge the leaf litter – when the foragers of wInter will offer Spring flowers to the bees M


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We had no illness in our home this winter (a first for us) because we walked and rode for 90% of our local trips and had access to local, in-season vegetables and herbs such as plantain, chickweed, mallow, flatweed, hawksbeard, spear thistle, pennycress, wild lettuce, sheep’s sorrel, sow thistles, dock, wild radish, dandelion, storksbill, wild fennel and mustard greens, while our produce garden went dormant. Nearly all of these ‘weeds’ condition soils and prepare them for reafforestation. We have reengaged with bitter and sour flavours. We believe this is key to our health contiguous with the ancient maxim, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food3”. Dock, for example, is a widely available beneficial weed. “Dock is an excellent source of vitamin A and protein, and rich in iron and potassium. The plant is considered a highly effective blood cleanser and is used by herbalists to assist the body in eliminating heavy metals and to treat other hepatic disorders4”. Dock is a nonpolluting resource and is as free as..., I was going to say air, but that’s not technically right now as the atmosphere is being privatised as we sit here, and according to ecological philosopher, Vandana Shiva, atmospheric pollution is set to become the world’s largest commodity market, open to polluters only; nonpolluters – the world’s poor – and the carbon cycle itself are left out of this bogus market of trading schemes sold as a solution5. Walking for our food brings a magnitude of pleasure. We disperse like weeds and are resilient to crashes. Our art is never anything to capitalise upon, but rather mimics autonomous wild systems or implements cultivated systems of applied ecology. Monological sugar cane goes; the forest is restored, natural bitterness returns.

See Joan Retallack’s volume of poems How To Do Things With Words, Sun & Moon, 1998 Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, 30 October 2007. 3 Hippocrates, Greek, (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC) 4 5 Shiva, Vandana. Soil Not Oil, South End Press, 2008 1 2

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Not everything is peaking on the pAth of descent The industries of spontaneous flora – an invisible abUndance that greed ignores – aiRs birth over deserted fields while the depArtments of sharehoLder science go broke vetch, Big nitrogen fixer has many allIes the market cannot know dead neTtle, that plain little weed is poTluck if things get really bad thE starchy root of bracken fern like wateR chestnut liNed from the soil wildErness radish and muStard greens – eat aS much as you like not Everything is peaking iN the long descent dock and rosEhips and plantain in soup chickweed gRown in neutral soil crisp and lush after morninG’s frost lomandra seeds for an ancIent cake dry poas and dEad wood for itS primitive bake not everyThing is peaking in this Relentless decline red poppies, A food source for an uncapitalised time three-corNered garlic, wild onion on the street pennycreSs is crude oil for a biofuel fleet cleaver toP stickweed as tea and juice Or rubbed on eczema, the aerial shoots mucilage fRom thistles for inTernal organs thE hard facts of petroleum geology for we casheD-up bogans


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Notes on Contributors Scott Butterfield attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is studying to be a sommelier. He has two cats (Alien and Mr. Brown) and a tortoise (Pnin). He loves to debate. Some days David Buuck heads north on Maccall Street, towards 60th street, then turns right on 60th Street, then left on Shattuck, and then right on Blake Street. Roxanne Carter is the author of Glamorous Freak: How I Taught My Dress to Act (Fall 2011, Jaded Ibis Press). Her work has also appeared in Drunken Boat, The New River, Caketrain, Finery, Everyday Genius, Fact-Simile, Sidebrow, and elsewhere. She currently lives in a log cabin on a mountain in Colorado, where she is a Ph.D student and teaches creative writing. She blogs at www. Joshua Cohen is the author of three novels: Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto, A Heaven of Others (second edition forthcoming from Dzanc/Starcherone in Spring 2011), and Witz. Stella Corso lives in Northampton, MA. She presently attends the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at UMass-Amherst where she also teaches in the Writing Program. Patrick Crerand lives and teaches in Florida. His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, and other magazines. Jeremy M. Davies is an editor at Dalkey Archive Press, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. His first novel, Rose Alley, was published in 2009 by Counterpath Press. Sandra Doller’s first two books of poems, Oriflamme and Chora, were both published by Ahsahta Press. She recently finished a third book of poems, called Man Years, and a book-length essay titled Memory of the Prose Machine. Doller is the founder & editrice of 1913 a journal of forms & 1913 Press and Assistant Professor of Literature, Writing, Film, and Women Studies at California State University-San Marcos. She lives all over with her man, Ben, and their pups, Ronald Johnson & Kiki Smith. Aaron Patrick Flanagan: “The bulk of the text filling this narrative represents erasures collaged from Charleston Daily Mail articles. Changes to tense and parts of speech are extremely rare. Historical info has been gleaned from the archives of the State of West Virginia, colleges/ universities in West Virginia, and from said articles. Martin Toler Jr.’s letter is on the front page of the January 6th, 2006 issue of the Charleston Daily Mail. In form, I’ve duplicated it as faithfully as possible; similar notions guided my erasures of Randal McCloy’s letter. Only the italicized text portions that follow the names of these men are my own words, as well as near

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the end. This is dedicated to Robert Allen Flanagan, my father, the last of over a century of Flanagans to work the West Virginia mines. For more history listen to Tim Barry’s “Prosser’s Gabriel” from his album 28th and Stonewall and learn of the parking lot that Virginia Commonwealth University has willingly laid over a slave burial ground.” Molly Gaudry is the author of the verse novel We Take Me Apart (Mud Luscious, 2009) and the editor of Tell: An Anthology of Expository Narrative (Flatmancrooked, 2011). Other excerpts from Rosalia have previously appeared in Octopus and ESQUE. For more, visit mollygaudry. com. Roxane Gay’s writing appears or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Mid-American Review, Cream City Review, Annalemma, McSweeney’s (online), and others. She is the co-editor of PANK, an assistant professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, and can be found at http:// Her first collection, Ayiti, will be released in 2011. Anne Gorrick is the author of Kyotologic (Shearsman, 2008), I-Formation (Book One) (Shearman, 2010), and the forthcoming I-Formation (Book Two). She also collaborated with artist Cynthia Winika to produce a limited edition artists’ book, “Swans, the ice,” she said, funded with grants from the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY and the New York State Foundation for the Arts. She curates the reading series Cadmium Text, featuring innovative writing from in and around New York’s Hudson Valley ( She also co-edits the electronic poetry journal Peep/Show with poet Lynn Behrendt ( She lives in West Park, New York. Janalyn Guo lives in Providence, RI and holds an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. She currently works as a writing instructor. Her work has appeared in The New Yinzer. Daniel Y. Harris is the author of Unio Mystica (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009), Hyperlinks of Anxiety (Cervena Barva Press, 2012) and Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue (with Adam Shechter, Cervena Barva Press, 2010). He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry, experimental writing, art, and essays have been published in The Café Irreal, Convergence, Denver Quarterly, European Judaism, Exquisite Corpse, In Posse Review, Istanbul Literary Review, Mad Hatters’ Review, and elsewhere. His website is Catherine Imbriglio is the author of Parts of the Mass (Burning Deck), which received the 2008 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her work has been published in Conjunctions, American Letters & Commentary, Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries and elsewhere. She lives in Providence, RI. Lucy Ives is a writer living in New York City. Her first book, Anamnesis, was published by Slope Editions in Winter 2009.


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Christopher Janke’s poems have appeared in Harper’s, American Poetry Review, A Public Space, and about 50 other journals. He is the Senior Editor of Slope Editions and co-owns a bar in Turners Falls Massachusetts, where he hosts a reading series. “[1] from blepharism” is from a book-length poem; other selections from it have been in Conduit, Forklifit Ohio and can be seen currently in Shadowbox and Bateau. Patrick Jones lives in Central Victoria on a quarter acre permaculture plot with his girlfriend Meg Ulman and son Zephyr. His work has appeared or been discussed in various publications including Meanjin, Cordite, Jacket, D!SSENT, The Atlantic, ecopoetics, Spiral Orb and Angelaki. He is currently undertaking doctoral work at the University of Western Sydney within the Writing and Society Research Group, where he’’s developing the concept behind permapoesis. He blogs at “Permapoesis and Artist as Family” was presented in Melbourne at the first Tipping Point conference in Australia: “Art and climate change: reimagining a global future through dialogue and action.” Catherine Kasper’s books include Notes from the Committee (Noemi Press, fiction), Hovering (Obscure Publications, fiction), and Field Stone (Winnow Press, poetry). She is currently an associate professor at the University of Texas in San Antonio. Sean Kilpatrick attends Eastern Michigan University in the Creative Writing MA. He is published or forthcoming in We Are Champion, Everyday Genius, Columbia Poetry Review, No Colony, Action Yes, Fence, LIT, New York Tyrant, Spork and MiPoesias. Thorin Klosowski is a freelance writer and journalist in Denver, Colorado. Sean Labrador y Manzano is a poet of postcolonial eroticism, who realized he was a performer during a revealing full-body cavity search in a Pensacola naval(navel?)penitentiary. In 2010, Sean Labrador y Manzano appears in Conversations at a Wartime Café (, Fag/Hag, Tayo, Beeswax, Our Own Voice, Try, The Coffee Shop Chronicles and elsewhere. He has edited JS Waters’ novel, The Modern Primitives, edited The Altered Barbie 2010 anthology, and is currently editing Conversations at a Wartime Café: A Decade of War to be released September 2011. Susan Maxwell earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book, Passenger, was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2005 through the Contemporary Poetry Series. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her work has appeared or will appear in Aufgabe, 1913 A Journal of Forms, American Letters & Commentary, New American Writing, Slope, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review as well as other journals. She’s currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology working with combat veterans with PTSD.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


Susan McCarty’s stories and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in the Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Hotel Amerika and Barrelhouse. She is a PhD student in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah. Susan McCarty’s stories and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in the Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Hotel Amerika and Barrelhouse. She is a PhD student in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah. Christina Mengert is the author of As We Are Sung (Burning Deck 2011), co-editor of 12x12: Conversations in Poetry and Poetics (University of Iowa Press, 2009), and book reviewer for The Constant Critic. She lives and works in New York. Anjali Khosla Mullany ‘s stories and poems have appeared in Skein, GlitterPony, SHAMPOO, Juked, Denver Syntax, and other journals. Broadsides of her work have been released by the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies and Broadsided Press. She lives in New York City with her husband, Edward. Christian Nagler is a San Francisco based writer, translator, and artist. His writing can recently be found in Encyclopedia and Digital Artifact. He is senior editor of the journal Paul Revere’s Horse. A selection from his novel in progress is forthcoming in Engagement, a Chainlinks edition edited by Petra Kuppers. He works with the Nonsite Collective of writers and activists, and helped found the Participation Society ( Aimee Parkison has received a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, a Writers at Work Fellowship, and a Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize. She has an MFA from Cornell University and is an Associate Professor of English at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her story collection, Woman with Dark Horses, won the first annual Starcherone Fiction Prize and was published in 2004. Parkison’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in or is forthcoming from Hayden’s Ferry Review, So to Speak, Nimrod, The Literary Review, Feminist Studies, Mississippi Review, North American Review, Quarterly West, Santa Monica Review, Other Voices, Crab Orchard Review, Fiction International, Seattle Review, and Denver Quarterly. She is currently working on a novel. Lance Phillips has published three books of poetry, Corpus Socius (Ahsahta Press, 2002) and Cur aliquid vidi (Ahsahta Press, 2004), These Indicium Tales (Ahsahta Press, 2010) and a book of experimental autobiography, Imposture Notebook (BlazeVox Books, 2008). His work has appeared in many journals including Fence, Colorado Review, New American Writing and Volt.  He lives in Huntersville, NC with his wife and two children.  Deborah Richards is a writer, teacher and urban walker. Deborah is from London and is currently living on its outer edges. Her work is published in Chain, Leroy Press, Nocturnes, Encyclopaedia, Callaloo, and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics.


Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011

Kate Schapira is the author of TOWN (Factory School, Heretical Texts, 2010), The Bounty: Four Addresses (Noemi Press, forthcoming 2011), and chapbooks from Cy Gist, horse less, Flying Guillotine, Rope-A-Dope, and Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs. She co-organizes the Publicly Complex reading series in Providence, RI, where she is also a Writer in the Schools. Ben Segal is the author of 78 Stories (No Record Press) and the chapbooks Science Fiction Pornography (Publishing Genius) and Weather Days (ML Press). He is currently editing the Official Catalog of Potential Literature, living in Philadelphia, and corresponding from benbensegal@ Some days Juliana Spahr heads west on Blake Street toward Shattuck Avenue and then takes the first left onto Shattuck, turns right at 60th Street and then the second left onto Maccall Street. Donna Stonecipher is the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Cosmopolitan, winner of the 2007 National Poetry Series, selected by John Yau and published by Coffee House Press in 2008. She lives in Berlin, and translates from French and German. Bronwen Tate is the author of the chapbooks Souvenirs (Dusie 2007), Like the Native Tongue the Vanquished (Cannibal Books 2008) and Scaffolding (Dusie 2009). She is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Stanford University, where she edits Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism and Translation. She blogs about cooking and knitting at Bread and Jam for Frances. Laura Vena is an artist, writer, translator and Co-Founder of Strophe, an interdisciplinary arts organization. Her current book project, x/she: stardraped, is a multilingual epic poem that moves through the landscape of the Americas as it explores collisions of culture and identity. An excerpt from the book can be found in the journal, In Posse Review. Max Winter’s book The Pictures was published by Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2007. His work has appeared in The New Republic, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Sentence, Parthenon West, and other publications previously. He has published reviews in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Newsday, and Bookforum, among other publications. He is currently one of the Poetry Editors of Fence. In addition, he co-edits Solid Objects with poet Lisa Lubasch.

Tarpaulin Sky #17 / Summer 2011


TARPAULIN SKY PRESS Current & Forthcoming Titles FULL-LENGTH BOOKS Jenny Boully, [one love affair]* Jenny Boully, not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them Ana Božičević, Stars of the Night Commute Traci O Connor, Recipes for Endangered Species Mark Cunningham, Body Language Danielle Dutton, Attempts at a Life Sarah Goldstein, Fables Johannes Göransson, Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate Noah Eli Gordon & Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Figures for a Darkroom Voice Gordon Massman, The Essential Numbers 1991 - 2008 Joyelle McSweeney, Nylund, The Sarcographer Joyelle McSweeney, Salamandrine: 8 Gothics Joanna Ruocco, Man’s Companions Kim Gek Lin Short, The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits Kim Gek Lin Short, China Cowboy Shelly Taylor, Black-Eyed Heifer Max Winter, The Pictures Andrew Zornoza, Where I Stay

CHAPBOOKS Sandy Florian, 32 Pedals and 47 Stops James Haug, Scratch Claire Hero, Dollyland Paula Koneazny, Installation Paul McCormick, The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter Teresa K. Miller, Forever No Lo Jeanne Morel, That Crossing Is Not Automatic Andrew Michael Roberts, Give Up Brandon Shimoda, The Inland Sea Chad Sweeney, A Mirror to Shatter the Hammer Emily Toder, Brushes With G.C. Waldrep, One Way No Exit

& Tarpaulin Sky Literary Journal in print and online

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Tarpaulin Sky #17  

Full text of Tarpaulin Sky Literary Magazine, Issue #17. Edited by Laynie Browne, Blake Butler, Colie Collen, Sandy Florian, Lily Hoang, Joa...

Tarpaulin Sky #17  

Full text of Tarpaulin Sky Literary Magazine, Issue #17. Edited by Laynie Browne, Blake Butler, Colie Collen, Sandy Florian, Lily Hoang, Joa...