Vol 2. Spring 2013
Masthead: Editor-in-Chief – Alex Grover President, Founder – Cody J. Steinhauer Layout Editor – Lauren Wainwright Intern – Olivia Errico Cover Art – Matheus Fialho Fiuza All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this magazine. Yorick Magazine acquires first North American publishing rights. All rights revert to the author after publication. For information on how to submit, visit: http://www.yorickmagazine.
Yorick Magazine Volume 2, Spring 2013
Table of Contents Letter from the President – April, 2013 ...................................... 4
Poetry Danny P. Barbare
How I’ll Dress Today ......................................................................... 6
My Cardinal Sin ............................................................................... 7
Dirt Road ......................................................................................... 9
Frederick Pollack The Archons ................................................................................. 10 Shelly Bryant
Pandora’s Plea, after Martin Buber .................................................. 11
Before You Howled ....................................................................... 12
Giuseppi Martino Buonaiuto
Confessions of a Hopi Wop Israelite .............................................. 15
Fiction Jeremiah Walton Bohemia ...................................................................................... 36 Brian Hobbs
He was in the Soft Throes .............................................................. 37
Little Grasshopper ........................................................................ 41
Robin Wyatt Dunn
Southland, an excerpt ................................................................... 45
Art and Photography Matheus Fialho Fiuza Colored Coke .......................................................................... Cover Black Coke ....................................................................... Backcover Nick Kita
i play even though i know my sound falls on deaf ears ...................... 5 Our Time Has Come ..................................................................... 40
Working Horses ............................................................................. 9 East European City ........................................................................ 14 Winter Tree .................................................................................. 36
Kevin Soojian Stance ............................................................................................ 6 Oubliette ..................................................................................... 35 The Rational .................................................................................. 51
Letter from the President It has been one year since the scheme was hatched to build a safe haven for the poets and prowlers of the literary arts. A place where your voice can be heard and amplified, to be trumpeted out into the world. We are here to help you crumble your Jericho. Thanks to your constant support, we can continue to be your trumpet. This magazine is the result of all our hard work. With your help, we have created something beautiful. Something timeless to stand by and be proud of, because we are all a part of it. It is my honor to bring to you the spring issue of two-thousand and thirteen. Best,
President, Yorick Magazine
How I’ll Dress Today
Danny P. Barbare
Wiping The Window With My Pajama Sleeve To See The World That Awaits Me, The Weather, So I’ll Know How To Dress.
My Cardinal Sin
Young woman, a fleshy sculpture on a college lawn, head on backpack, reading “Jane Eyre” opalescent in shorts and t-shirt, light aligns small breasts to immaculate face, long, curled, blonde hair, lingers, flagrant as my eyes, on the unwitting grace of tan-emboldened legs I am stopped in my tracks, as base, as lascivious, as any man even as I extort pretty words from my heart’s Roget, I can’t help but compare smooth body to the contours of my hands oblivious to all but the story before her, her body snares its heat, her blood, its salt, from unhappy near-blind Rochester, not the ardor of the usual frat-boy witness wheeling around the common
with hope in his loins and political science under his wing she turns the page, her tiny breath fills sails of sweetened air high in the trees, blood-red cardinals fill the boughs with their mating calls: wait wait wait cheer cheer cheer
I imagine my lust like Cape Town. It’s safe enough. As long as you know where you’re going. And get there by nightfall.
The original Gnostics believed that the planets are prison guards; that when (after death or Knowing) a soul tries to escape, they generally catch it and send it back for more pain. With the growth of (small-k, but serviceable) knowledge, they migrated. You find them in universities, denying the existence of genius, propounding the irrelevant tastes and claims of the mob, preventing the souls of the mob from coagulating around genius for a concerted rush at the bars. You mustnâ€™t think them cold, these grey spirits. Their being distills a single tear (in contrast to the generous tears of genius), from which they craft their instruments of torture. They want peace, but not the kind they wantâ€”whereas the Aeon, the rebel against them, like his many enemy agent impersonators, brings not peace but a sword. Oh the acid, crushing planets are kind compared to the Archons, who also patrol when after many lies the sun is led down again in his orange jumpsuit. â€ƒ
Pandora’s Plea, after Martin Buber
How may I become Thou in your eye? Am I, this mortal cast of clay and in whom all your secret arts lie, nothing more than an object of play? Am I, this mortal cast of clay, Destined to be by my maker shunned— Nothing more than an object of play, a piece on a board, to be lost or won? Destined to be by my maker shunned, A mixed curse and blessing to my own kind— Yet a piece on a board to be lost or won May at least be fought for, with heart and mind. A mixed blessing and curse to its own kind, Though capriciously placed in another’s hand, Might at least be fought for, with heart and mind, Not simply made a tool for divine reprimand. Though capriciously placed in another’s hand, I remain, at heart, me. More than a tool of divine reprimand, Many are the things I could yet be. I remain, at heart, me, in whom all the secrets of your art lie. You would know all that I could yet be If only I became Thou to your I.
Before You Howled
I had forgotten for so long why I sang, so many, my song turned into tumbled bedsheets, bodies strewn, nectar of a kiss overdone. The lonely hoot low and languished, I loved, My Love, I loved strong and solid, the hollow notes, the lonesome bones. Crow, she came and whispered in my ear, said your song is lovely dear, take a feather from my wing, we beat somewhat the same. But the song, it was the same, beneath the shadow of the bat, as the love of a man I nearly slew. When she would call, month’s later the chiming at my ear, o’ my heart my little heart, I heard her and she was me, and I, without us, her little black wings, my greedy perch, months I’d call back, filter through the poems I hear your notes in me. Some nights she whispered love stories of a girl, small-handed 12
across the mountains, a candid song of love and loss and loving loss, that which learns to rumble after. She wrote of you, far across, the distance a somber color. O, I listened to her song and did not believe, the days yet unbroken in the singing, love marching imperialistically on. The plow, the grain, the rainmakerâ€™s songs, You yet a thing of myth, the trickster, great lover. Coyote, I confess, I pressed my ear to your poems and quieted, the raven drawn by a curious gleaming in the dark, I decided to taste the water of your pool learned what would rip Moon from Sun, asunderâ€” the cry, the depth of the heart-howl, the handsome song of seeking, the fieriest love, the unrequited, your song, the ever changing ballad.
Before you: the mimicked hoot, the sweet finch trill, noâ€” I could not sing the truest notes before I heard you howl.
Confessions of a Hopi Wop Israelite
Giuseppi Martino Buonaiuto
Like a psychotic docent in the wilderness, I will not speak in perfect Ciceronian cadences. I draw my voice from a much deeper cistern, Preferring the jittery synaptic archive, So sublimely unfiltered, random and profane. And though I am sequestered now, Confined within the walls of a gated, golf-coursed, Over-55 lunatic asylum (for Active Seniors I am told), I remain oddly puerile, Remarkably refreshed and unfettered. My institutionalization self-imposed, Purposed for my own serenity, and also the safety of others. Yet I abide, surprisingly emancipated and frisky. I may not have found the peace I seek, But the quiet has mercifully come at last. The nexus of inner and outer space is context for my story. I was born either in Brooklyn, New York or Shungopavi, Arizona, More of intervention divine than census data. Shungopavi: a designated place for tribal statistical purposes. Shungopavi: an ovine abbatoir and shamanâ€™s cloister. The Hopi: my motherâ€™s people, a state of mind and grace, Deftly landlocked, so cunningly circumscribed, By both interior and outer Navajo boundaries. The Navajo: a coyote trickster people; a nation of sheep thieves, Hornswoggled and landlocked themselves, Subsumed within three of the so-called Four Corners: A 3/4ths compromise and covenant, Pickled in firewater, swaddled in fine print, A veritable swindle concocted back when the USA Had Manifest Destiny & mayhem on its mind.
The United States: once a pubescent synthesis of blood and thunder, A bold caboodle of trooper spit and polish, unwashed brawlers, Scouts and Pathfinders, mountain men, numb-nut ne’er-do-wells, Buffalo Bills & big-balled individualists, infected, insane with greed. According to the Gospel of His Holiness Saint Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: essentially state-sponsored terrorism, A LAND RUSH grabocracy, orchestrated, blessed and anointed, By a succession of Potomac sharks, Great White Fascist Fathers, Far-Away-on-the Bay, the Bay we call The Chesapeake. All demented national patriarchs craving lebensraum for God and country. The USA: a 50-state Leviathan today, a nation jury-rigged, Out of railroad ties, steel rails and baling wire, Forged by a litany of lies, rapaciousness and murder, And jaw-torn chunks of terra firma, Bites both large and small out of our well-fucked Native American ass. Or culo, as in va’a fare in culo (literally “go do it in the ass”) Which Italian Americans pronounce as fongool. The language center of my brain, My sub-cortical Broca’s region, So fraught with such semantic misfires, And autonomic linguistic seizures, Compel acknowledgement of a father’s contribution To both the gene pool and the genocide. Columbus Day: a conspicuously absent holiday out here in Indian Country. No festivals or Fifth Avenue parades. No excuse for ethnic hoopla. No guinea feast. No cannoli. No tarantella. No excuse to not get drunk and not fuck your sister-in-law. Emphatically a day for prayer and contemplation, A day of infamy like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, 16
October 12, 1492: not a discovery; an invasion. Growing up in Brooklyn, things were always different for me, Different in some sort of redskin/dago/kike— Choose Your Favorite Ethnic Slur-sort of way. The American Way: dehumanization for fun and profit. Melting pot anonymity and denial of complicity with evil. But this is no time to bring up America’s sordid past, Or, a personal pet peeve: Indian Sovereignty. For Uncle Sam and his minions, an ever-widening, conveniently flexible concept, Not a commandment or law, Not really a treaty or a compact, Or even a business deal. Let’s get real: It was not even much in the way of a guideline. Just some kind of an advisory, a bulletin or newsletter, Could it merely have been a free-floating suggestion? Yes, that’s it exactly: a suggestion. Over and under halcyon American skies, Over and around those majestic purple mountain peaks, Those trapped in poetic amber waves of wheat and oats, Corn and barley, wheat shredded and puffed, Corn flaked and milled, Wheat Chex and Wheaties, oats that are little Os; Kix and Trix, Fiber One, and Kashi-Go-Lean, Lucky Charms, and matso balls, Kreplach and kishka, Polenta and risotto. Our cantaloupe and squash patch, Our fruited prairie plain, our delicate ecological Eden, In balance and harmony with nature, as Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce instructs: “These white devils are not going to, Stop raping and killing, cheating and eating us, 17
Until they have the whole fucking enchilada. I’m talking about ‘from sea to shining sea.’” “I fight no more forever,” Babaloo. So I must steer this clunky keelboat of discovery, Back to the main channel of my sad and starry demented river. My warpath is personal but not historical. It is my brain’s own convoluted cognitive process I cannot savvy. Whatever biochemical or—as I suspect more each day— Whatever biomechanical protocols govern my identity, My weltanschauung: my world-view, as sprechen by proto-Nazis; Putz philosophers of the 17th, 18th & 19th century. The German intelligentsia: what a cavalcade of maniacal bastards! Why is this Jew unsurprised these Zarathustra-fueled Übermenschen . . . Be it the Kaiser—Caesar in Deutsch—Bismarck, Hitler, or, Even that Euro-skank, Angela Merkel . . .Why am I not surprised these Huns Get global grab-ass on the sauerbraten cabeza every few generations? To be, or not to be the Kraut bullgoose loony: GOTT. Biomechanical protocols govern my identity and are implanted while I sleep. My brain—my weak and weary CPU—is replenished, my discs defragmented. A suite of magnetic and optical white rooms, cleansed free of contaminants, Gun mounts & lifeboat stations manned and ready, Standing at attention and saluting British snap-style, Snap-to and heel click, ramrod straight and cheerful: “Ready for duty, Sir.” My mind is ravenous, lusting for something, anything to process. Any memory or image, lyric or construct, Be they short-term dailies or deeply imprinted. Fixations archived one and all in deep storage time and space. 18
Memories, some subconscious, most vaporous; Others—the scary ones—eidetic: frighteningly detailed and extraordinarily vivid. Precise cognitive transcripts; recollected so richly rife and fresh. Visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory reloads: Queued up and increasingly re-experienced. The bio-data of six decades: it’s all there. People, countless, places and things cataloged. Every event, joy and trauma enveloped from within or, Accessed externally from biomechanical storage devices. The random access memory of a lifetime, Read and recollected from cerebral repositories and vaults, All the while the entire greedy process overseen, Over-driven by that all-subservient British bat-man, Rummaging through the data in batches small and large, Internal and external drives working in seamless syncopation, Self-referential, at times paradoxical or infinitely looped. “Cogito ergo sum.” Descartes stripped it down to the basics, but there’s more to the story: Thinking about thinking. A curse and minefield for the cerebral: metacognition. No, it is not the fact that thought exists, Or even the thoughts themselves. But the information technology of thought that baffles me, As adaptive and profound as any evolution posited by Darwin, Beyond the wetware in my skull, an entirely new operating system. My mental and cultural landscapes are becoming one. Machines are connecting the two. It’s what I am and what I am becoming. Once more for emphasis: It is the information technology of who I am. It is the operating system of my mental and cultural landscape. It is the machinery connecting the two. 19
This is the central point of this narrative: Metacognition—your superego’s yenta Cassandra, Screaming, screaming in your psychic ear, your good ear: LISTEN: The machines are taking over, taking you over. Your identity and train of thought are repeatedly hijacked, Switched off the main line onto spurs and tangents, Only marginally connected or not at all. (Incoming TEXT from my editor: “Lighten Up, Giuseppi!”) Reminding me again that most in my audience Rarely get past the comic page. Alrighty then: think Calvin & Hobbes. John Calvin, a precocious and adventurous six-year old boy, Subject to flights of 16th Century French theological fancy. Thomas Hobbes, a sardonic anthropomorphic tiger from 17th Century England, Mumbling about life being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Taken together—their antics and shenanigans—their relationship to each other, Remind us of our dual nature; explore for us broad issues like public education; The economy, environmentalism & the Global Rectal Thermometer; Not to mention the numerous flaws of opinion polls. And again my editor TEXTS me, reminds me again: “LIGHTEN UP!” Consoling me: “Even Shakespeare had to play to the groundlings.” The groundlings, AKA: The Rabble. Yes. Even the fucking Bard, even Willie the Shake, Had to contend with a decidedly lowbrow copse of carrion. Oh yes, the groundlings, a carrion herd, a flying flock of carrion seagulls, Carrion crow, carrion-feeders one and all, And let’s throw Sheryl Crow into the mix while we’re at it: “Hit it! This ain’t no disco. And it ain’t no country club either, this is L.A.”
Send “All I Wanna Do” Ringtone to your Cell Once more, I digress. The Rabble: an amorphous, gelatinous Jabba the Hutt of commonality. The Rabble: drunk, debauched & lawless. Too booty-delicious to stop Bill & Hillary from thinking about tomorrow; Too Paul McCartney My Love Does it Good to think twice. The Roman Saturnalia: a weeklong fuck fest. The Saturnalia: originally a pagan kink-fest in honor of the deity Saturn. Dovetailing nicely with the advent of the Christian era, With a project started by Il Capo di Tutti Capi, One of the early popes, co-opting the Roman calendar between 17 and 25 December, Putting the finishing touches on the Jesus myth. For Brooklyn Hopi-Wop-Jew baby boomers like me, Saturnalia manifested itself as Disco Fever, Unpleasant years of electrolysis, scrunched balls in tight polyester For You +1’d this publicly. UndoRoman plebeians, for the great unwashed citizenry of Rome, Saturnalia was just a great big Italian wedding: A true family blowout and once-in-a-lifetime ego-trip for Dad, The father of the bride, Vito Corleone, Don for A Day: “Some think the world is made for fun and frolic, And so do I! Funicula, Funiculi!” America: love it or leave it; my country right or wrong. Sure, we were citizens of Rome, But any Joe Josephus spending the night under a Tiber bridge, Or sleeping off a three day drunk some afternoon, Up in the Coliseum bleachers, the cheap seats, out beyond the monuments, The original three monuments in the old stadium, 21
Standing out in fair territory out in center field, Those three stone slabs honoring Gehrig, Huggins, and Babe. Yes, in the house that Ruth built—Home of the Bronx Bombers—WTF? Any Joe Josephus knows: Roman citizenship doesn’t do too much for you, Except get you paxed, taxed & drafted into the Legion. For us the Roman lifestyle was HIND-TIT humble. We plebeians drew our grandeur by association with Empire. Very few Romans and certainly only those of the patrician class lived high, High on the hog, enjoying a worldly extravaganza, like—whom do we both know? Okay, let’s say Laurence Olivier as Crassus in Spartacus. Come on, you saw Spartacus fifteen fucking times. Remember Crassus? Crassus: that kinky twisted fuck trying to get his freak on with, Tony Curtis in a sunken marble tub? We plebes led lives of quiet pubis-scratching desperation, A bunch of would-be legionnaires, diseased half the time, Paid in salt tablets or baccala, salted codfish soaked yellow in olive oil. Stiffs we used to call them on New Year’s Eve in Brooklyn. Let’s face it: we were hyenas eating someone else’s kill, Stage-door jackals, Juvenal-come-late-lies, a mob of moronic mook boneheads Bought off with bread & circuses and Reality TV. Each night, dished up a wide variety of lowbrow Elizabethan-era entertainments. We contemplate an evening on the town, downtown— (cue Petula Clark/Send “Downtown” Ringtone to your Cell) On any given London night, to wit: mummers, jugglers, bear & bull baiters. How about dog & cock fighters, quoits & skittles, alehouses & brothels? 22
In short, somewhere, anywhere else, Anywhere other than down along the Thames, At Bankside in Southwark, down in the Globe Theater mosh pit, Slugging it out with the groundlings whose only interest, In the performance is the choreography of swordplay and stale sexual puns. Meanwhile, Hugh Fennyman—probably a fellow Jew, An English Renaissance Bugsy Siegel or Mickey Cohen— Meanwhile Fennyman, the local mob boss is getting his ya-yas, Roasting the feet of my text-messaging editor, Philip Henslowe. Poor and pathetic Henslowe, works on commission, always scrounging, But a true patron of my craft, a gentleman of infinite jest and patience, Spiritual subsistence, and every now and then a good meal at some Sawdust joint with oyster shells, and a Prufrockian silk purse of T.S. Eliot gold. Poor, pathetic Henslowe, trussed up by Fennyman, His editorial feet in what looks like a Japanese hibachi. Henslowe’s feet to the fire—feet to the fire—get it? A catchy phrase whose derivation conjures up, A grotesque yet vivid image of torture, An exquisite insight into how such phrases ingress the idiom, Not to mention a scene once witnessed at a secret Romanian CIA prison, I’d been ordered to Bucharest not long after 9/11, Handling the rendition and torture of Habib Ghazzawy, An entirely innocent falafel maker from Steinway Street, Astoria, Queens. Shock the Monkey: it’s what we do. GOTO: Peter Gabriel - Shock the Monkey/ (HQ music video) - YouTube// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo9riZYUpTw Poor, pathetic, pissed-on Henslowe. 23
Fennyman: (his avarice is whet by something Philly screams out about a new script) “A play takes time. Find actors; Rehearsals. Let’s say open in three weeks. That’s—what— five hundred groundlings at tuppence each, in addition four hundred groundlings tuppence each, in addition four hundred backsides at three pence—a penny extra for a cushion, call it two hundred cushions, say two performances for safety, how much is that, Mr. Frees?” Jacobean Tweet, John (1580-1684) Webster: “I saw him kissing her bubbies.” It’s Geoffrey Rush, channeling Henslowe again, My editor, a singed smoking madman now, Feet in an ice bucket, instructing me once more: “Lighten things up, you know . . . Comedy, love, and a bit with a dog.” Sign in or sign up now! I digress again and return to Hopi Land, back to my shaman-monastic abattoir, That Zen Center in downtown Shungopavi. At the Tribal Enrolment Office I make my case for a Certificate of Indian Blood, Called a CIB by the Natives and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA: representing gold & uranium miners, cattle and sheep ranchers, Sodbusters & homesteaders; railroaders and dam builders since 1824. Just in time for Andrew Jackson, another false friend of Native America, Just before Old Hickory, one of many Democratic Party hypocrites and scoundrels, Gives the FONGOOL, up the CULO go ahead. Hey Andy, I’ve got your Jacksonian democracy: Hanging! The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) mission is to: “… enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives.” What’s that in the fine print? Uncle Sammy holds “the trust assets of American Indians.” 24
Here’s a fucking tip, Geronimo: if he trusted you, It would ALL belong to you. To you and The People. But it’s all fork-tongued white bullshit. If true, Indian sovereignty would cease to be a sick one-liner, Cease to be a blunt force punch line, more of, King Leopold’s 19th Century stand-up comedy schtick, Leo Presents: The Rape of the Congo. La Belgique mission civilisatrice— That’s what French speakers called Uncle Leo’s imperial public policy, Bringing the gift of civilization to central Africa. Like Manifest Destiny in America, it had a nice colonial ring to it. “Our manifest destiny [is] to overspread the continent, Allotted by Providence for the free development, Of our yearly multiplying millions.” John L. O’Sullivan, 1845 Our civilizing mission or manifest destiny: Either/or, a catchy turn of phrase; Not unlike another ironic euphemism and semantic subterfuge: The Pacification of the West; Pacification? Hardly: decidedly not too peaceful for Cochise & Tonto. Meanwhile, Madonna is cash rich but disrespected Evita poor, To wit: A Virgin on the Rocks (throwing in a byte or 2 of Da Vinci Code). Meanwhile, Miss Ciccone denied her golden totem dildo. They snubbed that little guinea cunt, didn’t they? Snubbed her, robbed her rotten. Evita, her magnum opus, right up there with . . . Her SNL Wayne’s World skit: “Get a load of the unit on that guy.” Or that infamous MTV Music Video Awards stunt, That classic Lesbo Lip-Lock with Britney Spears. How could I not see that Oscar snubola as prime evidence? It was just another stunning case of American anti-Italian racial animus. 25
Anyone familiar with Noam Chomsky would see it, Must view it in the same context as the Sacco & Vanzetti case, Or that arbitrary lynching of 9 Italian-Americans in New Orleans in 1891, To cite just two instances of anti-Italian judicial reach & mob violence, Much like what happened to my cousin Dominic, Gang-raped by the Harlem Globetrotters, in their locker room during halftime, While he was working for Abe Saperstein back in 1952. Dom was doing advance for Abe, supporting creation of The Washington Generals: A permanent stable of hoop dream patsies and foils, Named for the ever freewheeling, glad-handing, backslapping, Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (SCAEF), himself, Namely General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the man they liked, And called IKE: quite possibly a crypto Jew from Abilene. Of course, Harry Truman was my first Great White Fascist Father, Back in 1946, when I first opened my eyes, hung up there, High above, looking down from the adobe wall. Surveying the entire circular kiva, I had the best seat in the house. Don’t let it be said my Spider Grandmother or Hopi Corn Mother, Did not want me looking around at things, Discovering what made me special. Didn’t divine intervention play a significant part of my creation? Knowing Mamma Mia and Nonna were Deities, Gave me an edge later on the streets of Brooklyn. The Cradleboard: was there ever a more divinely inspired gift to human curiosity? The Cradleboard: a perfect vantage point, an infant’s early grasp, Of life harmonious, suspended between Mother Earth and Father Sky. Simply put: the Hopi should be running our fucking public schools. But it was IKE with whom I first associated, Associated with the concept 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 26
I liked IKE. Who didn’t? What was not to like? He won the fucking war, didn’t he? And he wasn’t one of those crazy mofo John Birchers, Way out there, on the far right lunatic Republican fringe, Was he? (It seems odd and nearly impossible to believe in 2013, That there was once a time in our Boomer lives, When the extreme right wing of the Republican Party Was viewed by the FBI as an actual threat to American democracy.) Understand: it was at a time when The FBI, Had little ideological baggage, But a great appetite for secrets, The insuppressible Jay Edgar doing his thang. IKE: of whom we grew so, oh-so Fifties fond. Good old reliable, Nathan Shaking IKE: He’d been fixed, hadn’t he? Had had the psychic snip. Snipped as a West Point cadet & parade ground martinet. Which made IKE a good man to have in a pinch, Especially when crucial policy direction was way above his pay grade. Cousin Dom was Saperstein’s bagman, bribing out the opposition, Which came mainly from religious and patriotic organizations, Viewing the bogus white sports franchise as obscene. The Washington Generals, Saperstein’s new team would have but one opponent, And one sole mission: to serve as the butt of endless jokes and sight gags for— Negroes. To play the chronic fools of— Negroes. To be chronically humiliated and insulted by— Negroes. To run up and down the boards all night, being outran by— Negroes. Not to mention having to wear baggy silk shorts.
Meadowlark Lemon: “Yeah, Charlie, we raped that grease-ball Dominic; we shagged his guinea mouth and culo rotten.” (interviewed in his Scottsdale, AZ winter residence in 2003 by former ESPN commentator Charlie Steiner, Malverne High School, Class of ’67.) IKE, briefed on the issue by higher-ups, quickly got behind the idea. The Harlem Globetrotters were to exist, and continue to exist, Are sustained financially by Illuminati sponsors, For one reason and one reason only: To serve elite interests that the Negro be kept down and subservient, That the minstrel show be perpetuated, A policy surviving the elaborate window dressing of the civil rights movement, Affirmative action, and our first Uncle Tom president. Case in point: Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman & Metta World Peace Artest. Cha-cha-cha changing again: I am Robert Allen Zimmermann, A whiny, skinny Jew, stoned and rolling in from Minnesota, Arrested, obviously a vagrant, caught strolling around his tony Jersey enclave, Having moved on up the list, the A-list, a special invitation-only, Yom Kippur Passover Seder: Next Year in Jerusalem, Babaloo! I take ownership of all my autonomic and conditioned reflexes; Each personal neural arc and pathway, All shenanigans & shellackings, Or blunt force cognitive traumas. It’s all percolating nicely now, thank you, In kitchen counter earthen crockery: Random access memory: a slow-cook crockpot, Bubbling through my psychic sieve. My memories seem only remotely familiar, Distant and vague, at times unreal: 28
An alien hybrid databank accessed accidently on purpose; Flaky science sustains and monitors my nervous system. And leads us to an overwhelming question: Is it true that John Dillinger’s schlong is in the Smithsonian Museum? Enquiring minds want to know, Kemosabe! “Any last words, asshole?” TWEETS Adam Smith. Postmortem cyber-graffiti, an epitaph carved in space; Last words, so singular and simple, Across the universal great divide, Frisbee-d, like a Pleistocene Kubrick bone, Tossed randomly into space, Morphing into a gyroscopic space station. Mr. Smith, a calypso capitalist, and me, Me, the Poet Laureate of the United States and Adam; Who, I didn’t know from Adam. But we tripped the light fantastic, We boogied the Protestant Work Ethic, To the tune of that old Scotch-Presbyterian favorite, Variations of a 5-point Calvinist theme: Total Depravity; Election; Particular Redemption; Irresistible Grace; & Perseverance of the Saints. Mr. Smith, the author of An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), One of the best-known, intellectual rationales for: Free trade, capitalism, and libertarianism, The latter term a euphemism for Social Darwinism. Prior to 1764, Calvinists in France were called Huguenots, A persecuted religious majority . . . is that possible? A persecuted majority of Edict of Nantes repute. Adam Smith, likely of French Huguenot Jewish ancestry himself, Reminds me that it is my principal plus interest giving me my daily gluten. And don’t think the irony escapes me now, 29
A realization that it has taken me nearly all my life to see again, What I once saw so vividly as a child, way back when. Before I put away childish things, including the following sentiment: “All I need is the air that I breathe.” Send “The Air That I Breathe” Ringtone to your Cell The Hippies were right, of course. The Hollies had it all figured out. With the answer, as usual, right there in the lyrics. But you were lucky if you were listening. There was a time before I embraced The other “legendary” economists: The inexorable Marx, The savage society of Veblen, The heresies we know so well of Keynes. I was a child. And when I was a child, I spake as a child— Grazie mille, King James— I understood as a child; I thought as a child. But when I became a man I jumped on the bus with the band, Hopped on the irresistible bandwagon of Adam Smith. Smith: “Any last words, asshole?” Okay, you were right: man is rationally self-interested. Grazie tanto, Scotch Enlightenment, An intellectual movement driven by, An alliance of Calvinists and Illuminati, Freemasons and Johnny Walker Black. Talk about an irresistible bandwagon: Smith, the gloomy Malthus, and David Ricardo, Another Jew boy born in London, England, Third of 17 children of a Sephardic family of Portuguese origin, 30
Who had recently relocated from the Dutch Republic. Fucking Jews! Like everything shrewd, sane and practical in this world, WE also invented the concept: FOLLOW THE MONEY. The lyrics: if you were really listening, you’d get it: Respiration keeps one sufficiently busy, Just breathing free can be a full-time job, Especially when—borrowing a phrase from British cricketers— One contemplates the sorry state of the wicket. Now that I am gainfully superannuated, Pensioned off the employment radar screen. Oft I go there into the wild ebon yonder, Wandering the brain cloud at will. My journey indulges curiosity, creativity and deceit. I free range the sticky wicket, I have no particular place to go. Snagging some random fact or factoid, A stop & go rural postal route, Jumping on and off the brain cloud. Just sampling really, But every now and then, gorging myself, At some information super smorgasbord, At a Good Samaritan Rest Stop, I ponder my own frazzled neurology, When I was a child— Before I learned the grim economic facts of life and Judaism, Before I learned Hebrew, Before my laissez-faire Bar Mitzvah lessons, Under the rabbinical tutelage of Rebbe Kahane— I knew what every clever child knows about life: The surfing itself is the destination. Accessing RAM—random access memory— On a strictly need to know basis. 31
RAM: a pretty good name for consciousness these days. If I were an Asimov or Sir Arthur (Sri Lankabhimanya) Clarke, I’d get freaky now, riffing on Terminators, Time Travel, and Cyborgs. But this is truth, not science fiction. Nevertheless, someone had better, Come up with another name for cyborg. Some other name for a critter, Composed of both biological and artificial parts. Parts-is-parts—be they electronic, mechanical or robotic. But after a lifetime of science fiction media, After a steady media diet, rife with dystopian technology nightmares, Is anyone likely to admit to being a cyborg? Since I always give credit where credit is due, I acknowledge that cyborg was a term coined in 1960, By Manfred Clynes & Nathan S. Kline and, Used to identify a self-regulating human-machine system in outer space. Five years later, D. S. Halacy’s: Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman, Featured an introduction, which spoke of: “… a new frontier, that was not, Merely space, but more profoundly, the relationship between inner space, And outer space; a bridge, i.e., between mind and matter.” So, by definition, a cyborg defined is an organism with Technology-enhanced abilities: an antenna array, Replacing what was once sentient and human. My glands, once in control of metabolism and emotions, Have been replaced by several servomechanisms. I am biomechanical and gluttonous. Soaking up and breathing out the atmosphere, My Baby Boom experience of six decades, Homogenized and homespun, feedback looped, 32
Endlessly networked through predigested mass media, Culture as demographically targeted content. This must have something to do with my own metamorphosis. I think of Gregor Samsa, a Kafkaesque character if there ever was one. And though we share common traits, My evolutionary progress surpasses and transcends his. Samsa—Phylum and Class—was, after all, an insect. Nonetheless, I remain a changeling. Have I not seen many stages of growth? Each a painful metamorphic cycle, From exquisite first egg, Through caterpillar’s appetite & squirm. To phlegmatic bliss and pupa quietude, I unfold my wings in a rush of Van Gogh palette, Color, texture, movement and grace, lift off, flapping in flight. My eyes have witnessed wondrous s transformations, My experience, nouveau riche and distinctly self-referential; For the most part unspecific & longitudinally pedestrian. Yes, something has happened to me along the way. I am no longer certain of my identity as a human being. Time and technology have altered my basic wiring diagram. I suspect the sophisticated gadgets and tools, I’ve been using to shape & make sense of my environment, Have reared up and turned around on me. My tools have reshaped my brain & central nervous system. Remaking me as something simultaneously more and less human. The electronic toys and tools I once so lovingly embraced Have turned unpredictable and rabid, Their bite penetrating my skin and septic now, a cluster of implanted sensors. Content: currency made increasingly more valuable as time passes, Served up by and serving the interests of a pervasively predatory 1%.
And the rest of us: the so-called 99%? No longer human; simply put by both Howardsâ€”Beale & Zinnâ€” Humanoid.
“All in favor of writing a poem in opposition of militaryindustrial civilization, say ‘aye,’” said a man dribbling sleepies from his eyes. His movements were weighted by a thick coffee stained robe. “Aye,” the crowd said. One member of the congregation, a member of no particular importance, raised his hand. “Yes?” the sleepy man said, lulling his tongue along the inner linings of his mouth. Cigarette and sweat shook his taste buds. “Is the flash fiction prose poem regarding sexual revolution and masses still being applied for?” “Yes, Allen, the application sheet is on the desk near the exit. Grab one as you go. How’s your poem ‘Growl’ going?” “It’s ‘Howl,’ sir.” “Whatever.”
He was in the Soft Throes, an excerpt
The night being what it was brought a slight chill to them through windows cast open with careless thought. They rolled together into the creases of bed where the body makes demarcations of their movement. He keeps a quick biography of her—a personal story of her that he runs his mind over, anytime he wants to fill himself with her. She told him of what life’s purpose was once, “with nothing else to make love out of the sun.” This, while nine cats rub around his ankles and heavy drapes are hoisted to let in the moonlight, a pale wash over the struggle of their lovemaking, she makes him dessert afterwards. Always afterwards, lying in the erotic shock of their bodies, sweaty and slick, she makes something sweet. She gives him a dish of vanilla ice cream in a giant UFO plate. She watches him speculatively, leans over so that her bare arm brushes his and takes a stab at his ice cream with her finger. Then, she vanilla kisses him. The cats are always around, scratching or playing and he watches their little kingdoms from under her bed sheets. He comments on her cats and she replies glibly that he is her favorite stray. The memory of coming out of the maze of childhood leaves him frightened. It is what he thinks she means when she tells him his eyes never settle. There is sand from the beach she brings in with her when she goes out into the world to worship the sun. He has bottled this traveling sand and marked a bottle named There. She poured this sand out like hourglasses, her feet to tell the time. He caught it with penitent hands. This is how he knows the world, by the praying travel of her feet. They press more firmly to earth than can his two hands to each other. The shattered remains of his cell phone cry restless in his pocket, this is a result of his hammering the outside world until it remains him and her, just touching for input of everything else.
She is a prophet or shaman to him. She makes rituals. They infect their bedplay, their conversations, their subtle swift motions of living, arching toward each other than their bodies at rest in their perspective orbit, almost touching. She paints big looping seashells with her fingers from trips and leaves paint on them both when they make love. He had her hand prints on his chest like a tribal warrior. His numbers of the outside world, calendars of birthdays, days missed of work, calls never made dance around in his head, unchecked. Things remain unsolid because of her. She told him of her odd inconsistencies, of her fantasy of pretending to be a mannequin at a retail store, of being stripped of whatever she was wearing, until she was nude, and then be dressed again. The shock of a retail workerâ€™s fingers finding the rough terrain of goose pimples and hard nipples delighted her till she giggled. She wanted to be immortalized, but not as a stereotype of beauty. Not the face within the gilded frame, eyes staring out saying, I am dead. She wanted to be celebrated anonymously, piecemeal, a tendon extended in her neck caught in a spot of photography, forever in close up and more intimate than all the nude photos of models. This fame wasâ€”maybe in the maze of eye, the working of pupil, the indent of belly button or the crook of her elbow. Then, in the alchemy of the photo, a signal mark, that would be key to a fewâ€”a lost and distinct personality. She makes teas at odd hours, wearing his shirt. Many of them contain names she has used for the naming of her cats. The teas brew and leave a swampy mixture in the air that inflates as it climbs the air and settles to wait. It makes him breathe into the lapels of his shirt. Not completely unlike his other rich friends, he is a settler of new places. He owns several properties that allow him to leave a circuitous nomad lifestyle. One is a crumbling New York building that gives an odd sense of something forgotten. He usually returns to his tower after being here and he only stays here with her. There are a number of studio apartments, with the 38
only finished one being at the top where they lounge together. His people took one look and grimaced at it. But he allows for the vast expenditure of sums on the whims she rises in him. It is not the calculus of sums and trades, not the financial wizardry that makes him feared. His money becomes progeny to him, which makes him nervous, which at the back of his unchecked mind, beyond the predatory balance he has added to the portraiture of his life, lies the connection to this and his sense of discomfort in the studio apartment. To avoid indiscretion and the paparazzi which deck his life, like his hours, they meet in clandestine spots, all of which she takes exceptional delight in. He meets her near rushing college fountains, in handkerchiefs on the head and retro fitted sunglasses and a wide smile. She gives him what she calls the “secret handshake.” She meets him in the converging shadows of buildings, tall trees, under the detritus of construction with the industrial mechanisms reshaping raw land, into stretching distances of the city. They hang out from rough windows and watch the far gone. Sometimes he brings her gifts, buys things that seem unconnected: wraps nickels in gift paper for her. She understands this as a weird sense of his romance and his life of wealth. She smiles at this, a finger on her teeth her purple lipstick smudged on. He travels by dart silver mechanisms that hide their workings like clever poetry. They find elevators, abandoned or in unfinished buildings, the materials for the construction wrapped in packing, full of potential. They make love when the elevator is to its highest; she bridges him, surprising, supine. He is reminded by the action of her that reflects her cats that come back from prowling in the night. When he is away, he receives her famous letters, with one elongated word, “Hellloooooo” inside. Snapshots fall from the envelope like a sly laugh from her around his feet. He picks one up. It is her elbow. Claire wears a white shirt starched, diminutive and orderly on her and a pair of black slacks that almost look like leotards, cut 39
short at her small ankles. Such dressing is part of her breathing, daily life. But his experience, his living with a woman has been brief and so he finds untold desire in their passing routines, in their shared living, in their habits exposed and habitual to each other. He feels an intense desire to get to the quick of her, but his wisdom tells him this is love only through the slow path of time. First lesson is that Eroticism is: fingers under the starched collar. The shirt: puritanical and strict in its linear creases. It is joined deliciously right above the navel, a comma on the surface print of her skin, muscles underneath, the flush of blood to the surface. She guides him to the bed with two fingers lightly touching his palm and the world is yet another photo from her that slips between his hands. â€ƒ
Alice Kay Wilkins wasn’t a pretty girl. She had the line of a mustache you could see when the light was right and her face was white as biscuit dough. She missed school a lot with the female sickness. Everybody knew it was the female sickness that made her disappear at least a couple of days every month. When she did come to school, she sat at her desk, leaning forward, her arms across her belly, with her ghost-white face. She went to the bathroom a lot. She always wore big dresses that fluffed out all the way around her, with layers of slips and petticoats so that her bottom half looked like it was in a cloud. When she walked the layers of dress and petticoats made a swishing noise. Alice Kay sat in front of me in eighth grade civics. I didn’t pay her much attention, nobody did, not even the other girls. She wasn’t the kind of girl you could kid around with much. If you made a joke or teased her, she looked at you with big horse’s eyes, and if she managed a smile, the red inside of her mouth glared like neon against the porcelain white of her skin, the gross insides of her dead-pale face. The guys in the class called her the virgin. Of course, all the girls in our eighth grade class were probably virgins, but it was different in Alice Kay’s case because she was going to stay that way. She was too quiet, too timid, too delicate, and too ugly to be anything else. I talked to Alice Kay once. I didn’t try it again, as far as I remember. It was on the TV news that morning that the highway patrol caught a Navy deserter on a road outside of town. Just before school opened for the day I went up to Alice Kay, standing in the school yard, and said, “Hey, your dad catch that Navy guy?” Her dad was an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman. She looked at me with her hurt feelings look. “No. . . I don’t think so,” she said. 41
“You mean, you don’t even know?” I said, with my best youmust-be-an-idiot look. The bell rang and we went inside. Alice Kay didn’t look at me again. I got Alice Kay good once. She even jumped out of her desk and screamed. The teacher was going on about the Oklahoma legislature. It was hot, just before the end of the year, and the classroom windows were open. No air conditioning in those days. A grasshopper landed on the open window next to my desk. I didn’t even think about it; I leaned over, took its wings between my fingers, and popped the grasshopper down the back of Alice Kay’s blouse. She jumped up and screamed, clutching at her back. No more Oklahoma Legislature. I went down to the gym to the football coach for a paddling. It was a good one, too. I thought I was funny walking home from school that day. I laughed out loud a couple of times—got her good, man! I even sang to myself a little song I made up: Oh, little grasshopper, poor little thing, ugly old Alice Kay squashed you on her back. Ugh! said the grasshopper, poor little thing. Sang my song over and over again. I made up a little tune for it, too. But soon, a conversation started inside my head I didn’t want to hear. It wouldn’t stop, so I sang my song louder. The conversation just keep going. Two voices. They weren’t mine, but they were talking inside me— “You’re glad, aren’t you?” “What? What are you talking about?” “You’re glad she’s sick, aren’t you?” “What do you mean? How do you know she’s sick?” “You know she is. You know you made her sick with that grasshopper, you know you did.” “That’s crazy. How do you make a person sick with a grasshopper? You don’t even know she’s sick.” “Sure she is.” “Besides, she’s always sick. Everybody knows that.” 42
“Yeah, but you did it to make her sick. You did it to make her jump up and go running out. You did, you know you did. Bet she won’t be in school tomorrow. Wanna bet?” “That’s dumb. I didn’t do anything.” “But you’re glad.” “Am not.” “Yes—you are.” “So? Nobody likes her.” I kept singing— Oh, little grasshopper, poor little thing . . . But the voices kept right on talking, “You know you did . . .” Alice Kay didn’t come to school the next day. I couldn’t stop looking at her empty desk in front of me. I had a bad feeling in my stomach. Jeez, I didn’t do anything. I started singing my song again, but only in my mind, “Poor grasshopper, poor grasshopper. . .” Alice Kay didn’t come to school the day after that, either. After lunch, there was a highway patrol car in the school parking lot. I stayed outside until the last bell. Could they put me in jail for a grasshopper? Maybe it made Alice Kay real sick or she fell down and hurt herself trying to get it out. I was afraid to go in, so I skipped the rest of the day. I waited for Alice Kay’s dad, the highway patrol, to show up at my house. They didn’t. Next day, Saturday, playing basketball in the park, I found out what it was all about. The other guys told me. Alice Kay was gone. The same day, Thursday, I put the grasshopper down her back; they took her to a big hospital in Tulsa. “She’s gonna die,” Ralph Barnett said, as he shot a basket. “Why?” I said. “She’s got some kind of cancer, but my parents won’t say what kind it is when I’m around,” Ralph said. “Bet it’s in her thing,” George Tustin said. “What?” I said. “You know, in her pussy,” George said. 43
“Oh gag a maggot,” Ralph said. I couldn’t play anymore. “Hey, what’s wrong with you?” the guys said. “Nothing,” I said, as I walked out of the park I sat down under a tree. An ugly girl dying of cancer in her thing. I never wanted to move from under that tree again. And the voice inside me started up again— “You’re glad, aren’t you?” I tried to think of Alice Kay’s face. To remember it, but I couldn’t. It was gone. A nightmare came in its place. A nightmare came in the middle of the day and without sleeping. The cancer has eaten her. The cancer has eaten her face. The cancer has eaten her little pencil line mustache and her pasty-white flesh and the great red splotch inside her mouth. She has been swallowed and eaten by the cancer in her thing. I tried again to bring back Alice Kay’s face. Still, it wouldn’t come. The leaves in the tree rustled as a wind came up. The wind blew around in the tree like it was telling me it was going to rain and I could leave if I wanted to. The wind swayed the tree and the leaves swished like Alice Kay walking by in her billowing dress. And then the leaves spoke— “Little grasshopper, poor little thing . . .” It was almost dark before I left the tree and went home.
Southland, an excerpt
Robin Wyatt Dunn
He sat in the room and waited for it to be over. He had shot himself in the foot again; it was a habit he would have to learn to break. “Did you see the sunset?” she asked. “Yes,” he said. “Beautiful.” But it wasn’t beautiful; not beautiful enough. Something had changed. He had held the light in his hands; he had held it on the edge, he had held all that it contained them, and it contained them; what they had been. It was gone. Her eyes were different too. What strange new world, unknown to us, unfolds without warning before our wakening eyes? The Southland. Δ We who were yours. We who lost us. We who were who you needed us to be, we who knew the chants and the smiles, the habits and performances and the dreams, yes, the beautiful dreams, we who knew them must now go into the twilight, we must now go out into the dark. “I feel strange,” she said. “Why,” he said. “I don’t know,” she said, and he put his arm around her. We love the dark, its endless caresses, its magnificence divine, its untouchable profanities, its loves without which we die. We love the loves of the dark, for in them we are wrought anew, hurled changed and crying like mad people through, and through, through. We are entering the dark, now. We are unfolding this, our adventure, this adventure into the alien. The conductor passed by. His hat was low over his eyes. He was a man on a mission. Alex watched him pass. He held his woman under his arm, 45
willing her with his mind to sleep, to rest on his shoulder. He did not have time for nostalgia but it came anyway, it insisted. But it never did any good. They hurtled into the dark. Δ At the front the train, the engineer engineered a change, in the combustion of his engine, in the terraforming of the dark, in the velocity of this their mission, in the heartache of their ancestors thoughts, removed, at least removed, cut off from the record. They plunge into darkness, the darkness of a train, the darkness of memory, the beckoning again to the campfire. We are alone again! This way, this time, it’s only us. Alex closed his eyes. He could not sleep. Beside him, Elizabeth dreamed of the ocean. If we could be who you wanted. If we could be who you wanted, all the time. Nostalgia under its seven thrones. Δ She floated in the Pacific. In the Southland of Dream. Shall we bring the scalpel closer to the meniscus of iceberg below? Shall we shove our faces into the freezing cold to see, to see, what waits for us so close? Here under this black sky, she watches the stars fall, and new ones come to life, watches the earth turn, her afloat on her back, her body the impulse of heartbeat, the draw of blood, the urge of wisdom, the fire of the hand through the dark. Δ She jerked awake, gasping. Alex held her close, looked at her. “I was dreaming,” she said. He held her tighter, and she snuggled against his shoulder. The train was cool, not unpleasant. An Asian man sat with a mask over his eyes, across from them, breathing peacefully. “Only a dream,” he said. She gazed across at the man with the mask, her mind blank. The conductor came through again, and as he crossed Alex’s vision, he felt the reflection of the man’s movement, in the opposite train window flex toward him. Alex blinked. 46
He blinked at the immanence of the stars, and followed. He who was mad. He who was mad and followed, he flew for you, you see, you who have forgotten. He who was not known or wanted, who did not do as you asked, he threw himself in. And why should we have, Alice? Only after we made the trains could our mirrors have become so enticing. The mastery of gravity, locomotion, the shrinking of our dear globe and the expansion of the world within, the shiver shivering your weight on earth, the you-ness of you, these herculean heights of industrial man draw us down to see the demons that we thought we’d escaped from back round Westphalia, as we left Shakespeare in the dust . . . with our case of railway spine― Δ Lover, hold me. Hold me tighter in this night. We are going through, a Krispy Kreme, under the heat, into the mouth of God. Lover, this our embrace must hold. We are small and the world is wide, so hold fast for yourself, and for me. Hold fast, woman, inside that secret world in your head, hold fast because this our transmission, our hurtling, our escape, our tragedy, the goat song that we must sing to deny the gods we knew and find new ones who will be unfamiliar and will fear us, whose followers will―well, who knows. Just hold me tight, honey. Who knows what the fuck. Δ He observes the train in motion. This is already a problem. But we are before the readjustment. We are here before the readjustment, hurtling forward to the next plateau, to the next confusion, through this confusion, which is confusing, which is our train in motion, he observes it. What is the readjustment? To use a hated phrase, it’s a really nasty paradigm shift. But this one takes a long time, a long slow time, a terrifying time before we know a reasonable number of the whys. He cannot know this. But part of him does, sensing the innocence of the arc of his travel, he and his woman, for even 47
here, half-nightmare, he is still solid and approachable, still serene and logical, still a man in a place that frightens him. Δ We who loved. We who loved, more than you did, not only us but the idea of us, the molds and cadences that we were, that we had agreed to, even if never out loud, if never in writing, we wrought us not so long ago, a dozen generations or less, but it never takes long to betray. We who loved, who were more, who were grand, and fearless, we who hoped that we would be strong when it counted: winnowed now through corridors unknown our very names may well be lost, along with our memories, but I suggest that there is a part you may retain, a part on which you may even come to subsist. That part is the knowledge is that something is wrong, and though you may have forgotten what it is, we have not. Like the conquered of so many cities (though it’s more than cities now), you laid your arms down without firing a round, sure in your delusion that it would be all right, that it would be all right this time. Southland. The region of the sun. Can you still learn? Will you let the weather lull you all to sleep? Southland. We are fighting for you. Δ I sing of the muster and the make. I sing of the ringworld and the rake. I grieve for these lanced eyes, and the weirfull melodies sans fish or thought, the weeping strings of our heated breath, our tired souls, as we beat the skin of our backs to drive us into deeper prisons yet.
“There’s, like, eighteen sirens going off right now.” That wasn’t right. I mean to say, “There’s, like, a ton of sirens going off right now,” but I was reading a notification on Facebook reminding me someone was turning eighteen today. I was also eighteen, but on the verge of nineteen, at least, if the apocalypse was just a scam. There were sirens, though, so that meant disaster. Some crazy robbing the Wawa or a fire caused by a Mayan god, avenging his people killed by our (our?) people hundreds of years ago. Good for him. “No, it’s just Santa, he’s on the fire truck.” The first horseman. When could we expect the next three? Δ There was to be, as everyone already knew, a party that night, but still they plastered the campus with flyers advertising the night’s festivities. It was ritualistic, the flyers. The hosts all made them and all knew they were superfluous, but couldn’t shake the habit. They made the flyers and would always make the flyers. And what festivities they were! It was the regular debauchery and fun to be had for all. And you could choose, if you had the spatial knowledge. Go upstairs, and you could drink. Go back down, and there was music. Dancing. Go down the hall, and, especially if you were a straight male, you could find a partner. Just like those old Goosebumps books, the adventure was of your own making. That night, there was a special treat; a band fumbling through some songs. Until, that is, they lost their drummer to the cloud of smoke outside the house. There was a scramble for the mic; a wild haired girl came out the victor. “I am the prophetess and you motherfuckers will follow me!” The motherfuckers who had reached that unquestioningly obedient level of intoxication followed her outside. The rest, I 49
guess, didn’t hear her call. “Look at the fucking sky!” The prophetess’ flock wondered why it was still so dark when there were three orbs hanging in the sky. Had anyone there studied astrophysics, they would have been wondering how they were still alive. The sound of a slamming door interrupted their reverie; someone was leaving the house. “I don’t get it,” the interrupter said, despaired. “How is this campus so dry?” He wasn’t addressing the prophetess—he was completely unaware of her, her gang, and the three suns hanging in the night sky. Δ The beer was weak, watery. What he had wanted was something strong in preparation for this meeting. And the waiter, flummoxed by his refusal to specify a brand, had brought this with the assurance that it had the highest proof of all the beer on tap. Beer, even beer has fallen victim to the cheapness of modernity, he thought, pushing the glass aside. Well, after this little business was taken care of perhaps he could implement a return to the Old World brew. The man had picked a table tucked into a nook of the lobby as to avoid being too much of a presence, but feared, in retrospect, that his companion would not be able to find him. Really, he did not stand out that much. Yes, he was tall and the black suit and bowler were both of a different season and decade, but the urban Iraqis were used to these strange Westerners and their silly fashions. Eventually, they knew, he would ditch that outfit for some more weather appropriate garb. And then, nearing the end of his trip, he would pick up some traditional clothing to bring back home as a token of his worldliness. The man, however, was unaware of his regularity. He had simply put on the newest clothes he owned. He saw his companion enter the hotel and scan the lobby. He thought about standing up and getting the man, who was of a 50
similar height yet more outlandishly dressed, wearing a tolstovka and pants that appeared to be made of leather, but instead remained seated and willed him over through eye contact. “Been in Russia, have you?” he said, when the man took a seat at the table. “Oh, yes, it was grand time, really. The people, they are so, how you say, changeable. I get over there, and I tell them the tsar no good and they revolution. Then I tell them, new leader also no good, and they get rid of him. It is shame I couldn’t stay longer, so much fun to be had there.” He knew his companion had not been adjusting well, but it seemed he had fallen even further behind. His English was abominable! And while they didn’t need to know modern English or proper dressing customs or any of the other nonsense he had to research every day, it certainly would help their enterprise. He could only hope his Mandarin was better. “Well, this is much more important than Russia, my dear friend. And I’m sure you recognize that.” “Oh yes, I am aware.” He too had to admit that the last millennium had been fun. Memories of that plague—the bodies piled up on the streets, the sweet, sweet scent of ubiquitous decay, the feeble rituals of the humans, and their moaning, their constant moaning!warmed his insides. But he shook these thoughts away. He had matured since then and needed to focus on the task at hand.
All rights reserved, 2013.
Our fourth issue. Poetry by Danny P. Barbare, John Grey, Katherine Steiger, Frederick Pollack, Shelly Bryant, Rhiannon Thorne, and Giuseppi...