A Spirit of Love is How I See God: Dorothea Lasky, Emails

[Over several months Dorothea Lasky and I have been slowly exchanging notes to one another. We touched on a few subjects. We wrote with various expression and urgency. Lasky's new book, Black Life, is out from Wave.]

WOLF: Rabbi Avraham Kook wrote, "Wisdom increased through the envy of writers is destined to lead to corruption, precisely because it was born of envy." Would you, please, reflect on the role (or the terrible weight) envy plays in the life of a poet, and in the community of poets?

And also, does the "spirit of love" have something to do being a poet?

LASKY: Let me first ask you: What do you mean by the life of a poet and especially the community of poets? I, for one, feel like I might be able to answer in terms of the life of a poet, but I might get hung up in the community part. Mostly because as a poet I don't know that I feel like I belong to a community. At least a living one. I think poets live in communities of language and language that is divorced from communities of people, even so much so as the two are so intimately intertwined. But tell me what you mean.

I like what Rabbi Avraham Kook is writing here, although I'd love to have some more context to his quotation. I think envy plays a large role in the life of a poet, but maybe as much so as it does everyone. I am envious of many things that others' have and I know that this feeling can lead to corruption. Corruption of myself and also the whole world. But envy is natural, no? And do you think envy is part of the path of a poet or a writer? And if so, how? And if so, how is this envy related to knowledge and language creation? And if so, why?

Questions always make me think of questions I have.

I like this spirit of love question the best. Yes, I do think that the spirit of love has something to do with being a poet. I think that poets create love in the world by making language new and beautiful, which in turn, keeps language alive and beautiful for all people. If this is not the spirit of love, then I do not know what love is.

What do you think?

WOLF: When I refer to the "community of poets" I very much mean the human company that many poets keep. The poets they drink with, and read with, and live with, and are published with--and also the poets they see from afar, never meet, though perhaps read. This is a "living" community of poets.

Of course, I appreciate your notion of living within of a "community of language." Certainly this is also true. In my experience though, the community of language *can* be a much more forgiving community, a community ridden with a lot less anxiety for poets, than the community built of other breathing artists.

Is that a fair assessment?

The Spirit of Love, in my mind, contrasts the force of envy. The community of poets might witness itself as a single project. When a poem is published within this community, it is victory for all. But the fact is there is often great enmity and envy between poets within a single community. Yes, this envy can encourage poets to sit down and get working. But it can also be debilitating.

Are you more likely encouraged or debilitated by envy? And what is the subtle relationship between those two pieces?

Here is the full Kook quote:

"Wisdom increased through the envy of writers is destined to lead to corruption, precisely because it was born of envy. And all corruption gives off a stench, and this is the wisdom of writers, which will stink with the coming of the Messiah. By means of this stench its previous aspect will be erased, and the light of the soul of wisdom that is above all envy, above the wisdom of writers, will start to shine. This is a wisdom that will shine forth from a new song and a new name which the Lord will grant us. 'And his beauty shall be like the olive tree's and fragrance like that of Lebanon.' [Hos. 14:7]"

LASKY: It makes sense to me that you think a community of language is much less anxiety-ridden than a community of poets, who are living. This is why I prefer a community of language!! I guess the flip side could be too--that a living community of poets could be more nourishing than a community of language. Has this ever occurred for you? I feel like this loosely happened for me at UMass, where there was a group of poets I was around most days who nurtured my creativity and were inspiring. But I hesitate to call them a community, particularly because it feels too tight a bound on the idea. Have you ever felt inspired and nourished by a group of poets or a living poetry community? I would hope that we both have. I think this is the hope of MFA programs and I do think it is possible. How do you feel about it? And how do you differentiate between poetry communities and communities of other kinds of artists?

I am seeing now what you mean by a Spirit of Love and how it might drive a community and the creativiity of its members. I completely, completely believe in this possibility. A Spirit of Love is how I see God. A Spirit of Love is possible, I think, in a community of artists, but like anything great, it is a fleeting spirit and can be hard to control. But I wish it were that the world had more of it. As a poet, I've gotten a bit cynical that there is any way for it to be in full force, long term. What do you think?

I think I am debilitated by envy, especially creatively. But I think this debilitation can produce a kind of twisting life and art that is still worth pursuing, but is kind of awful nonetheless. I don't mean awful, like bad, like bad art. I mean awful, like scary and kind of not productive. I am not sure if envy is ever encouraging. How do you feel? What do you think? Why does envy interest you?

Another question, where you are living now, do you feel like there is a community of poets around you?

WOLF: You say: "But I think this debilitation can produce a kind of twisting life and art that is still worth pursuing, but is kind of awful nonetheless. I don't mean awful, like bad, like bad art. I mean awful, like scary and kind of not productive. I am not sure if envy is ever encouraging. How do you feel? What do you think? Why does envy interest you?"

That's really the question, isn't it. What am I wheeling off a litany of questions about envy?

But you're really on to something, seeing how these "twisting" formations of our lives help paint an inner-landscape that is complicated and "worth pursuing." Many poets are very good lingering in those gnarly places of human (self)relation: envy, fear, (but also) awe, etc. These poets send back remarkable reports, visions, accounts, poems.

And yet I want to ignite in my heart a fire of love that burns so intensely and with such ferocious heat that all those small stones of envy and anger explode and vaporize around me.

And you hold these two places in your two hands, and you go back and forth. And, certainly, there is some merit in doing that.

LASKY: I think there is merit is going back and forth, yes. It is the most human thing to do. A fire and heat of love that we could imagine that might ignite the small stones of envy and anger might be too an exalted place for us to be in every second of every day, as we are just human. And being human, I think, is the place where poetry can exist best. Human poetry, flirting with a burning eternity, is the poetry that can create communities, both living and dead. This is what I like to assume. This is why poets, who are creators of new language, are special people in the world.

I think a lot about how language itself is a series of objects that mediates all sorts of scales of human communities (individual, familial, social, world). I think often of the Jabes quotation: "The letters of the alphabet are stages of death turned into signs." I think everyday about Vygotsky's discussion of language in Mind in Society, in which language is a tool of the social. In the end, language always becomes the social, the human. Language everyday, everday language, is just as ephemeral and as lasting in the minds of others as our own bodies. Or maybe so, only so much in what they both do. If one lives a life in which they give off human power by really connecting with people (on whatever scale that this occurs), then there is something eternal there. If one writes poetry that connects with people, that sticks, on whatever scale that it can occur, then there is something eternal there. Envy among writers is stopping before the connection and thus, resisting the eternity. And I think you and I might agree that this is a bad thing for the world. I hope others might agree with us, too. I am pretty sure a lot of people do.

A Fist-Sized Hairy Spider That Squeezed Out of My Left Nostril: Tom Burke

[Very new work by my old friend, Tom Burke. As I remarked to him, these excerpts from a developing novel, Everett and the Cosmos, remind me of my own strange exploits and adventures which ended up sealed in journals. How interesting it is to go back and spy quick glances of those times. Amongst other great pieces, Tom wrote a poignant essay about his relationship with his memorable downstairs neighbor, Bonnie Ascher, may her memory be for a blessing. I'll see if I can dig up a link to that.]

from Everett and the Cosmos

I loved the motorcycle taxis in Pingnan—even now, thinking about it
makes me want to own a motorcycle, but I never will, too much of a
pussy. Sometimes when I was out drinking with my Chinese friends, at
the end of the night I’d get myself back to the school gates, then I’d
flag down a motorcycle taxi for a ride—it made sense to me that if I
started at home, I could explain that I wanted to end up back at the
same place. In any event, that’s all my Chinese could accommodate. At
first, these motorcycle taxi drivers couldn’t understand what I was
asking them to do—“get out of the lights of the city and drive fast”
wasn’t in my vocabulary. But, after about a half dozen drunken rides,
I think rumors spread about me within the drivers, and it got easier.
You could see stars on some nights, once you got away from the lights.
And in the dark, I imagined the land on either side of the road was
primeval. It was actually drained swampland and razed villages.

The bouncing floor disco, where the dance floor—on risers, and made of
flexible metal sheets—actually bounced. Every Saturday night at
midnight, the dance floor was cleared and there was a performance by a
troop of six midgets. Three would run onto the stage in traditional
Chinese military uniforms; they’d do a quick karaoke number to a
Communist marching ballad—accompanied by acrobatics—and then the other
three midgets would come out, interrupting the show, toting rifles and
waving a Japanese flag. They battled, the Japanese soldiers died
dramatic, limb-twitching deaths, and Chinese national anthem played.
This bar also had men who massaged your back while you stood at the
urinal. Dino danced with a female Japanese midget soldier there one
night—that same night, he fell off the dance floor and knocked over a
waitress who was carrying four pitchers of beer. He looked pathetic
splayed on the floor. We were the only non-Chinese in the place.

I dreamed that I died the night before I left for China; in the dream
I was a grunt—rucksack and fatigues—roughing it knee deep in a bog
surrounded by dense rainforest when three dark figures high in the
canopy used automatic weapons to make mincemeat of my torso. Gasping
in a puddle, I didn’t just feel death coming, but I existed for a
moment after my death where everything went black, was not just absent
of light but devoid of everything. My life seems marked by these
intense dreams, like the morning after the first time I had sex with a
relative stranger without a condom. I woke up in the morning, still
very drunk, to a nightmare featuring a fist-sized hairy spider that
squeezed out of my left nostril and scampered over and around my body
at a speed twice that of my reflexes. Or camping at high altitude when
I experienced my only wet dream: a nonsexual and strange off road
racing adventure in a dune buggy with my brother’s high school
girlfriend whose motion sickness manifested in my lap.

I had a crush on one of the English teachers at my school, Cherry. I
really dug her, thought maybe I had a chance, but then I got an invite
to her wedding. I was glad to experience a traditional wedding, but
got severely drunk; everyone did, but I got drunker. I was one of the
last people at the party. Cherry’s relatives and William were trying
to teach me how to play Mahjong, but I was too drunk. I had to throw
up at one point, but when I ran to the bathroom, the toilette was
broken so I threw up some rice and pigeon that stunk of bijou into my
hand, and tossed it out the window, which I had to step on an upturned
bucket to do because the window was so high up. I swallowed the rest
back down, then said my goodnights. I took an awesome motorcycle ride
that night. It was damp and cool out, and my driver took us whizzing
past a half mile row of neon lights shaped like palm trees that I’d
never seen before.

Awww-Man Cops: More Anna Vitale

[I don't know about the rest of you, but for months I've been walking around saying, "My tits break a cuke." Here she is again, that rough master from Detroit, Anna Vitale.]

both thugs

99 nickels and dimes
ten chrome flips
I hit the bone
mission/ monat
thugs’ drive
rolled/ showed
nine quad flesh

lovin his
I’m done
catch sleep
stand down
your feet
won’t stand
up, the grind
creepin up
then doom/ natural
lovely/ funny

awww-man cops
my ass behind a tree
game is easy/
grip stacks
99 ways

hood red grip pump blood
nothin to lose, goin down instead of pumping
running things I take into the dark

creepin back up
the day/ son cash/ partner
was hungry/ stolen
temple/ simple bang/ run
dealin/ chillin/ stealin


People admit they’re scared of punks
in a hydroshell they’re about to live in.
The bass has a boom in it and it also
has a boyfriend or a man. The honey
is hard to stop. Spring. It’s a mood in a shell.
Faithful good loving in spring, you know
reality because a decent girl is living out
justice and harmony. It’s hard to make
the honey stop. Play-

hitting through winter sometimes feels
inferior. People raise money, I raise
hell. Sitting on the rag-top, bitch saw
a blinker as inferior to really wanting. The world-
shank, high and low, Dr. Dre has been around
the world and I’ll never know what
it feels like! Snoop Doggy Dogg around
the world and, still, it seems they’re not around!
Here: a kiss with dazzy dukes. Get loose.
Smack me. I’ll smack you exactly,
but ‘gainst the wall. Everybody, sliding
the open door, whipped
down the hall.


likes? niggaz? doggs? types? hands? minutes? khakis? fingernails? bubbles? bitches? bucks? socks? chucks? days? guys? steps? kids? socks? rocks? shoes?

say/ eat/ sing/ go/ party/ cause/ bother/ rock/ rock/ see/ cause/ create/ listen/ say/ woke/ gave/ went/ wash/ threw/ put/ said/ slipped/ used/ got/ am/ put/ can/ threw/ take/ got/ am/ threw/ stepped/ stopped/ forgot/ ran/ bumped/ said/ am/ love/ said/ said/ tried/ said/ broke/ grabbed/ give/ love/ said/ gave/ said/ says/ am/ says/ am/ be

nigga? dick? shit? trouble? mic. mic. mic. health? condition? mission? shit? mornin. stretch. yawn. bathroom? soap? face? cup? mirror. mirror. wall. rubble? mirror? bastard? beef? leaf. oil. skin. file? style? tub? bath? body. hair. underwear. powder? cologne? house? indo? alley. smoker. girl. life? dope? eye? mother? mother. face. eye. belly? feet? child? concrete? bitch. sack. dick. play? love? bitch? mother? hit. bitch. mother. pussy? lover?

The Cabin’s Name is Ben Fama: Two Poems of Ben Fama

[Here's a couple of tremendous poems by the great Ben Fama. Ben is the dreamer behind SUPERMACHINE, the literary magazine and reading series. And I offer all apologies for not getting his poems posted until today.]

Glitter Pills

To live a serious life

that’s a fucked up thing

I would have to rent out a cabin

beneath terrible angels

if I get old wipe the dust off my tits

I should have a serious log cabin

the cabin’s name is Ben Fama.

find directions on the internet

when you want to leave you can

I’ll stay there just me and my heart

bigger than the sun

Joe Brainard's 21st Tan

Opened like the funnies

a picture stuffed into another picture's frame

the sky becomes gray, no candles lit

this reality will not suffice

if it isn't cosmic it isn't anything

I once thought a mind could take hold

of the sea, asked to marry the moon

it's raining and I'm going out

maybe Joe Brainard will show up

maybe a diamond will fall

all the things he talked about

still make the poem a surprise

Katie died surfing

I too know the sorrow of wanting love

refuse to tame my vulgar emotions

Joe Brainard are you lost like me?

and I'd like to go home the long way if I remember

Baberle is Dying: Tomaz Salamun

[Back to the basics of what we are saying, here are three poems from Tomaz Salamun. All three are translated by Michael Thomas Taren.]


A dusk in summer?
Mushrooms in summer.
A chirping in Bohinj, putti mine a dew.              

Where in abundance?
There in abundance.
A bent head, a wheat in a grave.

What story telling?
This story telling.
The sea splashes, in the sleeve the first stalk is drawn.

Where on a stone?
There on a stone.
Baberle is dying, rue St. Jacques.

My command?
Your command.
Horses trot and stop before the night.

When Watteau?
Now Watteau..
We love grapes, brogues on the trails.             

Who is permeable?
He is permeable.
The beads roll, the marinated sex.

A bridge to the sky?
Wheat to the sky.
We play with God’s sun, we surmise wood.



I hear, earthworms and Perun                                  
pens for herds of cattle, bats torn apart                        
I stand on the asphalt, I sleep armed
the time has for us come to divide light, shepherd

to you the south, lusting for fruits
to me the north, taciturnity and passion
to you ascent, horses to flare                     
to me pursuit of the sun, the night blaze

we won't alloy into one, the time is to incise           
let our souls have the frame, not the door
the fire for birth and death, we, two little carpenters
the sword and material, austerity of the craft

let the birds be like tusks of weight
when death comes, after death the lava
let her take off gifts, we'll be light as a shout                        
like black cold quails at the bottom of the pit        

I want a verse as taut as bamboo
buffalos’ anathema, Satan’s hard planks
snails’ anathema, flabbiness of those succumbed in wars                                                                       
worms! I want a carpet of hunger to heaven’s gates

I want fanfare, splendor, genuflection
the service of the priests, blind churning of the crowds
I, the king, want blessing for the slaughter
from Your Hands O Lord, a pillar for the abyss

I want a scepter, a gift for black lips
dry crackling pretzels, silk of Lilliput
I smell mattresses on rusty hooks
brushwood in my arms, I smell wounds in shrieks

bread anathema, lodged wheat of the dead lineage    
ants drowned in bogs, punctured moths
travelers & sailors, juniper, holy sites
I crush the gravel in souls, I drink glory

Introverted Mystical Types: A Message from WIAF

[Dear Reader

The Wolf apologizes for the unannounced hiatus over the past month. 

In the weeks ahead, please look forward to the resumption of poetry and errata. 

When the Maggid of Mezeritch,         at last,

visited the Ba'al Shem Tov, he found the latter

sitting with a small candle atop his head,

dressed in wolf's skin.]

Bacon Ranch Pringle of Death: Steven Zultanski Returns

[Our tremendous friend, Steven Zultanski, is back for another visit.]

Six Poems About Pringles

Touched by a Pringle

Touched by a Sour Cream & Onion Pringle
Touched by a Pizza Pringle
Touched by a Spicy Guacamole Pringle
Touched by a Jalapeño Pringle
Touched by a Barbeque Pringle
Touched by a Loaded Baked Potato Pringle
Touched by a Ranch Pringle
Touched by a Cheddar Cheese Pringle
Touched by a Original Pringle
Touched by a Bacon Ranch Pringle
Touched by a Salt & Vinegar Pringle

Pringles & Demons

Loaded Baked Potato Pringles & Demons
Salt & Vinegar Pringles & & Demons
Bacon Ranch Pringles & Demons
Ranch Pringles & Demons
Cheddar Cheese Pringles & Demons
Pizza Pringles & Demons
Spicy Guacamole Pringles & Demons
Sour Cream & Onion Pringles & Demons
Jalapeño Pringles & Demons
Barbeque Pringles & Demons
Original Pringles & Demons

Earth Pringle

Earth Jalapeño Pringle
Earth Ranch Pringle
Earth Sour Cream & Onion Pringle
Earth Bacon Ranch Pringle
Earth Salt & Vinegar Pringle
Earth Pizza Pringle
Earth Cheddar Cheese Pringle
Earth Loaded Baked Potato Pringle
Earth Spicy Guacamole Pringle
Earth Original Pringle
Earth Barbeque Pringle

Pringleina Jolie

Bacon Ranch Pringleina Jolie
Jalapeño Pringleina Jolie
Pizza Pringleina Jolie
Barbeque Pringleina Jolie
Cheddar Cheese Pringleina Jolie
Original Pringleina Jolie
Ranch Pringleina Jolie
Loaded Baked Potato Pringleina Jolie
Spicy Guacamole Pringleina Jolie
Sour Cream & Onion Pringleina Jolie
Salt & Vinegar Pringleina Jolie

Pringle of Death

Salt & Vinegar Pringle of Death
Barbeque Pringle of Death
Cheddar Cheese Pringle of Death
Spicy Guacamole Pringle of Death
Loaded Baked Potato Pringle of Death
Bacon Ranch Pringle of Death
Pizza Pringle of Death
Sour Cream & Onion Pringle of Death
Ranch Pringle of Death
Original Pringle of Death
Jalapeño Pringle of Death

Every Times a Bell Rings, A Pringle Gets Its Wings.

Every time a bell rings, an Original Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Jalapeño Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Bacon Ranch Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Ranch Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Barbeque Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Loaded Baked Potato Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Salt & Vinegar Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Sour Cream & Onion Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Cheddar Cheese Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Pizza Pringle gets its wings.
Every time a bell rings, a Spicy Guacamole Pringle gets its wings.

Sometimes He Wore a Shroud About His Head and Neck. Sometimes He Pretended to Weep: Richard Froude

[In another edition of "It Came from Denver," Seth Landman points us toward the writings of Richard Froude. In Seth's own words, "I'm sort of hazed on codeine because of strep throat and have been having a tough time thinking today, but I feel that I should say that Richard is one of my favorite people in the whole state of Colorado."

Richard is, most recently, the author of The History of Zero (Candle Aria, 2008). With Erik Anderson and Anne Waldman he co-edits the mail art magazine Thuggery & Grace. 

In Richard's words, "This is an excerpt from a project called Fabric...I was interested in how things move between dream and waking life and back...you can read more excerpts from the project in recent issues of Bombay Gin, Tarpaulin Sky and Pageboy, or online at Parcel and Conjunctions.]

Oceanography #2 (from FABRIC)

_    _    _

From the road it could be a power station, a postmodern cathedral where they will feed us? But it is neither: the abattoir that serves villages all the way from the river to the edge of the woods. This, because we are so hungry, and as Jackie so likes to point out, is our lady fortune in disguise.

My job is to cart the disembodied heads of lambs from the refuse pile to the incinerator in a metal wheelbarrow. I wear a rubber apron and thick black gloves. Jackie says this proximity to death is just what we need but he doesn’t say why we need it. I am more disturbed by our proximity to youth. How close to its birth does a lamb need to be slaughtered to still be considered a lamb?

_    _    _

In the house where we learnt music there was a green staircase where ghosts were. The door to the green staircase had no lock but we had been told by our teachers not to open it. At the top of the staircase was a green room with high set windows and old schooldesks. I didn’t see a ghost in the room. I saw an open wardrobe and old clothes spilt out onto the desks. A black top hat, a cloak with red lining, white linens.

The next day a man came. He could recite the Gospel of John from memory so we sat in rows in the assembly hall. Sometimes he wore a shroud about his head and neck. Sometimes he pretended to weep. I don’t remember much of the Gospel of John, just the man standing at the front of the stage shouting ‘Lazarus! Come forward!’  It was 12 years later, in the house where Alfred died that I learned how I could talk to ghosts.

_    _    _

In Page, Arizona, on a street of eight different churches, a car dealership rises where the town fades back into the desert. With the purchase of a new vehicle comes a free goat. But those aren’t goats. They are lambs. They are in a small pen on the highway side of the property. There are balloons that mark them there and a banner. Free lambs. And they are alive. This morning I saw a fox running through traffic on 6th Avenue at Clarkson. Every evening we eat offal except Tuesdays when we walk through the snow to Giotto’s house.

He fries whitebait in goose lard on his one-ring stove. Once he served us tiny black shrimp he’d caught at the docks with a syringe, a length of carpenter’s twine and a net he claimed to have woven from hair. The next morning Jackie sat doubled in the corner of the slaughterhouse vomiting blood into a general issue blue bucket. Some of the others thought this was funny. The floor that we work on, the main floor, they call it the ‘blood flats.’

They are driving to the city tonight. A man has come to talk about God and reptiles. I wonder if this is the city we saw from the road, months ago when we were hungry. Jackie tells me a dream he had as a child: I sell everything I own and walk into the woods. I build a house inside an oak tree. Life becomes acorns and silence.

_    _    _

Dear Gretl: I know that an American book is a book of movement. I know that movement is only seldom accompanied by silence. On her first night in the hospital, Marjorie heard a heart monitor flatline. It was the heart monitor of a woman two beds down on the opposite side of the ward. This is the ward to which I always return.

Marjorie had thought she was dying. But it was the woman opposite who was dying. What disturbed her most was that she could feel no seams as she passed between worlds. Dying felt exactly the same as being alive.

In the morning a man came to consecrate the space that the woman had left. He wore a black top hat and a cloak. He chanted prayers in a language that neither of us knew. Marjorie said that foreign languages could be our secret lives. The man shook ashes over the bed. When he left, I asked Marjorie if she wanted anything from the canteen. The menu was a blackboard and the prices were written with yellow chalk. I didn’t eat anything. I just stared at the blackboard. Dear Gretl: This is the tariff that I know by heart.

_    _    _

Soon we will leave the slaughterhouse. Giotto told us of poppy fields that surround the city. Near the hospital, closer to the water, is the church of Our Lady Star of the Sea. In the park opposite is a miniature golf course that reproduces the various landmarks of the harbor. Here is the lifeboat. The guildhall. The helter skelter and lighthouse. It costs 25 pence to walk to the end of the pier but the helter skelter is free if you don’t mind the queue. Before you climb the stairs a man will give you a mat woven from sackcloth. The causeway to the lighthouse is submerged at high tide. Check the times before you leave. Be careful. Check the tides.

Will we meet ghosts on our journey?


Should we call our journey a pilgrimage?

A ghost is an impossible literature.
Contained in each unsatisfactory moment is the promise of the next.
Whenever I try to transcribe this conversation, I end up rewriting our story.
A cloud, small as a man’s hand, is rising from the sea.

The Problem is that Astronauts are Sexually Insecure: A Story by Joanna Ruocco

[Inshallah, the first in a series of Denver-based suggestions from that manly man, Seth Landman. Please meet Joanna Ruocco. Joanna's novel The Mothering Coven came out last year on Ellipsis Press, and her short story collection, Man's Companions, is coming out this year from Tarpaulin Sky.

In Seth's own words, "Joanna is well versed in elixirs and has many, many friends." Without further ado...]


It’s not the zero gravity that gets him off.  He’s done it, in zero gravity, maybe a thousand times, maybe more times.  He doesn’t keep track.  Astronauts don’t notch their belts.  Astronaut suits need to stay airtight.  Notches are hazardous for astronauts.  Also, astronauts are gentlemen. 

“Zero gravity fucking is just fucking,” he says, but I have to disagree.  For me, zero gravity fucking is definitely zero gravity fucking. 

We were fucking in zero gravity.

“Wow,” I said.   

“This is amazing,” I said.

“You’re amazing,” he said, like a gentleman, to reciprocate, as if by “this” I had actually meant him.  He’s not completely crazy.  “This is amazing” may very well mean “you are amazing,” because sometimes people are imprecise or inhibited with language while fucking.  I didn’t mean he was amazing, though.  I meant the zero gravity was amazing.  I didn’t mean that he wasn’t amazing, but it was impossible to tell. I will either have to do it with him in zero gravity a thousand times so that the novelty of zero gravity wears off or I will have to do it with him in nonzero gravity, in regular gravity, in a bed.  Another option is that he gives me the key to the zero gravity room and I bring some one else into the zero gravity room. Then I fuck this other person, in zero gravity.  He doesn’t seem to like any of these options.  He seems unhappy.  I think he has a complex about fucking. 

“We can just fuck occasionally,” I say.  “In zero gravity.”

“You’d like that,” he says.

“Of course,” I say.

“The zero gravity,” he says.  “You’d like that.” 

“Right,” I say.  Then I say, “I like you too.”

The problem is that astronauts are sexually insecure.  I want to give him some advice. 

“Look,” I want to say, “if you’re so indifferent to zero gravity just forget about it as an option, for fucking.”  There’d be no confusion—do we have good chemistry, is it just the zero gravity, etc. Problem solved. Of course, women might not fuck him anymore.  I might not fuck him.  He might be ruining a perfectly good thing. That’s why I try to not to take advice. 

Break the Calf’s Neck By the River: Seth Parker

[Here is a deep pocket's worth of Seth Parker. Editor of the Skein journal...a long-lifed, hand-bound publication. Visit him in Marietta, Georgia, off of Lower Roswell Road.]


I’m a bed that cried
I can see the starter-butt
darling ass
I can’t complain that the pain in a horror
walkin’ in the seashine
darling ass long as Hugo
And what do I need?
To know


Bits of red hives
alone at this lonely babe-lock
no one’s too Blaine
there’s a fight reported in the wash-drive
his MoonPie, and the roaring
it saw some powers
bland and red kimono
this wild thing on the rung


My days, a lawn
I went to found
I’d replant the garden wall
wear an unlit kilt
an ancient mane
bathe alive in roil and wonder
the bountied labor
every man in swich licouer
common through it all
who could complete the river Seine?
memory rush over me now I step into the Sun


Break the calf’s neck

by the river, the gleanings
of a vineyard

The tunnels bust with
mirrors of a hundred bronzes

Alpine, erogenous
vista, remark this door of smoke

I guide my fear past the glass Her

On a cold damp night
you misjudge glass for
genuine flesh


Lo-fi lonely sai
password white

now you move with the Thai

white nights


The smiling face is a frown, can bring
love within a mule

Bride-days ahead,
bitter tears course through life
because life is OK

A smiling face you don’t have to see
wears a Christmas chain


The tragic mind is breaking apart
and the hind is melted
becoming, who knows?, beheaded by light
everyone gets fluid in the dusk
and they break up with their girlfriends
every day

If I Gave Up Concerns About Permanence (And Ego), Could I Still Make Art? Nicolle Donnelly

[Another smart direction pointing a la Hailey Higdon, the art of Nicole Donnelly. She was pleasant enough to answer a few questions. Some tremendous spatial, textural things going on here. I particularly like the fossil duplicates.]

WOLF: This morning I was out talking a jog in the park and saw a couple of boys dragging around large pine tree branches. Hmm, I thought. Is there a corner of human nature that compels us to rearrange our surroundings? And does this have to do with being an artist?

ND: I do think restructuring our environment is part of human nature -- if only looking at the instinctual impulse to build shelter of some sort. Visual art, of course, bears a resemblance to and is perhaps an extension of this practice, and there are more and less invasive/disruptive/destructive ways of rearranging our surroundings. In my art, my approach can be described as minimalist at times, but I like to think of it as making minimal impact on the environment for a maximum effect. When I am creating an installation or building a sculpture, I try to use only the most essential materials - those which can be found native to the area -- and using as few as possible "man-made" supplies. This stems not only from an environmental concern about conservation, but also comes as a response to the commodification of the art object, ie. selling artwork for money. I asked myself a question a year and a half ago: If I could no longer purchase materials or take anything with me, if I gave up concerns about permanence (and ego), could I still make art? The answer is resoundingly yes.

: Do you experience something like moments of awe while you paint? What are those moments about?

ND: My background as an artist is in making paintings (and I still make paintings despite my recent installations and public sculpture). While in the act of painting, or the act of drawing, I don't know that I would classify what I feel as "moments of awe," per se. At its best, painting and drawing are an active meditation, and I am a conduit filtering the visual information I feel compelled to render. This involves daydreaming or imagination to an extent, but it's also a physical response to the materials I am working with: paints and brushes responding to canvas, or charcoal and pencil responding to paper. It's a physical response to texture, pressure, and the resistence or ease of the materials themselves. Sometimes my mind is transported far away from everything, sometimes I am focused on the physicality of the material, and sometimes I am sifting through memories and trivialities of the everyday. The moments of awe seem to come afterwards, when I stand back and see what I've made with new eyes. The kinds of imagery that spring from me are sometimes strange, sometimes beautiful, sometimes frightening, but I try to welcome all of it.

WOLF: I have always struggled with sleep. Do you sleep well?

ND: I like sleep well enough now, although I struggled with it from an early age (I had to train myself to sleep and learn to calm my brain). But often when I can't sleep or am just dozing, I will see the most beautiful images for a painting or sculpture, and I'll grab a pad and pencil to jot it down - take notes about color or draw out the forms, try to memorize where it is the most tenuous.

The Fly Wanders Along My Hairless Forearm: Luke Bloomfield, Poeter

[A gaggle of poems by Luke Bloomfield, excellent person, co-editor of notnostrums, man of the valley.]


Taking the day off from modeling
my unimpressive body is not a cakewalk.
Geese psych out so easily with a
warm loaf of spelt. I watch the boys
with bandanas tied around their necks
reluctantly explore a canyon and
I wonder what I’m made of.
I haven’t explored caves in years.
Pushing off from the bank in this borrowed canoe
and going eyeballs into the sunset
provides relief for the pain in my blood.


I am sadly content to watch this cactus grow. This cactus, which grows with unrivaled slowness, is content and not at all sad to watch me paint the wing of a fly. The fly, entirely sad and a little content, worries it will never know the meaning of hermeneutics. So sad as to be marginally content, the cactus subsists on barely anything. Sadly overwhelmed by a vast absence of contentment, the fly wanders along my hairless forearm, crushed by the weight of purpose, thinking “I am just a sad fly, lost in the desert. Who will know I roam in darkness for the remainder of this brief life?” After a quarter century the cactus grows a new appendage. My compassion is in the hands of a higher logic, thus I am limitlessly sad and resignedly content to apply this paint to the fly’s wing. This will be a most superb fly.


There is a hole in
a lost cabin in
a hidden bowl I
am eating peanuts
out of and the moon
is crazy today.


My hammock was the victim
of a crime last night.
They took the accessories
of my hammock, too,
my hammock pillow,
two hammock nails,
and my hammock hammer.
I used to eat cheese fries in my hammock.
I used to drink ice tea
in my hammock
and watch the trees sway
in the hot wind.
But they drank all the ice tea.
And the cheese fries
had had a good working over too.
I go to where my hammock
was and gently rock
in the empty hammock space,
letting the iniquities of life
seep into my psyche
while the pigeons peck
breadcrumbs from my afro.


You climbed inside the duffel bag.
I climbed inside after you
and then we were both inside
the duffel bag, which was bigger
than a big bee hive.
We scoped out the duffel bag
from where we were.
That is, we had found it,
and we said this was it, this
duffel bag. We called
it our home and we hung pictures
on the walls. The pictures sagged
for the walls were saggy
and we swam in the pool
in the duffel bag,
which was like a rock
we built our cathedral on
in the duffel bag,
smaller than a copse of trees.
The Saints’ cemetery
had a little plot in the duffel bag
and white peacocks roosted
in the clerestory
and wandered around the
Lady chapel at day.
We fed them ambrosia salad
from our hands.
We kept the duffel bag tidy
and ornate which befit
the duffel bag.
The duffel bag homed orphans
we raised to be millionaires
with miles of boats
and vineyards whose grapes we jogged
amid while our famous bread
baked in the oven.
When the hills caught fire
we reclined in the
duffel bag and drank beers
and enjoyed the fire show,
breathing the thin arctic lightning.
When the tide went out
we collected sand dollars
and sea cucumbers, which
we laid in the mellifluous belly
of the duffel bag.

A Cat Named Monk Who Lives In and Is From Philadelphia, But Pretends to Be British: Stephanie Marum and Her Paintings

[Furthermore, Hailey Higdon suggested we get to know Stephanie Marum. Hailey described Stephanie as, "primarily a set designer, but [she] has been making these strange cat paintings that I love in the secrecy of her house and it'd be nice to get them out and let some other people see them." Stephanie's favorite things are desserts, animal-watching, and daydreaming. Her descriptions of what is going on here follow.]

Paca is the tortoise shell colored one.
She is a woman on a mission that which we
as her caretakers haven't been able to determine.
She's insistently telling us something all the time,
but try as we might we don't understand.

Squirrel is the black cat with the sneaky look.
He is most persuasive, and a wuss.
These paintings hang in our house.
The group portrait is of my family as cats.
It was a Christmas gift for my brother,
the 3rd cat from the left. I'm the white hairless one in
the dress.

Most of my personal artwork
is of animals acting like
people. I've been urged to make
more paintings of my cat family,
which I'm working on.
I'm also working on an idea
for a graphic novel
about a cat named Monk
who lives in and is from Philadelphia,
but pretends to be British.
He paints devotional art of his favorite
soccer player and doesn't mesh
well socially with his contemporaries.

Don’t Torture Her Betts, I Want to Take My Spiritual Poverty into Account Before We Do Anything Unreasonable: Theater from Corina Copp

[First in a handful of carefully selected suggestions from Hailey Higdon, is poet and playwright Corina Copp. Corina is the editor of The Poetry Project Newsletter--the new issue of which features translations of Ilse Aichinger as well as poetry by Nathaniel Otting. More of her recent work is out by Antennae. What follows is an excerpt from her play, DON'T MAKE WAVES.]

A scene from DON’T MAKE WAVES


The three women stand outside of the car. They look down at the life-threatening whirpool. Better holds Ryan by the ear. They hear a noise in the woods off right.


What was that


They know we’re here


Who do you work for


Myself, witch

Parakeet slaps Ryan hard across her cheek.


Date of birth


June 11, 1981




Of course, look at her eyes, they’re different colors


Are you or are you not a journalist?




Masseuse what is that

RYAN (nervous)

There was once a Roman captain who said

with the benefit of the wind

they would come. And I was the wind

and so they did come…

As did bunches, hahahaa, enthusiasm

for the delights of theatrical couture. And it helped me,

y’know to pay my bills, and in her therapeutic

community my mother was proud enough.

She only knew so much, I left late, had to rush off

timeagain. They were calling me, all different names, one had a

poodle and a bicycle act


In Boston?


Sheraton, snowflake sweater

Better lets go of Ryan’s ear.




I’m gonna tip-toe around the whirlpool

and avoid mines.

I think we’re being watched. I want to make sure.

And that hat you’re wearing looks ridiculous on you, I don’t know why you wear it.

I’m sweating. My head is going to explode.

No no it’s ok. I’m just going around

the corner. Don’t torture her Betts, I want to take my spiritual

poverty into account before we do anything

unreasonable plus she reminds me of a bedfellow

named Nancy, who incorporated before us, and had those

principles remember she wanted to start a salvation army and

used to stay up late counting, counting on her fingers and toes

all the beds she had ever slept in, skullduggery, but left

her mother out of it wished she hadn’t had a mother

The only way to be true to your country

To sacrifice your family

She is enraged and up close to Ryan, backing her up to the edge of the whirlpool. Ryan is not wearing a hat.


Be careful

Soldiers with bayonets and gas masks begin to appear in the background.


The Swedish mother puts feelings into everything

The German mother stands determined in

The kitchen door, she knows what clothes

to wear and what clothes for her children. Now

the newspapers think they are our mothers because they

believe completely in our depravation. They say western men are doomed western men

have always been doomed, they don’t let their wives

work naked in the flowerbed they are doomed.

Then pain and joy have no social relevance but these

papers will ascribe bank robberies and kidnappings and wrongdoing

before they know who is rightdoing, right.

What effect do you think that has on a little kid locked into fucking upward

mobility but truly without recourse from his

poor tree in shambles on the sidewalk, that’s where he

will always live. Kid doesn’t know liberty has a pedigree,

a noble

aspect? He’ll still try to get out of his hole and will take

whatever Bip down the road with the same color hair

with him…and they’ll fight in the circus or become painters

fight that way doesn’t matter how’s the little

lady bootstraps etc., they read Dostoevsky

They want to describe the world in hysterical fits

to be in the world

What’s unworthy of literature now?

Nothin it’s for all classes!

No classes!

Newspapers used to co-govern with their obstinance

and tabloidal homeland protection, now newspapers will happily compose an opposition of interests for an intellectual

plane of terrorism

is just a documentary movie, it’s not for reshaping

Or am I, mistaken. Am I…grabbing at loose blissful freedom

and licking its anus instead of caressing its fur

It’s my anus too

These ideas of reckoning that are around…!?

My ideas before I, it’s just that I,

the nature of the opposite sex, and green glass bottles of wine, and tea, and song

and bells, you know, these

are gifts and friendships, they don’t determine

class or ascent. They are steely, recognizable ships.

Given a beautiful day where you’re forgotten they will simply

sail away

to dance and motivate like Rita Hayworth

in front of the king

to get his head they want his head. But what am I,

circumscribed and barely holding on…to what…

these travel restrictions are getting tighter…we want

non-hierarchical, we want to brace up, we want

riveting machines instead of passive machines.

Or what if we want to stop wanting, what if

Fuck it you amorous child you don’t know valedictory

work you know erotic massage fuck you.

Parakeet walks off. They are surrounded but don’t yet realize.

PARAKEET (offstage)



BETTER (to Ryan)

This is mostly 70s drivel,

decline of civilization stuff

moral disorientation. I mean I

believe in it

You are Crunked in a Totally Green Dress, You are Paranormal: Francesca Chabrier, Poet

[A cache of terrific poems by the Francesca Chabrier. Seek her out. And one collaborative spot between Francesca and her friend Christopher Cheney.]


Beautiful Australian girls wearing pinafores under the umbrellas of Business Executives in the rain

Beautiful Antarctic girls riding on the backs of dorados, holding fish heads in their cold, dusty, curving arms

Beautiful Hawaiian girls swimming in circles

Beautiful girls from Shangri-la, all Capricorns, all left-handed, chartering helicopters to the Memphis skyline

Beautiful Taino girls giving birth to babies that sleep in glass cradles

Beautiful Swiss girls climbing Mont Blanc in Phys. Ed.

Beautiful Lithuanian girls with blonde hair and golden thighs pencil diving into the Baltic Sea

Beautiful Irish girls playing house on an island otherwise entirely populated by subversive politicians

Beautiful Antiguan girls playing cricket near Galley Bay

Beautiful Earth girls are easy

Beautiful Irish girl, you are crunked in a totally green dress, you are paranormal, you have a headlamp in the grass, you are digging and can see China

Beautiful Korean girls snapping pictures of the dam

Beautiful fed-up, hard-up, knocked-up, locked-up, stuffed-up, worked-up, beat-up girls

Beautiful girls from Brixton who admire all that is gilded and excessive, with a passion for luxury, and a love of Oriental clothes

Beautiful Fijian girls drinking high-quality, reserved, silver needle tea

Beautiful Italian girls working in a factory near Siena that produces mahogany torture racks with platinum chains

Beautiful girls from Zanzibar walking across raffia beams holding handfuls of counterfeit cash

Natural Disasters and then: dancehalls with natural lighting, where natural beauties with natural haircolor & natural instincts play Russian Roulette

Beautiful Spanish girls of Moorish descent, longing to hear music, active in the pursuit thereof, digging for musettes in arenas

Beautiful Romanian girls stretching before breakfast, mounting a single, chalky beam, dismounting perfectly into their coach’s arms

Beautiful girls on experimental diets flying without cargo on a biplane over the coast of Normandy

Beautiful Arab girls sewing puppets of djinns

Beautiful Argentinean girls with clear skin, glossy hair, sound teeth, bright eyes & experience fornicating in all British overseas territories.

Beautiful American girls, completely unmagnificent, holding themselves together by the ends of their braids


You are getting a root canal
at a dentist’s office in Waco.
You do not live in Waco,
and you are still sleepy
from flying. When the stewardess
asked everyone to turn off
their electronic devices, they did,
but you left your walkman on.
The plane was descending
through the part of the sky
where you are in the clouds completely.
A woman was floating.
She was wearing wings
made out of tin foil.
You tapped on the window and said
are you god and she said yes I am god,
and she turned into a sharp edged silver ball.
The ball dropped down faster than the plane,
you felt so overcome
you ripped out your teeth.
When you arrived in Waco
there was a sign that said
Home of the Largest Tin Foil Ball.
There was a parade, you stayed to watch
your favorite band pass by on a float.
You were in pain, you threw your tooth
at the lead singer, he used it as a pick.


There is a popular tree
that lives year round.
Maybe it will live forever
who knows
there is no one
that can touch it.
People come
from all around
to see the popular tree.
It holds a nest
made out of gloves.
I should say that the tree
is not gigantic. It is
about as big as a man
of average size
without a head
or shoulders.
The tree is
so incredible that
when I walk up to it,
my legs shake.
I want to lick
the leaves of the tree.
I want to watch it
get struck by lightening
and turn to neon.
This is not because
I want to destroy the tree.
It’s because sometimes
it is fun to watch things

By Francesca Chabrier & Christopher Cheney

One night you're on a plane
You board it and it's like
like coming home to an empty house
that you left all the lights and radio on
because you were distracted, not safe
And there are hands and faces
pretty women with hairdos under
marine helmets floating down the aisles

Mistrustful Children of Refulgence Flarf: Two Poems by David Kaufman

[A pair of poetries from David Kaufman. David writes about poetry for Tablet Magazine.]

Money As Scenery

The purpose of the present investigation was to develop
and validate an objective self-report instrument

Lanes courts boulevards I don’t
Care about hills fuck hills
They’re still outside fuck evergreens
I obsess about the deciduous
The undecided uncalled for rampant
Yard refulgence amongst the leaves
Not here amongst the hills
Not here behind the trees
Behind this very hill our
House and home our capital
On a stick bringing forth
Trees from branches leaves odd
Mistrustful children of refulgence flarf
And all your beautiful ways

I Can’t Stand Times Square at New Years

For years I lived as
A German Jew now I’m
A Russian manner
Of exuberance ok
Woodpecker ok snow and
Melting snow ok cormorant
Deity and a winter like this well
Yes there’s a girl named Cole called
Coco and Colette she’s
And Miriam as a Jew I hoped
Lucia would be Lulu call
Her Leah call her Ushy call
Her the ukase of my desires I’m
Going crazy with time.

My Face Stays the Same, Slight Smile, Head Gently Nodding: A Pastoral Verbatim

[For all the talk of poetry unlocking universes, there is often "technical writing" working on the raw, real edges of the human experience. The following is the written verbatim of a rabbinical student's pastoral visit to a resident in a Jewish nursing home. The names of the student and resident have been collapsed.]

Background: I visited resident twice in the beginning of the year and then didn’t visit him until a few weeks ago when his friend was killed in a plane crash. I visited him two days in a row after the crash happened and hadn’t seen him for two weeks until this visit.

Date of Visit: 3/12/09
Length of Visit: 30 minutes
Time of Visit: 10 am
Visit number: 5


[Pause for a moment. I focus on being a calm, still presence.]
[Knock on door]

C1: M., it’s S.
R1: Hi, S.

C2: Can I come in?
R2: Sure.

[I enter the room and sit down in the chair by his bed. I decide not to touch his hand since he looks quite unwell.]

R3: I don’t feel so good today.
C3: You don’t look too good.

R4: I’ve been feeling worse and worse. My body is just deteriorating. I’ve been having problems with the catheter and with pain. I’m giving up.
How are you? What have you been up to?
C4: M, I just want to note that you just said something really powerful, that you’re “giving up.”

R5: You know me, that I try to be hopeful and try to have a positive attitude, but lately I am just loosing steam. When the body is in so much pain, it’s hard to be happy-go-lucky.
C5: Can you give yourself permission to feel the hopelessness that you feel?

R6: It’s just that I don’t want to burden you. You’re so nice and you listen to me.
C6: M., I’m really grateful that you’re able to share your suffering with me.

R7: But you shouldn’t have to walk out of here with it.
C7: I give it to God, and it’s helping me grow.

R8: I just have you and G., who volunteers here, no, I think she works here, in recreation. My doctor isn’t helping me. He won’t even give me pain medication. Do you see this little tab (points to his chest)? There is so little pain medication here that it’s not even worth taking. I’m trying to switch doctors. Do you know Dr. G. and Dr. R.?
C8: I just see them in the hallways.

R9: Which one do you think is nicer?
C9: Oh, I don’t know… You know many people in our tradition have felt deep loneliness. Many of the psalms are about someone who is suffering so much that the only thing they can do is to call out to God. Can I share a psalm with you?

R10: I’d like that.

[Takes Bible from M.’s table. While turning to psalm 116 says the line “From the depths I call to you God” in Hebrew and then English. Reads the psalm slowly in English].

R11: I like that. That’s how I’m feeling. You’ll have to mark it so I can read it again.
I’m just giving up. Well, I admit that lately I’ve been hoping to not wake up in the morning. I just want to die peacefully in my sleep.
[He looks at me as if to see my response. My face stays the same, slight smile, head gently nodding]
Actually I’ve been praying before I go to sleep that I shouldn’t wake up in the morning.
But I always wake up.

C10: How do you feel when that happens?
R12: It’s just me against the world.

C11: Just you against the world. [Pause] That sounds incredibly lonely.
R13: It is. I’m just afraid that there is going to be pain in dying. I don’t want any more pain. I can’t take any more. Sometimes my muscles have spasms that are so awful. I can’t even move my foot any more.

[As he is saying this I imagine what it would be like to not be able to move my body. I feel very calm and empathetic]

C12: There’s a lot of fear that you’re holding.
R14: I can’t hold it anymore.

[At this point I am aware of how much time I have spent with M. and that we need to wrap up our conversation for now. I thought about how D. teaches that you can’t leave a person in the depths, but that you have to bring them back out before leaving a pastoral encounter.]

C13: Can I share a song with you? [I explain the words—God is with me and I shall not fear-- and sing the last two lines of Adon Olam. While I’m singing I am aware that what I can give to M is this moment of shared holding]
R15: That’s such a sad tune.

C14: [Laugh] There are more upbeat ones. Do you want to hear one?
[Sing the traditional Adon Olam melody]
R16: Oh, I know Adon Olam. I recognize that. [I smile widely and stand up]
Thank you, S. I am so sorry I had to be a downer but I always feel better after you come.

C15: M., know that you bless me through our visits. Did you have coffee this morning?
R17: Yes, G. brought it.

C16: Good, she’s so sweet.
R18: She is.

C17: Bye, M., thank you.
R19: Thanks, S. See you soon.

Did I Eat the Delicious Banana? An Excerpt from Steven Zultanski

[Emerging from the deep place, Steven Zultanski. Here's a darkened video of the poet.]


There’s a thousand
There’s only one
of me.

I take this to be

The straight-up banality
of insight throws light onto that which had previously appeared
to be throwing light, but is clearly throwing something merely approximate
to light. Such is a shadow, the direct result
of a plausible future in which I am never new
and the president slips on a banana peel.
Did I eat the delicious banana? Yes,
I hope so, but that doesn’t mean I thought far enough ahead
to drop the peel.
I myself remained
inside the lines, and the lines themselves were long.

Unimpressive as I am as a person, I’m distinct enough
if you think of me as a predicament. Before creation,
there must have been only one age. Now I grow older right away.
But at least it’s always a new kind of old, and each new kind is immediately
overpowered by the different sides of the brain which drive
me out. Home is where what I think of as my heart is.
A cold, fully-automated cafeteria in the basement of a hotel.
The only place I’ve ever felt alone enough to engage in this activity
which we refer to as explicitly sexual is here, and the night when it’s out,
when the stars do slump through it. The force of nature is sexual too, but
when the stars do slump through it.

Finding out that your teenager is pregnant can be stressful.

A Buzzard—Here Comes The Night Over Here: Seth Landman

[That man we all know. That man equally at ease beside the shoreline as in the deepest mountain pass. Seth Landman.]

Here Comes the Night

What you know, how to be
a waste of time,

a spigot, my name
down there, walking around.

It feels like fall in the car,

I felt that movie before

in what’s between over
and over,

where I’m watching
how it goes, really,

where it really is on a map.

I didn’t mean
to love you in a dinghy, on an ice floe,

I didn’t think
it would work out.

What’s in the wild
thing about me?

Save me a place in the wild
thing I’m watching over.

In a sea, it doesn’t matter—

walk home,
and when you build
your house, walk home,

lit by a match, singing,
I knew a new me.

It’s been storming, looking up.

Everyone would love
to draw on the ceiling.

What makes you think
every little thing of you
can be what makes you
everything that lasts forever?

I carved there is little left to say.

Every hour out of space
my body tries a crawl inside.

I haven’t felt this way I feel—

a blue conceived in,
an egg I have
always been
a storm.

All your hopes,
your hair, don’t blame me, wait—

a buzzard—here comes the night over here.

What makes the most sense to me,
given aphasia,

is to look up.

And so I follow my friends on the moon,
and people sailing under that are sinister.

I get charmed, I sail, look up—

I was saying, “Wide eyes, they tell a story.”

We’re both breaking that part, asking,
“That girl was mean, right?”

The door was floorboards
and I was trying hard to go through them.

Alien night with an alien snout—

it’s the same old night.

O whale, under the sky, seal me
in the land,

in colors—

the air gone again,

tuck in lakes
move away eyes
look sad in a dream—

sometimes I know I’m wrong,
but wait, it’s good to talk,
jolting the light, trying to hurry back from far away.

It’s automatic. I could do this
again with different results,
or touch a different choice.

I’m told that makes me water.

Scale makes “by my side” stranger than it was.

There’s steam, I say
nothing by you,
you walk by every night.

You Can’t Arrest Me Here, Why? Three Poems by Jordan Stempleman

[Poems by the Jordan Stempleman, who has done much interesting work, including editorial contribution to the meaningful Continental Review. Video Poetics, which seems inevitable. Jordan was so kind to fill in the following short blanks:

I unscrew my head and...another head pops out.

Poet's midnight snack...another poet or two.]

In This Issue

Why this huge crush on escaping

the cruise liner only to be shot at, then

actually shot, days at sea, Jesus, the spoom,

sand, never forget the rock climbing,

tough go at making a fire,

you can’t arrest me here, why?

because you’re not here, I’m alone.

And then the long ride back in a seaplane

when it should’ve been an ambulance.

Name one place after I mention bloodless,

standing around, standing around as all wildlife

goes tame: Office Depot, no, Office Max,

no, I’m not understanding what you mean.

If there’s a tank filled with just pebbles

and poop and murky water,

I’ve still got to ask, what exactly happened,

not, where’d they all go?


All this talk about how synthesizers

are the no no we always take back

and now, now that we have them

are you really, for me, still crying?

The flowers children paint, in terms

of their tendency, are an example

of the endless delay of their sudden

concern, and how dumb

are my variations, how prone

the cold is.

If every synthesizer kept on playing

throughout the thrum of those blue skies

we must somehow live though, nothing

would ever begin to outlanguage us

during our fairly incredible

good time.

Johnny Rowlands

Yesterday, before reporting live

on channel four about a three car clusterfuck

in the middle of the morning rush, I was in the right mind

to refreshen my helicopter with the pastured scent

of dependability.

Then, as the sun hit the wreck, all the laws

of the dark universe thwacked each other

at once. I hovered. You bet I hovered.

What am I doing here? I can’t hear anything

but the Korean War in this thing.

Every day I radio in these roads.

And I never go home with anyone.

The Betamon Is Extremely Colorful: Three Paintings by Tyler Thomas

[From Richmond, VA, Tyler Thomas, and his Betamon birds.
Click on the images for detailed viewing pleasure.

I've been making these paintings of BETAMON birds
using ink and watercolor and some mixed media including beer mixed with spit.

The Betamon bird is a mythical creature
i have created over the past 4 years...
and it wasn't until early this year that I realized
the real idea of what it actually is that I am creating.

You've seen me draw those bald men with the shirt and tie for a long time...
I evolved those men into an idea of American man--
into man on earth as a whole, into the human race--
the idea of humor (through my drawings) both light and dark humor
seen in the images i create with facial expressions and actions...

the drawings have become more narrative.
And now I've given that idea of mankind a god to worship.
the betamon is extremely colorful
they come in all sorts of different mutations.
because they don't migrate together,
they are solitary creatures
pratically fresh out of the shell,
their mating call is extremely loud.

So loud in fact that it can
destroy the human eardrum
within a distance of 100 yards.
therefore they are never captured
and are very much evaded.

I've only created a few
but I'm making a tribe of men
that hunt and kill the betamon birds
and wear their feathers
as a belief that they own
the great creatures power....
often deaf they develop
a greater connection to the earth.