Ghost Paper Archives

Ghost Paper ArchivesGhost Paper Archives (logo design by Nate Dorr) (GPA) is the imprint under which A Set of Lines has been published. GPA is a publishing collaborative focused on the creation and dissemination of texts and imagery, online and in print, that document facets of the human colonization of Earth. These facets reflect a tendency toward, or even a fixation on, the eerie mundanity of quotidian life on this planet. In short: we’re here, we’ve made a total mess of the place, but what does our daily existence communicate? What about the objects (and beings) we gather around us, or the built environments we inhabit, by choice or otherwise? And what role do dreams play? How can this raw material distill itself into new and disorienting spirits within the textual story container or across the visual landscape (be it moving or still)? The tiniest narrative fronds begin to unfurl.

If you subscribe to the Lost Gander blog, either as a WordPress user or not, I invite you to also subscribe to the GPA site, as that site will hopefully soon be busier than this one has been of late. You can sign up to receive future posts on the right sidebar of the GPA site. As always, thanks for reading!

the rat

The rat keeps gnawing through the bags so we keep adding more bagsdouble- and triple-bagging and onward toward what feels like a futile infinitude. We follow the rat from room to room, watch as it improbably slips through tiny cracks and crevices. At one point we corner it under a bed in a cyclindrical indentation within the floor. Bagged again, but only briefly, as it once again chews through and escapes, this time fleeing into the cafeteria. So as not to disturb or alarm the patrons we move with stealth, though our appearanceme holding a bulky bag of many layers and my team wild-eyed and sweaty with exertioncan not easily pull off subtlety. However, our thus subsequent disruption of the pleasant dining atmosphere notwithstanding, the cafeteria would in fact turn out to be the site of the triumphant final capture (and unfortunate demise) of the rat. Thus securely bagged did the now-deceased rat travel outside of the facility within its many layers of bag, held fast in my desperately clutched hands. Once outside, though, my troubles commence once again, as the only suitable location for disposal—the facility’s dumpster—appears more distant than I had remembered. In fact as I proceed toward it, the distance between said dumpster and my person actually widens with each step. What’s more, the route I follow becomes increasingly plagued with detours: security checkpoints, a sprawling road construction crew, obscure gatherings of persons whose shifty appearance suggests the need for as wide a berth as possible. Finally I can see it ahead: the bright blue dumpster with red markings, at the other end of a stretch of hot seemingly endless pavement. I can hear it now: the scrape of the side panel in its track as I slide it open. I can feel it now: the weight of the layered bags—inexplicably heavy with their sole contents a single expired rat—released, sliding from my shoulder with a soft thud onto the floor of the dumpster. I’m almost there.

recent dreams

(1) Panoramic view of an obscure private social club—dark wood, dim lighting, a spiral staircase. Here, convicted individuals wearing ankle monitoring bracelets mingle with ordinary club members. I am a new recruit to an elite cadre of enforcers charged with circulating among the crowd and periodically inserting keycards into the ankle bracelets of the convicted persons in order to track their movements within the club. It’s a strange dynamic. Some individuals are resigned to the process and consent without much complaint. Others attempt to evade the enforcers by hiding in various locations within the club, causing me great anxiety on my first day of work.

(2) We enter the warehouse—it is neatly organized and relatively clean, if underlit for the type of work we are about to undertake. The job we are here to do involves assembling office chairs, although everything about the situation points to a black market operation. There are many of us here—representing all ages, genders, and backgrounds—and our numbers only increase as time passes. Suddenly a woman working alongside me expresses interest in building an automaton. I am not surprised and in fact relay to her that I know of a man working nearby who has knowledge of the process. Not only that, but on the other side of the warehouse there is a non-functioning automaton on display in some kind of artifact exhibition. I walk over to the exhibit with the woman and together we inspect the automaton. It is an impressive specimen that appears to be of high-quality construction despite its present inability to turn on and move. We return to work.

a dream-story

I arrive in town exhausted. The need to stash my belongings points to a decrepit white Victorian with the air of a boarding house. No one’s around when I enter but this does not concern me. I shove my bags under the bed in an otherwise empty room and return to the street. No one’s outside, either. The town feels like it’s holding its breath. I cross the street to a disused petrol station. As I’m standing in the parking lot a car engine revs from behind the garage. Tires squealing, an old Trans Am speeds out and across the street, up the short incline to the house, and rams through the doorway, disappearing inside. I find this alarming and walk away at a rapid pace.

Now I’m hiding in the woods up the hill and down the street from the house. It’s a pleasant spot, almost like a tended garden but wild enough to offer adequate cover. I keep watch from atop a large boulder. Just as my pulse slows to resting rate a pair of wizard-thieves appears in the street below. They look up in my direction before entering the house. Despite the Trans Am now presumably wedged in the vestibule, only a few minutes pass before they walk out carrying my bags.

I know they are coming for me next, so I don’t bother with further retreat. It will only aggravate them to a higher level of violent intent. When they arrive at my boulder I am calm. They seize me and take me to their camp deep in the woods beyond the town limits.

Over the next few days I attempt to impress them with my rudimentary skills. I levitate small objects and hurl them across the campsite, much to the irritation of its inhabitants. In a moment of insolence I attempt to use my power to asphyxiate the field lieutenant as he delivers a formal complaint about my presence to the lead wizard-thief. A scornful bark escapes the lieutenant’s lips as my weak effort fails. Humiliated I shrink away to my tent. But I know those who matter are secretly impressed. Soon I will be ready. Soon I too will matter.

‘the traces of our dreams’

If we cannot see the traces of our dreams it is because we tend to look for them by day or with a lamp. At night, when we glide through black absence, their phosphorescence betrays them.

Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions: Volume I

broken wiper [dream]

One of the wipers was brokenstuck in placegoing nowhere. As I stared through the rain-smeared windshield I wondered how exactly I had arrived here. The parking lot looked familiar. I knew I worked at this place, but what of the last few hours. Waking, eating breakfast, deciding (oddly) to drive instead of bike…what of those actions. Goneall of them. With trepidation I opened the car door, walked across the dirt parking lot, and entered the building. Inside, coworkers and friends from long ago gathered around a table in the vestibule. I sat with them, aloof and guardedunwilling to divulge the increasingly alarming gap in my memory. As I casually looked around, I noted three doors leading from the the main lobby. One of them led to my place of employment. But which one. I didn’t recognize the people passing through on their way in. I craned my neck as each door opened, but saw no familiar landmarks or personages beyond any of the three. Suddenly I realized I also could not recall the appearance of my own personal office space. So should I even guess right as to the proper entrance, I would not know where to go once inside. It appeared that I would need to take a leap of faiththere was a choice to be made.

always red and black

i returned
to the rocks
where i picked
one up to find
a snake coiled
in red and black

(sleeping it was
as i am now)

up above i flew
circled around
where from the air
i saw the snake
wake and slither off

the next night
i found tiny snakes
wrapped around my wrist
and as i pulled them off
they inserted fangs
beneath the skin

the pain was great
but i kept at it
as did they
until i’m not sure
if i blacked out

from Aurélia by Gérard de Nerval

I resolved to fix all of my dreams in my memory and to know their secret. “Why,” I said, “should I not break through these mystical doors, armed with all of my will, and dominate my senses rather than submitting to them?” Is it not possible to tame this fearsome, compelling chimera; to exert control over these night spirits which toy with our reason? One third of our life is spent in sleep. It is consolation for the sorrows of our day or atonement for their pleasures; but I have never experienced sleep as mere rest. After a few minutes’ torpor, a new life begins, untrammeled by the limitations of time and space, and without doubt, similar to the one which awaits us after death. Who is to say whether or not there exists a link between these two existences and whether it is not possible for the soul to establish that connection?

Gérard de Nerval, Aurélia

lemonade

The double take impregnated desire in both parties. Or did it.

(We’ll suck on that sugar-coated lemon for the remainder of our days.)

In dreams they meshed well, swimmingly even, though waking life led only to the double take, and once a brush of limbs.

Their twinned desire, limned in mind alone, clashed like rutting stags. From their invisibly ravaged bodies a horn or two broke off in a fugue of predestination.

(Perhaps you found one in the woods and thought of them.)

At the party one befriended a dog while the other dematerialized with a stranger.

Stranger things have happened. It’s an old story and doppelgängers may have been involved.

unsolvable word problems

the indivisibility of a single word leaves a remainder of yesterday. a woman is overwhelmed by the memories of the first time she ever did anything. a man has no recollection of the last time he did anything. a child does not appear in this story.

the indivisibility of a single word leaves a remainder of scent. all separate parts join together as a whole. name the value of a single part. prioritize a single recurring sensation. freedom to breathe in, a conscious act of breathing out. this is some semblance of life.

the indivisibility of a single word leaves a remainder of shadows. add up the things and people no longer here. also, the activities, the rituals. stretch a taut coalescence of the before over a bony skeleton of songs. e.g., little maggie and mathey grove caper in the yellow lamplight spilled across the hardwood floor, a dream of distance as anchors tug, hold fast.

the indivisibility of a single word leaves a remainder of dreams. of dusty corners. of regret. of a swallowing up. of a diving down. of a spreading out. of a lossless life. of listless eyes. of a luster tarnished by your breath. of every day, an ending, every day a sort of beginning.

the indivisibility of a single word leaves a remainder of nothing. fill in the blank to receive extra credit: _________________.

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