the agent by russell edson

. . . Assigned to you when your flesh was separating from your
mother’s, this shadow, who seeing the opportunity at hand, joined your
presence in such a way as some say the soul is given.

You have always caricatured me in my travels. I have seen you on
mountains, and in dim cafes. I have seen you hold your head, your elbows
on your knees, and while I was sad you were serene!

I seek a mastery over fate, of which you are, in objective witness, the
agent of . . . I run away one night as you sleep, the trusting wife, whose
borders have opened in the universal dark.

She feels in the morning among the sheets for the easy habit of her
husband’s shape – Now arc the earth, sweet dark, the law of umbra give
you panic to search me out with your cunning speed of light!

~from The Clam Theater (1973)

small poems in prose [alejandra pizarnik]

The sun closed, the sense of the sun closed, the sense of the closing was illuminated.


A day arrives in which poetry is made without language, day in which the great and small desires scattered in the verses are called together, suddenly gathered in two eyes, the same ones I praised so much in the frantic absence of the blank page.


In love with the words that create small nights in the uncreated part of day and its fierce emptiness.


[Alejandra Pizarnik, Texts of Shadow and Last Poems (1982)]

(The Unstoppable Myth of Alejandra Pizarnik by Enrique Vila-Matas)

the middle distance

The boy hangs suspended on the wall, floating above a sea of upraised arms, splashed in purples and blues. Rising to the sky across from Chicken Castle, this baffling design shows itself at a dark time, when the others are away, leaving silent halls to wander and empty alcoves that beckon or repel.

I left and when I returned nothing was the same as before. The others, now present, were missing crucial parts. Like marionettes they moved with jerky motions on rigid circuits. Their wooden jaws clackity-clacked against each other but no words issued forth. I sat afraid in my alcove, groping for the switch in my broken mind.

What if the boy descended to the street. What if he stomped Chicken Castle into rubble. What if he crept quickly through the streets, his naked blueness a soundless blur. This giant blue child, drawn as a sign of hope, now metamorphosed to a destroyer.

I fortified my alcove as best I could, but further withdrawal was not possible. I heard the snapping of jaws as they rounded the corner to my disused hallway. Suddenly my screens went blank. The building shook and a crack split the floor, widening with fierce speed. From the corner I watched them fall with gaping maws, one by one into the depths.

in the light of time*

When nothing is sacred, nothing is safe—John Hay

When there were less of us, we fit inside like tiny figures in a diorama. We ran across the plains afraid of violent storms. Lush greenery threatened to smother us, just as it also lent us sustenance. If we did not pacify this place it would surely destroy us. We squabbled among ourselves, like we now still do, but we were not yet strong enough to shatter our shadow box.

When there were more of us, we burst the seams of the land. We took a liking to engines and asphalt, all distance to traverse only at light speed. We ravaged the countryside, built our cities, made our money. Things trumped being. Our lives soon chased after ways to forget. Prohibition never stood a chance.

When there were too many of us, a few grew concerned. Nothing, however, changed. We kept building and we kept paving. One of our leaders proffered the idea of a system of parks, a way to assuage our guilt, an excuse for free reign on what remained. Of course we seized on it. Those places have since burst their own seams, paved as they are for easy access.

When there are less of us again, perhaps more will notice. It will be too late. For now we careen serene toward the end, a night we try never to see. Perpetual light, shone by our own hands, is what we embrace, for in darkness we fear what we came to create.


new poems published

On Friday two of my prose poems appeared in the new issue of Umbrella Factory.

Yesterday four of my prose poems were published in the new issue of Avatar Review.

destroyers despoil, dessicate…desecrate

Destroyers come and go, leave splinters stuck in flesh. The invisible ones so hard to tweeze. Bathe in alcohol, seek where it burns. Trust rusts, cowers in your heart’s dark corners.

The well-dressed destroyer is hard to spot, but look for the smile. It’s crooked and false. Talk seeps like oil, slick to the ears, popping with heat. We drink it up, let it drip down, leaving holes in its wake.

Enter the fixer with boom and detergent. Too late to scrub. Too late to contain. Casualties cauterize the causeway. Volunteers move in with murkier motives. High tide beckons, we retreat to the hill.

Those despoiled blend in with the rest. Open their arms like mechanical dolls. Destroyers long gone, wreckage wake trailing, hidden from view but for a few.

I want to retrace the lines—help consecrate, recreate, rehydrate the husks.

I know that smile.

the acidic pleasures of baudelaire

From “One O’ Clock In The Morning,” in Paris Spleen (Varèse translation, New Directions):

“At last! the tyranny of the human face has disappeared, and now there will be no one but myself to make me suffer.”

Of course no poet can be acidic all the time, not even Baudelaire.

From “The Stranger”:

“I love the clouds…the clouds that pass…up there…up there…the wonderful clouds!”

Wonderful clouds indeed!

farther along the continuum

Yesterday morning I attended a funeral. Yesterday evening I attended this. The entire show was fantastic, but a highlight for me was experiencing another of Katherine Fahey‘s crankies. Last year, seeing her “Lost Gander” crankie inspired the (re)naming of this blog.

The contrast between morning and evening struck me hard. This juxtaposition of diverging moments is the rich loam where insight tethers its spindly roots.

But there are only so many pivots. And there is only so much loam.

I will be away for a while. I hope to return with photos…and maybe insight.

In the meantime, here are two poems of mine from the new issue of Gone Lawn.

Keep tending the soil while I’m out.

a good run

This weekend  I received acceptances on poetry submissions from editors at both Umbrella Factory and Gone Lawn. These poems should appear online in June and April, respectively. On the rejection front, Flashquake told me my short-short was a good concept for flash but felt under-done, and Prick of the Spindle turned down a story but muted the pain with the comment that they thought the story had heart and they hoped I’d keep working on it. Well, I’m putting that one aside for now. I have worked on it too much, and received enough comments like this to know that it’s time to take a break. In fact, I’m thinking of taking an extended break from fiction altogether. It’s become too painstaking and I don’t believe in writing (or revising) when it feels so forced.

It’s curious how word comes from editors in waves. Brief showers of communication irrigate long dry spells, before the crickets hop back in and tune up their violin legs. Sometimes I become so enthralled by the cricket music that I forget I had even sent anything out.

no outlaws, no frontiers: distilled dreams of ruddy ducks and stolen laptops

Outlets outlawed now left to hold the plug. Outlaws stripped of outlets now seeking power strips. Strip the sheathing, splice the wires: false positives abound, red lights across the board. Unplug, recede, fade to weathered wood. Where to get it when it’s gone, the juice, the power draw, to make every day a tinderbox. The ones who screamed and strummed to counter black water in their boots, rising to their necklines: they are now gone by their own hands. Even plugged in they couldn’t hack the mainframe for a pure and steady flow. Outside these walls, beyond the concrete circuit, maybe it’s there and maybe not: a circuit board of our own making. But what we know is here brings false power, interrupted flow: devices to distract, minds splayed across these screens, ground into lettered, numbered squares. I’m between out there and in here, taking ragged breaths, one foot in shadow soup, one hand tracing rote designs. I stare across the pond, power-stripped and faded, wondering about that duck.

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