by DAVID HADBAWNIK (tagged by Daniel C. Remein)

Band names:

The False Flags

The Vowel Movements


Song title:

"Peanut Butter Breath"


Story: “The Rose Society”

William Humber did not wish to found a secret society. He wanted to join one.


After her husband died, K. spent a number of weeks flying around with his body.


“No one deserves to die that hasn’t voice enough to carry.”

– Jack Spicer

“Inopem me copia fecit.”

– Ovid / Spenser


A room quick with books


Words we should never use in poetry (with Chris V. and Kathyrn P.):

Clouds           dreams
          ghosts             rain
afterwards            forever


The voices of ghosts call
to us from the dream-rain,
worrying the birds’ wings
painted onto the window
where the black cat splays


afterwards, the ghosts
came out of the rain

woke up in the forever dream
like a ghost in the rain


Men who hide behind women

even the woman who puts things down so they stay there

no matter – it was the inability to resist patterns


Headed home on a plane after Durham, Baltimore, feeling drained and wasteful


The sense of surveillance in just sitting on the porch, looking out at the street.

Woman dragging trash bins back from the curb, man on a bike with tattooed forearms, neighbor holding a slurpee

I have to look but not-look, look as myself and not-myself


The beer goes down smooth, the taste is meet


Children know how not to be seen. To be a child is to know how not to be seen.


Numbers written down on slips of paper that turn up when one clears off a desk


Tiny bugs boil in the air in the middle distance


We work in water. The tide comes in and we go out, mapping the current, tracing the waves. We stare into pools. Read reflections. You have to look but not know you’re looking, we say. We flow together, coupling and uncoupling, making strange gestures with our hands and smiling with our eyes closed.



I got the A/C on &
the windows open
the basement’s flooded
and I’m just hopin’
    it rains
so I can see you again


Like every hike, it was both blissful and hellish


“I have a good memory about everyone except myself”

– A., at an L.A. party


Band names:

Hold Harmless

Or or OR

Bachelor Diary

The Burberries


Chris V.: All you have to do is pay attention & it’s not that simple

by SAMUEL RAY JACOBSON (tagged by Luke Fidler)

Fig. 1. Robert Engman, Column. 1963. Cast concrete. New Haven, CT. Photograph by the author, November 2013.

The season six finale of Mad Men (S6 E13, “In Care Of;” aired June 23, 2013) concludes with protagonist Don Draper’s indefinite suspension from his advertising agency; in a recent episode (S7 E2, “A Day’s Work;” April 20, 2014) Draper frames the incident, as follows, while talking with his daughter Sally:

DON: I didn’t behave well. I said the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong time.
SALLY: What did you say?
DON: I told the truth about myself, but it wasn’t the right time, and so they made me take some time off…
SALLY: What was the truth?
DON: Nothing you don’t know.

From their dialogue, it’s not clear whether Sally knows the truth as her father revealed it. Such ambiguous non-disclosure is typical of the series. In Mad Men, every new fact brings additional dissimulation, maintaining the present’s hermeneutic equilibrium as fractal, fragmented, and ultimately unknowable.

Bearing this in mind, one could complement Mad Men’s plot developments, as very good drama, on the basis of their canny diffusion of extradiagetic information. Likewise, historiographer Peter Gay once complemented the Voltaire’s “very good history” on the basis of its “intelligent selection of what is important” (Gay, 72). Sweeping comparison seems apt—namely that, as critique, historiography is not far removed from Mad Men’s unrevealing revelation.

In support, consider Michel de Certeau’s theory of historical “writing” as that craft’s primary foundation:

It appears to me that in the West, for the last four centuries, “the making of history” has referred to writing. Little by little it has replaced the myths of yesterday with a practice of meaning. As a practice (and not by virtue of the discourses that are its result) it symbolizes a society capable of managing the space that it provides for itself, of replacing the obscurity of the lived body with the expression of a “will to know” or a “will to dominate” the body, of changing inherited traditions into a textual product or, in short, of being turned into a blank page that it should itself be able to write. (de Certeau, 5-6)

For de Certeau as for Draper, history’s lived reality evaporates into the generic; the truth is nothing you don’t know.

On the subject of the management of narratives of lived events, here is an anecdote:

My second grade’s year-end multiculturalism-themed pageant concluded with a dance performed to Billy Joel’s single “River of Dreams” (1993). The teacher directing the performances in this, the last of five continent-themed acts—Africa, with sing-along to The Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1961) and then the dance—gave a brief explanatory address about the meaning of her directorial choices, as a South African expatriate, before wishing the crowd a good evening and safe drive home. I don’t recall what she said, only that it referenced her country’s 1994 election and left the audience awkwardly silent.

This was in Los Angeles in 1996, and even at eight my friends and I understood how attendance at our “exclusive” private school maintained de facto protest against integrated public education. Veneers of normalcy disguised our isolation as parental choice. “River of Dreams,” with its canny citations of musical history from gospel to The Cadillacs, cleverly signified an interracial dialogue in pointed contrast to the whitewashed modes of cultural engagement more familiar to our parental audience; to participate in such dialectics, even if unknowingly, meant we children were interpellated unquestionably within the apartheid of our institution. [1] By discussing her personal stake in the evening’s pageantry our teacher was revealing nothing we didn’t already know and it was shaming.

I hypothesize that, when shattered through critique, history becomes an odd concatenation of time and personality. In the desert of truth its mirage is fleeting.

For example—and an example I’m quite fond of—Jeffrey Hamburger’s 1993 review of Image on the Edge claims that the book’s author, Michael Camille—a fellow historian of Medieval manuscript illumination—“trivializes the past, aggrandizes the present, and misrepresents them both,” by extending his summative framing of medieval marginality with the quip “‘senators and conservative watchdogs have made the body an ideological battle ground undreamt of by the medieval Inquisition’” (Hamburger, 326). Camille was quite sensitive to the consequences of the ongoing “culture wars,” for reasons including his then-outstanding application for funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. [2] The Endowment, along with its companion the National Endowment for the Arts, had recently been the subject of intense political scrutiny and was now subject to new and stringent content restrictions; Image on the Edge, dabbling as it does in the scatological, heretical, and generally profane, made Camille an easy possible target for puritanical politicians exploiting concern over obscenity for personal gain. [3] In this light, Hamburger’s conceit that medieval studies operates between lives past and the historical imagination appears patently false: Camille’s comparison of the medieval and present day evinced not historiographical resistance but rather a confirmation that the making of history is not exempt from its present determinations.

Another example: along with refusing any and all explicit offers for international cooperation, British Museum Director Neil MacGregor has also adamantly rejected the so-called aesthetic argument for restitution of the Elgin Marbles; in a 2003 interview he rebuked of the oft-cited importance of the natural lighting conditions on the Acropolis, for properly appreciating the sculptures of the Pantheon, as follows:

Well, every place has got its own light. They were never meant to be white sculptures under the unique light of Attica. They were never meant to look the way they do now. The unique light of Attica was shining on polychrome sculptures, but nobody is saying we should repaint them in their original colours. (Aspden)

In his quip, MacGregor fails to mention that the reason they look the way they do now is that they were “cleaned” with copper chisels, metal brushes, and caustic solvents, during the construction of the gallery that now houses them. [4] In the ellipsis of this detail, the British Museum becomes an oasis from an insipid universe; in its avoidance, history is recreated. The past can be a charmingly unstable thing.

My point here is as follows. To consider history’s narratives in reference to states of mind means not to better outline its various fictions but instead to consciously not decide anything about them at all. This is to say, in sum, that between the actual and artificial one might proceed as history already does: through the most superficial of confirmable hypotheses.

In conclusion I’ll share an exemplary thing which I did.

On the many occasions I walked past Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist-style Yale Art & Architecture Building in New Haven, I was always struck by its unique decorative column, appended to a street-facing wall. It’s an odd thing: obelisk-like, but warped and evacuated in the middle. I hate it for reasons that are complicated but ultimately related to the sculptor Robert Engman’s inclusion of the word STRAIGHT at the column’s base. Rudolph—waspish, well-dressed, flat-topped—was a mid-century fag of the squarest dimensions. I’ve always thought the column something of a portrait: outwardly lying.

One day, to feel better, I put a sign on it. Above the word “STRAIGHT,” I added the word “hardly.” I feel better now.


1. In, for example, the many recreations of Solomon Linda’s original, Zulu-language “Mbube”—from Pete Seeger's 1950 appropriation of Linda’s 1939 78 RPM recording, mistakenly believed to be a traditional chant, as The Weavers’ song “Wimoweh;” to The Tokens, who sang English lyrics added to “Wimoweh” by George Weiss, a decade later; to The Lion King, which had premiered only two years before our performance, and whose brief featuring of Weiss’ lyrics was as familiar to our parents as it was to us. Looking back the song selection was inordinately shrewd, given “Wimoweh”’s South African origins and the proximity of Disney’s movie to Mandela’s vaunted electoral victory.

2. The endowment would go on to sponsor research for the book The Master of Death, conducted at the Wissenschaftskolleg between 1992 and 1993.

3. In response to controversy regarding National Endowment for the Arts funding for exhibitions including the homoerotic photography of Robert Mapplethorpe (“A Perfect Moment,” sponsored by a $30,000 grant to the University of Pennsylvania) and Andres Serrano’s depiction of a crucifix submerged in urine (Piss Christ; produced after Serrano received $15,000 from The Southeast Center for Contemporary Arts, which had received funding from the NEA), Congress amended the statue governing the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities for grant-awarders to “take into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American people” when dispersing funds.

4. As by-then already and notoriously revealed by the British political and literary historian William St Clair, in the third edition of his book Lord Elgin and the Marbles (released 1998). St Clair, who devoted a chapter to the issue in the third edition his book, worked with the cooperation of the British Museum in constructing his account. A detailed report on the subject, titled “The 1930s cleaning of the Pantheon Sculptures in the British Museum” and released in 2007, is available on the museum’s website as of this writing.

Works Cited

Aspden, Peter. "Sharp End of Civilisation." Financial Times 13 June 2003.

de Certeau, Michel. The Writing of History. [1975] Trans. Tom Conley. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

Gay, Peter. "Carl Becker's Heavenly City." Political Science Quarterly 72.2 (June 1957): 182-199.

Hamburger, Jeffrey. Review of Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art by Michael Camille. The Art Bulletin 75.2 (1993): 319-327.

DAVID HADBAWNIK is a poet living in Buffalo, NY. Part one of his translation of the Aeneid was published in 2013 (Little Red Leaves); part two is forthcoming in 2014. In 2012, he edited Thomas Meyer’s Beowulf (Punctum Books), and in 2011 he edited (with Sean Reynolds) selections from Jack Spicer’s Beowulf for CUNY’s Lost and Found Document Series. Other publications include Field Work (BlazeVOX, 2011), Translations From Creeley (Sardines, 2008), Ovid in Exile (Interbirth, 2007), and SF Spleen (Skanky Possum, 2006). He is the editor and publisher of Habenicht Press and the journal kadar koli, and a co-editor of eth press.

SAMUEL RAY JACOBSON recently completed his Masters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture program. His work focuses on issues of gender, sexuality, and race in art and architectural historiography and criticism. He has numerous articles and publications – most notably, his book Notes on Sexuality & Space, forthcoming with punctum books (out soon!). It serves as a critical close-reading of the eponymous Princeton symposium, “Sexuality & Space” which, in 1990, defined the course of gender and sexuality studies in architectural history.

by MARCELLA DURAND (tagged by Jennifer Firestone)

The bridge sometimes solemn water regards. But gaze

comes from two or more perspectives--where convergence

blurs the origins of who witnessed what and where.

All crystals are rocks, but not all rocks are clear. What

instead is one transparent viewpoint chosen with

care within a prospect of snares and traps, wires and

telecommunications, cables and outlets,

gates and automatic doors, cameras, fences and

doors, safety measures, surveillance, controls. The lone

red light flashes in unison once, online, on

the line, in line with the horizon, once again.

by MICHAEL JOYCE (tagged by Allen C. Shelton)


The angel of history comes down from her stage perspiring
tired of retrospection, the float moving forward much too fast
she punches an away message into Facebook and lights a Gauloises,
everything’s a cliché, she says, so what the fuck.

Her break replacement likes to dance like a 70’s disco queen
as if the receding scene were a projection upon a club scrim,
not for him the whole cherub-gazing-upon-the-panorama routine
he pops Mollys after Beans just to see which will win.

No one seems interested in the parade anymore, the few who watch
shout “whore!” after both her and him alike then calmly cross the street.
Disco Raphael gives them the finger but keeps prancing in silver sneakers,
she takes it more to heart and wonders what’s happened to barber shops.

Break done, she flaps serenely, pursuing the parade along back streets
the shadow of her wings painting over parked cars and the bottle collectors
who push mounded shopping carts toward the so-called redemption center.


   “there remains something that goes beyond
    testimony to the photographer’s art, something
    that cannot be silenced, that fills you with an
    unruly desire to know what her name was,
    the woman who was alive there, who even
    now is still real and will never consent to be
    wholly absorbed in ‘art.’”
(Walter Benjamin, “Little History of Photography”)

Having decided however unreasonably he wants to be desired
he’s left having to decline overtures he might otherwise accept,
phone ringing for example or how her hand falls along his neck.
The girl at the Mercury Lounge, her basket of hair like a bird's nest,
looked like two different people none of whom she was and yet
she hugged him and said how happy she was to see him again.
She did not say her name only asked had he seen the band before,
which was easy to answer, i.e., “Yes, although not in such a venue,”
the use of the last he thought hip for a man his age in such a place,
a plastic cylinder of Blue Moon in hand a woeful lemon quarter
bobbing half-drowned. She hugged him once again when she left
pressing her breast against the back of his hand, a soft thing
like a morning dove. “Do you happen to know who that was
I was so happy to see?” he asked the kid standing next to him.
“I thought you knew,” said the young man’s smile. “Did you ask
which band she came for? Maybe it's a case of mistaken identity.”
Rain falling on Houston Street then lightning along Second Avenue.
“I think the god brings rain each Spring to cleanse the world,” explained
the Muslim cabbie, his white kufi hat gleaming and the Chrysler Building
looming. Outside the hotel Knick’s fans in vintage Linsanity jerseys
chanted like soccer hooligans after the overtime victory. He slept
content to be contained by whatever images dreams might bring.

MICHAEL JOYCE’s eleven books include seven novels, most recently Twentieth Century Man (February 2014) from Seismicity, with another, Foucault, in Winter, in the Linnaeus Garden (Starcherone) to follow later in the year; a book-length sequence of poems, Paris Views (Blazevox, 2012); a mixed collection of media essays and short fiction from SUNY, and two collections of essays on digital media from University of Michigan Press. His pioneering, pre-web, hypertext novel, afternoon (Eastgate, 1987), was followed by other electronic works on disk and online. He lives along the Hudson River and teaches at Vassar College.

MARCELLA DURAND is the author of numerous books, including Traffic & Weather (Futurepoem Books) and Area (Belladonna Books).

Download Phase 8 / A-C
7.1 from STORY
by JENNIFER FIRESTONE (tagged by Kate Greenstreet)

A beach in midday in a foreign land read as a good beginning.

          “White light shoots across the horizon.”

The couple assumed their position as newly-formed.

          “Chairs bore into wet sand.”

They assumed an attractive glow acquired from a careful history.

          “One page wavering, grainy, damp.”

Though the siren screamed we are not there yet.

          “She lays a warm hand on the sand.”

The books rose up on their abdomens shielding the sun’s glare.

          “Grainy pages stick and smear.”

The water’s vastness invited their gaze.

          “Colors bleed black-green to cold blue.”

The beach provided a restful template.

          “His glasses are gold mirrors.”

The bar man adjusted his blender and a low noise.

          “The sand clings.”

Conversation ensued about various plans as a man walked to the other side.

          “The ring gleams, oil drops.”

7.2 THE BOOK OF PERCEVAL (for Jules to read when he can, of his poet-parents’ adventures)
by DANIEL C. REMEIN (tagged by Eileen Joy)

i .

walking just so is where
the sex is

abstract to image or explain
the coterie reference
for the reader & Perceval is astonished

but this bicycle-leggèd
struts the orbit
outside Kelly’s

parades it for the tournament crowds
gathered to shame weak geologists
& shames Gawain too

into wearing the latest anklets
Perceval asks about the anklets
& Lebanon is in

what continent contains the
grail, a bowl of slag & milk
& rivers are transcripts for the grail

& narrative there are three currents
for the grail to shape this bowl
with current

gas giant lake, fancy buried cup,
light that cigarette

assembly of fishes,
Perceval don’t
light the sinkwater on fire


those hot guys
are angels from (from England, like
Gregory said, from
shiny-land & release
Look at the loud
of the riding and I will
go up and leave home.

Odds are, spaceman.
If there is a woman in the tent
my mother said to extract
clean coal from
the tooth
decay of the locals. With Gawain
chasing. Or
captive. What
is the difference, Perceval,
between a cup &
chemotherapy? Between Tetrakis
Sulfate & an iv of vinblastine? Between
4-methylcyclohexane methanol &
and the moat of the grail castle?

Using google maps Perceval
examines the places where he
spent time with the hermit,
where he thought he once caught a glimpse
of the grail. The valleys are filled in
& Kayford Mtn.
is missing.



stamps at edge around
cycle chains & drunk pure
sex at the hitching post, Lady

in the river appeals

to the lake, cup with sides,
castle out of nowhere spreads the greenish

the data suggests the grail
is either a lake itself or the lake’s
concave cup

& poetry

on the map is all
blooms of naturalized illegal algae
but Perceval is not a researcher & can’t get home

hot funked & cratered chunk
Toledo to Clevel& to Erie to Buffalo
he dreams this curve his night in the grail castle

smoked corn petroleum & carp
served in the backyard with

talks some sense into Perceval
askew on his stirrups to pull his name

which he forgot so it was easy for him to see the grail even
though he fucked it up to pull

poetry the bowl of protesters along
vote phosphorus & sonograms
but Perceval oils his armor & kissed the births, forgetting.


compelled to fishhook

samples for the record
such sex

if it is a river
too the cup meanders
& you will need

untoxic islands in the mud
to hold a bigger bowl if

in the backyard Perceval sees the grail is a seat where
P= Em teaches Sten how to ride a horse

if it a question of lakes instead
any green splendor you can muster
for more than more than one
feast a year this alone

raids imperium

5 March 2012


he is flat
flat Perceval

if he is flat Perceval
can go anywhere
flat ask & learn near anything

this is how he got into the grail castle

seahorse Perceval showing
the middle still

flat as a Mercator map
the Mercator map

for the grail but

Antigua or Aleutian
abstraction is
the same

Sten leaps tall, spacesuit
gives back, Sten squats flat &

Sten leaps tall
all my feathers in a heap

hop hop hoppity

angels on my coals
burning really stretches us
to the next millennium

is unclear to the grail castle

what Perceval fails
in order to polish the grail
we orient through

magnetic lake norths him
& Sten is a Mobius twist
squeamish about his
seahorse colon

grail fails to kindle
someone named gournement de gourt
(votes & republican
& tries to teach Perceval about
the high middle ages (all

donker dicks & horse

the grail is no matter
of fertility in
a l&
of polished maps


what happens
in the grail castle stays
in the garden

becca arrives with the chickens a little
over a year
after once & future deaths are quieter

that was an easy tourney
with Sten & Em on no alarms
becca tries to explain healthy
living to Perceval

in the mountains, there you feel free

with her trusty dog
I have learned how to wear armor & how
to take in song lyrics & how to use the internet
& I am ready to face

on the rivers which rim the grail whose
sides are ready to take all the austerity in
Britain for the price of a young buck
to feed with the garden Perceval faces
the difficulty then of teaching (where Lance or Gawain
occasionally strike or navigate with magic boats
Perceval’s learning is for fool-makering & bricklaying
so he can’t go back

to White Flower or the High Empty

& lady, this door (for RD (clearly

Perceval will go on squirming forever precisely because he saw it
the grail will be common to becca since she
clearly perceives its benefits for life


in humid dusk Perceval

Sten bought a load
of wind-up animals wraps his dice
in mourning weeds
for his friend’s mother
skids down
spacesuit warrior Perceval
with the latest gear
layers on angelic skin & without code
begins to sketch the grail

this grail is full of perch & walleye

or that grail is full, too, inverted
& with a rim of barge or coke Perceval

it is clear we will not agree but the papers

are ready & the castle is smitten
& the mothers too on behalf of your fool-
makering with suits & bills
& notes & pelts &

the marsupials ready too to assemble
with us finally against
the clear-headed grail-seekers
& the chaste

JENNIFER FIRESTONE is the author of Flashes (Shearsman Books), Holiday (Shearsman Books), Waves (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs), from Flashes and snapshot (Sona Books) and Fanimaly (Dusie Kollektiv). She is the co-editor of Letters To Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics and Community (Saturnalia Books), and an Assistant Professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College (The New School). She lives with her family in Brooklyn.

DANIEL C. REMEIN holds a Ph.D. from NYU in medieval literature and twentieth-century poetics. His publications include poems in sundry journals and magazines, critical essays on medieval and twentieth-century poetry, and the chapbook Pearl (Organism for Poetic Research, 2012). He lives in Brooklyn, co-edits the magazine PELT, and edits the occasional publication Whiskey & Fox.

Download Phase 7 / Template
by KATE GREENSTREET (tagged by Emily Kendal Frey)

0 3 7 4 6

She was always taking pictures.
By the bridge. Waiting. She waited
so long.

Darkness, he could see nothing
in front or behind him. Mountains.
What else?

There are not many
pictures of him.
She really wants to lie down.

by ALLEN C. SHELTON (tagged by Susan Lepselter)

Scarcely had my father died when I began to write about him. It's not the first time I've done this. When my grandmother Mary Pullen died I ate two Mexican steak sandwiches from a food truck outside a laundromat and began composing. At my mother's funeral, I was collecting vignettes. I don't know why. It could be that each written line was a rope lashed around their bodies holding some part of them in this world. They were already gone when I began to write, but I might hold onto something. More likely it's the acknowledgment of an emptiness that pushes me to write. I dug my grandmother Pearl's grave. She has no essay dedicated to her. The grave was my essay. It was exquisitely constructed with only one deficiency. The grave surface didn't settle in a flat plane with the surrounding turf. There is a slight indentation in the ground as if my grandmother was on her back and the mattress was holding her in an embrace. The page and the grave are similar surfaces for me, confused as I am about writing and bodies. How could I bury my father in a piece of paper?

The 1930s German exile Walter Benjamin begins his look back at the dead in A Berlin Childhood around 1900 with a scratch. It wasn't literal. He didn't cut himself with a shard of glass from a broken picture of someone he loved. While writing the paragraph there may have been an incidental paper cut and there were the scratches his fountain pen cut into the paper; but he was pointing to the invisible wounds left from rubbing against the past. These other cuts were auxiliaries. The spade marks I left in the dirt of my grandmother's grave I felt soaked into my forearms and lower back. There were no visible cuts on my calloused hands. Benjamin hoped that the memories would inoculate him from nostalgia for his home place. It's a very different opening from Marcel Proust’s memory novel where the recollection of the hip bone of a lover rubs against him. Benjamin's book was inspired by Proust’s though the resemblance between the two is slim. Benjamin turned his childhood nostalgic into a thing-like memory project based on nineteenth century Paris. After his death it was published as The Arcades Project. No hip bone is mentioned in almost a thousand pages. In a note Benjamin imagined following a ghost through the walls of apartments in Paris. The addition of that vapor would've strengthened his work. As it is, Benjamin is alone in the Paris he constructs. There are a multitude of voices. There are traces of others left behind like fossils. But they all seem to have left thousands of years ago, rather than a moment ago. Benjamin was alone. His Paris was deserted. My world in Alabama keeps getting smaller and smaller as people pass to the other side. Few recognized me at my father's funeral at the same cemetery I buried my grandmother and where I used to play freeze tag with my son. I stood there as still and cold as if I had been tagged.

There were other concerns radiating out from my father's death. The house sat there exactly as dad had left it. There were dirty dishes in the sink. There were unpaid bills. More arrived in the mail. The heat turned on and off. The property had to be equitably disbursed. Who would get what? There were his guns, the Marine sword that lay inside a frame with a pair of dress gloves, the gigantic sofa, and art. But nothing could be done until a will was located. The estate hung on like a deer tick buried behind the knee. Dad owed a lot of money. Not a penny had been paid on the principal for his house. He was called A.C. or Big Allen. It was thought he was a millionaire. He wasn't. He couldn't afford to fix his hot tub. He had two mortgages. The will couldn't be found. Finally an old one was located, in which I was executor. That was impossible. I live in Buffalo. My sister Mary stepped in. She and her husband lived on the mountaintop just down the paved lane from my father's house. They had the most to lose in the division of the property. But what if they bought my father's house? That seemed a plausible solution. At least a strand of history might be preserved. Our mother had been part of the planning of this house before her death in 1995. Without a doubt it was our father's mad project but there was a hint of our mother. An argument could be made that it was the last family home though A.C. never considered it that, treated the house like that or intended that it ever would be that. I spent two nights in that house. It was his party house: here he entertained various women and long-held fantasies. Mary and Luis hired an inspector. How sound is the house? There are some small leaks. We know there are some problems. How much will it cost to repair? It was a reasonable precaution and very sensible. The answer surprised them. The inspector told them between $75,000 and $100,000. The house was coming unglued just like a dollhouse left outside. Whether A.C. knew how shoddily the house was built is debatable. This was consistent with his material legacy in other areas. He left nothing behind. That wasn't quite true. An insurance policy was located. I got a check for $10,000. My airfare, rental car, and incidentals for the funeral totaled $917.

Alive, I hadn't seen my father as much as I do now that he's dead. He appeared out of nowhere in a dream Tuesday night. He was walking along the edges of the scene on a cattle trail strung like a thin dirt ribbon through the grass. I could see his footprints. His back was to me. He didn't say a word or look at me. His attention was fixed on something ahead. He resembled his own grandfather who would plod down Pelham road with a crook-handled walking stick stuck out in front of him like an antenna. They both looked like round shelled beetles. I am from a family of beetles. He was back on Saturday night and then while I was reading the paper Sunday morning, I had the clear sense of him sitting in his chair in the great room of his house doing the same thing. He was a Republican. He looked at me about to say something about Obama. Nothing was said. My therapist tells me this is normal. It hasn't even been a year since he died. He was your father even if you weren't close. I would tell someone the same thing. You are from a family of beetles.

The dreams I've been having of my father are invitations to visit him in the new place where he finds himself. He hit a tree on the side of a lingering straightaway just off the top of the mountain. Murray's trailer park is down on the left. Above the crash site, in some trees, was where a man named Miller lived with his son when I was a teenager. He was a lawyer. The son went to school with me. He was into drugs. He rode motorcycles. He didn't know who Herman Hesse was though he listened to Steppenwolf. I look for the tree as I drive. Miller and his son are now long gone. There must be a gash on the trunk that matches the bumper. I haven't seen one. It must've closed like a grinning mouth gone to sleep. Now the tree dreams of me as I drive by. When will I slip off the road?

KATE GREENSTREET’s books are Young Tambling, The Last 4 Things, and case sensitive, all with Ahsahta Press. For more about Kate, visit her site at kickingwind.com.

ALLEN C. SHELTON was born in 1955 in Alabama. He is an associate professor of Sociology. He arrived in Buffalo in 1998 in a Toyota one-ton pickup with 233,000 miles on the engine. The truck was stolen which left him with a pair of R.M. Williams boots, a transparent Pelikan, Xenophon's Anabasis, cuffed Momotaro’s, Rhodia paper, a creek named Cottaquila in another life, a Wetterling ax, an Ikaria disk, an abacus, a flower shirt that has never been washed, and Auburn, the color of the plains. He wrote Dreamworlds of Alabama from University of Minnesota Press. He keeps time with an Omega mechanical. His new book Where the North Sea Touches Alabama is from the University of Chicago Press. His website is softarcades.com.

Download Phase 6 / Short-Range
by EMILY KENDAL FREY (tagged by Peter Jay Shippy)

I put up my hair and strode to the middle of the river

Desperate was the night

A row of pies, curtained by ice

I ran to a city and built a new city and a city higher than it and invited you to live in it

A kind of seed I breathed in a dream and in the morning I grew

For you

In my childhood garden was a rooster and I resurrected his song

To be sung on the porch where I vomited pink punch and gin I felt my thighs

I went back

To let you in

In a thousand years when the stone mouth

Has crumbled from our love

Her lips a magnificent mess of dust and prescription medicine

When your dick has fallen into the ocean

The self bloated with salt and choked by seaweed

The great eye of a whale sees

by SUSAN LEPSELTER (tagged by Kathleen Stewart)

I don’t use an iPhone because I miss the kind of emptiness I can’t have anymore anyway. The idle potential between things. Or walking the city with my face up and everyone else’s face up; the mammal work of meeting and deflecting eye contact in the surge of walking. Looking into people’s windshields as they idled at a light with their faces dreaming. Waiting for the bus with nothing to do, letting anxieties ebb and flow in the infinite cushion of boredom. An entire way of being in the world is changing. When I say I miss this, I sound old.

Once this woman came up to me on Broadway, got right in my face and said, “Hello, dear, are you young?” I wasn’t great at the looking down in time thing, on the subway or street. I was twenty-six. “I don’t know; a little bit young,” I said. She had a whole lot of makeup on to scream beauty, enough to perform being nuts from a distance as she emerged in the lights from Korean markets -- especially the lipstick drawn way beyond her mouth, and the silly red whirls of rouge. “Oh, a little bit young. That’s still good,” she comforted me and then waddled off again, looking for someone who was more like twenty-two.

I moved to the midwest college town from the east coast city. Instead of the uncomfortable racial divisions I was used to, here, where it was so white, class division was marked with insistent little air pockets forming separate dimensions on a single plane. There was a hush around the men working on the campus lawn. The expanse between buildings was bright orange in the fall as the men quietly mulched and the students walked in rows with their heads tilted down at the texting angle. But sometimes the students talked to squirrels. They would purse their lips to make high pitched squeaks and hold out their hands, trying to achieve interspecies bonding by intently staring into the black alien eyes of the rodent. One day we got a text message warning us to be careful because a squirrel had jumped out of its dimension and landed on a girl from Kokomo.

In the evening after work my friend Lillian makes crafts to sell, especially toddler-size dolls without faces. The dolls are called corner babies. They don’t have faces because you are meant to position them in a corner with their backs facing the room. The idea is: someone sees the doll from behind and thinks for a moment that it’s a real child being punished, that punishment called “standing in the corner.” But after a while the child doesn’t move at all or make a sound and finally, after the creepiness sets in, someone turns it around and you see smooth, empty pink cloth where the face should be. Everyone laughs, it’s a joke. Lillian’s friend calls them precious and as we look at the doll’s blank face she’s just sewn, she explains it: “the faces are hideous, hideous! – but you only see em turned around anyway, like they’re poutin and cryin….”

It was long ago that children I knew were shamed by being turned away from the sociability of the room. The punishment made us lose face. I was watching an old movie and became filled with generalized nostalgia and longing. I wondered why – was it the innocence of the old-fashioned faces? No, it was because people in the movie were walking from here to there without looking down to text. I mourned the tiny, fleeting shift of an unconscious position, an angle of the head that signaled an older form of entanglement, a specific kind of expectancy in an idle space. A face lazily disposed to the street, or performing lack of receptivity through an inward hardening of eyes. This shifted to the realm of something consciously embodied -- “mindfulness” -- though we’re reluctant to say that anything has disappeared.

EMILY KENDAL FREY lives in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several chapbooks and chapbook collaborations including, most recently, BAGUETTE (Cash Machine, 2013). THE GRIEF PERFORMANCE, her first full-length collection, won the Norma Farber First Book Award from The Poetry Society of America in 2012. Her second collection is forthcoming from Octopus Books in 2014.

SUSAN LEPSELTER is an assistant professor in the departments of American Studies and Communication and Culture at Indiana University Bloomington. Her book An American Uncanny is forthcoming from University of Michigan Press.

Download Phase 5 / Gin
  Getting more posts...