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jillison flook

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“The Earth, in relation to the distance of the fixed stars, has no appreciable size and must be treated as a mathematical point.”
― Ptolemy, The Almagest, 2nd century AD.

“I hope you love birds too, it is economical. It saves going to heaven.”
― Emily Dickinson, Letter to Eugenia Hall, 1885.

My father and I watch a flock of finches flying around the fallout shelter. Their orbits are slow and worn in, they make it seem like the hours outside are smaller than ours.

My father tells me if we wait long enough one of them will be Mercury, one will Venus, one will be Earth, one will be Mars.

Even then, I could tell his astronomy was clumsy and domestic, a way of keeping track of dinner manners and developed etiquette. A way to make sure an elastic band is all he’d ever be.

Waist high though, I believed him when he said, “there are breadwinners and there are bird feeders. Jillison, you are a bird feeder.

And if the Earth is flatter than we ever gave it credit for, and if the Earth is already a dead bird drowned in mid-air.

When we first met I was living in a blue house (as it grew out a red house).

When I was tired I slept in spare shelves or scatter points. When I was awake I tried to keep track of the birds.

It was all a cradle to collapse, and then the candle came down.

The curtains were as thin as shedded snake skin. I tore them off to get a better look at him. He was walking with his mother. Her legs were made of grey and brick, her head was twice as tall as his.

It looked like there was a tunnel dug underground between the two of them, every time she moved a foot one way, he would follow a foot behind.

They had been walking that way for a while and then she stopped. She shouted something at him that I couldn’t hear. He shouted something back at her.

It felt like there was a family of field mice sneaking through me. I was already nervous.

She reached into the sack she carried and pulled out a piece of wood with a nail at its head. I hadn’t met her yet so I couldn’t have known what was coming.

She swung the wood with both her arms and he crumpled. Like a mannequin who’d been up all night.

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seasons of creature

“But there are some who declare that such creatures of two sexes are monstrosities, and coming rarely into the world as they do they have the quality of presaging the future, sometimes for evil and sometimes for good.”

― Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library, 1st century BC.

“Suppose someone were to say: ‘Imagine this butterfly exactly as it is, but ugly instead of beautiful’?!”

― Ludwig Wittgenstein, Zettel, 1889-1951

We were swallowed whole and there we were, warm and inside, with the breath of that creature reaching over everything.

Our city was captured, a crash site covered in skin. 

There was no exit or escape, every echo was an earthquake about to erupt, each exhale was a heat wave waiting for us. 

The outcome was over already, we were the creature’s city now.

We woke up to stomachfuls of wrecking balls, wet food, worn debris.  One storm after another, scattering against our shingles and gathering gray hair on the ground. 

The city called it the creature’s rain, they collected it in their cellars and their stairwells, they carved their names into the cement it made.

You watched me there, collecting what remains I could, keeping myself unkilled in the creature’s cartilage.  

Your eyes were on strings, swinging from a ceiling I couldn’t see.  Your eyes were wide as white flags, watching me.

This city here, the one we’ve been left in, it’s a residual collapse, a heavy gasp.  In the distance, the shape of it seems dimly scribbled against the inside of the creature, like the sketch of a spent explosive, it sprawls and then it shivers and then it sprawls some more.

The most of us that survived stuck to the center of the city, in small rooms in short skyscrapers, we searched for shelf lives that stayed just out reach. 

Beneath the buildings, the creature’s ground was cold, coffee-colored, full of fault lines that caught fire whenever the fevers came.     

You kept matchbooks in your pockets and I copied you.  I rubbed gunpowder on my palms to get them pale like yours.  I untrapped my hands as close to you as I could.

You told me maybe there were enough fault lines here to find us again.  You said sooner or later the motion sickness might miss us both.

We spent the first season scavenging the creature for a skeleton key.

I searched in shrapnel piles and stolen terrain, I said over and over there had to be a way out of there. 

Day after day, the creature’s rain wouldn’t stop painting us the way we truly were.  

Each time I looked at you and your hair was heavier and darker.  The build-ups in your breath came and went like birds stealing bread.  

Your skin stayed sheet-white and still hid the stage whispers from me.

I was your hang-wire, your hiding place.  I was your charade of ways to count backwards from the couple we didn’t become.

Our city stayed a knot in the creature’s stomach, a choke hold you couldn’t stop choosing over me.  If there ever was a key, it couldn’t keep me from remembering it all too well.

This was what I knew about you: you grew up without a favorite cease fire.

Your mother was a pushcart, a towel rack, your father was the same.  By the time you were five, every eavesdrop knew your name. By the time your flashback fell into mine, your face was still a fitting room you were trying to find.

We were living in a summer creature, one that had emptied out its echoes long before the leftovers fell in.  The erosion was exposed, cloth wasn’t always an obstacle.

I found you in the back fields, burning bones in an old paper bag.  They looked like black candles buried in there.  

I remember your face was ragged, bruised under the eyes and bluish on the blind sides.  I remember what you told me first, “the big wars are over, and the small ones never end.”

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her gunpowder horoscope

“A beauty is not suddenly in a circle. It comes with rapture. A great deal of beauty is rapture. A circle is a necessity. Otherwise you would see no one. We each have our circle.’’

― Gertrude Stein, “A Circular Play”, Last Operas and Plays, 1920.

“I see better things, and approve, but I follow worse.”

― Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1st century AD

Memory smelled like pennies and batteries.  Seven years, almost eight years now. I could barely see how backwards the days went.    

This year too.  I’m still not going home.  

Missed opportunities, specific routes, the speed at which light attaches past and present tense.

It’s always the same.


Children when they use grammar incorrectly it can be cute, almost to a destructive degree. 

To pose an alternate order where the coherence between language and reality no longer hold.   Paradox becomes the norm and the structuring rule.

You get suffocated by wordless potential. Nonsense.  Babble.  

Linguistically it is sickening. So over the edge it is unpleasant.

There was a time when there were ten suns.  This is what we did.

Cut our way through the eye socket, from behind.

Gut the creature, leave commas of flesh, use the remnants.  

Another revenge performance and then another.  Displaced urges often become primary means of gratification.  

There is a Lamprey River in New Hampshire.  In the beginning, every animal was born once without bones at all.

Spent all summer running away from the back-court of an air conditioned car.  Defending against larger, longer, taller men. They are just stronger.  

Costumes were left over from repeated performances: Ghosts in the wall.  Giant immobile organs. We all too often confuse bulk with certainty.  

How obvious now. The size makes a difference, to be frank.  That’s what they kept telling me.  

I am still not interested in men.

Some argue there are biological roots to our recognition of cuteness. 

Big eyes. Full cheeks.  Cues sculpted to trigger or release caregiving behavior in adults. 

If only.

Rarely do monsters appear in folklore without some kind of warning or social message. 

If only.

Facial structure:  I often imagine myself without my jaw.  Without any jaw. Jawless. You can feel another row of teeth growing, just by being overly aggressive with yourself.

Forcing an eye to the future. Should have lost a lot of years.  Probably lost a lot of years. 

Tales of transformation all tell the same thing: The true form is the one that appears at night.

Finally, all ten suns slowed down and she came up to my room alone.  

Is that all you are.” she asked?

Aren’t you anything else?

Let’s see. 

On the inverse of flesh: Jam the knife in.  Remember to buy in bulk.

Animals are mostly just bags of juice.  Sugar water. Milk. But states of matter are not fixed features of the universe.  

King Henry the First died from food poisoning after eating a lamprey pie, in approximately 1600.  It doesn’t matter the date. It’s not important.  

The point is unexpected medical costs are the worst kind of surprise.’

I still have bruised tissue around each eye socket from an assault seven years, eight years ago.  

You can still see depressions and cavities around the orbital bones.  Little gray rings sunk around each eye.  

A circular play.  It always reminds me.

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scavenger’s daughter

It was a scar chart stacked into a skyline, it was shipwrecks of soot and shipwrecks of skin and shipwrecks of everything after.  I called it a home, I called it the shadow of a scavenger’s daughter.

The entirety was risen to scale.  A city of replaced components, perfect complements, a test of compressions to become. 

If we knew each other at all, you knew it as a torture device too.

We crashed there in halves. Shallow-breathed and splinter-limbed and salvage remaining. 

Underwater was what was left, most of us had sunk by then.

We tried to make an echo of who to remember or how. 

Every face was a capsized float, swollen closed from the vocal cords on down.  They followed as clouds of flesh, hungry ghosts, decomposing fish.

Today, the human food supply contains a plethora of fresh, farmed, cured and processed meats. But we’ve not always been the competent herdsman or capable hunter.

At dawn of the Pleistocene epoch, approximately 2.5 millions years ago, humans  practiced confrontational scavenging, a from of kleptoparasitism in which one creature drives off or distracts another predator from its kill.

As humans developed a taste for the meat of fallen vertebrates, we also discovered the taste of our own flesh.  

It is likely our ancestors turned to cannibalism due to lack of resources and competition at critical points in their ascension.

”My purpose is to tell of bodies which have been transformed into shapes of a different kind.”  

– Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1st century AD.

Here is most of what I felt: 

I was terrified.  Completely.

Make a fraud of yourself long enough and the fault lines do what they want to you.   

Often leaving you without an afterlife to fulfill.

The economy of cannibalism speaks for itself, which is why the practice is prevalent throughout the animal kingdom, including among human and non-human primates.

A widespread presence of genes protecting against prion disease suggest that human endocannibalism was common for thousands of years.  

This practice may often take on supernatural and ritual dimensions.

They hid in small circles, with teeth behind teeth.  True predators who knew the trauma well.

Born again by drowning wrong, they were becoming natives there.  

Soon, you said, they would be hunting us on their own.

“A scavenger’s daughter does not age.  A scavenger’s daughter survives by starving a corpse in its place.”

One crushed orbital bone.  Or a couple overriding things to know.

You told me there was drowning and there was dissolving, stretching and compressing, the only difference was the distance to tell.

You told me even blind spots could be living things, and still, I wanted to believe you.

The towers of Scavenger’s Daughter were built of interlocking shipwrecks, which made the underwater city “earthquake-proof.

Using reinforced skeletons, the hulls of hundred of vessels could be notched and stacked on top of each other to create structures of enormous height and complexity.  

Together these structures form the city of Scavenger’s Daughter.  A skyline of shipwrecks rising from the ocean floor.

There are times we all fail.  We salvage ourselves just long enough to explore the wreckage of a warmer person.  We dig out the hidden teeth in each other.

By the anniversary of our attack, I was back to six bones missing again.  Two orbital, two nasal, and two made of hunger and need.

You told me there were ways to trust it would end, a scavenger may pray to surviving gods too.

Jillison, we should leave here.  Now.

Jillison. We should leave here. 

Now.  Now. Now.  Now.

Now.

The Scavenger’s Daughter worked by strapping the head of the victim to an A-frame shaped metal rack at the top point of A. The hands were then tied at the midpoint and the legs at the lower spread end of A

The body was then compressed from both sides, pushing the knees up in a sitting position and the head in the opposite direction. This resulted in blood running from the nose and ears of the victim other than damage to muscles.

The Scavenger’s Daughter was among those torture devices that were rarely used and yet relatively easy to make. 

Shipwrecker’s Paradox.

Whether a shipwreck which is restored by replacing each and every one of its wooden parts is still the same shipwreck?

And yes, I said yes.  Pick your shipwreck, any shipwreck.  Pick your carcass, any carcass. Pick your angles, pick your shape.  Pick your predators, pick your prey.

I survived as a scavenger’s daughter, I could only keep circling yes.

seven forgetting / letters

Trinity /  16 July to 15 August


Dear Jillison,

Let’s start over.  Let’s somewhere maybe we can agree: every creation story involves water.

I miss you.  Eight blackouts in four days. 

Shipwreck’s here and sometimes the shoreline already looks like it’s been struck through, another storm of white noise in a waiting room.

But not always.  Sometimes my lungs are bent upward and blushing and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

I tell myself, this time, on this continent, and just put another tomorrow away and then another tomorrow away. 

 I tell myself, it doesn’t matter the difference, all diaries are the same day.


Hurricane / 16 September to 15 October

Dear Jillison,

No one ever thinks about how you need to stop when you want to be in a place.    Deceleration is often crucially ignored or overlooked.

I wonder how your days are, what sort of materials and fabric have grown too loud, what shapes you sleep in when the sky is quieting down and the landscape is a surrendering thing.


Every object in our solar system operates/orbits on a relatively flat plane because it was all formed from the same original stellar accretion disk 4-5 billion years ago.

Maybe this just one defensive posture against peaks and valleys.  Just a deep flat line of naive enthusiasm, infected by fragments with varying levels of success.  

Nevermind the the vanishings, the empty lenses you expected me to forget.  

It may be true that the earth is flatter than we ever gave it credit for. 


Castle / 16 November to 15 December

Dear Jillison,

Do you remember: You kept telling me how unreliable eyewitness memory could be. 

You said, don’t try to tell me you don’t know me by now.  I set my watch just to tick in time with your pulse.

It’s hard when your senses are ready for everything next, and the rest still resists, like cellophane wrapped too tightly over a windowsill.  

But still.  Things might not get worse.  We might start having to define ourselves differently. Have you considered that yet?

What then? What kind of ghost, what kind of hiding in the attic, what kind of forgiveness and future potentials?

It’s there.  Just a beginning, solutions ankle deep, birth marksmanship.

Jillison, I don’t know how to say it honestly.  I can only say it honestly.

It was real for me.  It was real for me. Is there really any point in telling someone on hormone replacement therapy, “no hard feelings.”

Come home.  Come home?



Plowshare / 16 January to 12 or 13 February

Dear Jillison,

In the men’s bathroom in the office building I’ve been working at, I listen to old men straining to shit while I do my brows in the mirror.  

I am so incredibly embarrassed by my face.

Just keep hoping, maybe by the next room, maybe by the next room.

Time then, is it always a form of anticipation? I am still slow to outgrow the tyranny of framing attention this way. 

On the unreality of time, this multiverse, etc:  

Shotgun surgery?  Consciousness causes collapse?  I keep feeling something terrible is about to happen.

I gotta get better at making fun of myself.  Do you miss me? It’s all collapsing.  

“I was doing well enough until you came along and kicked my stone over, and out I came, all moss and eyes.”

― Djuna Barnes, Nightwood, 1936.

Manhattan / 15 April to 15 May

Dear Jillison,

Here is what you told me once: There are only a very few basic parameters contribute to what makes a face attractive.

Averaging. Symmetry.  Effects of hormones. Our wounds are just geography.  

Four years on and I remain your unthought known, I remained dimly off limits, barred from the conscious minds of most people. 

Especially you?


Cupio dissolvi.  Literally, I wish to be dissolved.


The phrase has acquired more secular and profane meanings and uses, expressing such concepts as the rejection of existence and the masochistic desire for self-destruction.

Nevada / 16 May to 14 June

Jillison,

“It scares me how many things I’ve got to learn. How will I learn them?”

― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower, 1993

Julin / 15 June to 15 July

Jillison,

 There are seven types of forgetting.

annulment
repressive erasure
prescriptive forgetting
planned obsolescence
structural amnesia
formation of new identity
humiliated silence.

plague water worships / hospital 1

Some built it up as a burning thing, a combustible thing, but I knew it as a pierce through the window.  There were too many small bites to let the heat show. I lost track. The bones inside kept moving.

Jillison had a red incision and a face with various backings.  Chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these. 

The room was in linear form, the interior was cut out of dark paper.  The walls offered advice on how to distinguish between a drowning (water in the lungs) and strangulation (broken neck cartilage).  Jillison read them in front of me.

You start to hate yourself and you don’t even know it.  A crow storm at the corners of your mouth. A silhouette split open with an ice pick.  It becomes every day.  

Head wounds (zygomatic fracture, nasal fracture, orbital floor fracture) matched perfectly with a piece of wet paper they kept in their pocket.  

The room went from cold to bone level in less than an hour.  I don’t know how. 

They told me to wait, so I did.  They said it would hurt and it did.  

I tried to sleep, six blankets on top of me, it wasn’t enough.  I tried to put the skin back on. In the dark, with only my open veins.    

A cornered animal must create their own cage.

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hopeful monster hypotheses

Hopeful monster theory suggests that major evolutionary transformations have occurred not through the gradual accretion of small steps but rather through large leaps between species.

“Biologists seem inclined to think that because they have not themselves seen a ‘large’ mutation, such a thing cannot be possible.”

― Richard Goldschmidt, The Material Basis of Evolution, 1940

Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in samples (corpora) of “real world” text. 

“The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection. It is death infecting life. Abject.”

Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror, 1980


A cloud of opaque materials.

Macromutations.

Revenge fantasies? Yes, of course those too.


Rhapsodomancy is a form of divination in which guidance was sought through the chance selection of a passage in literature, often by opening a book and selecting the first line seen.

Parable underused: Preincarnation.

Men who do not devote their lives to pursuing wisdom will be reborn as women. Determined Plato.

There are so many ways of earning a living, and most of them are failures. Wrote Gertrude Stein.

“I know, indeed, the evil of that I purpose; but my inclination gets the better of my judgment.”

Allows Euripides, Medea, 5th century BC.

True carnivory is thought to have evolved independently nine times in five different orders of flowering plants.

Monotonous and gloomy variations of the same dismal theme.

“Each individual is separated from others by a taboo of personal isolation, a narcissism of minor differences.”

States anthropologist Ernest Crawley, Sexual Taboo: A Study of the Relations of the Sexes, 1895.

“When I was six I had a chicken that walked backward and was in the Pathe News. I was in it too with the chicken. I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax.”

Admits Flannery O’Connor.

In the Middle Ages. the most important events occurred in cemeteries: local elections, trials, sermons, and theater plays. Prostitutes would also operate within cemetery grounds.

Little moon faced girl from the woods.  Picked over, pock marked.

For humans, repetition is inherently transgressive.

Predictive brain, inference generating machine.  

Many people, taking this into account, and holding that such a change of sex is against nature, have been at great pains to prove:

(1) that Orlando had always been a woman

(2) that Orlando is at this moment a man.

Let biologists and psychologists determine. It is enough for us to state the simple fact; Orlando was a man till the age of thirty; when he became a woman and has remained so ever since.

Instructs Virgina Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, 1928.

Contact metamorphism.

“Devastating birds wither everything with their breath.”

Irish myth: Cross.

Adult. Reproductive or cannibalistic.

A “parataxon” (not to be confused with parataxonomy), or “sciotaxon” (Gr. “shadow taxon”), is a classification based on incomplete data: for instance, the v larval stage of an organism that cannot be matched up with an adult.

Pretend they’re all children in adult costumes.  It gets easier.

“The shadow escapes from the body like an animal we had been sheltering.”

Writes Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, 1981.

Hypothesis. That the body itself is capable of storing memories, as opposed to only the brain.

Categorical perceptions.   We’re trying as quickly as possible to fit it in within our taste.

If there were no thinking beings in the universe would numbers exist?


“Trahit sua quemque voluptas.

Everyone is dragged on by their favorite pleasure.”

― Virgil, Eclogues, 1st century BC.

“Indeed it may be only by risking the incoherence of identity that connection is possible.”

― Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter, 1993.


In classical astronomy, androgyn was a name given to planets that were sometimes warm and sometimes cold.

General structure is largely (in terms of record and filter): more potential than production.


From a 1906 psychiatric journal, The Alienist and Neurologist:

Then, there is a fear of being seen and a shamefacedness, which one sees in asylums. […] We called it scopophobia — a morbid dread of being seen.

 In minor degree, it is morbid shamefacedness, and the patient covers the face with his or her hands. In greater degree, the patient will shun the visitor and escape from his or her sight where this is possible. Scopophobia is more often manifest among women than among men.


“The basic anxiety, the anxiety of a finite being about the threat of nonbeing, cannot be eliminated. It belongs to existence itself.”

Admits Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be, 1952.

“Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.”

Admits Hector Berlioz in a letter written in November,1856.

The most common types of suicide include copycat, euthanasia, familicide, forced, honor, internet, martyrdom, ritual, attack, and cop suicides.


Corpus linguistics adherents believe that reliable language analysis best occurs on field-collected samples, in natural contexts and with minimal experimental interference.

Until the late 15th century the word ‘girl’ simply means a child of either sex. 

Boys, where they had to be differentiated, were referred to as ‘knave girls’ and girls in the female sense were called ‘gay girls’. 


“Female monsters take things as personally as they really are. They study facts. Even if rejection makes them feel like the girl who’s not invited to the party, they have to understand the reasons why.

… Every question, once it’s formulated, is a paradigm, contains its own internal truth. We have to stop diverting ourselves with false questions. And I told Warren: I aim to be a female monster too.”

― Chris Kraus, I Love Dick, 1997.

“I didn’t recognize you…  from a distance. That’s supposed to be my job.”

A security guard says to me.

Equally a boy could be a ‘knave child’ and a girl a ‘maiden child’.

Hybridization is actually quite common in nature.  Equines. Elephants. Big cats.


Hopeful monster hypotheses.  The root of ‘monstrum’ is ‘monere’—which does not only mean to warn, but also to instruct, and forms the basis of the modern English “demonstrate.”

Thus, the monster is also a sign or instruction.

Repetition and deficiency.

Exaggerated intuitions for how unlikely some things are. 


“And identity is funny being yourself is funny as you are never yourself to yourself except as you remember yourself and then of course you do not believe yourself.”

Writes Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography, 1937.

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leftover vein forest / hospital 3


For seven weeks, one by one, she cut her wrists into kites and string. 

They decorated her remains with escape clauses and expiration dates, a row of arrows through the skin. 

They asked for a warm body to replace a need elsewhere, a marker of muscle and a moistened gauze.

She gave me a reason.  Leaves were parted to let the veins in.


I waited for her in a short cornered room, in between cabinets, crouching, listening.  I was little more than a torso, with or without legs. At most an extra arm, shoulders and a patch of hair.

I caught them staring at a capillary and calling it a certain ripple, I saw a still life disappearing on the inner corner of each hand.


Six hours of slash and burn, six clinics, one back canopy, no one said your name.  Jillison, not even once.

They put her on a saline drip and said she was starting to improve, stopped vomitting, started drinking water and milk.  She showed a normal spinal curve for once. 

Her waiting room was windowless, walls nearly invisible, as close as we could come to a non-zero recovery again.

They never say exactly what shame takes away from you, the landscape of anatomy that gets subtracted entirely.


A faceful of blowout fractures.  A cavity in each cornea, irises resized by lack of light, same blank injuries for anyone to see. 

She told them the clouds were broken ornaments without a box, they weren’t even close. 

She said the sky was replaced by means of riot control, they threw it in a back room, probably burned it.  

She said you can’t replace a black hole, when all you have is a body full of black holes.

Silver lining of a sudden vein.  Just had to cut it cleanly, let it find it’s type.

They told me it was over, and I watched her.

Woke up to an empty waiting room, a blanket kite corpses covering the bed.  I told myself not to forget and then I left a note for her instead

Jillison, the ripples on the mirror show up as shadows below your skin.  I always thought if you left me and of course I hoped it would be then.

false martyr cartography.

“The malignant self-obsession and childish vitriol only scratches the surface of the man’s flaws. His compulsions aren’t hidden or covered up. They are broadcast for the entire country to see, for hours on end, every day, late into the night.”


Never underestimate temporary paralysis. It only takes one lifetime to forget all of human history.

The oldest burial sites and artifacts suggest such a belief in an afterlife goes back more than 50,000 years.

Can the dead talk at all?  Leave the afterlife alone. You open a door only to find a fire inside.

Petulant borderline (including negativistic features): Negativistic, impatient, restless, as well as stubborn, defiant, sullen, pessimistic, and resentful; easily feels “slighted” and quickly disillusioned.

Hollow, small, sunken, confused, jealousy. It just dominates so much of my thoughts. Intensities of abandonment or reckless abstraction. It doesn’t ever go away.

Everything was poorly communicated and treated as disposable. Identities. Aspirations. Jobs. Relationships. People, in general. We didn’t hang on to anything for very long.

Entropy was common and collective. Maybe we had more to learn from it than we think.

Days were sharp and light, and the afterlife did both things. I had shingles in my breath and a throat stacked with wood to burn. We often lit a fire just to remember what the world felt like before.

She carried bags of ash and gray air. We had good seasons and bad seasons. More choices did not necessarily make either of us happier. The afterlife highlights the lack in each.

Causality is murky and hubristic. Causality is irrelevant. Falling masonry offers little refuge.

Impulsive borderline (including histrionic or antisocial features): Captivating, capricious, superficial, flighty, distractable, frenetic, and seductive; fearing loss, the individual becomes agitated; gloomy and irritable; and potentially suicidal.

Hospitals were on their “worst case scenarios.” Every bird was made of metal and plastic. The weathervanes couldn’t tell the difference between wires and waves. There were too many angles to count. I think I was just tired.

We counted backwards from the crash site. There were few basic signifiers to indicate anything inhabitable. I used to hide survival tags in my room at night.

Chin, jawbone, brow, mouth, hairline. There wasn’t much I would choose to keep.

I wanted to cry, to feel my face wet and shallow and weak.

What kind of nightmares are the easiest to nail down? The ones that already know your name.

I was short, stumpy-bodied, big nosed. My skin looked someone was trying to kill the color pink. I had wrinkles, my teeth were cigarette yellow and crooked and disorganized.

She preferred an affectionate cloth to a wire frame.

Self-destructive borderline (including depressive or masochistic features): Inward-turning, intropunitive (self-punishing), angry; conforming, deferential, and ingratiating behaviors have deteriorated; increasingly high-strung and moody; possible suicide.

The barometer kept saying: chance of apocalypse. If only.

Big veins. Low self esteem. Not a risk taker. The center could not hold.

Peak-end rule. You pick apart the cemetery dimensions, go over the outline in your head. You make no payments to the future and repeat the same mistakes. You wear makeup and paint as if it will feel any safer. Just goes to show, the past you bleed is just the past you know.

For worse or for worse, felt like another afterlife was ready to fall.

uncanny valley (ruins) / hospital 4

Stared at me like I was missing a part of my face.  Or as if I was wearing two faces, tells on top of tells.

An uncanny valley of obvious giveaways, past lives practically in plain sight.  Canyons for shadow, cheeks covered by makeup and clay, eyes close enough to crater me.

I watched you blink deeply, roll over your irises, blanket your gaze.

I wanted to understand what scared you first (an avalanche of recency bias, a whole life spent in an empty room, feelinglessness in your face and fingertips). 

How you could forget where I left myself in that valley too?

Extinct already, first and last of no one’s kind.  There are certain things you should have known by now.

At least ask.

once upon a meteor riot / letters

Prime / 16 March to 14 April

Dear Jillison,

Have I given you my reasons yet? I wanted to tell you, no one else has to know.

A meteor riot may last as long as there are still mistakes for us to learn.

When we I started sending you these letters, I should have warned you:  Sutures. Yes. Always hungry.  Yes. Never, ever, ever, ever, going home.

You can collapse a sky by coming too close to it.  Even if the past has yet to make its impact, even if you wait there, waiting for it to crash.

I should have told you, “OK, you know all of this about me already.”

Mostly melodramatic, maudlin, under-imaginative.  

-Pock marks on top of pock marks.   

-Track marks on top of track marks. 

-Craters of cartilage, itching or missing or mostly gone.

Nevada / 16 May to 14 June

Dear Jillison,

The assumption is you’re drunk… When you drop things like that, when you walk like that, when you act like that.

Oh.”

It is an act though, right?

I know you don’t remember.  I’ll tell you again. This is exactly what you told me:

Stubborn. Engages almost exclusively in all or nothing thinking, delusional, frequently “injured.”  Anti-patterns in each pulse. Irises sinking like sacks in a lake. Black eye permanent. 

Voice like this.

You said, “That’s how you know it’s me.”

Is there a lesson here? A moral? A point? 

Fragile as ash fall and anyone could be just like you. Anyone could be just like me.  

Hurricane / 16 September to 15 October

Dear Jillison,

What is the opposite of wisdom?  Folly? Ignorance? Fatalism? A type of tooth?  Should I know by now?  

When it comes to the mortality, it seems we are not often encouraged to look at the details.

What a difference a couple months make.  I had a very different story I was trying to write before.  The thing I’m afraid of, is change. The thing I want, is stagnation.

When it comes to the mortality we are not often encouraged to look at the details.  

“Blushing.  The most peculiar and most human of all the emotions.

― Charles Darwin, Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals, 1871.

Transcendental anatomists in the 19th century theorized that the bones of the skull were “cranial vertebra“, or modified bones from the vertebrae. 

The theory has since been discredited.

Grable/ 16 October to 15 November

Dear Jillison,

Firecracker’s dilemma.

Honestly, Jillison.  A lot of the time when you dare someone to leave… they will.  That has to be scary to know. What if you turn into the things you hated all along?

Most of the time, when you dare someone to leave…they will.   That has to be comforting to know? An explicit reinforcement of causality.  At least on a larger level the classical laws of physics still hold? General relativity has not caught up yet?

 I tried covering my throat in cut black cloth.  I tried to forget how easy it is for an afterlife finds its mark.

“I brought up lonesomeness again, and not being understood at all except by some women everybody hated.’’ 

― Grace Paley, The Loudest Voice, 1959.

Castle / 16 November to 15 December

Dear Jillison,

Do I ever look like a girl to you? Do you ever think of me as one? Kind of? Not at all? I never ever know.

She has this complete and rigid dedication to this spiteful creation, this spiteful self-conception.

Very stubborn, obscure, confrontational in her own overindulgent way.  And aesthetically, still quite pedestrian.

Don’t forget Jillison, I get letters from you too.  I’ve taken what you said as truth.

There is a time we all fail.  We pause our own disintegration just long enough to explore the wreckage of a warmer person.  We dig out the hidden teeth in each other.

Jillison, if you still think you don’t know me like that?  Trust me, you know me like that.

Plowshare / 16 January to 12 or 13 February

Dear Jillison,

Here is what you taught me to remember.

Atoms against atoms, all light is the afterlife of mass.  No impact left to tell, we are hardly here at all.

Suns out of socket, sky out of socket

Skin separated by serrated angles

Spine like a torn white string.

It was a makeup year.  A mechanical year.

The oldest recorded love poetry is 4,000 years old and describes it exactly the same as we do now.

Melodramatic, maudlin, under imaginative. 

We were twin signs, kept making the same mistakes.  But if we’re this close, call it a miracle, call it a mirror kill.

Call it every meteor riot couldn’t we couldn’t run away from in the end.

aurora nervosa


On an ancient sundial in Ibiza: Ultima mvltis.

The last day for many.

Our town was glass domes in a row. Crates and conveyor belts replaced cars and roads. Every horizon was high density sprawl.

Jillison was the only one left who still paid any attention to me. She was a shortage of a girl. Raw wire shadow, skin off white, washed her hands twenty to thirty times a day.

It was hard to tell what was real, what was projection. There was little way to make any of it last. We were losing track. Jillison kept checking dirt lines on the window. We did our best to make sense of the background noise.

We lost light every day, atmosphere was worthless as toilet paper. Might as well have been no windows. There was a long way to go, or maybe not, I didn’t actually know. We had a hole in our bucket, dear darling, a hole.

The sun came out in halves or less, rarely for long. Eclipses came in the shape of rectangles or squares. We helped each other, the two of us there.

We kept ourselves on steady behavior authoring programs. Clouds were gray and on repeat. Jillison held a script against screen molds and I spread the movable press.

Most people, if they could, were still playing pretend.

Anxiety became another bill we received daily. Scattered randomness became static disappointment: Sky was still expensive. Trees were expensive. Oxygen was expensive.

My mental health was mostly just arranging voids in a row. Is trauma walled or unguarded? Does it matter?

You can’t defeat yourself into a success. The hole only gets deeper, only goes way.

sutures and tells / hospital 5

It was another way to keep track of obvious tells.  A lump of fog in the lungs and throat. Three weeks of missing capillaries. Scar tissue collected like it was the only way home. 

Half the afterlife gone already.  You say you will, but you don’t.

You don’t have to make up your mind anymore.  I’ll make it easy for you. 

Silhouette lit with matches and hidden underground. Representative features:

Both human and non human. Reacts with hostility when see their own reflection in the mirror.  Slumped posture. Shreds of water. That worn down feeling of it.

By some estimates a headless, allegedly feminine figure.   Always not very far from the edge of starvation. Exaggerated signs of infertility.   You hesitate to correct the self image.

You look to the topsoil.  Is it possible to have distance without delay? Ever decaying evolutions of language.  Speech patterns may be altered underground, as sound may travel very differently without air.

Breakdown of a map.   Handicapped by past experiences, strong priors.

Scooped an eyeball out, split in half, dipped it in chemicals to see any escape from here.

Scraping at it with a knife.   Infrared used to see the ink under all the layers.   A six hour lifespan and then lost.

Moving a page could destroy the whole book. I came out of my coma inhabiting this character.   It bleeds over. Yes. An actual life, it’s just as brittle, just as delicate.

Said I was going to move there by springtime.  Still tied to our predatory past. I guess you’d tell me that was it.

The Earliest written record of tears comes from Canaanite tablets from the 14th century BC.

Sequencing a blank sky.   Eyelids sinking like sacks in a lake.  Massive details may be missing or incomplete. 

dark swan astronomy / hospital 6

We slept back to back, with sixteen windows along each spine.  

Jillison understood the curvature of carrying nothing, back starting to bleed, another accuracy of the dark.   

The present often meaning a single event being considered, infinity is not that which has nothing beyond itself, but that which always has something beyond itself.  

Time becomes ambush and ambush becomes time.

the curtsies

               They weren’t birds and they weren’t people, so we didn’t know what to call them at first.  They had feathers on the front of their arms and who the hell knew where else.  My husband was one of the ones who was afraid of them, but I didn’t marry him for his bravery, I married him because he knew more about the weather than I ever could.

             I remember it all too well, we were half-young and all-married and living in a town known for its toothlessness, it made me feel like I was in a cartoon sometimes, the way everyone walked past us, smiling with their big blank gums, and all those pets they pulled along with them too.  Big pets and little pets. So many fucking pets.

             I wasn’t a detective by any means, but I could tell as soon as we moved, something was going on there. The sky was loud in all the wrong places, the days were short and long and everybody said the sun could do all sorts of other things if it wanted to… I didn’t get what they meant by that. Again, I was no Sherlock Holmes.

             When they showed up we thought they might be some sort of new pet too, but as soon as we got a good look at their faces we knew they couldn’t possibly be, there was too much action behind their eyes, it was obvious they knew better than to be leashed around. 

            While I’m telling you about their faces, I’ll tell you this too, they were round and slightly pink, and sharp in the middle.  They didn’t quite have beaks, they looked a lot like people.  Maybe seventy-five percent like people.  I think I liked the way they looked, avian and mammalian and big eyed.  Like children.

             My husband would take a big breath whenever we saw one on the street.  He’s always been a fragile man.

         There had been a break in the summer and we weren’t expecting anything special.  The garbage was piling up in the kitchen, the mannequins were on display on the street, I was trying on new ways to be mad at buildings.  I used to wear my frustration on my sleeves, but then I was doing my best to cover my contempt under my clothes.  As deep as it could go I guess. 
            My husband would tell me to take the elevator to meet him for lunch and sometimes I did.  He ate a lot of salads and chewed quietly, one day he found a butterfly in his lunch bag, its wings were blue as a baby boy’s room, we laughed as it waved away.  Summer was when we got along best, I bet it’s like that for a lot of couples, I don’t know. 

            Anyways, we were closer to black and white living than I’m letting on, it was pretty boring for the most part.  I was working in a field I understood too well, sharpening equations and balancing ledgers for people who had grown up taller than me.  I didn’t have a fling with my boss despite what my husband says.  My hands were just too tired to get into it, even though I could’ve.

         Maybe I was waiting for something larger to walk its way all over me.  One way or another, I was just waiting.

         My husband started to call them bird people after a few days of calling them, “them” and “they.”  I kind of felt that name was disrespectful to birds and people both, these creatures were something new, and needed a new name of course, not some hackneyed mashup of their most accessible characteristics. 
            I tried on a few names, “flickities”, “koo koo karoos”, “laylas”, before I settled on one I liked, “curtsies” (after the ways their legs bowed when they walked).  I never thought to ask them what they wanted to be called.  Sooner or later they’d tell me I guess I imagined. 

         The big question we had to begin with was whether or not they could fly.  They could, but not very high and not very far.  They were better at gliding, but even still, they didn’t take to the air too often, not that I saw anyways.  Every once in a while when I was driving around in my car (it was yellow) I would see one up perched in a tree, but I always assumed they just crawled up there to get a better view, it barely occurred to me they could be flying around all the time when I wasn’t looking. 
            I barely ever saw it happen, I don’t have a terribly good sense of my surroundings sometimes, that’s all I’m saying.

         Another question is where they came from.  My husband insisted they came from bad families, but I eventually convinced him otherwise.  My theory was they came from some place colder and migrated here for the warm summer weather.  It wasn’t much of a theory, a hog-tied kindergartner could’ve come up with it on the spot.  I liked it.  It was simple.

         I guess it didn’t really matter where they came from, but we were curious of course.  Either way, there they were, a couple of them at first, and then more and then probably somewhere between ten and twenty.  It was easy to tell them apart, some had long, fat, feathers, some had tiny, prickly ones, some had skinny necks and some were stubby shaped. 
             Also, believe it or not, they had numbers on their backs.  Big numbers, like the ones on sports jerseys.  That made a lot of people think they escapees of some sort of experiment, but I just figured they liked numbers.  I liked numbers, I guess probably I was projecting.

         My husband had these horrible glasses then.  We still danced in the living room sometimes, but he was clumsier than ever.  At work someone kept telling him the Earth’s poles were reversing fast (too fast!), that’s the sort of stuff he brought home at least.  Our lives were less than fireworks on the rise, that’s for sure, far, far less, but there was a lot lower we could go too.  My hands were still soft, they didn’t hurt like they do now. 
            I still believed one day there would be a stage in the sky where I would watch something spectacular happen.  I’m pretty sure I don’t feel that anymore.

Continue reading “the curtsies”

wish upon willing chrysalis / hospital 8

Cut through all that chrysalis you would never confess for them, all those “maybes” and “if only’s” that you couldn’t stop collecting.

Read your needle twitch, your ‘tetanus shot’, your target practice therapy. 

Tried to put a pin in each excuse like it was a missing specimen, like the pack of them would be extinct by the end of the night.

Memories are trapped using funnels, pitfalls, malaise netting, bottleneck interceptions and other types of passive traps, some of which are baited with small bits of sensation (such as a wish, when formed, or a want, once found).

Want (as a general preference) versus want (as a statement of an action).  Two very different definitions for the same word.

Yes, fine, tell them all that bullshit again.  You had a life before this. Take it. 

Do I need to make this simpler?  Could I? Jillison, do you really think it matters who was willing or when?  Another consequence of covering your tracks in cracks of glass, I could you see up close and all too clearly.  

Remember who you were before?    Temporary pins and proper needles, I wish I didn’t.

Jillison, do you still want me to honest?  You never trusted me, I never trusted you.  

Cut you open like a child from a cocoon, I knew you would be the easiest to kill.

raptor talon talisman

 

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges…”

― Jorge Luis Borges, “A New Refutation of Time”, Labyrinths, 1946.

“If an ox could paint a picture, his god would look like an ox.”

  ― Xenophanes of Colophon, 5th century BC.

Every day in tunnels, in the cave, I wore the talisman and swore the talon’s oath.

Seven claws hung high and sharp around my neck, each one easily reachable by either hand.  They were Jillison’s grave luck piece, an empty ornament to remember where we’d been.

Avalanche was the only calendar I had left.  It was our cold and voiceless season, more violence was unspoken than snow and ice could show.

We were alone and almost unconscious.  Children of the youngest continent, still lost enough to trust a raptor would protect us.

‘….that explains the trouble that I’m always in.”
― Alice in Wonderland, Very Good Advice

2. How does time work?  Here. A very simple setup.  A screen that flashes two dots.  Dot one appears and disappears and then dot two appears and disappears.

The brain translates this into one continuous motion.

Instead of seeing it as it is we perceive it as one dot moving back and forth between then position of the two dots.

We have evolved to see physical objects. We have adapted to the afterlife as if it were a normal error.  Another delusion, what’s the difference?

The unthought known stands for those early schema for interpreting the object world that preconsciously determine our subsequent life expectations.

3. Jillison called them savior claws and said they were enough to start us over again.

Maybe this time we could charcoal a path to a grayscale sun.  We could sharpen the talons to keep us together for good.

False positives or future imperfects, it was up to us to tell the difference. 

If animals like velociraptor were alive today our first impression would be that they were just very unusual looking birds.”

― Mark Norell, ‘Velociraptor Had Feathers’, 2007.

4. What raptors had we known before?  Anyone looking backward and forward at the same time, feathers and scales in the same place.  No need for symmetry, no reason to ask for it.

Like Jillison said, first birds of the afterlife.  Blind and incapable of sustaining their own body heat.  Hatched in caves or sinkholes, brought up by the opposites of each other.

For all we knew, they learned to leave flight behind.

5. Displaced gods or “fading gods” of older theology often appear in lower or demote status in new religions.

In the beginning, we had an agricultural god. 

Makes the seasons, the floods, forest fires, good and bad land.  There is no promise of afterlife. No rewards or punishment beyond death.  No answers are given to metaphysical queries.

Interests include agricultural input/output, little else.  This type of deity is no longer relevant to many people.

6. Could have been one of those sacraments still to come, a collapsing season, a coincidence of solar reckoning.  

Unstable weather often accompanied a raptor’s shadow, when warmer air begun to invade the caves, while glacial currents was still pushed on occasions from the poles.

Even with snow up to my neck I was still soaking wet with sweat.   I clung to serrated edges, sharpened curves, seven talons on a torn red string.  Jillison’s apology in advance, and I clung with both hands, honestly.

7. Time is dependent on an observer: It gets stranger when you add color (or gender) to the setup.  Dot one is reddish pink. Dot two is deep blue.

People claim to perceive the colors changing halfway along.

What is actually happening?  The brain is retroactively changing the contents of your present tense perception. Your brain is retroactively telling you what you are seeing right now.  

Test the latency bias.  Flashes get processed differently in the brain than moving objects.

This is your brain.  This is my brain. Formally just fault lines that fray.

Tiny differentiations in the developing egg designate major differences in the final creature.

8. OK, Jillison. Suppose we never left each other.  Suppose I could hold up those talons like they were a lantern now? How much of us depended on adaptation and how much depended on climate and chance?  How much of any of it was true?

A seventh of it. I know.

“It was a silly, silly dream, being unhappy.”

― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, 1925.

in the philosophy of fault lines / hospital 9

Jillison.  What contours now are clearer than what came before?

You’ve been drinking all night (and day).  Still repeating to me the same secret you can’t (won) t tell anyone else.  Plague water still your only map of nothing to say.

Latitude.  Longitude. Center of your eye like a compass screaming at me.  

Orbital floor fractures were investigated and described by MacKenzie in Paris in 1844 and the term blow out fracture was coined in 1957 by Smith & Regan,  who were investigating injuries to the orbit and resultant inferior rectus entrapment, by placing a hurling ball on cadaverous orbits and striking it with a mallet.

You just want to ignore as much as you can.  Go on and on about black me out weather, mistrust, language backing up into empty space.  Saying to me over and over, I don’t ever want this or that to be us.

I remember you Jillison.  Awake with your maps, north and blind, south and unable to breathe.  Weak and shivered thin, diet and stress interchangeable, terrified of cracks in the hide.

Jillison, consciousness causes collapse.  We are here now. Can’t make a map of anywhere else.

Still puking?  Jillison. You said it wasn’t going to be same (again).

Mapskin creased over and over.  Kept blaming it on the answer you couldn’t become.

Like writing you meant I owed you, an obligation (gesture) toward understanding, certainty, elimination of possibilities.  An identity held, at least, temporarily.

But it was all a cartography of illusion points, Jillison.  An embarrassment, in every direction. Jillison, I wanted an answer from you instead.

I wanted you tell me (just once), there’s a reason you are here.  There’s a reason we stay here.  

outline tectonic / topics of concern / letters

Grable / 16 October to 15 November

Dear Jillison,

I want to be vulnerable with you. 

Most interactions are either transactional or performative. We’re too self-conscious to listen. We’re thinking about what we’ll say next or how we’re being perceived.

All the posturing destroys any chance for a genuine connection.

A question worth asking: If you looked into the world’s most honest mirror, what would you see?

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Mother Night, 1962

Maybe I should stop going into the men’s bathroom.  

Castle / 16 November to 15 December

Dear Jillison,

Causality is a common lie.   We only believe in it because our brains evolved for it:   Tool making implies a world of causality. This action leads to this result: a very direct illusion.

You used to repeat yourself.  You told me over and over.

This weeks theme is garbage gray.  The goal is to pay attention to the illusions, knowing full well your brain is complicit in constructing them. 

Possible theme: fragments are existentially valuable.  Inherently valuable.

The movement of animals closely resembles in many ways the random walks of dust particles in a fluid.”

Plowshare / 16 January to 12 or 13 February

Dear Jillison,

Now the loneliness was evenly mixed with the air.  Settled like pollen and dust on table chair and dishes. Thin little lines lay under your eyelids.

When you were a child, what did you think happened after you die? When did you start thinking about death at all? 

I tried to remember the phantom limb of where we’ve been.  Maybe there once was a room where I knew what to do with months like these.

Prime / 16 March to 14 April

Dear Jillison,

Do laundry.  Go to work. Order/pickup medication.  Pack what you own. Find a temporary place to live

No money for concealer or caffeine. Reschedule face hair removal appointment for when you might have money.  Read an old story. 

Move?  Publish a book?  Get arrested? Maybe throw up again?

Be kind to yourself. Talk to friends.   Fuck dissociation. Wear what you have. No makeup necessary.  Fuck dysphoria, Go into world. Listen. Laugh at yourself. Actually make the trip to get your pills.  Be kind. Get a good night sleep. Write.

Confession: I have noticed this violent masculinity to our writing.  Short clipped sentences Too much force put on the period and line break.

The only form I trust are fragments.  What possible problems could this cause in our relationship?  In all relationships?

There’s got to be a lot more change in my life.  Let’s start with the way I write / think / collect / obliterate information.

continuous omissions / distortions

copying always / scavenging others 

entirely broken as a generative machine

trash collector / plagiarist

Shortcuts, cheats, so many breaks.  I collect scraps all week, just to leave them out.

Nevada / 16 May to 14 June

Dear Jillison,

“The map is not the territory…”  

Positive shame versus problematic shame.  I tend toward the latter. Internalize. Over-personalize.  Ignore external conditions and chance and circumstance. I catastrophize. I feel like I can’t change things, I lock in a spiral, I withdraw myself from others. 

Habit loops contain three parts. Queue (Trigger). Behavior. Reward.

A lot of addictive and destructive behavior may be caused by unacknowledged shame.  Concentric circles of denial and absence. 

We are so reliant upon the human face to read/understand intention and motivation, the face is a communication array.

A lot of gimmicks, too many gimmicks. The mask is an ancient performative tool.

It is easy to become sentimental.  It is easy to make poetic promises.  You are right to see these tendencies for what they are: flawed, human.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding, they learn by some other way — by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!”

― Richard Feynman, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, 1985.

the impalement arts / afterlife 3

At last, another Heaven.  Pins and needles the size of skyscrapers, a yolky aftertaste, a bed spilled on granite.  Vowels with their veils in disguise. Blue ribbons in my hair. Home.

Outside, Jillison whittles fingerholes into cork.  He scripts static defense into star charts. Scratches bruises shaped like trapezoids.  He spends his nights nailing frog legs to the leftover planks of wood. Anything else feels too much like starting over again.

He sheds and shivers and I balance him.  He is nervous. I brace his circumference with warm temperatures.  I brush poison sumac off this truth and that.

Syllables blink and I hide him.    I know my words are like ticker tape.  Thin. Flimsy. Tasteless. Jillison could rip them to their filaments and stomp them out.  But now, he won’t even look at me. 

That’s when maybe I knew the distance that exceptions make.  You can travel your whole life just to remember the absence they left in your place.

transfinite rift theory / letters

Hurricane / 16 September to 15 October

Dear Jillison,

You’ve fallen for this word “afterlife” how many times now?  I’m not sure what it is supposed to mean? What do you think you’re giving a name or order to?  I knew who you were from fault line’s first lie.

Hollow born.  Dead end new daughter.  Do you remember what I told you when we met?  Hangwire. Hiding place.  

Ignore the rest of them, Jillison.  Erasures scratched aside until there was only one left to spell.

Hypothesis over. After all that empty digging, numberless and unnameable.  Fault line fractured open and filled to close again. On and on, repetition like a map of mistakes and regret.

Should I just have left you to chance?  Left us to chance? Like another decade of disassociation would have allowed us to dissolve together, like these continents would always just be cloudforms you sketched on a page.  Jillison, no.

Jillison, if I had told you the truth back then. What I wanted was simple.

Jillison, I wanted us to die there as long as it took.  Hangwire. Hiding place. 

What I wanted from you was simple: same body, shape of a void.  

I’ve told you I’ve been working toward an afterlife to begin.  Have you ever belonged to one before? I’ve been to one, just one.   You know you don’t have to leave them quietly or all at once Jillison.   Let them stare. Let them.

If it all went nowhere, if a rift opened without anyone knowing you well.  

Jillison. I remember knives and knives under the bed, I remember hiding as dead as I could.  It was another fucking excuse and then another one and I’m tired of them. How can’t you tell they are too?

Listen to me.  Afterlife is only once.  It is not a trauma management strategy.   Symptoms are transfinite: total body deafness, desks empty and covered in skin, senses no longer separated by crash site and wreckage and cost of remains.The outcome is an obvious one, Jillison.  

What’s left for us now then?  An explanation won’t really help me.  It certainly won’t help you.

“You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, 1974..

Trinity / 16 July to 15 August

Dear Jillison,

Listen.  Seven continents and seventy attempts.   Crashed so many times, I hope you remember that past too.  If you think you have an afterlife now? Prove it.

Yes.  Jillison.  I told you from fault lines first lie. Make it simple. Almost childish, unbalanced, a diary of a missing body (story, plot, character) and the limits of disassociation in its place.

Do you need a list of leftover content?  An entire encyclopedia of dysphoria? How much needs to be lyrical, blind to which outlines? Jillison, none of what you’re doing is remotely new.

Confused.  Overwhelmed.  Scared. Avoiding intimacy. Embarrassed.  Distant. Cold. I know you don’t want me to say your name here: (want versus want).  You won’t.

Do you understand what that means Jiillison, we are kept together or not all, either way.  There is no pretense left for you to repeat. Keep your eyes on us instead. 

Called yourself a scavenger’s daughter, dressed your hands in fossils and scales and feathers and skin, like there was such a thing as evolution at an evacuation site, like shrinking yourself into a smaller grave and then a smaller grave would help them see you honestly.

Mapped the same afterlife forwards and backwards, always as if our fault lines would fracture together at the end. As if, as if, as if.

Fearful, that is how I would describe you.  That would be my word for you.

Jillison, I wanted to write these letters even plainer you know.  Like all that mattered was a repetition of simple pieces (pitch-blind and against meaning).  As if language wasn’t there at all. As if it wasn’t always a form of violence replaced.  

Tell the story of where I found you last.  Afterlife wasn’t ever supposed to mean anything more than that.