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jillison flook

350px-PSM_V34_D714_Skeletons_of_a_bird_and_man

“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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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.

rainy day in an amphibious house / letters

Nevada / 16 May to 14 June

Dear Jillison,

There are two kinds of half-life (blood loss, sentimentality) and they can both kill you quietly. 

Me?  Myself? I still suffer from a lack of generative imagery, imaginative capabilities.

An eccentric, dreamy, half-educated recluse in an out of-the-way New England village cannot with impunity set at defiance the laws of gravitation and grammar.

Oblivion lurks in the immediate neighborhood.
Said Thomas Bailey Aldrich of Emily Dickinson, 1885. 

I’ve tried to prepare an explanation for you the best I can:

Nosebleed, ear ache, stomach cramps.  Highly derivative ways of forcing back weight.  Slow. Sluggish. Already lost more than arms and legs.   

I’m pretty much just sure we both can’t keep using exhaustion as an excuse.

Julin / 15 June to 15 July

Dear Jillison,

Consider.

Most hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death and consume the human equivalent of 140,000 calories per day to compensate.

They enter an mini-hibernation mode (torpor) each night just to survive the suspension of calories.

Jillison, This is how I imagine it must be to live the way you do.

Incurable, without sleep, not dead enough.  Still scrambling to write your same zero-sum diaries.  Childless too, obviously.

This how I imagine it to be at least.

Castle /  16 November to 15 December

Dear Jillison,

OK, so what did I actually actually see? These days?  It wasn’t much.

Gray splotches, dust storms, pale clouds.  A disconnect between patchwork and puncture sites.

You told me once, every wound has to have an origin story.  Do you remember that? You said, “a cautionary tale is just culture (however you choose to to define it) designed to improve our survival rate.

Scavenger’s daughter was right.  I wasn’t going to last.  

Castle / 16 November to 15 December

Dear Jillison,

Before proper mirrors, the ocean or lake was the looking glass, the reflective world.

Lacking semantic or declarative memory.  Many of us, we still mistake this metaphor, we have a hard time remembering what lap we are on, we mistake denotation for connotation.  

Even when the differences are glaring at us right in the face.

The act of predation can be broken down into a maximum of four stages: Detection of prey, attack, capture and finally consumption.

What I mean is? We have been adapting to the afterlife as if it were a normal error.  Everything has slowed down. Completely.

Jillison, have you considered?  There are many that hereafters that may not belong to humans at all. 

This should come as no surprise to you by now.

Plowshare / 16 January to 12 or 13 February

Dear Jillison,

I said I was going to stop writing you these letters.  I should have.

We often fail to appreciate this critical aspect of the natural world: it’s brutal.  Even apex predators are very often constantly on the edge of starvation.

Emily Dickinson’s complete refusal to sit for a photographer.  In the end, unwilling to leave her bedroom, hiding from all visitors, even in her own home.

What is here since you left?  

Some days are like hummingbirds in plastic bags and some have some have been so long and flat they may as well have been laid out on a stretcher.  

Every one I thought of you at some point or another.  

Why are there so many myths and folklore where humans are punished for wanting better than their present lot in life?

It’s because you can’t have it.  Ultimately.

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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.

empty hell theory / hospital 2

Once, there were rumors in hell that human beings were happy. So Lucifer sent some minor demon or other up to see if these rumors were true. 

They weren’t.  Yes. We can zero in on that a little bit.

Children think their imaginary friends know more than flesh and blood people do. It seems ingrained in our mental programming that a mind without a body will know more than a mind within a body.

Dreaming up gods that don’t exist yet (but maybe should soon?). This is how the afterlife comes to devour actual life.

December.  Dotted lines across the eyelids.  Hair and teeth gives the illusion that there is more body there.

A tenth less atoms.  Many times our memories are very low resolution and highly suggestible.

It would be unsettling if we didn’t have all these other identities and read throughs to fall back on.

What are the other possibilities before us? Another tired light hypothesis? The entire framework is much more fallible than we think.  Flawed. 

We humans are descended from a need.  This need. I don’t think there is any use in trying to hide it anymore.

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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.

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. 

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”

insect century / hospital 7

You worked at the church, waited for the animals of your family to die.  Hundreds of acres of skin and stitches and still no surprises.   

They disgust us because they show us what we are, always, eventually.  Small, scattered. Confused. They make a mockery of our pretense of “progress”.

Legs moved like a hydraulic system, unnatural, mathematical, controlled by blood pressure, judgements of lesser parts, meaningless never ending methodical action.

—  

Insects have their own scenery of denial.

I remember a lot of movement without momentum. Angular.  Divided. I remember they came out like an ink storm on the sheets and the bedspread.   

We took out the mattress and then we took out the whole room.

Jillison.  Listen to me.

Don’t ever mistake activity for achievement. They already had a name for that, they called it the insect century.

Do you still not understand what the problem is?  I don’t understand the entomology, that’s what you said.

Jillison.  Listen to me.  This is the truth.  Your past comes with you.  If you have any insects, you have all of them.

our nowhere ocean

Used to scrape off my skin with fingernails and rough fabric. Carved out circles of cheek, jaw, forehead, chin, jaw again.

I was trying to rip the reflection off. I wanted a topsoil of scar tissue, a surface level of red and violent and bleeding through. Raw and bruised.

Am I still angry?  Am I still confused?  Look at all this sweat and syntax emptied out for you. Another nowhere ocean I knew by heart. Another face buried without a name.

Coincidences of sand. Echo sounders. Ocean worshipers. A connected body of lack and loss.

“All poetry is misrepresentation.”
— Jeremy Bentham, An Aphorism attributed to him according to John Stuart Mill

Human emotions are an unconscious bio-psycho-social reaction that derives from the amygdala and they typically last 0.5–4.0 seconds, although a microexpression will typically last less than 1/2 of a second.

Look at the undertow. You find the prognosis for causality.        

I think of you often.  I go over things I could have done differently.  I try to remember it’s not always about what I could or couldn’t do.  

I know what nostalgia is, it’s a camouflage people cover themselves in when the present tense has become a trap.  

I know it’s a form of depression.  I know we didn’t get here by accident.

“Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.”
– Alan Turing, 1954.

Hedgehog’s dilemma / Lover’s paradox: Despite goodwill, human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm.

A parasocial breakup. Illusionary experience. Interacting with personas, fictional characters. Scarcity becomes social stress.

Negative consequences: Body image. Aggression. Wishful identification.

Stagnation pressure is the pressure a fluid exerts when it is forced to stop moving.

Synesthesia as pathology.

Electronarcosis is one of the methods used to render animals unconscious before slaughter and unable to feel pain. Electronarcosis may be followed immediately by electrocution or by bleeding.

Prohibition against slaughtering an animal and its offspring on the same day.

Uncertainty over insect sentience. Welfare of farmed insects.

Trade-offs between stimulus avoidance and other motivational requirements.

Darwin described complex behaviors by worms when plugging their burrows. He suggested that worms appear to “have the power of acquiring some notion, however crude, of the shape of an object and of their burrows” and if so, “they deserve to be called intelligent; for they then act in nearly the same manner as would a man under similar circumstances.”

Thought-Forms: A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation

Animals that have failed: sea lions, giant panda, gibbon, macaque, parrot, crow, fish, octopi.

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.  

victory disease

“If you find this work wearisome or difficult to follow, please take pity on me for I have repeated these calculations some seventy times.”

― Johannes Kepler, The Harmony of the World, 1619.

“I don’t know why I told this story. I could just as well have told another. Perhaps some other time I’ll be able to tell another. Living souls, you will see how alike they are.”

― Samuel Beckett, The Complete Short Prose: 1929-1989.

1. By dawn, my stepfather had introduced us to a mythology of his own. He built a tower hide, attached wing tags, cast his nets over clouds and sky.

Back then, we lived under a three tiered sky of cartilage, hollow limb and common bone.

There were birds as big as bathtubs and birds with bellows in their throats. The wind was thick with them, twenty four to every eye, fits and flocks of them.

Birds of now and birds of then, he said. Both would be blacked out at the Halowell.

“Birds, by their quickness and intelligence and alertness in acting upon every thought, are a ready instrument of God, who can prompt their movements, their cries and songs, their pauses and wind-like flights, thus bidding some men check, and others pursue to the end, their course of action or ambitions.”

 ― Plutarch, 1st century AD.

2. When the cloud cover was clear, we watched him turn the anesthesia machine back on.  The sound of opposing currents came through over motorized, brackish, cold. Wind fell off course.

As if I didn’t notice, a nowhere was growing inside of me.

3. Cells stop making new rejuvenated cells.  Maintenance gets scaled back or rolled out in illogical ways. 

 Early human explanations: Our bodies over time, get worn out.  Our tools get worn out over time, artifacts etc. Shouldn’t our bodies be the same?

Evolutionary function of aging.  It has such a cost, why does it exist.  What pays for it biologically?

4. Seven weeks we waited in our pop-up trailer. Jillison was a ghost born again.  We played duck and shutter, pane and palm print, draw card and rook exchange.

We practiced disassociation strategies until we were waking strangers, until we were too young to guess what was coming again.

Hours began appearing briefly or repeatedly, as if each duplicate was undercutting into something lesser.

5. I watched my stepfather outside again, filling sacks with fallen leaves, covering echoes in rain, confirming the failed results.

I could read the swears worsening on his lips. I listened for the recoil of commas and halts of breaths, more or less single tones, pauses before the rest.  

I wondered how a face could end up looking like that. Jowls and bone and eyes bulging, barely any shapes at all.

Caught me red handed, caught me empty handed, the inevitable was never far from where I stopped following along.

“To oppose something is to maintain it… To be sure, if you turn your back on [something] and walk away from it, you are still on the [same] road…You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road.”

― Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969.

6. No mental imagery.  Purely conceptual. A computer that stores information but you do not have a screen attached to the computer.  You can’t view it. But you can still access it.

1 out of 50 people don’t create pictures inside their mind like other people do. Instead they experience  blindness of the mind’s eye. Aphantasia.

Why does it take so long for anyone to tell?  A lot of conversations go unnoticed or missing in the back seat, individuals find a way to function despite it.

7. It wasn’t denial at first of course, just another way to exist further and further from myself.

Jillison wrote a reminder and left it for me. He called me the upcoming hopeless and I tried to laugh about it as long as I could.

8. My stepfather watched us with one infected orbital.  He recited another fever vision under his breath. He went back in to check on the anesthesia machine.  His eyes were controlled by corners of light.

Jillison was right when she said critical parts were missing.  Blood-soaked, empty veined, a sky made from shadows of flesh.

She was right when she said, if the afterlife ever started, it was starting then.

“Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge…”

― Paul Gauguin, 1903.

9. Rank in level of detail.

A close friend, a partner, a family member.  How well in your mind’s eye can you the contours of their face?  Just how vivid are these mental images? 

There tends to be a spectrum, from none to extreme lucidity.

“Consider incompleteness as a verb.”

― Anne Carson, Plainwater: Essays and Poetry, 1995.

10. He used both hours, like there nothing was wrong with it. Like he shouldn’t have to even worry about getting caught.

I could feel his anesthesia machine overheating, sweating heavily.

Aphantasia.  Disassociation.

Synaptic ripple and retreat.

Left my eyelids there, left my pulse there, left my body as an echo chamber. My throat was numb from vomit and spit swallowed back and spit up and swallowed back.

Jillison told me it didn’t matter now. She made it simple: Hide the knives under our pillow. Wait until he comes the right night.

Kill the bastard already.

“I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.”

― Simone de Beauvoir, in a letter to Nelson Algren

a constellation of knives / afterlife 2

And medical knives in Midheaven too, even if Jillison said it was all still preventable.

It only had to be a reminder some form of surgery coming.  An equivalent guilt. They told us possible risks, radiation therapy, more possible risks and a third of the horoscope alone. 

They said accidental catastrophe, including carcinoma, faster than average speed.

Another puncture passed through the undercurrent of your face.  A pain exhibit. Like a constellation killed in slow motion. Almost even carelessly.

You said you would use whatever your had left.  Lost comets, lines of advantage, sympathetic or contagious magic. 

The discussion was over before it began. Just another reminder of all the things I never learned how to talk about with you.

cryosphere ultima

“Near limitless energy is to be found by effectively cannibalizing dead galaxies from other dead universes.”

“See the moon? it hates us.”
―Donald Barthelme, 60 Stories, 1966.

I was living topside when we met. I was covering my organs in gray cloth and hoping no one noticed.

I wasn’t following fault lines or fractured terrain. My silhouette was stitched thin already.

I knew it could all go wrong.

The cryosphere is an all-encompassing term for those portions of Earth’s surface where water is in solid form, including sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and frozen ground (which includes permafrost).

Benign envy versus hostile envy. We reserve this malicious envy for our peers. Relevant comparison standards. Relative dimensions.

The Icelandic word for “drift whale” translates as “windfall“, since the washed-up carcass provides meat, blubber, fat, and other benefits to the finder.

In Chile, the caldera of the volcano, Sollipulli is filled with ice.

A glacier erupts.

During the Renaissance and by early modern times the voices in favor of actual infinity were rather rare.

“The continuum actually consists of infinitely many indivisibles…”
Argues Galileo.

But Plato has two infinities, the great and the small.

In 1909, one filmmaker, Władysław Starewicz, found that when filming live stag beetles, they tended to stop moving under the hot lights.

To solve this problem, he killed his film subjects and attached wires to their bodies in order to puppeteer them. Dead insects and other animals were frequently used as protagonists in his films. 

Discussion of Warm Diseases published in 1746, divided the manifestations of diseases into four stages.

Parrondo’s paradox: it is possible to play two losing games alternately to eventually win.

It’s vehement, it’s mean-spirited, it’s hateful. It’s like a rattlesnake was kissing it almost.

Prose itself reads like a rant. Basically just primer material. Hard to understand. Bombards you with information that is no way persuasive. Again. Childish. Babbling.

Most virulent forms of jealousy reserved for those who are in same boat as us. Hostile envy gnaws at you, schadenfreude soothes the pain.

Envy feeds on the living. It ceases when they are dead.
― Ovid, Amorum, 16 BC

“Beware the fury of a patient man.”
―John Dryden. Absalom and Achitophel, 1681.

Ice sheets are the greatest potential source of freshwater, holding approximately 77% of the global total.

“Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.”
―Oscar Wilde, Phrases and Philosophies for the use of the Young, 1894.

“It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others, and to forget his own…”
―Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, 45 BC.