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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.”

Continue reading “seasons of creature”

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.

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.

great zodiacal wars / afterlife 1

Abnormal bleeding, a prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss.

As a result of coordinated attacks, water triplicity was also a concern.  

Constellations infected your reflection in unpredictable ways.  Cloud reservoirs were polluted to a point where neither of us could drink from them anymore.

Heavensick, if you wanted to call it that. 

They tried an asymmetrical insurgency, using magnetism and electrolysis.

You prayed for recovery to calculate a more accurate afterlife.  One with appropriate tectonic and volcanic activity, occasional softness as a twofold surrender.  

The myth had many variations: the creator and the raven, collaborating in a coequal way; or the creator alone, using the birds only as interventional assistants.

They took over a table of dates, described a location and an ability to view the damage by land.

Dissection was doubtful, blood flowed from the right ventricle to the left ventricle.

Undeclared symptoms may manifest themselves in fatigue cases, confusional states, conversion hysteria, anxiety, obsessional and compulsive states, and character disorders.

When you reached a passing condition, the ascendant and vertex started switching hands.

Several factors may have contributed to a body being accidentally debilitated, including the cancer being: faster than its average speed, retrograde, combust or aspecting a malefic planet or fixed star.

End it there, and it only had to be our half of the horoscope alone.  A slip away, structurally and socially invisible. They probably wouldn’t even be able to tell.

Like a sketch of sunspots from a start over sky.  A zodiac trial easily lost, or won.

It would become another targeted tumor treatment, another unequal treaty and the nearest we had to get to zero was zero.

You told me the Hereafter was a form of far away and only once before.  I always hoped that was right.

A failed supernova is an event in time domain astronomy in which a star suddenly brightens as in the early stage of a supernova, but then does not increase to the massive flux of a supernova.

They could be counted as a subcategory of supernova imposters. They have sometimes misleadingly been called unnovae.

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.