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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”
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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.

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.

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.

our holographic winter

“You remember too much,
my mother said to me recently.
why hold onto all that?
and I said,
where do I put it down?”

― Anne Carson, Glass, Irony and God, 1995.

A tale of two entropies.

“All human beings have bodies. All bodies are mortal. Yours, too, is one of these bodies.”

According to Thomas Browne, the physician and author of Religio Medici, “The long habit of living indisposeth us to dying.

A failed supernova is an astronomical event 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, sometimes misleadingly been called unnovae.

Initially, the rope broke when the Russian revolutionary Bestoujeff was hanged; “Nothing succeeds with me,” he said. “Even here I meet with disappointment.

Iceblink is a white light seen near the horizon, especially on the underside of low clouds,, resulting from reflection of light off an ice field immediately beyond.

The fear of returning to one`s childhood home is nostophobia (the opposite state of nostalgia) combined with its comorbidity ecophobia: fear of the house.

Moral conversion is a relatively rare event in a person’s normal development.

Adam Rainer, the only person known to have both dwarfism and gigantism.

At 19 years old he was 4 feet 8 inches tall, by the time he was in his 30’s he was 7 feet tall.

Looking at a lamp that flared at his bedside, Voltaire said, “The flames already?

Castration—believed to extend the life span a few years—was popular in the Middle Ages. Eunuchs do live longer than uncastrated men. A sterilized dog or cat, male or female, will live, on average, two years longer than unsterilized dogs and cats.

Emerson said, “After thirty, a man wakes up sad every morning, excepting perhaps five or six, until the day of his death.”

A rare first-person account of Cotard’s delusion – the belief that you’re dead – is by writer Esmé Weijun Wang who describes her own episode of psychosis and how she came to believe, and later unbelieve, that she was dead.

“Somatic details figure heavily in these recollections: what I wore, what I looked like. I told myself, through mirrors and dressing-up and Polaroids and weighing myself, You have a body. The body is alive.

But the more that I tried to remind myself of the various ways in which I did, in fact, seem to have a body that was moving, with a heart that pumped blood, the more agitated I became.

Being dead butted up against the so-called evidence of being alive, and so I grew to avoid that evidence because proof was not a comfort; instead, it pointed to my insanity.”

James Baldwin explained why black people don’t have midlife crises. Why? Because they do not buy into the myths of America. Black people know that the system in America is rigged. Black people know this when they are children.

By comparison, white people buy into these illusions of meritocracy and individualism and American exceptionalism and similar beliefs.

That is why the highest rates of suicide right now are among middle-aged white men, because they are finally starting to realize that the system does not care about them.

Everybody inside the afterlife is packed together. All at one point.

The 16th-century Utopians, Thomas More and Antonio de Guevara, allowed no decrepit old people in their fictional lands.

“Old people are miserly; they do not acknowledge disinterested friendship; only seeking for what can satisfy their selfish needs.”

States Aristotle’s Ethics.

Three unique markers of frailty have been proposed:

(a) loss of any notion of invincibility
(b) loss of ability to do things essential to one’s care
(c) loss of possibility for a subsequent life stage.

The Greek philosopher Anaxarchus, pounded to death with pestles in the fourth century B.C., said, “Pound, pound the pouch containing Anaxarchus. You pound not Anaxarchus.”

The moon is 1/400th the size of the sun but also 1/400th the distance from earth which results in the moon and the sun being the same size in the sky, a coincidence not shared by any other known planet-moon combination

Cross-entropy method. The pineal gland is your internal clock.

The world of the happy is quite different from the world of the unhappy.

States Wittgenstein.

Babies born prematurely—who often have falsely mature faces—are imagined to be difficult and irritable, and people are less willing to volunteer to take care of them.

So, too, a study of abused children under court protection in California and Massachusetts found that a disproportionate number of them were “unattractive.”

Classical notions about the status of humanity may be inferred by the etymology of ancient words for man.

Latin homo means “of the earth, earthling”, probably in opposition to “celestial” beings.

Greek anthropos means “low-eyed”, again probably contrasting with a divine perspective.

An Indian Proverb states, “The eyeless ant asked God: Give me eye-lashes.”

Continue reading “our holographic winter”

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.

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.

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