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Q uiet L

ightning
sPARKLE & bLINK
3.3

SPARKLE

+
BLINK
as performed on Feb 12 12 @ Cocoanut Grove as part of Poetry Festival Santa Cruz
2011 Quiet Lightning
ISBN 978-1-105-49526-7

all art Pierre Merkl aka Mr. Lucky pierremerkl.com edited by Evan Karp evankarp.com
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a monthly submission-based reading series with 2 stipulations:
1.

you have to commit to the date to submit 2. you only get up to 8 min

This show][book curated by:


Chris Cole and Meghan Thornton

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Contents
Lauren Eggert-Crowe
from The Exhibit

7 13 23 57

Timothy Walker
The Silly Fool Who Dreamed

Steven Gray
News Leak Fog City

Cassie J. Sneider
Roger Peterson, February 3, 1959

25 Jarett Kobek
from ATTA (Semiotext(e))

31 Keely Hyslop
Beside Her My Mother is a Rubber Ball Turn Your Car Into a Living Room

39 53

54 SB Stokes
Understanding

423 Max Tomlinson


Sendero

45

Arisa White
It Was Easier to Manage

51 Jason Schenheit
Wrench and Crank

59 63

Tristen Chang
Gun, Bell

About
The artist Pierre Merkl aka Mr. Lucky Cover art from the series Welcome to the Worlds Fair Everybodys Invited! Where sizes and shapes try to relate, try to foster. Where people meet places. Where places are people. Where form and people fight it out! Inserts from the series Encounters These are portraits painted during one session and two hours of painting time. The spontaneous/deadline approach probes and captures the moment and emotion and the thoughtfulness of the interviewee. These pieces can be mounted as conceptual sculpture. Quiet Lightning A 501c3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet Lightning is to foster a community based on literary expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on the first Monday of every month, of which these books (sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts. Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the board of QL is currently: Meghan Thornton Secretary Kristen Kramer Treasurer Chris Cole Vice Treasurer Charles Kruger Chairman of the Board Evan Karp President If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in helpingon any levelplease send us a line: evan@quietlightning.org.

More information and guide to other readings: 67

from I.

The Exhibit

The exhibit is instructional. On the black curtain, words ripple; an alphabet of light vanishing. Here is the first specimen: hieroglyphs cover the fabric that shrouds the body from head to foot. The body that has been folded into an impossibility. Or: the smallness of form. There are places we do not trespass. There are places we must let others trespass. All that can be done is to hold breath until the river. The bones become transparent, highlighting the teeth. A static-jammed thing you were told late at night, a question you were made to answer. The exhibit says you must. The specimens in their glass boats say, we can wait. In the mirror, you see your child self: With the boy, you built traps for the girl/with the girl, you built traps for the boy. Here is the knotted rope, here are the hickory slats and splinters of bone. The exhibit says, they can only belong to you.

Lauren Eggert-Crowe

II. The exhibit is pointing in a direction only you can see. There are arrows on every wall and the arrows point to hands. It is suggested you consider including the names that have cut deeper. You don't. Instead stand before the mirror as the cotton is tucked and the light is revealed. Here is the body, its codes. Here is the flat belly parenthesized in the pelvis. Here are the numbers descending the steps. Some water you ache to drink and the wrong thing to say, always the wrong thing. The exhibit asks you to make a decision; each direction waits. The moon grows teeth. On this side is the miniature cathedral with the spine below the arch, and the molar roof. On this side, the dark room and the eyelet in the door. On still another side is the cat in the silver jar. This is the exhibit's pain: you cannot see every side at once.

sparkle + blink

III. We had been thinking the exhibit was about love, but it turned out to be something else. When we passed the vined archway, you said you'd been in this room before. The guards were skeptical. Neat rows of lampposts. Maps out of their frames and upside-down. Each map will lead you to a certain room. You will be surprised by your feelings. You will be surprised by the boundaries. There is a key that locks this door, and another that unlocks it. The exhibitors have hidden both in a barrel of sand that children dig through. The sand refills itself. If you come to the exhibit in the morning, you are allowed to touch. If you come at night, you are not. And if you visit the exhibit in your sleep, only it is allowed to touch you. You can sob all night, but you have to wait it out.

10

Lauren Eggert-Crowe

IV. The exhibit is an astrology lesson. It says the world is made of spheres. They slide back and forth and around and between without knowing prepositions. One sphere holds everything we know. The second sphere holds everything we don't know. Every morning something catches on fire. The third sphere holds the other spheres but is still lonely because the fourth sphere holds love. When she cranes her neck up at the sky, at night, she shivers. This may be because she is trying to find Scorpio. She is more afraid of falling up endlessly than gravity. The night is colder than it should be. She wonders if one of the spheres has a hole. A leak that hisses the light out like a deflated tire. The fifth sphere holds the sun. Spheres six and seven don't know what love is but can recite equations. We sat under them when you said you were leaving. The cold came in then like a guest that wants to love you all night. The eighth sphere is rounder than the gold ring at the bottom of the drawer in the attic. Even a guest knows this, having never seen the dust's halo. The sun is quieter than you would imagine. I am the ninth sphere.

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11

V. The exhibit is a lightning storm. You walk into it thinking you will die or learn something. Behind each curtain is a word that feels wrong on the tongue. On this body, see how the false tongue protrudes. No one knows why. Here is the dry cornsilk hair, here is the nasal walnut half. Underneath the scapula, a curled child. He didn't mean what he said. Underneath her hair, the skull is a generous orange. Words unripen. Another child on the chest; lengthy forms of punishment. Underneath the blue shawl, her hands fold. Underneath those, no one has seen. Here is the release and the temporal hold, signified by clay beads, a comb, braids of fiber. Blackened skin shines underneath the glass but does not reflect. You assign meaning to texture. At the end of the storm you fit the words together and they wash out in the rain.

12

Lauren Eggert-Crowe

sparkle + blink

13

The Silly Fool Who Dreamed


I am haunted by the dreams. These visions of sidewalks under trees in varied weather, indiscriminate in their attachment to time and place, they flash and leap about, playful as a lantern dancing lit above the deepest water. As beads strung along twine they are connected, but as twine breaks and beads scatter so does the memory, the richness of a full bucket, splashed to vanishing upon some now glistening garden's pebbled path, emptied, only to be filled anew. At this point the visions shatter and I am returned to an empty railroad yard in the middle of nowhere with a drink in my hand and there is a star outside and it is night time and I have been doing something terrible lately, involving this nice woman I don't really care for but seem to let spend time with me none the less. I have been down this road before, this path of letting people into my house just to watch them scream and fiddle as it is burned to the ground. The look of ashes on the cheeks is so becoming and makes me happy inside, which is nice, because lately it has been so difficult to smile, all the birds I see are black
14

Timothy Walker

and larger than I'd like, or they are massed and swooping, like the wall of grackles that descends when dusk falls in West Texas. It was only the year before I was in Tahoka, working labor, lifting things, or at least, I had the aim of doing this, but things kind of worked out for the worse seeing as how I couldn't actually keep a job what from all the drinking I just couldn't seem to help myself from doing. So after pretty much everyone had thrown me out of town, and by that I mean I couldn't go nowhere that would serve me a drink, I found myself a ride with a long hauler by the name of Perrogi (no relation, he told me, to the polish dumpling of similar name but slightly different spelling). Perrogi was a real fishy smelling beer bellied bastard and he gave me the once over as I stood on the side of highway 380 covered in sunburn and the grit of poor hygiene, offering me a ride on the condition that I would but clean my damn broke as a fuck dummy self. So I took the first shower I'd had in months and started to think about quitting with this whole drinking thing when I remembered I maybe had a bit more in a little Welch's grape juice plastic bottle that I'd been forgetting about for weeks.
15

sparkle + blink

So I up and checked my pack and found the bottle and sure enough it smelled strong when I whiffed it, so I made my way back to the road and nursed that grape juice like it was my own mothers sweet burning milk and I her (as yet unbroken) only begotten son, until Perrogi rumbled up to where I was standing and honked his horn for me to hop on and ride with him all the way to San Diego. At least, that was the plan, but Perrogi was one weird piece of work, the likes of which I couldn't really make heads or tails of. Maybe it was the grape working itself purple on my brain, but I'm pretty sure Perrogi told me, in more ways than one, that he normally mutilated and killed the people he picked up and let hitch a ride, but that with me, I was such a sorry looking fool and the drink had obviously left my brain peppered with as many holes as a forgotten back country dirt road, that I just wouldn't be worth it, for what's the fun in sticking a knife in some damn fool who just about might laugh when you do it, and laugh harder still when he up and sees the blood coming out his own damn self. Now, maybe you'll be calling me crazy with me telling you this, or maybe it's just proving
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Timothy Walker

Perrogi's point that I was nothing but a damn silly fool, but when he finished telling me all this and I'd had a chance to have a nap on it, I realized I was a might bit hurt by the whole rejection aspect of it all. I wasn't even good enough to mutilate and torture, okay, I get that, but the guy didn't even want to kill me. And the more I drove with him the more I was shocked that he didn't. I mean, this guy was all about killing. It was all he talked about. And he talked about it nonstop. He showed me Polaroids of so many dismemberings and disembowlings and cut throats and chopped toes that I simply couldn't take it much more and so I up and lost all my Welch's all over Perrogi's sweaty beer fish body. I didn't think it too bad, seeing as how it wasn't much but a little bit of old purple swellness, but Perrogi just went dark as liver and growled and slammed and pulled on those big rig breaks like a bitch bastard demon and jerked the whole deal to a bone rumbling halt and told me to get the hell out of his truck fast as the winds of fury. Needless to tell you, I did, which is how I lost all my things, seeing as how they were all piled in my packs which I left behind the seat when I high tailed it out, just a-screaming and
17

sparkle + blink

a-howling straight into the middle of the New Mexico high desert just outside Albequerque near the Chamiso Wilderness, as close to the kind of fit you don't ever come out of as I ever been, just so worked up to think of sitting for even one minute with something as black and full of all the evil a good man could ever fear to find, as I had on that ride with the man I knew as Perrogi. I spent the night in some thorny bush all full of sorrow for the world and I cried about the state of things, the wars in far off places, the children who go hungry, but most of all I was full of sorrow about my own self. I didn't have a drink to call my own, no friends, no home, just me, all alone in some desert with only the stupid stars shouting things at me about what I was to do and who I was supposed to be. I fell asleep in bits, always waking to the image of some blood spattered polaroid of some gorefest that twisted and came alive inside my head, and Perrogi was there, a giant tuna with a sideways glass eye just watching me, unblinking, as the pink of his fish gills flapped and flipped and dripped clumps of hair matted with urine and beer sweat. It was certainly one of the worst nights I had ever had and I
18

Timothy Walker

couldn't help but think, even though I knew it was the kind of think most term to be bad, that if I had but just one little drink with me to keep me company, then maybe the dreams wouldn't be too bad, maybe I would be okay with shutting my eyes, but no. I had no drink, so it only goes to figure that I had no sleep, which can only lead one to know that I watched the sun rise over the hills and shoo the darkness away. Sunrise in the desert when you're all alone and you don't have a thing to call your own sure does take it's own damn time, just inching out with these little increments of color, sent to spread in slow time across the sand and rocks and bush and cacti. I was hungry and thirsty and so damn cold and I can't say how well I was really knowing if I was still alive or not and so I just started crying these silent, great tears that helped blink away the sand that kept blowing all in my face. Then all in a burst of suddenness, there comes out of the morning light this sound from over near the dawn like some soft, gentle thunder. Soon a little cloud of dust starts puffing along the earth towards me, still far off, still sort of blocked out by the low morning glare and it
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sparkle + blink

gets closer and turns into a shape of color which then becomes a horse and then a horse with someone small on it's back. I stand and begin to wave and the cloud of dust comes to where I stand beside the brittle, thorny bushes. And there it was, the most beautiful palomino I'd seen, which some might say isn't saying much since I haven't been around as many horses as maybe some people, but I've seen my share, so I feel sure in saying it a damn sight to see that morning, with velvet shanks gleaming under a layer of fresh exertion, it's eyes brown and deep, the pink of it's nostrils flaring in and out with every breath. The rider I saw was a small, unassuming figure in poor workman's cloths, just some old worn jeans and a light blue t-shirt with thick rings of dark and very old perspiration, riding bare back and bare foot, looking to be a bit older than me but not by much. He looked down at me and I squinted in the light and tried to see if he had kind eyes or if it was another one of those devils with murder in his mind that I was so quick to be on the look out for now. I couldn't quite tell but he did smile and hold a browned and calloused hand down for me and pulled me up with him onto
20

Timothy Walker

the horse and I held on tight as I ever held onto anything and marveled at the quiet strength I could feel powering the small, determined man whose skin was the color of rocks at sunset and who hollered like a desert coyote when goading the fleet horse to flying above the earth of sand and dust and brittle, breakable things, onward towards the sky and the clouds and the tops of mountains. It was only when we landed again, in what was, according to him, somewhere in Arizona, that I thought to ask the man his name, and whether or not he might be kind enough to lend a silly damn fool a little bit of something to drink, as I was feeling very, very thirsty.

sparkle + blink

21

22

Timothy Walker

News Leak Theres a leak inside my head from which the words are pouring on a regular basis, the solidity of others is eluding me. I am renewed whenever I take off my clothes. In closing I just want to say the words appear inside my skull like phrases floating up inside the darkness of an 8-ball made of nothingness and being. Everyone is an insider in that respect. The future may be blind but there is the perpetual motion of an inner monologue to make a person feel at home, its probably
sparkle + blink 23

related to the habit of whistling in a graveyard and the earth is an enormous cemetery orbiting in outer space. If you keep talking then you wont feel out of place. Reminds me of the night when we were reading poems and the riot squad was breathing down our necks because were in the middle of the street and we were told as long as we kept talking it would constitute a lawful assembly and they wouldnt arrest us. They would test us with a mute intimidation, and what else is new.

24

Steven Gray

Roger Peterson, February 3, 1959 the pilot took the revolver from the seat of the cab the second the men turned their attention and he saw moonlight reflect crows feet and gambling debt like a funhouse mirror. a trip to the pawnshop but hed get it back eventually next week next race someday and mail it with his apologies to Lubbock. he was no thief just down on his luck and surely once in his life buddy holly had to borrow something not his for a quick buck. plus thirtysix dollars times three seats on the plane divided by six races and an alimony check didnt bring the light any closer to surface of the hole hed dug.
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sparkle + blink

he bought the plane when American Pie ran as quick as his wife had run out on him when she heard about the barmaid in cleveland and the loanshark in toledo first race hed won since he stopped betting on horses and moved onto greyhounds felt some kind of kinship with the half-starved animals since the only things in his stomach these days were whiskey and bad dreams. never took any tests felt he would be a natural at flying joked at the bar he never wanted to be a part of anything that would have him as a member FAA, AA , or human race included. he picked up the men at the club seeing goldmines in guitarcases and felt like this time things had really turned around. maybe he could be their private pilot
26

Cassie J. Sneider

fly them around the world heard that amsterdam had the best hash and the blondest ladies to steer the plane from his lap. in the fray of slurring thoughts he never phoned a flightplan seeing as he didnt have a license and the whole damn thing would only take an hour anyway. fancied himself a renegade the Charles Lindbergh of drunks and he reread the manual on one-engine jets as the three men settled their suitcases. they were in the air for five minutes tinnitus and excitement buzzing away sleep before the wings of the plane frosted like Gabriel in a hell freezing over and the earth stood still while the dials spun like 45s and the radio crackled no signal from the tower like the noisy seconds before a record turns over. the pilot assessed the situation knew from the manual
sparkle + blink 27

he had 20 seconds after a nosedive before his earhardt ceased to beat pulled up on the shifter radioed a mayday to air traffic control to god to no one and found gunmetal was warm like the taste of pennies and unfair like the cointoss that had brought them there. his brains landed with butterfly wings on some cloud next to a bookie calling himself saint peter. buddy holly held his head between his knees prayed the lord to keep his glasses the nightmare of the nearsighted hailing mary and cursing the bastard waylon jennings in one stolen breath all the while richie valens ears popped filling with blood and then silence while the tin box sang like crickets
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Cassie J. Sneider

shook them like popcorn over a sleeping Iowa. twenty seconds and the glass broke in black frames a million diamonds shattering from a television screen an explosion in his eyes of pictures and music all dance halls and girlscreams the turbulence a million years in a second and a flash bright as an Amarillo sunset before the big bopper said b-b-baby, its over. and somewhere someone shakes a transistor radio wondering what happened to the music.

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30

Cassie J. Sneider

from ATTA They give up the apartment in Venice. Atta travels to Europe. Visits Spain, sees Omar, receives messages, plans tactically for the grand design. He moves on to Germany, encounters friends and allies, relives student days. He returns to America in a new Crusader millennium. 2001. Ushering in another 1000 solar years of decay. Marwan Casablanca, leaves, returns a goes week to Morocco, Makes later.

connections, visits with comrades, ensures that matters proceed. He flies into New York, passes through JFK before another flight towards Florida. They have no home. They travel endless highways and streets of America, move from motel to motel throughout the American south. Florida, Georgia, Virginia. Atta and Marwan join gyms, open a mail box in Virginia Beach, fly planes, fixate their minds on fitness and nutrition. On being ready, on gaining strength for the fight ahead. In Decatur, he leaves Marwan at the Suburban Lodge, the motel chain of least offense. Atta drives for half an hour with no
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sparkle + blink

particular destination, stops in the parking lot of a strip mall. Strip malls. Limitless chancres on the American landscape. The countless, fathomless Niagara of strip malls. They are all the same. Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Radio McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys.

Shack, Long John Silvers, Arbys, Hardees, Krispy Kreme, Baskin-Robbins, Dippin Dots, Carvel. A payphone stands at the far side of the lot. Atta calls an 800 number, enters his calling card. He dials his fathers apartment in Gizah. What? answers the old man. Baba, says Atta. Its me. Its Amir. Bolbol, says his father. So long since we have spoken. How are your studies? Good, says Atta. All is well. I am making top grades. I wanted to call and say hello. Have you spoken with your mother? No, says Atta. You should call her, Amir, and let her know that I wait for her, says his father. Let her know that I have not abandoned her even if she has abandoned me. She doesnt like to hear about you, says Amir.
32

Jarett Kobek

No, little Bolbol, says his father, Dont say such things. How can a wife not want to hear of her husband? You must force her to speak about me, make her remember what it is that shes abandoned. I can try, says Atta, but knows he wont. What about you, little boy, asks his father. When are we going to make you a match? When I finish my studies, Baba, says Amir. Then I will be ready for marriage. The ambassadors daughter is still waiting, says his father. She is nice and delicate. Such a sweet temptation! You could have her now. Lets wait, says Amir. Until I finish my doctorate. A pause. A pause. A pause. Is there anything else, Bolbol? asks his father. No, Baba. I just wanted to say hello. There is a television show coming up, about a daughter who runs away from her father and the trouble that she finds, says his father. So I will go now. Call again when you like.

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33

He hates winter, the freeze of his hands on the phone. Not as bad as Hamburg, not as bleak, but inappropriate for his Mediterranean blood. Wise choosing Florida as the base, keeps away the cold and the weak Sun. Across the street is a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Beside it is a dense thicket of trees. Leafless, spectral, skeletal. The ominous woods, trees instill darkest fear. He dials again. He calls the home of his grandfather. His mother answers. Amir! she says. I am so happy to hear from you. How is Germany, how is your doctorate? Have you made a match? Are there any girls that like my child? Please Ommi! he says. One question at a time! His mother speaks for a while. He is happy hearing her voice. Atta imagines he hears her smile, wonders how this woman remains buoyant after decades with his father. He thinks of her leaving. Its like a kick in the chest, or holding an electrical fence as the current snaps the back of his neck. She is his mother, he loves her. But she is his fathers wife. But his father is his father. Irreconcilable differences, intractable problems. Unsolvable.

34

Jarett Kobek

Have you spoken with your father? his mother asks. A bit, he says. He doesnt mention me, does he? You know the answer, says Atta. Why even ask? Anger rushes to my heart, says his mother, her voice low. How dare he speak of me? As if he has insight. The man knows nothing, he is a brute and a bully. How dare that man speak of me? Please Ommi, says Atta. Its hard enough. Youre right, Amir, says his mother. I love you. A few more minutes and they hang up. The sun is lower, the air colder. Branches of trees reach across the road. Each one like brittle bones of a broken hand, a finger points from death. In Germany, this is the first thing he reconciles. The strangeness of trees. But these American trees are more sinister, more compact, more a cluster. He dials again, for the 3rd time. His sister. She answers. Amir, she says. What are you doing? I dont know, he says. Surely, I do not know.
sparkle + blink 35

Come back to Egypt, says his sister. We can find you a match. But I have my studies, he says. There are plenty of schools in Egypt, Amir. But they are not egalitarian, he says. Not like in Germany. Its a different world here, its easier. They dont ask for your fathers name, for your uncles patronage. I have tasks to perform, things to do. Is it because of Ommi and Baba? asks his sister. What? he asks. They drive me mad, she says. I wouldnt blame you if you moved just to get away from them. No, he says. Theres more than that. Much more. I am living the dream, Ohkti. I am studying for the greatest glory. I havent worked this hard since my Masters thesis.

36

Jarett Kobek

sparkle + blink

37

Beside Her
Its not that I need my boyfriend back but this woman living in his body now is hairless and slippery so I cant get a grip on her but still she wants me to fuck her into oblivion sweet and rough the way I only fuck my pain with savage grace the way I only fuck my ever-expanding sense of culpability. My aunt says, Hes going to cut off his penis! I calmly correct her. Theyre going to invert it. The penis will become the new vaginal canal. I feel superior because I can intellectualize it, but I know what shes getting at. My lover asks me to imagine her penis is a large clitoris and her balls are dangling labia. We dont make it that far into the fantasy. I get scared. I pull away. I begin to wonder if coming out to my family was such a good idea. For over a year Ive snipped
38

Keely Hyslop

the Ss off the pronouns, saving the scraps to embroider a gossamer current to veil she and I from their scrutiny. Now they are the ones pasting smiles onto faces, revising fictions with fictions, telling me my choices are my own, that their love is unconditional. Amongst themselves they speak obsessively about protecting the children. There are no children in sight. Ive come to pity that poor, shriveled, unwanted penis because it is slated for execution. My lover says I am doing much better now. I hardly twitch or startle. I barely flinch or cry. better... worse... better... worse... I want no more one-word diagnoses. I want her to look under my skin and read the network of veins. I want her to pull open the top of my head Like a software engineer unscrews a computer casing, watch my neurons firing, map the route, learn the way, come and find me. Each night I crawl into bed beside her. I watch her sleep,
sparkle + blink 39

this woman who resembles the man I said I would marry. For the second time and the first, I am trying to choose her. I imagine her thunderous snores escaping from the atmosphere, being intercepted, decoded by an alien race who are awestruck by the eloquence. They are traveling here now to bring us a cure for pollution and an infinite energy source. Her large breasts rise and fall to the rhythm of her steady breathing without comment or apology.

40

Keely Hyslop

sparkle + blink

41

Understanding We talk in planets atmospheres transient amulets often lost in thinnest air Transient ambience intentions losing air a soup of stars lighted last words listing Mist conversations cast out crossing breaths toward atmosphere slipping stars of sand through words of hair

42

SB Stokes

sparkle + blink

43

Sendero
Nina, wake up. Miguel was shaking her awake in the middle of the night. It was two months after the soldiers killed Papi. Miguel was squatting on the floor of the hut. In the moonlight, she could see his camouflage fatigue pants and tattered Inca Kola T-shirt. He had discarded his beloved Peru futbol jersey shortly after Papis death, about the time he started meeting with a man the village didnt talk about, high up on the terraces. The man gave Miguel a little red book that took the smile from his youthful face and made him say things like Soccer is a capitalist diversion, Nina. And We must cut the head off the snake. Mam was asleep in the other room, in the trance that had taken her since the soldiers had killed Papi. An alpaca skin and entrails were drying on a wooden rack by the dead fire. Cooking pots and firewood were stacked neatly by the wall. Miguel, Nina whispered. What is it? But she already knew.

44

Max Tomlinson

Outside the hut, in the shadows, Shining Path cadres waited silently for her brother. Nina had been waiting for this day ever since the sinchis had stripped Miguel naked and beaten him in front of her and Mam a few days after they took Malqui away. The wanted a confession that Papi had been a terrorist. But Miguel had not uttered a word. If Nina had once feared that Miguel would run off to Cuzco to chase money and girls, the new Miguel only made her wish he had. She looked at the stranger squatting beside her bed in the moonlight. A faint glow seemed to emanate from his eyes. The senderistas have come for you, Miguel, she said. Yes, Ninasisa, he said quietly. It is my turn. Did you take the oath? Yes. So her brother was no longer a brother but a senderista, a member of the Shining Path. One who had agreed to his own death once he had killed his quota of soldiers and capitalists. Death could come by suicide attack, in battleit didnt matter. She started to cry.
sparkle + blink 45

Nina, he whispered gruffly in a voice that seemed to struggle with the old, playful Miguel. Uncle Oscar will send for the two of you. But in truth, you know it is you who must look after Mam. But, Miguel, what about you? I do not walk this path alone. Nina gulped back salty tears. Tell Mam I ran away to Cuzco. Mam knows you would never run away and leave us. And in her heart, Nina wanted to believe it. When Uncle Oscar sends for the two of you, you must convince Mam to leave. This village will not be safe. There is going to be a great reckoning. One of the men outside the hut leaned in. Comrade Samson, he said quietly, it is time to leave this life behind now. They had already assigned him his new name. Miguel, Nina said. Does it do any good for me to plead? Shh. Miguel put his rough fingers over her lips. It is done. After that, Mam and Nina movednot to Lima, as Uncle Oscar urged, but higher into the Andes, away from the Red Zone, back to the
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Max Tomlinson

Puna, where Mam came from. Lima was a sewer for the Spaniards, Mam said. Nina had just turned thirteen. Shining Path guerrillas were killing more soldiers, and she wondered how many Miguel had killed. Whenever she learned of a soldier being killed, inside she was secretly pleased. She knew that was wrong, because the guerrillas did many wicked things as well, but she couldnt help wondering if Miguel had found the soldier who shot Papi, and sliced the bottoms of his feet open before forcing him to take the walk of death. Nina had seen bodies floating down the river. One day she saw a soldier, bloated and black, and she thought, did my brother kill him? How bitter Nina felt at times. Eventually it became an overall feeling of what was happening to her people. Before they left Huain, the soldiers came and a sergeant questioned Nina. Had the terrucos been here? No. Was she sure? Yes. Where was her pap? She didnt know; the soldiers would not let them have his body. It was probably in the country somewhere, wherever the soldiers took them. The sergeant said she was very bold. Where was her brother? He ran away to Cuzco. Your brother is a coward, the sergeant said, and touched
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Ninas hair. Im thirteen, she said, and moved away. And if my brother were here now, you would not do that. He nodded and asked Nina to comb her hair for him then. She said no. He asked again, saying he did not want to hurt her, only to watch her brush her hair. So she brushed her long black hair while he watched, and she thought, Miguel will kill you, too.

48

Max Tomlinson

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It Was Easier to Manage


I started kindergarten that fall you went off to Guyana. Granny cut off my dreadlocks. She knew how to press and curl, ponytail, and cornrow but palm roll locks till the roots stiffened with beeswax, glistens like licorice, she didnt know. For that matter, no one in the Projects knew what to do with hair left natural, left unparted and wildthey were afraid to touch that unmothered part of themselves. Each snip made each one alive and each one dead. And if you said goodbye, it was an honest whisper, short and fine in your throat. She cut my hair like a boys who hadnt been to the barber for a month, and I sat at the cafeteria table alone for weeks. They couldnt make sense of me, my classmates with their gender-proper hairstyles. I didnt want anything to do with franks & beans, those pucks of grilled meat. I waited at lunchtime for peanut butter and jelly and was hesitant to eat bread that wasnt our color. It was hard not hearing your voice each morning, throughout the day. And unwilling to correct them
50

Arisa White

when they said my name wrong, I gave into the Sizzlean; the fried chicken crunched between my teeth, I couldve bitten both of your hands for leaving me here, each finger for the gunshots that rang the night, the footsteps running on the roof, the gravel mashed deeper and deeper into my sleep. Flocks of butterflies broke my skin and I was shatter where I stood, a whole constellation of wondering if I could throw myself to the sky, coat it with urgent wishes youd see that I missed you, that the barter was unfair, that you mistook me for sheep.

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My Mother Is a Rubber Ball My mother is a rubber ball. Flung against a wall by a hand that used to hold her, she knows how to rebound. Watch her grow her teeth back after years of grinding them away during sleep. My mother is a phoenix. She cooks me French toast, then bursts into flame. Watch the top layer of my skin singe away as she teaches me about expectations. My mother is a magical washing machine. Fill her with shirts soiled with mucus and tears, add the detergent, the right incantation. Watch the spin cycle closely. You missed it, didnt you? The shirts have disappeared.

52

Keely Hyslop

Turn Your Car into a Living Room You read this line crossed out in a friends poem. Shes not really your friend. Youd like her to be, but she isnt but well get to that. Amidst the pretty bobbles of lyrical phrasings, the line hardly holds your attention. It is right that this line be crossed out, you think to yourself, judicious, almost virtuous. The line can feel you judging it which is why it begins to haunt you. Turn your car into a living room. Clearly you are being instructed, but instructed to do what? You park your car at the edge of a mythic suburban neighborhood, a neighborhood which has not yet sufficiently invested itself in the real to have begun establishing parking laws. Your car sits motionless for an entire week. You remain in the drivers seat almost constantly
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writing, reading, sleeping, making phone calls youll later regret. You leave your car only for biological necessities like burritos and bathrooms. Your car has a lot of windows, six to be exact, but it is still a room, you reason, as long as it remains stationary. You are living in this room so long as you refuse to think of the arrangement as temporary. Your decision to allow your car to become an immovable object meets an unstoppable force: Indian summer. Why Do they even call it that? Why are you allowing such blatant colonialism to creep in to your poem? In any case the weather turns from overcast to sunny. The afternoon sun makes the air inside your four door hovel an ill-ventilated sauna of stale air that smells vaguely of cheese. Eventually you come to the realization that
54

Keely Hyslop

your living room still has wheels whether you choose to use them or not.

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Fog City
The fog erasing an entire neighborhood, it leaves the people in invisible apartments, no one has a view, their lives colliding with a cloud. It washed up like a dead whale and your point of view evaporates. The vanishing point has vanished in the fog, Im losing my perspective. Theres a hill forgotten in the fog and were all foggots here and the financial district is obscured, I wish that it would disappear. Were crowded by a cloud but its allowed. Theres nothing you can do, youre living in obscurity, a low form of security, youre vague about the future. There is more fog for the morphological, Im feeling like an orphan who is forced to live in a provincial close-up, so much for my thousandyard stare, and with respect to the horizon, theres no there there. So your life is up in the air and Oakland has its head in a cloud, instead of foghorns there are gunshots, a forlorn dimension of forensic tension. On a clear day you can see forever, theres no fog in outer space, there are no faces, theyre relying on the atmosphere, your face is made of water, you can see it in your eyes, the fog
56

Steven Gray

inside your brain is burned off by the sunshine laws, its making for a personal transparency, my wife can see right through me. I am looking out the window at the infinitely gentle fog, so quiet I can hear a pile-up out on 99, its hard to drive when everything becomes invisible. When we were kids my father had to open the car door while he drove so he could see the road, he drove real slow. I am a veteran of tule fog, its not patchouli fog, it comes out of the ground, the ghost of an evaporated ocean, the valley under water long ago, I used to dig up petrified clams in the country. There are those who question what youre doing there, the tule fog in its to be or not to be, the fog is a lobotomy, good luck with your autonomy when you cant see where youre going. Whats that in the road, a head? The ocean moves into your neighborhood, it morphs into a cloud and rides an air current into town, a moisturizer for the occupants. Sometimes the only logic in your life is meteorological and so youre looking forward to the fog, an old phenomenon we have in common, moving through the public like a quiet virus or the air on Venus.

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Wrench and Crank I. Ill be the first to fill Blood w/ Nanos Little beasts of burden Regulating heart & iris Wagers of medicators Checking email updates To watch my progress. Night after day uploading Bit after bit of their data My marrow rejuvenated II. Generations past Lost their best to Madness While ours go To RPGs and IEDs Without distinct psychosis Or the antipode Watch the waste of scroll tickers Let fledging Economers Allow bubble after bubble to burst W/ the care of a four year old
58

Jason Schenheit

blowing soapy water in their parents backyard.

III. If my so called Naughties Hanker at expense Let them crave demeanor Let them float on #s Let them cave in to arms Let them ease in to Asses, pussies, and full Eyes If I live till madness outlive detonations how can I check in to anything With no moment to drown, Lock in trucks, and smile If you get lost on vino The sulfates attacking cells Bombarding your minds shores How can I if Im not the best To be remembered by?

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IV. Till my wake My rigor mortis state Let me crave mess Let me evolve to machine Let me catch on Let me sigh B4 the round Becomes smoke from a barrel If my gen finds recourse Theyll give that madness an ecocentric Phrase Yelling, in to a conex sized Abode of a panic room ceased At all sides If my madness stocks shelves, Sorts letters, drives drunk, Meters assortments of anything, Stitches up collagen scares, Pees in parks, alleys, backyards, And puddles where I rest If my madness persuades, digs, Scrapes, tapers, fucks freaks, Cuts lines in skin, straps on And sucks out, consoles needy Nymphs w/o happy places, Hides yrs of photos in shoe Boxes w/ undeveloped film With blood caked in nails, hairs, streaks Out my nose, eyes, mouth
60

Jason Schenheit

If my madness can caress the skin Of anyone Let them kettle energy Let them arch their waists Let them explode, on city buses, Park benches, stairwells, vacant lots, Roof tops, leaning against chain links, Inside bathroom stales, basements, Storage rooms, vehicle annexes, Under sheets, starlights, skylights, Into the watchful eyes of towel yielding On lookers If my madness becomes to much I await my wake.

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Gun, Bell
No. Im just as surprised as you are, hearing me say that word. Shoulders hunched in a sushi bar, me in old jeans and a new shirt, my hair a foot longer than it was the last time you saw me. Ring on my finger. Stacked on top of the one that was new when you deleted my number and told me not to send you an invitation. Little brother on my right, sitting between us. Always the peacemaker. Telling me its the wrong time wrong place, telling you words like reasonable and mutual and unconditional. Your voice rising like the too-familiar tide, your eyes narrow, voice low and flat, lets continue this somewhere else. You, dresser drawer balanced on your shoulder like a boombox, moving out on Halloween. Me, Little Mermaid that year. Little Brother, Robin Hood. Fork tines and chopsticks poking through the plastic produce bag in my hands, my hands raised to you, Take this, Daddy. For when youre hungry.
62

Tristen Chang

But you dont eat, do you. Only thing in your fridge Coors Light and Bleu Cheese dressing. The occasional tomato. Women in and out of your house like water running through my hands, the splay of my fingers in water, streamline. All those swim meets you never saw. My back, coiled like a cougar ready to pounce, fingers gripping the underside of the diving block. Sandpaper feel under my right foot, left toes. Hair slicked with Moms Vaseline under latex. Go baby, go. Gun. But thats not why Im telling you no. Not here, not now. Not because of the way Little Brother and I sat, elbows linked on the bottom bunk, eyes wide with your yelling. The shame we wore like overcoats. Not the way you left us, the first time, the big time, the little times after that. For Ana. Kim. Denise. Raquel. Cynthia. Denise. Shelley. Shanon. Han. Farnaz. No, not that at all.

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The million little ways. Always younger than you, always. Little Brother and I in the backseat as you smiled at them in the front, your fingers in their hair, one hand on the wheel. You played your music loud, and if we complained in the car, you gave us a towel to cover our heads. The weekends we spent mowing and painting and hammering after the fire in the attic taught us to build, always loud with your music, your Styx, Journey, Rush. And though it hurt my ears, to this day I love the sound. Told them all that we were all you had. Told them all that we were all that mattered. Me, the only girl on the swim team for the 200 fly. Mom and Little Brother with their flowers even though I never won. The time my goggles flipped as I hit the water, eye pinned shut, my middle rolling like a belly dancers and breaking the water with my wrists, eyes clenched. Mouth open. Its more because I have nothing to say to you, no words to wrap around the slant in my eyes, the hardened marrow of your voice. Because of the weathered crescents beneath my eyes, the way I look and sound so much older than I am.
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Tristen Chang

Because now when I come home late and the house is a mess and I catch myself wishing I still lived alone, I think of you, and I want to smash and shatter all the ugly parts of you that stare out at me from the mirror, I want to twist my vocal chords to keep your words silent in my throat. Because of the way Little Brother put his hand on my back when you turned away from me, because even then, I was not tempted to cry. So, no. I am not coming with you. Im not going to finish this somewhere else. Im going home. Keys flashing in my hand. My hands swooping in front of me, tracing angel wings in the air, right hand stacked on left. Toes leaving sandpaper, the last thing I feel before nothing, the heaving, arching nothing in the sky above the water, my sucked breath. Feet behind me, toes pointed, over the water. My fingers hit and I roll my shoulders to stay shallow, knees following hips, ka thun ka thun ka thun. Underwater, I hear only my own kicking. Ka thun ka thun ka thun. Bell.

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Tristen Chang

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