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            Selected Texts

            An Interview
            Where nostalgia is the pain arising from moving away from a loved place, solastalgia occurs without you going anywhere; it is the landscape that “leaves” from around you. The last decade—and especially the last two or three years—have seen an intensification and a globalization of this distinctive Anthropocene effect [...]
            Two Stories
            There were clear indications the cloud was moving again, headed their way. Where it passed it stripped the remaining leaves from the already crippled trees, left soil and water poisoned, stripped the flesh off any creature, living or dead, and then whittled away at the bones. [...]
            Disputed Site Sestinas
            You would not go there. Mountainous
            ships gather in at the beach
            of Alang. Each will feed 100 mouths
            broken down into elements
            by the young. Sent out between the places
            we have scoured so now our harbors push it past [...]
            Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese art form, entails repairing cracked pottery by reattaching the shards with gold lacquer powder mixed with the adhesive. This is done so that a warm glow appears to radiate from the jagged tracery made by the fractures between the glued parts, emphasizing the “scars” that define a critical moment in the history of the pottery piece. [...]
            After Maria
            I was excited to help. The response here, officially, was bad. A lot of us knew we needed to react to that somehow. We wanted the victims to know that not everybody here felt like he did. But also, yeah, that’s the word for it, excited. [...]
            In the Mist of Everything
            Shira thought she would buy furniture for the bedroom first. Kevin made attempts at saving his garden. Doreen pushed the dough down with the heel of her hand. Gabriel tried a new yoga pose. Cynthia and Steve went for a drive. Toby said, The weather is just great. Marybeth wore the same dress two days in a row. [...]
            Two months into my time as Fred and Elsie’s ghost, they wake up in the middle of the night to find me at the kitchen table, staring at the Ouija board unfolded over the unfinished pine. I didn’t mean to be staring at the board when they came down the stairs. I’d snuck down after they’d gone to bed to skim from their leftovers and it was already there, waiting. [...]
            Twelve Hours
            The first time I crossed the equator, I stopped for a photo. People usually do. I had come to work in a small clinic in a coffee-farming village in southwestern Uganda, just to the south of the world’s belt. I grew up in the midlatitudes: long summer days and long winter nights, the swing of light and dark like a rocking hammock. I thought of the equator as a human idea—a line on a spinning globe. Its tyranny was a shock. [...]
            Walking in the Dark
            What they had in common was they were smokers; everyone was a smoker then. Those three, though, they smoked to live. Cigarettes! There the cigarette would be, raised to the lips. The lips opening, only a little. The smoke drifting across the roof of the mouth. The lungs filling—this is how they recognized one another, in the green sea, green as grass, by streams of water green as glass. [...]
            In the Next Night
            In agitation along sleep’s surface

            dreams the monster, the angular, the slimy, the anything goes, the corpse

            who strokes the tigers with rather weak jaws

            in a jump cut, on an icy blue couch, red queen

            on mute–– [...]
            A Nightmare
            Even though I knew that this was impossible—even though I recognized, in my rational mind, my waking or my daylight mind, that the shopping carts had to have been gathered from a grocery store this century—I could not shake the impression of a far architect, or fathom any contemporary consciousness that could have constructed this. [...]
            The Fisherman Bombardier of Naval Station Norfolk
            A Performance in Four Generations, Three Races, and Too Many Genders to Name
            In this mariner’s damp the lichen sprouts, or rather creeps, in the manner molds and kisses do, prurient. Slightly closer then farther toward and away from their undisclosed destination. Investigating, guarded, but unwilling to cease from exploration. [...]
            After the sudden death of my employer, I was tasked with overseeing the transfer of his personal library. The books would travel from his studio in New York City to an arts foundation in Italy, where my employer had once enjoyed a long and productive stay, many years in the past. [...]
            Days of Heaven
            A grown-up man not unlike me is trying to coax a struggling child into a box. That’s badly phrased and only a single sentence in we are in need of starting over. [...]
            The Empyrean Light
            Something was lying in the street. Ms. Wronski thought she saw it move, but by the time she had juggled her way up the stairs with her keys and the bag with the milk and the crumple of supermarket flyers and her satchel of ungraded homework, she was no longer certain. [...]
            Why Brother Stayed Away
            The moment had come to see if it was true that Grumpa had a collection of ties lined with pictures of what her brother called “naughty ladies.” [...]
            An Interview
            For writers: ask yourself how many invisible nonhuman actors and agents are required to enable your tale of individual self-realization or domestic drama, then make those hidden sponsors visible. For readers: let the beauty of whatever book you’ve just read teach you to read the world beyond what we human beings call the real world. [...]
            The Cathedral Is a Mouth
            The great Gothic cathedrals, with their arches, ribs, and vaults, were modeled after trees in the forest, the way trees reach up and their branches intertwine. [...]
            Punishment is a poor substitute for justice. When, after all, does punishment end? And what is punishment meant to do? [...]
            The Open Water
                                                     1.      Peaches redden on branches; in the dark,   I drop the [...]
            Four Poems
            In Brief   “Use the Crown Club Card   to see Justice League,”   
he, she, it says.         [...]
            He tells her of the seven-hearted boy, the seven petals, the insomnia of the horse, the prayers in unison, the mute one, the body with wings, the transfigured night, the asphyxiation—that sublime descent. All is measure and recklessness. And her safe word, choose a safe word, her safe word is green. [...]
            Ten Body Stories
            I am a sex worker, and it’s a good gig, because the bawdy room is everywhere. [...]
            Skeleton, Rock, Shell
            A girl is a tree stripped of bark.

            A girl is a skeleton, rock, shell.

            A girl is a boy who cannot forget.

            A boy is a girl who has learned not to see. [...]
            Five states north, he
            wonders what
            causes the
            he hears behind
            his mother’s
            voice [...]
            The House That Jack Built
            This is the house that Jack built, an “existential reflection,” as she’d have it, its frame and foundation made of earth-packed rubber tires, the driveway itself made of rubberized asphalt, the crumb rubber and concrete amalgam a noise reducer [...]
            The Wall
            Once, there were two lovers, separated by a wall that divided their city, a wall they had helped to build, recruited by the warring city fathers, who declared that only a wall would ensure their freedom. [...]
            by Can Xue
            translated by Karen Gernant, Chen Zeping
            Ms. Wen sat in a dark room pondering the structure of the universe. Then she stood and opened the window, whereupon all kinds of obscure shadows wandered in. The room turned half light, half dim. Poo, poo, poo … came the noises from the shadows. [...]
            Two Poems
            The amber in chamber
            glows against the wall
            opposed to the window. [...]
            The Botanist's House
            Mostly, she needed to put it all behind her, and by “all” she meant all of us, as well as the events of her life, what people call memories. [...]
            Five Provence Poems
            Safety lives high above itself, protected from what it needs.

            It sees what it sees, sees

            a cave in its flank. [...]
            The Heart Is an Organ Which Must Be Bled
            No wonder the damselflies scatter when our kind confer. We are now linked organisms, but still we move away from one another. Twinned, but not beholden to the shackles of cellular differentiation. [...]
            There Are No Footprints Today
            To Jefferson I am constantly lying. He lies to me too. We lie by refusing to discuss the terrible things we have done. [...]
            Heart Seeks Brain
            At happy hour, my coworker Sarah and I bond, in the way of women, by cataloguing the flaws of our internal organs. [...]
            Reliable People
            We have no quota, no set hours. We keep going for as long as burnt coffee recharges us, slouching in lumpy plastic chairs that scritch on the parquet floor of a ground-floor office whose single plate window is blotted by standees of the Candidate, wearing a reassuring smile and a dark pantsuit. [...]
            Aksel could see a smear, something just inside the vessel’s skin. He blinked, rubbed his eyes. It was still there. [...]
            Not Without Mercy
            The snow angled down fiercely out of the west, filling the parking lot and road and fields beyond. Amy stood at the office window and peered into the storm, trying to spot the headlights of Harry’s old truck coming up Sossey Road. [...]
            Blind Spot
            The thing is, you can’t tell the difference. At least not from the outside. [...]
            Walking Dead Love Songs
            I was born
            and then I died.

            I was born and then
            I died fighting. [...]
            From Red Bird Most
            Afternoon. No one knows what to say. I’m sorry or I’m sorry for your loss or It’s just terrible or He’s with God now or God works in mysterious ways or We’re praying for you or Your family’s in our prayers or How did you know him or How did you find out [...]
            Hansel, Gretel, Grendel
            The Boy walks with mud on his sneakers, kicking at skunk cabbage, slapping mosquitoes. On his T-shirt are gallows birds, fanged demons in wizard-whorl, skullheaded soldiers. He has come to the forest to scavenge parts for his monster. [...]
            The Cardinal
            When I was a teenager, I knew a boy named Monfiori who lived in the neighborhood. He was pale skinned and thin with wiry hair. Everyone at school hated him, but for a while he was my only friend. [...]
            From Huck Out West
            It was up in Minnysota that Tom made up his mind to give over cowboying and take on the law. Becky Thatcher was the daughter of a judge and maybe she give him the idea how to set about doing it. [...]
            The last time we spoke was July 17, 2010. My phone bill says I called him at 1:23 in the afternoon at a number near Asheville, North Carolina, and the call lasted for one minute; I must have left a message or else we spoke for just a moment. [...]
            Two Poems
            The men on top of the hill
            launched a new dirt lobby
            meant to outstrip the precious,
            that is, previous, tentative
            by a better than three-to-one margin. [...]
            Blind in Granada, or, Romance
            She was a bohemian girl with lots of life to live fast. Only in her early twenties but making up for time lost to who knows what. [...]
            The Likenesses
            a match is like a shard
            the shard is like a sword

            a sword is like a word
            the house of water folds [...]
            From Once into the Night
            I had been filled with ennui all week, it was drenching, and all I could do was walk around, taking furtive looks at things, being alone with myself and my ennui. [...]
            Seven Pieces on Deception, the Whore, and Anderson, IN
            At the beginning, I told myself that I could have sex with the X even though he was cheating on Anderson, IN, because he had already been cheating on Anderson, IN, for six years [...]
            Four Poems
            As within the raucous meditations of high priests you find yourself moving and trepidatious and in the far black moving black trees. [...]
            The Dead Swan
            It’s a cold, windy, early spring day and Sadie is walking by herself along the beach, not looking down or at where she is going so that she nearly trips over it—the dead swan—only she doesn’t right away recognize what it is. [...]
            After the Jump
            Turned out moonseeds salinize fresh water, impregnate it with crystalline salt deposits. Imagine invasive plants capable of sparking drought. Imagine beach sand clinging to a shoe, reproducing rapidly, leeching more moisture with each germination, reducing some of our largest bodies to withering appendages. [...]
            The Face Says Do Not Kill Me
            They slowly rolled along beside it, daughter pushing mother in her chair
            a carving up into the air and down into the rocky soil, staring in one and then the other direction. [...]
            We name our winds for elsewhere, and ride them like a song forward into an aromatic future. [...]
            After After Nature
            The unsaid strafes its enclosure.
            I’m in a store, a storage,
            among forgettings that anchor them. [...]
            And the Bow Shall Be in the Cloud
            routine hub-tones figure in a scatter 
            drum at a slight torque to religion
            house of contrary jade
            burning in the mountain’s phoneme [...]
            Brief, Image, and Etymology: On Reading
            To read is to be, for a time, text, but how? Say a text is allowed to enter the self and establish its distillment and pattern, why does this cause things to happen? [...]
            Packing My Library
            Every day when I step out of my home to walk through the streets of my little Brooklyn neighborhood, I come upon boxes of books outside entranceways, on walls, and at the curb between garbage bags. Sometimes one box. Sometimes half a dozen. [...]
            Two Essays
            Before constructing the garden, the sub-plot is considered. It is never spaded, dug, or trenched, but caved using dynamite, or any such potassium lumen. The charge is laced along the bare ground and exploded downward until the correct depth is confronted. [...]
            Three Little Novels
            Almanzo was eating. 
                  He shouted, “Giddap!” a carrot in his hand. [...]
            Fragments from Lost Zoroastrian Books
            There where the sun rises

            The edge of a razor

            Of knowledge, not love [...]
            The Particulars
            In the second volume of David B.’s Incidents in the Night, there’s a shoot-out in a used bookstore. [...]
            Three Found Books
            She found the book in the attic of the house she’d bought with the money from her parents’ will. [...]
            Song of Magsaysay
            Jejo had spent the better part of the week taking pictures, familiarizing himself with the specifications and quirks of the 35 mm Contax issued on Magsaysay’s authorization to all regimental documenters working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. There would be no more mutilation of corpses, the accompanying memo had stated. [...]
            Dreamlives of Debris
            I have my doll and the screamings behind my eyelids. [...]
            Dog’s Journey
            Waves lack surface when you are weak, nothing risen quickly enough to keep you up. [...]
            Five Poems
            And then doves and the thrush and the late 
            afternoon of the swallows under the bridge 
            and the fathoms of sleep and then the hollows 
            of dialogue aspiring to contain the rich facts [...]
            Three Berlin Essays
            by Aleš Šteger
            translated by Brian Henry
            When someone’s presence on the street becomes imperceptible as the presence of the street becomes imperceptible in this person. [...]
            Here Be Monsters
            The Roman aristocracy loved morays; they farmed them as livestock and kept them as pets in elaborate ponds. Now and then a master fed his less obedient slaves to the eels, presumably in pieces; human blood was thought to fatten a moray nicely. [...]
            Handling the Beast
            8000 BCE, the black périgord of southwestern France: A cave system is forming. At the end of the last ice age, water seeps into fissures in the high cliffs along the Vézère River. [...]
            Conversion Testimony
            It was a routine day, the day of my conversion. [...]
            Animal Care and Control
            I’d give you a swamp if I could, but I have no swamp to give. [...]
            by Can Xue
            translated by Karen Gernant, Chen Zeping
            Qiu Yiping, a thirteen-year-old middle-school student, was secretly in love with her thirty-five-year-old cousin with the whimsical name Xuwu. [...]
            Seven Poems
            Mutable stipend 

            saturated in the bright room 

            with a thin blue rug. 

            The pivot has some mystery [...]
            (     )
            Now alone, knock on Bobby (that most famous of wooden noumena, the not-in-use-just-now dummy of ventriloquist Signor Blitz (famed, as you already know, for the spectacle of his opening routine [...]
            When they slept she had gotten into the habit of resting both her hands on his arm. Now that his arm was gone, what was she to do? [...]
            Orange Roses
            In a kind of fantasy in which I frequently indulge, I discover a way to become so interested in work that I no longer speculate in the negative about the emotional lives of others. [...]
            As this thing in her brain began to spin more rapidly, she would often begin our visit by pointing him out to me. There he was, beside the olive tree. Or on the mountain slope. Or at the church door. I had to see him wandering out there before she would go on. [...]
            “Because they have seen angels, and other divine numina, represented by painters with a certain splendour and light, and have heard that these are [...]
            The Reader
            Without a reader of his own, he creates one in a story he calls “The Reader.” [...]
            Theses on Monsters
            The history of all hitherto-existing societies is the history of monsters. [...]
            Seven Stories
            The kids at my mother’s house are new recruits, and I don’t know their names. They look tired in their heavy wool coats. [...]
            More Little Tales of the Internet
            He was a guy who was very much a big deal to see, in a kind of you-don’t-see-him-very-often way, as well as in a then-when-you-do-he’s-on-Skype kind of way. [...]
            The whole world can be divided into those who write and those who do not write, wrote Kierkegaard. [...]
            I Would Never Do These Things
            No one seems to know what brought this cloud into being or why the world is ending, but there is no question: When the cloud finally rolls onto our shores it will be as if none of us, and nothing we have done, seen, heard, or believed in will have ever existed. [...]
            That Obscure Object of Desire
            Time had long since left me in the lurch, stood me up, hung me out to dry. So all I can say for certain is that, by the time I found myself in the subway station at DeKalb Avenue, I was neck-deep in the nth hour of an obsessive mania. [...]
            Two Poems
            The maroon-colored cat jumped over the magnificent Moon of Horses. [...]
            The Last Film of Alan Smithee
            After all that, I chose the avatar that looked most like me: similar build, similar features. I gave him my name, Alan Smithee. [...]
            begins with sound of bell

            ends with briefcase dark

            glorying day’s pantomime [...]
            Shhhhhh, Arthur’s Studying
            Arthur was a quiet boy who grew into a quiet man. When he and Walt Kaplan were boys it was always, Shhhhhh, Arthur’s studying. There’s got to be at least one yeshiva butcher in every family and a yeshiva butcher’s got to have quiet. Go play outside, Walt, your brother’s studying. [...]
            Mother Box
            Of course, she was the sort of person who had a lot of secrets. Her secrets were how she understood it was herself and not, say, a peanut or a broken-bottomed chair. Listen, she was sort of a reprehensible figure. [...]
            You’ll Be Sorry
            One of these days—and it might be a day very soon—and it won’t be a day that you can identify in advance—and my behavior on that day will not contain clues that you can scrutinize as warnings—I will become angry. [...]
            Once it was underwater I thought of.
                 Once I was gripped by thoughts of underwater. 
                 Because my father once said, when I shouldn’t have been listening, what if all the earth’s water were drained. [...]
            The I and the It
            Under more agreeable circumstances—we are paraphrasing; Bennell was predisposed to cliché and imprecise language—Dr. Miles Bennell, a physician for thirteen years, would have welcomed the sudden relaxation, the opportunity to indulge a newfound frivolity; the life of a busy GP had never exactly encouraged the profligate humoring of passing fancies and so this should have been a glimpse of the life he had not yet found the time to lead. [...]
            Regeneration at Mukti
            Call me a trendmonger, but I’ve sprung for a tree house. [...]
            Seven Stories from the Palace of Rubble
            He hopes to fly a giant helium balloon a record twenty-five miles into the earth’s atmosphere and parachute down. This is a moment worthy of fanfare. [...]
            Every poem is a model of a possible world that only comes into being when reading is active, activated. [...]
            The Artificial Stork
            I do not know for how long we traveled The Beneath, that harsh terrain on which the grounded go lost and flightless, nor could I explain to you how we survived with little sustenance, as the children did not seem the least bit interested in foraging for food and collecting water. [...]
            Descent of the Aquanauts
            Everybody thinks it’s going to be different for them, Janice said. [...]
            Jan knows what other people, women in particular, would think about what is happening to her. They would say that she hates herself. They would talk about things like abuse and disrespect and childhood. They would use the term self-esteem. [...]
            City Under Sun
            She is impervious to ploys, indifferent to
            novelty. There is no longer anything new, nothing new happens
            anymore. [...]
            The Oxygen Protocol
            Later he woke up, not entirely sure at first what had happened, what had been real and what he had dreamed. For a moment the utburd was still there, its bloody, childish face glowing faintly in the dim light and then vanishing. Was it real then? [...]
            The City in the Light of Moths
            The projectionist’s heart broke as the spool of the film he was screening snapped, sending a thousand frames rocketing through the room. [...]
            For You We Are Holding
            The number of us can be many but rarely is. The number can be none but it is never that. Whatever the number, that is who we are. [...]
            Two Stories
            NiceDay became a status symbol. The official stamp of a millionaire. What executive jets were to the nineties, and into 2000, NiceDay was to now. NiceDay: weather for the wealthy. [...]
            I was an adjunct in the English Department. Sheila was a poet who didn’t believe universities and poetry had anything to do with each other. [...]
            City/Body: Fragments
            Instead, you like to watch the stack of cash dwindle in front of you. It causes you anxiety, but it also makes you feel as though you are in control of something here, in New York. You are in control of nothing, of course, but the illusion helps. [...]
            Tin Pan Alley Chicago Style
            It must have been about 1948. The shabstreets had the murkiness which went with greasy half-wet black tar and glistening drops of oil, water drooled off the battered canopy of the bar, which sort of protected the entrance to this decaying enterprise and protruded its tired face into the deathly quiet deserted Rush Street of Chicago. [...]
            Misapprehensions: A Mobile in Ten Parts
            “Let’s put the dead thing in context,” someone suggests. But what is context for the dead thing? [...]
            Six Poems
            You confuse
            the image of a fungus

            with the image of a dick
            in my poem

            (understandably) [...]
            It was a terrible Saturday, the kind of Saturday you have after a Friday night spent explaining to your third wife why you had a hooker in your house and how the condom wrapper she spotted under the couch was not, after all, necessary. [...]
            ; it was virtual, the killing; it was conference call, the killing; it was party line, a party; it was everyone talking at once [...]
            Sailing by Night
            I gather the boxes, ones labeled LOWER EXTREMITY DEVICES, UPPER EXTREMITY DEVICES, BONE PLATES, SOFTGOODS FOR HANDS OR FINGERS, BREASTS, BRACES … Now and then I remove a piece, close my eyes, touch with my tongue tip, explore wood and metal with my fingertips, sniff. I take down the lightest box first. [...]
            Elizabeth Thug
            At once she realized a person didn’t need to be mysterious at all—only their skin did. From then on she studied any tattoo she saw. [...]
            Untitled (Sid Vicious, New York, 1978)
            The eye is first drawn to that illusion of movement in the right foreground: a checkered taxicab with its rear curb-side door hanging open and a young Sid Vicious entering or exiting the cab, his motion-blurred face visible over the flat plane of the cab’s roof, and the cab, too, ghostly, slightly blurred as though moving off, up Twenty-third Street, away from the Hudson. [...]
            Two Poems
            Reach out your spoon
            for another portion; arch your neck.
            Everything is in profile toward evening. [...]
            His Last Great Gift
            Spear has already been living in the cabin overlooking High Rock for two weeks when the Electricizers speak of the New Motor for the first time. [...]
            Modernist Poems
            I prefer you skeptics to the credulous ones. You 
            have a more fulfilled sense of silence. [...]
            A Simple Question
            As soon as Vogel realized he could end the interrogation simply by staring unblinkingly back into the light, he awoke with the full moon shining in his eyes. [...]
            The History of the History of Death
            Does a curse really hang over the History of Death? The question was taken up by Dick Gordon, the paranormalist and deep-sea diver, who wrote about it for the Fortean Times. Gordon was the first person to figure out that only writing about the History bears ill consequences; his energetic if not exhaustive search turned up no one who was harmed by reading the works mentioned above, a fact that you will doubtless be pleased to learn. [...]
            The house might have been a hundred years old. It might have been two hundred years old. It might have always been there. [...]
            The Stolen Church
            And now here they were in the lobby of a nondescript apartment building waiting for the elevator to take them up to visit his dead parents. [...]
            Secret Breathing Techniques
            Once my vocabulary had been exhausted I resorted to gesture, and when my limbs and face were stricken w/ fatigue I fell back on thought, though that too was a kind of secret motion, requiring a high-speed travel of blood through my body, a greedy travel that I knew would soon put me in further danger. [...]
            Hungerford Bridge
            I knew my place in the Neverland hierarchy: I was Smee, sentimental and loyal, slightly ridiculous. I doubt that, even as an infant, Miles had ever been ridiculous. [...]
            Mere Oblivion
            At ninety-one Somerset Maugham expired, as did Jean Sibelius and Pablo Picasso; Knut Hamsun died at ninety-two, P. G. Wodehouse at ninety-three. Oskar Kokoschka and George Bernard Shaw both kept working till the age of ninety-four; Louise Bourgeois has a retrospective exhibition now at ninety-six. [...]
            What Will Survive of Us
            The first one I saw was on the corner of West Thirty-sixth Street and Sixth Avenue: a racing bicycle, painted completely white (tires, saddle, spokes—everything) and chained to a street sign (“Left Lane Must Turn Left”). [...]
            The Meaning of Life
            The search for meaning is not a whole lot different than the yearning for certainty, which is to say, an unsuitable pursuit for any who might aspire to nimbleness of mind, amplitude of soul, or freedom of spirit. [...]
            Leavitt’s Dream
            He can hear the pain, shifting and moving, a big animal somewhere close. [...]
            Three Poems
            I sa%w yo%r pixture on 
            wehb si;t; no.t su%re 
            whhc one & w~ant to 
            tal^k or mee.t ver~y so.on [...]
            King Cow
            King Cow is the father of the tiny country we call The Foreground. Everything is concrete there. Everything has been concrete for forty years. [...]
            Why Does the World Out There Seem
            Why does the natural feel unnatural? 
            Why does the world out there seem 
            so utterly foreign to these poems? [...]
            On Not Growing Up
            —How long have you been a child?

            —Seventy-one years. [...]
            Besides, of Bedouins (Hotel Lautréamont, 1992)
            A hotel is distinguished by its many rooms, and a room always stands for a moment of the mind, so every collection of poetry is necessarily a hotel, a sequence of spaces threaded in and above, and there within we live, in passing, in a corridor, in what brushes by your sleeve, the underscore of breath. [...]
            What We Know as We Know It: Reading “Litany” With JA (As We Know, 1979)
            It is, I think, Ashbery’s great gift, to have taught us to listen for the multiplicity, the plurality, of experience: as we know. [...]
            A Magically Alive Aesthetic (Reported Sightings, 1989)
            In John Ashbery’s art criticism the revelations arrive casually, offhandedly, as if unannounced. [...]
            The Oath Unbroken (The Tennis Court Oath, 1962)
            The book was radically different from anything I had ever read: really, the ruling aesthetic radically differed from any previous conception I’d had of what poetry was or could do. [...]
            The Meandering Yangtze (Rivers and Mountains, 1966)
            Ashbery is an exemplary poet of privacy, of nondisclosure, of an other mind that stays an other mind. His poems reveal not universal human emotions but quirky passages and unexpectable associations. They provide not moments of identification but company along the way.  [...]
            Only in the Light of Lost Words Can We Imagine Our Rewards (Some Trees, 1956)
            We behold some trees and they mean to us, we hear some wind and it means to us. We are not snow men. [...]
            Cardinal in a Forsythia
            Lost: Sister’s wallet. Her guitar. Her boyfriend. Eyeglasses. Smoking jacket. Copy of Flip Your Wig by Hüsker Dü. Joy about composing these lines. [...]
            Ashbery's Theater (Three Plays, 1978)
            ​North of ’51 is a land of endless snow and whispering pines—of trackless wastes and brooding silence.  [...]
            Birding with Lanioturdus
            I must tell you that when we birded, he wasn’t he and I wasn’t I. [...]
            Three Poems
            Tell me more about
            crayons, contingency
            and winter fruit
            polyamorous structural
            we know aren’t always the best
            for human hands anyway [...]
            Essay on What Is Want
            When my mother and I first moved to the city of Las Vegas, we lived for several weeks at the Budget Suites of America, a low-rise concrete pink motel with AIR COND and WEEKLY RATES and a Burger King next door. [...]
            Two Stories
            There are many reasons why I offer myself—in a manner of speaking—to a staggering number of young men, all Japanese. [...]
            From Intercourse
            the dust of the ground rises around us as we move and clench and thrash, and the Creator’s vast dark face fades and the woman grows slick and the dust turns to mud, and in the distance to the west I hear the trees stirring from a sweet breeze [...]
            Five Poems
            The pup is gone    want an amoeba?
            or an orange thing?    a “schizophrenic”? [...]
            Vincent, Homesick for the Land of Pictures
            Is this what you intended, Vincent
            that we take our rest at the end of the grove
            nestled into our portion beneath the bird’s migration
            saying, who and how am I made better through struggle. [...]
            A History of Religions
            Medieval is when you make it up from one day to the next, from one town to the next. Go down the road and a different history operates. Every town has a radius. In the gaps between radii are the zones where things get lost, waylaid. [...]
            Give and Go
            It was the idea of the ball that hadn’t left him. In his mind, he was tracking it, sliding his boot under it so smoothly it was lifting into the sky, not straining into height like a rocket, but gingerly, as if to say, there are things on this earth that fly, there are nearly weightless things, there is something invisible life can produce. [...]
            Three Poems
            Somewhere without a name the ice is falling
            as it melts & all of the people in the streets
            have never seen snow—its exhalation— [...]
            The gallows is the highest thing for miles. I empire the sky. It’s gray as brains, puzzled by breezes. [...]
            In the past, Gwendolyn had given them marbles and colored pencils, her goldfish and her red bike. With these gifts, she had introduced to their lives new kinds of grief. [...]
            Birth of a Brother
                 I know facts about my country that I never knew when I was young: the heights of mountains, the extremes of climate. The quaintness of public health conditions. The lack of infrastructure. The politics, local and international.
                  Facts alone, though, are alienating.  [...]
            Two Poems
            The trope of a tree, the trope of the land that looks out at the tree. The trope that could be sawed off into lumber, the trope with which to build a house on the land. [...]
            A tall man sat in front of me and I moved to another seat so I could see better; he turned and I glimpsed your face. Unrecognized: I never knew you. Later in the theater’s corridor you hurried past me, my head bent over an elfin spoonful of cocaine. [...]
            Mission Thief
            you reach for

                            my hand as we cross Dolores I spit

                            sidewise into my shadow

                            when you aren’t looking [...]
            My daughter was nudging the lid of the creamer with her nose, sniffing furiously. I opened it for her and poured some cream into a saucer. She lapped at it slowly with her thin tongue. [...]
            Rewatching The Passenger
            The drama builds in the pressure of what is being suppressed verbally, and what is being insinuated visually. The pressure is unrelenting. [...]
            Three Poems
            The bride of Heaven is Greer Garson.
            In “Mrs. Miniver” God hears her
            Breathing her white address into the emergency phone [...]
            [“To tell the truth is to tell a lie …”]
            Through the action of his prose, Gaddis demonstrates the investigative potential of imaginative thought. He shows us how we can think beyond what we know if we think hard. [...]
            [“I remember the bookstore, long gone now …”]
            I stood in the narrow aisle reading the first paragraph of The Recognitions. It was a revelation, a piece of writing with the beauty and texture of a Shakespearean monologue—or, maybe more apt, a work of Renaissance art impossibly transformed from image to words. And they were the words of a contemporary American. This, to me, was the wonder of it.  [...]
            [“William Gaddis’s project was noble and exemplary …”]
            Those books, the first three, especially, are like icebergs calved off a gigantic glacier. As a young writer, I mainly steered around them as they floated into my more southerly latitudes, knowing that if I hit one straight on, I’d sink. So I admired their colossal size and whiteness from a safe distance, mostly. [...]
            [“I remember when we met Gaddis …”]
            As a woman I have to say I found him very handsome and very charming. I mean, extremely charming. You wanted to sit beside him. And to keep up with him, too. To say things that weren’t dull. [...]
            [“The ten years after a writer’s death …”]
            Gaddis wrote as a ghost inside the machine of late-model capitalism, with a dark understanding of its costs, and he did so without yielding to the seductions of the literary world. [...]
            Guest Editor’s Note
            Each and every one of the splendid contributions to this hodgepodge anthology contains the resonate duality of (as Lear said of a Greek landscape) “the blessedly clear light—and the blessedly mysterious darkness.”  [...]
            Letters to Peter
            When we met on the beach in Killiney, I was running away from my mother. She was driving me insane. I hope you didn’t think I was crazy when I threw my teacup into the sea. Then, when it smashed on the rock, and you came up to me with a pair of false teeth, it was all really funny. [...]
            Two Faces
            Faces of sorrow
            and contentment!—one upright,
            another one up side down. [...]
            When I realize A. is speaking I’m surprised. The four of us have been talking at intervals, each pair at a time (the waiter and Mr. G., then A. and I), but something has caused A. to overlap with the waiter. [...]
            Two Stories
            She wipes men. Three, four of them are robusta-bodied black or whitish. They’re cushion-like, semi-tender. [...]
            Four Poems
            some blind world of the blind
            beneath a torch
            held in a sheaf
            on which said eye and yes. [...]
            Four Poems
            I’ll never forgive myself for the
            violence propelled me at sad Paul
            Blackburn, pushed in turn by both
            our hopeless wives [...]
            A Portfolio of Seven Illustrations from The New Wave Fabulists
            Seven of the Gahan Wilson illustrations commissioned as frontispieces for the stories collected in Conjunctions:39. [...]
            Little Red’s Tango
            What a mystery is Little Red! How he sustains himself, how he lives, how he gets through his days, what passes through his mind as he endures that extraordinary journey … Is not mystery precisely that which does not yield, does not give access? [...]
            We had been talking about things that went backwards instead of forwards. Things that managed to do both at the same time. Time travelers. People who weren’t stuck like us. [...]
            The Least Trumps
            My life is spent with skin: cupping a breast in my hand, pulling the skin taut between my fingers while the needle etches threadlike lines around the aureole, tracing yellow above violet veins, turning zippered scars into coiled serpents, an explosion of butterfly wings, flames or phoenixes rising from a puckered blue-white mound of flesh. [...]
            Entertaining Angels Unawares
            There’s no story. It’s more like a video game. Hacking people’s heads off, that’s the point. And it’s not just the odd person. It’s doing a lot. That’s the tick: getting loads of people all at once. Five or six people are stood round you, and you just sort of start spinning round with this thing—footoof—and getting all their heads off. [...]
            From Knight
            I drank and drank; and when I straightened up, there was a knight watching me, a tall, big-shouldered man in chain mail. His helm kept me from seeing his face, but there was a black dragon on top of his helm that glared at me, and black dragons on his shield and surcoat. [...]
            The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines
            We were both smart, sheltered, isolated kids, she isolated by being an only child, I surrounded by four sisters and a brother but miles from anything and dreaming about Theater, or Theatre, as I much preferred to spell it. [...]
            Guest Editor’s Note
            It is not really accurate to say that over the past two decades the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror have been, unnoticed by the wider literary culture, transforming themselves generation by generation and through the work of each generation’s most adventurous practitioners into something all but unrecognizable, hence barely classifiable at all except as literature. [...]
            Keeper of Bells
            When Tina enters the Recession-era front room, drab linoleum, blonde plastic end tables, dark, swirly couches covered in nicotine plastic, her grandmother is watching Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. [...]
            Three Requia
            The swing of red velvet held more than flesh in its pendulum. More than pleasure and deniability befall those who steal flowers. Once empire is built and sealed, nothing can thaw it except truth and a young girl’s tongue. [...]
            Three Stories
            Beneath the cliff where the waves spray and the path from Mamoyiannis’s windmill descends lies the cemetery, and the area to the west, where the shore juts out and the village urchins swim from morning to night all summer long is called Kohili, “shell,” as it has the shape of a shell. [...]
            A Dozen Surrealist Poems
            the lion sports a pure and racy gothic mustache
            his hide is calm
            he cackles like a splotch of encores [...]
            Two Germans
            by Alberto Moravia
            translated by William Weaver
            His white face was battered but symmetrical, like a piece of fruit that had fallen and rolled on the ground: the brow crowned by a tuft of hair, the temples shaven, the cheeks swollen, the chin slightly crooked beneath the full lips. His eyes were blue, but—like his hair—they were ugly and dull; the dark hollows around his eyes lent his gaze, unprotected by eyelashes, a grim, somehow furious air. [...]
            He sat in the passenger seat, feeling the row of teeth through his pocket: central incisor, lateral incisor, cuspid, bicuspid. His grandfather liked him, he thought, and now he had stolen his teeth. [...]
            Conjunctions is now a Samson with hair to its knees, because it has continuously enlarged its scope—one that was never narrow—to include important work from overseas, and to reflect on the literature that has been made as well as to herald the literature that will be. [...]
            What is a dildo? The question is very obscure, according to Paterculus, full of controversy and ambiguity. Saith Dandinus, I confess I am not able to understand it; we can sooner determine with Tully, what they are not than what they are. [...]
            Memory Alpha
            I can say this because my identity finally arrived; it speaks now: this is the memory of obsession, not the thing itself. [...]
            View of Kala Murie Stepping Out of Her Black Dress
            I had arrived at Churchill, Manitoba, on September 11, 1926. I would soon discover that it was Kala Murie’s wedding night. [...]
            Kids Who Died at My High School This Year
            “Let’s not be morbid,” the principal said, as he had when he announced each of the previous tragedies. He was skinny as a bone and spoke with a thick Slovakian accent. “We are the living, we have to go on. Casper—like Orville, or Valerie, or Stephanie, or Mary Pamela, or Travis, or Tara Lee—would have wanted it that way.” [...]
            Editors’ Note
            What of those that thoughtfully feel or feelingly think? Those to whom the globe is a lump in the throat just south of the intellect’s cool laughter and just north of the heart’s dark sentiment? [...]
            Ten TV Tales
            The boy took the animals to the local animal shelter, where they were killed. Then one day, not long after, the father was bitten by a rabid squirrel, and he died. [...]
            Three Poems
            Night fades angels on Cemetery Hill and the town
            seasonally wakes [...]
            The Launch
            At the time of this writing, I am going to be Ben’s mother my whole life, no matter how extreme, inspired or innovative my behavior. It is not a role I requested. [...]
            Seven Hands
            To hold onto earth hearing
            with the fingertips [...]
            Three Movie Poems
            After taking refuge in a deserted gas station containing seven slim coffins, one for each gambling centipede, the high brow hero—he has a forehead the size of Rhode Island—decides to return from hell to find out why his latest girlfriend didn’t follow him to the very ends of the earth. [...]
            Two Poems
            ... through that ever-
            expanding interval, were never more
            than these
            late bees [...]
            Two Poems
                       There are all kinds of druids and
            witches living in the hills around here. [...]
            Four Poems
            I was an hour ago. I walked upstairs to Dreamland. Took a cab and got out and somebody else backed in. [...]
            Three Poems
            What of the wolfhound at full stride?
            What of the woman in technical dress
            and the amber eye that serves as a feral guide [...]
            Six Poems
            She was being readied by forces she did not
            recognize. This is an age in which imagination
            is no longer all-powerful. [...]
            Three Poems
            Tom, down the road, sold his horse buggies when I was a kid but I remember everyone talking about the auction. The buggies. Black carriages, stiff. Horseless now. Motorless. [...]
            A Dialogue
            When I read a Richard Powers novel, I have the strong sense that predetermined underlying formal symmetry—like configuring gravities or grids—are very much in play. [...]
            Four Dark Tales
            There was a man our exact age who, early one morning, some time before his usual hour of waking, opened his eyes so quickly and unguardedly that he saw the web in which he lay. [...]
            Two Stories
            A man walking in the rain eating a banana. Where is he coming from. Where is he going. Why is he eating a banana. [...]
            Lost and Legendary Aviators
            He claimed he’d done Christ one better: the savior had to carry his cross whereas Besnier’s winged cross would carry him. To prove it, he strapped his arms and legs to the posts and threw himself off a chair.  [...]
            Mrs. Hollingworth’s List
            Mrs. Hollingsworth likes to traipse. Her primary worry is thining hair, though this has not happened yet. She enjoys a solidarity with fruit. [...]
            Swan Lake
            As the lake gets bigger, the power starts going out in parts of the city. [...]
            Accident Report
            When A. was a young woman in San Francisco and just starting out in life, she went through a desperate period in which she almost lost her mind. [...]
            An Interview
            by Joanna Scott
            interview by Bradford Morrow
            It’s true, I’m obsessed with obsession. Or maybe just mildly preoccupied. Or maybe it’s a major linking theme for many of us, thanks in large part to Poe. We’re imps of the perverse, we can’t help it! [...]
            A troupe of Chinese acrobats forms a human pyramid, fifteen strong at the base. They wear silver jumpsuits, appliqued with red satin stars. [...]
            Five Poems
            This is breath: faces nearly forgotten:
            Is air entering the body until even its bones
            Barely exist. [...]
            The Eighteen Days
            While the white smoke of Munich lifted Ophelia in its open palm, while Gregor Samsa, Raskolnikov, and young Alice were singed from their pages on propagandist bonfires, while writers themselves burned dust-to-dust in Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and Terezin, Isaac Bashevis Singer was in his Upper West Side apartment learning English. [...]
            Five Poems
            fists clenched
            mouth still open


            you had to look around [...]
            The Intercession of Saints
            Saints hold a tambourine, a lily, a pomegranate, a flame, a red book, a plum. [...]
            From Arcana
            Glass does not burn but the hillside does

            The two are a vine’s exhalation [...]
            Five Poems
            A birthday today telephones into the loose earth

            It’s not ridiculous

            Only lonely

            Out of Heaven [...]
            Four Stories
            There is no item so common to us all as she is.
                 I would eat the girl’s food as if it were my food. I would like to have all of her money. She has so much of it. [...]
            Whereas, before Karrer went mad, I used to go walking with Oehler only on Wednesdays, now I go walking—now that Karrer has gone mad—with Oehler on Monday as well. [...]
            Such Rich Hour
            When they eat from your hand it’s said that you’re saved
                      or that you saved them.    You can never be sure. [...]
            Three Peter Lorre Poems
            My only offer: A kidnapped dog in exchange for your thirst
            Call me Zanzibar Sam, Bulging Pharoah, Narcoleptic Swill [...]
            Drawn & Quartered
            I felt as if I had been in some fantastic traffic of narratives, all the echoes and presences and situations—like very real life indeed. I loved the almost baroque feel of the drawings, the echo of old-time illustrations and children’s books. [...]
            The Box Artist
            The Box Artist is the artist of desire. The tenderness of desire that can never be consummated.
                 The Box Artist plucks the child’s flying image out of the air as you might pluck a feathery little bird out of the air, a canary or hummingbird, small enough to fit in your closed hand. [...]
            Christmas Vacation
            (with a facsimile of the original manuscript)
            Christmas was only a few days away and old Mrs. Busybody stood gazing out the window looking at several young boys and girls smoking cigarettes. [...]
            Of Monotony
            This is about the monotony of hours and days, of people and things, of souls and their emotions. This is about gruesome monotony which the gods, just as people after them, have invented and arranged, in order to make our lives unbearable with regularity and natural laws and such. [...]
            Three Stories
            A lady in a purple dress and red stockings appeared on stage with anxious, made-up eyes, and behind her a perky, moth-eaten-looking impresario in striped pants with a chrysanthemum in his buttonhole. The impresario darted his eyes left and then right, bent over and whispered into Mademoiselle Janna’s ear:  [...]
            The Life Sentence, A Missing Passage from “The House of the Dead”
            ​In our prison barracks, Fyodor Mikhailovitch said, there was a young prisoner, a passive, quiet and uncommunicative man. I kept my distance from him for a long time—I didn’t know how long he had been at hard labor, or why he had landed in the special section reserved for men convicted of the worst crimes. [...]
            Eighteen Poems
            When the kissing flesh is gone
            And tooth to tooth true lovers lie
            Idly snarling, bone to bone,
            Will you term that ecstasy? [...]
            Fourteen Stories
            by Anton Chekhov
            translated by Peter Constantine
            Having been insulted by you most grossly, I have relegated my complaint to a court of law. As you seem incapable of appreciating who I am, perhaps the justice of the peace or a public trial will teach you to respect me. [...]
            The Chatter Heart: An EKG
            He would never be a spy; oh, he would go to Edinburgh and Liverpool as commanded, but he would forget to keep his eye on things.  [...]
            Emma Enters a Sentence of Elizabeth Bishop’s
            by William H. Gass
            illustrations by Michael Eastman
            Emma was afraid of Elizabeth Bishop. Emma imagined Elizabeth Bishop lying naked next to a naked Marianne Moore, the tips of their noses and their nipples touching; and Emma imagined that every feeling either poet had ever had in their spare and spirited lives was present there in the two nips, just where the nips kissed. [...]
            Four Conversations
            Could it be that loss completes possession? Becomes, like the “with” in “without,” a second acquisition, deeper, wholly internal, more intense for its pain? [...]
            From The Trial
            (with an afterword by the translator)
            by Franz Kafka
            translated by Breon Mitchell
            Rendering Kafka’s prose involves far more than punctuation and paragraphing. The power of Kafka’s text lies in the language, in a nuanced use of the discourses of law, religion and the theater; and in particular in a closely woven web of linguistic motifs which must be rendered consistently to achieve their full impact. [...]
            Editors’ Note
            Is there an American literature, or are there American literatures, each marked by individual idioms, manners, subjects? Or is it fruitless to speak of racial, ethnic, class-based, sexual and geographical distinctions when each writer by necessity must wage her or his own eccentric articulation against and within a culture that tends to devalue the individual voice in favor of consensus? [...]
            Henry Miller: Exhibitionist of the Soul
            Miller’s true importance is not as a pioneer of free expression but as an exhibitionist of the soul, and lies in the triumph of one man over chaos that is achieved in an ironic collusion with chaos. [...]
            Phrenological Whitman
            Regarded as a pseudo-science nowadays and subject to parody and caricature, phrenology was “the science of mind” in the United States during the nineteenth century. It was taken seriously by a great number of people and Walt Whitman was one of those people. [...]
            John Cheever and Indirection
            John Cheever was a troubled but resolute adventurer in the trenches of self.  [...]
            Henry James
            In his final deliriums, when his fever was high, Henry James had wanted to write, Leon Edel tells us. He kept asking for paper and pencil. When he [...]
            Frank O'Hara: Nothing Personal
            Romantic, heroic, tragic—O’Hara is an ideal figure on which to project our fantasies about the life of the artist, though hopefully not at the expense of his work. Grudgingly, the literary establishment has included him in the canon, but I can’t help feeling uneasy over the possibility that it’s the man and not the poems they’ve canonized. [...]
            45 Calibrations of Raymond Chandler
            Not long before his death, he wrote, “I have lived my life on the edge of nothing.” [...]
            Melville and the Art of Saying No
            Is there a better book that’s worse? Is there a masterpiece so unmasterful, so little of a piece? The Confidence Man is a catalogue of failings. [...]
            The Emerson Madrigal
            I admire the man who remarked of his sentences I am a rocket manufacturer. [...]
            My Willa
            At my parochial schools, the nuns’ adulation of Willa Cather seemed to me, even in adolescence, an embrace that would not be returned, that she was given more to the manner of storytelling than to the subject matter of Catholic missionaries. [...]
            Chicago Guy: Nelson Algren
            The people who influence you to write aren’t necessarily who you’re going to write like, but the fact of their existence, of the existence of their characters, the spirit in them, opens up a possibility in your mind. [...]
            The Berlin Sonnets
            I saw the sky still smudged from it when I passed on the bus
            years ago, passing by bus through famous places. Here Goebbels
            was photographed with a cigarette and pretty woman,
            here Paul Valéry stopped to light his pipe and peered
            absentmindedly at a window full of soap, here Dvorák
            fed pigeons on his windowledge and spoke English. [...]
            From The Negro-Lover
            To show the fly the way out of the bottle was the life’s hope of Ludwig Wittgenstein but the truth is that human beings don’t want a way out of the bottle; we are captivated, enthralled by the interior of the bottle; the bottle is the perimeter of our experience and our aspiration; the bottle is our skin, our soul; we could not survive outside the bottle; or tell ourselves, in the glassy-echoing confinement of the bottle, that this is so. [...]
            The motel gleams in the sun. Somebody is pounding somewhere. A couple of days ago, my father started offering complimentary suntan lotion to anyone who stays the night. He’s advertising this on the marquee out front but, so far, no one has stopped. [...]
            Music Theater: Texts and Traces
            As an audience we crave these nonfranchised experiences. Our ears inch around on our heads and our faces grow more open so that we don’t miss any of the fun. We are much more interested in what we don’t yet understand. [...]
            Without Pity
            To embark sleepily
            being everywhere
            (radiant) [...]
            The show’s suspense would be predicated upon his composure. Should he lose it, the spectacle would become the kind of event that takes its place in theater history: “I was there the night that boy ...” whatever. The possibilities for failure are limitless. [...]
            Two Stories
            As in those other dreams, I’m with somebody I know but don’t know how I know them, and this person suddenly points out to me that I’m blind. [...]
            A World of Canes
            We begin with love? Doudou, I ain’t know what we begin with. What you call that? Bullying. You call that bullying. We begin with bullying, meet up with little love. [...]
            Pyramid Chapel
            The blaze of gun with its teeth of fire
            a play ring scratched in the dirt [...]
            Axe and Anancy
            The child saw red. Red in the earth and clouds and sky, a red dye making visible the air he could only feel until now and drink too, in confirmation of all he felt, red, in the trees and in the ripe fruit and red behind his shut eyes. Red, then black. [...]
            Three Poems
            Sounds that spread through past wombs
            those before Mokongo y toda esa gente
            sound too much like thumps [...]
            Five Songs (with an afterword by the translator, and notes by Gage Averill)
            by Manno Charlemagne
            translated by Mark Dow
            That grinning mask is the flag you carry—
            That’s what your Mardi Gras has become. [...]
            A Natural History
            Back at our whitewashed cement house, shaded by the crown of a graceful frangipani, my mother was readying herself for the festivities when she felt the first of my violent kicks deep inside her. [...]
            Two Poems
            Yes, I was born on the street known as Glass—as Paper,
            Scissors or Rock.

            Several of my ancestors had no hands.

            Several of my ancestors used their pens

            in odd ways. [...]
            Is Anybody Listening?
            “Not,” she said, “mine”—this voice of hers a hum, little more, a seepage of breath; it sounded to her as if located nowhere, spleenless. [...]
            The Putti
            I am here to sketch the contours of the double danger that concerns us: the putti as parasite, the putti as drug. [...]
            When I was an old-enough kid, I prepared an exhibit of things I wasn’t supposed to know—things my parents had done before they got married to each other. [...]
            Sticks and Stones: An Introduction
            To assert the opposite of the nursery rhyme invoked above would be to maintain that language is not only physical enough to wreck a body—through precise rhetorical arrangements and sheer sentencery—but also that the word is as stone, a tool to smash obstacles and persons, the hard object that will outlive us all, implacable and immutable.  [...]
            Briar Rose
            He is surprised to discover how easy it is. The branches part like thighs, the silky petals caress his cheeks. His drawn sword is stained, not with blood, but with dew and pollen. Yet another inflated legend. [...]
            Line of Descent
            Braided arroyo choked with debris.
            This big, the boy describes
            the dragonfly. The father
            grabs him up
            Hide and Seek, A Play in One Act
            MAN. No. There is blue. Blue exists. (Pause.) I believe in blue. I love blue. Of all the things in the world, blue is what I love best.

            WOMAN. Me too. (As if seeing it: contemplative, rapturous.) A very blue blue. A blue bluer than the blue that is blue. The bluest of blues, a blue so blue, it is beyond blue. A blissful, beautiful blue. [...]
            The Adoption
            NABBO is perhaps eight years old. He wears a mask to suggest deformity or disfigurement, but the mask should be extremely lifelike and not exaggerated. His skin is an ambiguous tone—dusky or mottled, not “black.” He may be partly bald as well, as if his scalp has been burnt. He has a mild twitch or tremor. MR. and MRS. stare at NABBO, who stares impassively at them. [...]
            Nina in the Morning
            Nina’s hands shook as she lifted a coffee cup to her face. Her perceptions were off, and she poured hot liquid down the left side of her face. She put cream and sugar on her face, stirred it and then rang the bell for Foote. [...]
            Yet you still call it home. After thirty years. You at least acknowledge that America is still home. [...]
            Introduction: Plays as Literature
            Reading plays is like reading poetry: it requires, though in a very different way, an exercise of the imagination. [...]
            Inside and Outside: Pages From the Atlas
            Outside the vast squares of yellow bookstore-light, the panhandlers, longhaired and greasy, held out their palms, asking for their dinners, and two started fighting, while inside people turned the pages of picture-books whose flowers smelled like meadows of fresh ink. [...]
            Calamity Jane
            Here, the season of manifest destiny
            And breaded trees

            Land-hungry time
            Backstairs time [...]
            Four Days in Vermont
            Is there wonder here
            has it all gone inside [...]
            Two Poems
            If you look right here on the graph, you can see that little leap and then the plateau. A bee trying to cross a rural road. [...]
            Two Poems
            Out to circle back
            to identical waves
            of madness, the dream [...]
            Five Stories
            You see how circumstances are to blame. I am not really an odd person if I put more and more small pieces of shredded kleenex in my ears and tie a scarf around my head: when I lived alone I had all the silence I needed. [...]
            The Warden
            The view from our outhouse never changes. We have spent a lifetime of nights listening to silence, as if the world outside is a rumor.  [...]
            The Black Reeds
            the bodies sway in coral
            their muscles are abstract
            and space is a massy water [...]
            From Speech’s Hedge Where the Honey
            by Peter Cole
            afterword by Eli Gottlieb
            like spirit
                flinching in thinking

                     as though in a gem [...]
            Two Poems
            As if setting were bondage
            and we on the brink had walked up to it/raw thread
            chafing the waters of the percolating wave.
            As if we could say to the fire,
            Stop! I command you, stop! [...]
            Three Stories
            No way our waterside neighborhood can avoid this character; for days now she’s been on our "event horizon": a one-eyed giantess lumbering first more or less our way, then more and more our way, now unequivocally our way. [...]
            Boy Born with Tattoo of Elvis
            I carry him on my chest and it’s a real tattoo and he was there like that when I come out of Mama. [...]
            Hagfish, Worm, Kakapo
            Once upon a time a hagfish loved another, and thus far was only doing what hagfish had always done. [...]
                                             oh promise we shall meet on Ojjiba and swim

            underwater my harp is caught in a silver fire of water the planet Ojjiba

            looked at that way [...]
            coldness or virtue—
                              one long line [...]
            Seven Poems
            Seven times I told you
            and seven times you asked me what.  [...]
            And the Stars Were Shining
            It was the solstice, and it was jumping on you like a friendly dog. [...]
            If I believe in anything I believe in narration; in telling the story. [...]
            She and I
            She is dozing naked upstairs now and the 
            morning light is falling here on my hands.  [...]
            Beliefs Reasonable, Unreasonable Beliefs
            The primary referents for Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans, Brillo boxes, images of Mao and Marilyn Monroe, etc., etc., are either nondiscoverable or discoverable in an almost anecdotal sense, i.e., we “know” that there is, somewhere, a first print of the Mao photograph, but that we have never seen this first print does not in any way deny us access to the image. [...]
            I’d as lief 
            not leave, not 
            go away, not 
            not believe. [...]
            Found Credo
            A dictionary. Foundation of her inquiry, redemptive source, labyrinth of gnosis to steady her agitated and propulsive stammer naming formulates desire’s possessive code, eases thing to idea, feeling to thought, unconceals ephemeral being. [...]
            The White Blackbird
            The reason I could not sign my name then is simply this: piece by piece my family jewels have been disappearing over the last few years, and today as I near my one hundred years all of these precious heirlooms one by one have vanished into thin air.  [...]
            From The Tent of Orange Mist
            The novel is a camel dragged through the eye of a needle, a toboggan made of words sent careening over the brow of a hill to see what happens to it, a stent fixed into a blood vessel to catch cruising embolisms. [...]
            From Film Noir
            She is a living legend—a survivor of the chitlin’ circuit—authentic, gritty, magnificent, temperamental. She calls her classic songs “ugly music,” she calls herself “Godmother to James Brown.” [...]
            From Sister
            Deep rage, and the attraction of violence, fascinates and troubles almost every woman I know well, every woman I love. [...]
            From Blessèd is the Fruit
            I dreamt that I was reading the book I wanted to write. I held it in my hands (I dreamt it in hard cover), opened to somewhere near the middle. [...]
            Fad’s Eye
            In 1967 a weird, rich freedom was in the air, attended by the lulls that follow good sex, rain or a successful electrocution. [...]
            Two Sketches
            I am thinking how most rituals are family-bred: repetitions of holidays and habits nurtured in the bosom of domestic life. Single people, like Emily and me, have to be more inventive in our development of rituals. [...]
            Two Poems
            the poem exists
            always and only
            in the mind
            of the reader [...]
            It Must Be Sophisticated
            There are attics in old houses
            where doubt lingers as to the corrosive
            effect of night-blindness [...]
            Madame Realism: A Fairy Tale
            by Lynne Tillman
            illustrations by Silvia Kolbowski
            In the winter the days end suddenly and with such ferocious indifference that Madame Realism felt at a loss. [...]
            The Channah Tales
            All the boys in the family were named Claro, and all the girls were named Clara, the story has it, because from their house on the hill they could see with absolute clarity for great distances. [...]
            Tale of the Enchanted Pig
            The hugs, the groaning and moaning, God, they were unreal! [...]
            Three Poems
            certain stones give
            birth to other stones [...]
            Blue Peter
            To describe a logic of sight
            pull the surface onto target and
            arrive at zero aperture. [...]
            Four Stories
            In our town there is an actor, H.—a tall, bold, feverish sort of man—who easily fills the theater when he plays Othello, and about whom the women here become very excited. [...]
            Tangled Reliquary
            Tangled reliquary under all surfaces.
            Nothing moonlike occurs there
            Only partial coves
            And entrances. [...]
            Order and Flux in Northampton
            Barry Dingle, cross-eyes purveyor of bean sprouts, harbors for Myrnaloy Trask, operator of Xerox and regent of downtown Northampton’s most influential bulletin board at Collective Copy, an immoderate love. [...]
            A Context of a Wave
            You could be thinking about your physical placement, what can be a continuum and what is chance. [...]
            An Interview
            by Chinua Achebe
            interview by Bradford Morrow
            My whole artistic career was probably sparked off by this tension between the Christian religion of my parents, which we followed in our home, and the retreating, older religion of my ancestors, which fortunately for me was still active outside my home. This tension created sparks in my imagination. [...]
            War Wounds
            Bad boys searched for crumpled articles in pants pockets; good girls opened three-ringed binders to stories preserved between pieces of plastic. Boys read about the fire and the flood; girls read about the rescue. [...]
            Aria No. 17
            daughter of the queen in her open skirt

            daughter in her open silk skirt

            fold over fold one fold over one other fold [...]
            The Spun-Off Independent Dead-End Ten-Star Blast
            As a white artist influenced by and dependent on black American culture I want to say something about the place of subsidiarism in the arts in general. [...]
            Storiella Americana as She is Swyung: Duke Ellington, the Culture of Washington D.C. and the Blues as Representative Anecdote
            It is a coincidence both appropriate and profoundly symbolic that the quintessential American composer was born, grew to young manhood, came to his vocation, and began his apprenticeship in the capital city of the nation. [...]
            American Writing Today: A Diagnosis of the Disease
            As this quotation shows, the mouth is a veritable fount of pestilence, vomiting forth its unclean words to infect all who are not armored with ignorance and earwax. [...]
            Seven Poems
            Dear World, fuck off advice ingredients, empty swing. Studies show that couples who try to avoid arguments tend to average higher happiness scores. [...]
            1.  Waste places from the very first.
            Grubbed marginal plots,
            where daisy aster, hairy petaled, was.
            Saw sheaves of stirrers strewn by the loading dock. [...]
            Essays on the Comic Book
            (Each of the lines or paragraphs is one of the frames of the comic
                The crowd marks the split between themselves and experience.
                They construct all the buildings to be the same. [...]
            Seven Poems
            For you it’s called absorption, for your dream, the hood was wearing a cape, the little division sang [...]
            The Horse Killers
            It was a dark night. A stormy night. There was rain. There was wind. The beaded trees were helpless but to accept their drenching. The pitch-black air was unnaturally heavy with summer heat. Not a light shone. [...]
            Eating Disorders
            When I go to the movies my heart fills with intense expectation, and for the first half hour or so of almost any movie I am unreasonably pleased, so in awe of the wonderful technology of the spectacle, of a world so accurately reproduced yet enlarged, that I think I’m watching a great movie, when really I am just–at least for a while–delighted by the glamour of movies. [...]
            It is with Poe that we first see the gothic shifting away from an emphasis on props and sets–dark forests and lugubrious caverns, skeletons and thunderstorms–and towards a particular sensibility characterized by transgressive tendencies and extreme distortions of perception and affect. [...]
            The Sound
            There is a certain selectively audible frequency: abstraction until we actually hear. But how we hearken to that initial sound; how it changes everything. [...]
            The Grave of Lost Stories
            In the grave of lost stories there is neither day nor night, but a stupendous blackness shot through with corpuscles of fluorescence, like droplets of oil in water [...]
            An Interview
            by Robert Kelly
            interview by Bradford Morrow
            Ideas are trashy things. I wouldn’t want to have an idea. Would you want an idea for a friend? I think poetry is the activity of people with nothing to say. [...]
            An Interview
            by John Hawkes
            interview by Bradford Morrow
            Will you stop covering my swamp with macadam, for Christ’s sake, or garbage? There is no garbage in the swamp we ’re talking about. We’re talking about pure woman. And I don’t mean pure. I mean absolute woman, concentrated woman, woman as woman. Uninhibited, real swamp. And I think that the way we’ve been talking about swamp is essentially seeing the swamp. We haven’t been swimming in it, we haven’t been diving down into it or submerging ourselves in it. [...]
            Two Stories
            Chin-Chin’s ribcage they swung by a silken cord from a nearby tree, so that it cast a moving shadow on porcelain plates held near it, upon which nimble-fingered copyists trapped the shifting pattern in cobalt blue thinned with oil of cloves. [...]
            Two Poems
            Our law is 
            change—not the stars’ changes as they move along 
            the measureless axis dividing all known things, 
            but the small changes we pick out of will’s pockets 
            and slide into the hungry slots of human life.  [...]
            Two Poems
            Say, “We did not get what we came for,”
            And then proceed to your destination
            Like a commercial without sound. [...]
            Three Poems
            Nesmejána reflects the wonder
            of laughter [...]
            The Anatomy Lesson
            When dissecting cats and mongrels the painter-to-be was not avid, cruel, aimless as were many of the other boys, but was methodical, intent, paring away the wretched creatures until the bones gleamed and the various small organs stirred in him the longing to inspect much larger ones. [...]
            Innocence in Extremis
            He had no idea who she was or why she was there in the courtyard. He did not understand why his father had not said her name yet knew her well. He did not understand what she had meant to do or why or by what right. But she had touched him—and most visibly. [...]
            Three Poems
            Placing our emotion on a field, as I said, became a nucleus of space
            defined by a rain of light and indeterminate contours of a landscape
            like the photograph of an explosion [...]
            Three Poems
            Over all and every
            sputter, a gallon
            of application, two
            disks of curdled
            shade, a mix
            of turpentine and
            pine, somberer blink
            for a spreadsheet. [...]
            Slow Theme with Nine Variations
            Cut it down
            to the stem,
            or let it dwindle
            to the pinch
            that holds its waist. [...]
            Three Passages from The Tunnel
            O brood O muse upon my mighty subject like a holy hen upon the nest of night.
                 O ponder the fascism of the heart. [...]
            Threads through the Denkoroku: Records of the Transmission of the Light
            although the forest floor is white
            the sparrow, like music,
            finds the bread crust in the snow. [...]
            Five Poems
            It does not come as hairline fractures
            mapping plaster with brittle rivers
            nor with the unmeasured gait
            of a tulip’s averting grace
            lathed to half-rhyme with death [...]
            Three Poems
            There is some charm in that old music
            He’d fall for when the night wind released it [...]
            An Interview
            A book you never see must be imagined covering up the book you read. [...]
            An Interview
            by James Purdy
            interview by Bradford Morrow
            I began writing anonymous anomalous letters when I was eight and nine. These anonymous anomalous letters, as I call them, and which I still write today, are purportedly unsigned letters which defame the recipient by telling him the truth about himself. [...]
            Four Poems
            I have looked at this wall
            for months, bricks
            faded, chipped, edge of roof

            fixed with icicles
            like teeth [...]
            Three Poems
            Going away is often a formal statement of intent.
            There she was in Paris in 1950 in love
            with the river and theatre and shoes, but dreaming
            of Tangier and the dunes. She liked the mirage. [...]
            Spanish Sky
            Out of the cyprus
            bounced a peeled onion,
            out of clipped hedge
            fell an Anjou pear. [...]
            Five Poems
            Thanks for
            what will be 
            the memory
            if it is. [...]
            Five Poems
            I  will  be  better  off,
            if  I  do  not  speak:
            the  kindred  appearance
            is  broken,
            as  the  word  is  spoken. [...]
            An Interview
            There’s no difference between the people who produce rock records, movies, and books. They’re all the same people. And they’re usually run by the same conglomerates, one of which is the Mafia. [...]



            In Print

            Vol. 73
            Earth Elegies
            Fall 2019
            Edited by Bradford Morrow


            March 17, 2020

            Because he could picture himself curled up on the shelf of the refrigerator between the bread and the light.


            Because he stared up at the sprinkler attachment and thought of it as a metal flower.
            March 10, 2020
            Mears takes your name. As soon as you say it, he speaks it in quick echo, and it is now his and no longer yours. We don’t know what he does with it or what it does for him, but we do know what happens to those he pilfers.
            March 3, 2020
            All those touched and killed by the night end up floating on sea. Strewn across some other beaches are the stranded bodies of dead kings.

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