Con Messinger

IN THINKING OF THE ROOM I THINK OF YOU AND THAT’S AS FAIR A PLACE TO START AS ANY
 
 
rope or some tiny elevator covered
exactly in packing sheets – so that
you would not recognize it gesturing or moving upwards
to you – then the object’s obscured – you / i then
wander upward through some series of images of
tracks in rows ‘trains’ and us two being carried and
it’s reeling, not falling but going upward –
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      
   

 
 
i remember it differently now – not having escaped
but rather going up with her.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      
 
 
now this is different – more stopping – no movement as if
everything slid down – moves to the side – or
ends to that side. a terminal not a body of play
that’s it. not a backyard.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      
  
 
two equal parallel structures – waiting for some
folding – that’s it someone says it – over it
finding the rising action – the blue wave that
goes over – not a green streak. it’s about free time –
 
 
 
 
some waiting goes on forever –

some call it borrowing –
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      
 
 
 
i think i loved you. i wouldn’t call that fading
pink exactly – more movement a ‘ground swell’
that’s an overture, she walks behind the plexiglass
then the play opens and she almost falls out of her seat
and who could forgive her green eyes locked in
snow – then we do some walking
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      
  
 
 
those were the notes you sent me
on performing time. so that
to think everything’s been performed already implies a
lack – of person – or patterning
you then create the wrong pattern – that you is unfortunate.
to disintegrate implies a reduction
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      
  
 
 
or taking things without something in
your stomach – plain like that like
what you would call it. fair – for
example. now my father is in line in
massachusetts. an exuberant lesbian
cook hits on me. we walk a whole
half hour – my mother takes up biking

 
 
 
 
 

 
  
**
 

CON MESSINGER is a poet and translator living in Iowa City, IA. She is the author of the digital chapbook The Love of God (Inpatient Press, 2016) and The Land Was V There (89+/LUMA, 2014). Her translation of Juana Isola’s chapbook You Need a Long Table Behind a Pile of Firewood to Have Lunch with Your Children in Ray Bans was recently published by Monster House Press.

Anastasia Kolas


Cyborg Transition

 
 

AKOLAS_transition to cyborg_pic

 
 

Forensic anthropological facial reconstructions floated up, one by one, on my screen. Many of the subjects depicted were reportedly incapacitated and deceased by the way of dental cysts. The credit notes under the images stated my age as the age of the subject’s death. I felt warm and fuzzy: the innovation was here, prolonging my life, my desires, my desirability, and with them, my residue imprint.

 

Last year, in addition to the hybrid I have been for most of my life, I became a cyborg, too. Living in 6 countries is a privilege when it isn’t a dislocation, which it is, in my case that we study here. Arguably, so is the prosthesis: a privilege when not a dislocation, which it isn’t, in my case that we study here. Albeit I will live with this prop for the rest of my life, mine, is a benign story of an artificial part, centered around aesthetics more than around its function.

 

The right molar #5, next to canine, has never been happy.

 

#5 bid its goodbyes to the cruel world when I was 18 as I prepared to abandon the ship of disarrayed homeland for the promise of gloss or a version of “Go West” track. That music video from where I stand is mind bogglingly confusing in its, what is it — narrative, a metaphor? It samples the Soviet Hymn during the 1993 timeline of mass-exodus after the break down of the bloc. I do hope it is meant to be a self-parody of the promise of the escape. There must be a subtext there that eludes my ESL eyes, as many other high-school era references of my peers, do.

 

As my mother rushed around gathering — gathering papers, stamps, gathering signatures, to exit, responsibly, properly, legally endorsed fresh start, an antsy middle-aged man was about to fix me before I boarded a train and then plane, away from it all. He must have been handsome in another life, a decade before he started to drink. Everyone around these parts eventually did, particularly if they were a man, particularly if they were handsome. This was done methodically, as if to cancel anything that signaled a possibility of a better life because better was not on the menu for as long as anyone could remember. It was hard to reset the palate, no matter the produce at hand.

 

Smudged into the abyss of nondescript east-south-west beyond Minsk Circle Road was a standard cell in a cement suburban high rise. This was the home office of the formerly handsome dentist recommended by my father. The space was implanted at the center with a medical chair, a mid-century Soviet buffet and a dining table with crochet napkins trimming its sides. The dentist desaturated into the beige wallpaper, shakily attempting to charm me while extracting the departed nerve. His unsteady handiwork left a trail of breadcrumbs that followed me as I follow myself: everywhere I go there I am and there it was. A photo series of x-rays have diligently documented the decline of the root canal with a pocket of air the dissolving man left behind as if a hapless gift. A clubland for microbes, their sweaty techno pulsated on a loop in my jaw for 20 forthcoming years.

 

2005. Forgetting to breathe, swaddled in rental blankets of my Parisian apartment populated by a euro-normative French roommate and French rats, I bit a post-soviet chocolate candy. Denied a working visa, not chic or seasoned enough to be sponsored for working permit as an Eastern non-EU designer with unimportant education credentials, I stared at my analog mapbook that displayed swirling irregular streets of unfamiliar London names. Bethnal Green, soon to be my new dream address, burned anxiety holes through my eyes. The dream meant mostly survival crimes of photocopying whited-out, omitted and edited, work permits and the diet of canapé, mineral water and when luck strikes, champagne, at soirees and vernissages. The molar #5 didn’t like the hard body of candied nuts I bit into, and took its cue to escape for the 2nd time. Dental and visas have always been entwined in my life, like lovers that return to each other, as if bound by an invisible force, break up after break up.

 

Back in Toronto for rescue operation molar #5, and for a new legitimate UK working visa, L., my Ukrainian dentist abroad, shook her head: “Well… we knew this was going to happen. I will try my best, but I give it two years tops.” L. pressed play on her dentist chair and my world started to tilt. Now in business class position I clocked that the screen has migrated since my last visit a few years ago and was now on the ceiling, meeting my reclined gaze head on. National Geographics Channel narrated a scene in which whales stole baby seals entering the ocean waters for the first time and bouncing their meager bodies in air with tail and fin performed a sort of baskeballish activity. Clubbed to death baby seals were flopped about for whales’ amusement and eventually shrugged off and discarded to wash up to the devastated seal families at the shore. This answered the question I’d had about animals only killing to eat or was it ever, to toy, like humans do with things and people? The housecat story was hard to fact-check. These self-selectively adopted beings were incrementally fed and their parts were cut out or trimmed to suit human sanitary and interior design needs. Hunting was a distant memory for my animal kin companion, reflected in her lazy chewing and spitting of a moth, pawing at a semi-dead mouse she had no plans to consume, bringing a strangled bird or a stunned roach as a gift to my bed.

 

Games of morbid fascination. Life and death drives in a perpetual conflict of interest. Me too. I’d like to be the white noise, or I’d like to be a cyborg, because things are moving too fast, baby/ and I can’t keep up, baby/ My model is of earlier kind/ Regrets of life cycle timing. I digress.

 

L. is a kind of cyborg magician. Her immaculate practice is buttressed on each side by a perfect accident of irony. The L. dental office is set between two cavity friendly Ukrainian and Polish bakeries, both specializing in old-world classics with new-world materials of refined flour and sugar. Retooled, the 2005 version of molar #5 was once again miraculously repaired and reinstated, and left Toronto anew, managed to survive several London visas and financial crash, and another relocation, and too many visas to count during the 10 years spent making it, in New York.

 

Decade later, as I was about to leave the pinnacle of capitalist extasis that began to feel like home, until all the sources of money dried out and some, the techno club of the molar #5 has burnt down and a full blown mutiny was seeping from my gum. Imagine the zeros on those invoices. There was no looking back at the crumbled monument to my resilience. It was time to weaponize this mouth with the sharpest tools for the glossy life that kept on slipping away decades at a time. Be mine! You will be.

 

Here are some insider pro-tip not colloquially discussed, at least not in my circle, of what, besides the astronomical costs, an implant entails. No one really talks about the time factor involved or more specifically the length of time you will be toothless or lisping: three to ten month, the latter more likely. Depending on the location of your situation it will affect your self esteem, and dating, and sex life. Please don’t tell me how you are so above it, I am not buying. Bereft, is what the gap feels like shedding clots of congealed blood onto your tongue. What is also not colloquially discussed is the fact that you will be padded with someone’s remains, the allograft, bone matter from a deceased donor or a cadaver that has been cleaned and stored in a tissue bank. The dust of someone whose driving license generously stated, like mine does: Organ Donor. Because why wouldn’t I be dead and sharing? I will be sharing as worm food or ashes even if I tick a box not to. This graft matter has to agree with you, or else you may begin to rot. There will be a hole drilled in your skull. A dentist, if you are like me and are doing it in Minsk because it’s the cheapest place on earth to do this thing, may say to the nurse while tears roll down your grownup cheeks, not from pain but from terror: “See that bit of meat hanging right there, can you nip that off?

 

From experience, I can recommend a solution to sex life issues of the cyborg transition process, and it is: suburbia. Sleeping with ghosts from the life past who remember you intact in your whole, taught and youthful beauty. Or, sleeping with 2nd generation Canadian youth in the parks and in your semi-suburban apartment where everyone can hear your thoughts, but no matter you are young again by association and you can EXPRESS YOURSELF. 2nd generation is the best of all worlds, aware of “the elsewhere” but distant from its traumas, too cool to care about the void in my smile. Though the self-esteem of a hybrid like me took a dent nevertheless. So, if you are one too, be prepared. Meditate. See your therapist, take walks, don’t look at social media. You know. Following the transition I am inclined to suggest that perhaps aesthetics must be further adjusted to include body decay as acceptable natural progression. If we are to be really body positive, why not a hollow pocket in my jaw.

 

I keep thinking about impressionism at the time of steel cage crinoline dresses and how bewildering the proposal of fragmented painting must have been to the eyesight and mores of the European public at the time. Impressionism was a manifest of uncertainty of depiction, or reference to impression, an iridescent sliver of light spectrum, a tint of first smog, nacreous scab, and not yet an allograft of a cadaver, now merged into my jaw secured by the titanium grip. If the implant is my crinoline now, then I need to revise my uncertainty settings, lest I be convinced of my invincibility. I would only be readying for yet another rude awakening.

 

Updating in the background are wants: the old-school glitz, a touch of jet-set, body updates, body maintenance and, simultaneously — acceptance of all earthly temporality. But then — the desire for infinite life, too. The want to experiment, the want to care, the want to poker face my irreverence towards “the system.” What will tomorrow judge my choices for implant as? Meanwhile, there is a whole set of sensations to grapple with. It may be the titanium talking, or the matter of the deceased who may have been a speed junkie that ran themselves into a ditch. Sharp and tenacious, my redux jaw feels firm and certain as it imagines itself ready for a new spin on that glossy dance floor. Or is there another option? I am open to suggestions.

 
 

**
 
Born in Belarus, and based everywhere, ANASTASIA KOLAS is an artist, writer and the founding editor of Nacre Journal. Anastasia is a graduate of the Bard MFA program and has exhibited internationally. She is working on a collection of auto-fiction essays titled “Fashion,” based on her life across countries and continents, her past work as a fashion designer, and present travels through The Arts and its theories.

Emily Heilker


conversation with the stones of césar vallejo
 
 
Rocks land in the Seine. Ripples move

closer, twist arm

back into socket. I hear you

speaking among book

stalls, propped up in their pages, hesitant

casually slouched. Who’s now

in front of a boulangerie, baguette under arm, striding

here into this future that’s already happened?

Thursdays rain down on this Made Thing. Snap

covers shut & the rocks go

plunk. I cannot get you

from me.
 
 
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
 
 
i could build nothing
 
 
Starlings roost
in boned eaves, infect my
dreams, murmur-
ation twisting
through nape & crown. Draw
seams together, de-
forming

through.

Grey, the laced sites of involution, of sentences looking
for bearing. Eye, a mirror or a glass.

Critical trans-
ition: frisson through & up—

What means starlings drag with them.
 
Lean-tos, nesting in the dendrites, leafed with

detritus, quaking, memory’s pink flowers. Catch

rituals: rings, like echoes,
fading, sometimes, thickening like trees. You

tell it over &

 

Starlings pitched pain-hum beneath lowing dreams.

Repetition lends a thread to memory.

Image constitutes in a flood of light.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

over-
flow: dragging

a corpse that won’t
sink in water.

Then,
 
 
“moving, gesture un-
finished,

on,
 
 
past”

 
 
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
 
 

acoustics
 
 
Couch history

in large print. Pixels the size of walnuts—to be safe, break

all the reading glasses

in two. Twilight zone mis-

takes : a low voice doesn’t carry better than a saw’s.

The arm that holds on for millennia, a lasting stick. Gregorio Allegri pierces

Wednesday. In book’s laboratory : it took

stories to cushion the

blows. Symbolic versus the feeling

of sentences, diagrammed.

Language, an inflatable mattress : breathed.

 
 
 
 
 
 

**

EMILY HEILKER hails from Atlanta & has an MFA from Brooklyn College. She has previously published in places like Ghost Proposal, Sonora Review, Loose Change Magazine, & The Nottingham Review.

JFK Randhawa


SCRIATION

 

In both cases we might (we must) speak of an intense immobility: linked to a detail (a detonator), an explosion makes a little star on the pane of text or of the photograph: neither the Haiku nor the Photograph makes us “dream.”
– R Barthes
 

Long voices brushed out. Canyons momentarily dry are moistened with shit and flimsy voltaic plastics. When I wake, I meet the dream: stones are in our stones are in our mouths. Pockets out, thundering and stationary machine. Touching the silicone machine to machine, two or one or three, and perimorph. Mastic indigo marriage to mechanism. I listen out for the rows of benches, for their sea-songs. They point green slats flush against the silver oak shade, crushed shells from the bay or the interior (imports, tax, maybe), sidewalks which preceded the wars. First, limestone. And my imagination must be destroyed in the name of name, to destruct name and the will to it, honey. The benches empty as to seem or to (never) forget are violently full.

Wandering up a hill, the hand. And then hush there is a moss, candescent green, marking a velvet seam. This is gentle. Gem-gentle, as their compressions take refuge in the loam curve outfit of the road, let out the waist at the rib, a ribbon, refuge from testing mandate rushing together forgetting the rivers. The lumen we find in iron twitches for future. Name of the transgression a typical labor. The buried and archived solids anterior to formation; at the end of the island, you find a mask molded from my second face, parametric wind. Sodden anther.

All empty, the benches, monument with abandon. How is it—as the bus goes by blue, new camouflage concealing its cargo (geotypical?), and the anachronistic water towers bruise what’s left of sky—that?

Green when bleached by an orb, sun or moon: like tide here, too subtle hierarch, such as a time, not enough ecologists in this rind of a town. Does lightlessness also bleach? Yes. Could we pursue life in a town where resemblances are the only expression? Yes, once could, only one.

Ignore Taconic orogenies, Acadian, the dimpled water. Dripping, who spoke of it, the ruined room takes her lacerations toward impermanence.

Ice on the boulders, encapsulating ice shadows. Law happens in a scan.

Inconsequential that we live shadow to shadow, search begotten with temperature, outlasting the can’t take it anymore, I’m tired of their charts. Wind again, scooping out the hill, here again, hill, the hill. Defunding the cliffs. Your daughter your lover the company, calling from, what’s the difference? To become recognizable—to undo it.

Gridmonth the first. Sitting alignment in status parcel. Status, numbering the visual beats, bearing us percussion turquoise. Gridmonth of the borderless hedgerow—my umbilical pellet, how long did she crave the earliest mention of resin? Fasten. Who comes to my ladder anymore? Glistening in snow volcano, no light overground or molecular resistance. My hand flickers. Tonight, this afternoon, an hour gussied toward horizon, before the one stalling curl, a marathon of interruption. Yes, honey, no more Januaries ever again, that’s it.

 
*
 

Blue was valued even less than green, the color of vegetation and death, which was sometimes the intermediary…Blue was nothing or very little; it was even absent from the sky, which most authors and artists portrayed as white, red, or gold.
– M Postereau
 

Under sweltering watershed west lapped a shadow stream stuck to this world by rotting knots. To harbor in tidebearing, lost, and none bother to hum its melody or breathe its tangy perfume—before, it existed just to snap across their faces and, later, to hiss into electrical current. We tracked the storm together, hanging up paper maps, marking the precise locations of dizzy spells with pins. Here, who is it, ecstatic.

One morning, this, I balked. I sweat, paint drips, suddenly grey-afraid of your disgust. Am I certainly not dead? The present peels into reverie. I come to believe we have forgotten the dexterity attempt and let panic spill, time to run. Amid the quiet carbon you emit in the morning as infinite emerges from the inches suspending our shapes. Astride me now, on a shaded hill, no—underground in a train car—the aging, in puckered hiking boots discuss sassafras and mushrooms, planting rice in a traditional way.

Above, a crackling teleo-phone, I mean blue sky. Cutting collapsible dynamics, swatting away the blight; it convinces our bodies. What is reasonable is long in dying, axis fraction. I also want to be dead, when I tell you, you say, go on, this isn’t like you. What resembles your dense resistance more than hibernation, the wound of karmic stutter. Refuse to be slight in my body, in an anemia I also inherit. You are watching the tears and tightening. Be the window.

The halls of sandstone catch hold of the clouds—long voices. Expels saturation from corridors. Pure as in fulgurating essential, the extension, in ascent becomes what it could mean to be dimpled by the light, here, wintering. I have considered the spaces silver, grey, an absence of green. Citations. How I am upset by this modernity: I have read that hues green black and grey were interchangeable transolvents, interlocutors and direct apparitions of the sacred, throughout the mean Christian centuries. This study of blue around blue.

 
*
 

Maybe a poem you half translate:
Germ aligns with edge, love at the
Formal, fast
corrodes with
My empress spread her news
Into the earth in augur bruises
The sand mistook for cloth, and salt
Her letter
On the glittering turn

Edging its way into my more subjunctive spores. Tight spirals, words such as plastic and method rituals and pleistocene.

 
*
 

Lover, it’s a confusing day in the ritual. I’ve been reduced to the container (name) of my intention. Which food, whose music was revolutionary, what revolution, how have we been, and how will we continue because of course we will. I am tired, manic, pleading to be recognized as my aunt born again in reverse, the schizophrenic. You question where the echoes can be let out, open to their broadening. And I feel you also despair their bodies. That for me is a discovery. Sometimes language is not enough—it happens like a shock. Lover, I am listening, hoping that in your turns I will swarm like a blossomed hillside. Dormant root. Today I walked my thousandth. Today I wake to your cord of stones laced over the land.

A blindness, the absence world, the pressure of those rendered invisible, pressing and shoving.

I have dreamt the recall, and my inner thighs are chalked. I am shuttled north and south to unlock apartment doors, ascend steps, pluck a guitar for a cat, offer pellets and mice to mouths of dog and snake. Blink the coat tight around my chin. I’m not called back by most of my names this season, though certainly I am not a ghost. Have you? Seen his new advertisement? Squeals of a dialogue between schist,
pulley, and handbrake. I lose faith that even my body could be of monetary value.

Goddess singing. Valence virgin. Kidney arrival.

The monstrous platelet I’m cut from. Who is sick? Vacuum domesticana. My dissipation, her face, which tulip tree, the barbiturate elect ridicules her tomb. Then the line mellows, over time, a wine winnows, the river bloats from a monsoon in the north and is dyed with indigo and turmeric. Among those who live in the village, it is encouraged that all touch this universe painted anew (again, as it’s climate, it’s tradition); the birth goes on for hours. By the time the sun has shrunk to dwelling height there has been a transformation: many have leapt into the yonni of silt and emerged with skin soaked with combination: true form, time mutation, appearance. The residents will carry on, and so it is a village. A village of the inexplicable, in all sizes, will be undetectable and unrecognizable to each in the haze of twilight. Beveling through night. Does not this disambiguation happen every night, without the mask, what happened around the stream, in any village? To endure the mirrors armed with olive and arrow. Tonight, an ineffable transfusion alters parable (parabolic) traces.

Stillmention, basin with the rain in my chest. Above, your wavering visitation.

Once a skipping blue satin, perhaps a dress, perhaps your public stomach: whose spine have I lingered over recently, language of my ruin? A mountain imprint. Rolled out, carved in for visual texture. Impassioned over the once thriving saturate, cushions snip flora and beetles, cream and adrift. The blue cigarette case, canalize I heard, slip cast of a shadow at the café. I am catching essential shapes: archipelagos in the remnant linoleum floor. On the empty runnels toiled over in your workday to make room for their emptiness: you are profoundly sad about getting older, side by side made of the drive to cease existing or to die many times over. Phones surge, yelp me dry, and I find there is not enough silence left to defend life. It is bad faith to consider your life an exception. Our bodies are wrecked from this fourth hour, carry on.

 
 
**

JHANI/J is a writer and artist currently based in Los Angeles. J is interested in the intersections of precarity, ecology, diaspora, and cultural schizophrenia. J co-edits the journal rivulet.

Liz Bowen


 
IN BRITISH ENGLISH, THE MENU ITEM IS USUALLY REFERRED TO SIMPLY AS SNAILS
 

does your mother know you melt like this

spittle shower
acid humid

human pulped to preserves

 

ate the foot and tasted saltine

tasted a bed of bodega flowers

would you taste an ethical human
I mean

would you sample the foot

obtained ethically

 

watermelon cheek I slurp u up

duck head melon rind

a grandmother’s portion

 

“is there anything you would not taste”

 

is there any form

over which the tongue

does not make an ugly

sovereign costume

 
 

**
 
 

LOVE DART
 

inching fertile and perpendicular
a caress cleaves gender into gender

a spasm marks a timesheet in topsoil
first year grad school advice: procreate now

or not until tenure 
but what if I
lay thirty eggs in a hole one by one

what if I just can’t put a lid on it

contrary to popular belief
newborn labor movements need not be slapped

upon emergence /
they are leatherleaf
they respire through a thousand surface cells

in the wet dark between a rock and a
slick mantle, human desire congeals

toward the reptilian face of repulsion
borne of the impulse to eat what is loved

by the fingers
does the provost want us
eaten with fingers or a tiny fork?

to love or to be compensated
bite the hand that feeds you table scraps
 
 
 

**
 
 
 
HAS IT BEEN DISGUSTING
 

Have they deigned to look at you. Have they been startled by your appearance on an otherwise sunny day. Have you blended into the carpet at the function until a cat sniffs you out. Have you grown used to being known as either quiet or infernal. Has your one good lung opened up to the institutional air. Dense and recycled. Whistling like a kettle. Mucus monarch, back at the clinic, do you trail kleenex behind you. Walking in and walking in, can you not get an appointment with the person you saw before. Do you not bother to lower your voice when you say “valacyclovir” at the pharmacy. Does your lower lip geyser each December and May like clockwork. Do you gum your way through old rice and beans in the car. Does the leftover tofu curdle in your gut. Did you know it had probably turned when you ate it. Did you pay one-sixth of your income in taxes. Did you treat yourself to a teeth cleaning anyway! But, oh, has the off-duty cop kicked you out of the room you fell asleep in on campus again. Have you spit darts at him while slinking off into the newly landscaped dirt. Do you wake up choking on mandatory reporting. Has a full professor inched up your leg. Have you kept a secret asphalt hot. Have you sat next to a toad at the bar and laughed, and hoped he wouldn’t get hungry. Have they called your three months’ thinking “too easy.” Do you hold on to the tail end of your three-hour naps like holding on to the back of a moving truck. Have you woken up, or has the truck toppled over and spilled its gelatinous contents. Carmex. KY. Undercooked lesson plans. Kraft mac and cheese. The obscenities you swallow while passing the philosophers’ names etched into the library facade. Homer Herodotus who the fuck even Sophocles Plato probably pigs Aristotle Demosthenes I eat your legacy Cicero Virgil with my public school pedigree. From whence this truck. Who ordered all this. Does it spill over at the university loading dock. Does it spill up over the edges of the bed, oh, does it pile up on your chest, does it weigh so much, like a pillar of salt. Does it weigh so much like a descending sole, does it weigh so much like a clamping beak, does it weigh so much like a collective silence, does it weigh so much like the breaking of ground, does it weigh so much like dirt from a backhoe, does it weigh so much like the long scrolls of grass rolled out across campus, does it weigh so much like the new conference building where once was a bait shop and a strip club and a laundromat, does it weigh so much like a symposium, does it weigh so much like the Modern Language Association, does it weigh so much like famous feminists’ loyalties, does it weigh so much like all the shit you know and can’t say about the men in this room, does it weigh so much like a dossier of complaints that doesn’t weigh quite enough to get a man removed from the classroom, does it weigh so much like that.

Have you woken up. The contents suck back into the truck in a flash. This time, the driver is a teamster. The truck turns around at the picket line, refuses to deliver.

 
 

**

LIZ BOWEN is a poet and critic living in New York. She is the author of Sugarblood (Metatron 2017) and the chapbook Compassion Fountain (Hyacinth Girl Press 2019). Her recent writing can be found in The New Inquiry, American Poetry Review, Lit Hub, Boston Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Dream Pop Press, glitterMOB, The Wanderer, and elsewhere. She is a Ph.D. candidate in English and comparative literature at Columbia University, and a poetry editor for Peach Mag.

Mike Lala

Microsoft Word - Lala - The Adroit Journal.docx
Microsoft Word - Lala - The Adroit Journal.docxMicrosoft Word - Lala - The Adroit Journal.docxMicrosoft Word - Lala - The Adroit Journal.docxMicrosoft Word - Lala - The Adroit Journal.docx

**


MIKE LALA is a poet, sound artist, and writer for the stage. His works include Exit Theater (Colorado Prize for Poetry, 2016), Twenty-Four Exits: A Closet Drama (Present Tense Pamphlets/the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 2016), In the Gun Cabinet (The Atlas Review Chapbook Series, 2016), Infinite Odyssey (Pioneer Works/Contemporary Temporary: Sound Works & Music, 2017), and the libretto for Oedipus in the District (OperaComp, the Juilliard School/National Sawdust, 2018). Poems have appeared in publications including BOMB, Boston Review, Fence, The Brooklyn Rail, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, the PEN Poetry Series, and VOLT, and he has presented his work across the United States and Canada, at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center (for Anne Carson’s Tenth Muse), The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City. Raised in the western United States and Tokyo, he lives in New York. www.mikelala.com

Kristen Steenbeeke


 
Dear First Name

Dear Friend, PLEASE
I am begging you send money
I am begging you send money knock doors
time is running out like water
Dear Friend, Dear %FIRSTNAME%,
Dear Dear Truly Yours For Good Dear Please
Please, the money, quickly I will match every
Enthusiasm you extend to the tune of
Money money money money
MONEY! Mercury inching up
the old thermometer while I dream
of your hot little hand. All I dream now
becomes something. I slept soundly
as Sarah drowned her baby boy in the river,
as my water braked and I’d been handed
a ten thousand year old baby by my mother DEAR
FRIEND your money will help
me get a deep tissue massage
so why don’t you rush $XX now, $XXX———
I’m in mortal pain. Friend. You would think
to leave me here, down in the pulls
of a spillway, tied with rocks, even
after all I’ve DONE? I’m counting on
all my fingers, [[FIRSTNAME]],
I know how many times
you’ve read this note.
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
Cacophonus Bossy Red Universe

 
 
**
 
 
 
 
Control Universe
 
tv is that empathy machine

we watch the cry and do the cry too
small clear beads rolling rolling

we pleasure the snails with a secret spray
for us they produce many slime
and the secretions scare away our ugly!

i enact my loneliness upon the world
i watch one hundred televisions

i rustle somethin’ up i rustle wrestle the true thing: scene

this outing isn’t the scene [i need]
this convo outs the scene [agreed]

INT or EXT—Somewhere betwixt?
either way it is day, the sun coats the faces
 

shot with a white many unlit candles
shot with mushrooms bulbousing very quick
shot with a row of dingy teeth
macro shot of grains of white sand
macro shot of exfoliating beads

i am glowing :)
 
 

some version of Ben says, “you should end your poem:
‘seasons go by like i’m binge watching’”
 
 
i am living someone else’s slimy life


 
 
**

KRISTEN STEENBEEKE recently graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship and Alberta Metcalf Kelly Fellowship. She won Indiana Review’s 2017 Poetry Prize and has had or will have work in Pleiades, Sixth Finch, Gramma, Pinwheel, Tin House online, Bennington Review, Poetry Northwest, and others. She’s also a proofreader and illustrator.

Temp Editions 01: POND

 
 

Curated by Miriam Karraker
Web concept and construction by Theo Ellin Ballew

with:
Annika Berry
Sophie Durbin
Mara Duvra
Jonathan Kaiser
Mary Lodu
Gunnar Tchida
Sheila Wagner

*site best interacted with on desktop

 
 

**

MIRIAM KARRAKER Miriam Karraker writes, performs, draws, and lives in Minneapolis. She is interested in legibility, embodied experience, long walks, and one particular heron.

THEO ELLEN BALLEW Theo Ellin Ballew has gone home to Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MD; Cincinnati, OH; Scottsdale, AZ; Tempe, AZ; Fresno, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; New Haven, CT; Cambridge, MA; Dallas, TX; Brooklyn, NY; Denver, CO; Mexico City, Mexico; and Providence, RI, in roughly that order. She writes short fictional lyric prose, some of which she programs to move, and directs ORAL, which publishes moving/digital literature from the US and Mexico in thorough translation.

TEMP EDITIONS are semifrequent, guest-curated micro-issues from Tagvverk. Each selected curator is given the opportunity to produce a collection of work from 3-6 other writers or artists, to be presented on the Tagvverk site. This presentation can take the form of a PDF chapbook,website,mixtape, email newsletter, or any other combination or experimental reinterpretation of a traditional ‘journal issue.’

Tagvverk is currently accepting project proposals for Temp Editions Issue Two (TE02). Please send proposals or inquiries to the editors at tagvverk@gmail.com.

Former contributors to Tagvverk are given special consideration in the selections process. More information here.

Valerie Hsiung


from The Letter Seven

 
 
 

I’d like to take you to my old home, the home I’ve never been to myself, for it’s very far and hidden.

I turn to look at you, I don’t turn my entire body, only the face, while my body stays facing where I
was.

Why is the water warm? I squat, I press my ear to the rock, I let the wolves tickle me.

 
 

 
 

Listening to her body, she knew what was about to happen.

Listening to her body, she knew what was about to happen though she could not stop it.

Listening to her body, she knew exactly when she would die.

 
 

 
 

She’ll never forget the smell of dog’s cheek or of a dog’s paw-pad.

Once, while opening a trunk for extra blankets for guests, she thought she caught that very scent,
scent of dog’s cheek, scent of the paw pad.

Once, while falling asleep, too, she thought she found her at last.

 
 

 
 

For the afternoon we braid each other’s hair and lick charcoal stones until our tongues are scabby
eels.

Suddenly she remembers him, what he did to her, and she cannot look into her sister’s eyes anymore.

 
 

 
 

This is the world we live in. The moths colonize the bag of flour in a matter of weeks.

She looks at a man’s sweating face and thinks he may be a terrorist.

She writes a letter to her long lost family, explaining her absence but then going on a bit of a rant
about the future of this country.

She signs off,
I’m worried…
it may be the end of it all…
for all of us…

She continues to embroider, to keep the compass wrapped inside the pulpy flesh of her wrist, to
receive death threats if she continued to “ignite” the public, from her own government.

Her body turned up a few weeks later, scrubbed clean of evidence (by the world’s best).

 
 

 
 

She could see in the distance what appeared to be a woman gardening through a fence.

But they kept her hungry, thirsty, and confused, so she wasn’t sure if it all was a mirage in her head or
if—if there could be a good woman not too far from here just through the fence who wasn’t also in on
it.

 
 

 
 

It is a sin
to misguide
a fool
or even one fully capable
to the falls, or to
any other peril.

It is
a sin.
To ruin a family.

 
 

 
 

Well, first it began with an illness and then it would end as such—

uncontrollable projectiles, but
nobody listened.

Your tears sank into the page of the book of losers.

You thought how odd that the one letter should separate loser from lover—it’s just because you could
feel the passion being pushed out of your skin.

One must be so careful how one chooses to spend their time, and with whom one chooses to spend it.
One must ask, Do I love this person less or more than when our love was fresh and unexplored, and
why?

 
 

 
 

We picked food from the ground that we harvested and cared for all year.

It was an experiment to see if we could survive without having to travel and move every other day.

Nature was kind to us, in her bounty, resilience, regeneration (powers I liken to a God or some blood-
work), intelligence, acceptance of death and adversity, and the life force that makes a plant dance and
talk.

In the end, we found ourselves with extra time to cultivate not just food but other than food.

In fact, food would cease to be the focal point of our labor, although it would never cease to be the
focal point of our livelihood, because how ever could it, how could it ever?

 
 

 
 

Perhaps it was then she began to not fully recognize herself. But she was merely a child. It was society
which labeled her a beast, a monster, a specimen.

So, it would be through society that she would enact her perfect revenge.

Even now, she locks the doors at night because her wolf mother taught her better than that.

She realized, then, that to be naked was
to be most pure.

 
 

 
 

During times of war, we’d see the theater become even more packed than usual. That bed beneath the
theater was, of course, an odd prop bed before the war which was, of course, someone’s actual bed
during the previous war.

Once she reached the window, she would climb in, without expectation, receive her drink of water
and her charge. They would lift up her shirt, plug into her belly button—into the outlet that was her
belly button—until she had all that she needed before embarking again, to walk back on the string,
back to the other window again.

To live with the feeling that a shadow of a martyr walks beside your own shadow, masking you from having to
sacrifice too much.

To live with the feeling that one is not alone, that the shadow of a soul goes with you.

 
 

 
 

Will you do me this favor?

No, I don’t want your pity…

She slides down the muddy hill.

Sometimes a good night’s sleep is all that’s ever needed to get on from a toxin ingested.

And they’re selling that now.

Why, are some memories more vivid than other colors? Tell me then

I felt that… I had to make up for it… I had to fix it, I had to improve my self, cleanse myself, with
dirt…

Though refusing to ever give up this dirty mind…

almost
like a killer
except
not
a killer.

 
 

 
 

You’re saying all these names.

But I don’t recognize them.

And you can do whatever you want to do with me, you can keep doing what you’re doing, but my
answer will never change…

 
 

 
 

Occurred along the carousel…

This song

This song because it reminds me of standing somewhere in spring without loneliness

Why did you say that? Why did you say that to me? Why? Most

importantly. If now you

say you never meant it

And we could finally get lost here…

You see that’s the thing.

I don’t want to think about your tragic life anymore…

But, I guess, I never knew and we’ll never know anymore

how much and for how little, or who those women even were

 
 

 
 

We can’t help but wait. And then laugh, hysterically, when I say,

you’ll be sorry.

It’s not that you don’t take me seriously but you aren’t sure whether

I’ve ever truly forgiven you.

 
 
 
 

**

VALERIE HSIUNG is the author of three full-length poetry collections, the latest of which is e f g (Action Books). Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in The Nation, Gramma, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Pinwheel, VOLT, Hayden’s Ferry Review, FANZINE, PEN Poetry Series, American Letters & Commentary, Foundry Journal, Prelude, No Dear Magazine, New Delta Review, Tammy, and Yes Poetry. She has performed her poetry theater at Treefort Music Festival, DC Arts Center, Common Area Maintenance, Leon Gallery, Poetic Research Bureau, Rhizome, and The Silent Barn. Born and raised by Chinese immigrants via Taiwan in southern Ohio, Hsiung is nowadays based out of New York. She serves as an editor for Poor Claudia. http://flowersintheirmouths.com