Yongyu Chen & Jes Smith

The first page of the giant Snow Novel (roast)
(for Roberto Bolaño)

(The shapes of the letters… of your poem. I haven’t read it yet. I just rewrote it. The letters in your handwriting. Your hand shaking and speaking-acting on the world. I just re-wrote it.) Hello, prairies of tiger-grass, hello. The sky-of-your-prairiness is spreading over me, as I bathe. The softly purple light-of-that-sky, is singing me to there, as I bathe. If we disappeared, language would bring us back. Your poems would bring us back, all fuzzy like tiger-ghost-prairies that we don’t know how to spell. It’s ok. Just use the letters that will lose enough light. Just enough. Just enough for us to write the Snow Novel… which I think is reaching towards prayer-as-naming. Whenever you write is time-without-writing, like wings braiding themselves into the bookshelf, the bed, the postcards-stuck-to-the-ceiling, the geometry of the walls, the old blankets from Beijing. Can’t you feel itall calling out to fly? And it does, it flies, it snows, until the postcards flip away your heart. The Snow Novel grows wheels but there’s no door. It drives itself through my bathroom likea ghost in love with bathwater, with being-unforgivably-changed. Remember those shapes? They were letters as well. You could have read it twice. You could have stopped time to look at me, eating the string lights like they’re all absolutely one. Shapes-of-letters, letters, form, the perfect immaterial. The myth ofactuality, riding alongside me through miles of pine trees, laughing as the sun rises right fucking before our eyes…

 
 
**
 
 

Ending, longing, ending again, roasting (roast)
(for O)

Confrontation, at the end. Being saved, at the end.
A wide, open field, mustard green. Us… writing poetry
in it? Us, writing cold water. Writing halos
on our own bodies. It doesn’t have to be us.
If anyone wrote this poem we would fly through
their room. Their tiles, sticky with orange
blossom honey, all poemed up…. Their white
ropes (hold this) tying them to the Soft Materials. Rain,
warm snow, huge (hold this) praying hands. It’s like we
took the life-dreams of all the crooning ducks on that
lake, theory-of-colors-ed them into all these (hold these) life-dream-feathers,
and wore them like crowns. What happened to the
honey? Oh. The bottle fell from my hands so I could
hold the rope, hold the praying hands. Now,
honey is all over my legs, all over the floor. If
I fell asleep who would turn off the lights and then
turn off the dark. There’s honey in every
self-knot on the rope. I didn’t lose
it all. I only lost my gaze-unto-terror of it all. I only
lost my driving-like-the-first-maverick-of-daisies of
it all. I want to reach out, just reach out, into the
light-yellow breath of routine and pull you out of it. Your
wide open arms (like the field), your simultaneity-with-me,
your belly full of images, like a panther. There’s a
way I know I can do it, I just need the spirit of calling-
out to call out. I just need the spirit of flying to fly:
Well, if flying doesn’t change the ground, I will.
Well if spirit doesn’t rearrange the soul, its columns, I will.
“Well, if knowing the future doesn’t change
the past, I’ll just have to forget both.”

 
 
**
 
 

Riding away… roast…

Five shimmering canyons? Now there’s only six.
It feels like the world is growing out of
the world. I really… have never rode away. I’ve been
there. I’ve been there, singing. I’ve been there, reading
your poetry. And then the dream where I forget
how to read, one word at a time. Oh. I’m in
my bedroom & the sheets are gone. The bed is swaying.
It’s like… someone rode through here to leave little
persimmons behind. I’m throwing… you off the
balcony, as we write the third poem. Turns out,
we’ll never have to finish it, but we do. That’s
why I’m throwing you… why you’re flying… why
the poem flies after me to catch you. Who
will pick us up? I’m hiding in the freezer
while you turn into light, into everything you
want except it’s seen from the perspective
of light (& the curtains are white, so white
it’s summer again.)

II.
The bridge… we’re dropping tea leaves off the bridge
and laughing. Why are we here? Like, here here I mean.
It has something to do with the pure
wings of a story, ya know? It would make the
water fold us back into selves we never were, hair
so wet we don’t know which of us is underwater and which
will live forever. Like… really forever, ya know? I hid
everything — the old pears, the mirrors, the sound so
that now you can hear me. You can hear me empty the world for you.

 
 
**
 
 

 


 
 
**
YONGYU CHEN is a PhD student in Film and Visual Studies at Harvard and JES SMITH will be a physics PhD at NYU’s Courant Institute next fall. They met as undergrads at Cornell, which is where they started writing the snow novel. Their collaborative work has also appeared in New Delta Review, Eachother Journal, and Cornell’s Marginalia Review.
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Fox Rinne

PASIPHAË LIVES INSIDE THE MOON FOR TWENTY YEARS

The moon won’t look Ariadne in the eyes. Pasiphaë, meaning wide shining. She tells no one, not even her daughter, she’s immortal. But still the twenty years pass slowly. She watches guilt arrive like an angel to some below, but everyone is good at sending it away. Saying there is only so much we could’ve done. The angel of guilt lives on Crete all its brief life. Sometimes it flies to the moon when the moon is full. And on those nights, Pasiphaë cries well like she’s been waiting to and it feels good, like emptying, but the moon floods with an inch or two of salt water. It does not convince her to return to earth. Twenty years. On the worst nights, she can still feel the god’s spell. Everywhere, like it is her skin, her name. On the worst nights, she thinks there was no spell at all. And she tosses, turns, rolls the light of the moon to a thin silver hair, to nothing. The tide folds back on itself. She watches a man on Earth grow tired of being a father again. She watches a father want solitude more than anything. The angel has its brief stints in the labyrinth, in the palace, like a mirage on the sea bed, but it doesn’t leave Ariadne alone. It is a charm that hangs on her bed frame. It is an inexplicable pain in her legs. It is a kitchen knife in her hands. It is silence below sound, aching. She thinks the labyrinth was built for her, but really, it is a cellar for war debts and dissidents, really, it is an engine. She keeps busy. She doesn’t think about it. She sits at the spinning wheel and makes an escape ladder that never ends. It reaches and reaches. Pasiphaë sleeps with her eyes open, facing away from Earth, curled on her side, knowing her daughter is standing below, staring at her back.

 
 
**
 
 

ARIADNE WEAVES HERSELF A COCOON WITH WHAT IS LEFT

She sews herself a closet, a room only as large as her body, she sews herself a new body. She makes herself into a boy. A beautiful boy, the ideal of boy, a saint, the son of the century, something her mother deserves. She’s an artist, a silkworm, a red wolf spider. She is going to kill her brother. She is going to let her brother be killed. She’s the assassin’s promise, she kisses the angel of guilt and bandages his hands. She sews without stopping to eat. She curls inside the half-cast nest and becomes an arrow in its bed, a den of foxes, a hen who lays no eggs, a calf stillborn inside the womb, rain caught shining on the web. She’s a thousand insect eggs who hatch and eat the whole leaf. A fiancée forced to work the loom until she transforms to a crane on her wedding day and finally flees. An opera singer’s song circling the glass until it cracks. A doe surrounded by its own antlers. A woman sleeping inside the sun. She sews herself into a cave. There are echoes and wind. She is full of hibernation. She imagines herself stepping out of the crystalis just slightly and plenty new. Not a woman, but what a woman is supposed to be. Healed as if there were nothing to heal, holy as if nothing could quite touch the body. Skin thick as Caeneus’. She ties the end of the red string to the rafters in her bedroom and makes the shape of a cocoon. It is only natural the body inverts itself into a refuge. She is looking forward to liquifying. She wonders if she’ll dream and if it’ll be a good dream. She sleeps for three days and three nights. She wakes the same.

 

**
 
FOX RINNE is a poet and prison abolitionist based in New York City. They have facilitated poetry workshops through the Queer Detainee Empowerment Program and the Right-to-Write program at the Westchester County Jail. Their most recent work can be found in Baest, Jacobin, and Silent Auctions.

Brandan Griffin

 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 

ANIMALS LIVES IN PLANT

 
(it’s unconscious to make telepathy) in me looks at me)

(i’m what telepathic occurences say to each other in their
commons)

 

un
conscious leaves
on green yarn
the
yairn falls and floats up in
telepithy

 

(plant’s called pothos) never flowers) almost never)
propagates from cuttings)

 

plant on table in front of books
blooks on
tlable
in twowo clusters of leaves gathering up

twu upclusters of leefeafing
turn faces
w their yellow streaks to me
next to me, to

winsundowlight

 

(same as what it’s cut from) repeats) clones)

(cloning) yet it grows and different twists and its stems
tangle like nonce) nude shades)

(have to find new word for aware)

(meaning’s in text) aware as animals)

 

breign is
brain
is two squirrels is squarrels
eels
in skull bone

yarn stems
splittitting n strengthingening

plalalant eating scaling noting

 

(text makes clone from me) text has clone in it) me in
water) grows having life)

(any word has to misused if to make point) more’s alive)
life’s not right word) animal) misuse that one)

 

upfromdirt steemms
stems
eels from dirt go up greenly swimming, stilly
stems eels up
slowly

leaves on their necks

head on yarn neck

 

(easy to see my own telepathy) write it down) make
cutting clip stem) ease in water)

(each place that’s a here is telepathy) locality) also living)

(endure is animal) response animal) take) touch)
innerness) is here) here) here)

 

eel swims up out
out of flitter
out of filter feeders
in
their motes
of food like stars in qwtrkghmv

 

(animal’s a bouquet of animals) assembled genetically)
being together) saying i here) wanting to survive)

(looks with field of vision that’s commons) that’s
collection of telepathies)

(am stalks gathering) kneels)

(to lower telepathies towards what i see)

(bunching of here) here) bunching of heres says i)

 

bookspines are white slat forest behind plant
bhooks
in tall verticles facing away
flash spines
spyines on outerside
are faces, straight
barks
are flashed planes

speyeine
faces plant, faces windoawe,
spflashes

 

(animal’s everywhere) now it’s word flapping in each
place) every here) is)

(am full of animals) look to smallest places and that’s
animals seeing) pebbles and soil) packed rooting together)

(animal aware) conscious) plant)

 

plant’s bigger than last looked,

just now loocking

holding plant under
wawter
in syinck
cold fauceting water eel lengthinning
through it
every two weeks

 

(animal replaces word for everything)

(between us)

(stalks under water)

 

plant grows two thckckcknesses of stems
bunchnching
over rim of pot

youplant in stalks,
reread at me brooking yarning forward
tstalking
up severally
talk up and ribs spells a lettrwave

 

(text’s not me) but at edge) it’s me kneeling) with content
but not identical to it) peels through)

(text held under cold water pouring) stream through text)
textopathy)

 

cutting
clipt from main stem roots
into water vase
from phvase in cleer water to soil

plant is animeels crawling
up, over, very
slwolowll

eddies in the space you swim in
meek you
making you heare

 

(does plant read) does plant read text for it to work)
does text have plant in it reading it)

(text) textus) woven tissue of) physical tissue of)
meaning’s tissue of) telepathy’s tissue of)

(has skin) is skin) has skin)

(weaves bark)

 

plant on table
in frontof books scoops up with leaves

scoops the rair the air and an eel
in white wall
eel a long green flag
through books it flags forward in long grayeen

eats
like filter
straining motes in sea sky
in soil
in caption in nutrienst, bemeanth

part of you you
aren’t
hearfeelseenthesizing you as plant

 

(instead of text) a commons) then go past that) tele-
porting)

(a common limb) nerves i don’t live in) but i sense them)
distantly)

(a limb) face) skin)

(a not me)

(an awake on other side)

 

plant clipping
into jar of
water
growwing, spreads out

a cutting, plant reruns through it
becomes twwo

skin comes betweneen

stems that waswere one
now tw, twowo, severall

stem’s now spbinding,
spine

transparent streek on leaf

 

(text wakes animals that grow in me) telepathy because
not me) but i receive them)

(if i write text i give telepathy to myself) but i write it
anyone could have written it) could plant have)

(let’s have plant in here) says plant)

 

saw how this was waeaeaving
over to me
on it
like face of unconscious as typelathy
telepothos

eel swims forward ahs face

flows over to me like sheet front
over me
from wheare it’s at a distance, stays
here

plant’s leaves up on yarn green and floating

 

(let plant in here being still)

(let no more water yet for plant) leaves stay with sun)

(out of soil let plant have stems) open spines like plant’s
leaves) with sun on them)

(in soil)

(under water)

 
 

**


BRANDAN GRIFFIN lives in Queens. His first book IMPASTORAL will be published by Omnidawn in 2022.