Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gargoyle


Diverticulum by Sherisse

I gather water here. Inside the Hallmark store, I gather water and wait. For you to find me between aisles and where there is no mother-father. Only a small path back along shopping avenues and sweets for the mouth to take. It is all pleasure and innocent here, at night, in the blue room beside the window. Under sleep and waiting moon. Snore and spit. I wish. To be that grotesque. The record player lingers, drags me in and under. Water falls away from seams. Melts me into many. Frostbite-numb and pinpricked. Where you were number one. One and two and three, the go-between. First triangle. Serpent, feather-hungry. Body for the child to lean into, turn, tilt. Hush and swish. The bone-thin hand in winter and bottled up, a thick music. Far from any shore. Uncostumed, you.

***

Nausea by Lyle

In the quarter note light of fireflies, I crept on. But I felt more hunted than hunter. What else was out  in the night? The will-o’-wisp pulsed at odd intervals to the fireflies and beyond the dull sheen of water lurked lurking. The surface grued with each of my steps. Instead of elutriating, it clung, scummy, to my boots. And then I understood that I had lost my focus, my prey. My ability to speak, let alone scream — though there was no reason to do either. I remembered the empty, hard lot of my town. Looking out behind the gargoyle. That night the gargoyle looked back. To vellicate your soul, you need only forget for a minute where you are.

***

Gargoyles of Suburbia by Alan

It was the heart of his favorite season, and the trip would not be complete without what would now be a misty jaunt through roads that were once more familiar. The route snaked this way and that past the cinema arts centre and the 24/7 mart and up through the denser wood that prospered just outside the halo of town lights. When he was younger, he imagined living on the edge of that darkness. How it covered up the details and laid its cloak over the chill aftermornings of almost doubt. One could grow wings if left, let's just say, unchallenged for a year or two or even more here. Something closer to a decade when it really counts. When what was done was still happening, he was folded like a song. And in the put away, he was spread like a poem.

In his mind, he was perched again. The audience sang along. There was a promise of aerobatics by the incoming squadron, but the tug was not enough. Just to stay there alone, in tune, would be enough. He said the word aloud, and it filled the car with freedom. To inhale. To secede. Past the old playground and his boyhood friend's home were the swings of his first few real kisses and were they ever truly free. Is anything.

Before heading west and back to the big city that was now his home, he would settle into some groove of cordiality with the others. Some were also in the coming back; others had never left. But for now, he tried to disappear into the fog and come back with something tangible, evidence that this self existed, beyond doubt, that the magic in the spout was not an architectural trick but rather a fierce insouciance bent on lifting all that was heavy around him, getting lifted.

***

One Stone Through a Window by William

There he is again, staring off into space. Grotesque, mouth hung limp, breathing beads of spit across his lips, watching nothing and it is hard to say what you would see if you looked inside of his head. It is hard to describe, like a fog, a portion of space filled by opaque miasmas hanging limp, inert but clinging like tiny clawed fingers come to rest against the skin. It is a mind like the basement air of an abattoir.


It rubs fingers together and feels the stony protrusions grate against each other. The wings on its back twitch. It moves its knee slightly. It settles back into rest. It does not feel the cold or the sun, just the slight shifting as heat ebbs and flows around it, a sliver of movement in its form but nothing of concern. Its heart is stone, its spirit unweathered, free from concern and replete with contempt. The thing presses its lips together, then peels them back in a smile. What does it want that it does not have?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Heat



Encounters by Sherisse

It must have felt for a long time like there was nowhere to go, no airplanes landing or taking off. Like meals consisted of the same three ingredients. Like there was no context, a very limited self. Now he works in an office in midtown Manhattan standing up. It’s called a Varidesk, I think. For variety, I suppose. He hopes his buttocks will firm up soon. He checks it daily; he’s installed a long mirror in the living room for exactly that reason. All those years of sitting, headphone wearing, looking for his father in the dark. The roosters wouldn’t wake him up, they refused to take him on. He would buy a car, move to Westchester, move in a soft pet. If that is what life was to be. If he was to go straight to being old from being young. He would fuck here and there, hide under the covers of his own bed, the handsome body of a stranger tangled up to his limbs. How intricate, passive. He would continue this conversation started long ago because the end of it was like a frayed string caught under things, whole seasons. He’d keep busy, he’d avoid making any explosives even though the computer in his lap provided plenty of how-tos. He’d go to bed hungry or dizzy or hung-over. He’d wake up greasy in some places, chapped in others and play the part, collect a paycheck, buy new shoes, avoid responsibility. He’d write heart-breaking poems and give them to loved ones who were no longer with us. He’d remember the mailman at 2pm in the afternoon and go look for him with an umbrella in the rain.

***

The Crossing by Alan

If there was a question before it had happened, it most surely was packed away by now. In mid-crossing, he noticed the lights on the other end of town. By the time he stepped onto the sidewalk and down Avenue C, he was thinking in declarative sentences and marking sites he hadn't visited since the 80s. Confusion, he thought, was a temporary shine in the tunnel of our lives. Matilda, he called it. Your name.

Matilda, begin each day anew as if you have forgotten that question. Matilda, believe in the principles of rockets for someone in the world is on a journey. Let the birds and other flying things enter your room at night and sing their seasonal songs in languages you will almost understand. Wrap your arms around the distance - it will nourish your hungers. And most of all, think of that boy often, the one you never met because of the point at which you entered a life and it entered you.

***

Cock of the Walk by Bill

“You try to rob me! I rob you! You try to cut me I’ll cut you! Every day some suckers come up here and I put ‘em back down on the ground. I’m breaking ‘em. You talking to me about indifferent tragedy and I say there’s nothing indifferent about it. Tragedy is acute. It’s got a point, like a spear falling toward your heart thrown by Odin’s very own hand. Like the tip of a bullet and the sights are leveled at your head the second you come tapping out of your shell. You don’t want to consider the cruel vagaries of nature but you weren’t born in some bulb-warmed glass case for the amusement of goggling pink little finger-lickers passing through the farm pavilion at the state fair as a respite from the sun between bouts of vomiting up cotton candy on a ferris wheel. Out here you want to eat you better fight for it. You don’t want to fight, don’t eat. Simple as that, so don’t come round here talking about tragedy unless you want to be the next one.”

***

Crossroads by Lyle

The crushing heat wasn't unusual. Nor the sweating asphalt. It tends to do that in this heat. It melts down on a molecular level. Sort of pools there like quicksand. The chicken would only appear at the crossroads when it got that hot. Some people say it comes right out of there. Sort of like a mirage. We can't catch it, that's for sure. People sit on the bench in front of the antique store for days in the heat to try to get a glimpse. There have been more than one fainting spell; many fewer sightings. Many fewer sightings. The crushing heat wasn't unusual. Nor the sweating asphalt. The chicken on the other hand.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Lounge



Before the Flood by Sherisse

She wore a long, black and white striped dress that hugged her body. My attention went to her hips, her belly. I thought it a bold choice. She sang for us on a Saturday evening in late August; it was still warm enough to sit outside. The child ate a French fry or two from the plate of another, Brussels for the adult. (Both parts were mine.) There was the passing thought of jealousy not necessarily pinned to anything. We said no to the white wine. The walk home was long. My mouth wanted to sing but made itself instead into the shape of not-speaking. In a dream a few nights later I attempted to flush two (borrowed) umbrellas. The bathroom filled with water. The mess could not be contained.

***

SCAT by Alan

(during set break)

S: So what you're trying to say is that they were in time?

X: Better than most I've seen.

S: And through the changes? I mean, those were no ordinary changes.

X: Through the changes.

M: Sick.

S: There was a moment tonight I felt lost. Like there was no time. Did you guys feel that at all?

X: I only slightly understand what you're talking about right now.

(M lights a smoke)

S: I was reminded of an apartment building across the river. The one we always passed when we got off the bridge. It sort of leaned over the highway as if it were an upper lip of the mouth forming around us. We were always coming out of it. Never going in.

M: Huh.

S: When the band lost itself just now, that's what it felt like. Coming out of a conduit, never feeling alone, part of something bigger. These types of things.

X: I'm telling you they didn't lose time.

M: I saw a house like that in a magazine once. It was white as a whale.

X: What the hell does the color matter?

S: How large was it?

M: I remember it was as big as a planet...and it stood over us too.

S: Stood over?

M: Like your coming out. Like it never let us come fully out though.

S: I see. So the feeling never left?

M: And the house.

S: The feeling and the house never left you. You were always exiting and never leaving. Reminds me of a friend across the coast.

M: Who were you with?

S: Someone dear. Always someone dear. And you?

M: I was alone.

X: In time, I'm telling you.

M: The music sometimes makes me feel alone even though there are others on the room, you know. And playing it. That too.

***

Sweet-tooth by Lyle

She called it my sweet-tooth. In that sickly way that people make silly sounding things take on pregnant nastiness. It's as much my fault as her’s. Or maybe it’s society’s. It doesn’t matter. Really. It might.

I do remember meeting her at the Scat Jazz Lounge in Fort Worth. She sat at the end of the bar smoking a cigarette. I called her a cliche across the room — I’d had a few — and that sealed it. Never looked back. Except for that split second and then I ran into a pole — well-lighted, that Fort Worth. She caught up to me, heels in hand, and sat down on the ground as I rolled around holding my mouth. Well now, she said. What do we have here?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Game


Ramon and Majik by Alan

If it were less of a game, the conditions surrounding Ramon Soledad's silence would be interpreted as a grave beguiling, a heavy occupation of a vaguely familiar country's capital by dissidents who had had enough of the corrupt president's shady ties to the significantly larger juggernaut next door. If it were more of a game, the weight wouldn't sit so squarely in the chest first and then in the mind and then, like clockwork, back into the chest again as if it too were breathing long and disparate measurings of time and space. Instead, it lived somewhere in the middle, where only the most daring of our kind will venture to go.

Of course, several of Majik's acquaintances cautioned of such ambivalence. They said it would lead to hesitation and disrupt the general flow of life. Like a man uncertain crossing a busy street, the ripples would extend out and rub against neighborly convictions. There may be accidents in the crosswalk. People would get mad at him and at others. Especially in inclement weather.

But to him, there seemed no other way. To him, there was that very field (between "love wins" and "love fails" was one way of marking it) that a mentor had shown him once and now forever wedged beneath the open door. To him, Ramon was and might forever be both lost and found, an imprint upon whatever constitutes the idea of the soul in modern life. He was always and never there, burgeoning yet pressing against the walls of the invisible aquariums we set around us. He was the room without doors, both inside and out. And because of this, he was the most dangerous of all the terrorists Majik had come to know and love, the most dangerous and (in those in between spaces) the most indispensable. The most made up thing of which he could ever conceive and the most true in that gorgeous making.

***

Lesson by Sherisse

The game was always on in summer. Her kitchen. The perfume-scented heat from the clothes dryer. All the mothers asleep. No one speaking openly about God.

Outside it’s dark; through a low window the legs of people walking to and from the avenue. Grandfather is playing dominoes at the social club. Grandmother pulls out a piece of blank paper, two pens. The smell of lemon and cinnamon and condensed milk.

In a dream you are in a bed not necessarily your own. Mother is clipping your nails and hair. Her lover is hiding in the bathroom. Your legs ache, ears burn. There are doctors lining up to treat you.

You start to forget what you know; you remember things out of order; you make muses out of strangers.

The game is the background noise of nightly living, soundtrack of housework, the end of Communism. You fall in love with all the great mysteries. This kitchen as church, the magic of some faceless saint.

Carmen tells you the story of the body like this: bare feet, clothes on the table, nail polish, Solitaire. Go where you wish, she says through her mouth and laughing she leaves you alone with her roses.

***

Some Baseball Stories by Forrest

This is a story about baseball that must take its cue from other stories about baseball. A game of men and weapons and lines and empty spaces. It is something like the ancient boardgame of Go, if the fans can think of the players as blank stones upon which only allegiance is written and forget that baseball only has twenty-five men to a team. In that case, baseball is very much like Go. Perhaps it is too much like Go. Perhaps baseball is not as original as the fans believe. The first-baseman has to be crying about something, so why can't it be that. There is nothing sadder than a story about baseball where a player is sad because he realizes mid-game what an unoriginal sport baseball is, remembering a deceased Japanese grandfather with whom he played Go and always lost to because the guy was relentless, even with his grandchildren. He was a real bastard, this first-baseman thinks, which is a comparable trope to other stories about baseball he knew. Perhaps too many stories. There should be a story where the shortstop makes a routine throw to first base but the first-baseman refuses to make the catch because he decides the lack of originality in his life has become too much to bear. Yes, he likes the idea of this story: allegiance cast aside, blank stone comes to life and renounces all forms of bastardy, especially as it relates to allegorical warfare. His orbital socket will need mending, but that's all good. He won't take marching orders from some lousy unoriginal story. The fans can go screw themselves, too, he decides as the boos cascade down upon him. Those nets behind home plate aren't for anyone's protection. They're another insult.

***

I Have Learned to Live on Memories by Lyle

America's pastime. So I'm reminded. So I'm dated. It all sounds so wooden. I can't eat ballpark franks anymore. So I've taught myself to survive on memories. Little snippets of hoof and ass. It's been months since I've even parted my lips for water. I remember the run to the World Series and let the beer spill into my lap, forming a little pool -- that smell -- the memories moisten my pants and thus my lips. Remember that I am dated by pastimes, here. Watching home runs nourishes me, a bit of salt from a stone. Almost imperceptible. Almost. Almost a memory is still a little salt on a stone. I have no confidence in this, though I watch my games, though I pick the cotton candy from children's sticks when they are not watching, though I am reminded as I sleep dreaming of baseball. Of a pastime stretching out into mindless, pure blue sky.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fortune


(photo © Alan Semerdjian && sculpture © Eileen Karakashian)

Dregs by Forrest

One of the very last things he said to me before he died was, I'm never cleaning this cup out. He took it off the table and placed it in the cupboard with all the clean dishware, and there it would sit forever in filthy repose, if I believed him. But he died soon after this so I didn't have the opportunity to find out if he would keep his word. I nearly asked his family at the funeral if they had come across any unwashed coffee cups when tending to his personal effects. Nothing good would've come from that, I figured. His sister, in particular, seemed overwhelmed by the number of inquiries made about him, his failing health, what had he been working on, why his wife had taken the kids and was nowhere to be found. These, I thought, were good questions. Much better than mine. And over the next few days, I felt incredibly foolish for my boiling down in memory all the pleasant moments spent with him into a dirty coffee cup. That cup had meant that much to him dirty, and I was there. Did this mean there was something about me that made the cup so important then. Sometimes, however, I think that was the day he decided to give up. It just wasn't worth the hassle anymore. He was letting it all go, and it really wasn't important. Neither was I. It will be an adjustment, to be sure, but I'm willing to have other people understand less about me if they stop asking his sister so many questions. She was never skilled at creating distractions for herself.

***

Fortune Telling by Alan

To overcome some great sadness, the feathered thing will rise from the ashes and circle the sky seventeen times. After, rain might fall. Or perhaps what I see are little bundles of tears. Or money. Or children. Yes, they are faces after all.

The curse that was mentioned last year when you were ten is still in play only now it has transformed into flowers. Be careful about the need to bend over and smell them. Be careful about bending over. See here, in the corner. The man that bends is surrounded by volcanoes. Above him and to his side. There’s a trail that was left from the last eruption. That’s where the flowers grow. That’s what he’s searching for.

Because it’s summer, at some point there will be fireworks. Yes, yes. This is where they will start. In the thickest part. Bring it to your lips to taste the earth. Near a river in the northwest part of an island. It’s a little dark, but I imagine when the sky clears up…wait a moment. What’s this? Oh no, no, no. Vartuhi, can you believe this? Come Sona, look at its size. Do you see the eye, Sevak? I almost missed it, but from this angle it looks larger than life. Someone is watching you. Scratch your ass to keep the bad spirits away. What’s that you say? You want the spirits? Here? Now?

***

Future Seeing by Sherisse

He wanted to show her what he knew. Always the good friend. The light was on, the air conditioner off, rain coming down hard and making everything outside blink. The plants on the table had gone to sleep for the night. “Give me your hands,” he said. “You can tell a lot just by looking at the nails, like how far you've walked and through what desert.” She imagined it was something much more banal, like whether she chewed or filed or painted them and, if so, what color. What that revealed about her femininity. This was already boring to her, tedious. She wanted to hide. He could tell something had faded in her. He tried harder to be entertaining. She let out a deep sneeze and, embarrassed, she said in a timid voice: “Oh, please excuse me.” Making something out of nothing. If this were a first draft, she would have thrown it in the garbage. She switched her hands after the sneeze. He giggled and was amused. He wanted to make the moment more real somehow, to make an imprint, to be remembered by her. “When you were a little girl, someone hurt you very badly,” he said. She looked away; she had not given him permission to touch that place. “Now what?” she asked, her eyes challenging him. She didn't know how to swim, had no intention of learning. “Now I tell you how to repair it,” he said softly. Repair what, she wanted to know. “The thing that's knotted,” he said softly. She pictured an ancient tree, a fallen limb beyond fixing. “No. Not like that,” he said. “Together we close our eyes. We locate the heart and ask it what it wants.” The word permission came to her mind. She'd been handed a permission slip. The dissolution of some old heartbreak? She felt utterly naked, kept her eyes shut for what felt like a very long time. Her skin was hot, everything was red, on fire, glowing, spinning. There was more to say to him, certainly, and to herself. If this were a first draft she would title it before throwing it in the trash. So much to say that, for now, it demanded silence, cynicism even. She freed herself from his grip, looked at her hands. Her fingernails were long, without color. She was aware of her breathing, the oranges in the basket on the kitchen table, her tongue pressing against the roof of her mouth.

***

Pyrotechny by Lyle

When I looked up from my cup of coffee, the fireworks had started. Maybe they’d been going on for quite some time. I couldn’t see them from where I was, but I could hear them thudding in the distance. Occasionally one of the few slow-drifting, dark-grey clouds would light up — it’s belly orange for a split second. But mine wasn’t a fascination of pyrotechny in action, rather it was the pre-detonated state. All of that potential so quiet, so grainy. I reached into my cup and pinched some of the fine coffee grounds lining the bottom of the cup between my index finger and thumb. Rubbing it there I considered the Hot Wells Coffee factory explosion. How unpatriotic to disturb that latent energy. How unpatriotic that we watch fireworks instead of mounds of gun powder! We should consider the mockingbird before it takes flight — sitting quietly in the tree before song bursts forth. That is the symbol that must be considered, but perhaps after another cup of coffee.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Storage



Beginner by Sherisse

I’d like to go back to the fractured knot of silence, the rental furniture dimly lit, un-mended kitchen light bulb. That vacation spot in winter, the faraway and steady hum of bridge traffic, uncertain and queasy inventiveness, the pause before the tug of that boat⎯obligation.

Imagine you can’t bring the car or your shoes. You can’t tell her that she’s a product of exile, tan fea y tan contenta, or a damsel in distress. You can’t dance in the disco while high on anise and elderflowers. Or talk under a table about poems on fire, hard fingers reaching for a lick.

Imagine some long list of things to recount, the absence of witnesses, my redundant use of the triad. Imagine the anonymous hand cutting the sentence in half, emptiness that later blooms into ashes transported across oceans.

And imagine the old people that brought us here, below the big bed a stash of hand tools; recycled Danish cookie tins; a collection of quarters for spending at the casino or county fair.

“This, here,” you said, arriving and splayed and already on the way to tidying up. Only once, these elaborate deaths, particular coordinates. From now on I’d like to play the part of hysterical, bereft.

***

So You Try to Build a Wall around It by Alan

I ask the gentleman about it and he politely excuses himself. In the bathroom, I imagine, he’s reminded of his last escape and makes sure the drop is not enough to break a leg this time. Meanwhile, I eat through my own jail cell while someone laments over a Chapman Stick thick with delay.

Days later, I pretend to be frozen on my parents’ lawn. Having decided that they’d have to sell the place like so many others have gone on and done, we settle on emptying out the garage to tidy things up a bit. The visitors come like dial up (end of a court, no time for signage), but the idea lights of the suburbs for miles. It’s a storage facility. I have a tag hanging from a cuff. I wish you were here on sale too.

On the loneliest of islands is a harbor where all the boys and girls would go to kiss and smoke cigarettes and get away from the calendar for a while. Here the secrets that crawled in between garments would bite later and eventually but leave no visible mark. Instead the bump and gong of boat material against wave and itself, others. Some fool decided to build a wall around it.

My history and your history and everybody’s history rides through the night sky on the backs of meteors. And if you think we’re going to crash into a ground someday, you’re probably right. But I want to add that the ground is not solid enough to contain our histories, love. The ground is no stopping place for comets like us.

***

Now pass the wine by Lyle

Is it too late, once there’s blood in your wine, to contemplate god or some semblance thereof? If you own storage, is it too late to consider life at home? What about after the lights go out? Are your prayers overdue (but not before)? Has the chance gone to say I love you? How will I know? That dividing line that is all or nothing? Can monogamy be rekindled once the flame of syphilis has burned out? How long before all the stars are counted? Surely you will balk at all of these questions. There is not even the space for you to answer them. What if I say I’m sorry? When you read this (though I know you will not), will you be filled with anger? Surprise? Disgust? Or is it even too late for any of that? And when was it too late?

Answer carefully. Your life depended on it once the question was asked.

***

Delicate Invitations by Bill

This plane seems ordinary. Painfully so in so many ways. The lines are so often straight, collecting perpendicular angles into collapsed too small spaces, bringing what is naturally rare mundanely to wide true vistas and coaxing shadows into definite shapes. They pillared the world with uniformity.

They would be tried and charged to the end of existence if this were the merest conception of their enterprise and our initial verdict was nearly such. We must have standards after all.

But worlds exist within worlds stretching between infinities running in every direction and you do not see and what I have found inside these straight lines of ubiquity are a thousand oceans from long dead worlds suspended in air in the clear light teaming with life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Architecture

© Sherisse Alvarez

Ascent by Sherisse

The glass door had a neon yellow sign above it that lit up the sidewalk. It read: FOOT & BACK RUB. There was a framed poster hanging of a young woman wearing a bikini and an orchid in her hair. A video was playing in the second floor window: two hands pressing firmly into skin as if it were dough. This massage spot was near the subway right above Palermo Fish, between the shoe repair and the post office. All the shops were closed now but the street smelled smoky and stale from the meat and onions piled up in food carts. You could still hear the train rattling overhead. Some guys at work had told me about this place; they said for twenty bucks you could get a “happy ending.” I was sore from all those hours at the nursing home bathing men twice my size. I wanted something extra before going home to my roommate and his silence. I didn’t want beer and chips and porn. I was sick of the hangovers and shitty headaches in the morning. I was tired of the pills and the doctor’s visits and the leg cramps. I’d never gotten a massage and my palms were sweaty. What if I farted in the damn middle of it? I decided to call the number on the door. A man answered and when I asked if someone was free, he said with a heavy accent, “Okay, okay, come now, yes, we see you soon, okay, okay” and hung up. I checked my wallet to make sure I had cash. I pushed open the glass door and stepped inside. I could hear something like music coming from the massage parlor upstairs, the sound of water and bells and birds. When I got to the top of the stairs I saw a fish tank and some tiny frogs in a bowl. Two women scurried off and the man said, “Hello, friend” and pointed with his hand to a small, dark room. I went inside and he closed the curtain behind me, leaving me alone. I felt too tall and scrawny and pale. Too bald. I took off my shoes and placed my socks inside, then I set my jeans and underwear and t-shirt on the metal chair. I got on the table and put my face in the doughnut shaped pillow. My stomach growled because I hadn’t had lunch. My dick was hard. I thought about Vili, one of the nurses at the home, and how she liked to play Solitaire in the lunchroom on her break. And Chase, my roommate, eating microwaveable meals in his room in front of the TV every night. I felt a chill from the curtain opening and closing and then I heard the beeping of a timer being set. The girl covered me with a towel then coughed before she ran her hands down my back. I could feel her long hair brushing against the side of my neck. Through the doughnut hole I could see her feet, her short white socks and plastic slippers. They squeaked as she moved. I tried to close my eyes but felt like I was falling.

***

Can't be sure by Lyle

We weren't sure at first if he was dead. Or that we understood anything about it.

There must have been precedence, but not any of which we were aware. Someone brought out Robert's Rules of Order; it was, unusually, unhelpful. Debate-VII 43 was pretty close, but...

After the meeting -- unresolved -- I went home. The next day I went to my mother's husband's service (funny possessive, that). We chatted with his daughters about the weather. So much snow -- it doesn't matter.

But later, as I descended the stairs from the x street stop, the black slushy snow piled up next to the street -- it had frozen and unfrozen time and again and I un-understood.

***

A Close Accumulation by Bill

Lord Vairochana comes to escort you between the straits. He whispers in your ear the sound of wings. The words are without meaning, shapeless as thought. But the air around you is filled with feathers.

Many birds can be heard because the words did not form in the mind but in space and the intangible walls take form and draw between them a door. The light is unbroken, the shadows full because this in-between has no time for separations.

Colors cannot exist. The wind is full roaring outside and the stillness oppressive inside such that the table in the corner explodes from the pressure. It is here and now that you stare.

***

The Architect by Alan

Inside the head, the architect spins a web, takes on the shape of a fear, and a few other unnamed provinces. For what is this life if not directions from angels meant for entrances via staircases. The young get younger as we never age at the top staring down. The light is our flattened halo.

Before any bottom is the drop. Before any swallow is the mouth. Gentle, swallow...he is new to this taking. Patience, swallow...there is no true hungry mother waiting to steal away your kill to feed her cub.

The final draft may go like this: he may turn one way or the other, but he must never be afraid of the dark or the edge of a crop. For the time being, he will sit at no desk while investigating the middles. One is a path he sees (through dim light) from time to time. The other is that very room in which he both drew and lost his heart.

***

Architecture by Johanna

Before this, the mountains called her down and drew her into their belly where she found a small house made of bricks. Each year, for one hundred years, a brick came loose from the architecture and she used the clay from earth to replace its mortar. Inside the house, she built a fire. She threw in every bit of paper she could find. Photos from childhood, books of poetry and her passport were the first to incinerate. Later, she burned the toilet paper. There was nothing left to burn.

She rubbed her face in the cold embers. She ran in the yard and splashed in the mud puddles She turned cinder grey and adobe brown. She called to the coyotes to join her. The coyotes mistook her for one of their own, until the moonlight revealed that she was only human.

She returned to the house and took a brick from the wall. She ate it crumble by crumble until it filled her belly with its weight. She felt full and grounded. She ate another. She ate the whole house, which rebuilt itself inside her gut, the fire rekindled. She was still hungry. She took a bite from the mountain. She ate and ate, but the mountain did not change. She climbed to the top and reached to the sky. She pulled down the stars. One by one she ate the stars, but there were never any fewer. She walked to the ocean and drank and drank until she was finally full.

On the shore, she fell asleep. In the moonlight, her skin glowed iridescent. The moon called to her, mistaking her for a star. The tide pulled her out into the belly of the sea. When she awoke, she was cold and wet. She turned herself inside out and sat by her hearth. She blew great puffs of stardust at the fire until it exploded, and the cosmos consumed her completely. A single speck of ash floated down to the mountains and fell through an ancient fissure. The last known particle of her breath settled.