Saturday, July 4, 2015


Anacoluthon by Alan

When Aram Zohrab woke one day from deep in the reverie of the much-longed-for-and-recently-realized kiss, he found himself changed into a knobby and irreconcilably amphibious toad. The path that led to this discovery was, it seems, the only point. And a man becomes a toad as if a toad becomes a man. And a frog becomes a ravine in the way that I think I love impossible you and will always love the idea of.

The first thing he did that day was consider the circumstances. Like other sudden discontinues, there is no other way to say it. No familial dream, no going backwards in a fairy tale. The water flows one way and inside the most sensitive cavity an aching transformation.

The rest is, as one likes to say, historians, not so much history. He thought about the kiss much, the lips, interruption. We’re always interrupting or interrupted, aren’t we? We shift through points of view only to arrive at a single moment whose beak is both lovely and sharp, whose feathers for fancy and flight. When Aram Zohrab woke that day, he found himself. Still, but no lay trap. Just a refocusing, a conflagration of the soul in order to understand this desire, which is always reason enough.


She Tells the Houseguest by Sherisse

That still she derives some pleasure from knowing this man even though she can no longer sit in the same room with him or listen to the sound of his voice. She has had to make his aches and pleasures irrelevant. But she keeps him near her neck and ear and she imagines that he whispers something about Césaire or Tranströmer in the middle of the night because he suspects that she is particularly interested in the aesthetics of loneliness and in her mind, or someplace, they go on together about what is real and where the real resides. The conversation was charged, made her spine light up like a thing on the brink of death.

He was the kind of would-be lover who could, without knowing it, make her feel acute grief and if not grief then pure and pungent longing. She would tell him this; she knew that he was amused by it. And once they walked together along that stretch of highway where all things appear trapped beneath the earth and asphalt and on and on that summer just after the baby, several babies not belonging to each other, were born.

And all the items that once must have belonged to nature, or the absence of it, the possibility of it, now organized themselves into shapes not that orient but that absorb noise and imagination and all the rest of it. She had asked this before: what would be there now if they returned to it, what odd creatures and non-native trees and what stars and what atmosphere of innocence and would it be enough to get them lost in that whisper just under the things not said.

The actual lines were strewn throughout the house, the fragments and notes and bits of his beard. The awkwardness of sudden closeness, like looking into a mirror and seeing your own ghost. The shock, finally, of his presence. How visible she had made herself.

But now she was repeating things. The houseguest with the toad around his neck had said nothing this whole time, not even when desperate she asked like a sick child for a cure. He inquired instead about her dreams. He was interested in the dialogue and laundry of sleep. She was suddenly possessive, unable or unwilling to give anything away. She didn’t have the courage to apologize. In this country there could be no proof of his ever having been there. The houseguest would have to leave and return empty-handed.


Conviction by Forrest

Toads are not the best of animal friends one can stumble upon in the forest primeval, but sometimes it's best to make a go of things with them when you're lost because ugliness, too, is entertaining: it makes you feel less stupid for getting lost in the first place. The rough part comes when you unlose yourself by finding a cabin inhabited by a pair of convicted criminals on the lam. Taken by surprise, they'll see you with the toad in hand and ask, Whatchoo doin with that toad in your hand, mister? Now since you may not know that these two are escaped cons (though the matching jumpsuits are trying to tell you otherwise), you would be inclined to say, Bad luck repellant; however, following a newfound instinct being slowly sharpened by your current predicament of walking lost in the woods, you say instead, That's between me and my toad. The entreaty of privacy, though resembling zoophilia somewhat, could, in fact, earn you a certain respect with these two—and sure enough, it does. They start laughing wildly. A stupid question to begin with. We're all friends now! Bring the toad inside—we got plenty a dead bugs for it. You politely turn down the offer. It's getting dark, you explain, and you've been wandering lost long enough. It's time to get home. They stop laughing. The short one looks at the tall one, and it's the tall one says, This is your home. It occurs to you then that these are the handsomest strangers you've ever been suspicious about. Maybe the tall one is right. One place is good as another, and you seem to forget at that moment any of the former comforts you enjoyed at wherever you were living before you got lost. You're just as handsome as these two men—perhaps more so since, unlike them, you have a full head of wavy hair. Three handsome men living in a cabin in the woods. There's a poetry to this scenario you can't recall from something you've read before, but it doesn't matter. Feeling a tinge of jealousy, you place the toad on the ground; immediately it bounds away from you. The short one slaps you on the back. Tells you it'd be happier outside instead. You would very much like to believe him as you walk up the wooden steps to the entrance with the tall one right behind you, watching the toad knife into the bushes from the clearing, but the cabin feels so much warmer. There's a fire waiting inside. Yes, there must be.


As Earth Had Shaped Them by Bill

Simple and shaped by calm as the rolling of stones through the ages of the earth, collecting rainwater in time’s basement, listening as it flows down the face of the rock, seeps through the stone to drip a far falling echo when it lands, the humming murmuration of it in the pipes once the walls have closed in on mornings framed by progress. Understanding taking the shape of people, mimicking their behavior while struggling to act in accordance with the rough chaos of their logic. A quiet response to a call it took a long time to make. There is a bit of the stretch left and the frustration of hope.


Qualia by Lyle

The old toad froze, contemplating, one might imagine, life. Not in that fight-or-flight way of most amphibians but in another way all together. Considering the afterlife, such that it is (it is!), of a toad. Surely swampy. Filled with those fast moving challenges to satiation -- making them all the more tantalizing and rewarding (one might say, more heavenly, even). Or perhaps we image this old toad contemplating the wind-skimmed, fractured reflection of the pond. What would it be like to hop on a ray of light? What is this qualia qua qualia that is perhaps something other than just fight or flight. What is this leaping sensation?