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Gesture Literary Journal - February 2013


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Gesture Literary Journal - February 2013

  1. 1. EDITORS HEATHER GOODRICH LINDSAY KING-MILLER PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE IAN RUMMELL REVIEW EDITOR KARA MILLER WEB EDITOR REBECCA HOWARDGesture was founded in 2011 with the intention to publish work that is not boring.Published quarterly, we seek written and visual submissions from new andestablished artists. Gesture is the home for poetry, poetics, prose, theory, reviews,interviews, images, and interaction. We want work that does not intentionallyconcern itself with genre. Some may call this experimental. We call it exciting. As in,not boring. We want to feel a gesture and be electrified.Gesture 1© by Gesture Press & JournalCover art: Ian RummellCover & book design: Heather
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  5. 5. LETTER FROM THE EDITORSWe’re so thrilled to welcome you to the first issue of Gesture, a journal ofpoetry, prose, art and criticism. We could not be more proud of ourdazzlingly gorgeous and talented contributors, and their work that has beencompiled in this issue, just for you.Gesture was born from our local writing community and our passion for newand surprising ways of stringing words together. We wanted an opportunityto bring together and promote the kind of writing we love, the kind thatexcites us and confuses us and scares us and makes us think. We wantedcyborg poetry and monster prose, experiments and transmutations, writingthat combines disparate elements, sews them together and hoists them upon the roof to get struck by lightning. We wanted new kinds of writing wednever seen before. Most of all, we wanted writing that impacted usphysically, like a gesture. We wanted poems and stories we could feel in ourchests and guts, groins and throats.We are grateful for the response we received during Gestures firstsubmission period, and the array of phenomenal work we got to choosefrom for this first issue. The writing and artwork we have selectedrepresents what we want this journal to be: complicated, evocative,surprising and raw. We hope you love it as much as we do.Gesture was a long time coming, and we appreciate everyone who haspitched in along the way—editors, contributors, and readers alike. Youre allspectacular and we wish we could kiss each and every one of you on themouth, but thats how germs spread, so instead, come in, look around, andlets see whether we can teach syllables to dance.Love,Lindsay King-Miller & Heather Goodrich, Editors 6
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  7. 7. JULIEANNE COMBEST PLAGUES AND PUNISHMENTS from FOR SLAKEJonah lived inside the belly of a whale. His skin bleached as white aswhale bones in the sun. He felt the sound of the whale song in hisorgans, and his organs sang back with a song that sounded like a dreamhe had forgotten. Salt layered his lungs. He was so thirsty. So verythirsty. 8
  8. 8. The Plague of BloodBleeding too heavy, her insides vibrate violently— flood out all herholes. The veil is too thin, she cannot trust matter. To hold itall. The cells are chanting, the cells are changing or leaving.Images and echoed voices come up from the blood, from thevibration—these cellular memories. This translucent overlap.The girl presses her fists into her low belly so that she— so thatshe will not_____When she bleeds she keeps the blood on her hands; brings herwrists to her nose so she can inhale her insides. She cannot standwith the musk filling all her holes. She chokes on the word: slakeand sinks to her knees. She bleeds on white cloth so she can seehow bright blood can be. She wants to see red overcome water.She squeezes the drenched cloth. Red in white ceramic sink. Redon white cloth. Red on white sheets. In the beginning she thinksshe might die from so much loss. 9
  9. 9. When her cells tremble like this—threatening to spill out, spillover—she wants to dream until she crosses over, until she sees theimages on the other side that her mitochondria sing to.When she does not bleed for months the girl slices words hard intoher skin until the blood comes. Insides on the outside. The blooddoes not smell the same, so the girl weeps in the white bathtub.Water never red enough. Skin resisting too much. She cannot getclose enough. 10
  10. 10. The phantom gave her a ladder, said: wrestle the ladder. Wrestle the meat from the bones 11
  11. 11. The Plague of Rabid CreaturesMy wrists are rubbed red from the rope and covered in pomegranatepulp. If I smear the pulp up my forearm in a thick vein, it looks like myinsides are on the outside. I imagine my organs emerging from mytorso, smaller than I thought they would be, and with rougher edges.The pomegranate seeds are the color of my organs—purple, red, wet—I want to eat them.When Jesus comes back he will smell like musk and cedar mulch. Hewill have the fire dove on his shoulder and he will want to tie me to thebedpost again. I need my wrists wrapped so that I do not spill out. Spillover. The Chinese bound feet with cloth and broke bones; the Englishbound ribs in corsets and broke bones. Excessiveness of parts. Whenhe is gone I bind my wrists so tightly with crimson lace that it leavespurple imprints in intricate designs on my skin. I do this so that I willbe kept still when the impulse comes. So that the screaming organs willstop screaming against form. So that I do not tremble from thewithdrawal of his weight. I think that my body will fit only him.Jesus is a wolf who eats me rabid. 12
  12. 12. The phantom is excessive. The phantom in excess. The phantomsmears blood on her lips while she is sleeping. The girl wakes in abed full of pomegranate seeds with burgeoning flesh. 13
  13. 13. The Plague of BoilsFall on the rock! Fall on the rock!Submerging the page to smear the ink, to pass through pulpy. Boilthe page Boil the heart. These steaming echoes, these petrified bats.She cannot find water hot enough. A labyrinth. A wet rock wall.In the caves the water boils her veins. In the water the girl pressesher back against one wall of the pool, presses her feet against theother. Small enough to cradle; tight enough to hold. Her handsunderwater become not her hands. Hands reach for the rock tunnel,the underwater cave; she cannot stop them, so she follows. Sweat, the phantom says underwater. The heretic underwater says “sweat,” and she sweats.The girl pulls her hands from the water and slowly places them onthe dripping rock. She moves her wet palms, presses her barebreasts against the cave. Pressing harder, hips in water, she is sovery thirsty. Mouth open against the rock, she is pantingmitochondrial eulogies. 14
  14. 14. The Plague of Storms of DestructionOn the twenty-first day of the fast, small objects on themantel turn into food. I rub my eyes and blink like acartoon character. I could just steal a piece from theplate when they are not looking. I could chew it andspit it out. I could lick the bowl. I could pray and prayand pray for spiritual food. I write in my journal: “Foodis highly overrated.” Give me your heart, oh God.Give me your stomach. Let me gnaw on your widelyspread arms. I pray for a vision of my future, but I can’tsee beyond the walls of the church. I pray for my futurehusband, but I can hear my own cries echo back to me.Under my mattress are multiplying loaves of bread; Itumble still gripping my pillow. Fish spill wildly fromthe window well, and my basement room is flooded.My bed begins to float; I am kicking for the surface.The waves are relentless. The fish are skinningthemselves. Fish bones, the flesh squirms into mytightly closed mouth. I curse the Evil One who tempts.I don’t even like fish. What are you willing to give,someone shouts from some indeterminable location.They think I’m trying to be anorexic, I shout back.Every night I dream I am breaking the fast, and wake upsweating, full of guilt. I eat foods like Peter Pan—agame. They say: Kill The Flesh. As the flesh growsweak, the spirit gets strong. Jesus is silent; there is norevelation. I want the Shekinah Glory of God. Theysay the veil is thinnest at 3am. I pray until 4, and feelnothing but a constant groaning coming from all of myorgans. Instead of dinner I pray. Instead of breakfast Irock on my knees until they are red and there areindents in the carpet. Six hours a day. Or ten. Live inprayer. Walk in prayer. Sleep in prayer. This kind goesnot out but by prayer and fasting. At the end of the fast, I eatall the foods I missed. Still, I am starving. 15
  15. 15. The phantom said the phantom said the fruit has no blood the grain isno sacrifice kill the body burn the flesh wrestle the meat from the bones wrestlethe tongue from the mouthThe phantom says: who is devoted to you, oh devoted 16
  16. 16. The Plague of the SwarmThrough my window I watch people walk by when I amalone. Canopies of Umbrella trees fill most of my view.Jesus doesnt like me to see much of the outside world,but he tells stories about its horror. There are peoplewho love to kill babies, he says, which makes me weepin his arms. They are sick, he says. Depraved. Witchesand Perverts, Women with the Spirit of Jezebel theWhore— The Brazen Woman. People who haveunnatural passion. They are deceived by the Lord of theFlies, he says, the teller of Lies. When he says this helooks out the window as if he is speaking to himself, buthis hand is an iron-fist around my upper arm. He looksback at me and he has changed. His eyes blaze like fire,his cheeks burning red. Someday you will drive out theirdemons he says fiercely. Someday you will be likeElijah! His voice booms and echoes, foam seepingfrom the corners of his mouth. You will prophesy todry bones! You will pick up snakes, and not bepoisoned! You will speak with Tongues of Men andAngels! Don’t you want this?!At night I thrash in my bed, and dream of the worldoutside. The sun is blood red, and covered in crawlingblack flies. Everyone is covered in fly swarms. I covermy ears so that the buzzing will stop. I cover my earsand I sing at the top of my lungs. 17
  17. 17. Dry bones dry bones cut the tree down slay the angel wrestle the ladderJacob wrestle the meat to the ground wrestle the dry bones cast the demonsout from your belly into her belly into her belly cast them out 18
  18. 18. JESS DEL BALZO ECLIPSE WEATHERThe first book is about getting over the first ten or twelve times I got under you. Idon’t mention the sleepless or the dizzy or the unblinking spinning, only thenervous walking through neighborhoods we still pay too much to call “homeaddress.” It costs a lot to look this damaged. You taught me not to be ashamed of owning something, not to be afraid to pushback, throw my hips in. I was cunning legs, compliant-knees-young when we met,with clever wrists, a certain cadence of collarbone that almost tasted like “clavicle”under the tongue. We fucked like trying to reach the bottom of the ocean. You hadme convinced for a while that alone meant uncatchable, and, kid, I felt like the windsometimes, leaving your place when the bright sun was a cool ten o’clock. In the second book, you’re just the dust on your own mirror. It was my season ofnot looking myself in the eye when I wrote it, and I became almost good atforgetting. Still, you could have said, “Call me if you die,” and I’d have found a way. You always wanted me to haunt you, didn’t you? Another typewriter-romanticidea that sounds good at four a.m. I have dreams my mother calls to tell me Ishould throw mine out, even though she bought it for me, archaic machine it is.There are other, easier ways now, faster, cheaper, more dependable. Better. There’sbetter for me, she says. “Wake up.” And I do, only it’s to you phoning me again. I pretend not to remember your apartment number. I make you wait just to hearyou say, “Hurry,” and remind myself to walk slow, footprints sure like they couldleave marks if I wanted them to. It’s all just playing a part, though, isn’t it? We still live in the same places and wearthe same clothes—it’s the rooms that fit us differently, and its the ghosting aroundthat has worn me sharp enough to laugh when you say you want to take meunderwater. I say, "But weve been there before." It is where it always was. You know that, but the fevered look in your face and theblue burn of your eyes mean you want to remind me anyway, in whatever way Iwant you to. So I let you, and its easy. Fast, cheap… I dont kiss back like meaning it, don’t bother with any of those breath-holdingtricks I learned while I was gone, I just go under, grow gills where your teeth colormy neck night-morning. You fuck flailing, open-mouthed. I fuck water-pressure. Iam good at ocean-floor, but lets keep that a secret, okay kid? I liked you better back when I couldn’t tell if you were drunk off wine or whiskey,when I thought diving was what everybody did, when black ink nights were the onlylovers that could hold me when you wouldn’t. I liked you better before her, before him, before we both had other places to be. And this third book should be about them, not us, but what do you know? I justwrote it. 19
  19. 19. HOWIE GOOD ERATOGod bless, the squeegee man says after I roll down my window & drop a couplequarters in his begging cup. Anyone who is somewhere is there for a reason. On theradio Major Thomas E. Kennedy (of West Point, N.Y.) died when an insurgentdetonated a suicide vest. I used to be jealous of the ironic young poets with coolhair. Driving back from a reading, maybe I still am. To sing like that, sounselfconscious, so propulsive, I would have to be on drugs – a lot of them. It’s atypical summer night in Boston, the first & last draft of a poem, full of heat & glare& traffic fumes, constellations of strangers speeding across the windshield. 20
  21. 21. CAILY GRUBESAXTON CHURCH OF GOD two hound dogs tied up on the parsonage yard. been there over a year. fur’s matte with dirt’n’shit. in the snow, you’ll know it. inside rhine-stone cowboy pastor teaches me tongues. teaches me “doesn’t matter what you say. let anything that sounds good fall out.” then he fingers my spine, shows where to grow hair “s ‘long that it looks good, auth enticity don’t matter” and doesn’t matter if rhine-stone pastor can’t tell the name of moses’ brother for a crossword. 22
  22. 22. AMY KING THE INDECENT CORE OF ALL THINGS IS ONETo be alone, I see people.My favorite part is the blackout,a hot melting tongue, donut hole.Such is the way of days:to touch is to let go and be someone.To stand back and trace with sight.If Jesus held, then we’re all sonsand tempters to light, the big Oof how light tweaks and blurs on.A sweet-smelling pebble buries inside,the heart’s saliva taffy.As snow melts, light purrs,as dark matters, all things perfectcold days from our burning salt,to outline the moon rim of just one us. 23
  23. 23. AMY KING PERSEPHONE ECHONothing in the heart: blanks.Space is a frontier, if only you go there.The vulvar blooms isometric,and her muscles reiterate a gilded scrollaround the hands of your waist.We make connections as aftermath.Her skin is counterfeit lacedby dress hems at the curve of this table.The table gives agency.All along the wooden meadow we risk and ride.Elbows and other props like whiskey.Break bread there, tear tissue out,and fuck the police,should we give chance a chance.Our bets are our own, a together-net.For it is only the scythe’s embrace thatwill bring us to matter, and in the pushpast, erasure’s habitat.We stand within an abyss, seeingthe victim angle. That’s the way 24
  24. 24. we take place:two hollows in one fabric,flocks warm with hauntingthe other voice we think apart in.It is the wind that brings us to that room.Lie on the furniture; arrest interlaced hands. 25
  25. 25. ZACHARY KLUCKMAN PRACTICE KISSING IN THE RAINForgive me if I seem out of practice.In four years I have not kisseda single lip. Have not spent one momentlingering over the wet surface, touchedmy tongue to thick bottom lipor bitten it.I have not felt the faith of facemuscles slipping better judgement loose.Have not pressed my face into hairhung heavy with the smell of rain,hot wax and coconut.I have not felt the pulseagainst my mouth, urging me tomove south. In four years I have not.Moved south. Or tasted peachesrolled in warm cinnamon.I have not kissed you there.Nor any other woman. For four yearsI have kept the same broken promiseyou left me with. This amnesiac bodyhas forgotten how to write invitations.Has held its breath like a kitewhile you tongued rejection lettersto my body on another man’s thigh.For four years the taste of youhas kept my mouth salted.I have never been kissedin the rain. Inhaled the thick damp muskof soil like inner thigh. Warm insistentbreath fresh with a scent like wet grass.Tonight I forgive my tongue 26
  26. 26. for the weight of your name.Four years since I last pressed my tongueto nipple; my mouth to lips swollen with heat.I forgive myself these necessarypainful absences.I wash the unspoken lonelinessfrom my mouth with this rain. Practicekissing this water in my mouth. Forgive me.If I seem out of practice, I am sure the skywill forgive me for swallowingher thousand small tongues. 27
  27. 27. ZACHARY KLUCKMAN STORM WARNINGThe rain makes stringed instruments of our hair; beadson kitchen curtains, love knotsfor our children to climb, losing themselvesin our tangles.Our search for their missing smiles is the meaningwe assign to water, to blue.The reason we consider the sky broken.Peel the horizon bloody from streetlightspaint the curbs with our feet, find harmonywith the rain by matching our hipsto bare roots, slip loose from dirt.Movepast trees smoky and boredas the musician outside a clubwhere the old men dance only to classics.Like love, gone missing for cigarettes.An angel divorcing her children. A man in a citywhere other men name their adulteryforeplay, blame bored wives sitting in windowsmaking a strong tea of patience. Hearta small fly drowned wingless and broken.We blame the rain for the weight of the skyas easily as we blame each other’s bodiesfor silence. As dull toothed and pointlessas blaming you for owning a soul too oldto remember naming the skyhydrant, the stars streetlights, gatheringtheir numbers near the water, runningup and down basketball courts in our sandals.Movepast memories of childhood spent ignoringthe bones we carried in our mouths, calling these teeth.To the fire alarms I pulled in your lungs,near misses, catches, you breathless and hungry fordanger on fire escapes, pressed against windows.Tattoos made on your tongue by my teeth. Ice 28
  28. 28. rubbed across your chest until it raineddown your legs.We dirtied the carpets with love. The skybucked and pressed its heaving chest againstthe glass, and we swore with our sweatto wear each other’s fingerprints as promises. Youdon’t remember thisbut you remember the rainby its initials, carved in the dirt outsideour yard. Count pearls of water spilled downour daughter’s throat. A broken necklacethe sun borrows to stain glass her reflection. Numberthe freckles on son’s shoulders, divide by fourbecause math makes more sense than love.Movelike October leaves chasing the wind.When you left, the only meaning I could giveto your absence was sometimesthe wind hears a bell ring and chasescurious after, eager to swallow the sound so she canimpress the trees with a song she’s just learned, like a childit is not her nature to stand still.Movethrough rain, seeking whatever feverof jazz, gin or fear it is you’ve come so closeto the earth to learn. Lean close to the windows.Listen. When a child tries to find his absent motherin his father’s arms, thinking she is waiting somewhereinside him, like a prize they will win if they prayor bite hard enough, all a man can dois hold them to his chest, threaten the thunderto stop scaring his children. Whisper. Tell themhow she smelled like water. How her breathwas the window rain looked through, jealous.How she taught him the classics.Like love. Like absence. Like childrenwaiting for their father to stop watching the raincarry their home down a hill.Waiting for him to move. 29
  30. 30. BRENNA LEE DREAM HOLE from Th e S cout of Sleepblue cohoshVent open with molten skin and secretion of wriggle seed. The trifecta of shell whiteyolk. And what has come in the dim with two for my one and no sense in telling oreating the water logged. Exorcise this demon pouch. This reiteration of self projectsdistortion on broad sleep. Petals of open past chase the night and beg to be kept;knowing there is no shadow without form. The cavity of the earth is a tube thatspits out the other end. A hole is made of thousands of other holes. I am fedpomegranate seeds one at a time. Long teeth beneath linen and everything is warmmud. This is not the right arc. This is a false trajectory. This is how it alwayshappens. Bury or forget the white bull; either way bring him to the boat, thehideout, the wooden vessel carved from his likeness. It is here we will whittle partsof him; a horn, a hand, the end of limp tongue. A material binary that cannotoverlap. Banished by labyrinth language and little time. To gorge with one’s ownbody is an act of protection. To protect with body is abandonment. Approximately. 31
  31. 31. cornersShe thinks about houses. Thinks about all the different parts of houses: windows,beams, porches, toilets, ovens, floors, ceilings, walls, vents, railings, table legs, sinks,frames. She is thinking about empty rooms, about how they make her think ofbabies. About how sometimes in the empty rooms she hears the babies. She is afraidto look at mirrors in the houses. The first thing she will do in the new house is takedown all the mirrors, and the ones she can’t she will cover with linen. Then she willturn on the radio. Turn up the volume as loud as she can to drown out the babies.A tabloid on the kitchen table says:BABY EATEN BY PET CAT. 32
  32. 32. boxesIt is best to fill the boxes first. Fill them with solids and liquids housed in solidreceptacles. Fill the boxes with boxes. Then fill the rooms with boxes. It is good tofill the gaps with something. To fill them with bread and cheese and milk. To fillthem with moth eaten sweaters photographs. A box of letters, an empty coffee tin,carpet samples, snow boots, plastic Tupperware. One on top of another; balanced,inside, underneath. Until their cardboard spines slouch and scrape the low ceiling.Until the room is a box. Jam-packed. Bursting. 33
  33. 33. feral seerThe boxes leak out into every room, spilling on top of the refrigerator and into thebathtub. The boxes are full of babies, full of cats. They cry the same. They claw upcurtains and lick their own bodies. They seep under doorways. Their small formswriggle on the wooden floorboards, soaking up the finish and splinters and slabwith acidic skin. Erasing the beams and tile with flesh and fur. Swallowing. Slackjawed. Toothless mouths agape. Ductile holes that consume and fall away, leavingbehind stains on cracked foundation and vacant dirt. 34
  34. 34. holy guttersThe sideshow billed its biggest act as THE MIRACLE ORACLE MERMAIDGIRL.She waits in line for an hour and finally is led into a room with heavy velvet drapes.A woman dressed in a plastic bra and sequined fin costume lays nearly prostrate ona stained chaise lounge. Her upper arms covered in scabs. Her decaying teeth rustedand half formed, even in the dim light. She smiles.This skin; it peels, it leaks. 35
  35. 35. girl meatHoist the animal by tying rope to its feet and hands and then securing the rope toan overhead beam. Insert meat hooks into ankles for extra support. Place a largevessel beneath the animal to allow for easy cleanup after drainage. Then cut thethroat of the animal from left to right, allowing the body to completelyexsanguinate. Once the ligament has been cut away from the head, hold the skullfirmly and twist, separating it where the spinal cord meets skull. After removing thehead, wash the rest of the body down. Then, flay the carcass, removing all skin, hair,and distasteful glands that produce sweat and oil. Next, make a cut from the solarplexus to the anus. Then make a cut around the anus and tie it off with twine. Use asmall saw to cut through the pubic bone. Then pull out lower organs, cutting themaway from the back of the body with a knife. Cut through the diaphragm. Removethe breast bone. Cut straight down the middle of the carcass. Remove the lungs andheart. Remove the larynx. Trim the blood vessels. Cut into the armpit through tothe shoulder. Remove the arms. Cut the hands off above the wrist. Saw through thespine, from buttocks to neck. Chop off the feet a few inches above the ankle. Cutaway the mass of shoulder blade and collar bone. Cut the leg off below thebuttocks and at the fleshy knee. Remove the calf muscle. Finally, carve around thecurve of the pelvis. Bundle the meat together with butcher string; hang in the frontshop window. 36
  36. 36. holy cuntShe goes back to see the Mermaid Girl. Instead, sitting in the room is the VirginMary. She is half fish. She is sad. Nobody wants to fuck her anymore. Nobodywants to fuck you once your body has been declared holy and you smell like fish.Mary is so sad and her tears are so sea foam white that she begins to kiss her. Shekisses her wet gill mouth and rubs her palms against salt nipples. She takes offMary’s robes and kisses the damp seaweed hair between her legs. Lightly, lightlydown curved thick running down legs then stop then up to against then hard liketwo women fuck. Mary’s fish smell fills the room. She loves her now. Mary asks herfor a favor. And so they cut out her mother-body, together. Gut her with three orfour steady straight knife marks. They walk to the park and feed it to the pigeons. 37
  37. 37. unbirthIf Jung says house is self then what does it mean when my dream house is astairwell, elevator or sink hole that glows alien and pear. A haunting of grid andknotted floor board myth snake spoken. I am hiding this low space hole forevidence. I am hiding this little salt measure. I am hiding this sound cracking withsmooth direction. I chew and swallow everything. Nibble on the ends of little bits. Iam building a nest. I dream of Matryoshka. I name them and push them back inside.When they cut open my stomach they find: cat claws mold garlic stacked Styrofoammagazines blankets baby teeth shotguns pillows wooden rails. Insulation in thebreaking reflection of a crawl space; of the slope of a hill, of a slanted porch asbroken jaw. To dream with direction is possession and downward shatter whichthere is little trouble recalling now. A red rug stretched the length of wrist ascompass alternates backward and useless and what do I call this hollow? 38
  39. 39. ANDREW K. PETERSON 40
  40. 40. ARIELLA RUTH CHERRIES IN THE SNOWthis sensation isn’t residual, but rather has her own atlas of the U.S. with the exactcoordinates of thoughts. she is able to turn my eyes to an old notebook, a doe onthe side of highway 36, a neon blue feather with white lace as the backdrop.when i placed my left hand against the cold brick wall i felt a tingling up my arm butdidn’t think to mention it. when i saw stars i laughed and said thank you. even on afrigid morning, a warmth that still feels new to me holds my shoulders, holds therest of my organs in and keeps them safe. 41
  41. 41. SALLY JANE SMITH PRESSURESummer warm dark in Moccasin Valley, itch of hay bales, cheap whiskey falls underwhite moon and the sheep sleep and the sheepdog and we climb down our knobnettle bites bare feet stinging, ice ringing.We find the pen in the dark, Sarah whispers soft to call pregnant horse in a pen toosmall she says it’s not legal she says the horse cries from so much making the coyotescry she leans to us and leans in Sarah urges me says put your hand out and feel: and Iscared and the horse so big, her stretching stomach flank broad beyond swell,pressure beyond bones so much heat in the dark as coal, pressure of diamonds,pressure of hooves soft becoming solid. 42
  42. 42. SALLY JANE SMITH SEDIMENTI tried for two years not to breathe or touch my body numb the bones settlingcrooked.I locked the door, clicking golden. I locked the door and the tile dropped, the sink acurved a seashell the way shells crack sand crusted the mountain shells, thefreshwater mussels in higher streams.A voice breaks like leather cracking.The sinking of everything inside, turning sour, the way the syllables twist makes mesick. Blood black, like the mercury rivers we swim.The way the creek ran over the horse’s hooves and we walked on the crumblingedge of the road and in ditches when cars drove by.The point to prove it didn’t happen because I’m not the no one’s the woman whowould let this happen, bruises blooming and, dishes feathers and bones in the sinkand the sky stretched taut black tarp, bloodroot shining and the creeks clotted withtrash and it all my fault: my fault, I am the tender place where the world breaks. 43
  43. 43. JEFF STUMPOfrom DILUVIUM 44
  44. 44. JEFF STUMPO 45
  45. 45. ELISABETH WORKMANHUNDREDS OF HALF-NAKED GIRLSThe greatest difficulty in organizing a family establishment is moonwalkingwithout skin [abrasions, for example, blisters brushburns amputations decapitations[school bus bullies should be very pleasing [a whole class of young women “gettinghelp” [HUNDREDS OF HALF-NAKED GIRLS IN ATIME OF BADNESS taint Friday night in a yellow dress pleated with red roses. Try this limbless doll whore slash monster truck backslash mucus plug . TryChapter 6. Servants-Society-Evening Pastries all Natural Disposition Trainingin treating poured people like broken vassals you’ll find that won’t do here and sowe cleft Friday night is alrightit may be called bad taste a dirty horde but this is yours now heretofore free-for-all night pudding secretion partyis it still hymen to you in your country where strangers are felling your woods? the point of beingthis cold storage is businessit grows membrane and still, and the evening quiet alone watches over our cells we might more than anything needwhere public ventilation has to stop, theretumescent conspirators the loud battle cry of deadriders rubbingagainst hot phones how to hold how to call the smash cuts how to fork for hours unadorned 46
  46. 46. thought tongue cunning the greatest difficulty for the greatest generation is fang adaptation remote sex slash ground control buzzing in drone driver spaces hazing andrackets the women basically herd together basic military training itis obvious errata: Chapter 6 Seer Vents—Sentient Past—Un-Past Hummingit always appeared to me that they remained together as long as they could bear it thenthey rose en masse cloak bomb veil exit 47
  47. 47. I NEVER SAW ANY PEOPLE WHO APPEAREDTO LIVE SO MUCH WITHOUT AMUSEMENT xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx They were told there wouldbe no math here one hour late the headmens who can’t count right they were toldyou are the best the headmens who can’t cunt who say true and cantos xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx they were told true or false the blue book cums xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx from blue trees & xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx that is a retro xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx the main cunt con xxxxx wet plumage xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx They were told to just point and moot you can’t talk everythings xxxxxxxxxxxxxx they were told to ply in the pillage to sit and wait and hate each other fidget sitand wait and count trees minus trees always equals fixed chins of monuments xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx They were told there would be jetpacksxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to apex in Ikea xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx not come back moon xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx not say dead xxxxxxx play dead xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx They were told speak this that we may give you time & we will shew you houses xx& they were told just paint the houses xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx & they were told nice patioxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx & they were told nix patois xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxfix the grids & syntax deviations xxxxxx devilmations xxxxxx voodoo nation xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx & theywere told no image that fur feels brains miasma-land or returns hot pinceredcinder speech with flesh noise and skull quivering under thirsting was okay xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThey were told line-up sentence xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to prick the pathos xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to quaint hum xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx but it hurt their fingers and made all the animals screamxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThey were told but nobody was listening nobody was listening nobody was listeningno xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx nobody was radiant xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx nobody was here xxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 48
  48. 48. REVIEWS 49
  49. 49. KARA MILLERIN REVIEW: ALISON BECHDEL, ARE YOUMY MOTHER & LIDIA YUKNAVICH, DORA: AHEADCASEAre You My Mother, Alison Bechdel’s 2012 memoir of her relationship with hermother, presents the reader with a dizzying array of primary sources. Bechdelreproduces newspaper articles, letters from her father to her mother, agedphotographs, lecture notes, highlighted and annotated pages from books; she’s ahistorian of her own life. She conducts this research and reinterpretation throughthe lens of a number of secondary texts, primarily the psychological studies of D.W.Winnicott and the diaries of Virginia Woolf. At times, the authorial voice threatensto disappear under the weight of all these documents, but Bechdel neatly balancesher curatorial impulse with the personalizing effects of psychoanalysis. The readersees these documents while hearing the character Alison talking her way through herunderstanding of them, so the book maintains a personality behind all the cuttingand pasting. Bechdel might, in this sense, be a more mature analog to another recentprotagonist struggling with both her mother and her therapist: Ida, heroine of LidiaYuknavitch’s Dora: A Headcase. Dora rewrites Freud’s famous case study of theaphonia of Ida Bauer, alias Dora, into a gory, fiery revenge fantasy. While Alisonjournals and digs through old letters, Ida stages “art attacks.” Her magnum opus isher bedroom, papered with art reproductions, text clippings, and letters to FrancisBacon and her psychiatrist: “Dear Francis Bacon: My face is an I hole.” Bechdel’scollaging is an act of willed memory, an attempt to reassemble a life story asaccurately as possible; Dora’s is spontaneous, impressionistic, and not accountableto strict accuracy or good taste. For Bechdel, there is an enormous amount of story in figuring out how to tell thestory. Significant sections of Are You My Mother revolve around the writing andpublication of Bechdel’s earlier memoir, Fun Home, the “dad book” to this “mombook.” Alison worries that “my mother’s editorial voice—precisian, dispassionate,elegant, adverbless—is lodged deep in my temporal lobes,” but the book’s elegancecan be an enormous pleasure. The illustrations of Alison’s dreams that open eachchapter are arresting, tense and fluid in their linkage of disconnected images, andBechdel slices them open to reveal subconscious riches, connecting each dream to aconcept from Winnicott’s works as well as episodes from her own life. The book’spsychoanalytical elements act as a method of teasing out structure from themessiness of a full life, certainly an interesting endeavor, but watching a stranger 50
  50. 50. interpret her dreams can feel chilly and remote. Bechdel assigns the weight ofnarrative climaxes to therapeutic breakthroughs, compulsively attaching the word“interesting” to turns of event that could interest no one outside of the book’ssubjects: “Interestingly, it was immediately after watching The Sound of Music on TVin 1987 that my own depression set in.” Therapy allows Alison, the character, tocreate a story out of the banalities and accidents of her life; psychoanalyticalconcepts allow Bechdel, the author, to give her autobiographical bricolage a spine.At times, the two projects could benefit from a little distance from one another. Ida’s self-narration, by contrast, is pre-therapeutic and as close to unmediated as anovel can be. Psychoanalysis wrenches her story out of her hands—literally, in aplotline in which Sigmund (her analyst, and yes, last name Freud) is coerced intoselling his “case study” to a sleazy television producer. For Ida, psychoanalysis is aform of violation and, therefore, a promising site for vengeance and resistance: “Thewhole set-up of this doctor/patient shit is completely porno. You spill your guts andcry like a pussy while they ‘father you better.’” At one point, Ida tells Sigmundabout a dream taken directly from the original Dora’s case study. For thenonfictional Freud, Dora’s dreams provided a point at which her traumas could beunlocked and opened, a means of mastery over the young woman’s disorders as wellas the woman herself. In Yuknavitch’s hands, this same dream is a trap set by Idafor her therapist: “And yep, just like I think he will, he goes straight for the jewelcase. And just like I knew he would, he says it’s a vag.” Sigmund isn’t wrong,exactly; he’s just wildly outmatched. In Yuknavitch’s world of hyper-sharpened,hyper-corporeal symbols, of course the jewel case is already genitalia, and of courseit has already transcended its bodily significance, and of course any symbol of thefemale body has already been vivisected and stitched back together in a grotesqueimitation of embodiment. The analytic technique that serves Bechdel’s narrative soeffectively is torn to pieces by Yuknavitch’s fragmented, hysterical storytelling. If Bechdel is conducting a symphony, introducing themes from psychology andmodernist literature in order to trace their variations through her own life,Yuknavitch is a riot grrl, flooding her novel with female bodily fluids and smells,concerned more with immediacy and direct contact with the nerves than withtechnique. Too much structure would detract from Ida’s character. Yet most ofwhat Ida does is find ways to reread and restructure the world around her. Ida’smajor area of expertise is recording technology; her Zoom H4n audio recordertravels with her everywhere she goes, sometimes a secret weapon and sometimes areligious talisman. Ida records dialogues, soundscapes, conversations not meant forher ears. Her greatest project—other than her bedroom—is a secretly filmeddocument of Sigmund undergoing a gleefully gory medical procedure. Alison is adiarist, dedicated and skilled in the art of finding a single narrative to anchor her life.Ida—alienated, anxiety-ridden, subject to fits of bodily numbness—can’t make thatsort of claim on her story. Ida appropriates, collages, cuts and pastes and shreds tobits; it’s an act of subjugation toward a world that wants to subjugate her.Furthermore, for Bechdel, the act of journaling gets subsumed into the process of 51
  51. 51. psychoanalysis. She presents her childhood diaries as part of the evidence of her lifeand discusses her journaling habits with her therapist. The diaries precede theanalysis, true, but without the intervention of analysis they could never be presentedas part of the narrative. By contrast, Ida’s art is part of her struggle against theviolation of therapy. Bechdel writes of her therapist’s transition into psychoanalysis:“Analysis and therapy are different in many ways, but the seating arrangement is abig one. In this position the patient can’t see the analyst. And lying down, in theory,allows more ready access to the unconscious.” Ida just accuses Sigmund of trying tolook up her skirt. Early on in Are You My Mother, Bechdel actually maps out her importantrelationships—mother, therapists, and lovers, in that order—in bracketed categoriesagainst a grid-paper background. Every relationship, the inlaid text from Winnicottexplains, progresses from the mother figure. Having established a psychoanalyticalpoint of origin, Bechdel proceeds with linear certainty in marking out the lines thatlead back to her mother. She even tells the reader that she wants one of hertherapists to be her mother. She also places the reader in the mother/therapist role.At one point, after narrating a childhood episode in which her mother discovered adirty picture that she had drawn, Alison tells her therapist, “I can’t believe I told youthat. I’m still, like, frozen with shame about it.” This calculated vulnerability, thisplea for affection and absolution, can’t help but direct itself to the reader as well asthe therapist. It’s an affecting technique, certainly, but the algebraic substitutions,reader for analyst for mother, are a little too clean. It’s easy to long for the messinessof Dora, in which Yuknavitch depicts Ida as excessively, alarmingly embodied andexpansive, part of a “microorganism” of freaks whose strange bodies and voicessmear across her narrative. At times, Yuknavitch depicts this cast of characters—including a Rwandan trans woman, a First Nations girl who ran away from sexualabuse on her reservation, and a boy faking a mental disability—with a fetishisticquality that can turn queasy. Too often, Dora’s peripheral characters merely illustrateIda’s own freakishness, but in the book’s best moments, Ida and her friends blendtogether in ecstatic, fluid interdependence. Of course, like Alison, Ida does need her mother back—and she does need toreclaim her voice, and even, she eventually admits, to “pass through a psychosexualcrucible.” But while the pleasure of Are You My Mother lies largely in watchingBechdel arrange her needs into taut, elegant graphics, the joy of Dora lies in Ida’srefusal to want the things she needs. She’s a nightmare of a patient, but a fantasticprotagonist, and Yuknavitch is wise to hold the two roles in unresolved tension. 52
  52. 52. INTERVIEWS 53
  53. 53. JADE LASCELLES(OVER)EXCESS AND OVERLAP:AN INTERVIEW WITH AMARANTHBORSUK & KATE DURBINAmaranth Borsuk and Kate Durbin are writers immersed in possibility: thepossibility of the word, the possibility of the page (or lack thereof), the possibility offusion and/or conversation. In projects such as Gaga Stigmata, Women as Objects,and Kept Women (Insert Blanc Press), Kate Durbin slices into the undercarriage ofthe spaces we occupy. She finds poetry and dialogue stuffed somewhere betweenour idolization of pop stars, our obsession with reality television, and our pervasiveand chosen objectification in the form of smart-phone-in-the-bathroom-mirror self-portraits. Amaranth Borsuk uses digital poetics, web design, and hand-crafted artist’sbooks to locate an altered reality of applied materiality. Hers a world of technology,history, and language literally animating onto and into each other to offerunprecedented notions of hybridity. See: Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press).See: Handiwork (Slope Editions). In addition to their individual projects, the two have engaged another form ofoverlap and intersection: that of an on-going and prolific collaboration. Incollaboration, it is the play between moments of interstice and junction which ismost captivating. Where is an act of layering necessary? When might the “we”dissolve away? What happens when writers lay their languages onto one another?What does the “page” of multitude look like? How do digital and print forms comeinto play as a third (or fourth) collaborator? Borsuk and Durbin have applied these and other questions to their collaborativewriting and performances for several years now. Their poetic progeny will culminatein the forthcoming Abra. A recipient of the Expanded Artists’ Book Grant from theCenter for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago, this project,manifested as an artist’s book and interactive iPad app edition, will explore andcelebrate “the potentials of the book in the 21st century.” And true to form, thepotential for continued growth of this project into sustained iterations remainslingering in the margins. As a precursor to its publication, there is this: a combined conversation. Interviewas a space for their poetics and personalities to find motion in an act of conjoining.Another page-space for the two to meet.JADE LASCELLES: One of the things that draws me to you both is the attemptnot to privilege print or digital over the other in the publication of your writing. 54
  54. 54. Could you talk about your relationship with these two mediums? What is theinsistence of both?AMARANTH BORSUK: I’m invested in books as a writer and a book artist. Ihave shelves full of books at home and in my office, I buy books constantly, and Ispend a lot of time browsing shelves at the library. I also love books because I havea very spatial memory. I recall things better when I can picture where I have readthem. What the book looks and feels like, and even where a phrase appears on thepage, becomes a kind of touchstone for me that helps me recall a quotation or othertidbit of text. But I am also fascinated by digital media and by the possibilities itopens up for a kind of networked authorship, for fast and wide-ranging research,and for immersive reading experiences. I don’t see why we can’t have both, sinceeach platform brings something different to the reading experience. As a poet, myprimary medium is language. If I am going to further mediate the text in some way,I need to have a reason to do so. That’s my approach—the text calls out for itsmedium.JL: When considering medium: a web page can continue to be updated; its abilityfor growth is inherent. The solid “fixedness” of the book means its growth requiresan intervention of some sort. How could writers intervene in the book/page? Can adigital text cause fixation without a fixing?KATE DURBIN: I think that digital and e-books, blogs, Tumblrs, Twitters andFacebook pages are giving writers incredible opportunities for more reader-involvedreading. I am thinking of Kate Zambreno tweeting her reading of Fifty Shades of Grey,or Matias Viegner’s 2500 Things About Me Too book from Les Figues Press that hewrote entirely on Facebook, or Marie Calloway’s really vital self-published Tumblrstories (soon to be a book from Tyrant), or Amaranth’s augmented reality in BetweenPage and Screen. I also think digital books are forcing us to look at paper books innew ways, to see them as the objects they are, and to consider how to render theseobjects ever more glorious, demanding they make use of their object-ness morefully. Ultimately, a never-ending story (pun intended) has a possibility to collapsethe false boundaries between life and art in order to render a reader a more active,free participant in life and with others. That is the beauty of the ever-increasinglyreader-involved, endless text.JL: In your collaborative work, I love the recurrent notion of a text that exceedstwo voices or structures, one that exists as a third text in a third space. Do you thinkit is possible for a procreation to happen beyond the third space? Can a text growexponentially?AB: I definitely think that kind of growth is possible. Literature has always beenparticipatory in that it invites us to construct an imaginative world and its meaningstake shape in the reader. Beyond that sort of expansion, though, I’ve been interestedin texts that draw on social media to extend their authorship beyond the individual. 55
  55. 55. In Ander Monson and Jer Thorpe’s web version of Monson’s Index For X, forexample, readers of the poem/essay, which is written as an alphabetized index, areinvited to tag their Flickr photos with the keyword “indexx”. The program Thorpewrote for the piece crawls through Flickr and selects 100 images from among thosethat have been tagged, [then] these images come up as you click through the text,leading to startling, and often beautiful juxtapositions. This type of participatoryarchitecture isn’t just a gimmick—I see it as central to the themes of the piece. As aportrait of the speaker’s grief over the loss of his girlfriend and best friend, it resistsa single totalizing perspective. It’s very much about the accumulation of detail thatmakes up our lives. The connections created by readers become emblematic of theway the speaker is linked to a network of friends and loved ones, all of whom arepart of his “book.” It’s an index to an unseen / unseeable / unwriteable text. In Abra, Kate and I approached the page as a space to enact the drama oflanguage’s instability. The words and images face one another, and they move in away that suggests a courtship and self-sublimation. Neither wins out, but they mergeas each reaches across the gutter into the other.JL: Could you speak more about Abra?KD: I have done a lot of collaborations at this point, and I have to say mycollaboration with Amaranth has been the most fruitful, in that the work itself isboth abundant and difficult and physically enacts the process of collaboration itself.Abra is very much a text that could not have been written without "the hive mind"as one phrase in the text espouses—I couldnt have done it alone, nor could I haveconceived of it entirely on my own, which has sometimes been the case in my othercollaborations (where I have been the mastermind). Amaranth has told me she feelssimilarly—that this was a unique, highly fruitful experience for her too, one shecould not have accomplished alone. It was almost telepathic for us. As for the process of creating the work, we both picked out a series of incrediblyburstingly beautiful visual images from artists such as Will Cotton, Shoplifter,Kimiko Yoshida, and Matthew Barney, that, for us, spoke to overabundance—ofsound, self, and sense. We then gave ourselves a series of poetic constraints thatforced us to use "excessive" language—gerunds, adjectives, and infinitives. Once wewrote the poems, wherein we focused on rich image, language, and sound(separately, while looking at the images), we interleaved and edited them in apainstaking manner, together. We no longer know who wrote which words, and thewords themselves are strange, non-sensical, and magical. The visual artist, my first husband, Zach Kleyn, then read them and drew amorphing drawing over the course of several hours that he took images of as hedrew in order to create an animation. Amaranth and I then laid out the images andtext in book form, with the images on the left and the text on the right, but thepoems and text move around the page and grow and morph into each other, circlingaround to create new meanings, even as the two "reflect" one another. It operates asa flip book, in effect. The first and last word of the book are the same, suggesting akind of never-ending circle of death and rebirth. Many of the words themselves 56
  56. 56. speak to different phases in evolutionary development and periods in art history. From there Abra, the voice of the conjoined speaker, emerged. She is bothposthuman and prophetic. Amaranth and I dress as her for performances. She is us,and she is the reader. The words have merged from the page to the fashion and thebody of Abra herself (they are all the same thing at this point). The book we areconstructing now is an iPad edition, which we received a grant from the Centerfrom Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago in order to produce. Forthat version, the reader can use their iPad to create new poems out of the textsweve created, among other soon-to-be announced other elements. There will alsobe a series of artists books, high art items that are decadent and individualized fromCPBA too. These books are inspired by illuminated manuscripts of the medievalperiod. A paperback trade edition is our next goal.AB: [We] are trying to extend the text beyond our Burroughs/Gysin-esque thirdmind by allowing readers to remix the words and generate new poems. Because thebook is so much about uncontrollable growth and mutation, the way words resistour attempts to fix them and the way Abra resists categories of propriety, femininity,high and low art, and ethnic and cultural identity, it made sense to us that the textshould mutate and expand beyond any boundaries we might set for it.JL: How can the materiality of the page be explored without being exploited? Orshould we as writers be trying to exploit it?AB: I suppose writers shouldn’t imagine the page is a transparent interface, in thesame way most of us no longer view language as a transparent carrier of meanings.The page is bound up in all sorts of structures that construct the reader in theprocess of reading, so thinking about that materiality seems vital to me inconsidering how texts work.JL: Is there a sacredness to the page?KD: I suspect there is no more sacredness to the page than there is to any "thing" inlife, or maybe just that its sacred in a different way. I dont know. Page does rhymewith sage. Perhaps Im balking at that term sacred, having grown up in the ChristianChurch, where it meant a kind of untouchable purity. I see the page as magic andpowerful, potent as any witch’s spell. And dangerous, certainly. But it is also just life.I think its meant to be touched, just as much as its meant to be honored. But itsfoolish to underestimate its power. In doing so, we underestimate our own power.Its also foolish to overestimate its import and become like those who lock the Arkof the Covenant away from the people. Im not so much interested in explaining thisparadox. I think the truth of both these ideas can be felt. In the end, the page comesfrom us—and is as sacred as we are. 57
  57. 57. CONTRIBUTORSJULIEANNE COMBEST recently graduated with an MFA in Writing and Poeticsfrom the Jack Kerouac School for Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. Shewrites to carve new scriptures into bones and to conduct rituals that shift bodiesinto desire and revelation. “Plagues and Punishments” is an excerpt from herexperimental novel For Slake—a book of fairy tales and fractured memoirs on whatwailing sounds like underwater, the excessiveness of a transgressive body in longing,and the mystic practice of breathing life into unknown gods.JESS DEL BALZOs work has appeared under several names in various print andonline publications, most recently Rose Red Review, Lunch Ticket, Extracts, and Knockingat the Door: Poems About Approaching the Other.HOWIE GOOD, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of fivepoetry collections, most recently Cryptic Endearments from Knives Forks & SpoonsPress. He has published numerous chapbooks, including A Special Gun for ElephantHunting from Dog on a Chain Press, The Death of Me from Pig Ear Press, and StrangeRoads from Puddles of Sky Press.CAILY GRUBE grew up in a dead coal town in Central Pennsylvania. Caily Grubeeats two jars of honey a week and writes poems on her lunch break about post-industrialism and virtual identity. Caily Grube graduated from and now works forthe University of Pittsburgh. Her poems have appeared in Hot MetalBridge and Collision.Of her most recent book from Litmus Press, I Want to Make You Safe, JohnAshbery described AMY KINGs poems as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jaggedlife, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” Safe was one of theBoston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. King teaches English & CreativeWriting at SUNY Nassau Community College. For more,check performance poet since 2006, ZACHARY KLUCKMAN was a member ofAlbuquerque’s 2012 National Poetry Slam Team, a Pushcart Prize nominee andrecipient of the Red Mountain Press National Poetry Prize. His work appears inprint globally in such publications as the New York Quarterly and Cutthroat.Featured on over 500 radio stations worldwide, he is an accomplished spoken wordartist. Twice recognized for making world history, he is the creator of the Slam PoetLaureate Program and an organizer for the 100 Thousand Poets for Changeprogram, as well as serving as Spoken Word Editor for the Pedestal magazine. 58
  58. 58. JADE LASCELLES is a busy lady. A poet and letterpress printer, some of her currentprojects include: editing book reviews for Bombay Gin Literary Journal, serving as afounding member of the eco-poetic publishing project Inukshuk Collective,managing the Harry Smith Print Shop at Naropa University, and teaching writingand literature in and around Boulder, Colorado. Despite all of this, however, she willalways make time for any dance parties she may be invited to join.BRENNA LEE is the Art Editor of Bombay Gin Literary Journal. She is currentlyediting her first novel, The Scout of Sleep, and working towards creating a new theoryof feminist passivity, Radical Objects.BRANDON LOCHER was born on May 8, 1985 in Johnstown, PA. A maincontributor of the Johnstown, PA based artist collective, My Idea of Fun, Locherhas over 50+ releases under various monikers and artistic mediums that can all bediscovered digitally at: MILLER likes giant messy novels, the Russian language, and giant messynovels written in the Russian language. She graduated from the University ofColorado and lives in Boulder, where she has started to like hiking but still refusesto learn to do yoga.ANDREW K. PETERSONs poetry publications include some deer left the yard movingday (BlazeVox 2013), karaoke lipsync opera (White Sky 2012), and Museum of ThrownObjects (BlazeVox 2010). His chapbook bonjour meriwether and the rabid maps wasrunner up in the Equinox Chapbook Contest, and published by Fact-Simile Press in2010. Recent poetry appears in the journals Dear Sir, Country Music, e-ratio, and ditch; and a performance document will appear in Emergency Index2012 (Ugly Duckling Presse). He edits the online lit journal summer stock, and lives inMassachusetts.ARIELLA RUTH is a poet from Boston, Massachusetts. She received her BA inPoetry from The New School and her MFA in Writing and Poetics from the JackKerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. She is the Co-founder of Roots+Limbs, abook production collaborative with artist Jeremy Jacob Schlangen( Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from OtherRooms Press, Epiphany, The Pulchritudinous Review, Bombay Gin, Esque Magazine,and Eleven and a Half Journal. She writes story-poems on the JANE SMITH learned to write with sticks on the railroad tracks. She iscurrently at Naropa University, working toward her MFA, and also teaches. Sheserves as marketing editor on the Bombay Gin Literary Journal. She thinks agesture is never complete. 59
  59. 59. JEFF STUMPOs diluvium, from which these poems are a selection, is a 64-pagegenre-blending poetic sequence featuring Noah and his wife in a humanist retellingof the ancient myth. It is still looking for a publisher, hint, hint. He recentlycompleted a chapbook manuscript, Heroes & Villannelles, reflecting on the darkerside of the world via that obsessive form and which is also looking for a home. Tosee his previous and upcoming publications and performances, pleasevisit WORKMANs chapbooks include Opolis (Dusie)and Megaprairieland (Grey Book Press). Her first full-lengthcollection Ultramegaprairieland is forthcoming from Bloof Books. 60
  60. 60. 61