written the week before the water fountain

“We mistake sex for romance. Guys are taught that pushing a girl up against a wall is romance. Sex is easy; you can do it with anyone, yourself, with batteries. Romance is when someone you like walks into a room and they take your breath away. Romance is when two people are dancing and they fit together perfectly. Romance is when two people are walking next to each other and all of a sudden they find themselves holding hands, and they don’t know how that happened.”

― John C. Moffi

There are different kinds of happiness, different breeds of comfort. I have always understood that. But while most are thin and pale, nearly unsatisfying, some rare types pull light from the sky. They bite the sun like a warm fruit. You and I, we could one day be the latter, we have a chance at that, to blaze and remake everything we’ve ever wanted better or unbroken.

Why build a narrative while we’re still moonlight? Because underneath, fire, the reflected light of what we both know we could eventually build. We could be something I had forgotten, though I’ve seen it in others, an alloy neither of us have found before but both instinctively understand is stronger than anything we’ve ever known.

I think of you often, conjuring you accidentally in small gestures, like the desire to send you links I know you would appreciate, and sometimes I dream of you, too. Pretty dreams of small things. We explore a burned out house together. There’s a mirror at the top of the stairs and you touch your finger to where my nose is reflected. Our eyes meet in amusement during a conversation with someone else. You toss your hair. We ride to cities neither one of us have been to. I mock complain about my leather pants and you tease me about my ass. I find the letter you wrote for me and hid in the Portland hotel.

I wake feeling like you miss me and wonder if you’ll call before I’m conscious enough to know you won’t.

The word root of passion is suffering. I wish it were a lesson we have not learned so well.

Occasionally I am furious at the people who hurt you. Occasionally I am furious at myself for not being able to be as shockingly transparent to you as you can be to me.

Mostly I just miss you.

Your smile, your sweet unbearable smile, and that two tequila promise we didn’t cash in. The way you tilted your head when you wanted to be seen, when you wanted to be called on your adorable mischief, secretly desperate to be caught. The way you shied away from seriousness, even as you threw yourself towards my kiss, even as you knew that you were making a small pledge every time you met my lips, I can be trusted, to match mine, this will be good. Smoke, mirrors, and then you at the center, ethics and anarchy and complicated in all the ways I love best, waiting, wanting me to find you, hoping and dear. You were such a surprise! Such a pure and wonderful surprise.

“”I will love you forever”; swears the poet. I find this easy to swear too. “I will love you at 4:15 pm next Tuesday” – Is that still as easy?”

– W.H. Auden

The beach was chilly, the stars unexpectedly sharp, the water quiet. We walked through the sand, the wind and night, sweeping it all in with a certain hesitant delight, and I was the witch Cassandra prophecying fear. We agreed that we would need patience with the same. That the hardest part would be holding onto that glimmering future flame, trusting that our fears would pass and we would be better for it. That we could do more than survive, but thrive as well, as long as we held fast and remembered that we would be okay.

Yet the simpler path was to fold. So you took it, the timing the worst it could be, because isn’t that how it always is? I can’t blame you. I believe my life prepared me for this and for you while yours did not prepare you for me. I know what your fear must be like. Feeling vulnerable sets off my fight or fight response. My terror is gigantic, a shaft cut through my heart that reaches to the center of the earth. All I can do is shake, hating it and myself for having it. You’ve seen it, the hyper-vigilance, my pupils pinpricks, how overwhelming and physical it is. (You are, in fact, the only one who has.) But not only can I weather such things, I understand that the only cure is more of the same – in vivo exposure therapy, trauma erased through positive reinforcement with care on either side. Hardship forces growth, but support fosters the blossom.

As I soaked in the the coruscating landscape of San Francisco from the top of Grizzly Ridge during one of the last days of twenty:thirteen, someone set off illegal fireworks from the side of the hill near where I sat with my friend. I thought of you and the ones you were planning and I flooded with appreciation for absolutely everything. The warmth within me was new and I knew it was yours, a gift you had incidently given me. The crackling, criminal explosions became my strength, both a reality and a metaphor, a person and a place, and I held onto your memory then and I laid it over top of my pain. I catalogued my flaws, I examined yours. Even with that dreadful math, for the first time in a very long time, the good outweighed the bad. And I knew, somehow, no matter how terrified we might become, no matter how many times we would plunge into fear and have to wait, have to heal from what came before, we would eventually be fine.

Even now, months since you ran, pulling behind you a cloak of everything you never wanted to be plus some, I still believe that to be true. You hurt me. Spectacularly. I can’t deny that. But that’s short term. Days are long, but years are short.

I remember the glimmer, I still acknowledge the flame.

So you. Writer, anarchist, lover of art, programmer to the people, equal, dreamer, every-man, king. You are still welcome in the shelter of my heart. And I want you to know you can always come back.

The door is always open, I will always be your friend.

the anatomy of the box under my bed

Still Life at Dusk
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

It happens surprisingly fast,
the way your shadow leaves you.
All day you’ve been linked by
the light, but now that darkness
gathers the world in a great black tide,
your shadow leaves you to join
the sea of all other shadows.
If you stand here long enough,
you, too, will forget your lines
and merge with the tall grass and
old trees, with the crows and the
flooding river—all these pieces
of the world that daylight has broken
into objects of singular loneliness.
It happens surprisingly fast, the loss
of your shadow, and standing
in the field, you become the field,
and standing in the night, you
are gathered by night. Invisible
birds sing to the memory of light
but then even those separate songs fade
into the one big silence that always
seems to be waiting.

  • Your Weekend Reading: The 2012 Hugo Short Story Nominees.
  • The Mixtape Lost at Antikythera, by Rob Beschizza.
  • 50 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Works Every Socialist Should Read as listed by China Mieville.

    Once upon a time, before the invention of touch but long after writing, there was a voice on the wind that spoke to a boy and the voice sounded like the petals of a rose unfolding. “I offer you a wish”, said the voice. “What is the price?” asked the boy. The voice came closer, with a rustle like red feathers. “You must remember that I am real, even when it will make you unhappy.” The boy stood and thought, his face as serious as his face could be, then said, “That is a fair price. I will accept your wish.” And then there was a flash and he flew away.

    I have now filled an entire recycling bin with discarded photographs. Close to an entire ten year history, destined for shredding. I have been scanning them, envelope by envelope, and throwing out the negatives, taking an entire day to do it, digitizing my past in the name of a better future. (Lung visited yesterday, looked through some of them, said, “Fuck, you need better memories.”) It is interesting how it still feels a tiny bit taboo, even as I find myself enjoying the act of throwing them away. Two piles: one for recycling, the other to be burned.

    Meanwhile, I wonder if I should be better documenting this apartment, this nest that David and I have built together. Taking pictures of what we’ve done with the walls, how we’ve arranged our furniture, decorated the windowsills with plants. The place is changing, the illusion of permanence dissolving as my things leave, either given away or sold. I wonder how I will look back on this apartment, at our time together. Will I miss it? Or do I feel it’s more a duty to take note of my existence, archive it, surroundings included?

    Going through old photos has only reinforced the notion, as I’ve been discovering that I don’t have any photographs of the many, many places I’ve lived, like my teenage bedroom, wallpapered in art posters and poetry, or the room I painted over by Victoria Drive to look like a sunset, stars made from pie tins thumb-tacked to the ceiling, with the tree in the corner that I hauled in from a wind storm and hollowed and carved into a shelf. Rare, even, to find pictures set in my old places, like the one of a friend who happened to be sitting on the couch in the converted storage unit I lived in with my first love in Toronto. Not that it shows nothing of any relevance, only a guy playing video games, homeless as his own apartment was being sprayed for roaches. You can’t see the absurd scope of the place, the huge roll-up door that sounded like thunder anytime anyone went in or out, or the hobbit-sized floor above, accessible only by a rough wooden ladder, which was our “room”, our bed under green hand-prints which probably only now exist as echoes in my mind. The list goes on – the cavernous ex-bank with the working vault that Grady found in the downtown east side, the terrible basement on the north shore with the deviant landlord, the house on 53rd with the gold and black velvet wall where that old guy tried to kidnap me – all of them worthy of being preserved, if only so I remember that once upon a time I lived there. It’s like I abandoned my history, as if because my life wasn’t happy, none of it was worth keeping. It seems negligent, as if I should have been preserving these places as I went, offering evidence that we existed there, that our lives once gave these buildings meaning.

  • I am lost

    Each Sound
    by Dorianne Laux

    Beginnings are brutal, like this accident
    of stars colliding, mute explosions
    of colorful gases, the mist and dust
    that would become our bodies
    hurling through black holes, rising,
    muck ridden, from pits of tar and clay.
    Back then it was easy to have teeth,
    claw our ways into the trees — it was
    accepted, the monkeys loved us, sat
    on their red asses clapping and laughing.
    We’ve forgotten the luxury of dumbness,
    how once we crouched naked on an outcrop
    of rock, the moon huge and untouched
    above us, speechless. Now we talk
    about everything, incessantly,
    our moans and grunts turned on a spit
    into warm vowels and elegant consonants.
    We say plethora, demitasse, ozone and love.
    We think we know what each sound means.
    There are times when something so joyous
    or so horrible happens our only response
    is an intake of breath, and then
    we’re back at the truth of it,
    that ball of life expanding
    and exploding on impact, our heads,
    our chest, filled with that first
    unspeakable light.


    There was a kiss that tasted like reëntry, the sky hitting the brakes with a roar, that blazing, intimate acceptance of a spacecraft into atmosphere, every unlikely angle, one head tilting to another, a scorched, soft light jet-stream wish to return home. History made and slammed back like a shotgun round. A promise on the wing, the ground salted, memories buried. The cast lines up, takes a bow, walks off stage, and leaves their shadows behind as the curtain falls, and it tasted like hello as well as goodbye. My apartment is choked with memories, my neighborhood is a cemetery, same as the highway south, much like my life.

    He asked for my writing once, to permanently tattoo, something short, beautiful, meaningful. “Between our hands, we could have made fire”. To the death, he said, to the guttering of the sun. (The next one, he gave me nothing I have not been able to give back.) In the archives, our shared love, deliberate and valiant, a blazing comet made of fiercely bared skin, and the small delicate jewelry we wore in our ears, drops of garnet dipped in silver, lost but unforgotten. I send him a message just after midnight, from a number he doesn’t know: I am still wearing your name at the base of my breath.

    “Possibly mislaid in some provincial station.”

    On the middle finger of my right hand is a small lump, a callous right up by the first knuckle that used to be known as a writer’s bump, prominent and round, worn into my flesh by countless pens, yet, oddly, I have discovered that my hand is no longer familiar with writing.

    The crux of this discovery lay in a love letter I wrote last night, (bittersweet black ink on treasured boutique paper, short yet hopefully sweet), when I found it curious how naturally I remembered my cursive, (how deplorable my style has become!), and my kerning, even as I marveled at how very long it took to manually scribe all the words. I have become more accustomed to tapping at keyboards, whipping down thoughts at 75 words per minute, and the gentle, profound flexibility of word processors that allow me to shift chunks of text up and down a page, than the slow, steady pace of scribbling with ink, although it used to be the activity I did most in a day. Still, I appreciated the process, even as I railed against the pace. It is comforting to fashion an object, to have made something more tangible than my usual twist of digital light.

    I have, myself, a small untidy box of such things, collected from friends, ex-lovers, and one amazing, mysterious stranger, that I can never quite bring myself to throw away, no matter how irrelevant their messages have become. They are charmed things, each page representing a strangely intimate glimpse into a slice of past life, time that I would otherwise forget captured as solid state memory spun from stationery, as telling as the rings of the dead trees that made the paper pulp. Riffling through them exposes layers upon layers of emotional archeology, the rise and fall of small relationship empires, describing arcs of meaning all the way from the brief glory before an emotional disaster to someone’s gleaming desire inexpertly pinned to prose like a shoddy taxidermy specimen mounted on sagging cardboard, all broken clauses and imprisoned nouns trapped in a dirty laundry of terrible poetry and too many verbs.

    So even if the practice feels antique, even as my hand cramps at the now unfamiliar act of proper writing, even as it consumes resources probably better left for others, I will defend the act forever. Love letters, even as a mad, sometimes callow contrivance of adulation, hypocorism, and art, are how I shall keep my heart.

    A month later and I haven’t yet learned how not to cry myself to sleep.

  • An interview with Richard Pell, Director of the Center for PostNatural History.
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    It is terrible how I ache to lean into him. Terrible, giant and baroque, this need, covering ground with great footsteps, to reach forward and touch his hair, leagues, miles, to press against him and taste his naked fingertips, every one, unmistakable, each drop of memory an ocean to drown in. The last time I wore this dress was New Year’s Eve, when our pinstripes matched and I took out his cuff-links to put in my own. We kissed, then, at midnight, caught in each other’s laps under confetti and flashing strobes, surrounded by strangers and glitter and chaos, and then, quietly, with a sincerity that shocked to my center, he met my eyes and said a toast to us, perfect, heart-felt. I wanted to stop time to stay in that moment. I felt like I would be transformed forever, a happier person from then until death. The champagne was bitter, the entertainment spotty, and I limped back to his place half ruined, my twisted ankle a broken thing, but what stayed with me was that moment, that untouchable, pristine moment that filled me with stunned silence, that poured through me with light.

    It is terrible that I am wearing this dress. Terrible, obvious and provocative, this dress, covering nothing, a candid sheath of longing to be undressed by him, shouting from rooftops, through megaphones, to feel his hands cradle my hips like a cup, so loud is my desire, this catalogue of cravings, deafening, vulnerable, terrified. The first time we were at this restaurant we asked if it was a date. We decided, then, that it wasn’t, even in the face of all evidence, yet grinned, conspiring, maybe lying, while offering our histories, shyly admitting our shames, building a shelter together, every beam of the structure a story, a narrative link. This will be love, I thought to myself, surprised, this will be love like I’ve forgotten how. I wanted to go back in time to hurry this moment. I felt like I was braving a dragon’s lair, safe with the knowledge of the hole above its heart. I had been isolated, a furtive species too rare to breed, spectacularly ill equipped for such good luck, but what stayed with me was the trust, that pure, mysterious conviction, that maybe for the first time, everything would be alright.

  • as I worship the interpretation

    received as a letter, authorship witheld:

    Once upon a perfect moment, stretched & bent & folded
    in half & sewn end-to-end, when the stars were in faultless
    accord & the world turned with dignity & solemn grace,
    when even cruelty was polite, even cynicism holy, a girl
    with flowers in her hair & a song on her lips drilled a
    hole through her liily white palm & stared out through it
    at all the ugliness that lay beyond.


    She turned away, as all things turned, with effortless
    elegance, her skirts sweeping through rose petals &
    crisp autumn leaves, blood dripping from her fingers
    like the final notes of Libera Me, & in her wake the
    shocked silence was worn away be birdsong & the
    thoughtful murmur of the trees.


    She turns again, later, with long-practiced unpracticed
    grace, not away but in a wide, slow circle, arm
    out-stretched to display the hole, larger in its setting
    of pearl white scar, partially obscured by delicate
    metacarpals. The gathered crowd stares in fascinated
    horror, & when she bows the applause is exuberant.

    She does not do an encore. There is no second act.

    introduce yourself

    Watch this, please.

    These are three of the more anonymous messages I recieved through Valintinr:

  • i wish you loved me as much as you love him

  • you want to flee into the ocean? curl up there, lungs filling up while you wait to be rescued but you didn’t tell anyone where you were going. shine our light we do, all of us in the sky by the millions, each too-soft song of praise too small to measure alone. a chorus, then, tiny whispers in the deep. our frozen princess, bathed in love, rise when you will and walk. we long to shine on you and pave your path with petals. hear us and claim your throne.

  • The old mask was grown unfamiliar, but already the joins are harder to see. With teeth sharper than memory I have been chewing on the sweet sinews of your heart, keeping fragments safe, saving shrapnel.
    and somewhere, amongst warm socks and soap, lie the eyes that saw and the lips that tasted.

    I have been thinking of you.

  • I admit I post these with a slight hesitation, but I claim my grace from their beautiful and fragile anonymity. In this strange age, secrets are a new kind of social politics. Who to filter, who to write to, what you can say, what you can see – the lines between are easily blurred, writing without a name is a liberation. One step away, but not too far.

    They, very obviously, remind me of the letters I was recieving last spring. Mysterious things, slick with meaning, that I felt I should be able to swallow and, in consuming, unflinchingly grasp the author by the name. I still do not know who wrote them, but part of me hopes that they are the writer of one of the above quotations. There is still a familiarity, a cessation of breath that says to me that we were not strangers.

    There were people who were worried for me, nervous of the idea of a “stalker”, a man who knew not only my name, but where I lived and the blood of my mythology, as if I had been studied, tracked, and dangerously hunted. One person asked me to call the police if they ever turned threatening, but it was a sentiment I could understand but never respect. All of the sudden, a stranger is dangerous? Whatever happened to clever innocence? I was not long-suffering, it was a sharp loss when they ended. My mail-box, empty, felt like an accusation. I still feel the failing was mine for not identifying my admirer, for lacking the depth required to slueth my fascinating writer, my sweet daydream.

    These notes, wrapped softly in the digital realm, are both easier and more difficult. I cannot hold them in my hand and try to analyze the writing script, instead I must rely on the idosyncrasies, the clues and choice of words exclusively.

    The first, direct yet oblique, is a note that I might leave, and very much have in other times, but can’t be from anyone who knows me well. A crucial understanding of my social situation is missing. The second, enchanting though it is, doesn’t even give me that much information. All I know is they’re a long time reader, someone in tune with what I appreciate. It’s the third that’s keeping me up tonight, certain there’s enough information available for me to pluck the author from the crowd. My mind is trying to compile a list of people I have kissed and is finding it a short one. As three a.m. approaches, I’ve whittled it down to only four names.

    I hope, whoever you are, you’re happy. The soap is throwing me off.

    It’s the little things.

    edit: Ryan? there’s more (at the bottom).

  • re-sizing a ring, the pretty follies that themselves commit

    The pretty follies that themselves commit

    All o f m y words are imper fect, stripped o f grace a nd my ton gue in yo ur mouth, pale sk in bruised u nder make up, lo oking over m y shoulder when y o u say y ou want m e, scare d of inven ted promise s, fiction s aid o n ly to have me fee l better, p liable, running l ike mer cury, hot, lo cked i n the corr ect ional facility of you r arms a nd legs, t he cage o f our in stabil ity, t his madness, t h e frail colle ct call d ial tone o f sex, fu mbling with a bas ic fea r of what ou r life i s like fro m the out side o f this we ak membrane I c all a heart.

    heaven feels like teeth

    I think part of me is disintegrating. Today came another anonymous letter. Reading it, a surge of sharp sorrow welled in my chest and threatened my eyes. With the last line, I felt on the verge of a revelation, as if this time, instead of the word Love, the letter would be signed.

    Treasured Jhayne,

    Once upon a yesterday, when waves
    whispered secrets that seashells never
    tell, the man in the moon appeared behind
    you in the mirror. “I can tell you a
    story, of the girl who gave away a stone
    heart and died without it,” he said.
    “Sounds like a sad story,” you replied.
    “All stories are sad,” he said. “They all
    end, don’t they?” “What about happily-
    ever-after?” you asked. The man in the moon
    smiled and touched the reflection of your
    hair. “There’s happily, and there’s after,”
    he said, “but I am too much like the
    moon herself to promise
    anything forever.”
    Your reflection
    whispered, “Promise
    me a story then.”



    Previous letters: one & two, three, four & five & six, seven, eight.

    reminder: today, wednesday, may 25th, birthday all-you-can-eat fondue, $10, the capstone tea & fondue, (1118 Denman), 7:30 onward.

    Who are you, writer? I am divided. Your name would menace my loneliness, but shatter the mystery. Where are your stories going? Every ur-fable steps closer to me, who I am, the way I speak. My words are quoted through these like scattered rain on a lake. That last line, that last line is vividly mine. The shape of those words slots onto my tongue every time I love someone. You mention my hair in such a way that I think you have touched it, that you have spoken with me, that I have held your hand and grasped it tightly. I was beginning to be afraid there would be no more letters, that the terrifying intimacy had ended, but you sent again a letter, one so awful and personal that it scares me and I’m glad. These are magic and magic is not meant to be safe.