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Ides of March
𝔖𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔦𝔰 𝔫𝔢𝔞𝔯, 𝔰𝔴𝔢𝔢𝔱 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰
How to Survive Spring* (selections) by Sol Paz Kistler Start by reading the signs on your morning walk into work. The season is changing; it’s those first, terribly precious indications that winter is acquiescing to spring. Through the patches of frost you can see the milky, pendulous heads of the snowdrop flower, Galanthus nivalis, pushing up through the benumbed ground. The light is clear and supple, and the rain is a soft mist that lays itself gently against your face; gossamer like a bridal veil. Birds are flashing among branches, softly mewling and quivering with excitement at the return of the light. The only spring ephemerals you can see so far are the G. nivalis, but the Narcissus poeticus, with their solitary buds wrapped in dry, papery spathes will be next to open. This morning as you walk, consciously will yourself to experience a type of rebirth of your own. Convince yourself that you are just as tender and precious and resilient as the sweetness of early spring. Imagine this rebirth as though an orchestra is warming up at the center of your heart. Let all dolorousness and aching numbness drain away and flow out of you. Fill yourself up on the frost retreating and the earth yielding and breaking open. Take in gulps of petrichor like someone starving, and think of words like: ambrosial. Tell yourself that today marks the day that you will start a becoming that involves a special kind of sensitivity to the world, akin to divination. Believe that you are actually prepared for this type of attunement. *Moore, Lorrie. “How To Be an Other Woman.” Self-Help, Vintage Contemporaries, 1985, pp. 3-17. . When you walk home that night, taste this saccharine sweetness fully open up inside of you; it’s as though your lungs have expelled water, and are greedily filling up on air. Beg that it be here to stay, ––this new you. Make a list of flowers you expect to see bloom in the coming months: 1. Crocus tommasinianus 2. Eranthis hyemalis 3. Hyacinthus orientalis 4. Leucojum vernum 5. Scilla bifolia As you approach your house, notice the little blonde girl who lives next door playing in the grass. She has plastic barrettes shaped like small white daisies in her hair, and is barefoot despite the cold. Decide that in the morning you will go to a nursery to buy some flowers for your front porch. (That night, you dream you are somehow smaller than the smallest seed; floating in a baroque velvety darkness.)
Arrive just as the nursery is opening. Feel the crunch of gravel underneath your boots as you walk up and down the aisles. Fondly touch an Asplenium bulbiferum, as you walk away from the shade-loving plants section, and into the bright sunlight. The air is still cold, and most plants this early in the season are still cuttings in their pots, with only small tags staked in their soil announcing their plant potential. Look for something in bloom, even if it has been forced indoors. Stop in the row of Tulipa, where a multitude of varieties crowd the shelves like an aisle full of children’s toys. Run your fingers across the tops of some of the tightly closed perianths. Feel their cold, waxy petals, and rubbery leaves. Observe how they look so different at this stage in life, so innocently compact and clean, and nothing like their last moments: inflorescence like tongues lolling open in askance, as if they’d experienced some kind of Shakespearean betrayal. Be looking without seeing when you hear his voice. “I always liked the name of those,” he will say. “Queen of the Night.” His voice is smooth and beautiful and tenor. You will look down and realize you are touching a cultivar of Tulipa that is the color of ink. Look up, and see eyes the color of soil. It makes sense that this is how you meet. . Make plans with him that involve sitting in parks drinking rosé. Admire how graceful his mannerisms are, how he nervously moves his dark hair off his face when he talks; how he leans back, clasping his hands around his knee, as he describes himself to you as sensitive and artistic. More specifically, he will describe himself to you as: “a lesbian couple rolled into one person.” . The earth cracks open like an egg. The landscape is deliquescent and murmurous with blooms. Spot Narcissus jonquilla, with their yellow corollas like trumpets, announcing their own homecoming, or the abundance of Anemone coronaria, tumbled and crumpled like crêpe paper crinolines. Spires of Digitalis purpurea rise, oppressive at shoulder height, while chains of Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ gush bloodied sprays out of their chaste white lockets. Make note of the pale and pliant scents you stumble into like cobwebs: 1. Syringa vulgaris 2. Daphne odora 3. Heliotropium arborescens 4. Lathyrus odoratus 5. Brugmansa x cubensis ‘Charles Grimaldi” 6. Styrax japonicus 7. Gardenia jasminoides 8. Clematis terniflora 9. Convallaria majalis . One weekend, he will take you to a large, garden estate, far out of the city. The sky will be overcast. A procession of geese will fly overhead keening of their displacement. He will point out chalky Malus sylvestrus blossoms; Hamamelis vernalis branches studded with jaundiced buds, and Magnolia stellata blooms white as ash. Walking along the ponds, you will hear salamanders slipping into the safety of murky water. The freckled, glaucous and powdery, greenish-blue faces of the Hellebores orientalis wink at you from beneath the shade. White lanterns of the native Trillium grandiflorum, with their chthonic lure, beckon for you to walk off path, and deeper into the woods. He will show you what a Paulownia tomentosa looks like in bloom; its flowers like a vigil of purple flames, and you will wonder how you have never noticed them before. . Watch his exquisite profile in the firelight as he pulls out his phone and looks down at a list, —another list. As he turns to you, notice the purple wine stains on his teeth, the way his lips curl upwards; the way his eyes have lost their balance. “I added your name to my list,” he says, as he flashes the screen of his phone at you. It’s a list, ––his list, of all the women he’s ever slept with. Heed the blood surging in your neck. Tremble. Fall silent. Sickly, he goes to slide his phone back into his pocket, but in his clumsiness, he misses his pocket completely. Without noticing, he goes back to staring into the fire. Strain your eyes. There it is, his list lying open, illuminated beside his pocket. And there they are: each name numbered one through twenty-three on his list, and most labeled with a small descriptor beside their name, such as: “Fez / Ferret.” “Skinny, mean girl.” “Hippie / Mollescum.” “Not as skinny and cute as hoped.” “Dated while dating Hattie.” “Skinny awkward cellist.” “Pierced.” “Daughter / great laugh.” “Soul night / French living parents.” Spot your name next to the number twenty-three at the bottom of the list. Your name is misspelled, and just as you strain your eyes to read the descriptor next to your misspelled name, his screen goes dark. Gaze back with him into the flames. . Get dressed and walk out, forever. Walk home. Notice how the Tulipa have all wilted and retreated back down to the soil. In their place, the ghostly heads of Iris sibirica rise up; their petals are badly battered and bruised from the afternoon rains. They are spilled over one another, and regard you from the mud with their blackened eyes. Think of how many daughters have been named Iris.
Mass Shooting at The Duck Park by Oba Olaniyi The birds are harassing me. I just want to eat my cheese-its and watch the water but someone— lots of someones — taught them that what’s in the bag will soon be theirs. Now, they’re looking at me with intent. They keep moving closer. I know what they want, but the internet said I’m not supposed to give it to them. It’s gonna sit in their stomachs and soak up water and take up space and when it’s time for goji berries and kale and Vitamins A thru K there won’t be any room left. The cheese-its are doing the very same to me. I finish the bag. I might be brave for taking this caloric bullet on behalf of these already very large waterfowl. I don’t think birds should be this big. At home, if they were people, we would blame this on the hormones in the milk. A woman with a large bag draws their attention. She feeds them, and not only do I know what and who to blame this on— I’m safe now. I’ve left myself with only crumbs. I watch the birds and entertain the idea that I could, through the power of proximity and pointed eye contact, bully this woman away from her kettle corn. The internet must not mean as much to her. She watches the feeding frenzy and it amuses her in a way that makes me look at the size of her smile and the size of her bag and wonder, if not for the flock, if she’d be able to finish it all. If not, then my real question— if she’d have someone to finish it with her. I look to the clouds as a palate cleanser. These clouds, desert clouds, lack the thing that makes clouds. This sky doesn’t hold anything that might inspire religion, not a bearded old man, not a tortoise. At best, the spirit of southern Californian clouds is Midwestern. Instead of Grecian facial hair, you see the guy from your high school that now works the cash register at Casey’s, and his twenty upper lip and chin hairs being milked for all they’re worth. Back to earth. The water is black. I don’t think it started that way. The city blew their wad on scary big ducks so the upkeep budget on this pond is zilch. Rather than blue tile or aquatic plants, seven inches of bird shit decorate the floor. Kettle corn, brioche and honey mustard pretzels atrophy from salty-sweet-and-buttery to acid-acrid-and-tarry-black. Where shit isn’t, algae is, feeding off the worst iteration of formerly noble grains and trans fats. I imagine the water deeper than it must be and imagine myself in it. I tread water to avoid what are now fathoms upon fathoms of shit and algae. She says hello to me. This is easy. The clouds seem farther along in their puberty. She just wants a picture with the ducks. I oblige and it turns out I can talk. I speak so well I find myself in a little Colombian restaurant, drinking limonada de coco and smiling when she suggests that this drink was made to have a little or a lot of rum in it because I thought the very same thing the first time I had it. Our thoughts continue running tandem, up a mountain into the air and then back down in unison, landing on a mattress I raised off the floor just because I knew she would come eventually. It’s time to put the tip in but I look at her and I’m worried one of us is going to sneeze. “AhChoo!” It’s her! Not me. It’s hard to play Mr. and Mrs. Jones with sputum on your face, isn’t it? A birds-eye-view of my half-hard dick provides a neutral response, so I finish toweling off and go back to her. When we’re fucking I’m just thinking about what this would look like under blacklight. I don’t know if I’m the night sky or tiger stripes. She might have more in the chamber. This time she could hack up pieces of lung and that could look like anything. Before I come, those big fucking ducks return, and they stand around the bed like extras on a thoroughly unethical porn set. She asks me how much longer I’ll be and it’s a hard one to call. The birds are harassing me. Hopefully I can come first. Back to earth.
Oba Olaniyi is a writer, artist, comedian, and the only multiracial person to ever set foot in Iowa. @o.laniyi (instagram) / @mixedracepapi (twitter)
Untitled by Laure McFather green light on tenth struck me with a paleness i noticed just then, forever the same paleness of your eyes looking at the cold sea, i’m sure, and i wonder if i’ll ever get to verify the sight (smell the salt on your skin, on the ipomoeas). curl up in our bed of kelp and float away, become water inside, live on shark eggs, raise each other up like new something is always turning away from something else. are you turning away from me now? let me strike myself! let me strike fear of god in myself before you turn away. you’ve already turned away in the time it took to beg. you’ve already turned away from the pathetic fawn that struck itself dead, another one in the headlights. the headlights turn away. the ipomoeas turn away. night resumes. a thin man comes into sight, on a bicycle, moving too slowly to keep on but he continues, steadied by a large bag of empty bottles strung across his back. he won’t notice me and i know i must follow him. my fear of the future is abated. for years i follow him through city streets sewers dungeons, rows of shotguns. i take a lover and i leave the lover in the dirty streets i tie twenty sheets together and lasso the man on the bike i tie wheels to my shoes my body is beaten down. the man cuts the sheet from himself i take off my shoes keep running and my feet are shredded. the earth erodes –– from heaven escapes something flaxen feverish holy. so the thin man falls off the bicycle and the bottles fly out of the bag and i am here, i am here in the middle of the sea in the middle of the endless aureate field, about to burst and the man turns toward me and i am fatally struck by a green paleness forever
Clams by Jess Rush rain threatens the boardwalk where we sit underdressed across a table rather than a country trying to keep our cold a secret you order one basket to share dig your fingers into the pile of shells with a force meant for a quite different search pick one popped a quarter way open by steam crack and sea spills out then you grip the sticky life rip the body at its turgid root I’ve never done the dirty work you gesture so I mimic—a learned exchange of uses— peel back with ginger fingers the flesh-clear casing as one might a sword sheath rubber bodies laid tender together parting you dunk your body in butter drag it across the plastic edge to rid the excess swing it reckless to open mouth yellow-white rolling down wrist liquid of a lover I could write it different less: a plate of food but you laugh watch me eat butter on my fingers and salt on my tongue splatter on my face when a body breaks wrong and I give you the last shell because I am full because you hunger and I ache because I came today for you but also like always for something whole and soft to write about the pink veined belly of a clam awash and sogging in its own filth
Jess is a poet & portraitist who dreams of splitting her time between Manhattan and Moustiers Sainte-Marie. @jessrushmusic & @jess.poesie (instagram)
A M. Diop, más querida #3 by S. David Dear Mati— Somewhat embarrassingly, I have always aspired to the screen. Prior to my coming of age and my political education, though, I don't think I saw cinema as any kind of social institution. I think I saw the filmmaking process in almost opposite terms, actually: as the act of revealing one's “story” or inner conflict to oneself and to one's audience, authorially. Which is not to say that this revealing can't, in its own way, be radical or generative or literary. But it precludes what makes filmmaking, in so many ways, unique among the arts: it is a moving image of history. It's not that I had never considered that telling stories could do something other than affirm things for what they are; I think I simply subscribed to a lazy kind of social “realism,” one only made real by soft cynicism and a dearth of experience. To put it simply, I was a boring formalist, and a misinformed one at that. I felt entirely justified in leaving screen theory to the self-styled X-perts, while taking no interest in the higher function of mise-en-scène or language. I don't think I really embraced cinema's potential in THE ABOVE—its most historical property—but simply saw it as a means of creating an extension of myself, another mirrored installation, a “legacy marker.” I have stupid memories. You would know something about this, as you grew up on film, and likewise on film. And so your scripts—like Snow Canon—circuit around character and intimacy, but without the simplistic rhetoric of chance. They dwell on desire—a prime mover of history—without pitching a broad humanist tent. They likewise do not feel like glib narrow-casts. You consider every shot, but every shot is not beyond consideration for the participant. When I write to you, it feels like hagiography, but trust that you’re the only artist who could end up on a Barack O list whom I could even think to call an influence. Regardless, it goes without saying that, as a young adult, I couldn't conceive of a capital-M “Marxist cinema,” because I wasn't an X-pert. This is partly because there is no X-pertise—only struggle and positive tension. There is no individual, and yet I still love Network. Previously I saw things in a more unilateral way—as a film revealing its mysteries to viewers—instead of the viewer being a participant in a filmic process to which they inevitably bring their own subjectivities. Films are primarily concerned with language, but language is never at the center of a film's meaning. It's possible that miscommunication is at the heart of cinema's endeavor. I hope you find this letter in the same spirit. Love, S. D.
S. David is a writer and amateur artist who only half-hails from the US capital metro area. @boyhominid (twitter)
truthtruthtruthtruthTRUTH!!!!!! by Vera Kurnev I cry every day It’s beautiful, like a prayer It’s true that nobody understands me It’s true How did you know I listen to Beach House From eyes that must be someone’s ashtray I hate those stupid cartoon anthropomorphs Well that’s like, your opinion I don’t speak in your cryptic signals Where one that really this means don’t with and Whichreallymeansyou’rerightWhichreallymeansIamwrongWhichreallymeans You must forgive my crudeness I LOVE THE TRUTH! HA HA HA HA HA I guess some people don’t want to hear their faults hoarsely indexed at 4 am the naked truth is more like pornographic I think they don’t know criticism is real love I think I’ll yell anyway I already knew no one was listening So that when I wake up execrated I know I wrote my poem Yeah, I’m sick and its Freudian Hysteria Unsinn mit hübschen Mund “You don’t know what it’s like to be me” No kidding… –– and “We made it” to a tin of Ossetian I need a vacation from this vacation And I don’t have anywhere to stick your reason These words mean nothing to me Just show me the stupid beaming I can believe most anything Baby wir sind so presskit I want to hold you At arm’s length Me and you like everybody –– Hearing only what we can Everyone Here Wants a pill to swallow But I’m chinese herbs, bitch
By Sol Paz Kistler