The ether wave swept through and swept away
intangible imaginings: shimmers from the overworld,
refractions risen from the subterrain,
and the sephine webs connecting them.
When the wave had passed, the town of Fênix
was no longer cloaked in mystery and fantasy,
only naked objectivity remained,
a brutal realism that no-one could withstand.
Inconstant light will update fortnightly from today. This has little to do with Mars. It is a consequence of irreversible thermodynamics, evolution beyond the axolotl, and causation.
With strong and weak nuclear forces,
you might try to bind every atom of your being,
to neither dissipate nor propagate. To build a bulwark
against living’s effervescence, you might try.
The Fontana di Trevi is waiting for
the shower of your desires,
and if you really mean it,
your dreams will coalesce.
But do you know your mind? Once I did,
and now the rain is ever falling, threading
through my hollow bones, searching for its sea.
A childhood reconfigured, a child who could never be,
with cardboard carts of stones and stamps,
bundled with a string, with wooden wired
contrivances hidden from the world,
and yet the others whispered in his ears.
They told him of a place where wild basalt seas
crashed down upon the shattered mirror beaches,
and sleepless carriages fled the stations of existence.
It snowed along the night, piled up
to just beneath the window sills,
mostly printouts, black and white,
so we shaped an outdoor dining set
of ink and paper, and took our morning coffee
on the balcony.
Orchilla dearest, you fill my thoughts
with wasted words
that I will not share with you.
And yet for lunch, as a special surprise,
I shall prepare spaghetti macramé al dente.
Crossroads on the valley floor, a sign,
a part-time river colored laundry blue,
and by the water in a town, the air is scented
with hot absence, molecules in chaos
ignoring windward motion.
The parkland’s plaque is dull, I make it shine,
reflect the woken world with Brasso,
and polish out its words:
You wonder why you’re still asleep.
Your other wonders why he’s still awake.
If none of (a) to (f) apply, please explain your reasons in writing in the space labelled “Other.” Inmates are not permitted additional pages.
[A selection of “Other” responses follows. Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity. Comments scratched into the wall and/or with rows of indecipherable symbols were excluded.]
“Anonímia de Tal”
I measured my expectancies—
mantras, books, and pills in quantized repetition,
overtime and undertime spent flickering from pillow to post,
leaping with the pendulous clock,
though in a temporary lapse,
I once considered skin mites, so fearsome microscopically,
and the sparrows pecking hair lying fallen at my feet.
While I was washing roses by the gate
with a dash of liquid Omo on a toothbrush,
fish-heads came to mind,
and I began a metaphysical meander
with just the two of us: my neighbor’s cat and I.
Two chords for self-taught breathing,
causality’s unwound tidal oscillations,
nor birds nor raindrops nor Pangaea:
everyone is waiting for a doorway in the wind,
feather-dusting the furniture for departure.
Now there are two version of Proteus, the Jurassic prototype human. Proteus, the original, made of liquids, solids, and a not insignificant amount of gas, and the ionized and luminous Proteus II, created by Proteus when he said his own name. Proteus speaks with glowing lights, and conversely, the plasmoid Proteus II speaks with sounds that condense solids. Archie, the talking archaeopteryx pointed this out, but neither version of Proteus grasped its significance. Part one is here.
Don’t you see, you prehistoric buffoons?
If Proteus II recites the name “Evita,”
she’ll coalesce in flesh and fluid form.
Proteus, the Jurassic prototype human, speaks with luminous shapes, not sounds. The shapes melded to form two plasma creatures, Evita and Adamstown, who ran away together. His companion Archie, an ancient bird who now has the power of speech, knows how Proteus can be reunited with his beloved Evita. Part one is here.
There’s a way for you to join Evita,
who’s shockingly electric,
and would stop your heart
at the slightest touch.
The radiative Evita ran off with Adamstown, and Proteus plans to knit himself a striped woolen outfit to win her back. Proteus speaks with lights (which coalesced to form both Evita and Adamstown) and, starting at the beginning of the manufacturing process, he said the word “sheep” over and over before falling asleep. Of limited relevance, when he said “lightbulb,” his companion Archie swallowed the resultant glowing shape.
Proteus was awoken by nocturnal rustles, roars, and yawns,
but not a single bleat.
We must return to the ironsand beach,
he advised his mute and mildly feathered companion,
that is where the creatures shape themselves.*
Proteus, the prototype human, speaks with glowing shapes, not sounds. His words created the charming and luminous plasmoid Evita, and unexpectedly, her companion, Adamstown. Now they’ve eloped, and only Proteus and his silent companion, Archie, are left. Archie is an archaeopteryx who enables soliloquies. The scene is the usual Jurassic jungle.
By my words alone, I will generate
the necessities of modern life.
Behold, when I say “lightbulb,”
a lightbulb appears.
Proteus, the prototype human, was speaking with the radiant Evita when Archie, the archaeopteryx, traced out a semaphoric flight path as a warning. Lulled by the night-lit lumens of his own voice, Proteus ignored the ancient bird and continued with his exposition of the integers.
When solar rays were manifest,
Proteus had an inkling that his feeble wisdom
did not limit the world, and recognized
the twin subversions of his dreams,
ignorance and arrogance,
but the revelation came too late.
Proteus, the Jurassic beta-release human, has met a luminous creature on a headland overlooking the world’s ocean. The being understands his speech, which is glowing shapes rather than sounds. Part One is here.
The stranger introduced herself to Proteus.
I’ve named myself Evita,
and you’re the conduit of my creation.
Not your ribs, but your intangible phrases
that weave the darkness
with their phosphorescent trails.
Between the near and far,
they reconnected, coalesced,
and here I am.
The wind drops violins, my ducks are misaligned,
and the day that you created is winding up
and winding down.
I’ve spread the margarine of time
across the bread and crossed it out.
I need no answers, Alícia,
to questions no-one asked.
Cakely words by Sara Lee
are baking in the oven
and I don’t know who’s to blame.
Before the new days, ancient currawongs
hammering bells awoke me.
The new birds want my moto perpetuo,
my clockwork drive to nonexistence,
to eternal giving up before beginning.
I was seated at a table in bibliographic
co-ordinates, aligning ping-pong balls
in rows, to start and finish with the first.
The kraken goes shopping
I was on my way from leaving to arriving,
idling in a less-than-patient traffic queue,
when an unexpected monk
came tapping at my window.
He offered to paint my windscreen
for an altruistic price, and while he worked,
he shared the tragic story of his life.
On days when stormy ink is in the air
and the atmosphere is virtual,
precautions must be taken.
If the downpour seeks the sea
by way of dimpled rivers,
an umbrella or a rowboat will be fine.
Microscopic particles of time
rain upon our lives.
Paper promises grow brittle,
mapped forgiveness folds, unfolds,
frays and tears along the creases.
Our memories refract through prisms
until the brightest day is lost
in anesthetic runes.
I heard a motor revving in the carport,
and from my gate,
I watched my Kia Starfish drive away,
with the spindly legged carport
I sleep beneath the tire marks
on roads of eggshell bones,
carried by the bubble birds
in their serrated beaks from caves
where rainy pebbles fall,
clattering on my roof, taking fluid forms.
I was painting my house with Dulux
when a whirlpool wind came calling.
It was fleeing from the west,
from particulate mirages and miracles of water.
At the Café Économique,
they serve one class of patron,
one strength of resteamed coffee grounds,
a minor bird is hopping on a plastic olive branch
and a mangy city cat is watching.
I’m seated at a likeness of a table
reading faded scrawls on a communal
on an evening in the soft infinity.
The sheeting rain outside
is a comfort and a warning
while I solder in a copper tangle:
connections from the future to the past,
with an insulating bypass round the present.
In the stormy world outdoors,
bright cascades of lightning challenge
my pretense, until a sudden surge and roar
redacts the copper to smoke and honey,
and a circuit breaker trips.
To find employment and the truth
I read the classifieds in tea leaves—
symbol seeking an equation
clothesline seeking washing
objectified stranger seeking life
I’ll try again tomorrow,
investigate the websites in the clouds,
where my skill
at staring into light and dark
might be less superfluous.
An arid future in a waterless world,
where all our understanding wavers
on a bridge to whiteness.
We are replicants in the land
of nothing new, and the westerlies,
hot and dry, are blowing away the children.
As they fall, we fall.
Through the window, washes
on a watercolor planet,
rainy autumn shades in spring, and
in the early evening, scattered photon showers
are forecast, a luminous return of light
from the shadow sun.
Indoors there are smaller mysteries,
trailing motes in negative space—
leaving lamps and bulbs,
domesticities and peripherals,
drawn out between the curtains
to the shadow sun.
I’ve breathed the air chirped by sparrows,
critically appraised everything
I didn’t understand,
searched for magica potenta
in urban mysteries, shaded quantum clouds,
on bedroom ceilings, and found echidna quills,
kookaburra beaks, sobriety, all the words
I didn’t want to write.
Three knocks at the door-to-door,
I said I don’t want any, thank you,
not knowing what I didn’t desire.
You humans are all alike, no time no time,
no time is beautiful, before birth and after life.
My pancakes are shallow thoughts
stacked in the kitchen,
she adds a little honey.
I’m late for work at the hardware store,
mostly robots looking for spare parts.
They’re not like her.
Here are 5 reasons to make your writing incomprehensible—
- impenetrable words allow the reader to focus on the prosody
- mystification creates enigmas, unresolved mystery
- if the meaning is obscured the reader can invent their own
- writing that doesn’t make sense is more likely to be original, less likely to feel familiar
- life makes very little sense—to me at least—so why should writing?
Proteus, the Jurassic prototype person, created Proteus II, a luminous version of himself, by reciting his own name. Following the advice of Archie, the archaeopteryx, flesh-and-blood Evita was created when Proteus II recited her name. After an interlude in which questions of Jurassic fashion were resolved, Proteus II claimed that he’d created Proteus in the same way, that he came first, à la chicken and egg, and the Proteus brothers took to arguing. Part one is here
Evita found a sapling
and whipped them both
around their heads.
Proteus, the prototype human, lived in Gondwanaland with selected Jurassic creatures. Instead of audible words, glowing shapes emanated from his mouth whenever he tried to talk. Part one is here.
If I could only speak,
engage in conversation
with anyone at all,
I’d be sage and silent.
Archie, the archaeopteryx
that Proteus addressed,
ignored the paper lantern lights
floating from his mouth.