Found a gun in the woods, empty

Found a gun in the woods, empty

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Found a gun in the woods, empty
Purificato, Daniel
Place of Publication:
[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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Dissertations, Academic -- English -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: This is an original work of poetry. There are many forms used in this collection. There are found and cento poems, as well as free verse forms in this collection. Some of the poems are narrative, while others use a dissociative mode. This work represents an extension of postmodernists, like Barth and Pynchon. It also represents an extension of surrealists like Lamantia and Ashbery.
Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
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System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
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Title from PDF of title page.
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Document formatted into pages; contains 58 pages.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Daniel Purificato.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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002064182 ( ALEPH )
567643264 ( OCLC )
E14-SFE0003092 ( USFLDC DOI )
e14.3092 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Found a gun in the woods, empty
h [electronic resource] /
by Daniel Purificato.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 58 pages.
Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
3 520
ABSTRACT: This is an original work of poetry. There are many forms used in this collection. There are found and cento poems, as well as free verse forms in this collection. Some of the poems are narrative, while others use a dissociative mode. This work represents an extension of postmodernists, like Barth and Pynchon. It also represents an extension of surrealists like Lamantia and Ashbery.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Jay Hopler, Ph.D.
Dissertations, Academic
x English
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Found A Gun In The Woods, Empty by Daniel Purificato A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Jay Hopler, Ph.D. Rita Ciresi, M.F.A. Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D. Date of Approval: June 2, 2003 Keywords: poetry, found, cento, dissociative, ecstatic Copyright 2009, Daniel Purificato


i Table of Contents Abstract iv Introduction 1 Found a Gun in the Woods, Empty 7 VA Poetry Workshop 8 Daybreak, We Drink Y ou at Nightfall 9 Disguise 10 In Home Nurse: Abide in the Vine 11 I Am Not So Any Longer 12 Shadows of Scandal Balloon in Opaque Disaster 13 Junky 14 These Lions Are My Own Seething Sons 15 An Angel Stopped 16 Dead Reckoning 17 Nostalgia 18 Skysong 19 Some Slight Gift of Observati on and That Sense, So Rich 20 Narcissus in Bloom 21 An Almond Tree Flower 22 They Map the Brain Activity of Liars 23 The Visitor 24


ii I'm Getting on the News Tonight 25 Sterling Reemer 26 Written on the Back of a Postcard of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge 27 Detective Pinchbeck 28 Bought Your Memoir 29 Watershed 30 Saw Palm Submissions 31 Williams Parody 32 Larkin Imitation 33 Click 34 Abandoned 35 Important Caveats of Interstellar Ultraviolet Galactic-type Extinction 36 Puppet 1 37 Puppet 2 38 Puppet 3 39 Puppet 4 40 Follow the Rules and You'll Be OK 41 Flying is a Compromise 42 Editing 43 Your Muted Voice is Merely Gone 44 Bury My Senses 45 Sylphs 46 Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree 47


iii What a Mess for the Boys to Clean Up 48 Alpenglow 1 49 Alpenglow 2 50 Alpenglow 3 51 A Soulful Call 52 Fortune 54 Something in the Field 58


iv Found a Gun in the Woods, Empty Daniel Purificato ABSTRACT This is an original work of poetry. Th ere are many forms used in this collection. There are found and cento poems, as well as free verse forms in this collection. Some of the poems are narrative, while others use a dissociative mode. This work represents an extension of postmodernists, like Barth and Pync hon. It also represen ts an extension of surrealists like Lamantia and Ashbery.


1 Introduction Found a Gun in the Woods, Empty is an extension of the work of postmodernists, like Barth and Pynchon, and surrealists like Lamantia and Ashbery. Postmodernism can be defined as a style and idea in the arts characterized by distrust of theories and ideologies and by the drawing of attenti on to conventions. For me, poetry involves a radical reassessment of modern assumptions about culture, identity, history, and language. The postmodernist influence in my work seeks to challenge the “poetry of continuity,” as well as to separate itself from a c ontinuum of art, often through absurdity. In this way, some of my poems tend toward a dissociative mode. A dissociative mode recognizes certain inad equacies in narrative forms that can restrict, as Lamantia would refer to it, “the Ecstatic.” The ecstat ic, in the context of poetry, can be defined as an aesthetic sought through instinct ual rather than analytical factors. Because it is necessarily unfiltered, a dissociative mode can often seem hermetic. This sealed quality of a di ssociative mode can appear to be emotionally removed, as Tony Hoagland's essay Fear of Narrative and the Skit tery Poem of Our Moment points out, however the deeply personal nature of creating a mythology, a mythology that wants to surpass the trappings of groupthink, could not possibly be, if it hopes to be successful, anything other than passionate.


2 Surrealists like Breton, Lamantia, and Ashbery have had a profound influence on my poetry. I believe that word s are symbols that not only represent ideas, but can create ideas. As Breton defined it, it is an attempt to “attack the utilitar ian usage of words and language, and give power back to words.” In this way, the surreal elements in my work seek to tap into the mysterious or indefina ble quality of dreams and visions. Language is primal, and it can express primal qualities that may be satisfying only in a lyrical or sonic sense, rather than in terms of narrative struct ure. The need to tran scend convention is an attempt at a connection to the primal. I believ e that this transcende nt need in my work serves as a substitute for a religious satisfac tion, which, as an atheist, may be otherwise lacking. Again, this need to create an individual culture is an important part of my work. Charles Bernstein in his essay on poetics po ints out the exciting possibilities of “poetry as process,” where the act of writing poetry usurps, or changes, poetic theory. So, every attempt carries the potential for something new to be created beyond what poetics can predict. Bernstein, in fact, defi nes poetics as something “situational…[that] courts contradiction, [and] feeds on inconsiste ncy.” The idea of mistrusting convention in favor of spontaneity is also in accord w ith postmodernism. The desire to challenge conventional poetics is sometimes e xpressed in my work. Some of the poems in this collect ion (THEY MAP THE BRAIN ACTIVITY OF LIARS, THE VISITOR, I’M GETTING ON THE NEWS TONI GHT, YOUR MUTED VOICE IS MERELY GONE) have been in spired by interviews I conducted with Harrison, a man with Asperger’s syndrome. Pe ople with Asperger’s syndrome, which is


3 an autism spectrum disorder, are restricted in their ability to interact socially. They often exhibit limited interests and idiosyncratic be haviors. They develop an atypical use of language that shows a lack of motivation to communicate socially. This use of language gives a voice to an unfathomable inner worl d. An exaggeration of the post-modern man, one can only communicate with Harrison on his terms. One must unravel his multiple stories, which are told all at once, through concentration and imaginative leaps. One must always fill in the blanks with parts of oneself in order to (attempt) communication. This way of analysis is in step with the pos tmodern idea of deconstruction. In this way, we must challenge assumptions and frames of reference to find some kind of understanding that goes beyond the surface. Centos and found poems in this collection re present an idea of a filter that must attempt to turn the ‘public’ into the ‘persona l’ in order to connect with the world. In other words, if we cannot escape the past and we must consume it, then our only rebellion can be in the way we filter it. Poetry, after all, is a way of seeing and interpreting the world. Again, this techni que expresses the idea of poetry as a spontaneous process. This technique is also meant to remind us of the ‘play’ quality of poetry. In this way, poetry is a game of s ounds and words, the rules of which are often extemporaneous. The rules of the game exist in the moment, and perhaps only for that unique moment of thought and feeling. I would like to briefly descri be the origin of some of the found and cento poems in this collection. DAYBREAK, WE DRINK YOU AT NIGHTFALL is a cento of lines taken at random from the anthology POETRY OF OUR WORLD, which is an


4 international anthology of contemporary poetr y. JUNKY is a found poem of lines taken from the novel of the same name by W illiam S. Burroughs. DEAD RECKONING is a found poem of lines taken from various nonfic tion journals of first person accounts by pilots. AN ALMOND TREE FLOWER is a cen to of lines that I translated from contemporary Italian poetry. SAW PALM SUBM ISSIONS is a cento of lines taken from actual submissions sent to the University of South FloridaÂ’s literary journal while I was poetry editor. A SOULFUL CALL is a cento of lines taken from UNDER THE ROCK UMBRELLA, which is an anthol ogy of contemporary poetry. The title poem, among others, attempts to combine an exteriority, or dissociative mode, with an interiority that pretends at co ntinuity. In this wa y, the orientation of a narrative holds together the pure experience of a word celebration. This process is largely instinctual and extemporaneous. The idea of a word celebration comes from surrealists, like Lamantia, w hose work seeks to express what can be described as the ecstatic use of language. In this way, the poetic use of language becomes something akin to the mystical. For me, it is a connecti on to a primal place where spirituality was perhaps born. For the title poem, which began as an unrelated collection of original lines (although there is one line that is a combina tion of two found lines one by Lamantia and one by Robert Lowell), I was guided only by a sens e of tone. In later drafts, I allowed for a stronger connection between the lines that had not been prefigured. The connections come in dreamlike shifts in time and place that are held together by a common tone. In


5 one sense, the poem has epistolary qualities, which is not discovered until the end of the poem. Surprise and misdirection are meant to excite the senses in this poem. The stream-of-consciousness shifts make it clear that the loss of a cent er is an important aspect of the poem. The rejection of family and the hopeless situati on, a situation that is intentionally vague, further the tone of desperation in the poem. The loss of the senses, or their rediscovery, through drug experien ces, again, underscores the desperation, as well as the idea of being somewhere fore ign and on the verge of committing a drugrelated crime, in this case concealment for the purpose of smuggling opium. The ideas of being somewhere foreign and of being at war ar e used to create a sense of urgency. This sense of urgency creates a contract between the reader and speaker of the poem through a common emotion. Readers will follow an emoti on that they identify with, even if some of the referents become distant. Placing refere nts at distant vantage points is not meant to put all emotion at a distance, but rather it is meant to bring focus to specific emotions that become more powerful when successfully remove d from a narrative structure. This is where ‘belief’ comes into play, I feel. The reader, hopefully, does not merely think something is true because it follows a logical pa ttern, but feels it is true because it mirrors something primal and immediately recognizable. The human mind naturally tries to order chaos, and these poems are an attempt to stand at that threshold between imagination and realit y. Instead of always imposing order, my poems seek to give agency to the imagination of the reader. The poe ms in this collection want to celebrate the possibi lities of a new language. The poems want to generate


6 questions about new ways of communicating. The poems to come are part of a process that cannot be prefigure d, or easily quantified.


7 FOUND A GUN IN THE WOODS, EMPTY So drunk, almost drank from a candle. An improvised high pools in the roots of cypress, some horses drowning white in a river. On the Silk Road trading 88 Milds or among the wood of apricot, with leaves shaped like hearts, the lone seed called a “stone.” Everyone heads for the rim at sunset. Everyone fills clips with loose shells. The area is not secure. Tying oriole opium in bowknots of gauze, they hang in a “J” wrapped around the palms, bleeding through like alpenglow. I consider you nothing but a hole I came out of.


8 VA POETRY WORKSHOP talk about dog-and-pony shows civi's mishandling arms smiling with corpses handing out toys in a burn unit some exercises: describe the sound of an IED in terms of touch describe pain in terms of an animal find inner-correspondences choose a creature that fits give it parallel actions give it harmonic meaning create a metaphor that describes a phantom limb or use a simile: “A phantom limb is like…” salt in repetitions tell a story within a story use similar symbols that are emblematic talk about getting inoculated first in line is the coldest shot you need time to warm up the bottle between cupped hands


9 DAYBREAK, WE DRINK YOU AT NIGHTFALL (A CENTO) Someone cleans a rifle in his kitchen, From the dark, dark, dark, From one sin to another, The wagtail is singing, There is no limit to it, Smoky resinous bourbon Ripped away into the hanging fabric, The woods echoed That IÂ’m only one of many, We will rise Ignorant and defiant as the dawn,


10 DISGUISE The wings when closed are grey green, and resemble the young leaves of the bramble. The hues are conditioned, they seek to promote replication. False eyes on the wings are a fine blue bordered with black. Disguise means surviving in a context. Counter shading breaks the silhouette in a tree of vermiliads. Diet varies with setting. They feast on succulents, numerous ornamentals, the carcass of a shorebird. New generations find the ocean, swimming every second of life in a kind of bioluminescence, a tasty lure.


11 IN HOME NURSE: ABIDE IN THE VINE I thank the Lord for temporary paralysis, For insufficient tissue where implants can't anchor, Alone in a vague catheter grip. Ancient Egyptians made catheters from papyrus, ancient Greeks from reeds (Ben Franklin invented the fi rst flexible urinary cathete r, using Closed System Suction) It's Valentine's Day even when the urethra is damaged (as in supra pubic catheterization). Bride of Christ! You monitor the oversensing of extracardiac signals. Tight aquamarine jeans featuri ng spare tire and camel toe, Each day you empty my bedpan and say: Y ou're up to your asshole in alligators! The wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.


12 I AM NOT SO, ANY LONGER A hare scares a horse, a bad omen for a new moon. Washerwomen flee the edging dark, wolves wait for those who tire from the march. Broken bones, hunger, no sleep, surviving poison, fortune mixes opium with first light. Outraged, Moscow burns Moscow. Frozen birds fall mid-flight at the gates of the empty city.


13 SHADOWS OF SCANDAL BALLOON IN OPAQUE DISASTER 1. Blind Marathon Runner Molested, Imposter Guide Post-Abortion Rituals, Cannibalism Infants Mauled By Family Pet, Wolf Mix Disturbed Vet Congratulat ed Before Fatal Fall 2. Mannequins Conceal Butane Hash Oil, Counterfeit 10Â’s Militants Feared Brain Drain To West New Music For The Troubled Unchurched Conversion Points, Christian Video Game Hexane-Extracted Resin Effect s Symbolic, Appeal Denied 3. Judge Cuts Throat, World Mourns A Solitary Slice For Desperate Movement Scientist Feared 44 Magnum Opus Individuals Seek Satisfa ction In Bitter Pill Consider Revenge Motive In Gasoline Burning, Jury Warned Consider This Our White Flag


14 JUNKY (found poem of lines taken from the novel of the same name by William S. Burroughs) An eyedropper is easier to use than a hypo, Like lying in warm water, You seem to float without outlines, His face bore the marks of a losing fight, Like lying in warm water, Morphine hits the back of the legs first, His arms bore the marks of a constant fight, Doing five years because he scored for a pigeon, Morphine hits the back of the legs first, A syrette is like a toothpaste t ube with a needle on the end, Five years because he scored for a pigeon, Roll it up into a pill and wash it down with coffee, A syrette is like a toothpaste t ube with a needle on the end, You seem to float without outlines, Roll it up into a pill and wash it down with coffee, An eyedropper is better than a hypo, Like lying in warm water, If air bubbles could kill, there wouldnÂ’t be a junky alive,


15 THESE LIONS ARE MY OWN SEETHING SONS They hold firstborns in their bloody jaws. We go deep into the crawlspace. Life becomes porous. They say we make natural spies. I'll never forget the hollow glow of sunrise when the flag finally caught the meager wind, when the throbbing world fit into a wound. Pastel and blood on canvas, found objects from a beach near Madrid. The stagnant puddle of Pleiades is smeared with dock lights. Dawn is a searing song of mottled gulls dancing like of book of fragmentary lines. I am a heatsink of nerve.


16 AN ANGEL STOPPED (AFTER DARIA MENICANTI) An angel stopped the leaves from talking in your unknown tongue much more than the wind much more than a leaf beneath a sycamore of Samaria that glitters incredulous between the dark fruit between the blood that turns, that smiles in the terrible silence. Just a thin voice remains in the throat. Where will you go? Perhaps to re-weave the words in a game of perfumes in a faint trembling of petals in the unknown flowers in visions of Cairo where I have seen the granite in the quarry not yet obelisk not yet the ancient grain where the scent returns like three white bells.


17 DEAD RECKONING (found poem of lines taken from various nonfiction journals of first person accounts by pilots) I was looking forward to Martha's Vineyard, the grilled lobster at Black Dog, inching my way to the Haven–bound ferry. 1978 Cessna 182, a throaty 182, I wove my way just west of the city, preflighted for the hour-and-change along the coast of the Cape. Radio sang outta nowhere, Warren and Bill weren't hootin' and hollerin' for joy. Left-wing burnout, a sure cure for the high-lonesomes. No matter. Can’t wait for the ceiling to lift, a dazzling white light, like parachute flares, tight in over a power line. Pick out a snowy field in gliding range. Less weight, less wind vector, less shimmy. The control panel meaningless in the glare, green as afterbirth. Instruments read nothing of true air speed, dead reckoning. A real forced landing is ai ming down the muzzle of a gun.


18 NOSTALGIA Regret becomes nostalgia. – Addict’s Damn The night is about to disappear in a flight of red poppies, in the smile of an acrobat rising over the bay.


19 SKYSONG Type: Display Shell #SS82434D Professiona l Fireworks 5 Inch Cylinder Shell SKYSONG Description: Rises ashen, predatory, trailing a sliver of silver. Splitting comets fragment with multiple chrysanthemum bursts. Explodes in a red tangle of thorns, whistling. Stars. Resolves in ocherlust, dance-like diss olution into meditative blues and greens.


20 SOME SLIGHT GIFT OF OBSERVAT ION AND THAT SE NSE, SO RICH 1. A bad can of paint in an empty dumpster: brilliant rose flecked with cardinal, a pa rked car passenger, his fingers stained with bad paint, a woman wand ering around Roseblood's, panicked, a face searching faces that bl eed into each other, each unknown hue, it is not her son, not her blood. 2. Hit six times, each a deep graze, he slumps in the cover of some sycamores, the killer is not smiling anymore, no shadows, the sky quiet, reloading an empty gun, his fingers stained brilliant rose flecked with cardinal, a face searching a face, familiar, bloodless, erasing footprints along the way.


21 NARCISSUS IN BLOOM She would not allow the fragrant flowers. She would destroy the last spring-flowering bulbs. Some in tousled whispers, some in hyacinth silence. She listens in the low larkspur, showy, full of thorns.


22 AN ALMOND TREE FLOWER (A CENTO) Our love is like an almo nd tree flower, so fragile. No more crying, no crying, You must pick it now, against the sky. It has burned away the last red, the last rose, the last gray. A little white breath in the heart of blue, a frail child sells chrysanthemums, and there will be icy stars in the green distance. Someone cries someone searches for chrysanthemums for me in the world like a blinded goldfinch. The vast anxiety reveals dawn, AutumnÂ’s black joy, like the sour harmony of birdcages. The world is draining its great dark waters.


23 THEY MAP THE BRAIN ACTIVITY OF LIARS They smoke by a crack in the window. They say a stone should be alone. They use a strange voice, colorless. They see a sign, an empty room. They are the next day, nothing. They panic in the backseat. They say you should feel something by now. They offer a smoke and agree it is late.


24 THE VISISTOR A stopover in a quiet town, I feel like window-dressing for a dead man. The Pills guarded by voiceprint are better than these. I have flowers, wandering hospital corridors. Room 211, half of her looks like a deflated balloon, wide open purse on the nightstand, gray in the TV glare. The Pills are in food trays, some are decent, a cadence, stainless, like the dense and emotional life of insomnia. It is a fever that undoes me down to the very bottom, to the very bottom, I am in the abyss still. Like a beached whale full of wolves, I cannot face another bloody muzzle.


25 I’M GETTING ON THE NEWS TONIGHT (AFTER PHILIP LAMANTIA) When virtue sleeps, she awa kens refreshed. – Nietzsche These flying saucers, my God. Children of Satan. Do you know, he came at the police with a steak knife in each hand? To cross the Siam lost to us, inhaled from a bed of ashes. The night she got out of jail, Cindy was wet. She was really wet. A stargazer, that’s what you are, every waking moment, a reflection of the sun. The Devil dwells in us all. I look forward to your submission.


26 STERLING REEMER Sterling Reemer went for sandwiches, was a ssaulted, made a report, got on the news, went to trial, got on the news again, a nd wrote a book. Everyone was fascinated. Sterling Reemer counseled victims, starte d a foundation, stole from the foundation, was arrested at the airport, and wrote a second book. Everyone said it was understandable. Sterling Reemer went on T.V., shared a plane with Nelson Mandela, molested an underage assistant, wrote an article, apologized for the article and the comments on China, went on T.V. again, wrote another book, and started workshopping a screenplay. Everyone loves Sterling Reemer.


27 WRITTEN ON THE BACK OF A POSTCA RD OF THE SUNSHINE SKYWAY BRIDGE In this November atop the Skyway bridge, The wind is sullen and dry, My mind is sullen and dry, Like lines of verse I cannot raw to memory. I am supported by twenty-one steel cables clad in nine-inch steel. Considered the "flag br idge" of Florida, Several missing are suspected of jumping, Nobody knows, no body recovered. The segments are hollow, The wind is roadkill. There is no wind, now, only the cold swell of sky. Or there is wind, but no cold sky, No hollow segments, only roadkill.


28 DETECTIVE PINCHBECK Drunk, Doc does his jazzhanded autopsy. Too much neurofeedback is pointless suffering. Details. Favors a blade, rake angle. Symbols meaning "Death to Spies." Likes manual strangulation. Likes details. PerpÂ’s a fun lover. Redhead. Works with solvents. Trace amounts found at seven scenes. They are duct taped, taken to his cellar, and dressed like hogs. Stolen Cadillac traced to downtown heroin operation, balloon filled corpses smuggled in body bags, shipped as far as Chicago, dead-ends. Some cabbies remember driving "a strange one" to the park. No ID. They drive one way and look another. Take photos, blacklight everything.


29 BOUGHT YOUR MEMOIR Bought your memoir at an estate sale. You wrote your name in it. May. 8 AM – No solids. No liquids after midnight. Never married. Mother left for Wyoming, once a Catholic nun, became a "prophet" and led a cult in Casper, br anch of Assemblies of God, sang at night, closed with Kansas City, Father too, before an unexplained drowning, no suspects. 8 PM – Enema, twice, lying on your side. No children. Koi named after books in the Bible. Two juicy polyps, cancerous. You had a Bloody Mary at Cerro de la Muerte. You left a cheesecake picture taken at Fort Desoto bookmarking a page titled Wilfredo.


30 WATERSHED I watch you eat strozzapreti, “priest-stranglers.” You ignore the microburst of my Djarum Black. I cut myself. I check my sugar. I compulsively tie knots, a form of onomatomania, plastic bags, straws, string from anywhere. You are shoe shopping on a laptop. You click a folder full of photos taken at the mouth of the Hillsborough. You can run your fingers through your hair. You can breathe. You can swim at the mouth of the Hillsborough. You can do anything.


31 SAW PALM SUBMISSIONS (A CENTO) Y is the mind burning. It came from the box, you know the one, below the makeshift cranium. I wore a skirt underneath my trench coat and summoned small gods. Sillymongering Grenadine, where did all these numbers come from? I looked down and oozed lightly, but she kept her glitter pants. Blamesyrup, rhinovalues. Someone send me to the preacher's house. Open my mouth and gloss me. Polyramble, vulturerealm. There's a footpath outside my door and I'm powerless to stop it.


32 WILLIAMS PARODY so much depends upon a ten dollar bill tightly rolled on the table beside the white powder.


33 LARKIN IMITATION One should eat alone. A choking hazard all this talking, all this intentional distraction. Pets are bothersome, too. They'd love any jerk with a can of tuna and a box of sand. They say things-things that should be left unsaid. They always want something. They claw at the windows.


34 CLICK JaneÂ’s a reporter. It's her day off and sheÂ’s had a few beers. She sits in the Florida room daydreaming about a cool vampire, his name is Kamien he wears frilly dress shirts and fucks her hard, in her daydream. John looms in an isolation tank dictating his next scifi detective story a sort of fan fiction into a waterproof digital recorder that floats near hi s mouth rippleless. He misuses soap. The Klingon did it. The Klingon had to do it...revenge, but there are complications. It is a character-driven fantasy, like JaneÂ’s MMORPG, where she goes when he is walking along a riverba nk in Titan Quest or at the edge of a cliff in Might and Magic, where he first considered killi ng Kamien, or at least deleting the fantasy from her favorites list with a definitive click. Kamien is the star of her MMORPG, but he talks like Lord By ron, like he's "somebody." He deserves to die. She doesn't like the other people in the MMORPG. They are occasionally "funny enough" but not enough to be endearing in a long-term association, it's all surface shit anyway, these avatars. She thinks of some useful details about the crimes she reports. He hears her banging on the isolation tank just as all the pieces of his story start to come together. He pretends to be dead, just long enough to finish.


35 ABANDONED In bed we listen to rats in the attic. They must be territorial or mating. They gnaw on Christmas bulbs and old love letters, a cheesecake picture of you on the beach at Fort DeSoto. When theyÂ’re silent we listen, deep, to the heart of the house, after telling the children they were squirrels, but none of us can sleep. One day, after the children left, after you died, I noticed the silence in the attic like a cold ember box. And who is left now? Not a soul. I should pull the string and release the collapsed ladder, climb up and check the damage, but not today.


36 IMPORTANT CAVEATS OF INTERSTELL AR ULTRAVIOLET GALACTIC-TYPE EXTINCTION Fear of cameras at dawn, empty corridors, no breakfast after eleven. Sixteen years, nothing works. They say a man should talk more, get involved, but everything is predatory. Like a mouth, its ledger checkboxed for hearts, lungs, little things, bioprospecting is wide open, a shift from synthetics, China's new market, wide open. Nobody wants the truth, sixteen years. Been asleep, been a chart on a wall.


37 PUPPET 1 My wife is afraid. I tell her, alright. I tell her alright. Talk to the puppet. Don't look at my human eyes when IÂ’m using the voice, I donÂ’t want to be the bad guy.


38 PUPPET 2 Faith like joints of divinorum triple-dipped in formaldehyde drying on the windowsill. Formaldehyde drips, grinning in a third story window box, my wife is afraid. Talk to the puppet, don't look at my human eyes, use the voice, be the bad guy. Standing in the street, the puppet show dislodged from the context of its dialogue, you can see my lips moving, and you stop believing.


39 PUPPET 3 The contract broken, the window box the sidewalk triple-dipped drying in the sun. You wander into the park. You wonder why youÂ’re afraid.


40 PUPPET 4 The formaldehyde takes 30 minutes, the divinorum hits you right away but doesnÂ’t last. A bad jolt. You sweat, you swear to God. Ordinary objects seem to come to life. My wife is afraid to try it. Never do it alone.


41 FOLLOW THE RULES AND YOUÂ’LL BE OK use words like Always and Never say things you can't take back realize that no one loves you: tonight tomorrow the next day 5 minutes from now in the car out of the car around the corner on the bus to New York at the station in front of a soda machine use words like Often and Soon suffer over things you donÂ’t really care about or have a stake in feel something one night, a nd donÂ’t tell anyone about it sitting in a parked ca r with the radio off then go to bed alone, donÂ’t listen to the car pulling away


42 FLYING IS A COMPROMISE They could be Bosnians. I don't know what they are. They sang Karaoke in the bar across from the airport. One of them did Driver's Seat where they made a little stage. They started to harmonize around my third 7 & 7. They all like Karaoke, donÂ’t they? We can't hear each other once the engine's running. IÂ’m keeping an eye open. IÂ’ve got my cell phone in my hand.


43 EDITING let's take a drive through a movie set a good lot at Magic Hour editing problems in several scenes in several scenes it loses it at the end it ends too soon or not soon enough the colors are wrong it moves too slow I yank the wheel I say forget about it I follow through with a shot you held the flask like a warm hand


44 YOUR MUTED VOICE IS MERELY GONE He had cue cards everywhere no storytelling at all. A jazz critic, starving with food all around. I grabbed a bright orange panel for signaling aircraft. We allow wilderness to stay wild. Don't be a cheerleader today, pal. Memory disorder, double-blind study, dementia, In the men's room. Capsules of time. We leave seed on distant planets.


45 BURY MY SENSES Glazed with rainwater a serpent invades morning. Bury my senses in this mystery. It slithers wet in the cold dirt. Bury my senses then bury my bones. Their doctrine is superabsorbent. Bury my senses in this mystery. Underthings cannot be washed by laypersons. Bury my senses then bury my bones.


46 SYLPHS "Even if he is a child of Saturn and if Sa turn has overshadowed his birth, he can still escape Saturn's influence, he can master Saturn and b ecome a child of the Sun.” Paracelsus Air is its element, slender & Slow. I call dibs on the Redhead. Which Redhead? Any Redhead. Paracelsus says There are two types of stars, The stars of wisdom & folly. For each sign of the Zodiac: a talisman. The philosopher rules the stars, And they must follow him.


47 POPCORN POPPING ON THE APRICOT TREE Father too, for a year before an unexplained drowning, no suspects, knew the origin of red-handed, described an apricot tree in bloom, rises pale, fractured dark, like several others where the church is based, like a childÂ’s song, northern Utah, always left me a note, clean handwriting, personal, familiar handwriting, candy for the troubled, she's dirty now, I stumble in the dark, why hide behind tinted glass?


48 WHAT A MESS FOR THE BOYS TO CLEAN UP He fed alligators rancid pot roast wrapped in little boyÂ’s clothes, in a small town just outside the Everglades. The space shuttle Challenger broke apart and exploded, off the coast of central Florida. Watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher earned a degree in engineering at USF.


49 ALPENGLOW 1 A tasty lure, red red red. Surfaces grow biofilms. I cannot live alone without you. I accept terms. I accept revenge with gasoline. I can express myself to undergrads th at "don't need the grave that bad."


50 ALPENGLOW 2 I was a pretend monster in a character driven fantasy. In Albina's Assisted Living, the old ladies called me Captain and knew they couldn't whore for cigs. Examples of life as artifice. Metaphors at a workshop of disabled vets ta ken from sugar cues: there are no sugar cues.


51 ALPENGLOW 3 One house faces east, another west. Hit the archives. Scour the libraries. Much of the night must be retextured. The window is a hypodermic light and they're in there. Congratulations! Surfaces grow biofilms! Bacteria are present. They can read you like a fairy ta le, like a hard-on in church. Your window is a hypodermic light, no shadows at all. Much of the night must be overcome. One person faces east, another west. Here. It keeps the bugs off.


52 A SOULFUL CALL (A CENTO) 1. She scrubs clothes by hand in gasoline, the way piano wire thrums when given slack. Stars arranged on the ceiling, my rifle brings his song to me. The bloodgroove sunk deep, in trashpiles, in bricks, in cars. The sound lifts the birds off the water. ThatÂ’s where I am now, swaying by the waterÂ’s edge. 2. A clutch of calm air I walk into the autumn, into waves of air, sweeps of green and blue. The artist has no children, and he is tired. I have known the immun ities of darkness, Brazilian cardinals and purple finches, aroused to their own listless flight of sleep. A desire wakens me. You from the anchor line, shaking her, you into delirium, you try, with you I will bring them some light. 3. It seems a bruise is spreading east. No one else remembers a thin fish knife balanced in his hand. Skins of glass pressed to glass, bronzed by the falling sun.


53 What I imagined is not you, the town is dust. My life in black plastic garbage bags. Moth light, moth wind, its branch is nearby. Stray dogs come with the rain.


54 FORTUNE 1. My right hand has a scar. ItÂ’s in the palm. A stab wound. The pencil lead is still lodged in the life line. Now itÂ’s just a black mark. Bad luck. 2. When she was young, my grandmother wrot e the lyrics to the song Too Young. Nat King Cole had a hit with it. It Â’s an old song, the one that goes: they say that love's a word / a word we'v e only heard / but can't begin to know the meaning of But she was never paid dollar one, even t hough the song peaked billboard position #1, for 5 weeks in 1951. It was just bad luck. She was sixteen when she wrote the lyrics. Everyone knew Annette was good at writing poems, so two boys from her neighborhood in Litt le Italy asked for something to put to a song. They wrote the music. Then, in her words, some "shrewd Jew" in a publishing house in NYC told them not to worry, then stole her words and sold the song under his girlfriend's name. After a year of unsuccessful lit igation that left him deep in debt, one of the boyÂ’s fathers hanged himself in the basement, cold and musky among barrels of homemade wine. My grandmother never wrote again. 3. I never think about suicide. Every day, I never th ink about it.


55 4. Years after my grandmother died, I started goi ng to the Chua Phat Phap Buddhist temple. They offered guided meditation. We sat on th e floor and listened to a story describing how nature is reborn. You start as a leaf, and you end as a leaf. You imagine yourself as the steps between. 5. I always kept my eyes open, hoping that someone else would open theirs. Nobody ever did. We should all be reborn. 6. On the show, everyone thinks the Ghost Whispere r is a loony because she talks to herself, but we know she is helping the freshly dead cross over to a place of light: a nondenominational afterlife that doesn ’t offend the sponsors. “Why are you the only one who sees me,” the ghost always wonders. “Do you remember dying,” the Whisperer whispers. Every week there is a new “loved one” who th inks, naturally, the Ghost Whisperer is a crackpot or some kind of gypsy con artist. Ah, but the Ghost Whisperer is armed with info only the loved one and the cadaver could know, usually just a word. The convinced loved one and the departed fina lly say whatever they never got to say, but instead of talking to the empty chair where the ghost is obviously sitt ing at the table, the loved one always addresses a lamp on the othe r side of the room, perhaps to underscore the fact that ghosts are invisible. The loved one says, sobbing, “I don’t know how to thank you!” Ghost Whisperer says, “You already have.” 7. The man directing the guided meditation isn’t Vietnamese. He’s an ex-marine and an ex-Franciscan monk. He thought about it for a long time and deci ded it was unfair we only had one life. He became a Buddhist. He said we should all be reborn.


56 8. The monk says Buddhism, even if it isnÂ’t true, is utilitarian. Like most beliefs, it can help you relax and ha ve a better life thr ough structured guidance. He says itÂ’s OK to be an atheist. Buddha was an atheist. Buddha had doubts. 9. Buddha praised the suicides of Vakkali and Channa. The suicide of an enlighten ed person is justified. 10. Or, is suicide wrong because it is motivated by desire? 11. The Noble Ones, after completing their work, cut their last ties to the world and pass into Nirvana. They escape the world of rebirths. 12. Monks lit themselves on fire to protest the Vietnam War. To burn oneself to deat h is self-immolation. It can show devotion. It proves that what you have to say is important. 13. Thinking about suicide is a kind of meditation. It is about whether we choose to nourish or destroy ourselves. It is about how we feel when life does not turn out the way we think it should. My grandmother didnÂ’t commit suicide out right, but she did not choose to live. She never wrote another song lyric, even though everyone told her she should try. She said it was too painful. It was just too painful.


57 When she had a serious medical condition that forced her on a diet, she chose not to follow it. “Take away my food and you might as we ll take away my life,” she would say. She ate whatever she wanted. She ate until a blood clot formed in her st omach that went straight to her heart.


58 SOMETHING IN THE FIELD she's deadlatched they say pointing at something in the field something not quite red. doesn't cost as much as a bullet in the brain. strangulation is the cheapest way to go. a downed sow is useless meat, a heartache.


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