Thursday, April 1, 2021

Selected Works, Paula Cisewski

Having a Diet Cherry Coke with You
                        --after Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You” and inspired by Denise Duhamel’s title “Having a Diet Coke with You.”                                                                                 

is even more fun than sipping a kir
in the twinkling lights of a bistro

while awaiting our grilled quail
in pomegranate molasses
atop beluga lentils—which we never
do—some thousands of miles away

from home, or ringing in the new 
year—which we did once—on a dance floor

under a constellation of disco lights.
Partly because diet soda is super gross

and we both know it’s super gross but 
I secretly love it sometimes and you 

don’t care. You would share one with me 
without complaint, in a movie theater

or on the road, and all the while mostly 
I would be hoping my next choice would be 

better. Partly because things get bigger fast.
Outside our galaxy, husks of broken galaxies

orbit us, forever steamrolled by our carousel 
of stars. Partly because at its core, the Milky Way 

is powered by its own black hole
which starves for everything, even light. 

Partly because here on Earth—our astral morsel 
amid a universe of hungers—there exists your art

plus more art plus your great indifference 
toward a splotch of paint on your shirt.

To me, writing a love poem will always 
feel like borrowing some already borrowed 

thing. I don’t care because when I’m next 
to you—where I am lucky often to be—

the whirling assemblages of our bodies seem 
like they could indeed once have fueled the stars. 

Sympathy for

this devilish agony: a worn leash
whenever I recall the revelatory 
solitude confettied by falling leaves
in El Parque del Buen Retiro
on the afternoon in Madrid
when I came across the Statue 
of the Fallen Angel, upon 
a fountain pedestal, 

his tortured face gazing 
up to the ideal home, away 
from which he eternally 
plummets. I remember aloneness,

but was not alone, having traveled
to the city with a man who bedeviled
me for years.  I can feel how much
you want me to say I love you and that’s why 

I won’t he said, perhaps not right 
there before Lucifer, but elsewhere 
                                       and often.
                                        Q: Did I love the bedeviler? 

                                        A: Yes, if this is this love: allowing the vortex 
                                             to pull me toward his collapsed heart.
                                             I was Narcissus, enthralled. My face 
                                             looked so weird.        I never did learn 

                                                how not to want love, only how
not to want his. This morning I woke 
from some backwater dream and blinked 
away the bright decade and counting since 

that Spanish fountain scene. What 
a strange souvenir to keep. I never 
believed I would write any love poems, 
but I wrote this one, which has 

revealed itself to be a belated 
love poem to me. A container 
for a former grief, finally,
completely released. 


Ship of Fools
                --after the Hieronymus Bosch painting

I think trees never die, and so never will we.
Cool cruise—are we moving? Who knows. Let’s play
a game by dangling a pancake from a string.
We can drink and sing and chomp at the thing. 

Cool cruise—are we safe? Let’s play
a game, which is a kind of prayer.
We drink and sing and chomp at the thing. 
Did trees grow inside this boat or was the boat

built around trees, which are a kind of prayer?
Who knows. Those cherries look scrumptious.
Did trees grow inside the boat or was the boat
built like a wish no one remembers making?
Who knows. Those cherries were scrumptious
and aren’t we content sailing away
like a wish no one remembers making?
Surely something or other keeps us afloat

and aren’t we content sailing away?
The probably dying trees make pretty masts where wind rustles. 
Surely someone or other keeps us on course. 
The fool on the bough sees clearly the bottom of his cup.

The probably dying leaves make thousands of terrible sails.
A couple fights permanently like discord is their feast
while the fool sees me clearly in the bottom of his cup,
not humans drowning in the water, not starved birds in the trees.

A couple fights permanently like discord is their feast
which is a kind of a game, like thoughts and prayers, dangling on a string.
humans drowning in the water, starved birds in the trees.
I think trees never die, and so never will we.

Spoonbridge & Cherry by Claes Oldenburg

Water shoots out 
the cherry stem and showers 

the surrounding pool. a happy 
sculpture in a postcard of a city 

where it seems most residents 
know someone who knows 

someone who knows the couple 
caught doing it after-hours, in 

the bevel of that big spoon.

museum security. 

And then? I never heard
the end. The two 

were either arrested 
or they fled, irreproachable,

all afterglow. Must I know? 
Aren’t private moments

infinitely deposited 
into the safe of any single night?

One kind of honesty is choosing
whichever version feels most true 

and in so doing reveal a truth about 
the retellers, about me and you.

Selected Works, Joe Hall

Da Fugue Zone #50: The Machine Zone #1-50

vomiting gold in a turning wheel where production soaks production

fire, fog echoes in spheres through metal stencils trilobites 
pour jacked dads of Cornell, blown warp whistles 

to uproot lives to star-maps they can read in an aleatory frame stream
Buffalo’s isles lean over

a nail salon in Lowell, I wake up, stumble, my baby meat
explodes—lo! styrofoam comets

in the eyes of an AI sun of a hostile workplace of mist lime hums
spreading sidewalk, all we have to do is work

unto sadness, unto a fossil of nerves flaring through cell walls
brittle web of mist in an engine heavy enough

to haul off what you know, vomiting gold during the Friday crush
sliding calipers, weeks 

rolling waking in union of I don’t know what 
someone shot off the valve of your articulation

put the joystick down, was it a kiss, rosy, or hand or toilet
erupted from the lake?

in the net of their life, knots pulled twice, oatmeal-clogged 
key-lime lights, staph-infected tomorrow

flaming trains flung into the roundhouse--you say who counts these hours
whose whole notes billow

into the city’s concrete ventricles, debt plunged into debt 
doesn’t find a seat for our damage, absence

inside and inside absence fists stressed muscles squeeze
you called your own in a trail

down plate-glass, diving to my second job
under the sun’s swelling yolk 

in this drunk cask of lights, a herniated fabric where new bills grow
don’t let these letters see

don’t stop vomiting gold

Da Fugue Zone Vol #3 w/line from Xie Xiangnan 

wheel of fog turning no fog or planet purple-red
riparian wedge regressing where
production soaks production in the middle of
a tense wheel turning mauve
jet does not soak production in the
middle of immunized money
dome stapled apples with
dimples rippled intaglio clamor amor or
phased dilation, wheels turn 
fog glimpse through oxygen or metonymic ice 
floe, this chain requires
the previous chain to say 
I am not a chain, heavy upon no fog or 
planet no

Da Fugue Zone #21: Vomiting Gold

flour mist floor transition woke the hell in me, vomiting gold and faith time
couldn’t touch you, vomiting gold, cask of stars and stalker baffling make-up, woke
each time wandering what am I doing, streaming mists, slack shifts, lurch
where did this gold come from, vomiting gold, it hurts 

Da Fugue Zone #62: The Great Beyond 

I’m glad the gas pump tv is fumbling with
my buttons today, no matter what it wants

I’m glad my damage is in a boat in 2014 
and you are sliding in a turquoise lens down a snowy hill 

I used to want to touch the engine
now I just want to sort the images

but I can’t take the gas pump w/me
can’t wait to see what it will say so I get on 

Buffalo Free Rapid Transit, take a dim seat
between a boy, a fox, and a sack of grain and the train

tumbles through Buffalo’s ice and sudden fields
of winter corn, I see you on your bike w/yr yellow

hat turn left into a narrow street as the train leans 
the other way and though I know the next brass landmark

that place that demanded this poem that began to be
is not real, that Buffalo Free Rapid Transit flickers

like a flashlight, almost spent, and the damage
is sinking, but is not sunk in a boat in 2014

in a body of water much like a mind
what has the gas pump asked you to do

in Da Fugue Zone #62


could the sweet pill of the middle 

note branch & you like a fountain splashing into the well 

of yourself, I closed my eyes and tried to feel 

the signal of the hand about to touch 

my temple, this house

made of burdock, the cream of the root

this wound made of burdock

this wound, the miracle of endurance

skin pitted and drying against its seed

every night, the angel of thought

to follow a path shaped by footsteps alone

D in triplets, synth like woodwind 

that’s where we saw them: in a round

bed of woodchips working but not really

you said you could feel my hand

resting on your belly

with all the notes, but not the order 

Excerpt from rocks have the softest shadows, Barton Smock

Poverty created the moon as a place for loss to process God.  

It helps to have no one.  


Some future:

A pop-up book about Ohio mosh pits is lost by a beloved chiropractor who has by default become an expert on unicorn pregnancy and who is wearily attracted to cures excluding those for bicycle legs as present in our newborns


Ohio alibis:

Two sisters learn from the same angel how to use an insect bite as a fingerprint


Ohio introductions:

Listening to the rain as it runs interference for echo’s disappearing hair

is Satan with her mousetrap


I want to sleep again on the kitchen floor beside my brother who is reading to himself from a book of baby names for the dead as if such a book exists and I want to imagine the velvet life of the thing that stirs itself so immediately soft in the garbage disposal that it becomes your fear of swimming and erases mine of having bones


Ohio exits:

When you find prayer, ask music how touch knows where where is. Ask hand if it was ever more to blood than a lost slipper. Ask ghost why its miracle spared the angel. Ask horse anything. You are dear to me. If horse is even there.


Satan was the first to name the animals. I know we watched ours die. Anyway, I'm not sure there were two of us. The child was a footprint trapped in a shoe. I disappear and still you vanish.


Ohio math:

A museum of mothers who sleepwalk to get there.

A father’s collection of crying insects.

Yes I forgot to love you.


Oh moral permanence, oh distracted beast- no one asks God about baby number two.  We make guns together in the dream of the stray hand and there are exercises a mother’s puppets can do that will bring a doll peace.  Angel can, but won’t, let mirror look out the window.  I still wrote all that stuff.  I’ll touch zero if you trap its tongue.


Ohio auctions:

A dress worn by the child who ate sadness.  A gas station snow-globe prayed away by a father’s dying goldfish.  A town, 

or three people surrounding a dogcatcher.


Get a blood clot and sister will say on the moon they worship these.  If you sleep too long, you’ll become a color.  Rate your pain from one to ten, with five being the highest.  God still thinks we don’t know.


Whose death got you into heaven?  The baby is older now but has the kissing wrists of a failed skier.  Your children don’t love you because they will.


Ohio postscripts:

Shy, I could not collapse in front of mothers who were born on the moon.  As for the children, they’ll die for baby.  For any last fact that others exist.


Dream supply:

A pile of white leaves in the corner of my father’s mind.

Wind and skin, or the angel’s



No longer a fire hazard

the wagon’s 

grey hair…

The suicide of God’s first.


Not much happens before you can say Ohio.  Still, we keep quiet.  Depression breaks a mother’s toes and we listen, in a stickless field, to what we hear. 

It continues.  The misgendering of past selves.


My son writes to me about the piece of glass they can’t find in his ear.  He says it is like a dream.  That he can describe its shape between the hours of this and that a.m., and its size to a newborn making a grocery list.  He says they have people who look like him, which helps.  Like her, which doesn’t.  My writing isn’t even close.  Aponia, I write, and also, ballet.  Everything in the cold is cold.  


The coordinates a son’s illness leaves for God.  Cigarette

and a mother’s


typo.  Camera the consoler of miracle.  Elevator worship.  Our food’s invisible dark.  The gag reflex of his favorite astronaut.  For whom we carry 



Every life is long.  Honestly, I think I just wanted to see my handwriting.  I sang for my children.  Never cooked for my mom.  

owls okay with needle sharing

would explain




The boy, before going to bed, has me kiss every toy in his room. If one is not there, it is missing, and its absence is more vaccinated god than bad child or raccoon's eye. More mother than sister on wrist number three.


Ohio we:

save pills as a god might 

the eggs 

of a ghost


And what would you have me say?  That I feel it was given to another, the meaning of my hidden life?  We name people every day.  Our yearning, overlong.  Our mother’s mothering of poets and of the creatures they can’t use.  This priest with an ant farm.  Eating’s moral theft.





of sleep

the bee

that stung

my bee


Eating is magic.  Hunger a rabbit removed from its environment.  I can make some sense now, I think, of death.  Of a grandmother’s life of cooking and loss.  We wore our frostbitten noses.  Did things with frogs might an infant laugh on the inside where a nothing was still in boxes.  Took from blood 

its blue 

now.  Which was wrong.


Ohio sexuality:

Cain faked her death.

Ghost is that itch the wall can’t reach.             


pregnancy dysphoria has been found in angels

to spread 

like fish

(do you remember

in an oyster 

the arm 

of a squirrel)


is a dream


a pack 

of cigarettes 


an Ohio 



facedown, a photo

of God

with braces…


Ohio solastalgia:

In hell I am passing a cemetery when during a housefire she makes a memorial to the last time you won a staring contest 


While close, this is not your messiah’s insecticide.  Are you happy with my body?  Sex is the breathing my teeth do for your hair.  Faith a stork in a sea cage.  Food is no expert but grows anyway

brevity.  They say crow after an apple sets a stone on fire.  Lonely people for appropriate play.


I want for my son a more regular sadness.  Not touch with its vacant déjà vu.  Not the stutter, untapped, of his far beast.  More the fasting of an unknowable fish.  A marionette


at a toy 

car.  Are these hands?  They say so little.


Ohio auctions:

The unseen wildlife of the ill.  The handwriting of a moonless toddler.  A whole language saved on an angel’s thumbnail…


I can’t tell if I have nothing or if I’m down to three photos of God.

I sleep 

to know 

that you’re



I will take for my childhood a mother’s unicycle, a father’s raincloud.  

The broken moon of any man on crutches.  A dog drinking water in a white house. 


who draw me naked.  

Bones from her smaller baseball.


Sorrow a glove.  Grief a mitten.  I see in fire the small

for a whale


that my son 


in a wave.      

Ohio gets to keep its hidden season.  Poverty

its sixth


Childish, but everyone who’s looked out this window has died.  Our family was too close.


Ohio stories:

I am fondest of recalling my sister when sister in her sleep

could sell drugs to angels.     

Men walk away from their fathers one of two ways with our favorite being Stars Reading Snowfall Before and After My Career-Ending Injury.

Our mother was a spider


it’s why

she smokes.


Their translating of the terrible things we’ve said has created elsewhere animals that don’t need to eat but bite anyway anything that moves.  Neither silence is real 

but both belong to God.  My son 

my moodkiller

of ruin

in no dream I’ve had 

pours gasoline on himself and leads an abandoned bear onto an empty school bus.  Am I pretty this third


if my parents are yesterday and grief?


Her Ohio of war and sleep:

what if I said 

I see 

in a land of tire swings 

your fishboat father

rubbing perfume

on the knees

of stowaways

would you consider

the cricket

God is trying

to land


My mother knew she was pregnant when from a darkroom her surgeon emerged holding a piece of chalk.  Before I had hair, I had hair my sister sang to.  Interesting men didn’t make it to earth.


Early for foster home karaoke, she announces God as the exit sign over the door of her body and sleep as a museum owned by death.  Because I am lonely with not being there, I call it her best scene.  She doesn’t clap.  A ghost gives birth to a chair.

The Ghosts of Former Lovers (Excerpt from Gitanes), Fawzy Zablah

             Sofia used the spare key Javi gave her to enter the apartment. After gently closing the door behind her, she stopped and gazed up at her lover hanging by his neck from an orange extension cord tied to the ceiling fan. She looked down at the floor before her and covered her mouth with her hands like if she was about to throw up. After regaining her composure, she locked the door behind her. She knew there was no time for sentimentality, she had to hurry and collect all her things before the body was discovered.

            She went to the bathroom first and opened the drawer on the right side of the cabinet filled with most of her feminine hygiene products and threw them all into a linen grocery bag she found under the sink. She then opened a second drawer and took out a hot comb apparatus and threw that into the bag. She left her shampoo in the bath and then went to the small closet next to the bed.

            From the closet she grabbed panties, thongs and three Victoria’s Secret lingerie outfits by the handful and threw them into a small pink suitcase that was next to the bed. She also grabbed a pair of jeans, a yellow dress with white polka dots and red high heel shoes and it all went into the suitcase and she could barely close it so she had to sit on it until she was able to lock it. Then she looked under the bed and grabbed another pair of high-heels—black this time—and noticed a gray cat with white spots trying to hide.

Sofia and the cat looked at each other. The cat had very expressive yellow eyes.

            “Gigi,” she said, “Come out here baby. Do you want a snack?”

            The cat meowed like if it was replying to the question. It was a sweet noise, like a child pretending to be a cat. It was high pitched but soothing.

            “Gigi,” she said again. “I’m sorry baby. Don’t worry, okay; I will come back for you. You will come home with me and Simon. Just give me some time honey. Okay?”

            The cat meowed again, not moving an inch. But for a second, Sofia thought that it would come to her and if she did, she was ready to grab the cat. The cat stayed in its place under the bed scared and sad and confused why her daddy wasn’t responding.

Sofia stood up and put the high heel shoes she grabbed from under the bed in the linen bag.

            The bedroom of this studio apartment had a partition with a hole in the center that looked into the living room and the low hanging legs of her dead lover Javi. She tried to ignore the body as she bit her thumbnail and canvassed the area of the living room to see if she’d forgotten anything. Her eyes were getting a little red. She looked at her right hand, and removed an engagement ring and put it in her pocket. She replaced it with another ring with a much bigger rock.

            When she heard footsteps coming from the outside stairway—the apartment was on the third floor—she stood still like a mannequin. She had an oval face and hazel eyes that were big and beautiful and her mouth was big too, almost like a clown. Her body was petite like a French ingénue.

      After waiting a moment without hearing any noise in the hallway, she opened the door and placed the linen bag and the small suitcase outside and right on top of the front door ‘Welcome’ mat.  Her final gaze towards her lover Javi was an awful blend of love, anguish, regret, and desperation and once her moment of silence was done, she stepped outside, quietly closing and locking the door to the apartment. Before grabbing her things, she took out a handkerchief from another pocket and wiped the door knob of any fingerprints. She then quite literally flew down the three flights of stairs with a linen bag and suitcase in each hand like the anime of a Japanese schoolgirl and got in her black car and left. 

            She was running late to meet her friend Carmen for brunch in Boca Raton where she lived with her husband. She called her friend as she jumped on the turnpike. Sofia knew she needed to touch base with her friend first, then after that quick call, have a good long cry on the drive about Javier Manzur and all the improper things she keeps repeating in relationships since she was about 15. It was a 30-minute drive so she would have enough time to go through all the emotions with plenty of time to clean up if she had to.

         “Hey Sofi, how’s it looking?” Carmen said.

  “I’m running late. Can you give me fifteen minutes before you leave your house? There’s a lot of traffic and I had to run some errands near my job.”

  There was almost dead air coming from the other end, and after hearing a big sigh, her friend replied:

        “There’s no rush; just call me when you’re close by.”

        “Thank you,” Sofia said. “Is everything okay? You sound stressed.”

        “I don’t want to talk about it over the phone,” she said, breaking into a laugh that could have turned into a cry. “I really need my mimosa now. I’ll see you soon.”

        “Wow, sounds serious,” Sofia said. “Well, we’ll talk about it when I get there. You’re going to love the place. Love you – see you soon.”

        “Love you Sofia.”

  She arrived about five minutes after Carmen. As soon as she turned off the car, she looked at herself in the mirror and touched up her makeup just a little bit. Her eyes were not too red, but she still applied eye drops her husband Ari had left in the glove compartment. She puckered her lips and got out of the car, and seemed to glide towards her friend and after kisses on both cheeks, and smiling big at the tall shiny mimosa waiting for her, she plumped down on the empty chair, gently tossed her pink Donna Karan purse next to her and said: “You are not going to believe the morning I had today.”

        They began with cordial small talk and made sure to order their meals before the brunch hours ended.

        “Bueno, cuentame,” Sofia said.

        “I’m getting a divorce.”

        “Oh my God!”

        “Yes,” Carmen said, then taking a long gulp from her mimosa.

        “I thought things were fine. What happened?”

        “He slept with his ex.”

        “He what?” Sofia said.

        “I found text messages on his phone between them and I confronted him.”

        “When did this happen?”

        “The sex or when I confronted him?

        “The sex, I mean, how long has it been going on?”

        “Almost a year.”

        “And when did you find out?

        “Last week,” she said, grabbing her drink again.

        “You didn’t say anything.”

        “It’s embarrassing. I told my mother, but I didn’t want anybody else’s opinion. I wanted it to be my own decision.”

        “So you’re sure you want to get a divorce? There is no going back from this— I mean—there is, but once you’re divorced, you are divorced.”

  “Yes, I thought about it. And this was my one condition. Doesn’t everyone have that one condition? He had sex with someone else. I just can’t- “

        “I don’t have that,” she said.

        “What do you mean you don’t? There’s always a deal breaker no matter what. Contracts are made to be broken.”

        “Well, Ari and I decided we would never divorce no matter what.”

        “So, you would stay with him if he cheated? Or if he was abusive?”

        “Well, I don’t expect he would ever cheat on me; he just doesn’t have it in him. That’s one big reason why I married him.”

        “Ok,” Carmen said. “But that’s not how life works. I never thought my husband would cheat either.”

        “Look, it happens. I’m not saying Ari would never do it, but it’s highly unlikely. But what I wanted to tell you was that getting at is that divorce is not the only option. What about going to a therapist? This is a big decision that you’re making. There is nothing wrong with taking your time to make the right decision. No marriage is perfect.”

        “No, I can’t. I can’t even look at him. It’s done. The marriage is dead. I should have known too because he kept in touch with her.”

        “Oh my God, Carmen,” Sofia said, standing up and moving to the seat right next to her friend.

    She placed her hands on her shoulder and squeezed.

        “I think everything is going to work out. You’re young, and you don’t have children and that’s good, so the divorce shouldn’t be so bad.”

    Carmen was now crying.

        “He was supposed to be my best friend. I’m not only losing my husband and lover but my best friend.”

         “And what did he say when you confronted him?”

        “He said it was an accident that he didn’t mean for it to happen. He got on his knees and started crying but to me they seemed like crocodile tears.”

        “What are crocodile tears?”

        “It’s an American saying; it means crying fake tears.”

        “Oh,” Sofia said, continuing to rub her friend’s arm and shoulder

        “I couldn’t look at him.”

        “Why not take a moment to think about things and weigh the positives and negatives?”

        “Sofia, I cannot put up with that type of betrayal. Is that what you would say if Ari cheated on you?”

        “Please, that man would never cheat.”

        “How do you know?”

        “Look at him.”

Carmen started laughing, “Aie que mala.”

        “I’m here for you my friend,” Sofia said.

Then the food arrived and they both looked at each other before digging in.

After brunch, Sofia called another friend on the drive home. 


        “Did you hear?”

        “Hear what?”

        “Carmen is getting a divorce! Emilio was cheating on her with his ex!”

        “Oh…MY…GOD, are you shitting me?”

        “No, I just finished having brunch with her and she confessed. She found out last week, and she just tells me now!”

        “That makes sense, she has been acting kind of weird lately. Oh my god, I’m going to call her.”

        “No, don’t call her. She didn’t want me to tell anybody. “

An incoming call was trying to get through – it was Ari, Sofia’s husband.

        “Oh God, it’s Ari. Give me a sec while I get rid of him.”

        “Ok,” the friend said.

        “Hello, hello,” Ari said.

        “Hi babe, what’s up?”

        “Why did you take so long to answer? What are you doing?”

        “I’m driving.”

        “Driving where?”

        “I’m heading home. I just had brunch with Carmen, remember?”

        “Oh yeah. How was that? I hope you didn’t drink too much.”

        “I’m fine, I just had two.  She’s getting a divorce.”

        “Did you say she’s getting a divorce?”

        “Yes,” she said, puckering up her lips again.


Sofia rolled her eyes at him.

        “I’ll tell you when I get home.”

        “Okay, hey, can you get me some food. We don’t have any food.”

        “What do you want to eat?”

        “Maybe you can pick up some chicken or something.”

        “Okay, how about a box of fried chicken from the supermarket?”

        “That sounds good. Can you also buy a couple of bottles of that fancy water – what’s it called?”


        “Yes, please. Wow, can’t believe your friend is getting a divorce.”

        “Babe, I have Maria on the other line. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home.”


        “Yes, Ari, Maria is on hold.”

        “Okay, I’ll see you when I get home, I love- “

She hung up and switched the call to her friend.

        “So, where was I?”

        “He was having sex with his ex.”

        “Yes, can you believe it? She should give him another chance and try to work it out. Most men are dogs. I’m sure he feels bad. She told me he was crying.”

        “No Sofia, that is unforgivable. At least if it was some woman she didn’t know, but he was having sex with his ex, who he told her she didn’t need to worry about. Remember that?”

        “Yes, I remember. But Emilio is cute. What did she expect? She married a very handsome man— did she not expect women were going to throw themselves at him?” 

        “Is that why you married Ari? Cause he’s too short to cheat…hahaha.”

        Sofia smiled and said, “No…maybe...but Ari is dependable. What I’m saying is that if you marry a hot guy like Emilio, someone who is so much better looking than you, do you really expect him not to stray at least once?”

        “Wow Sofia. I can’t believe what you’re saying. You are a piece of work,” the voice said coming from the speakers.

        “But you know I’m right,” she said.

        “Yes, he’s better looking than Carmen, but that’s not an excuse. But tell me, why did you marry Ari again?”

        “He’s a good guy and I love him. He’s my husband.”

        “Yeah right,” Maria said, “Speaking of Telenovela situations, how is your boyfriend Javi doing?”

Sofia’s eyes turned red and tears came down her cheeks.

        “It’s over. I ended it. It wasn’t right. I really don’t want to talk about it right now. This is about Carmen. She’s the one getting divorced.”

        “You ended it? How did he take it? It must be hard, you work together.”

        “He took it fine and it’s over, and I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

        “I’m sorry. Well, you know I’m always here for you.”

        “I know, and I’m going to be okay. I love my husband and that was just a big mistake that I regret but I’m moving on.”

        “I understand. I’m not judging you. I was just asking.”

        “I know you’re not.”

There was now silence and then Maria broke the ice:

        “So, what else did Carmen say? I can’t wait to ask her.”

        Sofia told Maria all the extra juicy details the entire ride to the grocery and then when she finally got home at night, she repeated some things, but not all to Ari who would get a different version of the story.

  When dinner was over, she showered and went to bed. Then at around 3:00 a.m. she dreamt she was giving birth to a baby with an umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. She woke up abruptly, and shrieked softly. She sat up on the bed; she was sweating. After confirming that it was a dream, she lay back down and turned on her side, away from Ari, and held on to her stomach, then she curled into a ball she wanted to believe made her invincible and no ghost of a former lover could penetrate.


Letter to Jane Alexander, Adrienne Rich

July 3, 1997

Jane Alexander
The National Endowment for the Arts
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20506

Dear Jane Alexander,

I just spoke with a young man from your office, who informed me that I had been chosen to be one of twelve recipients of the National Medal for the Arts at a ceremony at the White House in the fall. I told him at once that I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration. I want to clarify to you what I meant by my refusal.

Anyone familiar with my work from the early Sixties on knows that I believe in art’s social presence—as breaker of official silences, as voice for those whose voices are disregarded, and as a human birthright.

In my lifetime I have seen the space for the arts opened by movements for social justice, the power of art to break despair. Over the past two decades I have witnessed the increasingly brutal impact of racial and economic injustice in our country.

There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art — in my own case the art of poetry — means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage. The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate. A President cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.
I know you have been engaged in a serious and disheartening struggle to save government funding for the arts, against those whose fear and suspicion of art is nakedly repressive. In the end, I don’t think we can separate art from overall human dignity and hope. My concern for my country is inextricable from my concerns as an artist. I could not participate in a ritual which would feel so hypocritical to me.

Adrienne Rich

cc: President Clinton

Editor's note: More info, via The New York Times, here.

Excerpt from Chiaroscuro, Irene Koronas


facsimiles give celluric landscapes eye dorcets for elephantum 
absurdery and a lugubrious phergame that exposes on embryo 

each painting by ernstest humours flagsistence in our multiplica
app commentary on pantheon pantomime as ragout in sacerdotal 

hieratic poses rather than diapered by flutuff in comedic death 
limpid as stone the faithful hores cortex populate an ironperverse 

obsession to trace isolate surfaces on comment salutes between  
two revolutes and one oratorologue the embody proof in lucan 

scabious flow one to another the unimyth women on lank hump 
day covers her tradmonarchy and her digious reason for any tight 

lecture about sharp insertions without their visceral distilleries  
by inquisition and blast that masochists speed offtap to test the

measure cloud ennuis documents for all distipersons will power
proves scion fathers and motheggs adore their watchind memes 

and transcribe puntang rats rite with group invoktion worthy as
any machine except for the obscenities which myst and ban in 

stacks the dephartine grace our fertile elastic movements disnot 
or do anus careful dissimulate their objection to stump advance

the marriage of figaro also led to a titian cube before it collides
with chronological motif when short gulls case house finch off

their bed talk and screw a paper hat onto his forehead she lists
the mass lottery names found in the interpenetrate coupling

a migration from poliwar to multiwar as seen on a very small
screen made from hallowind tin offers a rabbit light under
the obsolete dipthong wiggles inlieu of divinity and an orgiastic
identity or quasi rock pigeon elocution has no seams in its first 

stitch on how a fast honey adds to its two blade blood sums up
the what in an unconquerable cipher with her stick lash on chalk

board telling us how we must unthink think as concordance
dialects the death she might work on after we inconclude 

legible differences she thinks whip is best but gentilechi forms
more button holes near those ritan hands that strangle another

women cloistered by oceanweed faith who then turns into
an elevator going down the antipost chirp we listen without

slipping on marble floors a mollusc shell pierces through her
mountain remarks since when has proof about rapture been

the pillow and thick blanket cross over documents since when
is what he does for us a weed in place of the lank green bush

consit where branches root against a feather on his mini blogart  
tongue the habet boven in lingua in hoc signo vinces we conceal

the point of a rapier a portentous token I keep in my pocket even
when it passes through the surface genitors living in concubinage

as it steals our punctilios odor for papillae manics argue a babel
of vernacular labels saturated by agit and approbium penetration

even when imperfect can pass for crude sidonius the anomalous
position he refers to as similarity and its impossibility for instance

two poles from wooden structure parallel the horizon and will break 
into a hundred pieces which seems improbable but will then drop 

the clock hidden in a grasshopper is smaller than people who stand 
by large columns laid out in opposition to the middle explanation 

given by figero and salvia who lags behind edipuss with a clear voice
his appearance lears the impossible fecundity on earth making a virgin

seem naked putrescence a useful emission in discourse settles many
obligations that bend this important to convince you by demonstration

what happens when a solid object coheres to a firm grasp and lowers
the end attachment with a strong pull toward breton as we define how

being dead the next day is an anagram while avida wags aristotle who
says motion in a vacuum is not instantaneous for the separation

of two plates appear to me to occur outside this axiom with non
resistance even if it is packed inside a glass vessel it still indicates 

by x we take a nap between half past three and salvered by copious 
opposites we take a pill to regulate intelligence with vigor being 

convenient as the erection less paradisiacal pauses during sunday 
automation races that dislocate his knee cap and chap lips lure me 

in jan I touch dry pigment and stroke the corner of our mouth against 
the continuation of indivisible quantity an infallible guide durers this

other thought in a solid cylinder and the short line lets me add more
squares so we can recede from divisible with an end I slip jasmine 

buds in the toilet and an odorless prediction about how ignominy 
influences bee scatology we swallow honey roots with euphoric

cannibal delite we identify myself in a cone jaw volume illustrated by 
being a stop watch where every thin woman coincides with the exact 

visit we escort their caper perception about the last twenty years those 
wrinkles on a mad woman who eats conch shell to decrease assump

paroxysmal hippo crow feet found by the sunrise three times bigger 
than a greek blue mechanical dome opens a tweak eye and carries 

mother to heaven perhaps we shall go then to proclaim a dogma 
about nietzsche who ascends with two imbecile unwives hugging

who lay in shade their common platitudes and dominate a portico 
when I see them stand in a dinghy a wave crush sure and I have to 

include my outfits with pearl thread and silver tinsel I call this my 
closet ascension the corpuscle atom prologue about each meeting

on a single photograph rolled up so it is easy for you to come as a 
transcendental or pid or certit painter with ob while you shoulder

modernity and point to stupid remounts and the river subtracts cube 
unity we take seven and twenty eight or the meaning which warn us

against the error to discuss common liquid metal on liable to whom
you will see firm as an extransparent flavor melts a hot resistance

Excerpt from The Resurrection of Maximillian Pissante, Daniel Y. Harris


Maximillian Pissante’s Tharmus prōvocāres 
the prometheans’ Ar, std(Li). He unregens [6.
938, 6.997], then proserevs their zerocross’ 

λίθος, romanize: lithos: silverwhite alkali preh₂
the resurrectionem corporis—(sarka kai ostea
Luke 24:29). Pissante/Tharmus in mineral oil. 

Syslog: MP=mangodLi_REXT= Smaragdine/  
128±TEST=data_outnumber dead. He plies  

Judaeus Psychologicus’ blazework. Metallic
luster, sheer for cover: ascension in lithium
salt from lithium-ion volt. He then sagecasts    

Judaeus Historicus’ POSTHISTOIRE: pele_sQ
‘ăḇî‘aḏśar šālōmtest_helium.cover/dirstamp.  

Upliftfelt from no cavil’s unlyric, divides up.
No slackspoil for his cross stagger, his proof
eterne, stirs dull the lithium grease. Paltblots

with benisons for Maximillian’s ÉSKHATOS,
his Idiot Questioner’s Teḥiyyat ha-metim: en 
PR: ĕs‘kə-tän′, IPA(key): /‘ɛskəˌtɑn/gospels

proantes in painspare. Unalarm their upcast
down. He derives rapture by ricorso, pentup,
captive in nitride tarnish. Logodaedalus’ “Il

buon tempo verra,” disencloses blogego:id
new_site( = ‘yihui/FREUD_lithium-jocose’). 
He jaws this axgrate, varied, in the margins,

as exposed and pious as Helel ben Shahar.  
Nolime tangere’s fustinus is unus’d below 
400 μK:  6Li and 7Li generate satiromastix.  
Autodépassement renews his urmensch’s 
mimshach. Harmantia’s tossmark is hata’s
nearmiss. Together, piraticals form nuclear

halos around Maximillian’s cabal<artifactId

MOSESMARY cencorpelts his idlerpro. [Li(t
hf)4]+[((Me3Si)3C)2Li]–, sexquests his plex.  
As aprèsgarde, anticonfluentials selfdark@

new errors for criticks who surflect neant 
OVERBRAINS. Purge the kyriocentrica + MP
rray *contents = [[NSFile Dementia_Praecox 

/Lithium/”error:nil]. For the unfallen rex et 
augur is a topophobia. Here’s a processional

for scordatura. Apostrophe is prayer. 6Li2H + 
Vault, diviner lit, outstare un destin si funeste      

and unpeople Maximillian’s Angelus Novus
Retox the glare’s burnbrand. Scale the glint,
powered by <?php ὤφθη $this->html->link

(‘Lithium’, ‘’); ?> (Abbau).
Forge the fireblast, pitside. RISE=ʤ>Ѩpose
a voyce more subtil than Bābilāni. Raw magi,

screwpress his rebegot, the uncogent’s toss
au hasard tags momentumizers. Invesper low,
anxiety’s opus alienum lifts his W-Bw’s eyelid.