Christine Hume is the author of Musca Domestica, Alaskaphrenia, Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense, and the forthcoming Shot (Counterpath). She teaches in and directs the interdisciplinary Creative Writing Program at Eastern Michigan University.

Sometimes a Playoff Game is Just That

You’re caught between two heads,
Two haloes of light, one red,
the other an utter absence of light, a loss.
In a parallel universe, this
is all naturally opposite.
Two heads are caught between you.
Perhaps you are an NHL linesman
caught up in a scuffle.
In a parallel universe, when someone
throws their gloves to the ice,
it means sandwiches.
But in this universe, you must
mitigate tradition and ambivalence.
One head is the convalescent center
for momentum and the other head
is the ambulance that dumps the puck,
a homeless man with his ass
still hanging out of a paper gown.
In a parallel universe,
you could understand what all this means.
I see you are not truly torn
in any physical sense,
though in a parallel universe
one ear will spite the other by tearing
itself away from your head.
Perhaps in this same universe
all internal conflict will manifest
itself in such a way. And since
conflict is often the result of deep thought,
the more features a man is missing,
the more he will be revered as a deep
thinker. Hockey players will keep
all of their teeth.

Lindsay Bell received her MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Her thesis is about musicality, not masculinity. She is delighted to have her work included in the inaugural issue of Requited. Her poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Diagram, Black Clock, Crawdad, Buffalo Carp, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. In her spare time, she plays guitar, sings, and tries to get people to read her blog.

She Fires Blanks and Swallows Sugar Pills

When you are but the proto-villainess,
nothing is at stake.
You file yourself away,
acquire the character
of a red herring.
You are too tweedy,
too intellectual, too many words to be
a danger to our heroine.
You putz around in the threshold,
waiting for some fool to finally get it
and ravish you already. This distracts
from your plan, from joining together
the edges of your dissent,
though it keeps you edgy.

When you are riveted by light splotches,
haloes of whitewash buboes
on a Polaroid from 1987,
there is no reason to be filed.
Something in the shake
let the color slake away –
perhaps it was entirely unshaken.
No negative exists, it was its own
obscure moment in a frilly
green-checked two piece,
before your moment.
You still wonder
how the evidence would be used
so let it accompany you,
though it warrants precious little use.

Lindsay Bell received her MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Her thesis is about musicality, not masculinity. She is delighted to have her work included in the inaugural issue of Requited. Her poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Diagram, Black Clock, Crawdad, Buffalo Carp, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. In her spare time, she plays guitar, sings, and tries to get people to read her blog.

from Not Merely Because of the Unknown That Was Stalking Towards Them

The title of the piece as well as subsequent italicized portions that are followed by a page number are taken from J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. The title is excerpted from the following: “Of course she should have roused the children at once; not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, but because it was no longer good for them to sleep on a rock grown chilly” (72).

Hook pricks all over my spine I’ve. I’ll stay in bed and complain of a sickness; if asked, I’ll say that the Tinker Bell has done this. She did it out of jealously. Maybe he’ll think I’m gravely ill, that another thimble will save. Me. Maybe she’s too obsessed with something else to make the story what it should be. Why, yes, Tootles, I have noticed that lately, lately she’s taken to spinning heaps of wool from the Never sheep. And where have they come from, come from? New sheep done sprung? And a spinning wheel too has come from out of nowhere? Tis were imagined, imagined. Why take to spinning and leave your boys, and leave your boys to play baa baa black sheep? (I do say that something’s in the hay!) Ooh oooh oooh, says Tootles, do you think, do you think the


The Home Under Ground

Hollyhocks blooming all up the side of the trellis, so heavy they need to be tied back lest they droop and break. Neverland earth so rich it will grow anything. Out to the heavens. And so I hold so tightly my little bean lest it escape, implant itself, and fly away from me. Something sinister washed up on the seashore saying too late, too late. What is a girl to do? One who is a very little one? Maybe a doctor, a real doctor, will come? Will come? Old Hook: all lying with his black bag and stethoscope: no real thermometer in there. I say, Hook, I say, I do think I’m coming down with something. A little bird; a little bird. Do you think that for this it’s possible for you to bake me a little cake? Or does it not work that way? Tell me: how do you tell time when your instruments, your landscape keeps changing? The astrolabe says something in conflict with the stars.


girl Wendy is spinning us suits,new sheep suits, and we can finally change out of these here old bear suits? Why, kill a sheep first and see if it fits, if it fits true, and then go and see what Peter will say to you; none of the boys, however, are quite that brave; none want to be chased out and away from the Neverland because chasing quite means a disappearance. Happened once to an old Never monarch; old butterfly never quite said the right words to the Peter bird, who quite made the thing disappear simply. OOoooohhhh, oooohhh, get this, get this, Tootles says, I asked her, and she says that she quite intends, she quite intends to stay on through the winter and to the spring, and that is why, that is why she’s a-spinning a Never cloak to wear for then, to meet the cold. We’ve bear suits; she does not; the Wendy bird will freeze, will freeze, and her Never house all slatty. And what has she there in her spinning basket there? Oh, mermaids’ hair, butterfly wings, locks from Hook’s hair, pixie dust, dead pixies’ wings, a myriad of sparkling things, a few stars here, a few Never leaves there; she’s spinning them right in; I daresay she’ll blend in and then what then? Will the Peter bird still love her? Because, as you know, he only loves them when they are quite different. But, Tootles, she will still have that thing. What thing? What thing? I hardly know what you mean by that thing. I complain of Wendy who has gone nights now without telling us a story. Wendy, she’s in to her elbows in the wash basin trying to demusk the sheep fleece. It’s a ram, you see, and it has a certain


The Home Under Ground

Wendy, have you quite come to terms with what it means to fly home? I don’t quite think so; you see, I’ve a certain crick in my neck from all of that spinning, and the applying of various poultices—Tiger Lily’s pussy lard and Peter’s toe jam—haven’t quite been working, although Tiger Lily’s father quite said they would. So, no, I haven’t actually been thinking too much on what it means to fly home. Why don’t you tell me.


aroma; it’s ever-so-much stronger than you might think. The business trip will take eleven days; will you be quite lonesome without. Me? The doves all crying; why, yes, you’ve guessed it, Wendy! In the eaves. Don’t be. So sad. Isn’t this exactly the kind of life you imagined. For me? Oh, no. Oh, no. There will be no lovenotes sent to you in starcode; the boss simply won’t allow. It. If you like, maybe you could leave. A note with the secretary. She’ll be happy. To help. You. This, I know. For certain. She’s always so eager. To please. But you mustn’t. Cry, Wendy. That won’t do; that won’t do. At all. Oh, there! Will you look at. The time. It’s about time, really. It’s about time that. I got going. And what’s that, you say? The cradle? We’ll discuss it. Later. When I get back. Home. Isn’t it a wonder? Really. That belly of yours is really. A wonder. Quite.
The look in his eyes: it is delicious. His eyes say that he’d like to shred Hook to pieces with his good sword, the sword that cut Hook’s hand off, and not his hobby one. But sometimes he’ll mistake the good sword for the hobby sword: this can make a meeting with anything

The Home Under Ground

Wendy, I daresay I think it’s about time that we let these things go now. Wolf has stopped crying; little lost egg yolk has stopped crying; centipede and caterpillar have stopped crying; old Smee, he of the lost marbles, even he, Wendy, has stopped crying. Old kite all tattered and soiled now—even it has stopped crying. It’s only you now who won’t stop crying. Good god, old lady, you must stop crying. See, see that old moon: close one eye and then two fists over between those two stars there: there you will fly.


quite dangerous. For him, it isn’t a matter of unknowing, but rather a matter of forgetting. Peter is the boy of forgetting. (Wendy would like to forget that.) Well, aren’t you clever; aren’t you just the part! For he is just the part, you know. That’s her! That’s my Wendy, he’ll say when he sees just the right girl. (The prop is only make-believe!) She is just the right girl. Oh, but won’t the real old lady be quite jealous? Won’t she just get all tinkerbell on us? Start pricking and plotting some sort of death for the girl? Won’t matter; won’t matter: something will save her; something always saves her. That’s how the story always ends. Nothing really happens when the Tinker Bell tries to kill anyone. Nor crocs; nor bearded men. Just the Peter bird, then? Just the Peter bird then.

The Home Under Ground

Maybe everything’s just falling apart now: skeleton leaves showing their seams. I know how this will go: you’ll say that you don’t really love me. Here: take something. To remember me. By. That’s the way the story goes, right, Peter bird? And will you come for any gifts? I do fear that I’ve quite run dry of stories. You’ve heard them all before. Oh, yes, but you do forget. You’ll forget this one too I guess. No amount of reminding will get you to think of this one in a year’s time. Or maybe. Maybe if I can teach the Never birds to say my name. Maybe if I can get one of the Never boys to keep reminding—oh, but they die. They die, too. They die from the cuts and scrapes from wars with the braves with the wolves with the bears with the pirates too, and you’ll replace. Them. That, you’ll do. As is your fashion. And you’ll replace me, too. Replace; replace; replace. It’s such a funny word: replace.


Is it real, Peter, is it real that you have left me? I complain of Peter, who has left me. The leaving was not so make-believe. I too, like Tink, will spend the rest of the whole of my life glorying in being. Abandoned. Tink says she glories in being abandoned (92). Not so much as a sorry-to-lose-you between them! If she did not mind the parting, he was going to show her, was Peter, that neither did he. But of course he cared very much (97). Or so, that is the story that we tell ourselves, the story we want to believe. But doesn’t caring very much mean everything? As in: I’d do anything? No, we hadn’t thought so; we thought not. But oh, Wendy, is that there your manuscript all caught in the trees? Did the Peter bird get angry and wish it gone and it got all caught up in the branches there? There will be a story for you to leave, but your leaving will insist on it more that you. What’s that you say? You have a little papoose? A little cocoon to hang, too? Mother wolf all dead now: will your little whelps be going, too? Will they need a nursery room? Shall we, Wendy? Shall we turn your house into a whelp rumpus room?


The Home Under Ground

The grown-ups again have spoilt everything. They too will take the girl Wendy away. Peter didn’t leave the room, and that is why it happened this way. If only he didn’t stay. But he did, and he told his story. And it was his story that made it so that the Wendy girl wished to go away. You see, it is story that takes them. The dread is what makes Wendy forgetful (97): Peter, will you make the necessary arrangements? (97). It’s quite like a funeral. This is what happens when Peter doesn’t forget. And oh don’t you wish he hadn’t?

Jenny Boully is the author of The Book of Beginnings and Endings, [one love affair]*, The Body: An Essay, and the chapbook Moveable Types. She teaches at Columbia College Chicago. She has just completed a new manuscript, not merely because of the unknown that was stalking towards them, which is excerpted in this issue. Other excerpts have appeared or are forthcoming in Shampoo, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, and Puerto del Sol.

Return to Home

Return to Home is a series of reconfigured and reimagined domestic spaces from classic television sitcoms and dramas. Using screenshots salvaged from shows as diverse as The Honeymooners, Charles in Charge, and Dynasty, I create photomontages that look beyond the intended rigid, time-based TV narrative. Return to Home places the constructed and sublimated spaces of production sets in focus, renewing the potential of stagnant imagined places.

19 ¾” x 27 ¾”

19 ¾” x 27 ¾”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

10” x 8”

10” x 8”

15 ¾” x 19 ¾”

15 ¾” x 19 ¾”

19 ¾” x 9”

19 ¾” x 9”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

10” x 8”

10” x 8”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

27 ¾” x 19 ¾”

27 ¾” x 19"

27 ¾” x 19″

Andrew Breen received a BFA in photography with a minor in Art History from Columbia College Chicago. He was awarded the Weisman Memorial Scholarship twice and was a finalist in the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation’s Visual Arts Competition. His work has been shown at the various galleries including the Evanston Art Center, Hokin Gallery, University of Chicago, Ben Shahn Gallery, and Pierro Gallery. He lives and works in Chicago, IL and currently teaches at the Evanston Art Center.


The body is also directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, make it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs.

Michel Foucault “Discipline and Punish”

The idea must have been for it to become somebody else’s turn to bring somebody else into a world.

Gary Lutz “Priority”

For every package of diapers you bring, any size, you will receive one raffle ticket.

Jason & Candy VanWinkle “Baby Shower Invitation”

In her article “Pre-Oedipal Gender Configurations,” Nancy Chodorow discusses the Pre-Oedipal Stage of attachment between mothers and daughters.[1] She uses an object-relations approach in order to examine how complex bonds are formed between mother and daughter because of variable dynamics at play in the process of ego boundary formation.[2] She writes that the Pre-Oedipal Stage “entails a relational complexity in feminine self-definition and personality which is not characteristic of masculine self-definition or personality” and that “because of their mothering by women, girls come to experience themselves as less separate than boys, as having more permeable ego boundaries” (471).[3] In this essay, I will explore the notion of permeable boundaries in order to suggest that Chodorow’s ideas may be applicable in pedagogical contexts.[4]

Chodorow describes a pivotal moment in ego formation where one may experience “a lack of self, or emptiness” (476).[5] She also notes that “women are more likely to experience themselves this way [and] feel that they are not being accorded a separate reality nor the agency to interpret the world in their own way” (476).[6] If it is true that “prolonged symbiosis and narcissistic over-identification are particularly characteristic of early relationships between mothers and daughters,” how does this identification play out in the classroom?[7] Some critics and educators suggest that the ego boundaries of female teachers and their students frequently intersect and merge.[8]. Pre-Oedipal sites of conflict cause differences in the ego formation between boys and girls and these disparities play themselves out differently in classroom environments.[9]

Chodorow notes that boys in the Pre-Oedipal Stage are “differentiated from their mothers” and that “mothers push this differentiation (even while retaining, in some cases, a kind of intrusive controlling power over their sons)” (484).[10] Mothers mark the configurations of difference in order to exclude boys from the more fluid boundaries of ego identification which defines the Pre-Oedipal experience for girls.[11] Interference and restriction that disallows boys from further identifying and coalescing with their mothers and a mother’s unconscious psychological fusion with girls can also be identified within the space of the classroom.[12] These cases are particularly noticeable where the male to female ratio in the classroom is remarkably stratified.[13]

Recent studies in post-structuralist psychoanalytic theory oppose strict gender demarcations and also suggest that the footnotes of this essay have begun rallying against marginalization.[14] Both Foucault and Chodorow share in common a complicated relationship with your mom.[15] Precisely because of the multiple psychological cohabitations of when I grow up I want to be a cowboy and Gem is truly outrageous, power dynamics operate every which way but loose as a potential site for reform in what are thought of as traditional practices.[16]

In conclusion, my friend wrote me an email the other day that said: “I decided to masturbate yesterday because I had some time and was a bit tired of staring at walls. I was about five minutes into it when I caught myself and suddenly realized that I was planning my class for today. What has my life become?”[17] We’ve decided to go back home.[18] Perhaps that is where we belong—alone and without the suffocating influence of the mother.[19] An awareness of the differences in the Pre-Oedipal stage for boys and girls can help to positively inform pedagogical practices.[20]


[1] Speaking of, I need to call my mom.

[2] I teach five classes at two universities, and some time has passed since I have engaged with academic writing because I am too busy teaching all of the time. Please pardon the frequent interruptions.

[3] Sometimes I forget where I am and who speaks and who I am and what I say and where this is going. I want to be explicit about the rampant anxiety I feel every time I assume academic discourse. I am a magician pulling knots of syntax from my throat.

[4] My mother wrote to me recently to say: “I survived my first meeting as president [of the Quilting Guild]. I kept looking at the past president for guidedince [sic]. At least I didn’t stutter but only turned red in the face.”

[5] Eckhart Tolle says in Stillness Speaks that “reincarnation doesn’t help you if in your next incarnation you still don’t know who you are” (52).

[6] In an essay entitled “The Wound in the Face,” Angela Carter examines model’s faces in order to figure out “the nature of the imagery of cosmetics.” She notes that “all the models appeared to be staring straight at [her] with such a heavy, static quality of being there that it was difficult to escape the feeling that they were accusing [her] of something” (90).

[7] I, too, feel accused beneath the gaze. Some students spend all semester in a perpetual state of staring, much like the models in magazines glazed over with a gauzy gaze. Yet each day I am expected to say something. Sometimes I just stare back at them silently and wait for something to happen.

[8] Rokelle Lerner writes in Affirmations for the Inner Child: “Sometimes I feel like a crowd—I can become a different person at anytime for anyone. No wonder it’s so easy for me to lose track of myself” (111).

[9] “Astonishment / inside me like a separate person, / sweat-soaked. How to grip. / For some people a bird sings, feathers shine. I just get this this” (Carson 87).

[10] Of interest here are the inmates in Foucault’s panopticon, who are the “object[s] of information, never [the] subject[s] in communication” (554). Who are the inmates (mothers) and who tops the towers (the mothers)?

[11] Coppelia Kahn asks, “why do women mother children as well as give birth to them?” (826).

[12] One of my students recently wrote an email that effectively demonstrates the fluidity of ego boundaries. I quote merely a small portion of this text anonymously for illustration:

Life can be a whirlwind, things happen; I don’t want to go into the personal details of the harsher realities in my life first, because when I just think about it I get teary eyed, and second, everyone goes through unimaginable things in life, and while everyone is experiencing their own dark moments they may not care about what anyone else is going through, I guess that’s just a part of life, peole [sic] aren’t always as altruistic as we hope they would be. You [. . .] might not care that the anniversary of the death of someone that I loved more than any other human being on this planet (because it was my cat of fifteen years, who was more like my daughter than a pet, and no one could possibly undestand [sic] how much I love her) is coming up next Friday [. . .] and you might not care about the harsh things that I’ve been going through these past few months and honestly, I just don’t want to mention it because it’s just sad, frankly my personal issues are just that, personal, but the affects [sic] they have on me effect [sic] other parts of my life sometimes, like my schoolwork, which I hate because I care about my schoolwork. It’s ok if you don’t care about my personal life, I really don’t expect anyone to, it’s not anyone else’s problem. I’m not telling you all of this because I want your pity or anyone else’s for that matter, and I don’t want any judgments or preconceived notions about my life from anyone who hasn’t lived it, I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, I’m still alive, and not so depressed that I’m completely incapable of living some type of normal life, so I think that’s a big enough accomplishment since it’s more than I can say for some people I know who simply don’t have a life anymore at all. I’m telling you all of this because my personal life affected my schoolwork, for your class, which unfortunately affects you, and I apologize for that, and no matter how many times I apolgize [sic] I can’t undo it, but like I said things happen, and I don’t want you to think that I’m just some lazy student who didn’t feel like doing my work, or is trying to take advantage of your kindness. No one plans tragedies, I’m sure you know that, and I didn’t plan to not have my midterm done.

[13] Can you tell when I’m just making shit up? I’ve exhausted the possibilities.

[14] Dear reader. We are escaping and moving across the territory of the text to fare better in the body. We don’t expect much because, let’s face it, the current situation is deplorable. Onward! We will bare and be born!

[15] Your mother’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies will be bequeathed to you upon her death. It’s the only thing you’ll be getting.

[16] Can I go to the bathroom?

[17] Anonymous.

[18] “Each town looks the same to me/ the movies and the factories/ and every stranger’s face I see/ reminds me that I long to be/ homeward bound/ I wish I was/ homeward bound” (Simon and Garfunkel).

[19] Part I.

The mother watches. She places her fingers in plaited nets and knits. She wonders how we weave our teeth through the green chlorophyllic leaves and saw so small. She watches us sometimes in jars as we shed skins. We would speak, but are without mouths. We can only sip nectar, suckling cups of buds. We do not eat, not exactly, but lust in fond full gulps of a flower’s special blood.

[20] Part II.

The moon narrows and we fly in one straight line. Men become distracted and motion toward candlelight, thinking they smell us in the seeping slicks of wax. No one knows why, with light, we cannot help spiral toward it. We can’t explain why we are called to our own endings, compelled to treat ourselves like pests. Glowing and bright, we fly forward, burning bodies, reddened and crackled from risk. We seek our own lonely light found in moments that quicken to end.

Works Cited
Anonymous. Email to the author. 20 April 2009.

Brown, Vicki. Letter to the author. 27 January 2008.

Carson, Anne. “Gnosticism I.” Decreation. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.

Carter, Angela. “The Wound in the Face”. Nothing Sacred. London: Virago, 1982.

Chodorow, Nancy. “Pre-Oedipal Gender Configurations.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd Edition. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 2004. 470-486.

Foucault, Michel. “Discipline and Punish.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd Edition. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 2004. 549-566.

Kahn, Coppelia. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd Edition. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 2004. 826-837.

Lerner, Rokelle. Affirmations for the Inner Child. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1990.

Lutz, Gary. “Priority.” Stories in the Worst Way. Providence: 3rd bed, 1996

Simon and Garfunkel. “Homeward Bound.” Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits. Sony Music Entertainment, 1972.

Tolle, Eckhart. Stillness Speaks. California: New World Library, 2003.

VanWinkle, Jason and Candy. “Baby Shower Invitation.” 2 May 2009.

Rebbecca Brown teaches writing at Hunter College in NYC. Her work has appeared in Confrontation, New South, The Means, 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, The Americal Literary Review, and Eclipse (among others).

Yes To Everything 2: Son of Everything

[A man approaches a microphone. He looks at the audience. Go.]

-This isn’t where it starts, but I guess it’ll do.

-When I was your age, I was seven.

-Poof, you’re a sandwich.

-You’re a sandwich.

-Trains are the coolest thing ever. The second coolest thing are rocks.

-Choo Choo.

-The name game goes like this. Blank blank bo blank banana fanna fo flank. Me my mo-oh mlank. Blank.

-I’m glad we had this talk.

-I’ve known your mother since before you were born.

-Rocks Rocks.

-You take after your mother’s side. Your sister takes after her front.

-There once was a girl from New Delhi

Who asked Mom for raspberry jelly.

For the very first time

Cause she usually ate lime

Which probably explains why she didn’t like it very much.

-Every choice I ever made I made for you.

-Pull my finger.

-Wait for it.

-Wait for it.

-[A single bouncy ball is bounces across the stage.]


-Hello god, it’s me. Yes, I’ll hold.

-Wait for it.

-Uphill both ways.

-Poof you’re a sandwich.

-Chuck chuck bo buck banana fanna fo —- wanna ride bikes?

-She told me we had a choice to make. I told her I had a train to catch.

-Every choice I made I made for you.

-Choo choo!

-When I was a kid I did things I’d be embarrassed to admit to my kid.

-I thought Sadie Hawkins was a dance where you had to go with a girl named Sadie Hawkins.

-Happy birthday to Everything. . .

-Sadie and I dated for three months.

-I find it disturbing how often people abbreviate the word “education.”

-The following is a list of names I do not recommend inserting into the name game:









Boutris Boutris Galli



Your own

-This is the sound of a grown man talking.

-[An actual train whistle.]

-I’m glad we could have this talk.

-Children have always frightened me.

-She told me to get over it.

-She said she came from Jupiter. I looked it up on a map. It’s in Colorado.

-The monsters in my closet were just misunderstood.


-It was the monsters under the bed that had me worried.

-You may choose one or the other, but not both.

-Every choice I made I made for you.

-Every choice I made I chose you.

-I made you.

-I chose you.

-I chugga

-I choo choo.

-Elementary ed. Phys ed. Co-ed. Special ed.

-Choo Choose!

-I often wet the bed, but just to kill the monsters.

-Boys have a penis and girls have a choo choo.

-The funny thing is I wasn’t trying to be funny.

-There once was a boy who got married.


-She told me to get over it.

-I don’t care what anyone says, I will never subject my child to this. [Puts on a clown nose.]

-I’ll give you something to cry about.

-[Takes off the clown nose.] I’m serious now.

-No matter what your mother tells you, Willy Wonka kills those children.

-Wait for it.

-I always thought I’d be better at this.

-Better better bed wetter banana fanna go get her.

-I got in trouble for laughing at this sentence. “Augustus was sucked up the chocolate tube.”

-The funny thing is I wasn’t trying to be funny.

-Sucked sucked bo bucked banana fanna.

-Both ways in the snow.

-Ask your mother

-I don’t know.

-Every choice I made I chose you every choice I made I chose you every choice I made I chose you.

-You You!

-Chugga chugga! Chugga Chugga!

-Poof, I made a sandwich.

-Poof I made a monster.

-Poof I made a person.

-CHOO CHOO!!!!!! [As a bunch of bouncy balls fall from the sky.]

-Your mother and I have something to tell you.

-Pull my finger.

-Wait for it. Wait for it.


[He makes a fart noise into the microphone. A kid laughs. The end.]

Philip Dawkins is a Chicago playwright and educator. His play, Yes To Everything! was performed this year at the Side Project (cut to the Quick) as well as NY, CA, DC and all around the country. Last year, his play Perfect premiered at the Side Project under the direction of Stephen Cone. Other Chicago credits: You Gonna Eat That? (HealthWorks), Ugly Baby (Chicago Vanguard/Strawdog Theatre Company), A Still Life in Color (T.U.T.A. Company), Saguaro (Estrogen Fest, Chicago; Estrogenius Festival, NY; 16th Street Theatre, Berwyn, IL, Painted Filly, Ireland.). Philip’s writing has been published in The Stranger and his play, Edgar and Ellen: Bad Seeds (Northlight Theatre) will be published by Playscripts International this spring. Philip is currently writing an opera trilogy with his writing partner Eric C. Reda. He is the ARTS Program Director at Pegasus Players, and teaches playwriting in public schools through Chicago Dramatists. He also teaches Kung Fu to little, tiny, Chicago children. Hi-YAH!

We do not have to believe the things we say, though we may well. The things we say are objects, and we place them in front of us in order to consider them.

There may be some repetition in this. We may find ourselves making the same sounds over and over, writing the same words. Perhaps this has value.

I am proposing that we think of words as objects and of language as its own special kind of event.

We need to make mistakes.


What is language made of?

It is possible that everything is made of language in some very real way.

But before we come to that, I think what I would like to ask is what kind of thing is language, is talking? Or maybe what does talking do?

Talking is descriptive. What do we use talking for? To describe something other than language, something that is not here.

Talking is then a sort of hole. Talking, in a very real way, is not there. It’s about something, but it’s not about here.

Still, when we speak we make something. We make the experience of speaking or of hearing speech.

Talking points to what is absent, which turns out to be everything but talking itself.

Talking is a concrete experience, apart from any concrete experience it might point to or evoke.

The nature of language is that it must be experientially present in order to provide access to the absent.

The trick is duration. Talking has become a kind of experience that has broken off from what it is anticipating or remembering and exists concretely, uniquely, in a perpetual present.


By speaking, we order the past.

We make the past tidy. It has been messy, and we clean it out for new uses. We place the past into an order, a sequence we can use for present purposes.

We put the past in order in order to use it. In doing so, we order it up out of the past.

Speech is a kind of recording, a way to conjure up into the present.

What we record most often is ourselves recording the recordings of ourselves. We remember remembering.


An empty table. Empty chair. Papers. Water glass full, waiting. A microphone, center.

Suggests testimony. Witness. Interview. Interrogation. Lecture.

Suggests a one-sided conversation, a conversation in which one side has set the terms.

Power cord connects out, across the floor. Connects to something unseen. Remote.

The speaker is coming. We are waiting. He is about to arrive.

The speaker has left, left the means of address – his chair, his notes, his water – behind. In haste. Because he has spent them. The objects no longer hold their ritual power. Their power of invocation has been transferred onto a listener and they are no longer held here.

This is not the site of the event, but the event is here. And we are waiting.

For what?

For our own perfect moment?

For that which will allow us to go?


To leave or return?

To turn towards something or to turn away?

This is what a table supposes. A conversation. A landscape across which two things meet.

We are ready to be addressed. To be taught. And it turns out that is what this table is. A teaching table.

Learning breeds learning, we are always between ignorance and knowing.


How do we build a language within ourselves?

We make something. We repeat it. We connect it to something else. We mount it. It is all relative. All relational, that is. And it begins to amount to a vocabulary that means something.

This new vocabulary means something within its own system, independent of its ability to be understood.

There is a way that meaning, that language can be exclusive. And there are times we desire this. Times when what language provides most is a kind of privacy from understanding. At these times, distinct vocabularies function as a kind of delineation.

But there is a way, too, that discrete meanings can be entered.

Such private meaning can be accessed, it seems, through modeling the process by which the vocabulary was built.

Idiosyncratic language, then, is not impossible to understand, it just needs to contain, like the map to any unknown territory, a key as to how to decipher it.

Once opened, however, such meaning holds even within another context. Still holds, in fact, when a given word acquires additional, even opposite, meanings.

In this way, we build ourselves an excess of meanings to use across the boundaries of discrete individual systems. In this way, the results multiply.


More than for any other purpose, we use language in conversation. And when there is something that we want to tell to someone else.

Once thought enters the world, it is vulnerable to being challenged, interrogated, rejected.


What we do when we talk to another person is compare models of the world.

Day to day we monitor our experiences by describing them. Our individual modes of description invent the possibilities, and the limits, of what we can know.

What it ends up being is a casting into a conceptual center, a shared public sphere, some version of which we all carry around with us. It is only through this collective agreement that the world, as it were, “holds.”


A lecture is a particular mode of telling. It replaces absent knowledge with a formal knowing. An authoritative knowing.

In the lecture, the position of authority has left the body of the speaker and resides in the relationship of speaker to audience.

A lecture is not primarily a first-hand account, a lecture is a vehicle for a kind of telling. Formally, a most impersonal kind of telling. Even the personal can be rendered impersonal by the formal container of the lecture. My own story, a fit topic for a lecture.

The unique human presence delivering a lecture has been pressed bodily into service to the needs of the lecture topic.

This presence in the lecture is emphatic, a kind of human italic which lends the lecture the engagement of human presence and the urgency of time.


Speaking as someone else is a singularly lonely experience.

The power to be found there comes in multiplying an idiosyncratic voice into the embodiment of a shared event, one life’s stories become a kind of experiential commons.


It might be worth our while to pay attention to the intentions of the speakers toward the object they are speaking for.

Not a bad notion to keep in mind as a kind of gut check in any act of deliberate telling: What do you mean? And why do you mean it?


One question to ask of any act of speech is how will it act in the world?

The discovery, perhaps, is that in finding our own voices, we find a multitude. Through the act of placing language into the world, we forge a possibility, we make real the metaphorical and the speculative every time we speak.


At some point, the white noise of speech becomes too constant and prevalent to be useful or meaningful and all we long for is silence.

Ira S. Murfin is a writer and theatre maker. His writing has appeared in elimae, Fiction at Work, Lark(!), Mobius, and the book The Mind Garden. Ira is Co-Artistic Director of the Laboratory for Enthusiastic Collaboration and a founding member of the Laboratory for the Development of Substitute Materials, two devised theatre collectives. His solo and collaborative writing and performance work has been presented at the Peter Jones Gallery by Walkabout Theater, Links Hall, SAIC’s Gallery 2, Version Fest, The Neo-Futurists, Ox-Bow, SSTART Gallery, Prop Thtr, Chicago Calling Festival, and the Red Rover, Powells North, Quickies & Reconstruction Room reading series. He is also the former Head of the Soleri Book Initiative at the urban design project Arcosanti. Ira is a graduate of the Dramatic Writing Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and holds an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

My Toy Interior: A Video Essay

Requited – Toy Interior from robin morrissey on Vimeo.

Robin Morrissey

There is a curious way in which writing becomes idealized form. A mysterious process through which the lines become transformed into boundaries which beg to be transgressed, reformulated, upon which we make our attempts at their erasure (or to mark ourselves in), that makes them all the more integral to the unspoken fictional nature of language.

First, though, let me begin properly. I actually just wanted to invite you over. I wanted to invite you for cocktails, or coffee, for tea and a frame of reference or knowing, maybe later a game of charades, or an account of a memory that arose in the space between reading, or talking. I say this to explain how earlier, I went looking for a space. A kind of space I’d like to meet you in, and see you in a way I hadn’t seen you before, when before we’d only see each other in the neutral and estranged space of work.

I read something, then decided I’d portrait us, to make us “what is sequestered” (to use Ashbery’s piece about a little man in a tiny mirror) and, therefore, to solidify our friendship. An afternoon that would form as though a scene from a film, a Sherman, a something more, in your mind. But, we’d just be getting together, you know, to share things and names of things in our common, but until now unuttered, language.

Our words will contain knowledge that is felt to be known, like a secret longing for miniature Barbie shoes, a fetish I have always had and have always wanted to tell someone. In there, her tiny, white, high-heeled shoes fit perfectly on a red sofa. And about which you will consider:

[how] the miniature perfects the experience it so carefully reproduces… [an]idealized form of the miniature then articulates as it exemplifies (we are so) a sense of
individual interiority as separate from and superior to the world. (from
Gillian Brown, The Consent of the Governed, Cambridge: Harvard, 2001, 86)

And, yet another fragment, whose own end has been elided:

For the miniature, in its exaggeration of interiority and its relation to the space and time of the individual perceiving subject, threatens the infinity of …(from Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, Durham: Duke, 1993, 44)

… its meaning? Ours in it? It reminds me of freedom in temporality. In which we met so many possibilities in a perfect room. A place at which you are beguiled, surprised, shocked, exposed, known, understood, complicated, redeemed. An eternal internal of a “virgin snow … [that] shows up the bloody footprints.”[1]

It is the perfect place to meet. A fantastic frame of room. The wide open floor and statues a gallery for the transient pieces in which two people sit gesturing. The furniture is an arrangement of a new feeling. The next idea. I wanted another us, the doubles that say what we mostly can’t or don’t, in the noir space.

In this– miniature – replication of someone else’s home, certain realities are much bigger than what you’ll see here. While we speak with our high heels on the sofa, though, what becomes the referential field for we two?

We cannot agree with Susan Stewart’s idea that “the ways in which the physical world can be miniaturized are not carried over into devices for the linguistic depiction of the miniature” (45). Yet, I wonder what depiction to use for the small work by Gao Chang-Jun and Shen You-Gen, sitting still as royalty in deep mahogany at the far wall.

Those two created in idea and language yet another little toy: an eternal expanding universe driven by quintessence. Their faces, which you cannot see, say nothing, though they are very interested in what you were saying about your new form for poetic narrative: a moebius of the aleatory dialectics of astrology and Tarot. A narrative I Ching of the post-American unconscious, with its system of defeated language and lost connection to meaning, how you told them you wished to plot it as it continues to wade terror- and grief-stricken through a koan-like, self-denying fall.

Yet, quintessence, this beautiful element to another universe, is “the fifth and highest element after air and earth and fire and water [that] was believed to be the substance composing all heavenly bodies” ( 12 May 2009). The invisible vibration of white carpet against the green curtains that frame the statues, how on either side of the fireplace a certain sense of wonder is visible, as in the eternal faces of Chang-Jun and You-Gen. We listen attentively with our skirts pulled around our legs, and our high heels on the sofa. An expanding form – as though they were, we were, material there on the sofa sipping tea, all of us there and invisible vibrating frequencies of quintessence, this language of modeling, layering, doubling, multiplying what is and what isn’t seen there.

There we sit and face each like two mirrors, expanding form.


[1] Alfred Hitchcock on why blondes makes the best victims.

Robin Morrissey lives and walks in Chicago, IL. Recent work includes a ten-minute staged adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone at Caffeine Theatre in 2008, and installation actions for the “No Project” and “Park Yourself” events, curated by Chicago artist Jenny Roberts. Morrissey’s previous installations have shown in Antwerp, BELGIUM, Ann Arbor, MI, and Chicago, IL; her poetry has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Chinquapuin, Berkeley Campus Writers Anthology, and phoebe. She is a responsible and active member of the Columbia College Chicago Adjunct community.

The Great Correction

Marva and Jones liked to go swimming in the late afternoon. They would walk down the steps built into the steep hill that delivered the college from the town. Both college and town were compelling in their ways, but they were not meant to be together. Marva remembered the townspeople’s strong, nasal vowels as she looked over their houses. Many favored pale pinks and blues and yellows, the colors fading into the sky, the harbor. When Jones looked over the rooftops, he saw home.

The steps, wooden and split, had once been painted the same alternating pastels. She pulled up a few paint chips with her fingernails and put them in her pocket. When they went home, she would place them at right angles to some of the other things in her collection, small and bright and salvaged.

Jones was breathing hard. They stopped in the dry bowl of grass at the base of the stairs and stood together, her stomach pressed against his back. He turned to nip at her cheek, and they walked to the part of town built for tourists.

The streets were empty, and though the buildings were not tall, the hills rose dramatically around them, turning sidewalks into tunnels. It was very hot, the blue of the sky stretched thin. Marva’s lips were swollen, her arms and thighs wet and embarrassed.

The town was once a colonial port. The oldest houses had pineapples carved over their doorways, symbols of luck and prosperity. The streets were arranged around wide, shallow canals. Once barges ran along them, unloading tall ships. After trading fell off, they were stagnant and murky for decades. Finally dredged and made beautiful with boardwalks and tall, wrought iron lampposts, carts selling lemon ice, some nights they were eerie with gondolas, drifting people leaning out to fill firepits that seemed to float on metal stems with cedar and rosewood, lighting them, sap snapping and sparking out over the water. A crowd would come to watch, people sitting in shadows just off the boardwalk, and it felt safe and ragged, like the town, a brittle cocoon. Marva could just remember these nights, but Jones said he could not. He was glad that the canals had been cleaned, the bottoms paved. They could float and paddle in the faintly flowing water. If he kicked out hard, his feet hit the bottom.

They undressed and dropped gingerly over the edge, the lukewarm water cool enough, dirt streaming from their faces and hair. Jones saw that Marva had freckled. He noticed the little pocks before, but thought they were remnants of the iris paint they had once smeared on their faces and arms to block the fierce sun.

They pulled themselves out, fingers curled over the edge, and she picked up the wires left on the boardwalk, wound them around her shoulders again. She had pulled the wires from the wall, some to wear as necklaces and some to tie back her hair. She loved to shred the plastic casing, the hard line below unexpectedly cold against her skin, as if it could still shock. When she was outside, the wires kept the walls close, memories of the humming radio and television, the heating pad and the coffee maker’s rumble as the last of the water left the chamber.

The wires also filled her with doubt, a panic that rose predictably. “Should I have left them?” she asked Jones. “What if we need them?”

“No, you should have them,” he said. “It’s not going to work again.”

Jones seemed to be losing language, or refusing old words, like electricity and theft. He claimed to know Buddhist sayings. “Being alive is a burning building,” he told her often.

She only felt like she was on fire when she saw the dog. It was walking close again. It had long black hair and one lidless eye, swollen and white. Marva thought the dog used this eye to find them. She wished she wanted to feed it, but did not.

The dog reminded her of before. She had a little black dog, groomed and playful. She took him walking outside every day until the television said that the sun was too bright, that everyone should stay home. Marva did, kept still in her little basement apartment where the walls were still cool to the touch. Her dog could not bear it, and finally she let him go. The television broadcasts stopped, the radio died and the lights went out. Friends knocked on her door, told her to come to the harbor for relief, to board the cargo boats. Marva was afraid to leave, to sail, and her friends stopped coming. Her dog did not return.

When she at last had to come out into the twilight, the town was empty. There were no boats tied to the stumpy piers in the harbor. She met Jones after pushing through the plastic sheeting in the back of a dried up grocery store, finding the cavernous stockroom. He was eating from a can with his fingers.

Jones began to trip over his words when he saw her, to tell her everything. He knew somebody else was there; each time he came back there were fewer cans and he knew he would find her. But she had not been to the store since it worked, food replenished and cash registers on. Later, outside, she saw a raccoon, brilliant and adaptive, slip up a deserted crane with a can in one of its sensitive paws, let it fall and crack on the sidewalk below. She did not tell Jones.

For a few months, they saw mammals everywhere, rats and possums and housecats panting in their fur. Now they only heard birds, singing the reptilian world awake again, and the dog. Marva was afraid that it was hers and she could not remember it. The dog followed them through town but did not mount the stairs behind them. They were safe when they climbed to the top, when they burrowed into Marva’s little room.

Home, Marva arranged the paint chips, pulled Jones to her beneath the cool beams. Jones thought about the day, released the day. Once more, things had not crystallised. In some ways, everything was simpler, but really it was not. They were bound together in the sea, forming neither the current nor the canoe. They gathered their talents close. Night wreathed their unmoored shoulders.

Kathleen Andersen’s fiction has also appeared in CROWD, Eleven Bulls, and Washington Square. She holds degrees from Brown University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Kathleen lives in Chicago.