On the Presupposition of Causality When Considering Who I Loved and Why in Earnest Belief that Language is not One Algebra Expressing an Incredibly Banal System



everyone slept with
inventoried. tax-deductible receipts
across a table

or these 1908 pictures of fire-scarred folded
trees from explosion
of comet as proof
collisions occur; an event
we point at with mental fingers
as cause to be hellbent to detect asteroids
before their arrival in our backyard swimming pools
so we might avoid disaster

or remain, telescoped
eyed, awed
at atoms self-assembling
horrorstuck witnesses
to doubt atoms.

Aaron Plasek lives in Denver, Colorado, and is patiently waiting for the courage to write the book he does not know how to write. He has published work in Diagram, Alice Blue, Juked, and elsewhere. He has an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pornography

the avocado seeds planted
in the yard die
else don’t have patience

to grow
trees. I think

a person cuts
my yard.

the sound
believed to be a weedwhacker

is not a song
or bird or hand on my neck




Aaron Plasek lives in Denver, Colorado, and is patiently waiting for the courage to write the book he does not know how to write. He has published work in Diagram, Alice Blue, Juked, and elsewhere. He has an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Suburban Love Song

Suddenly you realize you’re in the middle of it and it’s heartbreaking. You receive a telephone call from yourself in the future telling you to run. All I want to know is if you’re mad at me. If I could, I’d tattoo your name on my skeleton. I love to look outside. I love to be outside. I love when you touch the back of my head. I love when you hold me in your arms. I hope summer never ends. It’s twilight. I hear children playing. I hear sprinklers, a lawn mower. Airplanes descend over the backyard onto the nearby runway. This is where we live. Hell at its most tranquil. To flee is life. To linger is death. The only thing wrong with this picture is everything. It’s the eve of a hostage situation. Will you do one thing for me tonight? Will you put on your favorite dress and sit with me?



Jason Bredle is the author of two books and four chapbooks of poetry: A Twelve Step Guide (New Michigan Press, 2004); Standing in Line for the Beast (New Issues, 2007); Pain Fantasy (Red Morning Press, 2007); American Sex Machine (Scantily Clad Press, 2009); Class Project (Publishing Genius, 2009); and The Book of Evil (Dream Horse Press, 2010). Individual poems have appeared in the Knopf anthology Poems About Horses, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day from Random House, TriQuarterly, and other places. He lives in Chicago, where he works in the patient reported outcomes translation field.

Wetlands

Every time I devise a plan, I realize it’s going to fail the moment I enact it. I think I’m in love with you but I don’t think you’re in love with me. I like walking with you across the wooden footbridge. Do we hold hands? Around us we hear the noise of insects and birds I wish I knew the names of. Is the sun low in the sky? Tell me the angle of our shadows. I feel sad but it’s the sad you feel when you realize the world itself is intrinsically sad and you want to drink tea with it while holding a neighbor’s cat hostage in a small mountain home heated only by a stove. Do I sound crazy? Can you believe I used to hate the wetlands? I thought they were boring. My plan had always been to get as far away from them as possible. It was even my quote in my high school yearbook: “My plan is to get as far away from the wetlands as possible. Stay sweet, don’t ever change.” What will become of us? There’s a gazebo here. Inside, we huddle together until you pee into my cupped hand. It feels warm. I don’t really know what happens after this. Do I already feel loss? It is the end of one life, it is the beginning of another.




Jason Bredle is the author of two books and four chapbooks of poetry: A Twelve Step Guide (New Michigan Press, 2004); Standing in Line for the Beast (New Issues, 2007); Pain Fantasy (Red Morning Press, 2007); American Sex Machine (Scantily Clad Press, 2009); Class Project (Publishing Genius, 2009); and The Book of Evil (Dream Horse Press, 2010). Individual poems have appeared in the Knopf anthology Poems About Horses, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day from Random House, TriQuarterly, and other places. He lives in Chicago, where he works in the patient reported outcomes translation field.

Family Feud

Quilting a flower is easy. When beating someone with a musical instrument, never underestimate the piccolo. It’ll surprise you. I used to have imaginary conversations all night long with women I loved. The next morning was depressing. It’s the typical story. What begins as a fun family outing quickly dovetails into bitter resentment and anger. Who takes onions and Grand Marnier to the beach? Sometimes I call the neighbor’s cat C.R. Bottomsly, international super spy, and we take it from there. I think the cat likes it. We happened upon a restaurant that serves the best bowl of goo. They say at the moment of death to carry everyone’s suffering. I’ve seen a man shoot a cat in the head with a revolver. Are we watching a fight scene, an abusive relationship or a home movie? Richard Dawson sort of creeps me out. You need to wrap your medicine in bread. They say after death our experience will be choiceless. I would’ve written this sooner but last month I broke all my fingers and thumbs in a wide-receiving accident.



Jason Bredle is the author of two books and four chapbooks of poetry: A Twelve Step Guide (New Michigan Press, 2004); Standing in Line for the Beast (New Issues, 2007); Pain Fantasy (Red Morning Press, 2007); American Sex Machine (Scantily Clad Press, 2009); Class Project (Publishing Genius, 2009); and The Book of Evil (Dream Horse Press, 2010). Individual poems have appeared in the Knopf anthology Poems About Horses, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day from Random House, TriQuarterly, and other places. He lives in Chicago, where he works in the patient reported outcomes translation field.

From “The Japan Project”

When I was three we lived in a Japanese village outside Misawa A.F.B. An earthquake that was over eight on the Richter scale damaged our water lines, so my family used the local public baths. What I remember is that the water was scalding hot and the Japanese women in the pool passed me around – a white skinned, red haired curiosity.

An enfant enflagged and found
on the deck of a cockleshell boat
cormorant infested with horses nearby
with horses nearby
with horses nearby
cormorant infested with horses nearby
you are my darling baby

A recent medical study argues that redheads respond uniquely to anesthesia. This paper was published after my two cesareans – during the first of which, because the anesthesia wasn’t working, I felt my daughter being pulled from my uterus. And also, perhaps due to the color of my hair, I felt it when my husband left the hospital that night. And was it the color that brought the exhaustion, disorientation, and terror? And was my hair the cause of my being alone? And was it this color of nature that led me to lick my daughter’s head clean, lick where I’d been cut, and after I’d healed, to sever the limb that once was my beloved?

***

Long ago people from China went to these islands on a sea-serpent’s back and made their homes there in spite of the fact that he was squirming in his sleep. We know that these islands are simply old volcanoes in the water and when they shake, as they still do almost every day, we know the shakes are just earthquakes. We call these islands on the sea-serpent “Japan” and the people “Japanese.”

They built a great big up-to-date army. Then they started a great big up-to-date war by dropping bombs on American ships in Hawaii. After the Japanese were beaten in the war they were not allowed to have a big army nor to build war machines like battleships, tanks, and guns.

Tokyo is the capital and largest city of Japan and one of the largest cities i.t.w.W. The old capital has exactly the same letters as Tokyo but arranged this way: Kyoto. If you say Tokyo twice you say Kyoto too: TO/KYOTO/KYO.

I don’t know why, but I’ve often seen American girls sit on chairs with their feet up under them as if they were sitting on the floor. But I’ve never seen boys do it. Perhaps girls are part Japanese.

***

My daughter’s pupils dilate to imaginary size when I read to her. Her mouth hangs open, and her breathing changes to near dream slowness, for a while still – charmed, as I move aside that heavy curtain of heaven.

After tucking her in, I remind the foxes beneath the bed about good dreams and hope they listen. After all they are Japanese foxes, and my Japanese is that of a three year old barely remembered,
yet they form the oldest natural cast – my neighborhood of being now hers.

***

Buddha dreams of the white horse with over-large ears who could hear the quietest of whispers.

As a young prince with heavy earrings he once rode just such a horse.

As a young man he rode just such a horse into a clearing

and surprised She-Who-Invites and He-Who-Invites in their bower.

This was a long time ago, before the divorce,

back when handsome young princes roamed the land on horseback.

And next to the horse ran a white dog with a proud tail curled up over his back

and he carried in his mouth a golden ball, which he would set down before

running down a deer and leaping on its neck.

And the prince wore his hair bound behind his head so that it flowed out

as the white horse galloped across the field.




Elizabeth Cross earned her Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Denver and has taught writing for the last 18 years at various locations including the University of Michigan and her current position in the Writing Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has led creative writing workshops for underprivileged youth, parents, school teachers, medical students, university students, and corporate clients in Denver, Mackinac Island, and Chicago. Awards and grants for her poetry include Michigan Council for the Arts, Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writers, and the Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute.

from Basho’s Phonebook: Three One Act Performances

Program Front:

Program Back:

Program Back Inside:

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

-Matsuo Basho

Cast of Characters:

DT Suzuki

Nobuyuki Yuasa

Makoto Ueda

Stage Directions: All audience members, with assurances that they will never be sold or used for commercial purposes, are encouraged to provide the performer(s) with their mobile phone numbers prior to the performance in order to achieve maximum effect.

ACT ONE

DT Suzuki:

444:66:8:666: 8:44:33: 2:66:222:444:33:66:8: 7:666:66:3:
2: 333:777:666:4: 5:88:6:7:7777:
9:2:8:33:777[’]7777: 7777:666:88:66:3[!]

ACT TWO

Nobuyuki Yuasa:

22:777:33:2:55:444:66:4: 8:44:33: 7777:444:555:33:66:222:33:
666:333: 2:66: 2:66:222:444:33:66:8: 7:666:66:3[,]
2: 333:777:666:4: 5:88:6:7:33:3: 444:66:8:666: 9:2:8:33:777 [—]
2: 3:33:33:7: 777:33:7777:666:66:2:66:222:33[.]

ACT THREE

Makoto Ueda:

8:44:33: 666:555:3: 7:666:66:3: [—]
2: 333:777:666:4: 555:33:2:7:7777: 444:66[,]
2:66:3: 2: 7777:7:555:2:7777:44[.]

Travis Macdonald keeps his back to advertising and his eyes on Sallie Mae and her hungry dogs. When the dogs are sleeping or distracted, he sometimes manages to make words do his bidding. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The American Drivel Review, Anemone Sidecar, The Bathroom, Bombay Gin, Columbia Poetry Review, CounterExample Poetics, Court Green, Cricket Online Review, Ditch, e-ratio, Hot Whiskey, Jacket, Matter, Misunderstandings, Other Rooms, Otoliths, Source Material, WE magazine, Wheelhouse, and elsewhere. In his spare time, he co-edits Fact-Simile Editions in Santa Fe, New Mexico.