Rauan Klassnik’s book “Holy Land” (http://www.blackocean.org/holy-land/) released from Black Ocean in April 2008. Rauan’s currently working on a book of monsters, pacing back and forth in a fever, pitching up higher and higher: “slave ships moor inside me. And daisy rashes.”
Note: This is a collaborative short story. The authors produced it by sending work back and forth over email, based upon the authors’ experiences with the most ridiculous intellectual posturing of the academy. This story will be incorporated into a larger text called The Book of Methods, featuring a series of collaborations between Schneiderman and other writers, all powered by “machines” particular to each writer.
a matter of degree
Exhibit A: This book hurts. Like it’s made of sand. Coarse sand. I can’t finish it, because it hurts so much. Sand running over my gums. Emotionally, physically. A durian fruit lodged in my pyloric valve. I just have to stop reading and sit by myself all slugabed in the dark with a tumbler of ice-cold, mint-infused faux-Darjeeling listening to Charles Mingus’s Ah Um, no, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, and whispering my oh-so-calming mantra.
The first time: Oh yes, the new Chair of Graduate Studies. Yes, him. Can’t you see that he’s a minion of the University’s privatization plan? I don’t care if he is a “Marxist” mother-fucking editor of Radical Teacher. I’ve written a poem where he appears around town: at the Laundromat advising you on how to get your whites even whiter while he fondles your unmentionables (I struck the line where he licks your undies); at the grocery checkout—no, not Shop N’ Save, but Aldi—bagging your generic navy beans, and there’s a good chance you’ll find cricket parts in there. It happened to the retired classics professor with the glass jaw. He found the whole thing strangely thrilling, and I kissed him at the Halloween party. Yes, him.
II. I went on this, like, really life changing journey to the Taos Pueblo and I could really feel the power of the land there. Everything was so colorful—like living inside of Frida Kahlo’s head if she was possessed by a really wise animal spirit. A Pooka. Like Harvey the invisible rabbit. I took this jar of dirt because it has magic healing properties. Every time I start to feel sick I just sprinkle some of this dirt in my water bottle and hold a swig in my cheeks until it mixes completely with my spit and then I drop a little into my palms and rub across my cheeks while swallowing the rest with my eyes closed.
Alpha: It’s like the end of Finnegan’s Wake, where the two women narrating the universe weep in their Guinness like children—turn to stone—and then feel like the calcium-rich lampreys running thick through the Liffey jump into the effluvia of language permeating their own experience. That’s what this book you’re reading now reminds me of in a weird way.
Item C: What do I find funny? Sometimes when I listen to Ravel, certain movements take on personalities. They just have this jaunty sort of persona that reminds me, for some reason, of certain Dostoevsky characters. Especially Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, or the father in The Brothers Karamazov, you know, the one whose serfs choke him with vodka passes through a funnel. I always imagined him as looking something like Julia Kristeva with Rosacea. When I hear those characters channeled through that music, I smile to myself a sort of knowing grin. I’m very content.
For consideration: I like to add Toni Morrison, maybe Song of Solomon, to the syllabus to spice things up a bit. It’s not as good as Deliverance with that piggy-squealing ream action, but hell, I’ve been teaching that one so long I can almost see Ned Beatty getting all glassy eyed. What’s that you’re humming? “One toke over the line”? Yeah, I like that (singing): “One toooke ooover the liiine…” Ok, my eager grad assistants, let’s get back to the lecture class. I think those kids have had enough time to talk among themselves.
4. At first I wanted someone to ask him to speak louder. But then, the musicality of his voice, I felt myself being lulled in. He spoke so softly I loved having to really focus, like I’m in a small cellar trapped by someone whose footsteps move so across the floorboards that they may not be there are all.
&: We’ve got to take a stand now, my brothers, my pistol-whipping mutineers, against the administration’s limits on our constitutional rights involving photocopying. Bullshit capitalist marionettes trying to squelch the free speech of our mimeograph machine. They are brainwashing the undergraduates by the omission of knowledge and withholding the symmetry of the dialectical materialist critique. We’ll strike, we’ll refuse to teach, we’ll write a strongly worded letter that begins, “Dear Sir or Madam,” but then, get this, goes completely hard-core anarcho-syndicalist on their asses. Fight the father-fucking powers that be….boooyeee!
Article E: I put his handouts on my fridge at home. I look at them every day, each time I go for the milk or to grab leftover coq au vin. He’s been to prison before. I really respect that.
6) I think I need a personal drummer, some sort of iPercussion section to really tie me into the spirit world. Cause I think I am—you know—tied in to a spirit world, but not this one yet. I’m riding with valkyries, doing the star-scattered two-step in the vaikunta with Ndjambi when I need to just be rolling a phat blunt with Manabozho. Right? A repetitive beat could really focus my energies towards the eightfold path the golden mean the middle way a sort of laid-back nirvana where everything is brilliant whiteness.
*: No, it’s not ‘hate’ on the other knuckle, it’s ‘true’. My knuckles ground me and remind me what’s important in life. They’re like gravity stabilizers for when I feel myself getting caught up in other pursuits. All I have to do is look down and see ‘true love’. That’s what it’s all about. What’s that? Yes, sometimes I do wear gloves.
**: When I read Blanchot, it really makes we wonder, why write at all? I mean, why fucking write? Why construct a sentence if it’s only going to get fucking deconstructed? Do you fucking understand what I am fucking saying? There’s like no fucking point. And reading? Well, I guess that’s a fucking steaming fucking load of shit too.
An hour passed, and soon
my mind, and yet, in the
mouth is in an order. One could
be one, it is true, sensibly
in mathematics. It cannot be
more. The expression is what
will say it is not telling
everything, in a certain
sense—that from the dark red
trees—all this makes that sun.
He was then outline, a single
form of wax or a little boat
with a sheet. The dead
instigated me and hovered round.
What there is of consequence
was not in the boat. Zapata felt
gratitude towards those shores which formed
a calm far more monstrous.
toward the sea // and the sky, threadbare, // is the new // flag // that flares //
over the city.”
MANUEL MAPLES ARCE
This state of active occupation
stood in the house and sometimes
with the blood from it. After all,
its productions and features may
be called a precipice.
Gaze on the trees, all the firmness
of deformity. A curve, no
doubt, of the church. And in it
no peace. “We have failed” they shout.
I grew feverish. It stood.
When he returned to us, he was
bigger, not merely a
He did not feel for those
on the top of affairs
who could perceive his calm
in leftover bundles.
I sat up much longer,
conversing with his desires
like a flood of strangers.
Chad Hardy is a contributor on the Gnoetry Daily website (gnoetrydaily.wordpress.com) and blogs infrequently on his own Male Cousin (malecousin.wordpress.com). In 1999, he voted for Jerry “The King” Lawler in Memphis’s mayoral race. He is currently completing an MFA at Purdue University.
The Destruction Loops, Parts 1-8
I’ve let my blood out in a steamy bath
I’ve jammed a butter knife into the toaster
Lied down on my back and dropped a shot put on my face
I stuffed balls of newspaper print in my mouth
And spelled the state capitals in alphabetical order
I allowed myself to be hypnotized at the count of 8
The snap of my neck like the snap of a hypnotist’s fingers
The hypnotist showed me the earth as the angels see it
The streets are a twisted maze and we are lost in the maze
We are born walking into the world’s maze
At the count of 4 you will forget your confusion
The bathroom is filled with steam and the mirrors are steamed over
You cannot see yourself or your face in the mirror
The maze is all right angles
You are born into a confusion of angles
You will realize your confusion at the count of 4
1 – turn right
2 – turn right again
3 – turn right again
4 – turn right again
You are where you began
You must make this circuit twice
You are no longer lost in this section of the maze
I hear the snap of fingers like the snap of my neck
I am alone in a great square in a gray city
There are clouds adrift in the swollen sky
The clouds are swollen with acid rain
The gray city is one of many on an island in the ocean
The ocean is green
Its green waters are a bath of acid eating away at the coastline
You cannot see yourself in the mirror
Soon the clouds will open up and let loose their rains
You will strip naked and let them eat away at your skin
In the morning your skeleton will be found by a group of hungry lions
The lions will have ribs like wishbones pushing out at their fur
And they will pick you clean
You have given them a fullness
The meat on your bones will have completed its circuit
You will feel that you have done the right thing
You will feel an angel place a heavy hand on your shoulder
You will close your eyes and count to 8
You are clean now
You have smeared jam on your toast
You are no longer hungry
It is warm here in the lion’s den
David Peak is the author of a novel, The Rocket’s Red Glare (Leucrota Press), a book of poems, Surface Tension (BlazeVOX Books), and a chapbook, Museum of Fucked (Warm Milk Press). He lives in New York City and blogs at davidpeak.blogspot.com.
The Oregon Trail is a Chinese Restaurant on Christmas Eve
From Independence it’s a shit ton of miles
to the Kansas River crossing.
Child #1, Christopher, has a broken leg.
Christopher is sad he has a broken leg.
He’s like Shit, my leg hurts something awful.
He’s like Shit shit shit.
We ford the river but the river’s too deep.
We ford the river & you’re like Why
the fuck are we fording the river?
The oxen can’t breathe. The oxen can’t
breathe under water. They’re chewing
their tongues off trying to breathe.
Wendy, child #2, her face is a waterfall.
Christopher is vomiting from a fever.
He’s vomiting all over Wendy’s grave.
On the seventh day God rested.
Christopher has died of dysentery.
Gregory Sherl’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Gargoyle, Columbia Poetry Review, NOÖ Journal, and PANK. He currently lives in Virginia and blogs at http://gregorysherl.blogspot.com/.