Issue No. 9 • April 2013
I can't get it back.
In order. Maybe it didn't happen.
At one point, we were all there.
At another point, I was somewhere else. Acting out. Scene with tree branch. The tree branch
the person I'd most recently injured. I was saying
how sorry I was, I was
trying to explain. The tree branch
At one point. We were all there. Gathered. Much like
we are now. Someone was saying:
Clearly all roads do not lead to this place but apparently
People were saying: How long have you been here?
People were saying: Five years.
People were saying: When did you get here?
People were saying: Yesterday.
People were saying: Hello. Hello?
People were saying all kinds of things. Telling
what they had brought with them:
a basket, a small basket
of food, a little
cheese, a thermos
of coffee. A guitar. A plate.
A pair of warm socks.
(At one point the things were piled into the middle.)
At one point, the meeting began.
She was a tiny, voluptuous nurse. A tiny, voluptuous nurse in remarkable shoes. Maybe she had
gained some weight recently. Her white dress. The buttons. The part around here. And here.
Pulling apart slightly. There was a bulging. Maybe she had gained some weight recently. Or maybe
she liked it like that. Either way. It looked good. And she knew it.
She said: You have been very bad sailors.
That was the point at which the meeting began.
She said: If you are like anyone else (and you probably are), you do not know why you came here.
She said: It is possible that you came here to stop going everywhere else. She said: There isn't a
Bible. There is only a dictionary. I have already read it. I'm afraid it won't be of much help.
She said: You can hear me can't you? But you don't understand. Or maybe you do.
At one point, someone said: I'm bleeding.
At one point, for a long time, a patch of flowers.
At one point, fleeting, a window in the ceiling.
The name escaping you. The name escaping me.
At one point the meeting continued.
The nurse went on: A reason. A place. It is right and good. It is our belief that it is right and good
to find oneself in a place with a reason. So. We are halfway there.
This is not a religion. This is meant to be practical. We suggest: application. We acknowledge: it is
sort of science fiction. Please don't be distracted. By that. This is not magic. We don't believe
in magic. We believe— Or we have found— that it is best in some way or better we have found that
if we just try to see what is there actually, what is here in fact, without getting caught up in Why or
How or Whether It Is Possible that it is— that progress will be— if not more expedient then at least
more... productive more... Someone says: Sincere? More. Sincere if you like. OK. More... likely we
generally say. We cannot explain it very well. But we encourage and recommend and suggest it.
We would also like to suggest that everyone brush his teeth now. Someone says: Her. Yes her. His
or her teeth now. We suspect that the teeth of each of you need brushing.
At this point, small travel toothbrush kits are provided. They are packaged in plastic. The nurse
says: This is not a spaceship. We can tell you that and we will tell you that and I have just told you
that. This is not a spaceship. Don't be mistaken. And this is not a dream.
The person says: I'm still bleeding. The nurse says: Here. Come with me.
While they are gone or. At some point. Someone says: What did she recommend? What did she
suggest and encourage? At some point, everyone did brush their teeth.
At one point, someone leaves it all behind. At one point, an act of nature. At another point, an act
of mercy. At a certain point, a song. Or perhaps some of these. Are simultaneous. Perhaps. Some
of these. Are the same.
The nurse tells us things like: Someone puts the butter out in the sun to soften. Don't be alarmed.
We recommend that you not be alarmed by small things which might at first seem strange or out of
place. We recommend that you assume that someone has put this thing here or that thing there for
some good reason that they had for doing so. Even if it is not clear to you at first, maybe, perhaps,
it doesn't make sense, we can, we're ok with, if you try to imagine why that thing might have been
put there, for what purpose, why it might be there instead of in some other place where you may
expect normally to find it. The refrigerator, for example, in the case of the butter. You might just
wonder. You might begin to wonder. And you encourage this, someone asks, you recommend it?
We accept it. We realize that it may happen. We only ask that you not interfere. That you not
interfere. With things you don't understand.
At one point, my sleeves. But that was just me. I'm pretty sure. And before. My sleeves. The cuffs.
My fingers. On the seams. Fingertips. On the buttons. Agitation. Agitation and. A blistering.
At one point, a brave soul
asks where we are. The nurse says Forget it. It doesn't matter. We're here. It really doesn't matter,
we're here and it really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter at all it doesn't even matter a little bit it is of
no consequence. It is of no relevance. It is of no import. It is none of our concern. It's. It's useless
information. It isn't even information. It's speculation. It's a purely. Speculative matter. "Where"
"We" "Are." This place has gone by many names. At one point, it had no name it had only...
characteristics. Geographic. Features. We have greater concerns. You have bigger problems.
Than "Where" "You" "Are." I'm bleeding again says the person again. What if it gets infected? What
if it was rusty? Here come with me again the nurse says again.
Sometimes, pinecone throwing in the courtyard.
Sometimes certain things just for the sound they made.
At one point a butterfly. A box of Cheerios. A polyhedron. A constellation. Most of the time,
At one point, a crime. Or a sin. Of neglect.
I neglected something that was left in my care
and as a result that thing had died.
You have been very bad sailors. You have flown the wrong flags, sent the wrong signals, tied the
wrong knots, raised and lowered the wrong anchors in all the wrong places, you heaved when you
should have ho'ed. As a result, you have been cast adrift, and here— And here her voice trailed
Most of the time, I couldn't tell
if we were being punished or forgiven.
At one point, in a circle, we offered advice:
Eat. Fish soup.
Go. To foreign places.
Don't. Wear shoes in the house.
Stop. Doing that.
At one point, someone told a long story and it went like this:
I was standing there. There were people all around. We were. We were in a yard. We were at a
party. There were things roasting on open flames. There were fireworks. There was a river. I was
afraid to go in it. Others were not afraid. Others went in it. I didn't want to go in it because I knew
some other others had gone in it and had not come out. I had heard of others going into it and not
coming out. Fallen off boats and cracked heads on rocks. Sharks. Other dangers. Dangers.
I am not afraid, exactly, of death. Though I am not ready for it either I am not afraid of it exactly but
I am easily spooked, freaked out, and I didn't want a leg, someone's leg or ear or foot to float by
me in the river. Or to bump up against or brush up against me and my leg. Or my hand. Or my ear
or foot. I did not want that my body should come into contact with someone else's body
parts that were no longer coherent, connected, attached. To each other. I did not want that and I
was afraid of that happening and I thought it less likely that that would happen if I stayed, for
example, out of the river. So while other people were going in and swimming and splashing about I stood on the side, on the banks, or I went up on the bridge and looked down. The water was very
clear. I remember that. The water was very clear.
Everyone in their bathing suits. Red bathing suits. A red bathing suit. A pink and a black. A yellow.
Their skin. Dotting the river with color. The clear water. The view from above. They were having
I have never learned how to do some things. I can swim. But I never learned how to jump off a cliff
into deep water. How to hang from a rope swing and fall.
I sat on the side and picked at my knees. Picked at the little scabs on my knees. I sat on the side
and felt my knees. Felt the skin on my knees and held my knees in my hands and wondered that
they fit so perfectly in there. My knees fit perfectly in the palms of my hands. Like they were made
for each other! Sometimes a small insect. Vivid. Orange and black and chartreuse on my bare leg.
Tiny, tiny wings. I can't believe some of the things that come into being.
Every now and then I would call out How is the water? And they would call back It's fine. And I
would say Is anything touching you? And they would say Only the water. And I would marvel at
And then my hand would get a cramp. Or my leg would get a cramp. Or both. From sitting in the
position I was in and I would have accidentally but very actually paralyzed myself. And I would be
stuck there. And I would be terrified. That I would always be stuck there. Like that.
And I would call out Help! Help Help!
But there would be speedboats on the river
and no one would hear me. Or there would be a flock of geese going by
and no one would hear me. Or they would be underwater
and no one would hear me.And I would say No, really! Help!
But no one would hear me.
And I would be in such pain.
And I couldn't move.
And then I would pee myself. I would wet my pants and then I would weep.
Out of fright, I suppose.
And then nothing would happen.
And then eventually the cramps would go away. They would pass. And I would get up then and go
to my room. And take off my clothes. My wet shorts and my wet underwear and I would rinse them
out in the sink and hang them on the line to dry and then I would take a shower and get dressed. In
other things. And then I would comb my hair and then I would think My god. What an experience I
have just had.
And soon, they all come back from the river in their bathing suits and they said You should have
come swimming with us and I would say Nothing touched you? Nothing floated by? You enjoyed it?
You weren't afraid? And the one with the maternal instinct would put her hand on me like this and
she'd say You should come tomorrow. There's nothing to be afraid of. And I'd say There aren't
eels? And she'd say There aren't eels. And I'd say There aren't knives or sharks? And she'd say
There aren't knives or sharks. And I'd say there aren't bodies? And she'd say There aren't bodies.
Other than our own. And she would have her hand on me like that that whole time. And I would be
glad that she was there but I would miss our one friend who couldn't come because I bet he would
have made a good joke then. Or at some point.
At some point, we all slept. At one point, we all did the same dance.
The nurse goes on. After you brush your teeth we will feed you. If you have a headache, there are
pills in the medicine chest in the bathroom on the fourth floor. If you have a headache, do not take
the pills in the medicine chest in the bathroom on the second floor. Those pills are not for
headaches and will likely make it worse. The bathroom on the second floor is orange. The
bathroom on the fourth floor is blue. If you have a headache, go to the blue bathroom. Not the
orange bathroom. Everything is color coded to help you remember. But you have to know the code,
and you have to remember it. The pills for headaches are pink. Not white.
You may be wondering where are the real people. Many people wonder that and all we can tell
them is we don't know and it's none of our concern and we're not sure entirely that we are not
You may have just smoked your last cigarette. You may be wondering when will this end. There is
beer in the refrigerator. It costs two dollars. If you don't have any money, we can work something
out. There is cream for the coffee and there are extra pencil leads for the pencils in the desk in the
office. In the drawer of the desk in the office. The top right drawer. Of the wooden desk by the
Our suggestions are only suggestions but we suggest you take them. We suggest you make note,
each day, of one beautiful thing. One thing of beauty. We suggest if you intuit a need somewhere,
you attempt to meet it. We suggest not turning your back we recommend sometimes standing up
suddenly and lying down on the ground. Outside. The earth. We recommend spontaneous intimate
interaction with the earth and all of the natural things of this planet. We strongly suggest that. We
suggest that strongly. We can't suggest that strongly enough.
By intimate, we mean close. Up close. We don't mean: erotic.
You may have noticed that I am wearing these shoes. They may seem an unlikely choice. I wear
them... We think it is best you should not be startled. That I should not come upon you suddenly
but that you should know I am coming and so I wear these shoes. I have had them for a long time
and I love them by now and also I like them very much and also they have come back into style. I
wore them once for the first time when someone I was fond of asked me to do something I wanted
to do and I said yes. So also they have a... sentimental value. We do not want to come upon you
suddenly however is the main thing.
Someone says Everything is running together!
The nurse says If anyone needs me, or needs anyone, he or she or you can sign up here. You can
put your name on a list and I or someone will come and find you and we can talk about it.
Everything is coming apart! And something pooped on the stairs!
We think there are enough chairs for everyone. We think there is more than enough food.
It's coming apart and running together! At the same time! It's an endless flickering! Of lights!
There are cats here. And cows. And birds. And goats. They all have bells on them. So you will hear
them coming too.
Why can't we be in a town?! A happy place with people in it doing regular things?! Why can't we sit at
a table?! And talk?!
The nurse says Your thoughts are reflections. Reflections of the nature of the things you take in.
Take in things of value. Take in things that do not have to do with your self.
It gets cold here at night. You may observe that. Don't punish yourself for not thinking something
profounder. It gets cold here at night and there are simple, practical things and actions you can and
should take to address that physical, scientific fact and reality. It gets cold here at night is a
perfectly worthy observation. When you make it, put on a sweater and smile to yourself for being
so keen, so sharp minded as to have regarded something of actual importance, something that is
actually happening and true. And then pat yourself on the back of the sweater for doing the right
thing in response. It does get cold here at night.
At one point, glimmer. At one point, surrender. At many points, surrender. The window in the
ceiling again, its name still out of reach.
The nurse says There are also wind chimes. Because we don't want the wind to sneak up on you
either. Now. Let's do our best. Even if it gets us nowhere.
At other points, rubbish bin. Jubilation. A shock to the system. Bed roll. Saxophone. Moment of
truth. Osprey. Roller skate. Street sign. Oil lamp. Orion. Frosted flakes. Bits of torn paper.
Whispers. Noise. Aubade. Kenning. Villanelle. River. Stream. Tiny flowers. Delicate cups of coffee.
Stone walls. Stone paths. Wooden houses. Wrought iron fences. Blades of grass. Panes of glass.
Balustrades. Crags in the mountains. Cracks in rocks. Fur of seals. Shells of crabs. Bones. Many
bones. Eyebrows. Skin. Hair. Thoughts. An airplane. And other things that fly.
At one point, we went our separate ways. Some of us exchanged contact information. But I'm
pretty sure we knew.
At some point, I returned to the tree branch.
I said No one will ever love you like I do.
The tree branch said One can only hope.
I said You know I'm trying to get over you.
The tree branch said Yes. When you're not trying to get under me.