fairy tales from the web :: ish klein

Somebody who would never refuse money told me this—
about the syncretic effect when each person plugs
their attention into a field to read ad copy, let’s just say
they become opened up and other beings can see into
their minds. This was considered a science fiction idea
to many people, but not to me.
In my negative space construction is always occurring.

The liftoff from awful to tolerable
to positive and then finally to bright new beautiful
has been my most difficult task to swing.
But swing I will; there’s nothing else to do.
I live here and being here and hearing myself
or my mind’s divide through others convinces me
that I must do everything I can to save us from the pit.

That is, until the pit splits and the fruit tree finally grows.
You may have a tree of your own—you may have a home
in your own tree. Congratulations. If you write an instructive
pamphlet you can bet I will read it.
I do not want to go out in darkness.
I am doing everything I know to prevent this,
and thank you, by the way, if you’ve written a pamphlet.

The shared information system
and each being at the end of its screen
emits an LED (light emitting diode) on an often
green screen—you say I should give my
father up to the authorities. You blame your
circumstances on my choice—but it’s the authorities who
did this to him. How do you think a person loses his mind?
He let someone take it.

He is sort of my mind and you are too,
God help me.
The green screen is an ingenious discovery.
You can record events in a studio before the screen
and then key in whatever environment you like.
It’s a special color: Chroma Green,
but it can be blue too.

The experience of things is determined by our
feelings about them. Information is colored
by us. You may see remotely, in a photograph
for instance, the image of an ambush victim.
Maybe it is a war and/or she is caught naked.
If she is unhappy—indicated by face and body
arrangement—you may feel that.

Some people will hate the state of things that made her
so alone and vulnerable but few will do anything about it.
How do you find her? What guns surround her country?
And after all, maybe she would hate it.
To have to feel grateful to someone moved by her humiliation.
She may only be thinking about humiliation.

That is a tough feeling to shake.
Then, and I need not go too far into this,
then there are those who see the pain of someone
and they just love it. This may have something
to do with a revenge sentiment over their own unclosed wound.
The wound, they think, is everyone else’s fault
and they cannot forgive. This is only information,
in the form of speculation.

Some feelings you get when you consider
“What if this happened to me?” and you will want to remedy
the situation to secure yourself from the (negative) condition of it.
Together, humans create one body—the planet earth
and its projections. The things in the stomach
affect what goes on in the head. On the web
many people make money with miracle potions.

Some curb the human appetite.
Some say you can lose while consuming whatever you want.
I heard the other girl refer to me as a skull.
She was very angry and did not look or say hello.
There is a prevalent competitive notion
that each only has one place. That her face is only
hers and that I don’t have a face or to her it is death.

This she reads as me—the death of her.
Obviously I am not. I write and read and
then roll on. I wear an ordinary human face,
some could compare me to a bird of prey
because my nose is hooked and my fingers are long
and I like to ride my bicycle with the wind at my back.
I am not here to attack.

You are also a mutant.
Do you think you can keep the heavy metals outside of you?
Do you think you can go to sleep here
and wake up the same?
The screen is framed by plastic,
beneath that you use words to issue commandments
or call-outs.

Most people use the web to send messages
to people who are already their friends.
They make arrangements for later and
detail what happened in the past.
This information may not be true.
The web cannot know intention.
It records and is open to influence.

People make money through advertisements,
or so they think—well, selling ads, that’s quantifiable—
if ads make money, that is more difficult
to know unless there are special offers.
The web is full of special offers and 30-day
trials. If you fall for those, or I should say,
if you respond to the offer

what often happens is that your information
is shared with other companies who will fill your inbox
with offers (that which is known as spam).
Because you are someone who wants to look great
and there are other companies with products compatible
with your stated desire. Ways for you to achieve
the prevailing notion of beauty.

It is my job to tell you the models
are selected because they are physically improbable.
They are elevated to be made desirable.
Their desirability is physical because they are models.
If it were easy to be like that, they would not
be sought-after by manufacturers.
Generally, working people need to be sturdy.

Advertisers want to make money.
They go with psychology and so create a sort of
self-rejection by advocating forms not reflected in most people.
They know that people will pay in to be of an elevated form
no matter what station they are from.
Everyone wants to be beautiful.
Everyone wants to be the agreed-upon beautiful thing.

Probably everyone is beautiful somewhere inside
if not outside. You can create an excellent argument
for your being and improve upon ability. That is my opinion.
If you live alone, you may know how great the web can be.
On it there is information and pornography.
Information includes
the prospects.

Pornography is the biggest industry in America.
It is designed to bring about a certain state
of arousal, generally, couched in anger
that will allow the person to fuck exactly how they want to
without worrying about the one fucked.
Pornography is addictive for many.
Of course, sometimes people want to touch, to hear a voice

to imagine a partner and what they can do together.
The web has many dating services. My ex-psychiatrist
advised me against trying them.
She had transferred the daughter role onto me.
I do appreciate the dangers of strangers.
I am prepared with the information that pictures
are not people in both obvious and non-obvious ways.

I know at least three people who have been in love
with people they met online.
Each one is intelligent and down-to-earth.
I’ve gleaned from their descriptions of online courting
that the early questions are essential.
That and no expectation and somehow you have
to withhold your own personal information.

That is, until you meet up in a non-threatening place.
You will have to have someone know where you are,
a point person. And you will need a defense; mace, for instance
or a rape whistle or a dog leashed nearby
or in the car.
It will be important for him or her to know you have a dog.
They should meet each other as soon as possible.

This is the magic of the machine.
The meeting and love trial and,
if it works, the love made.
Well, that really is amazing.
Objectively amazing.
And good for the machine.
Good for the machine.

The electric web courses heavily through me.
This may be how we make history:
we can put up our movies, our words, or costume dramas.
We say we are so and so
and people follow the saga.
Do you ever get the problem which is opposite
to the problem of the watcher?

Have you ever only seen yourself through other people?
Or thought that’s what it was but it was really your
thought processes transferred through them?
I should look up to the word rubric again.
That and lacuna and devi.
In the thrift store nobody looked at me.
But the woman said, “Devi (hee, hee) Devi.”

A celestial being: what we all are.
True she might have meant devil.
I am not a devil.
I love my friends most of the time.
I love animals—I don’t think devils do that.
My friend sends me pictures
of jackrabbits and frogs.

Yesterday, he said he saw buttercups, a type of flower.
You go over the tracks first, on the other side of the river

and there they are.

“do you still remember” :: rainer maria rilke

Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!

Translated by Edward Snow

Falling Stars

Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes— do you recall? And we
did make so many! For there were countless numbers
of stars: each time we looked above we were
astounded by the swiftness of their daring play,
while in our hearts we felt safe and secure
watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate,
knowing somehow we had survived their fall.

Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

airplane food :: michael ryan

Compressed chicken product, festive succotashed rice,
dead iceberg lettuce with a pale cherry tomato
hard as a mothball, and the coup de grâce: a baby bundt cake
I expect will taste like my passport
but to my delight is not bad,
half-bad, or even sort-of-bad: it is good.
Good good good good good all good
this plain sweet baby bundt cake like much else
I shall never taste touch hear see or smell,
baked for the heavens in its own fluted tube pan
for every blessed one of us ticketed passengers,
purely for our pleasure and then only briefly—
ingested, enjoyed, absorbed, and fading from memory
since we lack the capacity to retaste baby bundt cake
unlike the many childhood wounds I experience
half a century later from the faintest reminders.
This same baby bundt cake might seem scandalous
to the incognito Michelin Guide reviewer
in a three-star restaurant in the south of France.
It could cost the owner-and-chef all his stars
when losing one drives such men to relentless self-torment.
It could cause his wife-the-hostess to cease loving him
instantly, if she had worked eighty-hour weeks with him in concert
painstakingly perfecting the desserts they were known for.
“Marcel, have you lost your senses?”
she’d scream (in French, of course),
“this bundt cake tastes like Michael Ryan’s passport!”
All right, she wouldn’t say like my passport
but some untranslatable invective for culinary blasphemy
such as “this bundt cake tastes like duck drop—
the underside of a sink-reduction of pig bristle—
your incontinent mother’s bidet brush holder”—
a local invective for premeditated betrayals
like secretly developing and serving a recipe
based on the winner of a Pillsbury bakeoff.
God knows what happened after their disgrace
to the couple, or their employees, much less their children,
especially the boy who loved nothing more
than working in the kitchen alongside his parents.
He certainly wouldn’t touch a bundt cake for the rest of his life.
The sight of someone enjoying one could make him furious
and the aroma of baking bundt cake wafting from a Paris apartment,
unidentifiable to the other strollers among the aromas of the city,
could make him weep automatically as if he had turned a faucet.
He would never discuss the bundt cake episode in interviews
after he had revolutionized the national pastry
and become famous for his supernal puffy Napoleons.
Bundt cake could mean only his father’s sudden dementia
and the years of grief and poverty suffered by his family,
but, since my experience and circumstances are so different,
I thought this bundt cake was really good.

playthings :: rabindranath tagore

Child, how happy you are sitting in the dust, playing with a broken twig all the morning.
I smile at your play with that little bit of a broken twig.
I am busy with my accounts, adding up figures by the hour.
Perhaps you glance at me and think, “What a stupid game to spoil your morning with!”
Child, I have forgotten the art of being absorbed in sticks and mud-pies.
I seek out costly playthings, and gather lumps of gold and silver.
With whatever you find you create your glad games, I spend both my time and my strength over things I never can obtain.
In my frail canoe I struggle to cross the sea of desire, and forget that I too am playing a game.

what does e stand for? :: e. ethelbert miller

Each eye exists embracing exceptional emerald evenings
Evolution explains Eden’s evil
Earth’s ecology equates exploitation evaporation
Errors ending evergreen elms
Escort elephants eagles elks eastward
Enlightenment echoes Ezra Ezekiel
Enlist Esther Eugene Ethan Edward Ellington
Enough English explanation ecco
Exit eternity
Elucidate Ethelbert elucidate
E evokes every ecstatic emotion

so you want to be a writer? :: charles bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

via Poets.org

on the 747 :: malena morling

As soon as I sat down
the seven year old girl
offered me gum
and showed me a postcard
of the airplane we were in.
She was writing her mother
whom she had just left at the gate,
smearing her love
in blue magic marker.
Then she pulled out a drawing
she had made of the wind
and one of a cloud
and a man who had ladders
for legs and eight arms
extending eight hands.
After the heavy body of the plane
lifted off the ground,
she held my hand and talked
about her flute teacher’s birds
and the eels she had bought
in a bait store and let loose
on the beach, each one
slithering into the dark
of the green waves,
returning to what she said
she could not imagine.

via the writer’s almanac

searchers :: d. nurkse

We gave our dogs a button to sniff,
or a tissue, and they bounded off
confident in their training,
in the power of their senses
to re-create the body,

but after eighteen hours in rubble
where even steel was pulverized
they curled on themselves
and stared up at us
and in their soft huge eyes
we saw mirrored the longing for death:

then we had to beg a stranger
to be a victim and crouch
behind a girder, and let the dogs
discover him and tug him
proudly, with suppressed yaps,
back to Command and the rows
of empty triage tables.

But who will hide from us?
Who will keep digging for us
here in the cloud of ashes?

hunter’s moon :: molly fisk

Early December, dusk, and the sky
slips down the rungs of its blue ladder
into indigo. A late-quarter moon hangs
in the air above the ridge like a broken plate
and shines on us all, on the new deputy
almost asleep in his four-by-four,
lulled by the crackling song of the dispatcher,
on the bartender, slowly wiping a glass
and racking it, one eye checking the game.
It shines down on the fox’s red and grey life,
as he stills, a shadow beside someone’s gate,
listening to winter. Its pale gaze caresses
the lovers, curled together under a quilt,
dreaming alone, and shines on the scattered
ashes of terrible fires, on the owl’s black flight,
on the whelks, on the murmuring kelp,
on the whale that washed up six weeks ago
at the base of the dunes, and it shines
on the backhoe that buried her.

lisa :: david hernandez

Last night I traced with my finger
the long scar on my love’s stomach
as if I was following a road on a map.
I heard the scream of tires, saw the flash

of chrome, her six-year-old body
a rag doll bleeding at the seams.
It is foolish of me to wish
I was there before it happened, to reach

back thirty years, clasp her small hand
and pull her away from that speeding car
that turned her organs into bruised fruit.
How easily she could have missed

her seventh birthday, the lit candles waiting
for her to blow out their tiny flames.
How easily I could’ve spent last night
in a crowded bar instead,

my shoulders brushing against strangers,
a man on the jukebox
singing his heart out to a woman
with the prettiest eyes he’s ever seen.

bach in the dc subway :: david lee garrison

As an experiment,
The Washington Post
asked a concert violinist—
wearing jeans, tennis shoes,
and a baseball cap—
to stand near a trash can
at rush hour in the subway
and play Bach
on a Stradivarius.
Partita No. 2 in D Minor
called out to commuters
like an ocean to waves,
sang to the station
about why we should bother
to live.

A thousand people
streamed by. Seven of them
paused for a minute or so
and thirty-two dollars floated
into the open violin case.
A café hostess who drifted
over to the open door
each time she was free
said later that Bach
gave her peace,
and all the children,
all of them,
waded into the music
as if it were water,
listening until they had to be
rescued by parents
who had somewhere else to go.

reference experiment

washing the elephant :: barbara ras

Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash
the elephant, begging the body to do it
with soap and water, a ladder, hands,
in tree shade big enough for the vast savannas
of your sadness, the strangler fig of your guilt,
the cratered full moon’s light fuelling
the windy spooling memory of elephant?

What if Father Quinn had said, “Of course you’ll recognize
your parents in Heaven,” instead of
“Being one with God will make your mother and father
pointless.” That was back when I was young enough
to love them absolutely though still fear for their place
in Heaven, imagining their souls like sponges full
of something resembling street water after rain.

Still my mother sent me every Saturday to confess,
to wring the sins out of my small baffled soul, and I made up lies
about lying, disobeying, chewing gum in church, to offer them
as carefully as I handed over the knotted handkerchief of coins
to the grocer when my mother sent me for a loaf of Wonder,
Land of Lakes, and two Camels.

If guilt is the damage of childhood, then eros is the fall of adolescence.
Or the fall begins there, and never ends, desire after desire parading
through a lifetime like the Ringling Brothers elephants
made to walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel
and down Thirty-fourth Street to the Garden.
So much of our desire like their bulky, shadowy walking
after midnight, exiled from the wild and destined
for a circus with its tawdry gaudiness, its unspoken

It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,
the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—
the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,
unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things
like popsicles unthinkingly.
And though dailiness may have no place
for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines
and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder
to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life
will appear in a dream, arriving
with the weight and certitude of an elephant,
and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash
the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories
that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.
The New Yorker (March 2010), via KW

he attempts to love his neighbours :: alden nowlan

My neighbours do not wish to be loved.
They have made it clear that they prefer to go peacefully
about their business and want me to do the same.
This ought not to surprise me as it does;
I ought to know by now that most people have a hundred things
they would rather do than have me love them.

There is television, for instance; the truth is that almost everybody,
given the choice between being loved and watching TV,
would choose the latter. Love interrupts dinner,
interferes with mowing the lawn, washing the car,
or walking the dog. Love is a telephone ringing or a doorbell
waking you moments after you’ve finally succeeded in getting to sleep.

So we must be careful, those of us who were born with
the wrong number of fingers or the gift
of loving; we must do our best to behave
like normal members of society and not make nuisances
of ourselves; otherwise it could go hard with us.
It is better to bite back your tears, swallow your laughter,
and learn to fake the mildly self-deprecating titter
favoured by the bourgeoisie
than to be left entirely alone, as you will be,
if your disconformity embarrasses
your neighbours; I wish I didn’t keep forgetting that.

via the writer’s almanac

in praise of the great bull walrus :: alden nowlan

I wouldn’t like to be one
of the walrus people
for the rest of my life
but I wish I could spend
one sunny afternoon
lying on the rocks with them.
I suspect it would be similar
to drinking beer in a tavern
that caters to longshoremen
and won’t admit women.
We’d exchange no
cosmic secrets. I’d merely say,
“How yuh doin’ you big old walrus?”
and the nearest of
the walrus people
would answer,
“Me? I’m doin’ great.
How yuh doin’ yourself,
you big old human being, you?”
How good it is to share
the earth with such creatures
and how unthinkable it would have been
to have missed all this
by not being born:
a happy thought, that,
for not being born is
the only tragedy
that we can imagine
but need never fear.

via the writer’s almanac

to be the thing :: dorothea lasky

To be the name uttered, but not to have the burden to be
To be the name said, but not heard
To not breathe anymore, to be the thing
To be the thing being breathed
To not be about to die, to be already dead
To not have to disappoint
To not have the burden of being late
Or punctual
To not eat, to not have to eat
To not feel anything
To not be the one whose affect is criticized
To not pick up the fallen over boxes
To be everywhere but the boxes or plates
To not break the plates
To be beyond breaking
To have been broken
To not bear the burden of not being present
To not have to feel the pain of being hurt
To have transferred that pain over
So that hurt is only part of the imagination
And the imagination is everywhere, is every color
To not contain color, to be color
To not make sound, to be sound
To not have language, to echo, to plan language
To be the stream of words
To not be sad for
To not have those to be sad for
To not eat alone
To not fuck those who do not find your corpse attractive
To not fuck
Or stuff
To be ashes and non-placed
Not displaced, but to not be in any place
To enter the ocean on not a whim, but a physical force
Where there is no center
Where there is no safety
There never was
There was never any anger
There was never anything to look at
I never looked at anything
I just went and walked
I tried to love
But love is hopeless
And I have lost all hope, so bleak I am beyond
I am beyond what might be considered low
There is low nor high, space or time, I have
Gone away from that which is uttered
I have not burdened to be spoken of or spoken for
To croak everyday to the livelong bog
I do not speak a thing
I exist
No, no I don’t
I never did
And you may have
But I never did
And you may have called out for me
But I was already gone
And I am already there
That which you speak of
I am already spoken for
In a world of light and ashes
They all call my name
They have waited for me
And now I know
I was always
Already there
With them

gold :: donald hall

Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing
quickly, then
slowly again,
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.

We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.

spring snow :: arthur sze

A spring snow coincides with plum blossoms.
In a month, you will forget, then remember
when nine ravens perched in the elm sway in wind.

I will remember when I brake to a stop,
and a hubcap rolls through the intersection.
An angry man grinds pepper onto his salad;

it is how you nail a tin amulet ear
into the lintel. If, in deep emotion, we are
possessed by the idea of possession,

we can never lose to recover what is ours.
Sounds of an abacus are amplified and condensed
to resemble sounds of hail on a tin roof,

but mind opens to the smell of lightening.
Bodies were vaporized to shadows by intense heat;
in memory people outline bodies on walls.

acquainted with the night :: robert frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right
I have been one acquainted with the night.

prayer :: liz waldner

If I were in a book it would be the book
in which some lesser angel bemoans
the state of my soul

and is comforted for it
and is corrected for it

by some greater angel who knows
as the reader knows that it is not my soul
that suffers the indignities of ignobility:
the inability to curb the petty smallness
of spirit, ungladness in the company
of fools, anger’s decay,

in the sense that my soul itself cannot be
harmed nor tarnished though it can witness
my sorrow on finding that illness alters me
from the self I thought I’d more or less known.

What can one do about one’s nature?
I look at the spider that’s finally
restrung its great wheel away from the door.

I’d like to close the door awhile
leaving the spider be.
I’d like to preclude the possibility
of angel, as of prey.

transactions :: rae armantrout


What do we like best
about ourselves?

Our inability
to be content.

We might see this

as a chip
not yet cashed in.


You appear
because you’re lonely

You would not say that.

You come to tell me
you’re saving money
by cooking for yourself.

You’ve figured out
what units you’ll need

to exchange for units
if you intend

I know I mustn’t


Hectic and flexible,


are ideal

new bodies for us!

hope :: lisel mueller

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.

It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.

It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.

the english canon :: adrienne su

It’s not that the first speakers left out women
Unless they were goddesses, harlots, or impossible loves
Seen from afar, often while bathing,

And it’s not that the only parts my grandfathers could have played
Were as extras in Xanadu,
Nor that it gives no instructions for shopping or cooking.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my life
Getting over the lyrics
That taught me to brush my hair till it’s gleaming,

Stay slim, dress tastefully, and not speak of sex,
Death, violence, or the desire for any of them,
And to let men do the talking and warring

And bringing of the news. I know a girl’s got to protest
These days, but she also has to make money
And do her share of journalism and combat,

And she has to know from the gut whom to trust,
Because what do her teachers know, living in books,
And what does she know, starting from scratch?

when tao enters the poem :: joe paddock

The ancient Chinese critic,
Yen Yu, told us that when
Tao enters the poem
it becomes an “antelope hanging
by its horns from a tree,
leaving no traces to be found.”
The white spaces between
the lines in such poetry abound
with shifting herds of possibility.
Venturing into them, we are lifted
on the vast wings of emptiness
and carried away for a time.