Two words I learned today. Anosmia and anthimeria. One means you can’t smell anything. The other’s a substitution of one part of speech for another. Often in a novel way. Most typically a noun for a verb. First noticed in Shakespeare. Hemingway has a few examples too. He beat up Wallace Stevens once. Apparently Stevens started it. The woman took something called Zicam. A nasal spray of some sort. Said as soon as it hit her membranes it burned like pepper. Next day she noticed that things that should have had odors didn’t. Same with her taste. Temperatures as well. Even salty and sweet. Eighty-percent of afflicted users reported a significant deficit in their olfactory senses after just one dose. Stevens said basically the same thing.

How To Make It Work

The things that could almost happen are far more compelling than either the things that can’t or even the things that will. You leave at dawn. A crow is picking at something on the road. The wind blows away the clouds. There is a tiny man made of coal who has eaten all of my anger and grinds my teeth for me. I wonder whether you have fallen out of love with me within the last hour. The long debated silver implement achieves escape velocity and introduces a new form of lichen. Your obese Uncle. If I gave him a few sticks of lip balm would he agree to step on my head? Let’s make tea with nails and rain water. Let’s make up names for the Gods based on the common structural elements of Arthropods. Quietly I have grown old filling my left pocket while I’ve emptied my right. Don’t you always feel like you’re getting ready to live? That you just need a few more minutes? I feel the thinness of your lips. The new seed cones soft and green. She likes her cat a little too much. The white milky spit of the antiquarian hobos. You can understand how it works without understanding how to make it work. A little dark star in your heart is amassing gravities and coupons that have already expired. Date seeds glistening in the saucer. A computer dials my number. Her shirt says The World is My Ashtray.


You may need to go to the store. A friend has stopped by unexpectedly. You lock your son, the four-year-old, in your trailer and come back the next day with apples. You listen with your other mouth. Before the shattering there’s the falling. Which can feel quite liberating, more or less depending on the circumstances. When the snow melts it makes a slight bit of noise as it falls on the tin roof. Like the footprints of mice or beetles when they’re dragging something. The state says it’s okay to eat apples. The state says tin protects people from weather and other acts of God. My hands get me in trouble. They tell me rubber, pin, thermostat. When I chew on my fingers I bite down so hard I can see what my teeth look like. Many people here today will understand your mercy. Many people here today are wearing a pair of red underwear. You stand outside the door. I stand inside the door. What we get used to becomes what we can’t see. What we can’t see needs to be removed in the next forty-eight hours for any sort of defensible prognosis. The snow that evaporates in the air is even louder.

A Haiku

Mist drifts off of the creek. A few bubbles that breach the surface catch the streetlight. New organizational priorities. Limited space. The euphemism of structure. Dig your own hole now. The smooth untrammeled spaces with a fence around them. Fissures forming where things get interesting. Suddenly the demand for punctuation. Symbols that indicate even our pleasant moments will be taken from us. They’re usually the ones who volunteer to go first. The gesture replete with silver fish bones. We’ll pull them out of our bodies through our skin and say “See, they were always there.” “Assassination” has the word “ass” in it twice. We note this in the shower when we’re stepping on the rusted cans you trundled in here in your sleep. I’ll probably just tear this one part out and tape it into a different book. I think I hit my head against the wall one too many times. My sons asleep on either side of me. One a burlap bag of sticks. The other a silk sack filled with warm sand. The swelling moon rises and draws the attention of the branches clawing at the purple sky. The sassafras collectors have arrived. The have a red ball they want to cram into your mouth. The coat worn a little at the collar. A grasshopper crawls from the sleeve. It only has the word “ass” in it once. The chill settles and refuses to budge. The dark-haired robot-girl passes by on the way to the shed again. How to vomit up the black mouth crawling around in my guts. Her eyes pass through my hollow body and cast the shadows of broken clocks on the put-upon pavement. I massage your ankles. Later you throw the toaster at me. I insist on this being a haiku.


A long drive to the Fjord. The 11 year-old girl who drove drunk up the logging road and swerved off the edge. They leave flowers and candles there. A day the Sun’s out and bright enough for us to bare our pale limbs. 12,000 steps up 2,500 feet. The mountain behind town. The viewing platform. The tiny islands stretching out into the Pacific. The trees on them like hairs on a mole. On the viewing platform we meet a man from Raleigh whose son designs amphibious vehicles for the military. A market that doesn’t sell wine. The small bag of tortilla chips is 8 dollars. The tourists back on their ships. Their ships no longer in view. The locals walking their dogs. Riding their bikes. With a beer or two in their hands. We go to the top of the hill. Where the Russian castle once stood. We finally see the volcano. Its caldera capped with a frosting of ice. On TV the male gymnasts at the Beijing Olympics hold their bodies upside down. Lose a few points on the dismount. Something to do with their feet. On TV the Russian invasion of Georgia. Its future repercussions. The refugees. Young women with bare midriffs and stylish jeans. Seen pouting among the rubble like models on a difficult shoot. On the streets the Russian tourists. They’re staying in town. Surrounded in their black furs. Their faces chiseled and waxy like film stars from the 60’s. She falls asleep and I go down to the street. A local kid gives me the finger and calls me an asshole. Tells me and the other guy there that this is his street. Invites us to step into the alley to smoke some weed. Calls us pussies when we decline. In the middle of the night I hear him and his friends up on the ruins of the castle. Drinking and howling. Drawing knives while their girlfriends scream and plead. Dispersing at dawn when the guys in the next room bang around preparing for their fishing trip. Oiled boots clunking on the floor. The Weather Channel turned up a little too loud.

How To Become A Famous Artist (Spanish Edition)


Cómo Convertirse En Un Artista Famoso

1. Aseguro que llevan el nombre de un Volcán Activo.

2. Anuncie su intención de casarse con un famoso artista muerto. Esto le dará un poco de tiempo. No existen precedentes legales para ello. Asegúrese de elegir un artista de otro país. Derecho Internacional tiende a ser acerca de Los Peces, La Temperatura, y El Genocidio. Vas a estar casado por años antes de que lo hace a Un Tribunal.

3. Dile a tus Hombres de Relaciones Públicas para conseguir saltos. Piss off algunos oscuros. La culpa es de Los Situacionistas.

4. No le pida a Lorca. Al parecer. El está ocupado.

5. Realice una copia de perras fuera! Me voy a casar con Kurt Schwitters próxima semana. Que su esposa muerta presentar una Orden Judicial. Por lo menos sé cómo se escribe su nombre.

The Astronaut

The Astronaut drove nine hundred miles in a diaper. They wear those sometimes for lift-off and re-entry. In the trunk of the car a steel mallet, rubber tubing, and some duct tape. Arriving at the airport at 3am she put on a wig and a trench coat and sprayed her romantic rival in the face with pepper spray. The other woman, who was apparently involved with the same Astronaut as the other Astronaut, managed to escape in her own car. The Astronaut’s Lawyer said his client just wanted to have a talk with the woman. And sure. This makes sense. In space the most simple of tasks sometimes require a Herculean effort. This explains the diapers. This explains the rubber tubing. This explains the hacksaw. Maybe people shouldn’t go into space. Maybe they should stay at home with their daughters and leave the steel mallet in the tool shed. Or maybe it’s the other option. Places that are hard to get to. Maybe we should just stay there once we’ve arrived.



The Project For A New Mythology Vol. 3 No. 1

Things May Choose To Sink

The Huichols got themselves a giant orange and blue robot and crowned him with a pink halo. Soon the bees will return. Soon the nails in the box will be gone and we’ll have to light out to the trading post. The storms from the north are more boisterous than usual. They make us a little uncomfortable when they stand too close. She whispers in your ear. If you ever get in her car again she’s going to drive it into the river. Window shopping for the appropriate mask. An anchor around which things may choose to sink. The smell of the rotting plums on the ground brings a sweet itch that teases the place between your legs. The pits hurt your feet when you walk on them on the way to the grass. We get up early for the wrong children. We go down late and choke the furrows with the purple slowness of our blood. The moon these days is dark. The place behind your eyes is dark. I’m hoping to hide there, but you say you’re trying to escape.



Sentence No. 9

You Can Die If You Eat Them

The room shrinks and the drain widens. There is only one body and it happens to be yours. I will give you my lead effigy. You will bring me your field of grain. The rye is rusted and there are fleas among the rabbits. That hard breaking-off inside of you. Like the snapping of wood. We hear it approach like a train out on the prairie. But we don’t call it a prairie. That’s too quaint. Hackneyed maybe. Where the grasses overtook the runway after the planes stopped landing. Where the purple Camas Flower peppers the grasses in late spring. Their bulbs. You can roast them and eat them. The Camas Flower looks just like another flower. I can’t recall its name. Their bulbs. You can die if you eat them. You talk about the Cardboard People. I refer to us as Titans. These are the sorts of conversations people have while waiting for trains. The songbird in these parts is black with a red diamond on each wing. Its trill like a reed instrument. Like the sound your eyes make while you’re avoiding your dreams. My hand firm enough on your neck to feel your pulse. The hair on my belly pulled slightly by the curve of your bottom. That’s how it is with Titans. I call you my Sister. I call you my Uncle. The meadowlark torn open to see which heaven its entrails steam up towards. The drain narrows and out on the prairie the power lines snap in the wind and dance among the grasses. The train, no longer able to go forward, rises upward a few fathoms and then stops. Floats there a thousand years. Then crumbles and drifts back down into the grasses.



Sentence No. 9

The Finches Or Whatever They Are

To feel about you the way I feel about the moon. Swollen on days like today. Slender on other evenings. Always in a different part of the sky. Never knowing when I’m going to see her. Never worried when I don’t. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? The words I used last night to fashion tiny rings of silver. You take them like a wrench to the rusted bolts as a way of opening the day. Let’s invent the odor that emanates from spiders as they disgorge silk from their depths. I take you like a pony on the carpet. Rubbing the freckles off your knees so later I can scatter them on the patio for the starlings. That’s what I call the finches or whatever they are. You consume all the injunctions. The various forestallings. You toss me about on the black waves. The uneven coils. Leave me with salt and tiny creatures in my mouth. The wrench sinks quickly. The silver rings drift slowly down into the purple depths. There is a man retracing his steps backwards through a doorway so he can surprise himself with the view he gets again from the threshold. This is why we have rituals. They are a way of convincing ourselves that an incipient joy can be lived over and over again. I’ve never actually seen the moon in person before. But I know she’ll be here one of these days. When she comes I’ll write your name on a piece of paper and hide it under the rock that keeps my shadow from blowing away into the spider-scented night. You with your waning. Me with my starlings. Fattened just a bit before winter.