“I could not sleep and whatever I did in the day haunted me at night with vivid and most wearing repetition.” - Charles Darwin
I wish evolution would tell me
why my hands never feel clean enough
why a headache spells death by aneurysm
why antlers are synonymous with cannibalism
why asking once if I have done someone wrong won’t suffice
the simple act of existence feels like a threat to everything I hold most dear no matter how many times I
repetition will not ensure my reality
won’t melt before my eyes
I sentence myself to isolation
A silurian silverfish scurries at the first flicker of light
Crisis averted, we live to see another day
Evolution answered, in the cruelest way
The doubting disease overstepped its bounds
Saber teeth may be no more, but panphobia took their place.
Amidst the defeated shuffle of hospital gown pant legs, rubbing against one another as the nurses and podiatrists pace the length of the cold rectangular auditorium, a deflated, yellow balloon beneath white bedsheets is being periodically pumped full of air, and is then allowed to exhale noiselessly and completely, until it is pressed flat against the bed again.
I say balloon because it’s easier to imagine him as something that might have been fitted to a helium canister and permitted to float away, should he will it. Yellow, perhaps as a result of the iodine steriliser rubbed into his skin.
It is clear to me however, that in this moment he will not soon be levitated. Flowers have been made up in quite a hurry. From Safeway or Fred Meyer’s, I suppose. Although the question of at whose benefit becomes hot and tangible, and it burns deep into the centers of my cheeks when a nurse moves frantically past the bouquet at his bedside once more. This man won’t enjoy a hallmark, plastic-wrapped arrangement of flora ever again.
There is death in these daffodils.
“T-boned,” I hear one of them say.
“Left ocular cavity: collapsed...” another tells his physician.
I can see that the man beneath the bedsheets is turkey to them. All they’ve left to do is begin drawing up diagrams, deciding where to make the cut, and what there is to salvage; who is going to get the dark meat, and who is going to get the wishbone.
Vincent L. Byrnes is from Los Angeles, and currently lives in Hanoi, VN. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Structural Damage. He is currently writing three books of poetry: an experimental look into the crossroads of the brain, an indulgent, glamorous series of elegies, and a seriously long poem tentatively titled, The Archives. He also is working on Lakeside Lenore, an existential horror novel. He published The B Sides: The Outdated Revolutions of One Psyche and Two Hearts in 2014.
The Tension in Memory Pt. 1
The Tension in Memory Pt. 2
Watch the transformation below...
Armin Radford is a multimedia artist and Portland native. His main work is done through, photography, sculpture, and painting. Armin seeks to create works which identifies with viewers psychological deficiencies and support them towards growth. Visual tension is a common theme in his work .For example, in Tension in Memory a restless steel exoskeleton fights to integrate stubborn photographs inside its contours, but finds it impossible to reach a satisfying success without the photographs springing out from the tension. The tension in material is what hold things together, but is also what ultimately breaks it apart. Armin is currently attending Pacific Northwest College of Art and studies intermedia arts.
Deepening the hole your head shakes around in like a finger in the sand
I’ve tinkered with the way I see my face
Inked my mind with scribbled squares
Slowly forming into moons
We tinker with the toys we’ve got
Back and forth we pass a feather with our words
Like a busted down is sitting somewhere near
I’ve watched too many times two sets
Crawl around a checkered floor playing
A game of chess on an empty crowded board
Somewhere there is contentment ringing
There’s an empty bed not too far off
You and I met once on a MAX headed east
You were crying about being denied entrance to the Whiskey Bar in Old Town
Now I’m presented with a book of old photos
Peering into my dimmest days in this oppressive fluorescent light
I’m reminded of needing a friend
I remember I cried every time I made it to “too much”
And all of my friends would leave
We have come here to pay respects to a friend we buried beneath this pavement
And imagine that an overdose wouldn’t be so bad
But I couldn’t do that
I find myself saying “No” a lot
Paul says I’m making strong decisions
But it’s 7:31 am and I feel so meek
So I’ll force myself to relive dropping out
My tongue is dry and swollen with a taste
I would be ok with never tasting again
If I wanted to be honest with myself
And if I’m being honest I don’t have a good reason to keep this going
There’s nothing healthy in screaming into the dark hoping
an angel hears and takes pity
While I dismantle the things I hate about my body
And letting the stubble that kills me grow out so I can
pretend I’m still “one of the guys”
that talk over me
I’m not surprised I got my shoes off
Because I don’t think I even like drinking
I’m trying to be honest
But I hear myself saying “Yes” a lot
And I envied how you drowned in your sculptures
But you needed a friend
And I was a stranger you invited into your home
Eventually you and I saw that
This morning my body is burning from the inside
Slowly as as the sugar from the 10 glasses found in this box
contaminates my smallest
and ugliest parts
I can’t keep calling out for a friend I never made
Ayden M. Clemente is a 22 year old poet and musician from Portland, OR. Since they were 15 years old, they’ve had a history of working within D.I.Y. art communities; volunteering at the (now defunct) Portland community space, Laughing Horse Info Shop, as well as being a member of experimental musical projects such as WExKILLxPOLICE. Their work is often a critical look at processing emotional distress, heavy self reflection and navigating through life as a genderqueer, indigenous person.
The map learns to accommodate chaos.
Despite the growing holes near its tattered seams ripping out countless miles of Mexican real estate and despite the sharp red ink that marked our previous route smudging into blurred over-reach, the map still controls most of its detailed lines.
Not me though. My lines are falling apart.
Susana stumbles in with a tired smirk and reaches for a simple hello – which I return – but then continues on with a web of tiny giggles and goofy tales. I scrawl the days route on a slip of paper that I stuff inside my front pocket, then fasten my sunglasses.
“Almost ready?” I say while folding up the map.
“I – yeah.”
You see words were our forte. I use were to describe the past. They had spilled out organically ever since we met. They created a friendship that made a mockery of time. The length of time we'd known each other was short, only a few weeks, but the depth of our bond made it seem like we'd known each other forever. This had a lot to do with words.
You have to understand that on most days if this idea was brought up, it would digress into a long wandering conversation on time and eventually circle around to past lives. It would go something like this:
Waking Up After Having Gotten Too Drunk and Saying Something Stupid the Night Before
Fifteen million years ago, a once-virile woolly rhinoceros staggers its rot-sodden body beyond the reach of prehistoric lions,
collapses into the shallows of a lake, and sinks into the mulched muck murking its weedy bottom.
When a nearby volcano erupts, its peptic belly bursting, molten basalt surges through fissures in the lakebed.
The slurry of boiling minerals mixes with the water, solidifies its waves, and engulfs the disease-engorged rhinoceros, encapsulating its decay.
Skin and hair, muscle and fat, tendon, nail and bone, the mammal decomposes, leaving behind a rhinoceros-shaped pouch in the solid rock.
Over millennia, tectonic plates tense, grind like molars, groan like turgid girders.
The earth’s shifting crust lifts planes and prairies into peaks, cantilevers the stone lake onto the side of a rising mountain.
Millions of years of burrowing raindrops and winds that rub the rough skin off cliff-faces expose the rhino-contoured cave in modern-day Kyrgyzstan.
I’d like to crawl into that hole and curl into a fetal position while outside time sweeps past like retreating glaciers.
Paul Christiansen received his BA at St. Olaf College and his MFA at Florida International University where he worked as editor-in-chief of Gulf Stream Magazine and assisted with Jai-Alai Magazine. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Pleiades, Quarter After Eight, Threepenny Review, Zone Three and elsewhere. A former Fulbright Fellow and winner of two Academy of American Poetry awards, he currently resides in Saigon. www.paulchristiansen.net
Kathy introduced herself...
Kathy introduced herself as humidity, and in an instant she came into the room of you; said “I need this right now.” She forced you to breathe her air, to become the damp and dank of her insides. You were the second hand on the clock, an inquiry bleeding: and seriously do faces even have mouths anymore? You spin two wheels, like one wasn't good enough, and as water you hide behind a plastic curtain to flow, and fill and fill and fill and feel ardor in the form of petals soaked in the dew of your eyes. So when salt makes them rust, you aren't surprised.
Kathy is staring awkwardly forward, and telling your dream to you: "you were a sports utility vehicle, and inside of you there we were, all of us, and you kept blurring; no one was laughing but their bellies were still sore."
remind me of the
birds in springtime.
my cats out