Poetry and Other Artifacts

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Another remedy

lcmt

To cure a headache and sharpen scissors, wrap the scissors in a clean cotton rag with artichoke thorns and broken eggshells. Swing your arms in a room colder than red wine, colder than sleep, colder than fig tree roots

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nascar

lcmt

jovians trapped
in metal working
men driving flying
scrap bolted air
pressed into cores
torn by exhausted
fuel burning fast
following faster
lines spinning
straight scraping
wheels scarring
scored asphalt
planet bursting
gravity shaped
molten heart

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Proverb

lcmt

17. The death of strangers is sweet as chard, as rhubarb, as onions pickled with olives and scraped cassia bark.

From The Mislaid Proverbs of Dr. Jaw by Nigul Mesikep, translated from the original Estonian by Ashtabula Littlehales

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A remedy for hard places

lcmt

This poem is no longer online.

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A Jackalopian Perspective

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Kelson Snapped

lcmt

This poem is no longer online. It is included in Chiral Phenomena, Intaglio Galosh Studio Press, 2011.

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Proverb

lcmt

36. Avoid ruddy historians who claim they can measure all winds and return the hulk of faith to dark-skinned sciences of instinct, movement and interior promises.

From The Mislaid Proverbs of Dr. Jaw by Nigul Mesikep, translated from the original Estonian by Ashtabula Littlehales

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Excerpt from the novel The Boy in the Yellow Leatherette Portmanteau

lcmt

Riddle of the Week:

Why is an ankle like a consequence?

Joe Baluende stared at the small sign taped to the back of the cash register in the Bookscapes bookstore in Whittlespear Beach, California; blue ink on goldenrod card stock, san-serif and bold. Music drifted down from a high shelf behind the counter, easy-going jazz from an ungainly homemade boom box. Joe, the tenderest of jazz neophytes, was pleased to recognize Dave Brubeck. He lifted a worn, stained copy of the American Heritage Dictionary, a book that often sat next to the register, when the space was not occupied by What's What: A Visual Glossary of the Physical World, or Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, or the Larousse Gastronomique. He paged through the dictionary until he found the entry for "ankle". It was a noun, unsurprisingly.

1. The joint formed by the articulation of the lower leg bones with the talus. The ankle connects the foot with the leg. 2. The slender section of the leg immediately above the foot.

He looked up "talus". Another noun.

1. The bone of the ankle that articulates with the tibia and fibula to form the ankle joint. Also called anklebone, astragalus. 2. The ankle. 3. A sloping mass of rock debris at the base of a cliff.

He was about to look up "consequence" when the proprietor of Bookscape walked around the end of the first row of Mystery.

"Hello, Joe," said Ashtabula Littlehales. She was a large, round woman, unimposing despite her mass. With skin the color of portobello mushroom gills and hair the color and texture of an old (but clean) string mop, she seemed much older than her actual age of forty-five years. Joe, unaware that Ashtabula was only eleven years older than himself, placed her in his grandmother's generation.

"What old thing did you bring for us today?" she asked him in the way of her usual greeting. Joe was always bringing in old books and pamphlets and letters for her scrutiny. He was a licensed electrician with his own venture, Black Dog Electric, a job that sometimes brought him into the most elderly and most neglected houses on California's central coast. Where he found history cached in paper, carelessly stacked in fading heaps, in grimy boxes, on dusty shelves, forgotten, unwanted, with only spiders and silverfish jealous in their possession. In the performance of his work, he quietly moved such detritus to his van, rarely asking permission of anyone (he occasionally wondered if he should apologize to the spiders and the silverfish). For two years he had been providing this invisible service; he had yet to receive a complaint.

Joe handed the day's offering to her in a plastic grocery bag. It was a lightweight relic. Moving behind the counter, Ashtabula removed from the bag a wad of torn pages stapled together. It had once been a catalog, she could see at first glance. The front cover and maybe a dozen pages had been torn away almost entirely; the remaining pages were also torn, missing top portions that were as much as a quarter-part of each page. Ashtabula was unimpressed—Joe had never brought her a find less prepossessing than this.

She looked up to find him watching her keenly. He was grinning. "Looks like something you wouldn't even give to a parrot, right?" Joe owned two Jardine parrots who fiercely enjoyed ripping apart bound media.

"Not with the staples," Ashtabula said absently. She examined the maltreated pages more closely. Books, she realized—she was looking at a catalog for books.

"Brain is pretty damn smart about staples," Joe said cheerfully. "He picks them out and drops them through the bottom of his cage. Pinky likes to play with them, and sometimes he leaves them in his food dish. He has never swallowed one, but you have to keep an eye on him." The man seemed most merry, a manner which ill fit his long, thin face. Joe was entirely long, thin and pale—which was the sum of his inheritance from his dour Swedish parents, except for a single #10 envelope containing photographs of a flaxen family he would never meet. His foster parents, short, dark and vociferous, had given him everything else, including his name, Josue Bautista Baluende, and an ardent, poetic nature not altogether hidden by his Nordic pallor.

Someday Joe would be half-bald, a fate foretold by the creased images in the envelope, but at this moment in his life, he still retained a respectable quantity of blond hair caught in a lank ponytail hanging halfway down his back. This hair, iconic in combination with his faded Pushead T-shirt and his ancient jeans, fabricated a skin in harmony with his core. His heart was the heart of an American boy in a band with his buddies, a cover band that played classic songs from Led Zeppelin, the Doors, the Eagles, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. The band was called Bury Me Standing, a name chosen with little consideration and no serious thought. It was the title of a book about gypsies Joe had been reading during the three-hour drive to their first appearance at the Santa Maria Strawberry Festival. The anchor of the band was Joe's best friend, a serenely eccentric virtuoso with either guitar, violin or banjo. Their drummer was a failed classical percussionist. Their bass player was a regularly employed studio musician who carted his unwieldy collection of four bass fiddles to the aid of jazz ensembles and chamber orchestras. Joe had a journeyman's understanding of the guitar and could charm a less-than-discerning crowd with a harmonica, but his true gift was an angelic voice that flexed easily between Bryan Ferry and Robert Page. All four men liked to pretend their collaboration was little more than a garage band, but they had been playing together for six years, had produced two full-length CDs, and were able garner a considerable amount of local adulation in venues from Santa Barbara to Monterrey.

However, the considerable amount of local adulation yielded little actual monetary recompense, so no one in the band dreamed of quitting their day jobs.

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Cephalopods

Dark Chocolate

DiaryLand

according to a consensus
of five co-conspirators
her right eye is blue
her left eye is a match

but she knows one eye
is smaller than the other
and both are the color
of a common gray rock

flecked with oxides
thirty years have passed
since she last wore a shoe
with a broken heel

she inscribes herself
readily as owner
operator general
dogsbody of the Intaglio

Galosh Studio Press
which has neither
intaglios nor presses
nor even a lone galosh

she is a woolgatherer
a dawdler
an ignoramus
an omnivore

a deficient typist

she is nine inches long
from the inside of her elbow
to the inside of her wrist
she is legged but not

bow-legged and less
saline than most people
but that could be
a misapprehension


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