Waking up in the middle of the night was nothing unusual. Even needing a moment to situate my sense of direction was precedented, if uncommon. But as vision set in I realized that the darkness in my room somehow held a blue tint approximating that of an iPhone backlight, and this would have been remarkable, if I had been in any position to wield language. Animalistic, I only felt revulsion towards such a logically wrong stimulus, and swiftly turned my head in the hopes of a change. I was granted one, my eyes locking on the lamp that I had in typical fashion left on, yet its light was hardly extending beyond its bulb, and its warm orange had been replaced with something adjacent to maroon. My head unthinkingly reoriented to its original position, once again escalating my anxiety by making my eyes land on her, crouched on the foot of my bed.
The way she appeared was more like a cue blip than a badly edited jump cut. That was an attempt to pay tribute to her early 20th century air — maybe it would be more accurate to say she appeared like the term “gif”, encircled, summoned to watch over a paused gif, more than she appeared like the inevitable reset of that gif. But this paints her as too common. Something in my brain registered “night terror”, yet she was wearing a smile that said “night terror” in the same way a netsavvy singer-songwriter might wear a shirt saying “big rock star” while playing to a room of eight to ten familiar supporters. You see how my prose stylings dissolve just trying to capture her? Her dress seemed leather, baroque, impressively severe, painfully yellow in its outline, illegibly black in itself, resolutely constituting a hole in the darkness even as this darkness lost its previous aspiration towards machinic blue. Her flesh was pale, inconsistent, hardly registered as skin. Her hair was ostensibly mauve, but I hardly trust my memory here. She began to explain her reason for appearing. I’m sure her mouth moved, but I was hardly watching it, the way I hardly watch a mouth in a subtitled film or anime.
In my other language the fog is always yellow and the light is the light of afternoons. The trains are always silent, and derailed, and the men on bicycles, circling the crash site, are never only that: they are growing into one another, like men into cockroaches and cockroaches into women. A Frenchman watches a parade while hanging from his belt, and the fog comes in, the colour of mustard, the colour of children // with kidney disease laughing in the other language at the men’s faces turning blue, turning purple, turning black, turning soft. And I’m pissed rotten pissing blood in the Hofgarten until I collapse, and I never have to wake up, and when it rains nothing is compelled to grow. Or else it grows the other way, so we don’t have to see it: a garden under the ground, stretching for miles, stretching for the sake of stretching, like the dogs on the mud, their tails in the air, forbidden to dig, and growling, and drained of air.
When I think of you, I’m actually
thinking of a distillation of organs.
Livers, kidneys, vessels
through which blood flows
like the dappled leaf shadows
whose shifting I never saw
because I spent my summers alone
in basements wondering if bugs
have hearts or even lungs.
No one knows. God is dead.
Society crumbled so we built
a giant robot and launched that baby
to space to do battle with a species
of cricket-sized aliens, because
we need triumphs now more than ever,
no matter how small and scurrying they be.
It’s like this morning when I took
a beer instead of Tylenol, vanquished
a whole day before it even started.
To the liver it’s all the same,
mere surges in the gut, and in fact
I often mistake bowel quivers for love
and you my lover for your evil clone.
Because what is a robot anyway
but an overgrown insect? What is
a heart except a collapsing colony.
What are you if not the shore
upon which I may finally crash,
take stock of myself, and formulate
a world worth worshipping.
I’m wearing my black leather jacket
and reading Void Magazine.
An ATM at the edge of a void
leads to an infinite line of ATMs
stretching through space-time.
A rose planted on the edge of a void
drifts into it one petal at a time, forever.
Beauty becomes a long red drip.
Vaping at the edge of a void
feels like being attacked by drones
made of nothing,
loosed by no one.
Buildings swirl round me.
Little twinkling lights. The sound perhaps of a duck, hiking up through the clouds.
Someone’s strangling you. You’re face down, searching for scraps. Shaking in a ditch, alone in a filthy motel.
A couple of philosophers crouched in a circle drinking coconuts through their bald, old straws.
You can fight. You can train.
You will get broken.
There’s no going back.
Your mouth opens.