What makes a machine less machine-like is being composed of trillions of little machines in densely ordered hierarchy. The hot noisiness rattles itself around the bottom levels which faithfully shuttle it upwards to talk with the upper levels. It gets to the top and bellows out through a hole in the roof. Less machine-like.
Golden Poem No. 1, Fantasia
Spirals named the Kinks-Marvus
lerch up and crinkle with poise—
But on Wednesdays,
they lay back and speak.
Their clay oven emits a mustard-green glow
signaling endless rustic bread for all!
The Kinks-Marvus lived as a
quickly unfurling rack of light
for thousands of years and
then the most remarkable thing happened:
They exponentially multiplied into trillions of light colonies
making their way to the White Igloo—
then trapped by the crystals of its geode, sucking all under its glassy purple sheen.
A New Scientific Fact was Born.
By Harini Reddy and Matt Leece
I - The Book of New Leviticus (pt. 2)
Like most people, we don’t eat often, but tonight we eat well. Dinner is a spicy, yanoliphinated stew with hearty chunks of cop and ripe tomato. Nina and Chauncy have picked black chantarelles from the woods and marinated them with walnut oil and wild apple vinegar. Elsie is sucking her pen while I set the table.
Nina and Elsie were together when I met them five years ago, in love. Elsie is a short muscular thing, while Nina is soft and feminine. Both have eyes like black water you could drown a witch in. Before them, I’d lived alone in a cave, cooking drugs and chemical weapons in the woods for a gang. They came to the city and started feeding exclusively on cops and gang members, partly out of some inchoate moral sense and partly to show off. Following some gang members on a pick-up run to my den, they found me. Knowing their reputation, I gassed the whole cave with nitrous oxide and hoped I’d wake up first. I did, and quickly dosed the two of them with vaninal, a giant macrocyclic peptide I’d been developing. Vaninal was beautiful like a kept promise, a molecular bracelet dangling strange monoamines and functionalized hormones from each of its nineteen free alpha carbons. Basically taking vaninal was like flying a helicopter upside down into the hypothalamic neural circuitry of the libido. Staked to a tree on a mountain, egos dissolved, they blissfucked each other on vaninal for an entire week. When they came back to earth, bound up naked and and almost dead, they said it’d been the best week ever. We fell in love. I dosed us all again and put the seeds of Chauncy into Elsie’s olive tummy, over and over and over.
With Chauncy around, we’ve calmed a lot. We hunt when we have to. We fuck in big piles still, but less often. We eat dinner and plan for the future. Elsie is going to take over the world once she can figure out what do with it. Nina wants to get pregnant herself. I don’t know what I want, but I do like holding Chauncy, dosing him with gentle, funny things, and singing to him.
We eat. Chauncy hangs a chantarelle on his nose and starts nuzzling Nina with it. She bites it off his nose, swallows it and kisses his head. He plunges into her lap and kisses her belly. I clap. Elsie lifts her pen and says ‘A-ha! It’s maybe obscene, but what do you think?’ She holds up the paper to the candlelight:
3. Be fruitful and multiply.
by Jeune Carter
I - The Book of New Leviticus
We butcher the cop on the roof of the apartment, bathing him first in a pool of murky rainwater and then in a chalky paste of detoxicants. Out of his tattooed skin, the wet fat and muscle glistens in the red evening sun. He looked new again, not like a poisoned perverted cop, just a big sleeping skinless animal.
Chauncy watches us work with our knives and satchels of chelating agents, twirling his hair and sucking his thumb. When you try to eat a tertiary predator such as a human being, bioaccumulation of heavy metals, carcinogenic dust, and poorly synthesized recreational drugs make the meat largely toxic. In our starving chemical age, this means only that special preparation is required. The chelators are co-administered with lipases and proteases, which chew microscopic holes into the muscle and facilitate fast diffusion throughout the tissue. In this way the meat is cleansed and tenderized in a single step. People aren’t special in this regard. A wolf or a lion would require a similar treatment.
With packs full of our plastic-wrapped kill, we descend into the darkened building. In this waterless, powerless apartment, the only inhabitant is a skeletal junky that Chauncy calls ‘Bonesy.’ Bonesy is tripping and shaking as we pass him in the lobby. As a gesture of good will, Nina hands him a package. ‘Heart of cop, still laced with enough blakotoxin for a buzz.’
The junky grins, showing exactly seven rotting teeth, two sharpened canines and a few molars in the back. ‘Goodboy Mr. Neighbor, good thanks, good!’ The immobilant we darted the cop with, blakotoxin, elicits a very pleasant high in low doses, comparable to being wine drunk and in love.—
Back home in the den, Elsie works on ‘The book of new Leviticus’, a tract she plans to disseminate through the city. Meanwhile I cook and Nina plays with Chauncy. The tract first declares herself, Elsie, queen of the disaster, then outlines the proper moral behavior she expects of her people. Anyone conscientously violating these standards, in public or in private, will be hunted down and eaten by witches, it says. We were the witches, of course.
Here were the first two commandments in the ‘The book of new Leviticus’:
1. Eat what you kill
2. But no kids
'Those are the obvious ones, but where do you go from there?' she laments. I stir the browned meat in the stew pot and add diced tomatoes and chilis. I add salt and yanoliphine, a phrixotoxin-tethered buprenorphine-derivative I'd been playing with. I hadn't gotten the functionalization of the alkylamine quite right, but the intended effect is a quick, stinging pinch on the tongue from the phrix followed by an all-embracing opioid relief. It's like getting play-bitten while tongue-kissing god. I have to keep the stuff up high, or Chauncy would eat it right out of the jar with a spoon.
by Jeune Carter
Prologue - Angler Fish
In a corner of the alley, Chauncy, my son, is playing in the dust and talking to a figurine I’d bound together with a pine cone and some twigs. ‘You will not cut my hair, you will not have my beads,’ he asserts, pointing his little finger at the doll. His mother, Elsie, had put painted wooden beads in his curly brown baby hair. He’s naked and about four years old.
A man in leather walks by the alley, finally. He’s got a thick dirty beard and he stinks like tar and burnt shit. I nod at him, as if I know him. He cocks his head, then grins and steps into the alley. The smell intensifies, and he licks his lips before asking if he can buy my son.
'A strip of thirty for the boy' he offers, and puts his hand on a gun resting in a shoulder holster, right over his heart, like he's pledging. He's got a taped-together radio crackling at his waist. At the end of the world, this is what a cop looks like.
Chauncy crushes his pine cone doll into the ground and makes an explosion noise with his lips. ‘My beads!’ he re-iterates.
This part of the game I hate. ‘He’s fresh.’ I say. ‘Make it fifty. Do you have it now?’ My costume is a kind of toga made of old Egyptian cotten sheets Elsie found in a hotel. I want him to see that I’m unarmed and mostly starved.
"Yessir, fifty’ll do." He doesn’t intend to give me the drugs he’s offering, but instead makes a step towards Chauncy.
A low, flute-like tone comes from above and the cop is darted. The medicine acts instantaneously, and his eyes roll back before he can even get the gun from the holster. Elsie drops like a spider from the roof, landing on the man’s shoulders and knocking him over. Chauncy looks up at her admiringly, and I rush to help.
First, she slits his throat. In the dose delivered, the dart medicine has a tendency to make victims sing. If there are any other cops around, an alert like that would ruin the whole operation. His beard gets wet and red with the bright oxygenated rust inside him.
I’ve already got the hook out from Elsie’s pack. He’s got his shirt lifted up and his fat hairy chest exposed. True to form, in a drowning, broken croak, he starts singing: ‘I’m a fucking filthy fuck and I live on a burning rock.’ Elsie holds his shoulders down and I push the thick iron hook under his ribcage. More poisoned blood tries to get out.
The hook is tied to a coil of weighted rope. I throw it up to the roof where Nina catches it. She runs it through the pulley and throws the other end back down to us. Elsie and I start heaving him upwards. ‘I don’t know if I want to eat this one, he stinks so bad,’ she says, and scrunches her nose.
Like a black, bleeding angel in an ancient play, our prey ascends in the alleyway by rope. ‘A slut who shows her nether parts so filthy fucks can fuck ‘em up,’ are his last words. His radio falls to the ground and crackles. Nina hoists him onto the roof and signals. Elsie grabs Chauncy. We disappear.
Private Room NO.7 at The Bathhouse Aujourd’hui
I never found out why they called it The Kitchen—Joe was the first to use that name (I think), but it’s hard to be sure about anything when talking about that place.
My first night there the boys kept feeding me shots of vodka and before I could say stop they had carried me into a room with the tallest ceilings I’d ever seen (and ever seen since), and books from wall to wall. It was the French History section of the Library on 109th. I didn’t even bother asking how we’d gotten in from The Kitchen, I almost didn’t even bother wondering.
There was a boy with really light hair who worked the front desk most days—I never learned his name, rarely ever spoke to him, but I’ll always remember his voice. It was the weirdest thing, he’d sit there at his desk and he would just start singing. I was so confused the first time I saw it—nobody blinked, nobody turned to look, and that first time, I think people were more curious about me (the new confused boy) than they were about this beautiful singing kid with light hair.
God that light. That fucking light. I tried to look away from it for the first couple months, hide my eyes in the walls or the posters, but it really starts to take you somewhere else after a while. It wasn’t until November that I really started to dig it. I think that we have these notions of what is inherently dangerous and what is peaceful an so on, but this light really shattered that for me. The hue wasn’t anything special—it was just red (scarlet), but it’s presence was so unusual. To walk into a room and see very deliberately placed flood lights painting the floors and the ceilings simple shades of red and blue and green, it was like tear gas filtering in from the cracks in the paint—imagine a 6kHz hum droning constantly in an otherwise domestic setting—whats worse, imagine that nobody except for you seems to be able to hear it. No one took notice of anything in The Kitchen. People’s reactions scared me more than all the twisted shit in that place.
Joe was a bald man. One day in The Private Room we were chatting and smoking and touching each other and I asked him casually what he wanted to do. He kinda sat there in silence for a couple minutes, smoke leaking from his nose and from his eyes (it seemed), and then he just stood up and left. I think that day I crossed a line. It wasn’t until April that he finally told me: “I’m trynna do the warrior poet thing.”
Spending all that time in that place made me realize why writers act like writers. For example, just now as I’m typing this (ribbon almost out of ink, keys sticking but sometimes percussing in a truly satisfying way, drink rattling of melting ice cubes), a huge fucking thunderclap startled me and now my heart is pounding.
Joe’s voice always impressed me. I think somehow his bald head allowed the sound waves to propagate in a more powerful way than anyone else. Seriously, his voice would shake floorboards and lift skirts (seriously). And when he would recite poems—fuck did it make my knees weak. He was such an imaginative improvisor, and so confident. It blew me away. He could just talk about his day and you’d try to make him take a breath so you could write it all down.
109th and Catolie Ave.—Sounds of jazz and the smell of cigarettes. I took the boy from the front desk out one night (the way he looked at me when I asked him out…). We got drinks and danced at some place that played good music, I had a nice time but felt like he was distracted or something. It’s around eleven and he asks me if we can get going (first thing he says to me all night)—I was tired so I said sure and we took off. When we got back to his place I asked him to make me a drink and that fucker just starts singing his fucking arias. I was really pretty startled. As bizarre as it fucking was it actually somehow wasn’t that bizarre. As he sang I stared to get this feeling like this was him—this was who he was, he just liked to sing and he had to do it. It kind of brought us closer together, to think that all night were out dancing and he has to keep his mouth shut so he doesn’t start singing in the middle of fucking Catolie and we get home and instead of taking his shirt off he sings to me. It was beautiful—one of the most romantic things to ever happen to me. I actually stared to cry, I couldn’t stop thinking about how pure this fucking singing was and how he wouldn’t have given a shit if he embarrassed himself out on Catolie, but he’d kept quiet to save me the embarrassment and confusion.
The Kitchen drew a very singular type of crowd. We all knew something special was happening as that place grew (as we grew), and I think it came to a head in August, when the police showed up to honor some noise complaint (which was bullshit because by that point we had lined all the walls, literally all of them, with books we had checked out from the French History section of the Library on 109th—I suggested we just steal them, but Joe thought it would be better if we all registered for library cards). So here we are, naked (mostly), surrounded by books on French History, chatting with the cops, and having an actually pretty civil time.
Private Room NO.7 at The Bathhouse Aujourd’hui, a translation of Greenaway’s The Chef, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.
By Matt Leece
Fuck, fuck, fuck, I’ve been holding this in like bad gas. Fuck, fuck, fuck—tape duck, I’ve been camped out in the same spot for these past nine months—I know you thought I left when you did, but I didn’t, I’ve been camping, fucking, swimming naked with Jewel ever night (at least once and then every time after in my dreams), fuck, fuck, fuck, I’ve been thinking about my arrogance and your arrogance and realized that neither of us are arrogant—I’m just an idealist and you’re just afraid of what you lost when you were my age.
Silly Sally Strikes again
Jack said to his 30 year old squeamish nephew,
"Watch out for Sue Ellen next time you pass the holly trees around the corner from Mrs. Johnson’s place… She’s worked up about all the romping going on next door and I hear she’s been hiding out throwing dog biscuits and gogurt at everyone who walks by and screaming about how your dick isn’t worth 10 cents at the grocery store unless you’re related to Jack Cassady or the Sundance kid"
A Narration of the Past Two years
Ramsey saw a beautiful person standing next to a tree (a palm). Ramsey was really blown away when this person started speaking—wow. Ramsey spent the next year meeting this person (whose name was Jeune) in diners to talk and learn. Ramsey and Jeune drank tons of coffee and ate eggs with toast and hash most nights. Sometimes they were stoned, other times they were obsessed with gender and loving trees—it was a cool time for them.
One morning, Ramsey went to visit Jeune at work—Jeune worked at a diner in town. Ramsey ate eggs with toast and hash and wrote a poem on a napkin for Jeune. Jeune walked home with the napkin and found some string in a drawer in his kitchen. Then Jeune walked outside and tied the napkin to a honeysuckle bush with the string.
Jeune wakes up every morning in a different place—sometimes under street signs and bridges, sometimes in the city behind the market, sometimes in other people’s beds, but Jeune doesn’t mind. Every day around lunchtime Jeune takes a train back to the honeysuckle bush and finds new poems tied to its boughs with thick, elaborate knots.
Did I ever tell you how Ramsey got the name Ramsey? Ramsey was in a hostel in Egypt with a beard named Everett and they didn’t have any money. They were thirsty and wanted to perform their odd smokey rituals in pits of sand they found in the desert, but they didn’t have enough ganja plant. They decided to rob a near-by bread producer that night. They sharpened sticks they found in the desert and took a taxi into town. They robbed the bread producer—their plan worked. They walked away with all kinds of nuts and bolts and other bits of alloys they took from the bread producer and traded them in at the exchanger (who was pretty thrilled). They then bought some ganja plant and traveled back to the desert. As they descended into a pretty good looking sand pit, Everett found an old key chain which was bedazzled with plastic gemstones—Everett turned to Ramsey and said your name should be Ramsey.
A green dead fly
A green dead fly turned up on my windowsill, my intestines feel perturbed and spastic, and the characteristic humidity of mid Atlantic July has been in remittance all week.
On closer inspection, the fly is aquamarine, basically a winged little gemstone that tastes the world by licking up whatever dissolves in its own vomit. I’m sorry if you were eating when you read that. I needed a way to remind the reader about the vulgarity of the actual, ‘vulgar’ being a word we use to describe the things we would like to avoid. We would like to avoid most of the actual.
July is clapping her perfect hands. I wanted this poem to describe a graceless one-nighter I had with a girl whose name I literally don’t remember: we got day-drunk, tried to pray the buzz away in a church as a joke, and were kicked out by a man in red robes. In her dorm room I fucked her, but couldn’t finish because she kept saying my name. We made up silly songs together which I sang to her all night. I have since forgotten them, like her name. The next day I got back together with Jamie and felt so much hope. The actual was a darkened mountain, ten thousand feet below.
Need a new simple style. I am like a plant growing towards the glorious ache of doing laundry in the house alone again. Heart feels flimsy like a chicken breast. My chest just aches when I try to run in the morning. I smell honeysuckle and want to kiss someone, but the only person I see is an older woman in sunglasses and a tracksuit. Passing me, she looks up at the clouds to avoid eye contact. I need to practice looking in the mirror and smiling and singing long open vowels. I am not a social animal anymore or a even bookish type. What was the last book I even finished? Maybe the spirit world was promised to me by mistake, my little head actually made of folded paper and bled-out ink. In this condition, not qualified to transcend the humid Mondays. Maybe I should take psilocybin, or start a small business. I’m getting in line for a new simple style (whatever that means). Blowing a glass vase and filling it with peach pits and laughter, or boredly carving the moon into my chest with a sharpened bone.
(Impressed by Matt onto Harini)
Lush rocks through the hay we go—
Sterile life however on the perimeters
And the danger red
Exists from the sky to ground
Exterminates the space in between—
To liken the activities of mankind
And eliminate his jealousy.
(Impressed by Harini onto Matt)
Staring out towards the forest
But seeing your self—
How high did we get?
How many vegetables
Did I eat today?—
Did I become new yet?
Rustle of wind through the trees.
By Harini Reddy and Matt Leece
E. P. Summer 2014
"Last night I wrote
'This a short poem,
you are the vandalism’
on a wall in Lansdale”
Every day, when I walk past the big block of cement near the hospital, I see words about Jericho plastered on the wall—backwards. Perfectly backwards though, not mistakenly or lazily: masterly. If I walk past as the sun is setting, I can sometimes catch a glance of the proletarian mural via a window or puddle—it’s reversed and I can read it as it was written. I can read the words as I know them and I can recognize the handwriting and that makes me a little less nervous—I look away and see sand lining the cracks of the sidewalk. Where did this sand come from? Did the seagulls bring it?
By Matt Leece