Tag Archives: alt lit

2 Poems by Key MacFarlane

An alumnus of Colgate University, Key is currently working at an environmental consulting firm in Baltimore, Maryland. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Full of Crow, Eunoia Review, and Sleet Magazine.

News Feed (Internet Death)


Pretty sure my dishwater is broken again

Does anyone know where I can get one cheap?

What does it sound like?

Do the plates clash around or do they fill

With rotting fluids?

Maybe run it on one cycle after all

Famar Volat. I think.

Sorority sisters take vacations

And I am very excited to see Ford again, alone this time

Even my blind grandmother would have thrown a flag at that one

Move on man

Get a better job

Because “In a completely sane world, madness is the only freedom!”

Yeah, a little outdated but you can still read his books here

For free tonight at 8pm in the old courtyard

Next to the arcade (Ford was here)

They’ll be square dancing:

Dude we were so hammered that night

Look at the girl passed out on the floor

I know her from somewhere…

Somewhere stones meet stones and fall unbruised

Across many time zones and video clips

I admit this made me laugh for hours in England

May he rest in peace, much too soon

It came to me unformed, an ancient gesture—

Some sepulcher of restaurant reviews

We bury Ford on Monday, donations taken here

And our thoughts

Yes our thoughts too

Moving across the globe today! Wish us good luck!

Break a keg Billy

Haha I guess those pictures are still up

Aren’t they?

Who’s to take them down?

I think “art is pun” or something I found

Like when life gives you lemons

Or some other iteration


I’m telling you I only like limes and said it first

We agree with your assumption completely and completely

Sympathize with your choice of outerwear!

Do those boots come in indigo?

Well it does get cold sometimes in San Diego and I have to…

Look at this cat and this cat and this cat has my same eyes

I want you to know this in case

You ever have to piece me back together

I miss you dearly – at Pub Dog Pizza and Drafthouse.




Exchange Value


All electronic encryptions

Lose their beginnings—

Don’t think you could read this

Alone, or could hope to find me

Again, you could always rewind

And find me again—

The cane is in fashion again these days,

They say, we wear taqiyah on Tuesdays

And stroll about aimlessly—to a place

Where moments are traded as hyperlinks

And you can find each of me

On the same plane, hijacked (I am told)

It was all very democratic—

Don’t you see?

Or have my stitches dissolved in your nectar, the fractals of

memories and half-F thoughts

the veiled currency is used

everywhere the banker can get

away with anything these days—

And so can I—




 Key MacFarlane

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3 poems by Travis Campbell


Travis Campbell is an undergraduate student at Ball State University. His splits his time as a full time student and the Beta-male of a mid sized coyote pack in his hometown of Franklin, Indiana.


Celebrar su vida


He was a cowboy.


A loaded water gun

swaying at his waist,

a plastic badge shining

from the drivers-side-saddle

of a horse named Equinox.


A gift from his father,

man to man like

the morning cough,

and always ringing ear.


He’ll remember when

he sees her at the bar,

drinking fruit punch

and fabric softener,


her head tilting

the way it used to,

he should feel sad.


Adulthood is listening

to soulful white guys

with long hair fingering

guitars and singing

songs about loneliness

in small Georgia towns


and pissing away good money

on bad beer, and trying

to focus on the backs

of all the pretty blonde girls


instead of the sugar skull

(etched into the shoulder

of the beauty from out west)

smiling behind her veil

of dark hair.


Cowboys don’t get sad.




Stories with Darius


The neighborhood’s own

broken arm; old rusted limb

an iron antenna, reaching

for better reception


though static drip

drops from high wire

and soaks the brim

of his hollow head


as I sit with a fire in

the smoking driveway

that stains the cloudy street

with a second hand story


about happiness and the effects

of the internet on trees


and rusted ears

collect echoes of jazz

and occasional debates

of suburban owls


as the white cars oblige by

and by always, like the ghosts

of February and melted snow.


Middle Children


The opposite of bread is a broken

collarbone and a scar on my brother

harsh, like an orange shade.

We sit by ugly lamps


listening to hometown radio,

police scanners and street names

Banta, Forsythe, King

pepper in our teeth


from eating marshmallows

and cottage cheese with our heads

pressed against windows crackling



with sleet, like the crow

told us in Petty Alley,

our own prophet

on a phone pole.



 Travis Campbell

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2 Love Poems by DeMauray McKiever

Essence of Jade


You’ll blame me for everything

I never did.

I’ll say you’re nothing

that I prayed you would be.

And after we punch each other

over the dinner table,

I’ll go in the backyard to stomp asters

and you’ll be in the front yard

burning bushes like God.

But, we’ll still be there

to hug each other

with are hands

poised to stab.



Fifty Percent


We can kill two birds with one stone;
wash the dinner dishes
and drown the baby in detergent,
But we must pay for a funeral.
We may walk at night
and destroy those against us,
but we are still forced
to run from suited men

who lack white faces.
Yes, the whole of our damage
will always be halved.


DeMauray McKiever

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Two Poems by James Hand


James Hand is a young man living in California. He tries to write honestly. He has no formal education in creative writing, but simply loves to write. After he spend a day writing he feels rejuvenated and alive. Read his blog here.


internet religion

today i google searched ‘the bible pdf’


i crawled into my sink and watched the street

the black asphalt stretched into the sky

the sky lowered into the asphalt


i can count to one billion in three seconds




we are all little satellites

orbiting around an unlimited supply of pudding


or heroin


or kittens


or other stuff that makes us smile


there are satellites around earth

orbiting around us

pulled in by earth’s gravity

moving toward us slowly with each full orbit


we all live on a satellite

orbiting around a giant ball of gas

hot enough to burn us alive


one day

we will get an unlimited supply of heroin

and smile widely before we overdose


one day

satellites will enter earth’s atmosphere

and free fall toward earth in a ball of orange

and explode


one day

the earth will collide with the sun

and everything will turn to ash


but there will be more satellites

somewhere so far off we could not see them

orbiting around something

moving closer toward their parent bodies

waiting to reach them

and explode


James Hand

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Dirge by Mark Leci


I forget when it was

that all the letters became evenly


when the wordsallmergedtogetherandicouldnotfind




whenthe music soregular and thudding

all the white keys vanished

a kick drum dirge

whenIforgot how to remember you

as more than a collection ofpixels

a tiny map of lightandshade


ina make-believe gallery

perhaps everything driftedupwards

growing lighter

or I simply sankwhile

the lifeboats spiralled awayaboveme

shading bluerbetween ripples

gravity grew strongerandstronger

until it kept evenmythoughtsfromrising


thanIcouldhopeforreasonto do so




Mark Leci

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Father Spoke in Code by Donal Mahoney

Father Spoke in Code

Father spoke in code
Mother understood.
She would cry
once he went to bed.
I never understood the code.
My sister didn’t either.
As we got older, we quit
asking Mother what he said.

A feral cat claimed our yard.
It would leap the fence
when anyone appeared.
Except, of course, Father.
When he came out to walk
around the garden after supper,
the cat would sit straight up,
then rub against his leg
and look at him as if it understood
what others never could.

My sister used to say
the two of us were proof
Father and Mother
got together twice.
I told her I wasn’t so certain.
I looked a lot like Mr. Brompton,
the next-door neighbor.
He used to buy us sugar cones
from the ice cream truck.

My sister, by the way, didn’t look
like anyone in the family either,
but that was 40 years ago
when I last saw her.
I went away to college
and she got married.
We were never close after that.
Not even Christmas cards.

Forty years is a long time.
Now, we plan to get together
for a weekend this summer
before one of us dies.
I suggested we wait
till one of us is terminal.
What’s the rush, I said.
But my wife told her
I was only kidding,
that we’ll be coming
and not to make a fuss.
Burgers and hot dogs
will do just fine.

I know what Sis and I
will talk about that weekend,
the two people we’ll always
have in common, no matter
how many years and miles
may lie between us.
Father and Mother have been
dead for decades now
but they’re still alive in us.
I talk in code, my wife says,
and my sister cries a lot,
now that her husband’s dead.
The one thing I want to know
is if my sister knows
what happened to the cat.
It knew the code,
may have had some answers.

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found here.



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3 Poems by Mitch Grabois


Leonard Bernstein once said:
“This will be our reply to violence, to make music more intensely,
more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before”

so after I heard about the murder of twenty children
in their classrooms
with their crayons
I descended the splintery stairs to my cellar
and sat behind my kit
and beat on those drums as never before

By the time the other members of my band showed up
the bassist, who works as a bartender
the guitarist, whose girlfriend went back to Arkansas
the keyboardist, who’s a hunchback
and the lead singer, who is dark as a gypsy
I was in a froth

my black t-shirt with the photo of Rasputin soaked with sweat
my arms pumped like a bodybuilder’s
the Mounds of Venus at the base of my thumbs
hard as walnuts

My dog
who I saved from the pound and a history of abuse
and normally likes rock music
cowered behind the water heater
as if the shooter
were in the room
with his assault rifle

I got up to give the dog a lamb treat
and smooth his ears back
and tell him that everything was going to be all right
I figure he’s smart as a three year old human and
trusts me
because I’ve never hurt him
and use rewards to modify his behavior
not punishment

When we walk in the park and pass people
I tell him: Friend… friend
and when he doesn’t lunge and growl
I give him a treat

When we pass black people and Hispanics
and they hear what I’m saying
they give me an appreciative look
and I make eye contact
pleased that my dog no longer sees them as enemies
and that we can live in the world together


Tu was a psychiatrist
Not my shrink, I believed
We were colleagues
I was a professional in
some profession I gave up so long ago
I can’t remember what it was

Tu was famous, though no one knew who she was
She was the little girl running down the road in the Vietnam War
her face an anguished mask
napalm burning her skin

But when people looked at her
all they saw was a little gook
with black-framed glasses
They didn’t know that the napalm was
still in her skin
a blue tint
always threatening to reignite
always itching
sometimes hardly bothersome
sometimes a raging torment
as if it were fresh

I loved her for her sacrifice
and for her unconditional acceptance
of me
and everyone else
She was healing people with her heart
people who didn’t even know it
She was like a superhero
of mental and emotional aberration

I inked secret messages to her
in the rubber
on the sides
of my black and white Keds
and she read them and understood
but pretended she hadn’t even seen

That night, Tu handed me a couple of pills
For your malaria, she said
I’d never had malaria
as far as I could remember
but I took them
as a show of trust

Later we went for a walk in the woods
Suddenly we were in a thunderstorm
in moments drenched to the skin
Lightning flashed around us
and a bolt hit a tree not fifty feet away

We screamed involuntarily
and dropped down into a ditch
in which water was flowing

We lay there and watched the water
reflect the flashes of lightning
and drain into a concrete pipe

The mud was orange ointment and
when I peeled off Tu’s clothing
her molten blue flesh
immersed in the ooze
hissed like serpents

Crawdads scuttled out of the way
propelled by the wake of our transcendence
lightning in the sky like varicose veins

Around us, an entire race of people in black pajamas
banged blocks together
nodding and smiling
deafening us



Motorized Chair

I remember when Bill was working as a cook on a fishing boat
outside Houma, Lousiana
and when he came home to the Florida panhandle after a three-week stint
he brought back fifty pounds of gulf shrimp
and fifty pounds of crawdads

I bought three kegs of beer
drove my pickup into his backyard and dumped them out
and we had a party
pretty near everyone we knew

A bonfire burned
three men whaled on guitars and one on a banjo
women took off their shirts and went topless
We were Southerners unleashed

Bill got so drunk he wheeled around the yard
grabbing onto people to save himself from toppling into the dirt
and laughing
Man, my head is spinning

He was a big smoker
In my mind I see him
a cigarette held between thumb and forefinger
lighting up his face in orange as he inhales

Not long after that party
he was diagnosed with brain cancer
I told you I’d never get lung cancer, he said

Medical care wasn’t what it is today
They put him in a motorized chair
and spun him around at forty miles an hour
How is this supposed to help? I asked his wife
as we stood behind one-way plate glass
and watched him spin

This is how I’ll always remember him, as a blur, said his son
After what seemed a long time
the chair finally slowed
By that time I was nauseous
barely holding my cookies
I put my hand on Bill’s wife’s shoulder

The blur became less blurry
resolved back into Bill
finally came to a stop

Bill looked out into the void
An attendant released his arms and hands from their restraints
Bill reached up—
it took him a few tries to find his eyes
He rubbed them and grinned
Man, my head is spinning


Mitch Grabois

Mitch Grabois was born in the Bronx and now lives in Denver. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in over eighty literary magazines, most recently The Examined Life, Memoir JournalOut of Our, and Turbulence (England). His novel, Two-Headed Dog, published by Xavier Vargas E-ditions, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents through AmazonBarnes and Noble and Smashwords (which also provides downloads to PC’s).


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A Diagram by Michael Lupi










The Point at Which Irony Becomes Hyper-Irony and Then Levels Out Into Sincerity Again

Michael Lupi

Michael Lupi’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in PANK, Counterexample Poetics, and The Paterson Literary Review. He lives and works in Northern New Jersey, where he teaches high school students.

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2 Poems by Ricky Garni

Ricky Garni is a writer and fair weather cyclist. On Tuesday it was balmy and he rode to there.




Looking at a painting of a lovely lady in a tulip dress playing the harp
seems odd when I am listening to someone miles away playing the harp;
even odder when I see someone playing the harp on television, and I turn
down the volume so I can listen to the music once it moves from the harp
to the trumpet with its bully music power played by someone named Tulio;
back, of course, once I turn it down and an angel appears on television
holding a trumpet-colored harp – or you know – harmonica
of gold




In COWBOY TOMMY, Tommy’s grandpa builds a dog house for Tommy’s dog, Rover. It occurs to me that it is a good thing to build a dog house. It is also a good thing to have a dog. They say that you live longer if you own a dog. But if you must name a dog, don’t name it Rover, unless it likes to rove. If your dog likes to rove, it will rove. And if a dog roves, don’t build it a dog house. If you do, the dog will walk out of the dog house, look at the name “Rover” and it won’t matter because dogs cannot read. However, if you paint the word “Rover” over the threshold of the dog house, people will read the word “Rover” and laugh at you and they will laugh at you a lot and if people laugh at you, you don’t live as long and you live even less long if you own a dog and it roves away and you still have a dog house that says “Rover” on it. But if your dog doesn’t rove, and the dog likes to stay, build it a dog house, where it can be warm and dry and comfortable at night. Your dog will be happy. He will live a long life and so will you. You will love each other and have good times. And you can name your dog Still, or Cease, or Frozen, or Happy.



Ricky Garni

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3 Poems by Lisa Douglass (part 2)



Lisa’s fiction has been published in Transformations, R-KV-RY, and Westwind
(UCLA’s journal). Her fiction has won the Shirley Collier Prize (2010); Co-First place for The Ruth Brill Award (2010); First place winner The May Merrill Miller Award (2009); and was named best published work in Westwind’s Journal for 2009-2010. She has been a finalist in the Poet’s and Writer’s Writer’s Exchange contest (2009) and just received an honorable mention in
Writer’s Digest Annual Competition (2011) in the literary mainstream category.

“Some say Lisa Douglass is meta for god, but I don’t know if gpd is real.”


He Wore The Shirt I Slept In

My ex is behind me
Watching my neck, my ear, my hand to my cheek
I slump down in the black dress
On chairs that belong in basements
Cold and hard and rigid
My black suede booties slung out into the aisle
Covering the feet that inspired him
To paint the dead thing and stick it on my wall
Leg over leg or ankle stretched out
I am with witch girl
Who swears she sewed her soul into mine
But I can’t feel it
She laughs her puppet arms around me
I touch her face like a lover
And make fun of her blow-job lips
Not quite kissing them, but almost


I stand in the cue and turn to catch him
In the purple shirt
I used to sleep in
Hiding by the coffeemaker
Eyes like a showroom
Full of the things he once loved
And remembering the things he thought I could make him forget
I only glance in his direction then turn
To the two men who want to talk about
My outfit, my style and what they think about
Late at night
I turn again to see my ex hiding, but I can’t see his face
Just the shirt and the torso of my lost lover
He hasn’t been eating
That much is clear

Harry Dean Stanton It was hot outside I was working at the Grill in Beverly Hills After work I slid up to the bar at Dan Tana’s and ordered a beer Harry Dean Stanton was there drinking me one for one He drank silent like me I said, you must hear this all the time So I’m reluctant to tell you But Paris, Texas is one hell of a film And you’re great Yeah. Did you hear me? Yeah, I hear you He said it like I had found out he fucked his sister But then I ordered us both a round And he looked into my eyes Grateful That someone had bought him a drink “What was your name, dear?” I told him “Thank you for what you said before, sorry I’m such a prick.” No problem, I’m a prick too That made Harry Dean laugh like he’d found his hero Me, Harry Dean’s hero I told him some mean stories about how I was torturing my boyfriend But this one deserved it I told him about getting run off the 101 freeway And then he knew I was telling the truth When I showed him the papers from jailAnd he asked me if he could help by calling the house I said yes, it might just do him in He keeps threatening suicide after the meth wears offHe agreed to take my number and call a bunch And we laughed some more Some other guy A guy I didn’t even know, but wanted to Walked by and handed me a bindle of coke “Help yourself. Just don’t be a pig,” he said The bartender thought I was a good girl And gave me hatred eyes, like don’t do coke You’re mine But I gave a look back One that said, who are you? We’re friends like this I pay you for drinks, but mostly they are free Because you think we might fuck But it doesn’t mean shit So I slid off the stool and went to the can to “not be a pig about the coke” Then, I came back and Harry was crying Telling me he loved me “You don’t love me, you’re drunk.” Okay, I remember, he said Looking for love in my eyes but only finding weakness I put my arm around him and said It happened to me too last night, I forgot who I loved And then I ordered two more drinks To help us remember Who we really were Lisadouglass

How To Buy a Gun

Were you there at all? I can’t tell. I can only see what invisible imprint you left
three lines on my back, I won’t say how, just that to name it would be lying

An old married, “I’m un-attracted to woman,” turned out to be 22 and hot as hell
I asked you the question, our friends covered for you, now there’s valium

The lie was a wave, an empty doll stare, a gloveless, limp diorama of pretense
Words filled in for affection, I had seen the shiny thing before, it was a lie

A promise of future, this is hers now. just like you said, lips like earthworms
I went to her house, she was half naked, I saw things I shouldn’t see

Scabs on her skin, blow jobs every morning, but he can’t eat you out
I stood not knowing what to do with my hands—so I put lotion on it

When my father went missing, I asked where he was, the house had no joy
I knew when you told me, secure from your bed, orange juice couldn’t save us

The sky was empty, the moon went out, the stars stopped whatever that was
I walked around with bare feet on the wide plank floor, knowing but not saying

You told me you only danced for me, my face was your favorite, feet on top of father’s
I sat on the couch watching violent movies and wished for things that wouldn’t happen

 Lisa Douglass

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3 Poems by Lisa Douglass (part 1)

Lisa’s fiction has been published in Transformations, R-KV-RY, and Westwind
(UCLA’s journal). Her fiction has won the Shirley Collier Prize (2010); Co-First place for The Ruth Brill Award (2010); First place winner The May Merrill Miller Award (2009); and was named best published work in Westwind’s Journal for 2009-2010. She has been a finalist in the Poet’s and Writer’s Writer’s Exchange contest (2009) and just received an honorable mention in
Writer’s Digest Annual Competition (2011) in the literary mainstream category.

“Some say Lisa Douglass is meta for god, but I don’t know if gpd is real.”



In That Empty Room

It was a high-school gymnasium, basketball hoops on either side, bleachers with the outlines of invisible teenagers–dashes like on coupons cut from the newspaper—two giant slicers rolled diagonally. The game was to run across and not to die. I did that. Later, up on a giant sidewalk floating in space, none of the concrete pieces touching, Lucille Ball chased me and tried to pull me off. There was no bunny rabbit. There was no neighborhood scare dog. There was no prank call to the McDonald’s strawberry shake. It was just us. You weren’t there. Don’t keep saying you were.

The Loneliness of a Body

Your arms are a casket
white tulips; money; mouthwash
they push me into a garden
where ghosts keep us
from being ourselves

I dig my hands through wet
earth and find your father’s skull
vine-wrapped with a dead bat
sticking out of his eye-hole
I suggest I sit in a saucer of milk
or drag you with a chain

You ask me to come back
on a day when you are living,
but nothing lives, not like the dead

I stare into the sky
one hand on my grand-mother and one hand
on your chest — the stars are wondering
if your piercings indicate slave or

God doesn’t love us
more than play us like a game

What else is there, if we can’t talk
about the things you hid—
lovers in closets, man–
but, your girl found me, told me
you wouldn’t fuck her

I am not yours now
and that fact is endless

The Burning

And there are other reasons I burned the mattress.
I learned to sleep standing up against the wall
The moon cast a shadow on the mattress
of the both of us when we were children.
You were in your bug phase
The one where we researched the bugs that could exist
in a house with no couches, no tables.
You told me, “They smell like cumin.”
But I couldn’t smell it
We checked our bodies
Cleaned our couches
I still have the vacuum cleaner
It was 400 dollars.
You were married, that’s the one thing I never say
It was a girl who worshipped me
Her name was like mine, Elise.

Lisa Douglass

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5 Alt Lit love poems by Corey Mesler



I kiss the small bird

in the crook of your neck.

I take your corn-silk

hair into my lungs so

that I may breathe you

when you are away.

I long for that first note

your eyes struck when

I said your name in my

protracted sleep. I say,

take me home. I am lost

here in the museum, as

old as the worst, oldest news.



Mind Mine

for Roky Erickson


You went into the bughouse

buggy. You emerged

buggy still. Yet there is, in

your past, a music made

of thunder and a voice

like God’s compass. Is it com-

fort, this history? Is it

enough? It is never enough. We

are ghosts made of songs and

error, ghosts made of songs

and terror, an eye inside an eye.



Sea Me


The sea goes out; once it was in.

Its indecision seems studied.

I wait till the sun

is as ripe as a striptease. I

stand still so the sand

can cover me more effortlessly.

I speak your name,

the one I gave you the

night we danced like flames,

old flames, seemingly eternal.

The night you kissed me as if

I were the only true matador in town.



Why I Wanted to Write


I can split this infinitive

from fifteen paces.

It is this kind of dual,

I mean duel, that

followed us into the

written word. You were

so sure of yourself. I

wanted to write books.

At night you would

massage my nouns. I

would cook a stew from

the petals of bicycle wings.



The Hive


In the copse you took me to the hive,

so full of life I never returned. The

sound inside the hive deafened me

to the children calling my name as if

if I had only gone to the store for milk.



Corey Mesler

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‘Black’ Alt Lit Sci Fi by Rob Geisen



The Year: 2032

Space Station: Orbiting a Ventriloquist Shaped Moon


The sensitive Astronaut found himself

slipping upon the lottery-ticket-like landscape

as if his love had recently exploded

thus coating

the entire history of his current surroundings

in a slick, unsociable-like substance

resembling Old West Sound Effects records

or a galaxy sized encyclopedia encased in black ice

and miserable blood


“Space is dark,” he thought to himself

as he lay there on his back

as dark as the bruise

he was bound to find tomorrow

in the mirror

which was presently forming

like a gibberish Rorschach test blotched

upon the un-inhabitable surface area

of his sucks-at-math ass


“May I be of assistance?” the Station’s shiny Erotobot 4000 asked

as it hovered above him

having witnessed his fall


“No thanks.” The Astronaut said.


“Are you sure, sir?” the Erotobot 4000 responded

You look as if you’re in the midst of a pained state.

I could suck your dick…”


“What…the…no. Fuck off.”


The Astronaut did not want his dick sucked

What was wrong with these goddamned robots?!

That was their answer for everything these days


“Do you need any assistance standing up then?”

the Erotobot 4000 asked.



The Erotobot 4000 stood there

looking like a confused toaster

with unusually large feet


“My systems report that you are not attempting to

get up using your own power.

Is it your intension to just lay there?”


“For the moment, go fuck yourself. I mean, yes.”

The Erotobot 4000 was quiet for a while

The Astronaut was quiet for a while longer than that

Then the Erotobot 4000 spoke again   “Are you sure

you don’t want your

dick sucked?”


“Go away.” The Astronaut screamed at the perverted machine


“I am unable to comply with that thing,

whatever it is you just told me to do.

It goes against my programming. I’m wired

to ensure that no harm comes to humans.

It’s what my entire existence is all about.

Presently you smell defenseless

and also, you look like shit.”.


“You’re goal in life is to make sure no harm comes to us humans?”


The Astronaut had been staring off

into the blackness of space for a while now

and was beginning to sweat


“Seriously? Then why don’t you waddle yourself

over to Engineering and tell that to Captain Gary.

Word is that last  week the poor bastard stubbed

his toe, you rolled over and offered to go down

on him, and ended up biting off his dick.”


beyond the stars…….crickets chirping

for a while there were no other sounds

just crickets chirping in space


“That was….an accident.” The Erotobot 4000 explained

its appliance shaped head tilted downward

momentarily, as if it were dislodging

burnt bread crumbs

or momentarily experiencing



“Don’t you think it harmed Captain Gary,

to have his penis chomped off?”

The Astronaut asked


“That question is non-essential.” The Erotobot 4000 responded

his tone robotic and pissy

“You already know the answer to that. I’m equipped with

the latest psi reading equipment and I’ve just totally scanned you.

You don’t really care about the fate of Gary’s penis. I mean, you care

as in you feel bad for him

but that’s not what’s bothering you right now. You’re currently suffering

from some sort of emotional affliction.

You miss something,

and you’re using Gary’s penis

as a form of severed genitaliac deflection.”


damn right

the Astronaut

missed something


but instead of arguing

with a million bucks worth of spare parts

who’s Prime Directive was

to blow him

the Astronaut lay there wondering

if it’s true that nobody can hear you scream in space

then why could he hear crickets?


and then in an attempt to be the better man

about such things, he thought:

maybe it’s true

maybe she will be better off without him

and while thinking these thoughts

he felt an infinite interstellar ocean of dark matter

pressing against his space suit

carving first drafts into his

later-that-night nightmares


showing him once and for all

that there are far worse things

than irrational oblivion


while above him

he watched

star clusters colliding

like the dead light

of tightly lipped cauliflower


as they

drowned in a

Ranch Dressing

based dip


‘Lately I’ve been writing and publishing books for Monkey Puzzle Press under the name Get in the car, Helen. But my real name is Rob.’

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Seattle Poems by Doug Mathewson


Forks, Washington is the setting for Twilight.

‘Themed rooms, themed menus, vampire get-away weekend packages…. amazing. There is not a lot else going on out there (except all the nature stuff). Seattle is a funny little city, young, trendy, painfully hip…but the rest is just commercial salmon fishing, logging, and Native American Reservations. The locals either roll their eyes (and take the vampire money), or jump right in.’ – Doug Mathewson.

Seattle Poems


Check in Desk Forks, Wa.


I said, “It doesn’t seem fair, you wearing a “Trainee” name-tag”.

“I know!” She said with a hugely theatrical roll of her violet eyes beneath the

great vaulted Cathedrals of her magenta eye shadow.

Dramatically she added, “I’ve been here almost a week!”


by-Doug Mathewson 



Pike Peaks Market  


Pretty Asian woman,

expensive raw silk dress.

Hair Gwen Stefani ‘40s Tsunami roll,

dyed sea-foam green.


by-Doug Mathewson



Belltown Five Points


Move to Seattle, let my bread grow long.

Get a small job,

find an anime girlfriend.

Write poems on transcendental spirituality,

and being green no matter cost.

Got it all covered,

sounds like a plan.

And I couldn’t do it for a minute,

so not the right man for the job.


by-Doug Mathewson




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Special Feature: Alt Lit Fan Fic by John Brnlv Rogers ‘Hannah Fantana goes to Dream Island in Search of Stephen Tully Dierks

Hannah Fantana goes to Dream Island in search of Stephen Tully Dierks

Dream Island comes into view through the heavy rain. It is small, with one tall black mountain in it’s centre, haloed by trees until its peak vanishes into the black clouds. It’s surrounded by jagged black rocks that protect its black sandy beaches and lagoons.

Hannah Fantana is approaching it rapidly on a small black speedboat, carefully negotiating reefs as she goes. They are almost invisible in the pitch black of night. Seems dangerous, but she keeps going.

There are no stars in the sky, but a gibbous (basically full) moon hangs high and pale, peeking through a convenient window in the black clouds. Hannah looks out from beneath a heavy black raincoat that is slick with water. She seems determined about being here. It’s a really horrible night to be in a small speedboat at midnight in an unspecified part of the black ocean, so she’s had to be determined already to get this far.

She’s doing good approaching the island. She arcs past some sharp rocks into a wide bay, and heads for the shore, slowing down because the sea is choppy, but the tide is going in and it carries the boat landward. When she is very close to the shore, Hannah pulls the small black engine inside the boat, then jumps out into the boiling surf, her booted feet sinking ankle deep into the black seabed. The water is up to her knees, and it’s freezing cold, and the tide is pushing her around a little.

She manages to wrestle the boat up onto the shore a little way, past the high-tide mark of rotten black sea vegetation and weird little black shells, and then pauses, leans down, puts her hands on her knees, and rests, panting for a moment. Her clothes are soaking now even despite her black waterproof cape, and it’s uncomfortable. It was pretty tiring negotiating those tall black waves and high winds, and that black boat is really freaking heavy when it’s not on the water.

She’s here to find Stephen Tully Dierks. He came to Dream Island unexpectedly, on a work trip, a week ago, leaving just a hurried note saying not to worry and that he’d be home in a few days. He took a black rucksack full of tools and stuff from the basement.

But Hannah did worry because that seems kind of mysterious, and Stephen didn’t come home after a few days anyway. In fact, neither he nor his work colleague ‘Guillaume Morissette’ have been reachable by phone or email for a week now, which is unusual, because one or the other of them is online like 95% of the time – ‘Guillaume’ particularly is permanently on Facebook. Neither of them have tweeted in that time, or anything.

So, Hannah has taken matters into her own hands and come to Dream Island to see if they are okay.

It’s hard to rest in these terrible conditions on the black shore of the island, so she looks ahead to the point where the black beach becomes a black forest. There is no light under the trees. The canopy seems heavy. The trees rage in the wind, black foliage shifting against the black sky, illuminated starkly by flashes of lightning. Seems weird for her to be here, but she sets her jaw and pulls her black backpack from the boat. She walks down the beach until she spots an opening in the black forest, maybe the start of a trail or something. She pauses for a second in a way that is unintentionally dramatic, then goes in.

The trail is hard work, it’s dark and there are black rocks and weird roots everywhere jutting out in unexpected places, so she stumbles here and there. The canopy shields her from a lot of the rain at least, and there’s a weird roaring sound from above, it’s almost like being indoors except there’s still lots of rain and wind. She has a little black pen torch thing but it’s not that useful. Sometimes she feels like she might panic because this is a really weird thing to be doing, and it seems more real in the black forest than it did on the black boat somehow, but she still seems resolute and carries on.

After a while, the black canopy lightens a little bit and it seems like more of an official track than before. Hannah thinks she can see a faint light ahead. She’s right and she slows down and walks towards it. A black tent comes into view, with a black battery-powered lantern hanging from the black guy rope, swinging around wildly in the wind and casting weird dancing shadows. As she gets closer she can also see a pulley and a winch on a black frame, maybe for lowering something or pulling something up. ‘Guillaume’ is standing there with his back to her in a black hoodie, looking at something. She wipes the water from her face and goes over, feeling relieved to see him.

“Hey ‘Guillaume’,” she says.

“Hannah!” he seems shocked. “Wtf are you doing here?” But then he smiles suddenly, and gives her a hug hello, and they laugh. He still seems pretty serious, though. He looks kind of pale actually. He pauses. “You found us,” he states.

“Yeah it’s been a week, wtf have you been doing?” she says. “Where’s Stephen?”

“He was here,” he says, trying to wipe some rain from his black-framed glasses. ‘Guillaume’ has to raise his voice a little because the wind and rain are picking up again. “We found some weird old maps on Alta Vista and it seemed like there was something important here,” he said. He points to the pulley. A black rope is attached, but it seems to vanish into the solid black ground.

“He went down into this tunnel that was on our map, but…” he tails off and looks at Hannah.

“But what?” she prompts. “What happened?”

“Well. It closed behind him like the rock was soft suddenly,” he says. His glasses are steaming up now but everything is too wet to wipe them with. “It was really weird. I can’t get him on the radio, but I can see him moving on the scanner.” He shows Hannah his scanner screen, on which a black dot pulses. “See?” he says, pointing. “He’s moving upwards, slowly, so he’s okay at least.”

They talk a while longer, but Hannah doesn’t feel like she’s finding out much more that’s useful. Neither of them can imagine why the black rock would suddenly just close like that, it’s pretty weird, and the raging weather is making it hard to think straight.

‘Guillaume’ goes into the tent after a while to get his water bottle. Hannah looks up and notices that the moon has vanished. The sky is black and everything around her is black, her clothes are all black and so are the trees. She feels enveloped by the weird blackness, when suddenly the air seems musty and she can hear her own breathing really loudly, like she is in a small space, and the rain has stopped. She can hear droplets rolling off her raincoat and dripping onto a floor. She pulls back her hood. She is in a black cave.

“Woah, hi Hannah,” says a voice suddenly. Hannah jumps and yelps out of fright, and looks round to see Stephen Tully Dierks climbing into the cave from a small, high tunnel mouth. His face is black with dirt. Obviously she is super pleased to see him after all this, and she throws her arms around his neck and seems happy. He seems happy too. She asks what happened, and he tells her about finding the map and coming here, and about how they were looking for this important archeological site and stuff, and he talks about how it was weird when he looked back and the tunnel had closed up behind him like the wall had just swallowed it. The black rope goes into solid black rock here, too. He looks dishevelled but basically calm and practical, which also makes Hannah feel more calm.

Stephen has a scanner too. He shows her ‘Guillaume’’s position, not far away, but further up at ground level.

“I found something really weird,” he says, “when I was scanning the rock to gtf out of here again, some fossils showed up. They’re all around here in the rock, in a line, leading upwards towards the surface.”

He shows her, switching the scanner to a different setting. Sure enough, weird black images of skeletons begin to appear. “See?” he asks. “There are bodies frozen in the rock here, fossilized. They’re maybe human, maybe humanoid, I can’t tell, they seem kind of big.”  He looks at the radiometer bouncing blurry shapes on the flickering black screen. “I’m not sure, but it looks like maybe they were swimming, from the poses they are in, and the water hardened into rock around them, like lava. But they couldn’t have been swimming in lava obvs.”

He sighs, and seems mildly frustrated that there are so many weird questions and so few answers at this point. He puts the scanner down on a black rock covered in black dust.

“I can use these to make a tunnel, anyway,” he says, taking a handful of portal bombs from his rucksack. “They’ll extend the tunnel towards the surface if we place them right and follow the fossil trail. They’ll just dematerialise cylindrical shapes of rock big enough for us to crawl through, so the tunnel should hold”.

“This is really weird,” says Hannah.

“Yeah it is,” replies Stephen, “it’s weird that you were just suddenly here. There’s a lot of weird stuff about this, but let’s just get out now huh and gtf off this black dream island and go home.”

Stephen smiles at her and squeezes her hand, then takes the scanner and grips a portal bomb between his teeth, turning away and hoisting himself into the narrow tunnel, which is a round, smooth hole just big enough for him. It’s like a worm entering a wormhole or something, not that they do that. He’s gone, anyway.

Hannah feels cold. She has butterflies in her stomach suddenly, like she’s on a rollercoaster, and her vision goes blurry. Seems like there’s black everywhere and like she’s whooshing really fast suddenly, then she feels the shock of cold raindrops on her face again, and trickling down her neck, and going into her mouth, and she looks at the trees and black bushes all around her. The slick leaves are illuminated by more flashes of lightning. She is outdoors again, in a small unfamiliar clearing. Something isn’t right, and she feels like she’s not alone. Sure enough, someone emerges from the trees in front of her, moving in a weird way, smoothly, as if his slender frame is gliding just above the black ground.  It’s not Guillaume, anyway.

Suddenly she recognises his face from his macros. “Hannah. What’s down there?” asks Meta Knight, without moving his thin lips. He stares at Hannah coldly, from the sides of his black eyes, his “IRL IS DEAD” t-shirt flapping wetly against his skinny torso. His hair is plastered to his forehead, and the rain runs down his face, but he does not blink. Seems kind of mean. There are some coincidentally dramatic lightning flashes.

Hannah hears him again: “What did you find down there?”

His lips don’t move this time either, seems weird.

“You can’t make me think you,” smiles Hannah. The smile freezes on her face as the nonsense words are thought, and not spoken out loud, like she’d tried to do. A cold grin spreads across Meta Knight’s face. “Oh really?” he thinks to her, slowly, tilting his head. “Say that again?”

Her smile wavers, but she seems defiant. “You.. can’t.. make, me think/tell you can… you?” stammers Hannah. Her thoughts are coming out wrong. She feels that some other force is guiding her words, jumbling them before they reach her lips.

She freezes up, getting really scared, panic rising in her chest. His cold eyes lock on hers and bore into her, and his expression hardens. Suddenly she realises she can feel his invisible fingers picking through through her mind, editing and stripping stuff away, curious and hungry, copying and pasting her thoughts into a new order.

Down inside the earth, not far away, Stephen crawls forwards, making slow progress. He is wearing a headlamp on a black strap. He uses his scanner to follow the trail of entombed skeletons back towards the surface of the earth, carefully dematerialising new sections of rock to extend his narrow tunnel upwards. It is hard, claustrophobic work. He is trying not to dematerialise any of the skeletons themselves. He feels like he and ‘Guillaume’ might come back and do some more work later to find out what happened here, when everything gets less black and weird.

‘Guillaume’ is standing by the pulley thinking about what to do. This has been a really shitty week for him. He thinks about Facebook. He looks up and sees Hannah coming out the of the trees, staggering a bit. “Hannah!” he says. “What the fuck happened? Where did you go?”

“Now backwards all are words my,” thinks Hannah, but not in her own thought-voice. No words come out. She looks at ‘Guillaume’ and tries to smile, but instead, some black tears fall out of her tear ducts. She walks towards him, and slowly opens her palms. Two black eyes stare up from them. They blink and look at him, then up at her.

“We thinks you now,” think the eyes, in Hannah’s brain. More black tears run down her cheeks. ‘Guillaume’ stands totally still and doesn’t know what to do. The black palm-eyes have weirded him out. Hannah stumbles away, black tears now pouring down her face. ‘Guillaume’ watches her leave.

Hannah staggers shakily through the trees and rain, back down the track to the beach, until she is out of his sight, her hands open and the new black eyes looking up from her palms, glancing ahead or gazing into her own teary eyes. When she reaches the beach she walks past the boat and straight into the sea, ankle deep, knee deep, waist deep, and she eventually begins a jerky sort of backstroke out into the black rolling waves. Her salty black tears mingle with the salty black ocean.

“Take us away from here, take us to cities”, think her new thoughts. The eyes on her palms close calmly as she swims farther out. Black salt water laps over her face and into her mouth, and she splutters, and keeps swimming.


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Untitled poem by Michael O’Brien

every summer
i keep finding these green insects
somewhere on my body
like when you get pee on your leg
when you lift your testicles
to wipe your ass
like when horses
wipes honey on your oven mitts
i am scared of the insects in my room
that eat at the puddles of semen
Just realised those horses
were two different colours
dirty white and white
I feel lost already
just sitting in the passenger seat
and watching my dad drive

Read Micahel’s blog here
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‘Basashi is Horse Sushi. This is when I learned’ by Robert C Holzhausen

Basashi is Horse Sushi. This is when I learned.

The last vortex at the end of days
clotted 1,000 feet high
and threw upward some 30,000 leaves
and a shit ton more droplets of water.
It burped 600 tin sheets
and rattled towards us like a homemade buzz-saw.
The world was a vacuum.
The world was agoraphobic.
God made it
and he made it so
and it was ripping itself apart.
It was ripping the world
into halls of junior high schools
filled with paper footballs and Noxema,
Prophylactics and body spray.
New shirts and shoulder bags
housing hash pipes wrapped in socks,
Marlboro lights
and the occasional can of Coke Classic.
We laid down in the tree house
and counted chips in the ply wood.
We looked at them and used them in stories.
You showed me one
of your dog when you were 9.
You showed me his funeral.
We heard Mama in the yard below.
“Take this away from us!
Rise it Lord! Rise it Lord!
Take it away from us Lord.
Take it Lord. Take it Lord. Take it Lord.
Take it away from us Jesus.”
She spoke some in tongues.
We talked of Secretariat and Sham.
I wondered if this was it
or if I’d see Dad at the Derby this spring.
I wondered where he was
and if twisters were there too.
I thought about all them horses.
The thoroughbreds
buried beneath a barn’s remains.
All those thoroughbreds vying for horse immortality
and a triple crown.
I worried about their bodies
after they died.
You told me about basashi
and how it was sushi but with horse.
How it was good
even though you thought it wouldn’t be.
We talked about eating Secretariat and Sham.
Animal Kingdom.
Man O’ War and Holy Bull.
Seattle Slew and Affirmed.
Native Dancer.
We’d eat the whole derby,
so long as it wasn’t us putting em down.
So long as their heads got clubbed
by some unlucky board
or their brains blown cause a cracked hoof.
We’d be happy to eat any of ‘em,
raw, rare or otherwise.
Mama kept prayin.
“Take this away from our home!
As you did for Elijah.
Take it up away from my home.
Take it away from this town.
Take this funnel away from us lord!”
The tree swayed and cracked.
We talked of ginger and wasabi.

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‘Ive Been Basically Sent to Cruise this Hotel’ by Robert C Holzhausen


ive been basically sent to cruise this hotel.

im cruising this hotel in flip flops.

Two blocks from here

on a street where city collectors
collect leaves for you

we built a radio flyer wagon
out of old schwinn bikes
and you said you liked it
better as bikes.

that was the summer
we became friends in june in michigan.
bubbles by a campfire.
icepops and malt liquor in june.

i remember the first dresser we painted in michigan.
sea foam.
your clothes are still in that dresser.

sea foam.

between the 2 of us
we had 7 pairs of pants
4 pairs of shorts
23 socks
and 4 legs.

we traded horses
on the horse ride that summer
and you were pissed
cause my horse had nicer flies

you traded me
rod beck’s rookie card
for a lemon square.
you stupid fuck.

we traded pez dispensers and pogs.
nobody won.


Robert C Holzhausen

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Reading Alt Lit: Oblivion and/or Total Communication – A small(ish) Essay by Catherine Woodward

A little while ago Steve Roggenbuck posted an email from a hater, just one of many he frequently receives I’m sure. Thinking back to it I’m compelled to explain why haters are wrong about Steve and many of the writers associated with the kind of poetry Steve writes, but as that would require a thesis I’m going to cover it a little bit in brief.

Where haters go wrong isn’t a matter of opinion. Opinion is all well and good, no one should read Milton if they’d honestly prefer Charlie Brown, that’s just common sense. The problem with haters is that they don’t know how to read writers like Steve; try forming an opinion on a steak dinner while applying the standards for a soufflé. But it’s not all the hater’s fault, Alt Lit in general seems to project an aura of irreproachability that puts itself beyond literary criticism, which is a misunderstanding of criticism. To critique a work is not to criticise it (judge it negatively), but is more often than not to express a love of the work by engrossing oneself in its heart and soul. With a general lack of criticism it can be hard learning to love Alt Lit.

Anyway, it hardly needs saying that not all Alt Lit is the same; Alt Lit is like The Game, it doesn’t really exist, it’s just a term without content that we invented to have fun and annoy critics with. The literature it’s associated with could be anything and everything and more refers to names and personalities then any consistent generic markers (but of course, as time goes on, we backwards engineer Alt Lit until it’s actually a thing, like The Necronomicon).

As such you can’t read all Alt Lit with the same expectations, obvious really. Where the New Sincerty/New Childishness often drives young writers to sculpt the perfect realistic ‘I’ communicating an authentic message to an equally authentic and realistic ‘you’, in other cases the basis of the poem is not the writing subject, the receiving subject and message but is instead oblivion (which is ecstasy) and/or total communication. If you read a poem of Steve’s looking for authority, identifiable subjects and intended meanings, you’re probably going to have a low opinion of the work. But if you understand what you’re looking at, then you can really begin to enjoy it.

The poetry that we’re interested in here is poetry of indeterminacy. What we are more used to reading is poetry based on authoritative and definitive masculine principles, which frequently manifest as the unique ‘I’ and his unmistakable communication. Bracketed under Alt Lit is writing which refuses this manifestation. Take for example poems based on memes: an instance of mimetic behaviour is not the exclusive creation of the person who used the meme form. Memes are modes of expression, not possessions, any instance of meme contains the absent ‘other’ and there can be no single author. Any instance of mimetic behaviour recalls all other instances of that behaviour and also anticipates future uses. A poem based on meme is ultimately a collaboration, expressing not one meaning but a potentially infinite possibility for meaning, leaving room for and implying a multitude of subjects.

I think back to @Lazzzyandoh’s ‘the letter t in 1000 pt helvetica’ which appeared in IP this summer; it would seem quaint to ask whether a giant letter t was original or authentic, and more redundant still to ask what it itself meant. Who has intellectual rights to the letter t? A writer’s insistence on a predefined range of meaning is the expression of a misguided desire to dominate, why care if anyone ‘gets it’? Who are you? God?

Anyway, a move away from masculine authority and towards indeterminacy generally invokes wider systems and elegant wholes, as in meme. The cultivation of failure is one such move; Steve’s spelling mistakes, mashups of weird, apposite or pointless material are all non-authoritative (how could they be taken as canonical and finalised in the same way we regard the complete Shakespeare?) but after the style of Dada they create a meaningless space where anything becomes acceptable and/or possible. The cultivation of failure implies the possibility of everything whereas a direct communication of meaning implies that only a limited range of meaning is legitimate in the context of the poem.

Even on a stylistic level we can see indeterminacy that refers to huge unities rather than singularities. To see it where ‘I’ and ‘you’ are still present we just have to ask, who are they? For example this poem by Amy Saul-Zerby, which also appeared in IP.



Who are they? The speaker and addressees alike are not unique, original beings, they recall a triad of prehistoric archetypes, a creation myth or family romance. While unspecific they are all-encompassing. Similarly, who is the you who Steve is constantly kissing in ever more novel ways? You rarely develops through characterisation or is distinguished from any other you, where it is characterised this characterisation is later undermined by you’s future appearances, rendering you indeterminate. This you is not a unique subject but is slipped in where necessary and acts as an interpellation device. All readers alike assume the position of you, the possibilities of you are endless, you does not refer to a single you but a unity of you-ness, of subjectivity.

This kind of thing is much more obvious in Google auto complete poems, where the poem is a result of content producers, searchers, SEO and censorship. In this case we may read a few lines of writing, even in the first person, but these don’t refer to singularities, rather a hive mind, a microcosm which reflects the macrocosm of wider culture. The subject is not a person but the subject of culture.

In these cases the poet obliterates the conventional literary subject, rather than defines it. But this doesn’t result in nothingness; the poem is an experience, not a direct communication, an experience which, in transcending the singular aims toward a connection with a kind of unity or total communication. As an archetype is everybody yet nobody, the oblivion poem represents no one in particular, allowing it to imply the whole.

Instead of expecting an encoded meaning from an authority and placing their potential pleasure upon them both, the reader would do well to accept the poem as an ephemeral playground. You enjoy the instance of the poem and what you get out of it is tantamount to the amount of your own personal thought and experience you put into the reading of it, these poems are the Rorschach tests of the literary world. Reading in this way isn’t difficult or unusual either, this is the way we must approach all the arbitrary, fleeting and mystifying material we encounter on the internet every day, we just don’t tend to apply it to poetry.

I foresee an objection to this style of reading. Whatever will happen to the concept of value? Whatever will happen to the classics? In my opinion this would be a hysterical over reaction. The classics are the great classics, they will look after themselves. What little faith must you have in the classics, or what a high opinion you must have of yourself to believe that the classics need your help to survive? Secondly, just because anything may be accorded any degree of value, doesn’t mean that you have to regard everything equally, is anybody really that weak? Opinions, as I said, are all well and good; no matter what happens, you reserve your right of judgement. But in general, understanding ought to come before judgement, otherwise how would you know what you were missing out on?

I wouldn’t panic over the idea that these oblivion poems are vicious and anarchic attacks on the poetic tradition either (although there is no doubt a certain amount of healthy ribbing going on for the sake of progress), and I wouldn’t dismiss them as worthless because of their methods, that being the kind of complaint that is levelled at Flarf. Aggression may be part of Flarf’s critique, but its critique is valid and critique is not all of Flarf. Anyway, I think the strange stance of these poems ought to be considered in terms of a new optimism prevalent in the work of young writers; the oblivion poem, if not an attempt at transcendence, is the recognition of its possibility and the expression of desire for that transcendence. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was a religious occurrence but perhaps spiritual, oblivion poems are charged with positivity independent of their semantic or ideographic content and one of its hopes seems to be for mystic union (for want of a  better phrase). It makes me think of speaking in tongues or druidic bardery, there is instantaneous gratification (sometimes) in what is said but the communication isn’t the real joy, it’s the experience of, or knowledge of the attempt to experience, everything.


– Catherine Woodward

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