Aught, no. 13 (2004)

Annalynn Hammond

Fever Round

A sound.
Soft heads lift. A sound.
Snouts turn wolf. Soft
heads lift. Wet. The trees
go brrr. Snouts turn
wolf. A four-legged thing.
Wet. The trees go brrr.
Legs made of drums. A four-
legged thing. A lapse. Legs
made of drums. A lisp.
A lapse. Don’t die now.
A lisp. The big black voice.
Don’t die now. Come
The big black voice.
                      Come down.



The sign outside: MINIATURE


Kimi Aoko Lex Janus Michon

are names she has considered

naming herself. The answer is

“two faces looking into an empty

vase.” Every time the child unhooks

his thumbs, the bird disappears.


Swimming Backwards Up the Nile

I am not made of monsters. I will be your guide. Although I may look like your savior, metal shavings have been found inside my ear. Under that rock are two fingers I’ve forgotten. Limb by limb is the best way to count. The cloud man’s face has been stretching into a dog’s. This is the curse of sunsets: transformation. Never look directly at the elephant. Inside the mouth is another mouth that can only tell the truth. Love slinks in like a stowaway and nobody notices except the cook, the butcher knife and the mouse. The horizon can help with stomach sickness. For the illusion of movement let everything drop away. If you look down you will see the infamous shadowfish, covered in jade scales, with twelve pearly nipples and the hindlegs of a grasshopper. Black eggs are amassing between your toes. The bubbles rise carrying words and releasing them onto the surface one by one: soft… gin… taxi… petal… loop… worm… shoe… canter… stun…. Sometimes I like what’s floating around me; sometimes I don’t even listen. Coming up on your left is the doorframe to a temple. The rest of the structure disappeared on the night I found a razorwing inside my lung. Today we will call it The Invisible Temple that Offers Air when You Enter and Air when You Exit. Sightseers are no different from soothsayers. Here: we have stones for you to throw into that hole. Whoever told you rivers can lead to enlightenment was probably one of the twelve river goddesses sent from The Otherworld. It is getting easier and easier to drown. Around this bend we will stop for ritual. You have a choice: you can piss on someone’s feet or you can get your feet washed in piss. It is dark, but this journey will last into morning. You get what you paid for. Tonight is not a full moon, so we will be bypassing The Fountain of Meaning. This will allow an extra few minutes to roll around in the water like fat tires and oil drums. As promised we will still visit The Fairgrounds. A few words of warning: don’t get silly with the virgins; the three-headed rubber snakes that can be won at the dart game may look appealing, but the villagers are known to stuff grenades down their throats; if you run away you won’t get your t-shirt. If you want to be baptized there is a likeness of John posted by the bathroom sinks. If you get hurt we have a waiver signed by yourself or yourself in a past life. As promised we will visit The Point where All Perspectives Converge. The most common experience is blackout, but it’s worth a try. This is why you’re alive: to collect memories for The Memory Machine, which is much like a gumball dispenser for the greedy hidden gods. As your memories grow larger you grow smaller, until the end when you are nothing more than a lacquered eye, rolling this way and that. Ignore those women washing shrouds made of questions. Ignore the children dangling each other from the tree branches like ripe fruit. We are getting closer and closer to the place where the river changes its disposition to destiny. You are starting to look like an eel, your eyes and mouth just tiny slits. That gallows leaning in like a grandfather. Take your skin off if you want to. Or split your tongue with a mollusk. You know this is why you came. Remember to throw your hands up as dried fish. A cast of the inside of your skull will be taken for your comment card. You will drop to the bottom of this dragon like a sack full of heavy things.

Copyright 2004, by the author. All rights reserved.
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