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With a squawk I was sucked from nothing,
caught and chucked into the world’s swing;
now I’m one part wish not to hurt,
three parts need to assert I exist,
like a cat splayed against each fresh day;
forgive my fur if it hisses,
forgive my breath if it whistles;
in the street I see teeth shredding flesh
and meaty tongues bedding bones;
I see the backwards light;
I see birds alone in blocks of ice;
I read the future in the orb of a spider
and cry myself a whole new eye, dear,
till I’m hard as snow and solid as time,
till the sun rises through my spine,
till paradise is sighted
through the scope of a rifle,
and the sparrows in my hedgerow
retweet all the times I said no
to what I really should have allowed:
this street can be a smile to the gallows,
my body a-quiver with pleasure’s arrows,
my blood a warm red bed I’m so snug in,
but my heart-bull snorts through its aorta
and charges thee,
I bite into my breast
like cooked turkey,
and my salt seasons me,
keeps me hot and spicy;
I open these vowel slits
for you to see,
I seize my leash
between my teeth
and growl in glee. …

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My enlightenment began as a mute explosion of colors
but multiplied into the dazzling panes of a deck of mirrors;
what seemed transparent was in fact a reflection,
and what seemed lucid and safely defined
ripped itself into questions.

I kept discerning indistinct shapes:
a prismatic arc trembled under a sunbeam
and the last few cinders of an evaporated hell
split in the stratosphere. A smothered voice
spoke intimately. Torn loose blowing scraps
clung in the semblance of letters
to a bed of white sand
erased as it was read.

At last
I built my house in the fog,
fishing from windows
for the ununderstandable,
and with a shard of pure color
scrawled my stained illuminations
by light of an angel bulb;
and each night ended in an epiphany
that rose shining and redefined
this maze the size of the universe.

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Eight-eyed airmen
parachuted at twilight
into our garden
of good evil.

It was spider season,
and he & I roamed fairytale streets,
conspiring to destroy reality
and weave a universe.

In real life
we were besieged
by centipedes,
burned girlfriends,
and worst of all,
but with his grubby bedroom
as HQ of Creation,
we freestyled scripts past sunsets,
and worlds hatched down the walls,
while episodes coalesced:
characters debated from cradle to ash,
civilizations tipped over
and smashed,
and an immortal celebrity
realized he was the Deity;
first one city filled all galaxies,
then one mind.

were in that place
we could only reach
together. …

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In winter I shut the windows
and seal the bright noise;
I breathe old air, and the birds become strangers,
and my head a stifled womb in no mother.
Sweating, thoughts echoing all around,
one blue-white morning I tilt the pane
and the air is a song, and I suddenly remember

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God and I broke up when I was eleven;
I didn’t like the way he talked to me.
Religion is the curse
laid on the living
by the dead.

So now it’s just me,
a puddle of pink shivers
laughed at by skulls,

and I flatten my ape hand
against mindless light
and watch blood feed flesh
through an aging machine
that built itself
and generated me
to pilot it,
its blueprints
encrypted in every cell,
DNA a four-letter word
scripted by a unifying explosion
inside a birth engine
whose own genes were born
through countless perishings
in a manifold lineage
in which every dictator,
lion and portobello,
linden and paramecium,
is my distant relative,
in the all-embracing
and self-braiding
fractal of life
among whose
billion-year branches
I’m just another tip
yearning through my excerpt,
every shooting second
slamming shut
behind me. …

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Water snakes hiss in the walls.
The day ruffles its frigid blue pages
until I peel myself from bed
to harvest a few shards of light
from the horizons over my desk.
Hours fold up and vanish:
Every thought’s a landscape
I fall into; every line a ledge
I cling to. I climb a page
then plunge my hand
into a candy bowl
full of ticking clocks,
my ears exhaling
black-windowed trains.
The universe is a sublime torture chamber
inside which I am building a thrill park.
In a wasteland this bleak
only children play.
Up all night pulling fire from the sky,
I glance down at what the streets say about me:
Every supreme flight is also a cry of anguish.
Whatever. I stuff these few fancies in a cookie tin
and wait for salvation.

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I was made of years piled up.

I was eyes falling through time.

There had been a strange but not unpleasant smell of bitter peppermint, then my mind split into a hundred minds that all slumped into darkness and drowned.

On the bed, somebody lay in my space, breathing with my lungs and seeing with my eyes, surrounded by everyday objects whose functions seemed hopelessly abstract and theoretical.

A jeweled melody slithered around.

Had music been playing all along?

This song was a favorite, but now I’d never heard it before.

Framed in a window, the penthouse of a distant high-rise resembled the top of an armored vehicle. …

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When we enter, Oma’s gazing at the wall.
She does not smile. Her eyes are red hollows.
Opa announces that I crossed Germany to see her.
I say a few things she doesn’t register.
She asks for a tissue but can’t bring it to her face.
Holding up the spread square of tissue, frozen.
Opa wipes her raw nose, pulls her straight.
Her body always caves around that missing hip.
He asks, “Remember the last time you saw Stefan?”
She stalls — then names an event ten years past.
He starts to correct her…
But just tips the sippycup of coffee to her trembling lips.
And laughing rolls her fingers, one by one, between his own.
I suck on sweets and look out at the parking lot.
He deposits in her limp palm a rubber spikeball.
I can’t, Oma whimpers. I can’t I can’t there’s no use.
And the sunlight comes in like a memory; we sweat.
One drives till the vehicle breaks down.
Till the windows go blind.
Into the cold that neither begins nor ends.
Following his lead, she lifts one hand over her head.
Then slowly, painfully, the other hand.
And her eyes say:
rat death shit fire filth maggot mold ash.
We leave her lopsided in her wheelchair. …

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I may be too late. I shift in the cramped seat
and my neck creaks.

I’m cornered in the clear forehead of a bus clattering down the Autobahn.
It’s midnightish, but the passengers are fielding calls or eating loud smelly things
and my neighbor (ancient, monumental and disturbed) is oozing into my space.
Surrounded, I can escape only through the window,
into the phantasmagoria. There are quadriplegic godzillas with spinning heads.
There are constellations of red eyes over the highway, haghaired shadows staring in
as we drive between their legs. …

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No one had believed Brad.

But Brad was a man of his word.

As soon as the controlling shares were transferred to his name, Brad flew to headquarters to perform the speech he’d been preparing all his youth.

He would not continue his family’s rapacious business practices.

All directors, including Brad himself, would receive a massive pay cut.

Everyone else would get a walloping raise.

Together they were going to build the world’s greatest company.

At this point, Brad’s heroic baritone was drowned out by applause.

“I should be thanking you,” he added, and sweetly smiled.

The applause went from thunderous to explosive. …


Stefan White

Hallucinatory lit at

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