Tirage Monthly: Issue Ten

Jessica Scicchitano • Imani Sims • Bee Smith •  Cal Freeman • Peter Krok • Chen Chen  

 
Jessica Scicchitano

PROJECT MKULTRA
     Based on “High Anxiety: LSD In The Cold War” by Raffi Khatchadourian

Not long ago on a talk-radio show, a conversation with zero naivety on LSD
administered to the public for possible demolition of emotional barriers.

A testimonial of the experience details a desire to enter the throat of a platinum
blonde mannequin dressed in sequins, large close-ups of flowers. She was
described as a woman who got drunk with Argentina, a hybrid of leaning and
bohemian, open to drug you with reward.

“It was an armamentarium metamorphosing over time. There were memos and
letters. Visions of personal items, too: golf scorecards, college essays, all the
drugs I’ve taken on my hard drive, a rented room with heat. It was too much to
resist.”


Later in the interview, star witnesses said people woke up at four-thirty in the
morning to study their condition; the lonely maelstrom of clicks, the noble cause
and victorious disability to obtain it.

To think, nerve endings crushed in “A New Concept of War,” brutality without
lethality, characterizing humanity by hallucination, decorating our enemy with
ethos through chemistry.

The discourse through the radio into the effects of ‘nervousness’ seem
reasonable, a systematic effort with a new vista of control. Are we undesirable, ill
equipped to develop sound in any kind of sober word?

“I need to know everything that has happened to me because it could give me
some peace and fewer nightmares, I have found a mixture of defensiveness and
empathy, some people find it satisfying to look back and condemn if it lends itself
to redemption.”



DEAR BUCOLIC LANDSCAPE,

We call this Manhattan hotel haunted. We are good girls; eat all of our tentacles
at dinner. We ask the concierge to kiss goodbye our white bags of steak. We are
little white trees you find in Reno at Christmas in county craft stores, on display
within a fire escape and its belt of tetanus cinching our waists. We are snowmen
of disability, rotten frozen willows, white robes around the body, towels draped
over our heads, all to protect the drench of our cigarettes. We hear something
large finish a cascade toward the ground. We learn of how we will not age after
falling to our death. The cars outside use their directional just to signal sharp
sways. We find the horns snide, call them precious, call them mechanic. We turn
to glow-in-the-dark remote control buttons to guide sand-born yachts breathing
in the Arizona wild. We call the front desk, regulate the sauna, may we have a
connection to the Bering Strait
and told we’re sewn into gaudier streets than we
know.

     ■

Imani Sims

ON EATING AND THE NIGHT SKY

She is neither
popped sicle nor
grape flavored jam.

She is just
almost black purple
with tiny holes
to let in
light.

     ■

Bee Smith

REMEMBERING

getting the top deck
of a London bus, front seat, all to oneself,
sulphur light casting the world outside the window
a Francis Bacon nightmare

there were still conductors then
unzippering tickets from their roll machine,
letting you ride free if they thought you were pretty or hungry,
ding-dinging us along the snail of stop-starts

looking left, noticing the numbers
tattooed on the wrist of the old woman
jostling me as she took her seat, her bag beside me,
then, never forgetting

     ■

Cal Freeman

BITTERSWEET

Spine crooked as a yew,
The prognostications of my bones

(Dark solecisms, unprovable aches)
Do not need to be good, tall

As their shadows loom and gangly
As I walk, this future tenuous.

I seemed to lean against the wind
The moment the storm

Passed and the world brightened.
The world would not brighten

Again but would nearly drown us
With diffuse and steady light.

The Word bound and strung
Through the matter of such

A sentence like bittersweet
Through bark runnels

Predicates its ambling
Upon where it has already always

Been. The wind, that plaintive
Warble in its voice of no more

Little wings to loft.
As the edges of shapes

Illogically pretend to touch,
As a bird others its reflection

And dives into itself.


FIGHT SONG TO BE SUNG AT COUNTY FAIRS

You turned around once or twice,
but I was not there.
All songs begin this way,
with a memory or figment.
We were no longer of that place,
but we were not on our way either.
I miss you too, and I’m sorry
the leaves seem to be limned
in this particular hue of light
(I think it’s halogen or moon).
My first impulse
was to look westward down
the road toward my childhood,
transparent but enigmatic enough
to not be a childhood at all.
We never know what sets us off,
and nothing can stop us but decorum.
Given all that we have shared,
wouldn’t it be best to go nowhere?

     ■

Peter Krok

A LINE OF PETRARCH
Nicolas Kilmer translation

What men want mostly is worthless.
I keep remembering these words.
What makes a difference, I ask knowing
words are just one measure? Worth
being worth more than words or desire.
My life comes heavy with desire
― I have no answer but a voice
which won’t stop questioning.

Palms against my chin, I hold
my head in my hands and sit
at the Parkway Gates wanting
to repeat to every passersby,
What men want mostly is worthless.


***

The Italian scribe sat at an oaken table
in Avignon staring out a window
at a beauty his gaze found three times.
Her smile held his desire.
How does one reconcile his words,
What men want mostly is worthless,
and his attachment to Laura?

Who was Laura, a contessa of Avignon,
a madonna a poet carved into his heart,
a beauty who held a scholar’s desire.
Her body in Thirteen Forty-eight succumbed
to the Plague. We know little more except
Petrarch measured her loveliness in Rime.
What of that loveliness?
Is Laura what outlasts the ages
or something else, something more,
the aspiration for something greater.

***

The words of Petrarch's 13th sonnet,
Poco prezando quel ch' ogni uom desia
serve as a reminder
in trying to reconcile my way
with attempts at the margin
as if to justify ... and finding
there can be no justifying ― but
only an exaltation of breath.


     ■

Chen Chen

SECOND STEEPING
for Anna


Leaves of time
sweetened into memory,

we steep them
again, drink them again,

drinking the whole curious house
on the mountain, the milky

light, those three days
slow to age, no, better than slow,

unhurried, & us happy
to put our sorrow on hold,

to wander the quiet your grandfather
built, your grandmother deepened,

the paintings (abstract, medieval),
the rugs (rabbit, floral),

the shelves of cookbooks,
picture books, books dispensing

sex tips from the 60’s,
the mobile still moving

in the former baby’s room--
pine cone, hawk feather,

old, crisp leaf
turning... & one afternoon,

the storm, the grandfather
voice of thunder calling,

the small kettle’s replying,
& evening, evening’s post-rain

purple walk, following
your childhood map

down to the witch’s house
then back, back,

big windows, hot tea,
the kettle’s silver

singing, the night falling
like hair, the darkness

like kindness, welcoming us in,
how you helped by switching off

all the lights, then looked up
at the moon, a crescent, a sideways

milk mustache on midnight’s face,
then returned to the puzzle

just begun, 500 pieces
of your favorite band,

our bodies vanilla & jasmine,
the night awake with our searching
                                                                                               ■