o D. after bookstore espressos: look I’m in the sunset think of the bubbles we live in automotive refrigeration existence of bananas concept of individuality plus one bubble of actual air. Remember Earl lost half his body weight that year? Something just hit me. Some water. o At 3:03 a thin man stands potted cactus in hand in the sunlit storefront window. CIA documents show a powerful glitch in sixty-five maybe a surge at the collider. A fragile reality promulgates itself he says it wrong like fruit laughing so over-caffeinated. o Art books aren’t capturing stalled behind the image pile-up people unfold chairs remember tiny vodka bottles in their handbags and decide to live differently. I invent the breed Futility Shepherd. “Live Mules” reads the sign next to the trampoline where children broke phalanges, carpals and metacarpals, clavicles, ulnas, radii and one femur near the point on Prout’s Neck where Homer painted Breezing Up but standing there is better sorry Winslow. o I was saying spiky round cactus and he was standing in the light at 3:03 and at 3:06 he’s still there but the cactus is gone vanished in a flash that must’ve occurred at 3:05 or 4. Circled children in the millionaire’s scrapbook code for money but when I went for the money I found bears with human feet. o Little pool of pomegranate juice not symbolic of blood only beautiful juice on a white table not meaningful. D. kept talking while I read the blurb on this Murakami like criminal dolphin holiday on ice bell. Johnny off the wagon again. Salivary hesitation and sudden wet breathing. The brain changed everything. Experiences continued to occur.
on pearl two
on pearl two people i respect said he was the most compelling male they’d ever personally met one other person said dalai lama and one said rupert grint—who? it’s just sad chemicals now unraveling according to wave functions inside his bushy face cars pass people walk by in cheeseheads man hollers punishing scriptures stars still out there past the blue you just can’t see them now i’ve seen a map of blue to black brain death occurring the subject still standing there you can hug him and he will smile and say how much he loves this beach
“Mathematicians who have visited Gregory Chudnovsky’s bedroom have come away dizzy, wondering what secrets the scriptorium may hold.” —Richard Preston, writing for The New Yorker
/ G. goes away to justice type collective blood pressure existential fantasy stats / Euler leads with two of five most beautiful maths infinitude of prime and gamma transcendental numbers come alive etc but the monstrous cacophony of Chudnovsky’s elemental— / —okay maybe a never-ending dream snakes decimals through the void people wander singing Archimedes sprung it loose from a circle or it spiraled right from the bang fever blind Euler died trying to illuminate warped helix fractal spatter yellow live bleed-out cuidado non-repeating irrational do you know why I’ve stopped you bullet barrage baby halo makes sense makes a pattern it has to / all we had for Dow Jones were golden quills and have you seen the emotion economy cross n digits via python / Ramanujan god’s old face in illuminated Ostrogothic Jesus gestures down the last supper page one is you will go on and on in this precise way / home in a few days with new facial expressions G. transcended calculations for a brighter tomorrow to just hang out with someone he wanted to look like / we hardly ever tongue kiss anymore real life needs subtraction
While I watched that show about Nazi hunters with the actor who used to say hoo-ahh one real Nazi moved in to the blue bungalow across from the Catholic school behind the CBD shop and Indian buffet. He’s got the 1488 license plate (pause here and look it up) along with two bumper stickers: one “Aryan” and the other “Asatru Foundation” which is the new Nordic paganism the white nationalists are into now. I’ve seen him once—big jacked-looking dude out on a frigid morning scraping ice off his enormous Chevy in full camo that looked pretty official. Maybe he was off to Hitler camp where they fire nines at cut-out afro targets, get all sweaty pumping iron and deny every shred of attraction to each other. My dad grew up on dreams of bombing Nazis back to hell. By the time he signed the dotted line wars were different and he ended up flying circles around Sacramento waiting for combat orders that never came. He told me he regretted ever leaving the farm. He didn’t tell me he sought pure feelings in the arms of waitresses across Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and western Wisconsin but when he died my sister found surprisingly moving letters and even more surprisingly explicit Polaroids hidden among the minutes he took as secretary for the ethanol plant: gray sheet-metal relic of an ag industries era that seems to have engineered as many problems as it solved. Here in my little history I sigh and grasp at conclusions: 1. I think Dad could only accept love in secret because of deep human shame but I’m glad that he found some, somewhere. B. That TV show would have us believe hunting Nazis is more difficult than it actually seems but assassinating them might be easier than stopping by in a neighborly fashion with a six-pack and how ‘bout them Cowboys? Finally, maybe all expended energy accelerates the extinction spiral but that old ethanol plant could be perfect for production of a substance everyone’s using now: hand sanitizer.
WILLIAM STOBB‘s most recent poetry collection is You Are Still Alive (2019), winner of the 42 Miles Press prize. He is also the author of the National Poetry Series selection, Nervous Systems, and Absentia, both from Penguin Books, and three chapbooks including a Artifact Eleven, a collection of desert fragments. Stobb’s poems appear in American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Kenyon Review, and many other journals and ‘zines. He works on the editorial staff of Conduit and its book publishing arm, Conduit Books & Ephemera, as well as on the creative writing faculty at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Artwork by David Dodd Lee
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