>Prose

Kim Kyung Ju, A City of Sadness

Translated by Jake Levine

A CITY OF SADNESS

since I can’t be buried with everyone side by side, here I record the rule of my death

Have you ever whistled at a girl on a rainy street?

No matter how good you whistle, a human is a type of sheep that won’t come. Speaking from experience, you shouldn’t whistle at your mom. Don’t whistle at the battalion commander. Never whistle at the nurse to stop. These are the details of how I arrived here. The feeling of slowly becoming music is something nobody else can know. It’s a lonely thing. Lonely people whistle lots. If the sun rises and the book shuts, I go to the corner of the garden filled with trees and, like a milk cow, I slowly munch the grass of thought.

I am in exile. Whether in a memory or the distant future, I am in exile.

If you are exiled from humanity, you can easily become diseased. I know my death will be accompanied by severe agony. I will die here writhing in pain. Huns, Scythians, Magyars, Gokturks, Uyghurs, or Mongols like Turkmen are all nomadic people. All their lives they live in exile. The main principle of their life is to go where they please. Part of the order of their life is to remember the light that fades in the eyes of the beasts they raise. At daybreak many were born. At dawn many died.

In my previously life I was not human. I was music. My favorite music is composed of the man who composed me. In his past life he was a man, but he was reborn as music. Whenever I listen to the sound of that music, I repeat my previous life like I am living this life in the past. So again I slowly become music. This is my story.

Music is also a premonition. The alchemy that composes the self is made of a music you haven’t yet heard. However, that music is also the thing that is closest to your being. Just now I had a premonition of a time that flew past my side. Whenever I think these kind of thoughts my mind becomes music, and while I drink the music that is called water in a cup, in a far Spanish field my thought grazes on the hair of a herd of sheep.

Will the moment ever arrive when I can acknowledge my entire being? I said I’m thirsty. While living with you I spoke just 8 times.

The sandfly born on a rainy day only knows a world filled with rain. Then it dies. On a rainy day, as soon as the fetus is born, it is thrown in the sewer thinking to itself that the world is a sewer of death. That’s only human. On the side of a hill the mother of the fetus looks into the sky while she washes the blood out her womb in the rain. The sun rises. Ants take the umbilical cord that stretched between the mom and the fetus and haul it into the ground. I pull out my binoculars and closely observe. After the rain, if you put your ear to the moist ground you can hear the Gospel of Luke. I listen to the evening worship of the ants. I skip dinner.

The thing that allowed me to endure this long is a thing I can no longer endure. To not understand these things, an announcement: there is no intimacy between the time I lived and me.

The time I lived was a secret alcohol no one has ever tasted. Easily, I got wasted on that milieu’s name.

Childhood is the renaissance of life. If I were a muslim, I would bow to the Mecca called childhood six times a day. When I was a child I almost drowned in the reservoir. In that moment of almost death I experienced many feelings at the same time. Drowning in the middle of the water, I saw the light distancing itself from me. Can you imagine? Afterward, I stopped going to school. Instead I went to the middle of the water and spread out my palms and picked up dead birds and recollected that moment of pleasure, feeling close to death. When I entered middle school I couldn’t remember the taste of my mother’s milk. At daybreak, to remember, I bit my mother’s tits.

My pain doesn’t have subtitles. Unreadable.

In all pictures there remains a bit of the air leftover from the time each person lived. Like in any warm greeting a cheerful mold blooms, the facial expression flowing into the photo used for your obituary is the same air you are breathing now. While looking at someone’s obituary photo, if you feel remote, it is not because you are feeling the person in the picture, but that the pictured person is feeling you, trying to remember this place. And so this is the place where his effort is delivered, but I wonder, what kind of air will flow in the photo of my obit? With this thought, my two eyes become red air.

From inside the picture I get dizzy looking at myself on the outside.
Time difference. Time lag.

The moment I think I am dead, it is like I can’t even remember my face.
Because we need a lot of death, I am walking into an order that even you cannot see.

The candle in my room burns up all the air in my eyes.
A candle light can’t stand in another light. This is why candle light burns only at night.

I believe there is a planet that shares my birth and death, a planet that shares the same lifeforce as me. 1976—? That is my ether.

While I masturbate, I age thousands of years.
While I masturbate, I am a sad civilization called myself.

If we warmly embrace and suddenly die, thousands of years will pass and we’ll be fossilized. Our descendants will touch us and feel strange. In its rough and hard texture the sadness of the fossil cannot be expressed. This is my wrath. After thousands of years, when people touch us, I will be a stone flowing with tears. That’s the savage custom that exists between us.

The speed of memory is faster than the speed of light.

Breaking up with a lover is like suicide. Like being ripped apart from everything you were accustomed to. The reason you fear the afterlife is that it is absent from everything I love. In a strange place, sleep won’t come. Sleeping in a strange place is like one night in hell. Because a person is not different than the life he lived, breaking up is like an act of suicide. My friend Kahn said it like this, sometimes that moment arrives faster than the speed of light.

Wind passes the face of a page and leaves. The eastern wind is reticent. Anxiety is a straightforward expression for the self. Daily I receive an injection like eastbound wind.

Last night I came out the base to exhume a grave with my military friends. When the shovel touched the skull, it reminded me of a camel—a camel that collapsed like sand across the desert. After about 4 kilometers it began to smell human. We grilled a bone we found in the grave and told fortunes. The body belonged to the age of the empire of Un. The body wrote poems. The body was a painter who wandered the world painting cliffs. Nowhere can be found a map that expresses the exile of a dream.

If grave robbing our inner self is what we call a dream, then it is possible that everyone is sentenced to a prison called their dreams. Even though they know it is dangerous, everytime people visit their dreams they erect a tombstone. They bring with them an epitaph called memory, place it in the ground, and it becomes history.

Memory is the second life of humans. Because all memory is handicapped, we must wait. Memory is a thing we cannot possess.

Right now the sky is a pink stream. Like Sunday worship, every evening people in the hospital open their windows and dump a sunset in their heart. Written while staring at sunsets through the bars of the penitentiary window, no poetry is more beautiful than the death row inmate’s memoir. That’s because it is the music of human death. I once confessed that Beethoven is the sound of music that plays out of the dead. Beethoven didn’t compose music. Beethoven was music. What he recorded was only his desperation.

Humans are either born and become ghosts or are born as ghosts who don’t know they are dead already. This I believe. The ghost that doesn’t know it’s a ghost disappears without knowing that it disappeared.

I dedicate my primitivism to music. I want to write a poem that begins like that.

Before their death, a vampire couple whose fate was that they couldn’t see the light of day crawled and embraced underneath the sun, shattering to pieces. To see just one fragment of light, all that blood was necessary.

No matter what they say, I’ve lived thousands of nights.

I was born at night (True) and I was raised at night (True) and I wrote poetry at night (True) so from just this fact, from the earth I must be remote (False) A=A-

You can’t see the poet’s star from earth. However, you can watch the earth from the poet’s star.

My mother’s brother stuck a handful of earthworms in his Sprite and chugged it down and said “I’m from Jupiter.” Even today, if we go to Baek Hospital in Naju my uncle is still throwing the individually wrapped packets of Asian medicine my great aunt gave him in the sewer saying “These are going to kill me.” As soon as my uncle turned 40 he scarily became the kind of person that only devours food. He told me the only thing he learned after he came to earth is whistling. My uncle, who entered Chonnam University’s astronomy department ranked #1, was a person that whistled well. When I was a kid, after we watched Robocop 2, I have a memory of us in the bathroom side-by-side peeing together like Robocop.

Every morning when I open my eyes I grab my dry crotch in pain. If I get rid of the suspicion called my dreams, then, in a general sense, I am innocent. There’s no reason why I have to be here. While I am having this thought, I walk around the corridor and it’s like the end of my life. “Sonuvabitch, did you call your mom?” In my military unit, my beautiful junior # 99-71002665 got his ear exploded after he called his mom to request a visitation. Ever since that day, no matter who he’s talking to, he lies.

On a moonlit night while I was sitting on the sill of the dormitory window, an unfathomably beautiful girl who nibbled and ate soap was delivered to the room beside me. That girl turns into a rat every night. When she was discovered in the sewer like a rat no one gave her mouth-to-mouth. Between the white of her revealed waist and the white ankle, a jungle of black hair. Her pants, now soaked, could no longer conceal that atrocity. Her face was egg white and she was shi-shi-shivering. Like a rumor, even the power of her beauty could not overshadow the color and texture of the thick hair on her thighs.

My room is too small to call for more flocks of lamb. My drawers and wardrobe are stuffed with sheep. All my sheep have webbed feet.

I believe that one day if I pop my retina like a cork, thousands of canisters of film will roll out my eyes. Because no light enters the inside of my eyes, this is where the film is alive. Because they are a deep, dark castle, light pains the eyes. In the morning I don’t open the curtains. My room is always dark.

I have never played with those who don’t fly kites in a sky frozen stiff.
I don’t sing with people that know more than 100 religious hymns.
I don’t do business with those who have memorized their parent’s national registration number.
They are the kind of people that won’t fulfill their filial piety.
A person who has masturbated to the fiery prologue of Rilke knows this
love is entering the castle of your lover and writing there for your entire life. It’s true—I have never tried to live that way.

As far as I know, my friend Kahn said that in his novel he would use sorcery in order to save his lover. Every day Kahn lived his life like a scream. Poetry is what we called the mistakes we made in our lives spoiled with desperation. It’s been a long time since I visited Kahn’s yurt. There have been several times after waking in the same room as Kahn that I’ve wanted to strangle him. Proof of our lives was that we could feel pain, however, pain was not something that could exonerate us. After we admitted this fact, we felt wonderful. Kahn and I have a habit of sleeping crouched like hermaphrodites. If we wake up under the blanket like the leaf of a cabbage, then together we become SAM. Without crime, reality is a police report we live by writing everyday. Stuck together, side by side, we crouch our heads and file the report. If I say it like this I feel guilty.

Maktoob! Memory of the pyramid, stand firm!! Whatever I am, if I dig wrecklessly I am sure to be buried. If you decipher the entirety of your memory, immediately, you have to escape. Immediately after, the stone will crack. The wall will fall. Because everything will collapse, my spiritual station scares me.

The people exiled inside a time I cannot know send me a floating letter made of wind. On nights when sleep won’t come I open the window and under the bed I read the letter that arrives. In the lobby the girl would like to see the calendar. The wind that is the letter that flies inside and inflates the girl’s gown, from where does it originate?

Whenthemoonwasfull,alone,thegirldeliveredababyattheentranceofthestairs.WhenIquietlyapproachedthe girl,shewassoexhaustedshecouldn’tmove.Becauseitwassodark,shecouldn’trecognizemyface.Limplyinherhandhungafruitknifethatshecutherumbilicalcordwith.Iwasashadowthatapproached,andsheliedholdingashadowIhaveneverseen.Thebabydidn’tcry.Embracingthebabyinmyarms,Islowlywalkedtowardmyroom.ForaminuteshestretchedherhandouttowardsomethingIcouldn’tsee,andmumbledsomethingintheAltaic language,thenshequietlybegantotouchmyshadowhanginginthereflectiononthewall.Insteadofhermother’smilk,Ifedthebabyitsmother’sblood.Atdawn,thecow’steet.Andfromthebaby’sbodyradiatedthescentof lilac.Toavoidtheeyesofothers,inthemorningIswallowthebabybyitshead,atnightIvomitthebabyup.Atnight Ifeedthebabywiththeteetofarat.Inthedaytimethebabysleepsinsidethecaveofmybodyhangingupsidedownlikeabat.AtnightIrecitemypoetrytothebaby.Mybaby’seyesgoblind.WhenmybabygrewupIgivemybabythesoulofaseagullandmybabyborrowsthebodyofahorseandrunstothegreenpastureinsidethecalendar.Beforemybabyleftme,itsaidmypoetrywasbelowfreezing.IwassadsoItriedtolearnMongolaftermybabyleft,butsoongaveupaftersnowthatfelloutthecalendarfrozetheroom.

Like a sword that leaves a flash while finding the direct path to the bone, tears are what melt from the glacier of the self. If you want to be cold, first you have to learn to be warm when you swim. Because the sword is both hot and cold, it can glide to a far place. Although the tears that flow out from my body are warm enough to the cut the mind of a stranger, because the tears that flow inside my self cut within me, they are cold. Tears are a species of fish rotting inside the self.

The sky flows like Scholasticism. All clouds are the third wave. The wind is as strong as Bacardi 151. Trees are as quiet as a Romanian legend. The forest is as silent as an out-of-date gynecologist. The fog is illogical, the sun is praxis and the lake is cynical. The pill I have to swallow is Francis Baconish And the existence I haven’t experienced is still equal to my future And I pray better better than Hegel And my prayer is more metaphysical than Hegel’s prayer And the stone staircase is colder than sergeant Lee who was electrocuted to death in Jinhae harbor in June 1999. God is not allowed to embrace concepts And even though I wasn’t born in Copenhagen While listening to music called Copenhagen I am Copenhagen And because I am irrational I can’t explain anything I believe in And because I can’t explain I write And in order not to explain I cry And what I can’t explain will be my inheritance. I am a foreign tongue nobody knows, so those who say they can properly say my name and communicate with me are only deceiving themselves. I was wounded by sorrow and I was tortured by poverty and I was assassinated by religion and I survived by touching sergeant Rim’s penis every night. Instead of continuing my life like that, everday I committed suicide by poetry, and I seduced beauty with poetry.

I cut the throat of another mosquito that spispispit in my room. There is a Chinese legend of achieving longevity by eating the brain of a mosquito that I believe in, so I collected the heads of mosquitos inside a bottle and placed it in front of the girl’s door. Through the keyhole, I had the feeling that the girl watched my back.

If I die, make sure you dissect my body. As is hearsay, if you cut open my chest, there are millions of people floating in blood.

There are several poems I want to kill.
Because I wrote a very beautiful poem, I want to kill a poem and because all poetry is so beautiful, there is a poem I want to kill. The life of a poet who is sympathetic to shame must become a book and the book, a hospital made of the self.
That is my poem.

All poets are prisoners of war lost by God. However, all prisoners of war are professional prisoners.
The only ability I have is the ability to be different than you. The reason I write “I lost!” is not only because I can’t win. The reason I live here is because I am different than you. This is a thing that seems very important to you.

I know that while I sleep, from outside the window thousands of red eyeballs look down at me.
In the night I slept after I exhausted my fingers I understood that the self that completely escaped my body mounted my belly and plucked out my eyes. In order not to be robbed, I developed a habit of not opening my eyes until late in the morning. When the self that completely escaped the body goes back inside, when I feel a river of blue blood flow between the floor and my back, at that exact moment, I open my eyes just barely.

I am a soldier fighting in a war without countries. I know the climax is in July.
Because I was born in July, while I listen to the music of July I will die. My will consists of a single line of poetry called “myself” that I wrote on the surface of July. If I die, all the Julys of the world will be buried at sea.

This is how I feel.
Hundreds of miles away, tears flow from the statue of Maria.
Hundreds of miles away, a man hit by a car on the ground slowly closes his eyes.
Hundreds of miles away, air shoots out the tires of a hearse.
In a swamp hundreds of miles away, a zebra slowly enters the alligator’s mouth.
On a power line hundreds of miles away, in between the birds, one person sits, burying his head into his wings.
Inside a window hundreds of miles away, at the moment the writer finished writing his book, he let out his final breath.
Hundreds of miles away, the angel of death rides here on the subway and hundreds of miles away, nervously pacing back and forth in the living room, a mom wants to get rid of a visiting son who figured out the truth of his birth.
In front of the gate of an alley hundreds of miles away someone like myself hangs about
and today, music is like a play.

One night I dreamt a dream.

In the dream, from a distance, a group carrying a coffin came toward me while I sat next to some lake. However, strange enough, the people carrying the coffin began to enter the cold, blue water of the lake. For sure, if they entered the lake, they would all die. I, while feeling inexplicable horror, shouted “Don’t do it!” However, they couldn’t hear me. No matter how hard I screamed, my voice could not pierce through the music that spread out from them like a smell. One by one while they were buried in the water, I suddenly had a realization: the people entering the water that were carrying the coffin all had same face as my own. Well, almost the same. They had my face, but all the eyes were missing pupils. But then, I wondered, in the coffin whose body was laid? I ran and ripped away the flowers covering the coffin. I pulled up the lid. There, laid to rest, was my mom. Like the root of a single tree she lay stiff without voice. Instead of her head, my head rest in the arms of my decapitated mother’s corpse. My face had my mother’s smile. Outside the lake, a group of people were crying. For the first time in my life I heard myself cry out of a stranger’s mouth.

 


Kim-Kyung-JuKim Kyung Ju is one of the most decorated and popular younger writers in South Korea. He writes poetry, poetic dramas, plays, essays, and translates poetry and fiction from English into Korean. He opened up an independent school for aspiring word artists. It is called Penguin Rhyme. His first book of poems I AM A SEASON THAT DOES NOT EXIST IN THE WORLD was translated into English and just came out with Black Ocean.

Jake-LevineJake Levine is working on his PhD in comparative literature at Seoul National University (but will he ever finish?). He is the foreign correspondent for Spork Press. He dabbles in translation theory.

Jacqueline Kari, excerpts from Gin Mill: An Impossible Play

 

KARI-GIN-MILL-1b

KARI-GIN-MILL-2

KARI-GIN-MILL-3

KARI-GIN-MILL-4

KARI-GIN-MILL-5

KARI-GIN-MILL-6

KARI-GIN-MILL-7

 

 


Jacqueline Kari

Jacqueline Kari is the author of The Book of Tell {dancing girl press} and Litel Myn Tragedye (forthcoming in 2016 on Birds of Lace), both missiles from a larger manuscript, TWA: A MASQUE. Excerpts of this manuscript, including “The Mill,” were recently featured in Tarpaulin Sky’s “In Utero” Series. Other poems, visual art and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Apartment Poetry, Caketrain, Dreginald, RealPoetik and elsewhere. She lives, studies and works in Athens, GA.

Janice Lobo Sapigao, excerpts from microchips for millions

the clean room

in order to come in,
you must first put on:

1.
hairnet

2.
shoe covers

3.
gloves

4.
mask

5.
hood

6.
cover-all

7.
boot covers

8.
goggles

9.
gloves

when you exit,
you must discard:

1.
gloves

2.
goggles

3.
hood

4.
mask

5.
boot covers

“no, you cannot bring
anything inside the room.
no cell phones,
no watch, no nothing.”

“you have to go
to the changing room
before you go in to work”

“i always wear my head band.”

“they don’t like you
to wear sneakers.
they like you wear
the shoes they give you.
my feet is hurt”

“it’s hard to breathe,
sometimes. oh my god”

“you can only
call me on
my break, okay?
8:30 or 12:30”

“i can only wear t-shirts.
the loose kind for work.
it’s better because
you sweat a lot”

“i can’t, balasang. i can’t”

“you have to wear
a suit. goggles.
everything
is covered.
everything.”

“you can’t touch anything.
you have gloves. they will
get mad on you”

the praise

0111011101101000011110010000110100001010
my mother builds
the backbone of the silicon valley
you can say she’s
single-handedly responsible
for the microchip revolution


my mother                 is a step ladder

is a spine
                 is a skeleton                  is a muscle

is a labor force is vertebrae is a staircase

is the key to a multi-millionaire’s business

is a person.

0111011101101000011110010000110100001010
all hail
the silicon valley
may you all
endlessly
power up,
aggregate the future,
sip the coffee made
by your interns,
and allow me
to ask sincerely,

                                  0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

“why

0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

                are 

                                  0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

                                  you

0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

        killing

                                  0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

                         us

0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

        this

                                  0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

                         way?

0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

                                  0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

                                  0111011101101000011110010000110100001010

the cry

the cry
                                          ma,

tell them we go to church on sundays
tell them spending christmas together
                             is a tradition we need to start soon
tell them about the blisters behind your ankles
              or the calluses that outline your step
tell them about your queendom
              that you can’t preside over your people if you’re not home
tell them buildings are a poor substitute for sunlight
tell them about living paycheck-to-paycheck
tell them about your arthritis
tell them that i ripped your beltloops when i was six
              clawing onto you because i didn’t want you to go to work that day
tell them about how starting your shift is a sentence and
              punching out your timesheet is freedom
tell them you’re sick today
              that you’re sick of them every day
                             that work is not a place without a place to sit
                                                  that free snacks and more hours don’t fool you
tell them that microchips don’t have feelings
tell them about your garden
              and how soil reacts to water
                      how you chip off thorns with uneven fingernails
                             or how your orchids finally bloom yellow, pink and purple
tell them they can’t automate your spirit
tell them they can’t outsource your humanity
tell them dignity is priceless
tell them you miss the mid-day radio
tell them you miss the price is right
tell them that it’s confidential
tell them some things are better left unsaid
tell them machines performing over 1,000 chemical reactions are dangerous
tell them they’re hazardous
tell them what the doctors said
              how your knees creak
                      how dad massages your feet every night
tell them we don’t care about who they are
              since they do not know us
tell them in ilokano
tell them in tagalog
              or vietnamese
                      or spanish
                             or khmer
tell all of your co-workers, my aunties
tell them to say no
tell them you say no
tell them no
              you don’t want to
              you’re not going to work today
              you’re not going to work
tell them that today
              the silicon valley resigns
                      tell them you run the town
tell them that they work for you.
tell them 01101110 01101111

                                                             NO

the valley of toxic fright

Janice_Sapigao-1

Janice_Sapigao-2

Janice_Sapigao-3

Janice_Sapigao-4

Janice_Sapigao-4b


SapigaoJanice_photoJanice Lobo Sapigao is a Pinay poet, writer, and educator born and raised in San José, CA. Her first book microchips for millions is forthcoming from PAWA, Inc in Fall 2016. She is also the author of the forthcoming chapbook toxic city (tinder tender press, 2015). She earned her M.F.A. in Critical Studies/Writing at CalArts. She co-founded an open mic in Los Angeles called Sunday Jump. She lives in the Bay Area and teaches at Skyline College and San José City College. Please visit her website: janicewrites.com

Gary J. Shipley, Four Texts

State Funded Zoo

Snakes and frogs gather outside the terrariums. They begin their day by poisoning each other, before mating with the plug sockets. The holes in the glass are smooth and perfectly round. We suspect they licked their way out. There is the unmistakeable sound of chimpanzees fucking a reluctant hyena. And in the distance, the thunderous whimper of tigers eating elephants alive. They do it slowly to keep the meat from spoiling. The herd has sacrificed enough tiger mouthfuls to make a whole other elephant. And yet it still walks, circling the enclosure like one big grey Alzheimer’s patient. The last female giraffe is a howler and a slut. All the hoofstock are displaying signs of frontal lobe disorder. No rhino has moved in weeks. Their heads are now birdcages. The one remaining red panda has lost its mind through prolonged insomnia. Now it’s the stray rabbits that eat him. And as of today, nine of the ten male rhesus monkeys have masturbated themselves inside out.

 

Accumulation

Being the whole lot all at once – the born thing, the to-be-dead thing, the now thing – is one thing making many uncomfortable strangers of itself. It’s a man in a house with every past part of him intact: the hair (stuffed into drawers), the dead skin (worn by the furniture and the sheets on his bed), the nails off his fingers and toes (looking like skulls made of moons trapped inside jars), and the thousands upon thousands of daily excretions he’s passed (now linings for the walls slowly closing him in). The end is too much. It’s the house falling through the crust of the earth. And coming out the other side.

 

Car Park

Every morning I clear my underneath of women. And there’s usually at least one that hasn’t survived the night. They can be hard to get out. If they’ve managed to squeeze themselves up under the drive shaft or the transmission then it can take me an hour or more to clear. Most of them are wise to it, but I still replace the broken glass and the tacks when I’m done. I drove into this car park about two years ago. Reckoned it was still Detroit then; it isn’t anything now. Just what’s left of a few cars and what’s left of a few people living in them. Might pass for a community if anyone spoke to anyone. Everyone’s too busy fixing leaks and keeping their windscreens clean, too busy growing babies in the dead women. More like a kind of fetal vegetation than actual babies, but sometimes, most often the moment your teeth go in, they can approximate the noise of the real thing. At the root of this food supply is an unnatural act, but one that nature has since rewarded. One after another in strict relay, staggered so as to preclude any more than one depositor ever being present at the site, we creampie a trench pre-fashioned out of the swell in the female’s stomach. The crop arrives within the day and is deemed ripe when her eyes are seen to turn like coprolites in their sockets.

 

Echo Chamber

The scene is complete. No one fidgets. Tension keeps the place together with thin interlocking fibres. In the middle of the room the girl in white knickers is being suffocated with a towel. Her mother does it. Her face is a camera. It is not sexual perversion. The pregnant woman in the corner reads the patterns on a map. The bottoms of her legs have disintegrated through lack of use. Her cunt is shot in black and white. In slow-motion, upside down. When it sings the room will wipe itself clean. In the walkways, of which there are none, those stupefied to the point of collapse will collapse. The way the girl continues to die is not ambiguous.

 


Gary-Shipley-PhotoGary J. Shipley is the author of numerous books, including You With Your Memory Are Dead (Civil Coping Mechanisms, forthcoming), Gumma Homo (Blue Square), and Dreams of Amputation (Copeland Valley). His work has appeared recently in Fanzine, Sleepingfish, Vice, Hobart and others. More details can be found at Thek Prosthetics.

Vincent Tholomé, The hotel room

Translated by Alex Niemi

THE JOHN CAGE EXPERIENCES

The hotel room (during the duration of the experience john cage or his equivalent will stretch his arm desperately toward a bedside lamp that is real and illuminated but nevertheless unreachable)

We ask ourselves what goes on in john cage’s head. We also ask ourselves what he thinks about. After walking many many kilometers. In 1935. In the Arizona desert. John cage. And the future mrs. cage. The fiancée of mr. cage. A superb woman. Certainly. At that point in time. In a baby doll nightdress. Well. They arrive at a hotel. They take a room in a hotel. With a bed. One bed. For two. Wow. It’s. Yes. Sex. It’s. Yes. Very hot. Very hot between john cage and the future mrs. cage. But. After a frugal meal. And even though it’s very hot very sexy between john cage and the future mrs. cage. We ask ourselves why john cage. Once in his

(john cage or his equivalent meaning anybody, you or me, stretches an arm desperately towards a bedside lamp that is real and illuminated, and if the rendering of the experience is done sitting down, at the far end of the table)

bed. After his ablutions. Once the covers are pulled tightly up to his armpits. Stretches his right arm out desperately to turn off the hotel bedside lamp. We ask ourselves why john cage. Comfortably stretched out on his bed. In pale blue pajamas for example something very ugly very astonishingly old-fashioned. Doesn’t just ask his future wife who’s still awake at this hour. Still in the middle of the night. As for her. The ablutions. To turn off the hotel bedside lamp when she comes soon. In 5 minutes. Max. To

(the effort that it costs to stretch out an arm is clearly visible on the face of john cage or his equivalent, anyway we see it if the rendering of the experience is done sitting down… if the rendering of the experience takes place lying down, all the effort will be visible in the body of john cage or his equivalent writhing desperately to reach this damn lamp)

sleep. To join in fact her. Yes. Fiancé. This is the way we say things. In fact. We ask ourselves a lot of things on the subject of john cage a man like everyone else meaning like you and me like you and me. It appears looking as we do here in detail at john cage’s reasons for being and for acting that there is in john cage’s head like in

(if everything takes place lying down, the body of john cage or his equivalent should render the effort without moving too much, john cage’s experience being as mental as it is physical)

anybody’s head a black hole. Well. Then. Meaning. We notice for example how carefully john cage smoothed the sheets and the blanket so that john cage is now in his hotel room perfectly ensconced in a creaseless sarcophagus. The

(here, for a little variety, attempt 2 quick punches in the direction of the lamp)

wallpaper in the room is tearing at the rate of 1 mm per year. Once the drapes are drawn. They don’t let in a single sound from the street. Not a single tire screech for example. Not a single drinking song bellowed by a drunkard. So that. We

(a small jump towards the lamp and that’s it)

can say that. In the hotel room. John cage and the future mrs. cage. Human beings. All the same. Like you and me. Like you and me. Well. They live yes as if in the shadow of an experience. They live an experience withdrawn from the world. So that. Everything that happens in shadow. Everything that happens in the hotel room. Well. Yes. Assumes. John cage thinks. Suddenly nervous. A considerable importance. So that. John cage thinks. Suddenly nervous. There is some of that. Of this experience. Something of. Yes. Well. To get out of it. Without a doubt. Without a doubt. John cage thinks. The composer. The

(take care separating the words and gestures, to let each live in turn and have a space where it can stretch out easily, thinks john cage or his equivalent)

musician. So that. She. The future mrs. cage. A superb woman. That goes without saying. Passes. Phew. Very sexy. Very sexy. By the foot of the bed in a baby doll nightdress. She is vigorously pulling her hair from a brush when john cage sees her pass by the foot of the bed. She even hums a popular tune. And why not something by louis armstrong. It is 1935. All the same. All the same. She still has things to do in the bathroom. Thinks john cage. The composer. When his future. His. Yes. Already. Already. Promised. Vigorously. Passing by the foot of the bed. She pounds the ground.

(barely moving here)

Literally. Her feet are bare and she is hammering the ground. While the future mrs. cage returns to the bathroom. While john cage is wrapped tightly in the sheets and. Desperately. Stretches his arm. The left or the right. Not so important in the end. Not so important. In view of. Yes. Reaching the hotel bedside lamp. In fact its switch. Then turning it off. A clump of hair flies

(here move the hand once and then that’s it)

gracefully into the trash. The wool threads of the full carpet stand up straight. The wallpaper continues to tear. A truck outside backs into a streetlamp. It can’t be heard from the room. It could be guessed from the dimming of the electric bulb’s light but john cage. Absorbed in his thoughts. And in his actions as well. It must be said. Does not notice. No. So that. Yes. John cage’s life in the hotel room is now a dearest future wife doing something bad but what at the bathroom sink. The wallpaper tears imperceptibly in the upper right corner of the room. The feeling of being the object of an experience but what kind. So that. Once a future mrs. cage has finished with the bathroom. Once a future mrs. cage. Very sexy. In a baby doll nightdress. In a baby doll nightdress. Carefully closes the bathroom door. Once the heels of the future mrs. cage circle the bed. So

(And so here john cage or his equivalent gets up from the chair or stands up, goes and turns off the lamp that has been illuminated throughout the entire experience then comes back to either sit in the chair or lie down on the ground, concluding the experience)

that. Now. The future mrs. cage. Superb. Really hot. In a baby doll nightdress. She disturbs the bed’s careful organization. The smooth sheets without a single crease. She. Yes. John cage thinks. Oui. Slides under the. Yes. Oui. Sheets. Like it was nothing. Like it was nothing. Thinks john cage. Who observes her. Without saying anything. From his sarcophagus. From the cozy nest concocted in his bed. Slides yes maybe under the sheets maybe without turning off. Without turning off. The. Yes. Bedside lamp. Unattainable. Out of john cage’s. Reach. Unless with a superhuman. Effort. On his part. By him. John cage. A man. Like anyone. Like you and me. Thinks john cage. From his black hole. From the hole he has. Like anyone. In his head. Somewhere. He thinks. Obliged as he is to get up. To leave the bed. Just to turn off. All the same. All the same. John cage will think. In old-fashioned pajamas. She exaggerates. She exaggerates. That’s all. That’s all that there is to say. That’s all there is to say about john cage. That’s all that there is to say about john cage at the hotel. About the beautiful and terrible experience. Very hot. Very sexy. Of john cage at the hotel. In 1935. In Arizona. He will specify. Nothing to add. Later. Much later. Yes.

 

 


Vincent Tholome

Photo: Jean-François Flamey

Vincent Tholomé is a Belgian writer and performer, living in Belgium, eating Belgian food, drinking Belgian drinks, but writing in French and sometimes in English. As a writer, he has published almost twenty books mixing fiction and poetry. As a performer, he works with musicians and reads his writings in a lot of countries (USA, Canada, Russia, Germany, France, Hungary, etc.). Currently, he is working on 2 CDs, 1 short movie and 2 new books. You can also hear some of his works with musicians on the net, here, for instance, or here, or here.

Alex NiemiAlex Niemi is an English teacher in Russia. You can read some of her recent work in Dusie and Banango Street. Her translation of The John Cage Experiences by Vincent Tholomé is forthcoming from Autumn Hill Books.