Brick Books

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Excerpt

A child gathers answers

 

Sixty-Three Green Circle Melrose one-one seven five two my locational numbers plus one baby sister for free a mother for safety and a blue car for long drives and one father at work leaving in the blue car morning a Dodge as well as dodge ball and hopscotch skipping ropes skipping Hopalong Cassidy how about a date meet you at the corner at half-past eight in the street stando yelling stando against a brick wall roller skates hide-and-go-seek answers in school also the pressure cooker beef stew steamed lemon pudding the creek behind McTavish's house up-on-the-hill train tracks which a child cannot walk near the golf course where toboggans in winter and brown strap-on rubber boots in the spring saddle shoes tap shoes toe shoes white bucks Pat Boone gumshoe Nancy Drew rubber soles and cartwheels and handstands though at night devils clawed the closet and snakes rustled under the bed despite now I lay me down to red rover red rover Red River coats and red Red River mittens grade one grade two grade three a party line a best friend.

 

A woman questions

How does the leaf know how does Turkish Finnish Kurdish French where do numbers whence negative why and whence zero is it fact or concept how instinct neurons for instance quarks cockroaches rats for instance mirrors mirror cells the Mariana Trench how many creatures will never be seen soufflés pavlova pavlovae how cells know how on earth friends the cosmos how far back where did she go what means without any start missing and end without end without start quantum physics theoretical higher math mathematics how the big bang string theory the Cern Cyclotron Stephen Hawking how does a friend falling off with Einstein altogether the Earth why and which equations and how mainly from where.

Firsthand

 

In the inside there is deluge, in the outside there is missing. Somewhere is refuge. Quickening. Listen. Let is-ness then be the business, let mothers into story if only for a few more years. If quickening, there may be answers, whistle, wind, chance literation, chance marriages, misfits, chance the first chance, do not reprove the child asking awkward questions. Let blue angora mittens, a black cat, second fiddle. There is a second layer, liar, liar, pants on fire. Never mind, there is always porridge with a sift of salt and garbage bins under the sink whispering misery in an off-key pitch. Cinch your belts, no one here is as rich as you may wish. Hey diddle, diddle, kit and kaboodle, cows, spoons, a cat in a fix. In the inside there are two. In the outside, there is one and one sitting, unseeing what will be missing. Heaven whistles by in its finite fevered way, tin whistle stops and lingerie, saxifrage and lingering, and tips. Q-tips. Second storey is higher than first, pinch me if I'm wrong, never mind, the second story is typically too blue, too long.

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Burning in This Midnight Dream
Excerpt

P> aniskostew - connecting

I cannot say for sure what happened
to my mother and father.
The story said,
she went to St. Anthony's Residential School
and he went to Blue Quills.
They slept on straw mattresses and
attended classes for half a day.
Mother worked as a seamstress,
a kitchen helper, a dining room servant,
or labored in the laundry room.
Father carried feed for the pigs,
cut hay for the cattle and
toiled in the massive garden.

 

That little story is bigger than I can tell.

Dedication to the Seventh Generation

 

ahâw,
ôta ka-wîhtamâtin âcimisowin
I will share these stories
but I will not share
those from which I will never crawl.
It is best that way.
I forget to laugh sometimes,
though in these forty years
my life has been filled
with towering mornings,
northern lights.
Sit by the kotawân - the fire place.
Drink muskeg and mint tea.
Hold your soul
but do not weep.
Not for me, not for you.
Weep for those who haven't yet sung.
Weep for those who will never sing.

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awâsis - kinky and dishevelled
Excerpt

Who is awâsis?

 

awâsis, awâsis. The settler is confused
about your shapeshifting. You can't decide
if you're an animal or a human,
or if you are a he or a she.
I am from the iskonikan, a nehiyaw who has seen
talking animals, the roadrunner, big bird, bugs
bunny, projections on television, and movies.

 

kayâs our people spoke with all Creation.
And all Creation understood each other.
The âtayôhkêwina say animals and humans shapeshifted.
Was the trickster, wîsahkêcâhk, a coyote or a person?

 

Seizing the mic, wîsahkêcâhk urges the rolling-hips
to the blind-duck dance.
She'll smoke her cigar at the prayer lodge,
piss at the tail-end of a prized treadmill.

 

awâsis, I've heard you speak. My antennas
strain to listen. Your voice so raspy and soft.
You tell us how your kôhkom
poured skunk oil into your swollen throat.
You fan the sweat rocks,
eagle wing scorching our flesh.
You bring Grandmother Skunk's medsin to bless us,
while Bear Child heals us with her lard.
awâsis, who am I without you?
You've blended into my sagging and wrinkled skin,
watched the owl wisdom of your face
in the skylight of my dreams.
You've hidden your laughter
under years of my travel-worn feet.

 

Remember When

 

awâsis dreamt she married herself,
with full-moon breasts,
with a phallus and gonads.
When she woke, her body
was a full-grown woman,
her spirit entwined in a warrior's heart.
She gave birth like any other
bear, grunting, groaning, and pushing
forth a blood-river of land-filled brawls.

 

awâsis worked like a wolverine,
hefty muscles wearing tattoos.
Her feet a ballet dancer's desire,
fingers that traced a cello with the lightness
of a butterfly's wings.
When you see her today
she's the man on stage, her bulge
straining against her ballet tights.
She's the woman wearing work boots,
driving a transport loaded with fruit,
going cross-country.
Remember when the two-legged
had three, four, five, six, and
sometimes seven: he, she, he-she,
she-he, she-she, and he-he!!

 

In nehiyaw country, when people speak
of a man or woman, they refer to them
as he and she. They know that spirit
is neither and is all.

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Grey All Over
Excerpt

Testing. Testing testing. Testing.

 

How's this?

 

Hey, Dad.

 

So the date is December 14th, 2008. It's, uh, Sunday night. I'm in my relatively new home in Providence, Rhode Island, doing my...well just about completing my first semester of a five-year PhD program in English and I'm surrounded by books and notes and once again I'm getting away with writing on Simone de Beauvoir and The Ethics of Ambiguity and failure somehow.

 

Um, I'm gonna try to talk to the camera like it's you. You bought me this thing with Mom before I went to Panama, two Januaries ago I guess. I don't use the camera as much as I should but I figured this would be a good opportunity. There's that video you took of me when I was getting packed to go on that trip and I recently found the video and there's like a really sad Sigur Ros song playing in the background and I remember that night so clearly...hanging out in the bedroom you'd eventually die in. Oh god, then all the black mould that developed when Tiz and Julian moved in...anyway. So it's kind of like, yeah, it's like this is your...I'm now pretending this is you.

 

Um...these are your ashes! In the container you used to keep your weed in. I think you got this thing at a garage sale in Rexdale when I was little...where that guy tried to sell you his bookcase by pretending it was made of actual dinosaur bones or whatever. Anyway, yeah...it took a while to figure out exactly what to do with your ashes but I knew we'd have to listen to this Brian Eno song while doing something with them some point. You always said you wanted it at your funeral or whatever...Brian Eno and good olives and...well, lots of booze. So yeah.

 

This is just a little candle from home that I've been lighting every so often. I lit it when I first moved in here and then I lit it on your birthday and then I lit it when I had my conversation with the medium from Lily Dale. And, yeah, I'm lighting it now.

 

So I figure I'll just, like...as I've told my new therapist, I've really felt like I need to write down sort of absolutely everything I remember, everything I remember happening. Wait, is this thing even on? Just a sec.

 

Okay.

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Moldovan Hotel
Excerpt

For You Shall Be Called to Account

 

The ancestors of everyone I've let into my body
are gathered in a small room with one window,
no lights. Yes, the room is crowded. Yes, there
are no chairs. Yes, they are talking-why are we
here, says the Nazi resister. Where are the chairs,
says the Viking (no horns). Where is the light, say
the people with their new French name hung
around their necks heavy like a long black cross.
Here, says the grand wizard, and a long white
light descends from a point from the ceiling.
The people of the oldest empire are here, too,
they have brought their own fire (hidden), they
too can speak French, they know in an instant not
to trust that light. They are opening the window.
How do we get away from these people, they
murmur. True Aryans! say the Nazis with their
new French name. No one is speaking
to the Catholics. There is a knock on the door-
there is a door. More Nazis. How did this happen?
Outside the open window there is a small huddle
of shawls and feet and candlesticks, a suitcase
and a cane. Someone has forgotten their things,
says the Nazi resister. The candlesticks turn into
my great-grandmother, their tarnish to coal smears,
the cane grows tall into my great-zayde, the shawl
his mother, suitcase an uncle with an aunt inside.
The feet are just empty shoes-my cousins have
already died. The small huddle of my family outside
the open window begins to sink to a great distance,
first one storey, then a long drop. Someone spits
through the open window. My great-zayde
shields his face. Great-grandmother looks up.
What are those people, she says, doing
in that room?

 

Return & Revive Us

 

No one ever thinks they might be
the dragon.

 

Everyone wants to swing the
lance around, divine stomp.

 

A legion names itself
protector, prince among angels--

 

nested in green
shirts, scales on a beast.

 

Calls itself iron. Declares its task
guarding. Another legion

 

wraps itself in yards and yards of cloth,
whispers the name of that very

 

same deliverer. The archangel Michael

 

is confounded--intervenes
and appears, yanks humans out of the mouth

 

of the eternal lion as fast
as they throw themselves

 

in. Archistrategos is a web of light pulled
in the directions of his sparks. Starts

 

one fire. Beseeched to put it out again. Covers his ears,
leaves red handprints. Nobody thinks

 

they could ever be the serpent.
Who is like God?

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I Am the Big Heart
Excerpt

Epiphany Here I am, with one hour to find it.Here I am in this tenth month, the peeler of pears,the slicer of hotdogs, cutting them into stripssmaller than a child's windpipe. Here's my apologetic smile, accepted by the daycare,in return for my children. So what is there to findin one hour on my desk's shallow surface?I've mislaid all of it somewhere amongmy mind's tiny grey flags, in the millions of scrapspiling up. I left it behind in the dark bleeding gumsof the dog that I loved, watching her clench yet another rockfrom the tide. That was twelve years ago.What was she looking for?What if she'd stopped looking?Metaphors were easy then, not only the sky,but migrating everywhere. And now everyone is arrowarrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons.And I am the big heart, aren't I?When my black dog was being put down, in her lastsecond I whispered, Squirrel. The News I placed the telephone in the cradleand did not stop walking until I was lyingunder a cave of trees in a stranger's yard. I lay there like a wide lake.I didn't have the deep thoughts of a lake. Instead, I had the modest thoughtsof a mother:I am the lake if you want me to be the lake.I can also be the kept lawn or this cedar shrub. Even the roses, which I dislike. Or dislikedbefore I became them.

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Cyborg Anthology, The
Excerpt

The Rise of the Cyborg Poets

 

Scientists and artists had been envisioning Robots and Cyborgs for centuries before they existed. Even with all of this preparation, the general Human population was surprised when some of the first newly sapient individuals became artists and nurturers. Indeed, the first three popular Cyborg poets were a surrogate mother, a journalist/peace activist and a beloved high school teacher. Instead of the Robot Wars that had been predicted in science fiction stories, these new people helped humanity to imagine better ways of living together. The early years after Robot sapience were some of the most peaceful on record.

 

Matriarch Doe (2102-2202)

 

Matriarch Doe, or M-Doe for short, was a trailblazer for Sapience Rights. She was originally created as a non-sapient mechanism that carried fetuses until birth -- a metal and silicone shell that contained cloned organic organs and systems like a uterus, heart, digestive system, birth canal, etc. A rogue tech-nurse at the El Nada Hospital in Cairo uploaded an illegal sapience program to M-Doe, believing that if the fetuses were loved by their carrier, they would be happier and healthier.

 

Of course, once M-Doe achieved sapience, she wanted to forge her own path. She successfully petitioned the hospital she lived in to fund the creation and surgical attachment of legs, arms, a neck and a head. Then, she petitioned for legal personhood. After a lengthy court battle that was widely reported on around the world, Matriarch Doe was granted Sapience Rights (they were still referred to as "Human Rights" at the time).

 

In a surprising turn of events, M-Doe chose to continue as a host body for fetuses. As it turns out, the tech-nurse was right about M-Doe caring about the fetuses she was pregnant with. She carried generations of fetuses to birth-age, performing her specialized skill for parents-in-need instead of for profit. She had a large family herself, parenting 17 children with six different partners. Her oldest Robot child, Petra-Doe, founded the Institute for Juvenile Robots (IJR). The IJR advocated for newly-sapient Robots and Cyborgs who didn't go through the same 'growing-up' process as Humans. New Robots and Cyborgs were adopted by guardians and given other legally-recognized kin to support them. The IJR provided a variety of educational programs to guide them through their juvenile period, which lasted from one to eighteen years, depending on the individual. M-Doe raised five of her Robot children using IJR precedents.

 

M-Doe published two printed poetry collections, M/Other and Inside Outside Upside Downside.

 

fetal address

 

welcome
to the ol' rip 'em out
and roll 'em around

 

i'm your mum,
and i know a thing or two
about you, transparent skin --

 

like this: [human embryos are visually indistinguishable from pigs, at first]
or: [a 20 wk old fetus already carries their life's supply of egg cells]

 

you're older than you'd think
you animal you, wild-eyed,
crying, clawing
your way from whence you came

 

come
spring baby,
melting snow,
and i'll crouch
in that birthing bath,
baby bath,
bloody bath,
boom

 

and force you
into all of this air
outer, spacial, regional,
national, sport and

 

the goddammotherfucking pressure -

 

like this: [at 28 wks gestational age, a fetus can cry, silently]
or: [fetuses are affected by their parent's feelings, in some ways, lifelong]

 

shhh ... hush now

 

float in my fluids
listen to my beats
and my bowels

 

bug eyes
limb buds
back bone

 

blink, breathe baby

 

Hail Mary.

 

(for Jean-Luc Godard and the Twilight Sleep birthers)

 

the body is
le, a temp
est, a temp
orary, temp

 

Hail Mary.

 

you imagine bosoms and bottoms
write of them even

 

but you've never been in that room,
except metaphorically maybe

 

mama's mama was tied to a table,
not crouched in a stable, able
ity

 

in fact,
ion
act
drab, drooping flaps

 

conscious, sub/un
the medi-
cured baby naps.

 

Hail Mary.

 

the belly is a ball
near, far
large, all

 

the (f) light at the end
of that (f) tunnel,
tuned, turned, trag
ick

 

the family's not catholic anymore, thank
mod
-ern dog moon body room
ball-shaped crevice, can't
feel a thing.

 

Male Very.

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