Announcing my new book of illustrated flash fiction: small, fierce things

Announcing my new book of illustrated flash fiction: small, fierce things

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Dear Readers,
In February of last year, we brought you news of our friend LJ Moore’s limited handmade chapbook small, fierce things, a project we fell in love with from the beginning for its sheer transportive magic. For the last eighteen months, LJ has been working to expand the collection’s stories and drawings. It’s complete now, and we are thrilled to bring you the re-release of this extraordinary work. Although it’s now printed and bound through conventional technologies (not hand-stitched by the writer herself with fishing net she collected above the Arctic Circle, like the original), we think its magic and grace remain intact. Here’s the copy from the website:
“This collection by LJ Moore exhibits a writer/artist in deep communication – with the natural world, with dreams, with her friends and family, with legends and folklore, with her craft, with her own subconscious. She creates startling and unprecedented connections among these entities, tying them together, conflating them, blurring boundaries and exploring overlaps. The result of this collection – forty-five drawings and some two dozen stories (they’re hard to count, with they way they move around, and sometimes mimic other things) – is an overwhelming feeling of synthesis, of unity, of a primordial oneness in which we all exist together. Here she gives us the freedom to delineate things in any way our imaginations deem necessary, so long as we promise to come back and tell our stories.”
the bird-shaped hole (excerpt)
she had always felt the bird-shaped hole. sometimes, after waking from certain dreams, it felt as if it had been filled. in these dreams she flew inside the bird, looking out its eyes, neither becoming absolutely the bird nor remaining wholly herself, riding as a welcome stowaway in a body whose dimensions were both right and strange. the owner of the wings and claws was aware of her presence, yet made no objection. together, they followed the wind’s suggestions, flexing and extending each remex and rectrix to barrel-roll between buildings, noting the astonished faces behind windows, and the neck-bobbing scatter of startled pigeons.
LJ Moore’s poetry, essays, short fiction, reviews, and photography have appeared in a number of publications, including Fourteen Hills, Limestone, Jacket, Publishers Weekly, Rain Taxi, Kalliope, Transfer, Instant City, Litseen, We Still Like, Artsmith, The Chiron Review, The Bold Italic, Sparkle&Blink, Enizagam, and forthcoming in 100WordStory. Her 2008 book, F-Stein, tells the story of family through pop culture, science, and the paranormal in the form of a replicating strand of DNA.
LJ Moore was a 2010 writer-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts, and completed a residency with The Arctic Circle, sailing on a tall ship around the archipelago of Svalbard with a group of artists during twenty-four-hour daylight. With Invisible City Audio Tours, she curated and narrated an audio tour of the gold rush-era ships buried under downtown San Francisco. She lives happily with two trained rats and a photographer.
– The Achiote Press team.
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Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 2- waking the dead)

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 2- waking the dead)

Part 2: waking the dead.  [Playlist: Bassnectar, Timestretch (West Coast Lo Fi Remix)]

 

dear magician              take a lesson from the raven:
you bear the dead with you everywhere

you needn’t plant a stone
you needn’t carve up your arms

the scent of her lost cologne is trapped in your coils
his good sweat whuffs up from inside the jacket of form

the longer you travel                  the more backseat drivers                     the more
histories                                                take a lesson from the raven:

who wrests blood feathers from the meat of memory
and from dead weight               soars on hollow bones

transforming the dead into the neutral buoyancy of everywhen
and getting totally high off the overlapping particulars:

raven street view is a see-through                      into each and every room
in your haunted mansion:

here a girl who wore thigh-high docs
she nicknamed bum kickers came to
live in a railroad flat above a dim set
of stairs above the lucky horseshoe
coffee shop: her room was 5 X 12
but the 12 was vertical

one of many hidden pockets beneath
the skirts of the painted lady, a space
at once a fainting room, a walk-in closet
knicknack storage, the last hitching post
for a boy who rode his horse dead to rights
right through the ceiling, leaving his body
(which could not sneak between the lattice
of matter) rucked amongst the dirty sheets

a source of much distress to the landlord
who dead reckons his 400 crusts a month
from the holey pockets of dreamers who’ve
stumbled or washed up or clawed their way
back from the dead toward phoenix city out
of the head-scramble of the fog, to find

a non-euclidean punk-rock wardrobe to
a dimension where whole teams of mules
along with their carts, whole brigs and barques can disappear beneath the mud and still go on sailing beneath the feet of bankers the layers of concrete no tomb but super conductor of a vessel that flickers from
form to form between frames

now a seagoing vessel
now a cable car

now a wave organ built of

grave markers (because
this place has no room
[no room!] for what is
not able or willing to

be caught dead yet

keep up jump in hold on
the light rail doors are
closing the destroyer must
navigate precisely on

the right tide to eke

its massy bulk beneath
the bridge [a gate])

into and out of a narnia that smells to some
like an odorless cala lily and to others like
dead men’s shoes                      but to most
like a dry-erase marker, a neuromantic sting
at the back of the throat like mourning

smokes on a piss-splashed stoop
[our painted lady’s boots] where
a 24-year-old perfectly willing to
be caught dead will moniker himself
bucky or goon or emperor and languishes
[behind blackout curtains] [in the saloon]
while supplying snow/liquor/gold dust/
lattes/codexes to his kingdom of the dead

you can pay later but sit on his lap for awhile because
playing dead is a full-time occupation and brutal beauty
reigns forever in this garret: bread from dumpsters
peanut butter on plastic knives duct-taped shoes
stump-footed pigeons   sharpie hearts and daggers
inked in permanent marker on the thirsty skin

the inhabitants of the rooms forget
they are inside its rooms peering into
little rectangles of other buildings to
other rooms into           lcd boxes of
varying sizes all day which give the
illusion that they are not inside a room

which is the soul of mistaking dead time
for something dead                   for being
dead wrong about what’s always going to be
dead ahead

wait now          where’s the raven our conductress
it’s so easy to get lost

when one thing slides so neatly into the nest       when
years elapse while we’re in the air

just navigating the jamb from one
room to the next and meanwhile
the lucky horseshoe has burned and
all those walls where the dead were

letter     ringer    certain
doornail              dodo
neck up and waist down
in the water spit of and cut
broke and buried
easy drunk        gorgeous
rolling over

well it’s a dead giveaway:
they’ve knocked ‘em dead and
reopened as a wine bar

raven   where’s the chicken exit?
the lamp post in the snowy wood
get me out of these chambers or at least
meet me halfway with a psychic map

I’m dead serious

dear magician this is not a beanstalk
it’s a metallic breath                  bitter aspirin under the tongue    it’s a room so small
you can stand in the middle

and touch five of its six futures

it’s an open window the blind soul can’t find
hovering, transparent, on updrafts

as it bumps the ceiling                           and ricochets the walls
it’s your work ahead of you

which starts at what everybody takes to be the dead end
and is really

a nimble climb up a pilfered ladder

straight up and out of sight

 

read part 3
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Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 6- wrecked)

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 6- wrecked)

Part 6: wrecked: [Playlist: Atha, Voices in the Stratosphere]

adrift

in deathsleep

      in skycavern

          a ship

unfolds from deepest black:

femur masts bear
ulna spars lashed crosswise by glistening coils
festooned in ragged dregs of cloth that
sleek and luff in silent draughts

she sails
illumined by a pale blue flame
that dyes the shrouds:

aurora borealis
a solar wind aglow in death collisions
of magnetic dust

or                     noctiluca scintillans
a host of tiny animals
whose lantern organs light a liquid night:

scouts, drawn to your
foundering  pings

in the crow’s nest the vampire squid
flash their photophores
ghost crabs go barber-poling deckwards
and all that was camouflaged as wreck                  inhales
a swim sac full of brine                                               a fleshy embrace

of cuttlefish and eels
disguised as slack tatters                                          fatten

into a living interlocked rigging
propelling this vessel on dissolved wind

         billows of squidink

boil to port and starboard                       swarms of ice-blue pinpoint animals
churn in a wake of unhinged stars:

a sorcerer stands behind the fiddlehead
on his shoulder
an anglerfish casts

her glowing yellow lure
into the blackness

hung to

reel you back from        wandering the
nowhere in your nothing

the sorcerer

         reaches with both hands to fold your wings against your chest
and gathers you into his coat
into a soft nest built amongst his empty ribs

 

            heed the yarn             he says
but mind the toothy maw
behind the watchlight                        

in answer

the mizzen topsail                      uncloaks:
a giant manta    kites in slow spirals downward through the forestays

to offer             a wide white ventral surface
onto which the anglerfish aims her lure:

5          4          3          2          1
projects                        and then

fade in through murk:
the sea floor      empty               featureless

a stirring in the foreground
clouds of sediment        rise into a bed of swollen pulp
mounding, shivering into                        deadfall backwarding

                    into half-digested hulk
right-angles drawn in pale, lifeless crusts

of brainworm and gooseneck                seafan skeletons
a graveyard of hard reminders adhering                         into ship shape

a scaffold on which now burgeons an undeathing:
decks unsplinter            cracked halves of hull
swing to like a closing clamshell             cohering into seamless ellipse

two horizontal lines appear in the debris
bulked degree by degree by aggregating matter

until masts abloom in algal furs
lever upward into perpendicular bonds

and spars condense from drifts of silt
javelining true                            to crosstrees and yards
decked out in a bunting of wilted jelly

that rallies into orange anemones, violet nudibranchs,
soft life hungered forth from bones

a palace of innocence
recomposed of her route reversing

filter-feeders vomiting gusts of gorge
great fish coughing chunks of fins and scales

which implode to live silvery streaks
and spasm off into the choke

of eel grasses full lush then battening down and reefing in
and       on        and on  and                                less and less

until a trapped whisper
a mayday cry

                  appears from above
a bubble descending toward the wreck
shrinking as it speeds

              to the empty throat of that
lost wax lodge of bones
the sorcerer emerging from his drowning

                               his barren hand casting
from the pocket of his seaworm-eaten coat
a sodden mess congealing into tightly creased papers
from which unknots a twine garland

that reeves itself through the cathead
and steeves the groaning timbers of the bowsprit

             and the wreck begins to lift
answering the pull of rumor

on an anchor line reeling upward

one trembling string
one spider silk
one sounding line
one thread of tale

the yarn that always dangles:

               (we are deep-shifted now
spun into the spiral of music

               gone gate crashing with ravens

                                          shuffled our coil
on a deathtrip
stripped to
a stray signal
picked up by ghost ship
rescued
by death itself

             who builds a nest
of an empty chest
and makes of us
a heart

 

together we mind the toothy maw
projected by the light of a lure
on a manta belly
the flick in which all present company
myself included
star
)

says death, our sorcerer

just as the last frame sticks and rips
and the projection on the manta’s belly  flips     flips      flips

with a sound like something being wound up:

a pocket watch                        a music box
a windlass                                 weighing-in the bower
a bird’s heart                            racing in a ribbed locker

with each click and beat a glossy black feather is plucked
from your body and sucked straight up his windpipe

erupting from his mouth             and promptly swallowed
by the waiting anglerfish                        who smiles smiles

it’s all above board                  death says
watching the thing                  yet trapped in the watch
until
you arrived                      my windfall

he unfolds one of those crisp papers clutched in his fist
holds it tight to his chest so you can read:

When lost or unsure of your position, ships shall release a caged crow.
The crow will fly straight towards the nearest land, thus giving the
vessel some sort of a navigational fix.
         

 

come, lend me your wings death says
and lets go his charts
casting himself                  overboard

the waveson treasures of his hold
spill up toward the light:

pearls worn down to grains of sand
gemstones roughing back to rocks

glass bottles burst to living dust
a great shudder wracks the strake                     treenails squeal free of the ship’s planks
and the hull distintegrates in spinning trunnels

among the dreck           his cap             his coat
his skull          and two femurs              form, briefly
a waving jolly roger

lost from view as the ribcage sinks                     with you inside
every last feather tornadoed loose

that damned anglerfish following behind
and gulping down everything

until with a harsh shake and a push
she grasps the cage itself
and cracks you loose
bites off each of your plucked wings
and glutted, sinks slowly:
a shrinking yellow glow in the undernight

            what’s left of the ship                             pitchpoles                           and breaks apart

leaving a wake

of fractured ribs

a wrecked raven

and a choice:

the dangling yarn


the sinking lure

back to table of contents

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 5- a candle)

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 5- a candle)

Part 5: a candle. [Playlist: Virtual Boy: Mass]

 

you’ve seen where dreams end up:

in the foyer on a polished credenza               in a jar marked kosher
for everyone to admire at parties             the contents naked, shriveled,
obscenely meaty

late at night after the card games
you hear the adults sneak into the hall

the scrape of the lid unscrewing

the muffled sounds of hunched gorging

you barricade yourself behind your bedroom door
light several devotional candles from the dollar store
and conjure the real thing:

he steps out of the wall poster
and makes himself at home        taking the form of a rock angel or
that boy you met at the busstop or the school friend who can’t put two words together

tonight he’s nick cave
you discuss a way to address the problem:

he says             the cleaners are coming, one by one
you don’t even want to let them start

and you say      I believe in some kind of path
that we can walk down, me and you

so with tiny slits on the meat of the thumb
fleshed out with lyrics and candle flames
sugar water collected under the tongue

deals written in nail polish  folded in tight triangles
on college ruled paper
the same song on repeat                        11,       12,       2am

you call the live dreams down from the scrim

ghost riding it in                                                             you’re not sure it’s going to work
then

the walls shift,   the stairwell creaks
the roof shakes shingles free of its eaves

you grab for nick’s hand                        but you palm right through his wave
he shrugs back into the paneling                        just as the jambs vault the lintels

above your head in the crawlspace
you hear the mice panic

from the window you watch                 beams snap free of rafters       the house stretches                                first one long wing

and then the other

nails squeal                   mortar crumbles
pipes pop loose like tuning forks
the attic belches bats and owls

the floors groans          the house crouches
and launches

you’re airborne

your window screen blows out
followed by the window

you rise, rise                        clinging to the sill through the first awkward flaps
there’ll be bruises on your elbows from the g force

streetlights shrink
cold air flattens and whips your hair

your block                    your street        your town
shrink to toys    to blurs                             the house glides            soars

dipping to one side              and then the other
floorboards casting a hatched shadow through the moonpath

there are other houses                   here and there other conjurers
transfixed at their bedroom windows
faces transformed

your house flocks with the other houses
together they swing west

far below, the oil refinery         a black dragon with long nostrils capped by venting flames
is chewing its rear leg free of a retaining wall:

several freeway overpasses and a section of tunnel
kite past               the wind howling over their lips and mouths

out over the water now
you see the lighthouses dive and submerge
playing in the surf around the feet of the bridge

and that’s when you hear the music
feel it first, really, vibrating your lungs:

it is the houses sailing the length of the bridge
dragging their wingtips along the suspension cables

you catch the gaze of a girl in a basement window
dear friend
                  her eyes say                                          welcome

 

read part 6

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Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 3- gate crashing)

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 3- gate crashing)

On her eyelashes the fog brings you trembling mercury…”
-The Fog,
Carlos V. Suárez

Part 3: Gate Crashing:[Playlist: ibenji: Seems]

 

it all starts with an itch               that inward look:
then a twist and counter

the speed of oscillation varies with distance from the center of the creature but
the body already knows how to get to other worlds

close your eyes if you must        but trust
the break          follow the wobble                     it’s a flywheel in your pocket

timing the path of intersection with the already turning
to converge and merge and                               merry-go-flung

the motion always invisible at onset                    but you feel it coming
deep inside an internal tissue

a supermassive formation collapsing into a relativistic star
please               don’t stop                     cracking the excitable cells in the dragon’s tail

until the spike train rolls
with great speed and oscillating friction

from the mouths of voltage-gated channels
and you erupt across the threshold of the rapidly expanding pattern:

                       

I can’t tell you, dear sorcerer, what your path to the gates will look like:
all internal language is a secret working             

but hang tight in that crawlspace
the worst of the ride is reaching cruising speed

and I can send some guides:

            (in the mean time)

enter scarab glittering
on iridescent wings, towing

by fine filaments grasped in hindmost legs
an intricately woven cobweb banner that reads

up and down one column at a time
as well as across, from left to right:

“contrasting” viewpoints on your journey divide prominent philosophers:

Sir Isaac Newton’s view is a time to give                     and a time to dance as other “times” persist,
this view becomes a time to mourn                              effectively killing time at the time of death
and a time to die
  is part of the fundamental                embrace like frames of a film strip, a spread structure of time to plant  time to uproot                        across neither future event nor plucked thing
what is planted:
a dimension in which events             sewn then grown  (non-discrete, Immeasurable) occur as objects in a sequence a birth                         a container one could step in or out of but
a silence kept    a together lost     a wasted                   search, give up, tear apart, kill, weep, love, hate laugh (that’s Leibniz, Kant) the transport                       time itself an idea certainly but not a thing
a fundamental structure                                                     travel-able as thought

(and on a second banner, clinging to the first
via some dust bunnies and a chain of bluish laundry lint:)

                        Travel:

to go from one place to another, as on a trip; journey;
to go from place to place as a salesperson or agent;
to be transmitted, as light or sound; move or pass;
to advance or proceed;
to go about in the company of a particular group; associate: (travels in wealthy circles);
to move along a course, as in a groove;
to admit of being transported without loss of quality (some wines travel poorly);
Informal:
to move swiftly;
Basketball:
to walk or run illegally while holding the ball;

the second “l” in the word ball is festooned with busily stitching spiders,
as the passage of time cannot be directly perceived as it happens

but must be re-membered to exist
unendingly given arms   and legs
and breathed:

(from trembling drops
spun into vibrating strings)

whose loose ends                                 are lashed and threaded
spliced into the meanwhile by your guides

who have arrived
traveling on the fingertips of the fog

the ravens of Point Conception and Point Reyes:

one has wings contrapted of hollow reeds
lashed to his body by a harness of syntonic commas
every wingbeat a major or minor                       every dive a glissando
subtle shifts in his primary flight feathers give rise to the dissonance of angels
the melodies of monsters

blind, he glides along the chain link fence of         now
dragging his wingtips against the diamonded stutter
knowing where he is by the tone of his harmonics

and by the heat signature of his partner:

        she is a blue-black fire
urgent and reckless  and easily distracted
condensing the immediate in her hot smell
of dirty underfeathers and contagious desires

   made visible as the virga her wingtips cast:                  black beams slicing triangular seams of      now bounded by darkness

but admitting a light that illuminates

points further on:

you are a shadow strung between these shadows
cast through fog  (the fog of which you’re made,
the fine-flung particles on which you’re hung)

a medium through which you will learn to gate crash
to give in to scatter

to understand that piano notes unfurling from the banks of folds and whorls
the waifish threnody of thin and distant notes

can open in a vast and clammy throat from which no lighthouse lamp or lens or flame
can cast a plumb line

only a flux         a flex    a blur of synthesis of sense
the tap of one feather against the next

and against nearby wingtips
will unlock the braille of entrance
from the sea smoke:

(in this instance)

 the Iron Horse

 rears clear of the haar and fret gripped thick amid her ribs
(those harpstrings the dream houses pluck on nightly flights)

the blood orange foramen of her double spine:
windows squaring this world with the next

her vermillion scapula and hip caught mid-gallop
the movement of her form so slow as to appear a solid

rostrum thrust forward and tail to ground
her belly stretches taut to guard

cargo ships climbing down the ocean’s edge
tugboats and sabots yaw around her fetlocks

forged of ashes         she waits of course to rise from ashes
staring down into her mare’s nest

past the surface shadow
across which hot life skims into and out of living commerce
to the bluer pulse that breathes below                the echo current of what was and still is

a tide of tall ships          spilling their bones at the hem of california’s skirts        hemorrhaging their riches
of flea-bitten, half-starved hopes

dispersed and drifting in and out through their mistresses’ unlaced eyelets
the silky clacking of all that’s left of this influx                 currents      tides

a sea change of ash pearls collecting in the divots and channels

beneath waves of intolerable golden itches swathed
in layer upon layer of alternating hopes and madnesses

hard little nuggets lodged in the surrounding softness
dug free and sluiced                  measured in dust on scales

cast into ornaments and promise rings now clattering loose         on the bare knuckles
of the not-so-long dead                         in long forgotten graves

beneath the golf course             the library                     the museum
hugging the plumbing                    sailing slow in vessels rarefied by rotting

what remains after flesh and bone and memory have long since dispersed?
a sussurence that lures the jumpers

the risk to all who perform this alchemy:            a mercury         a gorgeous poison
slipping perpetually

back and forth between home and Land’s End: a transistor
the precious metal points of  contact through which pass
travelers                       worldly and otherwise

                                                                        drawn irresistibly to edges

whether by expansion or collapse
big bang or whimper or barbaric yawp              whether by dream or death

it’s all the same unmapped certainty
so you can bunker down and be taken by force

                                                or follow the ravens
who stretch their black fingertips to build up drag and static
then clasp their wings tight to slip the quicksilver light

and dive beak first into the dirt

read part 4

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