the very very important shoe

the very very important shoe

the very very important shoe

 

the very very important shoe

she tried to give me the shoe several times.

i thought it was because i had lent her some money and she felt bad about it. she said the shoe had been appraised for something like $5,000.00.  she said that if she died she wanted me to keep the shoe. don’t let anyone take it from you, she said.

the problem was, i loved her. the problem was, i did not love the shoe. i did not want to talk about the shoe, because i did not want to talk about her dying.

i also knew the shoe’s history. to whom it had been given, and who had done the giving. there were things about the shoe that only she and i knew. there was a time when i wanted everyone to know that history. times she and i had fought over the telling and the not telling. she was older than me. she knew that sometimes it is better to hold an ugly thing tight and close, and in this way, defeat it.

when she died, it took me a whole day to drive down out of the mountains to reach her home. when i arrived, my brother had the shoe on a chain around his neck. the first thing he did was remove it from his neck and hang it around mine. she wanted you to have this, he said.

it takes a lot of paperwork and phone calls and trash bags and coffee when someone dies: even when they are a rugged individualist and often say fuck the government, and really want to leave the planet in as simple a way as possible. still, that’s not what happens.

my brother and i drove around together for a couple of weeks, picking up and dropping off pieces of paper. once it was mostly settled, i figured it was time to head home, back up into the woods.

when i got there, my answering machine was blinking. one of the messages was from the original owner of the shoe. i hadn’t spoken to her in about 20 years. all she said was, where’s the shoe? then she said her phone number and hung up.

i pulled the shoe out of my shirt, where it still hung on the chain, next to the metal tag from my mother’s box of ashes. following her final orders, we had thrown her in the lake. i wanted to throw the shoe in the lake too, but it didn’t seem fair. she had left it for me to decide what would become its history.

i thought about giving the shoe to my brother to sell for the money, but then I’d have to tell him why. i’m not good at lying. i’m not good at keeping secrets.  i thought about the destructive nature of certain truths. i found that i had fought for the truth as if it were a thing that could do no harm.

i pulled off my boot and my sock. i slid the shoe off its chain and onto my foot. it was far too small, though i jammed my toes in as far as they would go. even with the buckle undone, the strap did not reach anywhere near my ankle.  it was a kitten heel with fake sapphires and rubies and topaz and amethysts and emeralds glued all over its gold lamé surface. it was a godawful shoe, but you can’t choose the vessel of a story any more than you can choose what happens to you, or to the people you love, who die and leave you holding the shoe.

just then, i knew exactly what to do. i opened the back door and flung the shoe as hard as i could. i was aiming for the creek at the bottom of a small ravine that runs behind my house. let the water and rocks wear it down until it’s beautiful. let it disintegrate. let it be forgotten, i thought.

unfortunately, i threw it too hard. it flew over the ravine and bounced up the slope on the other side, landing squarely heel-down and toe-forward on a tree stump where it was framed by my kitchen window. its fake jewels glittered in the sun.

the whole situation reminded me of other shoes i’d read about. cement shoes that dragged down the people that wore them. shoes that made people dance until they went mad. shoes that wouldn’t allow themselves to be removed. shoes that transported the wearer home, or away from home, depending. shoes that led people to lost love. shoes that tripped the wearer just as they were about to outrun the monster.

that night, it rained. i kept looking out the window to see if the shoe was still there, hoping it would be washed away, but in the illuminations of the lightning, it would appear, glimmering. i was going to have to go out in the morning and get it and bring it back. i should have known it would not be so easy, that a simple, decisive act could not release me. the next time the original owner of the shoe called, i would have to lie. i’d have to keep the monster with me, in order to keep everyone else safe.

i woke to the sound of the phone ringing.  it was the original owner of the shoe. did you find it? i’m sure it was somewhere amongst her things, my grandmother asked. i looked out the window. the shoe was no longer on the stump. i stood to get a better look. the ground around the stump was empty… just some animal tracks in the mud.

Well? she said.

I told her the truth.

I have no idea where that shoe is, I said.

 

lj moore performing “wrecked” at quiet lightning litquake show

lj moore performing “wrecked” at quiet lightning litquake show

San Francisco, California
October 19, 2012
236 days until Arctic Circle journey

photo by Sean Gabriel McClellandOn October 8, 2012 I was given the honor of performing “wrecked,” a piece from digital gothic, my book in progress, at the Quiet Lightning Litquake show inside the conservatory of flowers alongside an amazing group of readers. Please check out the video, and if you’d like to read along, here is the text.

If you don’t know about Quiet Lightning, now is my chance to tell you about a literary rennaissance that is taking place in San Francisco. Quiet Lightning is a monthly reading series with an uncommon format: submission is free, entries are always judged blind (meaning new writers and estabished writers all have equal opportunity to be accepted, because the judging is based on the merit of the work and not the name on it), and here’s the amazing part: all of the accepted work for each month’s show is published in a book, Sparkle & Blink, featuring cover art by a local artist. These books are available at the corresponding show, so the writers get published, and the audience can read along and take home a copy of the amazingness they have just experienced.

If that weren’t enough, the format of the reading is also unique: each reader gets 5 minutes. No banter and no introductions are allowed. It is a literary “mix tape” where the focus is not on the writers, but on the writing itself. Judging by the growing popularity and dedicated base of returning fans of this reading series, this format works.

Quiet Lightning is driven by volunteers, and brings new voices and new visions to the ears of new audiences. For new writers, getting your work seen and heard is nearly impossible (and expensive!). The norm in literary publishing today is contest and fee-based. Very few magazines can afford the staff to fairly evaluate submissions, so unless they are tied to a university, or are helmed by a trust-fund heir, many have resorted to only accepting submissions when they offer a contest, which usually costs $15 to $25 to enter. Most literary journals are also extremely specialized, so matching your work to their described aesthetic can feel like throwing spaghetti at the ceiling.

Getting your work heard can be equally intimidating and demoralizing: many reading series are based on a “featured” reader format with an open mic afterward. People come to see the headliner, and then either leave, or stay to chat while the open mic readers try to make themselves heard. It’s hard enough to get up there in front of everyone, but when it feels like no one gives a shit… well that’s just shitty.

Quiet Lightning’s answer to this has been a genius idea straight from the heart: offer a fair judging process, publish the writers, and give them a chance to be heard in person. And do this every month. The generosity of everyone involved is mind-blowing. And so is the work you are going to hear when you check it out for yourself.

And if you can’t come in person? Every show is recorded and shared FREE online. So if you live in Svalbard, or Oakland, or Detroit, or Amsterdam, or wherever you hail from, come hang out in San Francisco and hear what we’re writing about.

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 7- the dangling yarn)

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 7- the dangling yarn)

Part 7: the dangling yarn. Playlist: [Playlist: Glitch Mob, A Dream Within a Dream]

tell the day we’re nowhere bound
by way of what was lost between
cross-threaded time like some machine
that eats its end to grow its tale;

with one last day to chase that sound
to gaze behind the weary night
to feel my wings like phantom sight
to fly to die to flash to sail;

tell the night we’re winding down
on one last shore a wreck to find;
tell the wind we’re lost behind
the warp the woof  the weft the veil

and breathed it in          and screamed it out
and burst apart             and still you cling
and so you rise             and now you sky
and sea                         and light

and turn and flap
and flick and fly
and cry and bite

and gasp

and twist and thrash with claws and beak
what prize is this, what drowning gift
I’ve hooked upon our sounding line
and rescued from the nick of death

or has it baited  us      to call us back
to arid dreams             themselves a sea
this bird as birdlike as our sailless hulk
was once upon a breeze          a ship

a young-old man with blazing hair
cradles the snarl of rope and flesh
fixes     in his fog-smoke eye
the two dark answers blinking back

a nearly drowned and naked bird
with ragged holes where wings should be?
what sorry work was made of thee
what crude and grim interpretation
of subtler songs as shift and slip

just as gruff voice                      and grizzled beard
mismatch his freckled young man’s face
itself at odds with the scar that winds
a white territory-border that divides
a blinded eye from one that sees

and stares and glares
and squints      and swears
and hears the poet’s
murdering gears!         authoress!

he barks

t’was you who nearly killed the bird
that made the breeze to blow
who stripped our sails and stopped the wind
who chewed off  wings and swallowed word
and snuffed the growing of the world

his words carry, bell-like           bending
round the mast

and aether-dragging
downward through the knotholed decks

a cry dopplering to groan          and all that’s massy

with his dropping pitch
yields up its phase

gone see-through          while
the things of sound and air
exchange their ghostly lightness

for a standing wave

which slaps and rolls into the lungs and hearts
of all the dreamers within reach

and rattles guts and tuning forks their bones

and draws us up                       up                                                                    to answer

by scruff, or snout, or belly
whether live or dead
dreamt or dreamer

both and neither

including me

dragged full-bodied
from the cubbyhole of never never mind
to feel the hot-nosed press against my legs
hooves and toes            callus-padded claws
trampling my feet

awash in the crowded waft
of badger mean

and mousy meek and
mutty cringe and
mantis strange               and all of equal brute and wit

until the woodwork sags beneath
a brindled crew of dark and light

all staring up into my face

all half-starved for
naught but an age of
phantom cat’s paws batting at
our stays          while we drift unmoored
asleep

the deep end of dream
that’s where I am

she thinks

she thinks
wait     wait

yes       the point of view has changed
the lines no longer yours
to weave and splice                                           .

no no   I’ve seen the spiders
spinning meaning as they go
I just report
I just   

                                                                                   
read from left to right or up to down
cast  spells        borrow others’ works
steal the sun and claim to have invented light?

no  no
follow the dream
follow the birds that showed me the gate                   

                                                                                    birds. birds? there were two

yes
one was blind and made of song

                                                                                    a black flame

            the other
she followed the lure

no        girl       no
you

called thought and memory from their fog
then let them fly apart

we would not be speaking now
if you hadn’t stolen through the wall

told time a new dream
unanchored death from his wreck

stripped thought of flight
and put the flame of memory out


hang no albatross around my neck!
how can I kill immortal birds?

these are merely words            and
I tell waking time by

looking where she points her hands
like any other mortal who keeps watch

                                    but in dream

                                    we are merely open sails
that catch        and      ride                                                     
and so reveal
her movement

                        which neither starts nor ends
but is with storm         with cloud                  

                                                with force                               

                                                                                               

of salve or speed                                                                     in breeze or gale
in draft or squall                                                                     lingers or appears
punishes by tempest                or                                                         devastates

with endless calm                                 

or mutters dry leaves              in not-quite-words
then shrieks  in the eaves       

                                                                                                and you               eavesdrop
                                                                                                                          thief

stories insist
as does sleep               hell, I’m dreaming now!

your voice is just another tale  demanding
listen!              translate!

botched. garbled

only partly heard         through shifting walls!


those muffled gifts
in astral language
so crystalline in the grasp of dream
common into mud in the grip of word

and what makes it back into the wake
must still survive a silent roar
electric thoughts connected
fingertip to fingertip               mind to mind
voices pass

                        through tables             walls               my bones
a pseudonoise that circumscribes

a maelstrom of sameness
one shrieking pitch      that equalizes
decapitation         hunger             sex       lost babies
I cannot find my bearings
in a wind that blows all pitches at once
from all directions                 

            my sail is ink
where I invent nothing  and sail nowhere
when anyone can tap
a glowing word on a screen
and transport to another world
awake              without a dream

dream is nothing
symbols in a book          at worst
a simple cipher for the little darknesses we fear
a puppet stage on which we practice dying
or at best

fly        escape             forget               become unreal
so tell me

how can I steal anything of value
from a lie

girl, girl when will you learn
there is no practice        only life

and dream is not escape or lie

have you ever tried to stay awake?
until delirium removes the sense

and dream invades                                                                  it is true            death is real

you will die

the only thing immortal is the tale
and tale is wind

you are             the sail              the bird
and word is all       the wind is

cast the nets!

he shouts
stumbling aft toward the hatch
to the watching crew he says 

find her!

and presses flat against the helm
as nose and tooth        dive madly in a ball of fur
through scupperholes into the bilge

or labor sloth-by-sloth into the yards
while one dog, overwhelmed
goes dervishing around the deck

the ship goes quiet      as all the rest
answer and depart to crawl and trawl
and home                    and scent and sense  and search

all but a hawk that lights upon the starboard rail
and a soft gray toad emerging from the binnacle

will you also help?

he asks
but the hawk has already plunged
into the greening waves

and the toad climbs skyward into secret crevices
that vein the air in silver fire

cradling the weightless bird
he locks his damaged eye on mine

you, poet…
come below

read part 8

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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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Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 1- a magic circle)

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 1- a magic circle)

Part 1: a magic circle.  [Playlist: Opiou: King Prawn]

 

you will naturally go on

in a spinning foreign language nevertheless bone-deeply understood by all:

to begin:                       put the needle on the record

that anything is separate from anything else is a necessary illusion of distance:

time is harnessed by singing a long line               into a thumbprint-tight spiral

voices set free by rotation and a diamond

what witchcraft what relics:

the future is rife with ciphers                  wil o’ wisp light on broken code

how you are you and I am a nearby groove

oscillating off into analog           into a dry ice fog

from the eye of the gyre     we are playback phases of the same tune

offset by πr2                  thirty three and a third               so that every few turns we sing in stereo

then decay into rounds

every few hours the moon slams up                   the sun skanks down

you will mosh                            then pogo

asking what kind of fidelity a future holds

that’s re-engineered  to reel out from center

how when you let go                 the stylus will proceed on it’s own

across the format war

broadcasting the noise in your fingerprints                      the skin fragment hiss

that bump of light that should always rewaken us

when the tone arm lifts and swings back to silence

 

read part 2

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