Niki Korth in conversation with Kiki North

from the chapbook SPLIT FRAME (February 2014)

II: IS A NARRATIVE A HOUSE

4 hours later, Niki and Kiki move on to discover a new work – Omer Gal’s Naked Cave (2013; 3 Channel Video Loop, 15:29)

K: I am satisfied with my reflections on the nature of consciousness as represented in the pink feather duster. Let us now move on to the next piece.

N: Very well.

K: There are three screens here – and they are all producing different sounds. How do I know what to look at and what to listen to? Would it be easier if I had the pink feather duster?

N: Well, I don’t think that pink feather dusters have an inherent ability to help a person make decisions about how to distribute their attention span. But if you build some kind of symbolic power into what a feather duster means to you, what powers it harbors – then it might help you. But to answer your question – there’s no right and wrong thing to pay attention to. You should just… I don’t know, relax and see what attracts your interest.

K: Very well. Okay. I see a tent-like structure, which seems to be made of some kind of plastic, perhaps? It is a translucent compound – and I see a human figure costumed to appear like a wolf, a man, a woman, a hooded violinist, a female. Oh, yes, who is this woman?

N: The violinist captures your attention?

K: Yes… this violinist is an especially captivating character. Is she a muse, or a narrator? I cannot tell. She seems to be a character in her own right within the narrative of this piece, but also serves as a guide of sorts, almost like the master of a dream…

N: Yea, the narrative dimension of this piece is really interesting to me too – especially because the videos all play on loops, which intersect at different points depending on when you begin watching. Thus the narrative is like a repetitive and perpetual cycle, which to me seems more in line with the way that life is actually experienced, in contrast to the “closed totality” of most narrative works, particularly those with a clear “beginning” and “end” point (those that one watches in a single sitting).

K: Yes, I believe the violinist is the master of this so-called cyclical narrative.

N: Do you think that all narratives require a master?

K: I did not say that. But I do believe that the violinist is the master of the particular narrative we are discussing. I came across the expression “the one who pulls the strings,” and understand that it refers to the person who controls a particular operation – but somewhat invisibly, or in the background. I relate this idea to this violin player who does not pull the strings as much as she rubs strings against one another, according to a specific system, in order to produce vibrations that produce melodic sounds. But here it is both her sounds and her image that command the story.

N: Yea… And the woman playing the violin, or should I say, the woman playing the woman playing the violin, is also the hooded woman – there, who appears there with the wolf man.

K: She is the one who was feeding the wolf man? Or at least putting those objects that resemble food into his mouth. I remember they appeared as if they were made out of fabric of some sort… Can humans eat fabric? I had assumed that they cannot – and I actually conducted research on wolves recently, so I understand them to be carnivores, and thusly conclude that they do not consume fabric. Or are there some fabrics in fact made of meat?

Steffi Drewes

from the chapbook MAGNETIC FOREST (December 2013)

More Math In Trees

to arrive at a place where letters are leaves and roots become

arrows and each path pertains to the exact place we started from

no harm in holding up that antenna to match the constellations

every new listening takes you one step closer or farther from sleep

the child wound the red wire around and around her soft fingertip

until it pulsed bluish purple there, that’s how to measure the days

having sipped long and hard at history try and come up with a single

number that expresses the difference between any two memories

no more questions about weathervanes or where I came from

before I became an uncertain howl in the heating register

rendered unstuck by a song that stalks you note by ravishing night

mutates bright branching you too radio tower you too silver circuit

when we see other people sandtrapped or suddenly jackknifed

the urge to look hard or look away but what if I drew a diagram

remember the distance from safe to sorrow is 2 the distance

from fear to sun is 3 the distance from history to home is also 3

spied a perfect elk in the rearview mirror even with the earth

opening up you fixed on those antlers what wide-eyed anthems

Chloé Veylit

from the chapbook GO THERE (November 2013)

the thoughtful bridge

we are stuck on the moon. put there and left there.

the other one says, craters are big and dark, look like mouths
and teeth. I say, Don’t be stupid.

always colder. we call collect back home. climb
out the well for antlers and bubblegum. give comfortable the slip.

how long do you think Mom’s going to keep us here?

light is a big flat disc.  would you like another?
the air goes to my head.
I watch the craters for signs

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

that volcano is a woman who wears her hair around her neck. her body fuses to the liquid heat, runs downhill. her eyes engulf the basin, roam the villages and smoke. her tongue leaps and whips. when she lulls, she softens, beams palm-sized. now, she likes blouse buttons, small fossils, worries her husband, the iguana

under the ocean the iguana’s tail circles the bottom of the world. he says, right like wildflowers, children, I’ve missed you dearly. rivers run from his fingers, flood the whole surface.

we watch people shimmer through crystal to find your shell we still don’t understand these stringy marbles so like old growth we become the plain ground keep like sea bottoms dirty sneakers loose change

Maisha Z. Johnson

WATCH A VIDEO FROM THIS READING

from the chapbook SPLIT EARS (September 2013)

From My Own Mouth

i’m trying to make up a story for this kid,

thinking it’ll be easy,

thinking i’m not going to be one to tell her

some tired, old tale about a distressed damsel

who’s ripping at the seams until a prince

comes to stitch her up, because she’ll find out

soon enough that it’s her who’s got to do

her own stitching up,

when the rabbit dashes by for the first time.

he’s so quick, he seems spun of silver thread,

light glancing off his haunches as he passes.

the kid’s too busy to see anything

except my hands waving, sculpting

the story from air. she’s pressing me for details—

such rapid requests she makes—so i wheeze them out,

tell her, the queen’s traveling on a horse,

so she asks, what kind of horse?

tell her, a brown horse,

so she asks, but what size?

tell her, a big, big horse,

so she asks, but what shape?

and i’m wondering if there’s any other shape

besides a horse-like shape,

start to describe the animal in ovals.

soon, i might pause to hear how silly i sound,

but i see the rabbit first.

this time, not in glimmers of light,

but in shimmering shadow.

the plaits of his fur etch his outline like cracks in paint,

and his grimace might be a smile,

since he chuckles with the thick rasp of a cough.

the kid’s still looking at me.

my hands land on her shoulders,

and i turn her to see him.

she’s not mine, but i’ve seen how parents do.

i lean down, nuzzle her afro with my chin, and point.

look! who’s that?

 

it’s Br’er Rabbit, she says,

and she says it without a flinch,

so my muscles recoil for her.

this creature, Br’er Rabbit?

perhaps he could be, only he has no plum nose,

like i recall, and he has no oval eyes,

and in place of his joy-kissed round mouth,

he’s got a hole, lined with broken teeth

and always open, as if an explosion

burst through him after silence slept too long.

from my own mouth, details fall,

about a black queen

with hair as puffy as dandelions,

and tree trunk-sturdy thighs urging forward

a bronze horse the shape of thunder clouds.

now, she can see what i’m talking about.

under the watch of the rabbit’s haunting eyes,

the kid’s questions are clear – she wants

me to unleash the sounds of all the shapes,

before somebody hushes them up.

Christopher Reiger

WATCH A VIDEO FROM THIS READING

from the chapbook SNAPSHOTS FROM HOME GROUND (August 2013)

Solstice

Born shortly after the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice, on one of the year’s darkest days, I’m accustomed to quiet, contemplative birthdays, and my thirtieth was no exception.

After waking, I drove a short distance from my parents’ house to a place where I’d several days before noticed a deer carcass dumped in a roadside ditch. The rib cage had been picked clean by scavengers and, despite the chilly, wet weather, ants and other insects had completely emptied the eye sockets. Two of the animal’s legs were torn away, gnawed on, and some distance from the rest of the remains.

My choice of subject intrigued the few motorists that passed. Their cars slowed to a crawl as they peered through rain-streaked windows, concerned eyes moving from the rotting mass of flesh, fur, and bone to me, hunched over my draped camera in the cold drizzle. Hoping to allay any misgivings, I smiled cheerfully and waved.

Later, in fading afternoon light, I stood on the home dock and surveyed the marsh and estuary while my father plucked and gutted three mourning dove he shot in a friend’s field. The air was humid and chilly. I held open a plastic shopping bag and my father deposited the cleaned bodies of the little birds, one after the other. Some crows called from the southwest, and an impressive flight of black ducks passed overhead on squeaky wings.