the pain issue
Amy Bassin & Mark Blickley
Matt Logan & Emily Linstrom
[THE BODY IS WORK]
They chopped the bone that caused my blood to clot
then laid me prone: I listen through the sheet
to violin-like notes, a muffled shot,
sore silences, the doctors’ silver feet.
My nurse has left, she says she’ll seek out meds,
but minutes drag before she deigns to check.
Pain's ninja scurries rat-like to my bed;
My turn, he says and bites me in the neck.
Come back, sweet prune, and shoot him with your gun,
the temporary cure that pacifies,
the calming cat whose purring mutes and numbs,
so pain can take his well-earned break outside.
Pain and peace are see-sawed. Fast and tight,
their sniper battles wax and wane all night.
liver keeps my secret
liver bears scars
of my poor choices
liver once considered
liver relented when i changed
about my drinking
liver knows i don’t do well
liver has a jaundiced eye
on the medicine
i am aware liver is doing all liver can
our version of homeostasis
liver works harder
our relationship than i
liver would like some
liver sees doctors
for our troubles
i always forgive liver
for spewing bile
it would take me years
to find another liver
i would not immediately reject
Amy Bassin & Mark Blickley
"TERMINAL BLUE" FROM DREAM STREAMS
The Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley text based art collaboration, Dream Streams, began this past year after they read Man Ray’s memoir, Self-Portrait, and were enthralled by the Dadaist experiments that combined fine art photography with poetic texts. Their Dream Streams series utilizes imaginative language wedded to provocative photographs that expose suppressed and subliminal chimeras and fantasies while wrestling with visible and invisible layers of chaos and isolation.
(Guided meditation to heal childhood trauma)
The man on the recording
tells me I am not my wound
& I cannot fix myself. Somehow,
I must exist in a place
between the wound & the healer.
like a finger
poised to examine
I’m somewhat impressed
with this novel take
on healing trauma.
Neither blame nor absolution, no need
to Universe my way out of grief.
I am cerulean, copper
On limestone I tell
the story of
the physical body
& all the ways there are
to be sliced.
A somatic tourist; I disassociate from the map
showing only the violent terrain
of my skin & travel terra incognita, the space
A thoracic surgeon in Maspeth
explores my neck with a hollow needle.
He roots out hot cells
& places them under glass.
A yellow pinprick is the only proof I have.
Until years later I’m
covered in sweat & blankets in West Harlem.
A shaman blows tobacco smoke on my neck.
You store all your sorrow here.
Send yourself some love.
He says that everyday
I should place my hands on my throat & pray.
Wound Man was drawn to invite pain.
War medicine. Educational pathology
& everything else
is here to make a sale.
Cannot diagnose or give medical advice.
Consult a doctor before you are pierced again.
I do not know why I was drawn.
The ghost of my flesh just wants to know
Is orphan a place
on my body & if so
how will I know where.
The wound, wherever it lives
does not care
for the body or the myth.
The healer is also ambivalent.
I SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU TO THE REAL YOU WHO IS ALSO SEE-THROUGH
down to the lobster bother trapped inside your pelvis
selfish maybe to sneak a boil, to spoil your virgin shell
w/ seaweed smeared in the sewer drain's prosthetic rainfall
go call on your bevy of seven crows in Rome, phone a friend
w/ prophetic benefits—whatever they tell you will be just another
alphabetic cellulose gone septic, just another muttered ‘scalpel’
you can never stop by saying ‘uncle,’ under the ozone layer of
accepted loss, nothing indigenous isn’t brimming w/ your froth
From then on we begin each session
with two fingers
one hand with stronger grip
a glass over my eye then
draws a porch
with an awning but I
tell him it looks
like a wet spine to me
One wrist has a ghost
One wrist has a resident
refusing to make eye contact
Historically this is where I fold in half
and claw the radiator while
the boydoctor says mom will be
with my clothes
and would she like a magazine
I’ve no bra yet
so it’s easy for him
for a telltale sign
for a feathery lung
about to get unbarbed and
when that happens
no more flying
this is a teaching hospital
where the mandoctor is picking
through my hair
of fish scale
I’ve scratched my scalp raw
and I am dumb enough
to lie about it to someone taller than me
who says now walk for me
does it hurt when I
hit your knee
with this stone?
On a scale of one
the hollows in my
ball and sockets dating
the history of my sick
within a century
The sample taken
says I am more
like men than one
could ever want
The sample says
I am on my own.
throwing diagnoses: you are like vulture bone you are ochered in layers on braids you are
inedible pinking fern you are halogen light upward-faced and ruining
the sky for your poor tired mother ruining the sky for the rest of us.
writing scripts: never on an empty stomach stop taking if you swell form a thick
paste and apply you may gain ten pounds it may take two weeks let us
know if you experience any headaches then please if you feel it’s
getting worse just tell us it’s getting better bend your elbow into a
wing tuck your head under. Repeat.
BLOODLINE#1 : CHARM
BLOODLINE#2: TIME MACHINE
My “Bloodline” series is puzzling me still: such a great excuse for adding some more. I know it speaks of human connections – vertical (parents, children, ancestors) - horizontal (siblings, lovers, reflections, alter egos). Blood runs through the pieces and it gives them color. As an assemblage artist I first disassemble: I ask myself what blood is made of. What do we give when we give life? What do we receive when we are loved? I’m not sure. Those pieces play with the questions: they spread them on the wall, ask the viewer, invite other questions. They are meant to circulate - fluid, alive, open, wounded.
DREAM ROOM OF YOU
A slanting coast
blue door way
above the moving mouth
drips of hair (black birds) clip air
smudge guttering light—
fractions of pain glittering
You bend a willow tree around me—
a green nest
I steep in your voice
filling my name
WHAT PAIN WANTS
Pain wants you to put in earplugs because sounds are grating.
Pain has something urgent to tell you but forgets over and over again what it was.
Pain tells you to put your laptop in the refrigerator.
Pain runs into walls at 45-degree angles and ricochets back into the center of the room.
Pain resents being personified or anthropomorphized.
Pain is a four-dimensional person with fractal intelligence.
Pain want to be taken to an arts and crafts store.
Pain likes to start big projects and not finish them.
Pain wants to clean one countertop.
Pain asks you to break itself up into neat square segments like a chocolate bar.
Pain makes a hissing popping hum like high tension powerlines.
Pain has ambition but is utterly unfocused.
Pain will get its revenge if you ignore it but sometimes forgets what it was angry about.
Pain wants to watch a different channel than you do on t.v.
Pain looks at you with the inscrutable eyes and thin beak of an egret.
Pain stubs out the cigarette of your to-do list.
Pain will first try to do some things on that list but will end up with socks on its antlers.
Pain demands that you make eye contact with it and then sit utterly still.
Pain folds the minutes into fascinating origami constructions with its long fingers.
Pain leaves the meter running.
Pain asks you to think about the breath flowing in and out of your lungs.
Pain will ask you to do this three hundred and seven times today.
Pain does not mean any harm to you.
Pain is frustrated that it is trapped in a body that is ill-fitting for its unfolded shape.
Pain has been born in the wrong universe.
Pain is wild with grief at the discomfort it causes.
Pain wants to collect bottle caps to show you the serrated edges, which mean something it cannot explain.
Pain keeps pointing to serrated edges and scalloped patterns but cannot explain how these will unlock it.
Pain emphasizes that it is not a god, but then makes the symbol for “neighbor” over and over, and you do not understand what it means.
Pain puts its beaked head in its long-fingered wing hands in frustration and loneliness.
Pain winks at you with its dot-black eyes and tries to make the sign for “I love you."
Pain folds up its wings and legs and spindles quietly and blinks up at you when you say, “I know."
Pain understands that you cannot say “I love you” back but that there is something bigger behind “I love you” that you do not have the words for.
Pain also understands that the background to “I love you” is something like a highway.
Pain licks at its hot spots like an anxious dog.
Pain, when held in place, spirals down into drill bits, so it has to keep moving to prevent these punctures.
Pain asks you to breathe deeply so it can zing about and not get caught on the edges and corners of calendars, books, and electronic rectangles.
Pain’s favorite music is the steel drum, and its favorite flavor is fig.
Pain prefers any texture in which tiny seeds are embedded.
Pain shakes its head—no, it says, that is you that likes that texture—and will have nothing to do with spheres.
Pain wants only for you to see where it starts and you stop, but you are a transparent bubble.
Pain and its kind have waited patiently for humans to evolve into the fourth dimension but they are worried the project is failing.
Pain feels as though Earth’s gravity is as strong as Jupiter.
Pain has something metallic in its bones and is captured by the magnetic core of our hot planet.
Pain envies flesh and its soft strength and ease of movement.
Pain inhabits curved soft bodies in hopes of fluid movement and then cries when it breaks them.
Pain would like french fries and Netflix.
Matt Logan & Emily Linstrom
Artist statement from Emily Linstrom:
Amor fati is a Latin phrase that loosely translates as "love of one's fate." It was not always so. There was a time when fate was a daemon riding my back, or else an explosion of prosperity I waited for, watched out for. It was a threat, it was a promise, it was a line carved into my palm. One day I took hold of it with both hands and wrung its pretty neck: I seized and shaped it, gave it Da Vinci wings, and said "Look here, little darlin. We're in this together, until we are not. Here is what I want you to do." I cranked it up and let it fly. I will it to stay aloft.
MISS X-RAY QUEEN POSES NEXT TO HER SPINE
You want me, climb into me naked
like vampires burrow in sand
don’t forget country sliver
thick legs and knocking the ice loose
my Venus flytrap beside the witch window
my thigh break your broom.
My indoor health’s just like Queen Elizabeth’s.
I shatter my teeth on your blunt river rock
plan for fear and raw meat adorning your sanity
since I think out of body might help my poetry.
We keep to this course keep the pigs out
think I might freeze or you might cool off.
All we need is red mood your truth and my staff.
All we don’t need is your pep and steam.
It’s a small solar system.
Just scream deep revision
more pills delivered
big moon and how you hate everything.
Just tape the drain
over my mouth
and shove the plug in.
SYNONYMS FOR BROKEN IN THE KEY OF CP
after Shira Erlichman
Black, broken matches. Cold,
sweat-slick hands. Clawed
foot. Clawfoot tub.
Spasm. Botox. Baby girl.
Jewelry clasp. Payless Shoes.
Lavender oil. Fury. Daughter.
Cripple. Cripple. The first time
my name was Cripple.
Granddaughter. 5 times
drowned. Algebra. Virgin.
Sleep. Untouched. Unjump.
Hero. Overcome. “Special.”
Tailbone. Subway doors.
Help. Help me. Ugly. Clean.
Music box ballerina.
Escalator. Hudson River. Canceled plans.
Blood on tile. Prom. Can't help
Mom.“Posture!” Shoelace. Spiral
stair. Shoulders hit
“Why'd you fall?”
Premie. Hold in. Homeless man
gives my dollar back.
Dysplasia. Shut clit. Ambien
dream. Can't shit. The Louvre.
Little boy points, asks, “were you shot?”
Social (in)security. Leave before the bell.
Third rail. “Push hard.”
Secretless. Hummingbird. Headcrack.
work doll. Dropped change.
Revolving doors. Find A Cure. Saltwater.
Recess. Remedial. Honor Roll.
Alto. Placebo. Neverrun Nontouch.
Heating blanket. Pen on bedsheets.
Chair dead in snow. Stay
here. Cab fare. Story. Strapless.
Kitchen knife on first date.
January. Godless. Puke in class.
Can't even cut (it) yourself.
Confessional. Dirt eyes. American horror.
Spaghetti. Sweatpants. Bedpan. Tea burn. Dead tree. IV.
Callus. Drool. Post-op. “Relax your—!”
Human. Cute. Flightless.
Sick. Gifted. Inspiration. Fish
eyes litter the Lower East Sidewalk. Walk.
Neverrun. Stillness. Spill. Different. Too much truth.
Issue Eleven Contributors
Amy Bassin is a fine arts photographer and video artist. Her 2015-16 publishing credits include F-Stop Photography Magazine, Columbia Journal of Literature and Art, Mudfish and Three Rooms Press’ Dada anthology, Maintenance. Her text-based art collaboration, Dream Streams, was featured as an art installation at the 5th Annual NYC Poetry Festival. Photographs from her series, “Selfie Fictions” were exhibited last month at BronxArt Space. She is co-founder of the international artist collective, Urban Dialogues.
Mark Blickley is a widely published and produced author. His most recent book is Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press) and his most recent play, Beauty Knows No Pain, premiered November at NYC’s 13th Street Repertory Company. Real Realism: An Art Manifesto for the Disenchanted has been published this year in Great Britain and the U.S. and is currently being translated into Dutch. Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center.
Meg Cowen's first poetry collection, Elastic Shriek Machine, is forthcoming in 2016 from Knut House Press. Some of her recent work has appeared (or will soon appear) in DIAGRAM, MISTRESS, VECTOR Press, Whiskey Island and PANK. She is the founding editor of Pith.
Angela Dawn's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Least Bittern Books, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Red Paint Hill, and The Fem. Originally from Richmond, VA, Angela currently writes, knits, and volunteers near her home in the South Bronx, where she lives with her partner and two cats. You will also find her tending to chickens at the cooperative chicken coop near her home and dancing in clubs without bottle service in Manhattan. Read more at https://angeladawnpoetry.wordpress.com.
Karen George, author of Into the Heartland (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Inner Passage (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Swim Your WayBack (Dos Madres Press, 2014), The Seed of Me (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and forthcoming The Fire Circle (Blue Lyra Press, 2016), has work published in Naugatuck River Review, Adirondack Review, Louisville Review, Memoir, and Still. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters, and is fiction editor of the journal Waypoints. Visit her website at http://karenlgeorge.snack.ws/.
Cris Harris teaches writing and experiential education at an independent school outside of Cleveland, OH. His essays have recently appeared in The Flexible Persona and Alice Blue Review, and his poetry has appeared in Skylark Review and New South. His chapbookSuperposition was a finalist for the 2015 Epiphany chapbook contest.
Sonya Huber is the author of two books of creative nonfiction, Opa Nobody (2008) and Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir (2010), and a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers (2011). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, and other journals. She teaches at Fairfield University and directs Fairfield’s Low-Residency MFA Program.
Jessie Janeshek's full-length book of poems is Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010). Her chapbook Rah-Rah Nostalgia is forthcoming from dancing girl press. An Assistant Professor of English and the Director of Writing at Bethany College, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. She co-edited the literary anthology Outscape: Writings on Fences and Frontiers (KWG Press, 2008). You can read more of her poetry at jessiejaneshek.net.
Dylan Krieger is a river nymph of a thousand nightmares in south Louisiana. She lives in a little cottage with a catfish and her demons and sunlights as a trade mag editor. Her first book,Giving Godhead, won LSU’s Robert Penn Warren Award in 2015. Poems from its pages have appeared or are forthcoming in So and So, Deluge,Juked, Art Nouveau, TENDE RLOIN, Smoking Glue Gun, and Small Po[r]tions. Find her at www.dylankrieger.com.
Emily Linstrom is a NYC-based artist. Her writing and photography have been featured by/in Three Rooms Press, Rose Red Review, Project Naked, Eunoia Review, American Slander, Nailed Magazine, The Literary Bohemian, Misfit Magazine and Yes, Poetry, as October's featured poet. She is currently first prize winner of Pulp Literature Press's 2015 The Raven short story contest. A burlesque & sideshow veteran, she has eaten fire and walked on glass for the likes of Cirque du Soleil, The Slipper Room, Brooklyn Circus Co., New York Fashion Week, The Bowery Poetry Club, and various short film installations and music videos. Find Emily on the web at http://emilylinstrom.tumblr.com/
Matthew Logan is a cellist, photographer, composer, writer, and producer of rock/baroque hybrids. Living and working in NYC, his latest projects include a song cycle for cello quartet, explorations in vintage film photography, and a series of short stories entitled Children of the Massacre. He performs regularly as a soloist, and as cellist in Colorform. His photography has been presented at exhibitions and online. Visit Matthew on the web at www.createdbymattlogan.com.
Liv Mammone is an editor and poet from Long Island, New York; where she lives with her parents, brother, family of feral cats, and geriatric dachshund. Her poetry has appeared in Wordgathering, Wicked Banshee, The Medical Journal of Australia, and QDA: a Queer, Disabled Anthology. As part of Union Square Slam, she is the third visibly disabled poet ever to place as a finalist for a national slam.
A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy lives on semi-rural property that must be mowed quite often, located 30 miles from Tampa, surrounded by thewild animals of Central Florida, most of them mosquitoes. She received her masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature at Polk State College and has published poetry in Right Hand Pointing, Straight Forward, ScreamOnlineanthology (forthcoming), Helen: A Literary Journal (forthcoming), The Thought Erotic, and a number of other journals.
Toti O'Brien’s mixed media work has been exhibited in group and solo shows—in the US and Europe—since 1994. She has illustrated two children's books and two memoirs. She has contributed illustrations to Colorado Boulevard, Like a Girl, Six Little Things, Hystrio, and Speechless, among other journals. Visit Toti on the web at http://totihan.net/artist.html.
Katherine [Kat] Seidemann is a Seattle poet, mixed-genre writer, and visual artist with an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington Bothell. Kat’s interests include confounding genres, the page-as-art, transmedia narratives, and explorations of identity and/or memory through creative documentation. Her visual work has been shown at Shift Gallery and included in the 2015 Art of the City Street Fest. Winner of the Marcia Barton Award for Poetry in 2008, Kat’s work has since been published in the Licton SpringsReview, Clamor, Keep Poetry Alive International, and in collaboration with other projects.