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BY Fyrefly

01/01 Direct Link
Water protects, I understand. Nurtures. Why else would one cross it while chased, lean an ear to it as it spills over rocks, dig knees in dry soil to ask it to fall? So I’m here. No sprites (that I can see). But a spindle. A cockle. Seven coins: those feel good in my hand, at the tips of my fingers. Cold and hard. If I thrown them up and out, do I get what I want? It’s too far to try. A coating of damp moss on stone, smooth as morning ice. Better to sit back, fold my legs.
01/02 Direct Link
Now, this one is in a newer development called Warren Hills. Lovely sunny area. Great landscaping. Co-op gardens as well.

- Sounds promising.

We’d be looking at the burrow on the end. Recently renovated.

- Good, good.

They’ve just laid down new straw, but of course you can bring in your own tufted material. So, let’s see: it offers an expansive living room and a private master bedroom below. And this burrow has a study! That’s rare.

- Oh! A bonus room.

Exactly. Could become your office.

- True. Oh, no kits nearby, right?

Um, no, nope. No kits. I checked on that.

- Great.
01/03 Direct Link
Descende audas viator, et terrestre centrum attinges.

In the shadow of Scartaris, down the throat of Sneffels, where the way will be narrow and steep, the torchlight making us lawful wraiths against the limestone: fear nothing. We will not be the first drawn down, knocking our canteens together as gongs to call ourselves to awareness. All quiet! A rivulet. An ear to the granite: a greater spring. Rough hands to the side of the passage, to the tether, to the wide belt of the forward explorer. The crevass, the pitch, the jump. We are almost at the center.

Kod feci.
01/04 Direct Link
So this kid is passing by, and he sees water coming through --

-- Yeah, coming through the hole.

Not a trickle, then.

-- No, I'd say not.

Enough force to indicate to an eight-year-old that this is something to which he must attend.

-- Certainly.

So his finger plugs that hole.

-- Yes.

And that action stops the tide, and he's stuck there. The sun sets on Holland. It's bitter cold. He's alone.

-- Sounds scary, right?

The vicar finds him in the morning.

-- Is that symbolism?

It's a warm object filling a cold space. Isothermal expansion, of a sort?

-- Just good luck, really.
01/05 Direct Link
After the house was almost cleared out, we headed down to the root cellar. Our tired feet in heavy boots scraped lines into the dirt floor. Our bare hands were stiff from the cold, colder still wrapped around the mason jars. Those were the peaches from that farm trip, she said. Remember? When Jack rolled down the slope and we all laughed? Yes. Applesauce from that long fall weekend. It's too sweet, you said. Is that blackberry jam? Yep. From those tall brambles back there, where we risked the scratches and pokes just to steal a fruit-laced teenage kiss.
01/06 Direct Link
* Hey, Leon! Over here.

Whoa! What are those?

* Spotlights, I think. Is Judy putting on a show or somethin’?

Nah, look up! We’re getting windows!

* Sweeet! Check it out. What’s that white stuff in the water up there?

--- Hello, morons.

Hey, Bernard.

--- That is not “water up there.” It is a sky full of clouds.

We never see the sky in winter.

* I am not a moron.

--- I have it on good authority that the town decided to allow ice fishing on our humble lake.

* Hey, a worm!
01/07 Direct Link
WHAT ALICE MISSED AS SHE FELL SO QUICKLY down the well that came after the rabbit-hole that came after the rabbit: a fat pot of blackberry jam, the seeds suspended like stars; a delicate Spode bone china teacup that rattled with the rush of falling air, the tiny painted bluebird appearing to fly; one of the two Carta Marinas, with its squiggle of a bright red sea serpent encircling a galleon (screams of the crew rising off the paper); a leather-bound chronicle of the debate between the Jester of Fru and the Bard of Clough over who is most talented.
01/08 Direct Link
Up against the rift sawn door, a cold plate to the cheek, lashes flutter over the cutout, the egg and dart knob bumps the forehead, a resonant baritone viscous under the door, the airy soprano through the transom window cracks (both voices the quality of a radio broadcast caught by dusty tubes on a mountainside), a turquoise flash, a hand, the twist of a curtain at an open window, storm-gray fur with the jingle of a gold license at the throat of the Bouvier des Flandres, the big-shouldered presence of percolator coffee, the key back in the hole.
01/09 Direct Link
"I'm home! Hey. Sorry I'm so late. The West Coast link wasn't working, so we were sitting in the conference room. Typical technology. So where's Sam?"

-- "Out in the yard."

"What is he doing?"

-- "Digging to China."

"Digging up the yard?"

-- "You always say he doesn't get outside enough."

"Yeah, but my garden! Wait. Who is that?"

-- "He said it's 'Mr. Hilbert from down the block.' Guy's an engineer. Gonna help Sam make the tunnel stable."

"Stable for what?"

-- "So it doesn't collapse in on him."

"What a nice man, humoring Sam."

-- "Humoring, nothing. We're in for $75 an hour."
01/10 Direct Link
– Excuse me, but I don’t understand Question 15.

Let me see if I can help. I will just get my reading glasses. “For each person listed below, write the proper ‘message in a bottle’ in fifty (50) or fewer words.” What part of that is confusing to you?

– Well, the “proper” message …

The message that each person listed here would write and stick in the proverbial bottle.

– The proverbial bottle.

Yes.

– The message.

Yes, the one message.

– The “one” message.

Yes.

– There is “one.”

Yes.

– And I am to write it.

Well, to get credit for this question, yes.
01/11 Direct Link
QUESTION 15 ANSWERS

AMELIA EARHART
We are here. An island not far off Howland. If Fred offers me one more coconut I will drown him. I set his leg a week ago, but he still follows me around. Learning to fish. Thought we heard a search plane, but we may be hallucinating. Please hurry. AE

MARIA MITCHELL
I had almost forgotten how the night sky appears without being chunked up in circles by the scope, without a lecture on a passing comet, without consideration of education. Here is the universe just for me, in silence, my own valley of stars.
01/12 Direct Link
QUESTION 15 ANSWERS

JACK KEROUAC
We are on the beach with Mary and her tight shirt and her long arms that are red and never stop moving, and Dean is panicking in that way he does when nothing is going right, and we will all be up till the sun burns like a cigarette at the top of the world.

STEPHEN KING
The boat rocked, rolled, righted itself once, then went over into the cold sea on that stormy day in the gloomy summer of 2014. The waves were as arms, carrying us forward, saving us. And so the island.
01/13 Direct Link
QUESTION 15 ANSWERS

BOB DYLAN
Sand is running through my toes/the way that time alights/The wind will carry song and word/through lonely island nights/Memories of recent days/now here to make the call/the bottle mouth accepts me/into the ocean, fall

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
First C. Then an E. E sharp. Up a third. Through the palms, don’t you hear it? Get this quickly. Two chords. Then the voices come in. A monkey? Could it be? It sounds like voices. They accompany the violins. Behind them, sotto voce. An A, to an A flat. G, then a C. Forte. Write this down.
01/14 Direct Link
I like screwing with people, making them do what I want. I had my agent insist on butterscotch pudding for the green room. Told her it calms me down, brings back memories of being a kid in Ludlow. She gave me that sideways look, eyes squinting. She hates me, but I don't care. She's the best one so far because she handles me without bitching. Sometimes on set, when we're not shooting, I watch her. When she's not on the phone she stares off. I make her tired. I call her all times of night just to make her tired.
01/15 Direct Link
You have two of everything.

-- Yes.

One thing, and then a backup thing.

-- Yes. Two. Well, at least two. In some cases I have multiples of two. Sheets, I have four sets. Drinking glasses, four. Underwear, I have eight pair.

Okay.

-- Would be silly to have only two of certain things, wouldn't it.

I don't know. I think having two of everything is silly.

-- Really?

Two staplers.

-- One might jam.

Two coffeemakers?

-- One is a two-cup. One brews a huge pot.

Do you often have many people come over at once?

-- No.

So?

-- But ... I'll never be without anything.
01/16 Direct Link
Remember how things used to be?

-- Yes.

Where did the chalk go after the eraser came?

-- Clouds.

But clouds moved. And changed. Dragons became rabbits. Became teapots. Became spoons.

-- The clouds fell and became intricate silken traps.

What did they trap?

-- All that needed resolution.

How was anything freed?

-- It was possible to memorize and then anticipate the vibration pattern. The same strand would always quiver first. That set off another, connected strand.

A prescience.

-- Not a prescience. A honed, lightning reaction.

And once freed?

-- Imperviousness.

A wall.

-- Not a wall. A stone in the river. A well-smoothed stone.
01/17 Direct Link
Le lit (Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892)

I could write a thousand pages about us, heavy with prismatic adjectives and sensual nouns, full of the music of long vowels in I and You and We and Ohhh, but what I really want in this world are the simplest of things: nearness; comfort; the beautiful full, red quilt under which we will hold off the world; my face to yours, your face to mine; that bliss-tired-after rest; hand reaching for hand; the cool blue-white of the pillow … all that has been painted for them there — peace and love and time. O endless time!
01/18 Direct Link
Warm tea. A fast shower of thick flakes. Sniffling child. Uneaten raisin bread. Crumpled tissues. Empty red plastic glass from CO. Plugged-in iPod Touch. A yearning heart. The sound of the heat coming on. Another sniffle. A bing to direct me to Facebook: my girlfriend notes the weather at her place, near where I'll travel for a movie. The click of keys as I type a comment. A call from the tire center: my car is ready. That fast? Yes. Wow. Stand. Stretch. At the window, more snow. A hand around my birthday necklace at my throat: pretty bird.
01/19 Direct Link
Good afternoon, members of the Fourth Congressional Meeting Hall of Juniper Barnes. We are almost to the cross-station, so let me describe your options when you disembark. You will see four supertrams waiting on different tracks: IF Type 1, IF Type 2, IF Type 3, and FI. Only you know where to go. Type 1: Your truth will possibly be revealed in the future found there. Type 2: You know right here, right now that you are contrary. Type 3: Even before you left for this trip, you were contrary. FI: You stand strong in your truth, without condition.
01/20 Direct Link
Everyone who is anyone has read it, that New York "Great American Novel," and everyone can talk about it in detail, especially hippies at gallery openings and the boarding-school-old-rich at the cheese table, where a clever reference is thrown out, where he fakes his understanding, because all he remembers of the book is the scene where the thick-coated retriever gets loose, jumps the stone wall, runs for the open fields, and the children cry all night, and then the next morning the dog returns, mud-caked, with a quail in its mouth, the bird's head bobbing.
01/21 Direct Link
Hey! What was that?

-- mmmph

Hey! Wake up!

-- Ow! What? What!

Yutu on four! I have a signal.

-- Whoa. Okay, wait. Where’s the sheet? Where the hell is my sheet?

Yeah, definitely a signal.

-- I can’t …

It’s under your chair.

-- Got it. Um … try it on seven first.

Seven.

-- It was dead.

Yeah, well, now it’s not.

-- Where’s Tang?

Went home. Okay. I sent it on seven.

-- How long?

Any second. There! See?

-- Hey, the camera is back on!

What is …

-- That looks like the arm.

Is it … ?

-- Yeah, I think it is. It’s waving.
01/22 Direct Link
What’s your schedule for the week?

-- I have a book signing on Tuesday night at the Barnes & Noble on 74th. Then I am on a panel Thursday night . . .

Is that the women’s issues thing or the writing conference?

-- The women’s issues.

Fun.

-- Yeah, same old debate. Then Friday I meet with my group, and this weekend I’m up at the cabin.

You’ve mentioned this “group” before, but I don’t know what that’s all about.

-- Oh, some of us who write this stuff, we get together.

For writing feedback?

-- Well, like a research group. We . . . explore plot lines.
01/23 Direct Link
CUT-UP POEM

Bring back the guest book,
the comings and goings,
pie at the ready,
this American road.
Take from us
the madness of jazz.
Feed a tradition.
Simply listen to
one year begin.
Pinpoint an afternoon,
a fireside evening,
a new summer,
a floor plan.

I'm awaiting magnetic primer,
walled off from inspiration,
spatially challenged,
up when possible,
flush with ideas,
a slim shooter
stitching the center
together with baker's twine,
silk cord, ribbon,
tucked into the bookcase,
touchable, durable,
salvaged, upholstered,
in the details, full of promise,
the bowl of the glass
cradled to protect the stem.
01/24 Direct Link
The things we must do to adapt: the amusement park ride, a quick tiptoe push to raise above the thick black line, hoping the pimply teen ticket taker doesn’t notice; a plastic bowl full of coffee, hosiery steeping under the surface, among the bits of ground bean, so eventually the nylon matches the hue of the darker flesh; phone books on the chair at the dining room table at Thanksgiving to eat with the adults; a nod of the head during the most inane conversations, the most politically incorrect discussions, to avoid a kerfuffle at the family birthday party.
01/25 Direct Link
Please, come in!

-- Sorry I couldn't get here yesterday.

That's fine. Take a seat.

-- You said something about a release?

Yes, I wanted to tell you in person that we've put together a new edition.

-- You mean a reprinting?

No ... I mean a new, uh, book.

-- But it's my autobiography. You mean there's renewed interest since I won those awards.

Certainly, yes. You've had a long and fascinating life. But we've taken the liberty of ... annotating.

-- Annotating. My life.

Yes.

-- You want me to add ...

No, we've completed it.

-- Notes on me?

Opinions, musings, even doodles.

-- By loved ones?

Mostly.
01/26 Direct Link
The Hudson River stretching underneath, rapid-fire images framed by suspension cables: the flick of a grammar school filmstrip. North River: wearing away a greater gap between us, eating the cliffs, the yielding earth; colonial-blue words break open on the Germanic shore—gisteren, morgen—fill up the Dutch girl’s footprints in the soft sand. A rhythm of force, a swell surrounding the pylons, then off to somewhere else, then to come around again. In one swallow, all of it: the silt and brine, the sour taste of barnacles, splinters from the Half Moon hull, petroleum, ink, iron from the Great Chain.
01/27 Direct Link
Next.

-- I’m here to register for The Jump.

Certainly. Can I see your form, please? Let me scan this. Okay, now, where have you decided to go?

-- Alternate 5.

Ah, yes. I liked that one. You’re going for the big change, I see.

-- I need it, yes.

BEEP. Oh, wait. Um-hmm. Aha. Says here you exist there.

-- Excuse me?

Yep. You exist. Can’t Jump there. Too risky, you know, for screwing things up.

-- I can’t believe they had me.

Hmm?

-- They didn’t want me. I’m shocked they had me somewhere else.

Says here you’re a senator there.

-- No kidding. Damn.
01/28 Direct Link
Maybe if I get a quill and ink: A split swan feather. Iron-gall ink. Maybe if I use some baking parchment or graph paper or a dry-erase battlemat. Maybe if I write out everything in Italian or experience stats or HTML code. Maybe if I use “NPC” as my signature. Maybe if I carefully sketch ninety-five panels with all my words in speech balloons and color diagrams in Adlard fashion and attach the whole packet to the house’s front door on a cold October afternoon. “Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light …”
01/29 Direct Link
The Complete, Finely Illustrated, and Carefully Translated Records of the Excruciatingly Long and, in the end, Uneventful Journey of Sylvester A. Morgenstern and His Sidekick and Trusted Doubles Partner Imelda Tess Fitzgerald, During Which They Made all Manner of Crafty Attempts to Drum Up Some Kind of Excitement for Themselves, Including Speeding, Shoplifting, Jaywalking, Peddling Wares in a Public Park Without a License, Skinny-Dipping (Sylvester Only; No Illustrations), and Disturbing the Peace, Before Returning to the Sunless and Depressing Winter of Their Native Calcedonia

CHAPTER 1

What is there to say that has not been said in the title?

Finis
01/30 Direct Link
The fire! The fire! Only take what you can carry: a first word (three letters, so short, doesn’t take much room); a dream (you brought it; it resides within); the song of the newborn blackbird struggling for seed; the deep breath taken before dialing the phone (the rapid heartbeat upon the connected line); the faint, bright scent of peonies; the glow of the yellow globe lights curving around the yard; the comforting drum of rain against window, window, window, window. Leave the buzz of the chain saw; the wail of the approaching neglected car. Leave the silence. Leave everything else.
01/31 Direct Link
Which do you prefer?

-- Excuse me?

You’re looking at Apples, right?

-- Yes.

Do you prefer the Matisse apples or the Monet apples, over there?

-- Are you a teacher?

Why?

-- That’s a teacher question.

No, I’m not. Are you a student?

-- No. Not now. And never of art.

You’re avoiding the question.

-- Yes.

Well, I can say I prefer the Monet. The heft that thick paint lends. The apples’ roundness. Firmness. The light. The shine. The implied blue.

-- I prefer the Matisse. An interesting perspective. Distinctive shapes. Real reds and yellows. Variety.

Ah. Then we’d never agree on coffee or tea.