Saturday, April 19, 2008

If all the world was made of paper.

Mary Ruefle read at the museum of printing history last night. Other than the incredible printing process to witness there, Ruelfe (pronounced Rue full, without the connotation) denoted a speaking style and reading of straightforwardness, simultaneously aware of the process, audience, and the interplay of text. The almost seamless result allowed for the world to be for a moment, be made of paper. The discursive sway of the poems at times encouraged laughter, encouraged then prohibited laughter at others. Making direct and prolonged eye contact with the audience, she spoke with the guile of a performer, entering the back corner of the room prior to the reading, adjusting then approving the track lighting around the room.

Talking to Strangers

Do you see sun spots? A strong, terrible love where
there isn't any? A demoiselle crane talking to a lama
duck? Very interesting, but there's nothing in it.
Some people take electric roses and plant them in a field
to bring the field down to earth.
There's nothing wrong with that. Put down your book.
Look at me when I talk to you. I'm the oxygen mask
that comes dangling down in a plane.
I'm here to help you be garrulous.
I'm not interested in your family--not your mother,
father, brother, sister, son, daughter, lover or
dog. In France, they used to kill themselves if
a dinner party went wrong. That's a great idea.
Are you interested in orphan-types who turn out
to be kings, or kings who come to nothing?
What's the difference between watching and looking?
Doff your garb. I'm sorry, but the loggerhead turtles
off the Carolina coast are leaving for Africa tonight.
Would you like an ice cold pear instead?
Walking into the store is like entering
the delicate refrain of a Christmas poem.
What more could you want? Siddhartha said
someone who brushes against you in the street
has shared an experience with you for five hundred lives.
Can bottles bobbing on the open seabe said to move at all?

Friday, April 18, 2008


This is something I wanted to try out:


How do you tell if a guy is gay?
What's the difference between a gay guy and a refrigerator?
How do you know you're at a gay picnic?
How do you know you're at a gay church?

After a night of fag sex,
Bob wakes up for work,
goes into the kitchen
only to find his boyfriend jerking off
into a Ziplock bag.
What are you doing? Bob asks.

How many fags does it take to rape a girl?
How do faggots get into college?
What happens if you get on a bus full of fags?
What do you call a fag in a wheelchair?
What do you call a fag in jail?

This faggot goes to the doctor
and asks him to test him for AIDS.
A week later he goes back
and the doctor confirms his worst fears -
the tests showed positive.
The fag is destroyed.
He breaks down and begs the doctor
to prescribe him something,
anything, that will help.

What does AIDS stand for?
What's the first symptom of AIDS?
Why is AIDS a miracle?

How much cum can a faggot hold?
How many fags does it take to keep a fire burning?
How do you make a faggot scream twice?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Look straight into the camera."

The Khemr Rouge in Cambodia established a secret detention facility at an abandoned local high school in Tuol Sleng, codenamed S-21. Party members accused of treason were sent there for a photograph, interview, interrogation and hand-written confession. Of the more than 14,000 prisoners - men, women, children - only seven survived.

Nhem Ein, the son of a farmer, joined the Khemr Rouge at the age of ten. At the age of fifteen he was sent to be trained as a photographer, filmmaker and cartographer. By sixteen he was named head photographer for Tuol Sleng, a job which consisted entirely of documenting the prisoners.

When a new prisoner was brought to Tuol Sleng, he was always blindfolded. He was placed in a chair (which was never used during torture, only for portraits) before the blindfold was removed. This was the prisoner's first sighting of Tuol Sleng: a slender sixteen-year-old boy standing in front of a camera repeating only one sentence and answering no questions.

Often prisoners were brought in truckloads, chained or roped together at the ankles; sometimes alone. A number was pinned on each prisoner, one boy's number pinned to his chest. But the numbers meant less than they seem to now and probably, imaginably, seemed to then because they were recycled every twelve hours. The numbers were only a consequence of circumstance. Twenty-four meant only chance. One, for instance, meant really nothing.

This was an identification photograph.

And also an identification of cognition. Tuol Sleng was a prison built to root out enemies from within the party's own ranks. The torturers sent to be tortured. And since photographs of the interrogators were also taken, the same person may be present on either side of the table, and only a few days apart.

The Interrogators:

Nhem Ein, along with others, looted homes and shops in search of photographic equipment. He choose large format 21 inch film because it was the most abundant.

7,000 negatives were found in a metal box on the second floor of the main building in the mid 1990's. Many were covered in mildew to the point of disintegration, but not all.

The remaining photographs cover a 3 year, 8 month, 20 day time period. The 78 printed images are now, and have been, part of a traveling exhibition and also the interior of a gray cloth bound book. But the most violent images, of which there are but few, are not included in either collection. A selection of highly excerpted yearbook photographs dusted off and placed on a brass table.

To shoot his photograph now, Nhem Ein charges $300 an hour but can be argued down to $50. In his wallet he carries a photograph of himself taken by an assistant photographer at Tuol Sleng.

Monday, April 14, 2008



at a distance enough to dodge
my windmilling arms and free leg
and steeped my dangling nakedness
in the stagnant pool.
I still remember the tension
on the surface like skin
on a cold kettle of soup.
It crept up my body slow,
penetrating the fleecy strands
of my blond hair, sliding
down my forehead and eyelids,
seeping through the slit
pressed between my lips.
The taste was like the water
had gone rotten, a dead sourness
leaking into my nostrils
and down the back of my throat
until I gagged and sputtered.
And the whole time, his hand
cinched around my thin leg
tight, the involuntary power
of an animal. Like an animal,
all I could do was squirm for air.
I thrust my head toward the surface
but he held me too deep
so I swung my arms back and forth
through the gummy water, reaching
for the invisible bottom beyond
the swirling sediment and shadows
and dull white protrusions
I figured must have been bones.
I would swim myself free
and settle in this swamp,
grow gills or die or whatever.
I didn't feel anything change
even after I went slack
and he yanked me out
and dropped me in the reeds.
If he offered some second-hand
apology or explanation, well,
I couldn't hear it through the slime
blocking up my ear canals,
trickling out like blood.
I rubbed the muck and grit and salt
from my eyes to see the bruise
left right above my foot,
gray and green and violet and dun.
It hurt so bad I couldn't stand.
I couldn't do much more than stare
into the misty horizon
and watch him, facing away,
a squat silhouette scratching its head
like it forgot something.

The News

Arda Collins

At last, terror has arrived.
Next door, the house has gone up in flames.
A woman runs fro mthe burning wreck, her face smeared
with blood and ashes. She screams that her children are kidnapped.
It's truly exciting, and what more would anyone ask?
For a rare and beautiful egg to present itself in the grass?
For sex with the liquor store owner to progress into something
You don't know what I've done in front of the mirror.
I've pulled my shorts up high like a thong. I've walked back and forth
doing little kicks and making faces. I've stopped, I've stared.
I try to et my mind around the sight of myself. I make a face.
Of great seriousness. I imagine that I've just recieved
a large and upsetting piece of news. Then I look into my eyes.
Can I guess what I am thinking? Can I tell you what it is?