Vol. 1 Issue 4
Joyelle McSweeney
Airlines (excerpt from Flet, a sci-fi novella)
The black scarf knotted at her nape plots a green epidemic on her skull. The black skiff
skirts a knotty sea, a needle in mourning weeds, a razor-edged reed, a toothed fish: a
decision in motion. Not me yet. Whipping of the foam of the sea: a fate or a fait
accompli. Who wants to be drawn out. Who would want to wear this crown. Poised on
the crest, down in the flood, rests in the pit, hurled up. Aurora dolorealis, spider writing,
green vernal ink, dawning branch. Scrawl from which I’ll never rise up. I’m down now, I
lie in the graphite dust. Burning, the atmosphere snags and the child’s writing lights like a
fuse. These are the Russian-made night-vision goggles that were his eyes. These are the
slick children’s vitamins that reflect light but don’t produce it. Coin in the hand. Coin on
the eye. Twist of bread. Coin in the mouth. A child’s braid. The wisps pull lose in the
photo on the grave. The milktooth in the clay. The skull glares back, drinks the day into
its channels of vision. A big-veined valley empties sightless amid the hills of the hand. A
future written in roods, routes, in roads on the bottom of the lake. And now the future
silts closed with dust from the bit-factory. Waste water shuttling with industrial gems. To
drink it scrapes the throat: to become raw and written on. It makes a surface inside. Cone
of flowers in the hand, untwisting. Stitch dropped. Rotting flowers sickling the halls,
revolting aptness. Hose it down. Everything drains away to become unreadable.
Somewhere the purest water lies where everything has come undone, reduced past its
separable elements. But not yet. Insufferable catalog: Nose cone of the shuttle. Fishbones
sunk in the rows to swim the spent soil black. Choke fish turning mammal. Fin turning
manual. Refuse fish. Man turning mamma. Mad dog barking at her capsule-horizon, it
comes back constantly, hypo-fangs glinting with light thrown by the various satellites.
Thrones natural, manmade. Mother’s milk, simulacrum. Saliva way, milk way, lymph
way, pleghm way. Filament way, lightbulb way, tinder way. Cough and sleeve. Pillow
slept. The humors of the universe. Pour them out and sift them back. In the closed and
continuing classroom, the brass brace holding up the earth. Soundproof windows.
Crayon-shaded continents that fit the child’s hand. Calm child sleeping between the lines
of the lined paper. Between the red line and the blue line: pencil in hand. Plot the
difference, between the top of the letter and its tail. It makes a stuttery document to be
measured but not read: the single letter stuttering across the page. Never on to the vowel,
the heart of the word, which we supply in stereo, hurling it into the air, into the roots, into
the stalks, into the knock-off microphones, the community boards, the sympathetic magic
of peripheral democracy, wired to nothing. Only bouncing lightly off the satellites. The
knife’s glint, but not its edge. Noone feels it. We enlace ourselves. Everything waits to
be crowned or drains away. Heads and tails. We draw the pictures and burn them up. We
drink and we bleed. The moon comes up. At the bottom of the channel/the purest
water/lies. We don’t believe it. We move back and forth, drive the warp through the grid,
gird in fifth-rate nylons, the sweaters and shawls of manmade fiber, our lot. It must be
worn out, or nothing destroys it. It neither burns nor breathes.

Insight (Our Gang)

The meat state shrinks into its margins, goes wafer brown, sips a little of its juices, sighs,
i’m still pretty, here, meaning, it’s pretty still here, and it’s hard to think as the proteins
knit and become edible, as the roofs paired like praying wingtips confess into each
other’s laces.

Inside, the happy hunters cross and criss-cross their bobby socks experimentally for fun.
They walk out on pins and needles, their hairs marcell and shie away. Fluttering their
eyelids, they stampede for the next valley, clutch a dutch-mango lassie and tread beat and
fiddle and crumple away to be found amid the papers at the wake.

I’m not happy about the slate of my lawn, about my crummy timing, I’ve lost my friends,
I’m not a slut anymore, my hair hangs green off the edge of the tub, the tub is pink, the
room is a conch shell set on a ledge in space and starting to age and create an odor(that’s
an order), the odor and the order reverse the vacuum of space and life starts over, worse
than before and even more concerned with personal waste.

I want a door out of the horsebarn, to swan around in my likelihood and sleeves. When
things are dull I snap my beak like two fingers and lay footfalls out over the pond. I waltz
out the syllables. The moon ripples a wavy blade. I’m emboweled, then disemboweled. I
produce a flock of knifes from my guts like insight. They go to the best knights, who
present themselves with my intestines lapped around their cloaks.

Lion D’Or, how do you keep your face and shade that bright, your corridor like a swiftly
beat retreat? I’m dreaming after you when you come around and bite me on the ass. The
gyre suggests an action, an auction, a paying gig, a dog bark for a long jockey, the price
of two shut lids, but all the doors and engines are printed shut. In a window, the singer
peers out at the moonlight through the divot in his product.

He’s broad as a steed templar, flashing each fledge. He wears that bullseye like a
decoration. When he gets it, he’s gonna get it like an arrow in the eye.

Joyelle McSweeney is the author of The Red Bird and The Commandrine and Other Poems, both from Fence. She co-founded Action Books with Johannes Goransson and has recently launched Action,Yes an on-line quarterly for international and hybrid writing.