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(Brooklyn Rescue Mission / Just food Chicken Coop- 2011)

 

Before I do anything else, I implore you, reader, if you are not doing so already, to pay attention to what’s going on in the wider world beyond blogs and social media. If you are a Facebook user, I suggest you seek out Artists Against Police Brutality / Cultures of Violence and Artists for Ferguson. In New York City, Morgan Parker and JP Howard are leading AAPB. As of today, a big email thread is in progress with the seeds of plans for fall events: meetings, meetups, performances, more. By the time this blog post goes up, much more brilliance will have been shared and set into motion. You can get on the email thread by posting on the FB page. Or visit this link to a Google Doc survey to express your interest. Also, consider with me the texts and ideas recommended by Dr. Marcia Chatelain (@drmchatelain on Twitter) and others at Ferguson Syllabus if you are building your fall semester courses.

 

This is as much as I feel sure I can usefully say on this matter. I could make the same mistake that Nate Silver (and so many others) did and describe my privileges in response to the oppression and murder of others, but to do so is unproductive not to mention narcissistic. The horrors continue to stack up, but so does the positive response from groups like AAPB and more. What I have to offer you in the following text is a tour of my neighborhood. I love where I live. It’s my home.

 

***

 

the woman who caught us with our cameras out said, “our light’s been out a long time.”

I said, “we know!”

another smaller light four blocks north on Bedford Ave is also out, and I wish it would light up soon unexpectedly too. it could remind me of how someone described Seoul to me ten years ago: a wet city full of red neon crosses. but I don’t know that it would light up red. I don’t know anything about what color it would be.

Washington Temple is named after a person; only by coincidence four blocks west is Washington Ave. This is what happens when the novel starts: the sign lights up white, blinks off, lights up blue and red, blinks off. repeats.

wash1

Sad goes dark and dirty. He jumps away, the oncoming. Wednesday is my day with the noise. unhearing or sliding beneath it. a smoke detector’s slow increasing beep unheard but other mechanical shriek ongoing. what pulley clanks into place. falls off or bangs down stairwell, buzzes for emergency but I don’t get up. let it grow dark and grit until, like I said would, that new language ties up the track until it’s a true second circuit cutting across.

the eyes are the same as another I’ve seen before at a variety of distances. knew them never to be blank except for dying. bright doesn’t last. something does but bright unfolding. it holds against a doorjamb. made the longest drive to the hospital. I promised I’d respect safety of vomit to grocery bag out of motion. pulled into a nub of lot, just curbs and sand. one side persuasion, one side begging.

I said to friend, “that’s the problem. if it didn’t last forever, we’d have no conflict.” he considered the point strong.

right up close is the destination. always others. learn death came to another place today as walking through well-dressed small families, unclear what the date truly is. doubt even though I am mindful. find I had known. small churches with loving shouts, large shelter with leafblower. when simple person describes so surely. we walk past churches marked by no parking signs. on church business.

“I don’t want that sadness in my heart,” said the man who lives across from the big brown church with sloping roof, asymmetry. when asked if it was a funeral gathering. still, he stood watching from the iron gate. loose adidas sandals with socks. no clear agenda besides avoiding sad feelings. since the main farmer backed out of the market, it’s just baked goods and hummus flavors. a party tent and a hose hooked up to a hydrant. they took the port-a-potty away, they put a new one in the same spot. we called them joy johns growing up after the regional company. a misstatement of a possessive. thing called for what it does, like fire escape.

a sight has to inspire the decision to turn into the plot. I find a banana peel on my car’s front bumper and I’m not going anywhere but I remove it to the dirt around a skinny tree. see the kids playing across the street. maybe them, maybe not. very tidy peel laid out in repose. a body turning colors.

the car is blue. kurt did repairs so it drives with no rattles. some issues but safe for the highway, which I will later. expected, so announce and reply assents. one pre-complains. structure must emerge but does it? structure must be imposed. imposition the blind cat saves the date. swat the fly, one block down men hide a bottle under a pylon. a man working outside the café where I’ve been typing tells me I look like a tall drink of water. the car screeches when I brake, just before the complete stop.

next to the café was a bagel shop with a bumblebee on the sign but it closed months ago. now it’s nearly a tapas bar, not quite done. men are always working on a bench or a planter. their sidewalk is always wet and the resale shop next door spills their display all the way to the corner, selling the broken stools from the bar two blocks west for $20 each. important parts got lucky. what do you do best with a gift?

the highway to family coming up. not sure maybe christmas was the last one. does the problem of it have to be one the protagonist is fully capable of solving? another damaged family drama does nothing. A wants B, B is not sure, waits too long. A and B have another chance later, meanwhile other letters intermingle. in the end she must find him or not find him. learn he is alive or dead. no reliving plot style. friend’s book is a search for a missing person. stranger comes to town, man goes on a journey, enemies engage in a conflict, man wants something he can’t have and tries many ways to acquire it. friendship and what. several hundred pages to prove friends are real or friends are flawed. everybody’s flawed, nobody’s a genius. so what is the goal of writing a book? will you end war? stranger comes to town and teaches us not to bomb homes and schools? not the meaning of novel.

 

*

 

“bring the sick,” says the church sign. “all are welcome.”

at the garden performing duties. a rat runs across the gateway. no one around to care, free to speak to animals and selves. collect four warm eggs: three white, one green. one bird henpecked cyclops. a motley crew. little one with ankle feathers runs fast, a prize in her beak. a rat’s snout with whiskers she hides from the others. later I describe this to my crush awkwardly. history of the block says two brownstones burned down. sometimes a sock unearths in the coop yard. a brick, a twist of metal. the repurpose kills time between construction budgets.

sidewalk buddy says his hip is bothering him. he is small, 5’5” with a snappy hat, jacket with vest, a spring in his lurch. the cane may be new. once we crossed and he had a plastic bag on the end of his cane, walking toward the garbage can.

“we need a new mayor!” he said.

I said, “I think we’re about to get one.”

“you may be right about that.”

*

 

 (The City Chickens Project at work. Photo courtesy Just Food.)

 

came and did not recognize past self. thinking shortcut, could have been Gettysburg for seven years. intent counts so partial for ability to plan. not aptly framing the question.

when you are a woman who feels a glob or a bubble, not allowed to adjust it. the sacred quality in the car. I prepare constantly.

I knew I would be okay. blower motor all dried up. under the dash a lost art. thirteen looks like one. follow along the text, each word many words, basic runes. at least. my everyday is luxury, it’s my distant future certainly unclear.

walk to corner. left past funeral home peopled by hot men. certain early morning times catch sight of casket loading: hearse, delivery truck marked Casket Division. the truck on Pratt campus repairing Main Building. after a fire, parked for months on the brick walkway: a company called BMS Catastrophe. no matter the disaster. turn right across four lanes. Rogers and Bedford merge. tree stump from Hurricane Sandy; dented fence same. one windshield shattered. ready to respond to the disaster at hand. new sign says “NO DIGGING OR SCAVENGING IN OUR DUMPSTER.” to the garden gate. a woman from Just Food waits there to see soil treatment.

she asks what I do. she says, “do you sell the eggs?”

I say, “I eat them.”

she says, “good.”

I then realize I have been policed. (it is illegal to sell these eggs.) in the sense of supervised by a stranger. in the sense of bait. in the sense of a pop quiz of course I passed I excel at passing tests. back on tree giveaway day, we learned we both know Patton, who I called by her first name. fifteen volunteers to hand out 100 trees and we did not touch one tree. we ate a donut. we ran an errand and did not return.

find a variable to blame for aberrant behavior. looks like the same kid. vigilant volunteer coordinator. someone dug a hole in the garden and we all got an email. vomit in front of the new bar not even open yet, lined with new bike racks. studio artists still locking up on scaffold. nice idea the long walk. walk alone for digestion, spotting the curb alerts. roll of bubble wrap. Brooklyn Industries dress we pass around. trashpicking called in Indiana. “a bag lady,” friend names. so is she.

 

– KRYSTAL LANGUELL

Krystal Languell was born in South Bend, Indiana. Two chapbooks and a full-length collection of poetry are forthcoming: LAST SONG (dancing girl press, 2014), BE A DEAD GIRL (Argos Books, 2014) and GRAY MARKET (Coconut, 2015). FASHION BLAST QUARTER was published as a poetry pamphlet by Flying Object in 2014. A core member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, she also edits the journal Bone Bouquet.

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Published Aug 26, 2014 - Comments Off on On Always Beginning, Part 3 by DB Guest Blogger Krystal Languell

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