Ray Hsu

Excerpts from "Cold Sleep Permanent  Afternoon"
(working title)

N a r r a t o r

Your pass please.

Please present your pass the temptation to not present documentation will be disturbing to
me and my superiors.

My superiors are embroiled in a way in which to be realistic you must have documented
all that makes you memorable to yourself. We know now for example that simply

killing those we fear does not prevent them from kindling amongst themselves. Certain
ideals may be confused with inflammatory gestures.

A number of illusions have appeared since we have begun demanding documentation.
The exact nature of these illusions is being investigated.

Were a background check required we request that you provide proof of address, date and
time of coming of age, length of throat, record of imitation, record of living alone, et
cetera. This portrait of you tells us the most (exact location of frozen timeless discomfort)
but we need to fill in the details.

Our expectation is that aesthetic practices will likely continue, whether or not they have
the will to redeem.

There may be someone outside several men are rushing to meet. Please hand me your




Someone has observed that a pig resembles a saint in that he is more honored after death than during his lifetime. Speaking further of his social standing, we have noticed that, when smoked, he is allowed to appear at quite fashionable functions; but that only one’s best friends will confess more than a bowing acquaintance with pork and sauerkraut or pickled pigs’ feet.
                         — The Joy of Cooking

F e a s t

Recipe. Lay yourself out on the couch: this position may be “thinking” or
“disappointment.” Tolerate few old answers. Think, Unfortunately, one is never the same
person twice

Preparation. This is the fantasy of whatever a cupboard has coming alive in your hand.
The uncooked ingredient animates. Watch the curry evolve from simple organism to
complex, the contradictions resolve. Coconut milk and egg, reciprocal pleasure. In the
pan, in the dish, on the tongue, omnivorously, from one fashionable house, where meat is
served, to the next.

Servings. Compulsively flip to the end. All you have is quantity.

Supper. Full of the religious who believe in nothing, seekers of underground channels.
The garbage cans of ideas. Prefer self-exacting demands that ought not to make you
erotically irregular. From these channels, learn how to hear, then how to speak. Develop a
knack for systematic improvement. Make two attempts to be a good human being, then
begin to apply your abilities appropriately. Most difficult, learn what to keep. Carry
within yourself your secret police.



C i t i z e n

I imagined we were both mouths until we grew up. […]

[…] I drew a picture of the field we played in. […] you’d put a fence. Sometimes just the

[…] what caused the tractor to turn over with […]. Coming in from the east, […] back
wheel […] along the edge. It pulled a meter’s worth of wire up from the ground and over
in the air. The wood broke easily […]

Someone reminded me of me. […] my mother. I started to wonder whether I’d resemble
someone […] one day. If there were enough, we might be a family. We’d call each other
by our first […] until we knew how they sounded.

The background was always the same. You’d draw more. […] blurred as you ran […]




C h o r u s

Plates of ice.

Risks of erosion:
bone turned gleaming.
flimsy string.
a thin knot
           untying all morning.

C h o r u s

Who breaks
          it open, soil.

what can be torn from rigging
what can you bring home

           without a hacksaw.




T r a i t o r

Two hands give me
work to do, bones to freeze
a building to unglue.

Winter frees a mouth at night.

jaw from bone

Clean    is sick with    clean.
We know half of what
we know. The length
to which we’ll go
is half that length.

The earth
the sun


C i t i z e n

Wood divides a house
Brings fence
as solution, as answer
loves fact

Half-dumb we wake.

home from stone

The earth     turns     the plow
hunger makes the wire
around the earth
a horizon

The plow
the horizon





N a r r a t o r

Consider the unexpected building: a simultaneous world
which even now confronts you with just itself, so indirect,
off the path. You may as well consider the meaning
of air, which remained unnoticed prior to its design
as word. Let us pursue these suggestions: theories
about the concrete, the warmth of snow. A compulsion
for material. Until a narrator profits from such invention,
determines their logic. From consciousness and brute
observation to syntax. Facts are broken as a vase
breaks. A metaphor for this must decide whether
it is the vehicle for the breaking, the vase, or the facts.
So much random space joins the expression you see
outside, where the window tells you that streaks of gold
cannot win against the gray. Something is moving.
Let us call it movement. Call it time. Consider the plane
that conditions the walking, the ground on which we speak,
the motionless graph on which everything depends.




The largest is seen first and the temptation to save what is seen first
is the opposite of restraint or neglect. Bloody pots may be among these.
Rooms count as maximum among these. The word for the object
makes it either famous or ordinary and allows you to see
what is worth saving. Your burden is not every object but each object.
Each object may be divided but then is no longer itself. A tiny piece
is another thing afraid of being more. The resignation that ensues is you
saving yourself. Only necessity makes you look at each more closely:
only a laugh keeps you from seeing their unmistakable nature.




Brief resemblances: all else is gravitational,
canonical, lead and spine, a day’s work
among addicts. One more year and it will be difficult
to vary answers. Even the old country
has become subjective. Even the locomotive
is indifferent to location. I envy, you find
dirty sharpened thoughts