1 is another.
1 is another. A commons as a circle is the center of town.
Category Archives: Stephen Hastings-King
3 by Stephen Hastings-King
Speed Racer by Stephen Hastings-King
This time he is a race car driver who struggles with recurrent sing-song strings of rhyming words that run through his mind disrupt his focus and interfere with his reduction to a volume in motion but then meltdown Piltdown the scene changes quick as a flip book and now he remembers race car drivers in television shows full of espionage open cockpits and aviator goggles, the whine of engines and implications of lubrication but cannot access the mythology so remains trapped within himself hurtling around a cartoon racetrack before a crowd of make-believe prehistoric men.
The Past by Stephen Hastings-King
I remember at the top of the path from the footbridge over the multi-colored river in the basement of the house there was a collection of seashells arranged in transparent polyurethane cubes stacked with an eccentric sense of geometry into a 3-dimensional map of an imaginary sea. Aquarium paraphernalia has been placed around the map to enable a functioning ecosystem.
I remember the cavernous sense of empty gymnasium and the sense that I had interrupted something invisible and secret.
I remember being a commando wielding a plastic gun on the roof of the high school until the police came with weapons drawn. I yelled “It’s plastic” again and again, still not understanding the situation.
I remember becoming other people.
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Virus by Stephen Hastings-King
Words write themselves on my walls. They creep into paintings and photographs, erase elements from image, replace with themselves.
Words take shape in clouds of cigarette smoke. They fill up my ashtrays and pile up on tables.
Some days I trail them behind me like a smell.
When I get home in the evening, words are hanging in the air like dust. They stick to my glasses.
The cabinets in my kitchen are full of nouns. Stale verbs I never eat sit in boxes atop the refrigerator.
Words accumulate on my wardrobe like dandruff. There are fragments of stories in my sock drawer. They might be better than this.
Garden by Stephen Hastings-King
Above the arrangements of leather belts cast iron wheels and saw blades hovers the rotting hull of a boat manned by ghosts in flannel who endlessly repeat the same slice of a long-ago winter voyage; in every photograph groups of them gather to peer at the strange electrical flash originating beneath the surface of the water between them and a section of Labrador beach littered with heaps of ice like walruses sleeping.
The Assistant by Stephen Hastings-King
She walks quickly past the same series of four buildings again and again like there is in this place a single series of four buildings copied and pasted end to end.
A Voiceover accompanies her:
The Assistant is lost again in a grid city. Again she feels disconnected from the world. Where she is the sound has been switched off.
She walks quickly arms folded around her midsection.
She likes being an assistant. She admires her employers for their belief in continuity. She seeks direction through imitating them. To be an assistant is to be a disciple.
Q. I want to believe but I cannot believe. What should I do?
There is in this place a single series of four buildings.
She works with a mirror on the Employer’s comportments. She reflects on her new expressions in windows. She practices acquired speech while walking The Employer’s dog. With time, they will feel natural.
But as the months pass things begin to change. She realizes that the Employer has also been adapting to the Assistant. The comportments that were to guide her are imitations of her own.
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One day she came home from school to find her father hanging in the kitchen. She would not want me to tell you. But specimens cannot hear.
Letter to the Editor by Stephen Hastings-King
To the Editor:
Some time ago, I began to write you letters with the idea of helping your newspaper become a more complete map of our little shared world. But as my work progressed doubts began to take shape.
In the beginning I made microscopic descriptions of architectural features and furniture. Then I began to include people, their personae and activities.
Then I realized that even though I am making this map I am part of it in the same way as the box scores and photographs of roller derby queens, advertisements for hardware stores and stories about distant forest fires.
Completeness is an unattainable goal.
At night when the ceilings are galaxies of shadows I think about seahorses swimming past scallops shells in shower-curtain oceans.
Somewhere there is a photograph of my father standing in a field of corn. I remember the photograph. Not the field. Not the corn. Not the father.
I am full of holes.
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Segment from a Documentary Film by Stephen Hastings-King
In this sector of the estuary you swim through continuous showers of sunlight and krill and the array of regularly spaced wavering human forms floating upright seems to extend endlessly in all directions. Each wears a trench coat and private-eye fedora, hundreds of Jean-Paul Belmondos imitating Bogart in the entrance of as many invisible movie theaters; each is tied by the ankles to the bottom like a soldier in Emperor Qin’s terracotta army except under water and made from something like kelp as if molded by beings who have seen images of human bodies but never touched skin, a dreaming from deep space made from television signals and repetition. When you navigate the rows of Jean-Paul Belmondos you echo in each passage of a thumb across lips but when you touch one it explodes into vegetable chaos. In this sector of the estuary for the length of a breath you can lie on the bottom and look back at the tourists overhead in glass-bottomed boats beneath the overlapping gazes of surveillance satellites or let yourself float toward the surface through the amniotic haze.
Hieroglyphics by Stephen Hastings-King
His voice unfolds in hieroglyphics. They tumble across a wall and echo in a courtyard where they are caught by a microphone that translates them into packets which are diverted into cables that carry them to relays that bounce them between satellites. Everywhere below hieroglyphics fall through the continuous shower of radio waves.
Late at night when the birds are silent and there is only film noir lighting on the marsh I see them fall like tiny meteors. When they hit the water they give off sounds as lines that wind like wrinkles in my hand.
I trace the melodies of carved symbols across my lifeline. They say: Locked in hieroglyphic language the truth. Truth is in another frame of reference. Whatever you think it is, it is other. Where-ever you are, it is elsewhere. Here is only here because of this exteriority.
Night after night I listen to showers of tiny meteors expire across the water.
The Secret Life of a Travel Guide Writer by Stephen Hastings-King
Through a stone doorway left by a disappeared building I look across 200 years onto a patchwork field of alternating shades of green and yellow arrayed around a winding segment of electric blue river where the exiled court of Louis XVI was to have come to turn in a glittering irrelevance centered on wars of position for make-believe commissions in non-existent armies and the hatching of conspiracies. But the machinery never came.
I write from the restaurant on the other side of the parking lot. I am the customer for this and many other afternoons. The waitress looks like Lana Turner. The only other person is the owner and cook. While my lunch was being prepared she led my hand under her dress and whispered: Take me with you.
In between writing these words I look out the window at the movements in the sky above the patchwork field from 1792. Sitting in a continuous barrage of radiation from solar flares, I feel like I’m at the same turning point in many stories that I already know.
A Map by Stephen Hastings-King
The people who together form an open-ended series A through N…, and who were scattered and adrift for a time, now constitute themselves as complex figure beneath a sign that says: “We missed you too” through layers of activity that are like multi-dimensional chess except that each scale and configuration impacts those around it.
I hear it in what the woman next to me is saying, in the ways her sentences are also elements in a mosaic of words that migrate from one conversation to another, that arrive and are repeated, arrive and are repeated, again and again.
I imagine a geography of everyone talking and a map of invisible territories made from elements of conversations that appear inside one another, kernels of lateral interactions that get pulled into knots as soon as attention wanders.
For a while every sentence I hear refers only to other sentences and the map is an aspect of the territory. Then it is an idea adrift in the ways intentional and non-intentional systems weave together and come apart again.
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Money’s all gone by Stephen Hastings-King
I write you because I feel the need to tell you about my life. But each letter falls like lint into a pocket of routine self-recrimination that I endure until I feel right and forget again. And later, when I find it, I no longer recognize who was writing. So I throw it away.
It is winter and the electricity is off. We pirate from the line over the street. Our cable runs through a window in the kitchen. Sometimes I look at the splices partly wrapped in electrical tape and think: Nobody knows what they’re doing.
Over the weekend we broke into the rent. It may be gone now.
Across the room there’s a guy passed out in a chair. I don’t really know him. He says he likes the smell of paint and varnish. He tells strange circular stories about being a kid and sneaking pieces of raw meat from the road-kill that his father would butcher in the basement.
In between sentences I’ve been smoking ducks. I pull them from ashtrays and paper plates among the beer bottles and scraps of tin foil that cover the table. They taste like shit.
The Alarm by Stephen Hastings-King
Rain pours through the suspended ceiling and the building’s fire alarm sounds repeated bursts of loud abrasive distortion 1 2 3.
In the pulse of red strobe lights, a large fireman who had moments before been sound asleep stands in the middle of the room. He holds a waterlogged ceiling panel. In the center of the panel is the alarm. Two bright blue wires run from the box and disappear overhead.
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He has been looking at the configuration for some time. Around him, six other firemen have arranged themselves in postures that reference the gallery in a painting of a public dissection. The allusion is complicated by heavy raincoats, enormous boots and fire helmets, red strobe lights and recurrent alarm sounds.
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The large sleepy fireman says: We do not touch alarms. Does anyone know the code?
Here follows an awkward silence.
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What are we going to do now?
Here follows another silence.
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We’d be liable.
Some look at the rain pouring through the ceiling. Others at the growing puddle on the floor.
You shouldn’t have said that out loud.
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Geographies of Decay by Stephen Hastings-King
That morning arrived with the sound of steel pipe hitting the ground again and again. Each strike at once swallowed itself and fractured into geographies of decay that gave way differentially to aspects of the day. Some opened up as persistent cold and ice and stillness; others as momentary images of people I did not know walking through a city I had never seen. As their city disappeared they moved over the marsh in the direction of the river above which was suspended a long limp yellow line between a series of green pillars; the line continued past it’s endpoint toward the gap in the horizon through which a column of phantom tanks was arriving. These projections were soon followed by others, agents of the night committee who came in long black cars to gather names and spread rumors of harsh interrogations. The air of pallid normalcy they imposed had soon absorbed the tanks. For days thereafter, flecks of camouflage washed up on the beaches. Newspaper articles provided no explanations.
In Between by Stephen Hastings-King
Behind me are two doors. Each opens onto a room which is more event than space. Entering puts a sequence into motion that is every time the same.
In the first snow falls through the ceiling and weighs down with moisture the flock of paper birds pasted to strings so they hang in the air. One by one they drop away. Each leaves paper carnage behind. As the birds fall the room expands: mountain reliefs, islands and lakes; the holes in Appenzeller and Emmentaler cheeses; the craters of the moon and distributions of stars.
The second room is a diagrammed hierarchy of names that includes the word “room.” The visibility of the diagram varies with observer investment; if you think only about the word room and not about any particular room you may be able to see the branches that in the distance form fractal trees that include actual trees and cauliflower, floodplains and cardiovascular systems.
In between I listen against a door and never hear a sound.
I spend a lot of time in between looking through a window. Once I ventured outside to explore the white plane that extends in the same way indefinitely everywhere and found that nothing except position differentiates one place from another there and that the light moves very slowly right to left so everything seems to run backward. I was lost for I do not know how long. I have not gone out there since.
Someday I will leave this place.
20 Seconds by Stephen Hastings-King
He chews lamb peeled off the shank and hums quietly to himself thinking about the lines of birds arrayed along the opalescent gray ice surface of the river and the woman whom he talks from her own private ice flow where she is stranded, freezing and alone, not wanting to be there but not wanting to be elsewhere because not knowing how to be. Like the voice-over in a commercial his inward voice says: “There is only ointment as a place to store flies” as he pushes the lamb against the roof of his mouth and notes the geometry of sensations that radiate from it. Through the dim light across the bar a walrus man is talking loudly about himself again how little activity there is beneath that baseball hat, chewing without focus, fidgeting with a napkin.
Match by Stephen Hastings-King
I want someone who is attractive and funny, who is kind and who gets me.
I want to curl up by a fire with a glass of wine/cup of coffee/dram of scotch and be mesmerized/lose myself.
I want someone to go to parties with, someone who speaks the same private language; a look from across the room and we would flee the scene and go make out in the car.
I want to share this beginning of a new beginning/chapter/adventure.
I want to trust you. Please do not hurt me.
I am well adjusted. I do not have baggage.
I want to be swept off my feet.
I know. I know. I read too many romance novels when I was young and while I no longer believe traces of that reader linger still and here, in this vast electronic space landscaped with billboards that lonely people make about themselves from kits, I feel free to tell you about the ways in which she lingers, you who are packets of 1s and 0s that shower through my image and bounce away.
Like the Lady Miss Kier, I believe in the power of love. I believe.
I have a lust for life.
I want a photograph.
Spiral by Stephen Hastings-King
When collapse is a wave that curls the floor under itself I give myself to it and fall through a white void where the only differentiation is a black square that recedes at a speed greater than that of my descent; it trails long thin clouds that buckle and collapse in the viscosity of the air, gardens of absence I hurtle through, the boundary conditions of an empire of scatter where waveforms and their collisions open onto plains and cities and languages and the ways each dissolves into possibilities. In one of them I sit in a chair and read “When collapse is a wave that curls the floor under itself.” I look across a white room at the black square on the wall then back at the page. I give myself to it and fall into the white spaces between the letters. Aerial, I turn to watch backward sentences recede. Beneath them trail long thin clouds that wave slowly back and forth in the viscosity of the air. I inhale them. When I look up again from the page and across the room at the black square on the wall I hear collapse approaching. When it is a wave I give myself.
Prompter by Stephen Hastings-King
There is a here and I am in it, stumbling over gullies and gashes past vertical forms made from broken grasses and corkscrews of newly fallen snow spinning in the pressurized hiss of the wind. Here is a not remembering how the journey started over the decay of each footstep into a network of tiny crackling sounds. There, ahead, in the blur, the town periodically folds into itself as if it had been painted on a scrim.
When I reach the fold I walk through to backstage where the sets that enable time are arranged in thick sequences. Over the marsh are rows of spotlights; below center is a small open space. A human form looks back at me, The Prompter who remembers what is forgotten, his head giant with alarm.
Then there is a here and I am amongst the gullies and grasses and corkscrews of newly fallen snow and see no spotlights or prompter. When I walk networks of tiny cracking sounds radiate from beneath my feet and dissolve into the suspendedness of a Christmas morning town.
Amelia by Stephen Hastings-King
1. Elsewhere, alone, stranded on an atoll, far, Amelia Earhardt is being eaten by crabs.
Every time she tried to sleep they came, legions of small armored things scuttling claws aloft across the purple sand, wave on wave as soon as she stopped moving.
When she crawled out of the water they turned in her direction and stopped. All they do is wait. Everywhere all the time they wait.
The presence or absence of a fire neither attracts nor repels.
2. Day follows night always the same: the sun, the three trees that provide no shade, the search for food and movement along the horizon, the signals without reception, the dwindling supply of wood, the darkness, the waiting, everything always the same on this sand crescent nowhere visited by no-one except the fading famous aviator and an army of waiting crabs.
3. When she gives in, she dreams of aeroplanes speeding down brightly lit runways and flying over fields populated with rows of pastries, performing loops and barrel rolls in the air behind glass like fish in an aquarium. Every plastic pilot sees another and gives the thumbs up; everyone’s grand adventure is cheered on by nuns and napoleons.
When she gives in, she is a machine covered with small dials and the transparent bursts of pain she emits dissolve instantaneously in the still warm air.
4. In subsequent repetitions of the history of the atoll, she is fragments of bone, a lighter and a pen.
Maybe by Stephen Hastings-King
Once we were in love. Then we disappeared.
Very slowly you fell through the floor of memory rooms that were brightly lit and entirely your own and dissipated into surrounding zones of detritus and decay, then in fragments drifted down through networks of seldom-visited structures comprised of corridors that connect nothing and stretch arbitrarily & spread yourself across a map of the sky that is outside of them became a constellation superimposed of diagrams of astral scatter or the relations and environments that absence creates, intimate but inaccessible.
I see you as you were. Once we were in love maybe.
Imaginary Lake by Stephen Hastings-King
That morning a lake appeared out back. Where grasses were concentric waves shudder across a silver surface of water.
He leans against the door takes a sip of coffee and thinks about submerged fragments of Pharaohs and disappeared fishermen on the floor of the lake at Aswan and why he moved from the city to this constantly shrinking hat of a place where bodies of water come and go in the night.
He remembers the grid-space of waveforms produced by the humming of overhead trolley lines: he only noticed the sound when he returned from a period in the country, like the neighborhood was welcoming him back.
Wrapped in electrical intimacy, he leans against the door and looks out across an imaginary lake.
Conga by Stephen Hastings-King
When I woke my hands were straining against their shape. They were large purple, fashioned from sausage and pain.
Postcards by Stephen Hastings-King
After my father died, I went to his house for the first and only time. It was a network of trails through sprung organizations. Illness had pulverized his collections. Everything was covered in dust.
When I knew him, he collected and cataloged. He kept their organizations in his memory. He knew where everything was. Later, he filled notebooks with networks of colors and numbers and lists. Then time and age turned his maps into fragments.
I thought that his books would lead me to the boxes that contained the remaining fragments of my childhood. I wanted to find them.
When I arrived, my siblings lined up along the porch and stared at me. There seemed more of them than I remembered.
I thought someone would know the system. But they were just overwhelmed.
The notebooks had disappeared.
By myself, I wandered through room after room past shelves of cardboard boxes. Each was marked with a color and number, each a wayward postcard not addressed to me. Arbitrarily, I opened a box. It was full of taxidermy animals and moths. Another contained bottles of evaporated perfume; a third dozens of identical wooden rectangles.
I gave up.
When I was leaving I asked if there would be an auction. One of my siblings said there would be. I said: If you find my childhood, call me. She said she would. She never called.
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Second Non-place by Stephen Hastings-King
She is blonde and pretty. He is a shadow. She warms to him after a drink or two.
She reveals intimacies through her assessments of television surgeries. She falls silent between characters, fidgets between narrative points.
Later he holds in place the image of their interaction. He spreads it out on a table. With a scalpel he cuts along the edges of himself. Blade paper and line flow. When he is finished, he removes himself from the scene. Then he repeats the operation with her.
The cutting liberates them from memory. They become detailed color forms.
He puts them in a car and sends them driving along a back road in autumn, two loose bundles of attributes in motion through a glowing red-tree light under complexes of branches that spiral upward like capillaries until their edges disappear into soft dunes of fog.
She warms to him after a while or two. She reveals herself through assessments of television surgeries.
They drive through the same space again and again. Their passages rearrange the details.
The years accumulate in the form of memory of the many different ways he has felt about her television show intimacies.
This sector of the Zone of Forgotten Stories is an element from an immense stack, car atop car driving down road atop road.
Holes by Stephen Hastings-King
Every morning he is awakened by jack hammers. He feels around his head to make sure all the parts are there. Then he says his name to see if it still fits. Over coffee he watches a video loop metallic sky against which reproduction birds bob in the wind. He rehearses the day’s emotions. At roughly the same moment each morning he leans forward to scrutinize a coming irregularity in the loop, a joke inserted by whoever shot the sequence. When it comes he deplores the lack of normal people in the arts. He makes lists of potential experiences. What I Will Encounter. What I Will Explore. What I Will Avoid. He examines critically his haircut. In the shower he sings Verdi. His laughs operatically as he rummages for socks. Over another cup of coffee he watches the video loop metallic sky across which reproduction birds fall like ash. He girds his feet and prepares to encounter the day. He arrives before the door. His hand moves toward the knob. It is possible that the burner is still on. If he goes upstairs he will have to start over. If he doesn’t the house could burn down. He sits on the stairs. Every morning he forgets to make a list of everything that he did that morning. But there is no space for a list of everything because that list would engulf the others. Every morning he sits on the stairs, pinned by the holes in everything.
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Waveform by Stephen Hastings-King
Box Kite by Stephen Hastings-King
|The box kite floats high over the marsh. You follow the string and its
downward trailing arc across an abstract blue field past the curious
geometrical forms of white and yellow & a cloud of mechanical
birds that wobbles their machine trajectories through modalities of
falling & choose one & watch its fall toward the point of its
absorption as on another surface a human shape separates from a
cube in the ochre and green of the grasses, moving toward you
carrying two long poles each with a red flag. The forms moves
toward you then stop: flags blur hesitate, blur hesitate some kind of
message incomprehensible across distance and distortion.
The box kite floats high over the marsh. You follow the string and its
The Announcement by Stephen Hastings-King
Her engagement announcement arrived this morning. He retells the story so that it came like a calling card placed on an elephant foot umbrella stand in his hallway. De gustibus non est disputandum.
Their stories were once intertwined.
With the announcement arrived an invitation to a party. It was not an engagement party but rather another small-town event the story of which her celebration would retell. He decides not to go. De gustibus non est disputandum.
Black Mariah by Stephen Hastings-King
The Black Mariah pulls into the driveway. The next constellation of awareness finds me against the wall beneath the window.
The war they wage seeps beyond informality. The war they wage happens behind stories that say there is no war. The war they wage fills everything with holes.
They say the Black Mariah is an eraser descending. By the time you see it they have eliminated all your traces. You are vanished from amongst your neighbors. All documents have disappeared. The Black Mariah comes for those who were never born.
I imagine myself a spent reactor core in an anonymous railway car shuttled siding to siding. I imagine myself less than nothing blindfolded and handcuffed in a back seat. I imagine myself a character in countless movies and TV shows.
From outside comes the crunching of gravel and a vehicle pulling away. I exhale.
The Black Mariah pulls back into the driveway. The next constellation of awareness finds me against the wall beneath the window.
The Blonde by Stephen Hastings-King
1. When the head of the king popped off the royal body, the lackey thought about historical necessity.
That was the first sentence. Because of it, the story ground to a halt.
2. The famous writer has just been daydreaming about being a famous writer, about frolicking famously in the sun, about riding in a glittery boat through the still clear morning air. He dreams of going somewhere by following long thin black lines through mazes of events, scales and entailments. He dreams of connecting one moment to another because he is a cloud that is continually pulling apart because everything rivals for his attention because
3. The king’s plastic head roll across the table, past the salt and pepper shakers, the plate with a fried egg on it, the utensils, pile of toast and cup of coffee to the edge of the booth and fall to the floor.
He says: That was the king’s head.
The blonde smiles.
4. Who is the blonde?
Stymied, the famous writer tries to transforms himself into Truman Capote.
Julian Series by Stephen Hastings-King
In the faintly orange air of a late afternoon I sit at a tiny metal sidewalk café table across from another.
I ran into Julian again. I remember the book he comes from but not how he migrated from it.
Each of us is embedded in a time-space. Each carries embeddedness like a fan. When they overlap transparent mosaics form in the air.
Julian and I talk about lines of flight.
I look at the mottled sky from which everything seems suspended.
Every encounter with Julian is exactly the same. .
Martini by Stephen Hastings-King
She drinks a chocolate martini. I fold myself up and slide into her pocket. There I join the others. We seven in her pocket talk animatedly about space, travel and the topologies of her breasts. She pays us no mind. We organize an expedition to the opening in her shirt. We want to slide around her skin. We climb carefully in a column. When she brushes us off her hand comes like a storm. Airborne I open myself to her length. My hand hovers just over her stomach. I disappear into details. She drinks a chocolate martini. She does not know my name.
Substitution by Stephen Hastings-King
Once there was a man who wrote in code. He was comfortable among substitutions. He never spoke about work. He never spoke about other-than-work. One day he was killed. He was stuffed into a duffel bag and left in a bathtub. Some weeks later he was found by mistake. Soon a story surfaced about a man who thought in code. It said he was comfortable among substitutions. He never spoke to anyone about work. He never spoke to anyone about other-than-work. One day he was killed. His body was stuffed into a duffel bag and left in a bathtub. Some weeks later he was found by mistake. Once there was a man who worked in code. He was comfortable among substitutions. He never spoke about work. He never spoke about other-than-work. One day he was killed. He was stuffed into a duffel bag and left in a bathtub. Some weeks later he was found by mistake. Soon a story surfaced about a man who thought in code. It said he was comfortable among substitutions. He never spoke to anyone about work. He never spoke to anyone about other-than-work. One day he was killed. His body was stuffed into a duffel bag and left in a bathtub. Some weeks later he was found by mistake. Once there was a man who wrote in code. He was comfortable among substitutions.
Where I work you cannot see the sun by Stephen Hastings-King
Where I work you cannot see the sun.
Where I work people use words like leverage. They do not appear to denote anything.
Where I work everyone sits in a little cube in the middle of which is a little monitor on which they can look at the surveillance image of themselves sitting in a little cube in the middle of which is a little monitor on which they are looking at a surveillance image all day if they want to.
Where I work when it rains you can hear in detail water flowing through a basement amplification chamber. It is like being in the drain of a sink has become a tourist attraction.
Where I work everyone pretends they are somewhere else.
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2 Shards by Stephen Hastings-King
Part of an arrangement of trapezoids and triangles, lines and loops I move across the water.
The sky is a field of cracks. Pieces come loose and fall. Some land on the deck.
Nearby string musicians play the same chord again and again. They sing the same phrase again and again. Something about a spirit. Their heads are turned away.
Beyond the holes in the sky is a map of the stars.
Asleep on a schooner dreaming I am on a schooner. A transistor radio below sprays an ant colony of voices, an everywhere haze of tiny grey lines. I move through its eddies and flows, dead spots and gardens. My movements open environments.
There is a trajectory painted on the grass: I follow it along a long white rail fence that separates one pasture from another. At the end of the fence a small solar panel, its edges an intermittent painted frame around an assemblage of irregular forms suspended in electric blue amber.
When I correlate the forms they give way to aspects of a ghost room. Packages of continuity piled and numbered and noted. Schematics on the walls and tables. I wait for its surfaces to stabilize and spread myself across them like rain.
Zeno by Stephen Hastings-King
Zeno is keening for shore. Under full sail, cutting through the water, leaning in: the boat makes no headway.
Full of sail & full of rum he heads in beneath a sheet of aqua sky. A marble in a maze pink sun traces an irregular trajectory through magnetic fields in which polarities rapidly reverse
Cutting through the water and making no headway while across the yellow sky a green disc sun rolls around a thumb-sized lighthouse in the haze and heat with the three others asleep by the wheel and empty bottles of rum on the table below, Zeno photographs the sun. If he ever puts in he will storyboard its meanderings. Only then will he begin to know because a knowing limited to states is not a knowing at all.
And he will tell her what happened when he sees her where she waits, in the somewhere where she waits because she has forgotten how not to and because time passes and because so much fades.
Zeno is keening for shore. But under full sail, cutting through the water, the boat makes no headway. The sun hesitates interminably. The three others never awaken. The coast is always the same distance away.
Capsule by Stephen Hastings-King
Inertia was broken when I walked in my spacesuit down the long white corridor toward the strobe-lights and launch pad. I already felt weightless.
Strapped into the seat of the capsule I focus on the backward series of numbers, each of which shapes a dynamic of ignition sound.
With the zero arrives a shaking that is everywhere through the cardboard.
I undo the belt that holds me into the bucket seat of a disappeared Corvair. Around it the refrigerator box cockpit is an array of crudely drawn dials and screens. Traces of last night’s alcohol waft through my fishbowl helmet. The Mylar suit I am wearing could be tinfoil. It is a hot summer evening. I am not having fun.
I open the cardboard hatch. In the odd geometrical shadows of the launch pad stand a few people wearing lab coats. They want to believe they are scientists. They want to believe I am an astronaut.
I look past them toward the galaxy of tiny multi-colored lights in the midst of which spin solar systems and Tilt-a-Whirls.
Parasite by Stephen Hastings-King
Once the expression finishes repeating it writes itself again. I write it again.
From the repeating on my monitor it travels through every node in every network.
And every node repeats it. Everywhere is the same.
I do not remember how this started, if it started, if it has not always been this: encounter is exposure and threshold is in the crossing.
But when I stop repeating I have reactions that will not stay in frame. Relations to my skin scatter before zones of red and running.
Sometimes I think of Danton in his bath. All my intimacies are allusions.
Once the sentence is finished repeating I write it again.
I write it again and again until I fall asleep.
Last dream I saw Brahma dreaming. I breathed my sentence into his ear.
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Room: A Word Problem by Stephen Hastings-King
Posit a room from remembering. Arrange windows around its perimeter, a perimeter that is open, is continuously self-correcting.
Position a table. A glass with rings of red wine, cutlery and a plate. An architecture of couscous and partially chewed red meat. A salad dressed with indifference.
Make a place to sit. The setting is not yours.
On the wall a silent film grand piano is intermittently burning. Each time you watch, head cocked.
Construct a trapezoid; A the fire B the knife C a shadow that is modulating a room of remembering. D something. Over there. Somewhere.
The wave of a hand the cuff of a shirt and the ways space and duration fold into themselves.
Arthur Parsing by Stephen Hastings-King
The fields that Arthur Parsing parses are frames and variables and motions. Organization is how Arthur’s parsing parses. First he notes insects clouding grasses and that the sky is bereft of birds. Then the wind comes with a transparent cheering. Blushing, he notes the alternating bands of colors that are held together by surface tensions. From there he intuits the continuous danger of everything flying apart.
When Arthur parses he hums to himself: “What is he looking for? What is he looking for?”
It is hard to monitor the surface tensions that subtend a composition.
Sometimes Arthur Parsing’s parsing pulls the past into the system of the present. Geographies become multiple: a hill stops being a hill, becomes a junction between time-spaces. His pulling-in unfolds around an invisible intentional line that difficulties endanger by changing.
When difficulties arise—and they do—-he picks up his Fischer-Price telephone and says: “Party’s getting rough.” This secret code springs an imaginary combine. Messages hurtle through metal tubes and trigger actions which are undertaken by agents who sit in offices waiting for messages to strike them like billiard balls. Balances are restored as cumulative effects of these actions. It doesn’t matter what the actions are.
Arthur Parsing parses the universe of a five year old. In that universe when Arthur Parsing parses he does not need to parse Arthur Parsing’s parsing. Arthur, parsing, is an observer. Arthur Parsing is transparent.
Black Square by Stephen Hastings-King
She says: I don’t know what happened to my little Jean-Pierre. I was getting water about a hundred feet of curious hermetic stillness from where I left him playing. I turned in time to watch him disappear into the black square of the world.
Inside the television monitor positioned next to the window children were being declared orphans based on photographs. The idea breaks into concentric rings produced on the high tide surface of the marsh by the rain. My sightline follows a radiating wave.
Across the water a red version of my car floats in the air above the trees. It is tethered to the ground with a yellow line. Sitting in the passenger seat, Jean-Pierre smokes cigarettes and waits. He is careful to minimize his movements. He closes his eyes.
She says: I don’t know what happened to my little Jean-Pierre. I was getting water about a hundred feet from where I left him playing. I turned in time to watch him disappear.
Storyboard by Stephen Hastings-King
For a time he documented his facial expressions.
He arranged the photographs on a storyboard.
With his finger he traced pathways through fields of possibilities.
Guiding himself with a hand mirror, he mimed the resulting sequences
and waited for something to fill the blank spaces behind.
But somehow there was no learning.
He thought: Perhaps someone else is narrating my life.
First Ornamental Calamity by stephen hastings-king
Filed under Stephen Hastings-King