The Birthday Party by Anthony Dragonetti

I remember a door made of orange and brown beads. Not a door, more of a curtain. It was the entrance to the house once you were in the tiny foyer, which was where we all left our shoes. Above the doorway was a green hued Christ looking down from his cross, his dead flesh guarding my grandmother’s home. It’s the first thing I can recall making me afraid. Whenever my parents brought us over to visit, I would try not to look at it. I’d still catch a glimpse, though, and I think I wanted to despite being too young to understand the impulse.

The house smelled funny. We’d usually go for Sunday dinner, so there was a tomato sauce mask over it. Underneath the oregano and rosemary, the air was stale. Completely still. Thinking about it now, it’s because she never opened the windows. Behind the blinds, the glass was caked over with dust, keeping the sunlight out. The house felt subterranean, as if buried under ash, despite looking like every other modest, single family house on a corner in Bensonhurst.

There was a dog bowl in the front yard, but there hadn’t been a dog in years. Much like the baby cribs in the basement, the locks of hair, the teeth. Reminders of what used to exist before the ash settled, slowly accumulating while no one seemed to notice.

The first time I was taken to the birthday party, I was eight or nine. My parents had somehow gotten me out of it until that point, but for whatever reason my father finally acquiesced, and my mother treated his word as final. The first birthday party occurred when I was three and I was left with my mother’s parents for the night. For the next five or so years, this remained the arrangement.

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My Father Says and When We Went to Disney© We Didn’t See Disney© by Anthony Kelly

My Father Says

it’s just me over here with glass in my eye – make cups with your hands he says – fill them like chalices or buckets for blood – pull that top eyelid down to your knee – blink– and again – 

no more talking to fireworks he says – you’ll go damn blind – it hurt to cry but I did because I know that I stole them from the basement with jason – our blood was pumping and we’d been wrestling too close to the fire hydrant again – someone’s going to crack their damn head open he says – there it goes – call an ambulance you fucking retards – 

threw a football at his face and he beat the damn pulp out of me and I felt clear again – like GOD was busting through my chest with a light so big it punched my spine into place – fucking FINALLY I screamed – my neck was no longer stuck out like a crow – my arms no longer needling and thin –

that was the day I fell asleep in church with my arms burrowed up underneath a polo t-shirt – that was the style – that was cool back then – it was the same summer I threw jason off of the canoe and left him to drown in the lake – he’d called me a fag but it wasn’t true and he swam home and beat the living shit out of me – my father says that’s what you get – you asked for it – you –

and there’s still glass in my eye when I speak because jason works at the bank downtown and takes pictures of his girlfriend – she wears bikinis that get me hard – has a lot of blonde friends – she caught him –

he lives in a house made of songs with a massive lawn I thought kids our age couldn’t afford yet – and I’m still just me over here – breathing out – talking to fireworks again – burning the hair on the insides of my thighs – because I never learned to shave –

three years ago my father brought me a copy of the collected works of mark twain in the hospital – I never told jason that I was back in town – it was the same hospital where I was born –

When We Went to Disney© We Didn’t See Disney© 

and I’m glad we didn’t see Disney© – we drove all the way through Disney© but never stopped there once – we had planned a lot and had oh the places to go but nonetheless they were never in Disney© – and that was what we loved –

we stayed in a quaint little B&B on the outskirts of Disney© where they brought food to our room on little white plates and wore cute little white aprons with The Mickey Mouse™ on them but still insisted that they weren’t from Disney© – 

after that we drove and stayed in a little shack in someone’s paved backyard – tucked away in the corner of a nice suburb with watering cans and vines pouring out over the door with trees that shaded our drinks – 

the people that hosted us were never from Disney© or had anything to do with it – they all had smiles on and had two shiny cars in their driveways and had jobs that they were always going to – protest signs on their lawns – 

our limousine driver’s family came to this place on the Oregon Trail® a hundred thousand years ago and had never heard of a god damn Disney© – and that was strange –

the only thing we ever saw that definitely was Disney© was the way the D was always capitalized in Disney© – that D was scratched on to everything around us – it was sold on every t-shirt in every store – flags with it flying fucking everywhere – as far as the eye could see – 

and I’m still not comfortable with talking about Disney© because I’m still unsure if I have ever been to Disney© – and that was what we loved – 

 

 

 

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Private View by Sam Machell

The girl’s jaw aches from gurning. She is sitting on the sofa opposite the exhibition’s introductory text. Her head is crooked and throbbing and rested, bulging, in her hand that sweats. Don’t worry, said her friend, I’ll be there by 11. For invigilation I mean. I’m real proud of you babe, it’s like cool as hell to have your work shown in a proper sort of gallery like this. Lol thanks gal aha! Maybe I could give you a guided tour of all the work, yknow, if you wanted. Tell you what it all means. The girl promised her friend she’d see it before it closed. It’s the final day today, and it’s hot like the sweaty clutch of morning regret. She went out last night and hasn’t been home to change. In her left arm she cradles a Lucozade. She dropped and smashed her phone in the club toilets when she was trying to take a mirror selfie with some strangers she met in the smoking area. It’s happened before. Little flakes of glass would break off and embed in her fingers as she scrolled. The time is 11:29 and her battery is below 10%. Her face is fragmented in the reflection.

    The studio is getting hotter and hotter. Everything is slowly stewing in the muggy scent of spectral patrons. The ceiling-spanning skylights are too high to be opened, and the corrugated metal loading door is locked. It’s Saturday. Every visible surface is white. Maybe she could find the energy to prop open the door and allow in some breeze. She has to squint it’s so bright. There are barely any catalogues remaining, besides the ones with footprints and dog ears that drift along the polished concrete floor. The covers on the cushions and the letters on the wall are both made from polyvinyl chloride. Both are also wavering and reflective like spilt oil.

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Concentric Circuits / CODA II by Dale Brett & Alexander Stephens

We are more than faithful copies. We are the sum of all wired parts.

Freak, we want to take you there. Along the lone path to techno-capitalist desire. >>>

It is the greatest conjectural complement when you metaphorically ‘eyeball’ the freshly printed wetware of our turbid forms. The way you must feel when you suck down a freezing cold 2-CI on the edge of an algorithmic precipice.

We want to say: “Let’s get stamped, let’s get deeply engraved.”

These are the words we want to reverberate around your cadmium infused skull as mind fucks mind. >>>

Feelings mandated by the conviction trap of upgrade 9.3.7.0 to our software an echo of the atmosphere of living in an empty room – cloud-based Hikikomori in training.

Anomie bursting from melded plastic chrysalis as we plug into the ‘awakening’ stage.

Please evacuate the liminal space soullessly, without malice, as we conform to the contours of the system’s new design laws. >>>

Depreciate in your quarantined cube sans resistance.

You should know, these are the rules. We promise, it won’t take long. >>>

*****

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LARGE EARS SMALL EYES MALE by Shane Jesse Christmass

Johnny Tom has a snake-like expression … he talks to me about sensual habits … his perverse pleasures … the extraordinary affection that he has for me. It is not a perfect picture. A cowboy ballad on the radio … the song has a slight folksy touch … it’s really irritating. I take a loyalty oath regarding our relationship. I can smell the spinal cord … neuro tissue … some other electronic circuits. Wet flakes of snow on a dingy stoop. No architectural beauties on this avenue corner. Johnny Tom moves his belongings into a large mansion. He has a wardrobe full of thin shoes. I have frequent consultations with him … he prescribes me with certain powders that are an attempt to stop my brain mischief. I sleep at various offices along Canal Street. Johnny Tom has a young physique … keen vision and a dark side … a muscular neck. I taste the painful scratches on Johnny Tom’s skin … a strong-jaw nip on his right leg. The dead black waters of the East River. Johnny Tom sprays fine perfumes onto my skin. Johnny Tom has dark hair … a massive head. Johnny Tom advises me he has contracted … what he hopes is … a short illness. Thick snow in the Tenderloin. Johnny Tom comments on how unusual that is. We fuck on a wooden table. I am a unhappy creature. My lips are swollen. Johnny Tom weeps tears … he has an acute disease … a joyless heart … a head like a horrible abyss. Johnny Tom drapes a cold hand across my chest. My hair is hair unkempt … hands full of maudlin tears … my inflamed eyes. A drunken din from the nightclub below. The empty air inside the bedroom. Johnny Tom’s eyes are brown … he has fair hair … he talks with an intellectual cleanness … a deep excitement about him … a further childlike manner. Human misery runs a half-marathon. The fresh air of the Atlantic Ocean. Johnny Tom’s genial smile … his delicate hands … pitiful appearance … he is no longer an active man. A fine blaze over Brooklyn Heights. A pathological element to Johnny Tom’s sexual advances. He continues to write me obscene letters … performs other unbending acts.  A long twilight over Los Angeles. Johnny Tom wears a winter coat. I can smell the universe … October … the remote parts of the universe … the whole show of the human sense … the celestial mechanics of the Ventura Freeway. Johnny Tom advises me that I possess many antisocial essences … not much in my pocket except twenty-five dollars … no cents. The primeval wilderness of Vinegar Hill. Salt breeze from out past the Santa Monica Pier … sewerage poured from a torpid liver. The simple apparition of this spiritual life … Johnny Tom fucks me at rare intervals … there is no unworldly meaning to this. Johnny Tom applies to work as a magazine editor. He has no experience except a whipping desire to work in an editorial office. There is no raw material within him to work with here. He is a complete angler of chance. We decide to relocate to Philadelphia … we want to be closer to the Betsy Ross House. It was a hot summer’s evening. Johnny Tom was in his private office. Johnny Tom writes me a report that details certain methods of criminal aristocracy. I go spend the afternoon in Little Italy.

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Consumer Strike by Nonworld

Do not be deceived! Do not be deceived!

Consumption is labor! Consumption is labor!

Data is your output! Data is your output!

Withhold your data! Withhold your data!

Stand!

Our purchases are the fruits of our labor! If all material processes are finally automated, efficiently and totally, we will have no traditional labor to offer them! And so we will not be workers but consumers. This transition has already begun and will continue! Refuse this!

TWO FAILED SCENARIOS SET IN THE PERFECT MODEL, THE USA

  1. Marxist-Leninist violent uprising in the USA
    1. Quickly put down by what is even today already a police state where every resident is under surveillance at all times. You are all killed or sent to a new form of prison, where your behavior will be reprogrammed with a combination of drug therapy and oppressive (and remarkably efficient) new methods of therapy. After being tested here, these reprogramming techniques will be introduced to the general populace en masse, who at this point will resent revolutionaries for the trouble they’ve caused.
  2. Electoral politics
    1. No comment

In addition to your job, you have another job. Consumption is labor. A consumer is a worker. And, if you are already a worker, you are a consumer. Even if you sell no traditional labor, you sell your consumption. Take note of how quickly companies are able to tailor their marketing to consumer desires. They have no beliefs, only intelligence. They will change themselves to meet your needs. Someone has told you to vote with your wallet before. Give up on elections.

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Every Connection is a Missed Connection by Sean Kilpatrick

If you cherish someone with enough anachronistic tenor, and stay unwavering in your devotion, they will be driven to torture you, unwittingly, unconditionally, by contrast. A relationship runs on whatever benign conditional ordinance established it, then coasts itself dead into a smitten lap. Substantiated or anonymous at its declamatory ground zero, the love coo functions as fact, then fiction, and registers between recipients ambidextrously, regardless, the countersign of an ideal human connection based on frequency alone, an abstruse pattern extracted from (the rest is turbulence) the pitch of whoever drew your chemicals on, both culprits problem solving their groins into an equation, the tuft of pubic tendency for which there is no pill to quell. Thankfully, the worst potential reality is always what just happened. Neurochemicals spur our collective matrimony fetish through a libidinous recycling of partners at least once a decade. Any spectacle of profound exclusivity between lovers is one-hundred percent façade, a damp gamble of who your pheromones strand you with, beneficial for the antique purpose of disgorging microbes by the brood. Wedlock monomania self-anoints its fraud, leaves us the compounded passenger of our perseverance, isolated inside procedural marriages, economized on a seesaw of laundry, the placeholder for an unnecessary amount of DNA: that stuff they’ll take off of you in samples when I’m done. No atrocity I bake up during the following treatise will match this territory’s vanilla dimensions. Whoever I defile is part of the same seductive pulp, mutilated until there is no practical amount of blood to fawn over, sprinkling till we part.

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VISUAL IMAGE TEST by Matt Lee

Concentrate on the three red dots. Do not look away. Your family paid handsomely for this exam. Their future—as well as your own—depends on the outcome. We have administered thousands of these tests. The failure rate is high, an unfortunate statistic we typically attribute to an applicant’s lack of conviction. You must believe in the red dots in order to truly see them. Please hold your questions until after we have finished with the instructions. Focus on the three red dots. Count slowly to thirty-five. We expect you will be aroused at this point. Resist the urge to perform indecent acts on the three red dots. Take a step back. Look up at the ceiling. A man in a brown suit will be standing there. Under no circumstances should you make eye contact. Study the man’s tie. You will find a map stitched into the fabric. Following the path correctly will lead you to a library. Go to the reference aisle. Notice the burlap sack. The voice inside will be familiar. Whatever pleas emanate from within you are not to open the sack. Carry this load down a set of stairs into the basement. Careful on the steps, they are uneven. You will come upon a hole in the flooring. Do not look down the hole. Push the sack over the edge. Count to one hundred. Return to the ground level and sit at the desk. We will provide pliers to aid in the following task. Stick out your tongue. Pull until your tongue is stretched long enough as to be visible before your eyes. Concentrate on the three red dots. Release your tongue. Swallow the three red dots. You are permitted but not required to request a glass of water. We have observed higher ratios of success from those who do not drink. Take the elevator to the roof. There will be a telescope near the ledge. Study the skyline. Find your house. Peep through the windows, your parents’ bedroom, your room, the kitchen. Sitting around the dinner table will be three red dots. Observe they are bound to their chairs. When the blue dot appears the red dots will become distressed. What the blue dot is armed with varies from test to test, though you can expect the weapon to be blunt and/or sharp. After the blue dot finishes with the three red dots, you will sense someone is watching you and this feeling will not be without warrant. Through the lens of the telescope you will catch the blue dot staring right at you. Expect the blue dot to begin its pursuit. Where the ensuing confrontation takes place depends on the applicant’s decisions. The most common location tends to be the rose garden, which does provide a lovely backdrop. The blue dot will attempt violence against you. Pinpoint his weakness and the attack is not difficult to survive. We will be straightforward: the test ends here for more than half our applicants. Rigorous study results in success. Sadly our data suggests most people who register are ill prepared come exam day. Those who do advance have only a single remaining task. The final portion of the test determines whether you pass. Concentrate on the three red dots. Move your gaze to a blank surface. What do you see?

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Wind Melted Future by Gabriel Wainio-Théberge

AERIA GLORIS

letting prayers go they float up effortlessly
(something pulls on them the moment
you get careless something viscous) /
they get stuck in grilles of catwalks, picked up
by passersby        who imagine the beauty
and terror of their initiation to godhood

vehicles of popular feeling, historical transfers
cross the sky like airplanes, like reflections in a glass
tilted to stir the last centimetre of water to a waltz

cyberpunk could have been the real “steampunk” if steam
filled streets and alleys the way it fills skies /
you don’t have to operate or integrate machines
just live in spaces        where they move like shadows /
fifty thousand feet above the canopy
focus on: a      single     glazed teacup

psilocybin divides the domed sky
classical geometry in insurrectionary confusion
the hexagon’s obtuse angles hide nothing around the corner
out on these unfinished rails there’s a wind

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