He walked down the busy street and conversations seemed bubbles, some kind of atmosphere, nothing more. He passed a couple and they may as well have been gas from sewers. He went into a restaurant to use the bathroom and walked down a hall with mirrors on both sides and they seemed with his dizziness from hunger to be eating each other. Timothy waited patiently for what seemed a small forever as some man apparently fell asleep for a time before being jerked awake by the thunder of one meek bit of dry lightning outside. Timothy was on his was to that spot in that alley behind the old mall, the gash, the spot where people said time had somehow simply just torn open.
More brief excerpts of books to be categorized as “required reading.”
Plats by John Trefry (Inside the Castle, 2014)
This is a difficult book to describe, and partially because it is a book that is so much about description. In the tradition of writers like Michel Butor & Philippe Sollers, but also seemingly so much in conversation with Gaston Bachelard and Rainer Maria Rilke, especially in relation Rilke’s famous declaration: “For a long time nothing, and then suddenly one has the right eyes.” The way in which the self notices the surrounding world, sees, notices one’s own self and inhabits a body that perceives so profoundly in language, is explored on a level that becomes haunting, unsettling, yet addicting.
With my own obsessions with slowness and space, this book is both slow and urgent, mesmerizing and hallucinatory, and it’s hard to look past things in the real world when the impulse shifts to looking within and without and between.
Joe Milazzo writes in a review: “Still processing the complexities of this text. Shades of Butor, Philippe Sollers and even Baudelaire in Trefry’s careful, even sometimes carefully grotesque, prosody—so, French—but this is a book that is deeply American in its concern with the self. Plats is also one of the most original meditations on sensory experience I can recall reading. And, yes, there is a narrative here, and it possesses dimensions (modern as well as ancient), but this is a book the requires you to perceive it first and only to read it ‘later,’ that is, through the medium of your own deliberation.” (Also read this great conversation between Joe Milazzo and John Trefry on Entropy)
Enormous things change. The ocean laps back and forth between the coasts and swirls down underneath itself into lightless caverns. The sand drifts along down the beach and the sky where it was filled with clouds turns bright brown and where it had been white a faint rain falls and will go on falling. I try to keep it off of my skin. It is a sudden discovery of old pain, rootless and rattling. It runs down my coat and over my shoes and through the veins on my hands. I lift the hair off of my neck and when I walk a raindrop falls under my collar, runs between my shoulderblades and soaks into my underclothes. It makes my neck hard and I feel that I need to pivot my head to keep my neck from crumbling into flakes. I stop under a street tree.
Each color body drifts through the fabric of the air bearing the profile of a local object: a chair back, a long conical pleat, a stack of table cloths. With a breath, the spectral furniture is drawn in, and exhaled in a cloud. The poses of the hall are exacted in the emptiness among the richly moist air. The darkness between the floating beads conjures the foliate pattern of the rug in waxy negative space and the air between each bead is the pale mauve of swollen breathing. The air space between each bead, each complete refracted room containing a breathing body, is an empty chasm filled with that breath. Each bead floating away from the rug makes visible the entire expanse of its pattern. In the space between breaths, in stillness, reflection is the ideal depiction of a disintegrating reality.
Farther Traveler by Ronaldo V. Wilson (Counterpath, 2015)
Desire and loss, mourning and fucking, the spaces in between, the crevices, the heartbeats and the waste, the trauma that belongs to someone who desires, the trauma that belongs to no one, love and weeping, nose hairs and stinging aggression. I wish I could articulate better what the writing of Ronaldo Wilson is and does, but more than existing, it moves and traverses, and more than doing, it complicates and enacts. Because the writing is so much more than simply being about something, the writing evades any label. Good. Labels are often so unproductive. I’ve admired Ronaldo Wilson for awhile. He is fierce and intelligent and witty and active in a way that seems transcendent. I remember one morning at a literary conference on my way to a morning panel, running into Ronaldo while on his morning jog.
Ed Wilson drives down Tampa boulevard, old food wrappers strewn across his dash, radio playing that constricted play list of classic rock in the era of streaming audio on smart phones, turn signal broken again, headlight held on with duct tape again, that new bird dropping pretty darn Jackson Pollock this time around on the windshield from lunch under those trees by the aging burger stand. The sky is full of those high thick shards and odd U.F.O shapes near the mountains in a dry Santa Ana wind; hulks and ruins not of sun or rain, to Ed a kin of newspapers blown along fences. It is 1 p.m
She baked him cookies. Well the 3d printer made them as she mentioned the recipe to him in the video chat with only a brief hesitation as the computer searched for her recipe. She smiled and told him of her day the day before and how she had made a new vase in her art class. A few seconds later he had it in his hands.
Bidding Time, gentlemen please.
Debris dropped through slats leads arrow more debris for another slat.
I’ve melted all the Jeff Koons and feel no guilt.
$$$$$$ — I’d like a Costco, plz
Gast Tations, too, some flags
(Toilet Adrenaline, Kidneys Afire)
– – – —–>>>> Who’s at the door ????
Apprehensio i wh the hel t d wha i i amoun wha i a amount
I’m in a dark place right now. It feels like death. Or rather, it feels like I’m in a fast food commercial. I farce a smile for the burger-camera-ream.
We’re all hanging from a hook, marbled and blow-torched—frozen.
The inspectors clear us.
God eats us.
& the toilet beats us.
– – – I am a crust of joy. You
Are the red top
And her handbag hosted high
Bahamut fucks Ifrit fecks Leviathan flips Jörð
– – copia
Life is a fleeting moment like a
hurl from a barley legal
The lady with the butterfly net
Waltzes through Harrods, singing
– – – about Empire,
– – – – – – – – crumbs of
Nabokough’s salacious cartoons
– – – kneeled in gravel
– – – – – – groping, devastated
– – – god-taxed
– – – – – – ( whale shadows )
– – – – – – grifted
– – – buzz-
– – – – – drifted
Russell Bennetts is the founder and editor of Berfrois. His books include Relentless (2014) and Poets for Corbyn (2015). Rauan Klassnik is the author of Sky Rat (2014), Holy Land (2008) and The Moon’s Jaw (2013). Bennetts and Klassnik are the co-founders of Queen Mob’s Teahouse.
A Simple Game
At one and a half,
Fatima’s eyes are wide and wondrous.
Her cheeks are rosy on her pale skin.
And Mar Vista Park seeps into her touch,
the assessment of her movements,
as she waddles after her tennis ball.
her mother wears a hajib
that hides her hair, a long
dress that covers her legs.
But all I see
is a toddler with the world laid out in before her.
to explore. Possibilities yet
to run from our history,
never reconcile with our nation’s past.
We have never learned
of The Exclusion Act of 1882,
Chinese in America ineligible
for citizenship. No other country
except Nazi Germany and South Africa
on purely racial grounds.
We’ve forgotten Japanese internment
because every Japanese in America
was a spy,
an enemy alien,
working with Japan to
take over the United States
and spread Fascism in America.
The tennis ball sits in the sandbox.
The little girl stares at the ball,
stares at the sand. Fatima squats,
hesitates. Then reaches out,
her tiny arm too short.
She looks back at her mother,
brief concern in her eyes.
But I step in, sweat band around
my forehead, running shoes on my
I gently hand Fatima her ball,
cheeks still rosy on her pale skin, and
say in a sweet voice, “Here you go.”
With a timid expression on her face,
Fatima quickly toddles
towards her mother, throws the ball
and gives chase.
at such a simple game.
Brian Dunlap is a native Angeleño and continues to live in Los Angeles. He writes and explores the city from a native’s point of view, working to capture the city’s stories that fall through the cracks. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Fresno State and a BA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, both in fiction. He has previously been published in Angel City Review. He runs the blog site losangelesliterature.wordpress.com, a resource to explore L.A.’s vast literary culture.