by Jane L. Carman
Story 1: There is a girl who says things like No and Please and Don’t and Stop and Leave and Me and Alone.
Story 2: She passes, cuts through air and time, avoiding. Her scent climbs rising heat, advancing up bodies. A little bit and more. Her breath working around space as if it doesn’t want. But it does. Something. Wants some thing. Her hair wraps loose. Her neck. Her face. And that curve. It always comes back to how that curve moves. And desires. And conforms. How it reaches out toward space before falling away.
Story 3: A virgin slut with the pigtails low, ponytail high, with lemon juice and peroxide, with Clairol and big dreams or disillusions or mistakes waiting, wading in sorrow.
Story 4: Language is born between clicks and vowels.
Story 5: There is really no such thing as sex.
Story 6: It comes down to this. It comes down to the cock. Comes down to how it crows. How loud it celebrates mourning.
Story 7: Baby goes all the way on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Tasting ink, melting text. She compares (im)perfection to im(perfection) and wins. She feels good vibrations but cannot hear the call. Lust, her lover tries to say. Words caught between passion and regret, the lover says nothing, doesn’t want to know what’s in the shadows, but keeps looking. I can’t help it, says the lover. Baby goes all the way on the cover of the Rolling Stone, cannot speak with words, uses imagery to do things. To do everything. Almost everything.
Story 8: Beverly Hills Boy has a sporty, rusted car. He moves fast, produces that laugh thick with the scent of sex growing, a vineyard full of sensations growing ripe in the sun, bursting. They want to take him home and keep him, but cannot remember where home is. He asks if they party all the time. They think not. Never. Hardly ever. They mean. They reach for him, but he’s rolling away. Stop, they say. Stop. His ride roars, shoving their desires aside. He is headed toward Malibu Mansion or Somewhere Exotic, a space they cannot imagine, cannot read. Come back, they say. The road rock dust rolls in on itself. There are too many clouds to know whether the sun is setting or rising.
Story 9: Before Bob Barker wants your pet spayed or neutered, there are dogs having puppies because that’s what dogs do. A bitch has a litter of fourteen little brown coydogs, canines that will never make a pet, that will surely terrorize livestock and children. Thirteen of the puppies are tossed ina burlap sack and taken to the river where they float and sink, whine and weep, swallow liquid death and resurface, catfish biting on burlap until the sack comes undone and the bodies free to sink or wash up and decay. The fourteenth puppy is kept as an experiment. As a pup it tries to have sex with legs, furniture, a goat, and a coyote before being castrated with a hunting knife.
Story 10: There is a girl. A really bad girl. She swears. And swears to gods. And, because she is a really bad girl, she has sex. A lot of sex. This makes her bad. Makes her a worse girl than the girl she was when she only swore. There is always a bad girl having sex so the good girls can feel better about their re/depression.
Story 11: How his hands become weapons. How desire swims up the stream of love twisting into fire and rage and shame and. How his will pries her open, splitting her at the soul. Separating.
Story 12: In 2008 an 18-year-old man is charged with raping a 5-month-old baby girl while her mother is in class at the local high school. The baby (who requires surgery and cries hard enough to either vomit or overfill her lungs with melancholy) might have been crying too loud for the man to tolerate or the man might have been on drugs or drunk or the baby might have been asking for it or the man might have just needed to satisfy a primal urge to dominate or to get off. Fifty years earlier, a mother castrates her newborn son. The infant’s screaming or the shame of having a disfigured child or the understanding of the possible spiritual or legal consequences is too much, it works its way to the mother, slips through her cells as she lines up a revolver to the temple of the infant’s head, then to her own. She pulls the trigger once. A century earlier a father rapes a 10-month-old daughter who bleeds to death and is placed (along with several rocks and flowers) in a burlap sack and sent to the bottom of a river that flows into the Mississippi and then the Gulf of Mexico. It is unclear how far the body, bricks, burlap, or flowers travel before being consumed by fish or mud.
Jane L. Carman enjoys unruly writing that pushes against genre and expectations. She is a former Sutherland Fellow at Illinois State University where she teaches innovative writing and literature. She is the founder of Festival of Language, an annual array of artists in motion that coincides with AWP.