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AQC Release for Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Words: Lucas Sarcona, James Beach, Asher Benatar, john-patrick ayson, Martin Balgach, Halvard Johnson, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, and William Bradley.

Visuals: Julie Steiner, Micah Black, Philipp S. Neundorf, and Binah D'amour.

Films: Butoh Dance, Julio Cortazar, Adam Curtis, Raymond Salvatore Harmon, Sabastian Lukaszuk, Milosz Marganski, Fursy Teyssier, and Michael Dudok de Wit.

[ previews and content links below ]


Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009


Lucas Sarcona

The ranch sits at the end of the gravel road that winds the length of Goleta Canyon, past rows of tomatoes and peppers into the foothills a ways.  Corn stalks stand tall in a field to one side, the husks and leaves powdered with dust spewed from the road where a small settlement of workers live next to the fields in clusters of old trailer homes and a covered arena where Samuel would often see men play and drink beer.  Whose yells came through the truck window as he passed.  The curving roadway turns to dirt through sparse lemon orchards, past fans like robotic sentries between the trees and blow the fruit from freezing in winter and the machine shop where a heavyset man sweated over a tractor engine.  Past walnut and avocado trees bunched together along the dusty lane, the orchard a maze of branches and radiant foliage.  Fleeting glimpses of pathways between the trees moving by the rows, these rifts during the harvest season bearing workers atop spindly ladders.  Early morning and no one besides the mechanic on the way up the canyon.  The crew would arrive soon at the ranch, the thought of the workday hollowing a feeling in his stomach not like hunger.

Several workers waited, leaning against a van at the bottom of the driveway looking on as he parked in front of his place.  Veinte minutos.  The mobile home is raised on cinder blocks on leveled plot at the sloping wall of the canyon.  He unlocks the front door and slips his boots off.  The clock over the table reads seven oclock.  In the kitchen he washes his hands and makes coffee.  Not ten yards from his place is the orchard, the rush of sprinklers and wooden pattering of water against thick vegetation audible from the window.  In the bedroom changing his clothes quickly, the popping of tires on the gravel road out in front of the barn as another car arrives.  He steps down the steep gravel driveway to the crew gathered there.  The men fit about the jeep and trailer with ladders and supplies, already the whistling and heckling that will be heard across the canyon through the day.  The jeep bumps slowly down the dirt road and into the orchard, dust unfurling in the wake of its heavy burden.


Excerpted from gas., an experiment, a metafiction, a novel novel

© 2009 James Beach



Happy now that I’m getting a bit of nourishment. Yes, I bought a frozen pizza and since the oven pilot was out I left it in the freezer. Naturally I wanted to eat it today. To stave off the hunger, divert the cravings for drugs, fill my afternoon.

And yes, I grilled that pizza on the oven-racks, which I set up on the range. (A bout with the broiler pan yielded burnt crust and cold top.) I put a chunk at a time over each of the burners, left it somewhere between 2 and 4 (out of 8). From time to time a chunk would catch fire. I dismantled the fire alarm.

Took me about an hour to grill all but the middle of the pizza (too soggy by the end of the shift). The crust of course charred on bottom, halfway through. But the top was hot.

You could call this, since this script also contains comic moments, you could call this the dark comedy pinnacle. Or whatever. Darkly comedic moment. A crux, a turning point. 

I’m feeling some nausea, now, actually. The worst was maybe the carcinogenic crust (of which I devoured one jaggedy piece). (I have no utensils here at all, remember. And I am enemies with my neighbors.) Gosh I hope the sausage and pepperoni were cooked long enough. You know my fears about intestinal parasites! They survive being frozen and grow and spawn indefinitely. Yuck. Or perhaps, just maybe, this was self-induced therapy, to get over all of that fear…

The nausea is psychosomatic, surely.


Ella, infinitamente Ella

Asher Benatar


En todos aquellos años de simulaciones y escondites, nunca había viajado en el subte Constitución-Retiro. Llegó cuando estaban por cerrarse las puertas de los túneles. Tomó el último tren y subió a un vagón desierto. Entró jadeando. Antes de sentarse se buscó en uno de los espejos. Anteojos que nunca había necesitado, el pelo con un corte prusiano que sus superiores, a quienes no conocía, le habían ordenado, la  ropa correcta y anónima. Se sentó. Momentos después entró una mujer que se ubicó frente a él. Raro que eligiera ese lugar, pensó Javier, sobre todo teniendo todo el vagón a su disposición. La mujer no lo miró. Él sí. Traje sastre negro, de buen corte, blusa blanca, ni una joya. En la mano, un maletín que no parecía pesar mucho. Como en otras oportunidades se preguntó si ella también pertenecería a La Organización. La miró en el reflejo de la ventanilla, recordando aquel cuento que había leído en su adolescencia, pero en el vidrio no halló la dualidad que el viejo maestro había imaginado en el Metro de París, la dualidad estaba en Ella, Ella corpórea y al mismo tiempo transparente, Ella dura, pero cierta dulzura escurriéndose de la mirada. Los rasgos eran limpios y marcados. Uno de los integrantes de la Organización pasó por entre la hilera de asientos, controlando. La mujer seguía en la misma postura, el rostro enfrentando al suyo pero los ojos desmintiendo todo deseo de entablar una conversación. Al llegar a la estación 9 de Julio sacó de su portafolios algunas hojas de papel unidas con un broche y las colocó en el asiento, a su lado, sin mostrar la menor intención de leerlas. Javier forzó su pensamiento. Algo había en esa mujer que lo inquietaba, no podía descubrir qué, tal vez su cuerpo, siempre en actitud de ponerse de pie para ubicarse junto a la puerta, tal vez su mirada a la que encontró latente, diferida. Después de la estación Lavalle, ella  se levantó dejando las hojas de papel sin recoger. Bajó del vagón sin mirar a Javier, que no hizo el menor gesto para recordarle su olvido porque advirtió que en aquella aparente distracción había algo deliberado, un mensaje  clandestino, y porque el hombre de la Organización iba y venía, con  los ojos atareados registrando todo, todo  menos aquellos papeles que Javier, al llegar a la estación San Martín, recogió con disimulo.

más leer...

Works by Julie Steiner, Micah Black, and Philipp S. Neundorf.

the warden.
john-patrick ayson

from one channel to another, the warden switches, pauses,
yawns - pokes his right nostril with his left ring finger - 

lends his attention to the first thirteen seconds of
an infomercial for a newer, safer, pseudo-silicone
breast implant procedure --- picks & eyes, in one stroke,
then sniffs the gray lint he collected inside his bellybutton --- skips two, passes three more channels,

rids his eyes of sleep snot by gouging them with the same
finger he used previously --- reverts to the channel where
the infomercial for a newer, safer, pseudo-silicone
breast implant procedure was showing --- now three minutes
& thirty eight seconds in --- unbuckles the clasps
of his suspenders, unzips his starched, crispy pants,


The Half-Life of Plastic
Martin Balgach

We have slept with death all our lives.
It will grind out its graceless victory.

—Jack Gilbert

While new planets are growing
old stars are dying

and I’m listening to heartbeats
that want the half-life of plastic

Before I am reconceived
I want to cradle warm smiles


Merry Christmas Fuckers
Martin Balgach

Stringing telephone pole instincts across the tired streets of city dwellers a Christmas light hits me like a gunshot. Now my head aches from the colored flaws of plastic tonsils and tinsel-treed targets. Here Santa is a savior, a god among the hungry droves of children who drool for presents. In the morning I’ll taste Scotch-tape scents, listen to piney lips waft egg-nog magnificence. I’ll watch the kids eat Chinese toys for breakfast, see them expose mounds of colored crap to make a smile where yesterday there stood a frown. Moms and Dads will pace camera flashes into piles of ripped-ribbon paper. Someone trips over a fire truck.  A candy cane curves against itself hoping for snow.

[ end ]

Sonnet: Hard Trills
Halvard Johnson

Rolling r's in Spanish is not as easy as rolling
drunken sailors on shore-leave in Lisboa, nor
as hard as rolling cigarettes with one hand tied
behind one's back. Gathering maple sap for

sugar may be easiest of all if you watch your
footing in the snow, and your Portuguese
might come in handy if you're ever in Macao.

Even humble pebbles need to watch where
they're going, even when it's only to Roslyn's
house over by the forest by the ocean and

its shore. Baboons come in around line eleven,
but don't hang around for long. Nixon invaded
Cambodia and Kent State University but never
took on Oxford. Let's all thank him for that.

[ end ]

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer
            Based on Bulgarian and American adages

Two sharp stones can’t
            Mill flower.

Two sharp bones can’t
            Make a joint.

Two stones can break
            Most bones.

You can kill two birds
            With one stone

Or the same bird twice
            With words.

[ end ]

A work by Binah D'amour.

What the Survey Doesn’t Say

William Bradley

Emily insists that my obsession with the old woman is odd and unreasonable.  To be honest, I’m not even sure why she caught my attention, although I guess the fact that I’d been drinking probably played a role.  We had finished one bottle of wine and had opened a second when we decided to watch an episode from the All-Star Family Feud DVD she’d bought me for my birthday (I have admittedly perverse tastes when it comes to entertainment and pop culture).  So maybe that was it—I was too impaired to really pay attention to what was happening with the casts of The Brady Bunch and Petticoat Junction, and instead found my attention wandering behind Richard Dawson during the final round, over the right shoulder of his black tuxedo, towards the old lady wearing the red pantsuit. 
The first thing I was struck by was that she seemed so very happy to be there.  Smiling, clapping, and dressed to the nines (as I imagined they said when she was younger).  “How nice for her,” I actually said aloud, pointing to the television so that Emily would notice her too—although you really couldn’t see much of her and she wasn’t on the screen for very long.
But then—and I don’t really know why, except maybe I was reminded by seeing Robert Reed on the screen, alive, smiling, quite likely already infected with the virus that would eventually take his life—I remembered how long ago this all happened.  1983.  This woman who couldn’t have been younger than seventy-five then was seated between two much younger women—daughters? granddaughters?  Her husband was, likely, dead and in the ground.  As she no doubt was by the time I was watching the episode decades later.


Showing: Butoh Dance, Julio Cortazar, Adam Curtis, Raymond Salvatore Harmon, Sabastian Lukaszuk, Milosz Marganski, Fursy Teyssier, and Michael Dudok de Wit.

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