THIS IS THE LAST ISSUE OF NAP.
THE CAVE BEHIND THE WATERFALL
Return to the ship and sail north. The girl with the yellow ribbon in her hair, your childhood friend, will unlock a passageway through the levee. You think this might be it, you’re finally in open water, but no, you are in a huge lake, the rest of the world still inaccessible. Follow a river inland, where a cave is tucked behind a waterfall. Anchor the ship and enter the cave. The air is heavy and damp. Goosebumps rise up on your skin, though you’re not sure if it’s the coolness of the cave or her standing next to you. She talks about how pretty it is in here, the light from openings in the ceiling rainbowing as it refracts through waterfalls falling all around you. She hasn’t had much time to explore the world since her mother died. Descend deeper into the cave. Drop through holes in the ground, remembering floors you fell through when you went ghost hunting with her. Find the robe that will protect its wearer if she falls asleep or becomes paralyzed. Think of the stoned circles you made on lazy rivers. Think of when you learned to waterski, all that water rushing by beneath you, standing up for small wet seconds on wobbly legs. At the bottommost cavern, there is only a treasure chest with an elixir in it. No magic ring. There must be something you missed. Backtrack, retrace your steps. Walk through a waterfall into another cavern. There, the ring of water, perched on a pedestal, glowing blue. You expect water monsters to splash up from puddles, but there is nothing that stops you from taking this ring. She says she is so happy for you, that now you will be able to marry the wealthy man’s daughter, acquire the legendary shield, but she doesn’t meet your eyes. This ring, unlike the ring of fire, you cannot equip. Some unseen force prevents you sliding it onto your finger. But transfer it to her inventory, see that she can. Slip it onto her finger, like you would an engagement ring. This ring is meant for something else, but you want her to have it, you never want her to take it off. You can hear the tide turning. Soon the cavern will flood. ‘I feel like I can breathe underwater,’ she says, ‘My lungs feel like lochs.’ Think of a river winding like a liquid tongue through the desert, a sun that burned your ankles. You wanted her, wherever she was, to be with you, to take your hand as you both drifted ashore, back to solid ground.
STRANGE LIFE FORMS IN AREAS WE USED TO THINK WERE UNINHABITABLE
I made a ship that you swallowed
because anyway who needs one,
because where we go we swim
and it is easy.
The ship you swallowed is there
still, I see it in your throat bobbing
when we are bobbing, and I
am heavy and wet now
and bobbing is hard. The rain made
the water hard too. The water is
done with us. The water
wants a ship too,
and you floating don’t know
because you floating don’t
need one because you
are wooden on your
back watching the
red sky. My bones have become
a wet t-shirt rolled up and your
bones are hugging each
other in your sleep.
And even when the sky is a blurry x-ray
and even when the water is tired I am
still on my back and you are still
on your back in a completely
CAN’T BE SAD WITH GEESE
The goose juggler balances birds on his palm. Flips them high. Spins them like pizza dough. He does this with his eyes closed. In the dark of his quarry-cave he performs for rocks. He likes their blank, stony faces. He likes their names. ‘Obsidian, quartz, pyrite.’ He performs. His geese squawk. The stones do nothing. He likes the emptiness of his cave. His cave has no clocks. He can’t stand the pressure of passing minutes. He likes the pressure of geese feet in his hand, of feathers fluffed. As far as he knows he is the only man who can juggle geese. The only man who knows how geese rise and fall. He knows geese like he doesn’t know women. The geese aren’t derisive. The rocks don’t judge. Unlike the woman he left behind who left him gasping. Without clocks he doesn’t feel the passing of time. That yearning beneath. He stands on one foot and juggles five large geese. He does this for an unknown measure of time. He stops. The rocks eye him impassively. As she knelt before another man, she eyed him impassively. He watched them for one minute, then another. Deep in the cave, he takes a bow.
We were underneath the pluming parachute, sitting Indian style on rainbow rippling nylon, when the gym teacher showed us his scrotum. You could smell the sweat and suntan lotion and fresh-cut grass. Only a few of the fourth graders noticed it, since most of the students were mesmerized by the opening at the top where the sun poured in. We watched Mr. Wilson stretch against the ballooning canopy with its interminable ripples. White athletic socks with red vertical stripes halfway up his shins, sunburn on his forearms, the parachute sustained its inertia.
Before we went under we made magic. We stood in a circle and flapped. Like gripping a flying carpet, it lifted me in the air for a moment as our hands waved in harmony. Now Mr. Wilson was introducing fuzz to the ritual, his lobster dangling above the steaming pot. Smooth as melted garlic butter, oozing from his khaki shorts, Mr. Wilson conducted class as usual.
Our curvature of the parachute never recovered.
Mark Berkowitz died of a heroin overdose the summer after junior year. Under the parachute, Mark wondered what stage in the sexual education pamphlet depicted Mr. Wilson. Mark’s mother busted us smoking cigarettes in the bathroom during his paintball-themed Bar Mitzvah.
Jenny Donovan would become an anorexic before graduating bulimic. She whispered into my ear as Mr. Wilson spread his knees wider, as if giving birth. “It looks so hungry,” Jenny said. “A monster blanketing for flesh.” Jenny would end up with tubes down her throat and needles feeding her veins. She was chubby in the parachute, able to weigh down her fair share of nylon.
There were others in our curvature—students who ended up worse. I don’t want to talk about them. What happened after recess haunts my permanent record. Mr. Wilson was rubbing out the wrinkles. The parachute was stretched in a circle. We were at the far edge of the field outside the gymnasium. We did not speak. We were not able to raise the parachute as high as the whole class, but we held down our curvature and disappeared into the nylon.
That was the last time Mr. Wilson went free-balling to class. At least the last time I saw that bright white flash in the desert where they tested the nuclear weapons. Sometimes I drive by campus in the spring and stop to watch the parachute unfurled and mushrooming in all its majesty. I wonder what he is telling them inside, what spell they are under, and how many miscarriages lie ahead. The rainbow ripples pull me beyond the drone of traffic and airplane engines, into the vapid angst of adolescent gym class, the limitless inertia of possibilities, and for one moment, free from suburban monotony, the magic carpet rises for an infinite whirl in paradisiacal cumulonimbus.
the weather reporter inside my body
is away in Bermuda. he likes to sit by the pool
reading some malcom gladwell book.
it makes him feel rich.
inside my body, there is a piece of copper
in the shape of a satellite
whose job is to confuse sperm.
It is a very serious but “simple” device:
it lacks complex desires or conflicts of interest.
it keeps getting emails from LinkedIn
about a managerial position at a Red Lobster in North Dakota,
but it is very loyal and cannot commute.
can you help me?
I am willing to go anywhere
I can take all of my problems and funny attitudes
for the same price as only taking myself
I don’t know why all my poems have fish in them
I have looked up everything on the Internet:
Ron Livingston, sexual activity of the popes,
where is legal to have a pet skunk
I am more human than you are
I say, because I am concerned with everything
I am going to sit on my feet at the end of the world
while my waning career of sentience
is pouring over myself and everyone
confused and celebratory
at the end of the world a yoga pose is still a yoga pose
You don’t have to hold my hand
because you aren’t holding my hand already
I look forward to going away separately
Have you ever Googled yourself
and found your mother’s obituary?
Take your sharpest paring knife
peel the firm, red rind of your hip,
slice open your calf and remove
the wet muscle, like popping
an edamame bean from its pod.
We went through her things
in a storage unit outside of Philly,
broken ornaments, pans with food
still stuck to them, a journal radioactive
“You can use this for entertaining!,”
her sister said, holding up a fondue kit.
I don’t even entertain myself.
I took the cricket cage,
a hinged metal box meant to hold
the symbol of good fortune.
I pictured it sitting on her dresser,
way back in a time
when we believed in something
so stupid as luck.
MELISSA BRODER / CARRIE MURPHY / A.T. GRANT / CARRIE LORIG / JOHN STEEN & LAURA STRAUB / JOHN DERMOT WOODS / HEATHER CHRISTLE / JOSHUA KLEINBERG / CASSANDRA TROYAN / DAVIS MACKS / SCOTT ABELS / SARAH CARSON / MATT HART
THE SKY IS FALLING
They knocked down another house in the neighborhood.
One loud naked morning two more will go up in its place.
They call Venice the City of Falling Angels because the
people who live there resist change with the sad veracity of
a body battling back against decrepitude. The buildings
crumble and molder like an aging face, the city rife with the
terrible beauty of life turning in on itself. We will call this
the Summer of Falling Bricks, but later it won’t be the
empty lots, barren as defunded excavations, that you
remember, nor the biblical implications of another
hurricane in the gulf while Oklahoma blistered with
drought, drawing the crickets like locusts in swarms. But
the image of a single cricket behind the toilet, not dead but
dying, how it seemed for a moment to shudder and grow in
the nourishment of your gaze, will startle you awake
intermittently for years. You want so badly for everything
to be beautiful.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
you eat the popcorn
I’ll tell u what scares me
The film where the woman
Misses her last train
And shit goes down
You turn yr head towards
The window and
say the film about a family
of cannibals? Whose
dad died and they had
to carry on – the kiwi
spills two green liquid
dots on the tablecloth –
I remember when you
Came into work, i thought
You were the beautiful
Woman, with peach lips!
On that cartoon
That bones clicked
Every time he moved
You eat the popcorn
Oh yes skin crawling
Out of the window
Don’t stop it let
It go bye you
Throw it in yr
A blue r O
NOKIA LUMIA 920
I find the pube next to my pillow
and hold it up to the light from my phone I am
allowed into this world, it is nt just
yours, it is for anyone, there is a
funeral passing through the estate
but you’re in love and you’re just done
you’re A-levels every one of your
folders is a sherbet colour you
put on your gold hoop earrings
and put in your gummy headphones
you walk everywhere and its summer
the boys in black pass you and you
stare at your x best friend who has
dark skin and the lips of a lipglossed
crispy cream or like those clowns
in the simpson’s you’re going to uni
if you get what you want and all this
all of what you were will wipe itself