It’s been a psychedelic ride with you guys, thank you for all the fun and the faces and so much dada during 2011, but after one year and infinite degrees of freedom, 946 posts written by 120 creative members, more than 36,000 visitors, 532 followers on tumblr and over 1000 on Twitter, the Kaffe in Katmandu says dada & good-bye & closes its doors high above the clouds. We’ll repost our best entries on Facebook as long as we feel like it. Happy New Year, cheerio & see you in the next project somewhere sometime!
Maitre d’, Penguin Pal
Photo: via 1000 Shipwrecked Penguins.
In a crowded place that is only doors and windows, and where people feel the need to come and go all the time, even in their sleep, there’s a wooden house like the ones at the coast, where the ocean takes love bites out of the land and the wind always whispers, only this in the mountains and the light is bright and rarified.
In the only room, with a checkered floor shaped like a circle, there are many tables and chairs. Here, women and men that look like you and me sit typing and drinking coffee. The coffee is black or brown or white, sweet or bitter, decaffeinated or hydrazine grade. Whatever way you like your coffee, the maitre d’ will graciously bring it to you.
In luminous letters that are mostly cosmic space and a tiny bit of matter, the men and women type prose and poetry and love letters and incantations and intentions and analyses and hopes and wishes about each other and the world. The process never ends and everyone can see what they write the moment the keys are pressed, like the thoughts in an infinite and interconnected mind.
[The author, Berit Ellingsen is a Norwegian writer and author of The Empty City.]
«I’m an online writer. Apart from a few print publications, I can only be read online. Sometimes I feel “online” is like a birth mark: can’t get rid of it. Goes with you everywhere. Obscurely related to your gene pool. Not pretty perhaps but, in the right light, one might take it for a giant tick or for a smudge.
Of course “online” is not a smudge. It’s the dog’s bollocks, the bee’s knees of contemporary writing. It’s writing for billions out there, potentially. It means striking fear into the very heart of the publishing industry. It’s “occupy literature” before anyone thought of occupying anything anywhere.
That online community, however, is a tent settlement, albeit of unknown extension. It doesn’t really occupy anybody else’s space either: rather, it creates land where it needs more. A little like the Dutch people, who wrestled most of their land from the sea at no small a price. Though the modern Dutchmen, I hear, have plans to save the money for repairing their dams and will instead live in houses that shall float when the flood comes to fetch them.
Perhaps that is the future of online writing also: no more pioneering spirit of the wagon fort, sitting around a virtual camp fire sharing stories of the bravest tweet, the most daring Facebook thread or the latest Duotrope submission tracking tale, but life raft-like constructions that can come together when and where needed and that help writers survive and attach themselves to reading communities as readers can attach themselves to us. Futurology is all about the right metaphor.
“Goodreads,” I say to you, fellow online writers, and then I disappear in ‘Ulysses,’ which, in this case, is not a book by Joyce, but an app by German software engineers who like writers. There’s this dependency of course: not only the fear of the blank page (or the blank screen) but the fear that you might not have the best app on your iPad. That you might not have an iPad. That you might be as alone on the Internet as you are anywhere else.
Because, whatever the future of online communities might hold, whoever might be in it or not in it (anymore): the fact remains that writing happens inside your head first and last of all, as a dialogue between your many selves, a loner’s love. There’s no reason, of course, not to have a lot of fun with others along the way. Or, as in my case, connect with a multitude of writers outside of my Germanic exile.
* * * * *
My earliest published online (literary) work is also the earliest work I ever published: “Tickled Pink” at Metazen, in June 2009. My earliest online non-literary work dates back to 1989, when as a young physicist at CERN I worked with the group of people working with Tim Berners-Lee on the creation of the World Wide Web.
[Published at Northville Review.
Illustration: © “Ceaseless murmuring” Carlye Birkenkrahe]
you say your heart aches
for the music I make
Mama scented fleurs
a long ocean of flourescent spatter
that grass green clinic
splashed the fragile waters
Admitted me to the drum
calling you Sir
when you declared we’d stay away
a forest of non-decisions
moss, fern, emerald quiet lives
Singing to Bach
his silent nights
Apart we are.
[Photo: Annie Griffiths Belt; Farmer, Dingle, Ireland, carrying his eleventh child. via National Geographic.]
by Darryl Price
A dog is a being that’s,well,
A dog. Can that also make him
A person? Only love can. That’s
What I think. A life has a sound
It makes, a certain sound like no
Other. When an animal you
Know dies the house bows its head and
Closes its eyes for awhile. It
Will open them again eventually.
When an animal
You love leaves the planet all your
Feelings float to the surface like
A bar of soap, easy to spot,
Impossible to push back down.
The old familiar winds pack up
For good, the new cooler ones are
Strangers for now. Goodbye little
Boy of mine, goodbye old man, my
Imperfect buddy for the short
Run. I’ll miss your cork nose. Your funny
Smile. The last time I took you
For a bath and a toe nail trim
They said you had fallen asleep.
Classic Colby. Enjoy the stars.
Jack leaves for work at seven a.m. He gets coffee at the diner on 6th and East Elm. He takes it black with two sugars. It keeps him warm and awake. He cannot afford the prices at the trendy coffee shops and only once did he let someone buy him a latte. He didn’t think it tasted four dollars’ worth.
In front of the diner he sets up his pot and rings his bell and all day watches people rush by him, a Salvation Army Santa. He is a fifty-one year-old former aeronautical engineer but he hasn’t worked as that for almost three years. He had a job at Home Warehouse for nine months until they closed several stores. A few months later they had to give up the house.
A woman drops two quarters into the pot. Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas! he says. She smiles as if she had written a check for five hundred dollars. Smug. Her coat is fine camel hair wool and she wears a bright holly green cashmere scarf with matching gloves and hat. He suspects that she’ll be buying a laptop computer for her children for Christmas. She’ll get diamond earrings from her husband, or maybe a large sapphire ring. Claire, he remembered, preferred the pale blue of tanzanite.
He stamps his feet, he is cold, but the cold doesn’t cut into him quite as much anymore. Officer, he calls out, can you watch this for me for a minute? The policeman walks over but he won’t take the bell. Jack puts that on the ground just under the pot. He hurries into the diner, heads for the men’s room and relieves himself. He washes his hands and buys a coffee and buttered hard roll on his way out. Thank you, Officer, he says, and picks up the bell.
Every day three bankers walk by just after noon. They converse as they walk at a brisk pace, weaving around people who aren’t walking as quickly, or who stop to dig into a pocket for change. Each of the bankers looks Jack in the eye, still talking to each other, not missing a step nor a word. None of them ever throws a coin into the pot. Jack holds their stare with his own. You’re all assholes, it says but they don’t seem to care.
Merry Christmas to you too, Santa! says an unbelievably tiny old woman. She bites off a mitten and digs around in her purse to come up with three dollar bills that she drops into the pot. Cold today, she says, pulling the mitten back on over fingers blue not from cold but poor circulation, Jack believes. He smiles at her, a smile a bit warped with shame.
As the afternoon loses its sunshine and the dusk sneaks in with its cold, Jack starts to pack up his gear. It has been a good day. He’s been given two coffees, a hot chocolate, a cup of soup and a rough mental count of about seventy-three dollars in the pot. He sighs and climbs the three flights up to his room at the Y, glad that he can at least now pay the rent.
Fatboy Review 12 Days 2011
Day 1: Tore Renberg
Day 2: Marcus Speh
Day 3: Matjames
Day 4: Lynne Tillman
Day 5: Jonas Mekas
Day 6: Eva Orner
Day 7: Mitchell Kane
Day 8: Katy Darby
Day 9: Suleiman Amanzad
Day 10: John & Tom Turrell
Day 11: Elsa Braekkan Payne
Day 12: Nisrin Boukhari
[middle]: My Life, chapter 3
— Vivre sa vie, Jean-Luc Godard
A street, thick-shadowed and mostly empty, with record shop, apartment, cafè, theater, is no real match for innocence. What she sees on the screen burns to the bone — Jeanne D’Arc in a fit of perfection or grief, not able to bend, not willing to stop, can’t help but question everything she touches, everything she wants — body and soul, body and soul. She gives herself only to herself, and finds that deliverance, sometimes, is no deliverance at all. You may believe in lines, but there aren’t any. Truth is nothing more than spirals of beauty and lust and essence and moment. Running like mad over the stiff mechanics of all things opposite, she lives simply because she says she lives, her words finding her at last — or should I say “at beginning” — finding her where she has always been.
(Excerpted from: Woman in Tableaux by Sam Rasnake; originally published at UCity Review. Photo: still from “La passion de Jeanne D’Arc”, 1928)
Randall was done with being Randall. He turned out his nightlight and lay face down on his bed. If not Randall, then what? A chunk of boxite? An apple pop-tart? A brilliant flash in the mind of a forgotten poet? An iron pot, the nest of hair in his parents’ shower drain? Love American Style, an electron searching for its mate, a kitchen table, the number four?
At the thought of becoming an even number, the soft blond down on Randall’s arms stiffened. He’d always envied the number four with its symmetry and its squatty complaisance. It had no deviant whims or passions. It was as innocent as a yoga tree pose, and even a kid could count to it.
Yet he’d be merely a number, wouldn’t he? He’d be stripped. Handless, eyeless, mouthless and manless. He’d be a stumpy hunk of fourteen-year-oldlessness—in effect Randalllessness. Then there was the problem of forever being stunted and boxy. Squatty, however, was better than spindly any day. He’d had enough of spindly.
Yet—Randall turned his pillow to the cool side—four-letter words and four-eyed geeks had sullied 4’s reputation. There was always that pop-tart and the forgotten poet’s forgotten thought. But all these options had a use-by date, except maybe Love American Style in syndication. (Would he be the whole series or just one show?) No, the number four was his best bet: it had longevity.
“Or that electron,” he whispered, “searching for its mate. A mate would be nice.”
“Randy?” his mother was calling.
He held his breath. The number four probably wouldn’t reply to a mother it probably wouldn’t have and especially not one who criticized the way he dressed and the “sassy” way he talked and the way he sang Blondie songs with a hairbrush mic.
“Randy?” She was standing at his bedroom door.
The number four would be so easy to understand. For one thing, it would have no gender to question. It would be solid and would never think of ending itself. It wouldn’t even think of thinking! Yet neither would the iron pot or the kitchen table. But did he really want to be in the kitchen that much, scrubbed and scoured by his mother? No, the number four it was. After all, who’s ever told the number four, “You think too much” or “You walk like a girl” or “There’s something not quite right with you”?
“Randall Mason Black!” She was pounding on the door now.
A lipless smile spread over the world where Randall Mason Black no longer lived, where Randall Mason Black no longer fielded feral questions, where Randall Mason Black would never again sing harmonies with Blondie or feel odd in any way. The number four didn’t need to feel anything but boxy, solid and even.
[Published in: Pure Slush. Photo: The American Girl, Marilyn Monroe by Milton Greene, 1954.]