Blackbox Manifold

Issue 10: Joan Harvey

Your Words My Mouth

            The surprisingly mobile object made of straddling, of sucking, of rejoining, of living exponentially, extends the boundaries of willingness. You give me placebos of language, of invert domination, of fabrication, of soft denouement; your strength grows with regularity even off-duty, an inconceivable fracture of my truancy surer than swamps. Forcing the sod sob hop of reverberation, not the hum pun of hunt of my clock time without you, its swift drive along the highway past those gas stations where you float amber into your old story, you weep into the cerveza and the big soft river, the frijoles, the new day drag. 

            Folded around the haze where brain ceases, my heart is webbed with your traps. I ever had this idea to find your struggles here in this other language where I am translated into the babble of flushed toilets on Monday. We get loose, I melt, and bombs float around the evacuation of the spilling library. I metabolize your mumbles into mouth music, into my main street where you and I converge incandescently. Then propriety injures itself into combustion, into the one who owns my flag or computes the verb with which you create my nausea. And now I have to go liquidate my brain. 

            This time will be the last time of a kicked can glimmer of dog’s mouth or where I found you yesterday, my hope riddled with bullet holes, ready to take a bent nail of story in the morning. Globalization is cheap, your labor is feeling which maximizes the prophets; your words make my noise. I wander tender, feathered, and festooned with your night calls. This globe is my globe and we sail away sighing without singing. Made of husks, made of hazard, I bar your dark blistered comet from my air.


            It’s the era of cold food, hot wars, the night falling through its own fingers. The heartbeats of the 7 billion, monotonous, exciting, deafening. Frustrating. You can’t fuck or kill em all. They will all die however which is not to say there will be less or fewer of them. I remember the body in the dirt under its rock. I don’t go there any more. Someone slams against a wall.

            The building shakes, is attacked, a buzz, the word radical which tames itself as spoken. The clients for the boy clubs are the whores, who sell sex, but want to buy love. We shop here in the gutterals, the slide from one sound to the other, like plunging off a cliff into a body that produces noise. What you give is what you get, voices back and forth and we fall into the hump of the bass. Eating drinking being older, it doesn’t matter much. Later it becomes water dripping or blood draining. Out of the deflating corpse of the necropolis.

            A balance then on the terrible, a skip, a heartbeat held, a breath, a waiting on the edge before the plunge, held back pushed forward. Until shift under skin into struggle, the cell of disaster. Or smell of despair-ity, with allusion and assonance to smother the dark. The slowly turning worm.

            Thinking it out as systemic torture to stay alive, I can no more. Fight to no bell here with lies spilled and syntax sprung, hoping they want you in a very special way. It’s better not to understand, you can move through it more quickly, navigate the spinal tributaries, the war and religion of mundane life. Dissolve in distant nostalgia, fill with internal props the missing peace.

            Fill ourselves with stars. We fill with stuff. and fail.

Grief Monkey

            Snagged on the blood thorn, its seductive, particulate smell. Her Mickey Mouse aria, his tree-lined room. Suspended and darkling, this repro madness; we all want our genes to carry on. Details fluctuate like blood sugar, hopes in spiky patterns and round ones and lazy droopy lines, a silvery blossoming in night air. A prick. Those dreams, those blasted dreams that entwine us so. When something dies in you it is born in someone far away. Use everything but the squeal when you butcher the pig.

            Absence spondee. Ridding, relief, flow of energy back into the space where the child had been. Lightness, a freedom, motion in the body no longer dragged down, no longer blue in the face and green in the balls, green energy of lovesexy. It wept all over her overalls while she waited for the boys to return. Too late, too late, too late, too late. The red windswept dawn. Flickering of tiny birds in the spaces of the hedge. A gnarled trunk. The possibility of new adventure. Milk spilt breastward.

            Sun angled on a wall, and, in the shadows, the ends of exposed wires. She felt vulnerable or mildly. The grease monkey’s ideal. Or someone gelid, sallow, in turquoise stretch slacks and pale pullover, hoping not to be noticed. A tiny Chihuahua perched on her lap. All afternoon priorities stumbled and clashed. Would he come in sweating or move out imperiled? His sun-bitten words. When she answered his song she sank through all the blue in the world.

            Some things you can’t confide. Some things you cannot know. The house shifts a little, begins its slow descent downhill.

Sacher-Masoch Torte

Stroke the little underside of her brain, make it warm and purr.  

Give her a tumble. 

I like to watch.

Somewhere – the Danube maybe – lots of birds of all kinds flying in. Her name is Bianca. Early morning

deceives her and she is up and around before the crack of dawn. Dawn's glorious crack. Hits her sideways. She looks at him hard, a kind of challenge in her mouth. Mouth the color of pomegranates. A long tall drink of blonde water. It’s not that her eyes are young, but that she reanimates the remote pages of history. In the feel of the flesh


and the feel of the velvet jacket. An emissary, a stand-in, or light drain, in rooms whose horizons stretch on forever. Reading her rat book, a smattering of broken glass round her neck. His offer of drugs makes her yawn. Perfect animals sit and groom themselves in the neighborhood.

Lying on white fur. Sugar and cake of black forest make-believe. Frozen milk. A baker is a sugar communicator.

They row a boat out in the sunshine. The monsters are afraid of water. Rays of light are voluptuous and turn you into a woman. Rays of sun will remake him as her. He will build her a white fur house. She’s the gamesmistress; she’ll never cry again.

The boat sinks. He makes a white fur tomb for the grief where it dies of encuddlement. They’ll let its haunting goosebump them.

Saying she doesn’t know where she’s going she suddenly arrives. Even swathed and swaddled, agitation needs its tools. Something clicks mechanically, then comes together in a milk-lit light. The velvet of the smoking jacket fills the gaps where happiness gets eaten.

Joan Harvey's fiction, poetry, and translations have appeared in numerous journals including Web Conjunctions, Drunken Boat, Smokelong Quarterly, Reconfigurations, Otoliths, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Tampa Review, Bomb, Another Chicago Magazine, und so weiter