Issue #54


An Exam For A Suitor

Introduction: Do our souls share cognates? If I go spewing in my inconsistencies, can you cherry-pick the overlap? I’d like to stand where our circles become concentric, but I don’t know where my derivation begins and your acquisition ends. In fact, I’m not sure we’re concentric at all. Let us perform a test.

Proctor’s Note: You must follow all technical and contextual directions. You must use only the thoughts and ruminations you believe to be honest and unique to you. A failure to comply with the policy will result in a penalty wherein the following charge must occur: (i) you will pick up the tab if the proctor has incurred any charges at the occupied establishment and (ii) one (1) haiku of the proctor’s choice of subject matter will be written on the nearest tree trunk in relation to the current location’s coordinates.

Directions: The examinee must answer each question thoroughly, with considerable gusto, in the format of romanticized prose. No academic writing is allowed. If the examinee wishes to consult the proctor for further information, only the facial expressions of the proctor in relation to the passage in question will be up for dissection. If one does not know how to answer the question, refer to only clause (i) of the penalty referred to in Proctor’s Note, assuming clause (ii) will be now deemed superfluous.

Section I. The moon builds a fence and the sun paints the ground red. They each glimmer separately to cue the hour-incumbent activities, but we no longer use sundials (if the preceding assumption is false, and one does construct sundials in one’s own backyard, proceed to the end of the exam, remaining exempt from any further questions). No, it’s more like we keep time with cryptic sighs, outfit changes, ballooned bellies, boners, one-more-drink one-more-smoke one-more-song. Like distracted children, we skip rope around the stuff that’s hard to talk about, waiting to speak until just the right moonbeam strokes our lover’s nose. “Was it the moon, or just my blurry peripheral?” We pine for the right intoxication of mind, looseness of limb, shade of the sun’s red. “Was it red or was that the reflection of the maple leaves in the lake?” There will never be the right moonbeam upon which to offer your lack of love. There will never be the wrong shade of scarlet for asking for exclusivity. In this utter travesty, the cat has stomped our tongues at ill times, and the dogs of us have gone on slobbering at others. Are the things that remain unsaid and stifled categorized under the leaves of a lie? When is the correct time in which to fornicate on a beach? And, finally, what happens in a meadow at dusk?

Section II. The art of denying indulgence is apparently one of the soul, not of the flesh. Sunday School always said: we must make due with only the pleasures separate from body, separate from earth. But how are we to love a thing we cannot feel, or taste, or hear? It seems like only that which is alive and visceral gets logged in my long-term, like when April’s first rain lifts dresses and bites thighs and when Stéphane Grappelli’s bow stretches across the high E and yawns into me. We were born to consume earthly things. Some of us were also born to worship and practice rituals wherein bodies succumb and minds bend, and, in one way or another, lay our shoulders at the altar. But were we not also born to snap at the heels of dominion, to claim vigor as our own burden, to throw a stone at tyrants, at regulation? So, then, what of my own lust for sanctity, this innate desire to succumb? Will you also fall on your knees in the face of the flesh, or will you, rather sensing my naive need for obscurity, offer my head a hand out of the clouds?

Section III. In our increasingly politically-correct society, some particularly understanding psychiatrists in the future will categorize my father’s condition as “neurological diversity.” Somewhere in his head the hormonal levels pounce and burst until what comes out makes no greeting to the logical. As a daughter, this has stunted me. As a woman, this has enlivened me to love in the ways I know how. Do you see this absence as an urge to offer paternal guidance? Or, rather, would you consider this the mark on my history that implores me to resist any hierarchical interpersonal relationship? And above all, which reaction to my own history would you prefer? (If in doubt, the examinee should refer to the indexed “paternal” cerebral pages of his or her own family history, which may or may not be suitable material for reference).

Section IV. I would like to imagine that my gut rules most of my decisions, but I outthink my own intuitive reliability to willingly shake the hand of flippant, unnecessary, and petty dangers (please see associated facial expressions in relation to drug abuse, hitch-hiking, self-injury, financial pitfall, and/or gambling). Saying “yes” is quite a thing on a full moon inside the right whisper. Saying “no” is quite a thing when your own personhood may or may not be at risk. Have you ever considered this relationship between intuition and logic? Have you ever felt a dominating weight in your gut that is quickly criticized with a sense of “understanding”? How do you respond to the universe’s spontaneous knocking on of doors?


Directions: Once (i) the proctor has been located, (ii) these documents have been relinquished, and (iii) any penalties have been further more paid, please have a seat until the proctor may oversee the evaluation process. As you wait, please refer to appendix A and allow your facial expressions to remain obvious and readable.


With his peppered eye

ruby red stretches down

from the sky and asks

when dinner is done.


Her root-bound hypotheticals

leave her debunked and amiss.

“I’ve been Pluto-ed”

she says,

misty, forlorn,

wading over a cast iron skillet

hoping the broccoli steam

will whisk her up into atmosphere

with it.


“Pluto is yesterday,

and you are today.”

He jabs the metal tongs

into the florets

to spin them ‘round

like green, seedy planets.


Lilac Wine