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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Aidan Linder


after Renee Gladman










The structure grains, and under it, a looming. Hands knowing hands, know a cut, trace it. In fields of hybrid, the weather blooms, igneous below an immense openness. This place is for hearing. This place will not hear you. Far from any precipice, this hand, graining. Stalk a prayer to parentage. This cut will bruise. A field structures the horizon, cut with harvest. A scythe is a prayer that curves. This looming, hybrid reach; a form to accommodate the field. Then, a tempest. Rush of wind, gorged on vastness. Hands against hands. This earth of forms and trace. Bruised horizon, grained with igneous knowing. Below, the valley traces the precipice of parentage, each hand a looming scythe. This cut will cut. Caught in the rush of combine, hands trace a politics of harvest. This stalk will bloom. This gorging is not for you. Grain reaches for the bruise of distance, fields a tempest against accommodation. A prayer is a structure that politics, combines fields into immensity, scythe against horizon. Hands open the valley and fill it. This earth of hands and cut. Hear how igneous weathers the curve: how distance becomes grain.

After the Saw


Where is the vanishing point between utility and history? Or, how is it that, standing at the threshold of a dilapidated wooden shack—uneven timber and rusty nails, a handful of square feet, sagging, graffitied, splintered, weather-beaten, abandoned longer than lived in—I feel as if I’m staring into a tomb? A hammer, once discarded, becomes sacred.



A ruin is a monument to itself. There was something here once, say the stones, and there still is. If there wasn’t, you wouldn’t know. You’d walk right over it and think you were the first to do so. But the earth is littered with stones that don’t speak, buried under clearings that aren’t clearings at all. A tombstone is a second-order monument. It says, there was something here but I have taken its place. Less somber are third-order monuments, taking the form of billboards and housing developments: there was nothing here before, they proclaim, but now here I am! Fourth-order monuments are typified by police tape and private property signs, the kind that say there is nothing here and there never will be, move along, you didn’t see anything.



They’re emptying the town of people. They’re turning it into a museum. There are men going over it with pencils and measuring tape: all the dimensions are being recorded, the placement of each nail taken into account. They asked me what I had for breakfast, told me to make it again, this time to leave it on the table. They’re setting everything in resin, so it remains exactly as it is. But the resin tints everything slightly amber. They’re developing special glasses to adjust for the color, so that when you look at the town, through the glasses, you can see it how it really was.



For Richard Hugo, the goal of the poet is to move from the triggering subject, which “starts the poem or ‘causes’ the poem to be written,” to the real subject, “which is generated or discovered in the poem during the writing.” The site of possibility for this shift is the triggering town, a place the poet does not know deeply and can therefore operate upon under the pretense of epistemic stability, i.e., of a graspable totality. Once stabilized, the poet takes possession of the town as a poetic object, and, liberated from material concerns, becomes free to pursue the real subject. The poet moves from alienation to objectification to reproduction to transcendence. Every triggering town is a ghost town.



Memento mori americana; what is dead remains authentic.



Every day after school she danced through the ruins. I am exercising the ghosts, she said, ghosts need their exercise because when you die all your muscles go away and you have to start again from scratch. I am teaching the ghosts table manners, she said, how to eat with a knife and fork and how to intuit teatime without a clock. When I grow up, she said, I’m going to marry a ghost. I’m going to have a wedding that no one can see. I’m going to wear a secret dress and live in a house with rooms you don’t know about. And she did.



The dialectic of resource extraction is written in mosquito philosophy. Displaced rock, a wound in the earth, debt, evidence, structure. Cobwebs and communist graffiti; rotten wood and rusted metal. Cycles of boom and bust traced like tree rings, visible only after the saw.


Aidan Linder is a cross-genre writer from Snohomish County, Washington. He is an MFA student at the University of Utah, where he edits prose for Quarterly West.

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