F-stop / Intro
One way to experience the joy of uncovering something untouched for many years is to consider it a game. Another is to bury again something found. In either case we encounter an opening—of chests or other surfaces—maybe through the common motion of piercing the ground with a spade or fingers digging into the dirt.
All of these acts operate like a quest. Think frail vessel or cartoon or map or dismantled historical situation. Then remember the metal detector, the actors, the fact that someone had to have been here before in order to trace the steps along the Oregon coast as it spills onto a big screen, nostalgia busting up the edges of your memory — pines and a small bicycle, boygirlboygirlboy, with some imminent threat from an external force, the nothing thereafter. Caves, maybe a whisper.
When you’re done revising this catalogue of your past, read what follows here. Then take a moment to tally the sum of the footnotes that you have identified with, or that have impacted you retinal cues, or your aural cues, or your letters q that you keep specifically quick and quiet in steerage until they’re needed. Strange as a holefilled coin.
This sum will provide for you a key. This key will not open what you want. It will not do what you ask of it. Really. Don’t plan on believing anything until you have to.
the raid was not arranged1 properly
we were set about with riggings2 and the stage itself3
one map4 filled the corner with doubt
its own form of misconstrual — the begging plate
full of vowels like a hat5 to mark the starting gate with
here fell the dirt6, and there fell our magazines7
empty of shelled8 critters and their carry-about homes9
1. Arranged meaning “ordered to occur,” as in, “decided by outside forces,” or “ordered,” as in, “put in order” but the old French root “a- + renger” suggests, “to put a ranking on a thing” and when the word slid into the middle English it became “to put in lines.” By all means and meanings, a “raid” cannot be properly placed as it is impossible to surprise people in an orderly fashion.
a. The internet’s first entry suggests, “friendship has no religion.”
2. Tie the ropes up with speedy fingers. Tie the body down with down.
3. The self is an it, ungendered, and simply requiring a stage on which to perform its being—however we want to call...
4. Taking a pinch and zoom approach to the paper in front of you suggests our actions on-screen have become something that influences our actions off-screen, which means we may all be acting strangely. If you attempt to pinch-zoom a printed map, what happens? Hiccup. If you then put the corner of the pinched thing down. If you pinch this screen, maybe that will pull it closer.
5. Tricorner, must be tricorner or maybe sun, maybe sun in triangulation—the extension of a map into the verb triangulate. Nope. One covers one’s head when the sun is beaming. Say happy, happy time above the water we’re all wasting.
6. I always liked the word loam. I never use it though. Me, I’m just a prop. I’m just a voice on a screen. I’m just a charlatan pilling the days together against the backdrop of time’s dumb hem. I’m just a hole. Open and closed.
7. Your choice—pages advert-filled, something plugged full of rounds, other.
8. Hermit, mmm, bullet, mmm, hermetically sealed crab in a casing from a 50mm, hmmm...
9. We are left wanting always to belong, our voices hollow in the shout, in the shell the ocean returns its noise, beat about the curves there for so long.
if one picture were able to capture10 all of it
the swarm and the shuttle11 decomposing in our farm
hand memory of whatever loss completes us
I am situated among the bark12 and bite what I can
I see the siren13 lights but don’t worry their direction
my hair is a part of you now, simple in the ground
and the seasons are their own wagged14 story
10. Questions can be arranged here, like: Do pictures really capture anything? If so, what setting would the aperture require to complete this task in order to “capture” all of the universe? Subsequently, what kind of lens would best bend all the light toward our mutual understanding? And if simply trying to stitch together the surroundings in a manner where other visual cues can surround us, well, isn’t there an app for that? An app fort hat. An app forth at. At, pointed, listed, lamplit.
11. One can treasure what is often out of reach—the limits of space, say, or explosions. The last minute of a human’s life can be captured on film as has happened time and again through wars and sleep. To get from one place to another. One plane into the next, to be taken like an image down and through the set of loose associations that combine us into the losses we’ve documented over time. The exploration of space continues. There will be newer names for what carry us forward. There will have been shuttles all along. There will never have always been a continually known name, though, for what moves us into what is dark above.
12. Treedogwood, a flower in the bulb. To be placed in the sound contraption of a dog’s maw, or in the folds of a tree’s skin. Which would you prefer? To hide.
13. What would lure a body toward the rocks, but also what would lure a body toward the rocks, but also what a body would steer away from, but also what a body would recognize as someone else’s tragedy. A gem, this. Sirens circling and shouts.
14. So the seasons shake out their tales and instruct us through them. To patch this into a map of time, value then rests in what is left behind. But if I’d had the foresight to consider the impact of a story “waged” as in war, there could have been another ronde filled with the trace of dogs inhabiting the war, their dance and bark quite possibly inhabiting the flowers in the trees as they bloom and die through the seasons.
to build a reflection15 without light or water/metal16
take the hollow17 of the thing you want more
its limbs traced out on the back of a page18 or your body
renewal amplified by the coat it has sworn19 to wear
and in the later years of the dead century, sweat
its hard edges20 into being
15. The shape of a thing already taken and then inhabited and thought about, then written down in letters. Say the house on stilts is an acrobat. Say a body becomes what it sees itself as, over time. What it thinks itself as, always.
16. Mercury as reflective surface has seldom been relied upon. A pool of this. A song of water that can make a person crazed. The fish in all the fuel. We are cutting their insides out now. I take a water metal bath. I melt the idea of gold into the form of a gotten god. Into what is forgotten, we pour and pour ourselves, letter by letter.
17. Again the quest becomes the thing sought, which is in essence an echo. What hollow things provide for, provided they are far enough from a sound and sound enough to spit it back.
18. One contains routes to and through locations in that they are recorded and adequately drawn forth. The image first and then the language required to draw it up again with little variation, whether in screen or on pulped trees—but back to bark, but back to the rumination.
19. Historically, a coat of arms could have been altered through heroics or attempts to destroy a rival religion (e.g., three crescents marking the crest of families engaged in the third crusade). What is tethered to make a coat thrive is what’s sworn to it. The swearing of a coat is something that can happen in a cold morning, also through time where the sworn-value of the coat has diminished due to its impermanence and the wearing that has been done to/through it. One forms oneself into the shape of what is worn.
20. When resting in the heat, one can discover the reflection of a shape etched in the surface of the restspace. The trace of shape an endless loop, but what rests there can be found again and again or seamlessly uncovered.
what’s cut away21 from paper becomes a range — montana
the billable sky reaching out for the whetted dreams
we sharpen by…the thing bored22 hollow by retrieval
and replication23. you can shave the morning
from its movement or sit with all the situated24 land-
scape, a spinning fear that rows along
your cattle-raged25 system, mistaking one heart
for the faltering of winged things26, an increase in gravity
changes behavior in a way that signals27 nothing can restart
21. You get the knife, I get the scissor. What tool can find the space beneath a thing—to peel it back or move right through it, depends on a kind of measurement. Sharpness, both a property of sound and metal.
22. Objects do their ways with us when becoming lived. This sentence, for instance, can draw you to any number of emotions, but it does nothing before it’s been taken in. When considering the boredom of the things that we value, we must consider the possibility of a hole that cannot be witnessed aside from existing within the center of each thing. But is this a motivating factor? Nothing wins.
23. If you rediscover a treasure, it is only as valuable as the map that carried you there. If you believe the notion that replication can create its own value, things get more interesting when they’re real but not quite so, which draws author and text into question. Which sign do you want to make full of holes, which do you wear home after?
24. Looking out over a plot that seems like it contains rich soil and the possibility of cultivation. The story begins to miss you when you leave, or when you grow away from it. Stay a while, it says. The land, too.
25. I’d intended to say rigged, but with the riggings earlier, this got angry and so many dead cows have their hides tanned. These things are incongruent, but not sifting far off into any fields. Again gold comes closed since there are so many reasons why we’ve come to trust our instincts, and it will never rust. The golden calf, the spun gold hair, the children aging into a belief system where value outstrips being and the modes of production call for more of them to become complete.
26. The cat believes in hope. The cat will open its mouth for this thing and leave it as a gift, but a gift is nothing sought, often, or not necessarily a value on its own.
27. The densest material known to humankind is a transition metal, osmium. The signal of a house known for its value measured originally in precious metal is something that changes how a coat is worn and what symbols it contains. I take no comfort in this.
+ the numbers of the footnotes that you identified with (0)
− the numbers of the footnotes that were distortions of your vision of the field of bars we inhabit (0)
Game the system of its searching capacities. No news of any sunk
chest and the retinue of kings as they carved their maps into
animal skins, the water on top of their crowns, the crows that picked
their battled bones clean, talk talking like animals do without our interference.
You golden double, you can of casino smell,
you basic engineer of almanacs and longitudinal studies. I see
my reflection in your pupil. I am ground in the dark. Now, wait.
For more information about this piece, see this issue's legend.
Tony Mancus is the author of a handful of chapbooks including City Country and apologies. He has recent work in 7x7 and Devil's Lake. He serves as chapbook editor for Barrelhouse and will soon be relocating to the Denver area with his wife Shannon.
So many treasures exist now as memories. With winter snow piled up or cold stealing our breath, friends and I would decide to stumble around here among the spent shell casings to see a semi-aerial view of the place that sprouted us.