Kass Fleisher

5: Composition as Explanation of 137 Crop Circles

  Having failed at one kind of production, regroup.  
  Get it right this time.
  Decide you will live the dedicated life.  Take a vow to poetry.
Establish that language controls.  For years, ponder whether it's 
possible to rebuild the master's house using the master's tools.
  (Find the cost of freedom.)
  Don't.  Become a teacher who teaches that language controls.  Read 
nothing but Anzaldúa and Federman.  Agree that white feminists have 
long ignored the concerns of women of color.  Bourgeois bitches like you.  
Decide Maso is the multisexual's Carver, exiled in Paris.  Befriend 
and partner yourself solely to poets because "poets don't finish their 
sentences" -- after all, the sentence is finished, nein?  Remain an 
adjunct, eight (OK, nine) years out from your Ph.D.  Ignore raised 
eyebrows from your family..."Twenty thousand a year, no health insurance, 
with a Ph.D.?"  At Christmas dinner, argue that a Ph.D. is not personally 
or socially worthless, even if it is valueless.  Read Steinem's 
"Revaluating Economics" 400 times.  Worry about underemployment, since 
there is no such thing as time.  (Or error.  There is only change.)  
Examine the dedicated life.
  In literature, there must be conflict.
  Said her department chair.
  Don't be silly, she replied.  I am not a hybrid writer.  I'm a hybrid thinker.  
After all, scientists have begun to suspect that 137 may once have been 136.  
So Planck, you know, may not have been constant.
  (Excuse me, but is this fiction?)
  My best friend is Latina, said the white woman, butting heads at lunch.  
I thought I was your best friend, said the Native woman, fork pitched into 
mesclun greens -- but you'll understand when you have your own children.
  If all literature needs conflict, then all sentences require verbs.
  Said her department chair, while sitting down.
  (Where would this fall in Maslow's hierarchy?)
  But wait, my other best friend is Canadian.  I would not, after all 
(all what, again?), want to debase a story with fact -- but that is 
my final answer.
  Huh.  I figured you for an end person.
  The wedding book, said the bourgeois bitch, recently divorced, butting 
heads at lunch, calls for a reception room with 12 to 14 square feet 
per person.
  So the natural habitat of the wedding guest is 13 square feet??
  Oh yes, and two bartenders per 100 people.
  And don't forget to factor in fitting charges for your gown -- not to 
mention a beading charge.
  I see.  Yes -- one would not want beads falling bouncing crackling spilling 
all over the aisle people giggling pointing at the beautiful bourgeois 
butthead (recently divorced) bride on her Special Day because she was so 
cheap, the bitch, that she tried to glue-gun the beads onto the gown --
  What was that about verbs?
  OK, so my best friend is Latina, Native, and Canadian.  First person, 
second person, and third person.  But although we have I/we and she/they, 
we have no discernably plural second person in English.  Only you-you-you-you
  (To her, this is a serious limitation.)
  In the class taught by the persistently adjunct, the lovely young white woman 
(she majors in dance) displaying excessive skin reaches her arms up to braid 
her excessive hair and says, But we have to look at what's happening -- we 
have to differentiate between writing that represents fragmentation, and actual 
fragment in the writing.  Don't we?
  In class, the lovely young Black woman (she majors in ethnic studies) fingers 
her dredlocks with one hand and picks up her pen with the other and says, I 
just don't have any patience for poets who go off in the universe as if the 
reader isn't even there -- how will anything ever change?  In particular, a 
Native author needs to make even more sense than whites.  Doesn't he?
  You accuse me of poetry, but surely you (of all people) perceive my obsession 
with the sentenced.  Surely.  Not to mention my refusal to middle.
  In class, take nots [sic] on your current work in progress.
  Excuse me, but I need to know, is I a word, or an image?
  Asked the thesis committee chair, while seated.  (Cf. "Ain't I A Woman?")  
  A good question indeed, and I do not know the answer,  but it's not your story 
to tell, youse guys.
  Here's the thing -- the change time-which-is-not-time makes is often unpleasant.  
For instance:
  Joe's Uncle Sam is having his leg amputated.
  Excuse me, but this is not your story to tell.
  Kass' father Norm has torn his rotator cuff.
  Excuse me, but this is not your story to tell.
  The difference between history and fiction, said the dean, is that they have 
distinct grammars which must be respected in their distinctions.
  Excuse me, but this is not your story to tell.
  Wefour bestfriends embrace crop circles and are profoundly suspicious of 
theories of everything, especially those summed up by the number 137.
  In the class taught by (see above), the honor's student fingers her notebook 
and airs her voice, her favorite sound.  I have no responsibility to Indians, 
she says -- I mean, they've been selling themselves for years -- they take 
gambling money from whites and use it to get drunk -- that's their choice to 
do that -- I'm not responsible for their lousy choices --
  You know, said the department chair, standing up, it would be very OK if 
every piece of pose [sic] you ever fucking wrote was not autobiographical 
for fuck's sake.  Given tenure and all.
  Well, yes, but it nonetheless remains true that Uncle Sam cheats at rummy.  
This is OK, though, since this thing we call relentless time really is an 
endless revision.  Sam says, Score's 4-2, and I say, Dammit, Sam, I'm four 
games up on you, cut the bullshit.  Ten minutes before that I'd been up two 
games on the old coot lying cheating bastard for chrissake but I lie about 
that -- that'll teach him, and I'm a teacher, and this is a teaching moment 
by fucking god because I say it is.  So in this thing we call ten minutes, 
I go up one more game, he tries to take me down two, I make it up at three 
(that'll teach him).  Then five weeks later I write about it and make up 
the whole thing about how I was cheating as well just to teach the old 
one-legged bastard a damn lesson.
  I mean, I respect my elders.  Their distinct grammars.
  Meanwhile, there is the pain in people that this thing we call time forgot.  
In the class (etc.), she looks out over this new batch of victims, a new year, 
a new fall, a new chance to be someone completely new, someone completely 
of our own devising This year I will be charming and lovable and roll with 
the punches and punishment and keep my sense of humor at all times -- and 
she can see it.  The perfect spheres of damage, the scarred ovals of overly 
trimmed ego -- and no tracks.  No clues as to how the damage was done, no 
traces of who did it, a miracle of mowed-down human matters.
  Excuse me, but this is not your story to tell.
  And another thing, says the Latino student:  there is a world of difference 
between what the writer intends and what the reader perceives.  (And that's 
i before e, word and image, i i i i i.)  And the biggest question of our 
time is whether it is most necessary (having established a hierarchy of reads) 
to memorize Mullen or Mullen or Spahr or Mayer or Hejinian.
  Hashed over Hejinian.  That would be a great title for some critical essay.
  Some teeth-gnashing girl-bashing critical essay.
  Said the teacher.
  Go ahead.  You can have the title.  I thought of it, I said it, but you can 
have it.
  And what you need to know is that Sam brightens right up when he hears me on 
the phone -- but Norm never calls.  And he still has legs.  And grammar.
  Huh.  Sounds to me (who?) like -- it's long been -- I mean, we are way 
overdue -- Time for an *.
  It's important to understand the rules before you can break them, said the 
creative writing program director.
  But what about Rule 240?  Most people don't know this, but if your plane 
is delayed, you can walk up to any airline personnel and say Rule 240 me, 
and they have no choice but to put you on the next available plane, with 
any airline, at their own expense should there be a cost differential.
  And yet it would be ungrammatical to say so.
  Then too, if while planning your wedding you use credit cards to make 
deposits on gowns and tuxedos, you create a paper trail making it easier 
to employ Federal Regulation C, which guarantees -- regardless of any 
contract you signed forfeiting your deposit -- a full refund of said deposit 
should your gown or tuxedo provider fail to deliver satisfactory goods.
  On the other hand, if, like her, you believe heterosexual marriage (can't 
speak for multisexual Carvers) is a fucking nightmare This year I will be 
charming and lovable and roll with the punches and punishment and keep my 
sense of humor at all times then perhaps you want to get out the glue gun, 
swear faithfulness with a hand on your mutual photo album, kiss time goodbye, 
and right off the bat allege the fitting charges --
  Or, you could simply start doing the Vowel-less Crossword Puzzle every 
Sunday morning, using this to mark what we used to call time but now call 
change, no no, revision -- as in, y mrry m, I rvs y --
  um, is Y a vowel?
  and again, I am not clear, ain't I a word or image?
  -- which is to say, in "time" (obs.), you will measure your mutual 
revision thusly:  Yes, that was back in volumeyear two of the album; 
or, No, you are quite wrong, that was the day we did puzzle five in 
volumeyear one -- we were still newlypuzzleds then --
  Hr hr -- Y'll hv to fx ths -- t's ll wrds nd n vwls, emailed the department 
administrative assistant, in the context of administering to the needs of --
  Since, you know, women make no sense, or so they say, so they fear for the 
timepieces we call lesbians -- as for men, well, you just cain't shoot....  
Excuse me, but this is not your story to tell and even if it were This year 
I will be charming and lovable and roll with the punches and punishment and 
keep my sense of humor at all times [sic] but still It's important to 
understand the rules before you can break them DESPITE the fact that I 
  (Seems to me this would be an excellent time for a second * break, so 
that the first-person author may set upon a chair with the plural second 
person the more easily to eat her curds and NO WAY
  And we're back after that word from our monster.  Rereading the above, and 
absent any real revision, over time, anyway, what I'm thinking is that, as 
always, rejection letters will abound.  Hemingway papered his shack with his, 
but, you know, that just wouldn't be me.
  Huh.  I'd figured you for all these years to be an end person -- but the 
true danger, and I have said this before, will say it again, lies in the 
damage over time, with no traces of cause.  No past or future tension.  
No explanation.  Despite years of research, it happened time and time again.
  For instance, Norm's mother died when he was 16, and during the war he was 
Heap Big Basketball Star but could not date because gasoline was rationed -- 
but this does not explain it (what?), does it?
  My three best friends -- yuns -- are friends because they too live the 
dedicated examined life.  Over time [sic] we are able to help one another 
rededicate.  These four persons are all refugees from the bright-sided 
sugar-sapped lemons-aided food-networked if-you-want-it-bad-enough-it-will-happen 
NORTH AMERICAN BUREAUDRAWERS would you puh-LEASE put commas between your 
adjectives and would it to be too much trouble to CLOSE YOUR PARENTHESES  Though 
all four drive (relatively) recently-manufactured cars (but wait, she errs, one 
of us does not know how to drive, an entirely pre-Steinemite throwback), all 
four dispute the fondly held western notion that grammar is designed to help 
people communicate effectively.  Only one had a wedding gown (as it happens, 
the same one that does not drive).  One understands the necessity for sewing 
rather than gluing beads onto garments, and two speak a little German 
(one a lot) while two speak a little Spanish (one a lot) and time [sick] 
will convince them that only women bleed.
  One has two children.
  Which will have to do for all four persons, or so recent medical reports 
  One spoke her mind in her own home, resulting in the neighbors calling 
the cops with a domestic violence alert.
  One paints, two write, one demonstrates.
  One is made up.
  Entirely fictional.
  A bourgeois buttheading bitch of a non-bride, she would never be a bride, 
utterly invented.
  Huh.  Which bitch is false????
  Time, or is it change, will revise them, just as 137 used to be 136.  
Which is to say, wefour was quite sure that the foundational universe-
building sum of 1) Planck's constant; 2) charge of an electron; and 
3) speed of light in a vacuum what, you have a problem with semi-colons now???
  could not possibly be a 
  it had to have been revised over time [sick] from a multiple
  And the fact that we're now breaking lines tells me it's Millertime {oy} 
for an * altho two of us must vacuum before cooking
  I saw that goddamn novel you wrote -- unpublished, thank god -- I know how 
you drop gratuitous Spanish into your fiction like you're a Texas pol's 
speechwriter as if you didn't really get a pal to help you cheat on your 
Ph.D. translation exams revising your translations for you (what did you 
cook to bribe her? arroz con pollo? your best friend's recipe, bitch?) 
your translations of the short fiction of Elena Garro -- your number is 
up, we got the goods on you, you're an imposter, not a real translator 
of Mexican fiction your pollo sucks even you're so white you insist upon 
extra seasoning just let the flavor of the schmaltz for godsake sweat 
through the onions you were jewish once on your father's side 200 years 
ago back when you were an indian killer back in the beginning of time 
before you were revised 
  christ.  so punishing.
  I've seen your goddamn novel and your altitudinous pile of rejections and 
there is no grammar here, since really, it was the tenses in Spanish that 
all but killed you
  Norm bought you that expensive huge fat 20-pound door-stop translation 
dictionary for the cerebration of your 33rd year (puzzleyear) on this 
planet -- this being mostly all he could grasp of what a Ph.D. does/is 
for (you after all attempting to revise yourself via the intensive study 
of Sterne, Chaucer, and students
  translation is impossible.  so punishing.
  the verbs
  you getting after all so infertile so late in your time/revision/puzzleyear 
a phd (for what, again?) slowing down your tenureclock
  "We refer you to the table of irregular verbs."  "The Subjunctive is widely 
used in Spanish, mainly in subordinate clauses dependent on expressions of 
possibility or probability and conjunctions introducing future, hypothetical 
or contrary ideas or actions; in general, all statements involving conjecture 
or guesswork, and all statements expressing not knowing or believing, 
negation or doubt
  as in
  dude que lleguemos a tiempo
  in which by a tiempo we really mean by the next puzzleyear
  which is to say, translate "revision" to mean "change" to mean "time"
  and now a moment for another word from our 
  Pardon me, said our college president -- the same one who voted no on 
same-sex domestic-partner YOU AND YOUR HYPHENS!! (not to mention adjunct) 
health insurance -- Pardon me, she said, but do you plan to footnote those 
quotes there?
  [So.  This being the fifth section of this proem pose (?), and what with 
her being up 4 points rummy! and having 3 friends 2 of whom speak Spanish 
and 1 of whom used to be jewish, whatsay we wrap this fucker?]
  TO REVIEW:  Decide (she did).  Dedicate (she did).  Read only memory 
(she did).  Rebuild grammar (she will try).  Make change.  Revise (she does, 
again and).  Use [insert punctuation mark here].  Cross words in puzzlement.  
Consult model verb charts (paradigms) over revision.  For instance:
     Pretérito imperfecto subjuntivo (s-form)
     siguiese     siguiésemos
     siguieses    siguieseis
     siguiese     siguiesen
  Then, abolid los verbos.
  {Follow me?}
  Because you can.
  And all this because there must even if there is no time at all in the 
composition there must be time in the composition which is in its quality 
of distribution and equiliberation [emphasis mine].
  Students finger braids.  Cannot stop talking even though there is snow in 
the high country already this year and Swan runflies south for winter.  No 
glue gun would bead their time in such a way as to make it matter to the 
causeless human pain not your story and by the way, this be fake prose?
  Well.  You told me to make lemonade on the bright side for all time to revise.  
At least for my next trip to Paris.
  Didn't you?
  I mean, hybridity aside, I got my commas pretty straight, controlling my quotes 
mostly and parenthetically closing most of the time for 136 whole thoughts now.  
Planck being constant and all.
  And this even though, having taken you for an end person, there was in the 
beginning the time in the composition there was in the beginning confusion 
a continuous present but in literature in sentences in verbs there must be time.
  And afterwards, that is all, Max.
  Get right with change.

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