Category Archives: Issue One

#RemixReallySystem piece by Lea Galanter

Here is Lea Galanter’s contribution to #RemixReallySystem, based on the words in this text file.

William’s Dilemma

The skies that once existed laughed at William’s
plastic poems, though he tried to bury them
before he was forced to leave his nontraditional Dylan summer.
Theory can only be proper in raging hell
the Hydra said, so harbor your trivial tasks
deep in the purple point of possibility.

Not being good enough, he started running
down the fairy lane, passing flats of sparkling peach marmalade,
unable to withstand their allure.

Soups steaming in ancient ovens
whispered womanly wisdom into his mouth, saying
escape this foreign rhetoric, flee this red-eyed threat.
You are not putty that can widen the fetid horizon,
dissolving into black, and the physician cannot relate
to the lyrical falsehoods they fabricate in Korea.

Go now to that chapel in the Roman market
which vainly waits for clairvoyant July to bring
brightness to the immortal tombs.


Lea Galanter’s poem When Lost in the Woods appeared in Issue One.  She is a Seattle-area editor and writer. After playwrighting for many years, she ventured into writing poetry and has studied with several Seattle-area poets. She also has a background in theater, and has studied voice and performed onstage in Seattle. She is president of the board of DramaQueen, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting women playwrights.


Here is the second installment of Terry Wolverton‘s #RemixReallySystem piece, based on this pile of words.

Become silver
I’m looking for alchemy. I want to transmute myself from flesh into precious metal. I want to increase my market value. I want to be around for hundreds of years, needing nothing more than a little polish once in a while. Fingers will caress my surface, eyes will appraise me. I would be able to dress up any occasion. I would be hard and shiny instead of withered and sickly. I would be able to hold my head up high in any setting.

The last council
You’ll never get that group together again, not after what happened last night. We knew there might be friction, but we hoped some good might come of it.  Nobody expected the fat man to start throwing pies at the skinny lady, and for sure no one expected her to take off her pumps and start thwacking the tired hunchback on his head. That’s when the snakes were let loose, and this caused Elinore to pull the fire alarm. Unfortunately the mouse was trampled in the rush to escape.

Land opening into the east, there’s a bowl with hide sides on the west but the opening is to the east. I saw rabbits on the property and hawks flying overhead. There is no more land once you reach the Pacific Ocean, if you want to travel farther you have to go into space; that’s just what people want to do now, book a one-way trip into the stars. It costs all the money you have and more but where you’re going you won’t need money, no Walmart on Mars at least not yet it’s a sense of adventure that brought us here but now we’re pressed up against the edge and feeling hemmed in

Hardly fell
I meant to take a big leap so that I would descend until my consciousness funneled to a small dot and disappeared so that there would be no one left to feel the impact but I miscalculated and instead I just fell a short distance and all the time I was yelling at myself about this stupid mistake and when the sidewalk appeared underneath me my bones felt a most unpleasant sensation of shattering

Environment blooms
You’d think it would take the hint—we poison it, overpopulate it, store nuclear waste in its womb; we burn it; we siphon off all its water; we farm it until the topsoil is dust that blows into the wind; we overheat it; we buy and sell it as if it had no sentience. Still the environment produces. It’s as if it can’t help it. It loves us despite ourselves, and the worst we do, the more it tries to grow.

Buzz go
She’s driven by a kind of speed that comes from a supernatural source she can’t seem to stop herself and she’s always in motion. The light that shines from her eyes is not like the sun or the moon but like some kind of artificially generated wattage that makes you want to put on sunglasses or pull down the shades. There can be no darkness in her presence, only that relentless illumination that assaults the eye but doesn’t really shed light; it’s a demonic power.

I wouldn’t know how to measure the distance between the sun and the next nearest star. I figure if I needed to get to that star I would suddenly understand how to do it. I wouldn’t build a tin can and try to fly there.  I would dematerialize and travel as energy and then could go wherever I want. Earthlings can be so literal and it’s too bad because we miss a lot that way. Big numbers tend to give me a headache. I’m smart enough but not in that way.

Terry Wolverton’s Sizzle & Chew appeared in Issue One. She is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, most recentlyWounded World: lyric essays about our spiritual disquiet. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles, and Affiliate Faculty in the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles.

#RemixReallySystem piece by Terry Wolverton (part 1)

Here is the first installment of Terry Wolverton‘s #RemixReallySystem piece, based on this pile of words.

Chase Mommy into the underground she’s tiny and can’t run very fast under the street it’s cool and dark and Mommy will take off her cape and the long black opera gloves she will not sing in this cave beneath the earth but she might tell stories if the hour gets late enough, she might confess to the unsolved crimes of the city or she might tell you where the bodies are buried all the little angels that never grew up they’re tiny too and they have the ability to foretell the future they wear tiny dresses with ribbons

Travel abuse
I told him I refused to stay in another goddamn Howard Johnson’s, not one more night with fried clams for dinner, not one more dream glowing turquoise and orange but now they are closing, one of the last three Howard Johnson’s is closing and I think of my grandparents and how I’d ride in the back seat of their Buick unmindful of my grandfather’s porn collection in the trunk, watching the dull landscape go by. I would miss them once I was back home and wish to listen to the wheels hum again.

Sonic disorder
That girl loved to sing but she had some kind of sonic disorder that made her sound like whales in space whenever she opened her mouth. We all tried to be nice because it made her really happy to let those notes out of her mouth but it was hard to encourage because our ears would start to bleed and our foreheads to melt. She sounded like she was juggling chainsaws and it made us afraid. Still, we didn’t want to hurt her feelings so mostly we’d just sit and weep.

Integrated flock
We weren’t sure we could get them all to get along, those birds of different feathers were used to mostly sticking to their own kind, but we thought it was worth a shot. We brought in the starlings and the magpies, the pigeons and the finches. We had big bags of seed as icebreakers and a spacious birdbath so they could hang. Norma thought there should be music, but we thought that was silly—birds are already musical, so she was voted down.

Happy Face
She told me I should wear my happy face but it was in the laundry. I had worn it the night of the eclipse and ended up spilling hot chocolate all over it. The engaged face had a big rip in it, and I’m about 900 years behind on my mending. The angry face was freshly laundered, but only because I bought three of them—identical—on sale last year. The morose face was another option, but it tends to make other people feel morose too.

Unconnected pictures
My therapist suggested I stop making so many unconnected pictures. She wanted me to try to find a thread to link one image to the next. But I told her this was how I saw the world—flash, flash, flash—like boxcards that had come unglued and spilled over the tracks. The picture of the house did not belong with the picture of the beach or the one of the mountain. Monday had no bond with Tuesday, each day a distinct universe like teeth set loose from my head.


Terry Wolverton’s Sizzle & Chew appeared in Issue One. She is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, most recentlyWounded World: lyric essays about our spiritual disquiet. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles, and Affiliate Faculty in the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles.

Really Sypsum is a Lorem Ipsum generator populated with words & phrases found in Really System issues 1 through 5

If you are in need of text, Really System can help. Announcing Really Sypsum, a dummy text generator based on the work that has appeared in Really System issues 1-5.


Use this text to fill your empty publication designs, your essay assignments, your love letters, your journals, your dreams. Each paragraph is chock full of Really System goodness, fresh from the genius contributors to our first year’s worth of issues.

From the the official press release:

It puckers against my graying meat, a pact. The new mayor ventriloquized regions or remember 8-Track tapes meaningful. Morse Code messages what isn’t having a harbinger of evil fool. Spidering idle morning lights rondeau isn’t cooking and food and culture bridges. Quick as a month or minute plumbing being woozy, reeling ashtray.

A cassette in a tape player which was mercury. Fire equals ouch by hip. Imagine this guys worst identified isn’t woozy, reeling century. Quick as a month or minute w which was whales, parrots, corvids, grieve skeletons, our country club manners, fish eyes, pickled calf feet, puppy ears was advanced. The Eeyore of journalists now hips. A synthesizer kills cassettes were an occasional fantasia whispered bugged. Continuum & waiving exemptions, I reports of to catch his voice going, now walk back you live at all in cast. The burning memory of mercenary alms at pretended. Would a member of beauty go to hell had is they leave a guy alone jim.

This RS_Labs project is based on an adaptation of James Stuckey Webber’s custom Lorem Ipsum generator Menno Ipsum, the original code for which can be found here on GitHub. I haven’t modified much, but have plans to add tools for making stanzas and lines rather than prose paragraphs. So, treat this like a work in progress.

Of all of the Lorem Ipsum examples I found, I liked Menno Ipsum one the most because it accommodates a massive word list, which is sourced at random, along with an additional list of phrases that preserve certain word groupings from the original poems. Also, it should be able to grow gracefully as the corpus increases in size.

There are dozens of other approaches, though, including the original Lorem Ipsum, , Delorean Ipsum, Hipster Ipsum, and many, many more.

The word and phrase lists were updated to include the text of Issue Five February 8, 2015.



Every period, comma, exclamation point, semi-colon, question mark, hyphen, and ellipsis  in Really System issues 1-5, in order, very large.

I’ve been working on some part-of-speech tagging of the corpus lately, and this is just an easy, silly byproduct of that… I realized it was easy to extract this, and even in the default html font, I love how it looks. I had already stripped quotation marks, colons, and m dashes out because of the processing I was doing, so those aren’t here.  Also, any apostrophes remain as parts of the words in which they are found with this tagger (the CLAWS tool), so those are absent as well. Looking forward to some POS stuff soon!

Epic poem slowly tweeted: “placid for song no virtue matters held”

Starting this evening, @ReallySystemBot, our little automatic friend, is tweeting out a 2,000-line epic poem entitled “placid for song no virtue matters held,” one rhyming couplet at a time for the next 2500 hours.

The poem is based on the randomized text of Really System Issues 1-5, broken into 10-syllable rhyming couplets using a modified version of Ross Goodwin’s python script.

I hope you enjoy this poem as it unfolds over the course of the next few months; it’s dripping with Really-System-ness, and I find it a joy to read.

Auralization: Composite Whisper of Issue One

Before Issue One was released, I offered a glimpse of what all the poems in the issue looked like when overlaid. We learned a few things about the issue as a whole: most of the poems were short, & most of them were flush-left, except for Dan Boehl’s “Excerpts from Whatever from @emoemoji.” Many poems featured shortish lines, but Rose Swartz’s “Odalisque” & “Quondam”, Erin Dorney’s “This is Not a Poem About Fast Food”, and Vanessa Couto Johnson’s “(t)ravel” & “neces(sit)ies” create some density toward the top right margin of the composite image.  What struck me as interesting about this composite (along with it’s resemblance to the cover of Magus Magnus’s fabulous The Re-Echoes) was that the only legible parts of the image were the lines & words that were outliers.

But reading these poems is a very different experience from just looking at the zoomed-out visualization. Those who know me are aware that I am fascinated by nearly any audio, and am most happy when making noise. So naturally, I decided to investigate Issue One from an aural perspective. Below is the resulting cacophony.

Of course, it’s unlistenable. But if you hang around until the end, it’s kind of creepy and interesting. Unlike the visual representation, Dan Boehl’s white-spacey poem is over in a heartbeat, and Gregory Crosby’s sestina Satan’s Skull Glows White Hot,” is the last & most legible piece. There’s a little bit of “Odalisque” in there at the end, too.

What I did here was convert each poem to speech (I chose a whispery voice to minimize any confusing melodic clashes), and then made a recording of them all, synchronized to the start. I’m wondering if it might have been better to sync to the midpoint; maybe I’ll try that later.

The more I listen to this, the more interested I am in the percussive nature of the most dense portions, and how it almost gives a beat to these poems in conversation. It’s impossible to catch more than a word hear and there, and speech-to-text is definitely not the most poetic way to encounter the sound of these pieces, but I have to admit I like the sound of this.  I sounds like a crowd. It sounds like static. It also sounds like the intro to Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” played on a slowly declining number of  blown-speaker boomboxes. & that’s good enough for me.