Click here to read TYPE BLEEDS TENTACLES. There is also a link to Magus reading the work on that page.
Here is Magus’s statement about the piece:
When my assigned word list came to me from Really System, I was still under the influence of a 3-hour “performance installation” I did with poets Christophe Casamassima and Chris Mason in Baltimore’s Litmore poetry library March 28th (our “Polyphonic Readings and Harmonic Listening” of four Cage texts for States and Drives II: Responses to John Cage at Litmore). During the performance, I became especially fascinated by what Cage’s specialty with the mesostic form on the page provoked off the page. So I thought I’d give the form a try here, both on the screen and vocally. It helps that a mesostic poem should be composed of found text, yet with liberty for authorial impulse.
The first two stanzas are basic, or classic, mesostic — “classic,” yet also described as “impure” by those who keep strict tabs on the form’s rules. The capital letters form the spine of the mesostic, and incidentally, the title — taken from three words on the assigned list. It took two iterations to incorporate each of the list’s words into the spine; thus, two stanzas.
The third stanza, based on the first, is a 50% mesostic, according to purists: between any two capital letters, the second letter should not appear. A process of erasure compounded itself, gaps backing up upon the gaping.
The fourth stanza, based on the second, is a 100% mesostic: between any two capital letters, neither the first nor the second letter should appear.
I make no claim for the strictness or purity of any of this.
Here is a vending-machine poem by Cathryn Cofell, based on a text file of words randomly selected from Really System issues 1-5.
Intent negotiable half-formed
obviate beach memories
fifty year-old systems as cellophane
name as aura as torch
engulfs you in swoon falls
in hot waves larger than
plain grammar obtained
death tired corvid
Cathryn Cofell’s poem Throb appeared in Issue Four. She is the author of Sister Satellite (Cowfeather Press) and six chapbooks, and performs her poems to the music of Obvious Dog on Lip. She serves on the WI Poet Laureate Commission and has helped launch Verse Wisconsin, the Fox Cities Book Festival and WFOP Chapbook Prize. Visit her at www.cathryncofell.com or on Twitter @CatCofell.
Here is Lea Galanter’s contribution to #RemixReallySystem, based on the words in this text file.
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 are Susan L. Lin’s #RemixReallySystem pieces, handmade anagrams of words from this list of randomly-selected Really System text.
Susan L. Lin’s poem When You Are Sleeping appeared in Issue Two. She completed her MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts, where she spent her days photographing toy dinosaurs and eating pie. Her novella Goodbye to the Ocean was a semifinalist in the 2012 Gold Line Press chapbook competition. Her short prose recently appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review,Ghost Town, Midway Journal, MadHat Annual, and Gravel.
These two pieces by Pauline Bickford-Duane were based on the this text file of words randomly selected from Really System issues 1-5.
climb this rocky
as regular travelers who
understand the whim and wit
of nature. Not chased, not disorderly,
integrated with each other yet unconnected
from the world they leave behind. Parsecs pass
and the last sunrise spreads over the land. A buzz blooms
among them, a sonic communication that becomes not only wise
counsel but the opening to a discussion of what knowledge exactly these
silver hills hold, and why we must go there, to be as happy as others are in pictures.
Well, I thought I might see more clearly
if I stepped into a cafe and watched the people go by,
outwardly such a calm flock
and in pictures they always seem to have it together,
but now it’s clear,
the faces here aren’t happy,
they’re being chased by some inhuman buzz,
endless counsel that becomes abuse,
a sonic disorder of the mind
that unconnects people and blooms for parsecs
and integrates with every last person until|
even the silver-haired can’t remember
that happy environment that used to be about the land.
Pauline is a senior at Wheaton College (MA) and is double majoring in English and French Studies.
Below is Geramee Hensley’s #RemixReallySystem piece, based on this stack of fine words from ReallySystem 1-5.
The Island & how we pray to be known
What a sight! The cellophane plane crashed like a swoon of systems failure.
What an impatient way to fall.
This half-formed beach has corvids instead of sand. On the edge of the gulf we scoop grammar into buckets.
Somebody says “we need to obtain a name” for the rhyme and sake of it. All these waves of syntax and not a single name.
Looking, we take torches into the forest. Instead of trees, fifty-year-old memories larger than death.
In this aura of negotiable intent, we tire. Tongues fumble for words to obviate our mouths of this hot silence.
Geramee’s process note: The first word on my list was plane. I immediately thought of Lost. I went from there. I knew that I wanted to include every single word and make this as short as possible. I also used all the words in their original form. I didn’t want to do any kind of conjugation/pluralization and wanted to use the words as is. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to take this list of words and get them all into something relatively short and tight.
Geramee Hensley’s poem November is an anagram for fishhook appeared in Issue Five. He is from Cleveland, Ohio. He attends Capital University where has taught a portion of a creative writing class. He is the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the student literary magazine, ReCap and Managing Editor for the student newspaper, The Chimes. His work has been featured in Souvenir Lit Journal, Melancholy Hyperbole, The Harpoon Review, and is forthcoming in JAB.
The 4-point form was developed by Miho’s friend and collaborator Shelly Bryant.
Miho Kinnas’s poem Earlobes appeared in Issue Four. She is a 2012 cohort of the City University of Hong Kong MFA program in Poetry. Her first book of poems, Today, Fish Only is due to be published in mid-2014 from Math Paper Press of Singapore. She now lives in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Taunja Thomson’s image-based #RemixReallySystem piece, built from these words.
Taunja Thomson’s poem Skull, My Former appeared in Issue Five. Her work has appeared in The Cincinnati Poets’ Collective, The Cincinnati Poetry Review, and The Aurorean. Her poem “Seahorse and Moon” was nominated for the Pushcart Award in 2005. Several of her poems will be featured in the summer and spring editions of The Cahaba River Journal, as well as in winter issues of Squalory, Lime Hawk Journal, and Wild Age Press.
A #RemixReallySystem story by friend-of-the-journal Charlotte Fressilli, based on this pile of text.
The Perks of Loving a Cabbie
When I climbed to Heaven I could feel my feet sifting through granules of cumulonimbus the way they once dragged through Cape Cod sand and the heaviness made me so tired I had to stop and rest. Huffing my soul’s salty breath out of cracking lips, I strained to remember the summer hush of dry red wine passing through them, chasing down pasta, but I could not.
When you climbed to Heaven they offered you the escalator but you took the stairs. So slight you are, but somehow you made it easily and the wives of the cloud-workers stopped their stitching and watched you samba past their windows.
When I climbed to Heaven I went wondering. Weeks of ascent I spent feeling the crook of a wooden spoon still imprinted on my palm and I tried to sing the way my mother taught me but all I could think of was the Yankees and how that grass looks in the middle of the Bronx.
When you climbed to Heaven, the Rainbow Widows watched you glide on the atmosphere and they cheered out their assessments of your grace in quadrilles wrung from the scarves they dipped in pools of their syrupy paint.
When I climbed to Heaven, my steps seemed an allegory—what were they telling me?—and I thought on it ceaselessly but it made the trek harder and so I clicked my tongue against the roof of my mouth instead.
When you climbed to Heaven you did not question why. You have always understood better than I do what writers often try to say and only stand-up comedians truly know: when the time is right, you walk.
As I climbed to Heaven, I called out for reason, at least reason.
As you climbed to Heaven, you thought only of me and called out, “Cora!”
When we met in Heaven it was closed. We had disenfranchised ourselves. Our visit was unlicensed.
I sobbed and counted my sins: the summers spent huffing the vapors of wine instead of teaching what needed to be taught; the lies I had written in quadrilles and allegories to keep them hidden from even myself, buried beneath the pool; the weeks’ worth of assessments and replacements I had parceled out into granules of my time.
Then I looked at you, at the slightness of you, and somehow your eyes were dry. You switched your headlamp back on, took me by the hand and lead the way back down to earth on foot. It was only when we were among the trees that I realized—saw in those eyes—that the door had been open to you where it had been closed to me.
What could I do but love you for your sacrifice and thank fate to have been the wife of a cabbie. You guys have always understood better than I do what writers often try to say and only stand-up comedians truly know: when the time is right, you walk.
Charlotte Fressilli is a senior at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, majoring in English and Italian Studies. She acts as the Co-Editor to Rushlight, Wheaton’s literary magazine.