Adam Gnade’s gaunt narrative

Because the air among the hills is without echoes, and the soil is blank, and I am always sick and jobless, I miss things, I stumble. And the hills go down a long way into the chalk, and don’t rise up like we were promised.

And art is a vagrant magician anyway, just like we always knew, so that a certain new Kerouac and all-American pioneer (bearded and crude like a carved primitive) in a farm in the American wilderness takes photographs of cattle and his one poor-cloth curtain lit up at dawn and make it feel like the apex. Despite his Big Muthafuckin’ Sad. Which is always nice seen from a distance, because without the gutbusting emotion, depression is piles of great stuff. New toys, trinkets, hot possets, hours in luxurious bed with books, the ministrations of tender angels with beautiful tits. Snowed-in, and encircled by dark, the one candle.

But always he keeps moving – advises himself such. Drinking blood and staring at himself in a shaving mirror wiped clean, his potency alarms and thrills him, and he puts out a hand and feels the rasp of wolfish pelt. Pries open its mouth and feels its teeth, and between its legs. Collects the rumbles that spill from its chest, makes them into arrows and from a banjo string they go arching out – over the open country, away from the blanketted pups in the bathroom, filmically west.

You can find Adam Gnade’s things here.

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My love for you is a stampede of oranges

My love for you is a stampede of oranges.

Cracked walnuts, sugared cranberries

sounds from my guts and bones

a pile of pared comestibles

soft tissues, scoops and hollows

a rigged nest vestibule. Harpers and TV.

A young man ventures deep into the forest with a

mysterious companion

in 17th-century New England.

Paired combustibles.

their audacity marks a short story,

the high wire act the orchestra

reaching a comic diminuendo but

ending – oh!

-with a bang!!!

Two Parisian friends on a fishing expedition

are captured by the enemy

during the Franco-Prussian War.

A genial murderer

is shaken out of his boredom when,

on holiday in Yalta,

he meets a young woman.

A married Moscow banker steps

outside his asylum for a day and finds

rudimentary drawings scratched on the walls of caves.

A young schoolteacher finds

that she enjoys a ruthless killing

in the oral tradition.

Oh beloved america

your paperbacks, your song of the south!

the simpsons on repeat// on repeat!!

Your mock survival lore

compels us – red in tooth and claw – to

acts of tremendous skulduggery

Pontiac, Buick and Chevrolet

– oh frabjous day! calloo! callay!)

A bullying father suddenly starts to doubt himself

as he drives his son to 19th century Wyoming.

Or a wizard. Or a whirlwind.

Love propels us into the house of dangerous enemies

all under drift and over the pack

foxfeet and birdfeet drift

folly slots and outlawed himmel

on repeat//no repeat

snow battles hardest

moon cancelled and stars postponed

the coming up and goingdown of the sun.

in a lotch or a bollow

how many times in your life

will you get married?

knit bootees?

ply a cradle?

pigs and fishes dream of it,

and close bonds among thieves

come to nothing.

a child in a bedroom in holland, in spain

drawing long pictures. a bird’s foot

over a fledgling. And the child is scolded for brooding.

As though all eggs are hollow.

We haven’t given out advice

since the 1950s, but like a new bicycle,

it’s not too late to learn.

Be content to be thought foolish and stupid

& your six little helping elves will trail after.

& dedicate your books to the people that read them,

& name your daughters for the ones we lost in the storms

& name your sons for the heros of afghan epics

& if you adopt orphans, do it noiselessly,

only carve two names on the bole of a tree

if you’re to stand any chance of return.

on repeat//on repeat.

the petits ouiseaux in their lime green caps

and chalk yellow trousers

and the lapins suisses, and the tart chocolatiers

unroll their tights around the festivities

and tiny automata mimic a funfare

where two first meet eyes and he helps her

somehow

perhaps she dropped something

so that their hands could touch,

perhaps she drank rum enough to be

tough enough for love,

perhaps she lay down earlier than bedtimes.

And meanwhile the ones with red cheeks

and plaited hair

played kiss-chase and bulldog

and were lost in the storm.

true stories are longer, we had better hope.

if they are to drag out we must burst

into the house of dangerous enemies

in a stampede of oranges. carve our names

on repeat// on repeat

raise up the hands of the waiting women

let loose balloons in fallen cities