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  • A Brief History of the Kiss According to the Reverend, and: Against Work, and: Stopped-Up Gutter Sermon Found Underneath an Ear That Was Pressed to the Ground, and: Sermon, Now Encrypted, and: I Love the Shape of Steam
  • Ander Monson (bio)

A Brief History of the Kiss According to the Reverend

Think tulips instead of two lips though this trick, linguistic, has been done before, he is certain. Before I am certain of this kiss, this electric buffing of the lips with lips and (sometimes, when done less with skill, more with fervor) tongue, this breathy skiff turned out on the lake, this tern hovering above the shiny-like-a-bowling-alley surface—this lake, this light, this slight dose that at once arrives and leaves us, that we absorb and reflect back off every single second into the air, the atmosphere—

Don’t think kiss like this, it is so easy to classify away: think sonic boom breaking right on you like whitecap tufts; the sudden appearance of a whale, think ghoul and wail and riff, the difference between the tv sight of fire and the bloom of bomb. Think impact, also known as thrown across theroom, think strange and stranger, meaning person who is not known to you, and, stranger still, think rink and risk, quick slap then redness following, the step from one ledge to the next, [End Page 82] or out barefoot on ice. Now we’re starting something good, he said, lean and leaning into me—one sort of faith, an offering I could not conscientiously refuse.

Against Work

You don’t have to tell me that my hands are lilies, that those lilies are still-lives refracted forever through liquid.

I know all this and more, have never known work—that sweat-break, air brake, lunchbreak thing appearing to me only in Springsteen songs and in impressive television commercials for trucks.                What size and torque! I think.

What is this manual interaction with the earth worth, exactly? All I see is stacks of dirty clothes and dehydration. Even my bones are slow—they do not move through viscous fluids well (such as water—which has always been a site of viciousness, my sisters and their hands holding me just underneath the surface, gasping and suspended            like a rejected transplant kidney new from the body’s covert operation, transferred to formaldehyde for preservation). [End Page 83] They do not motivate my skin—my pupa, my papoose—to go quickly in any endeavor.

Failure to reach the store before it closes to procure any one of a variety of vitamins for my wife. I can barely manage tasks, much less lists of them, however simply stated and compiled. I am a living groan, a Morrissey song. There is something wrong and permanent with me. A specific kind of weakness: flawed bridge. Milquetoast. Pressure? Absolute instability beneath it. When faced with wind and inclement, I simply wilt and puddle, then return to home.            Consider this a sort of glory, though—why stand against any tidal current? Why fight the moon and the countless tons of water that it daily keeps in thrall? I yearn for entropy, for years of sickness, pity’s pleasure, visits from the dead (and sometimes even living, impossibly thriving in the face of this constantly diminishing world) relatives:                these things are dreams or they are real. There is no difference. All is flat against the wall. What I want is glossy rest (no hint of zest, unleavened dough, tepid beer years beyond flat): to convalesce among the million daisies in the country, to be occupied like a country, to be warm and slow and richly scented like pitch or tar spread flat across the driveways of a country. I’d go exile, forever hillbilly, & resign all of my allegiances to flags & phones & other things if that didn’t require so much of me. [End Page 84]

Stopped-Up Gutter Sermon Found Underneath an Ear That Was Pressed to the Ground

Start with light, car crash seen catastrophic when viewed through rain. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. What light there is comes down through a coffee filter through the evening clouds that obscure the...


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pp. 82-89
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