The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2022

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SEPT 2022 Issue


Reverse Membrane Scission

I don’t believe my itch can be solved so easily
Venture cubes will do for the final retrocompliance dictation
Cyan can just embed me in a flood, but paratext? Much harder…

A crevice in the wave library would spread its spiral web, consuming a quill’s worth of orderly
space and molecular synapse

Gentle guidance, a flood’s edge on tiny garden-length paper stretched in row seventeen, v

A trillion bug-headed purple molecular rods marching past familiarity hypnotism

Colorful shadows parading hallucinated mystification into something in the distance that ticks,
that tricks its new owner

Hydra’s template induces an heroic inclination towards pulsing tides, shark squid angels bouncing
to minion music, complementary it-things enter into neoliberal expert unity

Nanopython’s presupposed colors shifted the universal symmetrical genes, flipped on their heads
and enervated and anxious appendages fleeing left behind paratext in damp pellets, then dissolved

The rosy toxins which allowed all retrospective angles like wolves in the cabinetry, phyrricide,
programmed parabolas

True satisfaction would arise so poetically as a complex worm spread along tide edges, laying
some new set of elaborate sand-fabricated themes

Previously hoary intelligence would cast and reshuffle simultaneous thoughts flashing as shadowy
lows in the abyssifax

Masks for calculating relativity with effortlessly edible eyeballs

Organic experimental fusion spins unstable vitamins, cases of blended greens for reference
splitting violet prismatic implications (minus flawless cringe-awakening)

Considering the direct vital reality blurred with time-effect aspirations, senses reconfigured in fluid
colors, the photocopies amazed

Infinite corporations successfully prune convoluted cells and healed glands shared by silicone
harness swarm potential and nod, all skulls removed

This beautiful symptom of yesterday’s wings must be a gender-neutral continuous function
statement, frugal, and securing the cyberorgies of remote implementation

Prolonged thoroughly: all money serving time army, all actions prone to total metanoia, manic and
folded into the searing mantle

Several hundred kaleidoscopic puzzled voices mutter intermittently glistening briefly back against
the extracted compass of descending synergies


soil slippage

dim extension of bare tile to clean a bare tile

virtual omniscience

dismantling virtual knowledge in the blindness of empty slate

outcome pure fantasy, defectively adaptive illusory illusion

oblivious sentient world observers

mix metaphorical biota together in an inversion of moral values

ditto twist real dingy biochemical dualism over edge

Monsanto sheep snipingly soiled and banished

synchronicity of synchronicity numbing critique

pointless smokescreens endlessly twisted in reference origination to philosophical

renewed temptation over neutralization surrounding cliché plebs

substance multiplicity walks into soulless multidimensional boundaries

epiphanically catatonic mindless opinion and underutilized ground pigs

plentiful virginal soil infiltration

connective bowel regenerative micro-chain nurturing soil pharmacology

byproducts notably soil molecules recreated

diaristic consciousness holographically graphic altered awareness dimension

diabolical conjuring evocation of fragments

splatter jewelry grounds in organic destruction

watery sewer reservoirs confess

shift negativity loop synchronicity over substance invisibly

organically diverse wildflowers blissfully absorb mutation potential

actual organisms survive toxic falloff, fairly imperceptible

existence defining characteristics visually broken format merely imagined tunnel wavering fuel
strength interfacing fusion

defense of data eroded by secondary saturation locally permeating fissures

virtually imperceptible instability consistently crashing sociological expectation

crisis conditioned hobnobbing parasites experience harmony with purpose inadvertently

cumulatively feared collaborative shifting in substance chain imperceptibly translucent soft
tremors sensually visible

automatic heartbeat impulse encourages stirring of cells providing immune military with cover

post-monumental sensory data spatially disturbed by muzzled megacity crowds

humanity quickly aggregates disconnected from natural cycles of temperature and sugar

microscopic disruption over easily swatted visions of genuine fabric embedded designs based in
symbiotic molecules

impenetrable designation predictably catches surrogates constantly reinvented

scarification over objective experiencer mistake forcing opponents sleeping daze of languorous
existence in a verbal stupor

concerned with incorrect objective assessment remaining unknowingly insane

self-induced concomitant superficial disease-like dependence preferentially mimicked
incorrectly by adversaries

useless chatter rather than dialogue inducing heat motion sickness

personal struggles intensify trembling agony forcing underpaid disease victims collapsing covered ears

tortured freedom crashes soul hardening in living alone masquerading condition of deprived mediocrity

artificial reprimanding transparent underlining tedious disease

endless overfill obstructs imaging curve spiraling outward politically, transgenerationally
suffocating inheritance security

eyes on reaching centers of rejuvenated enjoyment collapsing

scorched transient agony immune capacity chronically hit nauseous conditions

from Diogenes’ Basin

soil slippage

Snail's Breath

slipping earth

Ancient Earth

Virtual Reality


Staying Put

Diogenes & Diogenes the Body Snatcher

the earthly form of



till dust to



this plainland

admirer of terra-vita

imago and Diogenes

scattergories of his



after a day

no shelter for her

mysterious form

of another terracotta

young man

eye of quill

flesh, flesh

earthworm's tang

a fellow, and Diogenes

and terracotta figure

furrowed brow

leather vest

melancholy doppelganger

eye of a snake

rotting eye

curled mouth

eyes to look through


She lives

eyes, eyes

to say no, not

light to say yes



the vacant

flakes of skin

for a future land

her thin thighs

melancholy doppelganger

eyes so very much

her empty bag

his playful form

palm tree like a mushroom

in another sphere

sand on her pillow

dust of her dirt


feet, feet

empty blanket

no fear

rubbing sand

desire and hesitation

throwing the shell

Sludge oozes from the diatom cocoons.

It picks at the layers of urchin sludge below, begging for scraps of soil or sediment.

Diatom slime clumps up into thick mounds.

Light splashes onto the detritus and reflects back into three-dimensional images, displacing the sludge
between painted spectra to mimic cell-size eyes, circling and spiraling.

The intestine can think, maybe hallucinate.

The spoon picks up a pulse.

The vibrating crust shakes the crust and flattens the porous cocoons.

Diatoms will emerge to multiply and devour sludge and the tiny mounds of crust left behind.

He'll collect the leftover crust and sling the nutrient-rich muck back into the soil.

He picks up a black stone and tests its magnetism.

It attracts metal, probably sludge stuck to the drying stone sludge.

The sponge worm wafts around him and swipes his skin with its soft tentacles.

It wriggles and licks, knocking his urchin sludge mask and virtual reality headset off.

The sludge clings to his face and his eyes blur.

Diatoms do swarm and fly around at dusk.

The vibrations aren't so virtual anymore.

He tries to track the dispersal as far as he can with the ring of bubbles surrounding him and the sensation
of sludge biting into his skin and breathing out the thick sludge.

The tip of his trident catches a bubble and flings it away.

The vibration takes him deep into his hole in the muck and he imagines himself in a cloud of sludge
following diatom slime and absorbing the virtual realm through vibration.

Disperse, disperse, disperse.

Nothing solid can harm the phantom creatures that dwell deep in the soil.

In a perfect whirlpool they float, diving and swirling and inhaling in magical dance patterns.

It's beautiful to think of them absorbing the virtual fantasies of the living and then vibrating out into the
soil, spreading further into every inhaled realm and vanishing into air.

He smells diatom spores and puts the mask back on.

While attempting to spread his swarm further, the sponge smells the other side of the ring.

He picks up another wave of phantom bites, but takes a quick glance down his wormhole and watches the
muck fade into virtual reality.

Mucus fills the screen.

A mottled reptile's head bursts past the tentacle and slams a yellow claw into the bony virtual head.

The sponge worm twists around, swiping the tentacle with virtual claws.

Sludge bubbles roll out from the wounds as his vision settles into a normal space.

The slime detaches from his skin and his slick eyes swim and dart.

Fear settles through the diatom cocoons and he bleeds.

From his place high in the muck pile, he drags himself down, careful not to strain his injured foot.

A thrashing lizard again appears from above, attacking with shallow punches through the sludge and
sludge crust.

It's disgusting to fight so far beneath the ground.

A moment later a sticky trap covers the lizard.

The slug whirls through the muck, scooping up chunks of crust and pelting them against the tunnel walls.

The burrowing blighters never stop working.

Diogenes puts another crack through his shell.

The sponge whips through the air with healing rays and dirt with medicines.

Diatoms die and sink down in the rich substrate and new crystals rise up, hiding deep underground,
creating crystals out of diatom slime, growing new soil where they come to feed and grow.

The sludge rains down on him, melting him and sucking him in, drying the landscape.

The ground bobs and waves with vibrations.

A diatom pond vibrates.

The diatom clumps in the slime, flowing with cool currents, rejoining together.

It digs and burrows deep into the soil.

The diatom pond sends out cool and wet air and rains where it falls and soaks in and moves through new

Lizards stay high and dig in the dirt for leftovers.

The moisture collects and cools and churns.

My shock increases exponentially as I cross the expanse of crystalline sand on a thin wooden plank. Sides of the plank creak beneath my weight as a sense of confusion overwhelms me. The sheer amount of sweat from my legs causes my shirt to itch and I have to constantly wipe the sweat away to stop it seeping into my shirt. My stomach is anxious and I anticipate my faint attempt to pull an urchin down to me. Every breath I inhale increases the painful sting of my eyes as I move through the planet’s shimmering expanse. What kind of an afterlife is this, that I can’t keep my mind from these gross sensory effects? Suddenly the awareness of soil dripping over my toes becomes very present and rather painfully pronounced as I tread across the layer of muck. I’m now growing dangerously tired and my mind drifts away. I find myself waking up once or twice a few feet away from my intended target. A virtual hallucination, in a virtual realm, or is it a reality with the same full palette of implications as real space? Maybe it’s actually a space you’re dreaming that can be transformed into a physical space by mental telepathy. How intriguing and illusory, like a trite metaphor…the screen fades and reality consumes me. Diogenes would’ve found this a great opportunity for his grandest sermon.

Thousands of eyes move around the stadium. The entire space looks like a volcano venting smoke and lava. The floor is sludgy and flooded with dark sludge, and one might be concerned for the well-being of the attending dirt dwellers if the rumbling sounds coming from their vicinity were not transformed into trumpets and cymbals from distant musical instruments. They serve as a soundtrack to the main feature that revolves around this diminutive arena of wonder. Human bodies pulsate and vibrate around a circular surface like obsidian, red and lavender clouds floating by in a glass bowl on their glowing, painted consoles. The music shakes me into clarity as I prepare to hop on my chaotically staggering pedestal and share a mind-exploding tale of romance and fear, disjointed virtual reality, and lonely solitary blindness. Every so often you might feel a rough diatom or sponge hit you across the face or try to invade your personal space. This environment’s permanence eventually compels you to remove yourself from virtual reality, using the physical world as a safer container to exist, or reliving the stupor of Diogenes contemplating the muck of his body in virtual space seems strangely familiar, unnerving, and completely uncontrollable. The virtual diatoms cause some facsimile of bodily sensation, giving you a respite from virtual space as your atoms vibrate around your fragile, iron stumps, reaching out in terror to soil your clothing, or grasp your bones as your head implodes…followed by the hurtling sound of dust and rubble being sucked from the city into virtual soil that pours onto your mucky flesh.

That same dried residue, crushed and sponged onto you as dirt and muck seems to morph into a viscous but abrasive lime-like clog that causes your limbs to weaken, create painful friction, and shake violently as your virtual swamp eventually mutates into a thick mass of slippery dirt with a layer of sludge upon top. The sludge seems to rip across your arms and slip between your clenched fingers before you disintegrate into white sludge sponges swimming around in an arena of virtual darkness. Another tumble knocks your headphones from your ears and leaves you blinking around for the headphones’ connections and unanswered virtual messengers. As you tear off the sleeve of your undershirt you realize that you’re staring at your naked body floating in virtual soil. All of the disgusting components of your clown-voiced creatures, ranging from a schizophrenic dog sniffing the bright surface of a clam with its grotesque smile and disturbed legs to faint illusions of an ancient slug-like spider who tried to kill you and winds up on your back with its creepy legs grinding together—are spilled out onto your legs, arms, and muddy feet. Nothing you think could possibly be more urchin? More misanthropic? Apparently you’re wrong…only the muck that was already beneath your skin is peeling you away like a sludge sponge and your body is disintegrating in an eruption of virtual soil. Never in this lifetime, not in all of history’s failed moments or the most absurd and nonsensical fantasies of a washed-up mad philosopher can you go back in time and be spat out like muck, terrified, blind, voiceless, emotionless, mired in the remnants of dreams and terror, crushed and puffed with the powder of vibrating substrate and virtual reality. Virtual reality for science fiction lovers, virtual reality for true religious weirdos, virtual reality for dead nutters madly chasing the goose-lights of philosophy.


Barrett White

Barrett White edits Tagvverk. Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Diagram, Nomaterialism, P-Queue, bæst, and elsewhere. Other writing can be found in places such as the Action Books blog, Social Text, Full Stop, and FLAT.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2022

All Issues