Back to Issue Thirty-Six

Insidious (2010)




Patrick Wilson’s ass. American angelic. In memory of Patrick Wilson’s
hairline. In any hot dad is the hand of an old man who wants me dead. Every
other brand of old man in America is left for dead but the mad ones. The state
of Florida doesn’t just happen. In the years shortly before I let future Trump
voters fuck, I barely know my father & am sniffing his boxers. The camera
moves like eyes behind me in a room. The Further is all of my secrets
animated in simultaneity. Or the Further is one decade of extrajudicial
murders concurring. With the lights out, I feel dangerous but less stupid. In a
dream, my dead grandfather returns in need of a nap & promptly melts into a
hot dad hookup the second he hits my sheets. The walls start leaking sewage &
my apartment falls apart. Even my dead grandfather is tired of the bullshit I
make my bed. The ruby door in the dark belongs to an F150 in a field in
December where a volunteer fireman raw-dogs me at fourteen. Fogged
mirrors lose grip on a spitless moon. A closeted father & a lynching victim
hover; only one vies for my body. My libido a denial I deny y’all. I’m not
Ruby, I could never turn into Rose Byrne: I know all demons moonlight as my
husbands & like it that way. By demons, I mean ways I’m wedded to
convenience, surveillance, & pleasures that enslave. How can it be quiet
enough to hear disappeared children? The ghosts are contagious & immune to
migration. Entertain us with the sounding haunts of fathers fucking. Instead of
therapy, the AME church & lay hands on me, father god. With my father’s fist
in my chest & my brother’s neck in my fists, I don’t turn blue in any light. I
also keep violets, beau regards, & mean reds: “it’s not your house that’s
haunted, it’s your son.” It’s not my country, it’s my brain on my country. Your
son is lost in a house so large there’s someone in the baby’s room before the
security system squeals. Your son is lost in a system of kennels belonging to
homeland security. The Further is the formative years of simultaneous animals
we keep raising for a future we can’t afford to survive. I had to die to escape
the state of Florida one time. In a decade, there were sequels for each finger
you could slip in me & no escape.



Black Swan (2010)





Black pink. Cake nail. & camera dances it, too. Lights again. Slender women
in unison, specific as wicks in the center. Aronofsky, Tchaikovsky, & the
crunch of feathered necks between boot heel & permafrost. Glass caught in
the breathing gauze, the bleeding gauze, the seething audience: awe to you, awe
to you.

In the beginning of The Rest of Love, Carl Phillips opens his “Custom” with
There is a difference it used to make / seeing three swans in this versus four in that /
quadrant of sky. It’s partially a footnote on disciplined study, attentive devotion
as prison or road north. Pale princess of the quadrant of reticent labor, versus
dark mistress of violence & leisure. The camera dances to compensate for
imperfection in both.

Swan song: the black pink of vanities, electric daybreak. The specific splendor
of sauntering waifs with cigarettes & Vincent Cassel. (Y’all just be casting men
like what the hell.) When Nina leaps out of labor into freedom, her violence

Without drama, writes Phillips, what is ritual? The fingernail to Nina’s skin is
Thomas’s tongue in her mouth is
her mother at the keyhole is
Lily’s face at her pelvis is
the something in her drink is
the nail file in Beth’s face, over & over, is
the quill her rash surfaces is
the shard in her wound, flexing over & over. What is ritual? For the intrusion
of suitors in unison; for the 17 men who write, direct, & produce; for the
mad queen painter who keeps her muse under lock & must be loved: cake &
champagne for celebrations.

The night again. The light again. The light it didn’t happen, Nina leaping out of
Nina. But touches herself via hero plate, intimacy after green screen. Give her
the Oscar for feeling distress at omens she can’t even see on her flesh. Race
feeling, that’s a hangnail. They are everywhere to be found. Black pink of sun
setting & the silhouettes that liberate white women from their mirrors.
“Melanin in feathers strengthens them against wear.” We, oh, where? The
weirdest sisters IRL, & there, when her neck stretches into rope.

Lose yourself to your dark contrary in the mise en abyme of conquest.
We think feeling is pink. Without black feeling, what is drama? Every genre of
revelation is wearing my face. I am not imagining. I’m paying attention. What
attention pays for has yet to be imagined.



photo credit: Ian Clontz.

Justin Phillip Reed is an American writer and amateur bass guitarist whose preoccupations include horror cinema, poetic form, morphological transgressions, and uses of the grotesque. He is the author of two poetry collections, The Malevolent Volume (2020) and Indecency (2018), both published by Coffee House Press. Born and raised in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, he participates in vague spirituality and alternative rock music cultures and enjoys smelling like outside.

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