Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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Neolithic Woman
by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Watching her dance, I know she is not for me, and could never be. It is one of those petty cruelties of life, though you do not accept it and move on. It wears on you, like water on rock, making you anew.

The transformation that is dance is old, of course. And what did I know, then, of what it could do?

She was 22. Lofted into this modern orbit by her brave ancestresses she was, if anything, above average in her awareness of the debt she owed feminism. Always a weapon unleashed on the world, its many scabbards and whets inevitably the deep business of human society, the female body was for Angela consciously wielded with only a touch of irony. She whirled, and paused, never sexless, never wanton.

We are told by anthropologists that it was rhythm that made us. Lured in by a good beat, bonded to one another in dance, human groups larger than a dozen or two could be bonded and held together with drums: human invention glued to the hippocampus and limbic system.

Well, Angela made me, that Thursday night in San Francisco. Though I don't believe she intended that; she was too young.

* * * *

I killed her; I am willing to admit that to you. They say confessions ease a guilty conscience, but that is it not the only reason they are made. St. Augustine, in life if not in his works, was not one to dwell on his own guilt, after all, preferring that of others. Having confessed in the quasi-public realm of literature, Augustine's consolidation of his power in North Africa was made that much easier.

* * * *

The band was playing some modern version of psychedelia, not an ironic retelling, thank God, just a more innocent one: psychedelia without the politics. The lights and lasers weren't so different from what you might have seen in the Fillmore in 1969.

I danced next to her and she leaned over next to my ear and whispered: "it's like the end of the world, isn't it?" Her voice was like nothing I had ever heard before: electric, sultry, innocent, suggestive, breathy without being an immediate come-on. It was an intimate observation, but for her it was, I decided later, a complex operation of some subliminal calculus. Watching her speak and watching her listen, I knew she was like the rich of every generation: she used her time to cultivate artists, which for a woman meant fucking them, introducing them to people, enjoying their company and from time to time enjoying their ostracism. She needed it, it was her modern drug, guilt-free, and I almost agreed with her, I had not been out in months and she was a calming presence, so beautiful and relaxed and, you could say, "groovy."

And that's what much of life is, isn't it, a groove, like a Martian canal, like a long-playing vinyl record, some temporary burr in entropy, a message in the dark.

I nodded and smiled. What else could I do? Caught in her orbit.

* * * *

I have spent a great deal contemplating what it must be like to be a woman. I do not want to become one; I am comfortable enough in my own skin as a man, but I am still jealous of them.

Who do we want to be? I am a product of the post-agricultural man; or at least, my cheekbones are. We know women fucked more delicately built men with high cheekbones once cities were born and I am one result of that. My ancestors were, no doubt, many of them scribes, as I and other glasses-wearing men attest to.

But in the 1950s, or the 1960s, or the 1970s, a man like myself, bred to a new kind of civilization where cuneiform trumped mammoth-hunting—that is, as recently as 40 years ago—a man like myself still brought home bacon, baby.

Bacon. It tastes good, doesn't it? Of course this has been a long time in the making. We do no know yet what it means.

My cuneiform-writing ancestors did not have to deal with female competition, though there was of course the occasional High Priestess. Although students of culture suggest the French have accommodated post-feminist life more readily, without stamping out double entendre and the "sexist" tropes of long looks and sexual aggression in the patter of daily city life, I suspect this may be because women could not work without their husbands' permission in France as late as 1965. French women still don't quite know what has hit them, and so they use their bodies and voices and mouths the way their grandmothers' grandmothers' grandmothers did. These same students of culture suggest that Americans, by contrast, are comfortable competing across gender lines only when the differences between genders are blurred.

Both of these observations seem to be to miss the point: in a society where women are both sexually and economically liberated, their brains become confused. Where is my alpha male, asks her ancestresses in her brain? And she finds him, as Oscar Wilde knew: why accept a "100% share in a lesser man" when you have a shot at a 5% share in an alpha?

Some men, like the manakin bird, accommodate this queer situation quite readily, encouraging the alpha male as he takes away their potential mates, in the hopes that he will fall off a building and they can then take his place.

This is a science fiction story. I am a scribe in the 21st Century, though I serve no king, already an astonishing fact that might well terrify my ancestors: ronin have much shorter lives.

In Ur, or Babylon, if I lived during a relatively liberal period that did not insist on some form of celibacy from its royal scribes (such is the great and undying fear of storytellers), I could write by the light of the sun, enforcing royal edicts and preparing steles for installation in newly conquered lands, and return to my wife with some copper, and she would bake our bread in the communal oven and we would talk politics, or not, etc., though I am already imposing my notions of an American nuclear family on this ancient civilization and more likely I would have been mobbed on my return by a dozen relations and near-relations, all sleeping under the same roof.

The management of human labor, that modern obsession of archaeologists asking who was kept in the kitchen and when and why, is a hard narrative to untangle. Is it harder to puzzle out the socioeconomic rules and customs of Neolithic peoples, or 21st Century California? I do not know.

What I do know is that my murder of Angela may be par for the course in one narrative arc of this human story. Will it take long for American soldiers to see a woman GI pinned down under fire near them and not overreact? If, like Ayla, all young and beautiful American women now want to hunt mammoth, may we not scar them and beat them too, according to custom, to teach them the horrid birth that is the acceptance of your lot, your function in your tribe?

* * * *

How many modern Western women, either from ignorance or strange nostalgia, are now heard to lament that they can no longer choose to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, that they are forcibly part of the two income trap, they must work very hard if they would be kept women, as their ancestresses were.

Bodies, and their logics, and the logics of the technologies we now manage as bodily accoutrements: sperm banks, and perhaps, in a decade or two, the artificial womb.

From a purely economic perspective, were I born a woman I could, given 16 to 30 years and being blessed with functional gonads, purchase the gametes I needed to ensure my future genetic heritage for $1000, perhaps less, depending on the "quality" of the sperm I sought.

As a man, presuming my society permitted such an act, I would have to purchase first an egg and then rent a womb for nine months, assuming I didn't succeed in just knocking a woman up the old fashioned way. Which, after all, is why I was at the Fillmore.

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