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Joy and Applause

It’s 1984, I am eight years old, and I am up past my bedtime. I’m doing the thing that would define a good chunk of the rest of my life: sitting in front of pop culture, reacting to it, and working out why that was happening. This particular instance is important, because this is the […]

If We Die Unjustified

Angelcorpse, Angelcorpse, bones hollowed and so slight; Angelcorpse, Angelcorpse, you ate the marrow bright. Boiled down your wings and sawed away your teeth; plucked your feathers softly and made yourself a wreath. Why do this, darling Angelcorpse? Why mutilate you so? Is it for another’s sight or is it for your woe? Angelcorpse, Angelcorpse, you […]

I Frequently Hear Music in the Very Heart of Noise

“This green-gold city will embrace you/ Take you out of time and erase you/ And for one brief moment you will let her/ For one night only you’ll be hers” —Bess Morris, “For One Night Only,” 1924 The Ambassador Billiard Parlor, the Aeolian Hall, Our Metropolitan Madness Just before midnight on January 3, 1924, Ira […]

Your Slaughterhouse, Your Killing Floor

This is where the evening splits in half, Henry, love or death. Grab an end, pull hard, and make a wish. —Richard Siken, “Wishbone” A girl walks into a bar. She grabs her forehead and yells “motherFUCK” and the bar and everything around it except for the girl explodes in a blast that vaporizes half […]

Making Us Monsters

Sunday, 1 September 1918 A Depot, A.P.O.S. 17, B.E.F. France Dearest of all Friends, There’s no sense being cross with me—you know better than most that an officer can’t give orders and then blame the soldier for carrying them out. And more’s the pity if that officer issued contradictory orders in the first place. You […]

Read Before Use

The basement of Satellite City’s main library was made up of several levels dug deep into the earth. Even this early, several hours before dawn, each level was filled with scholars poring over old documents, students fetching and carrying, and stewards and handmaids scurrying about. Alia flashed her cartouche at the attendant on duty and […]

Sun, Moon, Dust

Allpa received the magic sword from his grandmother, as she lay dying. “I’m afraid I don’t really need a sword, grandma,” he said. “No, nor do you deserve it,” she snapped at him. She was a fierce old woman with a nose like a hawk’s beak and skin falling away in folds from her cheekbones. […]

Million–Year Elegies: Tyrannosaurus

I am six. I am looking at your teeth. I am calculating the volume of your excavator jaw. They have stripped you, chipped the stone from your naked frame, unsheathed you from feathers or scales. Leaving this skull with holes I could put my hand through. Unshielded from the wind and the din of this […]

Lotus Face and the Fox

Under the light fall of spring rain, three masked figures dashed through the crowded streets of Tsang. As they ran, they called to each other with a chorus of animal sounds: the chitter of rats, the coo of the black pigeons, and the mewing of the city’s dainty–footed cats. They were followed by a string […]

Love Will Tear Us Apart

1. I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor Think of it like the best macaroni and cheese you’ve ever had. No neon yellow Velveeta and bread crumbs. I’m talking gourmet cheddar, the expensive stuff from Vermont that crackles as it melts into that crust on top. Imagine if right before you were about […]