Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 12
Autumn, 2013

Featured Excerpt

Wilna Panagos

Binary burlesque

We wave at the moon but the moon doesn't have hands. The holiday has stroked the schoolyard with a careful post-apocalyptic hand and the silent playground is full of grazing birds. Hadedas, mynahs, pigeons, hoopoes, sparrows. We walk the streets at dusk, the we just an I, the rest of the we doesn't exist. The I thinks the we in the end. It is an Armageddon the way the world unfurls, the fall-out flowering the plains of I as the I walks the urbex, telling stories like a troubadour that misplaced its vaudeville convoy. Its striped suit threadbare at the elbows but still bright around the pockets, saving the last bit of airtime for a short message that will say:
yes / no?

Love for an illusion, tenderness for a wish, the I needs a cure for seeing. Patience looks at the horizon with its hopeless eyes and draws its sword, but restlessness is already moving. Defiance long orange flames on the edges of its flying cloak. The war dog at its side, fierce and hungry. The I is listening to the world, smelling white migrating butterflies.
'Tis a naughty night to swim in'

The I listens to the car chirruping in the dark, beckoning to its master. The I calls in the dark to the day and writes a poem in this dark. And the poem calls to the moonlight and the moonlight follows the voice of the poem into the room and it lies down across its feet. And the moonlight tells the room a story about the sun on the other side of the earth. And the room believes the story, but the story doesn't come. And the story cries on the other side of the world because it cannot hear the car chirruping for it in the dark.
'Tis a naughty night to swim in'

Anaximander is hooting into the arché, calling to the apeiron. He weaves with UV threads and it swarms around his fingers. He is calling, calling. He desires her arms, her hands, her dark eyes. He calls into the day and he calls into the night, but the only one there is him, him and the ghost, desire lines curling into the silence.
'Tis a naughty night to swim in'

The I smells the flowers as it walks while the siren calls with her voice as inaudible as the feathers on a dove's breast, the ring around its neck, black. Children swimming unseen behind a wall, calling. Barbecue smoke calls in the I's throat with its terrible and invisible words and the I cannot answer. Timshel. I may not. My window calls very loudly and the opera calls, and the jazz. Art calls, and everything beautiful, pleading unceasingly, clothes grab at my body, and pull, my bed embraces me and whispers to me all night. I cover my head, my eyes, my mouth, I wear gloves but I can still hear.

'No more of drowning, do you hear?'

Hunting in the night

This is how lions hunt: a flash of ochre and teeth, the heat of madder carmine and an abrupt whistle. Birds hunt like this: a rustle of pinions and a collapse of gravity. Silver confetti cascade flickers and blinks. And cars hunt like this: torque and roar, pin the prey with a sudden turn, red turns bright white, soft smoke swirling around the arc in delayed frame-by-frame. Doors open and swallow you whole. Aeroplanes hunt like this: intermittent cloud, glimpses of moon-white, red blink blink blink, green. You never get to see the prey and the sound comes afterwards, deep and fierce in your chest.

We hunt like this:
We look up at the stars stroking the celestial body, round and round. We look for eyes in the dark, glowing amber and red and water green, shaped like the Greek alphabet, forming an algorithm of need. If it's a pride, we close our eyes and we can hear their fast breaths. We take each other's hands and follow a trail of linseed oil and photographic emulsion.
We experiment with nets, and lures shaped like letters, with paint and confectionery and clarinets. With rifles made of water and the smell of a hot car engine at noon.
We shine flashlight beams into tall abandoned buildings and things run out, deaf things, gesturing in sign language with their fluorescent fingers. Bottles that weren't used for the bottle tree, aggregate quarried from the Racing Track, a harmonica playing the St. Louis Blues repeatedly.
We finger words and choose, as a night storm covers the world with water and light and wind. And afterwards you can see things clearly reflected in the puddles, you can smell the bodies of the pictures and as the sun stalks the sky, frightening it so that it grows pale, we lay down our weapons and go to sleep and dream dreams of each other.


Let your mind go. Allow it to become a fighter plane howling close to the defeated ground [not a kite], wagging its curled wings at the dry stone wall. A low, low stone wall left by Richard Long, bisecting the landscape from here all the way to the horizon. It's an inverted desire line. You cannot see the ha-ha from where you are. And there's the sword of Damocles, it's half a snake. And a mellifluous and auspicious crocodile. We're keeping low to the ground here. Except for the fainthearted piano playing stride. It's the sound of a line made by walking. Write in the sand with a stick:
mendicant, virtuous, enigmatic, irrevocable, flinch, cowed, aghast, fluted, astrophobia. Strike through the astrophobia. We are not afraid of stars, they are afraid of us.
OK, now we're ready.
Leave this room and go outside, there's a claustrophobic beach, so narrow that you look up at the waves towering over you. Deep green with white foam and only a thin, thin strip of pale blue above it. Strangely foreshortened, it doesn't break on you. Behind the waves you can hear the trumpets of Malcolm arriving with 10 000 Englishmen. Watch. In the transparent curl of the waves you can see the horses' legs and hooves, the map of a city, the game plan of a hypothetical cricket match, it's very complex, full of annotations and permutations and scribbles, it's for a five day match and it will rain some of the time. There's a word written in the handwriting of the person you love. The word is interstellar.

When you wake up, you're wretched. Because there's something that you missed. Something that's waited all your life to show itself to you and now it's gone. Forever.

Wilna Panagos writes (occasionally it is published somewhere), illustrates things [biology mostly], do web design from time to time & so on. She wrote and illustrated a few children's books and is currently writing something which may or may not turn out to be a short, odd novel. Oh yes, she lives in Pretoria, South Africa.

You can find her Facebook alter ego here.