Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 14
Spring, 2014

Featured Novel Excerpt
New Works

j/j hastain

From Apophallation Sketches: A Theater of Sensual Extremes

Compulsion and Coercion

Sometimes, after waking from a nightmare, nothing feels right. Are molding dolls, long suspended from island trees, applicable figures? If so, what is their pronoun? How to refer to them collectively? This is the desire to honor; no insult is intended.

Ghosts are always applicable and they don't like to be offended.

It was believed that the lone inhabitant of the island drowned one evening while he was running from the ghost-girl who regularly haunted him. He had come to the end of his rope; his nerves were always on end and no matter how much he begged her, no matter the rituals he performed, the ghost-girl never let up on him.

Early one afternoon he had performed puja in attempt at showing her his feelings. "See, I brought you friends," he said while she stared into him. He pointed upward like a child toward more dangling dolls.

He often felt better when he pinched their cheeks. The dolls' faces never snapped open revealing horror like the ghost-girl's did. He did not really like the color pink, but he was willing to try anything: pinch a doll's cheek, call dolls the instance of pink that were capable of reaching him out here within the gray and grief that swallowed his days.

Now, all that remains are the dolls he once hung as attempts at bridges: effort to tell the ghost-girl that it was not actually his fault that he could see her. He hoped to have some day proven himself, tempered her, let her know that he meant her no harm.

His body floats face down in the tides: has been that way for years now, decaying. Scuttling insects cling to the dangling bodies of the decaying dolls and the ghost-girl seems to have receded.

The dolls swing whether or not there is any wind.

Hot Slit

Gertrude Stein had visited many same sex couples in that cave.

It was a well-known fact: folks traveled across country for access to it. The managers of the location eventually had to make a limit on how many couples could be in the cave at one time so that each one would get what they came for: the textures of her priming attention.

Reflection is a solid that moves; therefore, transmission by way of it is assured. What many came to call the martyr's cross was obviously apparent to participants when they finally made their way to the back: pool by pool, coolest to hottest.

The cross could only be seen in the reflection of the waters of the hottest pool. If you turned your head to gaze up into the stones in attempt at finding it where it supposedly originated, it disappeared from view. A cross is a shape, and a shape can black out if you look at it in the wrong way. A shape is alive. The martyr's cross is sensitive, prone to fainting. Be careful where and how you use your penetrating look.

Gertrude usually entered the cave when someone was staring into the water below them, head bowed, taking in transitory shape. Slipping in from dark light, Gertrude would hover over the vulva-like strip at the back base of the last pool. Burbling syllables and phonemes would come out at the same time that firm touch would. Hot slit was a point taking place in the shape of a curve, and beyond it, beyond where Gertrude hovered, there was no light or lingering at all.

The smell of burnt coffee and sulfur kept the sex organs of the couples loose while they were being touched and spoken to; you can't be primed by a visitation when you are stiff. The abounding awareness which came to participants during visitation was not exclusive to sex or gender. They all knew it: they were in and becoming an integral part of a constant menstrual cycle below ground.

While waiting in line for their turn, two young girls who obviously got a ride to the cave from someone who was old enough to drive, were feeding each other bright, crunchy cherries: cherries so crisp that they popped each time one landed from one girl's hand into the other girl's mouth. Flick of the wrist and compelling fruit lobs from one body so in need of loosening, to another body.

Martyr's cross is a message taking place by way of a plashing, hovering body within an ancient cave. Of the many others, a cave is the most whole shape and a whole shape is worth lifelines in lifetimes of inquiry.

j/j hastain is a queer, mystic, seer, singer, photographer, lover, priest/ess, gender shaman and writer. As artist and activist of the audible, j/j is the author of several cross-genre books and enjoys ceremonial performances in an ongoing project regarding gender, shamanism, eros and embodiments.