Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 15
Summer, 2014

Featured painting, Riding the Dragon by Leslie Ditto.

Featured Novel Excerpt
New Works

Carol Shillibeer

Alice Files
Excerpt from handwritten biography [author unknown, although one of the great aunts is suspected]

At 12 she fell in love with ordnance survey maps. Tiny cathedrals, fences—just a line—all rivers fordable even by those of us on foot. Hours in those folds, those small boxes with a cross on top, one snaky line after another, and the printed labels, clear, distinct, serifs with glittering feet—she could trace them in the dark, see them shimmer when sleeping.

The day her mother chased her out the house, the maternal broom darting, straw daggers to cheek bones and eyebrows, she didn't need to think about it. Her feet just took her, leaping one isoline after the other.

It would be a mistake to compare her to the other Alice when speaking of her. It's true that she stumbled and fell, but there was no rabbit, and instead of tree roots and redolent soil, she fell through the hole inside one of her map's printed letters. Attempting to trace her departure, the duration and extension of her probable explorations, it has become clear that the problem is one of numbers, and perceptual limitation. Like frequencies of light: there is so little our eyes are built to see. The mistake: not recognizing that words are the same. How many words are there, invisibly pummeling their way around the universe, all with holes big enough to suck down even the most careful woman? Honestly, she didn't stand a chance.

With so many words, the chances of finding the one letter through which she fell frightens with its invisible stinger__one of those numbers that hides itself behind a whole host of printed zeroes clinging to that small blue medial dot marking the border line between big and small.

Still, she wasn't upset at the fall, running as she was from too much work, too little love. That sister of hers! And her mother! What a need for fresh air she must have had by then; a need to find the dragons curling her map's horizon.

I should tell you, I received a letter. She didn't say how to find her, or even if she can be found, but she sent some encouraging, and wonderfully varied description. Even her letters are less blocky; there are a few auspicious signs of cursive behaviour. So I'm allowing for the possibility that she may come out of this intelligible. Part of me hopes that she may even edge onto the articulate plain, and come out of the bowels of her word with a syntactic survey, mapping more clearly the world she describes.

You may wish to naysay, in defense of hope too long deferred, but unless we hear further from her, I'll assume that in the dark, there be lines still curling into tunnels home.

passenger expectation

Conductor: Portinari

Origination: Malkuth

Destination: The-Above

Notations for the Railroad Engineer.

Minor differences only. Disturbances caused small delays. Perhaps it was the vampire movie (cool costumes, German absurdist producer), or that Narcissus boarded without his mirror and so talked, wandering up and down the corridors, for the entire trip. Pulled the Red Cord twice causing brief stoppages while destination parameters were reset. Recommend spare mirrors in door-side storage compartments and Westerns or other Romances. Damuzi still angry at the Queen's decision. Uncomfortable with being less important (based on an analysis of the graffiti sprayed on the lounge ceilings—will have new porter attend to this. Last porter left train at Bineh—family emergency). This trip, no broken glass. Whiskey stocks seriously depleted. Reinforce earlier recommendation to double drug load on future trips. New passenger not responding well to discovery that this is a round-trip. Apologized for laughing, but insistence on right to separation from the material realm just so delightful that I was unable to maintain. Recommendation: at my next performance evaluation we speak again of further training in emotional equivocation. The Queen (Innana—luckily there was only one of the Nobility on the train for this trip—that is often so very awkward) spent the trip quietly mooning (she boarded without her lapis bling) over a picture of Ereshkigal. No problems there. Alighieri missed the train. Was seen running for the platform, but the last car had already reached the end of the platform. Last harassment complaint is still undetermined, so this should be noted when the complaint comes in alleging early departure. The new food services contractor, Paracelsus Inc., has a decided preference for unusual vegetative offerings, which offended the usual crowd during the first seating. First amongst the complainants was, naturally enough, Ibn Chesed, who kept insisting on proof of provenance for each and every leaf. One does wish he would take another train. Lastly, motley crew of murderers at second seating remain very well behaved. Still feel that this pleasant behaviour extends from the surprise at having attained the platform at all, let alone seats on the train. It's not as if newish passengers retain the information that there is no platform at 'The-Above" at which to disembark from the train before it returns to the platform at Malkuth. Most of them still think they think they're going to Heaven. Would be pleased if the Railroad Engineer could point this Conductor to studies outlining alternative theoretical positions regarding the correlation between passenger expectation and behaviour.

Report to the Director

In brief: Fragmentation is unaffected. Sentience pertains to specific material patterns. It remains undiminished and contextual. The effects of the last tsunami appear to have shifted the general affordance pattern of the entire collection, but the realization of general awareness remains only potential.


  • Despite force of plasma tsunami, no cohesion is apparent inst. date of this report. Crews have been constantly monitoring the range of sub-material organizations. No regions have been left without sensory assessment. Per last report, fragmentation and the patterning that results still results in excess energetics, as well as a roiling boil of mutational states providing the normal temporal well springs.

  • Sentience resulting from fragmentation threatens only local (and very temporary) coherence. Even after the upsurge in awareness resulting from the rush of affordance moments in population groups, the overall structure of that awareness never bridged the gap between subjects. More precisely, the concept of subject, which is the main patterning made possible by the dynamics of affordance structures in relatively stable chemical patterns, never arose in enough fragments to threaten "collection".

  • Having said that, the overall affordance pattern, observable only from the 4th spatial dimension, has a marked difference post tsunami. For one thing, colour patterning now relates 2nd order systems to longing, and 1st order systems to despair. This reversal is troubling, but only offers serious threat if it remains after the next polar shift. Monitoring stations will be maintained in key temporal and spatial locations until such time as the next shift is compete. A full special report will be prepared for this office once the study concludes.

  • Dynamic awareness has not yet been observed at the 2nd order level. Local awareness, unproblematic for the purposes of this office, has escalated post-tsunami, but there remains no phenomenological or semiotic awareness of the absence of 3rd and 4th dimensionality to said awarenesses. Despite the tremendous input of energy into the individual fragments by the devastation, no bridges have yet been built (and probably not conceived) between fragments. It is for this reason that the Report presents no recommendation for threat response.

Monitoring: Will maintain organizational bridges to enable study. Should chemical fragments become aware of these bridges, per protocol, said awareness will initiate self destruct.

Carol Shillibeer is a writer, but she also takes pictures, makes sound files, reads tarot, edits poetry manuscripts and teaches workshops.