Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 48
spring equinox, 2023

Featured artwork, Elephant 1, by Neila Mezynski

New Works

Naomi Azriel

A Three Minute Editorial Board Meeting

Act One, Minute One

The tribunal consisted of three human sized crows. The largest one, Senior Editor, wore a long ponytail and sunglasses. He sat on a raised dais with a large wooden podium in front of him. On either side of him perched an Assistant Editor, both of whose plumage still soft to the touch. A poet stood before them in a musty basement, though winter light spilt from the tall window to bless her trembling heart. Her hands, holding a sheaf of loose papers like so many grain sacks, shook in the chilly breeze. Snow fell outside. The three crows spoke amongst themselves. Where did she get her MFA from? Inquired Senior Editor in a croaking baritone. She went Nowhere, answered the Assistant Editor to his right. Left Assistant squawked. Self taught, shuddered Senior. Oh well. He pecked around the manuscript, looking for an Acknowledgments page but, to his great disgust, found none. Self taught and unpublished. Right Assistant cocked a meaningful brow.

Act Two, Minute Two

Let's make this quick and painless, decreed Senior. We are giving this manuscript three minutes, fair and square. Fair, Square, crowed Left Assistant. She did pay her submission fee in full, offered Right Assistant, apropos of nothing. Left Assistant snorted and coughed up a half chewed dung beetle, its body shining in the pale light. The poet, though quavering, could not help but notice a rainbow refracting on the beetle's gleaming surface. Gregor Samsa scuttled into her mind. She imagined herself hard-shelled & upside down. She bit her cheeks from the inside to stay present. Present, she could now feel her vagina tightening around a tampon, already overflowing with the thick blood of her uterine lining. She opened her mouth, but all that came out was a faint trace of her true force. Have you looked at the Table of Contents, was all she managed. Senior sorted through the papers with his sharp beak, then vigorously waved the Table of Contents page at her, his head bobbing from side to side.

Act Three, Minute Three

Left Assistant fell asleep, snoring lightly. The plumage above his beak fluttered gently with each exhale. Snow kept falling outside. The poet felt a surge rising from her vagina, through her stomach and up to her throat. My words—she said with great effort—Look at the words. Read the poems. Senior Editor lifted the pages with his beak. Your syntax is all wrong! He cackled. Too many em dashes, too few commas. But the words—she protested. It was too late. The sentences slid off the pages, splintering into lines, then phrases, words and finally letters that scattered clickety-clack on the floor like so many hard-shelled, luminous dung beetles.


Editorial session now over, Senior raised his gavel and brought it down hard on the podium. Not for us! He decreed. The poet burst in wordless song that sounded like Gregor Samsa, keening. The keening sounded like the dead, sending a cipher from the other side. The other side called to the three crows, who flew out the window. Ink leaked down the poet's legs, then pooled on the floor. Dung beetles scuttled through the ink stains, marking the floor with indecipherable patterns. Snow kept falling, remaking the whole world in its image.

Naomi Azriel is an Israeli-American poet, activist and Jungian analyst. In both her clinical and poetic work, she reaches for complex interior spaces in which the fury of disillusionment and the sweetness of enchantment coincide. Having had her heart broken by both her countries, she aims to beam herself on a ray of dark matter into a wormhole between languages, between worlds, between the imaginary and the real. Her work can be found or is forthcoming from Clackamas, Jung Journal, Barnacle Goose, BarBar, Gone Lawn, The Closed Eye Open and Red Noise Collective as well as Israeli literary journals.