Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 7
Spring, 2012

Featured painting, ©2003 by Lynn Schirmer : Egg.

Featured Excerpt

New Works

Artemis Asio

Animal Compound

I dreamed we were traveling along a paved two-lane dirt road highway in the mountains of Colorado and Utah. I was driving my white minivan, "BunnyMoon." Corrie was along for the ride. To the left of the road we saw a steep mountainside farmland with a highway running through it that we were driving on. A narrator warned "slow down" but I wasn't going that fast. I turned hard to the right, exiting into the church parking lot behind my house when Poof! The van disappeared right out from under us, 'cause we were standing in the middle of the road we'd just exited, facing straight ahead with no van in sight as if it had never been. We looked to the right—nothing—dead space. We looked ahead. Modern cowboys from the Old West were milling around a set from a Western in one of those tiny rural towns on the way to someplace bigger like Price or Torrey. They lounged against white jeeps, white trucks, white horse trailers, smoking—but no van. To our left was a split-rail gate swinging opening a split-rail fence that we couldn't see behind even though nothing was blocking our view. Still looking for the van, we entered—but of course it wasn't there. Still looking for the van we entered, spotting a van that was an old station wagon that was weathering, shedding flakes like a crumpled tube of white paint. It was a decoy. Still looking, we entered what seemed to be a compound for Big Cats.
Big Cats roamed everywhere, Bobcats, Cougars, Mountain Lions, all the big, wild cats ranging round the animal preserve in the subdued and tawny hues of the mountains of the North American West. There were no cats with bright orange stripes, there were no cats with vivid splotches or dots, no splashy, flashy jungle tigers or blazing leopards like the ones you see in the glossy dreamscape ads of cats in the newly digitally enhanced National Geographic of the New Age of Photography. No—these cats were real. I think I saw an African lioness walking by.

Then she appeared: the gamekeeper, the guide at the gateway, a young woman like Artemis or a figure in a dream, in charge of her domain.
I ask her: "Is this the zoo?" and she says no.
I ask her: "Are these Cats tame?" and she says no.
I ask her: "Are these Cats dangerous?"
She paused then answered: "If you let them alone, they'll let you alone."
Still, they had very long claws and a great many teeth so (Alice) felt they ought to be treated with respect. So I kept a healthy distance while the Big Cats continued prowling in great numbers through the background of this segment of this segment of the dream.
Now I am in a building that is both inside and outside. Corrie and Artemis have gone. I am in a structure near the entrance that is like a barn and like a manger and like a cattle shelter against the wind. I am in the outside part of the structure, "outside" because the dirt floor is strewn with hay and gold straw and has grasses growing up. And because this part of the compound is only lightly partitioned against the elements.

Then I was in another section of the compound, deeper in. I was in a house with actual walls where people lived—civilization. The walls were of sheet rock and thin plywood, flimsy like office partitions. I was there with my brother, Jon. I was sad. I told him "Now that Corrie's moving out, I might have to move too." "No you won't," he replied. "Go to the second level."

Now I'm standing outside a building in the twilight with my landlord Bruce, standing here in the dark of an infrared photo of a negative of my house with my landlord Bruce looking up at our house in the twilight we live in. It is night. We're standing at the edge of our house, here at the corner where three planes meet, gazing up at the meeting place of the edges of the roof where they come together forming the peak of an inverted "V", watching. Waiting here at the corner of our house at the edge. Watching where the two planes of the sides of the house intersect with the three planes of the roof forming a peak, waiting. And this is what we await:
We see a bat that is not a bat but is grey as a dove, beige as a mouse, wriggling its way inside the wormy weathering wainscoting of the eves at the edge of our house. We see a bat that is not a bat but is and has the body of a rabbit flying, the size of the body of a rabbit flying up the side of the house of my beige-gray rabbit Pyewacket into the eaves and looking exactly the same as each other. Two rabbits into one, looking exactly the same as each other, one from now and one from the past, separated only in death but joined again into two into one and conjoined again into two into three into one with a bat, a bat the size of a large grey-beige rabbit wriggling its way inside the wormy weathering wainscoting of the eaves here at the edge of our house standing in the twilight of an infrared photo of a negative of the house we live in with Bruce and my rabbits and me.
And then it happens again, exactly the same.
And then I hear someone say the word "crepuscular."
And then someone whispered the word "crepuscular."
And then it happened again, exactly the same.

And then Bruce said "that sure was big for a bat!"
And then I was in the "barn" part of the compound, the part both inside and out. The space in the barn was divided in thirds, stratified horizontally, like bunks in a barn in an old Western in a dream. Planes made of plywood separated the layers. The middle plane had a circle cut in the center. The circle was filled with straw. And then it dawned on me: I could live here. Imbibing the heat and the muggy breath of cattle huddled in their stalls below. Making my bed in the hay in the circle of the center plane and drifting off, I thought a thought: If you lie down with cattle you will never go homeless.

And I wondered why no one had thought of this before.

Artemis Asio holds advanced degrees in Fine Arts and Creative Writing. She is least known for her gay noir porn written under assorted spook names. Currently she is writing about hard time done in a small southern town. Ms Asio was raised in the Rocky Mountain states and plans to return as soon as the danger passes. She divides her time between rural Texas and anyplace else.