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Rearrange

Rearrange

Nick Stokes

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I have a four-day week. I pull morning glory on the north, east, south, and west boundary of my property on successive days. On the fourth day, at West, I quit. The next day, the first day, I begin again at North. Creeping buttercup I pull. Grass in the beds I weed. Of dandelion and fennel and lambsquarter and sunchoke and nightshade I am ambivalent. Take it or leave it; kill it or eat it. But for the morning glory I rise as it twines up my chain-link through which I encounter my neighbors with a wave or head nod or too often a spoken word behind a severed leaf, an unwound vine, a silenced flower.

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Whenever you go inside, the furniture is where it is. Which is not where it was. The beds are rearranged, or rearrange themselves, or simply rearrange. The beds have rotated in place, each rotating ninety degrees. Or the beds have all rotated around a single imaginary axis at center, clockwise or counterclockwise depending on if you face up or down, each replacing the previous. You encounter other rotations, other orbits, other axes, other geometries, other dimensions through which the beds dance, marking time, aborting stagnancy, seeking the perfect arrangement, a crystal lattice, presenting you with new labyrinths to navigate, where is your bed which is your bed who is your bed, upsetting your sense of place like words misplaced out of novelty or to alleviate boredom no ennui or rather in an ostensible search for a truer more communicative communication. Furniture moved. You uncomfortable.

— — — — — —

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— — — — — —

So we are nothing. Fine, yes, we concur. But do nothings own houses, do nothings do yard work, do nothings make love in a variety of positions in rearranged beds with other nothings and procreate nothings whom we teach how to be nothings? Do nothings fix what breaks, which is everything? Do nothings feel empty?

— — — — — —

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I give up on everything but morning glory. When there’s no more morning glory to pull, I lie in a raised bed in which nothing is planted and do my best to think nothing, feel nothing, be nothing, though the best I can do is imagine being a picture-book cloud shredded by wind or a cube of dirt bored by worms. I try for a seed cracking, stem tip and root tip breaking from germ, feeding off my endosperm, one tip turning up and one down, but it is always then that I am returned to this place, this restless bed, this trepidation of approaching morning glory tendrils, this need to allay the foreshadowing of me entwined and constricted by slithering helixing morning glory, this inability to give myself up as morning glory fodder, this compulsion to maintenance my property. At this point I always rise and the first tender leading tip of morning glory always caresses my cheek and I always reach down to where its stems emerge from soil and yank with abandon for I know not how long, hands sticky and stinking of morning glory, because no matter how much I don’t want, I can neither abide lying here while morning glory does to me what it will nor eradicate the morning glory.

— — — — — —

He fixes or replaces or abandons what breaks or ceases to function or never worked: refrigerator, washing machine, vacuum belt, turn signal, oxygen sensor, water pump, red armchair rocker spring, turn signal, memories, starter, history, hard drive, his story, credit card, chickens, turn signal, knee, mutual fund, pressure cooker, appendix, ax handle, job, penis, turn signal, work, peach tree, intellect, shovel, heart, turn signal, thermocouple, eyes, lawnmower, pen, religion, lawnmower, emotional investment, turn signal, lawnmower, himself, us, you.

— — — — — —

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Then too are the times when you enter the house and the furniture is neither where it is nor where it was. The furniture is gone and now there is new furniture, a new bed similar but not identical to the old. All the furniture is here, imprinted in your mind, layered with each iteration of where the old furniture has been and the new furniture is so that your mental conception of the room, that is the room itself, is cluttered. You navigate the sum of the arrangements, the arrangement, all the furniture that ever was and is. Every opening of the floor plan closes it. Every maximization of space creates less space for you to be, desks and tables and armchairs and couches and sofas and divans and davenports and ottomans and shelves and shelves and shelves of books and baskets of toys and toy baskets and beds lofted and bunked and cribbed and four-posted and bassineted and trundled and all of it filling your space, making of your space a nonspace where all you want to do is lie down or get a cup of coffee or know what to do.

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— — — — — —

She walks out the door with a brown bag without a word with no intention of coming back without thought. Walking down the street at a speed much too slow to generate the lift necessary for her to sail cloudlike in a sky she knows somewhere in her is no sky but diffuse gasses and bent light, atmosphere she is already within, she vomits her emotions into her bag and leaves the bagged loves and losses and emptinesses and fulfillments and disappointments and joys and attachments and frustrations and meaningfulnesses and pointlessnesses in the street for a car to drive over or an adolescent to light on fire or some neighbor to collect their dog shit in or the rain to dissolve and fertilize the cracks in the pavement and contaminate the storm water drain and thereby the water cycle and thus everything or for nothing.

— — — — — —

I sleep outside in my raised bed of morning glory when I sleep.

— — — — — —

We express ourselves like an engorged breast manhandled to relieve the pain. We express nothing. To relieve the pressure. The expressing is not self-pleasuring. Though there is the momentary relief or release if we’ve already overused the relief so that rather than contributing to the release, the incessant relief contributes to the pressure. Or if the release has become as repetitive and inescapable as the relief, then perhaps we will experience, momentarily, instead of relief or release, relinquishment, religion, or reliving, to begin with. We’d prefer if someone nursed our expression, sucked it out, so we needn’t pinch and knead and do it ourselves. But no one seems to need our expression, least of all ourselves. Most of all we want to have nothing to express, which means we’d have to wean ourselves of ourselves. Most of all we want to express nothing, which is what we said we expressed.

— — — — — —

They go to work on Monday and they get off on Friday and get off on each other Friday night and they mow the yard and catch a game and go to the store on Saturday and they go to church or sleep in on Sunday and go to work on Monday. Even if they think they don’t, they do. They are made of plastic.

— — — — — —

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If it weren’t for the furniture rearranging, you’d never rearrange the furniture. You’d spend your life with the same furniture in the same place with the same orientation. You like to know where things are. Even if that’s where they’re not.

— — — — — —

We will run out of points of view, by God, we will.

— — — — — —

Before she walks very far without her little abandoned monstrous cute foul regurgitated nothings, she hyperventilates. Lost, an empty shell, a gutted fuselage, a spinning gyroscope. Her exit or trajectory or liftoff is slowed by her useless and ineffectual breathing until her velocity goes negative. She returns to the sopping brown bag of purged emotion and breathes in and out of it to reduce her oxygen intake to zero, to aspirate her chunky stew, to atomize the nothings which reduce her to nothing and without which she is nothing into her bloodstream which she will not yet let.

— — — — — —

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They’re out on the street, all of them, walking, or in their houses or apartments or cubicles or offices or libraries or factories or cars or parks or stores, doing something or doing nothing, doing, more conscious or less conscious, longing to be unconscious or completely conscious if they long for anything or nothing. They pull weeds. They go about their business in their bar bank church theater garden bed computer.

— — — — — —

It is nothing personal. It cannot bear to be what it is. Partial. Dentures in a glass, mouthless, faceless, skulless. Manufactured. It’d be okay if it didn’t know or if it knew. But as it is it cannot decide whether to pull in like a turtle or a black hole or a nautilus or push out like a fart or the universe or morning glory. So it sits, a lump oriented neither inward nor outward, a bump on a log, discarded lumber, its contemplation consuming its itness, its longing oxidizing its reduction, its vaporization vaporizing it, its indecision burning its insides out, hollowing it as another layer of annular vegetative matter accretes on its surface, as leaves efface, as roots root. It burns.

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— — — — — —

They’re looking for a place to put their face.

— — — — — —

It is a hill standing up. It is the dispossessed settling in the intertidal zone. It wants nothing or wants a nothing or wants for nothing or wants to nothing. It encompasses. It exhales in and inhales out.

— — — — — —

It rearranges.

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