sporklet 11
Bryan Edenfield




There are nine rooms separating my body, but nine is an arbitrary number. Sometimes I clench my right wrist with my left hand and think of my pulse as a time bomb ticking. I have blue eyes like thunder and clarity. When I smile it is only a street lamp.

A small bird in a round jar; this is the first subject. A bird without wings without feathers without song. A bird that is not a bird. A snake, coiled in a plastic cup. The lid is clipped and locked to the edges. Fangs pierce the side and poison drips onto the table. In thrashing, the cup spills onto the ground. A snake under incandescent ceiling.

The second subject: something is growing beneath my ribcage. A coiled snake? Nothing beats in there. Sometimes I grasp my left wrist with my right hand to count the lack. Earlier, I saw three strands of grass twined together and dangling from the throat of a tree by the river. Far away a snowflake melts and I think lips are for this:


sounds that horrify the emptiness. I enjoy the company of objects because their language is gestural. They don’t mind a silence that wades through the solemn.


I am not even the third subject: a species of whistling reeds chatter in the hot air. This building sees me as an imposter and every time the sun clicks over the water tower my shadow grows older. Remember when the mirror was invented? Was that the first day a human mouth sang a song?


The snake curled in the shadow. I read a book when I was a child about the atomic bomb and the shadows it invented. The shadows here remind me of them. Silhouettes that don’t move. An air that stinks of stillness. Sometimes I hallucinate a drowning figure past the coral. A foam splash of a red dream in the leftover rain. A fence shakes. The grass is remainders of the spine. No one sits down.  


Have we past subjects four and five? Are you the sixth subject? I only talk to myself and I imagine myself as a horse that stands with dignity next to a brushfire. My weight crushes rocking chairs. No one predicts my fate. Loneliness is a jungle.

My favorite object is a dusty net protecting glass from the shatter. Small tears form the continents. Every fray is a different species of object. I believe they all grow from the earth green. A house grows from the earth but my arms are too short to pull it free. Small brown bottles grow from the earth and those I have no trouble uprooting. Inside, small snakes coil and wait to die. Each one is a different hue and makes a unique sound when hissing. Their collected vocabulary is every tension in the city.


I don’t drop the bottles; I drink the hiss.




The body is a surface of dormant craters, simmering softly searching for bliss. When the lesions sense longing they brim with heat, not a heat the draws the cold closer but a heat that burns away beauty.

The walls are all windows and the outside air is black curtains sine-waving like a flood. My limbs want to move two ways at once so my center is ripped muscle. That’s a joke because I have no muscle: my body is composed entirely of wax and crushed worms.

When young and naïve a woman pierced my ear and inserted into the hole a small bone ripped from the body of a bat. Certain academic journals led me to believe that I could hear the wavelengths of the past, remnant particles that forgot to move forward in time, a ghost visage burned into a tiny corner of the cosmic retina. An afterimage is a sound, said the professor, and to hear it we must augment our bodies. But snake-oil leaves a nasty aftertaste.

I studied six subjects. Melted rubber forms the face of an angel, her hands a canvas of whiskers. This form of blue, subterranean and toxic, breathes and moves through the courtyard at night, coaxing the dogs to howl. A living mistake of light, it wonders if it is here only to make us doubt. This is the seventh subject: doubt is a blue sentience that sneaks in through the front door.


Listed are animals from my dreams: the bird fell in love with the snake. It kissed the scales with its talons. The snake did not reciprocate. Sympathy for the misguided sparrow and solace for the split serpent. On the eighth lesion, the one that burns when ignored, an array of bottles rest on a splinterwood cabinet. Doctors analyze through a microscope and inform me of their contents.

The eighth lesson: diminishing returns. We are conceived as perfect creatures, and by “we” I mean the snake, the bird and my body. Over time, we dissolve into aches. Every day becomes a list. The afterimage becomes a vision of the future. Palinopsia becomes precognition.

My body is caused by accidents caused by bodies. The half-life of a mistake. I do not carry all of my memories with me. Every moment, the spineless creature remembers it cannot fly, a cactus like a polished stone. This is the eighth subject, I think.

A whirlwind of empty shelves, hissing. I live in a tall building, it smells of bathrooms and caverns, and I cross out my accomplishments over breakfast: white ceramics with flecks of green, the must of a long run, bait through a sieve, a doe by the furnace in the basement. The snake paces to retrace the lines of its path because those are its only access to memory. Now only memory of memory, if even. The building fades into the fog.


A bird without wings or beak. A language without song. A long gray mask of shifting geometry, an odor tinted blue.


A subject without objects to keep it in place.


Bliss from the terrible serenade.




I am lost.


If I don’t know what a word means I can’t comprehend the object it describes. But an object is not a word. Without our ugly syllables all objects would speak their own language pure and primal.  We have colonized. Both the bird and the snake lay eggs.


Solitude is a cold place but that’s easy to say.


What is the human form? I am jealous of those whose limbs grow widgets that interconnect with the limbs of others. They share consciousness through mysterious veins, a cryptic connectivity woven around humanity. The doctor’s textbook notes the solipsistic shakes of the mind but neglects the details of the hive.


I made this box, sweetly polished and smelling of a deep forest blue where the earth squirms. What animal scurried up that tree?  Why is the tree on fire?  There is no lightning in the sky.  We will all die.


I’ve seen the last soul and it is an angel of teeth. No gem is as radiant as its eyes of black and green, the gnashing seraphim of earthquakes. In my sleep I long for the creature to hold me tightly; in some dreams I then slaughter it with my bare hands and in others it saves me from the fog. I wake remembering that I am alone and want to die.


Can you hear the pain in my voice? That’s a trick question; I have no voice but a mouth full of panic like stones too large to swallow and too large to spit out. Bodies are a series of gestures or squirms. The voice is that part of the body specifically designed to quiver and detach. When it dangles unheard it is a vestigial cut in the air.


This house is decorated with the pink flesh of unheard voices.


We are objects in agitation and will rest at absolute zero. Until then I am calmed by an agitation that pets rather than bludgeons.


Objects in tremor. Objects sinking. Objects slowly coming apart.


To be at peace with an object is to know the object as a subject and to know that it shivers.




(I woke up making love to a ghost. The rays of the sun ricochet off of glass and land with a splash on my cheek. Smell the gasoline curl through the avenue, across the bridge, snapping at the tips of my tendrils.)

When I was a child, a lizard chewed the lip of a garbage pail. I collected marbles that grew from pearlescent petals loosened from their branches by a gust of heat. If scattered forcefully on the asphalt, the prismatic spheres refracted the light into a crisscross of rainbows that dazzled the hungry lizard until it fainted.  I picked up the lizard by its tail and dipped it into a bowl of white paint. The paint hardened and the lizard died a statue. After school I’d ride my bicycle into the desert with a basket of albino reptiles awkwardly looped around my left arm. I’d place the statues on the skeleton of a cactus and then ride off to search for torn up pages of pornography strewn about the dry wilderness.

The evening before, an old man wandered jovial into a tavern; electricity crackled along the walls and the floorboards moaned with a low roar.

“I prefer to live a life of improvisation, of chance,” said the gentleman to a woman at the bar who did not care. “I don’t like making plans. This, I have discovered, is why I’m so unhappy. We live in a city of plans and appointments, calendars and schedules. So I am always late or canceling. I am forgetful and I reschedule. I call out sick, I don’t show up, I flake. I’ve beaten myself up for this over the years but now I realize it isn’t my fault. Man was not meant to live this way. We want to hunt and discover. You cannot plan a discovery.”


The woman enjoyed drinking beer and did not enjoy listening to men .”blabber about schedules and discovery. (Red trails glide across the mirrors and a tremor invades the bones. The smell of sweet amber stains the ribbons of white light cascading from the tilted pillars.) Days before, she was a woman of sound sleep and bland youth. She thought of ways to set fire to automobiles. Tomorrow, she would speak to another man who stared at her with eyes of a mongoose. She responds, stating:

“Did you know that I am more genetically similar to a snake than to a simian.” He thought she was joking.  He took up space; his leg brushed hers. She slithered. “I’m very serious. I’ve had blood tests. It’s very rare, but one in approximately one million people descend not from primates but from reptiles. Ask any doctor of evolution. It may sound wonderful, being part snake, but there are many disadvantages. I have difficulty regulating my temperature. My skin peels. I’m more comfortable squirming than walking. But there are benefits as well. Venom.”

This is not a metaphor. She killed him later that night and not with a kiss. She spit in his face.

Her twin sister lived by the ocean. She tied string around smooth stones and hung them from trees. (White sand glides between the capillaries. Varicose black sickens the sidewalk.) She runs her tongue along the cement and detects leather, the paws of dogs, forest embers, bird disease, colonies. At work, she runs her fingers through blood. “Napoleon was part snake too.” She smiles.


A woman wakes up making love to an angel, its wings smother her, its feathered flesh trembles, its teeth chatter a code she can only understand when she faints halfway. Something is happening. The bird descends.

(A bat in the sunlight, flapping against a black wall. Its bones feel ghosts but in this heat, not everything dies. Some,


they faint halfway.)




Our war on clouds.


I imagine myself as an old man: worms coil around my joints. When I was young, I thought that my internal organs were sentient objects resembling household items. My liver was a shoe, for example. My brain was a closet of hangers. My heart was a torn mattress.


I imagined myself a wise man counting the clouds knowing that clouds cannot be counted; they are not discreet things. One cloud is a swarm of thousands of drops of moisture. It splits into two, it combines with other clouds, it transforms.


When stupid and full of spit, I threw homemade spears into the sky in hopes of catching the white whale that floated high above. The spear attached to a rope tied to my waist. When the spear punctured the belly of the cloud (would it bleed rain? Cry lightning?), I'd pull it down to earth and stand atop triumphant.


He who conquered the sky!


All I can think about is the bird in my throat fluttering its wings. I sing its turmoil. The bird shoots a small blue egg into my stomach and another somehow travels into my left arm, nestles between two muscles. This is just a metaphor; I have no muscles. My body is composed only of feathers and eggshells.




Not to be outdone, sister bruised the storm.


Mother taught us addition with her antique set of cutlery. The handle of the knife curved like a serpent. When sis cut her finger she wrote her name on the wall with her blood. What was her name? I can't remember anything these days.


My mom visited me in the city last year and was disappointed with the hurricane I had built to honor my sister's memory, or lack thereof. These winds don't appropriately carry objects. A hurricane is a Tower of Babel; wind through mangled metal is the language of machines.


In the ice room, an attendant lays wet strips of cloth on my forehead. I lie on a table draped with a red sheet. The walls are lava rock. Three amphorae of water sit below the window, I cannot see what is outside but the ceiling of the room shimmers. A small fish twirls listlessly in amphora one; I can hear its golden fin swishing through the water. In the second, the attendant drops an eyeball, not mine, but possibly that of an ox. The third amphora contains only water and it has been that way since the beginning of time.


The attendant flips me over (I am a sausage on the griddle) and removes my vertebrae one by one and sets them in a line on a desk by my heels. Next, she removes my collarbone and then moves on to my arms. After about thirty to thirty-three minutes, I am body without bones and feel a calmness and clarity that is revelatory. All objects are dead objects. They cannot think and have no hands to grasp. They do not blink. They begin dead and so begin at the end and so must transform into life.  


We can study the subatomic architecture of the future as it holds together the apparition of solidity and promises to quake alive some day long from now. We are mostly empty space and my hand glides through the sinews of the tabletop, the lampshade, the coffee mug, the magazine tray. An object is something you can rest your hat on but the hat falls because it is a mirage. Subject is magic, lost lies, a fog. The attendant can speak no words that convey her remorse and I am stuck unraveling my tongue for 60 excruciatingly long minutes. The thing winds around from here to California and the tip blisters in the sun. I will meet the good doctor soon but until then, I can watch the attendant pulverize my bones into a fine powder and then dust the canopy of vines outside with snow. Somewhere along my toes, a flake melts into the red cloth.


My sister insisted on the sinister. Her room was a wunderkammer of mundane objects. She spoke French, you know. Her plan was to collect all objects and rebuild the earth, cochon. Une terre humide, she raises her fists to the clouds and says…


...I cannot recall her psychonomic hymnals.   “God is the mind of the universe” she said, maybe.




I sing the song of large waves crashing,
of a deep sky that swallows the sun and licks its lips.
I sing the song of great gods starving,
their weak limbs let the fragile air slip through their grip.
I sing the song of the universe within a cup,
lest we spill the stars we cannot save.
and I cry the wound of the laughing knave,
who crushed our house with his fingertip.


A string winds through the canyons of my skull.
Floss it through the synaptics until my muscles convulse.
A smoke trail trills across the starless sky.
It ends beyond a hazed horizon scattered with hills and loss.
Ember flights invade my gentle interior and kiss the dull
glow, devour my vision into a wavering pulse.
A meteor flings above our meager home to cry
a glimmer of intergalactic rust and heavenly moss.


I sigh the song of a language forgotten
and the doctor reminds me of all that is rotten
in the Byzantine canvas of planets in knots
held deep below a skin that rots.
I sing the songs of decadent animals,
the kind that whispers and the kind that pulls,
the kind that mesmerizes with tales of spirits
now encased in obsidian at the monster exhibit.


The carcass of a squid on the red sands of Mars
reminds us of this vessel shattered into shards
sharp enough to recut our memory of birth
into a prediction of our parched and empty earth.
A Roman façade torn down after centuries of miosis
then reconstructed in the junkyard of Heraclitus
now resembles the silhouette of the Holy Ghost,
or a delusional prayer, as the doctor diagnosed.


So I sing the scream of feathers torn from wings,
of the curious man peering through the telescope at death's orbit,
of the surgeon who ingests poisonous sharp things,
she cuts herself open and peers dizzily into the fresh slit.
I silence the screams of the city in heat,
moaning orgasmic in the orange nocturne lights.
The electricity flickers down the tributary streets,
quiet copper rivers cutting into the night.

I stop singing.




It's noon on Sunday. Upstairs, a man paces.


His view is of an orchard; blue canaries flutter around the apples and listen to the insects as they carve the earth. The man pins his collection of rattlesnake skins to the wall and brushes his cheek against their scales. The song they sing against his stubble reminds him of the constellation of the viper. What notes play God in the scattermap of the mind? What does an apple taste like? Cut open the canary and find the music box, broken.


It's one am on a Saturday or a Friday.


Across the globe, a dog lays in the sunlight that streams through the holes in the ceiling. His breath is rust. Here, a man of mixed-mind wanders like a moth down the dark street. This city does not buzz, it growls. He sees only fire and eyes. His feet tapdance a daydream from childhood: ripping out the pages of a book and sending them down a creek one by one, the water skims the story. Across the globe, a woman reads the same book at the same time at a pace in keeping with the boy's slow rate of tear. We are methodical creatures. Now, the dog dreams of tearing apart a rabbit and her feet fidget a rhythm in time and tune to man's nostalgic dance. They perform the same cosmic liturgy. The book is shredded and wet, like a song of drowned angels.


It’s three pm on Wednesday.


Down the hall, in a room to your left, a woman studies an old chant written on parchment. She does not understand the words. She is distracted by a continually recurring image, not from dreams but from waking flashes, triggered by nothing. A brutish man, scars across his face and bare torso, takes a knife and cuts into the plush cushions of a deep green couch. The stuffing, once held tightly inside, pushes through the tear as if gasping for air. If I chanted, she thought, I would chant about this, find meaning in this, relate this to the truth of existence. But she does not chant and thinks, instead, that the image is nothing but a looping misfire in the brain. If I sang I would believe that this image was placed in my mind for a reason, she thinks. But it's funnier to believe in meaninglessness. The image is farce. Biology has a sense of humor.


It's morning, I don't know what time, and the lady sleeps.


She rolls until the sheets choke her torso and the cranes beyond the fence swoop along the glass. Her room smells like wild buffalo and her eyes twitch to the erratic hammering three floors up. Two cities away, an angry dog claws at his cage and howls shortly before a small earthquake. When the woman wakes, her body is vibrating and the red cranes still guard the skyline. A panic knuckles her throat; her eyes still twitch like two tiny seismographs. She cannot remember her dream. Was it a dream, or did she feel the earth fall? Why are the walls torn, the windows shattered? Why is that hammering now a voice of reason? The earth has a heartbeat, but it plays not a peaceful rhythm. Her pulse mirrors it and high above the moon pulls a little closer.




What I've learned about angels, they have no faces. Sometimes I daydream about a future where I fall in love but love is only a daydream about the future. What ugly creatures: claws and black eyes. She asks me to mold her face and takes my hand to press it against her blank cheeks. We meet somewhere, maybe on a boat or in a garden, and we hold the same blue notebook of scrawls. Her skin shifts like putty under my fingertips and I sculpt her cheekbones and nose. Some of this is broken synaptic firings. We kiss and then a year later we live together and then a year later we marry and then a year later she dies in a car crash. I can hear her voice ringing in my ears like the echo of a gunshot and she asks me to carve her a mouth, so I take my finger and penetrate the skin below her nose, insert a second finger and spread them apart to widen the wound. We sink into the garden of Eden. In our home, before her death, we performed mutual autopsy and carved our secrets into each other's organs. Her heart is a list of my regrets; mine is a list of her sins. We write in Braille so that we can feel the words through the flesh once we are sewn shut and the patterns of dots remind us of the sky above that garden, constellations untainted by the mistakes of mammals. Lipless, she asks me to give her an eye. Beneath the flesh above her nose I feel an orb rolling untethered from one part of her face to the next. I pinch it and pull; her eye breaches her skin and I gently place it in the correct spot, smoothing out the area around it and using the nail of my pinky to lightly poke her a tear duct. “That's enough,” she says. “All else is luxury.”










































































Beauty is a glitch in the system.

A subject of infinity: the snake is not eating her own tail. She is performing a sex act.


“When I kiss you, whose mouth do you feel, yours or mine? The finger hopping along the pulse of your spine is actually the spine becoming self aware, no longer bone but a crackling black snake of eruptions, your skin the crystalline surface of a glass ocean in the blinding sunlight.”

Love is a duet between subject and object.

Bryan Edenfield was born in Arizona but has lived in Seattle since 2007. He was the founder and director of the small press and literary arts organization, Babel/Salvage. He hosted and curated the Glossophonic Showcase and the Ogopogo Performance Series. His writing has most recently been published in Mantra Review, Underwood Press, Meekling Review, TL;DR, and Plinth. He was a recipient of the Jack Straw Writers Fellowship for 2018 and is currently the host and producer of the Hollow Earth Radio program, Glossophonics.