Exposure № 006: Creature Fear

Says Erica Lucy about her photography:

“The images produced in the Creature Fear series are my interpretation of the dioramas at The Academy Of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. These are some of the oldest dioramas in the country and are beautiful and quite sad at the same time. I sought to give my own interpretation of life in them in my photographs- to capture the frailty, contradiction, and idealistic imagery that the idea of a diorama produces.”

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A Contortionist’s Love Story

I.


e once had bodies. They were long limbed and thick boned, weak muscled and thin skinned. We’d lay in bed together at night and trace the lines on one another’s backs, straight up the spine and back around again. We were whole. Complete. Two separate people who walked to work in the morning and walked back home at night. Snow in our hair, red flush on our cheeks.

We had bodies.

I changed before you. My leg stretched higher on the bathroom counter, my chest pressing forward, my arms in the air, reaching toward the stars. I always had small ribs, a small chest. Everything folded easily as I watched myself in the mirror. Hard water stains left spots on my reflection, but I ignored them.

This was more important now.

Days later you caught me, laid out on my stomach, hands around my ankles, willing them forward, scratching at the skin to pull and stretch. A backward butterfly struggling on the ground. Instead of saying anything, you laid out next to me. Echoed my moves, composing the same pose. Maybe you had always known how to do it. I don’t know that for sure.

Now I’ll never know.

II.


e moved in succinct poses together in every room of our apartment. I reached over you, bent at the waist, scratching the counter for clean spoons and you laid your arm atop me, struggling to hold the pose. I admired our view in the reflection of the kitchen window as we became composed of one another. Rain stained the glass, turned from snow before it hit the ground. You smiled. You had always been just a bit bigger than I had, your ribs full and wide, but you moved the same way I did.

I ignored our differences at first and kept going.

We walked to work. We walked home. Our bones thinned out and our limbs got longer until one day I was taller than you and could see the red roots growing out of your dyed dark hair. I touched my finger to your scalp and you said nothing. Leaned up and kissed my cheek, pulling your leg behind your back and up toward the gray clouded sky. A part of you melted into me. I folded into you.

We went home a little less than complete.

III.


told them all it was an accident. I didn’t expect it to happen that way. We didn’t know what we were doing. I asked and you agreed. You told me as I laid out on the kitchen ground, staring up at the paper stars we hung. They were snow colored, grayed out. I reached up with my arms and I could touch the very edges of them.

You were red-eyed, staring at me over the small space between us.

We laid out the way we once laid in bed when we could still fit under its sheets. I counted straight up your spine, following it with my fingers but the trail was longer than I remembered. Time stretched out, losing itself inside of us. The longer we stayed, the less we had. Our bones melted, our skin cracked. I wrapped my hand around the first stain of blood at your ankle. We had gone too far, but you didn’t tell me to stop.

It was the only thing we knew how to do.

We folded into one another again and again. A  struggle of hips and thighs and overextended waists. My ribs went first, your cheeks sunk last. We kept pulling without stopping, seeing red behind our eyelids. We countered pain with reflection. Folded into one another’s poses, we became an echo of each other’s parts.

We had bodies once. A pair of them. But now we were complete.

The Chronicles of Sarnia, № 2

~In which editor DLR recalls his youth on the island of Sarnia.~

№ 2: Changes


emper Eadem
, or “always the same”, was etched on our school crest – a tribute to Queen Elizabeth I, who shared this steadfast motto when she founded the institution in 1563. Back then, it was a seminary housed in a handful of rooms. By the time I was there, it taught a rather wider range of subjects, but still admitted only boys. Like the little gentlemen we were supposed to become, we were forced to wear tweed blazers and carry our schoolbooks and pencils in briefcases.

It would be too easy to say that Sarnia was Semper Eadem. Yes, it’s true that it is a misty antique, that its inhabitants are some strange combination of middle Englanders and continental coast-dwellers, but most of the time, it potters along happily like any other small town.

During those years, I began to accumulate CDs, a now-outdated medium that only proves how much things do change.  Early purchases were haphazard, but eventually patterns emerged: classic rock artists and contemporary bands made up nearly equal parts, with the odd Miles Davis or John Coltrane record thrown in for good measure. Though at the time it was innocent musical curiosity, it now smacks of studied hipster eclecticism.

It soon became clear that I would end up purchasing a large number of Bob Dylan and David Bowie albums. One of the first Bowie albums I picked out was Hunky Dory, a then-30-year-old record that opened with the track “Changes”. This anthem didn’t seem to apply to Sarnia’s sleepy landscape, and I decided to pen the (once again) imaginatively titled “Everything Stays the Same”.

More an homage than a riposte, you can listen to a reasonably well produced version of it below.

Eventually, some things changed. Briefcases were abandoned in favour of sensible rucksacks;  Sarnia’s airport was rebuilt in glass and steel; and the island even bought a whole fleet of new buses that were just slightly too wide for the narrow country roads. And though my record collection grew, Semper Eadem remained etched on the school crest, for better or worse.

Stay tuned for more Sarnian tales.

Exposure № 005: Snake-Oil for sale

Do you think Cobra-Oil is stronger than your average Snake-Oil?

Seen at a market in Aleppo, Syria.  Photo by J. Jones.

Winter

soft
like angels dropping grace
on the brown crust
of earth

it falls
in silence and calm, covering
the dead of autumn with
a shroud

of watery pearls, blooms
frozen at their birth
and released as they die
lying

on the soil
that is hard and yet unaware
of the offspring it will
bear

it falls
white and deaf as I watch and wish
I was young again
snowballing

sledding through
whiteness, but my old bones would
break like boughs under the
snow’s weight

Dr. Hurley’s Digest: Week Three

In case you fell behind in your Dr. Hurley-prescribed, anti-tedium treatments, here’s a round-up:

Textual

Historical

Versical

Visual

Imbibable

 

ALSO: Don’t forget that Dr. Hurley is accepting your submissions of writing and art – look to our submission guidelines here and check out our Flickr group here.

 

Flowers


omen are supposed to like flowers. Something about the fragile petals, the soft colors, the innocence of their beauty.  Silent, weak, unprotected, unassuming. Their thorns have been removed. Sometimes they’ve been specially bred to have no thorns, no prickly leaves, no unpleasant odor. This makes everything a bit easier.

He brings her flowers. Of course he does. It’s what men are supposed to do, after all. They have no stamens and no pistils, these sexless flowers. They come wrapped in noisy cellophane with a bar code, taking them out of the timeless romance and into the local supermarket. Her girlfriends are all jealous of her good fortune. Flowers, chocolates. Nice restaurants where the cocktails are made of exotic fruits and strange liquors. What a catch he is. And he asks for so little in return. Wear this ring, and be mine. I promise to take care of you.

It’s a temptation. She isn’t particularly keen on bills, errands, money, what will happen to her after she falls down, or gets old, or both. The flowers mean that none of this is her concern. She is taken care of. Her time can be spent  arranging roses in crystal vases. Making sure they’re comfortable. She can quit her job, if she likes. She can spend more time at home, in the garden, making sure all of the flowers are just so. He knows this makes her happy.

he leaves a patch of weeds in the back, letting them grow wild. It’s a perverse desire to have them choke out all the  pretty pink impatiens, the geraniums, the gardenias. It’s not so large anyone would notice. She’s hidden it carefully, so the neighbors won’t know. And he would never see it, anyway. He doesn’t notice the garden, though he crosses through it every morning on his way to work, and every evening when he comes home to a hot dinner and a warm wife.

The space is temporary, given over to plants that inevitably shrivel up and die, leaving the scent of decay and translucent brown petals on the ground. It is an endless pit of wasted funds, new bulbs for new seasons, new bushes, new trees, every month a new addition when the old blossoms wither and die. Their time is transient – they aren’t really worth all the effort, but they are all the more gorgeous for being insubstantial. She throws them sullenly into a vase on the counter.

She never liked flowers. She was only in it for the chocolate.

Tonic № oo4: Milk Punch for Circulatory Complaints

r. Hurley frequently treated patients from all of Europe at his spa in Ireland.  Its proximity to Northern Europe and relatively mild climate made it a favorite among German health-seekers.  Many of them complained of a disturbance of the circulatory system – Kreislaufstörung – which was something of a catch-all diagnosis for headaches, heart palpitations, anxiety, and general malaise.

Dr. Hurley’s treatment for this complaint was, we believe, a tonic similar to the milk punch celebrated by Benjamin Franklin in the early days of the United States, pink in color, and mild in taste.  It seems in keeping with the doctor’s sense of humor and distaste for excess earnestness that his concoction featured an infusion of blood oranges to help cure this alleged circulatory disorder.  This particular tonic is said to bring a flush to the cheeks and a warmth to the stomach, signaling the restoration of proper circulation.  A mild infusion of spices is also said to have been used to reinvigorate the patient as well as bring to mind pleasant memories.

While we have not yet uncovered the Doctor’s own recipe for this tonic, we believe it is similar to a modern preparation of milk punch, and probably most closely resembles this recipe published by one Darby O’Shea.  Perhaps she is descended from a former patient of the Doctor’s?

Song of My Cells

I am become life—creator of worlds: beginning as a tube within a tube.

I am blood; I am bile; I am phlegm; I am gall—

secreted; emulsifying, absorbing, metabolizing.

I have no control over the cataract flowing within me.

EPINEPH-RINE—my fight or flight, Adrenaline, would I have guessed my savior,

my liquid guardian

angel, can come from a packet of “Sweet and Low”?

Check yourself, if you don’t believe me.

While tiny ladders of sugar and nitrogen unzip, split, replicate forming my

blueprint—this only takes

half-n-hour. I hope no mistakes are made.

While gases diffuse through the thin walls into my-life blood and

a thick chunk of muscle pushes it through the rest of me

Gravity helps some, hurts some, but my pipes have to do the rest

While little fission bombs of Adenosine detonate,

they then disperse the shrapnel of Phosphates

Mean time, Minerals, opposing and flipping, run down my power lines

I feel thoughts and movements conducting across the thin sheets;

sparks that jump across the nodes of Raviener

Open the floodgates! The system of pulleys and levers begins to move; the simple

machines

Become complex.

Bio-Hemo-Myo-Neuro-Osteo-Proprio-Chemo-Pneumo…

I’m running out of breath here…

What a piece of work is this machine—how noble in reason—how infinite in

resource and plasticity—

how like a God?

Wait, that’s not right.

Things fall apart and systems fail. Pressure rises, blood clots and plaques,

replication undifferentiates,

then various things are spurring, embolizing, aneurising, collapsing,

ischemtizing. I am now

described with words like edematous and crepetant and stenotic .

The men in white do their best: beta-blocking, pharming, imaging, thinning, and

scoping,

and cutting, and stinting…and then defibrillating…and then failing…

And then—

An Aphorism: on snakebite

 

lways carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and, furthermore, always carry a small snake.

W.C. Fields