Redefining north.

Writers on Writing #3: Karen Hays

Writers on Writing #3: Karen Hays

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O.

it began simply: with plasticity of form: (a mo- ment is the slippery more arbitrary version of this): and proceeded (spot wise, like a rash) toward the unfathomably complex : it started w/(o, the gasp) an anomaly, accident : a shudder proselytized to the pores of its own flesh: runaway horripilations lifted standing waves on the skin: sang it to the brain in sad (p)recollections of brrr and: you will die if you don’t touch or get touched soon

O.

(neuroscientists say: music chills are symp toms of the same (hypothalamic) buzz aroused by: food euphorogenic drugs sex: suggest evolutionary ties bind: survival, awe, cutis anserina (mock cold) & craving: to wale is to pine: to rise and fall in (flesh & in) song: hair feathers moms all lift to hold body heat in: a writer reflexively takes up and puts down her (dopamine) pen: essays on: clasp ing on: or, what is touch/ing desperation) o is

O.

it began perfect- ly: for the (tube) was not only the earliest innovation in the evolu tion of the animal kingdom(’s most daedal integument): but also the bauplan of every sin gle multi-cellular organism: (a pen a reed a pan pipe narrative): tubularity conferred (capillary action) many axes along which subsequent nov elties of form (plumbed hearts holes plumed lines & limbs) were free to develop: the first feathers were unador (n)ed: frondless

O.

who can say from fossils what advantages cert ain kinks conferred on extinct mutants (only plucked birds exhibit gooseflesh): did the world’s 1st quills hold heat close when (pre melancholy) cold descended on the Cretaceous f orest: or dispel it when there came the terrible cooking excess: are human chills vestigial (the plumed neck snakes between Leda’s little bare & glabrous breasts): or does some use remain (shivers down the spine) for all this?

O.

they grew simply at first: collars sprouted head less napes: follicles grew seamless str ands: each shudder petrifying proof of the l ast: laid straight horn tracts: arboreal arrays : (epidermal hyperbole or): a forest of filaments: a copse of inkless quills instantly wicked: each tree enervated on bottom (a calamus will bleed profusely if broken at this stage) and sense less up top (keratinization culminates in Programmed Cell Death): the 0th feather was

O.

O! was the shaft was the chute was the (lung) in which secret scrolled plans for (de signs) most elaborate & (forms) most diverse were never tucked but ( ) necessarily sprouted (planning is nature’s anathema): nothing expli cit or even art-iculable was smuggled inside of this (keeled breast): only breath & impetus: the ability to draw against gravity (death): (flight) was still a foreign concept when this happened: ( ) had barely been invented (yet)

O.

it began simply: you were lying on the bottom of the pool looking up, trying to poke a finger through every dimple dealt by every tear of rain that dropped, while bead by bead to the opposite side all your air was spirited off : a more thorough covering is what you sought the first time you conflated: love and writing: god & horripilation: your own useless brak es and the (perfectly crafted) bastard wing: (thy will be done, dear) : mutatis mutandis

O.

quills were bottles unspoiled by well oiled fleets of feathers: unfurled words & unfledged vectors: they quivered in the new, direction less: a parasite rashed at the surface of (our heroine) B. inexpectus: gathered pluck: cheat ed extinction with (your text) helix as her un- witting hostess: made it seem not the way it was but the exact opposite when: awaken -ing that autonomic bird-skin reflex she whispered it: I may be the one that saves you

O.

it began w/ homeo stasis but soon ventured into lustier (the emboldened writer’s) terr ain: (a songbird is neurochemically addicted to the sound of his own tune: gets the same do pamine fix as our pleasure shivers signal when (to his mate) he croons): paleontologist Xing Xu suggests B. inexpectus used the shaggy coat of quills to persuade and to woo: to Silly Little Goose, please give my (write to f(l)ight) bangles: to you, I leave these 10 mealy mouthed kisses

O.

it begins w/hairs on end: goose bumps provoked by time traveling skin: the swooning nostalgia for (what fingers can’t go on or in ): when rain takes its leave, drops evert um bilical dimples (sink ink stained fingers back, breath bubbles back): in: when a stratovolcan o reverse erupts, it uncombs its silver nap of forest quills: when quills are finished (the moats of nerve & muscle warble) arte ries retract until (molt, or) it’s time to score again

o(n getting started)


Karen Hays is the award-winning essayist of such works as "Dear Martlet" and "The Clockwise Detorsion of Snails: A Love Essay in Sectors."

Erin Celello reading

Erin Celello reading

Writers on Writing #2: Molly Bonovsky Anderson

Writers on Writing #2: Molly Bonovsky Anderson

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