In this piece, a Japanese maple in its first spring bloom of purple flowering is shrunk to a thousandth of a millimeter. The maple is then encased in a glass box only slightly larger than the tree itself. Inside of each box is the tree and its exact environment—weather, sounds, smell, sunlight. If an animal passes by the tree, if a bird lands, if some teenager passes out against it after a party and the library in his mind becomes too effervescent to read, it all happens in the box.
Approximately one hundred thousand of these should be made then crafted into a lens that will be placed over the participant’s left eye while a very beautiful man or woman with long, jet black hair whispers “take me there” in the participant’s ear.
In this piece, the participants are given a nostalgia drug. This drug is 1000X more potent than common nostalgia. High on the drug, the participants will not only swear the years of their childhoods were far more ideal than today, but also will long desperately for the uncomplicated simplicity of life last month, last week. The participants will moan in loss remembering the sterling purity of one second ago, how it seemed the world was so open to their dreams and aspirations, only to have that second pass and blush, gold-leaf itself, turn to a symbol of an ever-caring, every-loving God that can only be felt by his hasty departure.
This is an actual space ship. It will cost nearly one trillion (with a T) dollars to construct. It will be constructed entirely out of cinderblocks. No room in the space ship will have ceilings over four feet high, and there will only be one area where a human can stand upright, by the water heater. Each room will be filled with damp gravel or packed dirt covered in ripped plastic. It will be necessary to crouch in many rooms and crawl through most. Each room will be connected by a rusted metal gate with a simple latch. Footsteps and music of people living above (there will be no actual people) will be heard faintly. The only source of light in each room will be a single incandescent bulb (one per room) and fifty percent of them must be burned out at any given time. Each room will be obstructed by a myriad of pipes and heating ducts. The astronauts will hence-forth be called “homeowners.” When they speak to each other about their social relations they are to refer to them as “foundation issues.” Each homeowner will be given a small flashlight to hold in the mouth while attempting to read ancient pencil writing on tags attached to pipes. The entire purpose of the sixty-year space voyage will be to crawl through the endless rooms in search of a single rat snake that has escaped from its cage.
In this piece, there is wind. Just wind. There is no room and the participants are not outside. They are not on planet Earth or in space. There is no light; there is just wind. The people are neither falling nor floating. They are just in wind. They are being blown somewhere where there is wind. There is just wind and a person in the wind. The wind has a sound because wind is made of air and the air blows against the person. The wind has temperature because air has temperature. The wind may have an odor, but it will be a very strong wind, the type where it is difficult to breathe, where you must tilt your head and cover your mouth to form a little gully where you can suck down air and not have it forced down your throat. The wind will have a direction, though it will have no reference points, so the idea of direction will be a little pointless. The participants are to stay in the wind for thirty-seven years. When they are let out, they will hardly be sane, having felt nothing but this terrible pressure on their skins, pushing into their lungs, pressing on their bodies, half-deafened by the roar of it, blinded by the years of darkness, unable to speak but to scream in panic and terror. The participants will then be given a brief religious questionnaire.
Frank Montesonti is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Blight, Blight, Blight, Ray of Hope, Winner of the 2011 Barrow Street Book Prize chosen by D.A. Powell, and the book of erasure, Hope Tree (How To Prune Fruit Trees) by Black Lawrence Press. The poems in this issue are from his new chapbook, Arts Grant, due out in March 2018 from Greentower Press. His poems have appeared in journals such as Tin House, AQR, Black Warrior Review, Poet Lore, and Poems and Plays, among many others. A long time resident of Indiana, he now lives in Los Angeles and is the lead faculty of the MFA program at National University.1