the kingdom
Brian Strang


On Narrative:


The temporal element of narrative humanizes, introducing history, biography and, therefore, mortality; as time is presenced, so is humanity and, so then, is the passing of time. What are the implications for the conceptualization of human history if, through temporality, pronouns become subjective and indeterminate, if temporal elements in narrative are disjoined or occur simultaneously? What are the implications if we are seduced by narrative, by the promise of passing time (in an eroticized dance with death), and are not led toward syllogism and deduction but discover, instead, induction, investigation, participation?

Aaron Shurin, in "Narrativity," proposes that "writing might use narrative without succumbing to its hegemonic orders of linear development, unity of time/tense-and apart from the modernist reconstructing modes of memory and dream. A prose whose paragraphic groupings themselves might be based on measure, whose higher integrations might be thematic or associational rather than developmental."

When liberated from plodding development, can narrative, loaded with its historical implications, move us away from the discrete series and veer toward witness, philosophy, discovery?


Turn your face toward the back seat. Walk up the stairs to an apartment set in stone. Listen to the parking lot below. A man lies on the outside of a fence, exhaling. This is the view of others' rooftops, making them into little pieces of pie. Rows of fluorescent tubes. On the islands of a nearly drained sea, turtles lie exposed and cracked roots tremble in a particularly strong wind. The mail is delivered with surprising accuracy down the storm drain. You're alarmed by the presence of gunmen in your hotel room.


A policeman on the street looks through layers of glass. A very dead thing. Motion toward the approaching car. Now you would like to leave by way of the great hall. Strange ways and the lack of knowledge of local customs prevent you from negotiating stillness. Manage nothing. Reptile.


Lying on the night flattened. Maps of territory barely existent. Pools cover the floor. A single drip from the middle of the air. You think this might be the kingfisher. Two figures in the middle of the room-translucent. Thin warmth of blue light in a very small town. As padding footsteps structure the quiet, a man looks from the top of a house. They lie in a casual circle sleeping on the ocean floor.


He pats his suit pocket, fingers the traveler's checks in his shoes. Trucks begin to unload themselves all around. Drop off to sleep. Many floors up the windows are missing. Entry is enclosed. Water continues to drip.


Walk below the surface and pick at the matrix of possibilities. Shifting focus, a spray of bubbles through water, padded air on the ceiling. A bent neck, S shaped, springs forward when needed, weeding out the sick and the old.


Synapse. The kingfisher hovers. Get together. A crush of grace. The beats between are short. A real taste. A hand's distance from the floor. Wings over balconies, through glass. On the inside of the skin, very sweet and it becomes petrified.


A car brings someone to this very corner. The greatest are able to brace themselves, to support a moving supply. This too is style, you think. Behind you in the car is a man. Turn around quickly to find the shell of a turtle. You tremble at the lack of knowledge, at the blue light. You're alarmed now by the lack of presence.


Click of ribs. Drone, repeat. Footbridge. Highway. Landing zone agenda. Corrective maneuvers. Unassailable.


Dawn begins below the floor, sends razors, slits, leaves an overall impression. You concentrate on the phenomenon. The television presents you with a flat grey surface. Leave marks on the sandbar. Retract yourself as the tide rises. Deactivated bleakness. Wiggle your fingers as complexities weave into numb certainty. A fin is cutting through, toward equilibrium. Paths intersect. A car door opens. Apartments. Surprisingly nimble. Walk around inside. Retract.


Somnambulence. Funicular shoes. The growth rate is a recursive soliloquy. Some tetrahedral antipathy. Total shadow. Halitosis gloss.


Unscathed, a memoir progressively installed. Move across the field of vision. Turn ash piles. Bristle with teeth. Bone worms make their paths. Spillover highway fanned out. Contrite motive. Recount sobs. Astonished circuits in a coma. Damp faces. The nerve protectants.


Open the door onto the waves. Drop beneath tension to the street. Find your way along in the dark, fingering shells. Cling to a ledge, creating shelter, always watching what hovers, what makes you burrow in wet soil. The ceiling is glass. Peering from above. Under the gaze, crawl about your business. A great neck dips, picks morsels from below. At any moment. In the back seat of the car, in the security of a bed, on the street, beneath the surface, on a small island, in the bones.

Issue Two
Table of Contents