(INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING)
AND YET Inventory. Trivial Pursuit, but not that, this: You Think Therefore You Are (Disney Edition). Wanting singularity because of the myth singularity foments a voice and the myth that from a voice one may speak and from the myth that if one speaks, one is heard, but if history (Skeptic’s Edition) has proven anything, it’s that the marketplace of ideas consists mostly of talking out your ass, and that the invisible hand of the marketplace is a stiff wind that, despite the aggregate thoughts and prayers of nominal/liminal nation-states, fails to rid the commons of the stench of PR campaigns that drove things straight into the ditch. Your hands hurt and your face is numb and you fear checking your email the way Christians fear Tacitus and certain forms of intellectuals fear footnotes and efficiency experts fear the actual attainment of 100% efficiency because: capitalism, which is not history but wrapped in similarly glassy yellow cellophane, a pile of unrelated facts shoved in a one-size-fits-all body bag (Avengers: Infinity War edition), henceforth inventory, because inventory seems pragmatic but its resistance to definition and use allows us to avoid panic while we stall, waiting for our ships to come in and willing to swim in icy water out to meet them halfway, the shark that produces the idea of an ocean rather than evidence employed as a vacation from responsibility, meaning if you don’t have anything nice to say, my rate is $80/hour and this had damn well better be a comfortable dunk tank. AND YET Soft rock for soft-cock jocks, velveteen bluster for luxe sinkholes, sloth 4 pay, slugs 4 life, dude ranch houses, famous mistakes, salesmen named Carl, old-school tools, goons, geeks, freaks, stimulated line cooks, simulations of supermodels, stale swagger, heretical greeting cards, self-designated bards, bawds, bad-bad-assery, beltway insiders with prior intent, watch queens, ditch queens, Raggedy Andy codicils, hours of power, burning barrels, skin infections, dictionaries of confusion, catalogues of dandies, allowed and unapproved slow-mo torch songs, medical mysteries, vicious takedowns, Hollywood comedowns, right thoughts/right words/right prices, picket fences, Robert Frost impersonators, Andy Warhol impersonators, punk junkets, the death of irony, the uphill climb of the backing dancers, the wow factor, the ow factor, the death of adequacy, the domestication of currency, miles and miles of turnstiles, dishtowels of distinction, a pound of prevention, a memorable scene from Bull Durham, a little bit of “uh uh” and a whole lot of “oh yeah,” magic mountains covered in magic mushrooms colored with magic markers, contractual obligations to giggling princes for purple-prose pandering, see-thru overalls, deluxe glitter, flaming thrift stores, selected highlights, complete transcripts, wall to wall coverage, Freudian slips, soundproofed escape clauses, action bingo, automatic banjos, distant echoes of forgotten longing, subliminal invitations to the dance, modern dance knife fights, angular spokesmodels, divine intervention, fingerless winterizing, drag queens with sawed-offs, severed allegiances, strongly-worded letters, rented hallelujahs, lost or stolen or contaminated karaoke songs, horses who have never known a name, celebrity hujujitsu, transparent neighbors, document format converters, clemency in a can, parking lots engulfed by windowless vans, histories of the unknown, chemistry set acid tests, impossible missions, archived offal, public language, the agony of defeat, the ecstasy of self-defense, dialectic diabetics, fake debate, marathon retail therapy, crutch budgets, Tinfoil Tommies, junk empathy, hourlong death spirals, family value bonus rounds, gay shotgun wedding cakes, calamitous thumbsucking, cosmic foxtrots, psychic contour drawings, tunelessly whistled Dixies, implied lols, bedazzled lab coats, miniature trick ponies, tangled threnodies, hogtied park rangers, unalloyed no-nos, annotated wish lists, weaponized kittens, a spare tire iron chef, a hitman of the heart, henchmen of the metaphysical, a lost plausible deniability, a dime a doozy, a flanked stake in the leather accessories market, waterlogged waivers for the proof of humanity race, lost tickets for the experimental clown car epic, a rumble in a thimble, a community college summer class in numbness, certificates in reification, certificates in crocodile tear repair, mumblecore interrogatives, bonus points in the hot tub bonanza dash, luxury foam, tailored opinions, talk show game shows, heatseeking gaslighting, unspecified misanthropy, unidentified stains, organic complications, artificial death knells, face softeners, portable wilderness, professional denim, aggressive floral arrangements, fly-by-night burials, destination funerals, spiked punch in hollow legs, a tincture of tank warfare, a lifelike simulation of social isolation, a bloody thumb in the pot pie, dangerous suburbs, game show talk shows, unintentional co-conspirators, bush-league thespians, jet-setting plebes, Pataphysicist of the Month, fast-food restaurants burning against the midwinter night while a light snow falls, threats better left undelivered, local color better left alone, sticks best left unsharpened, bachelors past their sell-by date, the usual suspects, the usual conversions, the usual computers, the usual calculations, usual currency converters, temp-to-perm village idiots, silent springs, buckets of blood, people power, neoromanticism, unprofessional wrestling, seditious data, benign secrets, malignant administrators, death clocks, death calendars, death of the month, death of the year, death of the day, death of the hour, death of the now, now is the time for all smugly privileged white men to march into the ocean, now is the time for the small brown fox, now is now and history is distant but conquerable territory and the future is a murmur but its heart is ours AND YET History of secrets. History of secret histories, secret identities, secret urgent unnamed needs to control or be controlled. History of second-hand hysteria. History of the bittersweet nothing at the bottom of the box. History of overthinking. History of measurement. History of lazy descriptions of a person/thing/event as “special.” History of having a nice personality. History of organized lassitude. History of oomph. History of ornamental restraints. History of side hustles. History of knowing, of being, of middle-aged men taking off their shirts in public as some kind of aimless act of defiance. History of subtweets. History of false alarms, false flags, false idols. History of specificity. History of failure. History of early retirement. History of knowing what’ll happen if you keep going they way you’re going. History of unprofessional conduct. History of shifts in cultural attitude toward turtleneck sweaters. History of foregone conclusions. History of disappearances. History of unnoticed disappearances. History of scrambled premium channels on 1980s cable TV. History of cattle prods. History of leotards. History of conspicuous consumption. History of discipline, of lack of discipline, of being harmless but untrustworthy. History of shyness. History of social statistics. History of the false visual identifications of timelines as parallel rather than curved. History of justifications based upon the valorization of simplicity. History of accidentally leaving the oven on. History of endurance. History of heroic acts of endurance for a good cause. History of good causes, of the prioritization of causes according to importance, of bad faith arguments for the universality of importance. History of over-budget architecture. History of dollar stores. History of dollar menus, dollar days, dollar steals, deals and steals, meals on wheels, wheeling and dealing, spinning in place on the frozen lake during an early spring afternoon that lasts a lifetime. Histories of eternity and/or fear. History of artifice (general and weaponized). History of loopholes. History of progress, of eclipses, of soft landings and family reunions. History of the shortcomings of Gestalt Theory. History of theories about being lost. History of being lost. History (inventory?) of everyone who has gotten lost (but not why or what happened next). History of tautology. History of the convergence of tautology and eschatology. History of beginnings and endings. History of the periodic reinvention of happy endings for fun and profit, of deciding not to answer the telephone, of incarceration (voluntary or involuntary). History of unsuccessful holidays. History of low rumbling noises, of lifestyle, of doubt. History of “I told you so.” History of wishful thinking. History of looking the part. History of nonchalance. History of pretending to be alive. History of being alive. History of being remembered but not understood AND YET
Simon Henry Stein is a writer and composer whose work has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from Always Crashing, Electric Lit, and XRAY.
About the banner image: good seedling from F. R. Pierson Co., Tarrytown, N. Y.; in pink, Mrs. Potter, Viviand-Morel, Mile. Liger, Bentley, Orizaba, Filkins, Dr. Enguehard, Lucy Evans, Etherington and Brighthurst; in red, W. R. Church, Lidy Hopetoun, Matchless, S. T. Wright, Black Hawk, darker than others; in bronze, Brutus, J. H. Doyle