Three Seva Stories: The Spider Truck, Sprinkle’s Bus Stop & The Magic Poop Baby

seva walgreens unicorn

One: The Spider Truck

There is an old truck parked in the driveway at Jimmy’s. It belongs to Max, the guy on the block who involves himself in everybody’s business. The truck has a lumber rack, and on that rack rest two massive wooden beams that Jimmy says Max is going to use for some project sometime. A black cat that Jimmy swears does not belong to the neighbor often sleeps on those beams, almost completely camouflaged as it curls up against the dark lumber. Inside the cab of the truck it is filled with spider webs.

We learned this because one day Seva wanted to look inside. I told them it was probably filled with spider webs, as a good portion of the outside was coated with them as well. Still, they wanted to see, so I opened the door. They hung back, trepid at first, but eventually approached enough so they could see inside. Nets upon nets of webs of different densities and taughtnesses interlaced and overlapped each other.

“Watch this!” I said. Leaning forward I blew into the cab of the truck. We watched as a ripple worked its way through the three-dimensional stuff of old-growth spider homes. We stood in silence.

“You wanna get in?” I asked, half turning. Their eyes grew wide.

“No!”

“C’mon! It’ll be fun!” I moved to pick them up, feigning that I would throw them into the spider truck. They squealed and ran, I pursued.

“Dad. Seriously.”

“I know my baby. You know I would never do something like that to you.” I closed the door to the truck.

“Can we see in again?” they asked.

“Yes, but you’ll have to get in.”

They gave me the look. I opened the door.

“You know you can sleep in here tonight if you want.”

“What?! Why would I want to sleep in there!?”

“Would you spend the night in there for a million dollars?”

They thought about it. “No.”

“Dude I would. I’d do it for a thousand dollars.” I closed the door again. “You know what happens if you spend the night in the spider truck?”

“What?”

“Well, if you make it all the way to dawn— until the sun is up— when you wake up you’ll have grown two extra arms and two extra legs.”

“…”

“You’ll have eight appendages altogether, like a spider.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Yeah,” I say emphatically, “you’ll be half-human, half-spider.”

“Daaaad.”

“You’ll be a Spuman.”

They thought about this for awhile, and eventually agreed. If we both did it, they decided, we’d be the king and queen of The Spumans, and we’d have to have special pants and shirts made to accomodate our extra arms and legs, but we’d be able to climb things really well. Also we’d have eight eyes, like a spider, but they’d be human eyes, just like ours now. The big question, though, was whether or not we’d be able to spin webs out of our butts.

Two: Sprinkle’s Bus Stop

On Fridays I pick up Seva from their school and we head straight to Jimmy’s. Since the closest bus stop requires a transfer, we take the next-best option, which takes us to the Rockridge BART Station, and we walk from there, stopping at the “Big Bodega” on the way for treats. They enjoy this walk, and lately it has afforded us the opportunity to check out the neighborhood’s Halloween decorations.

On this particular Friday we walked up to the Chevron so I could get cigarettes and they could get an extra treat. There was a food truck there between the gas station and the bus stop, where we had to sit for sometime before our bus finally showed. It wasn’t until we were all the way up on College that they realized that Sprinkles, their stuffed kitty, wasn’t with us anymore. Panic immediately set in, so I pulled the cord and we hopped off the bus. I called an Uber to take us straight back to the Chevron gas station.

Seva was particularly sad— understandably so— so we talked about it. I told them that there was a good chance that Sprinkles was still at the bus stop, but that there was also a good chance that she wasn’t. It hadn’t been long since we’d left, but there’s always the chance. Then we wrote a story together based on a question:

“What if,” I asked, “while we’re in the Uber, on our way back to the bus stop, we realize that we left your lunch box on the bus?”

And then when we got out of the Uber and ran over to the bus stop we realized, as the Uber was pulling away, that we left their backpack in the Uber?

We’d be sad, especially once we realized that Sprinkles wasn’t at the bus stop anymore (which turned out to be the case), and we’d hold each other as we re-waited for the next bus to go ahead and take us home.

But then, as the next bus approached, we realized that something different was driving it: looking closer, we realized that it was Sprinkles, attached somehow to the steering wheel, flying left and right in a semi-circle as the bus navigated rush hour traffic. We laughed at that. When the bus would pull up and the door would open, Sprinkles the bus driver would turn to us and say “Get in!” And she’d take us all the way to Jimmy’s.

Now that bus is Sprinkle’s bus and we’re always excited that maybe she’ll pick us up again when we catch it next time.

Three: The Magic Poop Baby

When Seva was potty training and moving to solid foods they suffered from some pretty severe constipation. Their poor little tummy would get hard as a rock and they’d suffer pretty badly every three days or so when the time came for their poop to move on. One week it became particularly troubling, so we bought a large container of prune juice and put them in a warm bath and rubbed their tummy while they drank, dutifully, their gross juice. Eventually and finally they pooped, right there in the bath, which I let them do, a poop that I can only describe as NFL regulation football size.

This was a story that Seva loved to hear, over and over again, as they got older. After repeatedly complying to their request one day, I decided to change it up a bit, to heighten the stakes, which I took to be an investment on their part in something like their own origin story.

You know, I told them, you’re not the original Seva, right? I could tell it didn’t compute— but I also knew that it was this sort of sublime impossibility that Seva looooved. I went on to explain: No, it’s true: you’re the magic poop baby.

That night when the original Seva finally passed their gargantuan poo, it was so big that I realized that it was actually a baby. A poop baby. I took care of the poop baby, and I loved it so much, and it was so nice, that we decided to keep it, and sell the old Seva. Eventually we painted it a color approximately halfway between their mother and I, and put some hair and painted eyes and lips and whatnot and named it Seva, and they became our child.

This was why, one day as we were walking to the Little Bodega and they decided that my new name was PeePaw, and demanded a new name for themself, I dubbed them M.P.B. Which they both loved and hated in the same way that they loved and hated the story: it was horrible that we might give away the “original” Seva (which somehow had to be at least part of them), but at the same time had consciously and specifically chosen this Seva, which was undoubtedly still very much them— even if they were comprised of poop— and we’d done so because we liked her so much.

Eventually one night I told them the full tale, that they also weren’t actually either the original Seva or The Magic Poop Baby, as The Magic Poop Baby turned out to be an exceptionally evil villain; that no, the truth was that Seva was, in fact, The Magic Poop Baby Slayer, who had one day showed up to save their mother and I from The Magic Poop Baby in the nick of time, and that we were so incredibly grateful to them for saving us.

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On Liminalities: The Hope From Within The Fire

How many kinds of in-betweens are there? How many in-betweens are habitable? How many levels of habitability are available to us? Made available.

I live in the East Bay. On the 12, or the 6, the 18 and the 52 or the 51B. They’re all numbers and lines, not categories. You can be coming or going, you can not know which, and yet you’re still there, at the intersection of multiform liminalities.

There is a schedule, I suppose. It isn’t a myth— more of a “fuzzy set,” a for-the-most-part or a you-get-the-idea— a drift or a gist. The liminality of not knowing the nature of the whats you’re between is more malleable than the words we give things like the people, places, or things we mark as limits. There is only a suggestion of mathematics, or: mathematics can only suggest the pure concept with which to articulate our various and sundry in-betweenesses. In so doing it deflates the pure concept not as useful or concrete but as crystalline, economic, a tool. Tool-like at most, maybe.

Lines and numbers. Signifiers, one to carry us over the other, to assure us that we’re here, or will be, or were, wherever those those things were. Are?

“I’ll be there ASAP,” I say, because possibility was what rendered that thereness possible in the first place, though I didn’t really know it: possible is the only way I’m able to be anywhere.

But that doesn’t make possibility a misnomer or a redundancy (the truth is something like the opposite, really), just that existing is only articulable as a tautological feedback loop of sorts: boring, maybe; banal, often; “duh,” mostly.

But I am on fire with the having been there. Perhaps reality wasn’t prepared for the scourge of our memory, history for the way we touch it, the world for what we can do with sex, what we can hold deep in our bodies, share with other bodies. I’d like to think that our erotic engagement with it at the very least ruffles the feathers of the world, but in its deepest sense my erotic engagement with the world doesn’t give a fuck. It, too, is a feedback loop of sorts: feeding itself on itself, burning-growing. Take that, world.

It’s in this sense, I think, that care comes not from an investment in the world, isn’t rooted in the world, doesn’t depend on the world. No, it bursts forth from the mad anti-physics of a fire that feeds and grows on itself, deep in our bellies. Additionally, I think the more we help each other let it, the more our madness will fight the world: push on it, nibble on it, dance on it, bite and scratch it, more verbs and, eventually— this is the hope from within the fire— replace it.

FOUR POEMS

I’ve recently stumbled across four poems that were cut from the final version of COLORS MORE COLORS. You can read them below: a saucy true story about public sex and a lightning strike, a rumination on a bee at Codornices Creek, another rumination on Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee-level eschatology and mild depression I recorded one afternoon at People’s Park, and a eulogy on the mode and style of the poems in what was then my previous (/first) ‘zine, MY FIST IS A BOOK OF ETHICS. All of these are, of course and along with my collaboration with the inimitable Bonnie Cherry, available at both my Etsy store and via my Patreon. Be sure to keep your eyes open for next month’s IT’S HERE THAT I AM COMFORTABLE WITH MYSELF, HERE THAT I HAVE FRIENDS, in which I attempt to both sharpen and put to rest a mode of poetics I’ve been attempting to call the poetry of knuckles. More soon xo and all that.

May 20th, 2011

we ran into the library

soaked by rain, she

put me in her mouth

and then her self

we came and

lightning struck

the steam whistle,

its billowy contents

streaming

out into the storm,

when she noticed

that we’d fucked

next to Whitman

and Miller and

a student who

we didn’t know

was there

Degrees of Proximity Dictating Value

a small green bee

leaves behind no

orbits, nor follows

mindless, mindlessness

buzzes

Its shadow suggests a swarm

or the possibility of one

one of many

sound logic is anything but

knowing the way an animal

crouches before it pounces

or an insect floats or that

a plant grows imperceptibly

but that doesn’t mean we’re

blind, doesn’t mean god

doesn’t see us in order

to exist, doesn’t follow

mindless orbits

soundness of mind is like

the soundness of anything

else: it never actually has

it; is adjacent like smoke

causal like flowers facing

the sun, degrees of proximity

dictating value

there isn’t a mountain

for miles around and as

such it can’t be forced

to disclose itself, what

it can only suggest are

the possibilities made

such by its closeness

to the sun

perhaps granted by the

small trauma of the fact

that I have just killed

the small green bee

having swatted it once

and twice on its return,

sending it softly to the

ground into which I

smashed it with my

foot proclaiming

leave

me

alone

Whole & Entire

… and if the soil present

would itself be so kind

as to rise to the occasion

of swallowing the just and

the unjust so that it might

be known that in doing so

myth would be undone and

the world would fall apart

I would be grateful

grateful for the fistful

grateful for the grasp

and the grasping

grateful for the outness

of the sunlight

for that which I would

be unable to ever know

again would cover me

cover me whole

cover me entire

My Fist Was A Book Of Ethics

all that will have been

will be the case as well

if, that is, indeed, the case

so, you see, it must respond

in kind: by opening- we

are desperately in need of

the verb; to be, at least,

for a moment, the passive;

to have been opened unto

and so we needed the

verb of the question – the

activity that brought

about both the perfectly

present opening as well as

the state of openness

that shoots out an inability

to delineate the limits of

the verb to open, that forces

us to choose, to trace

a line of force from

emptying object to

emptying object until

what ends and begins

becomes a flow that

bleeds out its own

trajectory into every

nothingness

and so to regain,

to gather up our

useful singularity,

we must remember

the rhythm of

the litany along

which we travel

 

Now Available: The Book of Foxes

Three Excerpts:


“Before it was a dramatic liturgy it was a codex of fragments, a mysterious hodgepodge with a multiplicity of mysterious original sources. Only here instead of time ruthlessly and slowly having her way with words written on marble walls, we are the agents by which what does not get said is not read.”

my poem is the object of your body

with its divots and sluices, bulbous and tremblings

shoulders in high-relief against morning suns and freckles

I shoot my hot self into that which can be filled no further

am folded into myself into a blurred oblivion

only to re-materialize at three in the morning

when she thought that I’d died because I’d died

and been resurrected”

*

“with ravenous mouth

with wildest hyperbole

with hummingbird heart”

For more info on The Book of Foxes – and to buy it- check out my etsy store.

 

THE BOOK OF FOXES

BOF

Last April marked the fourth year of my relationship with my brilliant and beautiful partner, Bonnie Cherry. To commemorate those years I decided to put together a one-off ‘zine, a gift for her, that compiled a wide array of miscellaneous writings, including but not limited to

  • text lifted from her old blog- many of which themselves include bits and pieces of texts from everyone from Sappho to Whitman to Neruda to Ginsberg- that I chopped up and splayed out over the page,
  • selections from and of my own original poetry, and
  • selections from or whole pieces of works from some of our favorite contemporary women Us Halloweenpoets.

It was because of this last component that publishing the book never seemed like an option. That was: until Bonnie suggested we do it- and our first official collaborative work was born.

The work, entitled “The Book of Foxes,” will be out in early April, and is, according to its preface,

a dramatic liturgy to eros and spring, in celebration of our selves and our genesis. comprised of fragments from a multiplicity of source texts (and a few complete pieces) that have been curated and composed into its present form for the purpose of oral recitation preferably under the influence of holy wine or some such similar beverage in the event of the proper occasion of your choosing, it is a chaotic litany intended to be read dialogically with aplomb, bravado, and increasing levels of inebriation and/ or erotic stimulation.

The work is- just to be clear- an explicit work of eroticism that many would consider #NSFW. What follows is a wee taste, if you will, of a softer passage that yet displays what the text looks, feels, and sounds like: it begins with a poem that I composed specifically for The Book of Foxes, moves to Fragments of Fragments of Sappho, and then to the first of the many curated installations from Bonnie’s old blog, dated May 2009.


 

غ – Pronouncing Pomegranate

Writing with one’s lips, as it were, as on someone’s skin

the myriad words it takes to touch the word Pomegranate:

of the kingdom plantae and unranked as angiosperm,

eudicots (Eudicotidae or eudicotyledons), rosids;

order: myrtales, of the family lythraceae and the

lonely genus punica; species: p. granatum,

binomial name punica granatum synonym

punica malus (and this by Linnaeus, in seventeen-fifty-eight).

To say it is to trace its surface

but not yet to have plumbed

any of its possible depths:

The seeded – granatum – apple – pomum – the pomum-granatum

mistaken by the early English as the “Apple of Grenada,”

the pomme-grenade, the palm-grenade, the hand grenade

which comes from the Arabic spelled

rayn – raa – nun – alif – thaa – ta-marbuta

(ta-marbuta – thaa – alif – nun – raa – rayn)

atubram-at – aaht – fila – nun – aar – nyar

a language roiling in and around itself in reverse,

the rayn its roiling ‘g’ in the back of one’s throat

speaking with seeds sliding down one’s throat

pronouncing with a rayn the words

orgasm

hand grenade

pomegranate

ONE

and I long and yearn

Eros has shaken my mind,

wind sweeping down the mountain on oaks

I will arrange my limbs

on soft cushions

as long as you are willing

واحد

Whitman’s “urge and urge and urge,

always                       procreant

I feel an unbelievable                                        urge to destroy:

to break bottles and fine china,         to play trumpets and castanets, to hurl red paint at gray walls and, honestly, just burn things down.

and of the almost forgotten feeling of a soaking sweat with a light dusting of street grime

[I have gone marking the atlas of your body                  with crosses of fire.

My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide.

In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst.

Something sings, something climbs to my ravenous mouth.

Oh to be able to celebrate you with all the words of joy.

Sing, burn, flee, like a belfry at the hands of a madman.

My sad tenderness, what comes over you all at once?

When I have reached the most awesome

and the coldest summit

my heart closes like a nocturnal flower.]


For more information, please email me at joshuaanderson@berkeley.edu