you are in the diode archives winter 2010



Thumbnail Ethnography of the Palisades Parkway 

Parsed in sparse grass
a single sprig of indigo
endures well into mid-
January but why?

Spared past seed, 
flimsy stalks signal
the end of corn for seasons  
to come though cobs amass
further in the furrows:  
where crows died, 
where farmers did not farm.

There the land blended
into overgrowth where no foot
(hominoid) had tread for lifetimes 
nor would again before
bulldozers razed green
mounds into asphalt strips: 

metaphorical, invisible capital
stretches now across grade
separations, wooded medians,
rustic culverts, secreting 
driveways to vast estates
muted from the roar of cars.


Play Misusing the Stage Directions from Samuel Beckett’s “Not I”

Note—Movement: this consists in simple sideways raising of arms from sides and their falling back, in a gesture of helpless compassion. It lessens with each recurrence till scarcely perceptible at the third. There is just enough pause to contain it as MOUTH recovers from vehement refusal to relinquish third person.

Stage in darkness but for MOUTH, upstage audience right, about 8 feet above stage level, faintly lit from close-up and below, rest of face in shadow. Invisible microphone. VOICE is heard from off-stage in theater surround sound. AUDITOR, downstage audience left, tall standing figure, sex undeterminable, enveloped from head to foot in loose black djellaba, with hood, fully faintly lit, standing on invisible podium about 4 feet high shown by attitude alone to be facing diagonally across stage intent on MOUTH, dead still throughout but for four brief movements where indicated. See Note. As house lights down MOUTH’s voice unintelligible behind curtains. House lights down. VOICE continues unintelligible behind curtain, 10 seconds. With rise of curtain ad-libbing from text as required leading when curtain fully up and attention sufficient into:

MOUTH: She said the motion alone is not enough. I said boot the bull and catch as catch can. She had her mother always on her mind.

VOICE: Like you?

MOUTH: You said to stop to smell the sage. I didn’t plan squat. She was just my dogfall. [Pause and movement 1.] A window in the dark.

VOICE: When did I?

MOUTH: Tugging my suitcase handle, daylighting as my jewel. But it’s like mi madre told me—if you don’t find someone who belongs to you, you might as well be dust in the wind. Blown.

VOICE: Wasn’t I dialed in then? But you know I had my own whirlpool whirling. Can’t account for becoming a life preserver or a scapegoat.

MOUTH: Just buy me a suicide wrap.

VOICE: Come again.

MOUTH: Go on, do it. [Pause and movement 2.] Fucking, do it! [Screams.] What are you waiting for? [Silence.] I’m going to ball out here. [Screams again.] Should have never stopped floating. [Silence.] Not for—

VOICE:  Changed an iota? Still going nitro at the least provocation?

MOUTH: Yeah, just as you freight train me [brief laugh.] Nice. [Pause.] Should have sent you to a slapper bar years ago. Get your greedy lips around some slingshot [Good laugh.]

VOICE: Stop pedaling and listen. Doesn’t have to be like this. Don’t have to run a needle in the same groove continually. Doesn’t have to be. [pause] Don’t have to run.

MOUTH: I’d like to quit the cow and find a spurring lick to call home. [Pause and movement 3.] Or maybe throw a belt and suck in a bong-hit of carbon monoxide. You’d like that wouldn’t you flopper?

VOICE: Leave it alone. No more fuel. Like winging another eighteen after holeshot sets in. This is genuine doorslammer material. [Pause.] No more.

MOUTH: She said the motion alone is not enough.

VOICE: Go back to her. The words are coming. A needle. 

MOUTH: It’s a goddamn hat bender I’m still talking to you. [brief laugh.] That I haven’t foamed up with static in this ear bath. [Good laugh.] Thank God, I’m not a tree. [Pause and movement 4.]

VOICE: Go back to her then. [Pause.] The words are coming. Same groove. [Curtain starts down]. Continually. [Pause.] Go then. Run.

MOUTH: Don’t jerk my arm. [Screams.] Come back here! [Screams again.] Not again! [Pause.] For how long? Damn it. [Looks at AUDITOR.] How much longer. Not again.

[Curtain fully down. House dark. VOICE continues behind curtain, unintelligible, 10 seconds, ceases as house lights up.]


Mistranslated Glossary of Drag Racing Lexicon

bounce a citrus fruit off someone’s noggin. Particularly trenchant if done when either party is drinking bourbon.


  1. from Mama Coca to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, from Freud to Jung (George) to Eric Clapton.
  2. to accrue a mouthful of ascorbic acid, blood-group antigens, calcium, chlorine, cholesterol, citric acid, creatine, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), fructose, glutathione, hyaluronidase, inositol, lactic acid, nitrogen, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, purine, pyrimidine, pyruvic acid, sodium, sorbitol, spermidine, spermine, urea, uric acid, protein, enzymes, sodium, vitamin B12, and zinc.

one who swizzles.

one who issues forth.

swizzller and issuer switch sides and try again.

Rudolph leads the sleigh-train across the temples the night before prom.

Christmas Tree (or tree)
Number of tips: 64 tips
PVC thickness: 0.12 + 0.07mm
PVC width: 4.65 + 4.65cm
Packing: 6pcs/ctn
Carton dimensions: 55 x 32 x 45cm
Biodegradable: no

imaginary telethon with all the callers’ voices emanating from a singular subjective consciousness. In large or involuntary doses, this condition may require medication, hospitalization or hours of nonstop Jerry Lewis as possible detoxification.

Not as sophisticated as Dig Dug in blue and white, brandishing an inflater to burst the tomato-like Pookas and green dragon Fygars. 

a joke that begins in shared hilarity and ends in screaming invective. 

one of a class of young women in the 1920’s who thought Jazz was the same as Blues, who had inadvertently exposed zippers on their short skirts and who tried to bob their hair but came out looking more raccoon tail than Betty Boop.

a bit of deceptive gossip that ignites a deep and abiding feud or tragedy.

someone like Iago who propagates malicious rumors to self-serving and often noxious ends.

the ennui that results from playing too much golf.

Hook Up
two jumbo jets engaged in an act of aerial refueling; a writhing mess of tubes and nozzles. 


1. on Bourbon Street:
            1 1/2 oz gin
            1 1/2 oz grain alcohol
            1/2 oz Melon-liqueur
            1 1/2 oz vodka
            served in a green plastic vial culminating in grenade-shape
            with jack-o-lantern face. Offered “pin pulled” with extra
            151 proof rum floated on top and lit on fire (best not pulled
            in plastic stemware).
2. Operation Urgent Fury to fight “Soviet-Cuban militarization.”
3. Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers remain doppelgangers when it comes
    to pomegranates.

Lit the tires
(Australian) throwing down hardcore, going ball’s out on Buck’s Night, taking it a rip-snorting few steps too far during B & S (the Bachelors’ and Spinsters’ Ball), enjoying a real screamer and eventually paying the consequences of burned rubber on the road.   “Crikey, that dumbass dingo done lit the tires!” 

condition of suddenly going berserk and breaking into a conversation with a wrestling move like the Camel Clutch, Skin the Cat, Headscissors Armbar or the Gogoplata. Going nitro can lead to the dissolution of a friendship, a permanent neck brace or to being followed around by the cameraman for Backyard Brawls.

state achieved after taking a speed, ginseng root, oyster and Viagra cocktail. 

Oil Down
yet because of continued fears of recession and inflation, along with a new round of nuclear tests in North Korea, the markets continued to fall to new lows.

perverted meddling. 

Pro tree
hardy tree that withstands total neglect like the Black Mimosa aka the Silk Tree, Summer Chocolate, Moon Cricket, Mimosa Nigra, Charlotte Black, Tar Baby, or the Black & Pink 
Quick 8 (Q8)
instantaneous infinity. The cosmos in the grain of sand no sooner queried by the questioner then whisked away to no reply. Used in television commercials for philosophy departments whose recruitment has fallen on hard times. Featuring a Sophist slapping the heel of a hand against a Rationalist’s forehead, declaiming “Could’ve had a Q8!”

place to put one’s boot and marvel when in the act of sprawling. See Les Murray.

spotted wearing something from Wal Mart, K-Mart or Target and called out in public.

Slapper bar
(British) place to pick up old scrubbers, loose men or women a few years on in age, for cheap, meaningless sex. From the Gaelic “sliobaire” or dirty.

places on the scalp where an excess of gel or mousse has hardened thereby causing a spot of sheen in reflected light. Impervious to all but the strongest afro pick.


  1. type of banana hammock.
  2. In the Beverly Hillbillies the preferred weapon of Jed Clampett’s daughter, Elly May.
  3. stiff drink to mourn a broken limb. 
  4. a lyric poem launched to fell the Philistines like a sack of potatoes.
  5. leftie pitcher with sidearm delivery 

Standard tree
ash | aspen | beech | basswood | birch | black cherry | black walnut/butternut | buckeye | American chestnut | cottonwood | dogwood | elm | hackberry | hickory | holly | locust | magnolia | maple | oak | poplar | red alder | redbud | royal paulownia | sassafras | sweetgum | sycamore | tupelo | willow | yellow-poplar

Throw a belt
(idiomatic) referencing a MacGyver-like savvy in the face of a more or less perilous situation. “When you’re out of horseshoes, just throw a belt!” 

Top end
type of Lycra sports bra that makes the breasts within look like ass cheeks.

Traction bars
one of the first places an alcoholic gets a drink to precipitate falling off the wagon. Could be at communion with the wafer of Jesus dissolving on the tongue. Could be at grandmother’s dining table eating a piece of rum cake. Could be in one’s own bathroom taking cough medicine.

anagram for strap or rapt depending on inclination for pluralisation. Addresses the limitations of the hegemonic theory of language in social relations.

Tire shake
when an extreme endomorph decides to get jiggy with it by swinging his moneymaker around like an inner tube hula hoop.

Wheelie bars
1. place where you can flip the kickstand to lip and drain a lit cocktail, like a flaming Grenade, right off the tabletop using no hands.
2. (Scottish) really burns. Pejorative, often uttered by someone who has been recently jilted or suffers from an acute case of hemorrhoids.  


Ravi Shankar is founding editor of the online journal of the arts Drunkenboat.com, celebrating its tenth anniversary, and author of Instrumentality (Cherry Grove), Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books), the forthcoming chapbooks Seamless Matter (Rain Taxi Books) and Brushstroke with Body (Finishing Line), and full-length manuscript, Deepening Groove (National Poetry Review). He is also the co-editor of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W. W. Norton & Co.). He co-directs the Creative Writing  Department at Central Connecticut State University.