Mark Cunningham


He had transitive hypochondria: something was always wrong with us. Terrormirrorism. The black woman in the commercial said she felt full of confidence when her teeth were white. Every time they had to use the oars and I had to go back to treading water, the lifeboat’s leader said, “Be patient, we’re all in this together.” She said, “This is the sound of submission,” but we could hear nothing but the sound of our own breathing.


The box of exclamation points was made in Mexico, so half of them were upside down and useless. We were tasked with the problem of “creating harmony with unequal lights,” but we were too burned out. He gave each of us fifteen pieces of black paper and said, “Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.” We got into an argument over whether the hazy place was the point of no appearance or the point of no return. When she bet five dollars she could re-read Repetition and Difference, he took it, figuring she had only a 50-50 chance.


Our cover story fell, but since no one else was in the forest, we were able to put it together again without anybody hearing. The last straw came when they told him the word was spelled “impatiens” and made a nice bouquet. “Combining separate entities creates a monster, an incoherence with no name, a nothing”—or so the agent said when he explained why the insurance company wasn’t going to pay for my crushed Toyota. The truth will out: that’s why there’s bleach.


She said look in my eyes and tell me what you see and I moved closer and the image became clearer and I said, “Myself.” I told them to remind me and now I have no idea what about and my signature doesn’t look the same. AT&T got a phone line between my heart line and my life line. You know you’re still alive when you can fall asleep. Mammalian birth: the ultimate passive experience.


I signed my name, but he said I was just erasing erasure. Formaldehyde is never more than an extension of content.

Mark Cunningham has three books out: 80 Beetles (Otoliths), Body Language (Tarpaulin Sky Press), and 71 Leaves (an ebook from BlazeVOX). A new book, specimens, is forthcoming from BlazeVOX.
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