Craig Foltz

They have names like Avery and Colby. Daisy and Meredith. Amber and Spenser. They occupy a space in the middle of the school while their so-called contemporaries pace the oval. They drive shiny cars with sodium headlights and baby blue decals. One student who shall remain nameless operates in the margins in order to manufacture anonymity. Another processes liquid through subconscious means.

The girls are oblivious, having placed their bets on the blush of statistics. There will be some who can change the due date while others underscore the merits of adornment. Notice the hooks in the tether. Notice the impression of urban elites. One of the girls inches forward in her seat and replicates the texture of velour between her fingers. She looks down at her forearms, which are covered in moles and blooms or reticulated blood vessels. I'm human after all, she thinks.

The girls sigh and sift through the heavy metals at the bottom of their bags. Crouching out of the wind in order to conceal the body's internal dynamics.


You come to a place where forward momentum is prohibited. Then. The lunch bell rings. Notice the way afternoons set themselves up in such a way as to be escaped from. To see in a straight line, one must first identify the dominant eye. Then. Fifth period. Sixth period. Hallway chatter. Next. A series of premonitions reveal themselves to you. Premonition 1) A hooded stranger walks up beside you and pronounces you dead. Premonition 2) Gravelly-voiced teachers provide inside advice, "It's not about answering the question they ask, rather, it's about answering the question you want to answer." Premonition 3) Generally speaking, mineral composition will remain unspecified. Premonition 4) Three of the girls surround you and query administrative answer. It seems as if they want you to overhear. One of them says, "I want to be with my things." Premonition 5) Several hundred words will never be enough.


Restoration occurs when it is impossible to not oversimplify things. You scan the archive of your memories for the horizon, but there is nothing, just a series of slow ships skimming kelp from the top of the water. Your eyes are drawn to a spot on the map next to the word Morocco. If you've learned anything during your dabbling morphology it's that the girls will sit next to the boys who do not want to sit next to the girls. If you've learned anything it's that your freedom will be greatest when your parents attend the June conference. The house will be empty. A lawn will lead to a beach. There are always places out of the wind.

The girls stand up. Notice the thrust and fold of belts. Spent. Fuel. Rods.


Then you come to a place where the city meets the ocean. You know this place because the theory of vectors helps you make your way in the absence of light. It's not enough to lead the girls down to the ocean you must also impart an intense yellow color when exposed to flame. It's not enough to defer to bivalve mollusks, you must also produce a neverending supply of neatly rolled joints. See Fudd, Elmer.

Without restraint, the girls will drop into the ocean one at a time. There's one in particular. She tells you a little bit about her somewhat famous father. Turns out, a man in overalls is not a man in overalls after all.


It is a basic problem. In the absence of memories, dusted beignets. Moonbeams cluster at the edge of our lips. One of the girls, Colby, walks up to the front of the class and writes something on the board. The thin film covering her eyes dissolves into brackish water. Her boyfriend, if she has one, waits near the bike path to pummel you with sticks. If we've learned anything through the process of shedding our skins it's that one finger rotates inward. Another finger yields to external indicators. Without teeth you would have nothing to grind a vocabulary against.

The beach is a stones throw from Math class. Math class is a stones throw from a drab, industrial research facility. How to receive an invite without inhabiting the clicks between syllables? How to recycle tendons without scattering electrons. Colby crosses her feet in the sand near yours, passes her notebooks in between you. On her tee-shirt another oblique reference to music. Boaties Don't Count.


Conch shells replay sounds from another decade. Driftwood during the acoustic set. Bleached bones, pickled herring. You tell her, To be partially reviewed is to be partially duplicated.


On the one hand, a halo does not signify the comforting warmth of another person. On the other, narrative events do not just wander onto the stage for easy interpretation. The sun sits there, dumbly, a ways above the horizon. The ocean is a color marketing specialists might refer to as blueberry den. Line your heroes up against the wall and provide them with blindfolds. Confirm that you both grew up in dormitory suburbs. Objects trigger physical sensations. Will you ever share this couch? Recognizing patterns of light in dimples of water on gently rolling sets of waves. A few surfers stretch out on their surfboards, quietly speaking amongst themselves. A large tanker slowly crawls along the horizon. One of the objects has the texture of flesh and tastes like Christmas. Unexpectedly, she helps you with the clasp.

Weak-kneed boys envision the surface of the moon as something squishy and intolerant. Pulse. Pulsed. Pulsing. This era is the only era.

She whispers into your ear, "Don't sugarcoat it for me."


Then you come to a point in the story where everything disappears. The shadows from the long afternoon sun. The little pipe carved from balsam wood. The string of beads around Colby's neck. The taste of perfume. The dried pods of kelp that made a popping sound when you burst them between your fingers. Even the other girls and their boyfriends in their Subarus and Toyotas have vanished from the parking lot above the retaining wall. Leaving behind discarded cans of spraypaint.

There is a line in the sky where a passenger airplane passed through a few minutes ago.

This line tells you in no uncertain terms of your own mortality.

It tells others that the sundial may no longer be used as a gauge.

Still others take this as a sign to spiral out.

Conscription. Conscription. Conscription.

There is some commotion on the street above. She asks you to confirm your identity by counting backwards from ten.

10. You cannot pretend to value the day that is about to arrive when it is brimming with faceless corpses. 9. You cannot imagine a wall of sound without puncturing the cochlear urn. 8. Where cannibalism remains, pedagogy cannot rest. Back then we understood the uses of buttermilk. 7. You ask the girl to take the guesswork out of levitation. Waves wrap around stones. Tides mimic their own constituent stages. 6. You ask her to release your ribcage from its casket. Your finger from her mouth. 5. Where she used to be, an impression of the moment that came before. 4. Somebody from your past says "Let's get things done." But getting things done is not what concerns you here. What concerns you here are clusters of colorful balloons and terrorist cells. 3 You tell her, "I never agreed to be classified with the stoners and other burnouts." Epoxy. Epoch. Epiphytes. She holds your arm up to the light. Third degree burn. 2. You do not expect absolution without going through the motions. 1. You say, "Can I ask you a question? What is the use of automatons if they can't feel pain."


Before a killing spree, the assailants practice their meditation and breathing. They stare at the same blank spot on the same wall as the day before. One suggests the sounds of reed instruments as an offering. One pretends the wind will not affect the trajectory of long-range bullets.

The girl arrives at your house in a mangled carapace of recollections. Nothing says secondhand like Volkswagen. "What if I told you that I was two people? Or more than two people. Would you still want to kiss me?"

You hold her by the hand and slowly walk into the water. The bonfire is a hazy adjective bubbling to the surface in your peripheral vision. The girl's friends rustle blankets behind you. The ocean is poised to heave another dead mammal up onto shore. The girl points out the shape of a face encrypted into the sulfur cliffs. Teenagers rely on perforating devices and depth finding instruments to quantify physical touch.

I'm not hiding, I'm right here.

Next. The water laps around your knees. Then. This one takes place in the future. The game show consists of a series of words stacked in a blinking triangle.


Prior to death, the subject says "What has been lost can always be recovered." Sensor fails to capture movement in this realm. The experiment is dependent upon a clean, sterile environment. One surrounded by young people and house plants. A math teacher can always recite facts. Fact 1: I've never read Baudrillard. Or Bowen. Or Delleuze. Fact 2: The subjects place their hands inside the box, but the contents of the box will not reveal themselves. Fact 3. Jihadists are not chia pets. Fact 4: An administrator can not become an administrator without an administrator declaration form.

One of the girls laughs. The math teacher drones on. "There is nothing tangible in densely wooded regions." One square at a time he blocks out the sun.


In the end, the advent of space flight recalls starchy tan sheets. You wake up and untangle. The girl says, "I know what you said and what you said shall never be repeated."

As for subatomic particles, did they ever exist outside of vacuum tubes?

She says, "Still, I never applied for the role of arbiter." Like other examples of coercion it relies on moving at the speed of light.

You tell her, "Does this mean I can no longer call you the oracle?"


How to practice restraint without exposing it as something artificial? How to mingle amongst a row of girls with the letters of the alphabet splashed across their bare stomachs without seeming untoward? How to pretend there are no details to remember prior to discharging your weapon? 1) Will the shrapnel from this volley echo through this splendid courtyard? 2) A pack of wild dogs sets upon the alphabet. 3) When you open your eyes you will see reams of paper and slivers of light slanting in through the windows? 4) And the walls will be covered in blood. 5) And the girl's car will be parked outside, making for dreary cinema. A formula can not be a formula without a formulaic outcome. 6) And your parents will burst through the door, the June conference having ended three days earlier. 7) When you come to, the one thing there will not be is an explanation of unnatural acts. You hold up your hands as if to say, What could be more granular than arable land?


Then. A woman wearing glasses enters the interview room, a holding cell. She asks you to tell your story again. You tell your story again. Each time you tell it you begin, "There are three options."


Option 1. The relationship between events and non-events is random and inspired by white noise. Ciao bella, CEO. Acronyms must not be remembered except through brute force. The woman wearing glasses is joined by another woman wearing glasses. They glide in unison around the walls of the room. When you look again, you realize the people with the blindfolds aren't your heroes after all but a trio of sirens calling to you from the mist. Siren 1: You recognize this one from class. She maintains the power of persuasion, if not the twirling orbits of ochre galaxies. Siren 2: Hums a familiar tune you cannot place. She says, Indicative is not indicative of indicative anymore. Siren 3: Holds a mirror up to the light, refracting the horizon. This flat line becomes curved and wraps around a narrative you may recognize later. In it, you travel pathways of sound, sight unseen.  

A window reflects your image back to you. Slowly. Fold. In. Statistics.


Option 2: Perhaps the semi-colon will remain both mysterious and absent. Perhaps the symbols of public transport will provide us entrance into the pancake house. Perhaps the legion of tattery prompts will result in sensory confusion. The other woman wearing glasses shows you a picture of the girl. Do you recognize this? What can you say? I'm still standing. The girls are little more than powdery rivers. This is why the assessment is predetermined but the search for details still rages on.


Option 3: Do you really want to know what happened? The woman wearing glasses nods. You aren't sure what to tell her. Imagine yourself as somebody who has no memory. Imagine yourself as more than one person. One mixes the yoke of eggs and lets them stand at room temperature before folding them in with the rest of the ingredients. One chooses an appropriate bedpost to drape the skins of his lovers over. One moistens his lips before speaking. For instance: the girl you had in mind is not the girl you had in mind before. 


Then again. The dynamics of tragedy rely on baggy pants and tattoos. They rely on secondhand Toyotas and tricked out hub cabs. Articulation is less about the manipulation of sound than it is about municipal architecture. But then you tell her. "Without compression there is no narrative." She likes it when you give in to the demands of war. She likes it when you forget. Design principles, fiber shear.

The woman wearing glasses says, "Let's start at the bonfire again. Who was there?"


The girls do what girls always do. They tell the other girls. "He showed up at my house one night, drunk as fuck. My dad just about flipped." One of the other girls thinks, So superheroes do exist after all.

Finally. Just because people tear into each other's flesh does not mean they are cannibals. Just because the governments of allies spray their citizens with ordinance and hibiscus blooms does not mean that they shouldn't be allowed to proclaim a miracle when the sun rises.

Just because a boy has no spatial sense does not mean there will be poetic justice.

You tell them. "I know more about atmospheric pressure than how to celebrate my birthday."

You imagine your parents standing behind the glass, looking on, dismayed.


It's not enough to crouch down in the middle of the intersection, you must also be prepared to pour gasoline over your body.

The girl tells you she wants boys who are pedicured, trimmed, and close shaven. She wants somebody who is not French but has French attributes.

She says, "I've heard it said that willow grubs fall from willow trees. I've heard it said that nostalgia is just an excuse to linger in the past tense."

Something in her posture says, Please follow me.

That's not what happened either. The girl says, "Who wears the gold?" You. You wear the gold. "Who is a ray of light?" Do I even need to tell you? Who represents a halo and its counterpart?








The idea for this text kicked off when I unexpectedly found myself staring at an assortment of fliers for upcoming indie-rock gigs. You know the type of bands I'm talking about; their songs sound like they were written by someone else and smell faintly of promotional material. Confronted by the lack of narrative material, I resort to lists.