“The beauty of the world is the mouth of a labyrinth. The unwary individual who on entering takes a few steps is soon unable to find the opening. Worn out, with nothing to eat or drink, in the dark, separated from his dear ones, and from everything he loves and is accustomed to, he walks on without knowing anything or hoping anything, incapable even of discovering whether he is really going forward or merely turning round on the same spot. But this affliction is as nothing compared with the danger threatening him. For if he does not lose courage, if he goes on walking, it is absolutely certain that he will finally arrive at the center of the labyrinth. And there God is waiting to eat him. Later he will go out again, but he will be changed, he will have become different, after being eaten and digested by God. Afterward he will stay near the entrance so that he can gently push all those who come near into the opening.” - Simone Weil “The beauty of the world is the mouth of a labyrinth. The unwary individual who on entering takes a few steps is soon unable to find the opening. Worn out, with nothing to eat or drink, in the dark, separated from his dear ones, and from everything he loves and is accustomed to, he walks on without knowing anything or hoping anything, incapable even of discovering whether he is really going forward or merely turning round on the same spot. But this affliction is as nothing compared with the danger threatening him. For if he does not lose courage, if he goes on walking, it is absolutely certain that he will finally arrive at the center of the labyrinth. And there God is waiting to eat him. Later he will go out again, but he will be changed, he will have become different, after being eaten and digested by God. Afterward he will stay near the entrance so that he can gently push all those who come near into the opening.” - Simone Weil

Every Last Penny For You, Girl

Book Release: Zoe Koke

Bug presents a collection of poetry from artist Zoe Koke. A multi-disciplinary artist living and working in Los Angeles. Koke is a difficult artist to pin down. Her poetry is painterly in execution. Her paintings often times feel like poems. The reader is left transfixed by a material history that untethers its own assumptive qualities. She distorts our sense of time passing. The resurfacing of memory and bad habits is not coming of age, rather a cyclical state of becoming. Her poems effortlessly cite David Lynch, Lady Gaga, Julianne Moore, and Casper from ‘Kids’. Flattening their attributes like a painting, these pop culture signifiers are rendered into objects. It’s as if Casper from ‘Kids’ belonged to her, a personal attachment. ‘Every last penny for you, girl’ is a travelogue for the road of uncertainty. Poignantly using ubiquity as a literary device, she guides us alongside her. We become perilously intertwined. A visual tour of lived narratives, metaphor delicately woven into its inert surface. The muttered breath before slumber and the story one might dream of thereafter. Bringing us as readers to a state of pure empathy when she dims the lights for tragedy.
Transcendence  

Earth is full of bleeding
And we are told to trust it
Yet, there are times when I have felt sexless, bodiless

This particular time, I was staying in a tent on the blunt edge of Spain
After we were driven crazy down the perilous french seaside by a 16 year old soccer player
After the men in a fake cop car, with the sirens, tried to seduce us into robbery
But before the sun rose over the unfamiliar ocean, humiliating us

The tent became a metaphor for stability
Her stronghold, while I was floating -
She unfolded it, pitched it, maintained it
In a season that wasn’t seasoned for camping,
She unwrapped our food, cut it, put into bowls, cleaned the bowls, dried the bowls
Folded our blankets, her clothes, my clothes

In my life, there have been many occasions wherein god has told me to have no purpose
in this window of time, god also suggested I disappear my body

We lazed topless on the beach, surrounded by peacocks
Who woke us at dawn at which point,
we washed our faces with bar soap dutifully

There was only one other group on the campsite, with a baby
The most beautiful couple, with this beautiful baby
The mother of the baby with the most beautiful breasts, body, hair
Dripping gold like the coastline

You wonder how you could feel so sexless there? So bodiless -

Well, we ate carrots that had been browned with age and tins of tuna fish
In fact, she wasn’t eating at all and I was mercilessly trying to disassociate

We were on a self imposed pilgrimage to a Picasso museum in Barcelona
our 18 year old young organed hearts needed to see the Blue Period

Blue is the color of blood before it leaves the body, after all

And as I said I was trying to transcend -

There are so many years in which I regret not having done more drugs

I had read David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish, while crumpled in the corner of a Barnes and Noble in Union Square, just months before
-
Sitting on the ground - New york, where I always want a cigarette,
feel thirsty and like I have to pee
*This is a way to know if you’re a west coast person. The need for god and bathrooms.

But did you know that the Lynchian methods hurt people sometimes?
My friend had horrible visions and later got her money back from the course she took.
She had to call and email several times.
The same poised woman responded,
curtly, rudely even -

But I won’t lie, I’ve only fully transcended once and it was when I was sexless and bodiless on that coastline

A baby man climbing exorcist style on the wooden beams in the ceiling of my grandfather’s barn

A chicken below, maniacal, human-like, crowing, like the peacocks, hungering for flesh, hunting me

The glowing honest new understanding of Lynch’s obsession with violence and violence against women

In this meditative state, I felt the light in the barn

A deep orange, like new life, like that baby, like the earth’s spilt blood



69

When you were dying, I kissed you again
That was after you asked your mom to bring your metal shorts that were printed with “death” to the hospital
she was going through your closet, skeletons printed countlessly

You texted me and told me I would like the mournful photographs of polar bears stranded on glaciers that lined the hallways of the hospital and I did

My impulse when you were dying, was to fall back in love with you

I learned then that my impulse to love, was an impulse to nourish I always wanted to protect you

Sometimes love is sushi
Fish oils to cushion the lining of the brain, I googled
A juicer that still lies untouched in your cupboard
Then there was a day when raw fish wasn’t allowed in with your cocktail of drugs

When you were dying, I also acknowledged my desire to mend as a form of control

I cut your toenails the first day I saw you in hospital
when nothing else makes sense, return to the peripheries of the body

“Stage 4D,” said your text, “the worst kind, but there are options”

There was a man moaning in the hallway one night when I brought you some salted pretzels
I didn’t know your love for horror movies could mix so well with your reality

We laughed at the tepid scrawl of writing on the card from your corporate job

Shitty flowers, their colors muted by lack of regard

They wrote on your head in sharpie, before the incision
A big R, “right side,” but how could they not know?

It’s with you, where the love was all humor
two million crystals and a comfy pillow
knowing the crystals would make you laugh,
even though they each had a function
Hopefully to bring your vision back, which had been squandered

I cried looking at Max’s photograph of a vacant space
considering the gap you might leave, how good you had been,
how beautiful and egoless
One of the rare self deprecating Americans
A hot man who didn’t lie
Hilarious, when so many men are not only trash, but unfunny

I scanned the freeway for our number - 69
Even when you were on the brink of death, I was scanning for your jokes

The rolled up poster you gave me of their illustrated bodies
69
Blue on black, locked in passion
Taken from Kevin’s back room in secret to gift to me
In Houston, when I was sweating and we were always drinking
Because drink is a way to forget the heat and to float to the peripheries of time through the body

I got the email about your illness, between fir trees on a cliff above the sea
When I heard you were sick
I cried in the night, my sister let me hug her in her single bed at the cabin
(I learned then that lesbians are the best huggers in the world)

Then it became a quest for your numbers

Back on the freeway, God gave me sixty nine on license plates
Under a thick black blanket of night, the lights of the cars became planets

69 on the highway, 69 meant you were okay
69 69 69 - Infinity



Angels

When my daddy went to rehab, I moved away from New York
he told me on the phone he was going to shoot himself
this time he seemed serious -

actually first I went to Ireland and Europe with my last dollars to weep in bath tubs a lil’

rose buds planted in Italy on a small farm
where Anna made delicious moist cakes for her piglets

that’s where I read Eat, Pray, Love and masturbated
I loved the book fyi
I wanted Anna’s son who wore the KISS sweatshirt
but he didn’t speak any English


Auntie Shelly told me they found daddy in the space between the two doors at the entrance of an apartment building
between the door that shields you from the extreme cold and the other one

this wasn’t the first time that man was saved by angels

these same sets of doors don’t exist as much in the country I now live in
There are also fewer basements in this nation
I still ask myself,
Do we become bleeding hearts in basements?

my daddy told me he had 25 handguns at one point
he told me yesterday about the line up at the range,
“I had to buy the last three,” he said

everyone who buys a gun, buys the fantasy of killing

they silly

I guess they don’t believe in angels



The Cabin

thinner dusty forgotten planks meet flat shiny square pieces of wood meet sky

there is a distinct place (the mark of a specific year)
in the sloped walls there, where the grain of the
wood changes, where the differing carpentry of the
differing fathers merges, marries- when they were
divorcing- after he drunkenly fell off the second floor
of the round lofted cabin she designed and he
helped build. forty years old, he broke three ribs, in
the nineties, set against circular windows, flecks of
ocean, flowered curtains, heavy purple office chairs from
the auction house and a stage and a sound system
for parties. years later when she came back from
Italy, hair shiny, face bright (almost unrecognizable),
she got them to paint the swollen ceiling like clouds.



Golden Faced

she is sick-tiny
looks like julianne moore, he once said, my julianne moore, I thought
and although she is scaled down
her hair is still curled, eyes still ersatz in their faultless beauty

she lives under heavy metal chandeliers and blankets, one leg doesn’t move

we eat french food while she tells me she made my cousin cry by telling her
that her boyfriend isn’t smart enough for her because he’s a bartender

her caregiver’s face is blank yet calculated, smooth like a doll’s
I calmly share my opinion, I know the quality of her cruelty,
I know my way into it, I can peel it away sometimes

she watches soap operas like she is looking at the ocean
placid round eyes, full of hope

brett the hitman hart’s sister another caregiver beside her - same eyes
like sisters, the calgary elite watch comedies wrapped in plush blankets
tv on demand with closed wood shutters
a soft yet desolate interior

I didn’t imagine this would be her, but I pause to wonder why I didn’t
frivolous comedy, glib commentary
telling her friend to reprint the album without my dad in it
refusing the small scruffy dogs of the internet

chardonnay:
oaky, okay to oaky, I say
freshly poured in a round smooth glass at 11 am

she is light, but dark, light, sick and mini, yet golden faced
eating popcorn, occasionally breaking into quick stiff smiles
one leg unflinching, propped on a pillow

the house expresses gravity’s limits in response to her
with too many fixings
art in thick weighty frames
heavy blinds
all-adorned
covered, dripping with accessory
hulking yet frivolous
dark so to make her lighter in response
hulking so to show off her golden edges



Untitled

when I saw you in the metro, thorny smile instead of hi,
I knew then that you wouldn’t want to mend it
bundled, a weary snowman,
your face hollow in a movie way

later, I laughed and told my friends that if you were gonna kill me
it would be with a big sharp knife

I have been killed in a dozen dreams,
typically dopey disappearances
yet I love the variable color and consistency of blood

the hue is always remarkable, yet unexpected
we talked about it under the awning when the rain fell in sheets
blood from down there is different on birth control,
thinner and less seductive
And dark and muted in hospital bags,
shiny and fast on the surface of the skin
they were talking about sex and I was talking about mortality
we were all talking about beauty

I laughed out loud with my friends:
it’s “a rough patch,”
of harsh gravel, or grass that isn’t mowed?
and then he told me about the boiling water, the remorse.
you had but a smile.

I’m easy: to love, to forgiveness. I know how to love people who hurt me
“get your keys back”, he said
will you continue to scuttle through my life?
the crab is my astrological sign, not yours

now there is silence and snow,
both clean, sentimental
the wall and the memory of it being your blue
before you came in, when we were trying to fill the house and I
rolled around on the mattress with the floral print,
we had a home
they came over and we drank in the unmade bed
and talked about who we suspect to be selling out

the incense makes it hard to breathe as I try to smoke your ghost out
I see your objects before you took them,
the display of tiny holes in the walls are letters to your absence
at the bar, “Stayin’ Alive” played and then a JLo song, then “Hotline Bling”
all betraying the mood
I wept quietly as I archived visual details,
dull burgundy against teal
distracting myself by collecting cues to interpret later

I gave my tears permission to run free,
itchy little streams, better theatre, a better visual

II.

all the drama I carry inside me
is simultaneously flat, yet always never-ending in the scene

finding curve and texture later
infused in the bodies, objects and spaces that bore witness
the pink tulips on the mantle,
the photographs of the pretty Holstein cows
The objects flung against walls that lie neatly in the cupboard

emotions are meticulous in art
less so in life.

but in Kids, I know you know they beat him up to the twang of upbeat Daniel Johnston
cheerful, rigorous, dissonant, the sky is bright and unbroken
his young face glows wet and warm from blood
emotions confuse each other in the most real way here…

I wish I could tell you that the song was made for the movie,
named for Casper, played by Justin Pierce,
who committed suicide in a Las Vegas hotel.
and that Larry Clark said his funeral was the worst day of his life,
“a full-on Catholic wake with the open casket and all these
skateboarders in their father’s suits.”

the gin and tonic was lemon-less and warm.

when I walk home from meeting you, I cue myself to cry again
a vapid mix of glamor and power
the white fur coat, the alabaster night,
it’s rehearsed, trite, necessary.
the scene plays easy,
I call a friend after the tears run dry

your kid face is etched into my psyche as vacant,
symbolic of your not seeing me.
it’s true I demand a lot of my friends.

at the bar, you asked me if I knew what yelling was
you could get one of the men at the bar to show me if I wanted
you told me you had been abused in every way
and used your fingers to indicate how many ways
then you asked me if I thought that you were going to flip the table over and hit me

this was after we laughed at how dumb it was to toast bread at your sister’s fancy house
all the unnecessary mechanisms for mundane tasks,
the exhausting ways of the Calgary elite

this was after you showed me the colorful mural you made for her baby
it is hopeful and simultaneously urgent

you are using a color palette akin to Henry Darger but I don’t tell you
I have congratulated you too many times
we will keep things from each other now


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