CONSTITUTIONS (For the Old Abandoned Building of the Bank) by CHRISTOPHER CLIFTON

Preamble: The following records an understanding of the contract that has brought us here together to agree on what that means. It was written for the purpose of declaring our decision to inhabit this once empty, now communal space; and of providing legal basis for the future of our union. Every clause has been agreed by those here present, who enact our constitution with one voice.


  1. The only principle to which we may adhere is that of being here together.


  1. The principle of being here together will exclude the application of whichever social system to determine how or what it is to be.


  1. We will hold therefore to that which is, not that which should or could be.

Continue reading


Thank God for words he was thinking. Words—which did kind of tickle his brain in just such a way, in a good way. And yes he liked that, could count on that, bank on it, lean on it always. Like a crutch or cane, or the wooden handrail out front built for the benefit of his aging father and featuring beautiful sloping finials—plateaued, not pointy, at the peaks—at the tops of the support posts.

Finials. Yes, a fine word to say the least. Not to mention plateaued.

He could lean on numbers too, to be sure. Numbers could shore him up on a tough day or in a moment of inexplicable weakness. Sequences of numbers could be beautiful. One thing he loved was to find meanings in the license plates, pointing out especially when he caught sight of palindromes, notable years in history or future, and Super Bowl scores. Though he did not personally favor American pro football, he had still somehow become the best person he’d ever met at spotting Super Bowl scores on license plates. Of course, in his state the plates usually included 4-digit sequences which was ideal since the majority of Super Bowl scores could be best represented by sequences of 4 digits; had he grown up in certain other United States, he may never have developed this extraordinary skill.

In any case the problem he was facing now, that had been knocking him for a loop repeatedly, was: what the hell was he best served doing on this highly specific day? Continue reading




She was scared of buttons —
‘It’s the way they stare, with two empty holes,
Until you drown inside them.’

I felt her disgust,
They were white and round and I almost understood it then —
How upsetting it would be to have two pupils in one eye,
Seeing all the way inside your head and further down
Into a place where darkness has no colour, sharp and cool
Wrapping her arms around you.

On the other side, there is no button,
Only two black holes in her face. Continue reading


So Swoon Me Starry Night


Our bodies do not remain i
N that bonemeal bed o
N Bleecker Street, encased i
N kevlar caccoons, rotting ami
Dst Cosmo, blaring Gossip Girl.

Mine remains endeared t
O the inside of my own flesh
Face, debating Todestrieb
And ego ergonomics wi
Th Wilhelm Reich, outside.

Yours sprints, presuming no
Thing from Brooklyn and back,
Like Ahab bowing before an I
Dol of a great ivory cock, env
Eloped in sorority signs, inside. Continue reading


Summer Evening


They stood on the porch. He leaned on the railing, into her. She was poised away from him in a pink skirt and bikini top. He had bought them for her. The humid night air hugged their skin. They were sweating. Moths strafed around them pining for the porch lights.

“I can get a job at the plant,” he said.

“Daddy’s the head of the bus company,” she drawled.

“You say that to everything now and didn’t say that the night we met dancing.”

She crossed her arms and glanced at the front door. Music from the radio piped out from the half open windows.

“I’ve got a good job already and the skills to get a better one.” He swiped a moth away from his face. He almost yelled at the little bug. “Can I talk to him?”

“No. And the pastor wouldn’t agree to it to begin with.”

“That pastor’s—”

“That’s a lie and Daddy says it’s your Roman tricks to suggest such a thing and that he didn’t vote against Al Smith for no reason.” Continue reading


Lot No. 1
Polaroid Camera
Artist: Pranski

_____Pranski created works of graffiti-art that should not have been famous. Every inch of him and his possessions was steeped in an overpriced ego-driven posturing. Even his shoes, which he paid several thousand dollars for, he lied about for some reason. He said they were the most expensive in the world. They were not. Having inherited oil money from a family member whose name has now been lost to record, Pranski would pay police to turn a blind eye to his vandalism. Then, he would call them up so he could get arrested in front of his spray paint doodle and cause a big scene while crying and forgetting that the arrest was purely for show. Later in life, when critics had become fed up with the way Pranski’s art, which was always done in lower-income areas–Pranski said this made his painting ‘more authentic’–would drive up property values and drive out the original residents, it was revealed that Pranski had been paying said critics for the entirety of his ‘career.’ His fans were unfazed, deciding that this somehow added a ‘layer’ to Pranski’s genius. He, however, did not feel the same way, and so he paid a vagrant to jam a spraypaint can down his throat and take a polaroid picture of the result. “This will be my greatest work,” Pranski probably told the man. The vagrant used his hands to choke Pranski, then kept the spray paint to get high with. Continue reading


I was parking and she was screaming and for a moment I thought the world might end. You had to really hear them, piercing and full of life. The kind of shrieks only eighteen-year-old non-smoker lungs can belt out.

She was covering her mouth with one bony hand and pointing with the other. She was pointing at the lamp in front of my door and soon enough I was slamming my car door, I was running, and I was flipping the switch.

As soon as I turned the light off I could hear the buzzing, the flapping of fuzzy wings dispersing into the night. Moments earlier, a tornado of moths wrapped around my light post.

She was afraid of moths. She wouldn’t get out of my car until I swore it was safe.

This girl, we’ll call her moth girl, zoomed in and out of my life at lightning speed one time after another. We would talk, first on MySpace, then in the living room of my apartment, then on Twitter, then on a patio sharing coffee. She would disappear. We had mutual friends. We’d add each other on social media, share a message, and she’d evaporate. It became a rhythm through my twenties. Surprise visits I could never see coming, but could look forward to. Continue reading



i said to it

and there was painted before me the vast scenes

buildings and the abstraction of trees

and the things before faded softly you could say like the memory of a lover

without judgement

and it was the new place we’d for so long been hearing about

trains still made their sound outside

tho it was clearer we couldn’t see them Continue reading




Around the turn of the century, a man named Ed Leedskanlin fell in love with Agnes Scuffs, a 16-year-old girl, in their home country of Latvia. They soon got engaged, but on the day before they were to be married, she left him, citing their ten-year age difference as the prime reason. He then moved to the United States, where in 1920, he began building what is now known as the Coral Castle: a massive structure including two obelisks, a tower complete with furniture, and even a perfectly-balanced swinging gate entrance – all made entirely of limestone and constructed solely on his own. Rare pieces of photographic evidence suggest that the five-foot-tall, hundred-pound man used practical methods, such as simple machines, to build the structures, but others assert that he must have harnessed secret or perhaps even supernatural energies in order to do so. Though Ed published many writings claiming that he discovered the secrets of the universe, he never divulged exactly how the Coral Castle was built, and his so-called “Sweet Sixteen” never saw what her scorned lover constructed in her honor.


it finally occurs to him,

as he leans on the wall of his finished monument

to love, that the girl ten years his junior never asked for

an obelisk, that those heavy stones he moved had done nothing

to move her, and she shouldn’t be blamed for the ache

that settles now in his bones.


but he’ll go on like being lovelorn is his only sin,

charging tourists ten cents to roam the tomb

of his heart, take pictures of the crude limestone slab

he called “bed” and cut to the length of

her unfinished body. and they will call it beautiful:

his love alone enough to lift those hunks of earth

into meaning; some strange, ancient magic. Continue reading