(not quite) a literary journal




Obviously you didn’t think I was serious when I told you,
“My dream is to fly around the world in a giant exclamation mark
using your cock as a gear shifter”

but before you knew it, 
your place of employment had been notified 
you were “indefinitely unavailable,”
the water and electricity got shut off,
and everything you needed to bring with you 
fit in your back pocket.

Dodging mercenaries and parked cars on the way to lift-off,
we invent turnstiling as an urban sport and win the gold
and then we are up 
and away
over the Northwestern coast
where 30,000 Nikes are bobbing towards the shore
and we make a bet over who can match a pair first:
same size, same color pattern. If I win, 
you have to cake me in a mudbath of wet road maps;
if you win, dynamite & sassafras and all things clean.
We rub our noses together to stay warm 
and pose as Eskimos through seventeen-hour winter nights.
I trade you my magnesium sweater 
for the fleece you wear like a high school letterman jacket, 
and we trudge through the snow, 
two big babies swaddled in oversized parkas 
with tennis rackets strapped to our feet.

Across the Pacific
we run into Banksy at Family Mart, 
getting white bread and goma-e at 2 in the morning.
He’s been on a tag jag in Shibuya and badly needs a lift to Bristol. 
We gladly oblige and instead of cash or thank-you,
Banksy stencils two conjoined brass padlocks 
on the side of the exclamation mark 
before he hits the ground, running.
I catch myself mid-sigh to avoid having you know
that for your noble allegations I would beg scrape and swoon,
relentlessly loyal like Bobby the Scottish terrier 
who stood at his master’s grave fourteen years after his death.
I’ll point out the dog’s statue as we fly over Edinburgh 
and pretend I don’t know its story,
and you’ll look at me wishing I didn’t play dumb.

We backtrack to Tiergarten 
for a peek up the Goddess of Victory’s skirt 
before descending upon the baggy trousers,
tongue piercings and day-glo pacifiers of the Love Parade,
drop low enough to mix a track before heading 
back up and scream
One million swiveling hips grin back.
On the upswing, I inform you that in every city 
I know a DJ who hooks me up with the thickest 
sickest track of the now, the one 
all the other DJ’s are fighting over
and I’ve collected them 
for the sole purpose of burning a CD for you, 
a graduation from the mix tape I would have made you 
in high school, with my unsophisticated stereo equipment, 
to shamelessly profess my adoration
and hope you like it.
After the first listen 
you play my ribs like a vintage Casio,
throbbing til you can get me in the studio.
I threaten to master all sixty-four of your channels.
We curse 
when the ecstasy gets to us.
You turn 
my beatbox all the way up to rumba!
I need 
a nice cold shower & a slap in the face.
In the hallway, 
a smoke detector goes off
and you pour 
molten lava 
down my spine 
as we sleep.

In the morning we are two sore thumbs
sticking out like accidents waiting to happen
so we try to keep a low profile on the shores of the Ganga, 
where bodies burn and no one blinks an eye.
Our faithful exclamation mark, thirsty for a soak, 
absorbs generous blessings as we limbo slowly 
between gold light reflections. Our fears dissolve 
and leave us quietly radiant.

When the waxing moon nightlights our way to the Lone Star State,
I blow a kiss to my favorite constellation and tell him, 
“Orion, it’s late and you’re high again.”
It makes you jealous.
I caress your absurd sensibility.

You divulge your brilliant fantasy 
of breaking into a laundromat and seeing 
how many long-distance calls 
we can make with the quarters.
The exclamation mark is deflated 
and we pull off the robbery famously,
but every time we stop at a pay phone to call somebody 
the automated operator says:
“this machine 
is out of order, 
fuck yourself 
and save a quarter”
so unable to spend the money how we intended,
we buy fresh produce from roadside stands in Eddy
and bask in the lackadaisical sunshine, 
going back to the times when catching fireflies 
could happily occupy an entire evening.

we run out of hot air and realize 
we’ll have to save the caipirinha nightcap in Brazil 
for next time. you remind me that we can’t forget 
to high-five the Christ statue in Rio as well.
“Sometimes you just can’t do it all,” I say.
You sigh wistfully.

We return home to discover
one of the neighborhood kids has written NIPPLE TALK 
on the garage door. You praise him, 
or her, for spelling it correctly. 
Then it’s back to unopened mail and unfinished business. 
We throw parties for chick magnet haircuts and plastic drinking birds 
where we take requests and spend evenings laughing for our audience, 
who hangs on every word of our regurgitated versions of the truth

and without cleaning up the empty bottles 
or telling the guests it’s about that time,
we retire to the bedroom, somehow having proven 
you can pull off anything
if you want to 
bad enough.

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Tashi Rana's writing is influenced by her panoramic observations, life experiences, and spiritual practices. Romance, catharsis, and revelation are recurring themes, but anything is fair game. She has featured at festivals, universities, benefits, and open mic events. Her next book of poetry, Command Shift Return, is intended to be published later this year by Whispering Ink Press. Tashi grew up in Chicago and currently lives in Austin.