How To Finish A Story, or My Correspondence School

									Mark Wallace

Indefinite clamor defines direction
					decisions out of obstacles
		"the moment of composition"
		thieves of time
	"don't take my last complacency"
	the stairs were closed for lack of use
	as were the stories

	One continues, if one does, without
	a younger urgency, without conviction

The city from the window
is fuzzy, white sky
records unhealthy heat indexes, cars pass
under the bridge of destination

Which of the following terms
defines your relation to self-production:
ironic		inebriated		illicit
inimical		incadecent		indecent

"When materialism is rotten-ripe
magic takes root"

			"immersing myself in the tension between
			horizontal and vertical lines"

"a round of dreams, work and meals, evening conversation
love and loss, how are you going to change the world"

"giddy from feeding on disease
they discussed their theories of culture
day dawned, jobs and money fell from windows..."

			couldn't have happened that way
			unless the other hand. Still, considering
			not if he doesn't pay his dues.
			like that sometimes. But not all
			few and far between. He postured

duress and instability.
Facing the prospects
what friends there were
running scarce, solely
conditions of removal

any time you say."
care how they feel
"and that's all I have
on his coat, walked
thinking of it later.

			determining a formal path
			maze of experience. But delving
			unforseen structural contradiction.
			deploying resources, considering
			a thoroughly imaginary consistency.

obligations to former
love them anyway," sinking
guess that's fine but
back to this again?"
"To think I thought

industrial regions.
meat preparation requires
commission. Regulation
other administrations believed
contaminated, relaxing

			being and seeming. Originating
			non-geometrical representation
			a falling out. He left to
			defections from the former
			self and other. Hypothesizing

wheat and tobacco
school board decree
salary dispute. Then
omissions of products
glaringly left out.

raised his glass.
"After all these
someone I can trust."
unless you mean it.
that simple, but

Mistakes in configurations.
Mutated versions of animals, and problems with friends.
An earlier genre described as speculative.

Transcending the limits of the known,
the limits of the known transcended us.
Two hours to lift off, his presence still undiscovered.

Faulty conceptions, hurried conclusions.
Another excuse to waste lives.
At last, the horizon opened out, cheers were heard.

Back at the scene of writing, complications seized participants.
Extent of accountability, relevance of emotions.
He confused his era and himself.

Tales of the final days differ.
New problems with new machinery.
A series of embedded squares.

Foolish consistency perhaps, but excellent marketing.
At least as much chance in other worlds.
Confused with a patriot, but on different terms.

Metaphysical hope with undercurrents of social despair.
Misunderstood predecessors a necessary condition.
"Say what you want, but I'm listening."

Neglect the framework, plunge right in.
If a gun goes off somewhere in space.
How to calm the rise in hysteria.

Glorifying the scenes of excess
permutations of chance
a long trip along technological night
persuasions with a competitive edge
sturm and drang, illusion and gesture
love found quick in swigs of dismay
play on words, it's the thing
flash of thought, lethargic days
a reason to make it work
they seek charlatans, hate all experts
ways to say we're science fiction
at last a break in the chain
counting good fortune, a view of the city
aesthetics of a traffic jam
intensification of confusion
bad sense in the moments
one light night, one dark day
belief in the calling of art
look at the shiny shoes of the leader
it may not happen today
spend, mend and defend
instigations to new explorations
considering available options
visit overseas, meeting new writers
relentless autobiography
Sherlock Holmes and lessons of attention
is time running out
creation and negation relations
light my candle with yours
look up there strange beasts are roaming
my eyes are strangely on fire

Once upon a time, in the darkest recesses
of the mind, a factory began
to feel bad about itself.
This factory, despite being well-respected
and having plenty of friends, thought
that something was missing.
People worked in it all day,
it spewed out all the smoke it wanted
and its products were suitably faulty
yet what, really, was the meaning
of it all? Politics and literature
left the factory cold.
If I could be a space station,
the factory thought, maybe
I could realize my potential.
As soon as possible, the factory
began restructuring. It laid off workers,
got rid of old equipment,
brought in the latest technology
and a highly expert staff.
This took time, but a year later
the factory was ready to lift off.
The only question was where to go.
The moon had been done. Mars was War
and Venus love, mere human wastes of time.
But Saturn had those beautiful rings
and soon the factory was there
sipping Pina Coladas, and doing
geological surveys. It's true, the factory thought,
even a factory needs new horizons.
With that in mind, the factory began to write its memoirs.

Dear Sir:
	Can you please tell me how to start my own literary magazine? Out here in the swamps it's easy to feel isolated, and being an editor just may stop me from becoming alcoholic.

Dear Sir:
	Is it true that night is blackest just before the dawn?

Dear Sir:
	Why is it that most animals with wings are called birds, but some are called bats? My boyfriend says my interest in this is twisted and sick. He thinks I should go to hairdressing school. But at night I lie awake wondering.

Dear Sir:
	A figure with three sides is a triangle, but figures with four sides can be called squares or rectangles, depending on the lengths of the various sides.

Dear Sir:
	I wonder a lot if there's a conspiracy. My wife says no, that people are motivated more by confusion, greed, blindness, and a deep-seated and ineradicable instinctive animal fear. But she can be naive, and doesn't know Chuck as well as I do.

Dear Sir:
	What makes you think I'm going to let you get away with it?

Dear Sir:
	I have a constant urge to do things that will embarrass me, sometimes even that will physically harm me. Is there money in this?













References will be
footnoted improperly.
The capsule can be
swallowed or flown
to Mars. Let me express
my fears about this
relationship. Applause.
He recorded in his diaries
his concerns about extending
the franchise. High
modernist fiddling
has not captured
the attention of the masses.
Dinner will be served
promptly at eight.

the hurried and obsequious
night. The festival was held
last weekend to rave
reviews. The funniest
novel of the last
5000 years, it knocked
me off my horse. Does
Man evolve or
revolve? High winds
kicked up waves that
undermined the base of
the houses nearest the shore.
If you don't have it
at least you can't give it
to me. A clause.

A computer can create
new notions of form
where chunks of prose
can achieve three-dimensional
effects. But Cindy
didn't want to go
to the dance. Every
Saturday night we have
a game, but tempers
can run pretty high. Nabokov's
discussion of the problem
with finding an English
equivalent for the
Russian shum declares
"noise" to be insufficient.

The end of all centuries
is the same, a sham
of earlier good intentions.
Writing 102 needs to be
reorganized. No one
exists for the sake
of self-interest? Oh no here
goes the symphony again.
If you bring in
your people, I can't promise
to restrain rivalry.
Arrested was a former
police officer. They've
overlooked procedure before
but this is unforgiveable.

Dear Sir:
I don't know what to do
about many things.
It's hot out,
the sun is shining,
I love my friends.
I've read a lot
of theories about society.
Where do you start
changing people's minds?
At home?
Through education?
Through legislation?
Do you want
to change people's minds?
I think I do
but I'm not always sure
what I think.
Do you know
who's to blame?
Is anyone?
Is it structures
or consciousness?
Is it ignorance
or malice or both?
Is it fear?
What needs to be done?
Am I happy
or unhappy?
I worry a lot,
I'll tell you that much.
What about you?

During High Modernism
belief in the absolute significance of art
and the need for devoting yourself to it
above and beyond all other concerns
was common, almost a cliche.

Most writers of supernatural tales
don't explicitly state that they believe
in the supernatural, which raises the question
of why they write supernatural tales.

One of the central confusions
in the contemporary avant garde
is the relation between politics and literature.

The above sentences, all of which
are statements, have an uncertain
truth value. You cannot trust them.
That does not mean, however,
that they are made in bad faith.
Which brings us to other problems.
How do you know if something is done in good faith?
In what circumstances does it matter or not?

Do you prefer to finish a book
or to start one? What's the difference
between a poem and a story?
What makes something a narrative
or not?

Do you think of yourself as part of your society
or outside it?
What is social and what metaphysical?
I'd like to think my poems explore.
But I'm never sure how much I think I know in advance.