11 MAG: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Things went much quicker and smoother than we had expected. 11 MAG is now open for submissions. Please read guidelines carefully and submit only your best work.

As soon as we have enough quality pieces we will be putting out our first issue, with a print mag hopefully to follow.

Link here:

https://11magberlin.wordpress.com/

And follow us here:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/11MAG1

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/11magberlin/?hl=en

The Twittering Machine (Die Zwitscher-Maschine)

800px-Die_Zwitscher-Maschine_(Twittering_Machine)

The Twittering Machine (Die Zwitscher-Maschine)

Seduced and subsequently
hypnotized by the siren song
of politics on social media,
we spend entire days, months, years staring
at the lighted screens of our little
handheld devices, scrolling and tapping, watching,
growing outraged occasionally
because that’s what we’re supposed to do.
Outrage keeps us on the site, outrage sells.
And we can’t help ourselves.

Absorbed and assiduously
mesmerized, we sit in morbid
lethargy, staring at the thin representational
world whirling by,
waves of anger and bitter disquietude
pouring through our souls.
We don’t quite know
what’s happening to us.
In all our efforts to articulate it,
we can’t, we don’t
have the ability. We are birds
without a song.

But in some room in some far-flung
Western town, there’s a handful
of well-paid computer
programmers – nerds –
quietly laughing.

Painting – Paul Klee, The Twittering Machine (1922)

11 MAG (A New Berlin-based Literary Magazine)

A friend and I are starting a new, Berlin-based literary magazine and will be seeking poetry, fiction and nonfiction submissions for our first issue. We hope to begin taking submissions within the next couple of weeks. We will be making an announcement when we’re ready. In the meantime, you can read about the magazine (and see what we’re looking for) on our blog:

https://11magberlin.wordpress.com/

Or follow us on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/11MAG1

Or Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/11magberlin/?hl=en

Or all three.

See you soon!

A Room Forever

Edvard_Munch,_Selvportrett._Mellom_klokken_og_sengen

One of the worst things to experience is not being able to do some simple human act that everyone else seems to take for granted. For me, it’s sleeping. I’ve been struggling with mild insomnia for years, but lately, in the past month or so, it’s become especially bad. On five or six nights recently, I’ve gone to bed at the normal time, and just lay there in the dark, the faint hum of electricity buzzing in me, keeping me wide awake all night long – all night, from 11 p.m. until the dreaded sunrise – unable to stave off my silent inner vibrations, unable to drive away the wild thoughts pouring in and out of my head, just lying there in the crazy darkness as the hours trickle away, as dawn inches closer. I can usually fall asleep for a little while after the sun comes up but end up getting only three or four hours in total, and not good sleep. Nevertheless – and this is the strangest part – it often suffices for the next day. One piece of chocolate and a couple cups of coffee and I’m feeling great, wide awake for the next 20 hours.

A Room Forever

Lying in an almost palpable silence,
the only thing he can hear is the blood
pulsing softly round his ears
and the thin voice that roused him from his sleep,
a voice like a wet vibrating
powerline or an overturned automobile
on a pre-dawn highway,
its wheels spinning like silk.

He rolls over on his side,
faces the empty wall.

He can almost hear the furniture breathing.
He can almost feel the silence pressing into his soul.
He can almost taste the fragrant trembling air.

He’s been awake in this room for years,
for years, his mind
charged
with electricity, the voice inside him
going out of him, anxious to become
a lever-shaped door
handle turning,
an airplane carried off by the clouds,
a fallen petal returning to the branch.

He lay there listening as the coral-pink
light of dawn bleeds
through the underside of the curtains.

My Great-great Grandfather Murdered a Woodchopper

A E Wheeler_photo

On Christmas Eve in 1910, A.E. Wheeler, my great-great grandfather, murdered a woodchopper.

The woodchopper’s name was James White, and it happened in a little town called Vina, in Northern California. I don’t know all the facts of the case. I only know what I’ve been able to gather in old archives from the Red Bluff News. But it seems to have happened something like this: Wheeler and White, who were apparently friends, went to a saloon and picked up some “wet goods” – beer and whisky. A few hours later, they arrived by buggy at the cabin of a woodchopper named Getchell. According to Getchell, they were intoxicated and quarreling when they got there, and White showed signs of having been injured. Wheeler then “forced” White and Getchell to go with him to find a gun he claimed White had lost. The missing gun seems to be what the quarrel was all about, and White’s injury was on the top of his head where he had been struck with the barrel of Wheeler’s rifle.

So Wheeler and White and Getchell all went looking for the gun and Getchell found it in the grass somewhere. He gave it to Wheeler, which seemed to settle the him down. He apologized to White for hitting him over the head with the barrel of his rifle and three of them then hung out by the buggy, chewing the fat and drinking their “wet goods.” Afterwards, Wheeler went on his way, and White and Getchell went back to the cabin, White going to bed right away after complaining about a headache.

He never woke up.

Wheeler did wake up (unfortunately for him) and was soon convicted for manslaughter, sentenced to three years in prison. The day he entered prison – strangely enough – was May 14, 1911. 100 years to the day from when I got out of prison (Florida was my prison) and moved to Berlin. This makes me wonder if in some spectral way I’ve been emancipated from the sins of my fathers (or at least that father).

Could be.
Or it could be that Berlin is simply another kind of prison.

After serving his time, A.E. Wheeler got arrested for something else, but this time he was committed to an insane asylum, the land of which years before had been donated by – strangely enough – another ancestor of mine, Charles Maria Weber, from Steinwenden, Germany. Weber also founded Stockton, California, and I am related to him through my father. A.E. is on my mother’s paternal side, and below is the hospital report where they speak of his penchant for crawling under automobiles, hiding butcher’s knives under his pillows and muttering incoherently to himself – behavior which, I can attest, still lingers under certain leaves in the family tree.

A E Wheeler - Stockton State Hospital

A E Wheeler_photo

Texas Hold ‘Em

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Texas Hold ‘Em

In the vulgar company of men,
he sits like Buddha,
pale blue
cigarsmoke streaming from his nostrils,
quick monosyllables
of thought
incubating in his mind.

He steals a glance
at his hand,
takes a sip of his whisky rye and wheezes,
waiting
for the flop.

In the vulgar company of men,
he understands
exactly who he is. His role is clear.
To everyone
here he is as familiar a creature
as a treefrog
or a yellowjacket
or a hippo
squatting in a pond at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

He scratches himself,
draws a nut flush
and bets his stack, only to be cracked
by quad kings…

“Imagine that,” he says.

To which the blind
replies,
“You must have the worst luck in the history
of the last three
hands.”

To which he replies, “Ya think?” and grins
around his cigar,
discharging a monstrous plume
of smoke
into
the vulgar
company of men.

You Can’t Step Twice into the Same River

Katayama_Bokuyo_-_Mori_(Forest)_-_Google_Art_Project

Deep in the heart of the German fairy tale forest, I stumble upon a gnarled birch with three sets of initials carved into the bark. Next to the initials is the year: 1993. So long ago that I doubt the carvers even remember coming out here. Have they kept in touch with each other? Do they even remember each other? Are they all still alive? Still in Germany? And what was I doing the day they came here? I know where I was living: Tallahassee. And I remember the people and events that were important to me that year. But to think about who I was back then is to think about another person, a ghost among ghosts in a long-departed past.

I’m not even sure I am who I was when I entered the forest today. Always becoming, never being, eternally hurried along, such is the rule of life.

I pick up a relic symbolic of the past – a little acorn – and twirl it around my fingers. The shell is brittle and there’s a hole in the backside of it. I peer into the hole, see a little cobweb with a spider crawling through the top. The spider lurches for my finger but before it can reach it, which is to say, before history and its ghosts can grab hold of me again, I hurl the shell into the leaves and listen to it tumble away, becoming on its way rust on the hood of a Cadillac Eldorado or smeared blood on the pages of a Dostoyevsky novel or a field of weeds in Vienna in the summer of 2043.

It’s gone now, and everything goes silent.
A fat, all-consuming silence.
A silence running with pearl-gray light and shadows swift as deer.
The silence of the leaves and the birds and the earth and the dark air and everything – myself too – dressing up in nightfall and forgetting.

The Digital Peepshow

picasso

The Digital Peepshow

We have gone from being a body
dancing in the soft mountain air
of dusk
to being little more than a pair
of eyes,
insatiable and ogling poisonous
doll’s eyes,
lonely, masochistic
animal
eyes.

Our eyes are the eyes of the Argus-eyed
peeping tom
gaping in shadowy
anonymity
at the endless
flow of stale and bloodless
images,
the drifting phantasmagoria,
the eternal climax
of moments,
cheap
reproductions
and misrepresentations
of other people’s lives.

We have reduced our lives
to dull spectatorship,
staring
from a safe distance
at that which can never be tasted or felt,
our sensations
having
been blunted
for the sake of the ocular experience.

We have gone from being
a body
dancing in the mountain fire gleam
to being little more than a pair of eyes,
silent vampire eyes
floating
in the recirculated
dark air of an all-night cinema for one.

 

Bob with Sunshine

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He’d always call before coming into the shop. “Hey, It’s Bob with Sunshine, I need to pick up a 5 of your high gloss sealer, do you have one in stock?”

“We do,” we’d tell him, and a little while later a white van with a decal of the yellow sun on the side of it would tool into the parking lot.

Bob called his business Sunshine, I suspect, because Florida is the Sunshine State. It was just that simple. Bob called himself Bob because it’s less syllables than Robert and syllables take time.

Bob was always in a massive rush.

When he’d come into the shop, he had no time for fuss or wasted words. Words were distractions. The objective was very serious: to get the transaction over with, grab the merchandise (upon which the fate of universe depended) and get out of there as quickly as possible.

Bob was a bottom line kind of guy.

If a thing didn’t serve his bottom line, he had absolutely no use for it.

With him, it was all about reaching the cheese at the end of the maze, and if getting there quicker required chewing through the walls, he’d be the first one coughing up drywall.

We’d do the transaction, he’d grab the can and beeline out of the shop, sometimes while rummaging through the fathoms of his shapeless cargo shorts, grabbing his phone and dialing whoever he was soon to be visiting.

“Yeah, Bob with Sunshine…”

Bob was never in the place that he was, his mind was always either two steps ahead of itself or standing at the finish line with his wallet open. So it was no surprise when he came into the shop one morning with two fingers missing.

He’d apparently been working with a table saw and no time was to be wasted.

Bob sold his handyman business shortly after that and the last I’d heard – this coming from a former employee of his – he’d gotten a job selling quick temporary dentures for a wholesale firm in Boca.

Bob was a customer of mine for five years and I never saw him smile. Whether he did or not didn’t affect his bottom line.

A Poet’s Biography

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Allow me to introduce myself (in the third
person). E. Bob Undermann is a Pushcart Nominee
and celebrated SlamPoet of the in-yer-face variety.
He has been published worldwide
(courtesy of the web), in such places as “The Dryhumping
Chronicles of Larry King,” “The Phonus Balonus Review,”
and is currently a featured poet at the fledgling
blogzine “Angry Ernie & His Quartette of Flabworshiping
Yes-men Take Cleveland.”

Now touring parts Cheboygan
with a licentious troop of Ukrainian squaredancers,
Undermann recently spent four weeks riding the rails,
sitting higgledypiggledy with three bakers’ apprentices
a down-in-the-mouth motivational speaker and a gravedigger
named Slick
Fulwood, the six of them in glad rags listening
to the 70s band Exile before hopping
off in Winnemucca to celebrate the Numerical Hierarchy
of the Dhyāni-Chohan of Various Orders,
the carsalesman therefrom
(who moonlighted as a parrot
astrologist in another life) telling him,
“You have to be qualified to drive a Ferrari.”
“Qualified? I’m paying cash! What do you want a bag of money?”
“Step into my office.”

Dung Press will be publishing Undermann’s first poetry
collection entitled “Pedro Restoreth My Soul.”
Threehundredfortyeight
sonnets & haikus based on cicadas and his recent arrest
and imprisonment for a wedding day
bomb hoax,
this superb work combines classically trained vision
with impassioned restraint. “I really liked the one
about punching
the old lady in the gut,” said Salvatore St. Pierre-Louis,
an Italian-Haitian Mona Vie
salesman living in Upper Saskatchewan.

“And what about the night we handcuffed your uncle
Al to the shower grate and pawned his
antique coin collection?” asked Emile Annus, who plays a bit part
in the rhyming couplet
“Who Cares About That Guy?”

This unique collection is due for an October 2020
release. In the meantime, E. Bob Undermann will be appearing
on/off
(as himself) in bowling alleys, boiler rooms, unsuspecting
food courts
& public parks

with the horniest group of squaredancers
you never saw.