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EXCERPTS FROM COOPERSTOWN, ND by Tyler Dillow

I wash my hands, then my face.

He carries me in a bag. A brown paper sack, rough and unevenly cut around the edges. It’s dark. He takes me out of the bag and hangs me, right above his headboard.

Coffee boils on the stovetop. Snow falls outside as seen through a window. Music plays as heard through ears. Bodies touch hands; hands touch bodies. Altogether naked. Altogether, a mug sits on the corner of a table as held by gravity. All held down by the feet of a person. On the floor, linoleum; on the linoleum, dust. Outside wet, outside ice. Outside, a certain amount of snowflakes reached human lungs. When inhaling, hold your breath. Colonial abstraction. There you are, German Shepard on a leash. There you are. Ready for attack; ready to oppress. More willing to oppress, than any other feeling you’ve ever had. You say, you didn’t know you had it, but you did. Still do. Every time you don’t look or more so look. A gun on your hip following the pattern of the generation before you. You are still very much them. We know, you watched Selma. You wanted it to win best picture. You even rooted for MLK. Ignoring the facts. Ignoring the fact, you were responsible for the ending.

Ten people died in an apartment fire.

My friend kissed the ground in appreciation of earth. The dirt isn’t soft. The opposite of the silk robe laying over his recliner. My friend—say his name is Mark—lives alone. Mark wants to dig up the bones of fossilized animals or fossilized people. It’s his first time outside in three months. Mark pays this kid to bring him his groceries, but he wants to dig through the crust of the earth. Mark found an arrowhead near the river, when he was fourteen. Ever since, he thinks, he’s Indiana Jones. Mark owns a leather satchel. Mark owns a dark brown hat. Mark ordered a bull whip, a few weeks ago, and it just came in. The arrowhead stays in his front-shirt pocket.

He stirs up goosebumps on my neck. The suns rising. It shines through my curtains. Cillian sits. Half his face is, ideally, covered by shadows like a Bacon painting. He is all obtuse and sexual. Blood red stains into yellow into purple into lavender. Him into me. Windows into walls into bathrooms.

About five miles outside of town, Ronald Reagan built a missile silo. Fuck North Dakota, he said.

A man walks out of a shop carrying a framed Magritte painting. A bad print in a bag.

An old Pontiac is parked across the street. Today is sun. A movie plays on the television—Hiroshima—low and inaudible dialogue can be heard. This movie always plays; we always watch. Air mixes with the blemishes on your skin. Listen to this, a novel sentence, too long sticking and stuck to the roof of your mouth. Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Hiroshima—the tipping slow release of a snail shell. Water drips out of the faucets, the movie plays. We watch.

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