By Kat Rodriguez
Cue song “Apophenia”
A teacher dresses and prepares for the day. She applies her makeup into a transparent pane of glass.
Stage is lit by shadeless lamps. A large classroom-style portable blackboard faces downstage, center. Pieces of fabric hang from walls and ceiling, unevenly spaced.
Song ends. Teacher exits.
Turning blackboard to face class, she lectures:
In an infinite universe
Are all we have rationed
For the human experience.
Hungering for immortality,
We flatten ourselves.
Noxious blue light grates and chafes
Neural pathways until
Neither time nor space
Only points of light
Adorning puckered plastic.
Oh, we dissolve into putrid pointillism
A macabre dance of bits bots bytes
Gyrating to the beat of 01 01 01 01.
We transcend logic
While remaining so small
Entwined in the fine, strong arms of
those finite four lines.
Entranced by the hypnotic hum
Emanating from the voids
Where their hearts would beat
if they had them.
We look into the screen and see gods, but
Beyond the static
Beyond the dull digi-veil
We are mimes,
fragile as an infant’s bones.
We are excited electrons
Within an atomic supermax
Bumping together haphazardly
Cue “Verfremdungseffekt PT I”
She stands to face the blackboard, drawing a long arrow with each color of chalk. Linear movement. Song ends and fades into hum. She speaks, crushing pieces of chalk into powder under her foot.
Since the beginning of time, or
at least since I started counting it
They told me not to forget my umbrella on a rainy day,
lest I come in contact with that which
sustains life, but also ruins silk
and perfectly coiffed hair.
It wasn’t until years later
I started to realize, time,
Is contrived, conceptual—has assigned meaning
Around that time, I also realized
I prefer to lie in the rain with my mouth open
without the fear of hairspray running into it,
and losing my worth down my throat.
Much of my youth was music and meter but,
lately, it’s been difficult to accept
that time is really so mathematical.
Measured by such strictly designated increments.
A minute goes on forever when you’ve got an important call to make,
but have disabled your iphone by entering a wrong password one too many times,
while a minute passes in the blink of an eye when it’s the last minute
you spend in bed with your lover before getting up and facing the day.
Lately, I like to lie in the rain until I dissolve—
until everything that hurts feels small
and silly, like a word you’ve repeated too many times ,
Reminding you that language, like time and money,
has no inherent value,
unlike rain, which was sustaining life
and ruining hair, long before we
decided to name it.
Cue computer noises
Begin spreading powdered chalk over the drawn lines on the chalkboard until they are one entity, no longer discernable from one another. She covers all exposed parts of her body in the powder.
Sing to me,
Sing me something real,
I cannot hear
Beyond this beeping.
I can take no more of
This ringtone requiem.
Open your eyes
Open your eyes
Open your eyes
Seeing power in the fluttering of my eyelids
I exit the womb
And my skin doesn’t feel like home.
Sound effects out; silence and stillness. Pause; then begin:
The wind rustles
Pages of a book
And I wonder if
Is going the way
Of the abacus.
And I wonder if
Perhaps Hell is
And Heaven is made
Out of bits of modeling clay.
The wind rustles
Pages of a book
And I hit my funny bone
So hard I think it may
Never stop laughing
Cue “Codeine” by Luke Elderkin
Turn half of lamps off.
Half of lamps back on
She writes “Scene 2” on Blackboard
She sits on ground amongst the dregs of chalkdust, Her jacket is off and her shoulders are covered in dust.
Cue “Verfremdungseffekt PT II”—distorted somehow, like bent record.
I can see the changes in the mirror
Wider face, thicker brows
Eyes vibrant, no trace of clouds or dust.
I can feel the changes in my body
Slower pulse, steady palms
Heavier gait, lighter heart.
Then you open your mouth, and I am taffy
Twisted and pulled grotesquely through time and space
Until I cannot tell who or when I am
And I am not sure if the last few years actually happened, or if they were just rogue firings of a desperate mind
Sick of all the clouds and dust.
She cuts up a line of powder and insufflates it.
She lays back, addresses the ceiling
Falling fluttering forensic DNA test of light
Floating above the familiar S-curve defining me from space.
Receiving the universe.
No bloody glow of moonlight seeping under my eyelids.
Smelling like stardust
Almost, but not quite.
Cautiously, I peer beyond the uterine threshold
Once again, unable to comprehend the smooth expanses and
Fissured valleys of
My own skin.
SCENE 3 (said out loud to audience):
cue “Black Ops,”
She rises; dancing, she writes “the word of the day is: perspective” on blackboard. She begins to sway and move in a bacchic frenzy with the fabrics. The recordings morph into the hum/computer effects, She spins, then speaks, frantically:
Perched on the fence between two worlds
My mind, split pea soup.
I am Icarus
Time crawls by
Yet, I fear I’ll miss half a lifetime
Should I allow myself to blink.
Worries are superficial
I grasp for reality and pull back a fistful of paint
She is released from trance. Realizing she is still in her classroom, she tries to gain composure and resume her lesson. She cuts down one of the pieces of fabric and begins cutting it more and more into an entirely different piece of cloth (snowflake).
NOTHING has inherent meaning
How quickly words turn to haphazard, meaningless grunts, pops, and clicks with a slight alteration to the lens of perception.
And suddenly there’s this sense of losing everything
A webpage that fails to load
404 error weeps tears of disappointment
And lost potential
Mourns what may have been
Reminding me of how small I am
She puts jacket back on. Reveals snowflake.
Perspective is what distinguishes
One bit of nothing
From another bit of nothing
But in the end
It’s all the same nothing
At least it’s fun to imagine somethings in the nothings
Begins to cut up fabric snowflake
Castles made of sand
Scatters fabric bits
But art cannot be a safe space
Begins hacking down remainder of fabrics
Art is not a safe space
ART IS NOT A FUCKING SAFE SPACE
YOU ARE NOT SAFE
She walks to blackboard and writes, “oh bertolt, u naughty minx”
She turns off all or almost all lamps, then goes to turn on single spotlight over her head.
But maybe just maybe there lies something beyond this eternal stasis this knot in my stomach this transformative tickle my mind is a full barren pit brimming with hot steamy dreamy sexy nothing ready to strike we thrive on emptiness then wonder why our hearts echo what oh what could be worse than this waiting that terrifying ticking itching nothing I’m dying I’m laughing oh god I’m coming I’m drumming I’m dreaming I’m thinking and thinking and thinking things are not always as they seem we’re all mad, remember?
She turns of spotlight, goes back to blackboard, erases it, and writes, “all I am is distance”
On recording, as she gets ready for bed, removing chalk dust (using makeup remover and pads):
Gentle in its nuance
The fallacy of the self devours my
Hours of consciousness
Mock discoveries shroud the eternal illusion in which
I paint myself
Cue “Moment of Bliss by Luke Elderkin”
Caulking every crack I dare not peer through
Childlike, I dip a toe
I taste transcendence
It’s salty, like love
O, do not be fooled by the trembling tendrils
Upon which I stand
For all the love I’ve stuffed
into a thousand tiny boxes in my thoracic cavity
could split an atom
Sometimes, it feels as if
This paradigm shift is more of a Great Implosion
The one that turns gastric acid burps
Into hugs from people who never hugged you enough
And dropped ice cream cones
Into warm blankets, straight out of the dryer
And the whole world will smell like freshly cut grass
And sound like nursery rhymes
Repeated and repeated like a prayer,
Until I can feel the hum of the universe vibrating my ligaments
Until I can feel the grains of sand between my teeth
She picks up bat and shatters chalkboard. Exits.