CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
from Breakdown Cover
Ted Mathys




The Marbles

In all philosophies of consequence a small glass marble is hosted by a vast glass sphere. The enormity of the circumference of the sphere lends its curved surface a seeming flatness, the marble upon it poised and still. Stillness will never suffice for a host; the sphere begins to spin. A point of touch is a point of reversal. The marble, in smallness, rolls backward faster to stay in place, a planetary gear. Rolls back past use to its constitution as glass, past its glass to a vial, light bulb, window. Rolls back through float glass, gem-cutter, conquest. To a furnace, to a blower, to rotational motion at the end of the molten spin. Rolls through heat treatment, transition temperature, an arguable phase. Through liquid, near solid, wine glass, torture instrument, vase. Rolls back to a smear of blood on crystalline silica at the edge of the water. Phoenicians in rows, the docked ship swaying. Nitrum melting in fire beneath pots, their accident a river of futurity flowing from sand.


Hot Potato with the Nod

Music. From a box of solid hickory a slow nod is produced and placed upon a girl’s shoulders. Her head tilts slightly forward in agreement. Music. She tosses the nod at her father, which drops the man’s eyes and neck. Music. The father volleys the nod to his grandfather, inveterate gambler, fisherman, fop. It lands as an incline to the upper torso. Music. The fisherman lobs the inclination toward elders pottering about the commons. Women and men bob up and down at the waist in deference to each other like wooden pecking hens. Music. The eldest straightens and hurls the bowing gesture at her ancestor, a parishioner, who is knocked to his hands and knees before an altar in reverence. Music. The parishioner shoves the bow toward the congregation. The music stops. Hundreds of believers lie face-flat on the floor.


Jack in the Box

A large cardboard bin brims with small cardboard boxes, blocks an exit. Most motels are mostly air. What keeps what within? Go for a dip. An hour later entrapment is found broken down, bound in twine beside the ice machine. Like a bulging cardboard folio. Or a prisoner. Chaise after chaise and strips of plastic to elevate wet bodies. It’s not the prison bars, it’s the space between them. The neat choir of backlit bottles in the bar are mostly air. So is snow. One wall, set in the desert, without the agreement of a second partition to lean on, will always, of its own accord, fall.


Headlight

The berm glows and unglows to its own hazardous heartbeat. Tensile concentration snaps and the high beam retracts its commitment to what sits ahead. Wave recalling particle, beam recanting wave, bulb swallowing beam, system swallowing bulb. High intensity discharge system regresses into a previous incarnation, halogen lumens draw back into the development of lens over filter and filament, regress into foglamp, into a dimmer pedal operated by a calloused foot, decouple from the electrical ignition system, draw down into acetylene flame burning above the bumper as the inventor draws in his formal black frock, moves toward the crowd and unveils, “Gentlemen, a new fire resistant to wind and rain.”


The Accident Reveals the Substance

The earth expressed itself in trees. A man was the expression of parents, sex, and genes. In rings, in taproots, in fork of branch and slit of leaf, the tree defied the pull of the earth, expressed itself against itself, outward in opposite directions. Out from the shadows of the forest, the man forced portions of earth to express their summer temperaments as corn and beans. To defy the authority of gravity, he then sent architecture into the sky. The tree persisted in its bald desire until contained within it was the tree-on-fire. To express the excellent velocity of his hands, rapidly the man saturated the earth with faster and faster inventions. Persisted in his desire until contained within the car was a pile-up in the river of merging traffic. Derailment latent in every train, collision and collapse in every girder and airplane. To achieve pure speed and the illusion of freedom, the man then developed television. Others tuned in to watch trees burn. The accident became the condition.