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Playing the Changes: Four Stories of Music, Death, and the Unknown

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There are no words for the trauma of death when it strikes unexpectedly. What to say when a mother dies in childbirth? When a father figure contracts an unknown disease for no apparent cause? When a beloved pet, long mourned,

There are no words for the trauma of death when it strikes unexpectedly. What to say when a mother dies in childbirth? When a father figure contracts an unknown disease for no apparent cause? When a beloved pet, long mourned, may still be alive and hidden by estranged family? Generations may pass, and children may grow up, but the pain leaves marks that echo across time and the other borders we construct between our past and present. We may find strength on solitude, or prayer, or the words of a song written by someone else. In these four stories, spanning almost half a century, the marks of death and attempts to soothe or hide them are everywhere. Children on the cusp of adulthood grapple with the lives and the lies of their parents. Musicians examine the relationship of their music to the world. Legends and myths lurk in the shadows, tempting with false hope and rationalizing the unexplainable.
In “Playing the Changes,” we meet two men stranded in a small desert town in 1972, a time when their attraction to each other is still dangerous. Nile Walker is a jazz musician, running from a spurned lover and the law. Benji Garza is a once-devout Catholic, fixing cars and caring for his orphaned nephew, Hector. Walker and Garza’s affair will spin both lives and their heredity into sweeping tragedies that characters battle with lust and melody. Walker has a son he never meets, a drifter who finds connection with another lost soul at an airport in “La Petite Mort.” Hector is forced into early adulthood in “The Words,” when his ailing uncle’s health fails due to a mysterious disease not yet called AIDS. Later Tre—a young man struggling with the weight of his own lineage—meets him in “PHX.” These stories examine questions of death’s causes and its myriad effects, and offer this solution: Knowing that we cannot know everything, and living, loving, and singing anyway.

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Created

Date Created
2016-05

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A brief theory of entanglement

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A Brief Theory of Entanglement examines the philosophical consequences that quantum mechanics has on our lives, our bodies, and our relationships. By framing themselves within the context of "daughter universes”—the theory that each choice on our plane of consciousness spawns

A Brief Theory of Entanglement examines the philosophical consequences that quantum mechanics has on our lives, our bodies, and our relationships. By framing themselves within the context of "daughter universes”—the theory that each choice on our plane of consciousness spawns an alternative universe in which the opposite choice was made—these poems consider pain and the power we choose to give it while imagining a multitude of worlds in which everything—even grief—occurs very differently.

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Created

Date Created
2016

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The only living boy in Omaha

Description

The poems in The Only Living Boy in Omaha tell the story of Simon, who, after his mother dies giving birth to him, is raised on passenger trains by his father, a conductor. Set in the 1940s and '50s, the

The poems in The Only Living Boy in Omaha tell the story of Simon, who, after his mother dies giving birth to him, is raised on passenger trains by his father, a conductor. Set in the 1940s and '50s, the book follows Simon as he travels across the American West, back and forth between California and his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Along the way, Simon gets to know other passengers, falls in love with radio and California's past, befriends an inventor, and discovers the story of his miracle birth. Blending lyric and narrative, history and fable, these poems revisit a time when passenger trains were popular, and explore the unique childhood that took place there.

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Date Created
2012

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Chinatown, Ars poetica, and draft

Description

Chinatown, Ars Poetica, and Draft explores the role of Asian culture on the poem.

It is a study of the draft process in getting closer to this definition of "culture" within

literature.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2015

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Leaning

Description

At its core, Leaning finds profound significance in unlikely moments of intimate

detail; the upkeep of a brother's gravesite, for example, is as quietly important as rummaging through a collection of sex toys. Haiku-like in their simplicity, meditation, and declaration, these poems give meaning to the smallness of our world.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2015

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To name a cat

Description

The poems in To Name a Cat intend to capture certain abstractions—grief, love, betrayal, wonder, relativity, and, of course, expectation—in approachable anecdotes that, when brought together, create a narrative about loss that is, nevertheless, laced with hope. The work often

The poems in To Name a Cat intend to capture certain abstractions—grief, love, betrayal, wonder, relativity, and, of course, expectation—in approachable anecdotes that, when brought together, create a narrative about loss that is, nevertheless, laced with hope. The work often relies on an animal, particularly the cat, as a vehicle to, and arbiter between the abstractions. Animals tend to illicit a certain innocence that is, perhaps, present in humans, but altogether tougher to find. Still, it is a noble errand to search, which is, at its heart, what To Name a Cat strives to do.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2015

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The queen of technicolor

Description

In The Queen of Technicolor, poems draw from the lives of Mexican-Americans as immigrants and their experience of otherness. Facets of a more complex identity—assimilation, language, and a shared human experience—are woven to suggest the need for recognition. The poems

In The Queen of Technicolor, poems draw from the lives of Mexican-Americans as immigrants and their experience of otherness. Facets of a more complex identity—assimilation, language, and a shared human experience—are woven to suggest the need for recognition. The poems are set in the Southwestern United States borderlands as well as Mexico during present day but with a layer of narrative reaching back to the 1940’s and the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016

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Rural thrill

Description

Rural Thrill is a broken fruit, an electric fence, and, at the end, the absence of body. It comes in three sections, with the first laying the foundation for the world in which the collection takes place—a small southern town,

Rural Thrill is a broken fruit, an electric fence, and, at the end, the absence of body. It comes in three sections, with the first laying the foundation for the world in which the collection takes place—a small southern town, where there is obvious economic disparity and the supernatural is easily expected, believed, and in some cases, assumed. The second section focuses more closely on the main speaker of the collection who is growing into her own sexual desires against the backdrop of a murder which has swept through her town, complicating the speaker’s relationship to her body and the way she communicates desire. In the final section of the book, the poems come even closer as they explore the internal landscape of the speaker’s body and the many versions of the speaker that inhabit that place. The internal happenings of the third section of the book, reflect back on the external world mapped out in both the first and second sections. At the end, the energy of the body is all that remains with all boundaries of physicality erased, an example of how the body and mind negotiate safety in the face of risk and desire.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016

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The Book of Mortimer: another testament!

Description

The Book of Mortimer is a satirical account about the rise of a new modern day Mormon woman prophet named Champ. The mother of six—and wife to a very codependent man that can’t be left alone with a comfortable

The Book of Mortimer is a satirical account about the rise of a new modern day Mormon woman prophet named Champ. The mother of six—and wife to a very codependent man that can’t be left alone with a comfortable couch—believes a new testament is buried in a small field conveniently next to her kids’ bus stop. Taking place in a lower class area constructed entirely of beige apartments in Mesa, Arizona, The Book of Mortimer plays on similar themes of the early day Mormon Church and reimagines this American religion if it were discovered in the 21st century. Complete with an elite Home Owner’s Association, a corrupt frozen pizza company, a ten-year old capitalist, a trio of milk purveyors that hold a group of unfortunates hostage in the biggest grocery store in The United States, and an elementary school that is quite possibly run by a Neo-Nazi principal hiding his identity, The Book of Mortimer is an exhaustively entertaining novel, exploring themes of poverty and class, relationships and commitment, and figuring out one’s self-worth in an overwhelming world of persuasion and guilt.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2016

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The cries of la corrida: poems

Description

The Cries of La Corrida is a longing for homeland. These poems, written in a blend of English and Castilian, are about an American discovering a hidden self, what it means to be Spanish having only experienced that part of

The Cries of La Corrida is a longing for homeland. These poems, written in a blend of English and Castilian, are about an American discovering a hidden self, what it means to be Spanish having only experienced that part of his heritage in glimpses. Comprised of three parts, The Cries of La Corrida mirrors the three stages of la corrida, the Spanish bullfight, each part exploring different aspects of self as culture, place, and language. These poems visit Andalucía in the south, País Vasco in the north, and Spain’s capital, Madrid, in the center, in a journey of self-discovery and in search of belonging, family, and home.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2017