We are the shadows against the giant chalkboard house.

From a great distance,

we look like this.


he begins the demonstration:

A catalogue of exquisite disappointment,

an irregular heartbeat,

a vague displaced gesture:

all I seem

to gift to you.

I live in a shoebox; I am made of glass.

Born under the sign of the Big Top,

schooled in the oblique,

the logic of misdirection.

We are not one

not two

but three shades

and we appear

as (one)

we are not.

I extend my hand

from below the belt.

Pronouns are self-interested

And often betray

hidden agendas.

I am so lonely

that most of my friendships

are with objects.

A spoon

face down

appears to be a




I cannot see what is right in front of me

because I am too busy



The handkerchief is on fire.

It burns through my pocket in the shape of a coin.

In August

I am too sad to dream.


All of your fiendish charms
your science fiction ways
and into your broken arms
we go
my heart skips
like a needle on a phonograph
or a child with a rope

(end song)

Keep your eyes on the copper coin.

Now read what it says in the palm of your hand.

My phantom limb is responsible for writing this.

If you can follow simple instructions

then you too

are capable

of being deceived.

(tip of a hat)

Confidence always comes to me in ribbons.

And you?

Are you fenestrated?

Feeling aflivver?

Shall we tell you a clerestory?

You must be Lost.

We are The Three Shades at The Door.

Welcome to the cruel edge of a thread.

Your eyes are spiders.

When you comb your hair, they come alive like a split lip.

Provincial machines of tongue and grace, swept bluster and clover sway, like the blanket urge to anthem or the startling curse of tendency, beneath the water heater that sang and spoke and finally choked and spit its teeth onto the floor.

We are The Three Shades.

We have matching coats of asbestos not only to withstand fire but to hide our deformities.

It is the tannin in the peat bogs that preserves the fingerprints of the dead.

It is all we have left to show who we are.

We will tell your story,

but in the first person,

as if it were our own.

I know not the secrets of paper tearers, fire-eaters, the masters of chapeaugraphy.

I only know I cut myself open from lack of sleep.

And the little things inside: a porcelain cup, its rings on the table, the way the coat drapes the back of the chair.

Tharpen hoof and so much wither to unravel.

It all begins with a forkened road.

When a voice enters through a pinhole.

(A primitive mechanism, spectral sounds, and a situation of tension to put all this nonsense into context.)

Keep in mind that variations may reflect changes in blood flow.

We learn to recognize conditions -

to minimize distortions.

Sometimes the inability to make sense of what I see -

perhaps it’s fatigue.

The effects of contrast

often mislead.

(strange croquet with fiendish music):

Vest pocket science, dying ballets, crumpled up anarchists, poisonous palms, blocked serpents and autographed centipedes - colored pictures search for prestige amidst a transparent weeping herd.

Covet the betweens and blessed askance.

Wither the hand of beeswax.

In the interest of seduction
I will learn all the phrases of the moon
I will spell romance to the sparrows
In silhouette dimensions

I will stencil the intricacies of twitch and patter
into my starveling heart
for your scarecrow rhythms
give me pause.

(game ends)

Tiny nooks of estranged fingers and unlit forms emerge, a marvel of mummified articulation -

- a curious processional of curative emancipation and cold-blooded tumescence, while playing cards swingle adrift, in stealth and flutter, caressing the parade below…

Weary hydropods, vigilant aureoles, magnanimous vessels of matchbox and motive; the petroglyphs are becoming aroused, and rise to anticipate.

Mislaid snapshots surreptitiously emerge from squalid pupils and presumptions of tidiness.

An apocryphal jigsaw of magic lanterns and soap bubble sets, optical jokes and ominous demonstrations of haruspication, mesmerism and antipodean prowess.

Unvisit this starlit cathedral, remembered and unstrung.

There is tainted cinnamon in this tin, and I am deeply petrified of the enormous tassel before me.


A coloring book -

with caustic shadows,

numerical secrets,

a wooden spoon,

and forger’s tremor,

the peripheral deliquescence

of scotophilic lipograms;

maternal impressions,

cabinet performances,

and devices of wonder;

hobby horsicality,

murmurs of the sheathed,

and the incalescent flocculate

of medicinal charms.

Deciduous titration

and cobwebbed thigh -

such evoked potential.

How operatic and misspent, this feverishly remote suspension of prolonged and undesirable anti-cinema…

What would you rather?

Strange. Haunted. Oddly passive, lacking desire…

Is there a joke in this?

Hardly. Let’s try.

(screw up faces)

Can punishment improve learning?

That’s for another time.

Here. Touch my lips with this spoon.


Better to forget.

Not everyone has the luxury.

“A hand with a mind of its own.

Or a mind with a hand of its own.”

“You always have a choice,” said the little eclipse.

“Communication is COMPLICATED.
Remember that.”

(spooky action at a distance)

Fossils wager estrangement.

Atmosphere befallen.

Frigorific experiments included the suspended electrified boy and metal shavings which clung to him.


Low slung.



Mephitic air. The iron coffin is too small and fallible.

He never checked the box of when.

How was I to know?

She was the girl in the radio.

She couldn’t eat until after the show, so that she could fit into the radio.

He wants to be a person in the world.

He wants to be human.

If someone asks for something and he can give it, he wants to give.

But when I look to the literal translation:

There was in it more than the necessary when I was I there.

Disfigurement of the imagination.

When sentences take shape.

I am a bleary tangle of husk

Cupping friction.

Do the dead tell us more than the living?

Or do we just apply our imagination to the dead more than the living.

The absence of a snackbar is criminal

And the rows upon rows of sharpened teeth like the city skyline,

Tall and vicious,

just like a city.

Welcome to the below

and all its manifest ephemera

Flustrate & crestfallen

Specious and prehensile.

Stippled and fluvial

Kindled effective

Eterniday into eterniday.

Be still my bleating heart.

This is where ladders begin

Your fugitive spirit and covert speech, your lean cravings and shadow hemispheres, your plasticity, spectral tropes and emotional machinery; such a ferocious web of hair; I smear you with red paint in my mind so as never to forget you.

This ghostly comfort

Edged porcelain devotion

Does the removal of error

Leave (only) truth behind?

Was I so fixated on the count of three, that I missed what occurred on two?

At night we take things.

Small first…

“At the very tip of October
I am down to just pin money
I lack ambition
Still I see the desperate scrawling of stars
at the end of the street
or the edge of a mattress…”

The Three Shades (text/photos/music)  2011 by Katie Griesar
© all rights reserved