Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 4
Summer, 2011

Featured painting, Steakhouse Grand Opening, by Daniel Dove.

Featured Excerpt & Review

Yarrow Paisley

Memoir of a Mouth

Chapter 1
Why I Weep

My corruption began in a bead of truth I found cradled in the crack between two slabs. The bead was of the color red. The bead shared its shape with the sphere. The bead was smooth as the placid glass of an old man's eye. I called the bead "Beauty," after her whom I have always sought. I believed the bead would lead me to her. I therefore gave myself into its leading.
I shed my morality, then. I sank my teeth in flesh. I washed my face with blood. I attended the symphony of screams; I congratulated its conductor, admiring his work and plotting his murder.
I entered Hell, on my knees. I prayed, saying, "You dropped the bead, O Lord, and I picked it up because I was the innocent boy you made me. And I've been made corrupted, I've gone mad with what you left me to find—because I am the foolish boy you made me. I am now mad, and evil, and emptied of all joy.
"I pray thee, Lord, shall I leave the bead here, in the keeping of demons, shall I dispossess myself of Beauty—then please to return me to what I was before my corruption began."
I dropped the bead into Hell's gully. I reentered this world, and in answer to my prayer, I am still corrupted.
Only, now, for my pains, I am without the bead.
Shall Beauty stand before me, I will not know her. And you wonder why I weep!

Chapter 2

My father told me, "Your body's flesh is the flame of your spirit's longing. Fire's way is to travel until it meets water. Therefore must you travel till you meet your destiny of water: she will be a beautiful one!"
My mother told me, "Your body's flesh is the dew of your spirit's discontent. Dew's way is to lie still upon the leaves until the sun's rising. Therefore must you lie still till you meet your destiny of morning: she will be a beautiful one!"
And I've spent my time in the world striving toward both flame and dew. Though my parents have gone to their graves, yet their advice has lived within me, and has guided the actions of my will.
I've traveled everywhere, and everywhere, I've lain still.
And soon, perhaps, I'll go mad.
Or, perhaps, I'll set the seas to burning.
All the same, she'll not be beautiful. I've traveled for longing, and lain still for discontent; and destiny has given me only greater longing and further discontent.
She'll not be beautiful, no: her face will be a skull.
Mad, perhaps, I'll set the seas to burning.

Chapter 3

I was in the city, then. A girl's beauty enthralled me. There was a diamond in the center of her. Should it ever be uncovered to our vision, we'd all burn endlessly in its shining. I concluded, "At all costs, my mission shall be to uncover the diamond. It shall be my mission to reveal the diamond into my own hand."
I pursued her till she feared me. I pursued her till she set her brothers against me. They could not defend her from the likes of me, who commanded fires with my fingers, and shook the earth under the laughter of my feet.
I pursued her till the world went quiet with its watching. The planet became still. The sky became red. The weather receded into space. The millions of the earth ceded liveliness to disease. And I pursued her till she went mad, and knew not even herself, much less reason to fear me.
I peeled her to the bone, and revealed utterly to my eye the diamond in the center of her. My eye burned and wept its own flesh till there was only the empty socket of my skull to remember it.
Blinded, I traveled from the city to this countryside of darkness. Here, I keep the diamond always in my hand. I cannot see the diamond, but holding it, I am reminded of the beauty I have lusted after all my life.

Chapter 4

I sat with the roots; their tree shaded me. The grasses said, "Take thee from sitting.
"Take thee to singing!
"Be no more these jumbled bones.
"Become the world's sweetest tones!" O, who could obey the injunction? And worse, who could not? I begged advice of the roots; as always, they stayed silent. The grasses spoke no more. As alone as I was before, I was now. Everything around me was the same.
The sky was red, red as the tears weeping from my eyes. Yes, that was me writhing in the roots; I, myself, could hardly believe it. It began to rain. I became muddy. My movements ceased awhile, but soon—acclimated to the new, unclean condition of its flesh—my body commenced once more to writhing, yet more vigorously, and more defiantly of the grasses, which observed without passion.
I battered at the roots; I stripped them bare; I bit them with my teeth; I tore them with my fingernails.
I battered at my own body. I strove against my bones. I scooped of my flesh, as of water from a well.
The sky was red, red as my body weeping from my wounds. Yes, that was me exhausted in the roots. That was me, still, shaded by the tree. And the grasses said,
"You've done enough!
"You're much too rough.
"But lay thee there!
"We just don't care." O, and the ecstasy!
The rain began again, torrented over me. The grasses bowed, bent, and finally broke beneath the onslaught of too many waters. They washed away, and the peaceful night came on. More alone than I was before, I was now.
Everything around me was beautiful.


Yarrow Paisley lives in Western Massachusetts, 3rd Floor.