Washingtonian: Spontaneous Hypernarrative| filed under: collaborative fiction, collaborative writing, writing, hypernarrative, hyperfiction
A collaborative spontaneous hypernarrative I catalyzed back in 1997.
Item 12 07-JAN-97 19:07 Chris Abraham
this is a collaborative space. a place to write along with us. to use words
in concert with others here. safely. honestly. with anything that moves you.
you may write along with me or write whatever your heart desires, whatever
you desire. tangent; in-line; fiction; nonfiction; empassioned; reserved.
This is a place to collaborate, named "washingtonian."
12:1) Chris Abraham 07-JAN-97 19:09
her hair curls more during humid days. she leaves her hair down on these
days. there is always a rope of curls in her eyes. down to her chin.
sometimes she takes a blond end into her mouth. when she thinks. she begins
to put her hair back with a silver metal barrette but she isn't because she
loves the way her hair moves today. tomorrow it may be back in a ponytail, but
not today as we wait for the blue line train to take us from capitol hill
south to dupont. her hair stays down even after the transfer. the ceiling,
honeycomb arches, painted nicely in only some stations. for the pleasure of
the policy makers. for the concrete arches turn dark with age. grimy. the
formed rock takes the soot from long days and rubs it deep. the pale grey
paint is ghoulish. unnatural like whitewashed brick or brownstone. an
afterthought. bad design. Impossible to sand blast or scrub.
i sit with her waiting for the train. after coffee. lattes.
(she sits with her leg folded under her. or a knee pulled tight into her
chest. her limbs are slender, she takes up no room at all. but once, years
ago, i thought she was quite tall. when she walks her back is straight, her
back arched. she bounds in spite of heavy oxfords and rugged jeans. rough
fabric like husk protecting tender flesh. her lips have natural color
contrasting with her smooth pale skin. i noticed these things years before.
old news except for the navel ring. that is new news. leather jacket. an
easy of movement. wire rimmed glasses.)
the metro came after a short while. it passed us as we sat, my legs sprawled,
knees apart; she sitting with legs under her. we stood and watched as the
short train, only several cars, pulled way past us and we needed to walk a long
it made my hung mind clearer to spend time with her. to spend time outside on
a winter day of 65 degrees. warm in jeans and a button down. walking under
balmy skies. through eastern market. my head is throbbing. my throat is
tight and i want to vomit and never smoke, never drink again. purge the toxins
from my soul. from my body.
i chatted with a lovely lady today.
12:2) Netiva Caftori 07-JAN-97 23:43
When I come here, I forget the harshness of the day, the tension, the
deadlines, the fatigue. I feel like in a swimming pool, a different world.
This white screen, nothing to it, is enveloping me, like the water in the pool.
I come out for air, periodically, to hear the noise of the world around, and
then back down into the silence. I am alone in my white pool, and yet not...
12:3) Chris Abraham 08-JAN-97 1:16
there is an urban state of mind. more in common with each others, these
cities. chicago, new york, washington. no different these cities from paris
or london; rome or berlin. san francisco and toronto, the same. even saint
petersburg shares a metro with singapore. and in the metro we wait together
for the train to come to rest, opening the stainless doors. like in any
city, cleaner than most.
sitting before the screen later, i will smell the dank air, see the sprung
third rail. wait until the lamps at my feet flash in unison.
i notice her glasses. gold wire rimmed spectacles with a medium prescription.
at the end of her powerful nose. blue eyes hidden behind. and she is sad
often these days. sad for days before. like me, never having gotten over
still sipping coffee from a big plastic mug from au bon pain. steamy java
in the grad class. professor winston napier. african american literary
theory. sitting, fingering the xerox baraka, the xerox bam, the thick copies
of out of print afrotext and the buzz buzz buzz of the blues men, the jazz funk
earthy cool, sitting with the big boys, the intelligencia, the ebony tower.
sitting there sipping a 40 of french roast and watching the leaves fall
12:4) Chris Abraham 08-JAN-97 23:53
on new years even new yorkers use the subway for free. most trains run all
night. its easy to jump the gates and ride for free (not as easy as it is in
germany, but lets stay local). the metro closes close to midnight. it leads
to a high incidence of death from drunk driving. we'll spend a lot of money on
dinner and wine, even drugs and coffee, but we will not take a taxi unless it
between capital hill and 19th and F. Or lunchtime downtown, making sure to
only cover one zone. But we always take the car. never the taxi, we are not
new yorkers we do not take public transit easily. we would never want to
take the bus. we would rather walk, but we prefer to drive.
so we die in our honda accords. in our f-150s. in our jeep cherokees.
so the metro is clean, so the metro is safe, so the metro is affordable and
efficient. but its not conducive to keeping people out of cars after having
been drinking. people drink to excess here. binge. either late night at
the bars or after work for happy hour, mooching free eats from the buffet and
eyeing the waifish group of women with their blunt cuts and blue suits, silk
blouses. never ever talking to the men of washington.
my friend told me tht the favorite pick up line of one of his friends is,
hello I am a doctor at gw; the other says i am a upenn lawyer working on the
in impnentrable huddle of waifs who then publish personals at the end of the
city paper. there are no good men in dc, there are no good men in dc, there
are no good men in dc. either married or gay. buzz off loser buzz off
loser, but there are no guys in dc! do you know what the ratio of women to men
is in dc? 300:1! no really.
so here you are on another friday night, eyeing the impenetrable waifish
circling wagons, and getting drunk, talking incessantly about college and
wondering whether to respond to one of the desperate personals in the city
paper, whether to dial the 900 number.
or to place your own. or to move to san francisco. where the women are
friendly. or to europe where you at least have an interesting accent and
your past is yours and you may lie freely.
so you drink, drive, avoid the closed metro, can't afford a cab. so you get
into the eurocar and drive hell over anywhere trying to get home without
setting off the airbag, again.
12:5) Ginger Breggin 09-JAN-97 10:16
Home......that soft place in the heart, the place where there are clean,
aged cotton sheets, and enough warmth even when the wind wipes snow devils
and branches crack and fall outside. The place where arms enfold you as
shelties dance, barking at your feet....but you cannot get there by the
Metro....home lies in the heartland, that mythic place where a cop's biggest
worry is still a traffic accident, where bodies don't show up in alleys,
where the people stay put in August--harvesting, you know--and have festivals
with pork roasts and health tents and little rides for little children and
their parents dress up like they are still children, too....Home....where you
walk down the street and everyone looks you in the eye, saying "good
morning"....and, "aren't you the Ross's child....and your sixth grade teacher
still lives in a little victorian with scrolled trim in the gables, looked
after now by her daughter, down the street....home, where the forks of the
Wabash lie just out of the to
12:6) Sheila Lendman 09-JAN-97 12:05
They were two unlikely lovers waiting for the orange line. She an
overweight kinda pretty young woman and he from India thin and plain. You
could not take your eyes away from them. Soemthing about her. She was
coquaish, flightly, gay, touching him here and there lightly with gayful
laughter warm and sweet charming and sedutive and pleasing. Yet, she would
be a non person someone who does not exist for you if it was not for him.
He, could not take his eyes off her and you too fell under this spell of a
momentary universe were a lover reveals to you Joy that will leave you
cruelly and heartlessly but oh how sweet that momeent.
You both get off at the same time. She merrily slowly running
to the turn style and he following behind her like a contented puppy.
For some life is so sane , you think-- home, husband, children. For you
it is a the darkest of mysteries . Maybe thats why you love the subway so
much. Everyone there looks and feels like you to you with an occasional
respit into momentary delights and then back again to a world that is
waitng for you.
12:7) Chris Abraham 09-JAN-97 14:44
the couple. the couple is a rhyme. a couplet. a thing that touches the
palette with the tongue. and in verse, the couple has an apartment in the
village. never is the artful couple in washington. never are they
washingtonians. never. lovers yes, but maybe not the couplet of
contemporary writing. and why not? flowers are not at the ready, cafes are
not bursting onto the pavement. bakeries don't hold up the corners of heavy
brownstones. no piazzas, no place like bastille. just movies or second run
theatre. but loneliness breeds contempt. very sad. the broad avenues, the
block parties, adams morgan day, promenades along the potomac, olde towne, even
watching the jumbo jets touch softly down from the lawn, a bottle of wine, some
cheese, better than manhattan.
we met at a fundraising party. to save the rain forest. she watched me
smoke. she watched me dance with the boys. she watched me touch their sides
and smile. watched my orange silk oriental tie flap with my dance. she wore a
bright tight skirt. that's all i remember of that that night. a pale blue
pattern. she was petite, below my horizon.
finally we met, without my being a doctor or lawyer. arranged to meet the
next day at the smithsonian metro. the metro. a place, truly, for romance.
A tradition began that day of purple irises, of kissing whenever on the
escalator, of always touching as though diving through caverns of zero
visibility. to stray, to lose touch, we would be pulled apart and drowned.
12:8) Ginger Breggin 10-JAN-97 5:08
12:9) Nicole Sandelin 11-JAN-97 1:21
Together we journeyed through life. Experiencing each new thing as though
it was our last. And every old thing was made new when experienced
together. Living in the city, yet never a part of the city we journeyed to
places undiscovered. Picnics on a blanket in our apartment in the winter,
pretending it was summer with fresh flowers and lemonade, strolling through the
park hand in hand eating ice cream, savoring each moment, savoring each other.
The city was ours to experience, to enjoy. Each light took on new meaning as
we walked under it hand in hand. The glass glowed and the tress waved for us
and us alone. The thousands of people, dissapeared, like ants underground.
They were no more. It was just us, in our city of lights and buildings,
subways and planes. Strolling hand in hand through the park, on the walkway,
through the puddles, over the ice, strolling hand in hand through our city, our
12:10) Ginger Breggin 11-JAN-97 10:37
Four AM was the best time....the magic time when everyone slept....when the
streets became deserted canyons of some mythic, long deserted place....pools of
golden light beckoning through the branches of naked tree limbs.....the
silence! Who ever imagined a city could lie so still....and below, under our
feet, the Metro slept, too, like a great anacondra gathering its strength for
tomorrow's morning meal...
12:11) Diana Wright 11-JAN-97 11:32
Only now can I began to reflect on that simple fact.
For that day had been one of those days that, when retrieved in later memory
in times of great grief--and grief did follow, as it inexplicably must in human
experience--seemed composed all of shimmering gold and purple which wove
together an incomparably radiant fabric which seemed to stretch before us
offering endless promises of joy.
But we had forgotten the sleeping anacondra. Or, rather, I had forgotten.
This is not now the place to relate my long employment with the metropolitan
subway system, and the numberous incidents which made me first suspect that
these brilliant constructions of human ingenuity and contractual artifice
harbored something larger, something more voracious and more deadly than the
native bureaucrat and its parasites.
For the subway system only offered an easy web by which the anacondra could
travel through the city during those hours when the trains were at rest. The
homeless who slept at metro entrances were his easy prey, and who in this
city would miss a few of them--these filthy, deranged, urine- soaked
caricatures? Their absence was only a relief, and there was always an
explanation to suffice. This information, then, about the anacondra, was
never given to the press, and those few of us who understood the truth swore
among ourselves never to reveal what we had known.
But since that gold and purple fabric was rent apart--a rent infinitely more
violent and irreparable than the run my torn fingernail made in her
stockings--as she whispered to me, laughing and uncaring, her sixty-dollar
stockings--I find I must tell you now keeping me company what happened.
12:12) Sheila Lendman 11-JAN-97 13:57
Things began to change between us She was turning into a cash register.
"Do you know that was the last pair of Willford's I had and you had to run
them" I want you to give me $60 for a new pair she said matter of factly
"and my Guccci skirt by that fab new
designer cost me $850 and I wantyou to buy me a new one.
When you tore my Willfords you also stepped on my Mano Blanik's and ruined
them. I want another pair.
Oh my God those shoes are $460. . she wants me to buy here a Hermes scarf
and bag for her birthday.
I love her and will do whatever it takes Nothing is
too good for the woman I love.
12:13) Chris Abraham 11-JAN-97 13:58
kundalini. serpent. writhing. tracks like spine;
third rail kundalini. energy. electricity. thick
rubber soles grounding out lovemaking. without
touch. sitting there on the way to eastern
market. we never touch, although we had long ago
and that memory is something we never touch
together. can't or shouldn't, it doesn't much
matter, they are the same, effectively.
but i was told that the eyes touch. the eyes may
touch indescretely. deeper than the tracing
finger. than the lips. and it is with my eyes
that i enjoy her enjoyment. we walk together in
the unseasonal warmth of december. in heavy
boots, heavy jeans, but thin tops, feeling
sunlight on the blond hairs of the forearm.
picking up used soft covers. flipping through
them. walking together past shelves of incense.
incensed. neither incensed nor aroused, just
marvelling at the sad beautiful vitality next to
me. fragile, strangely, under that
"what is it we're looking for?" she asks me
finally? "nothing, just a coffee shop," i quipped,
"roasters calls me."
we stopped for my espresso. take away.
again, walking along the crowded market, full of
vendors with paintings of thick acrylic dogs,
walls of vibrant photographs, tables of west
african carvings: for fertility, for prayer --
phalluses and women with grand bellies, round
bosoms. We turn into the foods market. beef,
tongue, gizzards, brains, long strung sausage like
the snake, like the serpent, the energy coursing
up and down my spine, sometimes shot out through
my forehead, granting me the lucidity of the
12:14) Netiva Caftori 11-JAN-97 15:30
12:15) Chris Abraham 11-JAN-97 21:14
she cried when the energy of the serpent of energy arched and hunched along
her body. she began to weep from the way her body heaved. the way she felt
catharsis. felt her brain and body blend, felt her mind for what it is: an
extention, a blend, a universe. trascendence is a word we use, too often
because it fits inexactly.
12:16) Sheila Lendman 11-JAN-97 21:39
He is getting weirder and weirder, she was noticing. HE's beginning to
worship snakes and when they make love he goes through these weird
contortions and and calls it kundasomething. But it sure feels good and
their lovemaking is so fabulous it make the hair on her arms stand right
up which has never happened to her before. But, she's glad she has her
work because his weirdness is creepy. At work there are sane people .
People who are normal. People she can understand. She feels free at work.
Free from his moodyness and his always thinking about how everything
affects him and how he feels about every tiny little thing He is always
examining his feelings. She feels bored by him but knows that men are
like marshmellows ---delicious if you know how to do them right. And
she knows as she smiles at herself confidently. But, now to more
imprortant things then this frivality. Ther is the matter of the subway
12:17) Chris Abraham 11-JAN-97 22:55
men sit or stand in sihouette against the steam vented from underground. a
makeshift leanto of cardboard. a shopping cart nearby. at virginia avenue
near gw. steam, coming from the metro, or is it from the government's
infrastructure? but it keeps men warm on days like this, sub freeze.
huddled there. breathing the anaconda's stink. the wretched ingestion of
commuters, daily, weekly. the digestive juice simmers, reaches a jogging
boil and the men above stretch out on an inflatable mat. keeping an eye out
sometimes. downing a 40 before its taken. roy rogers closes at three on the
weekend, then back to the steam grates until the morning comes. and even then,
no relief from the cold.
12:18) Ginger Breggin 12-JAN-97 13:36
Unless the anacondra comes and takes you. Then you receive the rest of the
dead, and it might be a relief, you think, looking at the cracked skin on
your fingers and feeling the bit of the cold for so long your face grows
numb....You, one of the untouchables, have heard the rumors....."They'd care,
if he snatched a working man," your brothers in exhile mutter...."but this
way--well, it's just street-cleaning to them.....Rest has beocme more
fleeting for you all, the hidden legions of the abandoned....as awareness grows
that the stalkings all occur after the Metro shuts down, at midnight....one
brave ex-marine even tries talking to a cop. But is told to sober up, and move
along. It seems no one will listen.
12:19) Chris Abraham 13-JAN-97 1:40
urban myth states that there are tunnels under the ground, under cities,
just below the metrpolitan. peopled. living. under paris, maybe under new
york. probably london too. an underground. maybe interlacing the entire
globe. a cold blood coursing along just under the scales. winter make the
beasts in our hearts and underground sluggish. we fear the winter but the
winter is gentle for we share the warm blood, red and steaming from our pores.
i pore over the maps i carry in my courier bag.
i don't see her any more. i think she only knew me for the lovemaking and the
rest was lost on her. my talks of snakes, of energy, of the coiled double
helix pythons around the spine. pressing cold dry tongues to sniff the air
to sniff for movement whether lying breathing softly under thin sheets next
to my heavy body, hot and uncomfortable or tightly knit feeling her body
vibrate like a song bird held unintentionally too tightly.
so she sees me no more. i would not tolerate her movements to me only at
night when the reptile becomes weak from cold moving at 1/3 speed and their
reactions and their whole world move like this so the night lasts much longer
than the day them which is why the great anaconda (of urban mythos?) feels
starved come morn. mourn all for the day comes soon and she is not here with
me, not to caress in the morning or to wake with the pressure of the milk
steaming in my small kitchen.
the pressure will alway release ultimately. that is how nature serves
itself -- by normalising imabalance.
the man i pass as i walk through the city along lies so still on the foam core
propped on the vent. the stink from below warms me to excitement but reeks and
repels. i pull the scarf up around my nose this severe morning, a precurson to
dawn, and smell her on the fabric and recognise it as hers.
a walk until the crunching of the permafrost matting the mall becomes my
silence. and then i turn towards her home, the brown stone facade where she is
alone or not, why should she be alone? i stuff the scarf into the mailslot,
thinking of the metro with its forked tongue.
12:20) Netiva Caftori 13-JAN-97 18:45
She makes me laugh, I'm grateful, that woman named Sheila, amidst all this
prose, thank you. They make me ponder, with their beautiful images of the ugly
12:21) Ginger Breggin 13-JAN-97 22:56
Footsteps proceed her as she trips down the stairs, then stops dead as she
"It's you! I told you never to come here again!" Turning she runs up the
stairwell. Trailing a light scent.
12:22) Chris Abraham 14-JAN-97 0:07
"you're up early," i say, wondering what she is doing, up before day. a
slim man in black with short-cropped hair squeezes out of the door and passes
her, slapping her playfully on the terrycloth robed buttocks. The tongue of a
serpant is tattoed up his neck, lying its left fork at his right lobe. his
skin is brown, sweaty or wet from a shower. his black shirt is open at the
neck. the leather of his jacket squeeks in the cold morning air. the keys
in his hand jangle, stirring the morning. he turns around and looks at me
then her, she smiles.
He crawls into the black sportscar and rumbles off. she closes the door and
the sun peeks over the building.
The entire world is covered by black ice, this morning. I can't help seeing
that boy wrapped around a stiff pole, the german steel crushed and the turbo
whining as the fluids melt the surface of the pavement.
12:23) Netiva Caftori 14-JAN-97 22:59
Left alone on the stairs I wonder if I should follow her or go my way... I
have so many things on my mind... I don't want to deal with her just now.
And the day is so beautiful...
12:24) Chris Abraham 14-JAN-97 23:56
The sun is much more sublime than my love for her ever was
12:25) Netiva Caftori 17-JAN-97 22:47
So I walk out...The sun light is swamping me. I'm blinded. I forget
where I am, where I want to go, where I came from. I'm just alone in
this beatiful aura. I take a deep breath of air. It smells like summer.
At least I know the season... Summers always remind me of my native
land, no matter where I am... So I glide back in time to my childhood,
the happy times of summer. I want to stop time now. Keep it still. Stop
the sun from moving. And I can. It's in my power to extend this one
short moment to last a life time.
12:26) chris abraham 31-JAN-97 14:53
i never understood her very well. we began life as friends. lovers
once. never worked. i am not her kind of man. i am not her type
although sometimes she is mine. she isn't right now. i am not there for
her and she is rarely there for me. when we walk together we touch.
when we greet we touch as well. sometime pressing together our lips for
two seconds, no more. and then my mind entertains itself with potentials
that shall never come to pass.
12:27) Netiva Caftori 31-JAN-97 15:48
It's a shiver. You have it or you don't.