Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Category: Writing

Reckoning 3, Out Now

I would be remiss not to mention that the third (amazing) issue of Reckoning, which we’ve worked all year on, is out now. You can see the cover below, made by Stylo Starr, and if you click on it or the link below you’ll be whisked away to a page where you can buy the ebook for a mere 7 American dollars. Come read about extinct animals and endangered justice.

Fall, 2018.11.29

Did you fall out of want?
It is not a big deal:
we all feel what we feel.
We don’t touch what we can’t.

Did you fall, out of want?
Did you reel your self in —
is that touch, may I skin?
Do you blink, do you daunt?

Did you fall out of want?
Are you house in the night
that has glass with no light
which has shape of the face
but it’s shift and no trace
from its in. Did you fall
and if so are you stall?
Are you stay, are you haunt?

I am close I am taunt.
Are you fall, are you far?
I am sky and I’m star;
did you fall out of want?


I caught myself wondering how loud a necromantic ritual was, on average, and if any of Hara’s neighbours would complain, and if they would complain would they interrupt the ritual and spend the magic objects she had carefully circled on the linoleum. I imagined, too, the outline of a pentagram. Shook my head; returned to the task at hand. Shut up and tried to harbour no intentions in my hands.

“It is important,” Hara had said, me being too in love with her to have said no to this, which was a large part of why she would never be in a relationship with someone like me, “that you hold the candle like this and don’t twitch too much when the wax runs down your hands, okay?”

“Okay.” We had practiced all day. It wasn’t hard but we only had one chance, so she had dripped wax onto my hands and peeled it off a hundred times. I had accepted the kind of person I was and what prospects I had, but it still stung. I learnt to not yelp, lost myself practising an argument with her in my head, tried to chart all the possible ways that conversation could lead to her tearing down my reasons and exposing the futile affection underneath. I was just having that argument with myself, though, I knew enough to know that whatever she said it would be uncharted waters because loving somebody doesn’t mean you know their mind. Not like that.

While she read, the symbols faded from the page. On the floor was something she loved about him: a pair of tickets to some concert he’d invited her to when they were getting to know each other. On the floor was something she hated about him: a t-shirt with an offensive slogan. She’d said his Epipen would be too obvious. I imagined the t-shirt to define him, of course, but he was just a person with a few blind spots, just like me. I was territorial about my blind spots. I was doing this for my friend. I held the candle steady. On the floor was something he’d written: an old homework sheet. On the floor was something he’d been but no longer was: a volleyball trophy. On the floor was a tooth Hara had outrageously stolen from the open casket, bringing a small hammer and having to fish it out from his mouth because of gravity. Pursed his lips again.

Her spellbook was blank pages up until somewhere near the end of the book, where intricate patterns were laid out and Latin mixed with neologisms. A spell works like this: the ink lifts off the page as you read it out loud with intention and if you fuck it up something happens but not what you intended. “You know it always fucks up anyway?” I had said, picking a fork in the road and shaking my head at myself without moving.

She had been peeling wax off my reddened hands and she had stopped what she was doing to look me in the eye.

“I mean, he’ll come back changed. He won’t be the same person he was before the –” I hadn’t known what noun phrase I was going for. I would have liked something gruesome and lugubrious without revelling in his death.

“So what? You’re not the same person you were when I met you. I’m not the same person falling asleep as I am waking up.” There had been heat in her voice, enough to melt wax. “Don’t you know that this, this whole ordeal, has irrevocably changed me too? It’s only fair.”

I had, of course, merely bit my tongue. I imagined my whole body to be like a tongue, but I forced it to be still while I held the candle.

I watched my friend speak with intention. She spoke so low only those who listened with intention would hear.

Love Song/Weathervane

You kissed me. Bad aim.
Kissed me quite insane.
I won’t be the same.

I know how your fame
Tastes now, and your pain:
You kissed me. Bad aim.

She told me you came
Down like monsoon rain:
“I won’t be the same,”

Play your stupid game,
Crooked little vein.
You kissed me. Bad aim.

So now you’ll be tame?
So now you’ll refrain?
“I won’t be the same”?

So whose goddamn name
Shall I take in vain?
You kissed me. Bad aim.
I won’t be the same.

Not Arthur

In the forest of reckless adventure a stone
with a sword sticking out stands surrounded by bone.
     Through the foliage, at night
     comes an unbridled knight
who gloats; throws himself over the blade; dies alone.

Hostile Mythologies

When somebody dies a star appears in the night sky. Brilliant flash of commemoration. Makes no sense. Consider how the stars are so far away that it might have taken them tens of thousands of years to traverse thickets and clear-felled expanses of light and darkness to plant themselves on our un-sky-coloured marble. (Sky is black; we are pale blue.) Of course: the causality is wrong. When a star appears, somebody dies. The entire galaxy is instead a sort of gun pointed at our world; each star has a prophecy of death in it, like bullets with names on them.

Lightswitch Haiku

you disappear each time I
ask how you’re doing.

Nettle Leaves

Found a nettle growing under a bridge. Start of summer, I was out looking for shards of your heart between the cobblestones.

A single nettle. Out of place. Like someone had set it down there and walked away. Sat on my haunches by it, feet pointing at Chimère St. and Byson across the canal. Reached out a hand as if picking a flower for a lover, gloveless. Held it between thumb and forefinger and anticipated the sting, brushing it up and down my underarm over the area where your tattoo goes. Expecting, in vain, the skin to react at all.


I walk the street to Leone avenue. There’s a lingerie shop on the corner
next to the Serbian café. I walk past men, thick
with hair on their arms, face and chests. They do not call to me in the street,
busy with their espressos.
And I stand
to admire a balcony bra with dusty pink straps.
The female street musician claims a tango on her violin.
The bra has embroidered nettles on them, I think
of the hands of him, blistering, his air sucked through clenched teeth. At home I dance in the open window, a lonesome nettle tango.


The potion shop on the far end of Leone Avenue is legally required to inform me that their love potions don’t work. Still, in my bathroom at midnight I follow the instructions on the roundbottom alchemical-style bottle to a fault: bruise the nettle leaf and place it under your tongue, say the object’s name until your mouth goes dry, then drink me.

When I wake up tomorrow I will call you up and I will ask to come over and I will ask to share your bed. When I wake up, the day after tomorrow, I will love you again.


I loved you
your thighs
up against my legs which I had not shaved. They prick your
legs like nettles. Outside the sun rise,
outside the sun rises, outside
the sun
whispers this love is a room and I am alone here. Your old cafetiere is gone from my kitchen counter.

Your apartment is strewn with empty bottles and your tattooed arms embrace me with their painted on pretend permanence but I
My brassiere visible through a sheer blouse and your sheer eyes say – this love is a room, with a courtyard, overgrown with nettles.

— Your face is unshaven.


The same second as you stepped down from the balcony ledge halfway across town, apparently deciding that the fall wouldn’t kill you or that it was too cold or that you didn’t really want it, not like that, I was watching the shadow under a bridge refuse to freeze over and got a nosebleed because of you. I thought something might grow in the red spots and I thought of you as I pinched my nose and tilted my head back and watched the sky thinking, irrationally angry, I was missing the action from the warring factions under the bridge.


Rue de la Huchette becomes a tied cherry stem in my mouth,
the sober mood all knotted up in the jazz the musician spreads
out over the piano like a wife;
all solemn vows and sharp lines made with his hands. The blood
rushes to my face. You can’t look away.

It is nothing but a fantasy between the cobble stones of the street,
spilled there like two euro wine, it was not a loss, but a baptism of the moment.
A single drop of blood from you, a single sentence spoken in
loss and utter devotion.
The sting and burn
of your hands on my arm where a tattoo of a single nettle rests.




A collaboration with Cecilie K, originally posted on our tumblrs, with the motif of nettle leaves. The even-numbered pieces, more poem-like than mine, are hers. The others are mine. You may find Cecilie’s writing in books or on her tumblr, by following the following links:

Descriptions of Strangers

For a few years now I’ve meant to have a side project where I describe strangers in more or less literary ways. This month, for some reason, I started doing that and I shall quote here the first three (and so far the only three) descriptions of strangers.

Just observed a lady ring the hotel reception-style bell at a train station bakery over and over, the bakery looking strangely empty. I peered over the counter, no bodies. Just junk space architecture; abandoned place in the middle of a crowded station bristling with purchase, consumption and destination.

Eventually a baker arrived from stage right, wearing a service worker plastered-on smile and tilting her head back unnaturally like a mannequin, ready to take the lady’s order, teeming with rage or frustration at something the lady could not and cannot know.

It was enough to have me break out into prose.

hotel reception-style bell

On the train north this morning: a woman in a salmon cardigan, black parka moulted around her body in her seat. Straight hair reaching past her shoulders. It’s been maybe three months since she blonded it last and the effect is a gradient.

Baby with a big red pacifier and sleepy eyes sits in her lap, in an exoskeleton of dark blue with pale pink patterning.

The mother is holding her phone, casing cracked like a refrozen pond, at eye-level for the little one while she herself stares absent-mindedly out the window, having barely snow-dappled landscape drifting by for entertainment


The corner of the square with the hostile blue lights shining. Crime reduction lights, like from under a flying saucer stunning us into deference. He was shouting into a mobile phone. Face barely visible under the hood of the black parka, with the blue contours from the landing lights.

He held his phone away from his face and greeted me, asked if I needed any help, which is how they ask to sell me drugs now.

I told him I was good and he nodded, put the phone back to the side of his face and walked into the light.

crime reduction lights


I’m only allowed
to say that I love you in
dependent clauses.