Volume 31, Number 4


When my feet are in the cold water and I’m facing the current, the weight of student debt, a concrete world, granite polished, oiled marble, my life at a desk, my back injured by sitting, fingers sore from pushing a pointer across the screen, tent cities of America, the white buses of Salinas trying to reflect the open sun, the kind of shit you pull when you think you don’t have enough or you don’t have enough, crooked cops, dumb cops, good cops who just get tired at the wall of poverty, nepotism they call hard work, privilege they call good luck, the cult of guns, cold dead hands of a teenage boy, people bigger than me who proved it, their backs as wide as a man’s, me—140 pounds spread over 6 feet and an inch, the teachers who just collected a check and drank whiskey in their coffee mugs, publicly traded prisons, guys like George who went to prison in 1978 for an ounce of weed and got out in 1997 and still couldn’t vote to legalize it even though he hasn’t had a drug in 40 years, THC utopias out in the desert made livable by stolen water, cities of adults with no children, my kids I can’t keep safe forever or today, people obsessed with how they fuck, people obsessed with how others fuck, cut-up bodies searching for a home in themselves, podcasts about the pure soul and proprietary vitamins, clawing at the backs of mortals begging to be saved in that moment when legs twitch and breath stops, puritans boycotting, nationalists picketing, communists marching, vengeance-seeking loudmouths saying justice but never peace, “Well, if you don’t like it, you can get out,” the 8th generation saying, “Then where in the hell is my country,” superheroes everywhere, 7 men and a woman that’ll right the world because they can fly and squelch a nuclear bomb with a fart, that great-grandfather of the natural world following the gallops of Custer like men and abhorring the human survivors, but thank god he saved those giant trees, take the shuttle that picks you up beneath the freeway and ride it all the way to a parking lot where we were so great to save nature. I’ve seen the best minds of my generation beat Vice City in a couple hours then smoke a pill on a patch of aluminum, and this actually happened, I’ve heard the best asses are made of belly fat, still we drive diesels down the 5 until the air is half metal, but gee, look at that sun as it sets, the Day-Glo orange brighter than the sky of Saturn, warmer than a reactor. Build the elk fence now, farmers feed America, build the tunnel, build the wall, say no to charter schools, build a future for the women who go through the back doors of new glass buildings to clock in so their daughters can go to college, the men in the basement who sort the trash and sing in Urdu something I don’t understand but can hear in my chest, build the housing where the levees are old and the water is rising, then let’s get high in Mill Valley with a Series A investor. This rapper from the East Bay might show up. I know a shaman named Lance who learned the art in Peru then moved to Taos after grad school. Anyway, we have pure LSD, MDMA, DMT, Special K, and the revirginated. And now that I have your attention, let me tell what we really need to do—we need money for the nonprofit that’s trying to save the delta, striped bass from a Massachusetts barrel now swimming from Redding to Lodi aren’t getting that big anymore, salt water is intruding halfway to Sacramento. The smelt are disappearing and we’re still dredging up the sturgeon and laying their 6-foot bodies on the deck of the boat. This is bad for the future of the state and our children, but most importantly it’s fucking up my fishing. And when you catch your next fish, ask it how it got to where it is and tell it that you’re sorry you pulled it out by the lip. And you’re sorry that you’re going to keep doing just to let it go.

—Nicholas Kasimatis