parallax background

Four 12s


Suzanne Gardinier

Art by Jean Marie Casbarian



1 Narrownosedness : nar•row•nós•ed•ness noun

2 the affliction of can’t tell jasmine from shit.

3 May coincide with Caucasia but not always.

4 Nothing smells rattish. What do you mean fishy.

5 How to tell if you’ve found medicine:

6 your nose expands, unsuspicious, discerning.

7 Shit, jasmine, rat, fish: you can tell with your eyes closed.

8 Your foot hesitates, then averts a misstep just in time,

9 thanks to widenosedness, predicting the future.

10 If still in the grip of the affliction:

11 you may say Go expand your nose wherever it is you came from

12 or Why everything smells perfectly fine here to me.


12 ways to maintain a happy aquarium

1 Do not build a nuclear power plant or a white site secret prison beside your aquarium.

2 Do not evict the plants to make lebensraum for oil refineries & stock exchanges & mines.

3 Do not kill the fish leaders & install your own.

4 Do not burn the air stone. Do not burn the fish if they don’t obey.

5 Do not insert a penitentiary into your aquarium.

6 Do not crown one fish & make the others bow down.

7 Do not install facial recognition software in your aquarium, or disembodied voices that follow your orders.

8 Resist the temptation to set up networks of informers in your aquarium & suggest crimes they might commit.

9 Do not raze all the possible places to hide.

10 If you stage false ink events in your aquarium, your fish may not believe you later, when real ink may come.

11 Do not form masked armies & pay them in heroin.

12 Then you will have a happy aquarium.


Where did you grow up

1 Quiet as it’s kept, children think of others.

2 Children make the coffee & smoke cigarettes

3 & sometimes are the last to turn off the lights.

4 Children may deal with the bill collectors,

5 because children know what money is,

6 & some small handcuffs are made to fit them

7 & some days they may spend trying to flee

8 the whims of other children, even white-haired ones,

9 & afterwards sleep on a sidewalk all night.

10 What children can’t do

11 is face what is without turning away.

12 Where did you grow up. Did you.


What is a Wurlitzer

1 The state pushes a button & you weep in your cereal.

2 Your life plays its images. The state plays the sound.

3 Sometimes they put the quarter in, sometimes you do.

4 La la la communist, sings the Wurlitzer, & the hairs on the back of your soul stand up.

5 It was the Pomeranians, says the Wurlitzer, & Down with the Pomeranians, you answer, squinting.

6 The state cues the winds to hide the subsonic cash register in the background.

7 Wurlitzer, howitzer, microprocessor, helicopter, slavecatcher software, ker ching.

8 The room of state machines overheats unless the Wurlitzer wind blows through.

9 Trumpets! & your longings & hatreds & running routes sort into columns.

10 Violins! pluck your heart out & replace it with an arousable™ chip.

11 The quarter is essential. Who cares who inserts it.

12 The money blows through the instrument & it sings.


Suzanne Gardinier

Suzanne Gardinier is the author of 12 books, including most recently Amérika: The Post-Election Malas (2017) & Notes from Havana (2016). She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Manhattan.

Jean Marie Casbarian

Jean Marie Casbarian is a visual artist born to an Armenian father and a German mother on a military weapons base in Aberdeen, Maryland. Over the course of her nomadic lifestyle she has lived lives across the US, in Chicago, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New York. Her creative practice rests in the reinterpretation of imagined space and memory, and the loss and longing that occur in attempting to reconstruct them.

support evergreen