shirt tucked tightly, smoothed over the contours contained therein
the body of evidence in support of the conclusion already reached
this, not in roundabout form, no pussyfooting here, bub,
but directly, like no one I’ve ever met
the soft curves in continuation over hip and haunch where the body bends, folding softly in a series of gestures and suggestions
and somewhere in all this, the differences diminish
the distance is diminished and the gravity,
that which almost inexplicably draws one thing to another
becomes the only thing that matters
one person, sitting at their desk-
(these are the words that you are now reading)
“oh no…” say the pale faced brethren
shrinking within hand shadows
“lacking in consistency is the only constant here,
much as the complacency I’ve used as goodwill recently…”
“consider the weight of what I have to say,
and liquidate our antiquated assets
while i straddle this tower of dual continuity”
the discipline of far too few
accumulates in patterns
of day-glo cowardice-
ply by ply, shaving away
at our skin
the dream of life
is simply to dream of life
the sun is an illusion as are the
torments that grow in its ray
forget the women of yesterday’s sex
déjà vu and the same shallow coincidence
clotting the deference of an absolute truth,
narrowing the hindrance of youth.
forget the margins that dilute the mind,
whose fragmentation remains ill-conceived
during our time.
forget the secondary highways and the strangulation by government.
forget the commercial inertia and the graduation of the mass permanent.
forget the tradition of carving out territory at your will,
a propulsion defined by an inevitable inversion.
and forget your holy war,
it is not part of our plan.
and forget your blond haired blue eyed jesus,
because nigger is a white word.
Poprocks is fortunate enough to use the fortuitousness of cosmic timing to his advantage. Since his graffiti artistry occurred entirely while he was seventeen years old, his eligibility for youthful offender status looks good. He turned eighteen days after having been arrested, an occurrence beyond irony and cause for his own personal contemplation and subsequent call to duty. Youthful offender status is granted upon affirmation of many conditions, one of which is the certainty that all offenses occurred while the individual was younger than eighteen. And that fortune may well be his wooden cross to bear. Having experienced the psychological scare tactics in the police’s questioning room after he turned himself in, Poprocks could not bear witness to other graffiti artists. Primarily his outright lack of knowledge as to the others’ identity prevented him from revealing more than he knew. The police were most interested to know who the perpetrators of the defacement of the Mystic Academy building were. Anyone visiting the town-owned building recently is confronted with your more typical adolescent writings on the wall, of local romanticisms and rival town exchanges. Nothing new really, except the scale and all over saturation of the spray paint due to the building’s current limbo status. When the Board of education voted to close Mystic Academy at the end of the 1993 school year, the Town of Groton repossessed the building and its surrounding estate, and is presently trying to figure out its best use for the community.
And here we come full circle. Poprocks’ case moves into its final stages, as he awaits verdict in his application for youthful offender status. He seemingly meets all of the conditions for approval- he has no previous criminal or drug record of any kind. He will plead guilty to all charges against him in a trial without media publicity, and no matter what, he will not go to jail. As long as he is trouble-free until he is twenty-one, his future will not be shadowed by a criminal record. What he will justifiably get from the court system fulfills the monetary implications of his artwork, which includes his own role in community service. A role he has already impressively carved out for himself.
“On a contradiction scale from 1 to 10, you’re a 1000, maybe a 1005- I don’t know for sure….”
Photograph by Michelle Gemma
featuring Model: Kathryn O’Reilly
Words by Luke Hunter
When the media broke the story on Jeff Poprocks last August (1994), there was already a certain amount of recognition surrounding the fuse phantom. Just days before his arrest, one local paper printed the plaintive demands of an eight-year old for the police “to please catch the fuse.” Mystic resident Poprocks’ four month stint as a graffiti artist straddled the towns of both Groton and Stonington, common to most Mystical occurrences. He is currently facing first, second, and third degree charges of criminal mischief as a result of his spray-painting various private and commercial buildings, rooftops, highway bridges and overpasses with his signature fuse. While Poprocks has raised the ire of Mystic property owners, for others, fuse lights our attention like the quick blue incandescence of late night television.
What’s surprising about Poprocks’ case and subsequent effect upon our community is that so many people readily presumed the gang implications of fuse. Locals talked of the certainty of the fuse gang existence in Mystic, and most never questioned it. The actual reality of the graffiti text may have frightened some, and perhaps raised again the suspicion of others that town has changed. The frequent rhythm of the secret coded language marked something of significance, the actual meaning of which we could only speculate upon. When questioned regarding his intent, Poprocks immediately alluded to the conflict of emerging teenage frustration of private self against expressing public persona in a medium at once visible and accessible. Similar polarizations have occurred in the face of our society’s trademark television isolationism, except in the case of the latter, the individual sits at home in front of the television machine with the remote control and does nothing. This may well be an exciting form of communication when taken to the next level of the video game, possibly a convoluted form of an individual art. Graffiti art has always held the same level of fascination as any other individual athleticism: the perfection of the individual will in the edge realm of complete self-reliance. Once the basic technique is mastered, one lives to challenge the self and progress to higher levels of performance.
What the local papers failed to realize and capitalize upon as a positive vibe for town, was the big picture in Poprocks’ case. Fuse is not a gang. Any opportunity should be seized to comment on this. But since most establishment sorts have done nothing to encourage the youth of our town in any real sense, let alone lead them forward into a new era of personal responsibility; the public indifference is not surprising. Instead the youth become criminals, and security forces must be hired to keep them down. Down at home watching television until they go to college, which is not necessarily the most personally challenging option, only the most accessible for those most financially able. As well, television is the most unlikely to encourage self-growth now so that a permanent commitment to Mystic and its cultural future is a reality.
Curtis and Dogwood
45 Dogwood Lane
self doubt and selfism
left side of door unpainted
tough day for Michael to say goodbye to his house. made more difficult because his wall got painted over before we got to fully photograph it. we did what we could.
you kick my leg again, beneath this victorian table
you stand me up and exit me out with your bottle, your grin.
we leave in a fluster of goodbyes.
we are alone now, you and i,
and what sweet victory,
it is another radioless evening driving out here along the pavement
and out and north i have spent all my money
on tankfuls of gasoline and a styrofoam cup.
all i need is the interstate wind,
a chance to be alone and taken.
it is this time of year
when the leaves have fallen to slick the asphalt surface
and the trees have grown bare to admit the halogen glow.
it is this time of night
when the october rain glistens in the turn
and the rearview mirror is dark and empty.
i have spent my money on gasoline, desolation.
i have spent a lifetime in your avenues
and i am still awaiting
your perfect kiss.
that’s when we scatter the ashes
and pull on the purse strings
in cinching it a little tighter
finished with a simple granny knot
things run their course, they always do
(just let it happen)
but there’s never any way to predict the outcome
it can only be coached along, coaxed along
molded when malleable and hardened when necessary
(let it happen)
the problem, or whatever it is
didn’t just happen, did it
the foundation of it was laid ages ago, wasn’t it
it just silts up after a while until
something must break
walls, will, and the will of man
all bunched up like a tense fist
you could cut it with a knife
but it probably wouldn’t help
it builds, though –
it builds until it’s palpable
taking on a certain dimension
a weight unto itself
it builds until it spills
and it’s like the cascade can’t stop
and we all give in and watch it crumble
or better yet, watch it burn
I had written the letter as an endgame. After a year of subtle negotiations, there did not seem to be a way forward after all that had transpired.