American Cyborg
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 Excelsior!

Printed mAterials

 About Excelsior!

We began writing essays, poems, and stories together in 2015, inspired by the work of Donna Haraway and Maggie Nelson. We initially published our work online, but have since gravitated towards printed materials. This allows us to spend more time on research and development.

Birdseed

With the help of artist Joe McKay, we are designing a tabletop game. The game is played with cards incorporating Christina Van Der Merwe’s watercolors of state birds and flowers, accompanied by embroidered play-mats, and a glass seed feeder. The game is designed to be simple, but adaptable to many styles of play. Even the most casual players can have a pleasant tactile and aesthetic experience. Returning players will find favorite birds and strategies.

Black Mustang

Laura B. Greig and Elizabeth A. Watkins are rewriting Anna Sewell’s 1877 book Black Beauty, substituting the horse for a self-driving car. It opens:

 
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Part 1, Chapter 1: My Early Home

The first place that I can remember well was the Ford factory in Dearborn, Michigan. It was long after the other car manufacturers had left the area, long past the first hey-day, but an electric buzz in the air mingled the past with the future. The boxy building had large windows for the office workers, a meadow with several test driving rings, and a garage door that thundered with the release of each new vehicle from the assembly line.

While I was young I kept to the factory tracks with my mother, first only lapping the paved, quarter mile loop. Then on sunny days we'd drive the dirt road winding along the creek, training my vision to optimize a path around unexpected obstacles. When it was rainy we'd run the serpentine racetrack, studying the feel of the wheels in shifting weather.

As soon as I was old enough to drive without crashing, my mother used to go out to work in the day time, and come back in the evening.

There were six young cars in the meadow besides me; they were all older, though we were all the same size. I used to drive with them and have fun; we used to donut round and round the field, as fast as we could go. Sometimes we would play rather rough, coming as close to side-swiping each other as our self-preservation algorithms would allow.

One day, when there was a good deal of tire squealing, my mother signaled me over to her, and said: "I want you to pay attention to what I am going to say to you. The cars that live here are very good cars, but they belong to the mechanics and never leave the meadow. They have no need to learn street manners. You have been built for elegance and performance; your grandfather won at Le Mans and your grandmother had the sweetest engine purr I've ever heard. I hope you will grow up to be gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, keep four wheels on the ground, and never cause damage, even in play."

The Albatross Book of Forms

Justin P. Cooper is writing a collection of form poems. It opens:

 
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You Go Out Searching for Poems [Open Form]

You go out searching for poems at the gray of evening Ireland.
Along the River Shannon and through Limerick
with its little two window breadbox houses and colored doors.
Wonder at what it’s like sipping Tetley’s with milk,
delicate china, teapot sun,
in that contained Celtic solar system,
with knitted blanket sofas and ancient corners.
What smells of peated chimney still orbit?
Watching your feet past juice box litter on cobblestones and looking up
to a bit of music pushed shopping cart who says, “Alright Boyo?”
below the battered shell of a two story skeleton
and flower baskets from light posts.
The sky, she’s a palette of fresh bruises
whispering nearby fields through your hair
and there
at Castle street and the Sally Port Walls
two children clomp by in a miniature chariot pulled by a pony.
The fluorescent orange rimmed wheels clatter the cobbles
and though at a marked distance
you see them trot toward St Mary’s Park.

“Sure the weather is desperate.
Wouldn’t put the dog out in it,” chirps a pubbird,
but you must capture the chariot,
an image treasure.
So past the canister castle
with its reptilian rock skin flecked with moss green
and shadowed slits of arrow shot,
past the harsh crown of church
from which death knells toll and echo for centuries.
Bong they gong and the town shudders under the sound,
the heavenly shackles of Erin go bragh.
Along the river and down verdant into the fields of St Mary.
Far and away the clouds bend down and massage the hills with ghostly hands and you think, ‘Those spooky Irish skies, so haunted they are,’
as the trail turns to dirt.
By the buildings apiece,
those dripping guinness or uisce beatha since seventeen fifty nine,
and he’s there taking the piss from a lad
with those fists raised always
like the reptilian castle always and have you yet?
Ya raise ‘em skirts yet Boyo?
Always, don’ cry lad. Don’ cry.
We men we kill it with the Crayture.
And he just wants to be
to somebody,
to mean something,
a human being feeling!
But sock em!
Fists up ya gobshite!
Are ya leakin? Ya nance!
And he goes home to abuse the heavens.
A cloud full of the lightning strike.
Upon the trail,
aside river brush,
a burnt out mattress,
a landscape of ash forms squarely and deathly
with zombie hands springs rise up from the grief.

She, the wee one,
she leaves her mothers weeping to climb the monkey bars in an empty field. He, at the wheel, doing donuts before the horses,
rainbows of mud and grass arching from his hatchback,
tearing that field up as she hangs by her knees,
watching upside down maniacs rally the muddy ceiling,
they orbit her,
orbit that Celtic solar system.

And as that car chased horses upon the field,
you notice the sky reaching down,
falling down,
an ominous wall coming like that car on the horses upon the field.
Move!
Quick!
Back the dirt path.
It’s coming from out of the hills!
Phantom invader from speír dorcha!
Hooves upon the earth, charging back and the skies release their tears.
Those bruised and battered overhead,
they weep a deluge.
All the tears of Ireland fall upon your head.
Those weeping at the green,
those weeping at the orange,
weeping at inebriated,
at starving,
at sad cold without proper coal,
and gone off to war,
and talking to the crown,
those sunday bloody sundays,
bards shot by snipers,
parades under banners of frowning men.
You become soaked of it,
the island pouring from the brim of the flat cap and through the downpour and across the muddy field you see them,
the children on the chariot,
hollering,
a-spray the streets,
pony glistening,
laughing through their streaking faces,
galloping over poverty puddles with oil rainbows,
there goes your image treasure,
little leprechauns.
And wet with tears you drip to your bed,
not of straw but memory foam,
made in Sealy Texas