POLAROIDS by Mila Jaroniec and Cory Bennet

Yadadimean

by Mila Jaroniec

Yadidimean is less a word than a vibe. Ask any linguist. It asks for recognition while presupposing recognition. It’s a confirmation of relationship and understanding. It’s intimate. Most people are being xenophobic when they say that sentences in Spanish, French, Chinese et al. sound like one long word-snake glued together, but I think that about my native tongue, and in fact prefer to speak Polish when I’m buzzed or tired, it’s a language that favors being slurred. This might be responsible for my assimilation of Bay Area slang. It sounds like speaking Polish feels. More words should be like that. Embedded understanding. Why waste energy saying you know what I mean in five separate words when you can smush them together and let them fall off the tongue like your drunk ass down the stairs after several bottles of MD 20/20? (MD 20/20 is another one of those things that means a lot of things—MD is MD but also MD, you reach for the MD because you need an MD and/or end up at the MD because of too much MD, MD gives you 20/20, ha, is that blurred vision or perfect vision, which one helps you see more clearly? And MD is DM spelled backwards, and can help with sliding into them, or off the couch and into traffic, and the early-career poets won’t let us forget that DOG is GOD spelled backwards but have they ever noticed that MAD DOG is GOD DAM? Of course not, the poets that won’t let us forget don’t drink that shit. Whatchu talmin bout? Iono.)

This is all to say, it’s nice to know what someone is talking about. Nice is a dumb word but I use it because it sounds like balm, which is how being understood feels. Any human problem can be distilled down to not understanding or not being understood, but then, most people are committed to understanding as little as possible while also explaining as much as possible, possibly why Ernest maintained that there are many more explainers than there are good writers, possibly why most good writers are public failures as most readers want explanations and not truths, and when you find the one person who understands your truths and whose you understand, it’s like divine intervention, back alley style. A soulspeak familiar out of the spilled tower of Babel. 

So you can imagine the end of the world in a desert apocalypse where you stand dusty-faced straight outta Mad Max holding hands with the one who understands, side by side watching the towers fall. They’ll offer a monologue to close out the scene, a portrait of hours, time spent making sense to and with one another across tables and midnights, the camera pans to your face, you’re listening and not. You’ve come to the place from which there is no leaving, no room for last words save those that have been spoken already.

Then they’ll squeeze your hand and say, Yadidimean?

And you’ll say, Fasho.

by Cory Bennet

The Davis kids said ya know and we said yadidimean cuz we get hyphy, go dumb on I-80 and ghost ride the whip yaddddddamean? Marshawn Lynch sparking a blunt with the eternal flame at the Oakland Coliseum. It’s more of an inside joke, it’s a cleat check, it’s a question that asks where the fuck you from? If you aint from San Jose to Sacramento then kick rocks cuz. My mom calls me bruh. People trip on it when we say cuz and blood, that shit don’t mean the same here. This aint LA thank god. Nah I’m playin, I fuck with the whole west coast. Explaining yadidimean to someone not from the bay area is difficult if not a completely fruitless endeavor. It doesn’t translate. Urban Dictionary says Bay Area slang for “you know what I’m sayin?” Other variations include “yadadaimsayin” and “yadada I’m talkin bout?” Which is true but not the whole picture. Yeah we got a chip on our shoulder about LA getting all the attention. The yay area is different, can’t tell us shit yadadimean. Have you ever been to a sideshow? Doubt it. You neva seen hyphy. Gary Payton type shit. Finna clean up with Golden State’s broom. Any dubs in the house? It’s a 5 dollar white tee from the corner store. 4 15’s, that’s beat. Real town bidness. Welcome to the west coast, got the best dro and the best hoes. Too $hort, E-40, and Mac Dre, everywhere I go I rep tha bay. I say hella, I wear Vans and black Levi’s, I listen to ALLBLACK and smoke backwoods. we got so much heat out in the bay when the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics met in the World Series in 1989 there was a massive 6.9 15 second long earthquake. Loma Prieta. The Bay Bridge collapsed. That’s an act of God right there brody. Looked down upon his creation and saw it was growing too powerful. The East Bay and San Francisco all in one stadium? The entire United States witnessing it on television? It’s why the telecast was disrupted too. It was all too much. He had to slow it down, show he was still in charge and the Bay wasn’t running the show. A flex that the Bay locals laughed at. Simply put, we got too close to God and he said back the fuck up. Being born and raised in the Bay is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. My family goes back generations and epochs, before the Gold Rush, before the joke about a 49’er and a whore started making any sense. It’s lineage and I am proud of it. I’m a mix of OGs and immigrants from Nebraska by way of Ireland who came to the Bay with scheming on their minds. I ask you, which serial killer was never caught? The fuckin Zodiac baby. All of this to say the unsayable, the thing that locals know without uttering yadadimean. It is blood.

 

 

Trees/Barns

by Mila Jaroniec

I don’t have anything to say about trees,
writes Leigh Stein in “Outside Time.”
If you want trees, call Greta or the ghost
of Mary Oliver.¹
I too have nothing to say about trees
and had even less to say about them last year,
when everyone was horrified to learn that
interacting with nature through an iLife interface
was now a public health mandate
instead of just a choice.
I have similarly little to say about barns,
but this is my own fault.
You should be able to say anything about anything
lest you be stuck writing about your own miserable experience
for the rest of your life.
Imagination is what makes a writer.
Nothing is off limits.
Discomfort is the point.
Take Zac Smith.
He wrote a whole book about barns.
(What the fuck? Why?)
It’s called 50 Barn Poems.
As promised, fifty barn poems are inside.
At first you feel tempted to write it off.
Dismiss it.
Just another masturbatory twitter typist trolling the literary landscape.
Yawn.
thank u,
next.
You think:
Who in the fuck would write a book about barns?
(Zac.)
Who in the fuck would publish it?
(CLASH.)
Is this some kind of a joke?
(Possibly.)
You feel like you’ve found the weak spot in the simulation.
Your head starts to hurt.
Nothing makes sense.
Some part of you is jealous.
How dare you comes to mind.
There are three pages of blurbs, almost certainly fake.
The effrontery sends you into a minuscule rage spiral.
All your ideas about literary merit swim close to the precipice.
The concept comes apart like wet cake.
What would Gordon Lish think of all this?
What would Harold Bloom think?
The ghost of Mary Oliver?
George Saunders?
Pastoralia?
Words lose their meaning.
Everything chaos.
A new entropy in American letters.
There is nothing to do but open the barn book and read it.
You have to.
At this point,
you’re committed.
This is the next stop on your soul’s journey.
Here we go:
not gonna look up anything about barns
these are barn memories
barn feelings
barn impressions.
Okay fine.
We’re on this merry-go-round.
barn on wheels.
neverending cemetery
it obscures endless fields of soybeans,
emitting a low drone
nollie kickflip to crooked grind.
don’t give birth in a barn
what the fuck is wrong with you?²
Fucking great.
Zac Smith is a genius.
But what says the ghost?
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.³
You open your Moleskine and add to the conversation:
        Where do I find salvation?
then search for “salvation”
in the Quotes tab on GoodReads.

 

¹ Leigh Stein. “Outside Time.” What To Miss When (Soft Skull, 2021).
² Zac Smith. Excerpts from Barn Poems 1, 12, 13, 16, 35, 27 and 17. 50 Barn Poems (CLASH Books, 2019)
³ Mary Oliver. “When I am Among the Trees.” Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (Penguin, 2017). 

by Cory Bennet

my grandpa is obsessed with trees. like you wouldn’t believe. i’m telling you, wouldn’t believe it. look at this tree. look at that tree. okay grandpa. this tree has a face in it. this tree is where indians used to hangout. yeah yeah. trees are great i guess. shade. oxygen. etc. drives my grandmother crazy, this tree obsession. he takes care of trees. you see, he has all this property out in auburn, a town north of sacramento in the sierra nevada foothills where they found gold etc. what he does is he prunes them and waters them and ties the branches back and i don’t know what else but all of that shit that encompasses taking care of trees is what he does. he’s a character, trees are just the beginning. once, he woke me up in the middle of the night, I was staying with them because I was fresh outta rehab and my parents didn’t trust my junkie ass to be alone at their house for the weekend for which I don’t blame them I was a thief and a drug addict and a drug dealer and id steal your wallet and help you look for it yadidimean? so, my grandpa wakes me up right and I’m hella confused like I think somethings wrong but he tells me everything is all good everyone is fine and he says look at the moon and im like what? and he repeats himself and turns around and there the moon is, bright and fat and looks like I could touch it and I wanna reach out but I don’t I just say wow look at that is that why you woke me up and he says not exactly come on follow me and im not in the business of saying no to him and so I get outta bed and follow him out the backdoor and onto the porch that my dead father, his son, built for him (rest in piss you bastard) and down through the weeds and brush that slopes toward the river. My grandfather turns to and tells me he wants to show me the killing fields. neither of us spoke much, other than to say what a beautiful night, and would you look at that moon? I didn’t ask what the killing fields were. We came to a creek and he waved me down the embankment and there was a handmade wooden bridge. On the other side of the creek and I followed him down a ravine filled with Chaparral trees and I touched the smooth reddish-orange bark and limbs that makes them seem burnt. My grandfather stopped me and said look at this and there, to the left of a small clearing, was a stone slab. He said he puts raw meat out here for his mountain lion friend. There are bones on the ground, skulls and vertebrae of small to medium-sized mammals. My grandfather said his friend the mountain lion comes here to eat.

 


Cory Bennet lives in ohio with his wife and stepson.

Mila Jaroniec is the author of Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover (Split Lip Press) and the micro-chapbook Parking Lot Poems (Ghost City Press). She teaches writing at Catapult and is currently in need of a German Shepherd.

Art based on a design by Steve Anwyll.

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