Abstract Background

Citizen Imprint

Jona Xhepa


I could have made my way towards the rooms, or room, peeking inside, opening the top drawer of a musty dresser, fingering a roll of paper inside. Maybe something like a monograph on medieval calligraphy – but no, that wouldn’t fit here. A dusty calculator, some cheques. A passport and inside its pages an insert of airport check-in stubs. I would keep opening and closing doors, then I’d spill my drink on a dirty pair of underpants. Pick them up, smell them. I would go back and maybe steal the passport. If I were to steal it, I might hide it alongside a photograph or a note from a previous lover, until the passport was peopled with the photograph’s perfume.

A man from Inismór has died. Late to moderate mainly southern winds.

Fear of sleep, fear of notfalling asleep, fearof language.

washing line

In my mind I own a house where people come to stay for the weekend. I excuse myself from the kitchen and go out into the garden as more people arrive. Then I hide in nettles and observe the surge of newcomers eating the meat and pulses I left for them on the table, not on rented time, hearing the brief pull on the homemade ale bottles, tangy laughter blanketing the valley. Picking mushrooms and seaweed, blackberries, denying myself a taste, dead starlings, sneaking back into the house at dawn to deposit the offerings on the table, then trundling back to the hiding place before light and the house rises.

I’ll take the ridibund dogs away for hours and hours to pick magpie feathers and hawthorn blossoms, sheep fluff to make a centre piece for the night’s meal. Against the galvanized sheet of a workshop gate, I’ll smell the dung and hear the soporific welding from inside, shepherding the workers like tigers in the air. I’ll sit in the local with an acidic porter, wondering if the guests are having muesli and scones, then I’ll set the day loose and head homewards, something like vines elongating my organs.

Plant Drawing

...smelling the contents and bringing some of the mulch to her mouth. Teller spoke between mastications, eagerly staving off a storytelling. An alarmed moss forming in her stomach scraped her entrails and synapses, tearing words stuck to the flesh as she fell into the first spasm of vomit. She dragged her body to the nearest alder in a trail of vomited stories. She fell against the trunk.Briefly awake, how quickly I had been absolving myself of the past by resting in this fearful freedom. The future a murky landscape of renunciation. Tempus saw the scroll of language embossing the pier – she might be able to return in the evening and transcribe the results. Her intentions faltered in the mess; she hadn't expected it to be so squalid. She made Teller get up and lean on her and together they walked through the forest, then through the town towards the outskirts. Lime-white hospital aisles. A shrine of women sewing shrouds held the sylvan annex at the end of the hall.

Knowledge is retroactively bracing oneself. But how did you know, he asks her, handing over a bit of crunched up newspaper. I knew because I had to brace myself. I suppose you’ll write a story about this, he smiles. Inside the newspaper ball is a packet of sweets with interesting typography on the cover and a statue of Ganesh. She weighs it enthusiastically on her palm and strokes it, thus showing her appreciation. Where’s his broken tusk, she asks.

I told her about you, he says, and she thought this would be ideal – it’s meant to remove obstacles. What’s her name, she asks, still weighing the miniature, imagining that somehow she already knows. He talks about a very, very tall mountain and an amber sun that is setting on the fulmar wrinkles of his forehead.

In her bedroom, she makes Ganesh face the street to watch his creation: a wind pizzicato on the wintry, magpie-dappled burrs.

Paltry enemies tethered endings ripened
yellow over unleavened aphids, such silence

From the desk, she reaches over the statue to clutch the lower limbs of the tree and continues to pull until one strip of bark is wrenched clean off. Grabbing a marooned blackbird she squeezes until blood and viscera fall onto the page. Then, reaching inside her mouth, she finds her molar breaks and sappy ink flows from her tooth onto the page, gums populating with residual ink. The moon, a restless handkerchief on the window.

Something must have happened like her dream. She fled down the ramp with an urge and he followed, leaving his fingerprints on the balustrade. Something like the fear of having missed the sunset. I don’t know what time it is. How long the three of us had been together like this.

In the cool stillness I thought of personal papers left unburgled.


The couple seemed to be refusing meaning. Or rather they seemed to reject the idea that something meaningful is intrinsically valuable. What neither of us realized is that the room and its pieces was coming to life just at the point that the temperature changed – it happens sometimes in films, a character says something like, Is it getting colder in here?

They were fully conscious of the body of the other; the paintings measured me with distinction as I’d become aware of being looked at. I willed the gallery attendant to keep away or take a nap until this blew over.


The train arrives like an organ wound. I have become a train never to have finished. Near the hedgerows cut two mornings ago, the train cannot hear the song of buried rabbit bones. The sky writes its notes on the armpits of howling nettles

This isn't it. The songs have scraped solitude like a dinner chippering about cost-effectiveness. I am become a train rising from the bath from the bed from the sodden yolks to kidnap the air around misguided lands

Somewhere there are bread queues and no trains, except remembered trains

this little egg I’m telling you such a little egg such a little belly egg with grey and goats and soldiers on the inside

there was this song once that went or rather I think it was a saying like a proverb that went

before I tell you that just how funny is this what I was thinking was

there was a shelled amount of komunizm and within those shells there was what became us and we were zygotically albumened into ourselves that we never let anybody in, not even other shells or the greater egg

and now here I am out and I never let anybody in I don’t think it’s necessarily because of the egged communism or the fact that we were spoken to in a jalousie – which is french for blind and a kind of beautiful bread queue everywhere

anyways I can’t remember that song but I’ll tell you it anyways, hope you’re well

Horse Drawing

Chuaigh na capaill cuando me fui caminando antes te arrij ne stacion. Comme pourrait je pardoner personne quand les horses nuk stanno qui gur a cheapim

Plant Drawing

Njerezit mendojne l’histoire c’est hualach conas potrei essere cosi mira como brilla in the tree seoltanfistulaportajeconduittubazzione

Birds recognize bodies in the different stages of decomposition. Whether this was the same man who had been alive once, or the struggle for possession that history encorpses; the birds do not concern themselves. He was never a martyr, only a man who rose from the dead to keep a promise. But the listeners of the tale will make him crawl again, and again, from the clay, drenched in the words upon which the living impale the dead.