Simple Things by Elizeya Quate featuring art by Kat Culture


Here’s how to succeed for one single day at my relationship management job: wake up early to drink coffee before I take a shower, make sure my cellphone and laptop are fully charged (and not running any personal software applications), dress so as not to attract undue attention, show up on location fifteen minutes early after a passably good night’s sleep, double-check that I have all the right dongles and connection cords, download and test the videoconference application with login credentials in advance, print or otherwise notate the agenda/sequence for the meeting on a nondigital surface, make sure I remember the first name of my parallel point of contact and their supervisor’s name, and arrive with a small bag of white cheddar-flavored popcorn in my shoulder bag to offer as a token gift.

The night before proctoring my first electronic reverse-auction at St. Joseph’s I was nervous and I couldn’t sleep. Because I’d been trying to write an email describing Anne Carson’s use of the word exapt in her poem “Pronoun Envy” as a way of leveraging the existing design features of our company’s software product to drive sustainable market transformation (“…Carson points to the evolutionary predecessors of pterodactyls: dinosaurs who had wings but didn’t know they could fly until they started flapping. That’s what I’m suggesting we do with these very robust-yet-underutilized functions in the existing platform – start flapping them, see whether or not an idea like value-based arbitrage opportunities could fly – “) and also because I couldn’t manage to fall asleep I started seeing pterodactyl shadows circling the stippled plaster ceiling of my room at the La Quinta. Then I rolled out of bed and fiddled around for a piece of paper to start writing this prose poem made of buzzy little business words.

Outside my window the parking lot of the La Quinta is tragic in the way that The Great Gatsby would have been tragic if all the characters were played by half-empty bags of Doritos. TJ Eckleburg winks from the fritzy neon of the HOOTERS sign’s baleful OOs. Across the oceanic rush of the 405 my prose poem dances, receding into neon-flecked precincts that called out to me with inexplicable ardor and peculiarity. My phone growls with a text message from a girl with long black hair. Yes, I miss you, too. There’s something about the feral occupancy of a hotel room in between two edges of a sun-colored idea, an idea that involves 1,001 tiny moving parts, an idea that gleams with a dark and irrefutable iridescence. Yes, I love this, yes, I desire to converse for hours about enterprise procurement policy, devour books on supply chain management, draw endless messy charts describing the movement of information, dollars and commodities between decision states to find words that put a price on things other than money, a price on things other than time, a price on the things we all have far too little of.

I chew at my teeth in the pre-dawn darkness, flicking on a wall lamp to half-eye read Roberto Bolaño’s Antwerp, sublime in its sideways grossness of endless fornications; policeman and girls; the hunchback, poets and girls; the hunchback again, always the nameless girl and then the hunckback making his way beyond the the streets and beaches, the footfalls of the waiters and their smoky intervals of silence. I look down at my phone screen, inhaling the residual particulates of the La Quinta’s carbolic liquid carpet cleaner. Soon I will put on my suit and shave my face and amble out into the parking lot’s pelting piss-warm Southern Californian rainfall and sit in my rental car. Soon I will drive to St. Joseph’s and park and go inside and sign in at the reception desk and call my parallel point of contact who will lead me to the conference room. Soon I will set up my laptop computer and then open an Event tab in our software platform. Soon I will take out my dongle and connect it to the hospital’s AVG-input projector, reproducing my laptop’s monitor view on the wall of the conference room. Soon the reverse-auction will begin. Soon. Bid, bid, bid, bid down. The bids will trickle down the software’s Admin dashboard in bright droplets, symbolizing customer success. Soon I will smile, feeling like a magician who doesn’t quite know where the rabbit disappeared.

Bolaño describes the inevitable gravity of the word shoes, which will never levitate, and there’s an anti-gravity to certain words as well that I feel in the roots of my lower back teeth. Across the parking lot of the La Quinta the OOs of the HOOTERS blink on and blink off, a TJ Eckleburg coquettishness. My nerves are poking out of the backs of my hands like pale, slender spines, they are oozing out of my rib cage, they are growing small potatoes in the shape of horses above the viny rushing of the 405. My neck cracks a bundle of icy twigs and the blink of my eyes sounds as heavy as a pair of steel shutters: clanging, clanging, clanging – gone. The paper beneath my wrist is full of irrefutable iridescence, fronds of failed anti-gravity slashed into the kind of lines Raymond Pettibon has become known for. Won’t the buzzy little business poems of the future learn how to write themselves?

Today my only hope is that the simple things will go right. That I’ll be able to show up at St. Joseph’s in an hour, looking professional and kempt. That I’ll have my dongle in order and will be able to project my laptop’s monitor correctly at the appointed time. That I’ll remember the correct pronunciation of my parallel point of contact’s name and also her supervisor’s name. That I won’t mention Anne Carson or exapting software features to enact an overcoming of flimsy exchange values, or even the shape of pterodactyls wings on the stippled plaster ceiling, crossing that marvelous interval just before dawn. I reach down into my shoulderbag. The white cheddar-flavored popcorn is waiting.

Elizeya Quate holds this year’s galactic record for Most Unintentional-Looking Dance Move, author of The Face of Our Town (KERNPUNKT Press, 2016) & prev pubbed in Joyland, Big Luck’s, Axolotl, Maudlin House, The Huffington Post, and on twitter dot com @elizeyaquate.

KAT CULTURE is a designer, illustrator, performance artist and musician broadcasting live from the Convent Arts Collective in sunny San Francisco.