“Survival Kit,” an executive summary by Craig Foltz for Bad Survivalist

Bad Survivalist: Craig Foltz

Survival Kit


Large bodies of water intrude into every sentence. Somewhere, over the horizon, a burst of mist; particles whose surfaces bristle with the memory of daytime. It’s night, the moon will not relent and pulls the ocean along after it. Up and down your street, power-walkers of all shapes and sizes parade past your porch.

A swing, a shade tree, a path of flat stones. Up the hill, a one-story brick building—the local elementary school. The girls and the boys who go there aren’t the kind of girls and boys who think of themselves as girls and boys. A list is not a list without numbered items.

Item #1: You do not believe in the allegorical possibilities of illness, nor the slow decay of fruit left out on the counter. Time, you’ve come to realize, is simply a symptom of living, not some fixed value you can rely on.

Item #2: The skin bruises easily. Blood comes to the rescue in the form of material knowledge. Your partner tells you not to worry. “We are little more than an equal mix of plasma, ammonium chloride and ice.”

Item #3: Caution: Plagiarism detected!

Item #4: She’s the kind of person who continually looks like she just walked out of a movie. In this one, one of the protagonists has a goofy haircut. He drives a fast car. His past is shrouded in mystery—his origins unclear. Some say he was born during wartime conditions. Others claim he emerged from the marshy soils near the Canadian border. Still others claim his body was frozen and thawed and then, upon a second exposure to freezing temperatures, reborn as the man you see in front of you now. The car speeds through the deserts east of the California coast, oblivious to the setting sun in the background.

Item #5: You tell your partner that the vital component in any successful relationship is passive opposition. “Without it, the physical part dies.”

Item #6: Your bodies are slender bulbs, shrouded in the albumen of eggs. Your bodies are interconnected and lock together even when you are apart.

Item #7: You gravitate towards a wall of sound. Panes of invisible glass. The dawn chorus of native birds. Invasive species too. A simple resistance to the elements.

Item #8: You say, “I have not touched another in years.” You sit on the porch, rocking back and forth as the sun filters through the leaves of a tree. A thesaurus is the thing that essentially connects the words that you do not fully understand. Empath. Infer. Tmesis. Petrichor. Alysm. Gauxe. The chair next to you is empty.

Item #9. There is no chair next to you. There is no pleasant smell after the first rain in a long time. There are no areas of forest left to burn.

Item #10: We nibble on berries and in so doing create a mat of seeds. Our mouths plunge into the moist soil, seeking out that which cannot be sought. We share a lunchtime meal, but the meal does not have lunchtime characteristics. There are some among us who say we are subject to mass mobilizations. That our pathologies are resolving themselves even as we subject our bodies to more and more rigorously healthy routines. Others claim we cannot progress without a strange array of variables, many of which we don’t have the slightest understanding of.

Item #11: One of you says, “I have seen the light and it’s coming our way.” The other turns away, blushing. 

Craig Foltz’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He has released two books on Ugly Duckling Presse and has a poetry collection forthcoming from Compound Press. He currently lives and works on the slopes of a large dormant volcano on the north island of New Zealand. 

Image: “Bruise, close up.” Misty, flickr.com

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