No more sky, I can’t—
Oh, stop it, you’re fine.
But this hot horrible sky.
You should love summer! Everyone does.
I want summer to die.
Summer’s when we drink frappies and wear chinos. Play some Ultimate.
My thighs hurt and I’m frightened.
Look, a carousel—inside Starbucks!
I’m going to kill summer.
First put your thighs on that carousel. How adorable.
I think a lot of people hate summer, secretly.
Have you ever actually thrown a Frisbee?
Not even secretly.
I call the ebullient horse. You can take the melancholy rhino.
No—the horse is mine.
As you wish, bish.
Dear horse, you’re the color of a photo of the ocean on a travel pamphlet, with blood in the water.
Catch up, summer hater! My rhino’s dusting you.
This carousel isn’t true, but the water blood is.
<quiet singing from the horse>
Hot blood drops from the sky into the ocean, sizzles, cools. Its red stains the paler fishes. Its scratched-copper smell draws the sharks.
My sister—a therapist—says feelings of panic and dread installed during childhood that surface irrationally in adult-life situations are known as “shark music.”
I blow a horn into the blooded ocean, without expectation. This is the way it feels best to live: sending, not asking.
On Cleopatra’s cedarwood ship, the sails were drenched in perfume.
Done with carousel.
With fragrant sails.
Done with sky, salt, chinos, rhinos.
Bring me instead the head of a bird, still attached to its body. A bird who is blue with blood-hemmed feathers. Put the bird upon a Grecian urn.
I don’t perform with just any old one. I was trained in circus-adjacent locations, in lands of sausage and polenta, cold mountains where your lungs have to try harder.
Bird and I and urn, we go onstage alone.
When I lived in the cold mountains, I ate Friday suppers at a restaurant known for its cardamom Dampfnudel. One night a customer stood up, pressed his palms tight together, and began yelling about drinking people’s blood.
I admired his act and was not frightened.
The manager asked him to leave. He did, but not before stealing a butter knife, with which he proceeded to stab a small tree.
Our performance begins with a lesson: A preposition is anything you can be or do with a cloud.
What’s the angriest preposition? Over.
The saddest? Without.
Red saliva drops into the urn, from the beak of the bird, and the audience cheers.
This was not in the act!
<quiet singing from the bird>
Luca Dipierro is an animator and illustrator born in Italy and living in Portland, OR. His cut-out animations, filmed in stop motion with marionettes made out of paper and old book cloth, have been called “a perfect balance between creepy and charming” (The Huffington Post) and “sad and beautiful” (L Magazine). His work has been shown in theaters, galleries, and film festivals in the USA and Europe, and appears regularly on book and record covers. He is currently working on his first animated feature, The Cadence.
Leni Zumas is the author of two novels (RED CLOCKS and THE LISTENERS) and a story collection, FAREWELL NAVIGATOR. She lives in Oregon and teaches in the creative writing program at Portland State University.