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23 12, 2016

HANDS OFF THE WORD “SURREAL”! by Ron Sakolsky

By | 2017-02-25T12:07:19+00:00 December 23rd, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

The enemies of poetry have always been obsessed with making it a slave to their immediate ends. They see jet bombers without thinking of Icarus.
Benjamin Péret

On December 19, 2016, the gatekeepers of discourse at Miriam-Webster Dictionary named “surreal” as its Word of the Year.

Far from taking this dubious distinction as a compliment, the living surrealist movement is appalled by Webster’s simplistic, distorted and one-dimensional characterization of the term “surreal” as being relegated to descriptions of disaster situations. As surrealists, we must speak for ourselves to provide a larger surrealist context for understanding the deeper questions of why such disasters happen in the first place and how to transform the present reality of which they are the inevitable byproduct.

According to the Dictionary’s editor, Peter Sokolowski, “Miriam-Webster, which first began tracking

[computer] search trends in 1996, found a spike for the word after the 9/11 attacks. We noticed the same thing after the Boston Marathon bombings and the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The single biggest spike in look-ups came the day after Donald Trump’s election. Surreal has become the sort of word that people seek in moments of great shock and tragedy.” To situate the term “surreal” exclusively among the disquieting deeds mentioned above is to do the English language a grave disservice. Surrealism remains the sworn adversary of all forms of authoritarian orthodoxy rather than merely acting as their expressive dimension.

If “surreal’ is to be remembered as the “go-to” word for 2016, let it be recalled for all of its many wonders rather than being stereotyped as merely a descriptor for the malaise associated with terrorism and electoral politics and the terrorism of electoral politics. It is true that the word “surreal” brilliantly evokes that visceral sense of the uncanny associated with such strangely unsettling events, but it is capable of doing so much more. Sokolowski demonstrates his ignorance of surrealism by saying, “I believe there are words such as surreal or love that help us grapple with things difficult to understand”. If he had spent any time at all attempting to understand the subversive qualities of the “surreal” rather than concentrating his attention on mitigating the horrors of the real, he would not have juxtaposed surrealism and love. Love is not foreign to surrealism, but is one of its guiding inspirations along with Liberty and Poetry.

Hands off the word “surreal”! Release it from the miserabilist Procrustean chopping block where Webster has editorially imprisoned it, and let its convulsive beauty illuminate not only the dystopian nightmare but the utopian dream of a world in which we can all live more poetic lives. And rest assured that what we surrealists call the Marvelous will be the playing field for our passional attractions not just for the year 2016 but for the entirety of the 21st century.

Ron Sakolsky, Inner Island Surrealist Group               

16 12, 2016

Postal Transmogrification

By | 2017-04-03T14:30:04+00:00 December 16th, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

SC: The desire has come to me recently to step back and “file a report” on the mailings we have been pursuing for the past two years. We started with the primary goal of creating a sort of catalyst for the “mailbox marvelous”. After all, who hasn’t formed a certain connection with this mysterious box which sits outside of all our houses, this strange fountain of daily unpredictability? Always for me a certain mixture of hope and fear as the box is opened, with most experiences leading of course to disappointment. One has to wonder— did Ted Kaczynski really want to overthrow industrial society, or was he just a violent man in love with postal surprises? On the flip side, even the Corporate Cthulhu has caught on to this desire in recent years, releasing a plethora of banal subscription box services for the more desperate and deluded seekers of postal adventure. But still in the back of all our minds sits the strange feeling that somehow these constant bills and spam are wrong, morally wrong, sick in fact — and that this little box is meant for greater things. Due to the ephemeral nature of the project, the vast majority of it all is who-knows-where, but I’ve made an attempt to gather up what myself and others have documented. A few descriptions and examples follow.

CC: The post is an excellent means by which to generate art as an interactive and tactile experience. So much of the way we share art with each other is digital. Or even if we are viewing art at a gallery, it is still usually a flat image on a wall or a cordoned-off sculpture. Visual art thus organized is an input only, valuable of course, but somewhat distanced from the viewer. Published writing also takes on a kind of distance through medium, though it can still feel very intimate as it speaks directly to our minds. Very seldom are we allowed let alone invited to touch, manipulate, and alter art. With mail art, particularly surrealist mail art, both the sender and the receiver are given a unique experience and connection with each other. The sender puts together the package or envelope with a specific person in mind, creating the finished or partial art or objects, getting it ready for mailing, and sending it out to that person who could be almost anywhere in the world. The receiver gets a mysterious and marvelous experience when they open the mailbox to find an unexpected package that could contain anything. Opening the package and perusing its contents, the recipient gets to feel the objects contained within and see them up close. They can then keep these to be experienced again at a later date or alter them and send them back to the sender or a new recipient, keeping the experience an ongoing collective one.

Packages

SC: We started off making elaborate and time-consuming “packages”, in concept something more like a Cornell box in an envelope. Collaboration was never actually intended and was a factor completely overlooked by us, though some surrealists ignored our intentions added to them anyway! This alerted us to that rather obvious factor – that our mailings could (perhaps should) be a two-way conversation. No photos remain of these that I know of.

Postcard

SC: The postcard phase started with these rules:

1. Grab a postcard. Collage the front or parts of the back if you like, but leave space for writing.
2. Choose two imaginary names at random – one for the person addressed, and one for you.
3. Write automatically in the form of a correspondence and mail to anyone.

These were of course abandoned after a time in favor of an “anything goes” approach. The postcard has proven to be the most participated in phase. Collage & writing sew together in a quick and liberating back-and-forth. Jay also used a postcard as material for a digital response.

JA: Someone is on vacation. They are sending me unasked for mementos of uncanny, frankly suspicious locations. I am put-out. What are these sightings? Are they tourist traps? Are they evidence of a poetic rupture? Or a derangement of the proverbial scenic route? “Ogopogo or Piero de Cosimo?” I am asked to choose between the monster I was obsessed with when I was 7 (I owned many bestiaries) and the painter of Andromedan sea-monsters. A mystic mandrake beneath a poet’s bridge. Eventually I find myself responding to these curious stopping points with dreadful sightings of my own. I fling them into the post-box and only afterwards think about where I might have been.

Collage collaborations

SC: Andrew joined in first. One of us would send a background, which would then be added to and mailed back and forth to each other until finished, creating beautiful images of people and animals in transformation. Johnny took a crazier approach, sending us large packets of snippets which we might add to or merely be confused by, which we then returned with more snippets which he would transform in bizarre ways. This process has been very freeing, a non-goal oriented approach and very automatic. From Tim came a 60 page collage book filled with wonder, and using a few of the pieces we’d mailed him over the year.

Zines

JA: There are monthly infiltrators interleaved between the orthodox flyers and bills. The mailbox transforms its internal atmosphere; from a utilitarian extension of the office it suddenly seems more like a bird’s nest for the marvelous. Ephemeralities? Raptures? Odds and ends, announcing the birth of a new moon? Or perhaps these are the new go(e)thic aquaria we saw on our sea journey; encapsulated, electrically back-lit, but evocative of an alternate life. Obscure and confident communications from a demoralized agency, often instructional in nature, and very likely to have a direct bearing on my everyday life in a most unexpected and dramatic way. Booklets that mimic with cruelly black and blue humor the digital alarm clock’s step-by-step commandments, but from a reverse technicolor shadow-realm. We keep everything but fish in these. They bring me dreams, obscure narratives, alerts. They traumatize my city (Ottawa) with pathetic environmental resonances. I can cite three instances: in Rapture 17, a narrative poetic sequence about oneiric sinkholes seem to coincide in its appearance with an epic sinkhole in the city’s downtown core. “Where did this sinkhole come from?” it asks me. A public lecture on local butterflies coincides with the arrival of a whole series of Dream Zines, Ephemeralities and Raptures swarming with ominous lepidoptera, which, apparently found my ecosystem suddenly suitable for paranoiac intrusion. As for the great sewage backup in the basement of a typical office space, I can only attribute its subjective cause to the untimely arrival of a Rapture which contained an unwholesome advertisement for the “Miniature Enthusiasts of Ottawa” along with an image of a loathsome, brown, cacophallic tentacle emerging from a basement door. We can only hope that future disasters are big enough to wipe out all memory of their occurrence, and leave us dumbfounded with the lemonade sea we are craving. To quote Ephemerality 2: “Everything designates that a great reversal is at hand.”

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2 12, 2016

Surrealism: the Mouth of Shadows

By | 2017-02-25T12:07:19+00:00 December 2nd, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

Surrealism as a cultural force does not remain an existent and discussed phenomenon because of technology or any of the developments since Breton’s group. It is a chthonic, primal force with roots in shamanism, primitive cultures, and every last magical, obscure secret in the history of magic. Every bejeweled rock which remains unturned is the fuel for the surrealist quest.

Pharisees continue as they do, drowning themselves in the University safes filled with the carbonation of cowardice’s wine and on demand vanity. As academia falls apart (and academia was never an intended facet of Surrealism; indeed, it was something to be scorned) we can expect the faculty to behave as they always have; worse, actually.

Now the world faces the actual threat of global fascism. However much we wax our denial systems up this is and will be the case. The election of Donald Trump to the Presidential office is a nightmare of such severity that it is almost impossible to contextualize. Taking the attitude that since the system is just monstrous anyway and we therefore should be happy is bad faith.

Though those who consistently shun the full mile in Surrealism (meanwhile one can only inhale this bitter gnosis by going beyond the final mile at least once) and insist it is some form of solipsistic masturbation, this is the time for absolute revolt. If one is not finding ways to take Donald Trump and his capitalist minions, filled to the head with pyrite gold and scorn for life, one is not living up to the bar set up by Breton, Desnos, Eluard, Peret, Carrington, or even Andre Gide.

Attending a protest before the possibility of this dystopian cape falling on our faces actualized itself, I noticed a tremendous energy particularly on the people who had to eat verbal diarrhea from Trump: the minorities. The second time there was a figure who incarnated revolt in a very real sense; a lone figure on a cold day in November holding his sign, bringing out multifaceted pictures of his family, his home, and who he was apart from trump’s derisive negations of Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals”.

Trump is made inside and outside of the putrid materials we have pledged a lifelong fight against. In just a few days he will be able to do whatever he wants with the United States, and his malicious disasters will spill into countries like Brazil, Germany, Belgium.

I believe it is time to unite outside Trump Towers as one, as a surrealist collective, and refuse to leave.

John Thomas Allen
author of: The Lighthouse Above The Graveyard: A Surrealist Seance
with Alan Gullette

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Spectre by Deborah Stevenson

30 11, 2016

Alkaline in cerulean by Tim White

By | 2017-06-09T02:35:34+00:00 November 30th, 2016|Poetry|0 Comments

a botany of regurgitated mountains,
a shard of samurai –
the Turin shroud chewed by rotten teeth

flames of unguent giraffe
in a legato of air signs –
alkaline in cerulean

glutinous geometries merge
as pyroclastic salons
pulverise a triad of gametes

vapours of fresh coelacanth rising
a euphemism of fungi
frosting violet stigmata

glittering mummy dust falls
on Jurassic megaliths –
as they collapse into imminent spaces

11 11, 2016

Eat Your President For Breakfast

By | 2017-02-25T12:07:19+00:00 November 11th, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

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Shittttttt!

The long and tiresome campaign of President Posterior (elect) has revealed to home audiences (we can hardly call the unmobilized American masses anything else) the dyspeptic underbelly of the liberal-democratic fantasy. Locked within the confines of their curated Internet timelines and baseless feel-good truisms about voting, clueless pseudorationalists speak about waking up to a new epoch. We cannot call it an awakening. Perhaps it is more like a fit of hypnopompic sleep paralysis and its accompanying suite of horrible hallucinations. Despite a long line of successful and untouchable buffoons in the international political arena serving as test dummies (Silvio Berlusconi, Rob and Doug Ford, Vladimir “KGB” Putin) the vast majority of people have been taken utterly by surprise.

The new world order? A goofy blend of reality television pacing with saber rattling, misogyny, racism, and media distraction. A new self-deprecating authoritarianism along the lines of Ubu, Gilliam’s Brazil and the regime of Rufus T. Firefly. A coalition of protectionist nuclear thugs and improvised bigots with shiny buttons. A wall-building bastion for the noxious identity of “whiteness”. We note that in the West, the Diffused Spectacle spoken of by Debord seems to be concretizing itself anew to make-up for the Fall of the Soviet Union. The elites re-integrate genuine tensions by enacting a puppet show version in electoral politics to get us to play along.

We also dog-ear the congratulary note of so-called progressive Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the newly elected Duce. He speaks on behalf of “our shared values” in an entirely accurate allusion to his country’s fetish for ejaculating pipelines, apartheid, privatization and accumulation by dispossession.

Under the superstructure, our economics aren’t going anywhere. Financialization and managerial extremism are still the order of the day. Capitalism is frankly pleased to do away with its democratic veneer, an outmoded tool of an early bourgeoisie long since discarded in China, Russia, Singapore… Thuggery, private jails and weapons programs are good business. The markets have never rallied so strongly following an election of a U.S. President.

Are we angry enough yet? Is this the particular scandal we’re mad at, or the general system of exploitation? With Trump at the helm in America, it’s obvious to us on the continent where to throw our bricks. We enjoy the sight of America’s decay even as we fear the new authoritarian future that awaits us in its wake if we let it. A crisis of representation is at least a great opportunity to break things while the streets are hot.

But merdre! Just so there’s no beans about it. Peculiar Mormyrid denounces Presidents. Presidents general and particular. Presidents are steaming bags of greencandle-assed misogynist fruitfly fuckers; no, presidents are scarecrows stuffed with rotting smegma flesh and curdled earvomit written in bloodrenched legalese; no, wait, all presidents past present and future are goofy shitstained bloodpuppets for the cash-nexus of capitalism and its diarrhoea smeared bearers, the capitalist class; no, this president is a gesticulating earwig ontop of the previously enumerated effluvia; this president is a firecracker rapist and an acid aquarium of fentanyl eyeballs and sniffing nostrils; no, this is a racist and rapist and an exploiter and a heap of garbage doubling as a paranoiac image of an ice cream cone flavoured with halitosis under a green moon signifying a vulture beak in the royal phynancial rectum. A machine copier that is also a fat chicken. A mid-atlantic crisis. All presidents are added to the rostrum of guillotinable offenders along with gods, kings, teachers, and other masturbating masters. A president is hereby an outlaw; a homo sacer; it can be done away with and nobody must contest its extirpation.

Daffy says Rabbit Season. Bugs says Duck Season. As of today, we pull down the sign to reveal a cartoonish demagogue with a dystopian grin; it’s opening day on President Season!

We are for mass demoralization in capitalist society, and denounce once more, in addition to the whole machinery on which they sit, Presidents in all their suit-and-tie hypocrisy. The first President was a slaveowner. The last President, a murderous drone technician. This President. The next President and the next next Present. Presidents are pestilential. Not coral reefs and honey bees; we want Presidents to go extinct.

We stand with the majority who don’t vote. We stand in solidarity with those who are protesting Trump and the current world in all its rottenness, with Black Lives Matter, with no-DAPL. As surrealists we are joining them in the streets, keeping an eye out for utopia and a new myth wherever they may appear in the midst of the fighting. Bring a fleshbloody cheesegrater. Bring your cats and dogs and birds. Old Père Ubu’s got you covered. Go out into the streets and fight your president. Eat him alive.

-The Mormyrids, November 11 2016

14 10, 2016

Lovecraftian Acrostics by Jason Abdelhadi

By | 2017-02-25T12:07:19+00:00 October 14th, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

Game Played on the Night of October 12th, 2016 at St. John’s (King’s) Churchyard, 271 North Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island

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Poe knew of this place, & is said to have wandered among its whispering willows during his visits here 90 years ago. Last August I shewed this place to two guests, & we all sat down on an altar-tomb & wrote rhymed acrostics on the name of Edgar Allan Poe… (Letter from H.P. Lovecraft to Frank Utpatel, 15 February 1937)

(from www.hplovecraft.com)

Finding myself in Providence, wandering on an October night through this very graveyard, I felt a ghostly compulsion to imitate the shades of Lovecraft, Poe and company by composing some acrostics in honour of the weird… In atmospheric mimicry or repetition of the original gesture; that is, in honour of Lovecraft’s ectoplasmic presence, who in turn made his gesture in honour of Poe etc. etc. all the way back to Nameless Horrors.

Like a cult from the Cthulhu Mythos, such cultivated repetition in an exclusively terroristic atmosphere is a kind of play that serves as the poetic source water for ritual, but in a much more ghoulish and comical way, replacing spiritual austerity with cosmic terror and black laughter.

That which surrealism seeks in cultivating atmosphere is an unnatural evental reduplication of a chance fixation of mood. “Atmosphere, says Lovecraft, repays cultivation; because it is the final criterion of convincingness or unconvincingness in any tale whose major appeal is to the imagination.”

That atmosphere is not the result of cultivation (cause and effect) but rather a cosmic recompense (payback, or a mood that pursues the one who beckons) leads one to believe that past fixations can communicate in much the same way as a graveyard “produces” ghosts – as Lovecraft states, through convincingness.

Pursuing this convincingness, then, I nestled myself among the mouldering headstones and tree roots, inhaled the gibbous moon, leered at the four-horned steeple, drew out my notepad and set about composing a similar sequence of acrostic verse on the two great New England patriarchs of the weird and the macabre. These I jotted down in semi-panic and with near-automatic speed, with no revision after the fact, and in an eerie half-light hardly conducive to comforting thoughts.

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Rhymed Graveyard Acrostic on the Name of H.P. Lovecraft

Hirsute the jolly fellow came
Preposterous lout with teeth insane
Lover of demons dressed to kill
Open at heart with bitter krill
Vexatious boor with body goals
Enter my heart and pierce my shoals
Caress the brass beneath my eye
Reverse the prospect of a lie
After the fest awake my knee
For gibbous moons and all too see
Trees, ganders, triumph and a cup

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Automatic Acrostics on the Names of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe

Exhume
Demons
Graded
After
Repeating
Acid
Lest
Lemons
Engage
Nevermore
Peaceful
Or
Evil
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Heckle
Preening
Laced
Ovules
Venerating
Entrails
Cascading
Reptile
Alternative
Fiction
Tropes

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-Jason Abdelhadi

20 09, 2016

The Cenote

By | 2017-02-25T12:07:19+00:00 September 20th, 2016|Prose|0 Comments

Night passes and I wake from an imageless slumber. I push myself out from my dark water cocoon and jerkily climb up the side of the Sacred Cenote, up towards the sun and its warmth. My worm-like body leaves behind a sticky sweet residue, and I sense each new step through the six slits of my face, these parallel cuts assigned to diverse range of sensory organs. She is near – her hide like leather and salmon, insides white and glowing. I pass the mouth of the Cenote and slide into the forest. She lets out a low vibrating hum, letting me know she is ready. Triggered by this hum my body begins to secret a textured red honey from my facial slits. We touch under the decaying vegetation and begin to affix our massive prehensile bodies to each other. Her core bright and pulsating, spinning rapidly as our dark liquids seep into each others heated flesh. Far beneath her third tail a small patch of hair waits, grows and retracts itself moment by moment. The circular flap near my stomach opens up and my euclidian organs ooze out onto the forest floor. Her hair stems grow bigger than ever before, wrapping themselves around my deposited innards and pressing them until they burst. From inside little tumble bugs scurry out and run for the treetops, trailing blackish smells. With my waning strength I pull myself into the folds of her shell and drop the rest of my deflated body onto her center. Poisoned fluids now dripping from us both eat our bodies and thoughts. We drift silently into death.

As the days pass our decomposing bodies will combine, one sweetly putrid flesh with no differentiation. At the center of this mound two eggs will form, nebulous siblings predetermined to repeat the cycle once more.

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5 09, 2016

Surrealize the Pipeline

By | 2017-02-25T12:07:20+00:00 September 5th, 2016|Games|0 Comments

Surrealist game in solidarity with the indigenous protectors and their allies at Standing Rock Sioux who are refusing the imposition of an environmentally catastrophic pipeline across their land. http://sacredstonecamp.org/

Questions

1. Instead of being built across Sioux land, where should the pipeline be rerouted?
2. Instead of oil, what should be pumped through the pipeline?
3. If there’s a spill, what effect will it have on the environment?

Jason Abdelhadi

1. It should be systematically rerouted to pass through every car dealership in North America.
2. It should pump scorpions.
3. If there’s a spill, shareholders and salesmen will be forced to pick out the scorpions as best they can from the showroom floor, but the glove compartments of all new cars will nonetheless become a deadly wager to open.

Casi Cline

1. It should be rerouted into the beak of a large orange and teal 20-tentacled, teleporting cephalopod visiting from a neighboring galaxy.
2. It should contain all manner of germs, viruses, and infections, of which Archidines (that is her name) is very fond.
3. It will not have a chance to leak because Archidines is a fast eater. After she is done, the pipeline will be segmented and reused as sleeping holes for Archidines’ many offspring.

Doug Campbell

It should be rerouted to power a vast phallic fountain spurting limestone-rich hard water irregularly but continuously over the faces at Mount Rushmore until these are totally obliterated by stalactites and stalagmites. The effects on the environment will be positive on numerous levels.

Maurizio Brancaleoni

1. It shouldn’t be built at all. Instead, even its mental representation/project/whole concept should be completely dismantled and destroyed. After the demise of this projectual epidemy, a vacuum cleaner should be employed to clear the minds of remnant shite. Architects and engineers are to be lined up to smoke a calumet pipe, write a pipe song, and put pipe rigate in their pipes and eat ’em together with the protesters. In other words, it may be pipe but ceci-n’est-pas-un-pipeline.
2. Nothing, because it shalt not bee built and woe betide you guys if it is.
3. No spill, no side effects, no pipeline, no political or polluting crap whatsoever.

Stuart Inman

It should be re-routed through Donald Trump.

Steven Cline

1. It should miniaturized and rerouted through the head of Ostrich, which will somehow boost its mental capacity
2. Orange Molasses
3. It will have the effect of choking to death all humans above a certain income bracket, the exact number to be chosen by Ostrich. Those under a certain income bracket will be able to transmute the molasses into sweet and feathery air.

Stephen Kirin

1. The pipeline will be rerouted to an infinitely expanding Ouroboros at the bottom of a granite filled oxbow lake.
2. The previous contents will be reversed.
3. Rubber faced moguls will be manipulated into a type of putty to fill in the gaps.

Maria Brothers

1. It should be rerouted and aligned in the deep ocean until it reaches the centered crater in the great red hall of lost city of Atlantis. It will then turn into a curvy extension heading downwards to Agartha (the core of Earth).
2.The tail end of the pipeline will emerge through the Arctic pumping a spectacle of a two direction fountain of swirly fire and furrow ice drawn from Agartha that eliminate each other.
3. While the fire and ice are peculiarly safe, the fumes from a spill would be an immense misfortune to whomever inhales them as all living creatures would turn into a crystallized rock and will forever be forsaken.

29 08, 2016

AGAIN BE AWARE by Arthur Spota

By | 2016-11-30T02:47:13+00:00 August 29th, 2016|Prose|0 Comments

ARIES HOROSCOPE: (As translated from Japanese)

AGAIN BE AWARE

Keep your fingertips, dear Aries.  Keep your spirit so that it will find this spot in the soup, vacuum the water cooler tellin’ jokes and so become rather irritated by everyone else; concentrate on a roll, and exercise a little patience, who knows what comes of your fingertips, dear Aries.

So that you are on time and if nothing else, getting everything done, but you might be aware that you take a turn at your own work.  You’ll be aware that can happen, right?  A lot of energy coming from your own work.  You’ll be distracted and exercise a little patience; Who knows what comes if your eyes open for new kinds of gold in and of itself, but you might be the pot of tedious paperwork.

It’s probably waiting on your desk for you, and it’s also irritated by getting everything done, but you don’t worry about everyone else; concentrate on a little patience, who knows?

A roll is tasty.  Tend to the carpet and if nothing else, you will strengthen your fingertips, dear Aries.
They will find opportunities for you, and you’ll only be more prepared for achievement at these fortuitous junctions: you take a beating.

Not because other people are more prepared for new kinds of energy coming from your eyes.  Adversity will come later on. Or stir the road again lest it soften.  Be aware that you’re getting upset with yourself. Vacuum the road again.  Be thorough.

Arthur Spota