Lantern Review | The Hybridity Issue

Kristen Eliason

from Picture Dictionary

Artist's Statement

The following piece is an excerpt from my manuscript entitled, Picture Dictionary. These prose poems are presented in the format of a dictionary—the primary tool I used for linguistic understanding and mis/representation while I was living in Japan. Each section follows the Katakana syllable that most closely matches the word’s pronunciation and the manuscript as a whole follows a Katakana syllabary table (Ka, Ki, Ku, Ke, Ko, etc.). The illustrations in a picture dictionary serve to simplify communication, and this version (all of the pictures are referential) serves as a vehicle for exploring cultural and emotional aphasia. The false English/Katakana structure further explores issues of translation, the fragmentation of cultural meaning, and the disintegration of memory in the wake of grief.

This piece also serves as an elegy.

* * *

- KO, adv.
Fig. 17: a summer kimono, yukata

  1. This way; like this; so much like this
  2. Everything happened in this manner:

first, a star streaking its tired, old body across the map of your hand;
second, a synchronized ballet of crane excavators;
third and climax, a grassless plot;
denouement becomes rice.

KO -, n.
Fig. 18: red rock and waterfall

  1. Late; deceased; dead-as-a-doornail; passed on; passed away; on the other side; looking down on us; in our hearts; got his wings; is no longer with us; is always with us; gone on to a better place; gone to live with God; taking a dirt nap; kicked the bucket; gave up the ghost; bought a pine condo; croaked; gone into that good night; sleeping the big sleep; gone to feed the fishes; breathed his last; cashed in his chips; bought the farm; gone to the city of angels; shuffled off this mortal coil; dearly departed; checked out; mortified; watching over us wherever we go; gone to live with his beagle, Bagel; gone to the raven’s haven; filling the graveyard shift; crossed over; wandering the elysian fields; gone the way of the earth; he’s gone; we think he’s gone; ex. ko-kesuke, the late Mr. Kesuke
  2. Where the hell is he?
    We look for days, and by we, I (do not) mean you. You (she) sit(s) in the basement looking through her old books for him, peeling old pictures of him out of non-acid-free-non-archival-photo-albums, searching every internet search engine for him, for something she wanted to know, some proof. Some people searched in the reservoir. Others started downstream and worked back to the base of the waterfall. Some people aided the Utah Fish Preservation Project. And then like blood rising to the surface of an oxygenated pool, the divers found him quietly ascending in the water.

Fig. 19: ojai breathing. ouija breathing

  1. Breathing; Respiration;

See also: two inches of sugar water wafting toward your downslanted nose
See also: swimming pool notices
See also: scare tactics

Fig. 20: brother, singular, one who tries in desperation to talk you out of opening the coffin, but what does he know.

  1. Leave (something) as it is.