MISFIT DOC: Economies of Scale

“Sunset like the grasshopper flying.”

– Ezra Pound, ‘Canto XVII’


  • 1 sentence = washing the dishes from lunch
  • 1 opening sentence = up to 1 week of train rides, lurching in your seat
  • 1 novel = 1 childhood, or seems like
  • 1 novel = 438 days
  • Diagrams in pencil, bullets, scribblings, asterisks, notes that made sense last night, at least = a plan
  • Time to write = 7 forfeited conversations
  • 1 swim, morning, in the ocean = 1 cormorant diving for fish the size of thumbs, because that was something else entirely
  • 1 novel, read = the weight, and lingering aroma, of 24 mangoes
  • 1 head against the wall = same
  • Tight-lipped, brow set, deciding to carry the burden yourself = a dented oven, a broken photo frame, dirty secrets that are no longer secrets, a burden that deflates when poked
  • 1 slow death = years of panic, a year and counting
  • 4 and a half quinces = still life
  • Six elephants, taught to dance, circus-stuck = 1 train carriage
  • The precise word = a moment, in a moment
  • 1 heart = 1 half-moon
  • 1 half-moon = 1 floating stone
  • 1 kiss goodnight = a rearrangement
  • Waves breaking on the rocks under searing blue sky = 1 open palm to be read, the clicking of plastic beads, voodoo man
  • 1 honey ant, 4 blueberries, 1 ripe, 3 un-, 1 green chilli = 1 visit from a magpie, holding your gaze with its eye sunflower yellow
  • 1 snapped rib = the world in a daze, 1 year and counting of panic
  • 1 website = 7 days, 4 nights, more in pay than I’ll ever make doing any of this
  • 1 novel, read = 3/5 of a video game, and while I don’t think one cannot co-exist with the other, I’m sure you see my point
  • Concrete towers = 2 scarred lungs, silicosis, a slow suffocation into advanced age
  • Time ≠ money, or shouldn’t, or maybe it does, I don’t know, I’m bad at these things
  • 1 failed marble statue in anachronistic style = a sledgehammer, dusted hands, heavy breathing
  • The great wall of china = 1 Franz Kafka
  • Waiting for 1 call or 1 text or just something, just, anything will do = marble that was carved from the Italian alps, bleached like snow, now in pieces that are jagged and useless
  • 1 novel = bonfire fuel
  • 2 dead birds, cord tying their feet = 1 overgrown temple, where the gods used to gather
  • A familiar face = 1 single gull that circles over the cobalt sea, in the searing sky
  • 8 forgotten, overripe pears = bats that hang from branches in the daylight like ripe fruit
  • The death of a loved one = but the death of which loved one?
    The which is important here. Also the how and the how long, but mainly the which. Or am I being insensitive?
  • Finger-snapping worries in the night = 1 calico bag of apricots, furry to the touch, seeds and all
  • The loss of tradition, of ritual = the lost, for good
  • The call to prayer before sunrise, the dust of a new town on your shoulders = 1 firm eggplant, 1 handful of tomatoes, 1 hazy-eyed fish still smelling like sea breeze (it is gutted and scaled for you), olive oil to cook them in
  • 1 sentence = 1 balanced stack of drying dishes; a Sunday
  • 1 half-built coffee table, sawdust caught in the hair of your arm = a crisis, like a museum of fakes
  • Another restless night = phantoms, the lot of us
  • 1’s too many = 10’s not enough
    That same night we drank and drank and walked home by the motorway after your mate said salacious things to a dead phone while his wife snored in the bedroom, his apartment balcony overlooking the sparkling lights of suburbia, and gardenias, and a night that will not end
  • 1 entire childhood, or seems like = the chug of printing presses in our ears
  • The broken, the poor = the sound of voices behind tight-lips
  • Five geese, three of them young, all alive = a prolonged misunderstanding
  • 1 short story or short piece or, anyway, something brief = an agitation, days of it, of an unsettling
  • 1 slice of 1 razor = a hurry; or, 2 supermarket-cold chickens, naked and headless
  • 6 wild strawberries = confessions to a former lover
  • 1 Odysseus bound to a mast = 1 body washed clean


Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. His writing has appeared in SAND, Words Without Borders, The Scofield, Music & Literature and elsewhere. He is an editor at 3:AM Magazine.

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