Theorying the Take a Step Too Far

By Craig Foltz

Somewhere along the way, we adopted unfamiliar personas. The volume of assumed names

grew and grew in accordance with the latest theories on microbial talent. Miasmic soil is a

precursor to spontaneous outcomes.

Nobody recognises you. The room you grew up in mimics the rough footprint of a familiar

cave. You say, “It’s finally happened. I’ve become a particular person in a particular part of a

particular building.”

Somebody from your distant past arrives, bringing precise instructions on how to achieve


Instruction #1: Identify a place with a more sophisticated and relevant outlook. Swampy

ramparts with cold, brackish water. Insulated surfaces. A place where the touch of skin

becomes an unredeemed object.

Instruction #2: Implement a process for establishing safe distances. You cannot reach across

this great divide. The woman wakes you up in the middle of the night. There is something

physical in between you, a flat plane extending beyond your immediate calculation. She says,

“Allow your heart to fibrillate. Then place your eyes in a container of murky liquid.”

Instruction #3: The preceding action is tricky; the amount of electrons vanishingly small.

Slowly, the shape of your childhood home reveals itself to you. A neighbor offers you their

pets for adoption. You think, Brine is alive, but unverifiable.

Instruction #4: Avoid the strata of downward mobility. The characteristics of the sale are

impaired; the connections unreliable. The person you used to be retreats into a field of

seedless lupins. Likewise, the walls of the cave are decorated with photographs of the

horizon, all of which lack critical focus.

Instruction #5: You say, “There is plenty of space for tussling, but insufficient space for

collaboration.”  Note the corollaries to the exposure procedure and activate. One tests the

acidity of the soil with thin metal instruments that had been calibrated earlier. She says, “The

numbers are arbitrary, but stable.” Another becomes fattened on herbs and exotic grasses.

We cover this person in dead leaves and restrict access to the perimeter.

Instruction #6: Encapsulation disrupts ongoing services. This is why the hands slip back

under the sleeves and why buttons rumble. You say, “An ache is presumed, but can be acted

upon later.” Something moves under the blanket.

Instruction #7: Quickly rearrange yourself into three generations; the first of which has an

appetite for copper and iron. The other two generations are luminescent, though their

coatings will soon become compromised.

 Craig has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and have released three full length books, the most recent of which, "Locals Only" is a poetry collection from Compound Press (2020). He currently writes in New Plymouth.