Artist Statement:

Hi! I’m Mike Atkins! Despite my use of question marks, I don’t like writing about happy things! The story “It’s Not Absurd, It’s a Bird,” was essentially an experimentation in what I could and couldn’t do with my own writing and style. It’s the culmination of a workshop deadline, months of reading only Vonnegut, hating writing/reading conventional short stories, and a sudden realization that I didn’t have to write things that I didn’t feel like writing. The poem “Ha.” is what came out when I tried to write myself out of a case of insomnia. “Mishearing Him as Saying, ‘Distribution of Health,’ Made Him Seem More Human,” was my brain realizing that the Occupy movement was a good starting point for a lot of the thoughts I had on society in general and is one of the first pieces . “The Man in the Moon is the Man is the Moon,” is inspired by the Man Man song “Van Helsing Boom Box.” It’s about that song, loneliness, and outer space. I enjoy exploring existentialism, alliteration, humor, permanence, things we pretend have meaning, death, and ice cream. My favorite flavor is probably chocolate chip cookie dough, which I just realized has a fair amount of alliteration in it. It’s funny how things like that happen. It’s funny how they don’t, too.

The Man in the Moon is the Man is the Moon

MIke Atkins


His whistle hung in the air afloat on aspirated ash.
Some sultry silhouette swayed surrounding smoky susurruses.
What he spoke could have been considered words, but she only heard the pitch.
It mimicked the whistle, echoed it, reinforced it in her ears and in her electric organ.
This is what he said,
he said, "Only time will tell if I'll allow the scenery around to eat me alive."
This is what she heard,
she only heard the pitch, the whistle, the smoke as it spoke.
He wrapped around her ankles, slept like sympathetic shoes, snored straight,
straight through the freedom-feeding fires that consumed the walls
straight through her arms like a ghost when she tried to catch him
straight into the ocean, left to drown and howl.
The moon exhaled and obscured the sun.
It breathed in the shadows before apologized in a language forgotten as its ability to swim.
And it sank into the Earth.
And burned down Nepal.
And she spoke to him in a language defeated.
This is what she said,
she said, "Anything that's anything becomes nothing, that's everything, and nothing is the only
thing you'll ever seem to have."
This is what he heard,
he heard nothing, and it was all he ever seemed to have.
The moon howled back, forgotten, defeated.

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790