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5. Five

by Disparition

Five 21:00



they unfold before you
sea after tiny sea
partitioned by salt-crusted stone
wall after tiny wall
stairs and algae
miasma of shifting colors
they collect in the corner of the eye
they add up

eyes on the road
lines under the earth
blur of walls pooling in the corners
the sight takes hold
the hands grow numb
the brain bubbles
the sky descends
drift from lane to lane
an arcing dance
a line over the line
a circle around and above

valley of all valleys
born a sea of grass and wand’ring fire
wind, current, and thrum of hives
the floods your dreams and longings
an arc of bright feeling from root to fingertip
starlight across the surfaces of your rivers

pylon after pylon
eye after eye
seen and marked, near silent drifter
may your body be generic and featureless
may your wiring be gutted and pulled
may your quietness fill you
may their ear be clogged

tiny drifter, shining beetle on a ribbon
drawn forth out into the night
the winds wrapped around you
wanderer, there is no where you can go
the map will shift to contain you
the known written in under your wheels
your feelings writhe, reach, and wrap around
the branches we extend to meet you.


The darkness came hours ago but sleep will not, and so you decide to go for a drive. In silence and grace you decent into the garden. Gently, you remove a section of the cellophane, the part over the window, cutting it with your thumbnail. You slide the window down into its well, pull the door open from the inside, careful to make no contact with the exterior. Inside, you run your hands over every inch of the dashboard, slide them deep into the radio cavity. Making sure, just making sure. You feel those above, opening the fate for you, and those below, melting out from the grass and high roses, gripglove hands just below the windows. You feel the soft motion, wheels just barely sunk into the rich soil. The open gate is at the bottom of a steep hill. In position, the hands let go. Flying just above the ground, low level owl, a quietness of creaking frame and grasses pushed aside. A gathering speed, in the bottom of the stomach and in the corners of the eyes. Hands on the wheel, in no time choice is upon you.


lines cross just below the grapevine
glowing, burning lines who shout their visibility into space
built, burned, built again, shaken to rubble, built again
frail city of rope and web, half of you invisible
sacred city of collision
for so long we passed through you hurriedly, unlooking
covering every part of you with names and moving on
seen from above, so clear
south branch and san andreas
golden slope and stripe of char


You are entering the Sovereign Nation of the Way. Everyone still calls it the Five. All members of all houses are welcome on the Way with the sole condition of motion. Drift. There are five hundred and twenty three official gates into the kingdom of the Five, gates which anyone may cross but if you are not a citizen, you may not stop. And you are not a citizen. Crest on dash, their eyes read you as soon as you cross a threshold, they hold on to you for every moment until you leave. The old eyes, boxes mounted on tall metal frames, the new eyes, tiny and embedded in ever conceivable surface. They appeared in the cities, decades ago, now they are found in every yard of road in every one of the Thirteen Hundred Miles. The Way is a mile wide and immaculate, unbroken by storm, fire, or collision. The Fivers are ever present, working constantly, resurfacing, extinguishing, eternaly decorating. On the outer lanes, hulking 32 wheel beasts roll perpetually at thirty miles per hour, spaced ten miles apart from each other. The alcalarodante, each is unique and elaborately designed. These are where the Fivers live and keep their workshops, dispatch their wheelers and small carriers, and watch the endless feeds coming in from the eyes in miles before and behind. In this and many other of their duties, they overlap. The Fivers are fond of redundancy, repetition, certainty.

You enter the realm through the Gates of Elysian, the natural flow pulls you quick and silent through the sleeping valley. In no time you’ve reach the southern edge of the old security complex, the Grapevine Wall. Really a series of fortifications starting just below the Castaic checkpoint, they now lie in ruins, empty since the days of Marisol’s exile. The only remaining inhabitants are in the Towers of Frazier, once built to house workers on the Wall as well as Marisol’s garrison, now they are an independent walled city in their own right – and still fiercely loyal to her memory. In this night you see the Towers glowing distantly, lighting the walls of their valley off to the left as you pass the darkened Gates of Tejon. The dramatic landscape around you nearly invisible, the sharp drops and burned strips still pull at you. Even the Way itself, cast into a glowstate, a bright ribbon seen from the stars, feels dimmer in this stretch. But now a flash fills your interior, and then another, a pulse from the alcalarodante ahead on your right – now approaching you feel your carrier slow, resistances wound slowly around outer tires, the pull from a Fiver watching inside.


every part of you has been covered in fire
even in the time before us
every part of you gives a golden light
even in this smokechoke season
gatherers, gatherers
machine and hand
field after burning field
row after shaking row
they collect in the corners of the eye
they add up
a blanket of scars
all across the southern valley they stab and suck
tens and tens of swords
armies of drop carriers
benders of pipes
cover you with living carcasses
wrap around your trunks with iron hands
pull and shake until you drop what you hold
vibrations separate the root from the soil
only a tiny space
waiting for the flood
the patterns on top of you scream out
visible even at this holy distance
circle around and above
circle around and above


What spells weave they, these Fivers? Already your carrier has been netted and lashed by bonds invisible to the edge of the wide deck at the rear of the alcala. You have felt, you have seen throughout this procedure, the light of the Way dimming around you. But that cannot be so. Gripglove hand of a Fiver slides your window down, and then you see the figure step back and beckon. Out you crawl, even at this low speed the transition to the large open platform on is jarring. Wind and ash in your face. Immediately you feel it, the descent, the opening of the valley, the Gates of Wheeler. Drops of moisture collect on you, run in streams along the ornate balustrades of the alcalarodante. The figures around you remain motionless but seem to grow in number as the fog thickens. Just after you pass the Gates, the glow of approaching dawn becomes visible on the eastern horizon. Before you is the City of Wall, one of only four stationary settlements in the entire realm. and also the first. Fortified by Marisol in the last days of her gambit, this section of the old wall community became an independat collective called Interchange before linking up with the rest of what became the Sovereign Nation of the Way. The central keep, on the grounds of the old outlet mall, retains the same footprint and layout of the original structure at its core, but has been expanded in all directions, each outer layer more decorative and less functional than the last. It is here they are bringing you, but the alcala has to perfom some bizarre maneuvre to get you there. You’ve never seen one taken out of its lane. Half a mile inward, at the center of the Way, massive chains of heavy carriers hurtle past at over a hundred miles an hour – unlit, fenced off, their presence known through their churning wind. There is a sudden steep descent and a sharp turn, and then you are beneath the heavy carriers, crossing for half a mile under the southbound Way, emerging in a greygreen light on the far side opposite the keep on a wide, flattened surface - the long ago site of Marisol’s headquarters in the last days of the defense. From here you will cross a bridge, one of very few remaining in the realm, crystal clear and two miles long, double the width of the Five itself, leading from here directly into the keep itself. The alcalarodante never actually stops – Fivers escort you along the outer platform where a narrow staircase leads to a waiting wheeler drifting beside you – you step into it, it peels away, the alcala lumbering off to its route. Can they stop? Is this the source of their power, their endless motion? The wheeler climbs the glasslike slope of the bridge with its thickgrip wheel, the eastern light breaks through and across the valley floor, scattered across the surfaces of the thousand tiny seas the stretch out from the walls of the Five and onward into the flat northern distance.


wave after shining wave
reed after bending reed
wind and current carry your song
your fields sunken and untended
cormorants cap ancient pylons
leaning but still towering over the coursing Way
circle around and above
even from this sacred distance
salt shouts its edges into space
layer upon layer
a softening grid
until the waves return in strength
until they wash through the jagged teeth at the base of the bubble
until the rivers swell
until the waves find themselves again at the foot of Sierra


released August 11, 2020

written and performed by Jon Bernstein




Disparition Los Angeles, California

Electronic, ambient, industrial, found sounds, beats, piano.

Inspired by history, geography, travel, occult, fiction.

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