sample n. The earth vivisects itself before you. It cracks cleanly and diagrams. It wants you to look through the saltwater pools, the thin scales of skin, to the metals and minerals and fire, to the solid inner core.

board shear / cutter n. Power could be the ability to split one part cleanly into two. A chef whose cleaver cracks like thunder on the cutting board. The invisible hands that take hold of the atom and tear along the seam.

key n. The particles of ourselves constantly want to shimmy apart. We invented the key as a bridge between making and unmaking, a tool that could clasp parts together and shear them loose.

smasher n. We who feel our brains rattling wish for means to compact our thoughts. Coffee or coca. Yoga. Long walks, hikes or runs. Anything that helps blood to engine smoothly along its designated tracks.

frame sewing tr. v. The English language has several fine idioms for planning ahead. Many involve birds. This romanticizes the concept of organization for drunks and wild children, both of whom have a tendency to lie on their backs and look at the sky.

make-ready n. Have you ever seen that kind of open-eyed boy walking towards you, and it could be the most cruel, genius thought, that you are going to mark this thing altogether and irreparably. Junk it in the morning.

way sheets n., pl. A poet I know says he has a thing for ugly duckling women, sudden swans. Call up every wallflower in the phone book and they’ll arrive at the party ready, each waiting for the moment to be come upon.

blind stamping tr. v. People fall in love to feel special. They want someone to confer beauty upon them, a half-hidden mark of grace. Tell me what makes me different from the others. Tell me when you knew I was the one.

ruler n. There are days you realize that your measurement of an inch is really only your idea of an inch. We like to think we have standards. It’s much easier to imagine you’re following the manual official.

squares n., pl. A man played shadow puppet to existing forms and so became second to egoists and maniacs. Where he went he was praised as incomparable ballroom partner, but never the leader, never.

forwarding tr. v. Before you receive a placemat at the grown-up table, have a friend prepare you in the following ways: by training you in the art of point and counterpoint, by giving you the grace and manner of a ghost.

white glue / PVA n. Folks in olden times thought men carried human eggs in their seminal fluid. While we have since learned that procreation is collaborative, that line of thought isn’t unreasonable. What that men make could be more precious?

headbands n., pl. Modernity ain’t shit because we don’t widely encourage the wearing of fine accessories. Still there are scattered dandies left. A rude boy took me on pleasant dates and his shoes and hat looked very well.

end papers n., pl. I’m notoriously bad at finishing. I empty most of the dishwasher. I memorize most of the lyrics. I butcher the last week of the relationship. The very prospect of finality makes me want to fold myself up.

bone folder n. My origami is frightful. I’m awful with straight lines and planes. My mother tried to teach me how to make a bed, good luck with that. It’s gotten worse, maybe because my hands expect to disappoint.

hot foil stamper n. We often complain about being “under pressure” or “in the hot seat”, but these are means of effecting radical change. Apply heat. Dwell. Take on the image of what impresses you.

guillotine n. My boyfriend is afraid he can’t feel. When I grab his ribs, he looks confused. When I tickle his nose with a flower, he sputters. When I’m a tempest, he falls to his knees and begs, “Cut my head off, please.”

cutting mat n. There are things born for taking blade to skin. We call them self-healing because they swell to fill the cuts. But scars never disappear. We’re all self-healing, but all our bodies hum with the scores of our experiences.

bookmark n. I wish I believed in soul mates/destiny/certainty/god’s plan, but the best I can manage is something like an arrow inscribed “You Are Here” on the amusement park map, and an acknowledgment of the thread that gently holds me together.

awl n. Miracles exist mostly outside of the digital realm. No one’s written the code to explain my dreams. When machines fail us, we return to the tools from centuries before, to the muscle we’ve always known, to the sweat.