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ay way back, at the end of the 20th Century, when Drew and I were the graveyard shift at a 24-hour restaurant (I was the waiter, he was the cook), we came up with this crazy idea: we’d ask 100 people to tell us a story and we’d make a book out of it. I realize now that things like this only get done by people who don’t realize that things like this are impossible. It was a nightmare. A catastrophe. It backfired.
      It’s 1998, the world is about to end, and we are serving up food to drunks and living off pocket change. We are doing this all night, almost every night, and sleeping away the days. And we are—though we don’t realize it yet—going a little bit bonkers. (The graveyard shift has a certain quality to it. It makes you feel responsible, but you don’t know what you’re responsible for. Saving the world, maybe. Or at least keeping everything okay until dawn.) After the bar rush there wasn’t much to do but clean, so we would tell each other stories. Soon the dishwasher joined us, and then the insomniacs, the lonely and restless, the up-all-night-lovers.
      Of course, there was a problem from the start. Our true stories were lousy. Our stories were slick black things that we spit out of our mouths onto the table in front of us. We were trying to sell something. We were trying to sell our loneliness, and no one was buying. And we were getting tired of dark looming things. We were getting tired of trying to glue words onto doom.
      Ask someone to tell you a true story and you get a murkiness. Ask someone to tell you a lie and they’ll betray themselves. (The body always betrays itself—it blushes, it trembles...) I suppose, in hindsight, we were being ulterior—everyone wants the understory, everyone is always searching for a human moment—but we asked people to lie to us, we asked for stories, big fabulous stories, and we wrote them down and saved them.
      Now, there is the story that must be told, and there is the story that can’t be told, and sometimes they are the same story. And if you trick people into betraying themselves with I-shouldn’t-be-telling-you-this stories at four in the morning, well… they will come back and try to kill you. It’s not that the stories were bad, it’s that they were too good, revealed too much, were told with too much emphasis and not enough guile. We were marked men, Drew and I. We got in fights. We bickered. We decided not to burn the stories and we lost a lot of friends.
      And so here we are a few years later, doing the same thing: searching for the human moments. We’ve been asked why we select the pieces we do, and I can only say that we’re looking for tone. There are 10,000 shades between the noons. Gloom is only one of them. We want more than gloom. I’m talking paint chips and spice racks and the Kama Sutra. Hue, flavor, timbre, texture—language can evoke, it can put you somewhere, take you somewhere. We are not newspapermen, we are not looking for that kind of truth. We want to go joyriding.
      It’s been said that everything’s been said already, but I haven’t been everywhere yet, so I’m still interested in the ride. As for where I’ve been, that’s part of the dilemma. I’ve been here, inside this body. I’ve always been in here, though I’m getting better at throwing my voice.
      Oh, the body—its hungers, needs, and limitations. You look at somebody and you realize that they’re in there, inside there, somewhere, and how will you ever reach them, understand them? A friend of mine says that if we could live five minutes in someone else’s body, so many things would besolved. It’s all the same light and wattage, just a different slide against the screen. That’s comforting. I’m not sure I agree. I’m not sure I disagree. Anotherr friend says the local body is a fallacy. Yet another friend says Aw sweetie, you have your own body so you can do what you want without me. I can’t seem to get my head around it.
      Many of the pieces in this issue deal with the body—having a body, leaving the body, the distance between bodies—and I will let them speak for themselves, but I want to come back to ventriloquism for a minute. We are, all of us, throwing our voices here. Honestly though, I’m not sure why we’re doing it. It’s fun, sure. It means something, maybe. But I suspect, dear reader, that underneath all the gruff and bluster we are simply saying we love you.
      In 100 years we’ll all be dead. That’s kinda creepy, if you think about it, but what can you do? We are all here, now, feeling these things and saying these things, and if these pages sit on the bedside table or the bookshelf, traveling through time at the speed of time, gathering heat and light, and arrive, years later, in the hands of a reader—perhaps even you, dear reader—then hurray for us. We love you, we do. But there’s this space between us, always this space between us. We’re stuck in our skins and singing, and no one really knows how long it will take for the sound to reach you.
      Like I said in Issue 1.1, the goal is to make a thing that will take our voices to your ears. A mechanical bird, if you will, intent on getting into your tree and singing its song of whatever it is that we’re singing. We’ve made the bird. Now it’s up to you to make a branch for it to land on. And, of course, you may be thinking Why bother? Well, I will tell you: great literature is not about its author, it’s about its reader. I wouldn’t burn the I-shouldn’t-be-telling-you-this stories because they were, ultimately, about me. I continue to not burn those stories, or these either. They are about you, too.
      And so, Issue 1.2—words on a page, words on a page, look at us now, we’re so beautiful.

      -Richard Siken