An Excerpt from “Medium Warp,” by Mike Oliphant, our 2018 Gas Station Winner

Conditional Ascension in JavaScript

             if (condition1) {
                block of code to be executed if condition1 is true
             } else if (condition2) {
                block of code to be executed if the condition1 is false and condition2 is true
             } else {
                block of code to be executed if the condition1 is false and condition2 is false

if (I jump) {

             my falling hand will reach and find

             my other hand,

             all of me in one long spoke

} else if (my fingers dove-tail together)

             my empty mouth wide open,

             between my arms, a whole wind;

} else {

             what an awful bird I am;

             what bastard of flight holds fast

             to so many smooth stones;


if (I house you, O hole-in-the-holy-of-holies) {

             my hands make a cup for you,

             palms up, enough space in there

             to fit a few toothed peach pits;

} else if (a third of you in there is dove) {

             my asking will whisper

             its way through your pneumatic bones

             and molt you down to a shiver;

} else {

             you don’t answer and the answer

             is yes is yes is yes;


if (I marry my ear to earth to hear its inner rustlings) {

             it only takes two knocks to know

             who all is down there;

} else if (I have no avian instinct) {

             no internal imprint of stars guides me,

             my vision isn’t saying: This is North;

} else if (I wear my one light like an eye) {

             the miner’s hand is in me,

             my hand holds a cage, praying;

} else {

             the bird inside keeps quiet;


if (horizon is gold standard of dividing) {

             a binary: Its ups, downs

             that’s that;

} else if (an elm beneath bears fruit) {

             blooms soon-to-be wind-blown

             blossoms that sail like thumbnails, down.

} else {

             what you see of their scatter is not

             the same scatter I see;


if (I put me in perfect dark, the cave kind) {

             I hold up my open palm

             and for all I know I look at nothing;

} else if (I make of me whatever I need) {

             a web of love and life lines,

             a minotaur, sword-swallower, a whole

             flowerless vessel;

} else if (I am all in here) {

             no height allows for same thinglessness

} else {

             even looking down is only looking;



Mike Oliphant received his MFA at Western Washington University, and is Consulting Editor of the Bellingham Review. A portion of his collection Medium Warp was the recipient of the 2018 Gas Station Prize. He was a 2017 Pushcart Nominee and his short fiction and poetry are either forthcoming or have appeared in Isthmus, Psaltery & Lyre, IDK Magazine, Shooter Literary Magazine, NANO Fiction, and elsewhere.

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