DS CHAPMAN

Add the Faceless Champion – In The History Of Empires

There is a tradition in this place, sticky and lush, and I don’t know how to talk to it. I imagine ships carrying warlords over the broken glass of the Serengeti; they catch me in the grass, and they throw me before the feet of the Emperor, who laughs – is he a chimpanzee? Are we chimpanzees in here? No – but then he throws his head back, and excuses me, and, like Cl-Cl-Claudius, I am safe again.

They put me in my place among the satyrs and spintrians and I felt bad.

-

Emptied pockets. My pockets are finally empty. I have nothing else to have.

Bad luck, that’s a lot of bad luck and I don’t deserve anything better.

I am saying goodbye now, I love you (God bless)

The semi-dwarf red delicious tree fell over in the windstorm and I re-planted it. I used a shovel and a spade and I protected my vulnerable fingers with gloves. In science, they are called “phalanges.” I wiggle my phalanges. In Latin, it is the digiti manus. Latin is sometimes a difficult language.

I love three things in life. My family, my dog, and civilization. I will do anything for these things. I also like God, America, apple pie, and my friends. I once had many friends. I overcame my stammer and made popular jokes. But now I do not have many friends, and those I do have are more like family. Like the dog.

But if it weren’t for civilization… I call it Rome for shorthand. I joke that I am a true Roman. A good Christian Roman like my fathers before me. “My name is Daniel Scott Chapman Uncapher. That is a good Roman name.”

But it is not a Roman name. It is a Biblical-Germanic name. That is the language of Barbarians.

They came crashing through the black forests of the mystic witches and crippled babies, smashed on rocks and buried under the floorboards of the nearest hero; vanquished, in the middle of the night, by curses slipped in through the rear.

I left the roses on their stems and plucked instead the leaves and ate them. That was the age of mercy and compassion. It was a golden reign and it lasted many short nights and short mornings.

Scared of the black-hearted demon… Scared of his wicked black nails.

And afraid of the forests, where the inbred whiskey-drinkers lay, boiling in the hot mud of the transcendental realism, portrayal of the ice-cream eaters and women of the dust realm. Is it a desert being in the shadows of the valley? Is it a watery mess?

The mischief god was always two-faced. On one face a Hun, or Kublai Khan, and on the other a soft baby-face of Rimbaud. Disgusting rape-infested mongrel, abandoned in a basket in the streets, with a jar full, absolutely full, of fingernail clippings.

The economics did not work out. If you want to conscript a man on the street to buy and deliver drugs to you, you have to be willing to pay at least a 200% premium to the man. Anything less and he has no incentive to deliver anything other than talcum powder.

I will tell you this, though, as the sun sets again in an orange flash and the purple gauze sinks in over the hills, that you are not too good for nothing. There is nothing in this world worse than you.

In my sleep, I struggled with my own wickedness. I remained convinced I was a good man, but the reality of evidence did not favor that conclusion. I did not act good; I did not perform good deeds. To perform a good deed one must leave the house. One must pursue badness and correct it. That is not something I do. Nor do I particularly think good things; I think of nothing but guilt, my own guilt, which is not an indication of goodness, but a running tally of badness. What claim can I have then to being good? Am I so honest-to-goodness truthful and good?

The only claim I can have is in non-action. If I do not proactively perform good deeds, nor do I proactively perform bad ones. I do not treat my friends in an underhanded or dishonest way, as some of them have sometimes treated me. I do not cheat on women like they do. I have no ambitions to power.

The Christian golden rule is, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That is a very idealistic and unrealistic ethics. It is not survivable. It doesn’t exist. To do unto others is a proscription of action, and the true subscriber would be broke and homeless overnight.

The Confucian rule, however, is “Do not do unto others as you would not have others do unto you.” That is a functional ethics. It is, handily enough, the one most aligned with my own natural instincts.

But I am not a Confucian, I am a Christian. I eat the bread of the Lord and I drink his blood. I have read the words that were written in smoke, burned into the close white sky, that revealed the mysteries of revelation. And they were no mysteries, after all, but stories of life, told by naked apes with furry loins, scratching their backs with back-scratchers made out of wood and sniffing their armpits.

Cement Sculpture

I have been mixing concrete again. I think there is shit in my aggregate. It is either shit or mud. They say anyone who works with sand has problems with cat shit. My sand aggregate is having a problem.

It is all earth now, I tell myself, although there is no getting around the fact that cat shit compromises the integrity of my work.

Blank and dry, the cement hardens, exothermic, burning my skin with its caustic reactions. I am all burned up and feeling fine. I eat an ice cream cone to cool down. I keep ice cream in a box in my kitchen with power running to it 24/7. That is a good box. It is delicious.

Quiet stones are free from empty wrath and in his reins I was finally left alone, just rhyming, my hand under my head, on the long road to Damascus; leave me, father, for I am a Roman, and I am a Jew, and I am a Christian.

The dorkiest thing about it was that I didn’t even know I was being abused.

But I was not being abused…

The Longest Game On Planet Earth

I am an Etruscan dice-player. I owe Gaius Gaius one thousand silver sestertii but I don’t have a single sestertius. He will poison me if I do not pay him. Or he will overtake me in the street. I have no recourse but to flee. I do not want to flee!

I Am Going Now, Goodbye (God Be With You)

I laid on the grass beneath an apple tree with the sun on my skin. I was in extreme discomfort from my ankles to my face but I pretended to be at perfect peace. In fact I was practicing non-action against the action of heat and pain and discontent that I was experiencing. This was because I loved the apple tree and I loved the sun and I loved the person that I was experiencing them with. They hurt me now and I did not even like to look at them, but I was rooted to them, and I refused to leave.

Down the hill, in the valley of the pale prince, an old coffee-drinker deals wholesale in chickens. With this chicken-money he facilitates personal construction buildings, like walling in his property with a fine stone facade. The blank expressions on the statues in the yard melted off in the acid rain and the governor outlawed cohabitation. I cohabited with a stubborn mouse who ate the  cereal out of its boxes. “There is a mouse in the house,” I said on the telephone; “What do I do with it?”

Asculpius, the molester, suggested roast mouse. “No,” I said, “What do you take me for, a savage?”

The bold dreams of Alexander in his tomb relived the ancient days again as modern people, part of this world and not left behind. That was a good strength they left with their assorted friends. I should have such strength in friendship. I should have such spoils as Persia and Egypt. Egypt is a dragon’s den. I have seen the shores of Egypt. They have deserts, there, and fire ants. Ants like breathing fire.

I often pretend I am Daniel of Babylon in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Would I know what to say? What visions would I have, and how would I produce them? I can feel the lions against my skin. They do not frighten me; I practice non-action, and extinguish myself from the face of the earth; the lions come with me, and we drift through the whole, our spirituality growing. Action regiment towards transient thought and the lucid Malibu style was back again – weak knees. Good music, fast cars, big deserts. Our deserts, our faith, our stadiums and stoplights. On public pavement in an ancient valley an artist step-dances down in the dark to music only she can hear, and no one bats an eye.

In a letter to the golden lord I spilled my heart and explained away all my anxieties, all my regrets, and all my reminisces. The old burden shifted and particulate matter appeared in the air. “Speak louder, special love of mine, and look into my clear blue eyes.” Such clear blue eyes. Like drinking water out of a lake, diving into an ocean from the end of a pier, dripping wet. “I could watch you forever… The way that you sit there… The way that you speak… Speak to me, now, and tell me what you have to say; speak to me, now, and share your feelings.”

But I am a warrior of great strength and heritage and no mere emotion will possess me. I am over-consummate. I am the virtuous dead-man, out of touch and vaguely being, but just there, just enough, to draw a picture. I don’t shiver – this is not a twitch. I am not shuddering. I lost my legs in a carriage accident. Did I say chariot? I meant car. I was in a car when it happened. My horse was dead and crushed my leg. The wheels split into my back and my spine cut in half. But someone saved me, and granted me warrior strength.

The technology is real… It is civilization. Burial rites, rituals, and agriculture. Our minds do not change. We are subservient to that which sustains us, society, and nothing is more powerful in the universe than the civilized being.

Orange fruit and the color feast – you have caught me waiting. I have waited too long. I resume my wait.

With A Long Way To Go

It feels like I have gone nowhere for years now, walking backwards slowly in place with my hands hanging uselessly at my sides, but in fact I have been working, studiously and with great paranoia, and in fact I have gone absolutely nowhere. Working doesn’t exist. I can not even move my hands without getting anxious. I can’t even handle a tool. I grasped a hammer in my hand and I held it above my head like a Communist. What are stars, and what are they doing in the sky? Well, stars are suns. What are suns, and why are they so bright? Suns aren’t bright; it is only that your eyes are hyper-sensitive. Like ships, they are good at sailing, and their narrow bows cut cleanly through the orange waves as the lovers ride from island to islands; when they landed, they raised an army, and they declared the island their own, like imperialists. They made love on the island until they died, and the natives retook their capital, instituted a modern nation state, and burned the cursed ships of the merry-makers.

Above my head the cosmos spins. I can’t make heads or tails of it. I jump, and in one instant am inches closer to the sun. Don’t be stupid.

What did she say to him this time? He is really pathetic. He doesn’t understand what is really going on around him. He thinks he has rights to it all, but he doesn’t deserve any of it. Aphroditus, with his penis out, had all the good fun he could stand for the night, and then disappeared again into his blouse. The mules marched into the barn and got high on amphetamines while the motionless purple light glistened through the distant rain and turned it to snow, cold and immobile. A fashion rose out of the ice like a kaiju and rolled its fleshy sex across the passionate landscape, moving like a ball of ants through a brave and perpetual darkness, trains roaring through the clouds and dripping oil, horse manure under their fingertips.

I am not a master. I am masterless. There is no master here, in any capacity, and those that there are do not feel very well. If I had a master, perhaps we could work together… What marvelous things would we do? What magnificent sights would we see? Have you been to Pompey? Have you balanced a basketball on one finger? Were you naked when you watched them dance? Dance, little promiscuity; dance.

 

Unstructures

It rained for days and I did not enjoy it. My heart sank and I grew isolated from my few remaining friends again. Lovesick in the absence of love. I received a letter from a friend I had lost; I could not stand to open it. It remains untouched. I think about it all night long. I think about having sex with men and goats. I feel a slight breeze on the back of my neck like a dragon’s breath and I can feel the metal in my bones begin to melt. It is important to keep the lights on all night long and keep the skin wrapped up in soft fabrics. A drapery falls from its place and is surrounded by territorial wasps. They attack it like it is a hive of bees, beheading every precious bee in a precise and invulnerable motion, cutting down thousands in total colonial genocide, looting their chests of nectar and abducting their children to feed their own kids. The tower of honey collapses and the drapery turns back into water, puddling up and evaporating away. A puff of smoke leaves its lips as they kiss and collapse and nothing is there again, as nothing always was.

Visions march across my field of vision like a pageant of grotesqueries, strange and vaguely offensive, uncomfortably erotic and needlessly alien. “Where are the people,” I ask myself, “Where are the human beings?”

Huns, Vandals, Goths, Gauls, Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Burgundi, and other Barbarian People

I spent the last days of civilization sculpting a herm of my patron saint Hephaestus as a ward against evil and transferring sand from the bottom of the Yocona river to the top of my hill in the valley. The river valley people, ancient as the cane brake itself, brought themselves here to sleep and relax by the water’s edge, chewing sugar and dripping coffee.

When the fires raged I stood dispassionately and waited to be ravaged, but no one disturbed me. I was grateful for my new hosts. They honored my customs and took their shoes off at the door. When they asked me for my Cheerios, I fed them, and when they wanted a drink, I gave them a drink. But soon they were drunk and they started raping, and if I didn’t take part then I would have been part of it anyway, and I was scared for my life. I thought of my gun hidden in my wall, but what could I do with it? I will die in three days regardless, without my medication.

This is the reason civilization is my favorite thing in the universe. It sustains me. I am buoyed. I exist on nothing of my own doing; everything I do is sanctioned by the social contract, paid for and sold. I work for the state. Any breakdown in civilization and I, like many others like me, will simply crack up and disappear within days of dissolution. It has happened before – entire cultures disappeared.

I don’t know what to do with myself. I do not know what to do with myself. I do not envy any other person because I do not understand them. I like what I do understand, but there is not much to like. It is an aggregation and a tautology, which is to call it sarcastic.

 

Irregular Heartbeat In The Upper Left Side Of The Body

In An Empty Village In The Island Of The Empty Saints

The animals were ridden one by one to be slaughtered. They were useless to the army. There was so much plunder and so many spoils a triumph wasn’t necessary – but there would be a triumph. The North would have a regular old parade, full of earth-shaking and preponderance.

Over a century later, The Bangles, a four-woman band of musicians formed as part of the Paisley Underground movement in Los Angeles, California , performing such mercurial ballads as “Hazy Shade Of Winter” and “Walk Like An Egyptian” in a four-year streak of chart-dominating crocodile-gnashing celebrity.

Their music made it all the way to Miami, Florida, an ancient coastal city and the seat of Miami-Dade County.

I’ve stepped on fairly sandy floors in Miami-Dade County.

Someone described what happened when the people stood up on chairs and started dancing. Everyone held their hands in the air and a few particularly rich men were reclining in leather booths that were freshly upholstered in 2011.

-

I have finally figured it all out. I can make sense of it all now. The Church exists because it integrated with Rome at a time in which Rome as a geographical entity ceased to exist, given its land away entirely to its “allies,” and was only a legal, and now spiritual, system. What authority Rome had remained legal-papal, and the tradition continued. We are all part of the Church today, and we are all Romans. I jump in the air and kick my feet together, “We are all Romans!”

The Defacement Of The Sacred Herm

When they wanted to punish me for misbehaving, as I was often caught up in sexual deviancy, they would spank me, but I would laugh. That is at least what they tell me; I don’t remember laughing. I remember once, being spanked, and crying. But they said I laughed and I might as well believe them. So they would not punish me physically, but instead address me sternly by my full name, like a Roman Senator – “Daniel Scott Chapman Uncapher, why are you bleeding?” There was so much blood in so many places it could have filled a child’s worth of veins and arteries. In the marshes, where I spent the worst days, away from the river, away from the reeds, on the edge of a forest full of dark magic, I spread gasoline in a ring around me and I lit it on fire with a match. The flames were too close and I leapt through them like a bull-leaper and burned the hair off my young, half-naked body. I was wholesome then and growing. I could recover from casual burns and displacements. “Daniel Scott Chapman Uncapher,” they said when I lit a neighbor’s bale of hat on fire, “Remember who you are!”

I feel a need for prayer these days. I feel so much like a helpless lamb, vulnerable and exposed on all sides, like a frayed nerve ending that refuses to go numb; half numb, half hungry. Peristalsis shuts down and the delicious nuts and fruits turn to concrete in my intestines. My stomach grows strong carrying around so much concrete.

There was no one around that I knew who I could call to walk with, so I walked to town alone. I felt good regardless, as I am a great fan of civilization, and I wanted to kiss everyone around me. I imagined myself in their lives as they passed by in an instant like I was a boy again, crawling around looking for friends. I no longer expected to make any friends. Civilization alone was enough for me. Every single person, as far as the eye can see, with good intentions. What is a good intention? It is a miracle inside every animal.

It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I have tried to be a good man, I have done almost nothing goodly, while I have managed to do a number of things bad. But there is no way to accept that a man like myself is a bad man. I am an American with good intentions. I am a miracle in the desert of space.

Radar movements raided our footsteps and we hid in the ditch while the floodlights reached over our shoulders. We were safe from the monsters that haunted the abandoned roads. Light-eyed demons with orange sorbet – pronounced “sherbert” – breath.

Orange sorbet eaters. There are households full of orange sorbet eaters all over this continent. Like the infinite riders of central asian plateaus, firing arrows from all bows while in perpetual forward movement over the spherical expansion of an infinite earth, entire cultures subsist on nothing but perpetual movement, driving on a team of rubber horses towards the immaculate horizon, infinite in gas and capacity and full of nothing but love and devotion and an affection for dogs and cats.

He had the letters L-O-V-E tattooed crookedly and long-faded on his right knuckle but I could not see if H-A-T-E was one his left knuckle. Who was this man with these tattoos? He is 75 and he loves his cats.

Thank you for the ritualism. Thank you, please, yes, that is nice. Oh, that is not a fantasy anymore. That is a fleshy reality. Flower-blossom – freshly cut. Have you ever been in an airplane? Have you ever brushed your teeth at night? Have you ever queued? Do you know what it’s like to eat meals? Has someone ever said, “Drive safe?”

The first thing to do is to terrace the ravine. There will be gardens of great beauty. The work of a genuine culture of mound-builders.”

I’ll Love You Until The Bluebells Forget To Bloom

Claudius is a name from the Latin claudus, meaning lame or crippled. I, Claudius, I, crippled. I explained my intention on building a mound. “Imagine a cripple building a mound. A regular Roman emperor.”

Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery with gold. A broken vessel can manifestly not be made as good as new; but it can in some cases be made better.

I cut my ankle grafts on a rusted piece of rebar and almost fainted from unease. I lost my spirit for mound building and retired to my bed in the warm chambers of the terrace. An ancient prophet called me there and told me, “Listen to the radio.” I remember the beautiful songs that I heard on the radio.

Terraces.

Pyramidal terraces. Totem poles.

Blood streams out of the black ragged wound on my ankle. Near-dead tissue grasping for life, tissue like an underwater sponge, fragile, and dying of thirst in the sunlight.

The sea rises and splashes against the faces of the children, laughing playfully against the morbid eternity of depth and plankton. Hysteria overcame the people of the village when the wandering mushroom god led them into the forest, sacred places of darkness and carnality. Two-faced hermaphrodites and hairless heathen androgynies beat their dripping hands against his back, speaking vespers of mildew and fire.

Orange julius in a plastic cup. Plastic spoons and plastic straws and plastic pads on our knees to protect us. We were then with the wind in our hair, always blowing, always playing with our hair.

I dropped my drink.

Purple faces. Leather manners. Clothed in skins within skins like a king and luxuriant. If you wanted candy, you would have candy. If you wanted to consume kerosene you could receive kerosene from your neighborhood merchant.

That was the last Roman emperor. He was a handsome man, and they spoke kindly of him. I loved him like a father.

Running – Underground

Way down low, where we have been before, looking up at the rest of the world through the cracks between the floorboards; when we stiffed that pizza place, what did we expect to happen? The roads were empty that night. There were no threats in the entire known universe. Dinner in an hour. I will probably not be home for dinner. I talked perfectly fine but I was not feeling all together. A movie in the background but I can’t pay attention. My limbs thin out and ache. I should have applied for work today. I should have written an article. I should have gotten up with the sun and gone out with the sunset and enmeshed myself with the rest of the world, with other people. Other people make me nervous. I love them and I can not stand them, and I wonder if I am really part of this earth. I feel so airy I could dissipate. Helium blooms; up the waterfall, rising, into the stratosphere, where they keep the certain kind of birds and bacteria, the real cold samples, fully Concorde.

A Knock On The Window, A Flood In The Sink

I remember when the Romans salted Carthage and burned her back into the desert. The sea became Roman again and the world became united. “Send me to Persia,” I said, “I want to negotiate for the eagles back.” The lesser kings were quick to curry favor from the great Augustus. I was lucky to know him. He thought I was a genius but I was only good-looking. I have never known a better man. He disappeared the bad Romans and good Romans had their way with the prettiest Syrian slaves. Filthy city plebiscite; the countryside is full of plunder. By leveraging loans and manipulating the treasury, an army was raised, and a civilization was saved. New gods ascended to Heaven and post-modernists wrote about their feelings.

Two thousand years later I woke up in the back of a minivan passing underneath the leaf-laden branches of oak trees in a row along the driveway. The house was built in 1920 as a milk farm and we kept livestock in the barn for many years. “Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, in the snow now, what is that smell, no, don’t do that, please don’t hurt me…”

Knight and Bishop

A strong man with soft, pale hands taught me how to play the game of chess when I was a very young boy. He took me aside and he said to me, “I would like to teach you how to play chess.” We played and he beat me. I liked the game very much. I tried to beat him and I could not. He stopped coming. He wore blue sweaters and had blue collared shirts and was a healthy, capable human being in the nation-state of Massachusetts.

In a warehouse I stood licking a statue, in the back of the barn I humped the plastic mannequin, sliding my hand down her legs. Years later I returned to the spot and I planted a herm of Aphroditus, the celebrated Athenian transvestite. “Don’t look at the word ‘transvestite,'” I cautioned. “It is not the word you’re meant to hear.”

I filled the front yard with little herms and other monuments. I announced at a town meeting that I intended to join civilization as a mound builder, and I would start with a mound. They approved of my decision and I worked hard, almost obsessively, at clearing the trees from an empty lot and building, bucket by bucket, a terraced mound of extraordinary height and width.

Two hundred clay sculptures of modern treasures like computer monitors, telephones, and a businessman were molded and cast and then ceremoniously destroyed and buried into the mound. I coded a simply video game involving the working man’s morning routine and then buried the code on a burned-up hard drive. “This is how future civilizations were study us,” I said, “By the mounds we have built, and the things we have left behind. It is all ritual and ceremony, there isn’t a point to it. We’ve all re-converted to Judaism. The Olmec have inherited the earth.”

It was a white man, that’s who it was. A white man who taught me how to play chess. A white man wearing blue. Blue is a depressing color. He wore light blue, like a sky, full of tapered sails and trailing clouds. “What is a white man doing here,” I wondered, spinning helplessly through the rotations and revolutions of the planet. “What are all these white people doing here, in the northern wilderness, surrounded by walls? Walls. Walls.” I sat it slowly. “Walls.” Between two walls they call it, “inside.” I do not believe in inside. I have never been outside. I am in the wilderness, without a window, without a sky.

Herms are apotropaic, which means they keep the evil out. They build walls. But Alcibiades, the trigger-fingers, defaced them, and now he’s in Shoshone country.

 

1980 Rooms In Chungking Mansions – Lovers Lay Awake At Night, Nobody Sleeps

The lights outside the window kept us wide awake and full of love. A train derailed and broke through a wall into the street but no one was injured. It became a good story. We were not unhappy that the train derailed. On the coastline where they keep the ships a ship came in from a port in Polynesia on its way to Tunisia. “What are you doing here, then?” I asked; “I am hunting rabbits,” said the captain, and his burly crew of homosexuals laughed.

The pirates claimed contested land off the Gold Coast of Africa in ancient land atop the ruins of a mighty nation. The mud huts and the mound builders were busy with the rituals of modern civilization; pottery, sculpture, burial rites, sacrifice. They ate well at times of sacrifice. The juicy entrails were passed around and shared by all like children lapping up the blood of Christ.

I decided in that artificial light that I, too, was a mound builder. That was what I wanted to do; build mounds. That was my role in civilization. I was one of those designated to built mounds, basketful of dirt by basketful, and other totemic monuments. I cast a herm in white cement and set it on the corner of Main Street, marking off the protected district. A local Alcibiades defaced it on the very first night, carving its penis out and scratching its nose.

“Poor herm,” I said, “Poor city at night.”

 

Mesoamerican Myths

In my hundredth of my thousand nights I laid awake and I listened to the radio while feeling sad and lonely. I had looked earlier at a map of Mesoamerican cultures and realized how close and familiar they were. I could have been a pre-historic American. I could have been a Mayan.

Robert Graves reminds me of what I would like to do, but he was a troublemaker. I don’t want to cause any trouble anymore. I would rather not, if given the chance. I am neutral, now, like inert gel. You can suspend your fluids in me and I will hold them, without a sound, as though floating through space – no gravity. I am shining like a bright light is supposed to do, anemic and pale as snow. No one likes a shadow-dweller, but I have moved underground, where the stones lay, naked and not shy.

I have been obsessing about girls I have loved. There is a girl I only saw once in a city on an island in a world far away and I think about her every day. It is one of many small regrets. They are piling up already. Soon I’ll think of nothing but regrets. I get sad and send disparaging messages to old friends who I haven’t spoken to in years. They respond politely. I reach out desperately and scratch at the walls. Where have the chemicals gone? I need some stone sealant. I need some primer for my paint. I need some bleach. I take the bleach and I bathe in it, and it cleans me, and I drink it, and it washes the disease out of my system like drinking drano. I boil and combust and return to bed, defeated, and the infestation begins again, I get dirty.

Dirty thoughts. My body does not respond. I do not have a body.

I think dirty thoughts about people close in my life. I have nothing else to think of. I imagine if I had followed through on those European girls, what sort of memories I could have had, what wonderful experiences. They all loved me, anyway, if I would have only had my way with them like a human being. Humans do things that they want to do. Humans are great.

Mesoamericans were humans. They were pretty great.

I remember a human I knew once. It hurts to remember him. I feel a pain under my shoulder.

When I feel these pains in my body I try to “walk them off,” and eventually the pain disappears. But the longer I walk, the heavier my shoulders get, until I can hardly stand to hold them up above my torso. I do not understand this ache nor appreciate it. I would like to walk as long as I could, but the feeling of burden and weight grows heavier on the top of my shoulders. They are the only part of my body that survived the violence unharmed and yet they ache as all the other parts ache.

Those were Americans. I remember them now. They were Americans, like I was. Northern Americans. Ghost people, white and pale, from the islands and marshes of a mountainous crag on the edge of a docile gray sea.

I like Americans.

Poaching Moa

Hokioi, the red-crested man-hunting Haast’s Eagle of the river valley, sunk his 5-inch hallux-claw into the back of my spine and paralyzed me instantly. That is what you get for believing in island gigantism.

“Dear God,” I said, falling to my death against the rocks of the ocean’s edge below, “I would like to work in television advertising. Please give me a job in television advertising.”

 

Ur

“That life that you are looking for, immortality – you will never find.”

That was the first book. It was good.

In another book, Exodus, we entered modernity. Christ, the Existentialist, lifted us out of our background of demons, our feet scarred and tethered.

“I wear long johns because I like my legs to be wrapped up tight, like they’re bandaged. If I could I’d wear tights.”

The delivery knight left his white bread on the basket again and I stuck my cigarette into the end of the loaf like an ashtray. I had the time to live my life and I had nothing to do with my time. “I need to do something soon, for the life of me.”

I applied for an internship but they turned me down. I applied at the old debauchery but I played myself down and warned them I was all gimped up. “Salman Rushdie,” I said, forgetting the answer to the quiz. “Quizzes. Christ.”

I did my best, and laid in bed, and thought about what I would do in the future. I wrote 500 words a day on the great American hero story and worked on my sculpture. But my sculpture is fucked. I fucked it up too many times now and I might as well paint it black and move on. One thick coat of black and call it a gargoyle. “I will give the ghoul a human face and call it Croatian. Dahoum the Corinthian, the quail-coated queen of the land between the rivers.”

A gentle woman hushed me and I quieted down. She put her hand on my thigh and her head on my shoulder and we sat together in silence, being close and generating friction, spreading bacteria and mite colonies. No one surrenders and the chasm is swallowed out of existence. Bodies of creatures with phalanges for hands. Grotesqueries in walking monument, I feel ludicrous and fat, I feel so heavy I can’t stand up; she pulls me, but I cling to her feet, and I find myself sucking her toes, and thinking, why am I sucking her toes? I have developed a foot fetish. Strange little phalanges all over her feet. Monkey limbs and baby skin and bones made out of solid non-magnetic titanium. Bones tissue is like a sponge and flexible but titanium is inorganic and momentous and unwavering and so my entire system is compromised.

When the ferris wheel lit up from the field under the overpass we pulled our cars off the highway and went in for some funnel cake and ferris wheel rides. I am a patient, simple person and I like to ride the ferris wheel. Those other rides hurt me and cause me distress. But gentle rides are kind to me, and I could ride them all day long, high as hell and otherworldly.

I don’t do nothing wrong no more. I don’t do nothing wrong. They can’t get me if I do it right. I do everything right and I get by well enough. I won’t go to prison no more, not me. I won’t go to prison not once in the rest of my life.

It is already spring. Another long winter, shorter than the last but the longest I will ever have again. Human life is a condensation.

“The Man Who Laughs” is for clowns.

Mycenae Myths

Is it Halloween already?

It is not Halloween.

No, this is not wind; wind doesn’t exist. It is not Christmas.

I have felt these memories before, when I was addicted. Always new nostalgia, always something pulling me back. Up the hill and down again, into the barn with my pants on fire – I lay in a bale of hay, the hay catches fire; man made fire, the jeering crowds fill the stadium, lightning flashed in the skies followed one second later by the celestial vivisection.

“If only we could do it again…” She stood at the top of the belltower and looked out over the red roofs of the small Belgian village. “Steal my heart,” it was a broken heart, and made of little pieces. I ran through the woods in a hurry, afraid and alone, and could not find her. I fell down at the crossroads and made a deal with God.

She found me face-down in the hay.

“My favorite holiday is Christmas,” she said. “Mine too!” Christmas makes me cry. I am a crybaby and my knees are covered in grease. A comet came down at the foot of the street and the hamlet came alive with light and majesty. I looked around for a friend but saw no one. The comet unfolded like petals and I crawled down deep inside it.

“Thank you for everything you have ever done for me, thank you for being my friend. I love you,” I did not say, because I could not do it, just like in the movies, where they do not speak, but you want them to. It is better not to speak.

We thought about space. “Imagine watching the shuttle explode,” she said, feeling morbid. “I can not imagine it.”

When she disappeared, I imagined her ghost, and took pictures of her in my mind, imagining the scenarios I could have endured, all better than the one I suffered. I put my hand through her hair and feel the tender fold of soft, warm flesh between my fingers and her bumpy skull. Our skeletons dance and bounce around and our nerve endings collide and combust.

No one thought to lock the door, though, and the miscreants crept in and watched, and grew jealous, and tried to rape us. I could not stop them bodily so I kicked one in the balls then grabbed my holstered pistol from the bedside table, chambering a round through its holster while I pointing at their chests. “Stop!” I yelled, as per my training. “Stop!”

They did not stop so I shot them, I called the police and a lawyer, and we cried. “At least it was only miscreants…”

A family of gremlins with grey bloated skin watched greedily from the branches of a nearby apple tree and break into the house in the middle of the night to take advantage of the gore and confusion. But their thin, plushy skin catches on the broken glass and is shredded from their bodies.

 

Patron Codependent

I listened to Nelly in a song featuring the artist Tim McGraw and it made me nostalgic for a feeling I had never had. I thought of a girl in town that I have loved for years. She does not know my name. The song reminded me of her. I have developed feelings of feelings, nostalgias of fictions I have constructed in lieu of real nostalgias. It is then just fiction, after all. We are all alike and virtual. I am bald in a vast crystal desert and I can see right through the layers of the earth to the molten core. The tall bronze champion of the river civilization led me through the forest to his secret cove, where the secret treasures sat, soaking in the lukewarm waters, full of ice and golden-flaked; we thought too hard, so hard we lost our thoughts again, and laughed together dripping-wet until the sun set, then we ran naked through the sand for the fire, by which we got drunk.

I guess you could say that was a real low point for me. That was a real low point in my life. I guess you could say that was as bas as it got. But at least I had family. And at least I was safe.

Fourteen Sculptures In A Room

I built a sculpture but it really looked like shit. So I built another. A build a dog and I called it “Darl.” I built a torso and legs suspended in a twist, using myself as a model. I used a picture of an embarrassed girl from a pornographic photo shoot as a model for a companion piece, called “Guilt” and “Shame.” Viewed from the correct angle, they are non-pornographic. But approach from the wrong angle, and you will see my penis.

Then I built a statue of Atlas getting tired and setting down his weary burden. I called it “Burden” because I was feeling melodramatic. I sculpted a pair of hands, one wrapped around the other, and called it “Consumption.”

A plane passes overhead and I run out of the basement and into the yard to watch it. “I should plant an apple tree,” I think. “I should plant some peaches. I am glad I have a fig tree. What a small fig tree. I should start eating figs. I should make fig newtons.”

That is how you live a life. But I grew overwhelmed by the possibilities of my thoughts and stopped thinking, and I sat out of life on my own little knoll by the seashore, counting sea shells, imagining that the sails in the distant harbor were giant fins of mighty underwater monsters, dinosaurs risen deep from the undersea trenches.

But that is just imagination. I am imagining that I am capable of imagining things still. It is not even imagination, then, it is just memory. Bad, lying memory. I could have been born in a desert. I could have drifted past the reeds. No one would have missed me; in the canyon, by the water’s edge, raised by the mud people with alligator jaws; and when I rose up, strong, like Samson, and I took my donkey jawbone like a hatchet and hacked my way back to the city, I immediately wanted to go home again; “I hate the city,” I said, “The city is stupid.”

Samson went to sleep and in the middle of the night a snake assassin bit his leg and poisoned him. In the morning he had a seizure and bit his tongue off and choked on it. The citizens of the mud people nation state threw the donkey bone away in the garbage, where it belonged.

 

Space Cowboys

I had a friend, once, that I loved more than any friend in the world. But he was a troublemaker. We loved getting into trouble. He liked to go out and have sex with beautiful young girls. I watched with awe and love and connection.

I have had another friend, since then, that I have loved even more, and with whom I have gotten into even more trouble. I sent him clear into space, strapped onto the tip of this gigantic rocket, sending it’s voluminous power into the earth and disappearing into a star among the sphere of stars.

“Let’s hope we never meet again,” we said, but we did not mean it. I stomped on his face and pointed my gun into his back and said, “Don’t you ever disrespect me in my house again,” but then the feral cougars came and took us both down, and they ate my silly handgun raw, swallowing the bullets whole like gunpowder vitamins – essential nutrients, dietary supplements, essential amino acids, sulfur and salt peter – one, two, three, blast, blast, repulsion.

Animal magnetism kept us near. There is already no one left in the entire planet; we were already all alone, and all we had was one another. In the mountains, knee-deep in snow, and separated from the rest of the army, the moans of the dying can be heard through the night, under the dancing blue and purple lights, under the eye of the unending season, never spring and never fall; a tunnel opens up and the prisoners are faced with the daylight again.

In that face, with those features, the sunlight streamed like boiling water and soaked into the thirsty pores.

The Book of Exodus is the hardest story to tell. It is the fable of infinite time, and the Pharaoh is the infinite modernity, transfixed since words were ever written. Society has forgotten the Pharaoh because it is too much in touch with him. They believe in science. “Science,” they called it. “Gravity.”

Meanwhile, in a house in a suburb of Silicon Valley, a child swallowed two magnets that pinched his organs together and killed him.

More than anything, though, Exodus is a coming-of-age story. There is a Pharaoh and a Moses, two masters and lovers and kings, two sets of tangled, tired limbs.

Those were the days of sand, and chariots; today, at Talladega, the young heroes cry and they cry as they all drive by crying, wind in their eyes.

Featherbeds

I laid upon my feather bed and felt myself drifting through space, every direction at once (directionless), staring through the plaster ceiling and tin roof and straight into the face of the stars, every direction all at once, and all facing towards me. Gravity thinned, my senses erased themselves, and regained my physicality like I was re-entering the atmosphere; I felt myself spinning in a broad, persistent circle, stuck in an out-of-control furious cosmic blast and disruption, always floating, unable to come to a stop. If I stopped I would end it, all at once and for good, and the people of the earth, whom I love, would be thrown and incinerated. As children, who saw angels in the sky, they could see how good it was to die; but that doesn’t mean they wanted to stop moving. Sometimes to stop, though, just to stop and take a breath, for one moment – sometime it might feel nice. Even Atlas handed the earth off and walked away; but he is back now, and he is a spinning force, a gigantic motion whirling mindlessly through an inexplicable void – not a word to describe it, not one word beyond the usual suspects – God, Jupiter, Gravity. Who is God, and what is gravity?

Moving so slow, too slow to even feel it; but fast, faster than we’ve ever moved; voices carry, and the boxes fall out of place across a field of clover, crushing the young dandelions and buttercups under their weight. A life-size alabaster sculpture of two gay Romans laying together and fondling themselves is left under a barn whose roof blows away and the rain melts the stone like it was melting wax and the when the sun dried it off there was nothing of two men remaining. The horses, full of clover and dandelions, pranced over the barbed wire like gymnasts and grazed freely in the roses and lilies that grow wild in this sacred place. A sweet mist cools the back of your neck and the familiar scent of molecular diagnostics returns over the hills from the ocean. A factory produces nothing but perfect grey smoke, silver columns rising in parallel from every chimney, like a Doric temple in the sky. When the smoke dissipates it travels inland and breathes its fruitful labor into every pair of lungs. Cities across the universe, and they are all connected, all monuments and villages and slaughterhouses for sacrifice. I submitted myself as a donation for the slaughterhouse, applying based on my credentials as an artist. “I only exist because of the generosity of this institution (society). It is a wonderful world in which animals can survive solely by acting, and painting, and making other animals laugh. A civilization which pays people to do nothing but produce music; what an impossibly wonderful kind of place!”

They did not slaughter me – not yet. They let me continue, unattended but scathed, while watching from their cameras and windows. I walk like a human and I talk like a human, but we all know that, left to my own devices, I slip back into my natural form again – limestone.

Aluminum and gold pierce the sky from the tips of the towers and monuments. “Tower-builders,” I said, shaking my head in bewilderment. “A planet full of tower-builders.”

Back home, in the shower – a planet full of shower-takers – I scrubbed my back until the scars opened and I the sensation of blood almost made me faint. The feeling was morbid. It felt like a loaded gun had been introduced into the scene.

If I stopped it, just to take a breath, would I end it all? It is all so runaway now, it just keeps running, dizzying and grueling. Thank God for the things we do not understand – if we understood then we would asphyxiate from exhaustion and panic.

There were towers of malice and valor. In one tower someone cooked pasta and in another somebody licked a heroin needle clean and then buried her face in an asshole. There are towers full of corpses and towers full of water and some are full of nothing at all, but rebar and cement. Towers in fields conduct beams of information and electricity, pushing light and sound through a web of perpetual connection. Towers chained in single-file, marching into Exodus – as though the Titans, stolen fire, and punished; carry the celestial sphere on your shoulders, slave to the whole human race.

In 1997 she hung herself and her seven dogs in her one-room trailer. The cookies tasted like tar and I gagged. The yard was full of dog shit, with little white worms in the freshest pile.

In 1999 I swallowed a mouth full of mud and worms from a worm-infested riverbed. Fishhook-like worms dangled off my lips and fell back into the mud, into the moist, salty safety of the beautiful world.

Was that what it sounded like played over the radio? I hadn’t been listening very close. My thoughts were on the cemetery again, and the things that we did in those coffins – naughty, juvenile things. I disgraced myself. Charcoal stained my tongue and they drilled the nerves out of my teeth, filling them with gleaming metal. Four sharp razors were pushed into the soft of my back and dragged slantwise over my pulverized bones. A rasp was used to remove uneven bone tissue and the screws were ripped out of the fusion. The heads of the screws stripped out so they had to use a power drill to drill the titanium out directly, filling my back with metal filings. They used a small hose to spray the filings out of my flesh and across the operating table. I laid there, blank-eyed and miserable, while they chopped me and screwed me like a kitchen cabinet.

“Take me home, I want to go home,” said my grandfather. He will go home, and he will die there, and his son will be miserable, and I will be miserable, too. We have fished our last catfish or bass together, and there will be no one there to string my worms along my hooks for me. I will have to use lures, because I am civilized, and I will never catch another fish again.

“Wait a minute – this bed isn’t made out of feathers!”

 

Orange Jubilee

The owner of the restaurant sat down. “The walls have ears,” he said, and then he quoted Plato and Nietzsche. “Do you know the most obscene word? The dirtiest word?” I could not think of a dirtiest word. “Billionaires,” he said. I should have liked to have been born a billionaire. Grease – fish heads – checkerboard – vanishing point – pewter – wax – garnished wages. I took my seat at the vision and relaxed my weary bones and muscles. “The pain I feel,” I wanted to say, “The pain I live with, you would never understand it, you can not understand.” But everyone is sympathetic enough. I have no right to speak about my own condition.

On a starship in the edge of space a crew of American heroes fly in the spirit of Gods, like Hephaestus they craft golden automatons of unprecedented power and send them patrolling the earth, sea, and heavens; the cowboys took flight, the frame of the picture thinned and turned black; “Move over,” he barked, and then hit me; so I confronted him. Disrespect – abomination. Then, in the pit, a laconic indifference. “How did it feel?” It felt fine. We feel fine.

 

I Am A Liar, I am An Addict, I Am Afraid, I Am Alone

They say you can never recover from nerve damage. Others say that isn’t true. I choose to believe it isn’t true. I shiver at the very thought. How does food taste in the hospital, does it taste bland? I can’t even answer the question. My father drives with his knee, shaking the car around on the highway. “Put your hands on the wheel please,” I ask him. He tells me he can drive with his knee. I ask him again and he consents.

We talk about the social contract. I am in love with it. I call it society itself. It is powerful. If the social contract is not real and powerful, a powerful force, then nothing is. The social contract saved my life; it gave me everything I have; it brought me into this world. When I violated it, it nearly killed me; but when I returned, broken and twisted in half, it saved my life and sent me walking through the valley of the hourly prayer, where the spirit of the Lord lives.

In the lap of the dry river valley, overlooking the shadows of Main Street, I looked up with my eyes at the Lord and I walked with him. I walked it for myself, as far as I could, and then I walked a little farther. The valley opened up wider and calmer and nourished me with precious manna. I drank it as though dew from a leaf, settled in a foggy morning, alone with your memories and, more importantly, regrets.

I carved a statue and called it “Shame,” and then I carved another and called it “Guilt.” Guilt is a man and Shame is a woman and then I thought to myself, “I could eat some relish on a hotdog. I could eat a hotdog with some relish.”

Ophanim, the Vision of Wheels

82 inches of snow in Maine and the old schoolhouse is up to her gutter with it. I can imagine it like I am standing there now, magnetically re-aligned, and I bury my face in wall of snow and I hold it there, and I die.

When in the frosted hills the broad-winged birds first cast their hatchlings from their nests, falling backwards through a furious white universe, feathers ruffling and eyes opened wide, looking upwards without making a sound, the pointed heads of broken crags will rise to meet them in their bones, from their tails to their heads, and produce from peace one thousand pieces, red as scattered wine on snow.

The temperature rose and the snow turned to rain. Lightning flashed and the unmistakeable rumble of thunder followed. Sometimes I wonder if I will survive to see another storm or not, if I will even survive the next one. Maybe a tornado will pick me right up and deliver me to the steps in front of heaven’s gate, and I will witness with my blazing eyes the chariot of fire, 11 men, minstrels in flames with hands like bronze and kerosene.

A ship full of whale fat came in from the arctic and the whalers roamed through the port at night like pirates, fat on whale meat and practically rich. In the arctic, amongst ice, there are times where no one exists in the world at all, but the ghosts, who exist for miles; and the magnets spheres misalign, and a memory is lost, and something familiar begins to sound absurd; repeat your name, repeat your name, you become satiated. Absolutely unpresentable.

Today, a new song every minute. We drove for miles. The same songs over and over. We passed liquor stores on the side of the highway. The emptiness does not deter us. We felt fine.

And then, I started sculpting cement… What was happening?

 

Long Days

It was a cold Valentine’s and I clutched my brown bag full of paper and sugar valentines close, walking home backwards, my back to the wind, while the metal pylons hummed above me, wires slung like bending trees, thick as a corpse and stretched thinly through the snow like piano wire on a perfect white throat, through and through and always going farther, through the pain and the denim and Kraft brown paper. My knees hurt when I fell on the ice but at least the snow helped break my fall. I never imagined then what would come of me. It would have probably depressed me. I was already depressed.

I made my paper valentines one by one and drew my favorite pictures with their names. In return I was given Garfield valentines. I loved Garfield valentines. I took a heart-shaped lollipop with a white raised sugar outline out of its plastic film and held it in my mouth, under my tongue against my cheek, until it dissolved into syrup and dripped down my throat. Visions of cupids knocked noisily against the outside glass in the gale, and I watched the gray sun disappear behind pale white clouds and I smelled the sharp cold emanate through the window. I closed my eyes and inhaled the gust and did not look forward to walking home. I looked forward to being home, watching television.

Ten long years in eternal pale and my mother sewed my clothes by hand from salvaged patterns. I liked it there, but life was strange there, and the woods were equally daunting, and the roads hopelessly reaching, through a midnight country, ancient as it always had been, and I felt comfortable. No vacancies on the island so we took our pizza to the river’s edge and ate it there, sleeping with our backs together under the salted lights. The story of my life was a mystery then. I did not know what I was going to do. I walked backwards and looked directly into the snow. I was aware of Emily Dickinson. I had been to Connecticut. Nobody slept late. Television was a luxury. The snakes in the garden were called garden snakes and I didn’t like them. One slid over my foot as I stood in the doorway and I screamed. I told my mother what had happened, and my mother told my grandmother that I saw a wasp. “I didn’t see a wasp,” I said, but mother told me to lie, because my grandmother was afraid of snakes. Grandmother thought I was being stupid.

One night her beloved long-haired orange cat delivered a dead snake to grandmother’s bed, curled up on the unused pillow to greet her when she woke up. If it were me, I would have screamed and died.

In the Chinese zodiac, I am a snake, and the snake stole its place by hitching a ride on the heel of the horse and then scaring the poor brute into sixth place. The snake is a wicked sort. I am the worst snake, the earth snake, I am practically hermaphrodite. We are said to slither out of our holes around 10 a.m. and bask in the heat of the warm early sun.

Carving stones – flesh and blood, stream in the filling – buy tools – starlight, twinkle, wish I might…

 

Dutch Masters Music

We sat on my balcony smoking good weed watching the lights twinkling red, yellow and green in the valley. If it weren’t for the house and the trees, we could have seen everything, as though all it were ours, and only ours, as we watched it, owning it with a viewing. “Don’t put too much into it,” they warned us. To me, they said, “Be careful.”

I drank until my liver turned over and I hunt myself off the railing. Only eight feet off the ground felt like I was swaying on the edge of the canyon, on the ridge at the end of the world, into mist, vague and shapeless, with a featherless bird falling past me.

Speaking of the featherless bird – feathered now, and invincible – drunk with me, watching me, sending me signals that unnerved me. In the distance I could feel its wars, but here outside the window it looked different, close in space and intimate, and it looked at me over a long curving beak and it did not blink at me, and I became slowly terrified. It tapped something on my window. It sounded like morse code. “You’re a chicken,” it said. “You’re a spooky little chicken.”

Spooky birds making spooky accusations. The dog barked at it until it flew away and I thought about shooting it while its back was turned, wings widespread and legs dragging through the listless air behind him.

The dog has worms.

I can see them writhing in his shit.

He drags his ass along the rug to scratch his itches. Worms in the rug.

A movie plays of a king in a purple robe speaking French. That’s what happens you don’t speak French.

It reminds me of 1066. You should have been there. What a time.

 

Long Voyage: Always West, Heart Sinking

I promised myself I would dry out, but I wanted to stay in the swimming pool and feel the sun grow brighter in the drops on my skin. I drank the water from my hands like John from the River Jordan and felt the cold chlorine splashing like bleach over my gums and through my body, absorbed into my blood like the blood of the savior, dissipated from the eternal into the eternal again, in its form of self, the self of being. It was a set of very special words, a prayer, and I internalized it. It was like the smiling face of premium prince Nick Nolte  in a promotional picture; it barely existed, it lived in a time and a place and then in a garage, among garbage, on bubbled walls in a house in the woods. It was a long drive over snaking rivers under covered bridges and past orchards. I got lost among the apple trees and ended up spending the evening under a tree, fifty yards from my car, internalizing my time and my place, as the last such time for all of time, in an instant only once in place, and out of place in time again. My sweet romance, my aching heart, the feelings I have felt for other people, the love inside I keep inside me, safe and out of sight; otherwise I would eat them all out, everyone, until I drowned, under a table, my back in pain, my leg in spasms, my vision blurred and greying, my thoughts in the shallows of space, past the atmosphere, among devils and angels and shadows of the blood of heroes – I have bled, but I am not a hero. In the streets with the devil I made a rough trade and had sex on a lawn chair. The plastic strapping broke and he burst out in blood and drool. I flicked it from my skin and resumed my shaky misery, routine and fully realized, as bleak as a house in a prairie, as orange as a sunset sleet. “There is no pleasure, not on earth,” I said, “There is nothing at all at all, at all.”

She didn’t expect to see me again just as I did not expect to see him. They bled together in the background like the shadows of ghosts, my dancing ancestors, full of grace and light and lively enough to haunt me. “I love you,” I told her, thinking of him; when I fucked him, though, I thought of her, and when I fucked her I thought all of stars again, flowers in a thawing field, dewy sawdust in the unlit trough; I told her how I felt about monsters, I told her that I was a Christian, and that I feared change, and that I hated science. She did not believe me. I told her that the monsters scared the hell out of me and that Christ was the only thing I understood. I explained the inherent flaw in regressive tax codes. I disputed the existence of race and gender. I cut my finger on the broken glass of the flickering screen before my nerves gave out, and I fell away again, into the deep, where the angels and demons lived, like whales in the ocean, squids in the trench, like a great comet drifting through the universe, past Andromeda; everyone spoke Latin, everyone died at Vesuvius.

In mythology class I fell in love with a man named Hephaestus. He was a small man with a broken leg but very talented and I wanted to be like him. When he chased Athena around spraying come on her I laughed and I laughed and I thought, “What a dumb, stupid bastard.”

Gown Vanity

We walked among the moonlit columns of the ruins of the ancient planter civilization. A place as strange and mystic as was ancient Greece or Rome. I roamed among the trees like an Etruscan, painting my grinning face in the caves that I slept in, and having my way with a goat.

In my sleep I invented literature and when I woke up I wrote down a story called “Tropic of Cancer.” But it was not very good and it embarrassed me so I threw it in the Aegean Sea like Theseus and promised that I would do better. Meanwhile the titans and god-kings drew their limestone into perfect shapes in the desert and monuments rose out of the earth as if summoned above by the hands of celestial magicians. “I will make a monument, too,” I said, “Because I am faithful, too.”

The idea to build a monument took over like a cancer and soon I was practically ecstatic, building an armature out of rebar as tall as my house. “It will be a ziggurat, a totem, a cross, a pyramid, an obelisk, a tower, a pylon – the sum of all my knowledge, all of my humanity, the total resolution of a lifetime!” They watched me as I wrapped my arms and legs around the base and rubbed my face in it. “I do not care, I just do not care, I could not care if I tried to.”

 

Tuna Salad And Dill Relish On White Bread

It was more of the usual and it made me unusually anxious. I repeated myself and acquired a stutter. Pointing at maps, I repeated the last thing I’d read over and over, which directions the Vikings had gone, or the colonization of the Peloponnese. Sherman’s Special Field Orders No. 15 never even really promised forty acres, but they did get some mules. If the animals weren’t given away to the refugees, they were slaughtered on the side of the road and abandoned, too weak to keep marching, too useless to fight. “I liked that mule,” I reminisced, from my days as a drummer boy in the Union army, or was it artillery? Heavy artillery – it was loud! Thunder, and I reminisced: “I liked that mule so much it hurt to put her down, but it was orders. I walked her into the gulley where hundreds of fallen mules, horses, and oxen lied, I threw my coat over her face, and I bludgeoned her between the eyes with the butt of my rifle. She didn’t fall, though, so I hit her again, splitting right between her eyes. She didn’t fall, so I left her, and as I rejoined the column she joined it with me, walking dumbly after me, blood streaming under my coat and over her face. Me and the boys had a good laugh for it until the old mule finally collapsed after a quarter mile, and I beat her skull in with my heel to make sure she wouldn’t rise again. That’s a stubborn mule,” I said. “I said that’s a real stubborn mule.”

The last Southern boy was born gay and they killed him. The previous one was black and they hung him up by that old noose. Meanwhile the Voyager satellite craft drifted through the reaches of space, singing Blind Willie Jefferson into the endless abyss, Dark Was The Night, as below in a valley he hung in the dark, slowly creaking, spinning leftwards, then once more right. Death was in the reaches of space that night, and it went unhallowed, on ancestral earth, the sacred grounds, by the river of the drifting king, penniless and full of faith, made over in the image of the modern man, in the spirit of the existentialist christ, always floating through the head. That was the way they were made then, in his image, and the stars were admired from a distance; safe, in the center of the earth, where the bowels lay, and gurgitate, and digest, and the quivering remnants lay rotting while the angled destitutions fly, forward wedge-shaped and ancillary, hateful in their mournful descent; and then, though, just before you are exploded, you can hear the fainting song of the faithful ship, the spacecraft with its endless call, Bach’s Brandenburg No. 2, and you wonder; “What world is this? What people are these, to create this music? It must be a wonderful place! It must be such a wonderful place!”

The foreign legion had their way with the last mulatto slave girl and she gave them what they needed, one by one, until at last she was dead and the shame of her life could die with her. Her grandmother knew it but she could not help. Her brother fought back and was put into jail, where they starved him, and then shipped him away. Where did he go? They missed him. I was there, in the jail house, with my keys dangling on their ring in my pocket; and I thought to myself, have a biscuit, son, have a biscuit and some milk. But by the moonlight I slept with my wife in my house in the marshlands eating rice. That was a beautiful story and I really loved to tell it. I really just loved to tell it.

“I feel compelled to do this because everything else  in this universe frightens me,” I said, “I am frightened by everything and I don’t have any good reason not to be scared.” But my tone was not defiant. I barely wanted to say anything. Speaking is always a mistake. The only thing I could think to do was say something, then, so I spoke as I could, in those odious words, and meanwhile imagined the moon rising somewhere behind me, through the latex-painted sheetrock walls and underneath a dogwood tree, caught up in its blooming limbs. Like an angel in a garden, crowded by the warm breath of life, lush and thoughtless, I was caught up in my thoughts; and then, when they asked me what I was going to do, I almost collapsed.

Was it always like this? Couldn’t I speak? I spoke to a girl and I talked her right into doing the things that I wanted to do. I pretended to be Henry Miller. I learned how to act, like my friends did, but… That is not what I meant. “That is absolutely not what he meant,” she said, but her brain froze, and she couldn’t finish her sentence. He stripped her clothes off and threw them away. “I learned how to do this in a porno,” I said, and I gobbled her up, my thoughts elsewhere, my brain frozen up and my body out of shape. I imagined I was inside a trailer in a trailer park and I could smell cigarettes. I imagined I was microwaving a bag of buttery popcorn. I imagined I was outside in an oil field and a leaf of hay scratched against my inner thigh. I was thrown down on my back and taken advantaged of; I panicked and I became a neurotic. “It’s a goddamn piece of work, it is,” I said, repeating myself in a nervous loop. “It’s a goddamn piece of work, it is. A goddamn piece of work.”

 

On The Long Run Out Of Mississippi City

It was two days out of town by then and from the bus we laid our heads upon our hips and sang our songs to ourselves with a hamburger in every hand and a bottle of root beer. There then in that dreary desert with our kisses smiles and gentle handshakes as I pat you on the back then there we laid out with our shadows wishing, in our leather, in the path, laying there, some day, forever. My thoughts return to the house in the field at the edge of the city and the mansion on the broken hill. I slipped on the sidewalk and called all the cops and they came to me, oh yes they did the come to me as I called them, beckoned from their little building, in fast cars up the walls of the valley, cavaliers of the wicked city. It was a wild wind that came in then and it rattled the windows and threw a limb through a screen and lay nearly dead on the floor. I sat there in silence and my voice cracked. What had I done? Where was I going? I didn’t think, then. I’ve never thought. In a world without thoughts there is not any language, no one speaks, beautiful women (he called them his maidens) all cease to exist. There is nothing there but the long running darkness, wide as hell and too heavy to bear. All this, because I am just limited. Weary, but we have to keep riding… The bus rattles, we’ve been on this weary road before, we see the white horizon curving away, the repetition of the telephone poles like a broad picket fence, fencing the good burdens in, the bad people deep and sleepy, rubbing their eyes. There are no people here, just faces, and the faces themselves give away when you look at them; there is nothing to say, there are no other bodies, it is its inner existential song, mistempered and completely incommunicable. I shouted, and the curtains fell, and I laid down on them and I promised.

 

Wasteful

Not much longer have I been than done as I did once before, and will I do again, I will, I will, I know that I will do it. That was the best way I have been and I have never once been better. That was as bad as it got back then. That is the cold in the tree with quivering leaves. The sun dipped low then in the valley and our affections fell with it, long and misremembered, until we could remember as old as the earth, a memory yielding and cracking like ice. I don’t remember the way that I held her and I couldn’t feel the pulse between our skin again because nothing else beat faster or farther or without less acquiescence, flour-coated and billy-goated, as the long dawn dying did the day and once the urns filled up again, lost in the dance of the dust from the flattened dirt floor.

I parted not without my usual bitterness. Those were lost years and that was sharp and bitter. I took it calmly in my throat like a spearhead and served up my time in the stocks. Punished I remained untreated, and sick, and I fell in with a prayer to the Christ of my childhood. In the symbol of the cross I could just hardly stand it, open to the Son and flailing, riding on my wooden mule towards the long-dreamed delusion of sanctuary. A pastor in the rice paddy with a gun in hand, holding his hernia from falling out of his sagging stomach, love all wasted and heart unfulfilled. The order meant that no one lived, and no one in the order lived.

Night time was short then and stopped existing. The only time was morning and evening and night turned over its in listless shift for the long, silent summer. “There are no people here,” it said, “Not anymore.” They looked away from the terrible thing they had done. It laid there before him, viscous and clear, and a cool gale blew in from the hills in the West.

We slept alone together in the badlands… strangers there, as everywhere – afraid of death, on the verge of dying, in the dark – two final beings, in the first of many final forms, sand in their eyes with a sigh at the crossroads…

 

 

I longed to see her, yesterday

I longed to see her, all at once, and when I could not see her, I nearly lost myself. I had seen her having sex with the hairy old men – I should have known it would come to this. In the city, in the nightmare legions of the North, I slid on the ice with the rest of the terrible Yankees – city boys, drunks, and gays, them all – on drugs, I quit drugs – came up out of breath with the bends, had to get my stomach pumped – helicopter me in, ambulance me out, wheel my back into the garden; rest in the soil, seven warm mounds, like the hills of Rome, old and holy, and I’m safe and sound again.

Another Valentine’s Day, drug-addled and alone, and keeping myself occupied, wasting time, getting older. I drew a line in the dust in the mirror and pressed my skin into the glass. My oils soaked up the dirt like sawdust and I pulled it away with a smear. It was another dreary day, bought cheaply, shed in tears, on its knees despite my empty promises, my listless demands that it stand.

I collapsed under the sun and woke up as it retreated, fulfilled from a long day, over the far ridge of the valley. It burned purple in an amber sky and I the skies passed low and quickly, with urgency, as though trying to get inside before night fell. I took my neck out of the noose for a moment and thought about what I was about to lose. I thought about the beautiful world I was wasting. Was I not grateful? Had I not prayed and prayed? And things came and I was grateful and now, in my office, alone with my prayers, I have set down my last pencil, lead broken, and laid on my side on the floor and turned off.

Forfeit – it was easy crime. I liked it, I liked easy things. I was lazy and I drank a lot. I read books about drinking and glorified drunks. Now am I a reactionary and I pray at night for those who succumb to the demon of alcohol.

In a church in the woods I succumbed to good will. The wind blew at the paneled glass and rattled the shutters but nothing could enter and harm me. The ice storm passed through the night like a hurricane, cold and vast, but I in my pew kept the time with my eyes closed, shivering, my long cold cock hanging down the inside my thighs, on me knees, where the dog died. I’ve heard it said that dogs don’t die. Of course they die; I’ve killed them.

For some reason, I lost that summer in a daze spent writing a history of the local city. I kept discovering more and more, and my history grew unwieldy. In reality I was suffering a deep existential crisis and could hardly walk. But I kept my head in my feet of history and mythology and wasted six months on a city that doesn’t exist in a valley that exists out of all time and being.

I drank the water of new discord and disliked the taste.

Finally my heart stopped beating, somewhere in the North

I turned off the engine and exited the vehicle. The scene was orange and gold and everyone wore black glasses. “Let’s get hot,” they said, as he climbed into his camper and drove to the river to wash up.

Miraculous infestation of the cats in the streets. The black families dump their rotten leftovers in the alleys and the cats smorgasbord every night, retreating into their forests or under their porches to relax and have sex and go back out to eat. Mice find safety in the cabinets, snacking on the cracker tower, hewing it out piece by piece.

When the ants came, I waged war. The skirmishes in the kitchens were pointless. They had roads and methodologies. I tried to block them off with poisons but they found new ways. I called in a mercenary pesticide job as a final solution, but after the smoke cleared, and the food re-appeared. The ants returned.

I I raised my tactics – Total War. I laid ant killer in long concentric lines around the key part of the house, and then travelled beyond pursuing indvidiual nests. Any given hill discovered was left undisturbed for the time, merely sprinkled with something delicious, until all of the traps were well set, and every last nest in the countryside poisoned. And then the sky darkened, and the rain came, and it washed the poison into the ground in a rage, into the mud, and sending acid through the tunnels of the chtonic structures.

Randall came and handed me a signed blank check.

“I appreciate that but I buy my own way,” but I took it.

And the little one, with little fingers like monkeys in trees, and I appreciated that, I said: “I can appreciate that.” In the halls of the marble mansion, burned during the war but rebuilt by the industrious citizens, once slaves, now freemen. The courier brought us this last dispatch; it read, “Misery, misery at last; here is misery,” and we burned in the sun together, hot as all hell, while the hail came down hard at our doors, and on our porches, pounding the roofs of our cars and denting the old tin roof. The tin came from railroad cars and it shines like all hell with the sun on it. Monkeys in the trees in the swelter don’t sweat, but they swing and they sit and watch over us, winged or not. I flapped my broad wings like a gull on the edge of the cliff and the wind came up meet me, ruffle my feathers and remind me of who I have been, what I am going to be.

I did not make money. I had no desire for making money. I didn’t have the will. I slept under a roof and I missed the stars. I dragged my mattress under the stars and the mosquitoes bit me and I threw up a tent. The snow came down hard on the tent and I threw it in the ravine and retreated into the house. The windows banged shut at the cold winter storm and I felt like a boy again, there in the killing fields of southern Maine, along the river, where the ships float in; barges, submarines, pleasure yachts; we rode them, made of fiberglass, and skipped the waves on rubber tires like smooth polished circular stones.

The theater in those days was a small one, two screens nestled between two colonial buildings in downtown Dover called The Strand. It is gone now, closed, and no one will ever sit in that velvet balcony eating popcorn again. The curtains are gone and the light is gone with it. In the semen stains the song lives on, forever calling, like a soldier in the field at night, abandoned, as the blankets for the dead are pulled over him, laid to rest, and wailing; calling, “Mother, mother, mother, please,” or maybe, simply, “God.”

I vowed then that night to do better by God than I’d been doing. By my own true self, by the self I aspired to be, to my mother and my father and my sister and friends, to the woman I think of in the back of my mind – why am I thinking of her? why am I thinking of her? has she come for me? have I won her? am I not alone again?

On the broad white canvas I spilled my heart out, word for word, and mapped the relationships of the heart as they appeared before me, deceptions, mirages, coming and going and falling apart; I burst the broken image apart, it dissolved into red mist and the fiddles began their Scottish lament again; one after another, gone, visions marching into dust.

I swore by my heart, “I will do better, I must be better than this, I must try,” and I put up my books and my movies and stuck my fingers down my throat until I threw up the cake and the milkshakes. I got down on my hands and feet and did exercises against the floor until my muscles burned and my back threatened to break again, and then I laid there on the rug and I burned, unhappy, drowning in pain.

The phone has shattered and now I can’t use it. I do not buy myself a new one because I do not really have the money for it, and I don’t need one, anyway, nor do I deserve it. I don’t deserve a working phone. I wouldn’t appreciate it if I had it.

So I took a book with me to the market and tried to sell it. “Please,” I plead, “oh please, take this damn thing off my hands – I need the money, I need to get out of this town, won’t you help me?” So they paid me half of what I paid not six months ago, and I took off, desperate, for the North.

But my girl – she would not see me. “I just don’t see it happening,” she said. I took the road to Nashville, then, to see my old friend in his hotel, but he had already left town, gone with the sun again heading West towards the desert again.

Unwilling to go home, I made my own way North again, all the way up along the Atlantic seaboard at night, on the old I-95, burning gasoline, drinking sweet, black coffee and eating at Dunkin’ Donuts as the sun turns up again.

When I made it to the Piscataqua I bought a room in Portsmouth like I were a tourist and wandered around the old town, breathing the colonial air like I were Paul Revere. I sat at Gilley’s and I ate a hot dog, and then I ate four hot dogs more. When an old bird came in and asked for a hot dog, I bought her one, too, and then I wandered out into the winter rain of the city for the safety of my room.

In my room I tried to call my friends from my childhood but I could not get in touch with any of them. I had dreamt a dream wherein I spoke to each and every one, but that was just a dream, and this one was different. When I got on the internet and tracked them down one by one they were all out of town or simply too busy to see me.

I drove by the houses of my childhood, over the roads that I’d walked, and they chilled me, and I could barely make it. A heavy wave of something deep and central took over me and I could not move. The car drifted at 5 miles per hour through the colonial, cold, familiar atmosphere. I felt magnetically aligned, and it was like being sucked out of a portal of time into a real universe again, and not that phony universe of words.

When I passed those snowy fields again, and saw those two tall silos, snow-capped, standing there – my heart stopped beating and I died.

 

Organ Grinder Half Asleep

Rib – Oven – Glove – Tong

Or was it all gone wrong? The perfect mix. I feel foamy. Foamy and light. I am light.

Haircut – wax – nutella – notepad – handgun – and Cap, the crown of love, blue velcro.

It will not be demolished, I read in an order. I stand for the organ of justice. I am a good vote for order. Ask me any question – I’ll give you a functional answer. The skies were pink and calamitous and I burned in the sand with my horse a mile behind me, already given in to the birds.

Streets went on again and I threw some money out the window. “Who was it that built all these streets? Streets? We have streets? Stripes have been drawn on our streets! Down in parallel strips with some gaps in between. Something streaky.”

I looked over my shoulder but the army wasn’t paying attention to me. I called in to the military lovers in their anguish with their soft, and bulging, sheets? Private lollipop – super suck and read and under-tan. Help in the teeth where it’s needed, but ghosts take their time in the way. You can’t just walk right through them. I am not my own grandmother again and again and you can’t keep the lines on the page for me.

Original figure: sunset over the valley. Everything moves.

But the three girls.. those were excellent moves, but the way they saved him, with this tight grips, was that contraction? Clues under the coat of the ghost. It has his name all over it.

Where is he? He shouldn’t have done that! Poor man! Poor old incredulous man! Racist! And a slave! No one is born this way. It is a system of small fixes that somewhat resembles a shape. I am the morning atomic fire; watch the words freely shiver and twist, merching, lowly, hanging tall, confused and totally blue-bellied. Magic hall of walls that are solid white and pages, metalloid beach head, born with phronesis but fixed with a vigorous blowjob. “He took it in his mouth,” and as I shook the hands, standing waist-high in the wave of golden grass, spreading wheat across their backs and into their hair. I hate the lair I hate that lair and I do not want to stay there.

And then his hand was in my pants again, mist came in – there’s no one home, and they forgot to close the windows. All the good little animals, full into ships. On God’s of all the precious stones, this stone, it was me, and I am holding it.

Japanese glass until somebody cracked. I’m not saying somebody did, but I know who it is. In the lost cave of the golden cyher-slow the don admittance ran its wild four-pronged fingers through the bushy undergrowth, probing foxes, void of dreams, with long and oaken noses.

“i’m a good person,” I said, pushing away the enchantress. “I’m an adventurer,” I said. I had chocolate but it made me sick. I dipped my plum in chocolate thumb. I blew my gun on the run from the purifification, king of beasts, easy girls, slender towers full of treasure and groves, berries in the perfect groves – so pure, so flotsome – brittle grass, eat bark, boil acorns, donuts and coffee for breakfast and one steak, please, with french fries, please.

My sister burped. “Excuse me please,” she said. She burped again. “Excuse me please again,” she said. “You forgot to say thank you,” I snarled. “You’re right! Please excuse me, thank you.”

“Just say whatever comes to mind, why don’t you! All the time! What comes to mind! I set you up to steal this gold! This is a gold hoax!”

Where the waves had ran blue they now turned red, thick with the red clay mud of the highlands, and maybe with sweat dirt and blood in a slush. The decks were scrubbed and sanded to clean the bodily slush from the important positions, but the ship still sank, her guys bubbling full of salt-bloated corpses, on the sturdy edge of five more stolen breaths.

The horses slept the worst of us.

Was that a bear?

I close my eyes. An owl flies into the windshield and everyone screams. I open me eyes. What did I miss? “An owl!”

“I’m sorry, mom,” my sister says. “Oh mom, I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

“It wasn’t you,” said dad. “It wasn’t you.”

What was going on? Was mom about to break down over this?

A fox ran across the road with two heads. “A two headed fox!”

“It wasn’t two foxes, it was a two headed fox!”

“it had something in its mouth,” said mom. She was right.

That was back in plainsville, where they flooded the valley, the old strip on Sardis, the pizza oven, by the Panola playhouse where they showed the old show. I took my girl there for a parlour and we fucked real fucked all wet and loud while everybody took pictures. We did it up good on a couch in the back of the house and if someone cute came by we’d touch her.

Infestation Miracles

Miracles fill the buildings in this Mississippi river valley civilization as in ancient days the seven plagues came down. Many times these miracles are infestations or swarms, as strange as they are harmless.

A miracle of bees infested the apartments over the grocery store. You can not see them living, they are never there, but they appear on the windowsills every morning, dead, already gathering a thin film of dust. Honey drips mysteriously down the walls, pouring out from holes in the mortar of the bricks or cracks in the ceiling. A mason jar set out on the window accumulates a warm store of honey, dripping from nowhere to glass in the glow of the sun.

A miracle of ladybugs has infested the carriage depot at the top of the hill, where I live. I float here, lost in time, in this antebellum manor, and observe the red-backed beetles crawling over my walls. They appear alone, never together, but in all the places at once, at any given time of day. They sit on the window and bathe in the sun. They crawl down my television at night while I’m watching, reminding me of the miraculous power of God.

They walk over my naked body at night and I reach for them like they are pimples to pop or scabs to pick, and I pinch them, and when I realize what they are I brush them away off the side of the bed.

A lady bug is just another dirty people. Would I let a roach crawl slowly over the back of my hand at night? Would I watch the roaches warm themselves on my window?

A miracle of roaches infested the manor I abandoned in my past life and followed me here, through the rain it seems and over the deep ravine, into the quiet, close walls of the carriage depot. They congregate in the shower in the mornings, unable to move; they must fall down a crack in the ceiling. I can see the very crack.

A miracle of roaches in my walls. The entire structure is alive, as are all these structures. The illusion of loneness is an egotism of people. The walls are alive and the floors and the ceilings are too, as is the furniture, even the clothes. All the pieces harbor life.

A miracle of earthworms appeared in the front yard and I dug up a square block of soil and boxed it up to make a worm farm. “You should see these earthworms,” I said to the dermatologist. “They are God’s own gift to man.”

-

It as if waking up, or coming to, although I was never for one instant out. I can tell something is wrong. Reality has set in. This is an ordeal. What is going on? Can I control myself? What am I supposed to do?

I am sitting on a bed in a small flat surrounded by people. We are laughing together and then I wake up again. They are still there. An Albanian girl from Milan has just come in. I join her on the floor and hold her hand very, very close in mine.

Ketamine, that’s what it is. It’s not so bad, but it’s an ordeal. I feel good and decide I am in love. We are listening to music I don’t recognize. They want to go dancing. I rub her hands very firmly; I can feel everything in her hands, and nothing else outside of them, and I am aware I am holding them too tightly. I do not want to let go of her.

We did not have sex, although I told her I loved her. I did not have sex with anyone. I went years without sex. I became sexless, like a miracle, and dissolved, for a time, into the core of the earth, where the heavy metals meld together, solid gold, and gravity hugs you especially close.

-

When I came to I was facing East on the floor of a room overlooking a valley in the hills of North Mississippi. Nathan Bedford Forrest country. Blues country. My eyes did not open. I did not consider the possibility. Instead I was hearing Chet Baker and processing where it came from. What did it remind me of?

I feel my dog beside me. He is curled up a few inches away. My eyes closed, I feel perfectly the entire space of the room, oriented as I am on the floor on the top of a hill in Chickasaw country.

A dog barks from another room. A vacuum fills the space inches where I lay, as though a life has been sucked out of existence, and a doorway is built, and a hallway is laid, and the dog is now elsewhere, ten yards away. Time and space re-organize and re-settle, as if they had never been out of place, and the landscape of the valley changes, inch by inch, to accommodate the reaction.

-

Kiss | Crucifixion | Arch

Nobody else but me:

1.

2.

3.

4.

6.

7.

5.

8.

9.

10.

The Last Atlas Lion In Morocco | The Last Caspian Tiger In Turkestan | The Last Mona Lisa On Mar

My sister called me in a panic. “I don’t have any time,” she said. “I don’t know when dinner is. When are we supposed to have dinner? I just need to know these things. Mom and dad are so freestyle, but everything in my life is so fixed, I need to know, you know?”

“Of course,” I said. “I’ll talk to dad.” And that is all that I did. I called my dad, and I said, “Dad, what time is dinner?”

“Six thirty,” he said. “Great,” I said.

Then I called my sister back. “Dinner is at six thirty,” I said.

“Oh, my god, you’re so amazing,” she said, “Thank you, I’m sorry, you are amazing.”

“It’s nothing,” I said. All I did was call him – why didn’t she just call him? “Do you want me to get a cake? They only have half cakes at the gas station.”

“No, no! I’ll get it! Thanks! I love you!”

She called me back in a panic, however, when she found out that the Baskin’ Robbins in the city had closed. “That’s why she wouldn’t return my phone calls,” she said.

“It’s fine,” I said, and I bought two half ice cream cakes from the gas station.

Later that night, when we returned home to have cake, we all gathered around in the kitchen and sung “Happy Birthday” to my mother. The cakes remained in their cardboard boxes – they looked better that way, in their way.

Dad immediately walked away and disappeared. Mom cut herself a slice of oreo cake. The ice cream was very soft and cut easily. I cut myself a slice as well.

My sister cut herself a slice of praline. Mom started to package up the box of cake. “I need to put this up before it melts,” she said.

“No, don’t,” said my sister. “Let me do it, eat your cake.”

“No, it’s fine,” she said, “You eat.”

“Why don’t we both all just eat cake?” I asked.

“Because someone has to put the cake away,” said my sister, sounding testy.

She started to put the oreo cake away first. As soon as she took the box away I knew I would want some more, but before I could even finish my slice she had wrapped up the remaining cake into little messes of saran wrap and put them in the freezer.

I ate slowly to try and wait for her and dad to sit down and join us. “Where is dad?” I asked. Nobody knew.

Finally, my sister came back to the table, but instead of sitting down to eat, she started packaging up the praline cake.

“Will you please sit and eat cake with us?” I asked her.

“Daniel, it’s going to melt.”

“Let the damn cake melt, then!”

She paused for a minute, but then took the cake away and started wrapping its melted pieces up in saran wrap and freezing them. Meanwhile the slice on her own plate melted away, a yellow puddle forming under the soggy dough.

My mother and I were finished just as my sister sat down. I stood up and opened the freezer to have a second slice. The balled-up pieces of cake depressed me and I hesitated.

“Make up your mind and close the door,” said my mom, angrily. I closed the door and walked out of the room.

I ran into my dad. “Sorry,” he said. “I just started obsessing about keys.”

I nodded and walked past him and onto the porch while he returned to the kitchen to eat cake.

On the porch, I laughed at myself, but I was deeply offended. How much was it to ask, to sit down for one minute together and eat a slice of ice cream cake for my mother’s birthday?

The problem is we are all neurotics, but neurotics all of different types. I’m probably the worst of them all, the least sociable. I will blank out entirely, erratically, for hours. They must talk about me behind my back and worry about them. Well, they should! And I worry about them.

Goodbye Easy Gentle Wins

“This is a strange place, an extraordinary place, and interesting. There is nothing resembling it at home. The people are all insane, the other animals are all insane, the earth is insane, Nature itself is insane. Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm.”

- Satan, Letters from the Earth

With three more cents and an honest face I sat in the back of the room and tried to become more alive than I had ever been, and as usual I was unsuccessful, and I could not help but laugh, laugh in the face of the man looking back at me, ugly man with a fat head, his penis undoubtedly smaller than mine, his grip undoubtedly stronger, laugh like a dog like the way that the dog barks, bark, bark, bark, woof – and Hamilcar, the cat, you know the one I mean – he sits and he quotes Frege, and Russell, and Wittgenstein, about meaning and sense and reference and ordinary language – language games, I play this following game with my friends: “What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator!” And Hamilcar weeps for me, as I have forgotten how to weep, and the heavenly father scoops up all the scattered pieces in his fatherly arms and pulls them into the veil again, in the shadows, where the orange-pink sparkle flashes from the end of the gun barrels – like shooting fish in a barrel – and the corpses fell off of the cliffs like little Spartan crippled boys. “I died in the fields of Sparta. A car hit me, and I died, and Elysium did not accept me. Thus by the river Styx I soaked my feet, wasting my time, lost in kind and absent-minded, while the eternal boatmen laughed at me, drifting tiredly by in his crooked canoe, as I sang the happy song of my people; ‘I want to get you on a slow boat to China…'”

I can see the city from the top of this hill. There, beyond the ancient trees, a people – a race – asleep under God’s watchful eyes, snoring quietly. These hills are ageless, out of time and beyond recollection, and they live amongst themselves like a fungus, incommunicable, irremovable, and stuck to the rocks. When the sun rises, as it has risen over this land for millenia, the very same animals wake that once woke, millenia ago, as with the setting sun they slumber again; always waking, always sleeping, lost in the cycle of life and death, illusory in an easy static modal way of being. In life a being, in death a being, the ancient soul is always being. On the highest steeple in the valley, rising like a single essence of being out of a multitudinous flood of being, matching splendor, full of light, a being rises and a being resists, swelling and sinking away, rinsing into the drains and back into the earth, like a great giant is breathing and your head is on his chest, trying to sleep, listening to the gentle back-and-forth of the cavernous organs in the belly of the two-sexed beast, beyond redemption.

The trees bend, always bending, while the winds churns through the leaves, over the dry riverbed and between the buildings, old and new, whipping them with its fraying tails, and nobody speaks. We have forgotten how to speak as a people. As a people we have forgotten how to read. We have laid down our books and said, “Let God speak for us now.” We have sat on our porches, lost in a history ten thousand years long, watching the stars twinkle once and go out, extinguished like fleas in the firmament, one by one, until all that is left is the great constellation Chiron, weeping Chiron’s drunken poisoned tragic tears. Like a savage, the civilized creature sleeps, hump-backed, while the jungle burns, and the broken-backed and broken-legged are burned alive, the powder in their pockets exploding, the heat streaming over their face until the face has been dissolved, transfigured once again, for good. This time, at least, for good.

“Stay away from the Trace,” I warned her, as young and beautiful as she was. “There are demons there, and they will haunt you.”

But I was wrong. The demons did not bother her, because she does not believe in demons. It was only me that wanted – treacherous and long, like taffy-stretchers, vain and parabolic. I offered my hands to them, and they ignored me… I offered to pay them, and they ignored me… I dropped my pants and offered my virgin asshole to them, and they ignored me… I offered them my feet, and they suddenly grabbed me by ankle, and yanked around like a car wreck, without a seatbelt.

They got me good, they did, and I admit defeat. I am like an ineffectual Confederate brigadier general, always falling back, giving ground, until suddenly it is over, as though it had never really been. My right foot is not long for this world. It is already borrowed from the grave and it pulls longingly to be back in the ground again, covered in dirt and free from my torment, my nerve endings, my fleshly resistance to rest. “Lop it off, doc,” I should have said from the very beginning; “lop the damn thing off, and be done with it; it’s unnatural, it should not be saved, it is an abortion; I have failed my foot, and lost it, and let losses be lost.”

But the good doctor found a way – he found a way, muscle grafts, fragile skin grafts, metal screws and rods and wires, rancid plasma leaking through the night, for one hundred long nights – and tied the old 5-toes back to my aching leg. “So be it,” I said, like a general, and I got back onto my feet, winced, while someone called from the window, “Don’t forget to count your blessings!” and I said, “No, of course not,” and I continued to wince.

One hundred long nights there, in the sublimity of the last days on earth. I changed then. I could almost feel the change. Perhaps it was a natural change. Or perhaps it was an induced one. I became a Christian. I became sincere. I bled, and from my blood, I took mouthfuls. I finally admitted to the entire experience; “It is true,” I confessed, “that I’ve experienced pain…”

But pain is a long way of sainthood. And now that I am aware of the existence of sainthood, I understand sin, and I am a sinner through and through. My spirit is weary, my head always spins, but there must be a corpus of truth to rely on. I find it – a little homunculi, barely half my size and full of mischief – and I extract it out of me, through my bleeding nose, only to swallow it whole again.

“Are these electric candles?” I asked, touching the plastic shaft of the electric candle. It hummed with electricity like a thin hollow cock and I wanted to snap it half and reveal it’s wiring. “This is a flimsy source of light,” I said judgmentally, shaking my head. “A downright flimsy source of light.”

Night falls, and suddenly I am wide awake, although the stupor has thickened. I pull a chair in front of a mirror and sit down before my reversed self-image. “I have a problem,” I say. “I am self-obsessed. I think about myself and I talk about myself. And the thing is – not even I am interested in me.”

“You need to stop talking about yourself, then,” I said, and I listened. “And stop writing about yourself. And whatever you do, never, don’t ever, write about writing.”

The door bell rang and I raced to the door in my underwear, but no one was there. I remembered why I was so self-obsessed – because there was no one else in my world to obsess over.

Civilization is other people, and I can never be the other people, because then I would be something else.

I call the good doctor. I am drunk.

“If I were a good man, I’d be a doctor,” I said. “I should’ve been a doctor. The doctor-poet. Doctor Zhivago. I could have been a decent man.”

“What is wrong?” asks the good doctor. He is drunk, too. He drinks scotch.

I drink the ancient drink of America, the fruit of civilization, the civilizer itself – cider. But that is not what I have called the good doctor for.

“My ankle,” I cry. “It’s done for. I think this is something of a real existential crisis for me. I mean it is something that has to do with my very state of being. But I think it has to go, doc. I think the damn thing has to go.”

“Well, there’s really nothing we can do to help it, that’s true. It’s a mess – we can’t touch it. The whole thing is bone pulp and wiring anyway, and that fragile film of mottled, brittle tissue called a skin graft is absolutely untouchable.”

Suddenly I have an intrusive vision. I imagine myself mis-stepping on my right foot and twisting my ankle. But instead of simply twisting, it bursts, and the metal and bones break out of the brittle skin and my foot pulls clean apart.

I bite down on my lips and dig my thumbnails into my skin. I suffer intrusive thought attacks often and fight them as best as I can. The shattering ankle is a common one. I mis-step often, my ankle twists slightly and I save it just in time – but one of these days, any one, tomorrow, or ten years from now, I will step slightly inward on a curved surface and my ankle will twist, and the tender folds of grafted skin will open right up, torn totally asunder.

“But,” I say to the doctor, “Maybe it’s better to have my foot, my real foot, and be in pain than lose my foot – my only right foot, my God-given birthright foot, mine, flesh and blood, after all that we’ve been through – my mother made that foot, made that foot, how can I just cast it off? It held on! It held on for dear life as the demons threw me back and forth against the ground, twisting me up in the hot burning metal and grinding me into the rocks! It held on and said, “Save me! Save me!” and was saved. So it hurts. So it hurts! Well, what doesn’t? Everything hurts! Hurt is the condition of existence! I can’t get rid of it. I can’t abandon it. No. I will keep it. It disgusts me, I can’t even think about it without recoiling in an inward attack of anxiety, muttering like a baby on the floor while my eyelids flicker and my fingers curl – visions of skin crackling, rubbing dirt into the pale yellow-pink tissue, drenched in mud and flooding platelets, plasma, sweat – a waterfall of platelets, white and red blood cells alike, freely out of the confines of the soft, close, sweetness, and into the cold externality of individual, unexpected death, cell by cell, flying into space freely, at last, to be free, for a moment, in a beautiful descent – and then dead, and dissolved into the black of the earth, or onto the hands of the medic, who washes it off into the basin of a metal sink… What a curious life for a blood cell.

The clouds are white. The phone is dangling off the hook, beeping monotonously. What is the phone doing off of its hook? Whose phone is this that has a hook to hang from? I don’t have a phone line. I don’t talk on the phone.

Outside, someone tries to run over my dog. I stumble off the front porch in a rage, but he drives away, laughing. I am naked, thin and pale, and I twist on my ankle. I catch myself as I fall, shifting the weight from it, but it still sends bolts of nervous pain down my body. I land in the grass and the impact is like the mighty Polyphetes falling off a mountain, a titan shaking as the whole world quakes. I felt the movement through my back, shaking all my tender, drilled-out bones and all their composite bits and pieces. The dog runs up the sidewalk and into the grass to see me, shaking his tail and sniffing my face. I curl up in pain and he sits down beside me while I rock gently in the grass, staring straight into the sky-blue sky with clouds as white as little dry-cleaned lambs, leaping slowly over the earth in bounds that stretched from one horizon to another.

Where did the ancients go? I heard them chanting just the other day. They sung some spiritual ceremonial song down by the football fields last night. They sung and they chanted and launched colorful rockets into the sky.

Just last week, one of them went mad, nearly rabid, and started attacking other members of civilization. They went mad, too, and attacked back, and soon a presence of flashing blue lights resolved the scene. All at once, the madness stopped, and forces greater than the individual will ran freely through these quiet hills.

This is the last thing I remember writing down, laying wide awake while waiting for the ambien to kick in:

I do not deserve anyone’s love. I do not deserve anything. If I want to deserve things, I need to change. I need to simply shape up. I need to accept my responsibilities and improve the world that I live in. I need to exercise and regain the forty pounds I lost six years ago. I need to learn how to run and to fuck again. I need to eat better. I need to stop taking pills. I need to throw away my old clothes and buy a new wardrobe. I need to take responsibility for my fiscal indiscretions, accept my losses, and accept that I have nothing, nor did I ever have anything, nor should I ever have anything yet. I need to humble myself and start working for a living. I need to write a beautiful book. I need to write articles and submit them to publishers. I need to take my dog to discipline classes. I need to get my name out there. I need to be someone that someone else, someone healthy and sane and interesting, would want to be around. I need to be good. I need to be a good Christian. I should go to church. I should go back to school. I should get a job. I should learn how to ski. I should sail to Europe. I should film a movie. I should open a liquor store in the projects. I should flip a house.

I tore up the list. Who was it for? It was for Hannah. Beautiful Hannah – why would she bother with a crippled failure like me? But then, that is just the sort of self-obsessed hyperbolic hypochondria that drove her away in the first place… Well, rest assured: it is always my fault.

“Stay away from the Thames,” I said, as she swam in the Thames with her brother. I laughed at them but was too nervous to join them. I didn’t want them to see my scars and grafts. I just wanted them to see me as I was presented – dry and finely dressed, a face that is always smiling – and not a naked sarcasm.

They did not catch anything in the Thames. No one disturbed us. They dried off naked in the street, beneath a street elm, and the stars came falling once again, always coming back to earth, like angels, just to see us, tell us: missed you, kid.

Another slice of bread with chocolate spread, another late night in the lather – charges against charges, statics on statics, the joining and parting mist… What else can I say? I miss you. It has been too long.

I am simply making up memories now, making up something nice to believe in, fall back on, an alternative that could have been, and may as well be…

The world flattens underneath our feet, the valley closes up like a vagina and swallows us whole, and the last thing we said is all that remains of us.

 

The Soft Read, The Long Breakdown

“I could never right my wrongs, unless I write them down for real.”

I went a little bit mad last night. I circumsized myself in the bedroom after accidentally slicing my penis with a pair of nail scissors trying to shave the shit-matted hair under my balls.

Clumsily swinging the scissors around, I slit right into my foreskin, and as everything immediately turned red I, like in the movies, laughed, and fell against the floor, laughing, while I scissored the rest of the skin off.

In the bathroom, then, I made some resolutions. I resolved many wonderful things. I thought the woman I knew and I wondered whether or not I did love her, but I knew that already she should not love me, and should love me only less. So I resolved to deserve her. Work out again. Rebuild the muscle in my ass and legs. Drop the pill habit. Learn how to fuck again. Last time we fucked I just humped her until I couldn’t hump anymore and I rolled over and I gave her space. And the time before that. (No, it was more than that… it was better than that… you are being hyperbolic, you are being a hypochrondriac…)

I resolved to wake up in the morning and to write an incredible work of literature. I thought, “I will write a book.” I do not believe in books anymore, but there are those who do, and I would like to fall in with those people. (Writing is the only way I know how to express myself,” I confessed, “and it’s the last thing I know how to do.) Wake up in the early morning and drink a cup of black coffee and then spend the next 12 hours in the library, reading, working, composing. And then my name will be known and I will be able to lay back and sigh in accomplishment, miserable and endless though it may be, while the woman that I love sucks my dick, and I actually enjoy it. (She is remarkably good with it… and here I had thought I was becoming gay…)

“Eat right,” I said, holding my flaccid penis wrapped up in a washcloth drenched with liquid red stuff, “and work out right, and sleep right, and my hormonal imbalances will balance themselves, and I’ll be healthy again, and not sick.”

Instead of doing these things, I immediately crumpled into a fetal position and starting repeating meaningless phrases. The phrases gave way to flat moans, loud and uncontrollable, like the last five minutes of Bad Lieutenant. Why do I moan like the last five minutes of Bad Lieutenant? Why the fuck do I moan like that?

In the night, safe and sound, afraid and alone, no eyes upon us, no people between us, no blade of grass out of place, and not a word misspoken, I will writhe beside you, and you will study the irregular patterns of my speech, despite the slowness of my breaths and the patient beating of my heart against the hollow of my chest.

When the anxieties subside, and the fixations suddenly disappear, and the paranoia seeps out my skin like a toxin to evaporate back into the sun, like Pythian Apollo, the purifier – then is when the pain sets back in.

I wake up and I stop moaning. I laugh at myself for being so ridiculous and turn over in bed. I am alone again. My dog is beside me and I love him like I have never loved another living being. I think of a poem I like, a poem about happiness. Why do I know it? I close my eyes and try to drift back to sleep. Everything is fine, I tell myself, repeating it like a sheep leaping over a fence. “John had great big waterproof boots on; John had a great big waterproof hat; John had a great big waterproof mackintosh – and that (said John) is that.”

But then the pain sets in. The pain in my ankle and my legs and my tailbone, my spine and my back and my wrist and my fingers and thumb. A scar runs from the right side of my face through my entire body like someone stabbed a lightning rod through the right side of my body, wrapping around my back and splitting into rivers down my legs, where it puddles up, fragile and sick, in my ankle, where the pain is worst. This ankle is not long for this world. In ten years time it will be removed and replaced with a superior prognostic. Perhaps I will replace all my broken parts, and be left with a head in a machine, although that is what I already am, so I do not think I should mind it.

Soon the awareness of my pain replaces the feeling of pain itself, and I start to feel neutral and bodiless again, neither painless nor entirely painful, though totally full of pain. The pieces of pain go unnoticed like bitterness in coffee, your tongue too thick and dead with smoke to taste it. Everything starts to taste like water. Sugar is all I can taste – syrupy sweet – and it disgusts me.

What can I do? What can I do? My eyelids are closed but my eyes are wide open, and I’m looking through them, around the room, getting desperate, growing manic. I can see through the walls and there is nothing beyond them. I am alone in a valley of death and stagnation. My breathing gets short. My vision, behind closed eyelids, blurs, and I start to shiver.

“Meditation,” I suddenly announce, startling my dog. “Meditation, please, meditation, please.”

I curl up into a ball, even though to do so cracks and splits my fused-together back, and start to concentrate on my breathing. I think about the Daodejing and feel the individual properties of my body, the individual living organs performing their functions, the cells within cells doing what it is cells do. I feel a fungus growing on my thigh. I can feel the fungus growing, feeding on my skin cells, growing and spreading as I carelessly touch my legs at night, wiping it into my bedsheets and spreading it over the rest of my body. I can feel a small patch growing in my ass. I can feel a small patch on the back of my neck. It is in my hair. I am infested. I can feel the infestation growing. Ants – are those ants? Have the ants come already? What am I doing here, here in this skin, with this face? What are the ants doing here? “No,” I say, “Absolutely not, this is not what I had in mind.”

When the smoke clears it is morning again, and the sun has risen, and I find I have skipped another full night of sleep again. My body is wracked, nearly paralyzed, with pain, while my hot blankets have rendered a cold sweat underneath me, and I can smell my own sourness. I find that I am practically panting. Why am I panting? I am not a dog.

I reach into my bedside table and pull out a barrel of pills and eat all of them. I don’t even wash them down. I can’t even taste them, bitter as they are, while they sit in the back of my mouth and turn into chalk, into paste, and ease like rosin down the back of my throat, dripping like a cocaine drip, while a stillness finally sets in and the curtains, at least, have fallen close again, and the daylight disappears, and I think about love and the book of Corinthians.

A Flock Of Leviathans Dripping Fire – The Vatican

“To be or not to be?”

“No!” – Oblomov

The technology to the zeppelins of war that the Germans used to terrorize the streets of London is lost to the last hundred years of history. Why couldn’t the zeppelins, lumbering slowly and monumentously through the air like sleeping whales of fire, be stopped? So slow, so immortal, raging on against the march of progress. The clouds parted, the skies opened up, and the weapons of mass destruction drifted over the arching towers, out of reach and unstoppable, while the spotlights of the city lit up the mammoth war machines from below.

The warrior in the gondola hummed his favorite song as he watched the world crack in half below him, the fires and sulphurs of hell rising up to have fun with him. They drifted there, out of reach in civilian airspace, the air above the heads of kids, and spent the night in the grand excursion, a beacon of the perfect light – unseen, unheard, unspoken for.

A lattice of aluminum, hydrogen gas, and the intestines of over a quarter million farm animals…

Did they name it Billy the Kid? Did they swing in the noose while the caravans came in, guns swinging, promised pardons immaterial?

Phosphorescence in our piss – we collected our piss in a giant barrel for weeks and used it to clean and tan leather. There was phosphor in the wings of the aircraft and it burned white-hot across a lactating sky. The clouds hung low and weary and dragged their heavy knuckles, having carried water a very far piece, until it can’t carry it any more – release – white flames steaming in the rain – civilians screaming, babies in their cribs suffocating from smoke, skin melting onto the frame of the cradle.

It was my last chance at something worthwhile. I picked up the pieces of the babe and ran as fast as I could with them, between the flames while flaming balls of hellshine fell all around me, until I was outside of the city. My legs were broken and my ankle was spouting blood. The pain in my back was so bad that I could not even feel it.

Near a stream, outside of the invisible walls of the furnace, I laid with the babe by a babbling stream, licking his folds and trying to put him back together again. Meanwhile Sodom burned, and none of them deserved it. God in those days made himself manifest – he hummed through the skies, under the sea, and he rolled his weighty treads over the land, and everyone saw him, in all his light, and everyone heard his booming voice. Absolute beauty – and then, in a moment, death. Or was it absolution?

There were many prayers, then, and prayer enveloped the world…

Get Behind Me, Amadeus

“I like the glorification of things…” He rolled over in his sleep, chewing the inside of his cheeks with his molars. “Glorify me…”

She woke him up with kisses and nibbled his ear. He woke up, startled.

“Get behind me, Amadeus!”

Then he blinked, recognition came over his eyes, and they both started laughing.

Do you know what I’m thinking?” she asked me.

“No, I do not,” I replied. “I never know. I have never known. You are a mystery.”

“You can figure me out.”

“You give me too much credit.”

“I don’t give you enough,” she said.

“Spiritually you do not. Objectively speaking you do.”

The sun is not an objective construct, and it drums itself a stirring beat to string the helpless mammals further along, day by day, into the familiar unknown.

I dragged her on a sled through the unseasonal Mississippi snowfall. I did not want her behind me, but I wanted her to come with me, and I wanted to show her the snowy white cliffs I had stood on, the astral projections I’d seen.

In a panic in the middle of the night I tried to drown her. “I just can’t carry you anymore,” I said, “My back, it hurts my aching back.”

But she woke up and with honest bright eyes she wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me. It was not a deep kiss. (I don’t like to kiss deeply, I had said.) We got high together and I started to show her how to handbone. We danced under the moon to George Gershwin and had shamanic visions as the sky turned red and purple serpents rose out of the ground.

In the morning I felt ghoulish. I buried my tears by the campfire and moved like I was on strings, jangled, and I felt like I was stuffed full of straw. “Juicy straw,” I thought, licking the plasma that leaked from my soft tissue.

We continued our journey. “I am the brightest star in the aesthetic firmament,” I said, muttering polysyllabic nonsense and occasionally slapping my face. The sound stopped but my lips still moved.

In my heart I fell in love with her. I heard her whispering under my ear. “What are you doing there,” I said, “What are you whispering?”

I love you, it said, as though it came in on the wind from Japan, over the mountains and plains. I heard an electric guitar and I smelled a familiar liqueur on her breath. “Do you hear that?” I asked.

“That’s Billy Idol,” she said, and we started to dance again. I was so cold I could not move, but she stood close against me and we shook and vibrated in place in the ice while the snow fell, turning into sleet and hail, and then into sand.

That was the last night we ever spent together, there in our funny Russian hats reading Tennessee Williams to each other. “Read me your poetry,” she said. “I don’t read,” I replied, blushing. “When I read I sound like Jim Franco pretending to be Allen Ginsberg. It’s daytime television stuff. No.”

“No,” I started to say, as a word which held power. When they told me I was no decisive enough, I learned to answer, “No,” decisively.

But I missed her. She went off to school while I stayed alone in my secret place and compounded mental anguishes. She became better than me, smarter, more accomplished, and I languished after her like a cold mellow flame, not blue, not even red or yellow.

I wrote her a letter. I tried to justify my situation. The world is static, I wrote. Nothing ever changes. Time is a myth of the 20th century, like the novel, or modernism. Things do exist, they just do not change. It is pure spirit and romance in every moment, in such a tight perfect cycle it is indistinguishable from a motionless sphere. Like a marble, sitting there, full of bold spirit, and powerful love, and completely lost and helpless on the precipice of non-existence.

A tight perfect circle… I imagined an asshole. I imagined Rimbaud’s virgin ass getting raped in the hay by the soldier. “I write like a bitch,” I said, and I threw the whole letter away.

I went bear hunting with my grandmother’s shotgun with a .40 calibre Sig Sauer on my waist and a pocket LCP in my boot. “Let’s kill one of these magnificent sons of bitches,” I said, buckling a spiked collar around my dog and finishing a bottle of codeine syrup.

In the forest, I lost my humanity, and became a fungus again, a mushroom or a moss, and my dog transformed back into a moth. I reached out with my cellular walls and painted a portrait of my loved ones in the forest floor. Flowers blossomed in the lines and two giant ant hills formed a round pair of tits.

The flowers attracted bees, who made hives and regurgitated honey. When the bear came for the honey, I rose up out of the earth and resumed the form of the mortal, and I raised my grandmother’s gun before my eyes and focused down the sights on my target.

But the bear was beautiful beyond description and I saw in his eyes an intelligence, like a Neanderthal, and I realized how similar monkeys and bears really were. The dog floated down from his place in the clouds and turned into a shih-tzu. The spike collar slipped right off his tiny neck and he started barking, anxious to hear his master’s voice.

“I’m a failure,” I said. “I can’t even shoot a bear. I must shoot a bear.”

But the bear grabbed my grandmother’s shotgun and tossed it aside. “Boomstick this,” I said, pulling out my Sig and unloading 8 rounds in his face.

As soon as the bear was dead, I realized my mistake. I had ruined his beautiful face. I could no longer make a beautiful rug out of him, or mount his head like a prize above my writing desk. “I guess I’ll have to leave him here,” I thought to myself, shaking my head. “That’s a damn shame.”

The dog peed on the bear’s mangled face and sniffed his asshole.

“It was an accident,” I said. “That’s okay. What are you going to do? Not shoot bears?”

I knelt down beside my dog and scooped him up into my arms. “I’m here now,” I said, caressing him while he licked my cheeks and peed a little on my leg. “I’m here now, little Tiger Lily, little Mussolini,” I said. “I’m here now, Charlemagne.”

Three gospels in Galilei…

The inhabants – what did they see? They were so rich, they were so close, they were miraculous – they had mothers, they had hands, they had fingers and toes – many empty vehicles, many bleeding wrecks – they were satisfied, as if by savages, all too feminine and brief.

I spoke to Eternal Wisdom but simply got mad. She sounded like the Bourgeousie. I felt how Rimbaud must have felt on the dining table, in those pastels halls, with full-bodied stones rolling boredly through the begging meadows, sinking into Bethsaida’s lap.

I have been sitting here for many years, unmoving, and the Wisdom has let lay her long hair in my face and I smelled it, and it smelled like shampoo and smoke. “You smell good,” I said, but the smoke made me sick and I wanted to breathe fresh air, unfiltered through Wisdom’s golden braids.

Fuck a bad bitch, fuck a bad bitch, fuck a bad, bad, bad, bad bitch – gliding, and sliding, and riding, white-out, the lights out, my balls out, they’re burning, alone in my Suburban, the blue birds chirping – blah, blah, blah – fuck a bad bitch, pluck a black bra, make that back yaw, catch her moaning, swanning, I’m yawning, my ribs out, real gold money swinging like a golden chain.

And in the back of my mind, I am still thinking of her, and adoring her, and remembering the doors I didn’t hold for her, the way I didn’t watch her walking across the floor, laughing, hair back, skin like polished alabaster. I fell onto my knees again and started to pray. I couldn’t help myself. I was practically speaking in tongues. Hysteria came over me. The dog whimpered and jumped on my back as I writhed on the floor. I heard Mozard again as the ceiling fell away and the sky opened up into the familiar vortex. The Queen of the Night spoke to me and water washed out of my eyes and stained my face like bukkake.

We sang together, then, like it was 1931 again, and we were on the floor boards of that old farm house, playing our instruments and drinking whiskey and smoking tobacco. I was a sentimentalist, then, and I wore my only suit, although I was not in suit country, and I had no businesses wearing suits.

But she crept out of bed in the middle of the night and into the black hot arms of the devil-worshipper himself, the musician, who fed her lotus like a lotus-eater and then had wild black hot sex with her through the rest of the night into morning, when he finally passed out stupid and hairy on top of her and she lay smoking a cigarette, blowing it into his face.

Lucky Strikes – you’re kidding me. That’s all I can think. What would I have thought six months ago? Six years? What would I have said? I cannot even kiss her. Where have I been? Who has she seen? What is really going on here? I fell off the wagon again and into the mud.

Soon the money was gone and she was gone with it, and although I was not bitter I did not feel very proud. I wanted… something. While I was with her, the opportunity of a lifetime passed me by, and I missed it, and then I missed another… and soon, it was years ago, and then it was history, and it was easily forgotten as though it was never there – as it never really was.

“You’re a sentimental one, aren’t you?” asked Eternal Wisdom, as I basked in the soft human glow of her presence.

“I’m a sentimental one,” I confessed, scrubbing the dirt and dead skin from my tender feet.

And then she flew west again, riding the Pegasus of light and fury, magnesium inside her veins and an entourage of angels behind her, carrying her invisible gown above the ground and ascending slowly through the parting clouds, her clothes falling open, her fingers slightly curved, lips bent upwards – god and omnipresent pagans knew the wealth of love in common, and together they broke new bottles on the frozen shores, unable to promise or admit to the passage of time as the stars transformed before their very eyes. “I am the brightest star in the spiritual firmament.”

But it was not a religious experience.

It was strictly secular. Physics and hormones. I should have been killed – I should have been dashed upon the rocks by a true Christian prophet. Unfortunately my family is not one of Christians and prophets.

My neck gleans. The top is back and I can feel the Mediterranean in the wind. I have bitches in the back. I picked them up in Prague with dirty money and told them I was a planter from the South.

 

A Flash Of Green Light – A Fleet Of Sinking Ships

Over ruby-fisted apple trees that spread across the American landscape, the weary gold sun rises on time once again, rousing the animals who wake up and face it and speak, in a howl or prayer, by the window with the clearest view; it is cold, but thank Christ for the hot shower, and that steaming hot shave.

Finally dressed but not hungry. The coffee burns, the water spoils, a roach is chased out of the mug – take a look around you, what have you done? Whose spoils are these? The nobility – the blood you bore, the burden you carried – life on other plants, cosmic super-universal life – like a robot, you could’ve gleaned… Who is that talking? Who has spoken? Something creeks; the screen door slams against the beaten frame again. “Who is at the door?” wolfed the dog, his sense of direction destroyed by the strange magnetic fields.

A sad giant has lifted his shoulders out of the morass in the mysterious stream, where the feudal lords once cursed the sons of the witches and had them all raped and then burned at the stake; and the bones rattled, and the animals fell into the moss as though it were coal tar and were swept slowly under. The magnet fields shift and warble and money falls out of everyone’s pockets and milk pours out of babies’ eyes.

She woke in me a hunger and I scaled the nearest building, guns out, taking hostages. The village tailor measured me for a suit and told me I needed to eat more. I threw up raw feces in his face. 

“I’m about to be rich,” I said, “Or I will die as I should have died a long time ago. Give me this now, or kill me.” Hush, said the good fairy. You are being over-dramatic.

A child approached me holding a grenade. “Don’t do it, kid,” I said. “Hand me that grenade.” He was a demon. He had fat demon cheeks and thin demon arms.

“I am Jupiter,” he said, and I fell to one knee.

“Yes, you are,” I said. I gave him everything I had. He ran barefoot over the marble streets, disappearing down an alley and into Olympus. 

I have seen many demons before. I have spoken to them and made deals with them. I am smart; but I am not smarter than a demon. 

That night, on the edge of my bender, I picked up a woman at a bar and took her back to my room. “I am an angel,” she said. I looked her over. She was beautiful, but no angel. I knew angels. “I am angel,” she said, and I did not have the heart to tell her otherwise.

I pulled her panties down over her legs to bury my face in her pussy but instead I was hit in the face with a penis, long and solid like a club. I cried out in surprise and ran to the closest wall.

“Don’t you love me?” She asked, her voice high and frightened.

“Love you? I barely even know you!” I said.

I left to get some bagels. I took the long road home to the valley instead of returning to the sleazy motel in the city, and I curled up in bed with a bottle of painkillers and spent the weekend watching Montgomery Clift movies.

During this time I decided to invest my last $10,000 in a brand new internet cryptocurrency. I tried to wire the money and make the investment but the money was not available. The day it became available, the value of the currency went up 1,000% and I watched another million dollars disappear.

I grew depressed. “It is a mania,” I told myself. “Pure mania, not rational. You are manic and sick.” I ate more pills and became desperate. I returned to the motel the next afternoon to check on the hungry angel with a penis.

She had died of dehydration. A wild dog broke in through the bathroom window and ate her face and all her organs. I chased the dog off and called the police. “She is not an angel,” I assured them, and then I hung up without giving my name. I said a prayer over her body and fled the scene, pulling over on the side of the highway and throwing up into a patch of dandelions as the sirens of police and ambulances sped past. 

The sun set orange-purple in the horizon and it suddenly reminded me of childhood. I wiped the vomit from my mouth and drove to McDonalds to buy a cheeseburger. I wanted to take it to the children’s hospital and eat it there, but the hospital would not let me in past the lobby. I ate my McDonalds on a bench and watched children come in, some healthy, some sick and dying, and I cried and I cried without blinking an eye.

Where did the friends by the water’s edge go? We used to walk together by the water, the sun streaming between the leaves and always glistening, always singing, and together we played the piano, and we played in the grass, and we laid beneath the stars and counted them as they fell, one by one, and gave them romantic names, old light from old worlds, strange and distant, and yet beautifully familiar – her finger in my waist band, a kiss under the yellow light with the dust floating inside the doorway, onto the bed, where the crumbs lay, and the bible lay, split open, closely read.

We walked together down the curving slopes to town, where we drank and dined and generally just did not worry. And that happened a limited number of times – and then it was over.

“A limited number of nights,” she sighed, running her finger through the dew on the glass; “a limited number of moments.”

Her hair was long; his hair was short and tidy. Together they ate bread and ice cream, and he ran his hands through her head while he talked to her, her eyes closed, and her clothes gave way.

The things we used to have, the way we used to see each other, in a perfect sort of faded light, infinitely played, prismatic. I have seen things even I have doubted, and know things I was certainly not intended to know. Visions – like Fleetwood Mac. I’m wrapped in heavy lustful dreams again, lonely and lost in the memories with no known hands to hold me, to guide me in my blinded haze. I listen to the echo of footsteps in a rainy city street; I recognize the sound of running children, getting wet. “Run, little children,” I mutter. “Get wet.”

Incandescent Crying Eyes

“And sometimes I have seen what men have thought they saw.” – The Drunken Boat

Ripe, he watched her shadow go…

Shadow go, and don’t show up again

And we run aground again. I collapsed in the silt. “Make sure this doesn’t happen again,” I ordered, licking the blood from my wrists (I suffered in those days from stigmata).

It all went down in a temple under the full blood moon. The people were decently clothed and all very virtuous. When the rapes began, the virgins were caught by surprise, and even the screams could not curdle the moon, rosy-cheeked and bleary.

The dawn brought with it the war drums and the mercenaries from the sea fought the insurgents who fell, one by one, on the far side of the picket fence. Where are the prize-winning roses? What happened to the heirloom apple seeds?

They filled the greenhouse with the rotting remains of slaughtered pigs and hid a few children in the bottom of the pile.

They found them hiding under the stairs.

They heard what God said to Abraham on the mount, and they heard Abraham’s internal monologue of rejection.

No one is that intelligent. No one is that deserving. No one is worth it. I slipped away, tipping the waiter and signing a line for my name.

In the back of the movie theater, my fingers creeping up the inside of her leg, I whispered a threat into her ear as I licked it. It tasted like good Catholic whiskey. “I’m a Protestant,” I said, the devil in my tongue and archangels sleeping in my eyes.

I was not the only one, but I was the only true Protestant. The rest of them wanted sex. They were all about her ass. They wanted to fuck her with me in her ass. “Absolutely not,” I said.

I threw them out of my house and threatened to call the police. I threw away all the evidence and drank the rest of the alcohol before anyone else could get hold of it. The pressure of the universe increased and I felt panic set in. I was being tested. There were blinking lights and repetitive beeps. They were testing my awareness. “I took some adderall but it didn’t help me focus,” I said with a laugh. “Maybe that means I need it.”

Quickly – before the nausea sets in – I construct a cube-shaped room with brushed steel walls, floor, and ceiling. The cube rotates in space and I touch it’s cold, perfect steel, breathing the fresh metal air into my lungs and calming my nerves. The sickness subsides and I relax on the floor, legs crossed, and meditate, the back of my head resting against steel. Steel is all around me.

A beam of light – a revelation – “This isn’t steel! This is titanium!”

As in Autumn, when we hung from the long ropes that rang the church bells, and the heavy meditative gong of the bells rang out across the old world, full and resonant, I felt her skin close to mine and I tried to slip inside it, safe and sound. The arctic air descended the city, blowing in from the highlands and bringing the young ice of winter. We fucked on the cobblestone while my shithead friend took a shit at the foot of the alley. The arctic air stimulated my senses and I exposed myself bare to the cosmos.

“I may be ultra-modern, but I am not a city boy.” In his world, ultra-modern was a state of mind, an invention of the original river valley civilizations. In the fertile river valley, where the weather is calm and the sun always nurturing, in the pastoral, that is the rational grave of modernity.

But the city loomed, monolithic, and beckoned to him; it diverted the rivers towards its own aquifers, and the countryside tithes were redirected to the coffers of the central church. The ghost of man and the spirit of art drifted, like moths, towards the monolith, drawn out in black light like all of the problems of the world, a blur of words incomprehensible and slipping always farther out of sight. Memories changed, money disappeared, and the nobility turned back into dust; statues of people who never existed, stakes in bodies that were never there, sons and daughters of the collective imagination. I fell asleep in a dream where I belonged, once before, in the comfortable web of mechanistic non-reality, the parable, wetly floating towards the source…

The good doctor bled me and gouged out my eyes. “I can’t see, doc,” I said, and he took out his eye-doctor utensil and scooped them right out.

“How do you feel?” He asked.

“I feel better,” I said.

When day broke I arrived in Africa. The white sand shores burned the pads of my feet and I carried my dog on my shoulders towards the village. We rented a jeep and disappeared into the heart of the continent.

As if on camels, in the Gobi desert, we set out as a family from the ruins of Ulan Bator, so did the lone ranger, the courier drone, the fucked-up medicine man with his illegal surprise, pass without time through the passages of sages and kings. The tsar has been murdered, his family raped – there can be no turning back again. There is no such thing as home anymore. There is nothing anymore to return to.

I got drunk and the cum  sprayed out of my cock again, running down the inside of my leg and over my ankles…

When they were hungry, they ate. When they were cold, they sat by the fire. When they were warm, they turned on the air conditioner. When they were tired, they rested. When they were bored, they worked. When they were in pain, they took painkillers. When they were depressed, they took drugs. When they were horny, they had sex together, like children, and a single twinkling star shone down on their backs.

That was the time of their lives. And to that, there would be no going back again. No memorial service. No one else had to die in the desert. The secret was dead.

And so I lost the will to linger… I went back to my room, and I opened the bible… and I remembered the past…

Nuremberg Soft Chronicle

“I done came too far to go back, and too hard to go soft… Whatever ever happens, I’m with it.” – The Future of Dade County (Ft. Dirt E Red, Lunch Money, Co, Hennessy, P.M.)

The shutters beat against the walls of the house in the middle of the night and the doors blew open. Ball lightning invaded and I chased it out of the house with the butt of my shotgun. “Get out of here,” I cried, my eyes wide with fury at the beautiful, deadly body of light. It left the way it came and the dog chased it outside, where it dissolved into the air as if nothing had ever happened. Black is the night in the valley of sleep, and full of ball lightning.

The curtains remain draped and the shutters boarded up. He is not unhappy, but he sleeps on a bed of nails, and he showers on stone, and he sleeps underneath the open universe so high on pills he can make out Andromeda with his bare, myopic eyes. All he has to do is squint, and then he can see; and the sleepwalker, hungry, eats her fix, and is no longer tempt; the face settles into its natural contours, no one is smiling, and he can’t help but laugh. He laughs whenever he speaks.

The white-ragged king skipped toward the eternal Roman columns, wide like the great chest of Polyphemus and soft to the touch. We fared well in those days… Before we went underground, banished from above, with our saints and archangelic protections bound around our throats like shock collars.

In long white rags, like floating ghosts, the handsome children ran away, alone into the misty fields, deep and wet and always quiet.

When the mist lifted, they were gone. We marched for them for days. The Civil Air Patrol flew aerial reconnaissance but could not turn up any ghosts. An empty church in a cornfield burned to the ground, but there was no evidence of children, nor ghosts.

“I done got it on the block, streets don’t owe me nothing.” – Dirt E Red

I took a hit of acid and sat on the porch and grew bored so I went for a drive. In the countryside no one can hear you. You do not exist. You are a context of the road, and the road does not exist. The lines fold into the plane and the walls recede, points repeating, until breathing itself becomes unnecessary. The calligraphy of the sun through the trees gives way to the full immortal glory of the open burning cotton field, pulling the horizon closer and closer as it slips farther away.

When the acid wore off I pulled off the road and I slept. A young woman called me and wanted to listen to jazz. I went to her house but fell asleep on her bed. When her dad came home I walked right out the front door and shook his hand as I left.

The torque took over and the curvature of the earth caved in. I watched as the steamboats split in half and sank to the bottom of the river, as the cannons discharged aimlessly towards the moon and the stars, all of the soldiers’ camps burning and the mansion on the hill already burned.

“Executive to the game, can’t change me. Make money but the money don’t make me.” – Dirt E Red

The urge to say grace overcame me as we sat down to eat. Everyone else started eating like usual, filling their faces thanklessly and proud. I licked my lips and tried to speak, but I could not say anything. I would not know what a grace sounded like if I heard one. “Mother,” I asked, calling out to the rafters of an empty tower, from which hung a heavy pendulum, swinging to and fro above my scarred and motionless face, “How does a good boy say grace?”

That was all I ever wanted to be – a good boy. “I am good,” I repeated feverishly, trying to drink what my father handed me only to throw it back up across the floor. “I am a good boy, I am good.”

Like the cro-magnon standing there, back straight, the pain and the anger of what he has to do well known, and harbored deep within him somewhere unsafe, somewhere violent, in the pitiless natural heart of the good man, made worse by his own tortured existence in the black lands, unfarm-able, lemons undeliverable, salt washed back out to the sea. No one walks through the darkened clouds but the marionettes, sad-faced and wooden-limbed, and they rattle from their strings in the wind like windchimes, thin and hollow, and the faces of the ragdolls spin, laughing haplessly, getting wet.

She dripped between her legs and I slipped my hands inside her, one by one, and split her in half –

“I’m about as hot as a South Beach sun…” Hennessy

I wrote a letter to the old godmother again, sitting alone in her schoolhouse in New England, in the far north where the ice gale blows, and the churches sit cold and unattended, their fires smoking and their doors always open, with a bible for every baptism, and I asked her for advice. I told her I’d been reading Henry Suso, the great German mystic, and San Juan again, the Spaniard.

But the letters got mixed in the mail again and the package was lost… Wires crossed, and she died; the funeral depressed me. I almost did not go. I cried for Christ and recognition of the holy spirit. I could see it, standing there – she was wise, and beautiful, and full of steady grace. She said, “I saved you, you stupid piece of shit, and I will come to take you, soon – you will serve me. I am yours to serve.”

“I will serve you,” I said, and I bought her a fur, and I let her fuck her like any which way, no matter how badly my back hurt, and no matter how sore and empty I became; my dick, like rubber, tired, like Henry Miller, like a whore. I started quoting Klaus Kinski and soon I was dead; she resuscitated me, slapping me in the face, and I refused to slap her back again.

They wanted to go into the woods again. “I do not go into the woods anymore,” I said. They could see the darkness in my eyes and did not ask me what I meant. So they went without me, and I walked alone to the city and drank myself under a board in the floor.

Oceans broke on glassy wharves and a library burned in broad daylight. What could they do? The good men, the greatest men – but history is not made by men, and great men are a mythology. The honor of Odysseus is mythological. Honor is a dramatic device, like Plato, Jim Dean and his iconic red jacket.

A blue rage came over me and I got up and danced. “Dance,” I cried, grabbing my deaf old man by the collar, “Get up and dance why don’t you!”

I took my fat uncle-in-law by the arms and shoved him into the middle of the floor. The old antebellum heart pine turned into a grid of flashing colorful lights and a disco ball lowered out of the ceiling, replacing the fans and light fixture. The fat man started to dance like it was 1976 again and the future was real.

In the parking lot of depravity behind the abandoned house a fourteen year old girl was being raped by three white boys just slightly younger than me. I walked outside with my Sig Sauer in my hand to shoot them but they were gone, and they had taken the girl with them. A pair of ripped and bloody panties hang from a scab of uneven brick and a meteor fell between the earth and the moon and disintegrated in plain view of the ancient city.

Sarah, whom he may have loved, was on her knees by the fireplace praying to Mother Mary, while the basement filled up with the floodwaters and the mountaintops turned island hills.

A beacon in the distance caught her attention; it was a broadcast, tapped out by the finger of the paralyzed man in the mountains, old and tired and good at heart, and it said, “As I wept I saw gold, and I could not drink,” and Alicia Keys and Jay-Z sung a song from their peak of gold and ivory, full of grace, and the choir of angels paraded out of the orchestra pit and into the aisles. We drank apple juice and licked the taste from every other tongue, teeth laced, hearts receding.

The fingers down the back again, the breathless repetition, passing out again, the lighters in the air again, the angst and the absurdity again, mad-hatterly, antique.

And so it progressed, sadly and uncertain, until the progression halted; and then it regressed again.

(My gums are pale – do I look like a skeleton? Iron deficiency… vitamin D… trace nutrients…)

Island nation – Durkee’s Premium Blend Apple Pie Spice – improve your cooking – standard stapler, standard staples, stapled goods – plastic glasses – thunder as it rains, the chess set trembles and the pieces shake, rattling against the glass like rain drops – the cracking of ice, the ice breakers – furnace – visions after visions.

I took a pill and tapped into the city life. On the internet and in the streets of Tokyo and behind a hundred glowing screens.

That’s how it feels to be free… perfect consumption, blinding light – go out inside a blinding light, a halo on your pale lit head…

“I can’t get it out! I can’t get it out of my head! I don’t know what it is and I can’t get it out!”

Pure and total suffering – completely under wraps – behind a door just freshly closed, unlocked and unprotected. “Please don’t go through my personal effects,” I demanded, the end of my lips curled in a snarl. What was in my personal effects?

“Ice in my ear – give me brain freeze.” – RiFF RAFF

I ordered a $6,000 television on Amazon and they delivered to my house two days later for free. I laid in bed while the delivery man set it up for me. “White glove service,” he said, unboxing it and plugging it in.

I spent the next two weeks watching Amadeus and composing a list titled “The Sad Sap Sucker” about my most pathetic features. I deleted or threw it away every morning and started again every evening.

When my parents came to check on me, I would throw them out, blowing smoke in their face and telling them I was hard at work. Meanwhile I ordered roses sent to the last known address of a woman I knew in Milan and spend seventy-two hours browsing the internet.

I dissolved again, like powder in a gelatin shell, and fell face-first into the oil of the night again. The great sand demon of sleep took advantage of me while I slept, and the young hookers let themselves come and go, taking what they wanted and breaking everything else. I stayed there, in the mud, my head spinning, unwilling to take in what had happened, who I’d become, that one night, the last night of the old world, the end of the past and the first test of the new awakening, crystal-raw and full of nosebleeds, although the scars folded up with the flesh.

Iron chains snaked between the gaps in the rack and fell to the ground, sinking into the mud as the survivors ran desperately through the basement.

Outside, the view was beautiful – like a van Gogh painting of a delta countryside, a single row of trees left to grow in the landscape. A cropduster flew a few yards over the earth as it sprayed its miracle compounds over the endless rows of perfect crops. Soybean, cotton, full of grace… Just listen to the earth, it’s growing, that there is money being made, that there is people feeding, people sleeping, people healthy and clothed – “Miraculous industry,” read the literature.

“Industry,” I said, and my eyes glossed over and I became a machine.

 Symphony No. 5 in B flat, D. 485, I. Allegro – Schubert

An angel on the silver screen, a cowboy fighting in the hallway, drawing blood – finches, all of them dead – life in the gutter, fighting fish in the puddles, broken glasses on the bridge of the nose – like Mickey Mouse, smiling, multi-cultural – master sailor, mice in their bread, weevils in the grain supply – and the silos burned, one by one, like aborted missile launches, and the saboteurs spread like locusts through the countryside, pillaging the mills and factories and having their way with the women and children.

There is no life here, after all. There are only men and women, and they are monsters, full of imaginary, visionary constructs like race, sex, and sexuality, and they are impulsive, violent intuitionists. They wave in the environment like coral and react to stimuli with a sting or a kiss and consume until their stomachs burst.

I was a farmer, once, and my heart was still good. But winters were hard. We had to put the horse down – shoot him and bury him right in the spot.

My goat, Henry, the size of a large labrador and moon-eyed, got into the feed silo unattended and overate. It’s stomach flipped over and he died, bleating in misery as he lay in the cold with his organs destroyed.

The bethlehem donkey, however, carried on, half-blind, with the cross on her back, and she paced the perimeter of the misty field every day, no matter the season, and she kept watch over the little ones at night – the chickens, the geese, the rabbits, the goats, the cats, the ducks.

When the foxes came, and savaged the chickens in the violated safety of their beautiful coop, the donkey, too old to jump, ran straight through the electrical fence, dragging it, zapping, until she finally broke free of it. She kicked open the door to the coop and stampeded the foxes, driving them out. She followed them to the edge of the hayfield before returning to the chicken coop, where she stood in the doorway until I came home a day later. The door blew closed but she stood there, unmoving, the blood of her fallen comrades around her.

In America, there are forests, and in these forests there are cemeteries, old and undisturbed, and underneath the graves there are bodies, wrapped in earth and restful at last. I have ran and played and made love among these restful people, and I have laid on the earth and imagined the way I will rest, when the time comes. Laying, safe and sound, in the earth, the sun just above you, the world warm and full of life and spinning onward in perfect unity. A resting place – I eat my pills…

The door to the chicken coop swings open and closed in the night, the snow blows in thick and fills the air, pure white and invisible, like you can’t even move, like the world has stopped existing. In the safety of my bedroom, against the frozen glass, I can smell the ancient wall of winter, falling snow, a blizzard, purple light, endless whistling, the vanishing focal point… blurry vision, love is so easy to lose, out of touch, my heart in all the wrong places… we chased down the ice cream man, he bought me some ice cream because I did not have any money. But then he ran off on his bicycle without paying, and I panicked and followed him, holding my ice cream in my hand and apologizing.

The ocean froze and no one was around to see it. The lighthouse beam diffused completely; the sky was white, the sound was white, the temperature was white, and nobody could move, afraid to disturb the perfect, torrid whiteness. Portraits on the walls heaved, as the paint felt a familiar dryness, a familiar change in pressure, and the antiquarian frames shrunk and expanded.

One hundred different words for snow… and I never fucked a single one of them…

“I don’t care anymore.” – Phil Collins

That was the day the yearning died – on the banks of the river, watching the skyscrapers rise – in a candy shop in an alley in Bruges, trying to buy the window display, but the window display is not for sale – I fell asleep on a cliff smoking Amsterdam cannabis I’d mistakenly smuggled through the mountains, half asleep, sugar plums still in my dreams.

When I woke up, I was laying in a hospital bed, and I had lost feeling in my waist and legs from damage to my back and spine.

Love in a castle again, forevermore, while no one takes another step, and if the record player reaches the end, we will simply reset it – but this is why it’s all so wrong, it’s just so young and foolish. Please forgive me – and remember the way that you once thought of me, the way I once was – I was more than that, I alway was, even if I never had the chance to show it – couldn’t you tell from the look of me? Couldn’t you tell I was sensitive? I’m a real sensitive man. I’m sympathetic.

She left again, and I grew paranoid. I installed cameras on the front porch and spy cameras in some of the interior rooms. I built hidden safes integrated into the structure of the house, so many that even I lost track of them.

I have hidden many things. I hid guns. I hid gold and silver coins. I hid hard drives full of literature and movies. I hid cryptocurrencies on dedicated netbooks. I hid pills. I hid alcohol. I hid keys. I hid drawings. I hid journals. I hid buttons and old letters. I hid the clothes a one-night-stand left. I hid naked pictures. I hid pictures of myself. I hid medical records. I hid statuettes I bought on the street in India. I hid apple seeds and cannabis seeds. I hid a ukulele. I hid an oil portrait of my great-great-grandfather. I hid collages I made high on cocaine in college. I hid old glasses and broken phones. I hid the screws that held my back together for six years. I hid a bootleg Peter Gabriel CD given to me twelve years ago by a girl I knew. I hid heroin needles – unused. I hid a book from the 15th century written in Latin by a German mystic.

But none of that matters… it has all disappeared, along with the house. The winter took it; the raiders came, like the soldiers, and took what they could; and the rats ate what remained, and the termites and weevils consumed what was left after that.

And then – she never came back again…

Christian Virtue Ethics

At a party overlooking the sea where the yachts float a blindfolded mariachi band plays jazz for the guests in their suits and their dresses. An old man standing over the railing feels that old feeling in his heart again, and the glint of the show lights rocking over the waves caught his eye and gave it a glisten, a burst of light over his crows’ feet and lashes that made him a fool again, golden and full of love.

Outside in the grass behind a gazebo with peeling paint a boy with a dirty pompadour buries his face in the neck of his pale, pink-lipped rose, his own darling, who he found and he sank in the grass by his own unique splendor. They rolled together and he kissed her skin through her hair, soft and slightly smoky. The feelings are gone but the music is playing and he can’t stop kicking his leg like a dog and tapping his fingers on her back like a drum stretched from human skin. ki ki ki-ki ki ki-ki k k-ki, he whispers, imitating a snare drum.

“I could have been an heir,” he whispered, repeating it as though he suffered from a nervous condition. “I could have been an adequate heir. I could, I could, c-c-could, ki ki-ki, ki ki-ki, ts ts-ts ts ts-ts ts-ts.”

The eyes in the stars revealed themselves to be passerbys, lightning bugs and passenger jets and satellites flying silently by. The world spun and spun and in his head he could feel it, he could feel the cold space pressing in on him, the eternity above and below him, the collapsing stars and supernovae, the bacteria in his gut and the flouride lamination on his teeth; restless purple and recognizable, in the throes and out again, inside and observant, masochist, helpless and silent, impenetrably wide – and it swallowed him live.

The lights passed by again, and the empty boxcars rattled on through the half-melted desert at night. Another night in the diner without anyone to drink with. Another empty stroller cart, rattling upside-down in a ditch on the side of the highway. Trucks drive silently by. Intrusive thought: I should jump in front of this truck.

Under a blanket on a spring bed over rats and cardboard insulation in New York in the city the romanticist slept and dreamt his romantic dreams of the boys from his childhood, the men that he loved and the esoteric haze they drifted away in, only to, like the seasons, drift back again, never really ending, never really falling in or out of love again, like two lines that are not quite in parallel, but do not intersect.

But the ghost does not live in the city; it has retreated back into the old world, assumed the perspective of stone, of the ancients, in the river valley civilization of the north Mississippi hill country. There among the ancient ghosts the spirit drifts, foolishly laughing and singing its songs, Chet Baker, at the top of his lungs, unforgiving, pathetically helpless, and at peace.

“I do not like the city,” said the ghost, longing to be in the city. “The city kills me.”

“The river valley is what kills you. It is too easy for you there. You disappear there. You are already dead there.”

In the hamlet of the river valley the river overran and destroyed the homes and businesses in the bottom of the valley on Main Street. The national engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority flooded a nearby farming town and created dam controls, cutting off the water supply that fed the river of the valley. The river ran dry and the floods became history, just like the glistening water that once rushed between the peaceful, sun-bleached buildings.

In 129 AD the Roman Emperor Trajan Died on his way from Mesopotamia to Italy, leaving the Empire at it’s greatest extent in history to his successor, Hadrian. A young cafeteria worker from the hill country packed up his cookware and took the caravan over the old silk road to the old apple forests in the north, and he gathered apples to take back home to the Italian countryside.

A work of art hung in the hallway of the home on the top of the hill. It was a reproduction of “The Sin,” by Heinrich Lossow, of a nun getting fucked through a cold metal grate. That is how the young Christian chose to come back into this world – in the arms of sin and on the fat hot legs of a beautiful woman. “St. Augustine, I’m in love again!”

He crawled on top of her and had his way with her, and then went to sleep… And then the next night, he did it again, and considered himself a champion in heart and in body. Two nights later he let himself come for her again and roll over and sleep, but she wanted more from him. She got on top of him and started trying to ride him. He was sore but wanted to help her. She got down in bed and started giving him head. His dick became hard as she sucked him gently and wholly until he was dry again, and he felt like a champ for filling her up twice. He wanted to stop and let her ride him for a bit before he came, but he just couldn’t help it. He hadn’t felt that good in a very long time.

In fly-over country, over those grand, flat plains, in the house by the pond where the cattle drowned, a better angel of the world took his heart in his hand and kissed it, and tossed it into the water. In the dust storms, the pond turned into a mud, and the mud turned to dirt into dust; love was abandoned, as it had to be, so drawn and quartered, as huddled in the attics or basements they sighed, good people, suffering. Every time, they fell in love again – it was always new, the cold dark fear, the twisted reach of silence, short and black and inherently dirty.

Lately, though, the ghost has been transubstantiating, and soon it will not even speak. Ghosts do not speak. Ghosts do not move. Ghosts are not real. But the believer in ghosts was an a la carte metaphysician and he had learned how not to speak with ghosts, how not move with ghosts, in an ideal where nothing is real – romantic reality.

Out of the plains, out of the cities, and into the hill country, where the quiet civilizations sleep, and wait for their own resurrection, in the river of life and death that does not flow, and might never flow again. “I was in love,” said the stupid shoemaker, “and I feel like I just ate a bug!”

On open palms, a pencil dips… I should jump in front of this fucking truck – keep him away from tall heights and cliffs, he is liable to slip at any moment, just around the corner, over the long abyss, where someone is waiting for him, something in the name of light, with light in her eyes, or his own quiet pastures, under the golden summer evening sun, as though in the deadlock of time, ends beyond endings in the state of ideal; liable to slip, and to fall, and to dive into the familiar place, that old gas again, the round and comfortable edges, the twisted shapes and disfigured skeletons, bones out of place and feet swiveling around their ankles.

Time beyond the cavern’s edge – in the vague scenario and under a sweet, pheromonal haze.

“Dumb fuck,” said the baby, pointing at the dump truck. “Dumb fuck, dumb fuck, dumb fuck!”

Christening Kings

Orange subsidy starlight – it is not a star, after all, it was just a broken pair of lights, flowing low over the desert night, deep and damp and full of broken headlights. I walked past the barn under the slow caressing breeze and brushed past the spider eggs that covered the walls, sleeping in the hay where the squirrel corpses froze in December.

Petrichor, the smell of rain and earth. Is it bacterial spores? Is it chemical? It reminds me of an ancient, fairy tale world that I was raised in, but not quite apart of. I danced along the xylophone, my bare feet softly kicking out a gentle elevator jazz. No one rain was ever long enough. I cried and cried until the sun would rise and then I’d need to rest, but the shining sun burst through the thin linen curtains and keeps me awake.

At night I see right through the roof at the stars, and the wide open universe inches above my head, right on the other side of some tile and wood. There, in the universe, I am drifting in my endless circles, a circulation within circulations, and inside these circulations, life. Chicken and rice for dinner and scrambled eggs for breakfast. American chocolate bar in your pocket. American mint for desert. Highways in the desert – you can really get lost out there, for every horizon a brand new frontier.

I tossed and turned helplessly in bed, my limbs aching, my head spinning, unable to shit, unable to walk, tolerant to drugs and helpless. But out there, in the falling rain, in a hotel room overlooking the old River, someone might just love me, and if they love me, they love me in my bed just the same.

Macaroni and cheese. I can’t eat the stuff. I won’t touch it. The gas station cappucino congealed into pure oil, medium-grade stuff with syrup for sweetener. I don’t mind the syrup. It’s the oil I don’t like. I don’t like being reminded of my robotic mortality. Blank books – potato soup. Potato bread toasted, dip it into the soup. In an old french schoolhouse in a bend in the Natchez trace in south Mississippi I wiped up the buttery soup with my last piece of bread and swallowed it, washing it down with the last of my milk. “Jesus goddamn Christ,” I said. “Hallelujah.”

They robbed me under the overpass and then again outside of the gay bar. That is what I get for going to the gay bar. A woman I knew from my past wanted to meet me there. I wanted to fuck her but when I saw her I couldn’t bring myself to look her in the eyes, let alone touch her. I left the bar and found that they had broken into my car. All of my pills were missing and my music player was gone. “That’s good,” I said. “Radio is always better anyway.”

I ate Indian food by myself. It was expensive. It reminded me more of the Indian restaurant I lived next to in a close in the old part of Edinburgh than it did the two months I spent as a boy in Hyderabad.

A television on the wall played Indian music videos. I recognized one of them of a trucker and a girl in the countryside singing together. I felt like I’d grown up with it. I must have seen it in India, I thought.

“Chalo,” they sang in the chorus. “Chalo” means “let’s go,” at least that is what I was taught in Hyderabad.

I listened again to Chet Baker and did what I could to forget the way that I’d hit him, breaking his jaw and sending him to the hospital. I should have sent him to jail. I should have gone with him. I should have always been there, with them, sick and broken and out of luck.

“My luck is so far gone,” I said, “that I’ve become Christian again.”

A leak in the roof – red enamel model paint, oil pans, die cutting machines – a book about a theorist who wrote a book about theories of books – a crippled, scarred-up naked boy, ass shaved flat and balls shriveled up into his stomach.

The chimes blew steadily in the wind and a letter came in from across the ocean. It was a love letter in code and I had forgotten how to decipher it. I poured over it for days with a microscope but could not see anything other than the words themselves, which I could just barely read. “The things I should have done… we could have done together…”

And as the piano dropped keys, so did the furnace go out, and the ice machine started generating ice. “Finally,” she said, scooping the freshly cut ice out of the plastic compartment and into her glass tumbler. She likes that whiskey on the rocks, I guess. I drink some with her. “I don’t drink,” I say, letting the rotten liquid float down my throat. I taste nothing anymore and do not mind the liquor like I used to – I just do not have the constitution for it.

There are bugs in the dog’s ears again… large and dark, they reproduce, gorging on the proteins of his inner ear… He growls out the window, possessed. There are worms on his brain. His eyes glow. He just might see a ghost.

I turned on the Heidelberg again and it ran but it smelled like something was burning. I hoped it was just oil or WD-40 and I let it run until it started to sound alive again. I re-enameled the oil spots with a bright red and scraped the old black enamel off where it was peeling, replacing that as well. I tried to give it the spark of love again on its terms, as a machine, something intimate which I had previously not fully understood. That I know nothing about machinery should not have stopped me as long as it did; there is nothing magic about machines. You can touch it and care for it and help it, and it will not go wrong on you.

These machines are legacies and they will last ten thousand years if you let them. I feel a responsibility to my machine as I feel to my dog, although I hope it will outlive us both.

In a mountain, by the river’s edge, a brown bear barrels through the rushing water towards the heavy-finned and black-eyed trout with gills that hum through the frozen shores of the roaring mountain passes. A moonshine still that runs on the mountain dew breaks down when the copper cracks and the whole batch is ruined.

I touched the pink white rose and my throat split…

Into the water – a splash – ripples in concentric rings, like tiny tidal waves across the microcosmic seas. Rocking gently, like a leaf, among the fallen, floating leaves…

The memories of our ancestors float before my eyes. The vision of Christ in the likeness of Cesare Borgia, the whale sharks swimming through a school of fish under an ice sheet, the lonely mountains covered in smoke from the marshes, low and lazy, the white shining tower rising out of the middle of the desert, inside the dunes, in the middle of the ancient world; under the baobao tree, with a revolver in my pocket – why? And feeling like someone in love again – feeling like someone in a flock of pigeons, on the top of the tower overlooking the city that stretches through the quiet river valley; a river valley civilization, a people in the corner, tender patches in their eyes; I slept there, without the ravenous, and passed the time, tender-eyed, until I’d forgotten what the world was like. I had been there, in the world, when I was a boy – I had seen a few different places. But in the timeless peace of the river valley civilization, in the hills of the modern God, there is nothing to remember. The intellect can rest, if it would like to. The shutters can be left closed, or open, and the twinkling lights will go out, one by one, and one by one will be replaced, as an outside time falters forward.

“I want to raise a family soon,” I said, “I can think of nothing else in the world to do. But I do not have a job. How would I support a family? I can not even support myself. And what kind of dad will I be if I wait – how long will my back last? Will I be bedridden for my children’s lives, high on pills and hooked on ancient movies? What kind of stench will I acquire? What kind of vacant, helpless demeanor? Will my live-in nurse replace my wife, who maintains an open relationship with the UPS man because I am unable to have sex with her?”

The clock strikes nine times from the courthouse in the middle of the square. “It’s past my bedtime,” I say, and I pour out my drink in the grass, and I drive home sober through the rain, out of the city and through the hills to the ancient river valley hamlet, where I strip naked and get into bed and I lay for seven hours, wide awake.

A horse got loose and wandered down the highway. The rest of the herd followed and the sheriff had to block off the road while the cowboys came to round the horses up and drive them back to the ranch.

Two Women / The Gentle Madness / Men

In the beginning was the Word

She kissed my neck as she washed my back, holding the extended shower head in her hand and guiding it over my bones. The scalding hot spray fell over the tight skin of my shoulders and rolled down between the scars of my back in easy, ragged rivulets, like a thin line of gasoline leading straight to the generator, ready to burn, already reeking.

I put my hand between her legs and my fingers crawled inside her while my scar tissue burned white hot in secret behind me. I pushed her against the marble wall of the shower stall and leaned into her, buoyed on her chest.

The deepest freeze of the year. There are bills to pay and ice has accumulated on the porch and the windows. The heater is broken and the walls are uninsulated. The letterpress machine, sweet gentle behemoth, is sitting alone and abandoned in the cold, unprotected, the metal burning cold to the touch and the ancient German rubber splitting like dry lips, black enamel flaking and steel turning slowly to rust.

I worry about it. I am overwhelmed with worry, reserved and resigned. “I will pray,” I decide. “I will pray for my press.” And I slip out of the bed, high on pills so that I cannot feel the pain in my back as I twist and turn, and I get down on my knees. I clasp my hands beneath my face on my bed and I pray.

“Please God, protect my letterpress from the terrible weather, as you have protected me and my dog, in my home, as you have protected my family and friends in their homes, and the homes of their own friends and families. Thank you, God, for all you have done for me, and please continue to protect me, and preserve me from my follies, and my sins. I will try to be good, to do better. I will be good like you intended me to be. You have gifted me with good behavior and I have squandered it, but I will not squander it anymore. I love you. I love you. I love you.”

In a white cement motel with bright red hollow metal doors I locked myself in and got high on the rat-nest warm air that blew out of the radiator. A girl in purple eyeliner reminded me of the neon lights from the cafe I once tried to pick a boy up, drunk. I couldn’t believe where I was. I couldn’t remember. I had forgotten my name and how to walk down the stairs. I had forgotten how to sit in chairs. I had forgotten how to lift my feet and, in fear of falling, refused to get out of my bed. But I was not in my bed. I was, like always, in the window, standing there, a monobrow growing like Jesus Christ. I use a pair of tweezers to pluck the hairs between my eyebrows.

 Life cuckolds me; I am a cuckold.

I was naked, afraid, and alone, and I did not believe in Jesus Christ. My blue down winter coat frayed in the armpit and the sleeves tore away in the avalanche. When the helicopters came I laughed at them and pointed to my disconnected foot. “Do you see the stupid shit I’ve seen? I’ve seen some shit!”

When I visited my parents, I noticed my father had a testosterone gel in the bathroom. I tried some, rubbing it into my skin. Soon I could feel my muscles again, especially my penis, and I wanted to use it. I called a girl to come visit me in the valley of discontent, and she did, and we fucked on the couch Henry Miller-style, without a condom, good and filthy, and my leg started kicking like I was a dog as I came all over her, covered in her come.

She left me, the gentle carpenter, for an animal, a so-called artist. I didn’t know she was into bestiality. I should have expected it.

The Cross and Dash befell the heavy-headed heartache, broken in his back like he was beat with a pipe until his bones snapped. That way, loose and ready, he could fly, and he drifted over the thermals that rose from the mushrooming explosions and burned in the lasers that lined the skies. Roles reversed and terrorists slipped out of their golden holes…

Into the holes… those filthy, ingrown holes, burrowing into the dirt and the granite… (He described to me, in all the details, his fantasy of cupping the balls of Michelangelo’s David and sucking that hard, marble cock. “That cock is too big,” I said, laughing, “You would choke on marble.”)

What happened in the garden of Gethsemane? Why was there agony, then, in the moonlight? Did Jesus get caught with a boy again? Pretty naked little boys, playing with their biting asps? A hand within the cobra’s den… What kind of world do we live in? Just what is going on here? Is nobody safe?

I cowered in the closet, then, and covered my ears while the thick stench returned to me.

Horologium Aeternae Saptientae. That is the name of the book that I bought for $1,200 when I was rich, in 2012. It was printed in the 15th century. Someone drew a dragon in it. A demon-headed dragon with a wolf’s tail. It devours its tail. I try to read what the dragon is trying to tell me – it must be important, but I cannot read lettre-batarde Latin. I just cannot.

A short man, with a monobrow – did he live in Japan? Did he ride the winged horse to Jerusalem again, spreading the good word of Judea?

“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

He crept between his sleeping friends, true believers, and touched them as they snored, but they did not return his advances. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And again, a Sorrowful Mystery of a Sleepless Rosary, round like the face of a putto and pink, cherished, pale.

I took her by the hands to New Orleans and we rode in a chariot of fire down the streets as they shone in the midnight lightning, full of color, and roses bloomed out of every orifice. I plucked the flowers from her eyes and said, “farewell,” and then I hitch-hiked my way back across old Pontchartrain.

“Suck that golden tit,” I sung, images of the donkey show still in my mind, “the golden cock of Jesus Christ.” I slapped the stilly spinning corpse as it hung like a rope swing and rotated, casting a shadow long against the desert ground.

In the tundra, on the edge of the sea frozen over and unbroken by ships where the white bears roam without spirit, a naked man laid with his cock in his hands and his white thighs turned blue in the ice as he prayed to the sun for deliverance. “Deliver me, God,” he said, “for I am a Christian.” He prayed to Christ with long hair and white skin in his image. “I look like a Christian man, don’t I? I think like a Christian, don’t I? I feel guilty like a Christian, and I suffer like a Christian, and, like a Christian, I believe in good and evil – don’t I? Don’t I at least believe in good?”

Nothing came true that day nor the next day but it was all pure miracle regardless. He couldn’t describe it to anyone. They all saw what he’d seen but they could not describe it. It was a pure miracle at all, all the time, in every way. It was so miraculous that most people took it for granted and were immune to it.

Only in the presence of evil – as evil persists – did the miracle seem real again. It did not take great evil for me, because I do not believe in the necessary of evil, but for some people, it seems to take evil to even exist.

In the presence of the starry-eyed demon, who in darkness sits on top of your chest and stares into you, right into your eyes, and consumes you, there were the last few minutes of the forgotten malcontent, and everything comes blazing fast like a fire, behind your dilating pupils, melted, into the abstract of the black and expectorant; I moved away from the shadow in the corner of the bed and took my place in the seat of the flagellant. I offered my flesh – I was a wreck – and I promised to never tell a lie again. “I will never tell another lie,” I said, pretending to pee over my empty and neurotic toilet bowl. There was no one in the other room listening.

Over dinner I told John about the dreams of the murderous transparent-skinned putti at Christmas. And then I told him about my plan to transform the neighborhood.

“I want to make this part of town the “Orchard District.” Take all these empty lots and clean them up, and plant fruit orchards. Peach trees, mostly, maybe heirloom apples, even nuts.”

It was not actually my idea. It was my fathers, and as soon as he said it I started laughing and did not stop. I loved it. It was the perfect ideal.

“One of these days,” I said, letting myself get carried away, “I’ll really take this family to the next level again. I’ll gather up all of my father’s properties and leverage them until I own the majority of the poor neighborhoods on this side of town, and then I will sell the lots to developers as the “orchard district” properties raise in value. Then I’ll take that money and put it towards down payments on commercial lots in the city. That’s really what I want to do – go from residential real estate to commercial.”

But that was not really what I wanted to do. I wanted to trade in rare books. Exclusively old books – preferable no later than the mid 1500’s. I wanted to trade on an institutional level – buy and sell individual treasures to museums and universities, as well as private collectors.

Meanwhile, John bragged about his women. Two women. “You are whore,” I told him. “You are a slut and a whore and all you care about are women.”

I had two women, too, and they were whores, and I could barely stand them. They were unhealthy – that is why they were whores. Like me, weak, and too intellectual – I do not like those types. I am not a total narcissist.

In a picture hanging over the fireplace a woman with large breasts and black hair waits for me in the car under the moonlight while I in my suit sit and picnic under the stars with John and his women picnicking with us. You cannot see my face in the painting and my black-haired whore is laughing from her hill in the distance.

“I don’t chew ginger gum,” I said. “I’m a Christian man.”

She was Catholic, and I loved it. I felt like James Agee around Catholics. “I could have been a Catholic,” I said. “I could still be one,” I added, although it was probably untrue. I was baptized a Protestant and I will die in the spirit of the Protestant death.

“No… No… (So spake the wailing ghost)… I’m just another Protestant… I have no church but Jesus Christ, no book but the bible, and no light but God, no life but guilt, so purity but suffering and shame in the name of the crippled mortal flesh, penetrable, and the transcendental spirit. I am not a man, but a ghost, made of ghost-stuff, formless and weak, no father, bad son, only ghosts…”

My ancestors did not have to work a day in their life for over a century. I do not intend to have to work a day in my life, either, because I am a Chapman.

“My body is my temple,” I chant, crying out for the desecrations I have committed against it…

The Word was the bird

Cool water…

Spaghetti westerns… stamped passports… (I lost mine on the plane, a thief stole it, I know who it was, he had beady eyes, I had to go to New Orleans over Christmas to get a new one so I could return to school in Scotland, it is too bad though, because I missed my sister’s wedding)…

 

Under Italy

“Tell me some good things,” about the days on the sea, the good days when you tormented me, when we took our time, always tender, in the talented half-honesty ravage at night as the magnets rose and nails shook loose. In the basement of the sonic chambers of the restless queen we mimicked the voices of the soft, easy singers, slipping in and out of plastic and brass, frothing under the wand as the water rises, always burning, marginalized and mysterious in the indecent brusque of the city. Shakespeare – but no clothes – and washing every day, away every day without washing your hands, you can wear my clothes, you can wear whatever you want, wear my own, wear these gowns, use my signature, hang this golden cross around your neck, I do not love you, stripping there, see me dipping into the secret well, with locks of secret hair – I did not love you, standing there, stepping around the dress on the floor. See sleeping with the doves in the water as the leaves fall like gold from the umbrella reach, motherly and grey, without my reading glasses and afraid of the handsome generalities, as the seraphim spilled out of the ship with the breach. “Mark my words,” I said, but I forgot my words, and I dug my nails into my scar tissue and pulled the parasite out of my veins.

“I have forgotten my mantra,” I said, inspiring myself to write a short erotica about the early career of Jeffrey Goldblum, the American tragedian. That would be the only thing to do if I were really a writer. That would be the virtuous thing. It would be production. The all-consuming mass would finally, for once, exhale. Trees would rise up on the slopes of the valley and deer would come eat the low-hanging peaches. Peaches grow in these hills like nothing else. Apples and pears can be tough but a peach tree is meant for it. 

“I’m an apple man,” I say, remembering my mantra. In the kaleidoscope screens of the city production house a man like Klaus Kinski danced seductive ballet for me wearing tights and short shorts with no ass in them. When I was a boy, in a barn in a field in the tundra underneath the aching stars, a young man chased me through the rafters, and pushed me into the hay, and the high north star shone in inconsistent drips through the last of the original window panes.

Beyond two arches and under the alley, there where the sign is just the small plaque on the wall that says nothing, a ginseng and lavender musk drifts over their shoulders. Two good Americans in the soul of their past, like kids, in secret pain with darkened eyes and naked handwriting. They are not holding hands but they could be. The white space of the betweenings is square and the transmittance untouched. Nothing touches, lines do not intercede.

Naked in bath playing chess, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes – a sexual ambiguity creeps in over the glistening skin of his fingers, a bath never shared in the past, warm water – I am cold – my chin is bare and I am starting to cry. I watch him naked, standing there, and in my nervous blues I laugh. I am always laughing. I laugh every time I speak. “I love it when you speak,” she said, “You always get that rascally smile, I know it’s going to be something interest.” But I laugh and I insist that I am not interesting, and that I am suffering a nervous reaction.

When yellow fields of rapeseed rise like rolling breasts and buttocks, the last car through the faulting dawn will park beside the loch-side house and a family will get out and camp out for the night under the stars, and in the middle of the night someone will be fucked in the ass.

My clothes are hanging in my closet. That is quite a feat. I haven’t hung a shirt of my own in years. But when they carved my back up one last time at the hospital my mother came and hung up clothes, every one. She went through my things and I said, “Please don’t go through my personal effects.” To what I meant by personal effects I did not know.

I imagine my friends on a train, barreling between two mountains with snowy peaks, and the chateaus on plateaus and the valleys. I do not like to travel anymore. I have changed. I want to fly first class or not at all. An ancient ghost ship wanders the coast of Alaska, spearing the corpses of frozen Aleutians and feeding them whole to the chthonic recessions.

The sun returns and the ice recedes and monsters come creeping at the windows again. In an apartment overlooking High Street our tongues wrapped up like twisted bows… All that rain, and I never thought to wear a rain jacket. Every time, once again, all that inelegant money tossed around in velvet and corduroy; who used to wear linen in summer, who used to wear wool in the winter, who used to wear cotton all year; now I wear only synthetics. And I can not ever go home, not even in these clothes, no matter how responsible I have promised I am. Perfect extension of the reflected self in the streets with the sun in the glass full of color. With the money, and the talent, and the fat, blond, blue-eyed fraud – wet Americans!

Freak shows, growing cabin crazy, stuck inside the liberated halls – not courageous, filtered through the mosaics and shimmering – hot sweat, “Have fun,” she misses me and loves me and I’ve already missed the train. The sexual tension is ludicrous. I suck her toes and chew on her leg like a bone. The columns of the war-torn past are resting, simply left alone, and colossi of the isles lay, the winds blowing around – amusing myself – all too strangely.

In a fishing vessel, by the ivory coast, I fell into the sea with the bayonets and shells. Now it’s just the boys, and now it’s just me, and I slowly drown them one by one, playing, and then not playing, and then skiing off the cliff into the desert of snow. The pages of the bible flipping restlessly in the wind, her pale legs swinging from pink, seafoam shorts, maintain the willing women in the drunken playboy sea, a strange sound, a familiar melody, like a lullaby, and I am again lost at sea, and I am sinking in the evil sleeping breeze. Under, under, pulling down, and folded into the grains of the coast.

What does the mallard believe? How do you wake up and be a person? What have you ever done wrong? Aren’t you tormented? Have you lost your naked way again in the claustrophobic convent? I pulled her organs wide apart and dove inside her, where the wicked demons lay, a darkness swelling under their eyelids, heavy with the weight of the needles, the flinging doors and aerial drones, voiceless, without a sound. If the wide-necked chariot racer won, and rolled the dawn back towards the stars again, king beyond kings in the wing of the last antiphonal, the Judas Iscariot.

In a playboy’s mansion, like a Ridley Scott movie, like Harvey Keitel’s in it, like a desert that sweats into blue moving cumulous clouds, lumbering mammoths that float through the sky and cool the burning sand.

“That is the last of me,” the schoolgirl cried, “you’ve really fucked me now.”

In those days in Toulouse, lost in the towers and sleeping on floors, I watched the collection of old American films with strong women characters, like Thelma and Louise and The Way We Were. I reacted emotionally to The Way We Were on the fifth viewing while the sacred French snow fell slowly over the heads and the hips of the prostitutes standing underneath my window.

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