Directions: a six-part serial with four parts missing, 2004
My way is back down the hill, across the bridge, exactly how I came, maybe for the last time. None of this belongs to me, this haphazard chain of landfills slumping off in every direction, the remnants of other progeny that I’ve assimilated into a room-shaped self. Anyone I’ve ever known, now living beyond me, must be doing the same, getting closer to that perfect place, driven there by people known and made unknown – people fallen for over a riff, a chord, a single note… and left for a song.
I’m trying to get out of this skin, exchanging static flesh for fluid flesh that runs downstream toward a street, a row of houses, a number that I get hung up on. I’m looking for someone in the boxes left unpacked. I’m not going to find anything here. I’ll move it all back into the houses I can’t return to.
My whole existence comes later and somewhere else, somewhere I’ll never be again – in a woman’s half closed heart, a friend’s half closed mind. I am explaining myself away, being pushed off the page where I find myself falling to the concrete, scrabbling against a wall, knuckle-taut skin broken open early morning wide awake.
Spinning in three directions, I hide in city, book, mind, body, pain and imagination. Adjustment takes time for a chemical body driven by electrical functions, but not for the stripped down, sense-sensitive body – not for the skein of film projected across the burning city – not for this quick-witted shape slipping in and out of someone else’s monologue. Everything is plastic, malleable. I force a few inches here and there. Every box and body is connected by an omniscience from which I cannot hide – my own big idea hanging around my ears, gravity stronger than the love of others – all the differences in the world tangled up inside until something comes to an end and I am left with the whole deal, the nameless thing, somewhat larger than before but forever within the bounds of city, book, mind, body, pain and imagination.
I have to push myself through this to I don’t know where. I’ll unfold myself until all the creases are exposed, all neurotic recreations laid bare -taking this origami soul back to the flat, bare page.
Lights out: a phone call
Things are being slammed and broken at a solemn interval. The noise is too loud, the silence too hollow. There are the flies at the window. I can’t breath, settle into my own body, lay in my own bed. I’m counting sheep in wolves clothing – wolves holding stopwatches, gad flies in hair shirts, lunatic gentlemen with cell phones – calling, counting, timing, waiting for me to sleep. If I could just shut it all out for half an hour. If I could just settle in, settle down, or settle up. If I could just stop counting, pulling time out of a hat, handing mine over to maggots on meat – skinned dogs waiting for a bone.
This is what happens. Like angry change made from a friendly behind-the-ear coin, I count eight threatening incompetents – madmen known and not known. They step out in succession with a loose look in the eye – limping and leering, spreading out around me, pacing, tapping their feet, tapping pens, tabulating sums, champing at the bit, raising the nib, raising the bar, the axe, the chisel, the gavel. Down! Down, judgement, down! False friends, false benefactors, making a mockery of real power, ready to give me a very real and mocking sock in the face or kick to the groin at the drop of a hat. They circle further, closer, like the rabbit and the dog -vicious cowards.
One gets off track and moves in. He’s clicking his teeth, entirely disinterested but obliged to take notice of me. It’s high time I said something. I really should be asleep. You and your associates are welcome, really, but wouldn’t you rather lodge the night elsewhere, somewhere more accommodating? I don’t have much, you can see that yourself. There’s nothing here of interest for so refined a gentleman, so distinguished a… I really should be sleeping. You understand.
The dog makes a face that passes over me like a lens. Please, sir, don’t look at me that way. So many problems of late. I’d would explain it all to you but I can see you already know too much, comprehend everything. You know me too well, all too easily. This unfinished business grows dull. So much to do, so many problems, but really, I’m fine. Really… I can’t even remember what it was all about. Surely it’s nothing?
It seems like a reasonable question, the thing to know, but that handsome man is turning a white equestrian ear, a brackish doggy snout, toward the wall behind me. What? What is it? Surely I should speak up. I know I have some explaining to do, but it isn’t what you think. It isn’t anything at all. I can’t even tell you. Is it something I… something… what is it? Let just say, or let me sleep. It’s too much. It’s too… it’s nothing. Let me, let me… I should sleep now, I think.
From a deep pocket he pulls a small silvery phone, turns it in his beakish claw. Should I tell him? I mean, I think I should be asleep. I would be if it weren’t for the noise, things being lifted and thrown against the walls.
A piggish ear twitches, his thin hand lifts the phone. I can’t bear it. I shouldn’t have to. He leans in. Light blooms across the bastard’s face. It can’t be like this. I should… The filament flashes once more, then snaps, broken and useless forever. For a moment, just a moment, nothing happens. I really think I should…
The phone rings.
A whisker twitch, a devil dance, that old fox trot smiling. “This stuff is hot.” In the darkness he goes on, like a disgusting lover, “The only solution is the last one, the very last dance, that grasping chance to win, to begin, to come again and again, to never say when. Get it through your head, no one leaves the Devil’s bed. No morning after, no hereafter. It’s neither here nor there if you don’t have a care. Get it through your head. No one calls the Devil’s bet. Here, your ear is wet. Let me whisper to you. I’ll tell you something. I know you’re afraid, but I’m the only one you’ll never hurt. I’m the only one you can’t betray. What do you say? No let me say it. Get it through your head, your head, your head. It’s all been said, and said, and said. Get it through your head. Get it over with.”
<Part Two missing>
A molecule slips through loopholes, looking for a link somewhere down the twisted chain. I can feel myself starting to rub, my chest getting tight. Warmth escapes me. I’ve been letting off a lot of steam. Everything that comes out of my mouth feels like a hot, damp rag – impossible to swallow or dispel. Trailing deep into my guts is a long, thin chord that I yank out inch by inch, trying not to gag. Gooey friction can’t spark. Conversation is nil. It’s all issues and reissues of how what I did was wrong, how someone else’s kindness became selfishness, and how honesty can’t hold a candle to that – things I realize and wish I hadn’t. Now I have to keep my mouth shut. Transparency is brutal, but silence cuts deeper.
What is and what isn’t
Things change, cells divide, selves multiply. I’ve been thinking about where I’ve been all this time – feeling my way around in here – dropping clues in some murder mystery, a dim flame dancing on the head of a pin. I tried to hold my breath until the last too-late minute when my pages would turn into sheets of glass that wouldn’t fog up when I finally exhaled. But that was just a passing thought slipping through thin skin.
I’ve been killing myself here so I can live there. I can be found in both places, strumming along in the entrails of the deflowered, powdering my nose with their pollen, plucking the strings of a guitar warped by childbirth and left in the gutter while my honey frets upstairs, upsetting the top spin of the seasons, etching over the lines of a green-leafed motif. I come and go with an uncertainty that passes through walls, getting closer to long-ignored facts.
Under matte finish skies all is absorbed and taken back to where it came from – down moonlit mine shafts like moths to their cocoons. I’ve been looking for hieroglyphs in womb-caves, plotting my escape, counterfeiting tickets for the elevated train, the golden elevator, the flash trip of that backwards running waterfall.
In actuality, I’ve been walking the circuit between café, library, bar, and home – losing and gaining friends, struggling with maybe-lovers, dancing drunk with goats and girls, Pans and pansies, growing impatient for work, for home, for a place to place my belongings.
All the old ways of bearing my deception have deceived me. I’ve been entirely too susceptible to the comfort of wailing walls and wishing wells. Things have become too uneven, convenient, and overdone – I made sure I never got what I really wanted.
Am I still here-there, in the life of a mind strung out on ordinary nothing? Do I still want what I once wanted, to be alien, devil, god, disappearing in the folds of someone else’s brain, looking for a place where I could do all, be all – playing one side against the other so I could be free of both? Serenading sirens, exchanging words for flesh, I confessed no love but turned around and seduced the seducer, remained faithful to the unfaithful, and confessed a love more real than butter, bricks, and beds. But the cuckold will be cuckolded, the cheat will be cheated. So what? Who wouldn’t emasculate himself for a love so big?
Back and forth, here-there, I was gearing up for the inevitable wrench. Under the bright lights of shady dealings, evenings of family, politics, and polemics, I sorted through sheet after sheet of pages of skin and bone -I am… I am not… It was… It was not.
An exquisite corpse is nothing to be, no more alive than an ordinary dead man. Piece by piece, section by section, the image changes with each thing added or taken away—disappears more and more, completely, to a point.
CONTENT ENDS HERE
<Parts Four, Five & Six missing>