Directions, 2004 – Previously missing sections recovered in the form of a first draft
A brick went through a glass house, hardly touched it, was swallowed whole.
Who knows what’s down there making a living in my subconscious city of dreams. A whole economy of bounced checks and unbalancing acts, all buck and boom, zoom zoom, zoom – currents of currency, no cataract, no closure. I draw a blank and wake up, only to fall back in, leaving my wallet on the nightstand. I am a beggar in my own mind.
In the marketplace there is employed a shady gray-area translator who deals in tongues and black magic. I go to him but every word is too serious or some kind of joke. Who I thought was speaking is not the one who spoke. Sometimes a single voice is cacophony and fifteen a drone. I need desperately to run away.
Everywhere I go feels like home, broken and scattered across a continent. It’s not what I was looking for. A room here, a hallway there, two walls that make up the corner of a foundation somewhere else. Slum streets and younger visions of an older world lay in between. Black forests in dark decay, lake beds and fields of stone that do not say anything at all. So what’s that boom mic doing doing hanging around in the sky, as large as a galaxy hanging in suspense over the horizon as though left from some ancient production, some kind of groundbreaking ceremony for the ground.
I get this idea into my head, an impromptu speech, but before I can begin the sky comes awake like a screeching electronic bird falling to the ground, crushing its skull against mine. All these brains and blood hum a chord that shakes the stones loose then cuts off like an over-loud laugh at the end of a bad joke. The silence makes me anxious, like I am being watched. Above me I see a distant speck, a mote in that unblinking orb of obsolete orbits, a speck like a small mole on a large breast. Other specks appear around it, all falling down behind a ring of hills only to reappear, riding the ridge in a terrible line – a swarm of conscious storms, tornadoes tearing the air, draining the sky of comets, rockets, dislodging satellites, whole planets, everything plummeting, a million meteoric metaphors crash landing.
The Inside Comes Out
I saw the earth down by those dirty knees, waiting for the explosion of light carried in an arrow arc through clouds and dust scattered before spring laundry. I saw the flow feeding oak-lined banks all down the delta way, burnishing the soft lines of a wide-cut wash out, mesmerizing life down to the DNA, chanting, “New, new, new.”
I heard the crackle of an electrical fire in the sky, but it felt just like a sweaty collar bone in my hand. It was like any paradise that you care to bend over, peal open, or sink down on. We both saw it, we both did it in all the wrong places, desecrating others to consecrate ourselves. We were above reproach, star material down to the bone, green LED’s in our blood, sparkling, and all that operatic flesh to trace algorithms across, plot star maps by and fall asleep on, listening to gut feelings.
A Handsome Man
Everything, finally, is my own. My bed is just a bed. My body is just another thing I have to take stock of at the end of the day. I fit too well, so I am leaving.
At last I am thinking about nothing. I spend a lot of time where the bridge ends and the road starts up the hill. I am squirming against the slope, looking up when I should be looking down. Transparency is beautiful but the earth is a fine mess, just something to trip on.
Everything wants to close in and bury me. I want it to be the sky and I want it to be me; not the version I see in my reflection but that me I never really got a good look at. I will reach for my mouth and try to swallow myself before the stones can. It can’t be me in that mirror she turned towards me, her hands on my shoulders, saying, “Stop fidgeting and look at yourself. You’re a handsome man.”
How it pours out when I look down, and stops when I look up. Straight ahead brings just a dribble. I am in the unfortunate position of having a reason for all the stupid things I believe – snap decisions replaced with snap realizations. The difference is small. Everything has always been my own, but now I feel lighter, my flesh like a sugar cube dissolving towards sweet water. How I need to have it all pour out! I am ready and that is why I come this way. I’ve already had this talk in my head.
“Look at yourself…”
Myself, like one side of a wall I’ve been pacing back and forth of.
“It’s about time, isn’t it?”
You’ve been at me like you’re looking. I don’t know who you are anymore. You’re just like me. I don’t know what to say. I tried to figure it out before it got to this point, thinking, maybe knowing, that it was pointless. I know you don’t understand.
Foresight of hindsight: I will not understand this moment either.
Woods Gets Across
There is a man, Woods, looking my way, trying to get his mind around this idea that he knows me from somewhere. It’s an idea he can’t shake off because it might mean money.
In all the days of the world there must have been one just like this, but without the nerves, without Woods, the busway, the cable lines, streets, crosswalks and tracks, all the set paths setting me off like a trap. I always end up somewhere, in some kind of mood. It can’t be helped. There’s really no difference between biochemistry and a bus.
I can’t stop here and keep it all together, all in mind. My nerves are trying to kick me up off the bench but I don’t follow. I can’t get up. The misfire resonates through me until I actually feel calmer.
Woods is out on the pavement between the bus shelters, waving his arms like a defunct bird, bracing his frame against the wind. It isn’t much, but he is getting closer to the opposite platform, fighting his way against the last ten feet between himself and a man whose name Woods keeps repeating. I hear the soft roar of an approaching bus and wish Woods would hurry up.
Something inhuman gets wrenched out of a person when they are struck by a car and fidget and jerk their way towards a death they aren’t even cognizant of because of sudden brain damage. Once upon a time I heard that broken-headed sound. It still clatters around in my broken heart like a salesman trying, with broken fingers, to get me to sign my name to some papers.
The man whose name Woods keeps repeating has got his arm around Wood’s shoulders. They vanish together behind the passing bus. My cell phone rings, but I’m preoccupied with the salesman. He’s screaming at me, trying to sell me a watch, a lease, a phone. I scream back. I already have these things! Look, this is my cellphone. It is ringing! Don’t you get it? See, I’m answering my phone. “Hello? Can you hold on for a second?” See, it’s my friend. She called me to say… “What did you call me for? What? No, I’m trying to explain something here. Hold on.” Where the fuck are you going? I’m trying to tell you something. Mind me, this is my business! Do you understand? I’m telling you, I’m letting you in on this, this business of mine. Do you hear? It’s my business! Mind your own fucking business!
The Same Old Story
And just like that I am swimming in another body, floating downstream on my own bed. The shores are lined with oaks, stars, voices that know only one word. I’m counting the seconds, explaining this whole thing to someone I just met, that old foxtrot, smiling. He is going on and on, like a sometimes-lover, “It’s time to begin, to come again and again. Never say when. Never say it.”
The woman beneath me laughs. “Shhh… Look at me.”
He is coming at me from behind, carrying a sign and a seal, telling me that same old story, “I’m the only one you’ll never hurt.” Over my shoulder I give him a laugh. I know there is a second act, some kind of second chance. I can sleep here. I can wake up and walk outside, get on a bus and think about where I just left from. I can slide a lock one of two ways. I don’t have to explain myself.
The woman beneath me pulls my face towards hers and bites my lip until it bleeds.
“Tell me what that feels like.”
I feel the easy trickle down the steps towards – the phone rings.
“No. Tell me.”
I am leaving the perimeter of an inverted pyramid, spiraling in, getting to that place where leaving is arriving, where a day is just one revolution holding me fast, moving me on further from a broken center’s remnants scattered towards the edges of another, completed center, a centrifuge pulling this one in and letting this one go. It is lulling me to sleep and it feels like me.