Alas, I am moving. Placing my items in boxes, stacking these boxes on top of one another, finding my body pummeled, disconcerted by the different paths it must take to maneuver among the boxes. As of this moment, my books are divided and resting in eight crates, eight liquor store boxes, two grocery bags and three shelves. This makes me unnecessarily, irrationally nervous. How must the books feel? I hate not seeing them. Yes, I know where they are, but where are they in relation to one another? What if I need them - I need them - and they are buried, depressed, flattened. Could a page be bending? How am I supposed to know what is happening? How can there be any certainty without the black ink and the white page to squint and whittle my mind toward?
I read three books this week (‘The Open Curtain’ and ‘Last Days’ by Brian Evenson and Mary Gaitskill’s ‘Don’t Cry’) but do I have anything I can say about them? No! No, I do not. Because all of my print is being kept from me! All information and evidence is trapped in this purgatory and my blistering mind sizzles and pops, spewing goobers of watery life juice – all vague and sporadic, nothing I would try to impose upon other people. My brother jokes about getting me a kindle. A fucking kindle. I told him I’d ship fecal matter to him at his job if he went through with this threat. I’m not a neurologist, I don’t know how people’s minds work, but I need physical, tangible words, print and page to be okay with being alive. I need to touch and smell, I need them all in direct sight of my physical person. I need to be able to open them up, put my finger on a passage of one and open up another. One screen? Are you mad? Do you hate being a person? I love my brother, he’s awesome, but he makes me insane.
In this chaos, in this neurotic panic, I think it best to share some old work, a few short, prose ditties that are more narratively honest than most of my work, though incredibly derivative of other authors. Let us consider each ‘poem’ to be an assortment of personal effects stored in a crate, the crate being the form picked up from the other authors. Credit should be given to Lydia Davis, Russell Edson, Brian Evenson, Diane Williams, Joe Wenderoth, Gary Lutz.
Here are my items. Maneuver around them. Safety will come again in a few short days, when I can fastidiously assort, find that special place for each and every special book, petting and loving them, cooing and whispering slow apologies for my time away from them.
To feel like prayer
It is often with sincere regret that I put my finger on anything. A finger and not the whole hand, not the spread palm and its cup and divots of warmth.
We can agree then, that I am best on my knees, and that what I don’t say cannot hurt us.
Certainty has done nothing to prevent our catastrophes.
A finger says there. That is the moment.
When I say that I love you, it does not mean that I’m finished.
Michael Wermeister showed his peepee in the first grade. He was the boy with the glasses, pale like scar-tissue over his eyes whose hands the girls and boys didn’t want to share crayons with, looking wet as they did with always some flake of brown like molting or chunks of snot, running like fever hands too hot or too cold. He was a menace in recess games of tag until the girls found out he couldn’t stand up to harsh scolding, when he would stop mid-chase once turned upon and throw his head to the ground. We had taught Michael Wermeister to feel the great shame of himself, as a teacher had taught him how a desk, filthy with pencil lines that wasn’t sat still in, could fly across a classroom.
“Come on!” he said, calling like a master of ceremonies, standing on top of the playground bench holding himself. “Run under me! I will make a rainbow of gold for you to pass through.”
There is something contagious in the word blasphemy. Saying it out loud erupts something in the throat that is then spread into the air; tight pressure along the bridge of mouth holding teeth together, confusion of lips slipping from s to phhh. Emmy having to draw heavily upon the resources of the stomach. Like regurgitation, it is an entire process. With the quick flush of air between teeth and lips, something will go wrong. It is exhausting and there is bound to be spittle. But even as I only think it, climbing the steep sidewalk home, my biggest concern on the ascent remains that which will fall upon me.
An unremarkable moment
The dog bit after we passed each other, sneaking up from behind and catching the lower back of my hip, on the decline towards definite ass. Not the round outward nor the full cheek but the impress in between. I had thought nothing. I had thought it was only a lunge, perhaps a long nail, and continued walking. Dogs jump. There is no need to remark upon a dog jumping on a person, I hardly turned.
A sharp sting persisted, grew precise and found its fullness in between my hip and ass. I unbuttoned my pants for an investigation. The skin was raised. Hmm, I thought to myself. How did this happen? He had only lunged, a dog jumping, unremarkable. But then this raised skin and this sting. There is no other explanation. How did he get me here? What is this fullness where I am bent in?
Later, I showered, and the raised skin had become a bruise. Red lines on either side where his mouth would have opened, a deep eggplant purple of lips. My blood spread to meet where his teeth found me, where I am bent in and had thought nothing.
By the best standards of anything I am no longer hungry. Sunlight encircles the shade where I sit, split and shimmering to the bob and weave of branches bending. To feel the sun I would have to fall thirty feet, or descend a stairwell littered with mail for previous occupants. Day after day it keeps arriving. Five piles of unopened envelopes each on a stair.
I sleep fully clothed to make waking easier. See? I tell my mattress, shrugging off the bed sheets. We were just fooling around. I love the rest of the house more than you; I have to go tend to it. This is a lie. The walls and ceiling don’t believe me, but the floor does what I want.
Still, I cannot bring myself to gather all the dirty linen. It is fully soiled and there is much of it. It lies heavy and loose on my skin. I pour more coffee through a swollen mouth that tastes of wet paper. Gray smoke in and out of a throat, grey like winters and the exhaust chugging from a bus through streets plowed of snow. How is it not supposed to taste like this?
James Curtis, an offer awaits you. Hazel Mendeha remains uninsured. How is anyone supposed to call Alexis Martin? I cannot walk through all of these people. I would have to lie down, to rest with my cheek to the step.
Resurrection after Joe Wenderoth Letters to Wendy
I wonder if Jesus crucified tasted like that special layer of pocked grease sweating off the beef patty beneath a dense mustard blanket. If one had been there, on his knees, only daring the tip of the tongue within Jesus’ thorned slits and didn’t fuck it up with a too eager swash of a full lick. The bun aside, just chortled animal and mustard seed whirred to a complacent smoothness. Could this really waken anyone? What are we afraid of? Don’t we stick out our tongues only to reassure ourselves that the animal is dead?
Affection after Joe Wenderoth Letters to Wendy
Ejaculation requires the dimming of knowledge. Consciousness reasserts in the recognition of ejaculate outside of the body, which demands of us wiping. Not a cleansing but a removal, a putting aside of the confrontation. In this way we know that our essential action is a clearing away, and that the essential object of desire has always been the towel. The towel gets tossed to the floor, kicked further into bed sheets, shoved between the bed and the wall. Only with great effort is the towel washed, folded, placed in a pile of other such towels, all of whom wait silently in the dark for us to find ourselves, to take us away.