the bathos of so few eyes that are upon me

Taxing the perfectly good poetic result with just
a few more clinical trials, and just that, And those

ones, The Poet reassures his poetic result, Not in so
shrilly dedicated duty to questioning you as that in

me which got myself up-to, enough to put
down here my odd little nebulous things.

The Poet takes his hat off afterwards: it is
out of humility: he sees the innocence lost
somewhere, now, in the heat of all this

speaking of the beasts: and he is like a scientist, shuffling, who
marks in some few places on a slab of clipboard
where the negative notes land,

that hog the female rarity of a soul for themselves and their ruin,
hoping to make all keys on the unmentionable piano, black and white,
do the same without the white, yapping all that blackness can, and does,

do, as if nought did remain of a rebuttal: remember that The Poet,
this clinician, has their own agenda to be serious, with serious, big,

moral efforts of poetry that feed the hoggish beasts: they want it to be
relevant, but all the same relevance, without a single plot-hole in their

narrative of success, but this attempt decrees only as much as it can
without the maiden of a cause of writing, and this is an unavoidable,
interesting otherwise to things, goes on to but and but and but until,

unaided by The Poet’s mortal decibel, lowers her own to a shakier pitch
to make up for the lack of a humanity aware and blinking in the sleepy
consciousness confining the pome itself, as if it had a choice about its

strength or not! the maiden, foiled, receded her pitch into the murderous
background of the places it’d need to reach on stilts, already reached by

the very blowing, miserable squall of weather of the phrase called beasts,
these beasts of phrase and over-phrase that confront The Poet’s mangling

like itdescribe them, instead,  The Poet, say in an effort to manipulate
that they appear choking at the bit of some harness, and are ye

sacrificing your own freedom for
an inch of freedom for the maiden?

where in the text chthonic beasts of phrase emerge
and like strange spices, overpower the subtleties of source in
the crucial maiden like a skein over the words, soft drapery
shook off by beasts, the wanton pillagers raising their swords

with vowel-cries that persist especially long across
anything with the hint of bearing a designed World,

leaving sacked the throat of the maiden of symbols, who is not heard
but shrinks, scared to offend them, now, past any even most delicate
wording of these snared things that arranges to settle things it does
not understand, because she deals with beasts of no apology and

with only one Witch Hunt to call their own, that is, the reason they
shall die the more she dies, at the behest always of what she trusts

them to express when she at last makes somewhat an exit from
that hellish muffling of her, maiden of the endowed essentia by

a maiden the child of our cause prima. Stating is her responsibility,
to keep stating; but with cries of vowels, malignant vowels, she does
so less and less her point, emulsifying her shamefaced sense of the

realer difference that she makes, the more than do, than could
these shrieking beasts, overpowering, overwhelming She even
starts to follow that example of brute erasure, inflicting with
worse poisonous additions to a text loudened by beasts, by

hateful animals hateful of the content given here, awaiting end to
the sterile life The Poet forces to life, life, which then is for its tests

and trials, just as swiftly as the opportunity for amphetamines
turns anyone dingy, mangy, naked, and then writes itself, herself,

out of the very definition of herself
as it was. All this is listed on the
list, and all this just to find

where the spot it does -is, if
indeed it can, and does,

‘nuke’ -to very death- the surviving rest of any spontaneity
here through an ascetic style: the words are reeds
yielding weakly to justify the wind,

with these made airs of writing, and are rigid-meted hairs
of serotonin pricked, then made too careful, smashed dully

gelid, like as the miles of chilly landscape, a flat, white surface
for feet to walk on, like as a lake some time in dire, absent Winter,

dulling the unlucky reader, vibrating with starvation, as quickly
as an incinerating nuke of ‘no’ by the frugal father, responding
to his daughter’s passionate claim for ponies to be at Christmas.

. . . . . . . . . . .

We find, however, with adding the additions,
that new meanings for the maidens, heard

but in echo before, do with an extra uttering
here and there, enlighten to a harsher, but, still
loving, sound, and better-learnéd sound for its

detour through the delirium of the moment
to where the beasts of phrase have made

a truce with maidens, or, you know, ‘Brokered
Peace’ as they say on CNN about The Foreign

Policy Things, -they are diligently packing away
their spoils of the subjects made of maidens’ echoes
that briefly reveal the burden, where it is lifted, of

these so many presiding loose ends, for so long
approached as if a part of the organism the poem
was: where end these follicles of detail: are

they the result of fending for some uncharted context, like
hunter-gatherers- and thus for a new mode of excitement for
the reader to feel disturbed by in their elect understanding
of that hunger for the meat of theory better, learning better
the vast unsaid, through these said things that shift their

weight, as if standing up from their seat on an airplane
after landing, the landing there and square upon the strip:

transcribing the rest of what I feel is not there for it
never will be there, if even replicated word-for-word,
or blown in a boom to essentials in the crater, by an
editing bomb, to shave what’s imitable to one single,
purer shard, the gift of queenly maidens and their

truce with the loquacious beasts, that wish a content
more, yet less a healing to the pome in being a too-long
nightmare of one who squeezed himself already to powder
in a creative, though emotionally hazard, drylands, through
an ironic revelry or throwaway we see again among these
burdens called a subject and a sense, all of them clues

moreover, to the very evasions they are, and that deplete
the poem of its actuality! It is the tragic current of The Same

that ruins The Poet’s blood, who thinks in the language
of passion as firm and fine as dirt as enough destined

in the pathos we can feel, at the waste of all this seeming
in an imagery informed by some declension, proceeding
beneath the mask of the words’ behavior, in other words,
or, in other words, each word a symbol and attack upon
what can be visioned by a mind as this, The Poet’s mind,

outside of edgy creeds or needing multiply the source
that has its chatty wandering, across the sturdy paths
of frozen lakes mentioned once again, both ends of the

mentioning obedient to the movement of each other as
to be none less than something like the child of the very
behavior of quantum entanglement of particles as stay

at their same vigil equally long, and mirror the directions
of their brother, on the opposite sides of universe, but

instead, made into the mortal cardboard of time-traveling verbiage
across, as it now goes, all this scour of the tundra of context and
as sleets in sharp flakes the questions all the same as to what is

the true subject, for its use is known already, though not said,
that is: to rise the human from their little niche, into and past
the human, remaining human, and creating, sometimes with
its virulent-running explosions of mistake, a new and better

argument for life, for somewhere it is hardwired, stays in place
and yet, moves with its twin, who moves, but by staying in place:
it will haunt our creations, and us with its perfect arch and paradox
too much -without a tangle, too neat for anybody not to reckon that

some intelligent design had filled this with its own art, compacted
passions with utility, ruddering frustration’s rawness behind the last
mortal straw of one’s effort away from destruction, towards an ease
of rationale so free of needing faith as to be forged from a scientific

delight of some reserve, into a metal worth enough as reason on its
own, untampered; would we not feel obliged to have left alone the
one upwind of their frustrations, and to collapse into a squawking,

futile tantrum, if at the first they were not corrupted so easily by life’s
carnage, happening to them in real-time, and so then all the more

intense: I think of this, and it cements, least, some overused idea
for something more serene and deft than humans could have made
with definitions: an idea, to both explain and feel this collage of stuff
and mirrors, stuff and atoms, the atoms that exist behind us or back-

stage if you like, and we, impoverished thespians reciting from the
script of our personal circumstance: we, who exist in front of atoms,
almost to be them, as if to say, I hold court in this land of flesh and

physics: you are too contrarian to fancy yourself of my material and
sacrosanct: yet altogether everything is made up of its beauty, that
is how we can and will graft experimental persons like as particles
to the majestic sides of this box of universe, scrambling to be

justified for all its slow but mighty large accrual of mountains to our
eternities, changes, seemings, and ultimatums, while an audience
of atoms gasps and looks agape at gelid poverties of bastard

philosophical frost over their secret of meaning something without
the meaning, the way we can’t, no matter how we try, or at least
without losing the will to live: we atoms who live and march

up and down the planet, relaxing and then worried, raising our
blood pressure with stress, lowering cholesterol and having kids.

We must learn that any emblem comes from a bag of emblems as would say
withal its hesitating that it dwells in truth and in rhetoric as correct as truly,
as accurately as any liminal hand might trace its meanings over cornfed,

human principles: and yet that is the system whereby we receive the fire
enough under our ass to not continue not, but work through sleep and so

revive yourself, regroup and brace for challenge after challenge without
knowing what exactly you are after- in committing to the lovely bitch of life.

I who am without self, or a name, could be the higher narrator of this
well-enough design of Pome, or be just the shaping hands of they who

speak expressions through my sieve into convictions for the human race
to misinterpret and misread. A text that is I am, a being of word.

I am against what cause these
new sources of influence

over The poet, that drylands, that led The Poet
through them, but implying this an inevitable rite,

as if in any case, they had to to get his creation of one
or two shades thrown to the beastly spirit, after the test
that might just naysay its certainty of being needed

in the first place, and so then only leading
to environ with sullying the very focal-force
The Poet uses, to compare the moment with
realities askance and lean, and of strained

strings of conflict through each part
of them, all of them, straining

from somewhere that are
crowned the more, much
more, than hearsay,

means restless making, hating
the elongated course of action throwing shade

takes as a part of its embarking
upon that razzle-dazzle

poetic hypnosis: really an anointment of
routine, as if it were a sacred jelly, when,

all fictive, simpler achievements, fictive, for
their generality -a noose around the neck

of things that got to get said well- when all
the gnarly wrack, depends on too-long stale hibiscus tea,

curlicues erupting from its warmth.
Too-long hibernated inspiration,

for to defend its ultimate narrow-down to dainty
biases it has, here and there, in favor of some

special points of shade and sufferance go with glee
to hide behind its coalition of badder
energies the sake some

energy/vigor more comes along, strutting
and swinging its newfangled autonomy around,

like a braggart for small victories, to slow
big victories from their materializing of should,
to concepts being acted upon, a shirk known

specifically by the lazy as one strategy for getting
your Good Mother off your back. Its detachment,
still, -and it was, indeed, an accomplishment, nay
even a severely-needed one, almost forced by the

Gods- its detachment, great and grand accomplishment,
from an unfortunate-long connection at the hip
with reassurances of all kinds he’ll

be taken car of by less-harried harpies, in their
recalcitrant imagery, like flies pipping their far-flung

buzz of anhedonia anywhere,
their aim to quaff a draught

of joviality from any organic time his body had,
just to keep aviated and aloft the heavy norm
from off of ground, usually sounded buzzingly

as a sort of vaguest yearning for some asinine
form of the past that did not exist, but was romanced

to life and brought into the room of people anywhere
in the form of a tampered-with, radioactive stench
of immediate disqualification, o tragic clown held
hostage by the least cruds of the day, while

the plenty of the Good piles up, a spectacular
and usually inevitable, crass naufrage of all his
hopeful mediations of and on specific

fractions of two strangers’ conversation, whatever
tacitly welcoming input, to him, a nod to silence
himself. Oh these my petty, pretty darlings of pain.

A lozenge of a ship still quartering sailors still alive,
pendentives lit, I see, is scribbled on horizon: try,

oh clown, muted at the hands of his misery, to go
there and cradle yourself among the diffident waves
of mysterious nods at silence you see only; see them

but another fledge of that horizon, imagery most
boon and friend to agile thoughts that are to things
among people that are said, thoughts too agile, even,

for the tongue to say them, nor for the eyes to even
read scrawled across the skull as more than dreamlike

interpretations of some old worry, hated anachronism
of the moment yet feeding all of them in there your

thought-drenchingness, yet shame depriving them
of tears at your own hypocritical silent assertion

they should understand, oh clown of shame, as your
desire not to be so lonely, anymore, anymore.

And now: the ship of fate, his fate, is disinterring focus
from the woozy clouds, abrogated by the darkening

gloaming, like something decided swiftly cast in shades
as something undecided, a certainty somewhere yet

to be found by men of taste, popular men, sufficient
in their will and quiet in their pomp. Now look, The

Fictive Poet says: it seems, The Poet says at once,
That these our fraught, entangled intimations

at some wasteful, seamless rhubarb in us
hath shown us its ultimatum, of grand regard,
And not, no not, as too ruffled by difference,

and too long ruffled, to be a difference so different than
the routine change, from difference to difference. But

The Poet defers blame for his own bland. For, he
says, intoning like a clock of many years, so-to-speak,
in the grandfather’s house, old house: It is rather

At the hands, most likely, of an obscure enemy
whose ways fawn on republican politics and

tax-cuts for the rich, and that monitor the head
ape for so long as to exterminate them, achieving

only a feeling of sightless excitement at burning the
spoon like a euphemism, for example, or seeing

a ghost outside for once, upon this
incoherent lawn of scattered word.

all kinds of death

“Still even wounded you do not see it. I can tell. I do not see it myself but I feel it a little.”

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

INTRODUCTION, MOSTLY APROPOS OF NOTHING:

[An exact location, for The Last Step? The Last Step—a misunderstood phrase, or maybe just too easily simplified by people. The tragedy of this is almost cute. And how else to go about accepting such vile entropy?

So many folks, even, on the outskirts of one’s handsome daily orbit,—idiots, or hopefully just blithe at heart,—so many folks, they are ok with it, they are patently ok with leaving a statement where it is, what something means exactly where it is, and every orphaned statement at its furthest, quaintest dilution.

Thinks one: you would not be surprised if these people at the start were fools, and fools to that complacence, eking out the minimum argument only when they have to: each one a slouch, a linguistic anodyne.

They are even of this character when forced to admit a principle: the words they say take up the responsibility to question them when nothing else works, and when that fails, rob them of the power to communicate anything: a single irate bubble of gas erupting somewhere within breaches their lips as drool instead of words when they try to speak.

The Last Step—a phrase nearly identical, phonetically and syllabically, to a vault of others, but with special affinities to this one phrase you have in mind out of all the rest, thinks one:

Besides that both are and have been reliable clichés, cultural workhorses when the culture has not enough time,—and the second phrase of the two, to be mentioned soon; and besides that they mostly fuck with separate duties to definitions at partial variance,—still, it remains true for any phrase, even for the invisible ones like this one, which is staying invisible, so far, because, well, it has not been mentioned yet, the words put down here so far in so willful wait of such an astounding gravity as could carry the latter half of this argument without the arguer needing to mention it almost at all, and anything more than that, all but parting the curtains for a tasteless obviousness,—and whatever the phrase be called, still: it feels obliged and awkward to say, stepping forth as uncertain royalty into the spotlight and into recognizing, an unnecessary gang of footmen, sans faces, towing along behind.—

The phrase thereof is as royalty, a royalty to be met not with the usual flourish of trumpets but ponderous silence, which then magnifies the sound of the dumb shuffling feet around the phrase, faceless men searching for their stage directions. These damn unnecessary lackeys are unnecessary: suddenly it all seems an embarrassing hubristic display, and the idea of royal footmen silly nonsense. One thinks all the rest of these gaudy, chaining gildings a waste of space and resources, and altogether a brutal expense, even worse for the fact it was for the good of the phrase, for the wellbeing of the dignity of the phrase. But in this the true jerk is the phrase itself. Called too early a thing that exists by you yourself who is ironically a partial existence in the writing. Less than mere words exist, requiring more reality than that to exist, for after all it will be a self: one made of voices, strange, inner ones, and the words must live up to that dignity of being and of name. It is as of now though still a halfhearted self. One as you took it straight from your inner litany, shrugged and took a risk on it, and began your molding from parts of the inner litany. One day you woke up and considered this your own challenge to this human devotion to the state of being; now, one prays that one not lose focus before abandoning the mold in utero essentially, as a mutant, who will dream his poor dream of at one point in the narrative sequence herein, attaining enough a physical otherness, perhaps collected from all the stunted logical threads, into some patchwork, over years of starvation, enough, and though walled at first within these miserable paragraphs each, scrounging for his own able threads there in the imaginative poverty, so to finally make his being himself and ditch the words of his creator without himself also disappearing—words that, almost like a drug, so long sustained the unfinished reality that kept him an abomination. This thinks one.

Before your throat could prepare all the way to clear again to shout that you did want this the same as he the embarrassment comes full circle: that is once everything is revealed centerstage and all the subtlety fails, and, the only confidence in uncertainty, as to the phrase, as to what predictably will always come out of the woodwork regarding it, which generally is something darker if it was hidden in the woodwork, but especially bad if created from the rib of your own bad character.

Yet it is an entrance still and meant to be an entrance: and if it lingers long enough before coming on strong, perhaps till the end of a civilization but obviously not of a language, it inherits something more by whatever graces of English, the phrase does, whatever’s appropriate,—something like the connotations as live within different qualifying camps of theory but that say the same thing. Else to blow God’s plan and stoke the shredded orange fire of God burn us all were a better fate than to strangle the organic process of metamorphosis a language must undergo, or remain where it is and be abandoned, and the right to talk robbed from fools who die without doubting what they say.—

The Last Step: a phrase nearly identical, that is, to The Big Sleep, which will follow it, this by all accounts the unequivocal case for all human beings—and this exact location by the way now so infamous, at least among the cavalry of inquisitors who think they wear white coats, not Klansmen, but the ones like you, who will bother over the coordinates, fix the math—and one thinks:

What is it, what do people mean when they say they are taking The Last Step in their process; was it a slog or a breeze? Or will it not really end at all?

Or, one thinks: it is one lastness out of them all that is the most agreed upon, you say? No. Nothing like a science riddle, a fucking science riddle, to make you get crusty as hell, about all the fancy science, one thinks: and your pitiful person to rage over it in private, and not understand, for hours, one thinks.

It is an intellectual coldsore you get during the Winter that you prod with your tongue despite your mother’s intercessions: this verifiably compulsive behavior in combination with the frigid weather leaves the whole inside of your left cheek damaged raw eventually.

One thinks: in the sole context of a finite universe this would be enough of a riddle to tolerate, much less if applied to what is surely an infinite universe in any case. But words are of weak constitution, lighter than dust; are literally flimsy paper and maybe some graphite too. Even worse, this riddle is one about a thing said in words, with language, not with words, in a language, and it should be obvious unless you literally cannot read English that I write in English—anyway, you will in all likelihood give up reflexively, give up answering the riddle, as humans do when mentally cramped, cornered, past the point of their will’s sway—well this, and also, they succumb to madness—give up, that is, and discard these certain implications before solving anything because you need to sleep, one thinks. But all night you will dream of questions as to words as being. Any exact location overstimulates the mind with clarity so that the location becomes relative and fractal, much less one to be considered on an infinite plane. Yet for all herein you expect to live through of the mortal, or planetary, onslaught, still, the tired eye will want to open.—

And this is an image you have quickly sampled herein, for lack of another image at the ready. You find it floating in anonymous clutter, orphaned, and pluck it out for the wanting expression.

You cannot help but feel the proximity of the next one in the roster: what your mind by chance will face and detect, and then fix itself there in the celestial makeshift of your imagination, as its satellite,—yes it will want to open, the eye will, when the eye thinks it is in sight of an answer clearly through all the semantical wilderness and weird, and then all options for the metaphor will be at the ready.

This answer is an answer as will only properly unfold in a narrative sequence. For the answer must have its lullaby, or else it will get fidgety and be like a babe up all night, never out of view of some lucky father’s tired eye. Too tired in fact to know he has made an answer his babe, and he himself who handles his many questions and fingers their surface, as if in possession of a fragile piece of nostalgia. Yearning for the right horoscope, one to delight the planets with its system, his system.

Like browsing for snippets on T.V., it always seems to be an answer that goes to commercial at the worst parts. In the end, thinks one, the story has barely explained itself anyway, either because you forgot some detail or the story explaining itself did. Tantalizing us always with a fragmentation even more annoying if it was purposeful. Perhaps crucial to its art then but not satisfying; on the other hand if it is purposeful it is controlled, no matter if the effort is or is not towards an ideal that is obscure, most likely the creation will have a better future. Thinks one.

Definitely it is a more than primitive creature, though no person, nor even daresay spirit. With enough wit to meddle with human desire—and definitely cognizant enough if it turns out the creature is acting alone.—

I imagine a strungout gremlin that is unfamiliar with human life but of a certain facility regarding the maneuvering what humans hate, to its sharpest precarity, one that might fall with the single further degree of an obtuse into an acute angle, of grief, of all the grief. Something what who crawled out from under the bridge where the kids shoot heroin.—

Something, whose job is to insert the omissions right there in the very development most needed witnessed to ease us, but forever; at that precise moment it is about to be witnessed reconciled, and left neatly, or at least left ugly with a beautiful concept somewhere in it. But instead one is left to piece together clues with more clues. Anyway.

Comb through infinity’s bigness for an apex and find just more infinity of cosmos without the question of a first or last at all.

. .  .   .    .     .      .       .        .

I do not have the kosher empathy for this however. Its demolishing back to finitude,—so as to bring back to life the possibility of a last step,—I visualize as not so rough a thing, compared to what had been lost with the introduction of endlessness or of something incapable of limitation.

What exactly is put together out of this morass of sums?

It is of such loveliness though: this thought on ends: so much that it requires no arranged deadline to be, obeys nothing but the master sketch of its own terms, which it will study and use to give up, and then, well, the last step exits us incognito, with the schematics rolled up under its arm, without anybody picking up on the change in the air.

Exits into the heavens, a monotonous omniscience, which the last step, a deviant, had cheated out of deciding its birthday. The heavens tried to without even asking…and the angels became furious: to know when exactly the guests would arrive, so to speak.

But they were not to know when: and once such a precedent is initiated on high by the low, the inflexibility of the concept of God’s deeming goes axiom to particle.
The heavens had always been able to know everything else before, if just they followed the wishes of God and continued being in divine good favor: ultimately were surprised, no, they were shocked: by that lush apotheosis: of an eternal whittling of lastness.

A last step evades the pressures of needing be appraised with an equivalently earnest pair of eyes, tired though they be. Though it is final when it happens, final is relative, depends on the quality of the shoes one is walking up and down in. Even in a finite universe, one begs for arch support, if that is one happens to have taken up this responsibility to travel to the wrapup, the horizon, of…time, time maybe? To colonize the horizon when this planet is finally gone wack and rotten?

Eventually one soldiers on and toughens up though and gets to playing along with the knot in my back I get from lifting garbage too long; you need not launch out of bed early to get a jump on this school project with a foregrounding hypothesis, just need space to move and time to enable the move there.

If my last step, one thinks, is to be considered taken, or is close to that point,—besides that, of necessity, it is followed by a step after, well, before that, my travels, my peregrinations, so to speak, one thinks, must have had to develop muscle, on their way, or something more like a common thread to the experience: a thread starting to beef up with more other threads discovered, between the problems baffling one and the problems baffling another, and through which we listen for an answer to how such a thing of nature can be so intricate, yet fragile,—even though that’s pretty much how everything is and we shouldn’t be too surprised: holding an empty tomato can to our ear from safe up in the treehouse, one thinks, though this image be somewhat comical, even jejune, even naïve.—And, please, this time, have it, it, the last step for the first to reach their true last step, be more for that person than a location transmitted via radio signal to those venturers of  deliverance, out to get a thorough briefing to the public—saying we have been let in on the life after: the media will say it is something like a gratifying meltdown of all the striven and scratched, whether for or in, in or out, but always out of arrogance, though we only have really dreamt it so reductively at moments particularly woke.

See, thing is, and this is at most at the outskirts of obligation, to say nothing of what we actually need—again: to have truly made one’s last step one must have judged the matter closed with a strong sense of place in mind at the first, really. One must know it had even begun if now it can properly end, with at least a better understanding of, if it cannot reach, its ‘where’—or else it might just be one of the many lies there are about finishing up we will make it seem to others and ourselves like one must accept believing, o, it is imperative for us as the human byproduct of a shit culture to, of course, keep that scheme afloat, when it is culture that should have always been the byproduct. Just as we did with Christianity, the afterlife and shit, so shall we with whatever genius we may find in the things not at first religious. Like this belief in summing up a place to give it being. And you know, the many other attractive unproven possibilities probably impossible, or just thoughts to get through this life, here—amiably. So then we call the job finished when it is not, and wake up to find that when putting to use once again what you repaired, it falls to a shambles and is quickly deformed by that original impatience to finish.

Progress becomes a focus on the need for a status given to something, which itself transposes to a need for a status given to ourselves, and this is the disastrous result of a strange and sickly moral amnesia one might observe in people overwhelmed by either their bad deeds and the desire to start over, or by an artificial imperfection seen incorrectly by them as a given, a natural part of the world.

Abortive efforts of interest are a symptom of that discontent: they are a vile ouroboros. These human efforts to really own the nurturing of one’s own ideas are really all idols to human desperation.

All of it is forfeit anyway if you clearly do not know where you are going.

The skill is knowing this in direct proportion to your ignorance of what the destination will look like, how you envision the destination, which is called the future and which if one were not ignorant of it, one would be quite easily bored with knowing.

The ‘last step’ is not this sort of strange epiphanic sorcery and is not the result of enlightenment at all. People will remain angry towards most of the imposed limitations, yet first and last are not schemes like that, to them, would not dog them, are the same as them: a code in unison with the laws conjured up by whoever has put their shoes on. But geographically, at the time the line is crossed, the line is crossed. It is nobody’s fault.

In this case, here: a symbol is introduced, manufactured. An old man with a mind long ago run ragged: he has thought each precious thought in his head past all conclusion. It was to reach some weird heavens of insight he thought he made out from afar.  A certainty at the end of a hair. Has he run out of thoughts, then, cloistered in his mortal place?

Stages are set up, between first and last, confining the offroad notion where it is not fully itself, and people often mistake this, a lag in energy for the notion, to be the end of the notion. Where it starts to rot is where it is yoked upon a series.

This, it is said, is for the sake of organization. One might see and know the intrepid wandering notion as a sort of innocence similar to the freedom one once had, and its fate the same also: wandering through its hidden country and picking the daisies or something like that for garlands later. The notion is a child: anticipating the least chance at rousing nature to speak for nature, beyond the usual pastoral hymn and beyond a versified humanity really an abasement of both perspectives. The formalism of verse, destroyed by the unstructured greed of people; and the rawness of people made cold by verse.

Well, we yoke it all upon a series—or an arc—or some other premature hierarchy, of enjoyment. This child is the father of the res, or just some dun and filthy ancient on a train. He is the fiction here: yet who knows if the fiction is real, or if he is the only fiction?

Perhaps all of humanity is a flatness of projected film upon the screen, and people, the mere spawn of a whim, or even just one poor decision; and we to bring with us as our baggage a heady, thickheaded solipsism that is invader unto God.

The old man is a composite of selves, and lacks those familiar unities of one individual self we all recognize and which rule us well enough to make our minds, words, and actions, as people, somehow make sense to some cackling voyeur upstairs, or some cosmic Other, who may just be watchdogging the replete timeline for any mistakes.

The ‘old man’ is a mirage, but a reality; he is a collection of microscopically personal stuff one could not even hope to relay a fraction of to their therapist within the hour slot, and I mean a fraction of the evasions and buzzings that knock around and die over the course of one mere day, nay hour, nay minute, and the which God will have promptly insured your secrets you do not even know for very long be packed away in some closeted oblivion you can return to, and review, yourself, if you want, upon the moment of death, though God does not promise any deceased an immunity to headaches or anxieties, just an increased, or vastly matured, wisdom to help deal with those mortgaged emotions given back to us, you, in the afterlife.

However, God had assured, made sure, that you, and all the hustling human race, for that matter,—had, probably long ago, by this point, had definitely assured, if not 1,000’s of years before you or anyone were born, or something ridiculous like that, that nobody, nobody mortal would be able to listen in to another mortal’s narrative: nor for you specifically that anyone too warped by their urban privacy a privacy to such people something more like an alienation as leaves and will leave them raw enough to blow up a building, or work for HOME DEPOT—that, no, no, for you, nobody too pale and surreptitious could ever pick up on and shadily file in your dossier they keep of you that inwardness, despite what you think the neighborhood obsessive across the street must have accrued by now, of a better facility, you suspect sensibly, than the way less dangerous stray catcaller who may lean against his nihilism on a streetcorner at 2:00 A.M. and call you ‘pig,’ but at least lets you know you are in his sights, in that moment.

“Don’t be silly,” God saith: “Such a carefulness, such discrete, devoted surveillance, would be required as to go beyond unhinged and rather breach the realms of a psychic intuition approaching the liminal Divine of my own: like, Santa ain’t always watching, honey: and if he was, like I am you, now…o tragic morph of Icarus…if that was the case, it would truly baffle me why this newlyminted God would choose to listen to your thoughts and not trouble me with mine!”

Moreover: God is not of that shitty caliber of person, not the uncasual lecher, who will watch you undress through your window without saying a word about it at work the next day, thanking his creeper stars that your apartment happens to be at the floor adjacent his own, offering a view of you, through your window, from his perfectly inconspicuous bathroom window, no less.

One might say this offers a bit of excitement light up his evening schedule in his famished domicile, number 6 on a floor of the building asleep nearly, besides the cockroaches that dutifully scrounge somewhere unseen, in a building falling apart, across the street from your own shit building, with its own affinities to his, affinities the man exaggerates and romanticizes to feel not as alone in a new state, away from mother and living in his horrible, famished domicile, infested with bad vibes, yet that is always too quiet: and the floorboards have weakened bad and creak atop the shifty trust of the old foundations: and when the man even pads to the kitchen at night the noises and his inability to figure out which floorboards to avoid to avoid them eventually stir the cobwebs off a boyhood fear of ghosts.

It lights it, and him, up. As ugly and as pathetic as it is. Yes. A consistent opportunity to see you naked lights up his glum fucking hermitage, with its least semblance of conceptual human contact, you know, to beef up the evening schedule. Something to tell mother.

It lights it up with its benefit. Its gloriously confusing benefit: it happens to be just enough therapy for him that he never goes postal and kills everyone. Thus go the subtle acts of God.

Thankfully mostly he isn’t able to take too much advantage: most of the time it’s just you popping your boyfriend’s blackheads in the mirror on the opposite wall, also visible from his perch at the bathroom mirror, at least, with the help of binoculars. That, and every now and again, allows himself to be mesmerized at you laughing at your boyfriend’s jokes, or offhand comments, wishing with all his weirdo self that he was able to be so verifiably offhand. O oddity, ye who cannot hear the punchline your own life delivers to an audience of strangers, all of them looking at you and laughing for a reason you cannot understand: o irony of ironies, haha, o delicate voyeur.

One could use this information against him, if they knew it, some of it, about him, but nobody he comes in contact with regularly returns the favor, nor even will know him, period, for very long, much less his inner shadiness. So he ghosts the parties of acquaintances that he invited himself to in the first place, getting into his fickle head that it’d be less stressful just to go home and jerk it.

No, nobody has any proof, outside of feeling like in parting ways from him, they are extricated by him, let us even say it is to his great relief, both to be in full control and to have different human people get out of his hair: removed from his presence. As if by giant invisible tweezers: as if to him, in the feeding eyes of his undiagnosed complex, they had shrunk to the size of a tick. Though of course nothing is said during the given exchange here and there that would back up the feeling each of his ‘friends’ have had. Until they all get together and have a powwow about it in secret once tensions build to the point of espousing suspicions as to his sanity, and then they all, all of his ‘friends,’ learn they share an experience of the same phenomenon of their goodbyes and wellwishings.

Yes, each time they, but really anyone, even bids him a simple adieu, there is a feeling like one needs to itch, or wash oneself, like an annoying nag telling the child that the child smells a bit ripe and should wash their underarms, ass, and crotch while you’re at it. There is a feeling with anyone who is by nature antisocial of being thrown off but with him that is always temporary and is never substantiated with the, in reality, infinities of circumstantial proof there would be, if there was really a Big Brother Government monitoring us for seditious activities, or maybe even just for jerking it too much.

But that would be crossing a line into territory more fascistic. If we haven’t gotten there already: when really, it is the benevolent God all of us know when things go right and none of us know when a random earthquake, deciding it wills to just go ahead and off hundreds of people, mindlessly jigs its tectonic plates a sec for the laugh and fucks up everything…well, well, well: it is and who knew the benevolent God all this time logging us down so we can revive certain destinies we in life had been too dense to tax our memory further with, actually a more nuanced instinct of selfpreservation, especially if with time and additional context that happy moment of the past that was forgotten is to turn sour with a fresh experience of trauma or something, precluding us that feel of any bit of happiness about it. O though there is not much business in keeping track of certain tiny facts, the thinking a thing here and there that becomes something you forget maybe, besides that it felt important to remember before you went to the store. Sadly you could not locate a pen for the napkin you snatched quickly, chasing the momentum of recollection and finding only that and the kitchen surface in time, before things slowed when the likelihood of juggling both finding a pen and keeping the thought in your mind diminished, and then you yourself became unlikely and fleeting as half the thoughts you never think again, and from there you tunneled home, knowing the rest of the way, to your sweet deep darkness and brine, your home, in existential sewers. Your rudest of privacies.

But some of that information despite its tininess could still be used to summon up anger in other people, and misplaced at that, because an anger at themselves; or is of things coaxed from the depression of folks; or is the same old focus on the latest proof of one’s perceived questionableness, and the insights made into that during the celebrity interview, once the ballgag of their own fatigue is removed and people realize the truth of their own celebrity, which is even more in the troubled nobody than in the actual celebrity, for the former’s very reaction to any semiserious allegation of such a thing:

“A strange little scoff, I’d imagine.” God saith. “Jovial but filled with rue. A scoff as might tend to say again and again in their hearts what is their slant on themselves, to themselves, fearing that criticism will not have the last word. As if the convincingness of that were even more convincing, were some consuming revelation all about how they are actually shitty and wrong and bad in their daily life.

As if anyone whose aim was simply going about who they are were not the decentest, most sincerest schmuck alive! Negativities, am I right? At the hand of which, we are made the sap or witless proxy, and dethrone our very ego from the kingdom of ourselves, just to get the negativities away from us—but we do it by giving them the throne, the negativities, and banish ourselves from the region, hauling our ass and ego with us by mule: a region where now dwell, in a castle once ours, the bearded members of a senate, each one kept alive only by the shelling out criticisms to peasants like us, fixing them up in the dress of compassion, a tough act of guile to succeed at seeing through to the end but made easier if there are none in the bunch compelled to moral maintenance—as a weekly given; nor is it made harder if those who will rule our emotions once we relinquish them are openly shitty and see nothing in persuading anybody of the opposite.

The rubric, then, is inaction in the face of assaults on scruples that at most are a hallucination of any ever there, good or bad; or they were fabricated in the attempt to bring this senate of negativities closer to what are our human stakes in life: vulnerability and such. And yet not anything done to rectify this or that atrocity, nor a string of words made at a public function that waffle over the resulting outcry, but as is the rubric and code in this circumstance of senators, these bloodless figurations, when it comes to any assault on scruples, the answer is detachment, like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers,—when it comes to confessing the piling eternity of evils any given person has ticking in them, you can be sure that person fills no senate seat in their cruel minds, but might thirst for confessions of older, obscure cruelties they maybe have only imagined remembering, so to soothe some remote masochism in their hearts that are not bloodless, though the usurpers in their brain might feel nothing as they continue on and on with their torments as if each torment were to be filed and the bureaucracy maintained, the one that is religious or not religious, but probably the former, if one, having been forsaken by these men of the senate who might water their unalive beards out of vanity like starving flowers, flowers that each one are the cilia of the guts of the world, going on awhile now,—if one, that is, causes in themselves gestating a repentant grief at criticism that has smitten ego to the quick too quickly to mean that it comes purely in peace.

. .  .   .    .     .      .       .        .

He is an old man without vice and without virtue, and he was made just to move one past hating the regularity of that one or other small, miscellaneous annoyance, as will emerge, if we take the misplaced time to play therapist silently to ourselves, dangerously, while driving, you got it, to therapy, so as to decompress, and so as to burn a stray stash of energy while driving, or say, so as to shut off our fatigue with a mental emergency switch we can only use sparingly, with our own spite to connect it, to some deeper issue, as would usually tip the day overboard into ruin.

One extra thorn that wants to be a thorn too much, sometimes, is one that is especially detested, heatedly living out the fidgets of this aporia, this malady, one of the soul, thwarted soul, and to place us, as in all people, in a beginning, manifest at least a beginning; a thorn in a consolidated ‘where.’

In what crazy region of this old man’s head might this infamous last step officially be delineated?

Is it a hieroglyph only he has decoded? Directing the arrival of a change? Even if it is just for him to know, forever: a solution given to him for the sake maybe of some unreasonable preemption? And alienated from all the other people who are not a fiction: a change in the atmosphere is recognizable to all, nonetheless, at the exact spot the hieroglyph had indicated to him alone.—

A change. Not even many but just one, to be plucked from the senile ravel, which is the job of God, and then made all of the creation. The bordering space earmarked before he forgets. Then he will move on. Perhaps he has been making a pilgrimage to the sacred end of the story since he began himself to fester in the cranial soup.

To him it feels a little less complete an end with all this help, but no matter: connoting a start or an end, but usually both, works as an impetus to go on; that, and the lifting his legs within their filthy boots, and the bringing down of them, to precede whatever next flawed human action as could bring him forth into but then past it, past the last step, maybe even into more keener, vegetable finalities.

In any case, delineating a clear change, that is, of one place from another place, so that one senses it, almost like magic or, more apt, a placebo,—with the first step into it senses it; and also depending on the exact distance still to be covered before meeting that delineation, nay even that last step before the ‘now’ of having arrived, before his two feet are firmly planted on the platform—before he made his last step off the train he wondered if ever he had really moved anywhere or changed at all, or moved anyone, ever.

But he need not have measured to there from the spot he got up from his seat to linger at as the train neared home: to feel a proper escape from the stasis. Or like it was official. So then he asks for nothing when the traindoors open straightaway and he sees the challenge clearly before him.

He is to most of the public, maybe—or maybe they are indifferent—an elderly transient or some elderly yaya who went and mismatched his pills that morning, thoughtfully waiting to traverse the precarious gap.

The rubber hazardyellow lip extending over to the opposite concrete perimeter and a little beyond so as to root itself sufficiently on the station platform, like a bridge, and this extra last step now exposed and plain to him by the maw of the opening traindoors.

Sure, it provides easier access to the platform of the station, created mainly for the benefit of the elderly or lamed, but this easier access is to one day be for the benefit of a different elderly or lamed:

Some sort of inhumane people, youth, who fled to these suburbs, these towns which are all with their own vacant stops a train might stop at for nobody or few. Fled to avoid hearing their boomer father use the word ‘bootstraps’ ever again, or ‘responsibility.’

For we are wounded by this defeat. In the eyes of we the young it is a defeat and almost evidence of a selfdeluding millennial nature. I guess in response we became walking mysteries. An olderlooking man, going Alzheimer’s on the commuter rail.

We were indifferent to whatever mystery they said we were, and yet shamed the earnestness of those horse’s mouth statements so as not to feed the egotism possible to bloom from some few words being so true. Thinks one.

We go on consuming the starved plenty to this day: a fleeting culture’s bled out, fleeting products, of irony and meta; perhaps we are even punks or goths that will become tolerators of plaid and khaki, are other bad priests of the norm who mainly cannot use their walk too well, well enough to get to finishing up, and need more than intuition to figure out where change ends and change begins.

Out of a certain laziness of presence, we youth develop the needing of a presence, whether with us as one we do not quite understand or one as us that we must understand or else be rendered meaningless and absurd. O we youth who walk our usual walk to the neighborhood coffeechain looking to become caffeinated enough to free some manner of beast,—and expectedly find nothing.

This lip or perimeter or halfway bridge or a public aid, exposed once the train inches to a stop, it extends, with a pneumatic hiss. This sound, the hiss, is almost expressive; it has its own subtle characterizing awareness, as if glad to rid itself of its numinous anxieties of machinery.

Or whatever other griefs as would undermine a locomotive machine with the pressured gas, released when the doors open.

The old man, his muddy eyes, what they see, having betrayed him past help, this time. And suddenly, for the old, or older, man, or transient, a foot or so more of extra last steps still to cover to get to that sweetspot, that delineation,—well, that he hadn’t seen from where he was standing, at all. He a bobbing blur on the train, infinitely waiting. So hadn’t been able to judge whether or not to hurry from where he lingered, further off than the old man preferred, once given his mundane chance to arrive at the end of something, like, the mundane; or to go home, or both: go back to a home, his, that is a vagary or fluke somewhere in nervous aether.

And lastly, this, this ‘last step,’ depending, also, on the ground covered between one and his next individual step of his old feet, though this anyway to be negligible, with each individual step taken by this poor transient fellow.

He with his many odors that travel into the next room probably when he goes indoors anywhere. Individual steps. Generally speaking, the approximate length of them, that is: each shuffling and slight step to be predicted based on a record of every move this old transient has made dragging a pendulous ghostliness in trash bags, because he had had nothing else, across the Earth: in search of a life in which to throw the garbage, or liveliness, or something—he now for sure as one sees it happen from outside of this reality, having really intended to get off the train, off this clanking hooked-up chaining of big metal parts that look like XANAX on wheels: in frank need of repair: and the fake wood siding and posters for events longexpired and uncomfortable seats and all of it a holy dissociating: it is all there, in there:

Having arrived at his stop, or his stop, so could one only presume,—before taking his last step off the train: an olderlooking man, or transient, with these very brown and sightless, almost suffering eyes, suffering, and drowning in, and blinded by, and steeped in prophetic mud,—an olderlooking man there, before exiting the train, silently faltered, and he, silently blocking the doorway; in his head, but who knew, multiplying all these processes like distances and other quibbles, through time itself: though the traincar was not at that time populated by more than a handful of riders: and the hassled hump of his spine, going stiff upright, though he in his tacit universe without speaking. Or was just maybe a haggard diviner for some higher spiritous language.]

. .  .   .    .     .      .       .        .

He was about to take his last step off the mostly empty train, or so could one have only presumed it the last.—

He then blinked twice, quickly; then he stopped at the threshold of the doors as they opened, and remained standing there inbetween, for awhile, stockstill and lifeless.

If one had chanced to observe him entering the train, if he really did, and sit down, till about prior to this moment, if he really did, one would have found that he did not move much, even when he moved at all, or even when a little, but rather appeared to be here, then there, without any visible explanation. A man of a series of slides.

Yet there was a smaller, a microscopic way of him, and which, by those means, he located all of himself in everything.

In the farthest cracked ubiquity of the scene he was there, the old man, without moving; he was on the train and outside of the train; and as well there was a strangely microscopic name his presence indicated but did not spell out.

One got the feeling it was a smaller way than could easily be described, one to another, without the words getting clumsy.

A way of him that somehow defied physical laws, made airlessness be emanated like it was something full all along. Like a cartoon; almost lifeless, almost. Surely this was done so well by this old elderly man for a reason: some learned trick of presence, or of carrying oneself—one that the elderly man, the poor absurd old man, had developed, perhaps to adapt to something horrible, or something not horrible, but still, along life’s road, and still then made of trauma.

(A trick, like something cultivated by traumatic shame for example. Shame for being. Shame that—simply put—is a shame for one’s own mere presence merely.

It is the guilt that one is. Anybody who has lived long enough in the World will understand this.

However there is also the idea this insensible, unwashable guilt that comes with simply being relinquishes a sort of wisdom after a long time, of a diligence verging on obsession, one that is learned through failure—but as to maintenance of ego it works.

Embarrassment is a catalyst for this wisdom, this diligence that is also a kind of funhouse representation of selfrespect. One takes the most showers who is told the most times they stink. Embarrassment is something of a similar rub as shame, it is the shame of a tested ego that has failed. It is of that same wretched ken as having no ability of seeing, in the eyes of everybody that one meets their own eyes with, just but the color of their iris, an iris as one hopes and prays always to see and see alone—and yet sometimes it is not even that that is given—and instead, along with the same moody brown vagary in them, there is hate in them too, that has one digging beneath it, infinitely, for clarity of any kind, or at least a pupil in the center, somewhere, though it is shaded past darkness, one must know that by now.

All this digging gets one no clarity but only will ever reveal a fresh layer of confusions, which will be read by the digger as judgments they will force themselves to see as insights: stuff and dirt and revelations as to the flaws and anomalies of themselves.

Alas. That poor, poor one, who is attuned to this, and has so sensitive a mental scale: on which to weigh what one may think constitute the lasting judgments.—

A scale that it thinks will tell them an accurate number, each time, when all it does is break each time, beneath an exaggerated heft,—in any case, in one being so preternaturally able to stir their own guilt, others who feel the same begin to see this as a commodity and skill, and this absurd detecting the slightest judgment, it becomes a skill, a profession, like owning at fidget spinners, and each old sadsack a new guru of guilt, at once, and the sadsacks of guilt with their insights a source of awe in the eyes of a few others who want a ride backseat, with one and their marvelously sculpted dog, Guilt, a woofing dog, Guilt, going and barking like crazy, with her chops flapping in the wind, and her head out the window.

Guilt that is really a misinformed hatred, and which then, in all its fire and fury to curse oneself before anyone else, ignites a subculture of depressives all who look for insights into their own hidden flaws now, insights that will be in high demand,—as if a natal chart and the whole of astrology wasn’t already a thing for this and also really hip. But this, it would be a skill, for those who try hard at their grief enough, but hang acceptance out to dry.

One thinks: they do not know if they are for or against the very old idea of the unhealthy scamming of a people, called a stereotype: and that makes every personality a punchline. Too used to it the youth is. Best get down on knees anyway and exonerate oneself through shittalking oneself, so as to not feel so gagged by society: well to shut them up their room has so far done nothing .)

. . . . . .

There is something transcendent to the discipline of keeping apart one’s sense of mortality, which ebbs and flows; and one’s simultaneous sense of infinity, which consumes, and leaves parched—both feed and pressure the ego and enter from an opposite border of the ego, with different lengths to their rivers each time, and sometimes clash, hence, the need for an everchanging distance, one from the other, when one tide is out and the other in.

Maybe this old man, this ancient man, maybe, he was so beaten by life’s lurid contraries and life’s amoral nonsense, and all of it, caused by these nonsensical clashes of being,—that he could not help but, after years of shame, involving in even the least, muscular twitch, an avoidance of presence.

Like those afflicted with polio might lose the purity of a limb—but this butchering done, not by God’s megrim, but as a form of penance.

That is, could summon perfectly his existence as a nonexistence; the way someone with polio might easily hide from view a disabled arm, so that the fact it is marred is not even brought to light, anytime, nor brought up, among acquaintances and friends, not for it being a taboo subject but for it being an unknown problem. And this trick of stillness performed even as he did actually move, while waiting stockstill for something,—shifting around to discreetly clean the dirt from his hands by wringing them together briefly and dazed and then clapping them to his pants. And even then, he remained still in all other respects, like a picture, almost tired. As if his whole tired being and self were stuck in a form of time comprised of many motionless frames that slid him into actions like dominos but at the same time robbed the man of any oomph or torque or spring to his stepless steps.

. . . . . .

So: the old man blinked twice, as was said, and paused, and he wavered there, at the threshold of the opening doors, for who knows how long, to allot time enough for him and his senility to catch the musk of why he might have paused.

This is a fairly common strategy among the sane. Especially among those elite among the sane, who do not believe at first what they see as a matter of course, no matter how sane it seems for how long. Those for whom their own scepticism is the best possible meteor to have hurdle through space straight into the turf, if there has to be an end to this World. They would rather that than the air be poisoned by the contaminating bias of others, opinion’s argumentative cousin.

Though really it is a hard worn strategy by cognizant people around the globe, who might always be on the trail of their own thoughts and visions; or even just harried, gangly people, forgetful of certain easy, daily responsibilities while they build castles in the sky.

Though in the case of this old man the rapid blinking and aboutface and moment’s pause could not have been acted out in a worse spot on a train usually. this train had not departed from the city five stops ago and now was riding through remote suburbs.

When they must clear their heads to notice what they did not before, or had allowed only peripheral attention for, and that yet asks to be noticed, somehow, in the heads of people, usually wordlessly, for if what was to be scoped was pointed out by another explicitly there would be no need for a momentary pause, just to assemble one’s wits enough to prove something there to observe at all.

Usually people will do this and see if it is of some importance to them within a second: sort of a way to rub one’s eyes when one has full hands, though I could tell the old man he did not rub his eyes with his hands because he was too weak. He just stood there. He would have held up the line if there actually were any other civilians, pedestrians, folk, on the train itself.

Then he became more lucid, then stopped where he was. Gauging his surroundings, or perhaps it was just reality itself. For all of where his eyes wandered it seemed so. As if taking in the entire map of the World just looking around him on a train; or it was a gaze not drawn to one thing in particular but overwhelmed by something all around him, ghosts unseen but by the damned maybe, or a truer, rarer reality than this that if the old man focused got itself captured in his pithy glass. If he focused, perhaps sniffing out some newly realized horror. Perhaps not. It looked like whatever he thought at that moment was not pleasant, pleasant like the weather was today; nor did it seem to have come upon him in a mundane pattern, like a chain, the way one would usually experience their mind in transit among strangers.

He hesitated again: then turned his head slowly, with one hand cautious on the guardrail, towards a younger man who was sitting a few seats away.

The whole pantomime seemed needlessly dramatic, but nobody had noticed. The younger man at present did not notice the older man nearby. The ancient there at his threshold sniffing out for the varying portents everyday life begat.

The patiently idling train’s doors were opened to a station not to be specified here, fully precluded from the narrative, here. But perhaps is somewhere else living out its possible story. An anonymous destination somewhere in a World of the more abstract details.

He turned his ragged body towards the younger man. The train was empty and fluorescentlit, empty, besides this youth who sat and a few other passengers sitting and the older man who had gotten up to leave the train but now stared, quite conspicuously, at the youth.

He hung his brown overfed eyes on the youth.

The youth had eyes of a blue color and they seemed to perish and fade into the back of the retina and then, one got the feeling, became a tender and human lightness, perhaps theoretical, a seeming thing of a good trait, but for all that shining as strong as it could from the charred back of his skull, taking some of the blackness of wherever corner in his head it originated to the torsional surfaces of his expression, the youth’s, and even when he relaxed his eyes there was some momentary thought of void, in whoever might be looking into them at the time.

His blue eyes, however, did not meet, refused to meet, the insipid, obsequious, lost gaze, and the pretty, perished blue eyes continued to trace the modest, unassuming suburban country out the window, and just within the youth’s peripheral vision, stood—though considerably obfuscated—the figure and presence of the older man hunching his frame against the trainrail and looking at him.

The youth was a youth but his expression was that of someone older though not necessarily more mature. To anyone who bothered to observe he appeared not yet wholly disciplined by life nor yet wizened and made tough by the going out of experience…as if desperate to accomplish, and yet haunted by a failure, one that announced its coming, without coming; was dominated by an infinite premonition of failure.

Some odd fixation or permanent thought on this loomed above his head, that it was still to come and to bear, and would, if and when instigated, throw into question whatever meaning there might have been for his life.

Something oafish, something burly and oafish that stood in the way.—

The old man continued to peer and wither and he knew all of these things and his movements were few and baffling and he swayed gently back and forth in a dull torpor as though drunk and he stared at the youth with an intensity both strange and familiar: unfocused and dull and yet a conscious urgency beneath it, however subtle, was there, as if the old man desired to swallow both of them up into his own nakedness, an intimate, static, soundless place. It, the gaze, pierced the youth, if only because this old man, in particular, seemed dedicated to watching and waiting for the youth to watch him back.

From time to time, however, his eyes would suddenly widen and the old man would give a sharp twitch of the head as if making to stifle a manner of nervousness felt between them and which was unspoken and abstract. And the more he peered and withered and twitched the more the old man became instead an old, barnacled creature—or, a monster—in the eyes of the youth.

His eyes his blue eyes we are speaking of the youth they continued more desperately now to trace the suburban countryside, disregarding the stare but widening their blueness slowly as the blue youth wondered why the train continued to stay at the same stop, until he understood, promptly terrified, that the train and this particular slice of time, which felt somehow disrupted, time itself, had stopped to wait for something, anything, to go on, between the youth, and this form of dreams,—just an old man to all the others for the blue youth suspected himself alone in his opinion of a man to be seen externally not but mere and frail.

All was still: it was the stillness of the World itself in pause for the sake of whatever discourse to follow, between them. The youth who sat’s knees went together, and he clenched the muscles in his thighs, and the train did not move, and the elderly’s eyes were fire on him. The youth was sitting down in a seat five feet away from the elderly and the elderly stood inert against the train rail looking, looking.

Sweat moved along the crevices of the two shiftless forms on the train, and something like fungus grew within the quiet between them. The quiet was bloated and pungent. It made green the things around it. The train doors closed vaultlike at the old man’s stop.

The train shrieked as it moved, as if in a cyclone, and the youth finally could take no more and looked into the ravaged elderly eyes of the old man and saw him, the eyes like wet cinder, like slugs reamed the youth’s eyes nearly backward to face the inside of his skull and the train was like a cyclone.

But neither of them spoke. The youth could not stop looking nor could the elderly stop and their eyes were contrasts of each other and also their eyes were contrasts of their very souls because the youth’s eyes were blue and peaceful and the sickles of his irises were defined yet he was angry and afraid and the elderly’s eyes were like wet cinder and dirt and the Earth and they looked blind and without aim and yet the elderly old man seemed to know more than the youth ever could at least to the youth.

The old paranormal spoke to the youth and it was like the sound of the bray of a beast and it was wild and echoing in a trance outwards to breach the dark air and the sound was cloistered in the heart of the placeless wilderness of quiet that existed between them: and the youth listened closely, and the paranormal said:

“I KNOW YOU.”

…And that in a voice, a voice which B. would feel drifting into his mind whenever recalling the early, emptier days spent in the care of his mother and father, days now to him as but an intrusive gap in time. The train stopped once again, and, without another word, the old man with eyes burnt to black ash and the Earth pushed his old bones through the stubborn doors towards a destination like a humble ghost.

B. was the sitting youth and as the train moved forward and away from the humble ghost B. slowly allowed his expression to lax into a soft frown—a frown that, like the pace of a clock, changed slowly, slow to the point no change was recognizable. After what seemed like an eternity the train slowed down to his stop—and he, before getting off, as if to put emphasis on the change, said at almost whisper:

“No. You don’t.” And that as though to defy whatever placeless sort of uneasiness the elder gave him. Something grey and infectious that still managed to trickle down; invading his character and ribs and drowning his heart with fluid. Something would be there, would be there and would come out, during this visit, he sensed; something cold, something vague and cold that made B. think that this would be a very bad day.

“Give them a chance.” B. smiled and, and, and the smile was abandoned. “Shit.”

. . . . . .

George had got a pool installed. They had more money these days but were not as pushy as most old people were and did not complain when the drain was not put in right. Until today, George and Eleanor had busied themselves inside the house just to avoid that drain, which growled and crunched terrifically, and seemed to shake the pool itself as though it were eating it.

Until today, when George decided to do something himself. His arthritic librarian hands (for he was the owner of a bookshop/for he had bad arthritis) and baggy muscles together straining to rearrange one pipe after another until finally after four hours of work damning vain sweat: the whole vain thing was giving him a headache: the fatigue of his body and the soreness of his joints—and the bookkeeper hands barely able to move—all hilariously spent—and he finally preferring the suave and shady chaise lounge to the sunpale concrete and pungency of the chlorine.

George looked grim. In his old mind he felt something push. Some obscurity—some kind of obscure bubbling in the swamp. A last croak of perhaps testosterone withering out like an agate in marble. failure infiltrated his old mind like a gas. The pipe continued to roar.

“I took action though. That is what counts.” This being the weak-kneed voice of George.

“Let me call a professional.” This being Eleanor, who sat down elegantly and lovingly next to her husband and stroked the patchy tuft of grey hairs atop his wide, blatant skull.

“Oh, dear.” She said.

. . . . . .

B.’s senses sharpened too much and B’s weight in step or body lifted suddenly and the sun seemed to protrude and boil his courage up but still he moved down the road and he popped and fumed in the heat.

On he walked though and the sun protruded further against B.’s tight-woven blazer and pressed pants—giving an edge to everything B. looked upon—giving an edge to even the asphalt B. walked on.

And he stopped and stood outside of his home, once again—for the first time, in a long time. There was a strong, solar heat swooping and burning him out and it swooped wildly up B’s socks and evilly drifted about the clamp of B’s collar and his tie was a noose.

And…it exposed as well those familiar and ignorant lilies, sitting blithe on the front step. The windows, he felt, and the door itself all positioned as one fantastic and ignorant face, waxing welcomes like those lilies. With lips whitewashed and pollenyellow tongues, they chanted, over and over chanted:

“Welcome, welcome, welcome.”

. . . . . .

“Goddammit, that’s the door.”

George had let Eleanor get him a cup of tea but she always made it too hot and so it sat there on the living room table, sifting off its English Breakfast warmth in curlicue tones. George sat upright on an old couch on which the cushions had begun to deflate and with his wasted spindles against an afghan cloth and white eyebrows curling not unlike the warmth from the tea, George looked like a very wise, very blunt old cricket.

“George, don’t you get up! I will get the door; rest your head; please, just rest.”

Eleanor walked from the kitchen to the door and had some swiftness, some orderly bounce about her that implied a certain list of expected ringers: Nancy Charles for her math homework help or Don Drieser for the polish back or that old war veteran George knew…what was his name…

“Nancy, I don’t know about today—” And Eleanor opened the door and saw, standing gaunt and fearful under the suburban summer, B.

. . . . . .

Looking upon him, George and Eleanor saw B.’s postwar form, which was not so different than before: B. Softness was a short man, but his arms were long and when his arms bent, the intricacies of bone shifted mechanically under a timid layer of skin—but his hands were not timid. They were pale and a bit too hairy; they worked with a natural and studious grace that suggested someone more understanding and wise. When he stood, his arms hung languidly, and his hands both drooped downwards, like long snakes.

To describe the thick insecurities of this family one would have to look at what was not said. It is with silence that thoughts are procured, that people are measured—it is with silence that strategies are made. Eleanor Softness—then fixed upon her son, had little to say but: “Oh.”

Now evidently there was much going on between them and much that wasn’t said. Eleanor had said what she had said while still believing that a general acquaintance stood before her. Too distracted by the mechanisms curiously at work in her head to change the tone of her voice.

So. She said—‘oh’—and,

upon witnessing for the first time in a long time the face of his son, George Softness quickly picked up his tea and gulped, burning both hands and lips in the process.

But Eleanor, then, seemed to suddenly realize B. had been there. Eleanor’s plasticity in smile and feature faded as quickly as George had almost burnt his lips:

“Come in, B.…”

“I’m going to get some more of that tea.”

George got up for a refill of that tea but his mug was already full and Eleanor did not seem to let B. pass.

“Come in,” Eleanor said, still standing, meekly, in the way.

So B. came in—

. . . . . .

The odor itself held in it something sickeningly familiar. The familiarity of home stank like rotten meat. It was the smell of an age: a violent age: a long-ago, long-dead sense in him. It cheapened with years, unlike wine it grew rotten.

But, it had a sort of revolting antiquity, sort of the inverse of wine, cloying and needy with apology: the smell apologized for itself: B. Softness was angered by the smell because of that: the smell did not deserve to apologize. And the memories. Memories boiling in the humidity of the smell; memories amputated like an arm from B. Softness’ mind.

He held his breath when coming in out of some inchoateness that quickly lost meaning. B. Softness laughed like a wretch but it came out like something warm. He wondered that he had been gone—for a long time he had been gone—

Looking outside then it seemed about twelve in the afternoon, as the light through the window had a vigor and acuteness only made to a sun in the middle of sky.

B. Softness pulled up a wicker chair and dust erupted off it into the suffocating bay window light. He felt suddenly very allergic to this place. B. Softness sat down to approach George and Eleanor, his eyes were swelling. George and Eleanor sat before him. Their little faces peered at B. Softness with concern.

Someone spoke but no one was sure who it was that spoke.

. . . . . .

“How are things, are things alright? It’s been alright here. I’ve started a few backyard projects. You know, I’ve always wanted to be the type of person who had a green thumb. Tell him what you have done, George…oh, he’s done some truly wonderful things, alright, truly wonderful…George, tell him about the bookshop. George owns his own bookshop, now, B.”

“Oh really? Well—tell me about it, if you would. Of course it’s—”

B. paused and folded his arms pleasantly and did not finish the sentence because he was caught off guard and distracted by something in him that hated the posture of his own folded arms—because it was pleasant—and somehow subordinating.

“Well,” George’s hands felt themselves along the knuckles,

“I’ve worked on this particular business project for over a year now. The store is actually doing quite well.” His hands pressed forward conversationally.

“Oh really? That sounds great. I’m glad you found something that suits your tastes.” B. Softness’ hands coiled around themselves:

George’s hands advanced further then bailed out abruptly and swung around to scratch his chin, then clasped together, as well, secretly mocking B. Softness’ own funnily coiled ones: “What tastes?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Meaningless. Disregard it.” B. Softness wrote the thing off and his hands flapped awkwardly in George’s face:

“No, I want to know what you mean.” George smiled warmly; the hands perching like puffins on his upper thighs, retreating.

“And you, mother. How have you been?” B. Softness pushed his hands together at the palm as if a slice of ham and lettuce and mayonnaise were scrunched in-between the two extremities:

“Oh,” She leaned and glowed and cast a fleeting eye on George, fingers tapping soundlessly on the soft couch. “I’ve just been helping George with his business—”

“And we’ve been getting business from people who’d rather shop in a simple bookstore than a mega-mart.” Said George.

. . . . . .

You see, this old, repeated adage by most regular, level-minded folk who shopped local and talked their agenda and feared their big business was the perfect stopgap to keep George from talking about how it felt when you walked into the store, the first time: the hoary musk of decomposing paper and print: the wealth of ownership in something: a great, goldeny sort of a wealth that straightened George’s tired spine. These things were not so pleasant to B., thought George, he would not be interested; he would not understand. He’d just think I was talking about myself too much…well, damn it, I’m old! So what? I deserve to talk about myself—

—There was a spatial pause that breathed deeply.

“Well, it’s nice that you’re back, now, for now…” George smiled broadly and said this. The smile reeked of distance.

B. Softness—pulled up his tie—to try to look nice—

“Well it’s nice to be back—you know, for a little while.” B. Softness emphasized the last words. He felt a refreshing release of hatred when doing this but after that a sadness, and a disgust; like he would visit then go away forever. Like he meant no harm.

. . . . . .

His hands seemed to balance themselves in the air and his thumb counted each smooth fingernail; George’s pounced back out at B. and lightly tapped the bulb of B.’s knee as George moved and shifted; Eleanor’s launched like firecrackers over everyone when Eleanor stretched her entire body and moved her arms straight up.

Then, everyone’s hands fell, furtively, to nowhere in particular.

. . . . . .

Eleanor Softness was stealing looks at her husband. And George stole looks at her: the eyes asking each other, nervously, relentlessly: “What does he want?” And, yet, Eleanor, preening each vowel:

“Why don’t you stay for dinner, B.? We’d love to have you stay for dinner.”

Eleanor Softness also reeked of distance smilewise yet B. noted a dip of the head—a subtle, subtle widening of the eyes—that suggested truth. George, though, looked at Eleanor, gripped his tea handle, coughed gruffly:

“Yes. Yes. Why don’t you stay for dinner?” said George, wavering. And,

yet, George sharpened, and said: “And…make that tea cooler, next time, Eleanor?”

So B. stayed for dinner—

. . . . . .

When George and Eleanor had a chance to leave the living room they hurried to the kitchen and stood, in silence. Turning over the situation.

“George…B.’s back.” Eleanor had very wide blue eyes and when she said this they stuck out like vast, opulent pools, as if she were begging for something, and George could not tell whether she was afraid or confused. George thought: Eleanor usually always seemed so reserved, so willing to please George, so agreeable, to him. Throughout the string of their lives together, Eleanor and George had always been close, always a team. But he could tell sometimes that her female clemency would push her away from any of George’s more vigorously brutal preferences. Eleanor would still be in her supporting way and, and, and yet George detected beneath the oddly imperial sand of her thought a foreknowledge that whatever brutal preference it was that George had at the time, it wouldn’t succeed. This applied to their plan to put their rival bookstore, ********, out of business; this applied to George buying a gun. These objectives settled relatively around the house—picked up off the floor, and dusted off, and put back down, sweetly. George still had no gun, did not know what type to buy, did not bother looking. And Eleanor continued to support the vacuum of these endeavors with a nod.

George’s eyes were muddled from age but were still a nice baby blue. B. Softness always thought it strange how a cold man like him could have such soft, forgiving eyes.

But George was the old, stinking madman…the crotchety father, whatnot…just wanting a little peace and some books to tide him over…even if his eyes were muddled he saw that Eleanor seemed more distracted than usual and confused her mixed feelings with aloofness and thought that she probably realized B. Softness wanted something out of them. Something that was hard to draw out, forget about it. Money was tight, and emotional timeslots a commodity.—

As that day went on B. Softness would look into his parents’ eyes and would feel in them the same hot glare of the old man from the train.

“He wants something. I know that!” George tensed and thought of how to approach his son. He’d always been angry, that boy. Not angry, just difficult. What kind of difficulty? George couldn’t place it. Every instance he could think of had its own flavor of anxiety. They took him out, didn’t they? But B. wouldn’t have it. So they let him stay home, and he became anxious. He complained all the time—that was B.’s definitive accessory, his wiseass, dissatisfied, mouth.

And he talked and George listened. And soon enough George got tired of listening; I mean, energy isn’t something you just snatch from a fucking tree, he thought. He needed time for himself, and B. refused to accept that. Simply put. And

they talked, to an extent, George thought…but him, George…friends? That wasn’t how it was with his old man, George thought.

What really got George angry was the fact that he always meant well with B., loved him, to whatever extent he could. But B. didn’t…well. He didn’t do something. And it had to be something more than his own strained fatherhood. It was more than a problem of acceptance, George knew that.

“Fah,” said George declaratively. It was as if Eleanor, nor anyone else, in that moment, were a presence enough for George to bother with making sense of his narrative, for them:

It was something similar to chess, this parenting business. The right words had to be said in order for things to turn out well, the right moves made across the board. But most of all it was a game and it was nothing more than a game…

George felt his own dry pensiveness throbbing in his head like a wound. He thought of life; he thought of B. He thought about the dimensions of parenting, about how many layers there could be regarding this; what it meant to be a parent, to raise a child—while Eleanor spoke mostly through her big worried beautiful calming eyes. And both of these people completely alone.

. . . . . .

B. Softness smiled insanely at his mother and father retreating like startled deer to the kitchen, away from him. Yet for the most part it was unlike deer:

This reaction, or response, to the situation, that is. His own parents once again face to face with B., deciding once again to promptly turn their own faces away, after one desultory attempt at conversation, with him, who was the situation, and really he didn’t want to be.

They, both of them, mother and father, always had to have only the certain disinterested thing to say. Here and there; sometimes a statement of poorly veiled ire, even nearly hallucinatory ire, at, well, uh, this sudden arrival of their boy no less,—and an excruciating disturbance for them it must be!—And which however much it was an arrival inspiring panic, and skittishness, and other deerlike hallmarks,—was a response made by his family, in execution, quite unlike the graces and finesse of deer.

His presence, which was the presence of their offspring, it did not quite stiffen them up so much into the state of vigilance his parents, his approaching elderly, filial links to the World, must have desired—persuaded of that same murthering skittishness—the way a deer might stiffen demeanor at a loud noise. Or at least they did not seem to stiffen more at the moment. So then at least there was no more to what they had stiffened themselves into, so far, over the years. Just for him.

Like the way a few deer’s necks get upright when they freeze at a threat, somewhere to be traced in the unknowable distance. And so let the imagery end, B. thought.

A few deer that stiffen and perk up at the sound of a gun, a hind still in the hunter’s sights and the cacophony of his missed target still ringing in the woods.—

Wherever woods of a soul in the family, maybe just latent, that there might be, here, in his old home, to brave through to get to, yikes:

And would I only find more of the pain of this scenario? They are this situation, this metaphor, this clutter, thought B., eyeing some fake flowers and doilies on a cheap table in lieu of the hip new coffeetable book nobody will even pretend to have read, but which at least would have been there to give the impression of literate people. Not cute doilypeople.

No it is not so much a finesse as that, as the stillness of deer, but more it is them bleating to themselves, bleating like sheep led forth, down into the valley of fucking death, by something named spite, possibly, B. thought.

To find their shepherd they go bleating of all the dumb anxieties and testimonies and beefs and contrite hosannas, about him, he had heard from them, his parents, before, at one time or another, during his adolescence…

I am through no will of my own the hunter of them, thought B.

B. supposed he was expected to pick up on the reason for all this melodrama, which he did, and see behind it a sort of validated importance regarding how very full of gravity, earthshaking, lifechanging, his appearance at their front door was.

Why had he come back? he heard them whisper, just loud enough to imply their wanting him to hear:

And his father, leaning against the counter, slouching: the wellfed sphere, the pooch, of his old usual consuming gut: both of them, mother and father, speaking but with looks that whispered. And both, in B.’s blue eyes, wringing conspiratorial hands, sweating out some plan to get him out, to leave.

B. Softness smiled, chuckled. He was barely able to keep from letting out a big laugh, an awkward, sizable laugh—he struck by their obvious discomfiture. It is over this untimely arrival of his no doubt, not what to make for dinner like she is saying. Oh, these blatant parents, and their discontent, discomfiture; and their blatant discontent they do not even know they let me see, B. thought to himself.

Or discontent at their obviously expressing the discontent, enough for him to know; and so, at this point, if the cat was already out of the bag, their begrudging increasing of the obviousness, to the point of a shady moment’s very clear obloquy, a string of oaths muttered from George once he got not two steps into the kitchen, and which reverberated publicly throughout the house.

Discontent of which the source must be a literal and emotional parsimony, miserliness; an aloofness. At least on his father’s side. As if just even wanting to connect took cash only.

Yeah. A laugh. That would have really scared them.

But then again B. Softness he could not resist smiling could not do anything but that. The appearance of being happy was something that had become instinctual, almost an obsession, so that no time was left to actually feel that way.

Like riding a bike. Instinct. It wasn’t long before B. Softness would start smiling, grinning, to put up a front elsewhere—recognizing early on the need to perpetually smile around his parents, in his own house, to connect with them and their lives slightly, their lives free of all drama save the drama of birth: and B. learning to smile at others as he did at them, in such and such a way of obsequious mania, as to appear idiotic nearly. Often he was made fun of as being a vacant mind, a retard, a faggot, a bitch.—

In discovering this tacit forbidding any genuine expressions at all, from him at least, at home, B. knew also, then, of a drastic need to mature. Quickly. On his own. And he worked ever harder throughout his years spent living with his mother and his father to conceal the further indignation of having to camouflage his own discomfort in order to be accepted by these people—these parents—and, so, yes, you see, he grinned, smiled, now—for that same sad reason—

That is, in order to cover up a feeling of globlike frustration that was now thumping out to him the memories of the old, stilted times between him and his mother and his father: times becoming unburied in his skull, like corpses: their definitions may putrefy but with a look at the teeth you can find that frustration, globlike frustration, globlike because something of a fungus had been thriving for so long on these times, these corpses of memory oncelived.

Fucking times; times from the beginning rotten, born rotten; and they would only succeed in getting rottener. But B. Softness had in him like an intimate gong something else that sounded out to him that childhood could be better than it was, for him. Forever he searched his parents for that something extra. But, if he had gone to the dentist, the talk at the dinner table would solely and in scrupulous detail involve his trip to the dentist…if the conversations grew in depth they would extend as always to the far reaches of what was on television; which neighbor or friend had done what to someone else; and, if B. Softness pressed on, his parents would either grab any reason floating in the air to be angry with him or would plain change the subject back to dentistry. And then things would fall back into monotony. So it went for years, and wet, sloppy, globlike time piled on him. And the want…morphed into frustration…

B. Softness at home during the masque that was his childhood would have nightmares in which, upon leaving the table and going out of earshot, George & Eleanor would speak of their feelings and dreams in secrecy.

. . . . . .

The conversation did not range far. No talk of much else but the T.V. news, or the local news, or the neighborhood something or other. In fact, the whole thing seemed a great slew of banter: a mighty brick wall of bullshit stood proudly on the coffee table between B. and his mother and father: George Softness built his bricks, built them readily, proudly:

Something happened:

Eleanor had just finished cooking, and the audible sizzling had stopped. In the background, one could faintly hear the busted pool pipe, straining,

making its strange, rhythmic gargles—

“I think there’s going to be a fireworks show next week,” George said. “That should be fun. I haven’t seen one of those in awhile.”

“Yes. Fireworks. Yes that should be great. I won’t be around though, unfortunately…I can’t come. I—have to go back.—Overseas—” He finished his tour months ago and didn’t even know when he’d go back.

B. Softness thought glumly that the time had come to finish his visit. After dinner, he would leave. He would say goodbye, and leave. But none of it would matter. He forced himself to think that this entirely futile operation wouldn’t matter so it wouldn’t matter to him.

B. Softness smiled and clenched his bones. He was angry. Eleanor came out of the kitchen. George Softness looked at her expectantly; B. Softness looked at her too, politely, but expecting something else,

some relief from the banter—

“Well…smells good.” Said George. And they all advanced towards the table and Eleanor Softness chuckled a bit—almost said something, haphazardly—

. . . . . .

When B. had entered George & Eleanor’s house the mood had blackened between all so it would be hard for an outsider to discern that Eleanor’s comment came with it an eruption of deeper, stranger blackness. The conversation had become personal. Old questions and problems were brought back. Problems of who was to blame and, and, and for what reason.

B. had thought, vaguely, that those questions would be solved when he joined the army. It seemed at the time like a period of closure for him—a period in which he’d regained a stability long misplaced—

—this would seem sensible to anyone who saw B. before he went off. It seemed as though he were struggling against the turning of the Earth—all the time—

George coughed awkwardly

. . . . . .

B. recalled proudly his years in the military. The places he’d seen in the MARINES. Mostly, the people he’d met.

It was there he had changed. He had become his own man. He had learned to hold a gun; had wished more and more to become the gun he held.

Had fumed over this and had to do this…had fumed, and fumed; then learned to control his head enough to rise through the ranks, and became elite, yet somehow did not attain peace from this, and from this learned that peace was not a matter of control but of letting go.

Yet, he could not start over, impossible, from when nothing had yet called for his attachment. Much less if it were something of an accomplishment he was attached to in the first place he’d have to get rid of, just for some cruddy theoretical enlightenment.

And so he did the other thing, eventually. He became his gun, that is: accurate, quick, efficient. Such violent persistence…so sad.

. . . . . .

Then, he aimed himself at his estranged relationships, in the confidence he also would not stray. But there were darker things—as well—things more primal, more guttural: things that roiled out of B. a distinctive, guttural anguish: a very private and specific overexposure that only he could know: though what exactly he was exposed to he could not know.

A psychologist might have fastened him under the broad umbrella of what is known as trauma, where so many others in the army profession are fastened, like shrapnel to thigh. But, B. would have found that answer too broad for his liking. In his mind and maybe or maybe not in all others, what he had wasn’t common enough for any sort of backwards notion like that. Like shellshock. Shellshock? Call it shellshocked by life. But it was too horribly mutated to be called any one, or two, or three sorts of pathology alone.

That is to say it is too ugly to be resolved in just examining the psyche: and all of that might as well be just this ugly jetsam to be sucked through a busted drain, B. thought, somewhere in all this, to himself.

. . . . . .

And there were busted things in his family that were unnamed and that were dark too because the more they were refused the more indignant they became. In the eyes of B. the root of what it was that was a virulent numbing power over his life he now realized lay planted in who his parents were, and are:

And he looked at his parents then. And his parents looked back at him, with eyes of disgust and horrible loathing, to him.—

All this B. thought. He thought: My dear mother: my dear, dear mother. She wants to know all the little fucking details. Now she does. Now that I’d almost died. All and every bit—of the brutality—and seemingly as extraneous, as wasteful—all this turmoil in my head about it too?

Too late, Mom. At least George doesn’t play like I exist. Too late ha fine time to ask

. . . . . .

“Fine time to ask,” He murmured.

Anger sprang up from nothing it seemed to B. because anger was always there but he never used it—even in combat—he never used it, instead glazed himself over with that very impersonal, clinical virtuosity given him as inheritance by parents who for so long and in that same way of distance had attenuated his own resolve and had with the damage done weakened to nothing his own soul. To nothing: by now, probably to be observed by him as a gray and still-waning pallor in his chest: utterly faceless and so then unidentifiable; seemingly comprised of phlegm.

And yet B. withheld from lashing out at his mother. Poor woman. The damage was done too long ago—had always been there. Blinded by anger and frustration, B. promptly and without warning forgot all his years in the military, every minute’s recollecting, even, that he had spent in the military. Forgot everything up till the moment he walked through the door into his parents’ home.

—B.’s mouth opened slowly—

A trespassing numbness tip-toed, further through his limbs, but from some crucial beginning, some placeless core to himself, this time, in himself, not anyone else; the numbness did not make him feel in himself placeless—at first it jimmied the figurative lock on the figurative door, but it could get no peace open—so the numbness opened up the belly of his brain to some other, new Cosmos, and he felt like the numbness was really God performing a caesarian section for his child to be given him one way or the other, so as to consummate the birth of a life that would be his, but him as his own son, and along with that himself as he had known himself to be at that placeless core. Two years, three years, four years—a hunk of fat cut from him and left to die bizarrely and unrequited. But that did not matter. The cost did not matter. It was a massive artery that had been redirected to where his mind did not toil; there slept the memories of what he tried and could not requite, and now that there was no need to requite, the memories of warfare were useless. All this was told him by God. He could feel and hear the blood pump through the artery but could not see fathoms to where the artery led, and when he tried to find his friends he had in combat through a vascular hole found nothing because his soul could not fit. His soul in all its wilderness and woods.

And, and, and B. closed his eyes and put his long hairy hands to his long hairless face, the face of one who is deranged by the sweetness and obscene frailty in letting go.

. . . . . .

Why can’t I remember? He thought

. . . . . .

B. thumbed through each artery in his mind and pulled out the very heart of his mind if only just to find one single memory of any moment of his past. Any date on the calendar, anything recent at all besides erasure, before this afternoon.

It were as if the things he did—that is, any scene onstage to himself, on his own, excluding the bouts of soliloquy he had crafted in a minutest silence, before the eyes of his parents today, who could not say they heard, but for others who are outside of time to hear and read his coded answer, as their own answer—it were as if these things were excluded from his memory in an astonishingly, terrifyingly swift fashion that in its swiftness concluded all.

As if nothing without someone else mattered enough to remember—all of him so sickly trivial—but because he had thought that of himself and made it the reality. Had thought that of himself for so long.

And then to his horror B. saw, erupting, from the opacity of thought, bursting forth through an opening in that mire, the visage of that strange old man, and the old man, watching him—oh those eyes of pulp—and the old man, saying

“I KNOW YOU.”

Like he had on the train, and that—over and over. The words. That sentence, delivered coldly, simply; almost nonplussed. And it was then B. knew what the eyes had meant, the meaning in them was eloquently figured before him in the knots of some other language, but he knew it was for him and all his eloquent soliloquy.

The meaning rang aloud in B.’s head and the ring reminded him of the cry of grenades. The sounds and the feelings of it, combat, were there, almost—but the stories and the soulful touch and consummation of identity, of having an identity, had gone—

. . . . . .

B. was suddenly back on the train except it was him and the old man alone, no single other faceless pedestrian, and the old man looked different, and the old man shuffled towards B. on the train, and his eyes were black abstract whorls that popped and popped and popped in his head.

The abstract whorls writhed in his head as the old man neared the youth. A pair of naked imperfect vibrating spheres. Quickly flashing to and fro. Or perhaps dynamos…made by the vulgar hands of an inventor with either no time to do it right or no understanding of dynamos much less dynamos that will churn the light of my epiphany back living, B. thought.

I see: if that is what they are they are unsuited for the visions they were made to receive, the dynamos, thought B., and have grown depleted and tired: also they seem angered by their wear, wear that took place over time, and angered at the acquired limitations of said mischances. Hence the black bolts of lightning, hence the frustration peeking through muddled means. These are eyes with a pension, thought B.

The vibrating spheres writhed crankily like demons gripped by some scorching, wreathing pain,—they rolled and writhed in the old man’s hollow, shriveled head, like beasts set on fire by some almighty sadist. Eyes with black lines of lightning quickly flashing here and there from the sockets outwards, uncontrollably outwards. The old man took B. and shook him and spat out to his face that he had to go. The old hands gripped his young shoulders—wanting, wanting to grip the man—wanting to push B.’s body into itself and crush him. B. convulsed, and, seeing it clearly, with a sensation of beauty so great as to suddenly know himself redeemed—this youth, with the perished blue eyes, opened up his brain, and he found gasping for air there in the center of his brain another, frailer youth: and he knew then for the first time an agonized, insane craving to father a child. It was the only way.—

. . . . . .

He had to have a child: but that came from him, from no one else it would come. A voice distinctly his and yet independent of his. That wasn’t hocked with the phlegm of untouched, filmy life—never any visceral sense, any friction or bickering or that old brutal pursuant called love between him and his mother and his father—just some coagulated pieces of tissue laboring around the house, playing with flowers, books; graying every so often and more and more each time.

He reached out manically for something fresh: an infant born from the little sheltered scraps of beauty still raging around in B.’s belly: the infant, with eyes so clear and blue and clean, writhing deep in the white sheets: wanting everything, absolutely everything in the World and, and, and only concerned with the new.

. . . . . .

He was red right there in the living room.

A kind of ulcerous pain tried to jump up his throat and out, every part of him red and close to collapse however one looks and there ah there and wrenched horribly in B.’s features—wrenched, woven deeply into his features—were the spiritual contortions—the metaphysical knots and disproportions—the hurt twists of blameless injustice or blames not taken for the injustice—the carnages—and—at—the—same time the dusts of what perhaps was his true and very soul. He clutched that face, that heap of contortions: that possible soul. It was his child. He clutched it with his hands and he cradled the odd thing like a child in his arms with hands that had killed other men, themselves children really, and the strings in his hands shot from his own fingers and went back at him like something sent whipping from a single strong gust. His body palpitated as though to a drum. The stitches in his neck projected outwards to their limits.

His soul would creep out when he opened his jaw and screamed. Blinded and wheezing and crying, barely alive and drowning in its own primordial ectoplasm—it would creep out. The soul that climbed and climbed up his throat, hoping to be regurgitated.—The sweat inched down B.’s neck in the effort—yet it was overall that strange old paranormal from the train who said—that said

“I KNOW YOU.”

He screamed, and all the breaths in the World went into his body as he screamed again

. . . . . .

George said loud and haggard shaking off the afghan cloth he had been wearing:

“What’s the matter with you, B.?”

George said the name with an attempt at authority.

“B.”

George didn’t know what to do. So he said:

“Do you have to leave?”

George pointed a cantankerous finger to the door.—

There was a tin of nuts on the table and as George got more flustered he ate more and more of them and they crunched and growled terrifically in his mouth. George seemed more frantic suddenly; more scared. His old eyes were those that were weary of surprises.

Eleanor had been watching quietly and sat closer to George when she came back from the kitchen. The moments went by. B. looped himself over himself, on the wicker chair that he sat on. Looping himself over himself, over and over.

George & Eleanor—watched him—

. . . . . .

And…then, B. stopped. There was a calm among them; the calm hissed. The hiss carried and vegetated around them. It spoke fruitlessly into the minds of Eleanor & George.

B. opened his eyes. Eleanor & George were staring intensely at him.

“You’re right, Dad,” B. said—now knowing he had lost.

“This was supposed to be a short trip. I just came to pick something—up.”

B. had not come to pick something up.

. . . . . .

“Come, everyone. Let’s get to the table now.” Said Eleanor, hurriedly. Her hands shook as she set the table.

. . . . . .

It had to be around two in the afternoon. B. Softness would be leaving soon.

B. and George both stooped over their plates and cast long shadows across the table as they did so. The shadows themselves mixed together in a formless shade. B. looked at what was on his plate—saw how unwelcoming it was: the carelessness of the meat—the meager helping of potatoes—the low quality plate. All devoid of comfort. B. loosened his tie. The time for change was over.

“This was always a nice table. Good. Built pretty well. It’s the cherrywood one, from when I was little? I see the little dents in its surface from when I banged spoons into it. I guess I was, uh, still learning how to use silverware.” B. Softness said this, attempting good humor, and began performing surgery on his chicken. “Oh—yes. Yes, I don’t quite remember that. With you being out so long.—” George said, as though B. had been out at a grocery store at the very farthest point on Earth from there, buying a jug of milk, for all these years.—“Ahem,” Said George.—He glanced over at B., weighing him, waiting for a response, but, none came,

only a sigh, a sigh—soft and it is broken.

. . . . . .

B. said:

“I should get off then, shouldn’t I? I’ve already taken enough advantage of your hospitality. Ha ha. I’ll see you soon. I love you. Yeah. Bye.” He was burning inside.

. . . . . .

George turned to Eleanor for a supportive nod yet received none. He laughed. Eleanor instead looked quite sad. George continued eating and believed that the visit had gone quite well. He had maintained the situation and been friendly to B. He looked upon the whole day as a success. He did not measure the situation frame by frame because each frame was bad but equaled out to something good because B. had gone but would probably come back wanting something else. Everything went perfectly. Except for the end part, of course—an irksome hiccup in George’s life that he would never quite understand.

But George found himself suddenly trapped in reminding himself of the hiccup and more hiccups throughout the day became visible and then suddenly these lifted feelings of his plummeted into the ugly fencing of his old and present life and it was like something thrown in the air and coming down. The cosmos of his own before and ever after coming down. The psychic residue of the before: things strange enough to remember: like jaunts into emotions unrelated to the event: like some leathery depression slinking into him while on vacation sharing beach chairs with his wife, by the sea, during a trip to some anonymous, though florid, isthmus.

Or, bizarre happiness while driving to the pharmacy to fill his prescriptions, which he hated doing.

Or even nausea and disgust at the chipper, repetitive greeting to him by his neighbor across the way. The chipper wave of Mike’s hand that came surely with the day, as would all other natures of the diurnal World—and it irritated George because Mike was not diurnal like the World was and so then he should not try to be with his greeting, and whatnot; and all of it mysterious like that and lacking form: the bookstore and getting angry at bookmarks in the antiques, ruining the page—I paid a fortune for this. And Eleanor with one tooth in her mouth now dark with general rot. And George seeing the whorls on his knuckles developing like wee caverns of flesh and age.

George said and his eyes were looking at blurs

“Gravity.”

Gravity. The short buoyancy of it. The small annuity of an object to be afloat in the air as though supported firmly—then, down to the ground it goes—descending without meaning or specificity and meeting the cogent argument of that ground: which is greenery, and sunken pelts and the excrement of all things made same. Were these random blots of feeling nothing more than the chemical omens of a longbeen mind? Were they not this?

Were they, instead, the ludicrous discord of something welled in George’s head; the argots of a hidden canker in George’s life, given speech to their shadow by sometimes pulling apart the platelets of his ego…to get him to feel the difference in having his son or wife or soul?

At that point B. had gone and Eleanor was washing the dishes and was in a trance of thought in which she thought keenly, and realized this:

That boy came from me.

. . . . . .

B. Softness would not try again with his mother and father.

He was on a train from his parents and he thought about why he had gone back to see his parents in the first place. Thinking of it carefully for over an hour gave him nothing, and B. realized that maybe it didn’t have an answer. At first, it seemed like it had to be done. But nothing had come of the trip, and B. felt fine.

Besides of course, the mysterious disappearance of his life from his memory. He racked his brains to recollect any of it—there were no faces to remember—no tragedies to linger on—just the pungent feeling of all kinds of death.—

B. believed, however, that it was better to not dwell on these things, death; to not truly understand one’s parents was relatively normal in this society.

Parents did not really matter when it came to those big things: the relationship he had with his mother and his father did not end up gnarling, worsening, B.’s sensibility; relationships do not, should not really be able to break apart that necessitous probity of the necessitous brain, that reasoning will of his brain, to create ambition, idea, action—the thoughts, the figuring, the memories, the feelings, instinct—should all really be able to stay in their own ganglion of nerves and fat without altering themselves, deviating to ugliness. B.’s mind, to him, was never anything more or less than what he made of it. As for parents, well…it was just a hard bump that everyone passed over just fine, as long as they tried…

In fact, there was something endearing about his parents’ fear of him, endearing because it was the one defining example of who they were; it was the one characteristic, the one reaction to him that appeared and reappeared without fail; something they shared, together, in his presence—something, that they shared.—

. . . . . .

Yet, B. did, and would, feel himself grow older, and wearier, as he grew farther away from his own parents.

Oh George & Eleanor. And—maybe I’ll be just like that old guy from the train…B. first thought this a joke, and smiled to himself as he thought it.

But the more it stayed in his mind the more he ruminated on what it was exactly that the old man had wanted. Sure he had uncovered his own psychedelic meaning for it, but why was that meaning what it was? And why so baffling? Was he just a conduit I was using for my own alienated cognitive plan? Did he not even want anything; what was it he had wanted? Thought B.

And was he even real, and if so, which one was the real, or more real, one, the one in my head or the one I saw on the train, in person, earlier today? Am I going mad?

He wished passionately to know—to at least understand someone besides himself—to connect however blindly to other wayward people, ones with a past they can remember. Ha, thought B. distantly, knowing he’d forget it, being always the flake when it came to his mental health: Ha, I should see a neurologist.

Then, he started relating himself to the actual stranger he saw, or thought he saw, in real life, on the train, earlier that day, and the old man, too, seemed a presence once again,—though not visible this time: come to consciously share something like a secret with him: the way he had with the old man, perhaps without that strange person, in reality, ever knowing, probably.

The way he had mistaken him for someone obviously close: he obviously was able to see something positive like that in B., some friendly cosmetic in B.’s face that made him one of the World. Such unapologetic brotherhood most likely prompted me to freak out like I did at the house. I…I just couldn’t take it. But B. caught himself. This did not suit him, no, not very well at all—no matter what else he said or he thought. So, instead, he dismissed it—and watched the upstate country pass before him, and thought of the times to come.

The unction of the train chugged off on the tracks like a martyr. Sunlight wimpled out across the windows of the train and made B. squint. The sunlight eventually disintegrated like crumbs into the chaff of the evening.

He looked out at the fugitive corners of light against the trees and as night came the cars on the highway shone like traveling eyes through the darkness.

And B. closed his eyes to sleep and found no sleep and found he saw only the old man from the train. The old man stood like a magus on the planks of the head of the youth. B. made the old man’s eyes green because it was more pleasant that way; more pleasant than brown eyes—the brownness of reflection tormented by vagueness, or as though concealing some inner judgment or doubt.

The green eyes brewed knowingly in the old man’s head. B. craved an answer from the old man—an answer to rebuke, or something, some concept, to destroy.

B. made the old man say something with B.’s own words: his image merely a vessel to speak the sane and caged eloquence of the blue youth and the venerable greatness in him finally dusting itself off, and the words less embarrassed in their saying: and the old green eyes penetrating nonetheless, as the old man said:

. . . . . .

“There are no such absolute terms for the little universe that is family. But why must we be so muddled, when it comes to those we love? Why must an answer be so expository, when the rest of anything else is written off with concretions, and facts heavier and harder than brick?

“An answer can be found in this example: a rock is a rock—a concretion, to the brickhead—is something else to the geologist. A fountain is a fountain to the brickhead, something more to the aesthete or architect. Yet geologists, architects, are specialists to special things; we are each the specialist regarding this thing of commonness called family. This is why it is something more than concrete.

“Specialists run rampant in this World. Everywhere is more information to whet the blade of the brain. Nothing is concrete, really. What it comes down to is that there is nothing of substance to rely on, merely an edgeless reasoning bobbing up and down on a sea of additional aspects: all visible only beneath the surface: aspects known only to the people who wish to dive infinitely into them.”

The old man then darkened himself:

“One learns that the facts arrive later—ironically, with the death of a family member comes the requirement for a simpler answer to manifest itself. A sudden necessity for reassuring order and finite means and ends. At the funeral, the anecdotes are told as though they were the man: the neat and acceptable subject matter and endearingly sad stories of closeness altogether pull the past—the past of the deceased—into a dramaturgy.

“Even the faults are hilariously overblown; which, before, had been scrutinized past the point of obsession and argued over. Overblown to make the negative seem piddling. Seem charming and okay. It is a way to sum all the multitudinous reels of terms into one sensible and orderly explanation for death. One absolute term. Parents were children looking up once, just as their children will be aging men looking down, free of their parents’ ghost. Leaving them behind. At their death…”

B. thought of his Father’s death.

B. felt the sensation of death creep across his body once more when the train he was on jarred and derailed as it hit a red car that had been idling on the tracks.




































 

 

man weeping

[All the fragments walk to jobs where they are paid to be fragments. Their shoulders bend obsequiously away from the morning, jettisoned by force to various altars. Their eyes muse elsewhere, somewhere perhaps less religious, more humane. But then, I only obsess over the dreams of my own eyes enough to perceive a westward direction. The fragments’ pink, sinewy lips weave stories or remain chapped in silence. In both cases this is for individual benefit. The words in curls of talk mingle sometimes with the acrid smoke curling from sewage-grates, fanned away by the odd hat.

Garbage and exhaust griming the façades of buildings and innumerable particles of skin are all a part of the dirt that is a dust almost moisture, something vulgarly nameless in it indicating growth, billowing out upon the unlovely impact of one hurled hefty trashbag by men who don’t care anymore into a mass grave of hefty trashbags in the back of a dumptruck with fetid stink. The CITY air is diseased. The dust is swept into the street and from there has no where else to go but into my lungs. The dirt hidden in the air and piling up as we breathe, thriving in shapely sinews between our teeth, passing through our sinewy, chapped, chaste lips. Other limbs, blotted from view by other fragments, and those fragments squarely blotted by others. Hundreds of fragments squeezed like rotten sardines improperly-sealed, the source of this perhaps in a factory malfunction. somewhere in the depths of assembly line another snoozing on the sealant. onto the street and walking on top of each other and together shaking the Earth, melding together all their half-selves into a great two-faced laughing half-living giant Penumbra!–they do not notice, and their hands rustling together and off like a flock of birds, and our big, fat WORLD does not notice what I know that day, and I and I only notice with fear the space inching, inching yet again into the morning, inching like a spider, a lethal spider; that is spidering on slowly, on through the line, with its eight hairy legs; that keeps me itching things that don’t itch in the first place. Except sometimes I really have to itch myself and I feel like a faker if the itches prior to that one weren’t real. Like I don’t deserve to have a real itch: like I should only itch when I need to hide and any other time would be to disregard the rules of my life. But I have come to know by now that people do not care about the rules of my life, they pay more attention to that insufferable thing, that–thing, for there in full pursuit, in all of us, was a space of unutterable nothingness, itself suspended in a different, further nothingness, a space of intensity that rung in my ears that was yearning itself be filled, yearning, crying, every day, always somewhere sensed as we walked up and down on the flat, chary pavement of our streets.

I think of the gack and tar, straying in puddles throughout, in collapsed potholes, other such areas.

I scratch my nose and there is no itch in it when I do this. Thing is I feel like a faker if I have to do this silly fake thing just so people won’t look at me in a strange way.

But anyway

The swine in suits now, they are a race now, a curlytailed, whole simulacrum, doling out to the WORLD their sentiments of your inferiority, throwing around their weight, their nervy overstressed superiority and general chauvinistic self-regard, like a race now—swine power—and the swine in their suits, waiting at the BUSSTOP.

They are dirty like chewed gum and spit together flattened on the pavement. The spine of tire imprints scuffing the tracks of the loafers and boots and sneakers and the socks within them to cover the feet of untranquil bodies, and themselves, swaying as if hung aloft by a string, waiting for the coming bus.

All huddled from the pain of wind beneath a small black shelter made and pelted by the CITY over-dramas, the old ones over with, the new ones as well, over with, whatever daily creeps in, any weeping reprobate as can find outlet. I hate them though, The Over-Dramas. Dramas! All of anything that communicates the humanity of another I despise, because it is a lie.

What a stop: this damned drab spot. Cracked, with red sanctuaries of rust here and there. A BUSSTOP made and pelted by the CITY minds and streets.

People in suits you’d never know and probably wouldn’t understand, standing so close you can see their Pimples and Pores and whatnot, and their Eyes aching. Where people huddled, away from themselves, most crucially themselves, they clutching to some still-quiescent reserve, like the way the staples hang off their skin. Well not their skin.–

Other skin, thicker skin stretched over the bubble of every person’s real face and to which it all was stapled in a strange bubble formation. But sometimes the bubble gets hot and boils under the skin, you know, putting pressure on the staples, and the bubble hisses the blood and bones and gack through truant veins, gack that come out through the rips and tear apart your body like a doll. But that is only done if you are too long in hiding. When you hide your face under your skin for too long.

I may sound insane, I’m not insane.]

The Wind blows more than ever that day like a vacuum that tries to suck up everything so it can know everything, and yet it is sultry, it is heeding winter. Cold all the same. Made colder when distilled by the passage of day to dark. You should know I hate the dark as much as I hate the wind. On cold nights I awake to the fearful darkness. The stately Roman edges of the buildings of our CITY are manicured by the wind.

Our CITY’s extensive industrial plateau lets free the gusts like an animal formerly chained. The gusts trim aborted newspapers from the streets, meandering like snips of hair down, to collect on your barber’s floor.

The caved cement valleys between buildings that to some are alleyways are to me valleys, not alleyways, and the buildings, themselves, sooty mountains. The valleys are humid fissures between buildings knocked into our CITY like dents. They construe the drafts within our lungs. The drafts whirl past us and daftly: anointing with its rage the valleys not alleyways, and within any sound human, and sound human; and inflate the shirts hanging out to dry like a fat human.

And, the entire theater of our CITY pushing as a clock into service, the prolix of everything pushing pinion to pinion, I view it all: and the mountains that are buildings, and the humid valleys, not alleyways, between the mountains so fat and woebegone, and yet at the same time it is all so genius, so sprawlingly efficient.

My window, a wide perfunctory face, huffs itself with steam and cold. Stubbles of frost had ameliorated around the frame overnight. I awaken to the sound of my windowpanes being thrashed by the wind. I watch them seize like a muscle flexing, then droop down again as the wind departs. Then flex, and droop, and on the whole throb rancorously, which made sense, for in my dreams [for I was sleeping] there had assimilated the inaccurate vision of a bloated heart, and only that, straining and beating with the panes: so let us say I dream that and do not see the glass squares, plastering loudly against their wooden frames, pleading for support, but rather see the beat, and the beat of my heart.

To this racket I awaken: a low thud against that last cuff of dreams, that last mist before waking so many people are able to get through then wake up from, from the mist, to all this that grows around me. I sensed it had rebelled off the thickness of my skull as I slept, and now, or soon, it rebels again, and again, off the thickness of my skull, that day; another spread of wind, like you know, maybe, like jam, spread like a thick, sticky jam of the wind, in fierce little haste to release its horde of jam-filled locusts: yes: they are locusts and they are all over my poor window, they are rapping upon my sticky skull: both almost become unhinged, and thereupon I wake up.

My feet would be cold when I put them to the wood I think and the air around me and the frosty window is cold I think so I hold my breath. I clench my buttocks and I put my feet down to the wood. After that, I go to the window. I feel the window as I fix the hinges. The window is sultry, burning, boiling. The wind is what I will continue to remember,

but, you know, the important things happened before the day happened, before I got up even, and got to work late. But, the waking smell,

it was the dry smell of wind and of morning. That smell of dormant air soon freshened by morning, likewise the daily morning rot in the mouth decides not to be there, that day, I smell my breath and it is oddly fresh. Like God is getting me fluffed for the performance to come.

God is getting me ready for something big I think.

I have come to know my life as profoundly sculpted by that day. A singular cross and hedge of time that proved and disproved every thought I’ve ever had about life. All of it was like being in a movie: because I judge my days on how I first feel the rest of that restive day felt movie-like, like a lapse had occurred in the space-time continuum, and the events of that day were handed over to some nebulous yawn of the universe, to be played and copied over and over secretly by God only, until that one day our CITY by incalculable chance netted a copy and played it: the frayed unfocused effigy dripping out my eyes like glue, because it stuck with me: ha: get it: sticky: that day:

Yet as that day was played out what should have happened was played out in my eyes, and they overlapped and clashed against themselves, what could have happened and what did happen; and it makes me think it all could have gone differently had I decided not to be a nut. [WEEPS INSIDE]

The situation that day yielded an unsteady marker in all cases but was especially anxious, I sensed, to unfold any passing doubt anywhere exactly that the humanity of things be located, but that humanity my thoughts entreaty, that is: an idea which seemed to fluctuate with the weather that day, between human and inhuman, because the wind was strangely warm and things around it were cold, except for the window.

The strangeness of it all was probably God trying to show me the first of the contradictions of that day, and the hot humid air weighing everything down, but the objects, they are sinister and cold to the touch. Not cool capricious wind but a hot-blooded dog blowing up the skirts of our CITY, tapping hats off bald heads, overall not doing anything but fattening the air with high humid larks, while everything else, while the bronze balls of my bedpost of my bed remain cold enough to burn.

And my soul sways like my bedpost when I toss in sleep.

I’ll explain it best I can if I can’t explain it best.

I have toast. Eggs with ketchup. Etc. I have to go to the bathroom and after I urinate I try to spit into the toilet-water. My phlegm drops onto the seat of the toilet instead so I lick the mass off the seat and spit it into the sink and turn the sink on to rinse the disgusting thing down the drain and when I come back to the table my breakfast is cold.

Lately The Wind has been trying to turn my apartment into icebox.

It somehow worms itself through fissures and cracks, shrinking itself briefly from despotism. As in, Wind felling the frequent pulses of our CITY. As in, the king of the air. Graying the tinctures though the king is colorless. So far this powerful force only manages and dwindles. Cachoos that lightly conquer the moment in my place and do nothing more. They twirl around a bit then fall flat. Oh wind you limy hop-footed scavenger, you bully, you make due with small fissures and cracks happening about my house, just to freeze my eggs.

‘It would be cold,’ I had thought. I would be fine I tell myself. ‘I am rational now,’ I had thought. I remember saying to the nothing of my kitchen that I was ‘rational’ that day, and, nobody, nobody but Wind, whistling, elusive and invisible, Dominant; nobody but the curtain lapping, lapping bore audience to that remark. First off, let me apologize. These thoughts are really tedious ones. Wind, Wind, Wind, over and over, I just keep babbling on about it. I promise I won’t talk about it any more. I didn’t really think about it much that day besides the morning, when your senses are most vulnerable and your skin seems thinner, beckoning the pain of things.

This bemused observance in the Wind, I felt, throughout my adventure, this is true; but for the most part the Wind heated eventually to no level more than what would cause an equivocal discomfort I impelled to the back of my mind. I really don’t hold that much weight in my arguments though. Maybe I’m paranoid but I’ve been acting out these crazy sorts of antics. Crazy people never hold that much weight in their arguments, I guess: but back to the antics: it doesn’t seem anything could go any other way. The antics are all I have. I feel like a rook in a chess game. I move from side to side and up and down only: there’s an abyss always deepening every place else besides up and down and side to side.

You’ll see what I mean. I walk out of my apartment and my apartment is a threshold. Something sticks to my heels as I walk out of my apartment, thus out of my life I go. Something sticks to my feet like tar, that sticks them, my feet, to the fused grit concrete SIDEWALK, like we were part of the grit all along. We just pulled out our roots moved around a little and got jobs.

And it causes these unexpected spasms, in my toes, my feet, like vessels pinching.–

I feel the observance I feel the pinch in my feet I close my eyes it pinches and I visualize a contrived lattice of pink bodily nerves in me, squeezing, pinching; I think this, and I wonder if that is what is happening in my body?

I walk down the phallic extension of concrete sidewalk extending outwards, and feel like someone that lives in the sidewalk will grab me by the ankles and pull my feet under the gum and spit dotting the pavement, pull me under where slime flows like chocolate in the sewer and tell me things that I would rather not know.

I arrive at the BUSSTOP. There’s a man in a black suit, waiting, with a distinguishing white shirt against the blackness. The man in a black suit sucks his pores away through a cigarette he’s smoking. It is a breast. he does not hold the cigarette with his fingers but rather toys it about his mouth, as though he were picking his teeth with it, chewing it like food, letting it slide over the thin hammock of his lips and catching the filter between his teeth from time to time.

The cigarette, to me at least, seems to be a form of meditation for the man: as though he were tonguing his mind, with the slow rotation of the cigarette across his mouth.

I watch his stocky shoulders melt into his stocky hands, which will sit together complacently away in his pockets some hopeful moment soon, in the moments following, and the limb used to hold the cigarette quitting its silly estrangement from warmth on this chilly day. For now he smokes. The eyelids loll over his eyes. They look at nothing, looking as though intensely preoccupied with some intensely important nothing-matter.

I watch his lips stretch across to the molars, his teeth characterized by an erratic sneer, by the fleshy parts the lips, the same way a smile characterizes the teeth like a neat white phalanx. Or the way anger grits the teeth into white disorganized realms. If one were to just see the teeth, without the lips, and face, to distinguish emotion; if they were to see the sole unvarnished skull they would see only a wide neutral grin, draped below hollow sockets.

Maybe God made skulls that way because he wanted humanity to be happy all the time.

I lower my head with caution. My eyes are motors. They rotate upwards to watch the man in a black suit.

His enjoyment of the yellow embers. Etc.

I try to crawl surreptitiously into his world, I try so hard I can almost see the specter of a human, when I look at him. This doesn’t happen often. But maybe, I can grind all the pasty relics and shards of his life into something that makes sense to me, not just to him.

But it doesn’t work. Instead I become shallow and I see this man as a novelty. The shards become quaint things to me, weightless and blasé, as if they would sprinkle through the air with one final trademark in a Gust of the Wind.

These people wanting to get somewhere but never really needing, just seeking: to fulfill a chophouse errand to an invisible place I never see but I know it is there. I’m not that crazy. Traveling people have these great looks of almightyfucking focus, like, whatever they’re doing is important to them, and that’s it. Always, and I know, they do it to mock me: because they think I don’t have Purpose like they do.

But they’re not really focused at all. They’re just focused on suckling the teat of the Great Faker even if they don’t know it.

I may sound insane: they’re all in on the joke of the Great Faker and know I’m not and they know I never will be, so I am ostracized simply because I don’t get the joke of the Great Faker.

But I do get the joke of the Great Faker.

It is made to seem like my life is meaningless because it does not ball itself up into the Great Faker’s Almightyfucking Wad of ambition. I see people now laughing in cafés and swigging swigs from their moderately-priced lattes and laughing at me. I have no almighty wad, ball, to give myself I suppose. I’m not insane.

I shouldn’t have come out here they’re all just looking at me.

The Great faker turns you into something hollow like a rotten tree if you don’t have crazy antics like me. Remember what I told you about briefly? Those antics are the only way I know I am well, and with the capacity to avoid the Great Faker at all. Not antics. Routines. Routines that clog up the Space of Suspense in Nothingness, that get you to think you are untouchable. Which is the closest thing to being untouchable. The problem I have is that the WHITECOLLAR serfs of our CITY also seem untouchable, for some reason: subservience appears as a cause of itself, and repeats through the ages, ranking on beyond the best of us, that there be one above them.

The Almightyfucking Focus, I guess, keeps them from focusing on others. Thus they seem untouchable but in reality they have been touched and fucked by the Great Faker like vacant idiot dildos.

The Almighty Focus is a very telling trait of one who has whored himself off to the Great Faker, is chained to the serfdom of the Great Faker.

This Almighty Focus, that others have, and I do not, mocks my routines.

I’m telling you I look everyday on these people. I see their bearded faces, motherless lips. Their clothes, the things that conceal them physically and mentally. Right? But,

I never see into the coils of their parts, their hearts that dangle in their bodies in a canary cage. They conceal them. There’s that word. Conceal. I suppose I had to use that word at some point, but I think it’s often incorrectly defined. Has the Great Faker taken them? I don’t know. [WEEPS INSIDE]

Yeah so what directs the heart? Besides the Great Faker I mean. Nothing directs the heart anymore. My heart’s gone away to live in Vegas off of my alimony. It’s gone. I’m walking with no heart. I’m left here to the excrement swimming like still fish in the waters of the gutters. I cannot take much more of the Great Faker looking over my shoulder. I just want to forget about it all and give in.

Out of the corner of my eye I see the salty spindles of a goatee and high cheekbones and I know it’s the Great Faker, I know it’s him, I turn around and he winks at me, then turns back into another man waiting at the BUSSTOP now. This man has a goatee as well. A less salty one, mind you.–

Then I see the goatee and cheekbones again but it’s only when I blink, after I blink I see the darkness as my eyes close, I see the Great Faker only, I feel like he’s trying to tell me something, and, then, I open my eyes and see our CITY but still his image is impressed all over my eyes, and at the outskirts of every focal point, trying to tell me something or maybe nothing, maybe I just want him to try and explain to me why everyone loves him so much, him and his trademark dark black goatee swaying in the trademark wind. Never really dwell on the Worlds of other people, nope. Except for that one time just now with the smoking man and I was feeling adventurous. Just wait for that good Space of Suspenseful Nothingness to close up. Then, I can go to my job. The space in that line drags on forever, like a line through the sand, displacing all the atomies of the sand, pushing aside all the crumbs of the sand on the white board on everyone’s face, so that the board is all white, that is, until no sand can be seen on the white board, because something that is all one thing can never merge with any other thing; I tell you, push the sand apart, with the stick of the Great Faker, and see that the face has become the soul, indeed, here, in our CITY, the

faces, a white board that tries to push apart the sand, white and empty, and so flawed that the boards have entered a sort of flawlessness accepted by others as resultant of being statically beyond repair, they all have too much sand to get rid of but they all keep trying to get rid of the sand so they can affirm some individuality in them that they haven’t given up because everyone has the same sand on the white board of their faces and that’s what makes everyone the same but the only board that doesn’t have any sand on it belongs to the Great Faker, which is why everyone follows him, because they want to get rid of the sand: there is always going to be sand on the white board,

though, but, there is a beat, a drumming order to the perversion of them: the way they are perverted by the Great Faker, they are, people picking their asses like no one is watching, tapping their kitschy tennis shoes waiting for the BUS: I count them one two three four five six there are six of them that are the same inside though outside they may look different, I mean, maybe that’s why people make their souls into faces, because at least their faces are different even if those faces are plagued by the same sand, but, also, these people make their souls into faces because it is simpler, it has symmetry to it.

The longer you make your soul into a face the more sense it makes to continue doing it. I mean if the soul was inside you you couldn’t see it, couldn’t comprehend it; why not shrink it down to more sensible diagrams? Diagrams that can be figured into order, like the order of a Face:

Part I :

I count the buttons on my jacket. A stiff breeze snakes itself through the perforations in my clothing. My shirt my coat my pants my underwear. A chill runs down my spine, like the spine is drying itself off like a dog, or is a cat catching his musk, and I rub my imperfect shoe against the ground and feel the merciless concrete sidewalk. Oh, bestial pave: something is going on in my head right now: I can’t make sense of it: my perspective is a teeter-totter: my perspective changes balance, as though my perspective were breathing with my lungs, pumping with my veins:

I switch between two WORLDs. Standing at the BUSSTOP as myself, being as much myself as I have always been, organized, unique, intelligent, great, this is the first WORLD; and I stand as someone else, someone who senses he is trapped in the implacable goo of his own retributive processes, more reasons for revenge sprouting from retribution. I am someone who questions how eloquent his own thoughts are if he has sensed the presence of a powerful force over people only to stamp that force with as juvenile and jejune a sobriquet if you want to use the fancy word, as ‘The Great Faker’ or, oh yeah, ‘That Space of Suspense in Nothingness.’ Ha: and, this is the second WORLD, which, I suspect, breeds from the natural doubt I often have towards myself and my endeavors. Interesting that both WORLDs are just as sensible, just as judicious. I tighten my gloves against the Wind.

I feel like my words are spreading rumors about me. Cupping their hands when they mention my name or my purpose, through the language they embody.

It is as though I say my feelings about what it is that I say, and yet what I say is not how I feel. The words themselves are laughing at how insanely they are being used.

The thing is that the line in the sand made by the stick from the Great Faker, because the only reason people follow the Great Faker is that he is able to dust off some of their sand with a stick, turns the sand into something completely different: it turns the sand into something that makes the white board compress into a narrow crevice drawn out with the stick by the Great Faker. I am repeating his name too much, it makes me woozy, I will stop–the narrow lifeless crevice displaces the nature of everything so that people have no nature anymore and have to look at their watches or sniff or cough or communicate the barrenness of themselves, speechlessly: they look at me, and smile, utterly briefly, then, their faces begin to crack into fissures, the horrible gack oozing from their faces through thick stapled skin. They leave it there to rot and let bacteria congregate around the wound. Someone does that to me just now, and I smile back, pus flying everywhere.

Waiting, so simple and benign it seems! Something that should be done without thinking it seems! Sometimes I hear people around me thinking and during that space of time at the BUSSTOP the people waiting with me all speak their thoughts together in my head, to the point I can barely make out my own thoughts. The people howl together like a dog and scream in my head because they are all nervous that the Wind will get them. The people shouting in my head, and stuff; I want to tell the person next to me that it’s ok I know you’re normal. I loathe how they think they’re not, when they tell me in my head. They don’t know what abnormal is, they’re not even in that realm, that recess of abnormality.

Let me just say that the voices in my head are purely metaphorical. Just for the sake of proving to you there are some sheltered scraps of normal thoughts and behaviors still whirligigging. Sometimes I feel like these people are the same as I. Yeah I bet they’re just as anxious as I am to close that lordly Space of Suspense in Nothingness. Just, like, acknowledge it and get on with their day.

I don’t know how to pull myself together.

These people! They’re protected by the stupid Great Faker so they shouldn’t be worried about the wind. But they are worried. I need to be worried about the Wind because the Great Faker spies on me through the Wind and blows up the skirts of people and taps hats off bald heads like a dog. The words are shouting in my head right now as I wait at the BUSSTOP. They always shout in the most uncomfortable spots.

The thing is I hear them plainly. I really do, I sympathize. But I am not letting on that I sympathize. Because that would mean I would want to connect to other people, and if the Wind knows this weakness it will get me.

The Great Faker and the monster in the BUS and the Wind are an axis, drying out the LIFE of people. They all work for one another and the monster and the Wind both work for the Great Faker. Alright I’ll start over: because of the Wind and the apparent master of the WORLD called the Great Faker, pushing the wind, and the trite inquiry as to the time of day, from a passerby–someone makes me have to look at my watch and tell her the time, and, thus, I scratch the Space of Suspense in Nothingness like the ears of a dog–because of the judgment of the Great Faker, that annoys in the Wind, and the judgment of people who sense I am different from them; because of all this I have become the tragic victim of Routine.

You know…those crazy antics? The ones that keep you away from the Great Faker. He has shaken out everyone’s sawdust and put his own sawdust into everyone. I have developed a routine to rid myself of his trickery though. If I let him he could deceive me into thinking that I don’t need to rid myself of the sand on my own white board, that he can do it to me with his stick. But I can get rid of my own sand thank you very much.

My routine.

I do this not because I want to keep my sawdust but–because I cannot do anything else, or I will lose. I need to keep thinking my own thoughts or else he will start thinking his thoughts in my head: the Wind would get me if I did anything before thinking, anything that slackens the armor, any blood that seeps through, I wipe up.

Inevitably I’m so bothered with routine that I don’t bother to know about people.

They seem so full of contempt anyway. So full of apelike superiority, so full of almighty focus, so full, that they don’t bother to know at all about me. The thing that most oppresses me is the fact that these people don’t care at all about me.

Because of this I sometimes try to care about them: so I smile so they can smile back to me so they can look at me and say, “Hey, he’s a nice fellow. I should care about him.” And, that sometimes makes me feel better, about the masses. I mean I almost want to be a part of them when I feel like this, even if it would mean being a part of, well you know: but then there’s that troublesome liquid growing growlingly under my face, the skin thickening with fluid.

All I seem to know is that they are as impatient as I am on this damn tired Space of Suspense in Nothingness. On this curb in the line for the BUS.

Smiling does nothing, besides keeping the staples intact of course. Why would I have staples, you ask? Well, I may not be a part of the masses but I am too much of a skeptic to believe that I have not grown a second skin myself,

however thin a coating may there be.

The thing that sometimes compels me to roll my eyes: my vacillation, my alienation is by no means an original concept.

This is somewhat paradoxical–the syndrome of the black sheep, the contagion of those who are rejected, those who break a crust of bread their own, –this is celebrated in fiction, in philosophy.

These fucking jailbirds are everywhere.

On the Glassy Surface of our CITY–to be unique is to be a saint.

But, ah, this, is, on, the glassy, surface, only.

Taking all that has been said into the jumble of things, you can now recognize what is rattling in me like a marble in a tin can. I stand here and do that repulsive thing called waiting, and I wait and am repulsed at it. Too afraid even to shift my weight slightly, disturb the rigorous hold of my slacks. Damn slacks. I wish I could twiddle my thumbs, expend some sedentary load, but I do not.

And it is a sheet because it is warm inside and covers the whole city like a soiled rueful sheet. How terrifying is the idea of public travel, the pressure of it is everywhere, making everything shrunken and unyielding. To travel is to expand yet we condense.

The servile nature of it: the BUS is not aiding us we are aiding the Monster in the BUS. We are all going places, but no one is moving just judging. The being of truculent metal ingesting my caked up fear. I could go for some CARROT CAKE right now. Carrot cake and a coffee with lots of milk and sugar. I am hungry so I lick my lips. It must have looked weird. Whenever I eat, it is as though I am digesting my head. My mind goes even further into itself, into the bowels of itself. My peripheral vision goes away, and I eat a TUNA SANDWICH and drink my SHAKE and my synapses finger the taste of the meal. The primitive satiety of food being swallowed. Food for enjoyment, underneath it all food for survival. No one wants to admit it. All that is casual about eating is null when put against the fact that food has a convenient propensity to make us live. All that is casual fosters necessity. We live in a WORLD where necessity is taboo. One would rather keep his cool and amble over to the emergency room rather than scream what he really wants to scream:

“MY LEG! IT IS BROKEN! OH, THE PAIN! THE INTOLERABLE PAIN!”

It is a common misconception that people feel uncomfortable in the presence of strangers because in shyness they are daunted by lack of familiarity. For a long time I have known that the opposite is true. Let me explain:

You see, when I talk about the Monster in the BUS, or Truculent Being, if you will, in itself, I do not mean the Great Faker. He at least makes people feel normal; the Monster in the BUS makes them wary of any others because the Monster exposes everyone to the Space of Suspense in Nothingness.

This exposure sprinkles some nice confections, there, on the minestrone. The confections make us have awkward feelings of shyness towards strangers, which causes the discomfort, in one’s realizing their aforementioned exposure.

Yes. It eats itself. As you could guess.

The Space of Suspense in Nothingness makes people uncomfortable because in the presence of strangers, it is not shyness that is the culprit. Truthfully, people are able to see bits of themselves in the strangers around them, this recognizance imbuing in them a suspicion that they do not control their own lives, that some God has made them all alike, all into copies of the same lemming.

So you see now that the awkward feeling one may have towards strangers comes not from any unfamiliar grounds, but comes from the sense that one has tread those grounds before, and the only reason one cannot, when in the close mien of friends, descry the Space of Suspense in Nothingness, the reason the same discomfort is not felt among those who are familiar with one another has to do with the fact that one’s amenity to the Great Faker is blurred in the eyes of a friend, blurred by that friend’s subconscious will to see no darkness, fear, nor discomfort in the happy aspect of his or her comrade.

I guess, now, after talking you through that, it should be obvious, that I have no friends. As a result, my perception is not blurred, as it would be if I did have friends; and thus, I see the Great Faker in everyone, I suspect everyone. Granted, in a sense I too am like Them because I too am ruffled by the Truculent Being in the BUS, and uh the Space of Suspense in Nothingness, so.

But I don’t know like I said I never could know, I go on with the tedium of routine and I wait in the line at the BUSSTOP like I said. Routine, the bore of my life it is. But it’s still a plan! A plan that can lead me through life, piece by piece. It gives me a calmer perspective on the pieces. It is the one level I have above all my problems. It is a necessary procedure. It is a saintly procedure.

I keep yammering on about this; I even christen it ‘Space of Suspense in Nothingness,’ and you do not ask what it is? Do you want to know? I’ll tell you.

It is by definition I guess a … yawn … if anything … yes … a brutally unrequited yawn requiting uncertainty … a hidden motion, incomprehensible and fast. Blipping across the inner radars of men. It is not blatant like a muscle flexing or a shot look. It is something more transitive. I guess you could say it is like being in an elevator with only one person. Both of you depress everything, depress your lungs, still your heart, and by doing so, your goop stands stiller than still. Pardon the strange phrasing. You bolt the harnesses of otherness at the bottoms of your legs so you don’t kick the other, and–look at the ground. You pretend to think about something else. You play with the personal trinkets at hand [a cuff-link, a watch] and most importantly, you never speak. If you do, you’re never sure what it is that’ll come out, or how long you’ll be able to speak normally before your voice starts to twang up and down or croak or something. But, ah, it is more than that.

It plucks at all the notes my daily frustrations manage to hit: the falsetto the staccato. Plucking the notes and making it ache a bit more, like an instrument, playing me, the Space of Suspense in Nothingness does this; it craves to open wide the futility of my character, so it plays me. Like the Great Faker wishes to play me I do not let him play me. Like a clam, it wants to open up the futility of my character, my character.

Any sudden reel from the norm prompts the gestation of a worse monster, worse than the wind worse than the BUS. I have a lot of monsters:

One that magnifies my every move into a spangle of wrongs it immediately turns into propaganda against my wrongness; one that publicizes accidental trips of the muscle, so that all those catty eyes of the catty people who staple their thick skin back together every morning can see that ‘trip’ and know once and finally for all that something with me is not right, and when the masses see that I am not right then the Great Faker will see that I am not right and he will make me right. Oh this monster.

This Monster is a worm. Ha. It constantly forces itself into my thoughts like a worm. The more I try not to think about it, the more powerful the sensation of the worm becomes. It is like when I was little at SUMMER CAMP playing soccer and. Then suddenly I said,

“FUCK GOD FUCK GOD” even though I didn’t want to,

what I suppose was the worm wanted me to: the worm was pushing with its misconceived little finger on some relative button in me, it was as if trying not to express something taboo gave it all the more attraction; an instinctual avoidance kicked in and I left the soccer game and went to curl up under the merciful shade of a tree. Gabbering on about Fucking God. “FUCK GOD FUCK GOD.”

–The worm has many faces speaking in a language that is occult and ominous and long gone. The languages shriek at me. The languages shriek at me like the people do, in my head. Maybe they are the same thing.

The worm inches its way into me, kneading and squirming in the dirt there: maybe the right squirm, one day, will send right flying all the muscles I smooth over, smoothed by the quaffed Nepenthe of my Lassitude, all the fists I must make red, and then pocket, each day, send them flying into space, into that abyss of the unrestrained. My big fat rook, traversing the squares of a bishop.

Because I am in public, you see, and when my hands are in my pocket they are surrounded by something like the cotton walls of the pocket and when they are out of my pocket in public my hands are in the quite relative atmosphere of our CITY that has so many possibilities in it. Send them flying for who knows where and with a power that I don’t know and have always balked at knowing.

Send them flying like tentacles, tentacles with suction cups. The tentacles would not spare anyone.

Why would my tentacles no not spare anyone? Because and I know: they, being my fists, my legs, anything lethal that is attached to me, the worm–all those things want their violence to hold the value of something absolute, i.e. not sparing one life–absolute–dry and pure and all the bad things discarded from it, absolute, it would be the only thing in our CITY that was absolute.

[WEEPS INSIDE]

My hand wants to explode and send flesh and blood onto this stupid line so they know for the first time what they have made me into but instead I just pull up my gloves a bit and that eases me, I go through the means of that motion as though it were a natural process–but then my ear wants to explode so I cover it quickly with my hand so no one can see, and the quick jerk of my hand to my ear makes two people stare back at me strangely. Their eyes are dirty white heavens that make me want to spew:

“Mosquito,” I manage to belch this placation out and there is a flash in my head of me spewing. As if it were mosquito season in the dead of winter! What they all don’t know is that every step in life is as procedural as a coffee maker. Some just furnish the steps with a more natural grace. I do not have that grace. But that’s why there’s this routine I keep talking about. Do you want to know?

The main thing I do when most vulnerable to the Space of Suspense in Nothingness, and this is regarding the BUSSTOP situation, the main thing I do is I hold my movements to my chest when people around me start to breathe, or shuffle their feet, look at their watch. I hold it tighter when asked the time; tighter, when offered thin hellos, coughed sparingly from others, their noses thinner than their words, and with their words comes the necessity for you to return the droll greeting, whether with a curt nod or the word itself. What makes me sick is how these people can fool me into thinking that they really wish for my friendship.

The WORLD of our CITY is stuffed with fragile connections: the absurd ones, the hellos for instance, become knotted together in a glutted convoluted sphere that eventually melts and washes over our CITY: a flood of trite nods and hellos and failed attempts at human association. The other more singular connections merely buckle slower, and break like ice from the societal glacier, into the largesse of other melted meetings: the forgotten name of a co-worker, the avoidance of a fellow you met at a party and never saw again, the feigned happiness at a relative’s arrival–these are the fruits of a person’s lazy try at human interaction; if you want to know me, know me. But there is no need to.

I look around: and, my eyes stop, for a moment, on each face, so ignorant, banal, all of them ghosts, that stand, up, once filled with life, now minimized, now staring at THE DAILY NEWSPAPER, never absorbing, just slowly blurring, it is only when we look at ourselves and see the triviality of that self gawking in the mirror that we reach to suckle at the other, outsider selves, in the hopes of making some sort of correction, in our souls, through whatever self we find on the outside.

The thing is that the more you suckle on an outsider self the more of a second skin you have to wear. I’m not insane.

The more the grime begins to clot behind the mask of your fake self the more your real self starts to roll downwards into your heart, which in turn shrinks, and it shrinks, which is why I hate going out: because I have too much to correct, and I don’t want to end up wearing a mask in place of a heart shrunk to nothing! But ah I am at least above those who stoop to suckling, ah! AH!

I walk out of my house each day. The sidewalk is made up of large cement sheets that come after one another and create cement crevices in the sidewalk. I try not to touch the crevices with my feet. And of course I walk fast, so nobody has time to notice this rule of mine.

I keep my hands in my pockets all the way to our BUSSTOP. So they don’t fly off and hit someone. I keep gloves on to conceal my silly hands further.

In this way I stand as straight as I can on the left hand corner of our BUSSTOP, where people tend not to build up, and think of a ruler: and try to straighten even the curvy bones of my knees, and breathe deeply for two seconds, deep, because, the body, of course, needs oodles of oxygen, and exhale, and wait another eight seconds, and, I count the numbers in my head with a ‘Mississippi’ for good measure. And–wait. Oh no. Haha. Oh no thinking about it is itself a folly when it comes to it being done properly. This is a process to be done without any emphasis on its purpose or, indeed, method.

If I do start to think that maybe I don’t have to live this way, I get confused. My personality becomes a teeter-totter. I turn into two people.

I immediately lose what momentum I had in my body to the braking realization that this could all be a farce. And that is a problem: you see–I was born without momentum, without the mental strength to make action acquaint with reaction.

As a result I must lay out each day like a blanket, straight and flat and the same from end to end, most people are born with wheels like circles, I was born with wheels like squares.

But just because my days are the same doesn’t mean I am just another roaming cog, with his place somewhere within the apparatus of our CITY; nor am I akin to the nihilistic post-modern depression of most white-collar business suits, snoots, a brooding genus of American culture that is nowadays the favorite topic of existential NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS and book-of-the-weeks.

I refer to those people as suits because they are that and nothing more. I am none of those. Because, I have my mind: it is my thoughts that are my flesh and my bones: my brain, I am sure, not only cogitates in my skull but my hands and arms and belly, and by that I mean the physical fat of my brain has literally been stuffed into my whole body. Yes. My mind distinguishes me so much that it has gone through the trouble of distinguishing me physically, yes, although no one can see it; literally, if I were to be cut bits of brain would come out instead of blood.

That is why I avoid getting cut or else I might lose intelligence, I may sound insane, ha, then again, I keep apologizing to no one! What a day it is to think! I fear any arrhythmia in my pattern. If it breaks I have nothing but my feet on the ground, and I would feel this sensation disperse as well with time and thence-flaccid hope. I think about these purveyors of small talk you see.

A grim chuckle almost escapes from the nepenthe of my lassitude. As I think in the back of my mind I think what if I cut myself? Right now just to see what it’s like and if brains come out? It would be bad but still …

I like to think my stomach and heart and lungs are managed together and straight down like tidy cards but they are not: they are lined with cragulous, indulgently placed veins, and are snared within a jungle of muscle and fat and blood like a repulsive mobile! But HA!

–Small talk. Made by those who are afraid to have the realm of their lives crack slightly but, more importantly, open slightly; to take action without a foundation, even if they might have two perfectly good legs to stand on; those who cannot go on without a little gab, because they cannot bear the Hiss.

The Hiss Of Silence Makes people even more rotten, if you ask me. Sometimes, eh, it is hard for me to explain things.

I believe that my chowderheaded chowder of images and castigation is nearing a point in the story, which is to say, the catastasis:

which means that something sort of climactic/important is about to happen because, you see, this little cyst between my temples goes much too far now, for just being a cyst.

And to be honest all that chowder doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s all really barely footed but for the physic of my foot stuck to the ground: and meanwhile, my chowder percolates upwards, into the lofty, the genius, the trite, mostly, the trite. A dash of genius. I hope.

If you live in our CITY, you will come to hate these people I call teen tribes.

Sometimes you see them as they get out of school. Sometimes you see them before they even go to school. Sometimes they’re on a ‘field trip’–but besides all that–they’re never around, so I’m usually safe to go about my own rhetoric.

But there are always a lot of them and do they ever talk,

and do they ever talk!–

They stomp out on the concrete like washing machines and they step on the cracks of the sidewalk when they know they’re not supposed to and talk all thousand of them like a mass of talk and saturation and fluids and their hairstyles are in their mouths, blowing into people’s faces and it is like a chorus of the things I hate, a mountain of Talk! that bears on everything like a great, voluble avalanche.

An oppressive brachial loudness. Loudness jamming the air like an avalanche. A mountain of grease and words.

I hear them acutely like the electric sibilance of television–the hiss of the silence slung over the words of the talking heads like a coward peeking through the bush.

They usually go down the street after but today they decide to go down this street, instead. Through some manic whim. I feel self-conscious. I feel awkward. I feel criticized. They talk and scream at each other, like dogs.

I think strange thoughts: I think strange thoughts that I can’t explain. Things that are unnatural things that worry me.

I begin–I begin to want to laugh with these morons. Laugh in the same way a high ledge dares you to jump. I am taken by the bubbling urge to start a fight, or scream, or sing, or grope a woman, and what is worse is that there is no reason dictating this. I begin to squeeze my hands, over and over, imagining something being crushed under that small weight, like molecules or cells. I shut my eyes, over and over, flattening the little dust as by chance might’ve wafted onto the lenses. Yes, yes, that would teach them. And

and yet they hurt my ears and my ears they begin to hurt my head and I feel my hands and my arms begin to rise and peel away from my mind to hit someone, until they die: but instead I put my tongue to the roof of my mouth, and for some reason this always calms me: but the talk, talk, talk.–

The hollow meat of it: talk: that lazy cousin of action.

See I locked up my mind this morning like I always do this morning I doubled it and redoubled it and chained it up so much that I almost locked myself in in fact I might have locked myself in and yet this happens and everything my points my ideas they are dashed away into that loose confederation of talk from tribes, talk from tribes,

and I hate the tribes, there’s so many kids, so many people walking I just, I just can’t take it. [WEEPS INSIDE]

Part II :

I begin to see these little red spots out of the corner of my eyes. These miniscule red spots that waft about my eyes.

And, they oscillate to and fro in the present tense, in these miniscule red flocks of twelve, the red spots do this, and, then, I see: these neon green squiggles in my eyes that want to show me that life is not that bad, is not bad at all.

And each of the squiggles says one word to me without a mouth and then the squiggle, or whatever, goes falling through my iris into the cavern of my head and suddenly I am no longer myself but I am everything and any ego I had dwelling disappears for a pale instant, and I see

someone’s perky pencil of a sister. Just beginning to weave through the longitude of teen years. Passing waifish through that arcade of depleted selfhood and innocence: young Lotharios turned by sex into Louts, and

I see her mushrooms of perhaps darkness, and of doubt, growing with each year in her; and I see moments.

The friction of feet against gravel; the touch of an elbow in a crowd; the careening of blonde hair through the wind; the vacuity of a baby’s understanding; her mother’s perusal of the dairy isle, or her father’s reading of the paper; a truck’s headlight before a crash on a wet road.

The light of the headlight screened by the fecund drips of the rainwater, and then the crash and the intimacy of the metal and the dropping out of life, and the victim swaying into death: and his sudden value for that lone headlight in the last seconds of breathing.

All the mundane things and wonderful things and horrible things here turned sojourn by the very majesty of life. By the poetry of only living and taking that perpetually retiring chance to live the zest again, along with the torment, and the zest and the torment both equal in their importance. You see I used to have this chaotic little fantasy,

whereby I imagined, every person I walked past in that moment when I and the person were closest to one another, before going our separate ways–at this moment, I would imagine this person revealing a knife from some random nest in their pocket and stabbing me.

Every time I passed by a person on the street, there would be a flash, in my mind’s eye, of me being stabbed.

Up until then I had not realized this was crazy and well, if I dreamt up crazy things like this regularly then maybe all the other things I had previously thought to be real were actually not so,

and that, at the nut of every being is a platonic connection to their fellow man, that/whom may pass by them on the street, and yet they do not stab. No one actually had the knife behind a back, it seemed. Or something.

No one had, shaking, in even some, even primordial, alpha-chest, a passion for violence. They … we … I … have only passions for connection, etc.

Mechanisms made reactions to mechanisms. Still do to this day,

tricky buggers. But:

My mind had fissures in it: my mind it almost decided to abandon its dithering post and up and leak through the fissures like a gas leak. I dodged unmarked things in my head.

As yet unmarked things placed along the latitude of my head, the mouths of the fissures in my head were soon covered, my hand stopped shaking, I realized abruptly it had been shaking for that entire ordeal. The cacophony ended.

The tribes siphoned themselves back into some one of many a variable flume of our CITY and the silt of their voices a drifted wastrel like sewage into nothing, and I felt different now.

I felt suspicious. Aware, now, of my position. Like I finally knew what they were all up to. I saw them, saw them finally for what they were, these diaphanous hominids these open books were suddenly that.

There were no longer any questions about it no questions about the man with the cigarette who would definitely not have lent me a dollar if I had asked him; and the rich lady in some furry hat who was waiting, too, along with him.

An eternal layabout for a carelessly rich husband; who bilked him out of more and more gap.–

And she wanted botox to make him love her.–

The civic booby of a man I saw also and everyday and on time at our BUSSTOP would always let people onto the BUS before him. But I saw him one day and he didn’t get on the BUS after letting everyone cut him in line–and he would say, “Here you go. Here you go.”

And wave his hands when he wanted someone to cut him and the day after and the day after that he didn’t get on the fucking BUS either so I realized he just plain never got on the fucking BUS to begin with he just wanted some quick thankfulness from strangers.

An appreciative nod perhaps that I always gave him out of pity for he was the type of person who never had enough of something to join the Great Faker though had wanted to and so uh whored his spot on the BUS out, in order to get, garner, lasso, wrangle, snatch up the dropping crumbs of the appreciation of those who got to do so, got to eat up that whole wretched baffling food.

It was all so pathetic. So passive-aggressive, so … these people were, so wretched baffling, and. Are to this day too. Nasty.–

So, how could I ever get to know them, how could I even try; it was not as though one could waltz up to a stranger on the street, and proclaim friendship, friendship was an equation that could not be solved without Time, Time I had none any of?

But I did not know exactly what it was that I was seeing I didn’t know exactly what it was that made me become so damned fucking cold towards everyone.

A minute ago I was praising everyone’s name instead of figuring it out I burrowed even further into myself out of frustration. He, ‘HE’ ehr, did.

All this phrenic trouble just waiting for a BUS. It didn’t well, it didn’t feel like anyone noticed me. I could feel people staring at my coat. I know it sounds kooky. But I felt it. A confused miracle of pressure lightly lightly on my back. Where I could not see.

Perhaps the answer to whatever it was I was wondering about was located on my back! Ah! I touched my back and nothing was there so I thought of all those eyes!–

Yeah the faultfinding eyes and the dew-lacquered brown pupils. The dew washed over the eyes and seeming valid and paring the touch. That were inhuman and disgusting.

Pupils that spread their shaded selves large over the eyes, pupils that were holes, pupils that swirled in their holes like the cartilage that swirled round in my ears like fish.

They, these, [?] looked at me and fed well from my embarrassment and struck hands in me, unflinching, terrifying, trying to hide something like I was; and, I closed the balls of my own eyes as I saw them: the eyes all expressionless and pulsing, the middle of them. So dark, that the color itself pulsed–it, was, in any case, a poignant feeling.

I didn’t know what those eyes would go do then I only was able to gaze in confusion at the emotions and desires and the unknowable facts behind them that I could never see. I only was able to, gaze at them, with fascination, as if they were animals in a ZOO.

Things things in the eyes things I had many times warped out with my tonedeaf postulations and my cynicisms chancing wry. Things in the eyes that was just the beginning, what more could I learn or claim to learn by examining the entire body of another human!

What criminal fallacies could I find by pulling apart the calluses of a hand, or pinching the fastened skin of an earlobe.

All facial limb or bodily feature conspired or conspires or whatever the tense is at this point, I don’t care, it conspires to conceal what

hath corrupted, uh Them. The facts of their lives that hung on Them like chains, and I knew, indeed, how hard it was to muffle the rattle of my chains. I was sweating.

The man in the black suit was still there: by then he was probably past his sixth cigarette. All of them were waiting. There was an arrhythmia of feet tapping against the gummy concrete. Feet that wished to sprout roots and cling to the ground: a sensation crept over me, then: I realized that just standing there, completely silent, I had done some of the greatest thinking of my life.

It was like this: I had had all these strange thoughts before, but I had never assimilated them as concisely as I had that day, today. Never before had I been thinking, truly, with such verve! Such dynamic!

Ah such clarity there was to all that went through my head, so much stability that I juggled with the idea of whether I had been drugged.

The man in the black suit was at the front of the line; I was nearer the back. Various men and women were in the middle. A girl ran panicked across the street from the curb and the curb was delineated by the gleam of the lights, coming. The BUS of our CITY stopped in front of the line.

The man in a black suit did not toss aside his cigarette in a way that one would usually toss aside something that was killing you.

I walked past the defeated ashes of the cigarette and I contemplated crushing the filter into the ground just to release energy you know, to improvise something but I did not do that no and stepped up the rubber steps into nothingness. You did not do anything on the bus. That’s why it was nothingness. You dug your shoes into the filthy rubber floor and fiddled maybe with a ‘BUSPASS’ fallen on the floor. You grabbed the shiny pole that sprouted from the floor. And felt yourself sink and dive as the bus drove up hills and down them.

And there were rules too the rules on the BUS were [1] that everyone sat, [2] no one stood, and [3] you could not look at anyone. Unless things got crowded; then people were forced to stand. Their shoulders icy cold if I push past them.

Their cheeks went blue.

Their tongues dried up. The BUSMAN sat with sunglasses, wide and blank. Sunglasses, he looked nowhere you could see. Glasses like a group of actions and emotions contained dully behind that blubbery, especial second skin. What was called a [hack]job. Some people if ‘got so swept ‘way into the busy whirlwind of jobs and forgot party time then and there they could afford to be indifferent about everything else.

I fiddled around. It was easier to maintain composure on the BUS if you were sitting. I laid my bag down. I had suddenly just like realized I had brought my bag, a bag.

As though it were an item intruding upon a place and time disparate from its own: suspicious nervous of the place it had been ushered into: it was like a leather sheep with a zipper.

I did, do not blame the bag, I too would be suspicious–only controlled by the hand grasping. No feet to command whatever impartial ambition a bag might have it merely levitated around its owner serving its purpose never sure of a thing but it helped me out because then I played with the zipper, and pretended not to know what was inside [even though people already could see through my whole façade] and opened it up and pretended to look at what was in it.

And my body and ass vibrated with the heated movements of the BUS and I grabbed the edge of my seat firmly for If I fell off the seat I wouldn’t know what to do.

I expatiated on such a situation.

And after awhile the end of my spine began to tingle and I felt like I was going to finally drop down because my mind had never let me imagine what I would do.

Predicting future actions to a hypothetical is something quite foreign to me GUY UPSTAIRS I guess as was and is time-itself [Jesus who was he? This shitty writer?] I looked at the corner and not, did not–

Weary suspicion. [First stop] Mindless functioning with something. That needed to be done. The wheels slid over the asphalt. The potholes jarring. Fiddling with lint in my pocket. And one needed to curb their thoughts, use a width of thick skin even if the thick skin was incomplete or made you incomplete. For some reason I understood the feeling of being tired of myself.

[The wind blew from a second stop] I did not, no, I don’t like the stops. The rapping of feet on the BUS floor interfered with benign reflections on the benign. The odd loudmouth that came in.

And I [watched him] tried to keep a person’s actions from my mind.

He had sat down awhile ago.

The man in the black suit he got off. He got off he lit another cigarette he squinted into a destination. I tried to find what he was looking at. I was sweating [stop now, stop it].

I looked to the ground. I shuffled my feet. An old BUSSPASS folded in half on the ground.

It was a gentle humming at first.

A joke. A very bad one, Suspended in the isolate air.

And so we were fixed to our seats as though by nails. A variable whimper–like a burp–natural and rolling. A sigh a blow a sniff. These tentative chasms of sadness: all hilariously brisk.

Then screams. Horribly stifled ones with much energy, anchored down to their little, suffering things. As moans, as sobs hinting at some graver cleft in feeling, some crueler tone.

But he would not show us that cleft and even if he lost control there was still a subconscious will to curb that cleft and be coddled by his Great Faker instead:

And to have that singular cadence of approval from Him-Holy oh Hosanna-fuck. The Great Faker, and, and, and: then, the real screams, open and wild, like something that tried to be utterly said from the coffin of truth up through the dirt just as loud through the dirt mound and huddled grass of the coffin and it echoed and it shook the last earnest crumbs of the living.–

A man behind me coughed into his hand. He quickly shifted his weight and his Dockers screeched at his thighs. He was petrified because of the screech. He was petrified that even a particle of commotion was started by him. Though no one noticed. I noticed though, and I looked at the Dockers man:

I saw all the follies he wished to keep caped and more people coughed, coughed to the ground, caping themselves, they were flinging a cape over themselves. Knees were scratched. People began to blink too much.

People become aware of the Great Faker and the Space of Suspense in Nothingness. His grief controlled us like puppets yes. Like clockwork. Like the steely pantomime of machines. La La La. All of us. On the BUS. Going to where our mornings make us.

I started to think on how could this man on a public BUS go on weeping heavily in front of everyone at 9 in the fucking morning.

We witnessed his hands all white as new snow. We witnessed the pipes and loam of his life. He made us witness the pipes and loam of our own lives. He was a wall that stood and the wall was grey and cold like the shoulders and noses of men. His life was our lives.

We heard the intimate sounds, from him.

The unloving noisy issue of snot into the napkin. The sponge-like contractions of his throat.

The spasm of his legs. And a scream bogged in the fluid of sorrow and the foul phlegm of weeping.

His loud emoting began to actually corner me. As if it itself were a hungry dog. It swelled and compressed around my throat. His crying. He’s Crying Hah.

And then I sneezed I sneezed but no one was paying attention, maybe some halfjerked heads. So much for inconspicuous. I looked over at him.

Like a creature absorbing all the calculi of my environment–the wind, the angles, the velocity–I started and halted and then I ventured to find where was the crying man.

[He was right across from me, of course I didn’t notice him, my head was looking down] he was trying to soothe his embarrassment. Embarrassment made him stiffen excruciatingly all and every of the little blue veins in his neck.

Oh how he despised his audience oh, oh all of them mouths agape. I wondered.

The stertorous drone of the engine of the BUS however made any public exhibition trivial. The humanity in everyone was consumed completely by his tears. Etc.

A woman wanted to dive into her purse with the purpose of scratching off like a lottery ticket the leftovers of her humanity and she used the leftovers to glue back her staples rightly and she found combs and photographs and innocent stuff: each thing had its own tiny story, but innocence was not a part of humanity, to me, humanity was no comb, humanity was in the socket of an eye, in the eye of the cry, in the

crying man humanity was there and it was No Answer: no great truth, only the relic of an unknowable validity, the phantasm of a generous physical vibration that one could not ever posit.

Through his tears the crying man said: “I’m sorry.”

I counted each pent life and the lives raveled down onto the BUS floor like wrapping paper. The sole rectangular floor that seemed to shake the concrete earth of our CITY. Seemed to but didn’t. It was just the BUS moving over the paved blemishes beneath us, potholes, and potholes filled with too much cement, and I counted the pent lives like vegetables. I counted the piggy crop:

-And there was the WHITECOLLAR white youthful man with tie slackened, business casual, with cheeks red and hearty, but then was the crying man and the cheeks became blue, and mischief was gone from the tie; and the red stripes of the tie drooped with bashfulness. And the man himself, stuffed with college swill, a stomach full of frat beer, sucking the last marrow from his alma mater days, greening his liver with alcohol, and fattening him up and yet he smiled so fake that his face exploded onto everyone and the thick skin was ruined.

-And there was the rude tapping of the manicure: on one nail showed cheap the tiny facsimile of a white flower, and the woman herself was a tacky white flower, slathering on her face like butter a thick skin the mask of some cardboard ennui. Thinking about her salon. She dipped up her blue-plated eyes from the grim places in front of us to anything that still held fantasy in it.

-And there was the prune-like liberal black man who wrote poetry, who bloated his pittance of a resume when at cocktail parties with friends, who wore tribal clothes with garish tribal designs. And yet he lacked the assertion of his clothes. His chest was small and inverted. His arms were bone.

-And there was the caustic brow of a fiftysomething who played the family game too much, the squareness of his square face and the rectangle of his torso refusing to acknowledge the hipness of his jeans, the legs sheathed like magnificent swords in hip boots, the man himself, untrendy, awkward, old, trends flapped forlornly from the destitute fringes of his mind, he grabbing the fringes at least. To be grabbed–by his hairblowing kids and he, angry, about the whole thing, he, just wanting to be a fiftysomething–

This man dipped uniquely into some deeper, ravenous infliction; the sobs garnered a new inflection, with every breath; and the man became caught in the inertia of his own sorrow. And his cheeks were wrung and pores were wrung, and he uncurled himself and his chest inflated and his shoulders curved in opposite directions, straining the ribcage,–and he opened his mouth simply: and the natural desperate wonder of it sucked us all in something so palpably raw and finite that hurtled out of him.

That unceasing note, and stop and stop we listened to the note: more dumb, unpleasant semi-lives were dumped and were filled: the dumb show to add importance to the platitude of the semi-lives by adding distance. Neither touched nor understood the BUSMAN conveyed a vast nothing and the note, well. The note conveyed everything.

And we witnessed his hands all white, and

and and then, it occurred to me: exclusively, finally: it was hail coming down, hard and cold, each infinitesimal skull of ice, a different and more obscure idea, a different fact, yet to be proven, but that one idea still above it all; the idea that was in the wind and slave of the Great Faker and to be expedited still.

So I worked so hard to pick up all the little pieces of hail before they melted and their genius slipped away forever down the clans of the gutters that lined each street and I said

“No! No tell me! No, tell me your secret now!”

But apparently that was in my head or I only mumbled it because no one was paying attention or maybe their minds were too rapt to the crying I don’t blame them.

These people these nervous people were nervous because that was what they were, their actions, their nervousness; In the meantime of my eyes were they constituted solely of their discomfited sourness, their inability to face this man, to be rather wrapped in themselves like an impotent fajita.

They might have been someone else when they were alone, but it was the same as asking if a tree fell in the forest with no one around, would it make a noise? If a bastard was nice to his apartment wall when no one was around, would it make him nice? No!

The way I began to see it people were around others so often, they took mirrors along with them, and their mirrors reflected off of whatever stranger too; whatever debris that also happened to pass by them: and yet those strangers they carried their own mirrors.

And I thought of how I was as nervous as they were, I was just like them–AM I, I, I

AM I, not but a thick skin, and I nothing more? I hated them, I detested THEM, but I obeyed them, I

ruled my life by what they thought but if they did the same for me then who did the actual judging, who did the actual categorizing if we all turned ourselves inward in order to discount those static outward impressions, which in reality were never made?

What was this hulking manatee of public scrutiny?

It then occurred to me:

Was I not like them? Was I not, a statistic? To be blurred and rounded, to be cut from the WORLD like an umbilical cord, and I was the cord, and the WORLD was the child?

We were all cords. Each one fed one sum: that sum of ourselves, or of this disgraceful CITY, or of this fetal mound on which we lived. The child-mound that would not take much longer to blossom into some unfathomable newness, separate itself from the billions of people who fed it; and then to be bred by the large and filial hands of God.

Not the Great Faker this mound would leave us after it realized we were all fake weren’t we? Phony phony phony. Fake.

It was the WORLD. The clever earth under the stagnant pipes and loam, the maze of forgotten systems of concrete and sewage, under that, under the layered urban frontier of waste, of lazy contractors and the cracks in the pavement and broken ducts that led nowhere that harvested all the continuous excesses of the CITY minds and the streets into their depthy pools of the grey wash of the puke and Styrofoam, and rind.–

Under that it was the earth, the oh clever earth, the oh clever earth that was that sum of ourselves. Not the Great Faker, the earth. That was the final reflection off our mirrors, that was the original, that was the child we fed with our reflections of nothing until the child needed more than our food of otherness, other food.

The blank board on which we drew and made grow off chancing a smile some pen or instrument of itself, and us drawings drawn with our drawings: until it all left us left the drawings we made for it.

Because it realized we were not worth the trouble because we were all not real. And our drawings probably weren’t that good anyway. And the crying man: his flaws became the symbols of his self. His flaws represented what we did not see in the mirrors because the mirrors reflected God and God was perfect and the man was flawed.

And,

I looked out the window and I was made madly human and we were all made madly human with him and we each yes we do have our own wonderful, foul phlegm didn’t we … ? Ah! Beauty, life, and beautiful life!

And yet we let him slip, slip deeper and deeper.

I looked at my feet I had to be more than them I had to be the ORIGINAL, I had to be that saintly original thing all the mirrors reflected, just had to, I daily heaved the magnitude of my soul like a porky stone; my feet dragged under the weight of my soul my soul like a stout rock.

I never saw anyone else dragging their feet due to the porky stone! That stout rock! What I experienced was real. Each deed of mine possessed thousands of reasons that were buried in the porky stone, the stout rock; and they nested there, incubating, and then sprouted from me into actions, sprouted as would careful daisies [of rottenness].

There were so many things in my life so many quirks that were too tired to be interesting anymore that I had so many perplexing rituals in order to feed the soul of myself. But I was actually just feeding the fetal mound wasn’t I? He would leave us soon enough.

There was a hurricane in me. It made me hate myself; it was a brief, stinging hatred I had for myself. The hurricane entered into that long radius of skepticism run between my thoughts of others and others’ thoughts by me: it beckoned forth every quashed feeling beckoned forth the feelings both normal and abnormal. Strip yourself of the gum of the thick skin. Let open the levees of the ape. Let the idiosyncrasies be naked said the hurricane.

For years quashed for the sake of escape I escaped from the masses and thus escaped from any acquittal of the soul. Wading in my pissy little swamp of personal misery without believing there was another way when I did not know that way I was on even and didn’t even have enough otherness to realize I had welded another prison of that, the iron bars were doubt, the dusty bricks years, and, I incubated in it like a fetus, and I pickled into a man instead of grew into one, yes, pickled, no daisies, and, I was and I am, as inhuman as the Great Faker, hah, merely the freak of objective chemicals. Indeed my mind was unique only for its roots in the calculative unfeeling machinery of the WOMB itself: or, whatever abyss I was coughed out, of, damn, damn, damn.

In the moment of his great revelation he did not know he did not desire to know that the reason he was so upset was that he had entered into the infertile collection of minds and the streets and the cranial bombast of his CITY and totally left himself awhile back in this o o o.

There was too much connection in his fear and theirs.

Too many similar muscles pressing. There was too much like-minded sweat sweating.

My hair began to get sensitive. I desired to itch it, but did not. Then it was like all of my hairs were squeezing out of my head like worms out to tell everyone how crazy I was and the worms quaked the floor with a buzzing sound and the sound turned into gophers that wanted to bury themselves in my head and munch on my brain fluid and the small black gophereyes frightened me. Before I knew it I was standing up on the BUS yelling

“You sick men and women, you insensitive jocks like there were at my high school. There were jocks and I was a misfit! Can’t you see? He’s making us all up? He’s trying to create us off the page!

“I bet you all play a sport don’t you? Yeah, sick fuck. And, and you don’t have to tell me you’re normal anymore, ok? Stop screaming!”

You might not remember when I said that I could hear all the voices of the BUS folk screaming in my head so what I said made sense I took two steps forward, and a woman with her bag with a picture of a still life on it of fruit or something she took her fruit bag from the seat next to her and she put it on her lap like it being closer to me would mess up the still life and I got so angry at this that I said “Your fruit is going to be fine! I’m not a criminal! You are because you listen to him! The Great Faker! And don’t play like you don’t!”

I looked around. Everyone was staring off into their day. The person that/who could tell them it’s alright, and it’s ok to do whatever it is they want to do it doesn’t have to be like what I want to do, was ignored, starting in my thighs there was an engorged pair of hands pushing up brains from the stem

so that the hands would push all the flabby meat up through my throat and everything would come out of my mouth and quite literally everyone would know what was inside me

but no one was reacting. It was like as soon as I got up everyone’s mind instinctively trickled down to their feet, then up and left their body. Playing poker with the Great Faker hah.

They sat in lines, packed tightly. Lines. A line in the sand. Their eyes were like rows of corn. White, spherical corn.

“You know the right decision always goes two paths. One path is if you let’s say you had to go to town. Some town somewhere. You have two paths let’s say. The one path is on the train, you can take a train into town. The thing is you don’t know how the train gets to town. You look at the train when you get there and it seems as though it’s going in the opposite direction of where you’re headed. You just know it gets there without you knowing it. The other way to town is a dirt road. The dirt road goes into town too. But you understand why the dirt road goes to the town. You see that the dirt road runs straight in the direction of where the fuck the town is. You use your sense of fucking direction and you know that this fucking dirt road leads straight to that fucking you know town. Now you can take the train and know that you’ll get there somehow but not know why you get there. In fact in some cases you’ll miss your stop and go headed somewhere else. But with the road it’s different. With the dirt road you’ll be aware of every step you take into the town. You won’t miss the town because by being aware of every step you’ll be aware of the last step and the last step obviously is the destination. But most people they end up taking the train. They feel like it’s safer. There’s no bumps. With the road there can be bumps. You don’t know how long the road is but you’re not sure either of how hard the road is. Most people don’t understand that to get to the right choice you have to take a few hits. There has to be a few gaps. People naturally avoid the gaps because they want to get from A to B quick enough. They don’t understand that by taking the train they’re making garbage out of some crucial choices. Choices you have to make before you get to B. There’s always small choices to be made into the bigger ones. Most people though they say that it’s all just one big choice after another and those guys are the guys who take the train and they don’t even notice where it is they’re going as long as they get there and then no one ever knows how tough the fucking dirt road is since no one ever traveled on the dirt road and they all take the train and sleep because they can’t take the uncertainty they just want the fake certainty the fake certainty that makes people soft and softens their face into a mask and the mask gets way too soft and falls off because of the trains.”

And everyone continued not looking at me and I stopped and this time all their voices really did speak in my head as though they really were looking at me with their minds and all their words were sucked into my skin as though I was a sponge and it was not the words of the people but the words of God lighting up the voices of the people and the words were sheathed in God, and as suddenly my Worldly comforts gone I seemed to leak out of my own body, did not hear what I said anymore o ruinous God, became a line, my feet touched one end of the Earth, my head, the other end, by your obeisance, sir: and God said:

“… These days, you see, we find complacency in bitterness. Bitterness and idleness and capital. We work like ants and go home to regurgitate our day’s wampum with the slack partition of individualities we know as friends at bars. Filling our bodies with alcohol. Digging into our soul with a spoon. Dallying our time and ingesting the vogues of our era as though they were the final rejoinders to some everlasting, smartass quip about our WORLD, some quip we have finally answered.

“But the vogues. They are weak. The vogues are just silly endocrines that seep out the asshole of whoever bothers to eat up enough of our WORLD. They seep out and evaporate into time.

“However, when we realize that there will be new vogues, new endocrines, that new important things will happen after our personal extinction, we collect whatever balm we can by worshipping the quick yet rooted stigmas that happen to pattern our WORLD at the moment. We snug ourselves right well into our own universal bed. Sleeping, chucking definitions and judgments from our dreams. Stacking up like cards all that we do not understand. As though the place we live in should be the only place. As though the vogues should not change. We criticize that which is at present mysterious in order to make its discovery less enticing to those who wish to dig outwards with a spoon. We chuck criticisms like footballs.

“But when criticism does not work we quench our short thirst for knowledge by scrawling a name on what might be nameless. Because we are afraid of what is nameless. What is nameless implies what could be named when we are gone. We have our era of opening up one window, and so: we age, and age and age, and realize that we will be denied an extra breeze from another window that may open, as time goes on. So we turn up our noses and define and we refuse to get out of our universal bed: and we dream hard of a World that does not change, so that we will not miss out on anything after our death.

“In terms of mysterious people we do not massage that real quiddity of those real others, because it would create a void in our tongues–if I were to pluck out another’s eyes and use them myself, I doubt I would be able to express the difference in what I see. The difference from human to human cannot be adequately blurted. The difference is nameless. But, the difference is as much a part of the change, as anything else.

“So why not savor the change? Why not nod at the perpetual motion of generations, of ideas? But instead we nod off into the closet of our own minds. Lingering in dust next to the old bad coats. But why not believe, that a war does not make the World?

”… Uh, that, violence does not have to be a road from which we cannot turn back; or that religion makes as much sense as science? Why not say that religion and science and art are simply absurd furrows upon the pate of consciousness? And consciousness–pah.–

“Well who’s to say about consciousness, as nothing; that it’s nothing more but some peevish addendum to what are at the most useless and meaty organisms that sit and wait on the EARTH like mushrooms?

“Savoring the change will open our minds, you see. If we rid ourselves of walls then perhaps the bitterness, that need to always go more inward so much so that you eat your own head–perhaps that sensation will disappear, and the vogues no longer be as idolized. Because we will have rightly accepted their obligatory flux into something different. Maybe then, we all will reach an understanding.

“But universal understanding is impossible, because misunderstanding is essential. There is no single fact to any of the flitting cadences flirting along this singular expressive brow and worn of culture we’ll always and how lovely only go at each other with opposing truths, that we can pick like groceries and wield over our lives, like a torch:

“I was stuck in the subway station once, a moist, humid pipe, cluttered around with people. But you know that. I moved down to the end of the platform. As I moved down there were less and less folks in my way. I realized, if there weren’t people to believe that the front of the platform was the best place to wait, if there weren’t people who were too tired to go to the end of the subway, than there wouldn’t have been room on the lower part of the subway, and that if everyone understood the differing of good places, if everyone understood that no one spot was the best, well, all those people in the subway would be spread out, equally, like paper dolls, diversityless, all through the station. There would be no mixture only the one ingredient there would be no fresher place to breathe because everyone would have the same tepid air to suck into their lungs. Equality is impossible because it negates the variable element that should be present in the nature of mankind.

“The variable element is what makes for extremes. The good and the bad the sad and the happy. These laughably simple extremes cannot exist without each other and thus cannot exist without the variable element because that element is exactly what can splice one thing into two opposing truths. To garden a spot in your mind with one idea displaces ten million other ideas from that spot. It is cliché to say that conflict is innate but there is a reason that clichés are made. Don’t you think?”

His legs were braced, shaking yet trying to move forward, as though they were squat in the center of a broken swaying bridge, between what he wanted to say, and what he said, and his legs shook with frustration.

He threw his hands up in the air like a man cleansed.

“Comfort him.–”

During the speech he had tried to hem his words back into more familiar stitchplaces, he had tried to go back to what he started with before. His mouth had been stuffed with cotton the whole time. God’s cotton. God’s cotton of rhetoric, damn it. He had tried to spit out the cotton of rhetoric. As a result what he ended up saying would swerve into random pontificating; or he would lose the focus of his words and babble on in the hopes of concluding an inconclusive point.

He would heave his chest up as though he were about to burp and say nothing. As though some bean of disapproval was about to chuck itself into the fray. And then he would sigh and continue. One would have expected him to cough up a sweater. The crying man’s seat was empty. He had left awhile ago. His seat was like a vacuum of gravity where something of substance had collapsed upon its own mass. No one sat on that seat for the rest of the ride because of the vacuum. I hadn’t even noticed him leave. I didn’t even try to sit there. Once I got off that stupid BUS I realized I had missed my stop awhile ago, and was lost. That

whole thing didn’t even mean anything. Fuck the words of myself Fuck the Words of God Fuck God …

just. gave me cotton.

it began to rain:

.Equally irrational
.Equally in love

[EPILOGUE,]

It began to rain, and the pomp of the thunder, and the gruff pomp sounding resolute, thundering, and the streetlights specking like odd decorations against the granite and brick and brownstone, and the mountains of brick of the buildings in light and darkness, a seconds’ bath in light, then darkness waiting, and the rain coming out because it had to, no tangential prelude of rain just brief spells of thunder; and lightning never hitting anything visible, still resolutely there, hitting, like slow and hesitant percussion, and the drumming of a beat behind the mask. And the hesitant prisms of rain that press with the drumming and the percussion. And the brief, yet unfettered, thunder, organic, pending thunder, unfettered, resounding, gorged like the clouds are gorged with something like despise or villainy, a villainous, drumming orchestra of thunder that has rung out the epochs, and for epochs, and the thunder-orchestra ringing. And it sounding with the cult wiseness of those strange, maybe evil, yet all eternal portions of nature: evil because those portions can be frightening, despotic, satanic, ominous; eternal because they never go away, through epochs.

Nature has never felt the need to dispose of thunder or of the lightning, the lightning mumbling behind its pomp of thunder, as nature lingered on and on, and mumbled; and thus lingering comes the cult wiseness of thunder, of lightning, from the lingering of anything comes the wiseness; the first distant hum of it was crisp, whole, the second was closer to me, and irregular like the physiognomy of lightning itself, and, then, ah, the beautiful rain, the transparent particles, each one WORLD, each raindrop a wonderful WORLD that is born from the explicit hugeness of the sky. It is so private and secret and never known before it finally splashes and scatters and diverges into the current of a puddle, a dip in the concrete, the many holes in the grid, slowly aiding in the dismemberment of the sidewalk over the years due to the groundswells of water and refuse upon the grey concrete, a dip that eventually overflows with the water, and the water works hard to become a single entity, and pushes forward down the slight slight declines and inclines of our CITY streets, forming another puddle when the street forms a bigger circular dip or impression: and it flows like this, halting and delving, a puddle at each impression, each recession in the level of the street, the street’s failure to adequately plateau; then, that dip in the concrete overflowing with water and the water continuing its travel to another, bigger dip, and the cult wiseness of the lightning reaching down from its canvas.

If it did plateau, or if every street was identical to the most sniveling degree, was completely flat, what then? How would the rainwater catch momentum? It is impossible to imagine this because defects pimple the WORLD. It is how runoff is created; and spaces that flirt too closely with flatness are visited often by tornadoes. No one place on WORLD is completely flat anyway because WORLD is an orb, but what if it was different, and our whole big CITY was a single giant impression, a single great, inverted roundness in the earth, a single dip for rain to collect in, that depressed the earth like the indentation of God’s thumb on the land, after a long time, after many eons equipped with the roaming cogs people are and the teeny compositions of buildings and the smaller dips within, made up of all the smaller ventricles of our CITY, all the conurbations and sub-cultures, all that manipulated into that one imprint of a thumb, that giant dip!

What if our CITY was a giant dip our CITY is a giant dip. Our CITY is a giant puddle. It floods with too much rain. The people drown. The CITY falls to anarchy. We are trapped we drown in our buildings …

It stopped thundering and lightning. A few ornery forks of lightning that came and went like a starved dog. The tang of teeth jutting from the dog’s lip. The thundering of teeth. Teeth that make thunder behind the lips, the Thundering of something much bigger and more imprisoned.

As I walked down the street in the rain, it began to rain harder. One could hear soft coos of pain from those people who walked in the rain down the street but we all thought nothing of it some may have glanced waywardly upwards. I walked down the street and the rain came harder and it was coated with purpose. It began to hurt the tops of my ears and my scalp, and my hands. Finally I could take no more and ran towards a church the church had cratered steps that had begun to sink into the sidewalk over time and I ran along with hundreds of others and I noticed that people were huddled with fear under every available storefront or in the lobbies of buildings, and in the sidewalk were millions of little dents in the pavement where the water had fallen, and I panicked when the sidewalk itself started to boil and the peripatetic steam rose from the sidewalk in triumph. And I was reminded of a steamy kitchen of a diner when I saw that and a great many people screamed and ran as the sky let its Rapture fall. A molten spell onto the frontier. Our CITY all soaked with burning water. The lucid Parent of the WORLD made carnivorous. The sky became garbled clouds. They moved silently and amalgamated. Like something whispered from a large, stuck ember. And through the smoke signs and choreography of the clouds were the raindrops equally graceful in their dropping. Onto the changed WORLD gracefully and onto the particles, who make their own streams across the streets and across the WORLD, and I hear a scream far off, then another scream, and the screams gathering like sticks tied together for the winter months for the hearth the hearth that will soon be not more than ash against brick. Then the sky setting everything weeping onto the land of our CITY, and the screams pursing the air, and the weeping out of the bucket of the sky. The rain burned the tarps of the stores. Small holes burned through the tarps and hurt those who sought cover under them. It burned the faces of people who could not escape, hundreds lay curled like a fetus in the middle of the sidewalk on the ground with their maimed hands to their maimed faces and blood exiting from a wound not seen, an uncharted opening somewhere in the bundle of scrouched limbs. Blood moving down the street from the spoiled bodies on the street like a fraud saving face.

One of the bodies looked at me, and her face was not hers anymore but it was as if someone had taken a fat hide and slapped it onto her face and had punched holes for the eyes to see and the mouth to eat.

Her lips were frail. The fabric of her eyebrows had begun to melt and her eyebrows too looked wormlike and emaciated. We both looked at each other for that second and the rain beat down and her wormy lips suddenly began to crawl unaided down the surface of her face from where they would normally be under her nose and the lips almost slipped off of her face altogether but stopped and rested against her ear while the rest of the eggy membrane of her face strung itself out like cheese over her skull and teeth, and the gums were grey and the bones of her jaw pushed out against the spackle of melting flesh. The rain hurt so much. I kept my face to the ground and kept the rain from touching my face but it still managed to hurt because the wind made the rain fall nearly sideways and my face at first had stung and now was in real pain and it felt as though there was some fluid running between my skin and my bone and the fluid made my cheeks into round sacs of fluid that had no definition. I realized I had to get to a mirror immediately I needed a mirror and as I ran I tripped over an angry and defeated bearded Russian Fellow who looked quite familiar and lay in the street with the rest of the bodies and he tried to tell me something he learned but I didn’t listen and I ran past all the bodies in the street the bodies like pathetic rocks. By the time I got to the church I was burning all over and my face was swelling and my hands were, and my shoulders were stippled with rubies of blood and the blood traveled through the fabric of my jacket so the shoulders of my jacket looked as though they had neat red polka dots or rubies and I stopped and touched my cheek tentatively and I ran with the throng of those seeking safety in the church they all seemed to be running the same way the same way through the pews even how they bended at the knees was the same I touched my cheek tentatively I took my hand away from my cheek because I felt a stinging sensation and I focused on my hands because my own flesh was on the tips of my fingers like cookie dough blood ran down from where I had dabbed my face, and the indentation from my fingers had created wet bloody portals on my face and the blood was cool and soothing as it ran down my chin and around my neck like a horrible necklace. No brains coming out. I ran to the nearest mirror and I looked for a long time and I saw myself the skin on my face now a misshapen mass of skin put onto the wrong skull, and I took my other burning hand and grabbed my face and pulled and beneath there were red muscles and veins breathing in the fresh air, and I pulled the delicate placement of the muscles and veins all like tangled strings and spaghetti I pulled that and it was like pulling my entire head off because the tangled melting hair and the melting accessories that were my ears were all replaced by the entirely new head of a young CHILD with white filled-out cheek and with blush, and with everything sweet about him, and yet his eyes were my own and they popped inhumanly from the young sockets like gargantuan bulbs that lit up in terror once more before going out and dying with my body in the must and heat of that godforsaken church.

the thoughts of the teen in the red car

The car was a red car and the red car made a dust trail. The air was cold and the tree branches were brittle, it was late in the fall. The road and the thickets of bush were dry and the road let loose dry billows of dust that spewed out when the car’s patterned tires grinded over it.

The dust billows rose with the black exhaust of the car and together they made an allergenic cloud that spread down the dirt road thirty feet, and the red car was still clean and red while the marshes and the shades of brown and grey clung to the amorphous fall wilderness, which grew in the background of the red car like a tapestry.

The man clutching the wheel was David. He had just received his license yesterday. David’s hair was brown and dull. His hair parted outwards in a teenaged-blasé way. The coat he wore was leather and it was new. His teeth even looked new: flawless in color and straightness. The cotton white shirt imitated his blasé attitude tenfold, as the three top buttons were not buttoned, revealing a cheap trifle hung from his neck.

He liked wearing the cheap trifle. Thinking of it created a restful place in his head, some anonymous pit stop. It reminded him of the beach where his mother lived, and he thought about how he used to visit there. But it was always by bus. He did not know why the cheap trifle reminded him of his mother but it did. It was just a silver necklace. Though,

It had sharp and menacing edges, that glinted thirstily in the sun’s light. The necklace was like many other things in David’s life. Things that could not be explained save one cold hard sense that David had about them, and the sense alone would give meaning to the thing. Things infinite as the look of the day, like this, the way it was now, shining through the naked oaks and dressed pines. The day seemed already in its ebbing afternoon hours at 10 A.M., and the winter brought to fall; those winter days when the sun abruptly moves into evening and dark, and in between that movement there is something about the texture and color of the sun that looks hurried and thrown on, thrown on just as quick as it will be thrown off, thrown off when the hours quickly pass into evening and the yellow sun becomes orange and then dips behind the trees and the crest of the Earth.

The texture and color of the sun seemed to David over-bleached, and soft, like a boiled egg; the texture suggested in him a life in which the living were disaffected by their own hardships and mistakes. This to him was the emblem of maturity. That there was always a way to change things. That life was lived and decided as weightlessly by the moment. By the fast-changing color of an egg in the sky.

All this, the winter sun, and the first trip he was taking in his red car, and the cheap, silver necklace, all this converged into one feeling that David felt, the feeling of a new age. A new and somewhat confused happiness, some feeling that David could not probe was there nonetheless. Was sensed by him.

His hands reminded him of gargoyles, and they were shrunken and bizarre, more like growths than hands. David constantly was alerted of their presence on him because he had to look at the road, and in his line of sight was the arch of the wheel, manipulated by his hands. His hands looked as though they were being sucked in by his wrist, and they vaguely formed a triangle shape; the thumbs and pinkies seemed to arch inwards to create a grotesque pyramid shape, and while the palms were small and shriveled the fingers were long and clumsy. At an angle hanging off the wheel, the thumbs took on a stubbiness like the tail on a bulldog. He frowned when he thought of them. When he was unhappy, it was like falling into a dark pit sometimes. David felt cramped and queasy and afraid when he thought of his hands. He moved his arms a bit and could not see them anymore, and then laughed.

David looked in the mirror and smiled appreciatively to himself. He enjoyed the sudden control of driving. This feeling of being a tyrant unto oneself, of having a sense of command over a piece of large machinery.

The car relied on his aptitude so as to avoid destruction. David relied on the car in order to get where he had to go. On the open road, there are no frustrations. Needs are satisfied swiftly. The need to get to the next curve in the road is swiftly accomplished; the need to get to the end of a mile is also satisfied swiftly. The need to get to his destination, satisfied; all at the will of his own, albeit mutated, hands. At his own hands. A big metal hunk of death machine. Turning with David’s will to turn.

But driving had a strong cerebral aspect to David. The rules of the road were not set in stone. He knew that he would have to one day improvise. Drive defensively. Too many other cars like big monstrous judgments from the good lord, barreling, towards then away from him, testing him.

But for now David serenely led the red car down the dusty road with easy confidence and the cloud of dust and the exhaust trailed behind the car thirty feet.

He was thinking these thoughts about himself the way a boy would think when left alone with nothing else, and he was getting so lost in thought that David began to mumble, and the red car hit a pothole, and a slight bump was felt under the vehicle, and David swerved but was fine. He stopped the red car a few yards up, continuing to mumble; and the tire-grinded dust, and the exhaust all slowly settled back to the ground, and the dust wafted lightly down.

“Dammit, David,” He swore to himself loudly. “Why do you do that? Why do you act so stupid like that?” His ugly little hands were twitching at the thumb. He kneaded his dull brown hair with his hands.

Out of nowhere David’s body took on the rolling of a big wave and he began to shiver the way a wave would shiver and scatter on the sand and then froth up after it hits.

The hands rolled around on the wheel painfully, and that pumped the blood through the wrists, and that pumped a sort of frustrated energy to the brain, and when the hands rolled quicker because of sweat the body rolled, and the body shivered with frustration, like a wave swelling, more and more, aching to crash. One small irritation sparked bigger irritations, each aching to crash. Each spasm had to be fought by him to keep from turning into a hernia. He stepped more into discomfort the more he thought of settling the discomfort.

David realized he would be better just not thinking of discomfort at all, but he could not do that. The pain bullied into him. It made itself seen and touched as though it were a figure sitting next to David, hanging on him, like Coleridge’s Albatross.

. . . . . .

In the lone wilderness, and amongst the wilderness of himself, he rubbed his hands on the wheel, until they were red, and grotesque, trying to soothe the anxiety that had left him shaken.

He thought, did it come from him receiving his license? This? Did the anxiousness start when he turned [insert age]? As David’s whole body rocked in his seat, the padded seat of the red car squeaked like a parasite. A small, indiscriminate parasite or bug that fed off his anger in each squeak. The squeaks were high-pitched yelps that ripped through his eardrums. He wished to be rid of the squeak of human imperfection, of imperfection in the red car’s seat’s design, evidencing the bad constitution of its metal, or his flesh; he wished to be rid of it.

“Calm down,” The crazy squeak, and squeak, and squeak of the seat. “Calm down.”

. . . . . .

When he said that it was like confirming the danger of it. The hurt of it that would come if he went too long without it.

David went rigid as a pole, dipped his head, calmed down, calmed down. It was a slow process, one of control, of focus. He summoned up those things as much he could and he calmed down. He slowly shoved away the strange needs of a mind in panic, through various mantras he had learned, inward talk. The need to stop the ‘squeaking.’ The need to see weird and frightening things when he closed his eyes, such as fat, expressionless eyes staring back at him or people bleeding from their faces. The bleeding people ran and screamed on a bridge, he opened his eyes and closed them again, and they were screaming in a desert. He knew that all of them knew something about him he didn’t…and there was the overbearing need to be swathed in blankets. For he was suddenly very cold.

Thoughts were bugs that were crawling on his skin. “Fuck God. Fuck God,” David repeated, as though he had to.

He said it again, wondering why:

“Fuck God. Fuck God.” His lips moved the same exact way for the same exact syllable until David clenched his mouth shut and screamed into his hands. It wasn’t working. He bit his hands and he yelled. He shut his eyes. He shut his eyes. He thought of an anchor: this was his secret way to calm himself and not even his mother knew it. He regarded the anchor happily and secretively.

He thought to himself: well, an anchor was a heavy thing.

He thought, an anchor always did its job. It never changed. It grew old over time, yes. But the attitude of what an anchor was refused to be lost on him and his airless, ephemeral stresses, and he got lucky. David imagined himself like an anchor dragging across the sands of the deep, halting entire ships, stilly lying in the water then, until it is brought up, only to be plunged in again, brought up again. He realized the intensity of now was dust against the whole thing, like dust on the ever-winding road. His eyes went to lazy slits. He struggled not to think of what he needed to think.

David expanded out onto the seat of the red car like pus. The fat wave yielded and deflated. David expanded the way the sand flattens out a footprint with one salty wave. A wobbly pretense of nervousness still clanged a bit as a marble would in the tin can that was his stomach. David reassured himself more, more. He thought of his mother, and the ocean; the constant assuring nature of the sea. Of the surface of it bobbing on and on for miles so that one could almost make out the curvature of the Earth. Sweat, expanding down the neck of David’s shirt. His smooth shirt was suave and lax and sweat-addled, at the same time. David tried then to think of his shirts but he thought of his medications, instead, and his heart beat out less certainly, and the anchor soon dissolved, and he felt on the edge of a cliff. Soon David could feel nothing but the shaking of his heart against the white of his shirt.

David started the car eventually. But first he looked for his medications. He looked on the dashboard, but he knew he’d never find them anywhere. He pulled out his two red bags and dirtied his clothes when he threw shirts and all in the dust looking for his medications: each clean shirt flung into the dust gave David a release of anger by making a frustrating situation even more frustrating because he was ruining the shirts and he knew it, and by doing so, he cared less and less; since everything was all screwed up anyway, what was another pain to deal with but more proof of the cruelness of God? What was another ruined shirt but a reminder of the pain that God can give?

“Oh, God, why you are so cruel?” David muttered, confirming the thought; and then he winced animatedly because he had to be ashamed. Or because he was ashamed that he wasn’t ashamed. David believed in God when it meant not having to mount a horse that high himself. He scoffed and babbled with liberals about atheism and nihilism and the menace of capitalism and to most of his friends he pursued interests that were particularly stamped “out there.”—And he liked this phrase, because it was simple yet identifiable.

He looked also in his glove compartment and was startled when a map contorted like an accordion burst from it but no medications. Another wave gathered in David’s belly. His stomach clenched and when David noticed the heaviness of the clenched muscles he felt the rest of his body clench again too and mysterious veins that had not been seen before now emerged humorously on his forehead and his hand was claw-like and pumping scarlet when he reached over to the passenger seat, spotting the medications tucked away under the seat, and he laughed wryly and loudly and angrily and dramatically as he grabbed them and pushed his spindly fingers into the small tube, barely able to pinch two white tablets between his fingers and shove them down his throat. He started the car and was gone, and he deflated again as a great sigh summoned up from David’s lungs, and he knew it had not gone away after all.

Again he streamlined down the rustic terrain of the road in this red car. He was off again; as the road stretched on and separated the grass and brush from the dirt and corrupt pavement David’s mind stretched, and he thought of the same things he had before.

He thought inwardly, of himself, and inexplicably brief pictures of his mother pierced through. After thinking of his mother for awhile, he gained a certain momentum: the car, time and his heart all beat the same hands forward on the same clock.

He collected shards of another personality: a smooth yet purposely offbeat one, a partyready one. Night came.

. . . . . .

The night condensed and blurred everything, and everything was all shadows except the moon, whose holes and orifices shown clearly, like halos, or weird pimples, or large craters, which was what they were. The monotony of travel oppressed him; his partyready personality grew less fresh and wearier, time became indistinct. The more control he had on the road, the more bored he became, the more he itched for conflict.

He thought a bit more of his mother’s hair tossing in red, on the beach; more of the pills stacked neatly in the seat, ready for him. David was responsible now, made things easily done, didn’t dwell on things now. Thus he no longer thought of himself nor worried about himself, and when he did think of himself it was to build his temperament into more of something expected. And as David molds himself David realizes he is alone with the shadows that are his.

But he thought of his own mother, as well, thought of her hair tossing in red on the brownfaced beach that seemed to glow like his mother did. His mother, her build, like an arduous painting or marble, filled with the lovely crevices and nuances of a thing prepared and sculpted and perfected. His mother, perfect, centered, correct, beseeching wisdom like a painting, untouchable like a painting; yet she touched all it seemed to David. She was a fortress: she was the singular definition where all other definitions would darken and lose scope. She seemed more distant and Godly the more that David thought of her and was away from her, and he admired his mother for that. It seemed to David that she was there not only for him but for the whole World; that she knew and understood the whole World, and sometimes he felt selfish when he hugged her, or told her why he was depressed. He felt like he wasn’t using this utter strength of his Mother correctly, utterly. There was something he didn’t get and she did. David sighed at the thought of his mother’s soft clutch. David felt as though he would never, ever see his mother again, no matter what happened. David’s mother as this sort of universal beacon somehow made him angry and he did not know how long he had thought that way of it. It didn’t seem right. It didn’t explain everything. Mothers as sources of empathy, understanding, were not mothers but clichés. David hated his Mother for giving him such shallow feelings for her for where was the love in that? He hated her, and he was happy, happy because he meant it, something, for the first time.

. . . . . .

The teen brushed off his weariness, for he was becoming queasy with boredom. He took two other white pills spasmodically, like an addict. David slapped a half-smile on his face.

Within seconds, though medically speaking it would take longer than seconds to work, he felt the pills alleviate him. David pictured the pills like two muscled men, exactly two, with handlebar mustaches and pronounced chins, wearing tights like in those old movies where they get in fights and hold up their fists in that funny oldfashioned way, but instead of each other pummeling up his bad feelings of queasiness into dust. Flattening him down prone to sleep. Wrapping him in blankets and taking away the bad pictures of the people bleeding: David scoffed at his thoughts, embarrassed at their puerility, though no one was around to witness his thoughts. He pictured his body becoming more and more healthful, stable; suddenly he was so happy, so healthful and young, that he felt likely to cry. Everything was working out so well.

David’s shirt swelled the gap between the collar even more, in even more of a teenaged blasé way. Between the collars was the silver necklace hanging there. He thought of the beach, which lay expansively beyond the wiry stacks of trees and their tusks. It was the place he was to go, the beach, his mother, it was beyond the treetusks that were all dim in the night and looking fake, like projections onto a screen. There was a train crossing ahead. He looked at it, his eyes squinting.

“Huh. Cool,” Excitement ran in David’s veins. The old and dusty road had reworked itself from one long line of pavement and woods into a crossing for it. His personality screamed adventure; the personality that had David’s hand dangling out the car window while speeding, that had him buying these red cars. His private self listed off worries and hesitations, and his mother choired somewhere in the hesitations, and David held his head and scowled, and dropped his head to the accumulating shadow in his red car. His private self seemed more natural but it was also private, and when he thought of private matters it was almost like the unhappiness. Like squirming in a pit. He did not want that, and he felt the grip of sweat and nervousness more palpably. David laughed to himself without reason, as if to release some new compression of energy.

The car had been speeding up for some time, very slowly. David had not noticed this: he continued to press his foot to the pedal with ease. It seemed definitively abandoned, for maybe a few years even. Green, toothy weeds and grass protruded up from the wood planks and the metal tracks. The pebbles were dusty for the speedy belly of a train had not sent the low wind whooshing around the pebbles or the metal tracks. No wind from a train, like a rocket, had come to polish the stones here or polish the rusty XING sign. Everything was dust. No train nay anything had cleared the strange tepidity of air, which seemed to congeal on the car windows and soak into the wilderness around David. At the tracks at night the air was like a sauna. His face and body held the primal solitude of a man who knows his death and has no other concern. David stopped the red car on the train tracks and, looking vacuous, instinctively parked his car there. The car had groaned when he stopped; and thick, ugly tracks were printed on the road.

. . . . . .

“Oops,” He said. David laughed selfmockingly, the façade contained even in isolation. It was as guttural a thing as putting the car into park.

“Well, I suppose I’ll wait. I am kind of tired anyway.” He sighed, afraid to ruin his good work by putting the car into drive. The selfmocking, breathy façade came out again, as though David were constantly stretching while he was speaking. David did feel sleepy, though. It seemed too complicated to start up the car, at least right now. There was still time, so, he contrived to place his hunched hands on the lever, heaved the lever backward, and the seat moved down, and he lay, and slept. An owl was in a tree nearby, watching him, and gave a contrary hoot before flapping down to grab the mislaid field mouse.

Fear was a bellow from the train. Fear was quick and hopping in David and the train quickly horned out like his fear. It was quick and hopping and severe. And David, for one brief shake and rattle of time, realized he had felt it the entire trip: fear had nipped at him while he had driven. He had scratched it like something that had bit him, and left it alone, and the itch temporarily had quelled somewhat but did not fully disappear. The itch, the fear, had been slightly and sickly infecting his mind. Only now was the first time the fear had been so close, and felt so dire.

But the close fear quelled in a flash after David was fully awake in his car, his red car. The intense feeling had gone so fast that David had now fully forgotten it. He brushed the silver necklace with an absent, contorted hand, but the look on his face was purposeful.

David thought of his Mother. He thought of trying to get her, and of being with her. His mother embodied the moon in the lurking night—it was the only lighted thing, giving clarity to those who looked at it, the only clear and purposeful thing, he groaned when he thought that, however. “Fuck God.” But he brushed the urgency away, brushed his mother away curtly but kept the purpose of her, and forgot his needs and his nervousness, as the train chirped out mildly in his ears.

David cackled in the silence, then paused for a few minutes, then cackled again as he again realized the position he was in. So easily could he decide not to move the car. So easily could he decide this.

“So easily fucked.” He said. Through big teeth entrenched in big gums. David laughed again. It was a strange thing, doing the unexpected. So many nights David had felt queasy with tedium and routine. The more of a pattern he was in, the more the pattern looked like bars on a cell. He had time. He wanted his mother: but he had time to breathe in the idiosyncrasy: the wild abandon of youth: something so intangible in the wet clutch of his medications, something that morphed and altered as David felt the pill go down and change him. Something that was not a necessity, but an evil and wasteful enjoyment clutched David, and David clutched the seat and felt his bones cave. The seat belt was wrapped tightly, viciously around him. His eyes rounded in sudden fear: the train was closer, or was it? Was David just imagining that it was closer, or had it actually gotten closer, had it actually moved nearer to him?

The horn of the train gave another muffled yell, which dispersed its sound across the winding wild treefilled hills and the many staunch wooden poles of trees. The poles brayed and bent, it seemed, but it was again the yell that did this, snaking across the twisted branches, but this time it was a roar, and a roar not only because of the train’s diminishing distance from David but because of David himself. A thick web of doubt unraveled over him, the strings pointing several different ways to several different choices, strings toppling and crossing each other, the right thing to do suddenly banished from David’s mind.

He gawked at the key in the ignition, moved his hand there. The fingers twitched, searching for meaning in the gesture, searching for something. His pupils widened over the irises like an ink blotter, and David dimly cricked his neck while his strange hands shook; and he gawked also at the gas pedal, and his leg and foot over it were like a useless and heavy log, and he did not move at all but for cricking his neck again and looking down at the seatbelt and doing nothing. The roar of the train. He just took his pills.

“This should not happen.” David said.

He had somehow forgotten that the queer white capsules he had been taking had nothing to do with curing his nervousness, it was his mother’s prescription. She had had a retiring case of something or other when David was younger and had never thrown away the pills, and they sat in her bathroom closet, until David had one day snatched them, wanting a change. Wanting something that was big, something that boiled in him but could never be found in any part of him or anything else, because it was insatiable and always moving. Who knows. David was abruptly divided of his whole self: the panic of death, the running metal on metal of the train that seemed to have already destroyed him now clamored in his chest, which heaved nauseously.The blasé teen, the airhead, the class clown, the jock, the stoner, the goofoffer, the token homosexual, the hardworker, together howled furiously in his head like the men and women who bled from their eyes. “My pill, my pill, my pill,” repeated David, and with his words the howling of these individuals.

He did not hear himself. His lips wagged flabbily, transformed the words into ghastly mumbles, and he mumbled and breathed out but this time did not calm. Web upon web was being woven, made of paths, one path led into a labyrinth of delirious schemes to escape involving force fields and prayers (maybe if he wanted enough not to die, it wouldn’t happen), and, also, he tried to ignore the train, the fear, and focused on the moonlighted leaves and trees, wishing to forget; he tried to move one part of him only, then another part only, and never moved the two together, then, hearing his chest beat into his jaw, he tried to move every part of him at once.

He grappled with whether he should deal with accepting his fate or continue to rescue himself; and also, not mindful of it, estimated the minutes till his demise, then the seconds: David from this acquired some makeshift reassurance, some solace of knowing at least when. He tried to remember what he had forgot, but the very maze of the other thoughts tumbled down on the pragmatic answer, and it was too much effort to still the thump of his heart and remember that the ignition key and the gas pedal were the two elements that could and would save him. The train gnashed, roared.

However, through the confusion was the simplicity of his destination. He did not need to have any plans but road plans for it. It was his goal, his simple and straight goal; it was not like creating a persona for the personae, one to please one culture, another to please another group. Seeing it in this way was as simple as getting up and going; but David seeing himself took time and effort that he did not have: what was important to him was not important to him. His values and virtues were all nice words, and yet to poor David they were all abstract and unattainable traits, to be given to others and not to him, others worthier than he; so that he could be alone and be ridiculed for being alone. And that was the way he saw it, possibly saw it.

But he thought of the sand, of ocean, of his mother, of the simplicity and accuracy of getting up and going, and that cleared David’s mind enough to remember the necklace. He groped at it, the sharp, primal edge that could free him somehow, but, then, felt the responsibility of saving himself stay his hand. The load of life, his life, dragged him down. His arms seemed to collapse like an old building, and his body collapsed, and David slouched in his smug, sad cotton shirt, as though shot.

“I’m not ready for this. I shouldn’t have to do this. What if I fail, what then?” And he gave up, without reason, and blindly demanded his pill, and his hand crinkled in need of it. My pill. My pill.

The train was so close that its sound filtered into the car now, the red car, shaking the seats; and David’s savage hands burst forward, looking for his pill:

“My pill. My pill! My pill!” The headlights of the train clarified the insanity and pain and fear of David’s face with one damning beam and the beam spread further the closer the train came, into the shadows of the wooden poles of trees. It lighted blindingly into David’s red new car. David opened his eyes to the light and to the furious hosanna of the train, and his eyes were as pale as his skin; and as lights and convulsing Earth swam violently about him, and as the train coughed out sparks when it tried vainly to halt against the red new car, and seconds before the train would give a last monstrous thrust into the bare frame of the car, David ripped the sharp metal necklace off of him, stabbed it into the seatbelt, cut through the thing and went hurtling out the window. He hit the dirt; a perturbed quiet drummed in the shadowy wood, anticipating collision, a collision itself echoing in the quiet, and, the trees then suddenly peacefully still, and in the twilight wood there then was a smash and cacophony that blew the birds from the trees, and the wings rustled together out of the oaks and the pines.

The racket tore open the wilderness. David eyed the blur of the Amtrak with no expression. David’s mind sloshed, and his legs sloshed gaily from side to side, and the pants and the elbows of his shirt were patterned with dirt, like the tires of his red new car.

Looking at him, looking at David, you see not shock but nothing; you see a struggle to understand the experience, to comprehend its depth, and then he fails this because everything is an object to David. You can see that. But you can also see the creation of depth out of David’s mind; the formulation of depth and webs from nothing, the formulation of something simple into something complex and unanswerable. Or maybe none of these things are happening to David. Maybe he is just confused, as he sits on the ground, looking unworried and looking at the train, and hearing the horrible scratching sound of the metal wheels of the train. The big sound grows, grows into the wilderness, soaks up all the feelings of David and all his thoughts, and is so loud that it clogs time itself. The screeching and the cackling and the sparks blow the past out of existence, make the group of seconds that David stares into space on that patch of dirt and rocks seem not like seconds but a wedge of some different time, some purgatory without memory and without feeling; and once you left you felt no different. David threw the ridged necklace to the ground wearily, though it had saved his life, and got up.

He immediately thought of a moral for all this; because his mother had said always to get the most of a unique experience, and this was sensible enough advice.

So David walked on, limp and restless, and for the moment had forgotten anything had happened, because it was the easiest to do. There we go, there’s the moral: forgetting was always the easiest to do. We forget, and then whatever had happened before loses meaning and weight. We move on, without learning from or facing what happened. People sometimes try to forget, and don’t succeed, and are sad their whole lives. Others don’t mean to forget, and they don’t even know what sadness is, because they don’t remember when they had been sad in the past. Forgetting is such a thorough entity, it is in all of us: one could cultivate an entirely new life by just erasing the old one. David thought of this, or didn’t, and the ocean both in and before him pulsed, and he thought it would be a good idea to forget as slick flames bobbed behind him, feeding off the odd piece of car scrap, drenched in gas.

“Who am I?” He said.

The red remainder of the car jerked away, and it was another quarter-mile before the train completely stopped.