But I feel nothing for their
game/where beauty goes unrecognized
girl gets bitten
I get up still bitter. Mean
world I'm in. Jack, my imaginary husband, rolls over and grins. Cold last
night? Well, yes. To tell the truth is funny in this house.
I see garden snakes. Thousands waiting for breakfast.
Right away it's truth or conse≠quences. Damn beauty of irony. Green,
black, they're blue and spotted. The whole lawn is covered with these
tubes of what some call evil.
I got out and get bitten. Of course. My neigh≠bor comes. I explain the
situation. I'm dying ≠asshole. What about your husband, Jack? He's
sleepingówon't wake up. Meanwhile the heart I call mine is racing like a
car driven by a ten-year-old. Real fast.
Don't move the cops say. One moves his lips near my bite, though. Feels
good, I guess. Can see my dead mother coming to life. Why oh why did you
take so long. Cop sucks out all the poison. Or so he thinks. How's that
I'm still lying on the ground, though. Jack is yawning, waking up.
Wondering where his pancakes are. There's 34 ambulances in our drive. They
came in a silent rush. So as not to scare me. Not to get the adrenaline
running. They don't want me to panic. Funny thing about 34 ambulances,
though. Jack is 34 today. And there's no cake I know of baked.
My neighbor finally drags me into his
house. Oh, God, his house. I hate it here. Grandfa≠ther clock. Couch that
hurts. Counter I lie on where he stores the knives. His wife is making
pleasant talk. My head near the sink where she skins the apples. Can I go
home? But the radio is on. They're listening to the morning news. A girl
got bit. How do you like that?
I get him and the prophets and the kings confused. Do wild cats still
fight in the alleys? We took the most twisted roads on our journey. It was
a vacation to never forget.
talking through jack
Could he be dead? I imagine a dark forest where I'll bury him. A huge
bird falling off a crazy tree. Looking down on his splattered jungle. I'll
dig a hole. I'll drag him throughÖ
But no. He's up. Reaching over to the night table for...
Down into my throat goes an entire bottle of Scotch that cost only $2.99.
Jack bought it. He eased all the coins out from his small pockets. Here,
baby. We looked at the sun somehow pasted above the gas stationís sign. A
couple of big men leaned into the window. Our window. And said: Your tires
Thereís a look of something or other on his face., I canít figure it out.
Do you want to kiss? I ask him about his days as a solider. I was under,
he says. A big submarine. Where the other guys ate jello and minded their
own business. Me, at the time, I was folding up all thoughts of happiness
on earth. Became a Christian and was forgiven. A cop comes by and kicks
the tires. The car is dead. We are meekly brought to jail. Jack caves in.
From another cell I hear my husband sighing. I look into what I imagine is
rain: the captainís face. Get us out of here and Iíll pay you a hundred
But they donít. Jack dies on the top bunk. Thatís the story they gave me.
Died with a smile on his face, maíam. Iím led into the patrol car. Canít
we do anything on our own, anymore? Lines of poetry clogging my lips.
Thoughts so thick Iím afraid theyíll interfere with swallowing. Were you
two married? Not really.
Back home I carefully bury the bottle. A drop left but Iím not thirsty.
Itís jackís fault. All this. Thunder laughing out there. Smoky distance. I
point my finger at the damn clouds. Youíll regret this. I say all the
prayers I know. And fold my fingers. Sharp nails cutting through the hand
I call my own.
For one thing I will no longer believe
in anything that cannot be heard unless directly whispered into the ear.
Jack looks at me like I was the stunning goddess of all beauty. He must
notice tears in my eyes because he shuts them with his own fingers.
I was sort of walking up a hill. I saw all the figures of historyóthe
saintly ones, that is. They were walking up the hill, too. Whatís this? I
thought heaven would be all downhill. O my God, Iíve got to sit down and
think about this. You guys sweating. Thatís not fair. When you lived you
shorn your hair, you poked arrows through your eyes, you were burned by
the ones who called themselves holy. Before I can finish my tale, Jack
says: shut up because thatís not funny. He leans over with his head
freshly wounded and the bandage touches a scar I happen to have. No blood
mingles, though: the scar is old. Count my fingers. You still got five
left, all right. He blinks the one eye still working. Touch my head. Itís
warm. I got a fever? No, youíre alive. Youíre working.
If Jack was all plastic, I could look inside and never have to guess. In
his brain would be words clearly scrawled. Big words with big meanings.
Iíd see his heart tick-tock or not. The blood rushing to get to the most
important place: my fingertips. Iíd knock on his chest and ask for
entrance. Like a robot heíd grin: Itís open.
If I was all plastic, Jack would faint, With pleasure. With despair, with
fear. Heíd trust me. All the godly notions reduced to a human organism.
Reduced to crazy cells bursting into one another. Heíd see my liver
bubbling. The genes running up and down the corridors of blood and guts.
Hurrying with messages. Heís read those messages. DNA? Easier than that.
Tiny messages. Lonely messages. Sentences with the smallest words. Heíd
see the gentle mess of chemistry and finally sigh that sigh he needs. Heís
safe. Iím humanóprey to all his wild thoughts.
He was proud to be one of the imaginary
crucified. Bleeding palms scrawled on papers thrown around his room. Words
so turned into poems. Verse that wrecks a manís life. Like broken limbs
unattended to. Sticking straight out from the horror of everyday life.
On my neighborís chair and elsewhere
I donít want to be here. It hurts like hell. To be sitting on my
neighborís chair. I have nothing on. Sheís bringing up memories of her
husbandís university days. Sheís cutting cucumbers. The wall with al the
knives rattles. Iím going to be sick.
I try to get out. Sit down, she says. We go over the books of
photographs. Here she is before she was married. A thin girl with glasses
sitting on giant steps. Not her fatherís house. Next to her legs: a red
pocketbook. I get up and go into the kitchen. Wonít these knives fall if
this keeps up?
Her husband is chopping wood. In one of the pictures. I eat a cucumber.
She pats my shoulders. Is this erotic? Hell, no. But she lends me her
sweater. Iím so cold. I canít get over how cold I am. Iím freezing. My
lips are blue. Too bad your eyes arenít, she says. My husband has a thing
for blue eyes.
My husband Jack is home sleeping. I send him tiny thoughts but nothing
helps. Heís been sleeping for days. I try to get him up for breakfast but
nothing happens. Pancakes? I ask him. His hand is so limp it flops over
and hits the book he was reading: The Idiot. I think heís in a
Now the kitchen is on fire. When will tragedy stop. Iíve called the fire
department and can only wait calmly now. Weíll be right there, maíam, said
the fire chief. But that was an hour ago. The house is black and burnt as
toast. I figure Jackís really dead now. And the book I was reading?
Probably burnt to pieces. Damn book on Japanese philosophy. I hear
engines. Birds squawking. Neighbors running. Trucks stopping. I smell
smoke. I see lights. Stars. Iím falling over onto our best rug. Persian
princes smile at me. Iíve fainted.
Some really small sensation of
something starting. Maybe on the other side of the world, maybe three
million years ago. They walked together hand in handóor so the scientists
say. Along the edge of a river are only fingerprints left. Lovers or
savages? There is no bonding of a violent nature: only something that
happened before there were words. A man then had nothing to do but gaze.
Blue, pink, whiteÖThere was no ravaging of the mind to pinpoint the
Do you believe that I canÖThereís no words for it. Letís uh pop open. I
got a knife that has a corkscrew. Why donít you reach into the back and
grab that bottle.
Iím just kidding about drinking. Only in my mind do I. Huge bottles of
bourbon. Iím a drunk but Iíve had nothing to drink. Water. I want to lap
at a stream. But that would get old, too.
A green bottle of gin. Jack comes over with it. His suspenders are down.
I notice his buttons need mending. Where you been so long? We screw off
the top. I got this dress on thatís making me feel hot but all I do is
unravel the straps. Jack sits up straight. The sun goes down.
How do you like those damn neighbors of yours he says. Putting up a
fence. Gin spills on the Indian rug. A deerís gentle face is splattered
but you can see the stain wonít be bad. A fence? Thatís all right with me.
Iím going to run through the jungle I have in back once theyíve built it.
Naked. Iím going to run naked. We move on Jameson.
The sun appears again. Jackís sleeping with a copy of the Bible stifling
his snores. I reach into my pocket and find the corkscrew. Itís my
favorite device. How the hell can I be so sober?
Next thing: my nose buried in the Indian rug. Head next to the legs of a
table. Hand so gently clutching it. What a relief. With sturdy things like
that around I know I wonít go under.
Iím in love with the image of telling
half-truths to people who lie. There is a certain stink of alcohol. Wine
brought from the half-price shelf. Tell it to the world from a sliver of
light in an attic room. Here in these twelve feet.
Saint Jack, you thing to touch. How you stand by the sea
without hat look. Over and over I repeat to myself: can dost? Hear my
words in a bottomless ear. The sea is cast under the birds like a net.
Safety, my brother, my own Saint Jack. It gleams and rolls and traps and
opens wide its lips. Sea of tongues! The fish who swim with muddled heads.
Confusion did not sink to the bottom. Water that bloats the paths of
eagles. See straight. Over that mass can some frail bones pop. Feeble like
the damn things underneath. Almost think itís a mirror. O be smarter than
that! Saint who walks his very own shadow. Up and above the gifted lake.
Fishermen plead for the biggest battle to be finally over. That fish will
walk without a hope into their dull nets and than drowning with all their
force bow down to the damn gluttony of men. I think that will not ever
happen. Jack so sad. Jack in the garden. Can dost... Marriage of sorts.
Jack who never came back. You are really swimming. Jack who counts to ten.
Jack who whispers things so hard. To greatness! So great you are.