Poor Muse, alas, what ails thee, then,
To prove that I was living I picked
flowers and put them together to form a bouquet. But the colors were all
wrong. Definitely didn't match. I had a large grotesque daffodil which I
had pulled with all my force from the dry earth next to a perturbed half
grown rose and next to all that a handful of savage screaming blossoms
pretending to show real blood and regretting the day they were born, etc.
Surrounding all this some ugly weeds whose aroma overcame all living
things causing even the roses' thorns an inhuman agony. The first harmful
bouquet of history. My sweating hands were thickly stained with the
dripping pollen and semen and would have been with tears if flowers had
How how could I be
holding such a bouquet? Was it really me who picked them?
What aroma do I now conjure up. Skip
it. It's not my turn. There the world is before me. Where the world is.
That's where I am. And what I smell. Covered in it from night to day.
Feels like mud sometimes but sometimes not. I walked through the city in
an hour of grace. Saw only the high churches and sleek mosques. Saw the
white buildings in the sun, etc. And the inhabitants were all posed for my
eyes. There lay a poor suffering near the embrace of a park bench. His
fingers touched the garbage and pigeons. There were birds above him.
Flapping madly to be his halo. With the hope of crumbs in their eyes. This
beggar too, he swallowed a morsel. Do you follow? A piece of dry bread.
The odor was
magnificent but now forgotten. Cars beeped and I passed in front of him.
become no sportsman through this profession. It builds not healthy
muscles. I spend my time dragging the limbs of well-oiled gods from behind
these dirty curtains. Picking them apart, exposing every perfection for my
failing eyes. The sight is going but my ears are still sharp enough to
hear the hefty audience crying for more. One night I sell a tooth of
Medusa for a ridiculous fortune, the next night, for a lower sum, the hand
of an unknown god. It excites them, this cultured group. They stand in
line to enter. Waiting for me to pull an incredible angel's wing from my
sack on stage. Sometimes I deliver whole deities unto them. This always
goes over well. The poor captured complaining in their secret languages.
What curses I miss. Fault of knowing only my own tongue.
I must admit, that
compared with the carpenter's task, my job is easy. I am no animal
trainer. I try not to tame. The lion's mouth which I wave over the heads
of the baffled remains as savage as ever. Roaring to the delight of all. I
just close my eyes, reach into the weedy black and pull up the first thing
I feel. Something of a fisherman, me. With no hook, or pulley, or painful
cage. Armed with just a loincloth I dive into the close unknown and take
what's there for the taking. Who owns the unknown? It's there for all.
symbolic way I'll say that my feet smell. That they ache. That the nerve
in my stomach, the nerve in my forehead, the nerve in my wrist is
pounding. That my blood's running the wrong way, in crazy directions, and
that it's hardly the color of real blood. That my limbs fold bow bend and
burp in astonishing discord. That the alcohol on my breath stems from a
hole in the gut. That the shit falls in indiscernible patterns. That the
skin is murky and hard to see through. That the fog is a result of
untrained eyes. And that these eyes have turned back in the head. Seeing
only the interior functions of the master. And none of the wonderful
landscape that must be just at his fingertips...
I'd never dream of
saying what I was really thinking. White comes out black like photo
negatives. I look into a cool stream and conjure up a burning desert.
Luckily, when I'm in the desert I conjure up the stream and I assume, of
course, that all around me are doing the same. The eyes of the mother
become the worst enemy. A baby's cry is monstrous. A virgin, a whore, and
so on. I walk into the jungle dismissing it as a poorly-lit illusion.
Then, of course, in my room I feel inhuman. Every familiar object loaded
with an energy that will turn against me. My pillow becomes so hard that I
have to go out and find a rock to lay my head upon. It's absolutely
What do you want of
me? To show my thirst, to beg for water? Should I look at the flowers and
shut up? Should I praise your colors or keep it to myself? Should I get
down on one knee or should I tower above you? Am I being extreme? I've
taken the philosophy books and slammed them with all my might against the
walls and ceiling. There they stick. I've taken to studying insects,
especially the very ugly ones. Imagining every stain to be a crawling mass
of heart and brains.
I try to harm not.
Even the ants that seem to place themselves directly beneath my shoe.
Avoiding them causes a tangled path. I lead myself through forests and
wastelands with only one thought in my head. How not to harm. But suddenly
hungry I pull all the berries from the branch and leave the tree bare. And
then I begin for another land. With a mind as ravaged as the once-blooming
bushes. But at least they're innocent.
Agony was on the
menu. I settled for something easier to digest. The beautiful dessert.
Which, I noticed, stuck in my teeth. And stayed on my breath. I excused
myself to go to the ladies room. Surrounded by ladies there, I pulled the
dessert, which had not yet travelled its inevitable long trek, back up
through the tubes and let it all out there in the well-washed sink. The
attendant let out a small cry which I immediately paid for. I splattered
her dish with heavy coins. Enough to have her turn her head. The other
ladies too, prepared to leave. They were afraid of being turned to stone
or something, afraid that I was Medusa or something, afraid of anything I
might do next. Yes, they took their leave. Imagine the clean, shining
bathroom with its many private stalls, spotless walls. I waited for
inspiration to come to me. Knowing that nearby the diners awaited me. I
feared all eyes were rooted to the door. Watched the remains of dessert
happily drip down the drains. And when that was gone I turned the water
off, thanked the attendant for looking the other way, wet back my hair,
dried my tears and headed back into the dining room. Praying that there
would be no midnight snack.
I am the one who knocked on and
down the doors. I saw them plainly. Large and brown and made of wood. I
scratched harmless hums and hymns and thought of him. How once he lived.
Like the others. Just. In his room. Behind his door. I decided there was
only one door ,one way in. There I sat across his street in his street and
finally in his doorway. With my skirts way above my knees I lay without a
care in the world. Without a word to say. I was dead drunk and about to be
saved. After vomiting who knows were I began a prayer. But fell asleep
long before the finish. I dreamt of him coming to find me there. After
midnight. He would see me there in the filth and carry me the seven
flights to his door. He would lay me down and we would sing.
going to rain
soon. On all my gleaming liberty. Soon I'll ask for your hand. In these
few pages. Exit the shark from the roaring ocean to be my maid, my guest
of honor. Tell us without biting. Leave our skins free from dust and
You must realize that
now am I numb. My words, my bonnet, my wonderful mask. Come Germans. In
front of me now. How I do burst. In your lap, ma'am. For your eyes, sir. I
will spill no blood. But enough of me. What about you? Sitting there in
your chair. The five or six poets in front of you. Reading aloud a poem. I
call for you secretly. Don't. Come in the middle. When I ain't ready. Ball
of plenty. Ah, that's what you are. How can I describe you? Now the words
should come. What's this about? Love in a foreign city. With just me in
the room. I battle with my spoon and dream. I bang my nose against the
wall. Where I slept. There did I drip real sweat. That much I can say.
meat and bones is driving me crazy. I refuse to be a skeleton. To lie ten
feet under without a thought in my head. While the living dance their
dance. How ridiculous is the week-old wreath! A ring around a rotting
neck. Struggling to swallow before I realize I have no more breath. The
tongue is an ancient companion. Remaining in the head long after the guts
have gone. It flies the coop at the last moment. As the heavenly cage
descends to give you grace or not. Wipe away your snot if you still have
hands. The last word is the last judgement. Thank god. That you will not
have eyes to shut. To weep away thou ghostly daze. You're out like a
firecracker. A feeble last attempt to dazzle. To scare away the gush of
newcomers. The newborn and the earthworm. You're out at the count of ten.
At the count of five. At minus one it's hard remembering what it meant to
mystery I let myself go. Collapsing down the road. An hysterical tic
inflating my head. Swelling the smile 100%. Waving madly to the others who
continued milking cows and changing lightbulbs. Fixing ceilings. In case
of rain and other misfortune. Lights flashed, cars turned the corner, and
I found myself in another town. Right in the middle of the junction with
an impossible question. Avoiding the eye of the scarecrow. Yelling out
words in the village language. Hoping to provoke the mayor who would take
me to the dentist who would wash my mouth clean. Just begging to be seen.
Of all the mothers, I screamed, which one claims to be mine? Let's start
anew. Let's just say that I promise to keep mum. To keep warm by your
side. To eat what you bake. To sleep in your sheets. To take over the farm
when you die. You be the mother, I'll be the daughter. There's no mystery
in that. I promise. Don't need another inch of mystery.
Despite myself I
wanted to live again. Therefore I spit in my face and told myself to go to
hell. Straight to hell. Where all the wenches whine. Wrangling with the
higher up. Beating his breast and covering myself in his armpits. Even the
holy smell. In this damn desert. Even the holy are besides themselves. In
tattered garments and outdated jewels. Tattooed up to the neck. Which
shines from sacred flesh. Gleaming into my lost eye. I'm giving myself up.
That's what I cried and cried. To ears that had heard it all before. Up to
their necks in tears and threats. Go jump in a lake said the holiest with
hand outstretched! Pointing to the shallow pool. Where I could stare at
myself forever. Where? Where the lost drool. But they're all lost. Every
single one. I'm going to buy myself a gun and shoot myself into humble
tatters. Hark, the horizon calls. In black and blue. With a fiery sun
that's trying to set. In front of my eyes. In front of my humble tatters.
where it should be in my room. The photographs of the lost and weary
wearing away my four walls. Map of the north pole in a lonely corner.
Feather of a bluebird covering a hole in the ceiling. You already know
that this hole leads to the sky. That just beyond this leak is an
untouchable immensity. Yes, I'm sure you know all that. And this immensity
is just above my roof where it always has been. The ceiling is above my
head. And my head is filled. Not congested, just active. And not like a
volcano but like a never-ending river. Because the river leads to the sea
and the sea is all around us. There's no linear line where you say here is
where the sea ends, no. It goes around and around in a circle in my head.
Not to say that I'm dizzy. I'm just thinking out loud. Thankful to have a
ceiling which is a roof which leads to the immensity which is above me.
The crack in the wall
leads to the crack in the sky. Magnificent. Or anyway, in my eyes. How
once I stood with a hand sticking straight up into what they call heaven.
Yes, I parted the sky. There were three faces. Wisdom, reaching into the
gut of me. And none of this surprised me. This is what I was born for I
said. To no one on either side of me.
When it gets right
down to it I have to ask myself if I'm capable of loving. Of course when
the door slams in my face I cry. Could it all be biological? For instance,
is it just the heavy wind, the change of atmosphere that brings tears to
I admit that I'm
crying. But look at the weather. It blows my hat off. It blows my clothes
off. I turn round and round not knowing where to go. I search corners for
shelter. It brings me to my knees. Logical. It's a heavy wind. It's just
letting my food
fall to the ground. And it's not because I'm overfed, full. And not even
in jest of the millions starving. I tell you I can't help it. I'm
trembling and can't stop. What succulent bones full of meat miss my mouth
and slide to earth! What nourishing nectars!
Now even the words
are spilling out of two astonished lips. Soon the tongue too will be
hanging down. Struggling against gravity. All trying to reach mother
earth. To be buried for once and all. No more is the head in the clouds.
And I don't understand it.
As it all drops
downwards. I meant to keep beating my wings to remain high up there. But
the melting sun, the speed of light, and the lure of dirt are too much.
Too much for the
directions in an attempt to be understood. As traffic builds up all around
me. Chained to the wall I'm pointing to the mountains. Over the valleys
and through the woods. I'm seeing over heads. Saying the heart is where
the home should be. But who wants to live in that gushing mass of aorta
and muscle? Seeing all red but trying to calm it down to a more peaceful
pink. Trying to pick out clots with a delicate hand. I have a surgeon's
touch and a lump in the throat. Leaning on the shoulders of this immense
crowd. As we cross from first street to second street like intimidated
pilgrims on our way to some shrine. On our way to where they say the sun
doesn't shine. But in our own time. The priest's powered paw to direct us
when to bow and bend. Like schoolgirls in the presence of a powerful cop.
We feel ourselves at the crossroads stop.
And there it all does
end. Amen. there's nothing between the end and the beginning. Just a lot
of space and time. Where they say worlds meet and light bends. Somewhere
there's no sin. Where bluebirds fly. There's no static. No million voices
talking at once. I put my hand out. To stop it all. To scream directions.