prosetry

Proclivity

Let’s perform this procedure and run these tests and hopefully then be done with this. Oh yes, and your heart can go on beating. That’s what the cardiologist said in a dream I had in August, not in real life, but it was nevertheless a relief, albeit late.

Camus, in real life, said “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” I should’ve asked the doctor about the possible side effects of semantics on one’s physiognomy. But one rarely reasons in dreams.

It’s a good thing I’ve gone from documenting my brain patterns and emotions like so much abstract-realist reportage to actually simply merely finally really trying to tell stories, without so much cognitive noise going on. A good thing indeed.

Who else can I appeal to? Well, Ali Smith said novels are about sequence and short stories are about all that’s unsaid. “There is structure, but you know that there’s life somewhere in it, around it, free from it.” Saying without saying, living without looking. Albert, Ali, and expressionism, with an abstract look on its face.

If I had a writing teacher instead of a cardiologist he(?) might applaud that sentence. But one night in September, awake, I realized that no longer does my apparent fate seem to hang in each sentence’s balance, and no longer do I desperately hurl “my” words against the confines of presence and circumstance. They’re just structure for the story of life somewhere in it, around it, free from it, happy and living.

I close my eyes and sit on the edge of the bed and see thoughts as a tangled pile of string needing to be unraveled and pulled taught and I enjoy that double entendre without thinking myself clever. I can’t find any ends, which might just be how thoughts do, and my heart goes on beating.

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fiction

Seasons’ Spell 2

Part 2 of 4. Read part 1 here.


She sits in her chair at the same small square table by the same open window, a sultry, hazy sky beyond, air like bath water in both hue and temperature and stillness, air soaked up by the same hills and trees, same curtains, same oxalis, same tablecloth, now still and languid, though, same newspaper, but now laid flat, flat and folded on his side of the table. It’s how she feels too, she thinks, folded and flat, as she looks around the room with an almost purely peripheral gaze, almost at the paper, almost at his empty chair across from her, pushed in, then completely out the window, staring without seeing into the spaces around her.

There and with those thoughts she sits in her white cotton sun dress, a favorite of his, her thin arms crossed, long black hair held loosely up over her slender neck and lithe but sturdy shoulders. The day is waking hot and thick, soon to swelter. The heat’s ubiquity acts as a level, she imagines, aligning her with and to all the rest, and she feels ok enough, sort of, tells herself, for the moment, perhaps, looking up at the photograph on the wall above his chair, the small, dark-framed black-and-white photograph of a sidewalk along a foggy Paris avenue from the Past. It has been hung high at standing eye level so he, tall as he is, can give it a for-granted glance or even stop and peer in for a moment when he comes to sit or stands to leave. Sometimes he will gaze at the photo, lingering, caught, she often mused, by the cimmerian figure of a girl and her little white dog about halfway to the image’s vanishing point, standing and looking back at the viewer between a row of bare trees to the right and a corresponding line of store- and housefronts to the left, together forming a corridor of sight with the sidewalk as its floor, leading straight to the girl. Its origin unknown, he has carried this photo with him for years, and where he hangs it is home, marked.

It must’ve been winter there, she fancies each time she looks, or late autumn, perhaps. The trees are bare and a cold-seeming mist hangs, obfuscous, and a presence of something about three paces short of sinister seems to lurk, just a sense of what if, what if the frozen moment were allowed to play. What would we see? He never talks about the photo, never describes it, never says anything more than that it’s “one of his favorites,” keeping the rest, whatever it is, to himself in his customary self-keeping way. He has never been to Paris, she knows that much. It’s something from inside him, she thinks from time to time, and then placed on the outside, hung on the wall, open to view and most likely best left untrammeled by common language.

It is summer Now, though, no matter what it was in Paris or inside him Then, and her gaze drifts to the window and out to the sky, still thinking of the photograph, losing herself in the vapid, smoky blue marked with incidental clouds, some whisping, some cottoned, all hanging above inert treetops and a thought occurs as a crow swoops through the frame. Chekhov and necessity. “If a pistol appears in a story, eventually it’s got to be fired,” he said, she recalled, and it stuck with her the way her arm feels stuck to the table in the heat, the way she feels stuck now, though she knows implicitly that the stickiness has no meaning beyond itself, and is glad for Chekhov, glad someone has thought thoughts before, glad for thoughts of function and relationality, for necessity, for something more concrete than morals or principle. She sits, ruminative, and time hangs, floats, drifts, slow and quiescent, detached from space.

The dog barks outside—three times, two, then one—and she rises from her seat, draws the curtains, and slips on her shoes.

*

Afternoon now, late, but still not dark, and she sits on the sill in her white cotton sun dress, feet bare and dirty and knees tucked up to her chin, looking, just looking, and hearing without listening to the low, unpunctuated hum of the World. Her gaze drifts down from the clouds—fewer now, and their sky deeper and bluer and yellowing with early sunset—and settles absently on the hills and treetops extending as far as Forever and she wonders where he could be. Wonders, imagines, begins to fantasize that he’s lost in the great wild wonderland on some great wild wonder-adventure, even worries a little, for comfort’s sake, oh familiar and trusty concern, hoping he’s safe and well-fed and thinking of her, longing for her, hoping against a deep gnawing knowing that it’s just foolishness, but a sustaining foolishness nonetheless, she tells herself, her thoughts becoming as boundless as the emptiness she’s beginning to sense within and without. He should’ve been back by now, should’ve been back, this is not like him. But something more than nothing tells her he’s not coming, not all of him anyway, and in her mind their wonderland begins turning to mere land, coarse, tangled, verdant, and overgrown, as if a switch has been flipped in a dimly-lit room and the thin gauze of their swoon-myth evaporated.

No, no, breathe, she tells herself, breathe, remembering she needs a reminder, something essential and constitutive, a mantra against the nothing around and rising dismay within. She inhales and hears it fill her, thinks about the air in her lungs, how it’s hers and she’s captured it, how it gives her shape and for a few seconds she’s an origami swan floating there in the viscid air, then it’s expelled and she’s folded and flat again, like the newspaper still on the table, still untouched. She swings her feet to the floor and leaves the window behind, padding off to busy herself, must stay busy, make sound, motion, life, something against this slow summer crawl of time, this boundlessness. He’ll be back and it’ll be ok, like Before, air in and out, remember.

In the evening he returns, just past dusk, and a pale midsummer moon sits low in a star-flecked sky of majestic blue-black through the window. He is troubled, solemn, and distant, not himself, not at all. She is in her chair again; he does not sit, leaning on the doorframe instead. A few small words are exchanged, a few small glances, then he goes off to bed. She remains at the table, feeling smaller than small and still breathing small breaths, and the world Out There comes In Here and suddenly it seems that there are strange trees growing right up from a grass-covered floor, ivy snaking up the walls, and dark bushes in the corners with little eyes glinting from within, the room’s lamplight hushed and outshined by the night sky ceiling. There is a long howl somewhere off in the distance and a slow-stammered hoo-HOO-hoo-hoo in the branches and she feels the crickets in her bones. Afraid to move, almost afraid to breathe, it is all finally too much for her, and then she goes too, to join him, small steps with small, bare feet, almost silent, hoping the truth won’t hear her and follow and she can at least have the night.

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prosetry

Post, Scripted

P.S. – Believe me, I’m not trying to embark on some regular correspondence, just offering a splat snap smattering of uncalculated afterthoughts and feeling Los Angeles as if it were a psychological condition but I’ll leave you to decide what that means

and what it means to ask more than wonder or think whether we—you and I, addressor and addressee—feel obliged to act like less because so many think they’re more, countermeasures and weights we must, it seems, imagine as some kind of silent unsteady change and there I went saying “we,” you’ll notice, you will, as if to even out the statement so… well… so its mass doesn’t feel all mine, if I have to be honest, looking for at least one other pair of kindhearted, tired shoulders for baring, some way to share the load

because I need help and won’t say it in the body sometimes but will in the afterword, hidden tacked on and down below where it can stand as said but might just as well be overlooked all the same, help feeling that it has to mean something beyond image or projection or—god forbid—market value, our thoughts and sentiments, our dreams and wonderment, our sentience, something, anything without the flying buttresses of ego mystification and all those self-ful things which look so grand in person but not on them

just like how it has to mean something—maybe two somethings—to say something dimly earnest and American with the brow furrowed and eyes wide and glazed like: Same loving kindness for “them” as for “us” and maybe even for a police force of lowly paranoids but these times make that maybe big and make that saying seem to mean more than the first fact of the speaking matter which is that I know more or less how to put the face on like all the rest of them the juxtaposers and equivocators yes them as opposed to us and where do you think the honest truth lies in that, in this the spirit of our age.

Or the spirit of our we-weight, for that more or less unspoken speaking matter, the spirit of rhetorical dissatisfactions word-turned mutual and voice-made real, we like two grains of sand in a scale pan held way up high in the clouds while the world of bricks and mortar and the hard evidence of scientized deceit keeps the other side grounded in a truthishness I purport to despise while looking straight at you and plagiarizing and no one is any much more the wiser even when I say, wide and furrowed, And that was no lie. It was instead the best kind of truth, the one that means at least two things, saying without quote or attribution and to you it just feels like déjà vu, just more talk and dream

of reaching to you from across an expanse I don’t acknowledge because fear makes the wolf bigger than he is and so in my fantasies I talk like this in these fits and stops and fragments all around and through the central thesis, an act like wrapping it up the fear for you, a gift in the darkness for both of us, creating a both of us, and so I go on and on recollecting, stealing, plucking anything that mind thought time brings, memories and phrases from over here on my side in the matted grass like so much rotten fruit but not without a sense of stench and a pinching twinge, if honest I must be, from the daemon close beside with “hypocrisy” whispers on his forked tongue, “hypocrisy,” he says, “you don’t wish to share, to be, only to be wanted”

and so I say these things down here like this in the post script on the under and back behind side nipping at your elbows, treading on your heels, nudging saying look, if you’re inclined to see, how interesting, see, imagining what you’d think of how some other grain of sand—or maybe salt—once said “The only minds which seduce us are the minds which have destroyed themselves trying to give their lives a meaning” and throwing it out there as a smoke screen signal from across that chasm to conceal the real question which is

what would you think if at the end of this if after this at the end of this I finally shut up and told you that when I try to write a poem all that comes out is bad prose and if literature is equipment for living then who am I outfitting with faulty gear and broken hinges and fraying bootlaces, wishing I had an ounce of the ability to destroy my mind trying to give my life meaning and wondering who else feels this way, if you do, and that’s the only reason I bother lacing up at all

using too many words and too few breaths to simply wonder what you think of truth and lies and equipment and selves and if how when maybe someday past it all in fact turned boring—all done, all said—no matter how much lag there is between you, the instant, and I, finding the middle ground within the circle we create to do something more than lie to ourselves and in the beds we make, if the truth with a capital T is only in reflexivity, in obverse, the way Z is not for Xylophone, it just sounds like that.

But I leave you to decide, and leave you now, sincerely, goodbye, so long, farewell.

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