There is a way to be curt with a field. The runnels of self-pity, the sludge of preponderance. I don’t use words aright, alway. I am dumb as a post. I mean dead as a post. A goat cast asunder a ship. The sounds come out wooden. This must be the sea left over. I went where the sea met the mud, the slag of the alluvial guts of some dragon-sing, the earth’s spit and image. So I am curt with the field, a-winter the shelved bark I gnaw like a scarab come home. And that is me protesting love. I mean into you a field of sound. Green as.
Morning goes across a small, dark pond. The pond goes across the color pink. The color pink goes across the mind of an early walker. The early walker goes across the page of human mind, endlessly turning. This turning goes across the mourning dove who watches from above, in the branches of the frou-frou mimosa. The mimosa goes across geological eras, carrying itself with feminine self-possession. Self-possession goes across my mind briefly, but then I am all these things again. I am the memory of a coffee spoon on a crosstown bus. Where did I leave myself again?
Energy in this room. Furnishings in this room. Particles of life. Photons. Papers with ideograms which are not always loyal. A television’s most sincere dreams. I cherish the t.v’s dreams like those of a bride. I feel a twinge when I must turn it off. It is like leaving a lover when I must leave the room. I close the door behind me, to let the television know that I am its protector. When I find dust on the forehead of the television, I could weep. But it lets me know how faithful my television is. When I see a television thrown out, lying with the garbage in a street, I feel an urge to rescue it. Even if it is dead, it deserves better. How could you not offer a decent burial to one of your closest living relations. What sort of animal lives in that house?
Keep your white hair, she says. I go around and walk around an artificial lake that has become real. With the snow and the geese, it has become real. There is no place not to be real. That is the unavoidable thing. Keep, she says, in a place where she is disappearing. She wants me to be old with her, to walk on the mountain that is disappearing. The mountain of us. I hear the single word Keep, and all through the night like my reflection in the dark plate glass of the artificial lake. A radio has been left on, somewhere in the night. Which is no longer a thing. Now it is a piece of paper I could hand to you. The lake, the geese that no one wants, that no one will bury, the ice they walked on, verifying existence. Their nests, your nests. It lives inside a piece of paper. As you will, soon enough.
I hear some sort of distant emergency vehicle make a sound halfway between a horny drunk and a shaman. Foreshortened siren. Miles from here. I hear two cats fighting or consummating. Much closer, but who can tell? I hear silver leaves of Andromeda falling through the vacuum of space. In the vacuum of space, where nothing hears nothing. I am listening there. Tonight. They may land on your shoulder. They usually do. So I will think about them some more. I will be a home to the sound of their homelessness.
I go into the backyard. The lungs of the sky are dark. It is going to snow. The sparrows fly from the naked hedge to the naked Carolina Allspice bush. They thrum from one skeleton to another skeleton and tip and balance on the arcs and tops of branches like acrobats balancing atop poles in circuses long ago, circuses long underground. Still, the plates did spin. It is going to snow. The lungs of the sky are dark. I pour birdseed from a Big Gulp cup across the ground. The millet and sunflower seeds and whathaveyou deploy a galaxy. An edible galaxy. “Eat quickly before it snows,” I pray to the sparrow minds. And: “Thank you for being here,” I say to them, to the sky preparing to annihilate so much life. As if the rest of life were an audience and I an emcee. The illusion of a sort of control in charity. But we both know, Dear Reader, the desperation is mine. I come as beggar to them, the eating of their meal an alms to me. The sparrows live and die by cold, clean in their magnetic souls that draw them each to each, as they depart, as they arrive (no difference) through the snow.
But I wanted love to be a quickening like sugar, she said, as we entered the dark park. We entered the dark slope of the park in autumn. We had all breath sucked out of us going downhill. It was entering a Brueghel painting. Or worse.
Dark park slope, read us.
The trees reached for us. They were in their own motives. Trees bare of leaves, no longer possessed of the business of themselves. Or so it seemed. They had to do what, just dream all winter long? Just keep the sap moving, I guess. How not to think of neon, loneliness used to outline bars. Leftover humans. It makes me think of leftover humans with rug burns. Talking about them forever.
All our muses were stray dogs.
The serrated park was separated from the prison on the hill by a creek where the Canada geese had their menages in summer. They had their menages on the water. Mostly fighting with other couples. There were really just four of them. Maybe they had lovers too. A filthy creek. The prison, we looked up to it. Just then: no geese. The light bulbs were coming on inside, out. It was a unification principle. Some of the lights were odd greens. Getting dark early, the men must have stirred harder.
The men with figures in their heads, constantly counting back to acts. Who does that? Useless, locked up ponytails.
Farming the human body gets you there. I mean menders with drugs.
We flowed down the hill talking blithely of sugar, love, death, vegetables gone sour. Here eat this, she said, meaning a strange fruit she had picked from the ground like a poison dream in a fairy tale. I laughed. There was a jagged glass ring on a branch end, neck of a broken bottle someone (probably a kid) had stuck there. The bethrothal. I marry you, forced nature, with this piece of broken glass.
There had been an actual wedding here a week ago. Parks are never safe from brides and grooms. Pastel tissue flowers melted in the rain. There was inexplicably a hunk of watermelon. The dogs jerked back like Frankenstein’s monsters when we screamed. The watermelon was a bomb, we told them. Dogs will believe anything. We are a social state suddenly. When we have pets. Other people had touched it. All the animals that follow, who come after other people have left, they must have had their mouths all over it. Easy watermelon, I distrust you. If something is dropped or dipped in nature, it will be much scrutinized and then enter all mouths when the appropriate, manipulative stars shine.
There is a hatred of easiness, easiness.
We were in relation to each other but bugging.
It is a way to be, sitting on tree trunks as we were now never known, listening to our own stories like skeins of geese that had passed over us quite some time back, giving us a reference point for the narrative we would soon chuck into the all night grocery store. Maybe 3 a.m. talking to overlapping lobsters, milling carapaces in a glass tank refracts them in ways they will never know.
What you said, what I said, as the prison on the hill dreamt.
The space where you say a sound that becomes a word and then I wait to say a sound that becomes a word. Everything happens in those spaces. We know there is a sonic vibration there. But also there are the other vibrations: ideational, affective, logical, all sorts of quantum spin based on probabilities of sympathy and intent. We’re no different than any other particles at heart, only larger. The space between sound and word. And that space between word and sound. I’m speaking of a visual equation as if it could be read only one direction. But the exchange could be reversed:: memory:: retrospect. Sometimes I think this happens in dreams or music played backwards. We can “un-cause” sounds and the events sounds make (words) by turning the flow backwards. Running a film’s scroll this way. The ghostly nature of location soon becomes apparent. Isn’t this the Buddhist elevator that goes sideways? The uncertainty principle is everywhere and all of language. We pretend it is only the space between words, but everything seems to happen in those other two intervals. Two words never actually touch each other in any language on earth. That is just a dream of the page. That is just the pipe dream of books. But even there we allow a small space between them. We allow them the breathing (the begging bowl of matter) room we give all the other possibilities mind did not choose in a given exchange. At least the readings it did not choose this time through. The tunnel is infinitely open, isn’t it? Perhaps some sentences should dissolve as soon as they are spoken, the words drifting further apart like clouds in a summer sky. Some sentences undo themselves like sky even as they are spoken. Or read. There is no promise that these words will not separate as soon as you turn your eyes away.
If love: Even in ancient China, we learn from a text written in the 3rd century by Lie Zi, there was an automaton crafted by Yan Shi, a mechanical engineer, who supplicated to King Mu of Zhou (1023-957), a life-size human figure that walked, that winked its eye at court ladies, and that was made only of leather, wood, glue and lacquer: white, black, red and blue lacquer. All the internal organs were present as a sort of visual gift. A condescension. If the King removed its heart, this poor creature could not speak. So much poetry had gone into the crafting of a monster. Nobody knows or knew whence its muscles, its bones and limbs with joints, skin, its teeth and hair the King loved to finger. Perhaps it is best never ask. There is a darkness to such editing. The King continued to explore his new beloved. If he removed the liver, its eyes went blank. If he stole its kidneys, the legs could no longer cross the ballroom. The King was delighted.
They said you missed out on so much being the way you are. They said it without punctuation like that and so it will go. On. Without punctuation. Not the way a life is when someone stops on the stairs merely to be aware they are stopping on the stairs. Shall we address Gertrude Stein from here?
This painting is a solid color and is uterine.
They said that but whether they addressed me or not might be irrelevant if I took it to heart, to the place underneath this potted plant. And that cop standing next to it. The truth is they were talking to someone else and I overheard and it was suddenly addressed to me as though I were the someone else on the p.a. they did not actually address, but talk about behind her back, as people generally do, because language only exists behind backs, everywhere, really, this is true. There is nowhere to say anything that is not behind many, many backs. That poems exist is proof of this fact. They are so far behind all human backs it is ridiculous.
I was putting cheese on my grilled cheese at the time, middle of the night, and my hands were freezing, they were just ice, and I imagined a tumor in a place in my shoulder, I had to check, but the hands were a misery, a punishment, a cold of Inquisition (they didn’t use only fire; think), iciness of a surgical x-ray table you have to lay on, just get it done, verify there is no tumor, flip the grilled cheese sandwich, discard thoughts of vice, remember that the second side always browns exponentially (existentially) faster (it’s like a second marriage). Don’t make the same mistake again and flip the sandwich, did, it is now on the plate and who were they (we) talking about, the ghosts in love with criticism of others? ghosts on stairs? Let me open up the melt of the sandwich and add a fresh slice of tomato, but salt it first, like memory, salt the slug of the world. Get down into the dissolution of the salt in a flavor. You can’t hold it anymore. That red pulpy thing. The salt and the tomato are inseparable like beach and skyline on a perfect day. The festering voices go past like countless buses and you must learn to sit and knit inside them. You are not young enough to die on a ledge anymore.