chipper blue pale porcelain

melt behind fire locks

crack smash cake and scrape

weave and wave and would

a tunnel to me, a tunnel one sees

it all goes where it should

melt there, down down

pink parched paper walls

thinner, one more pass

slow lightning strike glass

a kid's toy in a backseat

a ledger of earnings

three reflections on a bed

then one, now none

tonight, i remember.

this sweaty fuck keeps running the pit. he's shoving too hard, he's busting the edges of the circle for no reason, he knows he can get away with it because it's a show and if anyone takes him up they'll get thrown out because he was just dancing, man. it's fucking wavves, we jump, we bop, we bounce off each other, but this sweaty fuck is bricking people, and the heat comes for a second when he bricks into Leia with his back and looks at me with a fucking smirk. i give him an edge push, too hard, on purpose, and he looks back and we understand each other quite well. i keep my eye on him for a while but he seems to forget about me.

wavves finish up their encore and sweaty fuck comes by with his hand up for a high five. i don't make eye contact with him because if i do the heat will come back and i'll put his eyes through the back of his head. he tries for Leia who definitely isn't having it but i'm only watching out of the periphery because it's getting hot in my fingers. he slinks away and Leia makes a half circle with a look on her face, that look i know too well, and i know what she's going to say before she says it but the naive part of me that wants the heat to go away convinces me maybe not so i wait, but she says it, so he just grabbed me and now the walls are gone but the floor is there and it's empty, everyone is gone, i am gone, i'm in between here and wherever the walls went, do you want me to do something about it? and she says no because she has to, because it happens to her so often, it happens to every woman i know so often, they deal with it because there is no recourse, it's easier to get over it than to make it right because there is no way to make it right, she says  no and i tell her then i need to leave immediately and she's going downstairs and she'll meet me out front after.

 on my way out i'm scanning faces at a rate i can't process or understand and still none of them escape me, he's not in here. i get out to the sidewalk and scan again, every face, instantaneous, how am i doing this?, i scan the whole block and i see the height and weight of every body, i know how long the sidewalk is, how tall the lip of the curb is, i know -- there he is, that sweaty fuck, he's wobbling, he's dead, he's mine, he's dead.

i'm across the street, but then i'm ten feet behind him, walking calm, tight, wound -- how did i get here? i have been following him for two blocks but i wasn't in my body until now, where was i? i'm still following him, how do i make myself turn around? a movie plays in my head where i disable the back of his left knee with my right foot, wrap his left arm against my chest with my left arm, palm strike his neck and throw my weight forward to increase effect of impact on the cement. he won't stand up.

but this doesn't happen. i see it, but it doesn't happen. i come back into my body and turn myself around to walk back and meet Leia. then i turn myself around again because i've started to follow him again without realizing it, because i left, i wasn't here.

now i'm here, but i should have never left that turret.

try to remember.

i'm adjusting the color settings on the thermal. i'm adjusting the color settings so that everything i don't have to kill is black and everything i might have to kill is white, bright white, silent and flat and soulless, outlines of friction with no family, no name, no heartbeat. black. white. never existing as anything other.

or

i'm opening the feed tray cover. i'm using my index, middle, and ring finger to smooth the rounds so they don't jam if i have to light them up, light up white outlines with no family, no name, no heartbeat. i'm slapping the feed tray cover down on the rounds and it lands with a brilliant, satisfying clack. i'm pushing the bolt forward with the meaty part of my hand between thumb and index finger. the weapon is mounted to the turret and the turret is mounted to the vehicle, but the weapon is really mounted to me, we are one, it is an extension of my body, it is me, i am the weapon, the oppressor, the one who decides. the rounds do not leave the weapon, the rounds leave my body.

or

the white nissan pickup is trailing one hundred feet back. i know that it is one hundred feet back because i have been trained to estimate distance. the truck trails, it speeds up, it slows down, approaches and recedes. i count four bodies in the truck. four bodies with no family, no name, no heartbeat. the bodies are faceless, two dimensional, no motor function, no capacitance, the vehicle moves on its own. 

or

you are one person but there are two of you and neither one knows the other but both of you know me, i pay for your sins in whole while you stand on the hill and cast glances.

try to remember.

instead, my body eats the sound around me, all of it, and stores it in my chest until the pressure is so limitless that black rings swell and drape over everything i see, over the sliding glass door, the legs of the chairs, the light from under the bedroom door behind me. taillights fold in half and then they are gone completely, and so am i. a puddle you can trace from my temple to my chin but a fever you'll never find. 

or

do you want to fuck me? slides out of her mouth and floats over the bar onto my face. then: i'll leave right after.

or

go faster than this, speed up in case we hit something it'll just be done instead of trying to be saved. roll the window down more, i want my hair to cover my face, this isn't me in the side mirror i can make it not me, i can make it someone else. make it someone else, like you do, but i don't know that yet. i don't know that yet so i bury myself, that's what i know how to do, what i've done.

or

please don't. please just go back in the house and stay there. please. 

or

do it. i fucking want it. do it so i can get it over with. do it go get it point it at me. you fucking piece of shit do it or don't do it stop fucking standing there.

try to remember.

the rubber cup on the thermal leaves a ring around my eye. there's no avoiding it. everything south of my knees is swollen like a pineapple but i don't know this yet; i've had my eye pressed up to the rubber cup for the past 5 6 7 14 15 hours. i've had my finger cautiously perched straight across the housing for the past 5 6 7 14 15 hours. i have been shitting into the sand from a half-squat position for the past 5 6 7 14 15 days. i haven't seen myself since the mirrors in the shower tent at the last COP. we've been stopped here for a while. how long has it been since Lt told Lobe to cut the engine? how long since

chaffin i got two coming out of the house on the left, you got em?

try to remember.

the linoleum feels okay. i'm spread across it but my body isn't entirely unwound. some of my joints bend to keep parts close to my belly. some skin close to other skin, to stay warm. some of my muscles bounce on their own. some of the skinny pieces attached to them bounce, too. up and down or at an angle consistent with some part of the pile, and whatever way that part of the pile is situated. i yell and scream the only question i can think to ask. my body produces no sound. 

or

i am a few feet away on the carpet while this is happening

or

i am kneeling in the grass while this is happening

or

i am in the far right corner of the room ten feet above the ground while this is happening

or

i am nowhere and none of this is happening.

try to remember.

i am leaning against the wall. my head is next to the toilet paper roll and i bump into it accidentally. i roll the leg of my underwear up. the meat underneath starts to pulse slightly, nothing i can't keep in check. the metal fasteners are thin enough that when i pry them off either side of the cartridge my fingernail doesn't rip or crack. the body is aware. my belly protests, but i get my way and then i start asking if i wanted this or if i needed this or if i was obligated to do it. i never answer. i never try. i watch. i am here.
finally, i am here. i clean up. i forget.

I can't get it out, lately. 

I've been getting it in. I've been looking at things. In fact I'm peering through a window right now, watching new green leaves shimmer in new morning sun, following them higher up the tree and they get brighter and brighter, orange gold yellow white. I've been listening. More often than not my ears are plugged and beaten on with some new sound, fuzzy sticky guitar riffs or throbbing twinkling dance beats, and last night I stood in a crowd of drunken leather-clad middle adults while a voodoo garage rock band stood nearly still on stage, in front of a white wall, with a live video projection of themselves projected right back onto them. 

Nothing is coming out. This is coming out, but I don't like this, and neither do you.


I have a habit of smothering things I know to be true with uncertainty, either to protect myself or to protect you. I'll write "I think this is because" instead of the truth, "I know this is because". 


There is a thing that I can't write about. I am not certain why I can't write about it. I am certain that I can't write about it. Maybe I can't write about it yet, but I'm not certain about the yet

It's an idea, not a thing. Thing is not the appropriate noun. It's an idea that I have. Sometimes I have the idea frequently, sometimes I don't have it for months. Sometimes it is all I think about. Sometimes I reconstruct it in different ways to suit my mood. Sometimes it gets so real I don't have control of it anymore, it has control of me and I have to get control back.


I told Saul about something that happened and he told me I experienced "presence" for the first time, that it was a good thing, a progression.

Odd. The whole time it was happening I wanted to disappear.

THINGS I HEARD AND SAW: WEEK OF APRIL 23


Everything I do is out of necessity, I haven’t done anything for me since I moved here. Except cocaine.
— Passenger

Bark Ruffalo.
— Nic, naming a dog he doesn't have

Can you imagine an octopus farm? That’s depressing.
— Ria

I have a campsite of shit with me everywhere I go. Paper bag napkins coffee cup water bottle backpack jacket hat notebook pen laptop book. The backpack sits slumped like a slashing victim, every compartment unzipped or half-zipped; multiple trips into each pocket because I needed two things but only thought to grab one because

i'm not here

Look at my fingers long enough and they stop being a part of my hand and then my body, just waxy stems curled around this pad of paper, this pen, this coffee cup. The knuckles are greasy from the aquaphor, pinker than the rest and they look sick; overused and beaten. The two words printed above them look farther away with each pass my eyes make. 

I am tired of writing. Tired of critiquing it. Tired of living up to art. Tired of trying to be whatever they call complete. Tired of feeling like I want to try, when I don't. Tired of being evaluated. Tired of lecture. Tired of abstract concepts and their relation to social structures. Tired of A Formal Analysis Of and Comparitive Critique With. 


Four crossed legs, all in a row. While my colleagues discuss territories in the text that feel obfuscated and dark & whether or not that's a lacuna, I wasn't quite sure, this is what I'm focusing on. 

Four crossed legs, all in a row. Right over left, identical fulcrum, identical angle. Wowie. The beautiful symmetrical otherness of it, the commune, the shared experience,

the whyyyyyyyyy

the uncomfortable hardness in the knee and how I feel it as an observer. 

Huh.

I forgot about how I almost went to Columbus. About getting accepted to Ohio State.

How many more of these unsent letters will I find tucked in places I no longer look?

This one has 10 JULY 15 written in the top right corner, underneath the page number.

Page numbers, so the letter wouldn't be confusing. There are four pages here, but I haven't read anything except:
 

I think we are similar people with different pasts and it makes things hard.

Lisa.
Lisa is excited. 

She stands up on her tip toes every two or three words, hands fanning out like a blossom or a book or a pair of hands that are attached to a really excited person and I see in her a kindergarten teacher, okay, kids, time to learn about WORMS! Two drops of spittle arc from between her lips -- or somewhere, it's all a blur -- and land on me. She apologizes immediately, not that I cared, and her apology is so confident and brief that it makes me feel good about myself. 

Her ACLU hat is too loose. Every ACLU hat on the planet is too loose. I can see the event organizers tossing them blindly to the canvassers at the beginning of each shift, hands dipping into a giant box labelled REALLY FUCKING LOOSE; the other boxes, TOO TIGHT and JUST RIGHT are empty, been so for years.

Her eyes do that sparkly fire thing that green eyes do. I have to look at them briefly, in shifts between the iPad screen that I'm tapping my credit card number into (on to?). 


Maya.
Maya is determined to get it right.

No, I've never heard of Care. No, I didn't know 800 women die every day from pregnancy complications. No, I didn't know women are still forced into marriage and pregnancy, or that many of them are teenagers. No, I cannot think of any reason not to donate.

After I sign the agreement, Maya asks if we can take a selfie together for the donor board. Sure, I say. She crouches slightly and reveals to me that the canvassers sometimes hold votes to determine which canvasser had the nicest looking donors that day. She does not say that I might be one of them. 

Maya calls me "sweetie".
Twice.
This feels odd, because she is seven years younger than me.
This feels odd, because her face changes when she says it.
That feels good, because I know she means it.

THINGS I HEARD AND SAW: WEEK OF APRIL 10


Hey, babe, did you see my new behind screen?
— Woman on M platform, describing her desktop background

WE DO ALTERATIONS AND REPARATIONS
— Tailor shop window sign in East Village

Every painting of a goddess — they have a bush. If I want to be a goddess I’ve gotta have a bush.
— Jamie

That’s the sound the apocalypse makes.
— Francis

Excuse you.
— Me, to a tiny leaf that breezed onto my lip

One knee draped over the other. Cobain sunglasses on, head slightly down. Coffin nail perched in right hand, hangs lazily, slight bend in the wrist. Indiscernible wall of hair. Squeaky, small movements here and there. Which of these poses best describes me as a person.

“You see this guy at the bar?”
“Which.”
“The one having a photoshoot only he knows about.”

We came here because Conor wrote a song about it. We stayed because the shots fill up a rocks glass.

“Do you come here often? Is this normal?” I’m asking the table behind us, holding up my Jameson.

The girl closest to me has tattoos dotting at least one of her arms, I can’t make them out in the dim light. I could ask to see them but that always comes out a certain way, or I’m just in my head like I sometimes am. They all agree it’s a really big shot and I can’t think of anything else to say, so I spin back around in my chair.

I took most of the patches off my backpack. It’s foreign to me, now. My eyes catch the blank spaces and I blink rapidly like I’ve gone partially blind before remembering no, it was me, tore them off the bag like I tore them off me, doesn’t feel like me anymore so it’s got to go. It looks better this way, the remaining embroidered squares and circles seem thematic of a lighter me but retain their black and red and dark heart. Medusa’s decapitated head still screams at people standing behind me at the intersection, and my laughing skull still laughs at them, my death’s hand still offers them death’s hand.

Had to go. Not me anymore so they had to go. They separated me from people I wanted to be separated from. I’ll never know for sure if they separated me from people I wouldn’t want to have been separated from, and that doesn’t feel worth the safety anymore.


Saul tells me what I’m really afraid of is my fear. I try not to laugh. Saul tells me to let myself feel the fear instead of raging against feeling it. It’s not always there, the fear. Like the night outside Skinny Dennis. I just watched, like a television programme when I’m stoned, just put something on who cares. Hey, look at that. Huh. Cigarette’s done, I think it’s my round.


“This is the real reason I can never leave,” Francis is bent in half trying to absorb a quesadilla into his face without losing any of the innards, he’s got it rolled up like toothpaste, shoving everything from one end so it squeezes out the other. His words are mashing together through his chewing, an ancient language.

“There’s no Don Panchito in Paris.”

“Bench, bench,” I’m pointing with my index finger, tapping in midair, I know the answer, why isn’t my buzzer working. My head is tilted up to keep this lettuce and sour cream from dropping onto my white shirt. I’m always fucking up my white shirts. The lettuce is still swinging from between my lips and mopping my beard with dairy product when this girl walks by. I laugh and sit down. Hey, I laughed.

“This place is a fucking black hole.”

We laugh.

GIGGLE

Francis and Liam are back at the sidewalk table outside the bar on Utrechtsestraat and that’s alright, I’m doing just fine walking down the street alone looking for a red Tabac sign. Nobody’s making eye contact with me and that’s alright, too, I’ve had a few pints and my legs swim around my ankles while I squirm through passersby. How far away could one of these things be? I’m coming up on the park we all walked to two days ago because we got the directions wrong for the apartment we rented. There’s a group in front of me hollering and shouting while they walk and I’m nervous that they’ll start shouting at me like a lot of people here do. Three corners later I still haven’t found anyone selling cigarettes, and I stop at the same park on the way back and spark the j I bought an hour ago at the coffee shop. I find a parking barrier and float up onto it as lightly as I can while a man walks by with his dog. It only takes a few drags for me to get right, a lesson I’ve learned the hard way many times, so I plunge the cherry against the top of a trash can around the corner and head back to the bar to wrap my fingers around another pint.

 

I could watch this girl talk for the rest of the night. There’s a dominating reserve to her speech, her face emotive but only to the extent that she wants to reveal, to get her point across—something protective there, set apart from people, she walks in front of the group or behind it, never in the middle. Hair pulled back into a bun, platinum blond burning bright from the pressure and new colors shimmer there when she turns her head to pull on the cigarette balanced between scissor knuckles. I’m not in love, just in awe, all these people living the same timeline as me, here they are, there they go, nice to meet you.

 

I know it’s just a lamp hanging from the ceiling, but it’s 2D now and wax and starting to melt on me. I want it to. How long have I been holding my hand up like that? That’s melting too, I should have brought something to catch the drops with so I can put them back together later, oh well, I don’t need it where I’m going. Wait, am I holding my hand up? Am I holding my hand up? The man in the mirror is independent of me for a second, he waves and I don’t like it so I leave him there but he walks away the same time as I do, I guess he’s got the upper hand. Reptilian, this one, his eyes are snake and scales wobble on his face but before I can get a real good grasp on it the whole pile of flesh goes dark and slides right into my shoulders, this one doesn’t scare me and that’s peculiar I think. I can make the whole earth move if I tug on this string right here, see? Left, right, which way you wanna go? I put my Metropolitain ticket on the crossbar of the windowpane because I just know that’s where he wants to be, he didn’t even have to say anything I just knew it. My fingers are gone. They’re just gone, my hand is a club, can I have those back please? There they are. God, I love this song.

L'AMERICAN

This place stinks. I mean that it smells, not that you have a bad time when you’re here, although that’s just as true.

I’m stepping out of the shower tucked into the corner of the bathroom of the apartment at 9 Rue de Prevot. The wood is all exposed in the ceilings and walls and for the past three days I’d been wondering how old the building is whenever my eyes passed over it. Right now, unwinding my towel from the towel bar, I am not wondering how old the building is. I am happy, and I wasn’t a moment ago, and in a moment I won’t be anymore.

I’m walking down Rue de Turenne. I want something hot for breakfast and there is a creperie near Republique I want to try. I’m dropping lazily into the street to let people pass on the narrow sidewalks. Mannequins look out from behind the windows of boutique stores I’ve never heard of: Xoos, Maje, The Kooples. And then I see a name I do recognize, one I recognize from their storefront in SoHo and the memory of their branded bag on a bedroom floor, a bag full of I don’t know and don’t want to know, and my neck gets hot while my knees turn granite and the center of my chest collapses in on itself and I hear my ribs crack and splinter while my lungs shrink and evacuate.

I’m walking down the steps of the Bedford L stop. I’m fucking high. I had stopped to smoke a cigarette in the rain under the UNIQLO awning, and a group of strangers returned the favor of my lighter with the favor of a joint. One of them tells me about his mother and how she escaped prostitution and a drug habit and how the world will never beat him because he’s got his mother’s blood in him. I’m still thinking about his story when I reach the bottom of the steps, and also about how I might not make it off the steps because my boots have become magnetically attracted to the center of the god damn earth. There are two women in front of me and I just know, so I unwind my headphones and pass hard on the left while my brain screams this would be such a great story if it weren’t so true, you are way too high for this, left foot right foot end of the platform let’s go. None of my chemistry changes, just a guy in a black jacket going home before the sun comes up, nothing to set me apart from the rest, my breathing is okay and so is my temperature.

Representations of all that mass, never the genuine article; why the effigy that sparks all this space? All black with short hair waiting in line for drunk food with a friend, hands waving as if over a hot stove and I just keep walking and smirk, it’s fucking Paris and I go easy on myself, as easy as I can. Nothing like those six letters, those six lowercase letters. ‘Proximity’ keeps showing up in the middle of my skull, like a final answer revealed a breath before the crowd lets out a big sigh because you guessed wrong. Let it go like he said, never straight fingers though, a little curl left in each one and why? Believe in good too good for my own good. Apply pressure until bleeding stops, or watch it slide slip roll down your thigh, edges of your eyes start to go, pure white aberration and little figures dance on the hills of your upturned hands, short tapdance excited breath and candy lick smile.

Maybe next time.

DOING TWO

jesus o jesus there’s fire in my throat, a soft slick burn pouring down from that big white round racetrack holding my stupid pudgy brain, the ceiling’s not moving but god i wish it were. tap it out, no more than that, okay that’s perfect when you say it’s too much. go horizontal and fade away into this checker-hashed cotton dreamscape, young and thriving is coming through the window and landing all over my arms, posed like a sidewalk chalk painted bodybag victim, bring in the ring flashes and experts, cohabitate with death but don’t love her just yet, no not just yet it’s too soon.

where’d you leave yourself this time? hole in the cellophane so had to move it to a jar, tiny little jar and who needs more? shh don’t announce it like that, keep it in the head nod and sideways glance. start a band guys, i’ll sing and play the maracas cause you two are the only ones i know that can dance on the rosewood when you’re this overloaded underweighed. yeah that’s good, play that again i got some words for it this time, go on yeah, alright i’m recording this one.

hey remember that night at ポッパー, the bartender you like talked them out of the forty dollar cover and all them souls coming out of the writhing room thought i had mdma, deluded shadow people and we went back to her apartment and passed one around, big corner window job from all that rca money and she’s going to los angeles soon so good thing we came when we did. she argued with that best friend dude about the table he made her and we laughed all the way down the stairs when she finally said we should leave and the sun was coming up over wyckoff and we laughed all the way down that too. grey gums when i look in the mirror, nyc love song.

alright that was a good one, deny it when we talk about it later to do it again, we’re making three but we need four, never good at math anyway so let’s hit the library for last call. there’s a deli on the way, i’ll take the floor and we can do la palapa in the morning but put on that animal shit first, yeah that one where they fight and it’s all filmed on dv or maybe shane’s latest tape let’s see how we feel, you still awake [?] no he’s out who wants to go to the roof bring the whiskey, yo green eyes can i get a spirit (?) of course man, five times the third rail, is C or G home for this progression {?} just keep going man who cares about the words, let’s find a place in your neighborhood  and we’ll turn the empty room into a studio, come with me or don’t but i need a coffee immediately.