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  • - * 13 DOORS OF X* *Meeah Williams* The Barking Cat Press * 2015 Brooklyn, NY * Seattle, WA copyright 2015 Meeah Williams/The Barking Cat...

Monday, January 26, 2015

=cent*i*pede 3=

cent*i*pede 3
a journal in pieces

When you die, whether human or ape, 80 percent of you evaporates, joins raindrop congregations; the rest of you gets struck by lightning over and over until you are free.    —CA Conrad

1. Work is unified by the mind that creates it, by the time period in which it is created, and by the boundaries of the physical medium upon which it is recorded. It is not unified, except artificially, by a thesis or a narrative structure—ie. a beginning, middle, or end. 

A work is unified by the mind that produces it, even if the work is manifested in fragments with no logical progression, connection between parts, or conclusion.

A work is unified by the time of production, whether it be 60 seconds or 60 years.

A work is unified by the physical fact of the page or canvas on which it is produced, the field of the medium, whatsoever the dimensions of that field may be.

The problem with logically arrived at unities in the Aristotelian model is that they leave out illogicalities for the sake of consistency and clarity or, worse, to prove an argument. But it is precisely these inconsistencies and lacunas, these self-contradictions and inconclusivities that best represent reality. A consciously produced, logically arrived at unity will always fail to be a true unity; it will always be a faux whole. It will always be assailable on the grounds of what it purposely omitted to say because it wouldn't fit the "model" of an order that itself is entirely illusionary.

It is virtually impossible for a single mind following and faithfully recording the trail of even its most wandering and free-associative self-contradictory impulses to leave behind a work that isn't unified. No matter how outwardly disjointed the work may be, the connections are always possible to trace if one looks closely enough. I believe this might well be true even with a schizophrenic. It would be impossible to erase one's trail if only on the level of pattern of thought/voice/syntax/mark-making, even if one were to consciously attempt erasure. What we produce is inescapably unified by the unique stamp of our mind and bound by the temporal parameters of its production up to and including the moment of our death.

The only way it seems possible to me to produce a dis-unified work is, ironically enough, to fabricate a unity by means of omission or the false principles of Aristotelian organization. Can it be a matter of any wonder, then, the schizoid state of the world when such butchered communication deployed primarily for power, prominence, profit and dominance is considered the "norm?"      


(notebook pages)

The centipede is a rhizomatic creature. Meaning it moves unpredictably, seeming at odds with itself, often laterally, but still, somehow forward towards its goal, often unforeseen (though perhaps not to it, if only as intuition), usually towards a previously undetected crack in the floor or wallboard (as if by willing it the line of escape appears), where it disappears, only to emerge again, later, in the dark. 

The centipede is terroristic by nature due to this unpredictability. It evokes fear, often irrationally, simply because of its lack of seeming deliberation, its chaotic (dis)organization, it's lateral, therefore truly democratic, hierarchy, which is, at the same time, anti-hierachtic. It is nomadic by nature. 

The centipede is, in Deleuzian terms, a war-machine.



How was this woman
going to understand
me I complained
about abusive relationships
but excitedly described how
turned on I got
when this one guy tied
my hands behind my
back and pissed in
my face. Well she’s a
therapist I told myself
she’s heard worse so
let me go further I told
her about my fantasies
of being raped and murdered
masturbating in the woods
as a child in the attitude
of girls found dead
in serial killer movies
thrilled by the idea
some guy hiking through
would spot me lying
disheveled in the dank 
leaf-bed and then what but
it never happened
what did is this one guy
had me take off my stockings
hand them to him
and turn with my back
to him and I thought,
this is it he just might
strangle me tonight and I
didn’t object I never said no
to anything they wanted
it’s like I’m too embarrassed
to embarrass him whoever him
might be just like I was
with daddy saying no not in the
vocab too scared to too
and I got super wet instead
why lie waiting to see what
might happen, the tv
was on, muted, tuned to
Chopped: Redemption
the ingredients laid out
like body parts in front of each
contestant cheese and fruit
and chunks of meat unrecognizable
and he didn’t strangle me
obviously only used the stocking
to gag me but none of this
is actually the problem
the problem is this
need to be metaphorically
abused ends up leaking
into real life relationships
that aren’t at all sexual
and this need of mine
broadcasts itself seduces
all the wrong kinds of
abusers by wrong kind I
mean those who sublimate
their sadism into everyday
life. I’m like a lighthouse
calling the wrong ships
to harbor all the cutthroat
pirates so its hopeless, you
see, solitude is the only
prophylactic I can trust
a nun in my tower.
What you need, she said
is to find a non-toxic
dominant who’ll leave
the whip and chains in
the bedroom and care
about you as a person
not take advantage of
your need to be taken
advantage of do you think
such a person exists, I ask,
not believing it for a
moment, a fairy-tale 
as far as I was concerned
I know they do she says 
but how do I that’s something 
I can't tell you, she says then
how can I that’s what
we’re here to find out
and for this I paid,
I think, ninety-five
dollars, and it was good
advice, she was right, but
I didn’t find what I was
looking for in that office
on 15th street but years
and quite a few men later
on Craigslist where I’d
placed an ad so what I’m
saying to you now is
you never know what
maybe she opened my eyes
to recognize it when it
finally came through the door
that night behind its
hard-on or maybe I was just
damn lucky not to be
carried out of that apartment
the next morning

in a bodybag.


Urban myths can be attractors, they pick up little fragments of strangeness from everywhere, after a while nobody can look at the whole thing and believe it all, it's too unstructured. But somehow we'll still cherry-pick for the intriguing pieces, God forbid we should be taken in of course, we're too hip for that, and yet there's no final proof that some of it isn't true. Pros and cons, and it all degenerates into arguments on the Internet, flaming, trolling, threads that only lead deeper into the labyrinth. 
—Thomas Pynchon





12. To what can not be named
           we defy you with our last
           tooth, our final nail

(from "it freak room")





The proper way to break an egg: on its side.  Sleet on the  

    window. My husband holds my cold hand to show me how
     it’s done.




("face-wall", envelope art)


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(gone fishing—collage)

28. To those of us pushed to extinction
           who still won't take the hint


  (from "it freak room")




(book recently read)


everyone around
the world knows
america's real
fashion statement
is bullet holes
every single
day we
spray the 
arab world
with bullets
sometimes in
the faces of
babies we
don't have
for the
faces they
have to take
our adult-sized
bullets right in
the middle of
their little
crying baby
faces BLAM take

—CA Conrad


(envelope art)

(fishy collage 3)

     I dreamt gays were
   allowed in the military
isn't it great everyone said
  what a nightmare I said
killing babies is less
   threatening with a politically 
           correct militia...
we CANNOT occupy Wall Street but
we CAN occupy Kabul
we CANNOT occupy Philadelphia but
we CAN occupy Baghdad…
Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
Don't Kill and say whatever you WANT!

—CA Conrad


(Elite Tires)

36. To the unnameable stray thing
    which insists on surviving us
    no matter what...

(from "it freak room")

(notebook pages)


Listening to my husband breathe in the night,
  I think of the stray cat huddled for   
  warmth outside my window.  

(notebook pages)

(notebook pages)

41.  To those dead, dying, and yet to be born...

(from "it freak room")


(Richard Canard)


(notebook pages)


(notebook tanka)


Zuihitsu is by its nature a fragmented anything. 

I love long erratic pieces in which I can thrash around—make a mess. Lose the intellect…

Not obliged to stay with a rational train of thought—I do not need to compromise a train of thought and, in such a way, can really explore raw material.

This "space" includes all those traits women have been assigned, usually with negative connotations: subjectivity, intuition, irrationality (what short essays or lack of formal structure might suggest). What is wrong with subjectivity anyway?

My facts.

My experiences.

—Kimiko Hahn

46. To all the family dinners that filled me with 
terror so that I could never digest a thing…

(from "it freak room")


(notebook pages)

48. Resolved

To make resolutions not just on New Year's day but periodically, every two weeks, every month, whenever one feels the need to orient/reorient oneself throughout the year.

To refine, revise, add to, replace, review resolutions as you go along, the way a ship charts a course across an ocean, adjusting to changing conditions.

Who knows at the beginning of the year where one really wants to go, what's even possible; one might discover an island paradise, after all…

Resolutions not as goals  as prescriptions, as admonitions to a better character, but as a diary of desire, revealing who you are, what you want, what you feel you lack.

Resolutions as a magic spell…


(book recently read)

50. To the heart of darkness from which I returned
with some lovely parting gifts…


(book recently read; bagel recently eaten)



Cherry Tease

At least it's not snowing, he says at the back door, staring into the driving rain. I grab the table. I calm myself thinking I won't have to grieve his passing if this sudden dizzy spell means death.

* * *

He stands at the dresser smoking a joint. On the computer, in bed, I search cherry cobbler recipes.

* * *

The moment I put this notebook down, we'll have sex. I can sense it under the sheets. Lingering over this last line…literary tease.

(cherry cobbler, warm & ready for the ice cream)


(notebook pages)


(notebook pages)


57. To it freak room where I learned what it took to survive long enough to…

(from "it freak room")


(fishy collage-4)


(infinite poem-1) 

60. To those who survived by absenting themselves, or The Terrorist's Prayer...

(it freak room)


(fishy collage 5)


Mike Tyson stuck his tongue in my mouth. He stuck his tongue in my mouth and wiggled it all around. He stuck it way back there so that I thought I would gag on it but I didn't, I didn't dare gag on it, I was scared to gag on it because I was scared that he might take offense if I did. 

We were standing at the top of some stairs going a long way down. This was in a banquet hall. He'd been telling me about his change of heart since becoming a man of God.

I was scared being so close to the edge of these very steep stairs with a man like Mike Tyson. There was a gleam of the old madness in his eyes leftover from the days when he  brutally knocked men out cold even bigger than himself within seconds of the first round, threw couches and armoires through plate glass windows of New Jersey mansions, drove Bentleys into trees and dragged women down hallways, stairways, walkways by their hair to curbs. This gleam was in his eyes even though his mouth was moving around words about God and remorse and redemption and living the right way.

He was saying all the right things, the good things, all the things you wanted him to say, but there was still that gleam of star-fire in his eyes.

I don't like to prejudge anyone, not even by past reputation. I like to hold open the possibility that we're all capable of change, even profound, unlikely, yes, even miraculous, impossible change. Even Satan must theoretically be capable of change. Otherwise, what hope is there for anyone, or this world?

But, let's face it, this was Mike Tyson. His periods of sanity have been notoriously short-lived, subject to sudden and unpredictable eruptions of violence that have consistently defied explanation. Time and again, just when you thought he'd gotten his head on straight, he'd lose it. Bad things followed. Things that were recorded in the headlines of tabloids that for once didn't have to be made up.

We were both attending an event being held in his honor. 

We had been standing there talking. Rather, he had been talking. I'd been listening. The whole time I felt that he was perfectly capable of throwing me down the stairs at any moment. That he could lower his shoulder and give me a shove without hardly knowing what he was doing. I could hardly think of anything else. I don't remember what he was saying.

The gleam in his eyes signified to me that he was beyond good and evil even if he wasn't aware of it himself. He could do anything, good or evil, at any moment.

This was Mike Tyson.

This is what He was.

Mike Tyson was God, I thought, and a shiver of transconscious recognition went through me. Of course. Revelation, when it comes, is the most obvious thing in the world. Like a freight train. Standing there at the top of those elegant stairs carpeted the deep rich color of wine or spaghetti sauce or blood, I realized that Mike Tyson was god, or the very closest thing to God I was ever going to be so close to ever in my mortal life. At the foot of those stairs I could picture my body, small in its elegant black dress, broken like a hieroglyph.

Mike Tyson's tongue was way back there in my throat, tickling that thing back there, that little thing that looks like a punching bag, a speed-bag, I think they call it in boxing, the uvula is what the anatomist calls it. It's the thing that helps you talk, forms consonants; it seals off your nasal passages so that you don't breathe in foods or liquids, so you don't drown when you drink a glass of milk. His tongue was pushing that thing back and I felt like I might start gagging, but I didn't.

I calmed down and let him wiggle his thick, fat tongue at the back of my throat, groping around back there, searching for what? It seemed as if he were trying to tell me something. His tongue was moving around in this very intimate way, trying to impart some message, a secret, perhaps. This is like glossolalia, I was thinking. This is Mike Tyson speaking in tongues.

It's like a communion or a baptism or Moses hearing God talking from a burning bush.

I stood there petrified until it was over, which took a long time.

I had forgotten all about the stairs.

I had forgotten all about everything. 

When it was over, I could barely make my way over to the wall furthest away from the stairs. I fell heavily into a chair. I sat there for a long time feeling as if I were under water. Or as if the world was under water and I was looking down into it.

Months, a year, two years later, Mike Tyson's tongue is still in my mouth. It will never truly be withdrawn. Once Mike Tyson's tongue has been in your mouth it stays there forever. Once you're kissed by Mike Tyson, you stay kissed. I feel it in there now, that tongue, wiggling around, fat like a bloated snake, saying something or other.

But what it's saying I can't say. 

Mike Tyson's tongue has swallowed my tongue, it has taken up residence, rooted to the back of my jaw, and I can't spit it out.


(fishy collage-6)


(envelope art)


(notebook pages)


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To those who find there are no words in any
language to make themselves understood...

(from "it freak room")

70. Applying the principles of recycling…to dessert.

It's the pastry version of collage, taking bits and pieces of this and that, the bakery take on sculpting with found materials, or painting on found papers…or the oven version of the surrealist game Exquisite Corpse: it's bread pudding. 

It never comes out the same way twice, which is part of the charm and excitement of this déclassé dish. With a basic mixture of milk, eggs, sugar and spices, and whatever stale bread or cake you have on hand, you're only 350 degrees and 45 minutes away from…well, you never know what.

That's the scrumptious beauty of it!

Heat oven to 350 degrees

This one came out quite yummy!

(bread pudding —before brutal fork attack—made with half a baguette of stale semolina
and a cinnamon raisin bagel that was in the freeze for like six months. )




(mona among the sharks * fishy collage 7)


(notebook pages)


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(book recently read)


Some crawling thoughts...

cent*i*pede is an apt designation for my project as my work is about as appealing to the majority of people as that universally unwelcome creature. A cockroach or rat would have done well as a symbol, but not quite as well.

* * *

Upon seeing a centipede, the near-universal reaction people have is to raise their shoe—or to leave the light on and rush from the room allowing the thing ample time to scurry into a crack in the floorboard or into the drain before they return with the poison. 

* * *

Wherever I have found acceptance and success in the world it has left me with the bad aftertaste one has after winning by fraudulent means, or worse, by self-betrayal. As if I'd managed to pass the exterminators by wearing a hairpiece on my tail and passing myself off as a squirrel.  

* * *

There is no way that a centipede can pass itself off as a butterfly or moth, however. It never exchanges it's loathsome form for another. It forms no cocoon. It undergoes no metamorphosis. It is what it is. Never does it done wings. Never does it take flight. Seek the light. Never does it become a thing of air and beauty.

* * *

Between ourselves we speak the language of these parts. The communications are never concise. Whatever we say is best understood if contextualized, so contexts are what we say and they, too, are best understood if contextualized. And so it goes, sometimes inward and sometimes outward…And we cling to it as to a shroud. —Lyn Hejinian

* * *

Acceptance by others has always been followed quickly by the sneaking suspicion that I managed it by some diminution of my individuality, a collusion or compromise with the norm. I never feel entirely good about such success, even when I'm unaware of any betrayal or compromise of my ideals or standards. I remain suspicious of some unseen hypocrisy at work and the deeper I look without finding any evidence of it the more more pernicious and fatal I presume it to be.

* * *

I blame my centipede nature paradoxically on a deep-seated need to please, hammered into me from the youngest age on as being the surest means to ensure survival in a highly toxic environment.  Only by the utmost conformity, by immediate and unquestioning obedience, by the absence of even the hint of rebellion did I find—not approval, never anything so positive as that but—a tolerance for my continued existence.

* * *

I only feel entirely comfortable when I shock, alienate, or disgust. Only when I find that I've made myself most loathsome to others, do I feel honest and clean within myself. Only during those moments of absolute rejection do I feel most absolutely acceptable to myself.

* * * 

We'll never come to the end of our poisons, so Pascal says. —Lyn Hejinian


(notebook pages)   


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There was a redheaded man who had no eyes or ears. He didn't have hair either, so he was called a redhead arbitrarily.

He couldn't talk because he had no mouth. He didn't have a nose either.

He didn't even have arms or legs. He had no stomach, he had no back, no spine, and he didn't have any insides at all. There was nothing! So, we don't even know who we're talking about.

We'd better not talk about him any more.

—Daniil Kharms




Last Thursday, I suddenly ran out of things to write about. The timing couldn’t have been worse. I called up all my writer friends, hoping they might be of some help. If each of them could contribute just a single line or two I might be saved. I should have known better. The first two didn’t answer, so I left messages. Another’s phone had been disconnected altogether. The wife of another answered and I hurriedly hung up. The boyfriend of still another was sorry to inform me that his lover was in a psychiatric hospital upstate recovering from what he delicately called “mental exhaustion.” Another was drunk to the point of incoherence and the last two claimed they’d just been about to call me with the exact same request for help. Finally, in desperation, I called my mother. She spoke nonstop for an hour and a half but, unfortunately, when we rung off I couldn’t remember a single word of what she said. I was arrested the next day. My hanging is at dawn.


(electric dog & favorite fire hydrant)


Poem Written by a Squirrel

I needed to write a poem for money
so I sat looking at a squirrel
waiting for it to do something poetic.
It just sat there. Once in a while
it flicked its tail.
Twenty minutes went by.
I tapped my pencil, losing patience.
Who ever heard of a squirrel sitting still
       for twenty straight minutes?

Finally, I crumpled up the paper on my desk
and threw it at the window.
The squirrel didn’t even turn to look at me.
It didn’t budge.
Spiteful bastard.
I got up and made a cup of coffee
and forgot all about the poem.

Some days later, I picked up the paper,
uncrumpled it, and found this poem inside
like the squirrel left it for me.
Nonsense, I thought,
tapping my pencil on the desk,
just the kind of dopey implication
that makes for a phony poem.

 (squirrel hastily forged without permission from the work of R. Crumb)


First Person

At last I grew tired of writing about myself so I picked the most interesting person I could find to replace me but my choices were fairly limited. I followed her around with my notebook as she went about her daily routine. I trailed her to the supermarket, the hairdresser, back and forth to her job at the office, waiting for something interesting to happen. Nothing. Once in a while, she had the chance to say something good, but let it go by. I wanted to jump in but I stopped myself just in time. This wasn’t supposed to be about me anymore. In the evening, I hoped to discover a secret life. Nope. She did a lot of reading on the couch, watched TV, pet her cat. On the weekends, she cleaned house, did laundry, talked to her mother on the phone. I sensed maybe something was going on in the bathroom but she shut the door in my face when I tried to follow her in there. From the other side, I begged to be let in. “Enough is enough!” she shouted, near tears, from behind the flimsy door. “I’ve put up with this for as long as I could. Now go away. Please for god’s sake.” In the end, I had no choice but to do as she wished. Now I’m back to writing stories about myself again. In spite of my best intentions, this has turned out to be just another one of them.


Report 891.78K

Yesterday I traveled to Saturn and back. It took me less than two and a half hours, round-trip. The length of my stay was variable, either three years or the time it takes to butter a slice of bread. While there, I met my real parents for the first time. They hugged and kissed me and said they were very proud of me. Then I was taken to the Home Office where I was introduced to one of the associate editors to whom I’ve been sending my reports all these years. He was younger than I expected and taller and had less eyes. He told me to keep up the good work and suggested more naps. When I asked when I could return home for good he said not for a while yet. “We’ll send someone, though, when the time comes.”

“Cancer?” I asked. “Heart attack?”

He shrugged. “Not sure. We were thinking maybe a runaway hotdog cart?”

I was back at my apartment in time for lunch.

Everyone wanted to know if I saw the rings of Saturn and what they were like. At first I told them the truth, that I didn’t see the rings at all, but they seemed so disappointed that I started making up more and more elaborate descriptions just to make them happy and they were.

People spend a lot of time regretting the mistakes of their past about which they can do nothing. It makes them feel good to wrap the blankets tightly around themselves and sigh, "if only I knew then what I know now it would be different, but, alas..." With these thoughts they lull themselves to sleep. It saves them the trouble it would otherwise cause them to stop being jerks when they get up the next morning and go about their daily business as usual.

(notebook pages)

There are so many things I know nothing about. Russian Constructivism, for example, and Kazimir Malevich. Then there are the things that I've studied, knew well for a short time, and then rapidly began to forget, so that now I'd have to study them all over again to refresh and remember accurately what it was I once briefly knew. Between the two, at any given time, I realize that I actually know very little for certain, practically nothing about anything, when you come right down to it.

Open this notebook every day and write down half a page at the very least. If you have nothing to write down, then at least, following Gogol's advice, write down there's nothing to write. Always write with attention and look on writing as a holiday. —Daniil Kharms


(notebook pages)

The Last Days of Daniil Kharms

It's hard to say anything
about the last days of Daniil Kharms
because I wasn't there.
Nor do I know anyone who was.
And even if I did, how could I trust that 
    what they said wasn't the result of bad 
    memory or outright fabrication?

Fancy language, empathy, even the best intentions won't change these facts,
not in the least.

Only Daniil Kharms could reliably offer
     any glimpse into the last days of Daniil
     Kharms and maybe not even him.

He died in a Soviet psychiatric prison.
He died in a field of asphodel.
He died lost at sea.
He died when a drunken friend sitting next 
     to him tried to shoot himself in the
     head and missed.
He died under a fallen tree.
He died choking on the cake he dreamed he was
    eating while starving to death.


(notebook pages)

(book still reading)