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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...

Sunday, May 31, 2015

=yellow pages=

=walking eyeball=

=megumi d'morte=

=I Make an Adjustment on a Consciousness Going Too Fast=

Oh I’ve got a lovesick llama here with a lot of vivaciousness.
What’s so good about an alma mater?
Why do I need it?
I am at the center of a vast profundity!
My hand is white,
the torque delicate,
that’s how I’m able to see forever
and turn the page!
It’s either death or shit that you foretell.
Or maybe a tractor.
Whatever it is, it’s coming!
You need a lamp in a cavern.
Then you can see the primary colors.
What do you know?
The light is a military junta.
I loved a man when I was a doomed secretary.
Such a morass I was in.
But I aspired to the good.
I had an affection for antiques.
What, in the long run, could ever go wrong?
Why question a bicycle
about anything?
I flashed my teeth at a werewolf
and the werewolf just winked.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

=palimpsest: flowers & vase II=

=megumi d'morte=

=My Secret Pink Bible is Not to be Fucked With=

I don’t want to know
when people are born.
I don’t want to be told
when they die either.
I think they should just be here
and then not be here
like a puff of something.
I think it should all happen without any fuss.
So much of what so many people say is worth repeating.
I just never remember any of it.
If we stand to the left of the sign,
we see all the left-hand edges.
They will probably give tight-lipped smiles
because of what we think will happen.
If we don't. ...
When we trust that we're okay no matter what circumstances come our way, we don't need a control mode.  
Here’s what it looks and feels like for me:
My vision gets very oblique.
The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly stratosphere.
The office is closed and funerals will not be held.
While driving his motorcycle near the town, he observed the whores circling the church and thought he could hear all their thoughts.
Ann grabbed a flashlight and checked the tires, which were OK, and then packed her g-string.
For privacy sake, I'm not going to give out his name. Suffice it to say, we were blowing up eels outside.
We missed you like fire.
I conducted monkey séances in a speakeasy that managed to get itself raided every night I did so.
The spirits never warned me.
The kitchen became a swamp of heat.
The family ate hurriedly and went out to sit on the porch in what papa called “cunt weather.”

Friday, May 29, 2015

=Megumi d'Morte

=palimpsest: flowers & vase=

=Am I Too Weird for You?=

Am I too weird for you?
I have the paperwork.
I have the hamburger meat you wanted.
Am I too weird for you?
I feel some people are so weird that there's no match for them.
I feel some people can sense the eerie presence.
Am I too weird for you?
I am a Strange Muffin.
I am the oddest muffin you will ever meet.
I think llamas and pickles are cool.
Am I too weird for you?
It may not just be sleep deprivation, dehydration, or a vitamin deficiency.
Exercising could be to blame.
I look awake: a clever illusion propagated by peanut shells, a drained gin flask, and black lipstick.
I possess all the ritual communal characteristics of classic human sacrifice.
Am I too weird for you?
I am a mutant never even considered for mass production.
I am a succinctly moving troubled soul wondering why I can’t leave.
There is a Japanese urban legend about a malicious spirit who haunts public places. In some versions he will ask you if you want a red or blue cape.
There are reports that some people felt touches they only observed.
Am I too weird for you?
Some people describe living in a black hole.
If you have been raising your starter diligently, she will teach it, and only it, the ultimate move.
Some people describe what you could call “accidental clickers.”
We’ve all clicked on something accidentally in our lives. 
In my dream you asked me: Am I too weird for you?
Many of us are at least acquainted with the voices of those worlds starting to intersect whose developers grew up in the basement of a brick townhouse next door.
Am I too weird for you?
More mystery surrounds the flowerbox.
It is great for stirring frozen juice concentrate and soups.
You can paint it to match or contrast.
Am I too weird for you?
I have the same problems as everyone else.
The temperature was 63 degrees earlier this week.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

=Autopsychography by Fernando Pessoa=

The poet's a clever bastard
faking a hurt
to show us the sore
he cannot show you.

You read what he's written
and you feel—not what he feels— 
but some imagined pain
that no one really feels.

And that's all words are—
a track laid down
to entertain our minds
around which runs in circles
the little toy train 
we call our heart.

—Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935)

"translated" by Meeah Williams

There have been many translations of this poem originally written in Pessoa's native Portuguese. Thirteen more, including the original, can be found here:

=Fernando Pessoa=

Be plural like the universe.

=envelope art=

=To the War Dead=

Much to our surprise
the Brooklyn Public Library
is closed all weekend.
We stand side by side
in front of the sign
as if we can’t believe our eyes
as if the longer we look
there’s a chance the words
will surrender a friendlier meaning.
Nope. There it is; inexorable
as a graveyard plaque:
Closed for Memorial Day Weekend.
Shit, what a bummer!
Somewhere inside
on a dark shelf
Joe Brainard is safe
between his covers.
I’ll just have to raid his tomb
another day,
that’s all.
You won’t escape me forever
Joe Brainard. You either,
Franz Wright.
Elaine Equi, I’m coming
back for you!
Sharon Mesmer: consider yourself
Denied books, we stop
at a fruit market.
There’s a woman
crossing the street.
She’s wearing dirty bib overalls and a pair
of long grizzled braids.
She looks like she’s just come in from hoeing potatoes
in Arkansas
or whatever it is you do with potatoes
wherever it is you do it.
She’s walking two dogs,
looking mighty satisfied with herself.
I wish I were that satisfied with my self
just one afternoon of my life.
I feel like shouting, “you go, girl! Rock
those stained overalls, those gnarly braids,
that little paunch,
those grinning, tongue-lolling dogs."
Back home, we’ll sit
at the kitchen table
and split an orange.
I’ll eat my half bitter skin and all.
It’ll be delicious.

=grimoire 26=

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

=2 etegami=

=from Moan Lisa=

=from Keith Chambers=

=megumi d'morte=

=The Chinese Lunatics=

This story is pure action, a thrill-a-minute. Unfortunately, it centers on the absolute pointlessness of human life. The setting is pretty depressing: a Chinese lunatic asylum. That's where we meet our hero, an old surgeon, well past his prime, a committed nihilist who lost his license to practice in the United States. Why bother to give him a name if he's the first one to assert that there's no point to anything? No one really expects patients in a mental hospital to get better so the Chinese lunatics don't suffer too much from his negative attitude. The real problem is the economy. Like so many things, including mental illness, it's outside the reach of human control, though no one likes to admit it. So how do things happen? Who's really pulling the strings? From our perspective, they would seem like beings from a magical race outside the laws of cause and effect. Why is it so hard for us to accept this? What is the difference between not believing this and being a nihilist? That evening the surgeon writes in his journal: "Half the people here think they're Satan; the other half think they're Christ. In effect, it's Armageddon every day." In effect, at that very moment, they were burning the place to the ground. The surgeon would have to shoot his way out of the parking lot when his shift ended. He kept his eye on the clock, waiting for quitting time. He writes in his journal: "It never arrives."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

=megumi d'morte=

=Bedtime Story=

She was completely engrossed in the story when the words started  disappearing. She rubbed her tired eyes, looked closer, and it helped for a time...about two-and-a-half paragraph’s worth. Victor had been telling her for months that she needed new glasses.  "You're squinting," he said, frowning. "And I'm not frowning." She frowned, recalling the scene. She shoved her thumbs further into the book, using them as placeholders. She turned the book over to look at the cover and found the title was gone. It must have fallen off. How? It was embossed, for god’s sake! Well, it was true, all the same. They didn't make books like they used to make them. A light search of the bedclothes turned up a small crease of hardened crumbs, a penny, a toothpick of all things (Victor, again?)...but no sign of the embossed title, nor any of the missing words. When she reopened the book to take up where she left off, several more sentences slid out. They vanished into the pattern of her silky nightie: a complicated labyrinth of red poppies. She turned a page, then another. It was like reading a burning paperback or a book written in disappearing ink. She riffled the pages, catching sentences, phrases, single words that happened to cling momentarily to the paper, often out of their original position, making strange, sometimes alarming new connections, having brief, explosive intimate relationships with words they’d never associated with before. Then they, too, dropped into oblivion beyond the edge of the page. She could foresee what would happen. Soon the book she was reading would be blank. Was she going blind or dreaming or discovering the true inner secret of books? She quickly turned to the last page for help, something she always thought of as gauche, the mark of lesser readers. But the words "the end" had by this time vanished with the rest. She sat bolt upright, riveted against the pillows. She thought of those book cover blurbs that warned readers to lock the doors and turn on all the lights. She faced the night wide-eyed and alone. There was no way to know what came next.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

=To You, My Child Unborn=

Those first two marriages, boy, let me tell you, that was a cold country to be traveling. The bed a pitiless tundra you could see no end of. Shadows of wolves on the wall. I could never sleep more than winks for weeks at a time. No difference between day and nightmare. Many were the times I had to eat my own foot, whichever foot still remained, simply to survive. I exaggerate you not. Eventually I escaped the madman in the castle, but I was still bound and blindfolded. I needed to run into a wise hermit, a magic fish, a talking tree—something like that. The fairytales all told me so. Nothing doing. It was all a package deal of lies. What a doofus I felt like believing in such tripe as that. Kick in the pants it was but I deserved it. So I disguised myself as a boy and joined the circus as a juggler. Naturally I lied about my experience. Are you with me so far? No? Well keep on stumbling and bumbling after me a while longer in the dark; the light will come, it done for me, sorta. Meanwhile, I was fired from the circus. I could juggle well enough, I found, but only with one ball, and what good was that? Well, plenty, as it turned out. I fell in love with that ball and soon I was pregnant, although not in the usual way; mind you, nothing was ever in the usual way. I would never give birth, not to a baby, anyway. Just as well, except who do you suppose I’m talking to now? I’m talking to you, my little bird of prey. You fly over forests and fields and whatnot. You see what I can’t see and tell me all about it, but in a language I don’t understand, as if that should be any big surprise. This is where things get less complicated. I am my own magic, you see, but it wasn’t the way they described it in the books and songs, which is what made it so hard to recognize. The thing itself, without the amplification of metaphor, it’s so ordinary, like a salt-shaker, except not like that, because it shakes no salt. Get it? No? Pretend you do, just for a few sentences more. Go on. Do it. Amuse me. Hooded, you bob your head, following the shadow of my finger, just as instinct demands you do. Yes, you do get it, after all.

=Book Recently Read: Palimpsest by Gore Vidal=

Gore Vidal: I am relieved not to see most people, even those I like—or once liked. I understand now why the old enjoy the obituaries of contemporaries. I used to put this down to play-acting in the face of memento mori; now I think it is a sense of relief in letting go for good of people whose presence one no longer needs.

Gore Vidal was a big admirer of George Santayana.

At fourteen, Gore Vidal experienced his first, last, and therefore only great love; it was with a school chum, also fourteen, who was later killed while a Marine at Iwo Jima.

Vidal remained obsessed with this boy for the rest of his life.

He was unapologetically indifferent about pleasing his sexual partners and, as he grew older and less physically attractive, paid for sex without guilt or regret.

If given the choice, Vidal preferred his lovers impotent.

He disliked Truman Capote who, he claimed, was a pathological liar. He found him physically repulsive, as well.

Between the years 1976 and 1981, Gore Vidal was the Antichrist.

After the crash of 1929, our ruling class vanished from the public scene—no more tiaras at the opening of the opera. Celebrities now fill in for them, and the shadowy Mellons will be chuckling softly as Capote’s jet-setters, filling in for the last time, are driven off in tumbrils, especially constructed for the revolution by the Ford Foundation, wrote Gore Vidal.

Vidal attended The Los Alamos Ranch School which William S. Burroughs also attended, a decade earlier.

His grandfather Thomas Pryor Gore was the first senator from Oklahoma. He was blind. As a child, Gore often read to him.

Al Gore is Gore Vidal’s cousin. Vidal called him “the Cromwell of Washington’s Fairfax Hotel.”

Despite persistent rumors and allegations, yet in absence of any hardcore evidence, Gore Vidal was never a pederast—according to Gore Vidal.

His father was on friendly terms with both Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. He served in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration as the first director of Air Commerce. He appeared on a Time magazine cover

Gore Vidal was born October 3, 1925, at “about noon.”

He made it a rule never to sleep with anyone older than thirty. After thirty, he considered another person, as far as sexual purposes were concerned, a corpse.

He once fucked Jack Kerouac up the ass.

Gore Vidal wrote “Visit to a Small Planet” a play whose general outline can be seen repeated in many later popular works of entertainment, such as “My Favorite Martian,” “Mork & Mindy,” and the ending of the Superman movie.

At twenty-two, he considered Anais Nin, then forty-three, an old lady and would never have considered proposing marriage to her, as she has written in her diaries.

Gore Vidal disliked his mother—intensely. The feeling, according to Vidal, was mutual.

He predicted that Bill Clinton wouldn’t survive his first term. “He will experience the bullet or a sudden resignation.”

Again on Nin: her sweat did, in fact, smell, despite her own olfactory assessment to the contrary.

He  refused to have anything to do with his mom for the last twenty years of her life.

Vidal found William S. Burroughs creepy and unattractive. He didn’t think much of Burroughs’s writing either.

In 1993 Vidal writes that he is “Well and truly traumatized by the fragility of our social arrangements, today more fragile than ever as the poor grow desperate, the rich arrogant, while the ubiquitous television set keeps showing consumers without cash how well the few live, not a wise thing to do.”

Vidal enjoyed the novels of Evelyn Waugh but found the man himself “singularly detestable.” He consequently advised never seeking out the company of a great writer.

Greta Garbo liked wearing his clothes.

He shared three nephews with Jackie Kennedy. They also shared a stepfather and a childhood bedroom, but not at the same time.

He rewrote a key scene of the movie Ben-Hur as high-camp gay erotica—without Charlton Heston (according to Gore, not merely the acting equivalent of a wooden Indian, but an entire “lumberyard”) or straight America ever suspecting a thing.

Once, Gore Vidal’s leg hairs tickled Jackie’s bare leg and Gore got, well, sort of turned on.

President John F. Kennedy according to Gore Vidal: “In this…uh…job you get to know all the big movers and shakers and the thing that most strikes me about them is how second-rate they really are.” Jack said this with some wonder, even wistfulness—as if he had really wanted to be impressed and wasn’t.

Gore Vidal didn’t like parties—and the grander the party the less he liked it.

Gore Vidal went to a lot of parties.

Vidal, at a party in the Sistine Chapel, observing Henry Kissinger gazing thoughtfully at the hell section of The Last Judgment. “Look, he’s apartment hunting.”

The squalor, Vidal said, never ends once one gets involved with people for whom truth is no criterion.

Amen, I say.

=megumi d'morte=

=grimoire 24=

=from Moan Lisa=

=Anywhere at All=

The woman sat on a bench by the sea with an urn holding the ashes of her parrot. Down the beach a ways, some boys were playing sword fight with driftwood. She recalled the days when she didn't have a care in the world. No, she didn't; that's a lie. She always had at least two or three cares in the world. A small white dog comes bounding up the shoreline; it seems to belong to no one. Wait. Maybe his owner is that dark greenish-brown speck coming from the direction of the amusement park. In the urn, she imagined her tongue, nothing but ashes. She saw it smoldering at the bottom of the utility sink where she burned the parrot, stirring the charred remains with a bar-be-cue fork. Who knew feathers would stink so much when they burned? It took an absurdly long time for the flames to consume them all. She squirted more fire accelerant to revive the failing embers. She fed the limping flames that wearily rose with pages torn from an old telephone directory, listings of all the people she would never talk to. As she was thinking these thoughts, a man had come up to fish. He threw his line into the blind water, reeled it in, cast it out again. He repeated and repeated and repeated this routine. They say there are less fish in the ocean than ever. Sometimes, in fairytales, the hero catches a talking fish. Not in this fairytale, though. If she were the fish she wouldn't talk; and no one would expect it of her. She would only gape, drowning in oxygen. If she were the fisherman, tongueless, she wouldn't answer. Dialogue, the experts say, is an important part of a story. Her hand twitches in her lap, wanting a pen, which she had the foresight to leave behind. You had to be careful. Tongues, like tumors, could grow back anywhere at all. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

=grimoire 23=

=megumi d'morte=


=Vanessa Place=

It is enough to ask questions. 
Everybody has answers.

=Polar Nights=

It was a small Arctic village, the kind of claustrophobic burb where you can't help knowing everyone else's business, not because you're particularly interested, but just out of sheer boredom. That Jim was a spy passed for common knowledge among the fishermen, gold hunters, and oil riggers down at the Ice Floe who regularly drank themselves blind just to get through the day. No one cared; no one had anything to hide and if they did everyone knew what it was already. Consequently, it wasn't any secret about Paula. She was an android. She'd been designed by Gilbert, a video game programmer who'd run off to the Arctic in order to avoid any unpleasantness with the law back in California where  some questionable porn had been discovered on his computer. Gilbert had developed a less-than-technical passion for Paula that she felt under no compulsion to feel for him, creator or not, such feelings having not been written into her code. Instead, she'd fallen in love with a penguin. It was difficult to form an opinion over such an unforeseen liaison as no specific laws had yet been written to either condemn or allow it, but among those who still considered the Bible an authority, it certainly was un-Biblical. Still, as one geologist explained it, survival under Arctic conditions could be catch-as-catch can. Everyone understood that; they were inclined to live and let live. The whole situation was so preposterous that Jim thought the villagers must be putting him on, or that maybe the  assignment itself was a training exercise designed to test his mental endurance. Perhaps the village was just a stage set and the villagers fellow agents. If that were the case, they wouldn't want Jim to challenge the very grounds of the experiment, even if he were onto them; that wasn't how things were done. So Jim decided it best to play along, to be a good egg. He bided his time, filed his reports, waited patiently, observed. Surely someone would be along presently to debrief him. The Paula-Gilbert-penguin love triangle ended badly, as anyone could see coming the proverbial mile off, snow-blind or not—a double-murder-suicide that rendered all further philosophical and legal debate about such relationships moot. Jim thought that might signal the end of the experiment, or test, or whatever it was. But no, things went on, just as before. Disheartened, Jim eventually went to live among the indigenous peoples on the outskirts of town. "Going native," they called it back at the spy place and they all got a good laugh out of it. That's what Jim imagined, anyway, on some of the darker of those interminable polar nights, the snow wrapping itself around his cabin, blanking out the windows, the wind screaming like a rollercoaster and Jim huddled in his sealskins by the fire, waiting for someone to come, waiting waiting waiting for the mission to end, whatever it was, unable to tell one day from the next, growing ever more bitter, ever more cold.

Friday, May 22, 2015

=Tan Lin on Poetry as Ambience=

It would be nice to create works
of literature that didn't have to be
read but could be looked at, 
like placemats. 



Thursday, May 21, 2015

=Some Things Happen=

Some things happen. Some things. What happens. Some things.
What happened? Some things. Things happen. What happened. What things.
                        Some things that happened. Some things happened that happened. They happened.
            Some things.
There happened things that happened. They could not un-happen. Something things happened that we saw happen.
Or heard happen.              We heard about happen.
We didn’t want them to happen. Or did. They happened.
These were things. Things that happened.
Happening.             Some of those things. Happening
                                                                              still. We experienced them happening. They happened. Things. Some. They happen.
Once things happened. They happened
and we experienced them happening
and hadn’t wanted them to happen.  Or, sometimes, did.
                                                                   Why would they happen? Things
                They are still happening.
We did or did not accept things that happened. No difference did it make. Things happened with or without approval. They happened. Just like that. Things happened. Some of them, anyway. What were the things that didn’t happen?

Our minds are blank. Blank in the face of them—the things that happened.
                                          Some things we remember. Others we try to forget.            
The things that happened. We witnessed. Some happenings. What were they? The things that happened?  They happened without our willing or even wanting in most cases.  Them to happen. Sometimes,
                             we thought
if only things could stop happening,
not happen. Sometimes. There was no chance to prepare. One moment nothing. The next—things happening.  Some things, though, happened out of sight. These are the things that happened that we didn’t know had happened while they were happening.
Or that we never knew happened
and still don’t know happened
though we live with their consequences.  The evidence of their
                                                                                     happening in plain sight
all around. Things that happened that might even be killing us,

                                                                           or having killed us, you would have thought we would have seen happen. You would only think that would be fair.

=Some things happen=

=The Mystery Cup=

This is how you could sum up her life: She wanted what was in the one cup whose contents were forever hidden from her. She wanted the wanting. That is why she never lifted the cloth, keeping what lay inside the cup hidden from herself. It was a common enough malady. She figured she wanted what she could never have, just like everyone else. Her infirm father disagreed. "What you are describing is a magic cup. But it's got monsters in it, too. You don't want to let either out. It's enough to know that they're in there. That knowledge alone enchants your life." Paul came home from work in a great mood that evening. Work had gone well that day for a change. He didn't want to hear the old man's senile ramblings about magic and monsters. He didn't want to see his wife's pretense of earnest interest and rapturous admiration. Intended as kindness, they only served to encourage the crackbrained coot. Paul ate his meatloaf hunched over in a hadal silence. He glared at the clock above the sink just to be looking at something, as if it were the hole through which someone was shoveling the dirt burying him alive. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

=Gore Vidal on Whether or Not He has Time for You=

Isherwood and I used to play around with the notion of what it would be like to know the entire future of someone we had just met, rather as if we could skip to the back of a book to see how things turned out, as Montaigne always did, eager to read how the protagonist died even before he knew how he had lived. Then, knowing the ending, one would address a new person accordingly: "Sorry, I have no time to waste on you. Next summer you'll be dead on Route 9W in a car accident, and by the time I'm sixty-five, I will have forgotten your name."

=mea culpa=

=Outfitting Ourselves for Close to the Very End=

There's nothing like a secret admirer.
She quickly realized the burgeoning science could only progress if she had observations that were systematic.
Stars, for instance, are not the same as pigs.
Let’s say, I have unique ways to allocate.
Let's say, I have ways.
Let's say I'm being robbed, but I choose to believe I'm pushing my daughter on the swings in the park across from the Methodist church
Let's say we're developing a vector graphics application. It will allow the user to create lines, rectangles, circles, text, etc. and manipulate them independently.
You can only enter the instance between 8 am and 11:30 pm server time.
When we went our separate ways, I remember thinking, when the winter storms arrive both sexes, which are strictly herbivorous, move to steep rocky slopes to avoid the heavy drifts of blinding snow and the archers.
Who can tell if we’re shouting when we have laryngitis?
Let’s say, we shrink them a bit.
Let’s say we beg.
They should fit comfortably and not interfere with breathing.
They should fit snug and protect all parts of the exposed skull.
They should not fit high on the crown of the head.
They should not trip us and make us fall into the fire.
100 years after we first arrived in Belgium we were still looking forward to a very exciting future
Then she fell into a gruesome nightmare, one that chilled her to the bone.
For every 1,000 words spoken, we make one or two errors.
Something that you say by accident when you intended to say something else can change water into wine.
The Gospel says: The microscopic tardigrade—also known as the water bear—is the only animal
that can survive the cold, irradiated, irrational vacuum
of outer space.
Hearing that, I had a strong feeling that I was pregnant.
Hearing that, I had the power to stand up and clap at the end.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

=Less need to say=

=The Hotel Grimoire=

The Voice of the Place
Each shadow on the wall is a nightmare on the loose.
How horrible it can be: the imagination.
Heart pounding, one wakes, but wakes to what?
There are faces forgotten in hotel rooms.
The phone rings and rings and rings and no one is here.

The Check-In
The light reaches only a foot across the patterned carpet.
The beds are newly made, dressed formally, in crisp white sheets.
The parking lot is shimmering, melting in the black sun.
No one is on duty in the bistro.
Six, maybe seven, lizards dash off.
A man sits, distracted, pen in hand.
The heat is rising, not quite imperceptibly.
One thinks: no one wants to hear these thoughts flickering away.
How best to describe the pattern on this carpet?
Is that a bird trapped in the air conditioner?
Where can one get a cup of coffee in this place?
The pen lies—it lies only inches away.
Exhaustion creeps over one: it’s not even 1p.m.
In the scale of things today: one inch equals thirty-five miles.
The parrot in its cage, feathered like an Aztec priest.
The touch of a finger on the desk bell.

The Voice of the Place
The air conditioner can do nothing for this air.
Locked, the drawer where the broken words are kept.
The manatee lay in the bathtub stabbed a hundred times.
What the staff finds when a guest departs hardens a soul.
A face forms in the tangled murk of a forest painting.

The Pick-Up
On the bar, a gin-and-tonic sits, sweating with fear.
A woman crosses her legs, studies her toenails.
Four pill bottles lined up on the bathroom countertop.
Describe it or not: the pattern in a stranger’s sportscoat?
One clears one’s throat as if to start again—but doesn’t.
A tap on the shoulder: it’s a message for someone else.
On the tv screen, people in smoke, running for cover.
Fingers twist a swizzle stick into various letter shapes.
Take out cell phone, pretend to consult, put away again.
Is one being watched or not and how does one know?
A large man takes the next barstool, orders, turns, smiles, and says…
Two things difficult to gauge: how drunk one is, how desperate.
Footsteps running down the empty hall: then running back again.
In the dark, under the sheets, it doesn’t feel like a penis.
The hotel manager stands watch among the potted plants.            
A new working title: “Semiotics for Victims.”

The Voice of the Place
The laughter in the hallway isn’t laughter at all.
In the dark, in the corner, something squeals in pain and protest.
Forgive whatever has trespassed here.
There is life in the small jars pushed to the back of the closet.
When the lights are out, there are small sharp teeth everywhere.

The stated goal: to make one’s stay “a complete success.”
Then there’s the shape of drops splashed on the sink counter.
One is promised that it—whatever “it” is—will be made right.
The intensity of bathroom light reveals the true damage.
Just call the front desk if you forgot…
A used towel crumpled against the bathtub like a child.
Something rusty dissolving in the white throat of the toilet.
Does it matter how many squares comprise the tile floor?
Is that a bruise or a birthmark and is there a difference?
Toothpaste, a comb, the will to go on—what has one forgotten?
It’s just not true that everything can be made right.
One zips up the bag; then one unzips it again.
Is there time before the housekeeper comes?
On the side of the bed one sits, slumped, touching the tender spot.

The Voice of the Place
The pen says, tap, tap, tap.
There are no survivors: that is the only certainty.
Hunger is easily invented but not satisfaction.
The purpose of the experiment has been forgotten.
The sun, hours in the coming up, does not come up at all.

On Hotel Stationary
To Whom it May Concern (if it concerns anyone at all):
           The mornings, with a sweet roll and coffee, are bearable.
            One’s eyes are opened by each table’s bright yellow flower.
            One writes these words in the blue shadow of one’s 
            own hand.
            A quick calculation: how much can one lose and still go on?
            Those Lost: a list of names follows this underlined heading.
            A bird, blue as acetylene: it’s gone before it’s there.
            Tomorrow is like a letter that may or may not come.
            Sometimes love means letting go: of a dream, of a      
            person, of a life.
            “One more cup of coffee,” one tells oneself, but then what?
            Check-out time at noon, which is really very generous.

The Voice of the Place
The steel doors slide back, no one exits this floor.
There are no “guests” among the uninvited.
The cart piled with used linens, half-eaten meals.
In the distance, one catches the sound of a vacuum.
The elevator announces its sadness with a bell.

Monday, May 18, 2015

=Gore Vidal on Other People=

If you have known one person you have known them all. Of course, I am not so sure that I have known even one person well, but, as the Greeks sensibly believed, should you get to know yourself, you will have penetrated as much of the human mystery as anyone need ever know. 

=Did I Say?=

He called himself an entrepreneur. It was our first date. After dinner, he invited me back to his place to see his extensive collection of celebrity souls. He had them arranged on shelves in alphabetical order. From Anna Akhmatova to Garo Yepremian. "Did I say souls? Of course, I meant wines." He shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. I was a priestess in those days. I cast spells on my enemies. They discovered small lumps in their breasts when they showered; woke up hysterically blind. Did I say "priestess"? I meant to say physical therapist. I never willfully hurt a soul in my life. Outside, down in the alley, the boys are playing stickball. Each one of them has a stick. There is no ball in sight. Did I say "stickball"? They are hacking each other to death with machetes.