* The normal reminders of persecution. The blue reminders of incompetence. The sexual pontoon, itsboarding party of insurance agents, their streamlined Jesus, dollar bills fluttering from his anus. He ishalf-balloon, half-carp, amenable to any position. He crowd surfs. The day is sunny. The watergimlet-green. On the shore, a viscount baptizes toothless Mennonites. They have strayed into thestatic and only the static can return their bodies to the appropriate automotive superstore, one of many stops en route to the cemetery and singing earth. They wear funny hats but do not ride horses. The loveliest girl of their number has a birthmark in the shape of an encephalitic gnome on herknee.
The truth satirizes your heart. Eat your lunch. The apple salad is marvelous
, says Sweet Peter James.
What is this planet and why does your dress swirl so loosely about your hips
, I beseech him. I rattle theplectrums all around in my lunchbox.
This is our genuflection. This is our sweetness. Do not try to escape my holsters
, he replies, and makes a little noise like a caterpillar dying. I am driving a fire-engine naked. The vinyl is obscene against my thighs. A little league baseball team is on fire. All fourteen of them,including the two who never get to play, the one because he talks to trees and his eyes gobble up the world with an artist’s strangeness, the other because he throws the ball straight into the ground andshrills like a jackdaw consumed with brain fever and swings the bat at his teammates as though they are Armenians and he has been taught from birth to hate Armenians as the embodiment andpurveyors of social and economic declinism among the otherwise sylvan webs of the untouchablesynth-inflected mystery that is our birthright, and also for their creation of finely-tuned andmordantly humming Armenian devices of torture. They would have kicked this one, namedMadducks, off the team had they not agreed to a sprog that his incandescent rage boosted morale,took them places. It is not my job to rescue the little-leaguers, but rather to drive circles aroundthem in my fire-truck, naked and sweating as they burn, to add to the spectacle, though no one is watching, and they are all orphans, and it is too late to save them anyway, and they are at least thirty feet from any other flammable structure, these sportive and nubile lanterns of abortive hope, and Iflash my lights, and I unleash my siren, and I feel like a knight Templar who has been slithered in theear anew by the spirit and the musky knowledge of his own rapid mortal decay, the decay of his age,and I wish against wishing I was wearing a magician’s hat and a plastic, toy badge pinned to my chest. A crowd-surfing Jesus beats inside me. The children do not scream, but rather make throwing and swinging motions as though they are playing a very poor and erratic form of baseball and thendisappear, puffs of dragon smoke into the sky. My uncle Almarine killed my dog when I was six. Aman’s body can be redeemed through labor. Animals cannot be redeemed.
Is your aberrance sufficient to grant you a name
, asked Sweet Peter James of me the night we first harpooned our livers from among the madrigals. I love him unduly, as a wraith loves its saint. A man’s body can degrade intobeastliness. The house a person lived in for many years can become another person’s house, or rotinto itself, can be wyverned and redeemed by beasts, a shambled, lean-to for spiritless yellow eyes. Almarine did not count himself a continent man, a man of the church, a man whose fluids stayedmostly inside, a man not irrigated by whiskey. He shoveled most of the day. His body’s own localslurry creased into his skin, blackfaced, sour-hearted. I look around and cannot find my Sweet Peter James. I look around and oh my god my Sweet Peter James is being devoured by ants. I look aroundand my Sweet Peter James is an ant heroically carrying the skeleton of his hagiographic and former