You are on page 1of 43

T HIS IS AN ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THE FIRST ACT FROM A MENA S T HE B EAUTIFUL U S .

. T HIS SECTION OPENS WITH A MULTITUDE OF VOICES AND MEMORIES SPILLING OUT ALL OVER EACH OTHER , AS THE SPEAKER
ATTEMPTS TO TELL HER STORY IN A LETTER SHE IS WRITING TO A FRIEND .

W E COME TO SEE THAT IT IS A STORY ABOUT LOVE AND


AND , ABOVE ALL , ABOUT BEAUTY .

DEATH ...

B UT YOU SHOULD KNOW ...


THE CENTRALITY OF BEAUTY TO THIS STORY IS ONLY FULLY EXPLORED ACROSS THE ENTIRE BOOK . BOOK AT

S O IF YOU ENJOY THIS FREE

DOWNLOAD , PLEASE CONSIDER PURCHASING THE HANDBOUND

WWW.MUSAFRA.COM.

M USAFRA P RESS [1]

IS A SMALL , INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER WHOSE SOLE REASON

FOR EXISTING IS TO BUSHWHACK INTO EXISTENCE A GAP IN THE SYSTEM WHERE WRITERS MAINTAIN CREATIVE CONTROL OVER THEIR WORK AND THE MAJORITY OF PROFITS FROM ITS SALES ,

[2]

AND THE BOOKS WE PRINT

ARE BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED AND HANDBOUND .

the.beau tiful.us. the.beau tiful.us. the.beau tiful.us. the.beau tiful.us.


A M E N A P R E S E N T S

The Beautiful Us
IN FOUR ACTS
MUSAFRA

PRESS
B O O K S

H A N D B O U N D

C A L I F O R N I A

A LSO BY A MENA S HAKEDOWN

T HE B EAUTIFUL U S . Copyright 2012 by Amena. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without permission in writing from the publisher. ISBN 0615650007 / 978-0-615-65000-5 Cover design: Edward Frondoso Cover art: Amena, After Rorschach. acrylic inkblot

Musafra Press is a small, independent press. All of our books, including


this one, are printed in limited runs. They are also individually numbered, printed on high quality paper, and bound by hand. For more information or to purchase additional copies, write to info@musafra.com.

In a world where exquisite art often doesnt find an audience, we are working to create beautiful, interesting, affordable handbound books. This is guerilla publishing. Thank you for participating. Visit www.musafra.com for audio downloads and more.

DE LO QUE FUI
NO TENGO SINO ESTAS MARCAS CRUELES, PORQUE AQUELLOS DOLORES CONFIRMAN MI EXISTENCIA.
PABLO NERUDA

[ OF

ALL THAT

I WAS ,

I BEAR ONLY THESE CRUEL SCARS ,


BECAUSE THOSE GRIEFS CONFIRM MY VERY EXISTENCE . ]

prolegomenon this is not fiction. but it is also not revelation. revelation reveal its depths makes i to its object for its silent. it, when i beauty, speak plundering and my

discover the

secrets, power of

taking the spoils, and leaving it naked and inanimate under delimiting proclamations. what this is, instead, is archaeology. we are all archaeologists of our own lives and we are ever only the in ones possession of fragments like painstakingly

arranged here. the object becomes. beauty becomes. i am its object as well, and i become. i deliver its story and it delivers mine.

ACT I

ACT I I

DR I F T H EAT R UPTURE C OLLAPSE

37

ACT I I I

67

ACT IV

93

prologue you will see that i do not name names here. it in is a because goldfish. my only every we has name been their transient. every we has been gold, the gold children goldfish. only children do not know better. but to unnamed, be taken to for be a little clear, my is not we

unknown.

yes,

every

has been transient. but their names are the graffiti that claims the humid alleyways of my guts. my hot places have been vandalized. and it is because we are transient that i

carry their names on my guts and not on my lips. on cloudy days they can be seen smeared across the sky of my insides. they provide the sacred shade and carry these everlasting storms.

PROLOGUE

W A N T

T O

L E A R N

M O R E

A N D

M O R E

I DO NOT WANT TO

D R I F T

dear -, it is so easy and to be worked you smoothly it, and into

regularity. fantasizing, telling declares you

before

know

youve it is

g o t a r o u t i n e . y o u a r e a r o u t i n e a w a l k i n g , shitting about, his routine. boring. i despise this. in that essay i was kierkegaards basic principle or would aesthete is that be that he

people are boring. it is a reasonable basic principle, believes, there anyone boring enough to contradict?

so

think

that,

despite

that

youve

been

impatient with me twice (more, perhaps, if you


c a n s o m e t i m e s h i d e i t), w e s h o u l d r i d e t h e h e l l

o u t o f t h i s m e a n d y o u t h i n g r i d e i t u n t i l the wheels its come all off, we ride it want to get our each fill. really from

other anyway, isnt it?

DRIFT

i know you will understand. i had the good love not that and its a all fucked. that before, wouldnt root either i go and (1) could away then know imagine a sight

if i turned away from it. i did not believe sensation my origin. could now lay i become

b e t t e r o r (2) n e e d m o r e t i m e ( f o r i t o r m e t o f a d e ).

and even writing to you now, i wonder if i will regret it later, if distance will come between us, or apathy, or unanticipated dislike, and i will hate that i shared with you and gave you things i love. but you are not boring and that means very much.

DRIFT

ive

also

learned things. in

to and

accept please than

lot

of

uni

pleasant i invest

dont most

think

am all rainclouds and peeling dreams. i bet beauty more people people with less gloom in the letters they send to a friend (and i dont know how i ended
u p a t g l o o m i o n l y w a n t e d t o e x p e r i e n c e s o m e t h i n g h e r e ). n o , i a m n o c y n i c .

but

the

emptiness

where

one

used

to

live,

or never lived but should have lived, does not fill in. we only put ornaments and new promises around it. and we hope to match the paint color. but it never does look the s a m e ( a n d w e a l l k n o w i t ).

DRIFT

so but

we

throw is you

ourselves this never

against

each

other, pull all

sort of carelessly, hoping to feel something. there and scraping can walk when away you with away

you brought.

this shit

isnt

at

all

what

meant

to

say.

DRIFT

10

WHAT I MEANT TO SAY .

jim morrison is here saying he loves me in a busy gas the am station somewhere and the hair, gas above young short the man cigarettes behind and i and condoms,

c o u n t e r l o n g a hurry and

ears

is confused by the screen in front of him. in is overpriced and i havent been live in months. the cold cloud that i in my out head so feel is hustling into there all the is

these margins

sensations

far them.

cannot

only one left, here in the center, where i can find it: darkness. it is all i see taste touch hear smell. it is all i eat of myself.

DRIFT

11

so the best way to explain is to say that he came when it was dark. he was dark, too. but when he saw me collapse to the floor in the briny puddles of my own tears, he swore he would give me his light. and then he kissed me. that across is how i ended wooden up full stretched where he

the

dark

staircase

s a t p r e s s e d, a d d i c t e d t o m y m o v e m e n t o v e r h i m. twist it up. twist it up. my voice splintered into tiny gasps titanic gasps again again again again. and i did not know if it was pleasure or sorrow that escaped me. but i was grateful to be rid of something.

DRIFT

12

i plan to rub myself up against him hard until my skin splits wide open so that the concealed need hope heat passion falls right out and all that is left is defeat. then it. wrap i ill will it take that it defeat up and to like sew my an it so

deep into my lining that i will never miss press tight skin, iron around my frontier

border. and it will bring my wild temperature down so that i never again yield to promise, to surrender, to want at all.

DRIFT

13

STILL , THIS IS ONLY SURFACE PLAY .

my body is resurrected by him but i immerse in imagining an other love


(of my boundless compassion, my insatiable need to dance, my inability to watch horror movies without p u n c h i n g s o m e o n e i n t h e a r m ).

still, i remain grateful for the righteous touch of another against my skin despite.

DRIFT

14

i n t e r i o r m o n o l o g u e: a n e s t h e s i a i will take so many lovers that i have none at all.


(so when that tenderness slips from between his philanthropic lips i will spit from my promiscuous ones d o n t c a l l m e b a b y.)

DRIFT

15

ALREADY THIS EXAMINATION IS LOSING FOCUS . FROM THE BEGINNING THIS TIME .

for only

many

years

my

status of

was: death

barely

thought of endings. in that time there were speedy whispers briefly puncturing my orbit.

there from

is the

moonless cracks,

story

now,

sprung of

up the

appearing

out

disfigurement, blurring across a divide. it is no longer new. i have but it seen is its it a
not

swelling story for

and

feel

its
(their

conclusions .
not
crumbling will

is a story about
y e t b e g i n ).

children,

children

DRIFT

16

there acres trees,

is of

an of a

oldest it

child. is

he

is

running by many with it

outside

house grassy

surrounded covered fresh

land.

over

deer,

spaces,

air.

is a good place for a story about children. there around less is a second others. two here. wide child, he is laughing, very a her is few fawn jumping now months legs

the

young

than

years, one

only

older than the twins, who are the youngest children in the tests sun. against the tall grass and the other rests summer she ladylike, even then. and there are two young aunts sitting on a new this porch is a swing. story they about are observers the here. aunts children.

only watch them in the afternoon sun.

DRIFT

17

there he is

is

one

more

child.

he

is on

the the

second patio, he three summer diaper floors.

oldest. he is lovely. but he does not run. sitting walk, old. he is he wears dirty cross-legged to the he though is from only a is and cross-legged cannot years heat that next porch in swing. the a

nearly and

still

t-shirt

dragging

across

he is very sick. we are told that his body has been breaking down since his beginning.

the him

older gently

aunt up,

is

watching him eat, in

him. the

she

picks of

sits

middle

the swing, hoping to comfort him because he cannot run, cannot cannot survive without these tubes. there they are. four happy children running. one sick child. two observers.

DRIFT

18

then a small pressure on the aunts back.

she looks at her sister: she has not moved. it is the boy, his hand slid in there just above arms backs her are of waist, back too in his just to other the reach so hand same on way. her his the sisters

short

across the

full-grown

aunts,

swollen

palms land just a few inches in.

then the boy looks up at her sister, turns his head, looks at her. he smiles.

DRIFT

19

his

eyes

turn

back

out the

toward excited

the

yard,

happily playing.

following

children

the sisters say nothing. perhaps it is best because they are only aunts and observers here.

and we, we will want to say beauty now. we will want to say love. we will want to say peace. but this is gruesome and it is ugly. there is powerful

imperfection

in

that

tiny body.

DRIFT

20

they and

are he

losing

him.

his

skin there

itches are

deep

down, below the surface. his throat is dry cannot in swallow. needle stories written in two the marks ever scattered known

across his infant arms. and he will be gone months without having those sunny grass spaces. there beauty is of no beauty of innocence there is here, only no the

peacefulness.

beauty of truthfulness. it is

wretched .

we will believe it is our curse. perhaps it will be our deliverance, if we can bear to be saved.

DRIFT

21

AFTER HEARING THAT STORY MY SUBDUCTION BEGAN : TO EXCLUDE A BODY FROM THE SURFACE AND DROP IT INTO DARKNESS .

im earless eyeless
/

and im peerless

which means im

which means im tearless

for a moment i do recall: i had legs once. then its gone. like me. and im mouthless i cannot even
/

which means im soundless myself to the porch of

drag

my insides. and im brainless


/

which means im headless

i do not remember where it is.

DRIFT

22

MUCH LATER I AM REMINDED THAT SUBDUCTION ZONES ARE PRONE TO EARTHQUAKES AND EARTHQUAKES ARE DISRUPTIVE

stretched our talks

across have

the

long to

spring the

months, one that

returned

b r o k e u s i n t o e a c h o t h e rs l i v e s. (t h o u g h o u r
w o r k i s v e r y d i f f e r e n t , w e f o l l o w t h e s a m e m e l o d y .)

am

writing

about

beauty

and

how

being

wrong can cost too much. in what ways? he asks.


(it is a gentle manner of suggesting t h a t i h a v e g o n e o u t o f t u n e.)

DRIFT

23

BUT FOR SOME , APPETITE .

EVEN

EARTHQUAKES

DO

NOT

QUIET

THE

john

locke

believed

that

one is

of of

our

most

fundamental

experiences

solidity

a r e s i s t a n c e t o p r e s s u r e i n d u c e d b y a n o t h e r. he calls this a positive quality because it describes impenetrability, which is the ability of one body to repel an other body that is attempting to occupy its space.

DRIFT

24

locke is right. the experience of space, of spacing, another. all the time i have he been has practicing been this of ones space, is fundamental. but solidity is only one solution. there is

impenetrability, spaceships.

building

DRIFT

25

EARTHQUAKES AND MOUNTAINS DO NOT APPEAR TO HAVE MUCH IN COMMON . BUT MOUNTAINS , AND THE BREATHTAKING VIEWS THEY PROVIDE , ARE ALSO PRODUCED BY THE MUTILATION OF TECTONIC PLATES .

it is really convenient for me that youre sick. i am smiling when i say this, just after i borrow her car and find that the handicap tags make parking very easy. she laughs.

DRIFT

26

this

is

how

say

remember

that

she

is

sick. it is how i say i understand that she will someday be immobile and she is trying to do all her living now. it is how as we and i take move it the the pressure the may down that the off of her lot the

foot

through fall

parking follow, is

together

comes

painfully foot

slow, still

anticipating embarrassment

because

young and already cannot be trusted. it t o o.

is

the

only

way

to

tell

her

without

burdening her with my blues

DRIFT

27

aside I there are scores of tectonic layers here, as many stories as there are voices. they are bellowing tonight. from over a great distance they begin to

merge before us, and with ancient tools we carve significance from their dense spaces.

n o w t w o s t o r i e s a r e s h a p e d h e r e t w o i g n i t e d , radiant out configurations. conclusions, they like are extending toward confessions,

like invitations.

DRIFT

28

yes,

there

is

movement .

rousing,

deep

beneath the surface.


( w e a r e y e t t o k n o w i t s c o n s e q u e n c e s.)

two

stories

are

revealed,

like

evidence.

they seep from the cracks. i overhear them. i see their swelling. they have been named: one is called love and the other, death. they are spoken here.

DRIFT

29

THE LOVE CONFIGURATION FIRST APPEARS IN THE AWKWARD SHAPE OF A MAN .

he speaks in the edifice of confession. he is an island. he is an islands coastline. he is riddled with crevices and creases where he is folded inward. this that produces occurs in him the peculiar members friction of the

only

when

two

same body are set against one another.

DRIFT

30

i cannot see that far. i am trapped here. i cannot get over myself.

he is under himself.

we are all bent toward him but he can only make out our pretexts. i do not understand why you want me. he says this because he is stuck his integrity. my life he cannot his see is a that

under i am

himself and he cannot see the blue-green of drawing pattern. and matchless

DRIFT

31

sometimes us is that alone

he the

stretches smile or with

himself

so but

fine when he he

for he is is

he

becomes

invisible. disappears. cool

when

alone it is traced over with solemnity, or with doubt, unfeeling. most at ease in his uneasy interior.

but there is love in his bones and he does not realize. he is accustomed to hunger and forgetting. he cannot himself. he get is accustomed himself to distance. in to over give

DRIFT

32

i am a mess,

he says. it is not you. there

is a problem with me. i want to accept his argument. i see that

he is staging his escape and i want to give i t t o h i m ( i t i s t h e l e a s t t h a t i c a n d o). b u t one day he forgot dream of to need nothing root and in a my hydroponic him took

protected gardens.

so i listen instead. i hear that he is under himself once more. now there is far away-ness in his body.

DRIFT

33

not meaning to, he teaches me the value of forgetting. he will not know it because he has already taken his freedom
(his revenge f o r s o m e a n c i e n t i n j u r y).

he smiles again, but only to himself.

to us, he is a mirage drawn against a somber desert sky.

DRIFT

34

but one day he forgot to need nothing and i forgot that his is a nervous affection. today he lets his hunger unfold on my smile and own we slide seamlessly sweetly together sympathetic over to our our

potholes,

desire.

DRIFT

35

now,

im

type

polite

but

got

all

the

right weaponry. i run rivers churning heavy him of it lava up furious, in and and high trapped all i above put

heat our those brand

crevices
(but still

under

construction. waves with my little

tempestuous

sweaty)

breaths

and

fiery where pretty is supposed to be. but he likes me lovely, does not realize i need a growling flame to forge civilization from my primitive design. you can see it my in my eyes, now grit as i and steel i

there

from

labor.

must,

strike against him to set myself ablaze. light it up. light it up. light it up.

DRIFT

36

Notes
Reference is made to the following works: Pg.7: Sren Kierkegaard, Rotation of Crops in Either/Or, ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton University Press, 1987), 281-300. Pg.22: Lupe Fiasco, Dumb it Down on Lupe Fiascos The Cool (Atlantic Records, 2007). Pg.24: John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (Oxford University Press, 1975), book II, chapter 4. Pg.36: Mos Def, Ms. Fat (Rawkus Records, 1999). Booty on Black on Both Sides

Pg.117: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, ed. Bernard Williams and trans. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge University Press, 2001), sections 276 and 307.