The Singlemost

or,

The Crying Light
manuel arturo abreu 2008

"Light though thou be, thou leapest out of darkness; but I am darkness leaping out of light, leaping out of thee!" Herman Melville

1.
Bottles like little plastic or glass women wrapped in garish tube-tops with grime in their curves with clear or greenclear skin lie about gutter gratings or peek out of trashcan brims, the perverted debouching-hole capped or un-; wrinkled concrete is covered in age-blackened gum like one giant gray shoe-sole or a wounded animal on its belly, bare branches sullen urchins reaching for the surface, for an escape from the murk. People people people push. Languages like crumpled paper and broken glass

litter the air like stars the milky-dark sky, like milk in coffee or pearls in muck, fragments of phrases now trapped like rags in the sharp nooks of stripped-naked trees, now haunting, kissing the roving periphery of my ears like a dove of cloud marooned in blue. A sock hangs in another naked tree. A balloon pops at the highest branch's pinprick. Shoes tossed and hung from telephone wires signify that person's death and subsequent mourning and forgetting. A basketball hoop fashioned from a bottomless green crate, ashy elbows and crooked teeth and ain't, shoes scuffling and avoiding dog shit. People people push push. A light gauze of rain and soapscum clouds. The smell of the fish market prompts a man seated on a black crate under its green awning to make a joke about his wife. They call him Lindo because at forty his face is a tanned prune, his eyes set far back into his head like pissholes in dark snow, reeking worse than the worst taxicab-armpit smell ever encountered by any person on earth, let alone in New York City. He wears a pleather jacket that looks like his face. Behind him and the shop, and across the street and under the el (the Mosholu Parkway station farther down Jerome until recently forever under construction, traffic always constricted and throatclutching), behind those people and shops: the soft, anonymous light of curtained windows, square pastel masks: never taller than six stories, the peeling buildings heave and cough fat black smog, darkly burping worms of smoke that twist and braid into the paleblue shield of barren winter sky—there are still incinerators—while the windows rub their bellies, loosen their belts; stout workers on squat roofs and wet scaffolds drink energy drinks tasting of battery acid and utter clipped phrases.

A table is laid out, a chair, one next to that, two chairs, a paper-thin Cuban man perched next to the gated threshold leading to a gritty alley which snakes around back of my building, into which is tossed all of the garbage not incinerated, and half the tenants do each, the incinerator hatch almost right out the door for most, and some of the alley-tossers too lazy to leave their houses and instead using a window which faces the basement alley, if the apartment, like mine, is on that side. Heaps of mossy wood, carcasses of dressers and desks, stained metal left askance on shiny black bags which bulge as if alive; a torn photograph in the dusty creases of a discarded plaid couch; a flurry of shredded documents rainwithering away; the guts of ancient computers and a dead fly; a rat itching its occasional way around. From my window is visible the alley down below, as well as the dull roof of the squat store cluster left side of which forms the alley's wall parallel to my building's right side. A clod of dirt is marooned on that gray plaza: its roots which elsewhere would have thrived in rain like today's are arranged like a wild dark head of hair or a split-second thumbnail of an explosion. Spring's book of color's crisp page margins winter closes; in a week or two or three grass will jut out of the sullen clod like a constellation of Adamic green ribs, and in the summer it will be brownfurry and proud with growth like some boy with peach fuzz, but for now the sky is a moor or a giant slick fish-belly. Two floors above the halo of the alley threshold, accessible by way of the dim plaza, is a ladder which reaches a weekly-changed advertisement. One reaches the store cluster's roof by a ladder in the street-level alley of the building behind it. Pigeons skulk warily, sidling along the stinky vertex of a wet, tan building parallel mine, across

the street. Back on the sidewalk, dominoes and Spanish squealing, a stack of old newspapers fluttering, a bottle of water and a cup placed paradoxically next to each other. Creaking folding chairs. Lady next to an ice fridge with the word ICE loud on its flank says 'pastelitos calienticos,' her violent mauve curls graying further every year, racing the growing rolls on her stomach and losing. Farther an Arab man with complex, interconnected facial hair like snakes doing swan dives in pools of themselves leans and peers from the fifth floor of the tan building's street-side fire escape, pondering the desert of broken roofs before him, leering at the ad across the street and diagonal to him. His legs dangle on rust. The ghetto balcony. The twodimensional Cuban man now with a cigar bigger than a small dog clamped between his yellow lips. Crawls to the curb a yellow car, its windows rattling with bass. Then. All sound is devoured by a blue and red wail, far then close then far, the pitch rising and falling in tandem. Fat lady fingers twiddle a matchbook and eyes follow the siren.You always stare at the finest when they drive by, as they loop through red lights and slow drivers toward whatever destination beckons them. There is a story of one who spit at a passing patrol car and was beaten and arrested on the spot, screaming about his silk pajamas and newly-permed hair, his green Gucci glasses akimbo in two pieces, laying dejectedly on the pavement for days. I walk the gray plummet into the mouth of the naked Oval down large, cracked steps, from which flowers grow in the spring, built against a hill of dead grass gray; mulch blows in the austere wind like ash, maundering through the dusk between the

gaps of gates, the snow hard and black and cigarette butts perched in it black ends up like watchful birds. One face, then another, without name, only the heaviness of being brown. Two faces, city of the world, a man with only stumps for legs, creaking and laughing along in his rusted wheelchair, bumping down each step in rhythm with the muffled click of his dentures. A building is gutted, flashing at me its toothless widow's smile behind the park's gate. A coven of pigeons casts spells and suddenly bread is broken before them. A Hassid like an inspired beetle flees into the shady corners of Montefiore's tiny cottages and the secret bowels of their hulking Brutalistinspired institutes, relics of the stagflated seventies; people amble under scaffolding and dodge rain and yell into cell phones nowhere near their ears; hipsters walk their dogs and run in tiny shorts and pay raised rent, pruning out the brown like a wash cycle with bleach. Graffiti writers who'd find hatches buried in the Bronx would scurry through MTA alleys like pearls in nauseous oysters and the train used to roll by on Jerome covered in color like a snake wearing scarves, in the nascent years before they scraped the skin off the screaming chains of cars and showered them in boiling acid with its acerbic horrible laugh and the writers—'taggers,' the offended would say, the mothers with the ancient index's shame gesture—scuttled to the walls, to still surfaces. Charred facades and faces used to melt when superintendents burned their tenements and women in stairwells gave birth to ash puppets after dining gourmet on freebase. There is no cross-Bronx train. Wind is spurned and gobbled by barbed wire cursive that wrote the story none could speak. Ligeti’s metronomes couldn't

compete with rain. The winter delays the unlocking. The roaches tried to write up their Bill of Rights; they figured they had strength in numbers. The light flicks on and they all scurry into their hovel-nooks. Their world begins at the edge of the darkness. The pattern's rote. Poisoned rats lie on their bellies. An arrow of tears hurtles into oblique terrain. Gangs of hooded figures in bubble jackets and Timberland boots, the smell of gas and liquor lingering on them, roam about, yelling “Hootie-hoo!” and “Soo-woo!” and flashing their teeth—and guns—at anybody. Mene mene tekel upharsin.

2.
Logic is distance, that is, motion. In this universe it is manifested in the ways bodies physical or conceptual move from system to system—self-distance is implied, and distance, that is, logic, is intrinsic to matter, of which all is derived. Logic is nonteleogical, though we may be inclined to see it as moving toward death. Logic is not a consequence of life; life is only a subset of logic. Logic is meaning and therefore logic is use. Distance implies dichotomy. It does not exist before it is invoked, though

it exists everywhere at all times, underlying or superimposed upon everything. Logic is desire cf. Freud. Wittgenstein's ladder with respect to the understanding or use of logic is invalid because logic's movement is on one plane only cf. Derrida. It cannot redeem nor escape itself. Logic may be called language, that is, communication. Miscommunication is not an attenuation of logic but a shining example of it. Ultimately, if logic is noumenal, it is not knowable, and only observable in its effects. Logic is context. It is like an unknown function of which we can see only inputs and outputs. Logic created the Reality and change/adaptation therein; the Reality is told and inherited therefore suggestible, as is logic. Logic or language or motion is the only a priori imposition. The Reality is the use of tools that logic has given humans, and, as a fragment of logic, does not describe logic but instead only itself. Logic has no pieces. It is an occluded whole with particular or arbitrary/infinite effects. Examining an unknowable logic with a manifestation of itself, that is, the Reality, is infinite vanity. As to what fuels logic, the question is nonsensical; logic is selfperpetuation, and the real question is “what does logic fuel?,” the answer being everything, the question being therefore useless. The Reality is a function of logic. Purported knowledge in and of the Reality is a commodity of distance from those without it, which we may call luxury. All systems of empirical bases are true only with respect to their own rules and logic-manifestations, and are only useful as tools for altering, not recording the Reality. Objectivity is a cruel in-joke. Logic is dialectical in that it contains its own opposite (that is the essence of distance/motion), and its manifestations perennially attempt to supersede and

elevate themselves in vain, because logic is circular. Manifestations of logic are simply misunderstandings. Being thus, logic must also be public. What we deem the Random in the Reality, indeed, the Reality's driving force, is one of logic's most perfect manifestations. Logic is brutal and unforgiving. If a moralist must hate something, it should be logic. The human and the Reality are irrelevant and unnecessary to logic. It is indifferent to its myriad manifestations. Logic, motion, creates time. We understand time, space, and the world because we observe movement or its logical sibling, stasis. Examples are infinite; time as measured by clocks is simply the motion of the clock's hands, the sound of its ticking. The dialectic contains the necessary property of self-distance cf. Heraklitus and is thus a necessary aspect or explanation of the logical motion, which implies itself in objects by their very existence. Thus logical stasis is a misnomer, for it explains and implies logical motion. The natural state of systems is tautological, which we call logical inertia. Examples of such systems are infinite: breathing, blood circulation... all functions of all bodies living and not living as well as the very existence of the logical construction are examples of logic's pervasiveness. Logic must be; the Reality is allowed. The Reality is the human utterance, and is distinct from life itself, though not from the human viewpoint cf. Baudrilliard's hyperreal. Manifestations of logic necessarily appear, while of it, distanced from and in contrast to it. Logic itself implies the question: what is illogical, if the logical motion permeates infinitely all manifestations thereof? cf. Liebniz. Systems hide their being results of logical motion. People say the opposite of what they mean and mean the opposite of what they say.

We must assume nothing is illogical, for we can never know anything outside of the Reality and subsequent micrologics about its relationship to the original, whole, noumenal logic. Necessarily, if meaning is use, there is no private language and there are no private logical manifestations of any kind. Logical constructions must always have terminal operations. However, causality can never be known cf. Hume. Manifestations of logic are obvious; logic is hidden. The basic manifestation of the logical motion is the system. Humans may only encounter Real systems, necessarily. A single system is arbitrarily and infinitely complex because it can only be understood in opposition to other systems. This is called the abstraction of the fact. It is an action and a condition. The fact is the proposition in and of a Real system. The fact is exclusively human, and the basic building block of the Reality. As aforementioned, the fact and the Reality are tautologies. Consciousness of systems is determined by value systems of one in or not in search of lucidity. Lucidity is the consciousness of the system of systems, that is, the Reality. Irony is often a primary component of a consciousness striving toward lucidity, which is opposed with use; however, use precludes lucidity. All are victims and tyrants. The notion of the simulacrum and the endless re-iteration of a limited discourse set in the Reality has been contested by the general trend to view the Reality finite circles are infinitely involved with a number that goes on forever. That is to say, the human mind cannot comprehend that which approaches infinity, namely possibility, and as such we must assume the infinite in that known to be finite, ie the Reality. The

problems of philosophy delineate the limits of understanding. Understanding is the utterance of acknowledgment of the Reality, which follows use and precludes lucidity. The logical motion is like the conversation between an unbroken black shock of hard shadow in a flat field and a pale, purple jumble of shade twisted through by objects. Objects are the referents of the fact. Strictly speaking they may not exist. In contrast to objects, facts are subjects the substance of which are objects. The logical motion is the most difficult decision one ever has to make. Though hidden, logic is the process of forming or uttering lucidity. For example, Exodus 3:14 “I am that I am.” The Reality is the placeholder for, as Einstein said, a closed box which we cannot open. We perambulate perennially this dark-closed fist, learning nothing but that our distance, our infinite circular orbit, has left its mark on the ground beneath us. Strictly speaking these distances are perpetuated by the fact and its utterance. The fact is uttered because humans fear death. Logically this means we fear distance or motion, for logic moves deathward toward life. Therefore the Reality is logical stasis. Logic is the sky beneath the haze of winter days like today's. Logical stasis is an understanding, not a condition, of objects. The logically inert is the mode in which we are able to understand relationships. Consider objects: we understand them to be inert because of their appearance in the phenomena of the Reality, but, in truth, because they exist in time, and we can only observe time through motion (that is, time is of motion), then, as far as we can know, these objects are in motion. The present tense is a facetious notion with respect to the logical motion; it is the very stasis of the logical inertia. As well, science tells us that the basic

particle of the object, the atom, is always in motion. Atoms in science are comparable to facts in the Reality. A constellation of facts is a system. Inter- and intra-system relationships exist only by way of each other—systems are, like their constituent facts, abstracted. In our time we see the rise of facts about systems as opposed to about facts or objects. We may denote these meta-facts, which are the constituents of the Real political discourse. The fact and meta-fact are the method whereby the logical stasis gropes towards immortality ie logical motion, pure and unbroken, not a manifestation whereof. The construed world is a pronoun the antecedent of which can never be known.

3.
When I was born I made no noise: for a day I didn't suckle or utter or scream or sleep; I only kept my eyes open and observed, painting sight vectors criss-crossing each other unto infinity, for twenty four hours. It was a silent infinite set with a finite sum, death hilarious; for the next four days I was weak and sleepy, my eyes dumb slits with little motion, my face a blank wrinkled prune. The doctors' explanation was low blood sugar, and I was incubated for those four days in a dinky room with pastel-

puke-green “sea” wallpaper, a tiny square window, and a shoddy chair, really more of a stool because the back was about half the height of a normal chair's, and there was a canyon down the middle of the seat. My mother sat in it for five days, my father coming and going based on his work schedule, and they shaved off most of my wispy hair for procedural ease. I looked like a pasty rag pretending to breathe, dumb but without fury, passive. There was little room for family members who would diffuse about the cramped space, the mellifluous bochinche, the celebrating on eggshells: one of my mother's brothers before he married and ballooned—he, formerly Gumbylike, and my aunt, formerly sweet-pear-like, together expanded their frames exponentially, their little boy and girl two carbon-copy snowmen; another two uncles, twins, who as toddlers switched hair colors, the blond one's kinks darkening an insistent shadow and the other's downy raven hair shocking itself pale; my grandmother in those feisty 'golden' years which precede that lull-period which precedes prevailing malaise which precedes final slumber, the senses and systems failing and dropping off the body like pieces from a Potatohead; others haunting, the speech galloping. I was a floating fish for those five days until my cheeks finally grew red, and my fingers wiggled, and my eyes again leaped. This to my parents was a miracle and a sign of their worthiness in God's eyes, a turnaround brought about by prayer in gradients of volume, with or without speech, that speech with or without melody, the hands folded or at one's side or flailing, etc. I suspect that I, without any God at all, not even metaphorically, not even in rhetoric, unless direly necessary in some hitch,

have been a disappointment to them in comparison to that first miracle after the first miracle. I say this mostly in half-jest. I attached myself to my mother's breast, my tiny insistent hands and mouth screaming for it in public until, when I was a year and a month old, she rubbed coffee grounds on her nipples, and I recoiled in disgust. I've been pretty independent since. I was born in the first city in the New World, Santo Domingo, one green jewel of the island, its bloody cobblestones abandoned when Columbus' glutton eyes discovered the mainland, the scattered brown bodies among rocks with moss eyes and chaste white beaches, the blindingwhite slug of sun a soft ravaged pillar in the diamond water, the tossed palms, the slaughters and perversities. I was a body in an endless cane field, uprooted. My parents, though born close to the end of his regime, inherited that peculiar folksy Trujillo-era superstition about and fear toward absolutely everything, growing up as they did hearing stories of people disappearing forever, whisked away and relegated to the last sentence of a story told when the power went out, which always happened on the island and still does, hearing of how during his reign Santo Domingo became Ciudad Trujillo and Pico Duarte became Pico Trujillo—that (U.S.backed) putrid, pig-like man with his pathetic mustache holds a certain Voldemortlike position in casual Dominican mythology, though only another crony of the devil, and of course God is the only recourse... the island is a fairy in a field of forget-menots, dislodged from me like a fly out of a bottle as the cork lands on the ground, and I had been the form of the void entering the bottle as the fly escaped, the emptiness

sounding wsssssh wssssssh as it flooded into the glass, and the bottle sprouted wings up out of the ocean's arms and struck upon the Bronx.

A part of Bronx park opens some distance south of Metro North tracks, the light tinted green rubbing leaf-bellies, my feet tilting in the swampier land as I go: there are pebbles, then I walk on shoots, then the wet is in my feet and I turn around. The end of the green maw runs almost parallel to the tracks, always deeper. Farther south lies another entrance, past a powder-blue bridge which leads to gray, black gravel roads and peopled benches lining the edge of the greener land, the paths between each made by the desires of the feet. There are ribbons of dirt in the green. Severely angled, a block west of the bridge gropes the early light which is like a child beneath a sheet playing at ghosts, or an eye beneath jealous lids playing at dreams, spasming weakly; puny stores sprout upon the stretched concrete triangle, contorted, reticent, like thorns on a roseless stem. A white car parked under a tree under the sun across house hedges looks like a zebra with moving stripes. The leaves of the tree standing over it jangle and have leaves of shadow. The park is quiet but oozes from the city's grime and waste, ingrown, a subtle revolt against urban grotesqueness, the mob of Lynchian faces bovine on the concrete, conceited indistinguishable polyps. Its green riot is sustained by exactly that against which it revolts. And the land must be pregnant, black and angled. I see blinking images of birds between foliage, hearing also the machine of their chirps. There are different greens. There are mud footprints that are like little mud feet. The

light is like behind a curtain. The sun is a suspended tear fecund behind trees, a cavorting lucent dirigible, leaves bubbling as if shaving off little sun-pieces each time they bob. The morning wind subsides and what is still is yet stiller. Little that is not human has any use for play, yet the light is playing in my hand. The sun fell in slats. Almost the light makes dragging, experience itself heavier by light's necessity. Being human is imagining squares without corners. Purity is that whereby one may undo knots which cannot undo themselves. Weight is made known in the absence of possibility. It is the song that the gears sing grinding. The sun come grew a crown, skirts, disfigured chariot treading shadow over spots of bush, nuclear, drowning in wine becoming wax, on a body, crawling mice of light like draped sheets, ineluctable modality—the scuffling sound, the glassy breeze breaking new over dew like scattered coins. Intermittent trees from concrete pulled up like fingernails blush explodingreen leaves. I leave the park.

Socks on my hands, I would run, no me pege, scribbling every wall. I learned English watching Barney materialize suddenly, a purple miracle, the children excited in exactly the same way for every episode, always shocked, as if their very love was the source of his appearance. Behind the camera the man would don the absurd costume after smoking a cig. I would wear pots on my feet after banging on them, sing to their crashing. A mi no me de. I was five and on my subway maiden voyage staring wildly at a man who pronounced tired like tarred. The sleeves of his thick shirt were rolled up and his arms from his hands to his elbows looked kiln-dipped, and angling his lips

and sandy mustache he stared at his blister-glazed palms. Ah'm raght well tarred. I was six and I was playing with a pin, sticking it through the flesh on my palms and watching it dangle. I was nine and it was Waynehead and two other kids whose names I don't remember, and they tripped Willy as a joke, but the impact with the floor split his head wide open, like cracking a nut, and a lagoon of blood came out under him in arcs and we tippy-toed around the mess. I feared the emptying of his head, and mine, the periodic clearing of the memory, dumped out to make room for new, and the class tiptoed around the mess, the kids all staring mouths and retching eyes, and decided to skip lunch for that day. I was seven and I told my mother I was afraid people didn't have memories, that they'd just make them up as they go along, or late at night, skittish and selective. She shooed me, and I was five and I complained to my teacher Mr. Capaso about another girl stealing my cookie, except I called him Mr. Picasso, and he laughed heartily, walking away. I never got another cookie. I know that the next time I stumble at the huge root of a tree I will not lay on it and look to the reeking stars, to pretending moonlight in a sigh—the ground will swallow me up, piercing the skin, body beneath body, now piercing the light, my hands like the faraway form of a hunted bird into frenetic flight, the pale pony of the moon roving on my little fingers until, finally, I am in the throat of the dirt, unable to breathe, sobbing fists...

Upon part of a barbwire fence lies a dirty white sheet, worms of pollen peeking out of the creases. There is one barb layer at the top and two stacked layers chasing

parallel the ground. My eyes, as if windows, are fogged. People spit into a long grating in the middle of the block as they pass. You can hear the subway down beyond it, reflecting its blue flashes of motion in the limbo between grating and platform. Up sprout fire hydrants and manhole covers from a grassy corner. The sun is feral. The daily mask of the forced social situation—the invisible grimace a stone would give, the squeal of the shifting pinned homuncular eyes, the color molting. The face reflects yours back like a scaly crystal and steel building does, saying nothing, in blank parody, growing immeasurably in that silence, a stiff ribbon attached to your echo. Which among the masks is that echo which is the I? It is always the same conversation, and the same person, with different words. Someone is sitting on this here green scaffolding. A dark green shredded-pulp house between tenements across the street gimps surly windchimes. The last scaffolding bar to the right of me walking south is festooned with caution tape snapping in the rainy breath. It's May and some trees have gold bowties on their bark. Under the first-floor windows of this brown-brick building are pink diamond outlines. Under the cornice the line of triangles snapping together like teeth repeats itself in shadow. A Puerto Rican family next to a used car lot refused to give up their little patch of land. They had two bright blue shacks, chickens and goats roaming their nappy grass. In time they were forced out. The green arrow of a traffic light points up. A white curve of arrow at the end of the block is blurred like a wing with a sharp tip. On grass my feet are a rustle, a disturbance of dirt; now I can hear my steps again, the impact smack against, the hard. I could touch my plump shadow.

A tall beautiful Polish girl, all curves and her eyes blue suns, towering over me by at least a foot, swanked up a road in casual business clothes. Her hair was so blond it looked like the arteries of a cloud, her bra so pink it glowed through her button-up blouse, trapped in its faint stripes. Her cheekbones jutted and gave her a devilish look, and she had a tightrope saunter, her body bursting through like light through liquid, and she really was mindblowingly gorgeous, and I don't even like blondes. She walked past me and I closed my eyes and her scent came. I know that if I look at her I shall never look away; I know that if I look away I can never look back; I know that if I remember I would never remember. From every one of her footsteps blossomed a dream of mine: a nightmare I had when I was five of the graves turning into gray tongues extending indefinitely in pursuit, my running steps and screams soundless in the night's loam, the tongues furry and sprouting little hands from the tastebuds that lapped at my feet hungrily; a dream about a castle built from clouds, a building built of bone, flesh, blood, rising from a steel river between them a wall made of every human in history, the bodies looking breathing junkyard scrap, the skin hues conflating into a gray; various dreams catalyzed by the bug-eyed cat bus in Totoro, zooming through waterfalls, over resonant greenviolent canopies at the borders of cityscapes; a dream in which my consciousness inhabited various inanimate objects— chairs, paint, a violin, etc, and this being the longest dream I've ever had, spanning passive horrid decades and inciting in me extreme compassion and empathy for all inanimate consciousnesses everywhere; a dream I had before I stopped wearing them in which I wore eyeglasses, of barbed wire; she took about twenty steps, then turned

to look at me, her legs apart in the click of heels. The sun lit her hair, itself a smeared smirk coquettish behind a leitmotif of clouds. I began toward her. The dreams drifted up, dissipated, and again my eyes fogged, and the Polish girl was gone. I wake up.

Landscape Without Glasses

from “The Principles of Nonsense”

Its handle stuck, the toilet keeps flushing & my grandmother casi muere de susto. We followed someone up an incline and the concrete ceased; through a maw in the fencewire is a wide dirt road, angled with vegetation & pebbles & a slug, tenement on the right side and two puny crumbling houses like out of Mango Street on the left.

A vague stop sign hovered at the end. Behind one house was another tenement. Hammered into the crook created by the angle of their building, the house's front porch facing a second-floor window, was a set of rusty spoons pantomiming as windchimes. That was Marion. Oliver Place was one block long, & cobblestone, & we walked down and back, peering over the edge. A mailbox sprayed pink by bubbly S. "Can one one letter really be a tag?" "Can one word?"

A vent that looks like an upturned J in a false Spring, a sunny wind bites & mud of sky still babbling. The houses are garbled interruptions swallowed by now, owners raking concrete front yards & clinging to trampled arbors. Ivy on stout buildings with barred windows & barbed wire for hair is only incidental. Little kids with crooked teeth say it "bobbed waiyuh." The shadow of a pole bent, a gleam where gleam should not be—

03/29/09

A field of decimated strawberries gory on concrete, a pale fake gold medallion swinging from a tree which grows from a corner between two walls becoming each other. The fighting roots in the concrete-brick crease look like rips along the spine of a folded sheet of paper. The alley in which the tree grows snakes around my building like a scarf. In the basement itself all doors are locked except the one which leads to the beginning of the alley, which is locked from the outside in, and after the first right turn—which corner's concrete is sunken and prone to hosting a slimy pool of still water for a few days after heavy rain, allowing the mosquitoes a temporary party, it getting so crowded and unquiet that vector RSVP's and VIP's sprout up, numbers taken for the queue when the rare person actually comes into the alley, the nose plugged with wary fingers, breathing through the mouth—there are two recessions in the building's structure; at the farther one there is an unopenable door at the top of

festering metal stairs which would lead to the lobby. At the foot of the stairs and glued to the ground is shit. Pigeons bumble on leaky air conditioners just now awaking from hibernation. At the closer recession is usually a pile of poles, tubes, steel anomalies, sometimes scrapwood, and four flights up (thus the third floor) can be seen the burned halo tattoo of a crack-related burning incident in winter 2008 .
1 This was the second poem I wrote in 2008, which is sort of about or during the incident of the crack fire. This fire completely roasted the user's apartment, but it also badly damaged the apartment under it, 2H, in which formerly resided my godfamily, all of whom were there, with us, coming over to this Place from the island, though not on the same flight or anything—to say the least, we see them less often. They live in a co-op somewhere south of us. I remember the smells of that little heatbox apartment, sitting with my godsiblings in their living room playing Donkey Kong Country in 97 when my brother was born, telling my parents I'd rather play than see him (what a dick). Anyway: Workspace from “The Principles of Nonsense”
1

The dogs are over-excited, hop p p ping around like tweakers— What could you expect at five A.M., with every tenant in the lobby shriveling out of their apartment, or tooth, watching them feed the hose into the gaping mouth of the building, some sandwiched against windows. Some tripped over the tonguelike thing and one man yelled at the firemen, speed it up. They stared at all blankly. Faces untitled. The smoke was also untitled. The dogs scuffled and dropped five A. M. turds while the tenants buzzed about the flames and the hearing of the window breaking (I heard it and it was untitled). Word is, the tenant of the emblazoned apartment was smoking a rock and dropped the ( volatile) pipe. Why the shattered window no one knows. Ah neva aks, says one tenant, wasa gwaan—is sutten Ah radda naa know. Only

There is a final turn along the western side of the building; just as on the eastern side, the unused back-entrances for the stores indent into my building, gratings pulled down like eyelashes. Close to the steps into a passage and gate exactly like the eastern one are two final doors, from the building itself. There is a sign on the upper pane of a window behind a grating: “If I see you near these window I will break most of your bone.” Small sprigs of excited light play underneath the fire escapes between the two recessions, exclaiming, interceding. My window, which lacks the customary iron bars, is just before the first turn, and my parents' window with the fire escape is the second after the turn, following the window in my siblings' room. In the soft Spring the new light makes the tenants lazy and garbage piles up in the alley until a smell is noticeable. To say the least. I entrust this issue and others olfactory to my small threespeed fan, which has both intake and exhaust functions. Let's just say it's saved my ass many times. The superintendent's partner, as it were, lives in the one basement apartment, past the laundry room. He'll get himself two men and they'll shuttle out the garbage at his delegation and the process will begin again. They'll usually smoke a blunt, the hired workers. At its cleanest the trash doesn't extend past the first corner; at its worst it trails long past the first hexagonal recession, with a sub-file against the eastern wall until the first corner. The bags look smug, reaching patiently a critical mass, lolling and lollygagging, looking like a squad of overgrown bugs. The
Gahd know. I jump to say that God is untitled but I hold my tongue.

concrete underfoot is green yellow with pollen and moss rumors. Along the alleyconvergence nooks shambling before barbed wire, in the shadow of the five beautiful trees which grow from this corner, near my window, are congregations of plants, some prostrate in the stretch of dirt to the sun's whim, perfect in devout efficiency. The five trees are like a hand unearthing itself, the roots like the knuckles. Summer always begins seeing me a disciple of nothing, though the piety bleeds into the periods before and after it, the end and beginning of each school year. I loaf about like a roving, grazing cloud, sleeping eight hours a night at least and taking generous naps throughout the days, ever in transition, ever the more desiring never to have to leave the makeshift embryo of the bed. This wears on until I feel atrophy's onset, the mind beginning to wink into itself, the eyes teething. Sleep becomes an oblivion, and I start to lose touch with my dreams. I awaken dazed, the world at a further distance than before, I could swear... with more sleep only comes more sleepiness, more desire for sleep. The tentacles of that null worldspace draw you in, void you of a determined agency, the rings under the eyes dendrochronological records of vacuities, a blackness into which cannot be reached without the arm shooting back out in parabola, the hand possessed and slapping its owner's face. My sleep cycles are anticircadian, interrupted—I initially wake up each morning around seven, sometimes by the sun rising from behind the Cemetery and over the building across the street parallel to mine, or by raucous birds or creaking humming whining machines, or activity in the apartment, and I'd feel even sleepier than before, my eyes aching strangely and lines pressed into my face, with the

process repeating itself every two hours or so until I finally am out of bed. A far dark cloud like a nose yells the rain, the blue of sky a blue that shocks. I hold my hands out abstractedly to that lone thunderhead; my eyes closed and I envisioned thousands of souls being stripped away by layers inside the cloud, which looked like galloping mud and ice, and the souls were like plants in reverse, their chakras paling and withering, flakes shimmering as they floated, the color furious. Possible realities of every instant were steamrolled. Pain was a relief from pleasure. My mind's eye reels; I saw the outside of the cloud, shedding layers, yelling. My eyes peel open. My eyelashes catch a raindrop. Dead branches are covered in magnetic tape rustling manelike. The wind might be brittle. This wall looks like it weeps. A dirty plastic spoon lays facedown in a puddle. Each block is pocked with different tiny puddles almost like fingerprints. If institutions are collections of fingerprints what are the fingerprints of institutions and who collects them? Tobacco reeks behind a tarblack bucket stuck to its place and haunted-looking. It rains and baggies glisten on the ground. I put my right hand on top of my head and turn around to leave the basement alley. Rain and its weak light can take away refractory layers from the day: pallor infects everything, all being looking blood-drained, warped like wet wood. The rainy people looked like masks inhaling and exhaling fog under a sour-milk sky, the buildings of Montefiore's Moses Division along Gun Hill attaining evil halos, the windows trying to hide their hyena-grins. The droplets felt like the tickle of a hair or an insect brushing up against you, bombarding your apertures. The little white

walking man disappears and lets the red hand flash. I mistake a napkin for a dove, the rain makes the sodden trash around me flout around, possessed, while I sat there pondering the ramifications of my bubble—a rustling bag mistaken for a blackbird, a small green drooping leaf bursting purple at its edges, Minish grime-and-dust cities on structural underbellies. A napkin in front of me has its top-left corner folded inward to create a right triangle. The right side is folded toward the triangle to create a smaller rectangle, tilted at a slightly different angle than the original rectangle. Before me is an uneven row of diverse shoes. The napkin has a shoeprint. The balcony of a scarlet building looks like a Judd piece come to life. The sun's an unnoticed wart. The soft mimic of flowers, their playing in the viewpainting of forms, the swift motion—a sweet gut of rose nostalgion, the contagion— Where is land? I've seen only green contained in gray, tiny intermittent explosions of flat flowers, elsewhere only seas of chopped-up squares colored teal, ruddy orange, citrus, hills and hills of corduroy, silos and barns on the collar of each profit square, the trees contained in a certain pinpoint while above hushed clouds assert pincer formation, officers scheming in the barracks. Here one cloud for one moment is the pale hat of the scarlet building. It all burned into me, that it was here. That it was now, and I was here. Why something? Two feet poked out, disgruntled forms below me like Bacon miniatures clambering through a flatland, flaying themselves onward with the motion of color diffracted. My left hand wrapped my right thumb in uncertainty.

You turn south after Dekalb and Jerome is all stout stores, tight-packed, some atop another, though few more than a story high: a dentist's office hides past a staircase which leads you above Burger King, the molar mascot's eyes looking convivial. Sometimes people squat on one of the roofs, watching the tops of the crowd's heads, the train as it roars by, the streetlights hanging from its underbelly swinging demurely. Matrices of light-rectangles tattoo the street and cars hurrying along as if goaded. A girl in a green dress, clearly too old for the stroller in which she's lounging, lets one arm flop haughtily around. It looks like a glazed-pumpkin palm tree losing leaves as her pudgy fingers retract into a fist, which she presently uses to support her drooping head. Ten plies of wood are used to make the outline of a cube at the base of each tree; behind the trees is the outline of a fence, practically negative space. The bones of a little bird are arranged in a spattered mannikin, here the white tips touching, eventually engulfed. Concrete becomes everywhere. Are falling fat hairy raindrops. It is an hour after dawn. The purplish light is wet. The child is on his back, his head and neck resting between two poles of a gate. His left foot is a foot from the bleeding naked ankle. A red widening L trickles onto the street. A train passes, eclipsing his light wails and groans. He screams once. You can see the bone and raw muscle beneath the surface, the phantom pains of the leg engulfed by the pain of the amputation. His eyes shiver wildly in his molasses-brown face creased in pain—an arc from each nostril to each end of his top lip, on his forehead, on the nose itself—he

grimaces, spits to the side, looks about. Bloodvarnished the street reddened, his skin blanched. A bird could be heard probing the damp purplegray, a single punctuation mark in white space. The wails grow savage rasp. Naught on which he can place the blame for this castration, or to whom he could look for comfort, and my calling an ambulance and walking past him, looking back for as long as possible, does not count. The boy screams again. I remember nothing. Esse est percipi. I walk, passing a house like a prune, and one like a baby-blue towel, and one that was all corners. One house has let ivy thread through its entire property, giving the appearance of an overpriced armpit. The houses try to be swanky without trying. Driveways shave around rocks, lawns either immaculate or fashionably savage, never in between. Some are on hills, and others' properties extend below street level, the overlooking house on stilts. The sidewalk is battered stone, each step the conquest of a tiny mountain, and it has clearly been done on purpose, for aesthetics, or to discourage pedestrians. I hop to the street and walk next to the curb. All little and big hills, the neighborhood is infected with stiff artificial green. I walk farther, farther. Down out of this green fantasy. The Hudson Pkwy arcs through these hilly West Bronx neighborhoods, from the gap between the twenty-first and twenty-second exits between which lies the parts of the Bronx which would least like to be of the Bronx, down to Spuytin Duyvil, which itself is a subsection of Riverdale (South), into the city, over the Harlem River, Marble Hill stranded in the Bronx and pretending to be Manhattan. A troupe of Dominican drivers, their twenty shiny black cabs parked along the gradual slope which curves in

on itself twice up toward Kappock from Johnson, 555 presiding like a fat tone cluster over its cliff, from the roof of which, on a clearest day, can be seen all five boroughs, takingbreathly. Three drivers hover about an uncertain patch of green-freckled dirt, one inspecting it with a machete. On the other side of the street is a waist-high wall, trees behind it giving way to a school and its grounds as I descend. One driver, in the middle of a choppy sentence, puts coins into a two-headed parking meter. Cylindrical traffic cones say LAW on the uppermost white stripe. Why? If no-one's at a stop sign, drivers do not stop, and if pedestrians are present, some will still glide on through, glancing out of eyecorners checking if they've been seen. Some flowers look as if they naturally belong pinned to a dress, like certain animals and the dinner plate. Smile with food in your teeth. What's at the end of a fork. Or cushed in a spoon. Lir father of gods had half tongue and the world was made half, his orders only half-understood and all having thus shadow cleaved within itself, the price of this, of something rather than nothing, being the weight of that concealed shade, the gravity of layered twining vespers—all itself itself split, folded over and into, of, like night the pit of day's fruit, or stars seeded through, the sun a tangerine bursting through a cloud corset... may half the day stay, may half the day be gay, night the tongue of day's mouth, stars over cities like unspoken words behind the teeth...half-spoken, unexpressed, inexpressible... the puzzle done puzzled itself out, rain hagnagging... esse est percipi, and there is only one—there are no philosophical questions, none, only different words. And what is the emptiness inside the words I cannot hold? The world is the world. Perception is a subplot. Yet I run toward the world which is outside

me and also containing me, existing and occurring without my consent, and I always only get halfway there. Square two is square one shoved over. My little Janus steps are each a rising blade of flowers, the motion ravishing but without direction, confused in itself and wretched. I stand on air, devoted to nothing, bloated, hideous. I am the point without dimension at which infinity's two bulges meet—what has been and will be, and what could have been and could be, leering at each other, the sharp noses touching—two empty balloons trying to float away from each other, fastened to their place by me, you, us, this. Translate ay into English.

4.
Sharper-eyed boy there sitting on steps at a building's entrance, pants so baggy they appear to be melting off the steps and dripping onto the concrete and gooey on his Jordans like denim albumen, his dark shirt inhaling the heat; lean man there with frizzy cornrows, shirt and shoes the exact shade of red, black jeans taut against his form, accosted by a traffic cop aka bacon bits; driver there bearing left stopped by an

undercover for not using his directional—“Sir dya 'ave any drugs alcohol nerrrcotics firearms shotguns dead bodies in the trunk,” and the passengers eternally grateful for being pulled over before copping—; that boxy puce car there buckling over a gap in the street deep and disconcerting as an awkward pause in cocktail conversation; globe-woman there with the neck exploding outward like a frog's, tottering under a ratty bodega awning, waiting to ask someone to bend down and untie her dogs from the scaffolding's base;... On Tryon in the alley between the backside of a parking complex and the building south of it the sun is noonfervent shimmering among garbage bags. Slashes of light pecked with leaf shadows are trickling onto the sidewalk before the alley. A mural of burners by each member of a crew and a world with a circle of handholding people of different tinctures fencing it in was scraped off at the beginning of this century and the wall was left to peel. A block west, across from the front entrance of another, smaller parking complex, is 3454 Wayne Ave, of which the original parking complex is aggregate, the tallest building this side of Tracey Towers' garbled gray forms, and it looks like a faded red barrel-chested Lego with the WFUV radio tower on its head blinking at apex, the balconies, three sets of three for each of the twentyeight above-ground stories, looking like slots for registering giant checks, bills, notices, the giant hand impatiently feeding it slips... a good number of its residents, unlike Tracey's, are wealthy and affiliated with Montefiore, and there the sun exclaims. And funny, isn't it, that the other building, 3400 Wayne Ave, back of which creates the sundazzling alley, this 1928 building known as LenRu for its original owners Lenny

and Ruth back when half the Bronx was Jewish looking like a broken pentagon from bird's-eye view, its entrance two blocks west of Williamsbridge Oval's Putnam Pl entrance , LenRu right at the heel of Wayne Ave which bears east and terminates after forming a right angle with E 210 St, complete with gate and greenswanky courtyard complex, isn't it funny that this building, which many other wealthy, educated folks call home, lies so close south of the only other building with rich people in the area, directly in its protecting shade? E 210 St is a major artery for Montefiore. The Greene Medical Arts Pavilion (outpatient services) begins a bit past the Y that E 210 St makes with Wayne's impending termination, the entrance to the Moses Division (in-person services) farther west, back of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) looking as if it's floating behind the courtyard, its own entrance on Bainbridge. Farther west, with its entrance on Kossuth Ave, is North Central, where the people without healthcare go, and it in fact looks more like the seventies than any Montefiore building. South are what were once private homes, now cottages for doctors' clinics. Steuben Ave is a runt street about four blocks long, branching off from Mosholu Pkwy N, intersecting with E 208 St, which comes into being as, after Wayne
2 Though one continuous plane, it is two blocks because Manuel Arturo Abreu's block is two-in-one—Putnam Pl at the block's eastern base only exists from nigh the Park's entrance to its off-kilter intersection with E 211 St along a corner of the Cemetery, and Kings College Pl, after Columbia's original name, only exists from nigh his building's entrance, the tenement in the indented style that was popular so long ago when the it was built—the names for the buzzers in the forelobby of the building haven't changed; Manuel Arturo Abreu's apartment's is labeled N. Davidoff—to its own intersection with E 211 St once it turns parallel to Gun Hill, whereabouts lies the public school he attended from K-5, and was valedictorian of, as if that sort of concept is still viable. In fact (and anyway), all of the streets radiating from the Oval from Reservoir Pl, at the eastern end of the Keeper's House, where Norwood News is published and where it will soon take its yearly summer hiatus (a newly-rising condo can be seen as one walks down this little street, which concludes in the third quadrant of Perry Ave's intersection with Gun Hill), west to Wayne Ave, more about which you'll read in the mainland text, these streets being the nucleus of Manuel Arturo Abreu's immediate surroundings, all end along the cemetery, tiny little rays named after Revolutionary officers.
2

Ave's termination, Reservoir Oval W becomes Knox W and finally becoming the numbered street, running parallel E 210 St and then, after intersection with Steuben, sharply turning northwest parallel M. Pwkwy N to intersect with E 210 and Dekalb, and Steuben itself ends right when it hits E 210, right at North Central's butt-end, another parking complex between Steuben and Rochambeau behind a north-facing white male in a business suit. He is on a headset, bouncing on his toes, speaking: “He being being the sort of guy who, well, to develop an addiction to Listerine like he'd done, and who brung a small like suitcase there full of the damn things, the little bottles and some big bottles for good measure in the inner pockets of the wheelie bag, right, and he being a devout follower of the short-sleeve button-up behind the blazer, and who wears Hawaiian shirts on casual Friday though of course I cannot speak on whether they be authentic island items, right, but nonetheless they're these ironic-kitsch loose-rag type post-casual atrocities, the aloha shirts I'm saying, yeah, yuh, and standing front of his mirror rinsing with the stuff burning in his hamsterlike cheeks, and spitten out after thirty seconds his eyes owl-wide as his mouth is snake-wide for a second, staring at the green foam escaping his mouth, and looking at himself in the mirror his right eyebrow darting up thin and dirt-blond, it, and sly smiling at he going and doing what he did that day, yes, yes, I know what you want to hear what he actually did, but you have to have—listen, you need the context, the de-tails first, you want the full...” What once were windows in the brick wall outside Manuel Arturo Abreu's
3 Pronounced here “meer” or “mier,” by this person.
3 3

window, which is the left side of the commercial building next to his own, are filled in completely with concrete and mortar. His elbow is on his window's sill. Besides this wall, the rest of the walls in his building's alley cede, behind stout wire fences, to other, elevated alleys swarming around other buildings. The glass of other windows is stained, but not like what one would find in a church—a substrate for scratch marks, histories of globs of spit racing down the pane, errant paint splatters, shit-stains of shameless pigeons, simple unnamed dirt. He watches as the two drooping trees that grow from that network of alleys sweep, swept by breeze, along the gray plaza. Bright orange fungus grows along the far edge. That breeze is like a sweet and dim candle. Another tenant some floors up throws bits of bread onto the plaza for the startled gabbling pigeons, as he himself sometimes does. He watches and, without realizing, repeats his name to himself. Today there's a farmer's market set up in it, but a few months ago there was a gay pride celebration in the Montefiore parking lot near Dekalb and the end of the two-block expanse along E Gun Hill Rd which is the Moses Division's backside, which expanse is much larger than Manuel Arturo Abreu's two blocks. As for the parade, there were different opinions, but none could disagree that it was a sign of change in the neighborhood. On that day patrol cars straddled as many corners as they could, drivers and partners craned their necks. —Issa bunch of hyomos in'at shit, dem smoochin' n shit, and dey's acting like dat shit is nohmal. —Iono, I gotta say I 'on't really be worryin' bout the other man's, namsaen. —I hear waddya both the youse asayin', onna one hand it's by Gahd disgustin but onna udda dis is home of thee free,

is it nahht? —Ooman know ow fi dweet joos fine mon. Dat Babylon deh haffi gweh, Jah guide. —Quedate mirando, que han llegao loh' patos, y mah' pa'cá arrancan. Nene cubrete los ojitos. Pero fijate en esa cotión. —Oye pero este yo sera serio sere por un momentico wichu tu oye? Oíhte? Dejaos que joden con cualquiera. Shu gatta fyne loffe guateber papi. Si bailan así iss tu eech hiss ohn brohder. Entiende? It's mostly something to do, it was a sunny day which shouldn't have been rare toward the end of March but to say the least the world has changed. An entire species is fingerpointing and filibustering, buying time for the already broken, both itself and the ecosystem, not its own as it would think but instead containing it, this palebluedotbeautiful accident and its unhurried cycles absorbing our violence, for love beareth all and all things covers quietly, the machines plowing dead soils endlessly overturned and we have tried to plot the exponential graph, grope time and speed it, cities rotting from inside and beneath themselves, the brokenness apparently too subtle to go noticed in society, aside from a few jokes and obloquies. Oh, yes, Manuel Arturo Abreu gets morbid and nihilistic by his window, in the winter mostly, though perhaps not so strange in the rocky Spring it had been, and June's slick wet abstraction, gazing behind your shoulder instead of into your eyes—yes, yes, in true summer the blocks start to buzz in the Bronx, the shuffle of people not simply commuters leaving and coming but also children rollicking about shrieking happily, vendors with their portable bazaars, coquito nomads, dealers advertising kush to a potential customer, thugs sitting on cars not theirs lowing their mating rituals amid foraying badges, old hands their legs crossed in folding chairs watching, and you

wonder is it a coincidence the police academy graduates in July... Sixty-four of New York City's ninety-four step streets are in the Bronx, that is, forlorn crumbling stairs connecting parallel avenues and streets sometimes stretching on for so long that they become infamous, dread to all but the steeliest. At the base of Irwin Ave after it distentangles from Riverdale Ave, long enough once one reaches Johnson but continuing up to Edgehill, and finally terminating on Netherland and narrow all the way up, is 230 St, which often frustrates climbers who think it more convenient than trudging up that ridiculous winding hill, so horribly roundabout with the curving in on itself and the avenues becoming each other, “arnum stairs jussa teensy bit quicker,” but what once seemed a clever notion turns out to be the bigger bugbear, and the more tiring. In these absurd victories will the land beneath the feet always conquer. Invariably, it says, I am the earth. And as one gets closer to Riverdale with its serene canopy of boughs it becomes clear, eleven square miles of the borough is green space, not only parks and the Cemetery but green interruptions like flowering phrases between dashes, places like Van Cortlandt's tail, serving a similar function to Greenstreets. It also serves to divvy up the borough, just as highways provide havens between neighborhoods, boundary-points. The highest elevation in the Bronx, in Riverdale, was amputated to create a neighborhood within a neighborhood, Villanova Heights. Like the most secluded parts of North Riverdale, it creates a green rustling dream, a quiet lie nestled in America's poorest county, where two-thirds of all men have been in prison once, where one-third of families is headed by a single mother, where the lines for food
th

pantries beckon Soviet Russia jokes, where in a year shootings increase and gun arrests decrease. Villanova Heights has a closing gate, though; the closest Riverdale has, in light of recent spates of petty crime and vandalism, is two parallel pillars on each sidewalk where W 244 St intersects with Waldo Ave and Manhattan College Pkwy, north of Brust Park, which both read “Private Community,” the stern threat, the apparition of a gate presumed to be enough to deter any more of those pesky notions. There are sundry buffer zones enveloping Riverdale: Norwood's roughly an X with a V's top tips attached to its legs and postnate spaces. The X is formed by the intersection of E Gun Hill Rd running, obviously, east-to-west, and Jerome Ave running northeast. The former becomes W Gun Hill Rd after crossing with the latter; the V is formed by Mosholu Pkwy S's intersection with Webster Ave, and the parkway bifurcates, coalesces and becomes Gun Hill Pkwy shortly before advancing farther northwest and intersecting with Jerome Ave and either the beginning or end of the Grand Concourse, which if considered turns the V into an N, in the first crook of which is Bedford, and which leads farther south to Jerome's intersection with Fordham Rd, around E 190 St. Green spaces cushion Norwood's V and the last numbered street before that angle is E 204 St; Jerome Ave continues north and in the top triangle of the X, bounded on the west by the parkway, which after intersecting with W Gun Hill Rd becomes Gun Hill Pkwy and then after crossing the Deegan reverts, is Mosholu Golf Course, and, bounded on the west by Jerome, bounded farther east by a dead long stretch of Webster Ave almost parallel to the Bronx River Pkwy, and on the north

by E 233 St, is Woodlawn Cemetery. Woodlawn Heights is north of that, Yonkersyearning. In the eastern negative-space nook of the X is an isosceles with Jerome and Bainbridge, which collides with the former past E 213 St where Dekalb terminates and also past the last stop of the 4 train, Woodlawn, and in the westward nook of the X is the first of Riverdale's bulwarks, a short sequence of curvy blocks, Knox Pl and Gate Pl, then green, then W Gun Hill Rd crosses the parkway and becomes Van Cortland Park S, which enormous park which lies north (duh) of that South namesake, is bounded on the west by Broadway, and along Van Cortland Park S, with Sedgwick Ave to the south before Fort Independence Park and, past Van Cortland Ave W, Bailey Ave, the former burgeoning from V.C. Park S's intersection with the latter. The little set of streets between V.C.P. S and Sedgwick—Dickinson Ave, Saxon Ave, Hillman Ave, Gouverneur Ave, Orloff Ave, and last— is the second bulwark, a tiny thriving neighborhood that's almost a cult of whiteness. These are the final vestiges of a storied past, and Amalgamated Security patrol that wedge, which concludes when Gale Pl wraps around itself and leads back to Orloff. Past Gale is a set of stairs, and V.C.P. S continues, crossing over the Deegan, and these are in combination the third bulwark. V.C.P. S becomes W 240 St west of Broadway, but also curves north into Broadway, becomes it. The fourth bulwark is so comprehensive as to be divided into two discrete categories: the northern sector is Manhattan College and its guido denizens, and the southern sector is Kingsbridge, a consistent supplier of substances for students in its periphery, and its petty criminality makes it a brilliant bulwark. More and more green spritzes as one furthers southeast

to Spuyten Duyvil or north to Riverdale proper. A somewhat steep hill past Manhattan College Pkwy, Post Rd, which at the foot of Horace Mann becomes W 246 St, is the final bulwark between pleb Bronx and the FPOA haven. Certain that this colorless green dream sleep furiously. North of Fieldston's cluster, which contains the Hill Schools, Riverdale becomes more like a typical suburb, and one is officially in Yonkers when Riverdale Ave becomes Warburton Ave and Broadway, N Broadway. Skirting neighborhoods' edges, Manuel Arturo Abreu often makes the swift walk along E Gun Hill, whose transmutations have been noted—it were almost straight, if a tossed ribbon should be called straight—and past the deviant bulwarks is his H.S. alma mater, Riverdale Country School, the farthest-north of the Hill Schools, and the self-proclaimed middle ground between Horace Mann's hardline academic rigor and Fieldston's, shall we say, chillness, and apparently it was some sort of in-joke that RCS was built along Fieldston Rd and Ethical Culture Fieldston School was built around Riverdale Ave. They are all billed as convenient escapes from The City's private school hotbeds, so to speak. The Soundview and Hunts Point neighborhoods, deep in the South Bronx— which toponym throughout the Bronx's decline shifted continually northward, from a signifier of place to one of attitude, almost Platonically sublimated, troponymic, an anonym creating its own folly and as well the redundant praise of its comorbidities— are two fat lolling lips in a sneer smooching the East River, and from the gullet the Bronx River empties south into it, and the Bronx is beheaded directly under the ear at
4 Fieldston Property Owners Association, which Manuel Arturo Abreu pronounces trochaically, as written, fpoah.
4

Spuyten Duyvil along its jawline by the Harlem River, and Manhattan's a floating elongated neck. The river of the same name separates the Bronx into East and West, tenement flatlands and gradients of hills—it's still vile from sewage dumped into it by neighboring Westchester towns, but a slick beaver, Jose, the first seen in New York City in some two hundred years, was seen swimming in it. The Pugsley and Westchester Creeks form the face's nose east of the lips. The jaw continues along Port Morris' arbitering factories and, north, Mott Haven, Ward's Island like an Egyptian goatee. South of Hunts Point, conveniently, is Rikers Island, less a prison than an inmate colony with a population in double-digit thousands, on average, filled till fit to bust, an incarcerated city with playing fields, groceries, laundries, power plants, distressed prisoners with frothing Marlin T. Höek-wide eyes...

5.
“You fear yourself. Like Thoreau's glass eyeball, you strive to efface your ego and achieve transparency, believing naively and narcissistically, paradoxically, that it can be done simply by saying it, willing it so, feigning divinity and therein hoping hopefully to find...” The rims of his eyeglasses are perfect black circles, and two wrinkle-lines like strings rest parallel to each other, little sine waves above his

eyebrows. “That may be true, or not, but how does that mean I fear myself? Isn't attempting divinity, your claim not mine, pretty, ah, egotistical?” My right thumb leaves my chin, my index and middle fingers which had been hovering round my nose fling themselves palm-up toward him. “The ego behind which lies our death-urge betrays fear.” His chin's on his left index. “Thanks, Freud.” As I say this, Freud's study appears flashing in my mind. It is a long, horrible couch, the elevated end up against Freud's green chair like a mutant infant resting its head in the apprehensive mother's lap. A thick, hideous blanket stretches over this patients' couch like a sheet over a cadaver, designed with what look like gaudy ziggurats built of jewels, pillows the colors of vomit strewn along the wall behind it. Behind Freud's egg-head and his cartoonish nose and ears is a shelf ledge and various sculptures, the shelf, full of books, hidden behind his green seat. The room vanishes. “In believing that a better Reality exists for you outside of your ego, if it exists at all, in passing judgment, classifying what cannot you know, you reveal an unease about the ego's machinations. You feel you can't trust yourself. Shadows follow you about rooms, snickering, sticking out their limbs and making you trip. The mask does not cover the whole face. It does not cover what could never be silence.” My nose wrinkles into a half-smirk as he finishes, and fleetingly he brings a fist up to the white space between his clavicles, the mainland fingers writhing placidly for an instant as

they come curling together, the island thumb poking out to nowhere. “Indeed, one fears the ego, the babbling pastiche with which one defends oneself, for one too fears that, that which the ego is built to mask. What we call ourselves and what we are are oil and water, I is just a big gaping hole, yadda yadda yadda. I think every single human being feels that way, whether or not he or she can fully quantify, understand, or abstract it—what, do you propose a solution? Is there some way to reconcile outside with inside, real with, Real?” We face each other, seated each on a loveseat at parallel ends of a square glass table. “The Reality is simplified by assuming that unquantifiable entities play unquantifiable roles.” “That may be the way perception of the Reality occurs, it being a human construct, but everything humans have done in and to this world is an example of the quantifiable nature of the ego. It's clearly visible, but only in effects, in conversations with people, in, let's be bald, land rape. Solipsism is logically sound in its own vacuum but it's untenable in practice. There is a real, whether we like it or not, and it is separate and distinct from the Reality. That's the genius, of course—narcissism in the social vacuum, personalities and histories serving as human skin for machines—” “The logical motion is that underlying, unobservable catalysis for the forms the Reality takes. Because we cannot measure it, because the answer lies behind a locked door, which swallowed its own key, and because all our actions and intents are only in reference to the Reality, and removed from the logical motion, we must dance around it. The chasm between the two worlds is us, this, and we must dance.” Both

of us shift loudly in our seats. “Dance. That sounds like something I would—” “There is no such person, only the smaller ends of funnels—,” making a Vshape with his right index and mid. “First, you interrupted me. The dance bit sounds like something I would say— on a bad day. Anyway, the logical motion is what allows the funnels to be filled?” My right index finger rotates, the circle motion meant to signify filling, somehow. “The logical motion allows us to perceive this funnel as filling, when in fact it is emptying.” He lines his knuckles up, the thumbs touching at their tips, and his fingers sprawl into the air, the hands rotating from palm-up to -down. “Thus it would allow us to perceive that the funnel exists at all, meaning that it in fact doesn't. I don't even know if I buy this whole logical motion bit. I still agree with Hume that causality can't be proven. How does the motion thread itself through everything? We simply assume it's there because the phenomenal is there, so to speak? Every phenomenal event could as well simply be a random occurrence, without explanation or sense until after the fact, an unfeasible photon of possibility that—” “The Reality is not there, but here, as we speak, being constructed. We try to devise shapes and forms, bottles into which the observable, which I agree with you is, just a mess, may flow like clear water, but each vessel fills and we, seeing still through the glass, think it empty. We cannot understand what fills it, or how it filled, and we call it randomness, or anything we like.”

“God, scientific law, space, time, et cetera. I know, I've read Kant. You must be some sort of noumenologist, then. Seeking—the unseekable. Theoretically, don't you think there would have to be some phenomenal event which would allow for understanding of the Reality?” Our hands now are in their owners' laps. “Yes and no. Any kind of skeleton key event like that would be metaphenomenal, and certainly would not allow for any understanding in the sense we speak of.” “Metaphenomenal, eh? Wouldn't it by necessity be experiential, though?” “Yes, but it is not like an epiphany. It is the epiphany of epiphanies.” “It would be like walking up stairs with one's eyes closed, waiting for the feeling of expecting a next step at the last step, chucklestumbling, but the stairs go on forever.” “If the Reality is a set of stairs, the Singlemost is the sprouting of wings.” “The Singlemost,” we say simultaneously. There is a pause. Eyebrows raise. O. deGaffe leans far back into his seat, satisfied. It's a white turtleneck he's got on, cream-white khakis, and the walls surround him with it, the color titan. “Must needs be the Singlemost epiphanic? If not, how could one know that the moment has the weight it does? In being experiential, the Singlemost must be known. But I suppose that a singlemost need not be known in immediacy, that is, experience.” “It is distinct?” “The Singlemost is capitalized, metaphysically. It happens and it blinds. Indeed, a singlemost is like an amusing plot development in a dream; the Singlemost

is like waking up from the dream.” “Or realizing one is trapped in a recursive loop of dreams.” “A set of singlemosts is a singlemany; the Singlemost cannot reiterate and cannot therefore belong to sets. If a singlemost may be categorized and collected it necessarily may be analyzed and thus searched for. Patterns may be discerned or fancied. The Singlemost does not allow for analysis.” He traces his lower lip with his left index finger, angling the rest of his hand away from him. It is an awkward gesture, and off-putting. “Therefore, it's epiphanic, which answers your original question. In one blinding moment the knotting-into that is the Reality will reach its conclusion and full understanding will be attained.” “It is more visceral than understanding. One cannot search it out. It searches one out. It is like having deja vu for something that hasn't happened yet and eventually never does.” “The Singlemost is not an organizing construct for the Reality. It is not of the Reality. It is the closest to God that I cannot find.” His eyes which are normally ineffectual steel show a kindle, as if a cherry of roses burned beneath the curtain. “Indeed, the Singlemost cannot function within the Reality, which is based on the system and its function. The Singlemost cannot be a part of a whole because it is a whole in and of itself.” “Though it could be said that all parts are wholes, and wholes parts.” “Now, we are in knots, and they are good knots, juicy, with weight, but

remember, these are my concepts, and it is I, I that have not found what is closest, to God.” He attempts a wink which looks like one dot of an ellipsis blinking off and back on. “That's not an accomplishment.” “Yes, but I know you writer types. If it, if my concepts, go in a book, I must, must get credit.” His hands are like ironing boards before him. “Fat chance.” “To which? Using my concepts or giving me credit?” “Either. Both.”

The Reality is metadata the border of a convenience that knowing could never contemplate. The Singlemost. It is the Reality itself made real, understood outside the context of human meaning. It is the Reality validated and vindicated but also trivialized, erased. Experiencing the Singlemost is like going through a black hole, the light crying as it is squeezed., the body in pinhole, a still image at the forever mouth like a stray shred of meat, the predators are messy eaters. The yelps of light are not ours, the bright needles stretching like pencil lines, the density infinite and without volume. Infinite tossed-aside moments and their possibilities make weight known. Pure the Singlemost is the infinitestrong gravity, the knot which cannot be tied.

6.
What is simplified as fear is actually depressingly complex: the blank page which we think mocks us (and does) reminds us we know nothing, reminds us why one is told “Do not write, do not write, do not write.” The lines in the sand fill themselves in to disappear, unbecoming by becoming whole. The blank page evokes

for humans the whitebeautiful place we do not know, the place without writing, without art, without language. Is it before or after that it comes, if ever it will? It is Beauty and its despair we are trapped in, and any philosophy is wrong if it begins by postulating that there is knowable truth. Know, I don't state that there is no truth— could there be a person so ignorant, so involuted? The world is the world. There is no another. Truth is a single entity, a single statement: humans sift about shards, delicately, avoiding injury, softening the edges with speech, but those glowering fragments are not puzzle pieces, only staring glowing mirrors, and there are arbitrarily many, without any evident finished picture. Stories never end because they might as well never begin. Blank it is like the sun blanketing me in a daiquiri sky, the pure empty page extending forever, the scroll never unraveled or unreveried, behind my eyelids red against the light. Two pillar eyes of parallel unblinking storms wide-open but dreaming, the open page, and coy is the blood of the dream as it copes, the tiny glitching worlds of the world: fair and vibrant follow this incredible system, read the infant creator, unlearning adult, the dream a squeezing sponge we speak. The drops make expanding rings in the blank page, which bursts when we try to fill it, spilling all over some new article of emperors' clothing, entire armies of paper towels deployed: we (I) write to retaliate against this blank stain, this everopen orifice. Oh, my blankest page, I ache carving the faces of these letters into your flesh white like a turned cheek turned red, the black scratches hemorrhaging out of you. And you spill out in little rivers between the words and letters, inside their very forms. I try to fill you but the

emptiness goes on, multiplying, emptying by the very filling. You are the memory of what could not be. You are the blank memory of what should not have been. The blankness is the pain, the negative space which defines the boundaries of I, and if perception and thought shall never coalesce then the gap between them is infinite, and the arbitrary tumbles into it, falling endlessly, fading to me, to myself becoming. Always we are becoming, and when alone and fey attempt ourselves becoming, wading through oblique echoes, rivers wading through rivers of shadow, processes groping in their darknesses. The water is calm—Father, he beat it into submission. And He had the blank on his face. The room in my head dissolves to silence. The walls flee from me, receding into blankness. I am trapped between the two halves, twirling, again hearing rancid echoes—my hands reach for solidity, but between perception and thought neither is possible—the border between before and after becoming irrelevant—we thought it infinite, there is no space between binaries —I am rancid and coy trapped between the blank page's verso and recto, between my mind's—my hands—and—and I stare into the growing hole rippling its way out from my center, the light blinding crying screaming out of me, and my eyes burst into contused rainbows, object becoming subject becoming object, and narrative whispers the noose to abject me, and I pray and pray for a muse. And the blank page will ever never be the muse.

I fear that anything could happen. In the World this fear's source comes from having no control over what shall happen, but on the page it is or seems in one's own

control, and I cower to kiss the name of this beauty, to wield a power in the very reading and writing and language of both that is hitherto and onward incomprehensible—strange, isn't it, that we've come so to depend on language and absentee host meaning: yes, other animals communicate with sound and gesture, but meaning and function are two vastly different things. Opposite. Maybe. Everything animals do is In the World; there is no interface-cortex-abstraction-pseudodichotomy-etc between an animal and its environment; there is no society-couched Creation in legitimacy of a Reality, no filter to allow perceptual and conceptual protection from the indirect dangerous brutish World. How warped we must be. Shit, we make it pretty hard on ourselves, as a species, to each other. Cold motherfuckers that are able to kill humans, to shed would-be souls of efficacy, of dignity, and are able to sleep at night—they're in charge of the world. Their spheres of influence allow societies, ideologies, art as playthings to exist in the shadow of their limns, yes here we are in the Reality's jig. Seeking luxury, small talk over hot chemical sugar codename coffee, hands over some slim body, the butterfly-bristle of arm hairs and eyelashes, an excuse to look good, and to succeed for it, a comfortably messy auto and an endless array of objects which bear your mark, which leave a trace of you, somewhere, please... How could the page terrify me when like any there is Your face? I say this bearing the wonders of art and culture and technology and philosophy afforded since, but I also bear in mind the awesome violence and degradation and destruction since, and because of, in both cases—the Industrial Revolution, I mean, and afterward—but it must be said: the seemingly rapid

development of its tools and technology throughout human history have had mostly negative effects. And the good effects are only good because and in light of those negative ones; art is only beautiful because it attempts to explain this gravid sticky hole behind a curtain in our deeper spaces, and even if it fails, it still fills the hole, we say, and smile pinched smiles; Western culture is only good because—ha, ha, ha. Or maybe I'm moving too fast for myself.

7.
“And what about Buddhism? They're onto something with nirvana, in which, to speak in our current terms, the whole of experience is the Singlemost. The Singlemost, as I understand it, does allow for epiphany, but a pyrrhic one, an ultimate realization about the futility of human endeavors.” The thumb, index, and middle of my right hand laze palm-up, floating before me as I speak.

“That's child's play. If that were the puny extent of it, if it were comparable to a religious epiphany, why should the Singlemost even matter if we ourselves can infer the depth of that futility? We know each in our darkest hearts how absolutely, absurdly small we are. A little bit of that solipsism, there?” He wags his left index. “Do you not accept that there must be something aside from and outside of our recursive meaning-loops, our virtual markets and hypertext farms, something that will make us rise above the pyrrhic epiphany you described, a next step?” “I can't say.” “Because you haven't experienced the Singlemost.” “Because it's a philosophical crutch, a deferral, a refusal to provide any truth, instead providing endless references to references to references of truth, images of images, and you, my friend, are no Fermat.” I shift forward in the seat, my hands flat on my knees. “The very fact that the Singlemost would be experiential means that it can't really exist, because I'll misinterpret it, as humans do with all phenomena. Any singular moment has arbitrary interpretations when meaning is imposed, and it must be imposed. That's just how we work—we can't operate outside of meaning. Anyway, what exists outside of us, we like to think, outside meaning, outside form as function —it's hard to say, but it's probably something having to do with the natural world, with experiencing and acting in the world without an interface, a medium, though then again every organism has a medium, even those chemoautotrophs way down where there's no light—” “The form which governs both is the same, so necessarily a connection must

exist, and necessarily there must exist something to explain the connection, the relationship. Humans are not disconnected from nature, much as we like to believe, and much as we've tried to make it so, and make ourselves believe it is so.” “You mean that the manifestations of your logical motion are related? Are different manifestations even distinct in your vision?” “They are different ways of saying the same thing.” “It's all very Galilean, this indiscernible force permeating everything, allowing the universe its properties, though how we cannot know. They say the same thing, but the echoes are so loud that what's actually said we can't know, we only hear a Babel.” “The reason a singlemost is distinct is to afford some level of flexibility. Subjectively, any moment may provide a person with understanding. But the Singlemost is much different. It is not a calculus; one cannot simply choose the moment which should be the Singlemost, like setting a limit for a function, apply our own ends and use it as a means. The Singlemost is its own end, and the means is itself.” “But why can't you just apply it however you want? What's to distinguish understanding on the level of the Singlemost versus the understanding afforded by interpretation? Aren't you, right now, doing exactly that? Aren't you building off of a questionable premise and refusing to question it?” “You've trapped me into trying to make objective something I cannot make objective.”

“You have to ask questions. You don't have to solve problems but you can at least delineate the nature and structure of problems. Knowledge doesn't have to be about power, about imposing upon our world. I can already tell you're the type who will trap himself into himself, looking for a proper organizing structure to explain the unwritten, to classify something you aren't equipped to understand. Then again, that is a universal human trait, and I suppose it makes no difference in the end. You've taken the word games a little too seriously, losing sight of the world along the way.” “These are not simply word games for me. I need to understand. You are right —the logical motion is flawed, but so far it is the best structure I can conceive of.” “It's the assumed unity with which it analyzes the world that allows its failure. Text bubbles inside text bubbles. Use is meaning. The world is the world.” The scene blurs then fades out, the voices hovering in afterimage, muffled before trailing into silence.

8.
Ludicrous that some could claim the death of the author. Subjectivity yields in the writer only ever the more exertion for the sake of achieving either clarity or ambiguity, affording her the infinitesimal and flaunting the impossibility of its being surmounted. That connection is futile cannot stymie the attempt to achieve it. Why must language be the key that is its own lock? Because our hearts are locked and

something must pretend to be unlocking. Language is a learned concealment existing only in a failed state, measure for measure. To begin, we may consider all acts means of communication, modes of language. What is denoted metalanguage is the state of what is denoted object language, for acts must only be about and in context to other acts. Object language looks at itself in the mirror and is unable to deduce an explanation for its understanding of the relationship. The expression and the content have a relationship denoted relata that is unexplainable, ERC (cf. Barthes), contained therein (in R of ERC) a language looking itself over in a mirror: expression utilizing the infinite possibility of language attempting to explain this possibility that makes language possible. Embedded in our attempts to break the mirror that is everything is that very mirror. Must we consider thus all acts, called language, futile? The trait of humanity, then, is a penchant for absurdity. Chomsky's universal grammar still applies because universal properties within (which cause) multiplicity are the prevalent system in nature. However black swans and randomness we may consider the cornerstone of the effulgence of the universe. It is this cornerstone that provides a limit to nature's growth, which we may call balance. Human society prevents this. Speaking concretely, the preeminent problems are population and, therein, imbalanced means distribution, incorrect attitudes towards ecology and the very old dichotomy of direct experience and a world at large, outside of oneself. The Zen slap so to speak, and if it can be said that there is some interest in ancient cultures in a relationship if not an equality between emptiness and fullness then it can be said that Western culture and the

properties therein are the empty. Primitivism is one of the most vital tools available to a society disconnected from the reality of all it consumes. Cuisine is decoration for slaughter that should be respected. All this has been known. Why worth the restating? Knowing itself must be devalued. Doing is the logical conclusion which should be contained therein, but most often people do without knowing and the doing is empty, happening most starkly to those deprived of basic necessities ie clothing, food, shelter, gender and sexuality equality, education, et al and must subtly in those with all or most imaginable luxuries. Though to consider anything universal and not a commodity is absurd. People pay for bottles of water. People tell racial minorities that they speak well. People, even Chomsky, consider pornography a cause and not a symptom. People visit the Natural History Museum on 79th and CPW to see made-ofplastic animals, convincing if only because they are life-size. And complaints are made about the zoo. They fear the lack of glass and the darkness of the exhibit of a whale eating a giant squid. Languages are not learned; language is not learned. Imitation is the herald, and the humanistic quality of a thing is the imitative. Barthes illustrates with the example of road signs. Philosophies of which God is a basic tenet may be said to be absurd, but if God is invoked as universal law then it is an Old Testament God, punishing and slaughtering and offering answers that are questions that defy question. The human is not the question mark but the exclamation mark and irony therein; the human is a microwave radiating vividly with nothing inside. Believe all rumors true. Why did Hamlet have to be true. Barack Obama adds the phrase "the

audacity of hope" to common jargon and also becomes president. Lovers of knowledge, by the nature of loving, do not have what they seek. Thus to love knowledge is not only necessary but absurd, and philosophy is a life full circle put into quotes which emphasizes the spaces between each word and in each letter of the language of that life; acts are earthquakes in cloudy stasis; the sea and space are silent forever. Sound is peculiar because we do not know it; for nature love is obsolete and plants trump machinery; carbon is injurious love that respites me a life whose very comfort is still a dying horror.

9.
It began one day, as I was reading a book, gentling the swells of syntax, when I suddenly, hovering between two words of a sentence, two letters of a word, realized that the voice reading back to me might not be my own—and I soon would find myself apprehensive even about that which Descartes could not doubt—how many people are up there, really? Are there enough chairs for everyone? Are these voices without body? They must be, if to my own flesh I can assign none, if any ambivalence

at all presents itself. And what is this croaking expelled from me stumbling among rubble in my throat, the words pushed too far together, lurching to escape from possibility as they leap, spoken, to ecstatic death like fish caught in a net of silence? In their speaking they are born to die, and the other unborn voices crowd the wrinkles at the edges of my eyes, and all the unspoken words orbiting the phrase in its conception are like passengers stuffed in a tin subway, the great crashing and eloping on the tracks like lethargic tectonic plates, a few mealymouthed words escaping, hands reaching through the closing doors... It all finds its way in somehow. Asked who I am, what should I say? How could I know to whom the question is directed, to whom it refers? What am I if not the intersection of my perception and my being perceived? Am I the person I convince myself I am when alone, the crossroads of the voices' blathering, the echoes of the day as the sun burrows away, revealing one last brazen ankle under night's hemline? I tug at your dress. I find borrowed light. Look for twine pulling the eyes, the lower jaw—my nostrils flare like two fireflies in a second-long staring contest, I try to peel myself from experience distending further my form. Diffuse, without center. There's too much of me, the Rubenesque body extending forth from the empty convergence-point, the fat forming the shield, Oh I am a boy with breasts, heaving to keep me from finagling into needle-eyed, needle-nosed Angels. I can't float for the weight of speech, I can't mend the parallel into the singular, I terror to look inward.

I tire quickly of warping conjectures with O. deGaffe in his hermitage. Never has an apartment in the Bronx been so devoid of sirens, crackhead yelps, the squeals of stopped cars and the roaring motion of buses. To him it is pristine, and he goes days at a time without leaving his house, legs crossed on his bed and cradling a mug of black coffee, staring at his white bedroom walls trying to answer questions without answers, which aren't even questions. He expects the bare walls will reply, but they only resound his contemplation, ricocheting vacuous. He answers himself and convinces himself that the answer came from elsewhere. Our bedrooms are doppelgangers of each other, tiny with the computer desk right past the entrance at the head or foot of the bed behind which is the radiator, except for my window with the bright slabs of expanding and contracting light, little hopping birds and the fuzzy exclamation points of squirrel tails in a tree. Too long in his prisonlike room and my legs and eyes start joggling, and when I hear of the Singlemost one time too many I coax him into leaving his home, untangling his legs, perhaps changing his clothes. I consider it a small victory each time his feet pass through the threshold of his apartment's entrance. He will only smile what he considers a philosopher's smile, and it exhausts me. His thought-contraptions are humorless yet at the same time mired in irony, and he can never grasp the edges of the game or play with the porous edges of his words. No, it can never be a game for him, and though he would accept on a good day that all motion, as he defines it, is a Copernican orbit around a vacuum, still he scrambles to move forward, tripping, crawling, the straight line always folding into itself like two

ends of a string coming together. For him answers will never be questions with incorrect punctuation, and paths will always be more than the collection of empty spaces where one used to be. Make no mistake, though—he's a keeper. I met O. deGaffe under a carpet of trees. He had a round mirror placed gingerly between the upyearning legs of the oldest, thickest one, at the base of the wide V the split limbs formed. Three smaller trees huddled around this one like cronies. My first glance proved not enough—my feet slowed and I observed him observe himself and take notes in a small notebook the cover of which looked like human skin. There were networks of veins like red thunder on it, and tiny scattered pores, though I later learned that the cover was, obviously, simple plastic. He had his right foot set on one of the old titan's roots crackling through the concrete. Looking toward where my feet pointed, I realized that had I kept walking I would have been heel-deep in a straggle of turds which looked like a thick mustache. As I resolved to speak to him a thin pole of light flitted through twig symmetries of green elven ears to land brightsprawling on his stark hairless head, and he turned around before I began to speak. “No, I am not a writer,” he says as he jots. “Mmm, correct me if I'm wrong, but, you're writing as we speak.” In the middle of my sentence the soft scribbles stop, the lacuna drowned by the sweeps of traffic. The small slam of the humanskin notebook punctuates my inaccuracy. I note that on the blank inside of the cover is written: LOGIC IS DISTANCE... He'd neatly drawn next to the ellipsis an arrow pointing to the lined pages. “Writing is, in fact, the least important task a writer has, easing the notebook

into a back pocket of his khakis and stepping forward from the enormous root. His arms drift down until the pads of his fingers face the sidewalk. “You know, I actually agree with you.” “Which would lead me to assume that you,”wagging a promontory-like index, “would call yourself a writer.” “I suppose I might call myself that, if asked. Since you aren't asking me, it's not what I'm calling myself.” “Ah, well... what will you call yourself?” I venture a hand which his own clasps. “Manuel Abreu.” “O. deGaffe.” He clasps his hands behind his back, cocks his head up to look at the sky. The shadows are long at this hour, the sky's colors weakly inverted: the clouds are slate blue as they claw through, the sky a gradient shifting from hoary pearls to achromatic fecklessness. “What does the 'O' stand for?” “Nothing. It is not my real name.” “Right,” a mazed hand on my head. He begins to move east down Gun Hill. “Shall we walk?” I fall in step with him. The Bronx River passes under us, here a semen-colored furl, here a grisly barfverdure.

June was all rain and sometimes still sweater season, though on a few days it was so humid I could see my breath, and scant the sun blessed us the incult with its

startled heatsparkling series of jutting glasses, bodies appearing wavy and diluted in the heat's refraction as kids cartwheeled on asphalt and the corona burning the clouds to taffy. The last winter was long and the world weird, and even in March and April the rocks of cold still pelted. We got used to June's crass rain slowing down the sun, the white vortex of all color, the light skewing that contagion of myriads, the disgusting sewage and gunk that sluices at the foot of every curb, no longer crusted with layers of black snow. The clouds were drunk hearts above us, or in droves looking like holes in old shirts, ballistic wet pindrops precluding corrugated sheer downpour that looked like sharp slope fields. Blade of grass vs. braid of glass. The earth's growing was in coming and my nose jamming, pills swallowing, and Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all, as Breton said. It's the last day of June, this first day of our meeting, O. deGaffe not yet wearing his Jake Jarmel glasses. He likely knows I know it's a sly Seinfeld reference. Presently the sun is unplugged and a hammerhead cloud above us commences burst fire, artillery rain, soaking through clothes like acid rain piercing the skin of marble bodies, like the oblivion of a pure overtone ringing with a phantom fundamental through your body and for those few minutes the rain plodded and made penumbrae about our feet. Rain formed a shroud around our perimeters. Rain was a solid. “I had assumed,” I wiped my soaking lips broadly with my right palm, “that the conversation would go on as normal.” “Are you assuming we share a piece of the same soul,” eschewing the raised pitch which denotes a question, the question mark an untraced void.

“You won't woo me by moving so quickly,” as the sun comes voodoo in the world space. “Oh, if I fail, it's fine. One cannot learn anything from humans anyway; they only have meaning with reference to other humans.” “Meaning is sought socially, but it cannot be had. Humans created the notion, and we cannot grasp any concrete instances of meaning, only apply it as a structure.” “And the meaning is found in the striving for meaning.” “Indeed, the empty ghost betwixt the opposites.” “The opposites being?” his sundrowned hand palm-up. “Anything at all, that being the way things are defined in our minds. We know what is, that is, approximate that knowing, by knowing what is not.” “Right, Derrida and such.” “Well, Locke and Heraklitos and others had similar ideas before, but Derrida's notions were significantly more sophisticated, I suppose.” “The assumption being that ideas are distinct.” The prophecy became selffulfilling, and all of our philosophical conversations would eventually overlap, unable to attain distinction from the rest, losing all definition, formless as a squadron of kids in silly square hats looking like potatoes in sacks beneath their graduation robes, as the plume of smog that kisses bare sky, as the collision of colors a city sunset could take, all paths perfect like the paths of dandelion spores. The pattern of our conversations predominantly resulted in increasingly absurd responses until I, ready

to cede and admit that, yes, he took aught and all more seriously than me, that nothing I could say would make his face retreat behind his palm—he would always be willing to poss about my phrases, my retorts, and he would always be interested in continuing the dialectic. The problem with philosophy along with social political discourse is that they are allowed to exist under the thumb of something greater than them, something which subsumes them—in philosophy's case, the world itself, which will always be, certain as our own existences are not; in political discourse's case, the state and its media outlets, which give the very voice to that which criticizes and condemns it. Further, analysis is not identity. Embedded in Plato's exit or ascent from the cave—as light Lovepoisons the eyes, one first blinded by the fire, then, upon leaving, living in shadow, seeing the moon and objects, oneself, in reflections, then facing them, except the latter, until finally one can look up into the sky, hazy and laced with the sun's light, carving itself into him, and he looking brazenly near to the incredible orb when gnarled in tufts of cloud—embedded and indelible is the older metaphor of the nostos, the return to the known from the unknown, though of course the objective Ideal Form of the Good that Plato's sun represents could never be known to anyone who didn't follow his system of life and learning, conveniently enough. For Ulysses it was the opposite as he dove into the viscera of possibility, self-carved experience proving more vital than anything else, even the powerful tool of abstraction, which today is an even deadlier weapon. Plato's released man returns to his prisoners to be guffawed at, his

illumination concealed like Odysseus cloaked himself in rags. The thief steals through the city's colon, and light is that whereby anything at all is allowed to be. I knew instantly that O. deGaffe felt he knew something others did not, or at least would eventually, and felt that no-one would ever believe him. He would go on with castrated voice, soundless, so convinced of his ideas that the forms from which they were derived grew blurry with distance, unintelligible, allowing meaning to infect. That drifting immeasurable vacuum. His words in my ear's eye came so, a spume of meaninglessness that was to take form only when I gave it form. Experience is far-removed from his philosophy, being meta-experience in all human perception— this he defines as the Reality, endlessly pointing only to itself. Humans can only exist in the Reality, and they perceive everything as belonging to it. The most crucial element of the Reality is human language, the Tangela-like mass of writhing voice on city blocks sides of which are die-faces, which for human purposes, is finite but containing the infinite, approximating it. I or he would go so far as to say that humans cannot experience at all without language: the moment the phenomenal imprints itself, it is converted to language, eventually lines of phenomena building up at the border between the two, slapping their suitcases against their thighs, huffing sharply, late for work, again... goddamned Meaning, clogging up the whole freaking thing... “Why bother with experience? People don't experience, they just talk about experience, and it's the talking that is the Reality.” “Don't you think that, more precisely, our tendencies toward language infected experience itself, like during our evolution?” And another thread would heed

raveling.

Maybe I'm biased, but Dominican Spanish, based even on my limited experience as an expatriate growing up amidst the dense isolated Spanish-speaking community of these blocks on E Gun Hill Rd, is very interesting, linguistically. It seems that, not only do non-paisano Spanish speakers have difficulty understanding us, but, incredibly, every conversation between Dominicans is a matter of mutual misunderstanding. While, given a certain of amount of effort, mostly able to switch between different modes of speaking, a good chunk of Dominicans also mostly don't give a fuck, at least not about casual conversation, and that effort is mostly absent. We speak as if our mouths were closed, words cut short, d's and s's and r's disappearing, unless those r's become l's or i's, and words sliding together, gooey, hardening over time to strange crystal fruit, expelled always faster, the arms and eyebrows flailing to counteract the pervading nonsense. Call it the intersection of Arawak, Africa, and Andalusia. Our manner of speaking leads to frequent requests for repetition—hnnh or ah or eh, from other Dominicans, or que, or dígame, from the more polite, or, in the case of one of the few encounters my father has had with an actual Spanish person, from Madrid: perdone, pues, ¿os podeis repetir mas, buenooo, despacio, no? with those vaguely Hebrew r's, and how strange, how vos became vulgar, the peasants' echo desecrating its regality—but that same communicative difficulty also leads to some great phrases—my dad calls shit on the street either vidrio Inglés, English glass, or ñeca—and some frankly beautiful strings of sound. A

conversation between two men: —Dique'n leh'quina su orilla almaron yeyo y pleito sobre un pokwe llerba y llello. —¿Y ande anda Andy? —Delante'l'oh'pi'tal 'ta el. —Ah poh'ta bien. Or between two mothers: —Nene pero no sea tan ñoño. —Eh' dañino ese otro niño pa'el. Ehun ñemú. —Eso mimito me dijo Ñaño. The most I've ever seen anyone ask my father to repeat a phrase is seven times. Each time mi pai tried a new syntactic and semantic structure, and each time until the last he failed. From: Kiseamo yoitu tiruntrompon a ese trabajito poh' mah' kenweh'tan dao—that is, Quisiéramos yo y tu tirar un trompon a ese trabajito por mas que nos estan dando—to: Que DE-ben pa-GA-rnos MAS. —Ay, claro, claro! Perdona. You wonder where all the aggression comes from—well, actually, it comes from some complex mix of self-hatred—many Dominicans, and many Spanish-speaking folks in general, harbor some pretty racist beliefs, even and especially given our lovely gradients of blackness, thin straight hair learning naughty crunchy angles, noses widening in bloom, and let's not even mention Haitians—and either whiteyearning or whitehating or a little of both to make, ultimately, whitefearing. I want to know what I left there. A nostalgia for the never-occurred, die Früheentrückten : what would I have been? I don't visit, and perhaps I'm afraid, or perhaps there are reasons, but let me just say—what the fuck is a DominicanAmerican? You are either a Dominican or an American, and you are either a Dominican in America, or an American in the Dominican, which is what I would be were I to visit. La lengua, it is such a powerful connection among us, the expatriates,
5 Rilke—“early-departed”
5

but how could I call it my tongue? I only speak it. Being born in a place is not the same as being of that place (now I only wait to be captured en passant). How could it be that I'm a tourist in the country I was born in? I maintain that the language in which one is educated, in my case English, is one's language. And I'd say in many ways my foray into English has been, complexly, a brilliant thing, as in sinking startled into a beauty the beginning of a terror which, we revering, disdains calmly to destroy me. I dream in both tongues, but in effect I traded Spanish in for English: the dimension that Spanish takes on in the US is hard to fathom. Try as I, logic only dresses wounds, or masks those who desire anonymous. I'm a tourist in this country as well, an ephemera. What will you call yourself? I hear me say. I tell people my first language was Spanish, la lengua de mis primeras babosuras, in order to keep it simple—and in the interrupted convex roots of my groping spoken Spanish I can hear warped swaying the island, further and further away—but that doesn't explain it all. My nexus was morphing, because in the Bronx each person is a universe of speaking. The poor don't aspire toward standardization in Spanish or English, they simply speak as they know and that is so beautiful it is ungodly. Let's not even mention my patois fetish.
6

American English's influence on Dominican Spanish, and Spanish, in the Western hemisphere in general (and for that matter the world's entirety), really can't

6 And I learned quickly to modify how I spoke based on who I was around, to not to be as Foster Wallace says a snootlet, because correcting the grammar of rowdy public school children is really never a good idea. Thanks to reading and reading and reading, I was fluent from youth in White English—and I suppose there's a better way to put that, but Get Real—long before I had ever met a white person in real life. Linguistic failure comes from being unable to shift between socially-distinct dialects of language, such as my P.S. 94 colleagues to whom the very notion of reading as opposed to, say, basketball, was absurd—but let those preterite selves come later.

be exaggerated. Helping verbs have long since been scheming against the future tense—voy a hacer (vwacer) as opposed to yo haré, mimicking the English future construction “I will do”—and perhaps among the uneducated and poor they are winning. I can't make any concrete claims, but it's clear to me that Dominican exposure to English had something to do with it, was probably sitting at that same table as 'ir a' delineated the motion of its reign. And English words are Dominicanized with great frequency—poloché, as opposed to camisa, comes from polo shirt; conflé, as opposed to cereal, from Corn Flakes, jipeta, from Jeep SUV's... always a metonymy, a brand name coming to engulf any product of that kind. The island becomes a brand name for the West, the White, and Haiti reveals crumbling as a shadow the true nature of the plague. Here is the weight of the price I fetch—being brown is a market commodity. It is like being the lake into which Narcissus poured his eyes, reflecting impervious images in a constantly-shifting niche allowed by latte capitalism—without which the consumer and radical Left could never exist—which affords the unanswered questioning of a bourgeois identity. Histories are subsets of White History. Dominicans will always have something to prove. After France took over the whole island in 1795, Spain's sloppy seconds, Haiti was the first Latin American nation to claim independence, in 1804, and the Trinitarios didn't claim ours until 1844, though the issue is complicated—our two-thirds of the island first claimed independence from Spain in 1821, as Haití Español. So from whom was independence claimed twenty-three years later? This is the part Dominicans will never let themselves forget: it was from Haiti. Jean-Pierre Boyer probably figured it was a good idea to

have both nations under the Haitian name converge into one, so his forces sallied on in and nationalized most property, though, thankfully, he did abolish slavery. But the disparate and competing forces which, like aligning planets, came together under Duarte and allowed for our second attempt, would quickly revert to bickering, and the nation was pretty much a shithole, Haiti trying to invade now and then, tyranny and violence getting themselves settled, much like they were doing throughout the rest of Latin America. The next nadir came when the acting leader, General Pedro Santana, first, fourth, and now eighth president, literally sold us out to Spain. The Dominican Republic is the only Latin American country ever to have been recolonized. It was like Indian giving in reverse, taking independence then relinquishing it: Santana believed that the new nation couldn't survive without being annexed by its first sordid mother, and he was able to carry out his designs because he exiled or killed the power players who weren't pro-Spain. Indeed, Santana was such a dick that he exiled our founding father. Duarte did not die on Dominican soil. On arriving from Caracas, his remains were ceremonially buried by another of the D.R.'s gruesome dictators, Ulises Heureaux, not yet assassinated. Then again, Duarte himself was pro-American... In an interesting turn of events, Haiti would back the guerrilla groups fighting to restore independence from Spain, which came in 1865. Only four years later Báez began talks with Grant about annexation with the U.S. Grant's plan was to dump em niggers, who after the Civil War are apparently not only people but free people, onto the island, to escape the burning white of Jim Crow's shadow, to prevent them from troublemaking nice white country folk afraid of

their shadows. Not even as an ex-slave outhouse would America take us. No, the U.S. preferred to deal with us by intervention and economic caste systems, but I'm going to pass over modern Dominican history because the role it plays in Dominican culture now is clear. But the older history figures as importantly, to me, ancient hearts still boiling against a world which grants them no control, no contingency. But in fact our history keeps going in circles, the blood of female martyrs blood-blossoming before firing squads, the assholes with absurd mustaches proportional to their hunger for power who are... flexible about means of attaining it, the walls nations learn to build. Columbus and his blood fantasies freed the Taínos from the mud-destiny of this island, slayed them in their hammocks, cut their hands off when they had not gold nor cotton, bronze bowels slit open in one upward thrust, the disease and slaughter after just thirty years unbelievable, the cassava god hiding in the cave the sun hides in by night, watching the bodies snuffed out like errant candlewicks and the headless matriarchs posted before a bonfire of thirteen bodies for the twelve disciples and the Son, and infants dangling by their doll-like legs and dashed against boulders, spitted on stained swords... all the bodies became aggregate of that island's earth I do not walk, toes cocooning into pebbles at the bottom of streams—to look into a mirror like the mirror of the Magritte painting of the same name, and see one's back, the true face forever eluded, the entire Antilles lifting ambiguous exclamation, asking, really now, what is all this?

10.
It's past midnight and the heat's standing still and the corners are like hives. Insects make presence, scuttling, numerating in dank niches. People swipe midges and gnats from their ears and brows. It's as if heat and trash and bugs rise from the concrete like smoke would. The blocks are swollen possibility. Roaches are a given, always. Under the red awning of STACY GROCERY & DELI #1 a stocky man with

cosmic latte skin sits on a crate turned upside-down, tracing lines on his scalp. Next to him is a taller man in faded tweed supporting himself with his hand on the glass of the storefront, which is covered in posters and presumably bulletproof. Manuel Arturo Abreu's building comprises eight storefronts bookended by each threshold to the basement, five east of the entrance and three west, the two past STACY being 20/20 WORLDWIDE SERVICES, INC. and LAW OFFICES ACCIDENT VICTIMS. The ridged metal storefront eyelids are sometimes host to illiterate aerosol dreams. Sometimes you might even see a centipede, the usual response being an instinctual stomp. Even in the day and the night if you listen you might hear a cricket. Even in the Bronx if you look there are fireflies. Look up. The second-guesses are almost audible. Pigeons roost and chitter in these scuzzy awnings like hair filling in skin, the opposite of erasing, under which people bumble and chatter. These insects avoid being crushed.

Slumped in the driver's seat of an curb-straddling 87 Chrysler New Yorker which may or may not be his, his window open an inch, crumpled bills on the dash, a man groans a terrible and plaintive groan. Chin on his chest, eyes closed but facing his crotch, he says “God. Oh. Ah Gyahd.” It's four in the morning. The sky's lavender lush with mud and darker than a heart's heart. No—the sky's like gravel under you, formless, forever. Rain mingles with dew. Bottom half of a coke can in the passenger seat, its edge mysteriously without serration, half-eaten candy bar inside it, wrapper next to his right foot, empty tub of vaseline near the brake pedal, mirror shards under the wrinkled money, his shoeless left foot on his right knee, pinky toe missing. The

dirt on his foot rubs off on his grease-stained jeans. He's sitting on his hands. The sun's due to rise like a short sigh, rattling, to offer dim sponges of light. He's got on the classic bum hat, black, high up near his hairline and toppling over its own flaccid lump of empty air. So small as to be almost indefinite, a shriveled woman in an ankle-reaching skirt slips a pamphlet through the crack in the driver's seat window. The cover looks like this:

(cloud) WHERE (fire) ARE YOU GOING??? (cross) It's your decision.

After inspecting the ants of text past the cover, he rolls down the window. “Does God know everything that's gahnna happen?” “No spika Ing'lish,” she replies. “Dios sabes que vas pasará?” “Ahh, ahh. Sí. Sí, mijito, es todopoderoso nuestro Dios, para el es todo conocido, suponido.” “Toda la es de la plan. Es todo la parte del plan.” “Es el plan de Dios, el omnipotente, el omnisciente.”

“No es mia decision. Es Dios. No hay, no puedo decision. Es todo sabido. Es todo hacido.” “Orale y te saldrá todo bien, llegará el socorro por cual pides.” He rolls up his window again, all the way.

“Nigguh I'own' een git how it's errbody's getting poorer and all the shit it be gettin' more expensive. Hadda be makin' fuckin' life-death decisions doing food shopping. How fuck milk's like eight bucks, I'm stannen there thinkin' how'n fuck Ah'm pohs'sa feed mines.” His clothes are XXL, but they're not baggy on his frame. “Yiz wahlin out b, it's like four ,” and his clothes the same size, turning his slight body into a probability cloud. His unwheedling face. “And dis nigga talk some shit too.” He holds his thick maroon hand in front of his face. “This fuckin' sun.” It's a hot bruise or it suppurates, spills onto buildings, creating fractured light networks on their facades. “Recession means hustle dohn' count no moah, you gotta be on det networkin' game. Be goin' hard body on 'em, blowin' up they spot, steppin' on heads. Come like a dot-com don.” “Shet the fuck up. Like this nigga lives on this mahfuckin' block and we still hadda be waitin'. I ain' kno' not one reliable dealer. Mahfuckas do what they want. Monkey-ass niggas.” “Like you got shit to do.”
* This final r dropped, as in “foah”
*

“I got a fuckin' kid. Witchoh' manchild ass.” Some minutes pass. On the gray roof of the store cluster east of Manuel Arturo Abreu's building, light through the leaves of gangling trees is like a finger poking through runs in a stocking. The gaps of light close up and the sun's hiding again behind a cloud, scheming its next illumination. A third person walks up to them. “Yah crumbs. Wudup yah twerp-ass mohfuckas.” The smaller, sandy-looking guy responds, “Pyoo, pyoooo.” For some seconds the dense one's head bobs in a continual nod, as if his hefty frame hid esoterica. It's noon and, down on the westerly arm of the five-pointed star of E Gun Hill Rd's intersection with Perry Ave and, bisecting that intersection, Reservoir Pl's termination across the street, the Dominican hair salon, Hair Place, next to KWAHU AFRICAN MARKET, is blasting un merenguito trying impossibly to accelerate past itself, faster ever faster, guayo piano accordion bass all bursting fulgors and mas duro, mas jevi, durísimo, jevísimo, tremendo, típico, phasing forever between the jaleo—ay Negrita, pero ay Negrita— and the call-and-response, tiralo, golpe, golpe golpe... The six hands exchange mute beneath conversation. As the results of the affair ease their way into their new owners' pockets, a perplexed whitecoat dashes by them, head down, walking toward the recently-completed glass facade of the Gun Hill Rd subway station for the 2 and 5, where Gun Hill intersects with White Plains Rd, east past the Bronx River Pkwy. The next track is reggaeton with its sleek gaudy blips and bass rumbles. The music conquers the traffic which seems as if it's been whipped into frenzy by sun, but

Hair Place's booming stereo is nothing: farther down Gun Hill, on Hull Ave as the hill begins to steepen, one block east of Perry, past a rarely-open Breyers Luncheon Fountain (Candy Sodas Stationery) and EZ TAX Multiservices, is a Pentecostal church —Los Candeleros de Oro—whose congregation's clamor is unbelievable, ecstatic for the eschaton. All of its members are Hispanic. The church rises to its feet. A corito is being hammered out by fiery, raspy, squeaky, and unheard voices; a crater-skinned youth pulses unsteadily in four on a trap set, mouthing the beats; a piano eeks out salsa chords; the pastor, Dr. Luis Cardenas, beats out the rumba clave, his face ticcing as he switches expertly from the clave's three side to its two side over the boy's wobble. Cuando el pueblo del Señor alaba a Dios, suceden cosas, suceden cosas... maravillosas... the conflagration begins, glossolalia and stomping, fainting, coritos morphing into one another. Rios de agua viva, rios de agua viva... Some of the devout mill about outside, garrulous, ejecting Spanish. One stooped mustached man walks the length of the block, then back west toward the church: “That Jehovah give flame, that I raise adoring hands and the sky inscrutable, that I a vessel may be taken, used, filled, formed, that I clay come from earth and back to it, but for the mote of inspired soul upward which I bequeath, that God give strength, that the lurking devil surface, but that the Hallelujah would be fire and the blessing shall ignite, that to live is to worship and the fire is the blood, that I like a match might be Lit, that the Son is saying to me, what is happening, that the body decay and the spirit is upward and open and the Spirit forthcoming, blazing, that it save me, Amen, Amen, avivamiento, avivamiento...”

In the church folks hop, scream, let forces which necessarily must exist by their fervor toss them around, the accumulating heat and sweat effulgent, epileptic jazz hands and fists and legs swinging like as in a mosh pit of marionettes. El resplandor fue como una luz, rayos brillantes salian de sus manos... But back up west: The first one with arms like logs puts a friendly fist on the third's right shoulder. “Kinda shit is this?” “My man is inquisitive. Word. Shit's complex doh, so hearr me boy. My Rasta conneck was finna hit up Boston, to chill there with some of his boys, and he got a ride there but no ride back, but this othah nucka he known long back in B-town when he lived there said if he'd go to Seattle for the nicca, and pick up some dank sweet B.C. herb, my man's'ah get uhh half O at least freebie, and then a substantial-ass discount for him bulk coppin', and a free round-trip tick to the shit, back to Boston. Fuck he gon' say no? I'd be hopping on that shit” A caucasian in crocs and a tie-dye shirt lugs a tuba and a hefty brown-red beard from the Oval to Gun Hill, and westward. “That's some bullshit you nigga,” the umber-skinned mouse-man says. “How he brang it back on a fucken plane? How he do det?” “Ain't let me finish. Patience. My mans got tricked. Well, not tricked, but the de-tails of the fuckin' situation he ain't think through. First he had to actually hit up Canada to cop the kush. Ain't no one tole him hedda haftah go dumb far like that. So he cop a rental, and that shit was not free, and gas is a bitch. Dis mahfuckin' Rasta
* The r enunciated so completely it's essentially over-pronounced, for emphasis
*

carryin' a Q.P. in a Taurus.” He wipes a skein of sweat off his forehead with the outer side of his left index. “Somehow the nigga got it back to New York, he done took the entire p, split into quarters, and I seen it and it's like the most green I ever seen. And he just ignorin' that Boston nigga's calls.” “He lyin' to you,” the large one says. “That shit don't happen to a black man. He'd 'uh been caught dumb quick. But if it smoke good I don't give a fuck, nigga coulda said it was from deep space.” He gives an unresounding howl of a snicker. “My dude. Issawn some celestial shit. Knock you out. Don't even be rollin' dem fat L's lookin' like some present you leave in the toilet. You only even need a li'l. You got a bowl?” “I do but I don't think he do,” the small one says. “I only roll wid blunts.” “Aight fellas, been real, hitcha mans up, I hook yah up. Stay safe. One.” He walks bowlegged down Perry and the other two turn around to walk west on Gun Hill. “Shit stank.” “Dead-ass you smell it up there? Reekin'.” Smiling he looks up at him. “Ight let's blaze dutchie down in the alley and dip.” “Werd.” They push open the gate and trek down into Manuel Arturo Abreu's basement alley redolent and fly-teeming, passing the first corner. “This shit is dumb nasty. We cain' e'en sit,” the little one says. “Shut the fuck up.” His sausage-fingers roll a blunt that looks like a thick turd.

“Fatty fatty,” as the other one proudly brandishes it. The little one slides his Jansport off his slender arm and by the time he's pulled out the two forties of Olde English, another blunt of enormous girth has made itself apparent. He passes one of the bottles to him. Unlike alley newcomers who'd continually check either the west or east corner, or both, these two know that, despite the plenitude of sounds that find their way between and behind these tenements, almost no-one goes down there, and those who do never turn the first corner, only dropping their trash and fleeting. Even the poor avoid confronting their waste, in the winter with snow shoveled to the curb sullying in their waist-high piles and secret stashes of shit and urine, or in the summer with the skin sweltering off one's body, the stenches diverse and stifling in parks and teeming kitchens. From a window above them—they stand under the second set of fire escapes in the back alley, past the first recession—the scent of fried plantains and roasted chicken conveys itself. “Dem Spanish folk kuh' cook.” His hand's on his sleek belly. “Fuck it, we uh'haftuh cop some grubs. Big nigga like you gotta be hungry.” “Witcha bum ass. I got food at home kid. I ain't trahn take you on a date.” “Pause,” index and middle fingers of one hand up like the pause symbol, the careless floating thumb and the other two fingers curling into the palm making it look like the brown Pantokrator's benediction.

11.
Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez was also born in Santo Domingo, but he hasn't been as lucky as I've. Right now he's probably scoping out a good place to sleep, which is of course safer during the day. The Upper East and West Sides are the safest places, he says, and you might even without worry sleep on a streetside brownstone, but even there you've prissy yuppies and Jewish-American princesses and rowdy brats

and street venders swatting you with one of their magazines or, worse, the Sunday Times, and the body of the rabble goes on in that deformed penis of an island, the grid making its evil incisions, Central Park pretending to be a metaphysical bottleneck, the awed foreign families and fanny-pack-wearers awed and slowed in walking in proportion to the acceleration of the Suits who durst not enter there. The plastic green is cloying, the thousand swaying shoots and manicured trees and humans listless in their inertia. Oh yes, the Big Apple has worms. And commuters. Let's get this straight: The City, that is, Manhattan, is the most overrated place in the world. First of all, you aren't welcome in the places people want to go, and the exclusivity's what draws folks. Of course, for every set of eyes there's a different City, and there are always the sectors of a town (not to mention four other boroughs, in this case) that tourists refuse to acknowledge exist. Second, if you don't have money to spend, and I don't mean spending money, I mean credit card money, you're automatically limited, because the only freedom here is the freedom to Buy. Watch the zeros pile on like infinite recursions of the Schwarzgerät. The often-touted architecture of The City can be broken down into two categories: pilfered desiccated tenements or abandoned warehouses turned chic and dollar-hungry black holes of buildings shooting upward indefinitely like gargantuan ikons—and we always thought the skyscrapers would pull out their steel roots from the disgusting knot of sewage pipes and subway under the whole spectacle and crush these strange startled tiny doll-like things with their funny clothes, the little kisses of blood appearing in the giants' eyes as the explosion of a crushed ketchup packet

would to us—but the skyscrapers are paper tigers: everything's up for grabs, the whole City is rootless, a floating consumptive sacristy without sexton, burrowed in a cloud that hangs by a string looped around a little girl's wrist. I'm bitching, but I have to, because it seems like no-one understands my beloved city. Especially not us, the natives. You get out of it and you can feel how tensely-braided the city's made every one of your veins, how every isolated sound penetrates further when there isn't a lovely cacophony, how you look over your shoulders more than any of your friends do. No-one can comprehend it; only its manifestations are discernible, but barely. Anyway, Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez is a Bronx Bum, so any harassment he could experience in uptown Manhattan, with its focus on luxury and comfort, is much preferable to what he grew up with. Though a bit younger than my parents, he emigrated alone from the Dominican Republic long before them, and illegally—in the early seventies, coming into his preteens, he would watch awed as the nascent block parties inflated, the meat sizzling and the DJ plugged into street lights and the street itself plugged with moving bodies like a cork snug in the mouth of a wine bottle. He claims to have seen rap give birth to itself, to have been there at 1520 Sedgwick when DJ Kool Herc stitched the break to itself, letting it dangle, the brown forms dripping in the crowd pinned under James Brown's screeches and Kool Herc reciting “To the beat, y'all!” And while it's possible that he was there, I also recall two other conversations we had—one wherein he recalled the heart of Indian summer on October 7, 1849, and gripping Poe's sodden pale hand on his deathbed in that little

cottage at what is today Kingsbridge Rd and Grand Concourse, surrounded now by tenements and confounding the dealers who're trying to dissect the area into turfs, but in those days erupting into the rolling breasts of the Bronx's green hills and dales, cupped by the wind's exploring hands, and Poe's flimsy palm was in his as he uttered “Lord help my poor soul,” and he cried when he couldn't find the grave until the reburial in 1875—and another, more importantly, when he confessed that he had long ago ceased comprehending the subtle difference between memory, dream, and fancy. Imagination, he says, is the only real “working ingredient” in human consciousness. Everything derived from it is inextricable from it, and so one cannot say that one perception supersedes another. It's all tendrils of the dream, a unified whole, but humans cannot function without the whole split in half, itself opposite, now recursive and linear instead of singular. Politics, religion, etc: watch the eyes shift at Other's presence, whatever Other may be—I speculate, of course, because I've never actually met him. O. deGaffe has met with him twice, once in Manhattan and once in Queens, and claims he is brilliant in deshabille. Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez told him that the Bronx was his favorite borough, but he would never live there again. Those streets were hot coals and he was no fakir, even though at fifteen, when the waves of fire hurled into his building in Hunts Point, he had to leave with almost nothing, awakened by a lacy finger of smoke tickling into his mouth, running out with two shirts in his right fist, shorts stuffed into jeans in his left, and the clothes he was wearing, not even realizing until he was a good distance away, Coño que vaina es esa, ni las chanclas pude coger... and already there was glass somewhere in the

squirming toes and that could be a spot of blood over closer to the blaze from which, at least, he was able to escape with his penniless life. “When I asked him about his parents,” O. deGaffe said, his lips pooched, “he said he was a child of Trujillo.” I giggle. Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez traipsed the burning Bronx throughout the seventies and eighties, and he says that he will never, ever tell any piece of that story besides that aforementioned shoeless apotheosis. In 1985 he decided against the uncertainty of being homeless throughout the South Bronx and moved northeast, orbiting Norwood and Woodlawn. Montefiore acted as the great stabilizer, and still does, being by far the largest employer in the Bronx and a buyer of last resort for the past thirty years in this area, and it is the single reason that Norwood stayed afloat during those gruesome crack years, when graffiti was so young that even style itself was a luxury, the cry from the arm sticking out of the dream-ooze still primordial and arisen from the territory-marking tags of gangs which are cartoonish until, well, you know... Oddly enough, the very day of my birth, August 10, 1991, he left the Bronx for good. He no longer found in himself a reason to call it home; he'd grappled with daemons for no reason in that hollow tabernacle to redlining and Robert Moses' Cross-Bronx Expressway. Chances are he was one of the few brown people who fled, like a single chocolate sprinkle in ice cream. Violence has been rooted in the Bronx since the quaint speakeasies of the Prohibition, and even back when the immigrants were Jewish and European the most available job to them was the illegal smuggling of drugs. Back when milk was

delivered daily by horse, or on horsedriven sled in the country winters, back when the Yankees were the Highlanders, eleven years after the blowup version of the ChampsÉlysées that was the Concourse opened to traffic, the art deco urbanity burgeoning along in rays from its four tree-lined miles, each leaf like a firefly's bioluminescence captured and projected indefinitely, sun caroming off them. It's no coincidence that the most readily-available job to a black or immigrant male in America is petty dealer of drug or flesh. The black market is similar to the corporate world in that each's hierarchies are endless, lists and lists of names and boxes of passports and unmarked vans and emptied apartments, an incomplete chase through deserted alleys, none to be blamed except the scapegoats. Minorities have allowed themselves to serve this role for the gratification of having a sneaker collection in the double digits, for the rush of feeling the handgun in its holster wherever it would be, the body still virgin to your touch, a hot warm center. The same people allowing the weight into this country are the ones mandating for the arrest of the petty dealers, and when a whupping is in order or the boys up high are in a bad mood sometimes the bigger dealers, too, and you've got to figure the kingpins that are at the somewhere-ends of those alley-mazes have to be getting scared, touching their necks, making plans to dip. Not that Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez could ever be a dealer, being homeless, without home or name or properties or family in the Official Records of Somewhere, which critical mass of file cabinets extends on forever toward a vanishing point that gets farther the closer one tries to get to it. Based on O. deGaffe's reports

Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez shares my view on the role of the verboten marketplace in modern Western society, as necessary underbelly of and enabler for so-called decent society, which without petty crime and the hungry desperation which accompanies poverty would have no case for their parasitic sybaritic analytic tic tic existence of et ceteras. People will do anything if they are indigent enough, and people will do nothing if they are rich enough, and these are the great crimes of the modern system.

I'd always been anxious to either tell my story through Norwood or to tell Norwood's story through me, whatever either of those notions mean, if anything, and this anxiety must have come from knowing forthwith that I'd never be able. To tell. I wanted to voice the voiceless; nor would the mute allow me. Not only in the abstract —I was a transplant, plucked from Nor Would's distorted-heart-shaped territory to be an allowed brown mirror for a different worldspace, with recurring masks, apprehending not only what DuBois called double consciousness, knowing one's Otherness, seeing it in the flints of particular glances, but also the hovering educatedliberal hyperconsciousness which is question unto question, window in window in window . Textbook symptom for which would be an unceasing internal monologue
7 Too delectable to me is this phrase for me to not re-use it, albeit in altered syntax and semantics. The source of it: Remembering Sitcoms on a Train Traffic is murder in a passage of a song I was so excited I could invade Poland— the axiom wanted to make glancing. Diose monte en el caco con qué pasaba. from “The Principles of Nonsense”
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about abstract, perhaps frivolous concepts—oneself, not in an environment, but simply buoyed in an extrapolated Self. Double consciousness is about response to external stimuli, warring dark body of asunder strength, some perceptual rebellion and, ultimately, a celebration of fracturing; hyperconsciousness is about atrophy, about eradicating those external forces, steamrolling chance and hardship in favor of a turmoil in some tumid ablution, phenomenological shopping—and then again, we in this first only world are more similar than we'd know.

I will devote my life to beating my head against that wall. Scordatura of our dendrites the signal distance recursive, figures dashing along a neverending axon hillock— we loop a loop messy and Twombly, Scelsi eternities of a single utterance, augment, diminish the unison: like Elaine I see the nipple on your soul, mother of all voice, rats within rats. The rat symbolizes obviousness. Your seat orange, red mine. Toss rivers in stones. Skip stops. Express. Salté a aprender de mi asiento que el entender es maquillaje— ábaco pintao el desmayar de flores fantasmas echas por différance: dioses acaban con todo. Cacopelao ponga. Crystal apple, two crystal bananas, crystal pepper. Between two Gethsemane moons silver dragées in a cake sky; in a window a window in a window, singing polyester roses, a soapeater, newspaper or a hand brushing against my hand. 03/21/09 – 03/22/09

12.
“Intellect is paralysis.” “Literature is silence.” “Logic is irrelevant.” “Language doesn't exist.” I expel air from my nose as a weird silent giggle, my lips scrunching into a smile. “I've just won by default. You know that statement is just plain false.”

“Well, you should know that your biggest character flaw is that you don't know what truth is.” “You don't either,” my voice betraying itself, louder, almost a yell, the pitch close to warranting an exclamation point. “Ah, we aren't talking philosophy here, for as you know certain inescapable and in fact quite functional human structures and tools are the biggest philosophical problems—space, time, self, truth, language—” “Language isn't a philosophical problem, it contains all philosophical problems. And anyway but why would I lack understanding of one of those structures?” “Because you're a writer. It's all part of the story for you all. There's no distinction between your lives and your art.” “Well, if your logic is indeed so based on generalities, I don't see how it would pertain to me in particular, in fact I would say the same is true for you—no distinction at all between your philosophy and the real world. I mean, life itself might as well be a disregardable abstraction in your philosophy, which rejects experience, which is crucial to all life, and perception, which is crucial to all humans. Mirrors in mirrors.” “Perception is the bane of our species. Were we able to directly interact with the world, were we not trapped in this absurd user interface, we'd be better off.” “Not that you could ever know the alternatives.” “What I know is that perception makes everything an afterthought—” “A tool.”

“Precisely. And what species was ever better at using tools not of its body?” “The disconnected little machines zooming through history's courtyards.” “You're going to put that in a book somewhere, aren't you?” “Gobbledygook.” A pause. “Will you ever write anything?” “Writing is the very opposite of speech.” “And so you've chosen speech. But pardon my arrogance but I feel I'm pretty good at both.” “Oh, doubtless you're a good writer, and you've conversational skills, but your voice is normal, it has no theatrical edge, and in public speaking, in improvisational speech, in rhetoric, you stumble, your eyes dart around the room like possessed pigs.” “I'm better in smaller groups, the jokes are quiet, ones you mull over.” “Indeed, the humor becomes baser in a larger setting. I suppose it's to please more people.” “I become a dick, which seems paradoxical, but, aside from a few stinkers, only a moderate dick, enough to keep noses wrinkled with laughter but not too disgusting.” “And all the sex jokes. Weird.” “Sex jokes are a pretty standard baseline in most informal social situations regardless of one's own experience.” “A regular Here Comes Everyman.” “Your idea of a joke would be a Finnegans Wake reference.”

“Joyce is all a joke.” “Yes, but it's really a very serious joke, which I happen to love. I stole the Wake, the Blue Book of Eccles, and the Portrait—Dubliners at home, you know—from my school's library. The Board fired the entire staff, and I was fond of most of them, so fuck the Board, I says.” “Intellectual property has no intrinsic monetary value, anyway.” “A thing's value is what people are willing to pay for it, and that's got little to do with the actual product. The advertising machine, you know.” “Anywho, your second biggest flaw is your fascination and difficulty with communication. It keeps you disjointed, disconnected from people, hidden behind words as if it were freezing and you were piling on the layers. At the same time, though, it's what gives you your writing ability, from the little I've read. In the struggle you come out with small hard opaque gems. You might not answer any questions, in fact you only end up creating more, but that's not what it's about for you.” “Frankly I'm offended. Yes, that difficulty was and is a catalyst for me, but at the same time it's what holds me back the most as a writer. It keeps me in the same place, thinking the same things, acting the same way. It fetters my syntax, solidifies it while at the same time removing it of substance. If in speech I accrue clothing against the cold, in the heat of writing I try to strip off layers, only to find that they're endless by the nature of being.” “Being is being of.” “We are a part of something, inautonomous, knowing nothing of the

something mechanism and yearning to break from it like free radicals.” “You know, I got a chance to finish Sleeping Lords. Good stuff, biggest problem is I would say that a lot of the time your characters are just shamelessly vehicles, mouthpieces for the novel's ideas. And in using them for the sake of logical motion you end up writing them into a peculiar stasis. They don't sound like characters in a book.” “Well, in a way, they aren't, they're all a piece of who I was at the point of writing, and I suppose now, still.” “But you really hope you've changed.” “Whoever said a writer collects all of her working material for the rest of her life before eighteen is completely right. I certainly have changed, but I'll be writing about roughly the same things indefinitely.” “That's completely wrong. But anyway, just make sure the dialogue is convincing, though, and try to steer away from the really involuted, metametametafictional stuff. Calvino always did it better, and, though I suppose it speaks to an important aspect of the human psyche, it's gimmicky after a while unless it's sincere. A lot of the time people do it for its own sake, not that you do, mind. At least not too often.” “I completely agree. A lot of that book is obnoxious not only for character dimension, which would be my justification, but because I was smart and also immature—” “Being now so mature you're geriatric—”

“I was smart, immature, and thus pretentious.” “Oh, that you'll never escape.” “Ditto to you, baldy.” “Bennett is a helluva funny guy, though. It sucks he was so self-obsessed we couldn't get a clearer glimpse of the rest of the characters. They seemed interesting. In fact, that self-obsession kept him abstruse.” “Yeah. Yeah.” “I like how you portrayed yourself through his eyes. That's a good example of quality metafiction.” “I want to have significantly less in my next book.” “You don't want it to become a crutch now.” “Okay, listen, we should get going. Bounce yonder. We have to go. We've been here a little too long and I'm starting to go Slothrop here, what with wishing I could see the spiderwebs of sunlight that invade from my room's window.” “That's just a distraction.” “From what?”

“Wittgenstein died leaving more questions than answers. I think if I saw him, I'd give him a big hug, say 'you opened a door,' shake his hand with my right, and pull him in for a sucker punch. I'd offer him a free shot, though, because you can't just punch Ludwig like that.” “Well, based on your understanding of the world, I'd say you'd be offering him

fellatio, not causing him harm.” “Well, first of all, everyone's some degree of bisexual. In fact, one alternative to our current society would be something like the bonobos, with sex as currency. For now we're more like chimps. As for Wittgenstein, I can't say what I'd do to him without having met him. From what I've heard he was pretty temperamental and a bit spoiled. Nonetheless—” “And it'd be a donkey punch involved, right as he approaches climax, right there in the back of your skull, not a sucker punch as you solemnly display your psychosemantic debt to him.” “My, you're raunchy today, aren't you? And all these mentions of Greek loveknowledge sublimation, man-boy love... is there anything on your mind you want to talk about? You know, yes, sexuality is a gray area, and I've told you I'm essentially straight, and you've never mentioned your sexuality at all. If you're gay, actually, it would make sense that I'm drawn to you, intellectually, given my favorite folks— Wittgenstein, Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol, of course the list goes on—and you, yes, you should talk about it a bit.” I place my teeth over my lower lip and raise my upper lip a bit. It's an ambiguous thing. “Is that your way of insulting me? Very European, reminds me of back home.” “Now that I think about it, I don't even know what 'back home' is. Really, I don't even know your name. Kind of freaky, isn't it?” “Now, do you really even need to know it?” “No, the name itself isn't important... but the act of naming... Oh.”

“I'll state it metaphorically, so you as a writer type can understand: I left a piece of my heart in Tirana.” “You know, it's funny, my best friend from third to sixth grade was Albanian. And were I not a writer I'd still understand—the Dominican Republic, remember, that twee two-thirds of Kiskeya—” “Yes, but if that were the depth of my metaphor, it would be like the square root of a negative number, for i is a vague Form like the Sun behind a gigot of ochre cloud—look, look to the clouds ...”
8 He did not know that I had looked to the clouds, long ago, before I even dated my poems, and this piece was written sometime February 2009: Bottled Water from “The Principles of Nonsense”
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"No phenomenon is mortal." Kazimir Malevich One largest breath I had my heart halved in the carved distance of a cloud —clouds boiled in saucepan revolution and bloodied— whittled cirrus bones, broiled yelps, a soupy picayune mess of dragged -out virga voices like deflated Oldenburgs—the hostess deals floppy cumulus burgers sauteed with rain like unlucky poker hands: the fern cried out when there would be rain; townfolk clobbered by clouds like marshmallow anvils, soaking up the red, bellies poked by trees. Clouds' tongues are furry like dogs'; stars are onions for bleary nights

“It would be a great honor and intimacy to know how the metaphor's depth and weight.” “You're too young to ever have been in love—metaphor's the only way you could understand. She was—oh...” “You're right. Love I haven't known, and the solitude of a love lost is incomparably greater than the solitude of the self 's vacuum.” “Yes—yes—to love is to give of yourself, to expel, and by that emptying allow filling. To love another more than oneself—it is comparable to suicide, yes, it is noble...” “To me, it's scary, extremely scary, and delusional.” “No wonder you're a virgin.” “Actually well it's funny you say that, because though you could indeed claim my I remain relatively chaste for fear of intimacy, I would say that it's because I want to love, I don't want to rub with another as a body outside itself, as a means to pleasure. It's like Kant, you know, an end in and of itself...” “I wrote for her. In Albanian. I don't think I could bring myself to write in

or hotplates for making being wanting tiny infinity into a smallness unwilling to be uttered; the cloud spits on such a thing, tumbling and mouths yawning clear blue; the yard has a mulch eyepatch. The rogue clouds shit their pants before the firing squad and the rest is left to hunting season; the sky empties.

English.” “I don't think I could bring myself to write in Spanish. I include phrases and fragments, and incorporate it in my poetry, but...” “Yes, our experiences are different. I left a history; you left a possibility. I came of age in my Tirona, kissing under the Kalaja, watching the buildings crowd in, as it becomes a cardboard city. You will never know what you left. It is that emptiness that shapes the edges of your agency, like the triangles of world between your outspread fingers.” “Past? Possibility? Humans can never know time, only motion, recursion.” “Our walks, when we amble aimlessly the apples lacerated by the bloodstreams of traffic, it reminds me of the walks, the Bronx had been pushed to the bottom much like Albania had under Hoxha's thumb, and we would trickle through the streets, the young, seep into the squares and sit at the feet of trees, and the smog dancing over the eastern mountains, the Lanë empty of fish, only a dead nerve network of sewage and baby trees in place of the hovels and shanties that used to line the riverbank.” “Some newspaper claimed looming cranes were the metaphor of the new Bronx, the turnaround after the nadir. They're planning to turn the abandoned armory down at Kingsbridge into a mall. A mall! And the tittering condos sprouting up everywhere which might as well have their pinkies raised.” I lay my palm on my forehead. “These are century-old cycles, though, and the picture we're privileged to see is puny. We don't really know past that, and the vantage point's blind.”

“We are taught to sing inside the cage.” “I think self-hatred is necessary.” “When it gets out of hand it's paralyzing.” “You don't have to tell me.” “Amazing, isn't it, monumental, futile to knead a person from the formless clay. No wonder Freud said the first sexual experience is the expelling of the waste. The entire history of Europe teaches us that love is the same as death, that the care with which we shape that abstraction, ingest and digest that which plays along with our believing we have agency, snickering, is like as embalmers tending to a carcass, the blisters of habit crystallizing into a palpable supple self. It's why you write: in the face of latte capitalism, and that phrase is so brilliant I don't think you made it up, how can we still be authentic people? How can subjective consciousness connect with subjective consciousness, how can it be anything other than a succession of dead ends stringing themselves together like emptinesses between dashes?” “In writing, that question, all questions only reverberate more questions, and sometimes I just get frustrated. There are answers nowhere. Not even the Western hardon for science has elucidated anything for us except that in between macro and micro there's a cosm niched in there which we can't really explain. That an act of observation is not a passive recording of phenomena but part and parcel of the phenomenal genesis, indistinguishable from it and in a way creating it. And yes, no, yes, we are doomed from the basically beginning, when inside begins to form from outside—”

“I know what you mean when you say we have the same conversation over and over again.” “Does that mean it's endlessly compelling or that we're profoundly shallow?” “We're sharpening our blades here. Our allowed abstraction is like and of the implied walls of civilization.” “Once humans began to use abstraction as a tool against the natural world, the very violence of naming, classifying kingdoms, it began to go awry. Walden should be required reading.” “The self must necessarily be fractured because the services which tend to it when happy and blue are disparate, faceless nexuses which coy let us now be miffed at them, now suck at the teat of Mother Wolf, now let us fancy notions of escape.” “What we're witnessing is the flattening of culture. Expression as a commodity and products are the conduit.” “What we're witnessing is the flattening of this conversation. I feel like you. Care to walk?”

12.
At pain my first reaction is believing it shall endure, and my hunches have heretofore been correct, and it's creepy to be two with a noseful of dust from corners' dust colonies and hot rolling tears and mucus spurting from different places and know that in this dust I've encountered my absolute worst enemy allergy-wise, my antigen antagonist, see; or to be five and know only the surface of the malady upon feeling my heart stutter as if a pebble were lodged in there, only later knowing the

condition by name—bicuspid aortic valve, fish-lipped instead of looking like a peace sign—the heart murmuring, the valve regurgitating, and me nevertheless knowing by this that I would never confuse which side my heart was on during the Pledge, that I could never afford to imagine my heart as that absurd European symbol, vaguely sexist in its evocation of female supine lips and/or contours and its inversion of the climactic point of intersection, the convergence, into a nadir, a corner one reaches and turns , knowing that I could never confuse my mind with my heart or abstract the pumping pumping machine in any way or turn it into a philosophical premise or a shallow convertisement (both of which are admittedly useful), knowing even that with every word I'd ever write I'd only lose more pieces in trying to patch the gap, and the gap would burble and revel in the abstraction. Though I also knew I'd have severe asthma, I somehow knew it would improve as I aged, and at this point, in my late teens, it's barely anything at all, and what worried me more was the hole in my heart, and what would fill it—ventricular septal defect, it's called. Many instances of VSD close on their own, but mine would remain a wormhole. Somehow I always knew. My petite Chinese pediatrician is apparently a halfwit, her charming BritishChinese accent and outstanding politeness notwithstanding. On a bulletin board behind her desk were shabby thank-you drawings from kids, some on looseleaf, which drawings I was always sure were commissioned by her, politely but also passiveaggressively, like an eBay member bitching about neg reps. The Montefiore wait at its
9

9 (and some radicals would likely say the symbol is a covert representation of a penis itself, smoothly transitioning from testicles to penis-tip so as to emphasize the unity of the structure, which we should admit is actually rather absurd, with the sac just sort of hanging there and the entire thing so vulnerable it's almost defiant)

worst is a thing of lore, and I always snickeringly thought that when people called the hospital “Monty-fury” it was in unconscious or wry or droll or thugly reference to the anger the waiting inspires, and that I've heard folks on the phone speak of “Monty-fuckin'-fury” proves my snickerthought right. It's more than infuriating to wait for an hour in what always seems to be some showcase of the world's worst parents, either letting their kids act like cruel monkey-gods or, worse, beating them in public, and I'm not against a bit of discipline but Fucking Shit, sometimes, and it's horrible to sit in the waiting room with your hands supporting your head by cradling each cheek, sliding down and wrists touching at the chin, the head sliding out of the crux and landing on one hand curled around the other fist, swaying my sight to what there is to see, waiting and going to her when you've been experiencing intermittently the worst pain in your life for about a month now, somewhere in your right side under your ribs, pain that could be transcendent, that makes you cry (and you haven't cried since, and hadn't cried thitherto since that time you made yourself cry in a seventh-grade grade meeting, for no real reason except to see peoples' reactions, and it was an amazing performance, I must say, girls offering tissues and such), it's more than enraging or hopping-maddening to explain to this petite whitecoat the brutal tumescence of this internal squall, to be a freshman and have to point at the highest number, the most pain-scrunched smiley face on that absurd bilingual “How much does it hurt” chart, and be given stool softener. She hadn't even examined me. “Youvvvuh, itta seems you've a wee solid hard poopy, in the tummy, yes...,” pointing at my stomach with a simian smile on her face. I took those

pills for a week and still I inhabited the tulip of that distress, going fetal, my body the O that disappeared when that word crossed the pond. The stabbing pangs increased in frequency and duration, and finally I had to return to the hospital. Would that mine were silent stones—buried beneath the fat is the hole from where my gallbladder was removed. The stones could be used for sports, so big they were. Thank [some deity] another doctor examined me when I returned to the pediatric ward, at the beginning of the 05 winter. The surgery was a few months later. Directly afterward I was relentlessly fed morphine (to be fair, I kept requesting more and they never refused) and shooed out of the hospital. I and my family were told there were space issues on that February night, only to find upon awaking the next morning that there was a trail, an echo's echo of the original pain, and it was discovered that the surgeons had been careless enough to let a rock fall into some gastric passage or other. It was quickly removed—though, because of my VSD, I require antibiotics before going under, and they started to knock me out without doing so and I began to choke, my legs half-lotus, putting my head on one of my knees and pulling at my hair, trying to cough breath, until finally the surgeons realized their error—and afterward I was monitored for a week, and none need be told the bland and banal horror of the food brought to your lap when you are laid out on a hospital bed, the food that is not food which somehow is always clotted and of gritty texture collecting in your molar's crooks, and you recall the blasé ease with which Dahmer placed human limbs and organs side by side with supermarket isle items, the gruesome nonchalance, the tiny facial tics and his hands hands. All the

sensations were the same to him, all the meat equally bland, as if his entire palate, his entire world were a hospital ward— I am only body and the moments at which I realize this most clearly is when I am in profoundest pain. Thus far I've only broached the corporeal. The metaphysical is a delectable trap, and consciousness is a function of survival. If corporations, black markets, and the violence their intersection bungles are by far the most lucrative business models, I'd have to conclude that hospitals (and churches), as the logical apposite to that violence, physical or metaphysical, often manifesting itself immaterially, as it were, are another lucrative variety, though not so much so as that of the bank cartels. In markets one is treated as a thing, a thing, and this same muting, spirit-crippling objectification allows the healing process to take place in hospitals, allows surgeons to look as bodies as machines, as clocks that at points refuse to tick, or tick but with the hands unmoving or rotating backward, and swiftly fix. The fix—the quick, perhaps costly instant solution to any conceivable problem—is what created the sense of the word connoting addiction. I can't help but think that if the conduits of my electric being are essentially determined though not determinable, then the macro-image of my life is itself delicately and elaborately planned out, pinned with decoration and ceremony, occasional luck which always stanches eventually, pain that allows for deception and Truth, feeling staged but without any plausible pattern to be discerned, and I fumbling through the wrong roles, dancing mambo to tango, dreaming a tree of dreams from puncturing through my skull, the tongue thickening, the roots

thundering through my soles... the vein of the law extends to one's very window, and if the Decoration isn't entirely planned then Addiction to the various makes it all feasible, but let's stop here because I don't want to rewrite other, better books. Language is the language of society, and violence is the language of power, and another kind of violence is the language of nature. In language's self-referential vacuum Society is able to gain foothold, convincing us of our inertia, instability and insanity and depriving us of any real agency in return for the supposed privilege of the spoken—but spoken language is only the preferred social mode in first-world society when it is bastioned by written language, which is crucial in the West—and in that category I include the internet, which while pretending to be a global village is actually a dispensary of absurd anarcho-pop self-hating worship, not Promethean but pornographic, and bloody good fun if there are enough pinches of salt to go around. The internet's a hotbed of conspiracy, yeah I heard they're shutting the whole thing down too, 2012 (of course the internet always sprouts back up like a weed), oh yeah I heard 9/11 we done done it to ourselves (perhaps some education on Middle Eastern policy and America's role in the area is in order?), pyramids done got built by them Annunaki, everybody's a reptilian now, etc etc. People will find their explanations. What's alarming is watching the Reality become influenced by the internet, watching memes cross the Border like illegal migrants that are forced to live as shadows, people talking themselves further and further into doing less things in more time as opposed to more in less, or at least more in more or less in less,

polyphonies of chit-chat sprent about like newer flowers. The tongue is a flowerpot. The little eyes on the tongue are rain. There under the furry surface lies the pearl attached to a string. The face of Metaphor looked like a sopping prune or an internal organ after it was stabbed in the face with a screwdriver by a Russian and a Jamaican in a darker park, the stomach contracting with each blow, the nose bone crushed inward and blood fountaining upward and the two droogs letting the body drop as it chokes breathing blood and expediting themselves into, yes, an alley in the Internet... Since we refuse to blame ourselves we should go ahead and just blame language. The vicious brutal yes yes it convinces us to do its bidding, no one means what they say the words simply tumble, yes out and they are enemy blocking us from the World like bouncers outside a club. Absurd—language is not action, it is only a
* It is a lovely odd word. The Gate from “The Principles of Nonsense”

*

Sprent was a senseless litany passing in shade over the utter gaze of goldencalf rivers, averted & gushing the rock which held the dream. The rocks pass blame, it being noiseless— Pass into the gate, past hills of feather pushing through the larynx's gutter, lanky— The water sound bolted on a bloated string— brocades of smoke— I shall sing you the flesh no longer yours Pressed fingers on plugged eyes into you veins of sleep shshivverring curling into yr footprint, sunquilt Do Not Pick Flowers little birds that hop, elders with the pink fork feet apart, the Gate— opening—opening— 06/06/09

medium in a medium, an image of an image. Human beings still make decisions that have effects in their immediate external world, and possibly—definitely—with effects not in immediacy, distant, like the hum a city gives off, the source of which none can point to. One tries to tell one's story and instead find myself making a completely different one before another, before oneself, expert bullshit which you can tell from amateur by the admixture of truth and bull, concrete and cockamamie. Who could resist blaming the Guvment for the fact that our only available tool for communication, language in its multiplicity, has only one true function—to allow us haven behind its ramparts, to defend, to distance, to abstract? And who could deny the kernel of truth in that claim? The very language of all discourse is interconnected with the political machines that allow it. Might as well blame Them for making sure everything's already been said before, too. Henry James said of writers, “Doubt is our passion.” Meaning isn't actual. Everything is happening all the time. Throughout history, humans have created families, societies, cultures, all purveyors of myth, vehicles of Meaning—by necessity is the order imposed. The distinctive feature of Today's postpost-Industrial society is that myth to which we all subscribe, that Meaning is subjective, that we each may do what we please as long as all others may do so as well, in vacuums, in cubicles, in reflections in the windows. And clearly (at least to anyone who's radically leftist), those (we) who subscribe to this are in fact further deprived of agency, gawking at the glittering possibilities and price tags for Meaning throughout the malls and boutiques of the modern Western consciousness and

allowing for continued subjugation, consumption, and waste production, concrete and abstract. Meaning cannot be malleable; it is manufactured by circumstance and conditioning—it is the fixing of stars that cannot refuse their own fizzling like a soft drink did not choose carbonation. The best possible outcome for this planet would be the eradication of the human race, by its own hand or otherwise. The universe unfolds in millennia, but human perception which cannot be linear but must branch off and off tried (and succeeded, in the Reality and in the world at large) subdividing time, cleaving it into smaller and smaller particles until nothing's left but a pile of dead units like dust bunnies lingering under the couch, utils of happiness in the calculus of wellbeing and mirth, and even if the numbers slid off clocks and watches like drool, even if the ticks were forever suspended in glaciers like ants in amber, a ticking would still be inside us, pumping selfishly like a ticker increasing its count, and it's impossible for anything to exist outside that rushing metronome, the tiny blood-trees and messenger cells, and Here We Are, our very being a form of noxious pollution to this world, life crumpling at our footfalls, the very oils from our skin corrosive to other beings, trees self-immolating in our presence, leaving seeds like Thích Quảng Đức left his scorched heart after being re-cremated, stomped flowers kamikaze-dreaming themselves enormous and sent to pummel the world... And I too imagine myself experiencing deja vu toward what never happened, picturing myself as Orozco's Christ reviling his destiny and destroying his cross with a hatchet, the human skin, taut against bones and burdened by human history, by

machines and religion and stupidity and death snowballing, death hilarious, now expunged of All and so light and ephemeral it's peeling off, the pure bone in places showing through as if electric and the grooves racing around the holes in the hands and feet, all of History that had caved the chest in tossed over the shoulder into that great fire of his fury like a pinch of salt or kindling, pillars and idols and ideas and language and logic and the guns of metaphor and abstraction and somber pious skulls and rootless pilgrims in the pyre and something new given rise, a deconstruction, an untranslation as the angle of the bones chisels itself through the remaining translucing skin, the face steely, and the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, spurning the burning halo for the darkness of his dread Love, the violence of aught creation. And it will be Love that will not play at guesses, and the Reality we have pawed becomes deservedly the Lamb, the flame now proceeding, mechanical, a sea of flames, blue and whitehot coral reefs at the foot of the wool's blaze. Not that I know anything. Not that I know anything.

February – December 2009 Bronx, NY / Portland, OR

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