Jack Galmitz Impress, New York 2013

PIECES COPYRIGHT © ImPress, New York 2013

A My wife lived through the Cultural Revolution. That’s why she keeps bringing in found furniture from the street. The house is so cramped with things, I’m four feet from the windows, which now haven’t been washed in years.


Between parentheses to nobody I take my stand. It’s where I am. It means I construct the world with words. I do not have to drink, or fight, or fuck: it’s enough to spread contagion to a must.


Extraordinary love field of foxglove field of flox field of forever rugged rocks sodgey shade crisp blades in sunshine. Forever field of love, of reeds, their plumes, muscled rocks, shade and sun, waist-high grass, sucking sedge, where each multiplies without end.


In the S.R.O. the blinds almost drawn the parrot on a perch talks (to the dead and the walls): I was captured and caged and brought against my will to New York. And you thought the only great falls occurred in tragedy and your religious ceremonies. You’re not the only ones.

E Directly in front of me is in front of me. It does not block me. It is my view of what and front and me. Did I put it there or was it there.


The walls seem to be closing in on me. Maybe it’s mother’s loud voice. Or father stationed like a man riding a horse in his wheelchair. But the walls are definitely creeping closer. If I don’t get out of there soon I’ll be crushed.


The garbage man picked up the emaciated stray cat by its tail and threw it in the compactor. The pile of garbage was warm compared to the air outside. Besides, it needed a home. The man turned on the compactor. Okay the talk is ended. Now, we’ll have an open question and answer period.

H The only other who knew my secrets of the hot summer spent at the computer entirely in the bedroom was a fly (who perhaps liked air-conditioning). I thought he knew too much, all day on the ceiling or stuck to the wall. To be safe from exposure, I caught him in midflight with insecticide and watched him dive-bomb to the pillow. Admittedly, though small, another secret.


I do most of my flirting on the internet. It’s safe sex. My last foray was with a woman who calls herself Miso Wong (she admitted this was a pseudonym and she was a plain old American girl). She wrote a haiku ruby lips/your flesh on my neck/red sky at dawn. Then she added “feeling like eating someone delicious…oh, wait, did I say eating? I meant “kissing” (and then eating).” I wrote back something about the weakness of the third line and more to the point about not mind being kissed and eaten alive, why not? I don’t know if she answered my first or second point when she replied “how I ignore the warning.” Either way we’re still friends and I’m buttered and stuffed.


I draw an isosceles triangle. I draw another on top of it at an arbitrary angle. It becomes hard to tell which one was first, which one is on top, which one is on the bottom. They intersect. You and me.


Where is the hunter. In the sky. It’s said to be one of the easiest, most visible constellations to see, but I have to admit to not being very good at locating it. For guidance, it has seven stars in an hourglass shape. Four stars, and don’t ask me to point them out, Rigel, Betelgeuse, Bellatrix and Saiph, form a rectangular shape, within which are the three stars of Orion’s (the hunter) belt. Three smaller stars are beneath- and are known as the hunter’s sword. So, where is the hunter. I suggest you think of it like this: the hunter is inside out.


Jumping over the puddle, I drop off thirty years.


I was born a jewel, meant to glow as firelight and spangle lattices around a woman’s breast at dinnertime. Or, be a valued treasure of a man, who would keep me in a drawer to take out and look through me in the light. My parents were poor, so they decided to never let me outdoors and put me in a basement vault. In time, they forgot I was there and I spent my life in the dark, untouched, unrubbed, never shining forth.


I used to love walking in the night, alone or with a friend. It seemed more intimate then, as if our words or mine were cradled and heard and not lost in the rush of other sounds. It was special to be out. The world slept, missing out on the conversation of streets and trees and dew and an occasional stray cat, or the banging of chains in a delivery truck- and the traffic lights clicked and changed even though no cars were about. I could feel my life belonged to the night and there was no contention about the smallest space. The stars didn’t matter as much as the curves and angles of shadows and light on stairs and garbage cans and whatever we happened to be talking about.


I was a great formation of rocks, what was left of a mountain when the water parted. She was the sea. All around me. All over me. Clinging to me. I was a rock form, strong, her opposite, sliding through her with delight. Nothing would separate us. Not the sun. Not the gulls who landed on me and then flew off. Not the wake of ships or winding streams of great sea winds. We were locked until time stopped.


It was a school trip to the zoo and a group of boys ran into the Great Ape House. There was one giant upland gorilla in a cage sitting quietly, contemplatively in the corner. Every now and then he reached for some scraps of vegetables on the floor left from the last feeding. The boys started to bait him. The ape had a huge crowned head and the boys called him bonehead. They yelled “fat lazy slob” and dummy and whatever hurtful words they could think of. The ape seemed to be unaware of them. He looked forward and kept a stately composure. Even some adults in the room tittered. Suddenly, the ape pursed his lower lip and opened his mouth and spewed at least a cup full of his saliva evenly distributed on the boys who were lined up along a rail in front of the cage. When they realized what happened, they ran out screaming as if they had been sprayed with acid. In the meantime, the ape had turned to face the wall, his back revealing a stunning hair shade of silver.


When the boy took a bath, he liked to take along his toy soldiers. He held pitched battles between them on the land of the tub and in the sea of the water. Sometimes, he became so involved that the men seemed real - life size. On one of these occasions, after a soldier had run through another with his bayonet, he caught sight of the boy and with a free hand pushed the boy underwater and held him there. The boy began to struggle when he couldn’t breathe and soon he was swallowing water. It was a good thing his mother always paid attention when he was in the bath alone. She had noticed the long quiet and peered into the room. When she saw him underwater, she screamed and hysterically ran to the tub. She pulled him up and banged on his back until water released from his mouth. “Did you slip?” she asked. He was dazed and didn’t answer. After seeing a special doctor for a few visits, the boy stayed at the institution where the doctor worked and was given a room he shared with a boy his age. It was the first of many such rooms. Eventually, the building and the grounds became his home and neighborhood. When his parents died, he had no visitors.


Type me with my letters. Of course, there are as many versions of me as there are witnesses, so choose as you see fit. Remember, there are no positive values to these letters or words, just differences, so feel free to indulge yourself. You needn’t type out whole words, since sometimes a single letter, not being another letter, will reveal much about the subject. If you see me as lazy, for instance, you might want to type a series of the letter “l.” It has a languidness about it. Or, if you see me primarily as handsome, you may want to represent the letter “h,” not that it evokes good looks, but it has a happy expression, like “haha” or “ah,” and this is one of the feelings good looks gives. Anyway, have fun with this project. Don’t censor yourself.


I walked to the bank to make a deposit. It was all uphill. Since, it was a large sum, I wanted to hand it personally to a teller and get a receipt. I hated filling out deposit slips- so much information – and while I’m filling it out people are getting ahead of me on line. I always rush it and this time I pressed down very hard with the bank’s pen on the paper. I could hear the internal cracking of something like glass and dry clay. I found my first two digits of my right hand on the table; they had broken off. I knew I should get ice to preserve them for reattachment, but when I felt them they were porcelain. I put them in my pocket and decided then to start a collection of my missing pieces.


I think about sex most of the day. It makes up for the ugly, unimaginative architecture of my town. The bodies of women intrigue me, especially the thin, sculpted bodies of their long torsos. And their hair envelopes me. I like it straight and long. When the wind whips it, I can see their elongated necks, or sometimes their tiny ears curved and acutely listening to something within themselves. The strides. The slightest of curves. The tightness of their pants. One night, I had seen so many women that my eyes were sore and swollen. Drinking an iced espresso, suddenly I heard a pop and splash like another cube had been dropped in the glass. When I turned from my right side to look, I saw my left eyeball looking up at me from the coffee. Only on it, I could see the traces of the day’s visions of bodily movements. I removed it with a dumpling strainer and put it in my small sandalwood box of my missing pieces.

U On the street I usually take my walks on, with a walking stick now, everything is being torn down and rebuilt. The Burger King is a TD Bank. The strip club is now a restaurant and nightclub with Latino singers. The auto parts shop is a home repair parts’ store. The McDonald’s is being renovated; I got a glimpse of the new building and it looks like an airline hangar. The Wendy’s is torn down. I have no idea why. A movie was once made there. I stop now and then to look through some of the wooden construction site walls to see what’s behind them. Usually, more housing complexes. I have to stop more than I used to; my breath is short and my leg cramps. I should be remodeled myself, but I can’t find anyone to do it with the money I have to offer.

V My wife was whimpering in agony from stomach pain. I had her call her doctor, but he wasn’t in. We both thought it was the adverse effects of a new medication, so we let it go. She slept twice during the day and I thought she’d feel better. But she didn’t. It was three days now like this, but she didn’t complain the day before, so I had no way of knowing. I told her we had to go to the hospital. She didn’t want to, or more truthfully, she didn’t want to inconvenience me. ER visits end up all night affairs and I lose control after a few hours. Her obvious wincing and stomach contractions made it all the more touching that she would hesitate on my account. I convinced her and we got a taxi to the municipal hospital. Hours before we saw a doctor. Finally, they took blood tests, gave her morphine, and by this time it was 10:30 PM (my bedtime and three-and-a-half hours since we arrived.) They told us it would take two hours for the results, and if anything was positive she would need a dye injection, which would take two hours to absorb, then a CT scan, which would take another two or three hours. I kissed my wife and told her I was going home and would call to find out the results of the blood test. They were positive enough that she would be there the rest of the night. I asked the doctor to remind my wife that I was going to sleep and to please remind her to take a taxi home.

W My wife had appendicitis. It was a good thing I persuaded her to go to the hospital, because the way her stomach was contracting and the pain on her face made me feel something was going to explode in her stomach if we didn’t act immediately. The surgeon shook my hand and asked me if my wife was my mother. It wasn’t encouraging. My wife is seven, almost eight years older than me and does have a lot of gray hair, whereas I hardly have any gray hair. Still, I hope there are no complications in the surgery, because if the surgeon couldn’t tell my mother, if she were still alive, would be ninety, not seventy, and that I was myself sixty-three, what will he do if something unforeseen happens. Anyway, to lighten up the embarrassment, I said she thinks she is and she also sometimes thinks she’s my husband, but she’s my wife. I wanted the doctor in a relaxed state of mind operating on my wife. So, my wife collects her pulled teeth in a box. I wonder if she will save the appendix.


Although old, I still liked to take walks in the mountains behind my house. With knapsack, stick, boots, and a straw hat I set off early in the mornings to get fresh air and to escape the enclosure of the house, my wife, and her emotionally stunted son. It was refreshing to feel the coolness of the forest floor, the damp stones, a carpet of moss, slippery as it was beautiful. I never took a trail, but forged a new one on each outing. Today, as I was looking up at a cardinal whistling in a high branch, as I

started to walk, what seemed to be a fish flopped from my left boot and landed in a small pool formed of overnight rain. I went over to the pool and the fish looked strange, white bottom, brownish top. When I picked it up, I realized it was my foot. I had an icepack in the knapsack and a towel for emergencies. But when I felt it, it had the smooth, hard texture and burnishing of a bull’s horn – it would hardly do on my leg again. Well, I already had a small collection and this one would be added to those of my missing pieces.


From the rocker on my porch, I can barely make out the column and thicket of trees that have grown from the yard to the railroad tracks not far off. Squinting my eyes on this misty night, suddenly there’s one, then another, then a river of fireflies passing through the tunnel of wood as if on acetylene fire. Amazing, I think, and then amazing I repeat. I look inside the house to see if my wife is there to share it with her. First, I see what I think is her, but it is her son, then he disappears and she appears, I think. Disoriented, I can see how a man comes from a woman and a woman comes from a man. I begin to cry. They’re angry tears, very wet and salty. I realize that my wife, bringing her son to live with us so many years ago, has robbed me of the romance of a life. I mean the raunchy, impure, debauched intimacy of a man and woman that solders them together forever. And those fireflies keep flying and swimming together unheeding any commands of any kind, prolific and hidden as trees in the midst of the thicket and mist.


I have insomnia. It’s maybe 2 AM and I’m in the living room listening to Franco Donatoni’s Clair played by clarinetist Edmondo Tedesco. The flute goes up and up and around and forms what appear like labyrinths painted by Riccardo Gusmaroli. Then I see a line of ants walking as you please along the edge of the opposite wall. I haven’t seen them in years and wondered what brought them here, now, tonight. I picked up one, who bunches himself into a protective ball, and squeeze. As I do so, I feel a tremendous pressure in all my joints and organs, as if I am in a compressor. I release the ant and I feel such bodily relief as one feels after fornication. Funny, I think, as the clarinet seems undecided which direction to take. Nonetheless, I’m nobody’s fool and I put the ant down and let them march along my wall as long and as far as they want. Who am I to interfere in their plans?

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