4 Jun 2008

a work in progress

we are never closer to the estate of beasts than when we are children. the smile’s a wicked scythe’s gleam, reminder of the cut wheat, the slit shell disclosing a tooth-cracking kernel.

when the boys come
round the corner they are always disappearing. feral flocks of seagulls flapping up the quay, bone beaks like styluses writing in the deflated octopi’s expired ink. their coats flap up, leathery, in the seabreeze, the spoiled cunt tang, forgotten angels of their own cradles. the hours watched in vigil for a slowly lapsing self.

what his hand discovered flopping in the humid fault; a fat maggot writhing. on command it vomits a pearly silk. this he weaves into the new coarse hairs, tattered flag for a new prow. this he feeds to his father who grows big in evenings, sipping the excrescence of rotted grain from amber vases. it’s all a question of degree. as in, is Saturn a star in waiting?

Wendy sucks a cigarette rolled in sugar and spice, they say, giggling, she’s practicing; Pan’s tattered jacket adorned with a puppy dog’s snipped tail (the dog itself always running, yapping, round him, satellite to a failing star, always begging for its tail back; ever since it lost it it’s lost the knack for communiqués, a torrid clawing behind the ears earns a rumbling, chthonic growl, a swift kick in the belly a happy yap) Wendy pinned there in lieu of his shadow. The leavings of which: a staccato track of limping threads, worm cilia waving in the soft night’s toxic breeze, HO gauge train tracks whistling forlornly into the night’s hollow meatus. Botched Siamese-ing for estranged twins.

When he sleeps the snails gather to sip the opal essence of his thin, shivering sweat. Their mucusoid tracks twine down from the furred caverns of his nostrils, weep from the meaty corners of his eyes, accruing in horny bands across his back in the night, sealing over the angry weals of the bullwhip Wendy wields, sometimes, at his bequest.

standing here on the streetcorner they remind her of nothing so much as a murder of crows, in their iridescent pinions waiting for another social crucifixion. each one’s tongue’s an Xacto knife. She forgives them, as she knows she must, for if they didn’t wield them thus the sharply angled blades would only make a mess of the soft pink inner meat of their cheeks; that would never do.

Tootles is ever and always
saying ‘tootles.’ it’s so cute.
it’s not his marbles he’s lost, indeed,
it’s these he’s always winning.

he’s got a leather bag a-jingle with their glass.
his eyes, they resemble

nothing ever so much

as the tired analog watch strapped
to a bundle of dynamite

there’s nothing so sad as an animal grown old. its newfound impotence inexplicable as a man’s assumed pilgrimage toward ends can never be. its confusion over the shuffling hobble it has acquired so clear in emptied eyes.

to get back to the streetcorner. there they strut, heads jutting mechanically forwards and back, looking for a corpse’s secrets to whisper. the words, if words they’d be and not sere gusts of no season’s wind, would have to come out round the sugary lumps of gum harbored in the crannies of molars, and this, surely, seems impossible enough. Wendy’s been chewing hers so long it has surely gone moldy. but she’s not telling.

Tootles is floating over there, and it’s only the thin band of floss the Twins have bound ‘round his ankles – that, and the purse full of glass – that keep him down. he bumps, desperate as any one of the congregation of moths that are always accompanying him, against the lamppost. this latter the moths ignore in favor of the honey runnels of Tootle’s frustrated tears. their long wire tongues lap ever so delicately at these rosary beads, never breaking the tenuous meniscus, only skimming a microscopic particle off the top. a pound of fat is as relative as morals to a child. with these loving, soft furred beasts, no doubt he would have drowned by now.

Wendy remember the first time they ever tried. supine on rough turd-brown carpet, her lacy blue and white panties, having been husked out from beneath her pinafore, which stands now thrusting absurdly straight-upward in the air, down around her ankles. Pan’s down there, his cunning tongue telling lies her little pink pearl, truculent in its drunkenness (they’d been sipping añejo all night long from crystal wine glasses) refuses to buy. the door hangs, a lolling wooden tongue, open, and at one point she glimpses Tootles shuffling by, heading to the bathroom, latest winnings clinking glassily in his furry little palms. Hot tears trickle out from the pursed lips of her eyes. Despite all this, when morning’s light flooding thinly through the window above found them still together, Pan curled, fetally embracing her thighs, she’d nearly drifted out the window. it hadn’t taken any of Tink’s golden powder at all.

all boys are hunters at heart, Wendy knows; it’s a question of genetic memory. Pan’s got a fine memory, Wendy knows; otherwise, why would he still have returned, generations later, for spring cleaning. (It’s only now that Wendy’s noticed that there’s another girl’s made her way to the corner; she’s only noticed because of the way Pan’s been flitting back and forth between Wendy and the newbie.) It’s not a question of specifics, whether it was this year or thirty later; a hunter’s memory doesn’t work like that. for instance, he may not remember the markings of this particular one that got away, but he’ll remember how it escaped him, and learn from his mistake. the next one won’t be so lucky. (It looks like Alice, as far as Wendy can remember the story.)

Tink’s a streetcorner slinger, her vials
deadly as any Doc’s lead. though her
munitions glow magically, Wendy’s
never known a child could resist turning
dusthead. Tink: I did it all out of love
Wendy knows it, she does, if the batch
is poisoned, it’s all Pan’s fault. Pan’s
the man, really, it’s him as turns ‘em
all on; it’s not my fault I love him, and
all his eyes fall upon

we, Wendy thinks, are the world’s last and best hope to laugh at itself. all the death it machines so efficiently, wrapping pretty pink meat up beneath breathable plastic. it was the best way to turn a profit out of the war, you know. after all, do you know how much it costs to raise one head of cattle! just to turn out a few burgers, a steak or two, a shepherd’s pie?! ‘twas lucky we learned a way to produce petroleum from the bones, eh? we, Wendy thinks, professional mourners at the unending funeral. I wish we could get paid.

Alice doesn’t like scones; they make her all big, an alien in her own pretty skin, and although Wendy’s just politely offered her one, she must reluctantly decline. and as soon as she sees the thwarted look on Wendy’s face, she knows she’s made the right decision. Pan has no truck with big girls, they both know. But the vial? That, Alice doesn’t know – she can’t remember what happened the last time. So she asks:

“Will this one make me big?”
Tink and Pan give simultaneous, knowing chimes. And Wendy only looks ready to spit acid.
“No, no, no. This one makes you fly.”

So now they’re all flying, though Wendy hadn’t wanted to tonight – there was a show to see, after all! – but with Alice out she’d had no choice. Michael’s the worst of them all, already flying higher than any of the rest, even Pan, and still chasing a gaggle of those silly little azure ones, looking for more, though no one else can see them. Wendy calls out after him to come down, but he just calls back, ‘no, Mother, I don’t want any tea,’ and then everybody else is giggling, Alice worst of all. Alice hates tea.

Wendy can tell Pan’s got something else on his mind. they’re all fluttering like wraiths now, and Pan passes an eggshell-smooth hand through Wendy’s cloacal periphery, fluttering lithe fingers across her ivories, which then emerge clutching a placenta-dripping egg. ‘one less babe sacrificed to old daddy Cronus,’ he says and Wendy frowns; he’s always calling her Daddy Darling that, and her dreams are now filled with images of him (and she couldn’t say which she’d rather it be) sliding into her bed to impale her with a huge stylus of scrimshawed bone. in the dreams she’s always the size of a voodoo doll, or so it seems, so she can’t say whether the stylus really is a spear, or merely a pen. ‘this one was doomed not to be a mommy,’ Pan’s saying with that weed-whacking grin of his, and with a comical windup, hurls it down to the city below, where it explodes in pigeon-shit monochromatics upon the helmet of a riot cop, momentarily arresting his feverish nightsticking of a protestor crowned in sprigs of datura.

Wendy sees the city splayed below, Cartesian two-dimensionality where the flatlands allow, spiraling into extra-Euclidean space where earth sweeps up from sea in sensuous hill slopes. below the sea an oblivion just barely scintillating with refracted light. she thinks of lives as those shards of luminance on the deep obscurity of time’s restless sea, but then, that would imply the necessity of a source, a moon to scorch the darkness to life. much better the city itself, a more conveniently humane metaphor; Cartesian subjects arrayed on a Cartesian grid. localizable, thus knowable, coordinates. pick your number you’ve a name, a desire, a status. Space states us. Not, ‘I think…’, but ‘I occupy space…’
But then, what is she, bereft of streetcorner now, floating up here in the silence the Boys’ laughter hardly penetrates?

he says he knows the story’s always say it’s mother who bore death into the world. pandora’s box, eve’s apple – the hero he ‘not born of woman’, or at the very least, ‘of virgin’, of woman not woman but girl, thus unpossessed of eve’s state of death. he says he knows it’s he – he’s seen the maggots erupting from pirate’s and redskin’s fallen flesh – the maggot that he carries worming its way into the other.
he’s never let it touch her yet.


Robert said...

i have a lot to say about this, but it's all trying to get out of me at once in my excitement

John, this is STUPENDOUS!!

one of the hottest drops EVER here on Discharge, youve raised the bar, young lion!!

(and yes, im printing this up as a hard copy) :)

cocaine jesus said...

hard copy?

Superb piece of work. You are FIRED from discharge!

Can't have anyone here doing better stuff than me!!!

fissuresofmen said...


It's the one and only thing I've ever been fired from that I enjoyed.