9 Jul 2008

strange flesh

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.

we are never closer. to the estate of beasts (or was it saints?) than at age eight, new capacities straining against childlike bodies. new knowledge of the good strangling itself, the knowledge merely accommodates a new rapacity; the puff of dust a frayed tennis ball releases as it strikes another’s muscle-taut flesh, little brown sun-gilded spores of violence; the knuckles cracking as they impact a prominent line of bone, all enacted within the rules.
never closer; never so tau(gh)t.

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 – a Barbie – 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.

now would be a time to speak of mummys and dadums, were Wendy to ‘member them. mummys got cucumber slices for eyes, cellular seeds like star scatters of light, her cheeks an avocado mask of green. she’s always wearing one body wrap or other, this to minimize the countless mouths the countless mouths that gasp from silky smooth (that’s the rumor) skin, that to scorch away the cellulite. she’s always trying to regrasp that maternal glow, that taut curve of twenty years ago. one breast was sliced from her chest; now both wrinkle hard as stones in a forgotten shawl of bony arms. she walks in the beauty of sublimed times; the hours her flesh has put away; her chest a bureau full of dolls bleached to china, and to bone. her scent, her breath, a fading Doppler effect…
and dad…ums…dad…ums

quick. before dawn heals up the dead playgrounds. the horizon-scar, livid with synthetic spectra; the muscular pulses of smoke. quick, before the watches spring their palefaces to life again, before the tick-tock legs of businessmen scissor seconds. quick, before “mornings” bare your thinning hair, the skins, your lifetime of scalps taken taut-stretched over skull. before talk of the weather sheens the sweat you secrete merely lifting your bulk to air, a whale bereft of media. quick. you’re shivering your ghosts free already; I can see them. your bed is heavy with the husked carapaces. the dust mites. the cells lovers’ fingernails scythed from what was left, desperate to bare what was raw in you. it is only the dead of us that ever touch. this is the breathless sadness of lovers.
quick. take to dust. fly, flyboy.

each body she encountered was, inevitably, his. though she could not be sure in what way(s) she meant that. ‘meant that’; there is something to question: did she ever ‘mean’ it, or even state the thought? in the end the questions are fruitless before the fact. one way or another he possessed them as surely as she possessed them (they her?). whether it was her obsession that was medium, carrying him through her flesh to swallow each isolate body she pressed herself against, or whether it was in the most minute perception of details, the thought that this one’s nipples were neither pierced nor as small and prickling pink as his, or that this one’s hair was an oil spill of tentacles next to his field of windblown summer wheat, the fact remained, more solid than each body she rushed tidally against. in the end it was the former possibility which was the more terrifying: that in her flesh’s loneliness, it’s aching distance from him, his cells had somehow come to occupy the yawning space between her own, filling her up with the negation of him, which roared endlessly out to consume each new boy, each tender lass, till the grey light of dawn found their eyes all iris-night, their flesh repulsive as an ancient maid’s.
though he was the very potential of boy to become man, become murderer, though locked in hairless flesh through exile, he had never seemed so feral, so fearful, as the night Tink realized that – just as another pitiful joy pumped fitfully, a remote and thoughtless engine, into the fleshly ends of her thighs.

nighttime. we are never closer to the estate of beasts than when we are thirteen. hovering on the cusp of some cataclysmic change...tectonic siftings just beneath the sheaths of dead flesh that slick us – oil on ocean waves – pushed up and back and aside by corpuscular magma, up through the cracks in us, in the shell of ‘innocence’, newfound imperatives resculpting once genderless flesh into a named cast, the mold an alphabet of teeth have carved from the hull of flesh and bone. forever worrying the pink flesh that webs cheek to jaw, the web dissolved to ragged threads the tongue’s blind worm shoulders aside.

these the soiled intimacies we embrace. the glut that is their glory, their fetid musk a paean to things denied, the lightless grottoes we can’t abide, the humors they secrete. Tink thinks. watching Wendy watching Alice watching Pan, a Bermuda triangle of eyes in which countless dreams shuttle back and forth, into and out of lost regions, never to reach their charted shores. the naked writhing that hurtles from those eyes! they are all flying now, the world slipstreaming along torsos webbed in lace, an incessantly discarded lover, and all they all can think is Pan. Pan the man, the boy-man, the panic that shutters them to goose pimples.

all through the ceremony – Alice’s rite of passage – she nurses that throbbing, the exquisite brevity it enshrines and translates into memory, restorative storage. his mouth upon her breast, the angry, exquisite scarlet eye his mouth transubstantiated in its angry suckling. from nipple into gate, throbbing moment of intransigent passage, portal to a pulsing, intransient life. this is the one, the only, amelioration for this moment, watching Alice, in breathless waiting, throbbing off into the kiss that will, she thinks, poor girl, give her life, as the rabbi’s words quickened golem’s clay flesh, redacted genesis.
they all enter this way, Wendy thinks; he mouths the portal out of the life that would take them.

“…San Francisco must be a delightful city, possessed of all the attractions of the next world,” Tink had said, wondering how terribly she’d mangled the phrase, knowing that Pan would love it nonetheless.

The city was his wilderness, she knew, lost island where boys could be boys. The plastic cup eclipses him for a moment, sending a wave of piss-water beer down her throat. He keeps on speaking of cities for a while, babbling on about the wonders of his favorite metropoli, the catacombs of Rome where armies of pale children skitter and chitter in the sacral shadows, the Parisian cafes where he’s sipped absinthe with lonely husbands, the black meat markets of Rotterdam where a thousand boys gurgle muscae voliantis through straws of sucked-dry femurs.

and finally, finally, they two lie in his narrow bed, in a dorm room common area, vainly, voraciously mouthing what cannot be spoken of each other. he extrudes shafts of burning blood, insistent membranous sponges, and finally flips up her green skirt of leafy crinoline to let him in. and when he’s spent and collapses into sighing sheets she thinks to leave. but his arm lies heavy against her breasts, drowning breaths against his lineless palm, and whispers she should stay. She knows it’s only her warmth he craves, but lies outstretched and waiting nonetheless, softly drowning. is that fear in her eyes?

it truly is a city for the disappeared, Tink thinks, a city of countless seething lovers, each gliding silent, ghostly, each to each.

pan speaks:

to be thirteen.
to know one’s body

to be alien. precarious site of erupting pustule and wiry curling extrusion. at thirteen – and maybe it was all the sci-fi and fantasy, maybe it was Giger and Hoffman but – when I stood, fresh from the shower, glorying in the strange bare moment of alone, watching capillaries bloom into fevered roses across my chest, it was hard not to imagine what might press a horned-fleshed palm against the wall within, the web of bone and meniscus of fascia – to wonder what might breathe beyond that throbbing wall, and to know that I was only the stop-motion film of its upwelling, the high school biology textbook of an otherwise unmapped gestation.

my voice a broken, glissando chain

slow, lunar wound
a swelling from within without. the new-glossed skin
still taut but seeping
alchemic lubricant.

5 comments:

fissuresofmen said...

this is a second appearance for some of this text, but I feel that the piece as a whole works best as a whole, and it's as a whole that I really want response, so...there it is.

hope nobody's annoyed!

Robert said...

what can you say?

this is...whoa!

ima have to get my game together :)

jaan said...

annoyed? wtf
i open up to receive all and i almost fell-
of my chair_!
simply amazed!

cocaine jesus said...

Annoyed?
Nah.
Quite the reverse.
I like the 'extended version'.
Besides I think that regurgitating stuff, re-formatting and reusing and then re-presenting something is an act of art itself. The piece transforms and takes on new life.

fissuresofmen said...

well said, sir.

i especially enjoy regurgitating art objects, though Duchamps' toilet was a bit of a trial.