26 Sep 2008

even more strange flesh

“…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 colliding 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 horn-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.

I fall in love with a thousand faces everyday; it’s their faces
their faith
so tender so forceful misplaced
each one an armature turning flesh to syntax
the arch of brow an accent-line
the cheek a bone a more or less prominent stress
such fiercely implicit faith in the armature they move
in, its fabric trace, a medium
they swim, breathe, be
in
can’t (ever) be with-
out.
“all a tremulous
hope and its even more
vibratory failure”
he says it as if it could be in any way sexy


it all went different when poor Wendy met the Hook. Tall, lean and acerbic, with eyes and wit that glittered as bright and cold as winter stars,
all of which went perfectly with his glistering, surgical steel hook.
Victim of a meat-slicer accident in his father’s butchery at the age of nine, his right
hand had been replaced by one of the more cunning products of 20th century ingenuity: twin cruelly bent steel hooks depended from the bloodless, plasticine stump of an artificial wrist. Older than all the lost boys, he had had two decades in which to perfect the art of employing this contraption, and had come to prefer it, his sinister limb, to the one which nature had proffered him, and fate had allowed him to retain. With these twinned metallic digits he could tease beauty from the taut chords of his family
harpsichord, could wield an artist’s brush and an Exacto knife with equal alacrity; indeed, as soon as he was able, at the tender age of thirteen, he began to work in his father’s meat-shop, employing a natural eye for the contours of flesh to carve the once-living into artifacts of culinary history. He discovered in himself a natural genius for the carving knife, the cleaver, the filleting blade, the boning bodkin and the band-saw.
He split the chine to fabricate delicate butterflies from splayed ribcages, apportioned tender slabs of steak from rump flesh and marbled loin, wracked lamb corpus to form elaborate crowns he wore to run, whooping like a redskin, behind the butchery’s cold counter.
Nonetheless, that early accident had sheared away more than bone and nerve, so that when it came to deli slicing for sandwich munching patrons, he always called out to his dad to take the task, and watched with fearful fascination not his father’s pneumatic thrusting, but the silvery spinning blade and its milky froth of fat and purge.
Its relentless turning, tuning solidity to paper thinness.


now we are guilty of everything and capable of nothing.

now we are all perched on the sloping roof of one of the city’s many skyscrapers, dancing a maypole circle around its manicured claw. this is one of his favorite games; letting himself slip down to the narrow, gargoyle-strewn ledge below he stands, facing up towards us where we still dance our delirious circle, his back to the howling void, he says:
these buildings are dreams
a broken god’s truncated feet
the high tension lines humming a crystalline web, not cables at all
but the taut-stretched nerves of men and women
singing their high and mortal song
while below, beneath the caked hemoglobin of blacktop
still - live veins throb
‘the city is no thing,’ he sings
‘but the broken flesh of an unborn god’
and then he flings himself off the ledge, his tattered clothes’ flapping in the wind of his own descent suddenly, impossibly, the only sound in the whole city; ‘it’s just the lonely implosion of an unhealthy cell,
destroying itself before its cancer can infect the whole.’

now we shiver off blue dawns, grasping on to the sternum’s thin latch, fumbling at the fascial cache; with birdsong the terrors of last night’s inheritance are announced; throbbing nasal ache and diaphragmatic convulsions; rock me tender mockingbird, let the tender threads of your arms wall in; I feel a blood tsunami coming on.

so we hang on streetcorners, derelict stars shiftily trying to twitch into the sidereal conjugations of unglimpsed constellations.

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