A story in BOMB — BB and Calla Lily.
I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself the past few days–I can’t seem to actually do anything. I go to do it but then the road is closed, or it turns out the road is not a road but an angry serpent, and I am standing on its sensitive toe. Most of all, and I think this is really pathetic, I have been feeling bad because other people seem to think I am a woman, and they have expectations of me because I appear to have breasts and a soft/sensitive handshake and maybe a faint mustache that I must have to have waxed, etc., and I wear certain clothes. And it seems I really am a woman, like other women.
Everyone has ideas about what women can and can’t do, even women, and this has also been a reason that I feel like an old puke stain on the carpet. On Mondays I watch videos, my favorite is “The Talking Dog”…
So basically I feel like old wind, and it isn’t a very fresh smelling wind, like sour goat milk, and the only thing that has picked me up a little is thinking about Robert Walser, especially this,
I am a kind of artisan novelist. A writer of novellas I certainly am not. If I am well-disposed, that’s to say, feeling good, I tailor, cobble, weld, plane, knock, hammer, or nail together lines the content of which people understand at once. If you liked, you could call me a writer who goes to work with a lathe. My writing is wallpapering. One or two kindly people venture to think of me as a poet, which indulgence and manners allow me to concede. My prose pieces are, to my mind, nothing more nor less than parts of a long, plotless, realistic story. For me, the sketches I produce now and then are shortish or longish chapters of a novel. The novel I am constantly writing is always the same one, and it might be described as a variously sliced-up or torn-apart book of myself.
There is a black cat that comes to our yard. The cat will run away if it sees me, so I have to hide. I want it to stay because I think it will keep away the rat that goes into the garden. Also it chases away the birds that have been eating the kale flowers. I want the kale to go to seed, but it won’t if the birds keep eating the flowers. I haven’t seen the cat catch a bird, though I’ve seen it try.
A few days ago I noticed the surface of the soil moving up and down beneath one of the dill plants, like the roots of the plant were dancing or trying to escape from the ground. A few seconds later, the movement happened in a different spot. I realized it was the gopher that makes mounds of dirt in the yard. Or maybe it’s a mole. Supposedly their mounds have different shapes but I can’t remember the difference.
It’s impossible to know what to expect from things. This afternoon I was rinsing lettuce and the salad spinner started to sing. It had a high-pitched voice. It didn’t use any words I recognized, it just wailed. Then it stopped. If I really lived as if anything could happen at any time, I think I would move very slowly, and chew my food like there were already rocks in my mouth.
I had this idea that even though I usually resist the images I see or that occur to me–I usually want them to be different than they are–I could try instead to steward them. Just see them on their way, at least. One of the images, the one I probably resist the most, is my own.
There’s a small tree in the yard that didn’t grow leaves this spring. By now it’s clear that its roots are dead. Spiders, though, have been living on it. They anchor their webs from its branches. When the sun is in a certain spot, the light turns the webs white and it looks like the tree is slowly releasing an unmoving mist. Since the spiders might eat the leaf miners and slugs that eat the chard and kale and spinach and lettuce, I won’t cut down the tree.
I guess one of my stories, The Slow Man, is on a list–“The Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions 2014.” Who is responsible for this? I think it might be the cat that sometimes runs into the street to meet me when I am walking by. Then it looks at me sternly. Then it throws itself down and rubs its back on the asphalt until I pet it. I have a feeling that cat is responsible for this.
The birds are cleaning the path where I like to walk in the morning–they’re picking up strands of dead grass and flying them into a tree. Still there is so much work to do. Just to counter gravity. I built some tepees out of bamboo and tied up the tomatoes; now they don’t weigh so heavily on me. I realized yesterday that my love of “outdoor adventure” stories–when I was a kid I loved the Robinson Crusoe/Mosquito Coast/Jon Krakauer stories of tough survival outside–had to change shape only slightly to become my love of monks’ and nuns’ stories about understanding the mind. They say it’s just nature. We are home now from a visit to the City.
In a dream before we left, I was asked, If we know that all of conceptual reality brings suffering, what are we supposed to do? After thinking very hard about it–I didn’t want to let this person down–I said, I think I’ll open a candy shop.
Flock of hens loose on Hoover Street hid from me beneath a shrub. I learned what o-dark-thirty means. Sadness, I seem to have committed it to muscle memory, like how to walk on stilts. It leads me where it likes to go (ocean). The mountains propel me into the world of the eye. Grass waves its seeds, cows are brown holes in green stuff. I think I will walk into one of those holes in the world of the eye. The sound this makes will be a cow kind of sigh. “Happy” like a hovering gas. When I see that window I feel everything.
A few updates. Most people are probably wondering about the peas–did they grow? Or were they swallowed, all of them, by the snails in the darkness? They were not all swallowed, they did grow, and now today I am eating: peas. Patience grew them. They pulled time in through their roots and peas are mostly made of time, if you were wondering.
Another update is that I would like to have a puppet show. Something in the style of Lambchop’s Playalong where I am a human in a suit, and the puppet on my hand is a soft animal, maybe a kitty. The kitty will be a nihilist. So far this is the script:
Me (dressed in a dark suit, very proper, with a tie, speaking in a deep voice): Kitty, what do you believe in?
Kitty (a fuzzy gray one, speaking in a soft voice, a little sadly): I cannot believe in anything.
The final update: a restaurant named Joe Schmoe’s. No menus, no tables, just a man named Joe in a back room who emerges looking annoyed when you enter his restaurant. What do you want? he says. What do you have? He makes a gesture like a shrug. What did you eat for lunch? you ask. Someone brought me a couple of pineapples, he says, so I whipped them.
So you eat whipped pineapple and eggs, because Joe had a few eggs he felt like cooking.
The end for now, though I’m sure there will be more developments soon in these areas: peas, Kitty the Nihilist (maybe Kitty goes on a picnic), and Joe Schmoe’s.
This day has its own concentrations, its own escapes. Such as three deer grazing in the horse’s pasture. I passed them this morning; at first I noticed only one and thought, The brown horse has become strange, thin and strange. Then these other two poked their heads out at me like they wanted to eat the signals of my phone from out of its blue protection.
This is the brown horse I am talking about, the one that lives up the street and only recently began to look healthy. First there were three horses, then two, now just the one. Maybe it had to subsume the others.
While Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is downloading I might as well try to write a little. The first thing is, I have no idea what I’m doing with M. A book about a letter? A book that is not about a letter? I have no idea, and if there’s something in the crevices of the letter itself, since it is a bent one, that will help me, I will pull the letter apart looking for it, I hope it isn’t just a cookie, even if it has M&Ms.
The second thing is, what is the second thing? Three small sacks I sewed and stuffed with rice last year when I thought I was losing my mind, so I would have something to juggle to distract me from the clicking sound my eye was making?
All of these commas. If only there were another way. To keep all of the parts separate. Like cell walls. Is a comma a membrane? It is not a barrier. The sentence’s blood can move beyond it. Out into the space before the sentence, filling the space with its own fluids. A little like sucking on your own papercut, not somebody else’s.
An apostrophe all by itself is spooky. Like a curl in a dead person’s hair when just a moment ago the dead person’s hair wasn’t curled, you looked away and when you looked back: the curl. In the dead person’s hair. Because of the humidity.
Even a dead person’s hair is a host of change.
I am running out of phone minutes, I have to go pay Cricket. Which reminds me, for a while we were getting crickets in our house, like one per night, they seemed to feel they could just come right in through the cracks and hop around on the floor like senators in a debate, I meant to tell you all about them through a series of diagrams, but then the crickets stopped appearing and I forgot.
On the occasion of a birthday that is today, I am posting here a small origin story:
A lesson on our origin as a soaring prince
Today we are going to have a smile. I will take it down from the shelf and you will put it between your teeth like a picture of money. You will lift your eyebrows like they are heavy, and—I’m speculating now—you will lift the smile with your arms and walk it over to me. I will put it back on the shelf.
There, we have had a smile, let’s progress to the farther mysteries.
For instance, who is she? I am talking about Henge. Some say she is a fan of mother’s, like the kind for dispelling memories on hot days. Others say, We have seen her out on the end of the land demonstrating to the odds her superior hopping and crouching abilities, only Knob Boy gets in her way.
And so Henge is seen from both angles with the sun behind her eyes, nothing behind the sun but the knot in her pink bandana. And the swells of the sea.
Knob Boy is nobody.
What did mother ever accomplish to attract a dispeller like Henge? Questions are a skin we can disappear in. Run! We run after the ball down the street to the bottom of the ravine, where we cannot hear our mother’s bark-call. Only down here in the silence we can hear the twitches inside of us. They sound like kindlings in a small flame. Mother, if she is mother at all, will have to find us. As if we are under a spell and can’t do the finding of ourselves ourself.
Henge, who she really is, has been lent to us by the ends of dreams, when we have just begun to wake up and when we have not yet woken up, this is a liminal stage in early childhood, everyone knows that you’re you except you because you still think you are a prince with wings soaring over the grasslands of your own contentment, which is a warm feeling between your elbows and your knees like you have just peed, and sometimes there is a feeling of sparkling and sending off shoots and rays of gold, and of exploding due to being so great. What a happy prince we are, I wonder if Knob Boy is ever as happy.
Anyway, in an apotheosis of do-goodery, Henge finds us at the bottom of the ravine, where we have been resting in our princeliness, and pulls us, delivers us to our mother. In this way we are born, some say, and others do not ever speak.