Verses, 11.1 – 11.51, Revolver

11.1

Why do I crawl

after all,

in reverse,

rewinding back, back

through the eye

of a needle, back

to a stageset desert?

 

11.11

Am I inspired by acquaintances

who play so tight and close

their intimate whispers, pregnant

with trauma, give way to a fetish

for sharing, de facto,

a knowledge of sutures,

aid in a minor form?

 

11.12

The first ones

so lovingly forgive,

close these caverns

in the flesh. Now

chambers echo where

spinae yank tight

as guidewires;

he who said so

sets-to with thickset hands,

unbuilding things

inside me.

 

11.13

My ambitious spell

was set in motion.

I gunned it high-speed

down the highway

through uncharted deserts…

the lone oasis long departed.

I ran those re-treads thin

and left that smoking hulk aside,

tumbling out on sandy shoulders

to save my skin and birth a little shiva.

 

11.2

Ha ha ha

ha ha ha ha!

Call it what you like,

but I know my own. I know my

private fear of death.

It was laughter over radio which

bubbled up from wreckage wires,

which echoed in the dented hull.

 

11.21

You know I did not get away

Unharmed, did not make my break intact.

By now my undelivered

foot must sweep the dust

as Lefty, clopping clods apart

and falling, just as

poems fall, suggests…

 

11.3

(I later note

a fear of death

to be a flare

laid out

on asphalt,

which gets us gawking left,

such stupid geese, while right

the parked car smolders,

its tires on the grit.)

 

11.31

Meanwhile I

the mechanic, the slave

to other accidents, sweat

and bend with my dream catcher

hooked to the roll-tor, me

(Cry out for martyrs!)

the  one who hoists

that fucking engine.

 

11.4

One notes emotion

makes the trapezius

knot and lift; your shoulder

is the record, the softly turning vinyl

of a breakup.

 

Revolve,

and a needle

inscribes the world

upon your surface.

 

11.41

I must turn.

I must turn and

Turn.  And turn and turn.

After all, my lies…

And now, with knotted back

you take in the workman’s thumb

and let that echo flow.

 

There is no Witch-Doctor, no Alchemist.

Only a Locator of Grips, a Deft

Unwrapper of phantom fingers,

one who makes wake for her

that would choose superstition,

flying along the mirage of secret

inland seas, strange wood fins

nailed to the side of her aqua car

(a rooster tail, a big deal).

The painter’s knot left unfurled

at the dock, He

the one that cures you.

 

11.42

No magic here,

no paradox.

Instead, a desert lake:

A fake…

or real

as a speedboat

with its tallest yards of spray,

its superstitious show.

 

11.5

You and I, the pragmatists,

know a boat will make its

desert rescue even

across the rippling, fallible mirage,

even in the middle of nowhere,

in the sound of silence,

in the absence of fanfare.

 

11.51

So why do you force me to say

what you deny, you think already:

Every means is orthodox,

once you bite down,

train the mind to skip the trauma

we both know as cause and effect.

 

11.52

Now

we dance

beside the smoking car,

its radio tinnily

doubling the bursting

ring of laughter,

the broadcast empty

except its audience,

who sings across

the sands, black asphalt

ribbon’s end no matter

now… We’ve seen its vistas,

and survived.

 

Let’s dance at dusk…

in the cool blue shade

of metal husks,

amid radiowaves

and tiny shivas,

and in our spirals,

thread the eye

of Christ.

Mountains

Traffic thinned in the high country.

“There’s no room for a statie to turn around out here.  You can open it up.  Once we get into those mountains, it’s deputies in SUVs…but until then, we’re solid,” Sailor said.  She stubbed out her cigarette on the ashtray, shifted her hips forward in her seat, and placed her hands behind her head.  I pressed down on the gas pedal.

We kept the windows rolled down.  The cool alpine air rushed in, tousling Sailor’s hair.  Through the glare of late afternoon sunshine bouncing off the film of dust covering the widshield, I could see near-flat, open fields, mile upon mile of pale green, unharvested hay.  Scattered farm buildings broke apart the landscape, their walls worn down to the bare boards.  In the distance, towering up, making those outbuildings look like miniatures, stood the mountains.  They were stark, roughly snow-capped, purple-black.  They stood so far away as if to not seem real.

“…the fuck?” I whispered.  I paused to take a deep breath.  I felt disbelief, then felt I had committed a sacrilege, cursing at a mountain.

“I know,” Sailor said, “nobody knows they’re here.”

As we tore across the plateau, she explained to me that there are some high mountains one cannot see, even from very close, because they are set just far enough back from the foothills that only a periscopic line of sight allows a view…until one is in the high country, past the initial threshold of elevation.

“We can stay up here for awhile,” Sailor said, “It’s cheap to live.  We can hide out.”

We had money we’d kept from Harlin; big paying tops that he’d never skimmed, a glovebox stuffed with a profligate’s ransom, enough hard cash to get us into a cabin near a little lake that Sailor knew about way up in the mountains.  She and her sister had vacationed there as children…until the winter her father broke both of his legs in a skiing accident.  He never spoke of it; they’d simply never returned.

With the car tucked behind our cabin, on the lakeside, and my little duffle and Sailor’s big backpack cast down on the bed, we made our way down a gravel road that wound around the lake to a little fake chalet where tourists could sit on a deck and look out across the glass-green water of the lake, into the mountains beyond.  We sat there and drank cold beer, smoked cigarettes, and stared out into our surroundings, as if our bodies could quench the air, as if we could disappear with the fading daylight.

 

 

 

Stockings

After a moment she closed the dresser drawer…slowly, gingerly.  She carefully laid out the things she had taken out of the drawer.  She bent forward, stretching.  I realized she was putting on stockings.

I closed my eyes and listened to the quiet sounds of her putting on her clothes.  When I opened them again she was standing by the dresser in an evening gown, taller than I had ever seen her, with her hair swept up elegantly into a French twist.  Diamonds sparkled from her clavicles, from her ears, from her wrists.  Facing away from me, she placed her phone in a pocketbook on top of the dresser. She snapped the pocketbook closed, picked it up, and turned around. She looked right at me.

I took a deep breath.

“Go back to sleep,” she said.

I did as she asked.

(Back Door:  Enter “Exquisite Stillness” into the search bar.)

ellipse

All my life

i’ve wanted

to feel something…

to be something.

 

Truth told

i feel strange

in my own skin,

a suit which does not seem cut for me.

I cannot get comfortable inside it.

 

Given

the option

of oblivion,

yes,

i would surrender…

as if by the soft closing

of my eyes i might

erupt into a plume

of flames,

a pleasurable, exploding

flower of my own invention,

my own bright spark.

 

Desire, however,

is no path at all,

but a given

power that circles

within the body…

 

…an arc,

a dreamwire,

a speeding,

thread-narrow

tracer of that looping spark,

repeating

its orbital path,

scouring the night

with thickening

layers of laser lines,

sharpwires cutting the

booming darkness

on their high trajectory,

carving from

fathoms of the

upward void

the lines of

a brilliant,

dizzying vault,

resounding with

the echoes

of my cry.

 

Who, or where, am i,

if not dwarfed, standing

at the bottom of myself?

What do i feel

but vertigo,

looking upward

into nothing?

 

Verses, 10.31 – 10.93, Questions of Faith

10.31

“Woah, that we should imagine the pain of despicable work! Woah, that we should feel sympathy for god, and forgive him his mistakes!”

 

10.32

“I forgive you, god, and all horrors you have wrought upon mankind!”

 

10.321

“I forgive you, god, and all your errors!  Be there endless mercy upon you!  Greatest god: you have my forgiveness!”

 

10.34

“No, NO!  I love you god, for you are a perfect machine.  All the horrors of this world are the manifest perfection of your design!  Praise be to you, and to the horror of all your suffering!”

 

10.35

“God knows not what he does!  You must forgive him.”

 

10.36

“God is perfect: he is unconscious and complete.”

 

10.401

 

…is an unconscious god then not like the dark night, like the space around us, like the rocks beneath our feet?

And if if god is like the rocks beneath our feet, like the core of the earth, like its mantle, like its crust, like the earth itself and the atmosphere around it, like all the planets, and the space between them, like the stars, like the universe itself…then what is the difference between that which is god and that which is not god?

Is god then not everything?

Is god then not nothing?

Is god then not simultaneously everything and nothing?

What does it matter, then, to speak of god?

 

10.4011

“Where there is language, there is a place where god cannot be explained.  All languages become a useless babble.  There is nothing you can say, nothing!”

 

10.4012

“Praise you ominscient god, oh conscious god!  Your consciousness is crystalline, invisible, and all-encompassing.  Praise you, for everything is your consciousness and your consciousness is everything!”

 

10.402

If you and I are conscious, do you and not share properties with god?

 

10.4021

“Wake up!  Wake up you fools!  ALL your thoughts form the opium smoke which spins in mandalas and eddies peopling our deep, narcissistic sleep!  Consciousness is without thought or dream or the mechanistic spinning of wheels, the increasingly elaborate and populous machine-like destruction which is the world!  Do not mistake thought for enlightenment; do not mistake thought for learning, clarification, or growth.  All thought is elaboration; all thought is a virus upon this place, and makes us into a singular devilment, an ever-thickening mold upon the jewel-like fruit which is the earth!  Yet if you mistake me and burn the books and theaters you will be an even greater fool!  Do not think and yet do not banish thinking…for thought is like food, which through its digestion replenishes the body as energy, and replenishes the earth as shit and loam!  Thought must be consumed and destroyed, but in the bonfire of the blood and brain, and not the in witch-hunt fire which you build through weird delusions of your own!  All thought is blasphemy!  All thought is worship and praise!  Think!  Do not think!  Surrender now, for you cannot penetrate the riddle of thought which seizes your mind like the most vicious closing of a steel trap on the soft paw of an animal…”

 

10.4022

…Are we then not great egoists to think we may share properties with god?

 

10.403

What if you and I, instead, have nothing to do with god, with the qualities of god?

What if we are distant from god…as a light year…from a star?

What if knowing god is in fact nothing more than perception itself?

 

10.41

Now…

…if god neither chose nor agreed to his identity and role, we might ask what it is to be something which is neither agreed upon nor chosen?

Is this not a matter of one’s essential nature?  ….a matter of features which one did not choose?

Is not choosing then not the key which will open the door to enlightenment?

And what of this not choosing?  Are we not defined by things which we did not choose, and cannot change?  Is not choosing then not the same as god?

Is it then not in god’s nature to be god without knowing beforehand, without accepting or choosing to be god?

 

10.4101

“Yes!  For god is a calamity which befalls you when you are least expecting it, a calamity which charges down the body like a waterfall, dismantling everything and carrying with it all the objects and false architectures of your life, a calamity which cannot be revoked!  There is nothing you can do to prepare!  There is nothing you can do to stop it!  It will happen to you or it will not happen, and you have no say in the matter; it does not make a difference what you do, what you choose!  Be you a massacre-er of babies or an angel upon this earth, you will receive god or you will not…and you have nothing to do with it.  It is out of your hands entirely.  Cease your thoughts! Acceptance cannot bring you closer!”

 

10.411

“You fool!  You have misinterpreted the language and fallen prey to the corrosion of your agency!  Stop reading now before you are buried in a pit of confusion and cannot dig yourself free!  Go out alone upon the road, and walk this earth guided by your instincts and by your nature.”

 

10.42

And if it is in god’s nature to be a god, does this not imply that god is not the master of himself; does this not imply that there are aspects of god over which god has no control, aspects whose nature god must learn and ascertain…aspects which he must discover and understand?

10.421

“But heed! Heed, for god is all-knowing.”

“No!  A false declaration!  A ghost!  For god knows nothing at all!  Nothing!  God is a dumb and simple witness!   God has control over nothing at all; nothing!

 

10.43

And if there are aspects of god over which he has no control, what is the origin of these aspects?  Is the origin of these aspects not the true locus of god?

 

10.44

Is not the true locus of god not the locus of control, but the locus of things which cannot be controlled?

 

10.45

If the true locus of god is not the locus of control…

…is it not the locus of everything which cannot be controlled?

And if that which is essential is the same as that which cannot be controlled (as is the case with our nature, our essential features), is it not therefore inessential to control things…and is it not therefore inessential to act like god…is it not therefore ungodly to act like god?

Is god, therefore not in the least like himself?

And if god is not godly when he is like himself, is it not logical to look for god in ungodly things?

Is it then not logical to look for god where humans scrabble desperately for control, where violence rules, where the most awful things occur, where blood saturates the earth, where decay fills the air?

 

10.46

“Yea, for you have discovered that god is unlike himself, and where god is like  himself, all is illusion, and where god is like himself, all is Truth, which is an illusion, and a glittering lie against reality…for god is ever unlike himself.  God is ever in disguise.  Where you think you walk in a godless place, god abounds, and no double-thinking of yours can dissolve this rouse, for it is a rouse embedded in the fabric of reality itself, which is anyway a fiction of your mind…”

 

10.5

If god did not choose his role, and does not know, or is not able, to act upon his nature, is he then not a slave…is he then not one who is mastered?

 

10.6

And if we believe god must be enslaved by his duty, is it not our duty to enslave him?

Are you and I not the slavemasters of god?

And if this is not the case, if god fights to be free, or stays quiet that he may survive, is it then not our duty to emancipate him, so that the battle may be won, so that god may speak?

 

10.61

“Who are we to give voice to god?”

“What arrogance!”

“No, NO; god is our master!”

 

10.611

“God is a benevolent dictator!”

“Ahh, such luck, that he is benevolent!”

“Woah, that we experience the luck, sheer luck, of god’s benevolence!”

 

10.62

“But no!”

“God is elected.

…and all the world is political, and religion is politics, and politics religion, so that all is delusion, and emotion, entangled in relations of power…so that all is a labyrinth, so that all is intertwined, so that nothing is sound, all is a slick Truth that would turn our glances sidelong upon each other, our eyes warped in the twisted logic of judgment!”

“You are the master of god…  And you are sick, sick!  Admit it; admit that you are the sick master of god!”

 

10.7

And if god does fight his master, if he does struggle against his enslavement, and try to break free, is it not true, then, that we worship a god who is fighting against the way of the world, who is trying to break away from what we have made him?

And if god does not fight, do we then not worship a god who does not stand up for himself, who does not speak?

And if we worship a god who sings in lieu of speech, do we not worship one who sings so that he may survive the identity we have given him?

Does this not mean “god” is a prison for the thing we put it to?

Are we then not fools, for imprisoning god?

Does god then not master us; does god then not make fools of us…and therefore slaves?

 

10.8

And if god enslaves us instead, does this not mean that we worship a master?

 

10.81

Is obedience not frightening enough…let alone worship?  Is it not foolish servitude to worship a master?  Is the worship of a master not oblivion, and ignorance?  Is belief in god then not oblivion, and ignorance?

Is denial of the masterful god not the beginning of questioning, of a setting out on the path to truth?

 

10.85

“Fools!  All is oblivion!  Be you master or be you slave; ALL is delusion and oblivion!  There is nothing here for you, NOTHING!”

 

10.92

Does god not disguise himself, in the end, as this thing we call “nothing”?

 

10.93

…and did god make himself god, or was he made god?

If god is nothing, if he always was, and always will be, does he then not know his own true nature?

If he does know, has he not a concept of self; is he then not a figure of ego?

And what if he does not know?

…What is it to be ruled by an unconscious god?

 

(Back Door:  Enter “Chapbook” into the search bar.)

 

 

 

Haley Minwood

Sailor lit a cigarette.

We were sitting on the stained concrete back step of The Palisades, a cheap motel in Calvert, Oregon, which is actually a cluster of trailers and a couple convenience stores way out on a state road that cuts northeast across the desert toward the turn in the Columbia River, just north of the Oregon-Washington border.  The first few hours of hitching and hooking our way up to Washington were long for me because I didn’t know the landscape…  Miles of power conversion stations and convenience store litter mixed with yellow-gray tumbleweeds.  I’d never seen so much beige in my life, stretching from the roadside to the rim of the sky.  I kept waiting to see the blue-green color of fir trees, the dark color of a deep river, lush grass, a change of scenery.

“It’s going to be desert all the way up,” Sailor said to me between drags.  “Washington’s desert on the east side, too, part of it.  We’re gonna turn hard for the east, though, at a certain point…get us up into the mountains.  Harlin won’t follow us up there…and then we’ll be free.”

I picked a cigarette from the pack Sailor waved in my direction.  She lit it for me.  As she leaned over toward me her jean shorts pulled away from the underneath of her thigh and I saw candy-stripe underwear hugging to her crotch.  A strand of hair fell out from where she had it pulled back into a loose bun.  She moved it back behind her ear with her fingers.

“Try to get your cigarette where the fire is, honey-bear,” she said, almost smiling.

A wave of embarrassment passed over me.  I pulled hard, exhaled, made a big deal of getting lit up.

I tried to flip things.

“Sailor,” I started, exhaling, “Is that your real name?”

“It’s real if that’s what I answer to, right?  Why, are we on television?”

“What’s the name printed on your birth certificate?”

Sailor nodded ever so slightly.  “Haley.  Haley Minwood.”

“Hm. That’s kinda good.  Why did you change it?”

“My parents had money.  A piss-ton. A fucking pipeline.  Dividend income.  Trust funds, nine digit shit everywhere.  That means you have two real options…anything else would be half-assing it.  You can either have a pert, square-cut little girl-scout pussy, nod yes and be good and go to law school on daddy’s dime…or be a Lindsay Lohan snatch, a spoiled, take-the money-and-run little trust fund druggie pretender bitch.  Both bad.   Doesn’t matter how fine your relationship with your parents is.  If you come from wealth, and you’re interested in personal integrity, annihilation of the entire construct is the only option…  The only way to author a biography that has any stock or guts.  Cut yourself loose.  No insurance, no phone calls to mommy, nothing.”

She French-inhaled, looked at me with narrowing eyes.

I leaned forward a little, tapped some ash out onto the ground, took another drag.  Sailor let one knee sort of loll out to the side, so now the gap between her jean shorts and candy-stripe underwear was in plain view.  She was wearing one of Harlin’s old dress shirts, and some of her hair had slipped inside the collar.  She’d left the first three buttons undone, so I could see where the silky piece of hair touched down on her collar bone, where the big tendon stood up when she dragged on her cigarette.   When she leaned forward to ash her cigarette I could see her breasts, the way they were cupped by her bra, which was just a little big for her.

I pulled my head up, and looked into her eyes.

She was waiting for me to do just that.

I said, “And this all adds up to your choice of name in some way?”

“Yeah.  Because I can’t stake myself on anything.  I’m a lost soul.  Out to sea.   And Sailor sounds like a good name for a girl who’s all about her own skin, which is what you’re thinking about anyway…not listening to a word I’m saying…”

 

(Back Door:  Enter “Skinny Haley” into the search bar.)