But she has been there before, has a suite
in fact, where she can swan and collapse
on a series of fainting couches: velveteen,
plush, gem-colored. In 1913, during the
production of A Good Little Devil, Lillian
collapsed from anemia. She took delight in
suffering for art. Although not a religious
man, Sartre was fascinated by suffering
as well, said Hell is other people and meant it.
Some like to suffer and some try to eliminate
desire. Buddha, God bless him, had a great
idea: whatever is subject to change is subject to
suffering. But let’s face it, he was fat and sat
around in his underwear, while we delight
in changing our wardrobes. You, terrible
in your solitude. Me, ruined and desperate
in my cowboy shirt with the pearly buttons
and significant stitching. We can suffer with
the best of them, Lil, effortlessly working off
our karma as the drunken father breaks down
the wooden door, or we roam, dying, through
the streets of Montmartre. I am no stranger
to love and I am not waiting for you, because
I believe we will be reborn, because I believe
everything, and I believe that we will meet
again and suffer together again. The future
belongs to China and yet I want to learn
French. This, too, is another kind of suffering.
Once, at a truck stop, I ate an entire banana
cream pie and half a pound of bacon, which
is a kind of suffering for some, but I felt
fucking great. You know this, you must know
this. We are lovely and full of desire, we die
so many times and come back here, to cross
paths. I didn’t fall off the roof, I was pushed.
I want neither revenge nor relief. I crave no
rescue. What I want, Lillian, is to be gigantic
and perfectly lit, to be with you again, carnal
in our reincarnation. The future will find us
handsome taikonauts in a small ship spinning
out of control, flawed by love and plunging
realistically toward the heart of a hellish sun.
In the future we will suffer together in outer
space and eat crème brûlée out of a silver tube.
The novelty never wears off, Lil. It never does.
Moonfish (tell me a secret), 2001.
Watercolor and graphite on paper, 12 x 18 cm.
One is the dummy and one is the voice and then there’s the matter of whose hands are where, which is probably impolite to mention. Like all magic, there’s a cone of attention — framed, a focal theater — and then there’s what you might call _the business_. One time, at work, I had a supervisor with dyslexia, or maybe she was part of the Alphanumerical Liberation Front, or maybe she was just plain stupid. For her, most things were interchangeable, which was great for scheduling but not so great for filling out forms. The Saturday person called out. We needed coverage. I watched her work the phones, find somebody, write down the name. Now sure, sometimes when writing quickly, sloppily, an “o” can look like a “6.” But no, this was a perfect six: beautiful belly, arched back. Y6landa, Saturday, 10am. That’s what she wrote. I work the Friday Overnight, which meant that I’d be relieved in the morning by Why-Six-Landa, the robot. You’re thinking maybe I’m the stupid one, and maybe you’re right, but regular-style people don’t have numbers in their names and everyone knows that robots do. I’d never worked with a robot before, so I was kinda excited, planned on staying late, just to watch her work her robot magic. Would she have buttons? Flashing lights? Would she be fully articulated? My neighbor has an artificial knee, which moves in three directions and makes her a cyborg, but robots… well, robots are a whole bunch cooler. When a ventriloquist throws his voice, he’s not really throwing anything, he’s talking through his teeth. But when a ventriloquist builds a robot, he’s throwing everything he’s got: he can even fall asleep and the robot will still run program. A singer has to show up for the piece to work. A songwriter doesn’t. Execute Song. Run Program. I’ll be over here, on the couch. I’m only closing my eyes. The shift goes by faster when you forget yourself and just run program. You still have to show up, though, if you want to get paid. I’m not sure why everyone assumes the smaller one’s the dummy, it could go either way. And which one should you watch out for anyway? Which one’s more dangerous? The empty one waiting to be filled or the sad-eyed dope spilling out from everywhere like a leaky box? Y6landa showed up at ten, on-time and not a robot, just another regular-style person clocking some hours. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.
I’ve been singing all day.
"Yes, you’ve been singing all day. And no, I’m not dead, not everyone is dead, Little Moon. But the big moon needs the tree."
There is a ghost at the end of the song.
"Yes, there is. And you see his hand, and then you see the moon."
Am I the ghost at the end of the song?
"No, you are the way we bounce the light to see the ghost."
because you want to paint a bird, do actually paint a bird, it doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished
anything. Maybe if it was pretty, it would mean something. Maybe if it was beautiful it would be true.
But it’s not, not beautiful, not true, not even realistic, more like a man in a birdsuit, blue shoulders
instead of feathers, because he isn’t looking at a bird, real bird, as he paints, he is looking at his heart,
which is impossible, unless his heart is a metaphor for his heart, as everything is a metaphor for itself,
so that looking at the page is like looking out the window at a bird in your chest with a song in its
throat that you don’t want to hear but you paint anyway because the hand is a voice that can sing
what the voice will not and the hand wants to do something useful.
Dear East Coast, I’m sorry it’s getting dark. It must be problematic, living in the future, always a few steps ahead, knowing things you shouldn’t say, since they haven’t happened to the rest of us yet. And Poland? I don’t dare wonder what you know about tomorrow.
Llamas dot the hills. White rugs on a green rug.
You never had an iPod, so you can’t imagine how
much better it is now. We have been to the Moon
and made him our doormat. Painkiller of the night,
he still shines, though we have blackened his eye
by punching it closed. Perhaps his forehead shines.
Spain is better, too: yellow flowers, useless flowers,
a destination vacation. Pessoa might have been the
alarm clock of the mountain slope with his contingent
of sheep, lazily shepherding his multiple selves into
crooked pens, but you are my sad dictionary, César.
I raise my hoof to you. Crippled though it is, I am.
for César Vallejo