The Red Cricket

“Look,” she said.

At one end of the hollow space, a second door was visible, very similar to the one we’d used to climb into the tree: it was low-arched, wooden, with a large round doorknob.

I crawled toward it, pushing some of the grass aside as I did.  I took hold of the doorknob, turned it, and pushed the door open.  Light spilling out from the hollow revealed a corridor marked by cage-like sconces containing darkened bulbs.

“Where are we?” asked Sailor.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but if feels familiar.”

I crawled in.  Sailor followed me.  Once clear of the door, there was enough space overhead for us to walk upright along a smooth concrete passageway.  The lights lining the corridor flickered on in their sconces.

It didn’t occur to me that someone knew we were there, and flipped a switch.  I felt oddly comfortable in the passageway, the same way one feels when visiting the home of an old friend.  It was then that I remembered Sailor’s family had vacationed in these mountains years before.  We walked slowly, side by side.

“Do you know anything about this tunnel,” I asked quietly as we walked, “Does local lore say anything about it?”

“An old story says one of these mountain peaks contains a hidden volcanic lake with a giant ship floating on it.   According to the story, a magician lives inside the ship…”

“Not by chance the same magician who built this..?”

I pointed.  The passageway plunged deep into the mountain.  As the lights grew further from us they appeared smaller, closer together, a strand of bright yellow points that vanished at an inestimable distance, deep inside the mountain.

“Look!”

Sailor pointed to the floor.  Perhaps fifteen feet ahead of us walked a cricket, inching its way along, as if acting as our guide. The cricket was a vivid, shiny red.   Enchanted, we walked faster to get a closer look.  We heard the click of the cricket’s feet on the concrete, and saw that it was in fact a tiny robot, its metal limbs painted with the smooth red enamel. The cricket jumped, keeping its position ahead of us, not letting us close too much distance.

Echoing sound gradually filled the corridor.  I recognized the same warped, high melody we’d heard in the forest just before the wind and the rain had drowned it out.  Sailor and I were astonished that the cricket’s body could produce music of such amplitude and detail.

 

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Rain

It was the dead of night; unfathomable darkness pervaded everything.  It flowed in the gaps between roots and undergrowth, clotted out the nexus of branches overhead, seeped in on us like liquid…filling up all interstices.  The rain grew heavier: hundreds of large drops, cold as ice, drummed down on our heads and shoulders, dissolving whatever layer of warmth lay between our skin and clothing.

“We need to find shelter,” I said.  “We can’t keep this up.”  We were getting soaked to the skin.

thud.

“Oof!” Sailor said.  She lurched to a stop, as if she’d run into something solid. Her grip on my hand tightened.  I felt her take my momentum into her arm.  I stopped.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.  But check this out,” she whispered.  She pulled my hand forward through the rainy, inky darkness until it touched something cold, metallic, round.  With her wet hand over mine, she rotated the thing.  It was a doorknob.  The door swung open.  A soft yellow light revealed the door to be a low-arched, wooden, cut from the trunk of a primeval tree right at the center of our path.

“Shelter,” she said.  We ducked through and closed the door behind us.  We were out of the rain.

 

 

ellipse

1.

All my life

i’ve wanted

to feel something…

be something.

2.

Truth told

i feel strange

in my own skin,

a suit which does not seem cut for me.

i cannot get comfortable inside it.

3.

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.

4.

Desire, of course,

is not a path,

but a given power,

circling within us…

…an arc,

a dreamwire,

a looping

spark,

repeating

its orbital path,

scouring the night

with thickening

layers of laser lines,

sharpwires

cutting the

booming darkness

with their high trajectory,

carving from

fathoms of the

upward void

the lines of

a brilliant,

dizzying vault,

resounding with

the echoes

of our cries.

5.

Who, or where, am i,

if not dwarfed, standing

at the bottom of myself?

6.

What do i feel

but vertigo,

looking upward

into nothing?

Verses, 10.31 – 10.93, Questions of Faith

10.31

“Whoa, that we should imagine the pain of despicable work! Whoa, 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 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.  Do not make unnecessary elaborations with your mind.  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!  Or else all thought is worship and praise!  Surrender now, for you cannot penetrate the riddle of thought which seizes your mind like the most vicious snapping-shut 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?

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

10.41

Now…as to the matter of the identity of god (blasphemy! enigma!):

…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 also 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 reality 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 then 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 so 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!”

“Whoa, 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 sickest 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?

Are we then not fools, for imprisoning god?

Does god then not master us, through the moral upper hand, through the masteries of a false and bitter karma; 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?

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! Shut your eyes and quit this useless errand!”

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 god made god?

…And 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.)

In the Blink of an Eye

I looked into a pool of rainwater at the gutter’s shallow edge, where the surface, looking-glass-perfect, inscrutably flat, became a portal to the dark, plunging tower of a skyscraper, vanishing in glistening three-dimensional detail into the churning clouds below, an upside down sky wreathed in gravel…a magical lake…in which I saw a point of light, and a flash, and a vision…

…in which I saw a sun, and a moon…in which I saw a future, and a past…in which I saw a talisman, a prophecy, a life…in which I saw a thousand things…a wing, a shell, a flame…a glassy stone I collected on the beach…a decade that passed before my eyes…

the surface of a lover’s eye…a raindrop on the window of a studio in Waltham…

…and I watched the raindrop, like a prism, or a sphere, its surface gliding down a wall of glass…as the painter slept off his wine in the last ramshackle house in Cambridge…in whose darklit glass I saw last light at the cathedral of Montmartre, reflected off the darkened lenses of a lady who turned to look as I crossed the busy street, when recognition cracked like a gunshot in my mind, and erased all memory, as if burned off by muzzle fire…which erupted from a pistol, fired by a boy…hunting a chipmunk, which he shot through the eye on a Montana mountainside, above which I saw a cloud at dusk, that changed from a dragon into a ragged scrap of silk with the billowing wind…that changed with the change of seasons, with the sun, the moon, the rotation of the planet into winter…where I saw the rain fly sideways on a Pacific beach, where I flew a kite and forgot my life, and wondered if I could not live off the wage of a shopkeeper’s assistant on the wharf, let my dreams dissolve in surf, forget the world forever, let my tiny name diminish into ellipsis…the same ellipsis in whose dots I saw the same small stone I’d seen before…a silver chain of tiny links on a lover’s neck…the distant stars…or their inverse, the black dots of spore beneath the covered edge of ferns…the eyes of fish, of crows, of snakes, one of which held still, its neck a stiff and upward curve, which did not strike, and in whose mercy I felt all the tenderness of mercies, and of the fates, and furies, in whose silence I heard a doctor say the dance had made my body lock, as if my joints and limbs were doors a caretaker could bolt closed for winter, or in the final hour of march, when snow melted, ice cracked, and in the icy street I found a key, lying cold between the flagstones, and took it up, and wore it, dirty, on a string, as if by attachment I could be saved, as if my lifeline were its cotton strand, in whose threads I saw the weaving, striking shoes of two fat dancers, their staccato steps like matchstrikes and like knives, their Tango danced as if that instant they would die, on their footprints, on the blonde and humble planks…

 

of shelter deep in Argentina, where I walked the sun-drenched streets and looked into the eyes of a legless man on a wheeled board, begging for money while yards away men-at-arms loaded metal cars with cases of currency, machine guns at the ready…until their shots rang out, their echo lost to the roar of the city which reached upward to the balcony of my aged hostess, a wise woman who prepared me coca tea the week the Argentines beat the Brits, vanquishing the Falklands’ memory on the football pitch…as if it were a battlefield washed over by a roar of voices, which covered the city, whose sky lit up with flares and rockets, bombs thrown aloft by the celebrating public…in whose echo I heard the insanity of war, the joy of desire, the cries of infants…in whose eyes I saw the eyes of an old man looking up at me as he scattered seed for pigeons, which still held fascination in the eyes of a child who jumped for joy as the birds took wing…while I sat on stone steps and remembered…

 

…the stoop of a Philly brownstone…where my grandparents had slept…where a Naval officer’s wife prayed for him through blackouts, as he picked up the severed arms and legs of kamikazes from the charred and bloody deck of a destroyer in the Pacific…

…in whose distance I saw all countries, and all peoples, in whose distance I saw the flags of a thousand lands like a colorful quilt, in whose warmth and comfort I conversed with a German actress who played as a girl in tunnels, in the bombed out remnants of an SS base, at the very spot I danced, worlds and decades later, in the Staatstheater, built atop the wreckage of the war, playing a Jew enraptured by the bottle dance, in whose steps I made my imprint on the stage, in whose auditorium the crowds gathered in a day…day in, day out, week in, week out…under whose proscenium I saw a dancer leap into the arms of her waiting lover…where I heard gunshots, and saw death, and life, and brilliant lights, and terrifying darkness, and great beauty, and terrible destruction…where I saw a baby ballerina in a pale shift, staring into flood lights as if overwhelmed by stars, where I saw the Mariinsky dance the dances from a century before…

 

where I saw futures, and histories, and dramas, where I saw a magical abyss between the footlights, as if I were above the earth, and they the stars…in whose constellation I saw unfathomable depth, and remembered the citizens of Kundera’s, whose laughter floated them up from earth, in whose grit were wrought the flagstones, and the country roads, and empty space of gardens, and of backyards, and of streets, the world and third world over, in whose common earth there was a pit I dug, five feet deep, with my brother and the other kids who helped…convinced we could dig our way to China, decades and light years off whose coast I saw Taipeh…among whose millions I became nostalgic for New York…strolling the wide sidewalks at dusk, drunk from jet lag, my closest and most distant memories adjacent in my mind, that vacuum and that fullest place, where there flew a triple saut de basque, a ballet student with too much thrust, who tried too high, and floated, incredibly aloft, all of us aghast at the long moments we beheld before his returning to the earth, whose solidity, and sun, and heat, were trapped under the footprint of that building…

 

not that footprint deepened by the baked cracked heels of an old woman I saw in Paris, crossing the street before me, in April 1989, a human being so grounded she would never fly, not until her death, which could have come that day, that year, a week or two before; my heart leapt as I walked with my father and brother into a crowded square in Geneva, where thousands teemed, chanting in unison for the freedom of Kosovo, in whose wars my good friend photographed the murdered dead, and made a record for the army, in whose ranks there rose an artist, who photographed my lover naked, in abandoned buildings of the city, in whose streets I saw the arrogant, the learned, the bohemian, the mute; in whose streets I danced and saw the dancers dance, in whose streets I saw the revelers, the ravers…murmuring, and milling, outside the basement exit of a secret party, a cloud of steam rolling upward from their backs…into the cold night sky, where the distant throb rose from below the street, the rhythm of their anthem…

Vagina Envy

I kept my eyes shut tight.  The rushing grew, and hurt my ears.  Overwhelmed, I sighed…  I felt that I was being fucked, and let my head drift back, as if supported by a cloud…

Now, dear reader, I turn to you to say I know it’s absurd for me to say I changed from man to woman and came until I vanished…

…but all curiosity about sensations in the other gender’s skin…at the height and glory of a sexual act…

…all your womanly desire to have a red-hot phallus tip, and glide it, slippery in, while another woman cries, as if your clitoris thrived and squirmed at the head of an aching pillar, which you buried in her come…

…all desire to have your sex within you…and to have it driven to acutest points, as with the deepest, wettest envies of a man…

…all these desires and curiosities within me were so filled they escaped description, except to say the pleasure was so great as to annihilate the sensate image of one’s utmost erotic wish, causing me to question how I’d ever been a man…for this crying out, this flooding…this pounding, and opening of self…of genitals, and guts, and heart, and brain…this orgasmic splitting of my spine; it was so deep that while my spirit burned blue and and hot enough to melt all else before, and all else after…I came with neither dream nor memory; I  came as neither man nor woman, I came flat-out, as sex itself…

…and at that moment-

…when my skull was changed to liquid into which I was absorbed, and lost myself, my skin, my voice, my breath and bones, which melded, one with air, as ecstasy did express itself from every follicle and pore…

and my head became the sky, and the sky my head, and a lightning storm shot through all and lit the earth, passing through the gap between my legs, which gap in turn shot up my spine…’til my head burst open with pleasurable force, and my crotch did shudder me and shake me into atoms, into air, into purest fucking…

-I was GONE.

Of one passage, intertwining

“I must open all doors, so that all corridors air freely, one into the other, so that all chambers have connection, no matter how remote.  Whether the connection is made on foot, via pedestrian quest within the labyrinth; it does not matter; it is a question of air…so that if my body were the labyrinth itself, if each capillary were its own chamber in a castle, or an infinite network of caves; there would be a remote, mildewed chamber in the caverns of my toe, where men sit around a table smoking cigarettes and couging and talking and playing cards behind crude wooden panels, their old boots on the green paint which is peeling away from the cold grit concrete of the cellar floor beneath, their furrowed brows and stubbled jaws lit by a single yellow bulb suspended from the ceiling by a chain…all this miles from another chamber, a capillary in my brain, where wild sweet lovers, on the threshold of adulthood, a boy pushing his hips ever upward and inward, striving for the love of a girl who lies on her back in the moss and hummus, and hugs him with her thighs, her bent knees open for him, her right hand cupping the back of his neck, her left hand on the flat of his sacrum, guiding him, her forehead to his forehead, the two of them fucking in a cushioned bauer, their shirts still on and their shoes and pants cast aside, their sex sheltered by a thicket of trees in the woods behind a country house…where the striving and sighing of their voices, the caving-in and gasping-open of their breath, makes music which is heard as a tiny thread of sound, quieter than a tender whisper, aeons, and labyrinths, and fortnights away, in the room where crude men gamble, and hear with their thick, blackheaded ears…because they are of the same body, of the same imagination, equation, biography, and world…one which I must admit it, and whose labyrinth I must allow to be of one passage, intertwining…and of a common oxygen…

“I must breathe deeply, and through this movement of air, become myself, so that my thousands of chambers, thousands of worlds, thousands of miniature doors, are swinging with my breath.”