Saturday, February 9, 2013
He passes through a series of rooms. Queasy, always queasy, like a hand kept too long in a pocket. The light is unkind. His skin the color of a condom. His eyes white but his lids red on the rims and dry.
The rooms are separate and the same. Florescent, linoleum, fiberboard.
The people in the rooms, his handlers, are unhappy like all public workers who don’t have windows. The sad keys on their false leather belts.
He’s guilty. He deserves to be there. His close-set eyes are guilty. The perspiration under his hairline, under his arms, creeping down the crevice between his hairy ass cheeks is guilty.
He blinks and his eyelids collide noisily like vomit slapping the pavement. How loud the blinking of the guilty.
They want to open him.
They want to open him with a hammer. They expect to find absolution in his belly. Confirmation of their guilt and his.
Powdery absolution. Feels like a white knot covered in mucus that slips down your throat and blossoms on the base of your skull.
Or like a hammer crashing through your nose.
The room shrinks to the size of the Chiquitas sticker stuck to the edge of the interrogation table, damply resisting his thumbnail.
The air that escapes his bashed in face is stale and empty.
Absolution turns out to be the matted glue where the sticker used to be. A ball of tissue you roll between your fingers.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Social Media Poem
Instagramming the blue cheese balsamic salmon salad I made for lunch today would be like tweeting a photo of my pink cock bathed in its own off-white filling. Because cooking and eating alone is masturbatory (which is not to deprecate masturbation or eating alone, both of which are very important to me). But rather to say that I don’t make sex tapes by myself and therefore I must also draw the line at sharing with the world the private pleasure of something I cooked up for my own personal consumption. #mstrbtry
Monday, December 31, 2012
Overcast Bogotá, 4:30 in the afternoon, October 10, 2012
I’m running a slow jog on the byway perched on the hills above the city. I pass from the leafy stretch along the university into a dodgier neighborhood. Ten yards in front of me a group of young men are waiting to cross the street. They watch me hungrily—their conversation, their every movement frozen by the sight of this clearly misinformed gringo running through like it’s Venice Beach. They make no move, no space for me to pass, so I Adrian Peterson my way through a little gap, careful not to brush anyone. I consider absently that the byway has too much traffic for a robbery to go down. I then reflect, as I often do when running in urban areas, that it would be absurd for anyone to chase down a jogger.
So I’m running towards where I’m pretty sure the National Park extends into the hillside. I’ve been here before, not exactly, but just three blocks downhill, where there are nice residential and university buildings. I reach an unpromising walled-in leafy area. It looks well cordoned off, so I descend rapidly to try and get around it and find greener pastures. The first portion of my descent is on a steep, narrow, winding path. My quick passage is blocked by a young girl descending at her own leisurely pace. I slow to a walk. One block down she turns off the path and it opens up to a normal road, still very steep. I star running at a medium fast pace. SBTRKT blaring in my iPod headphones. I catch some strange looks from mom’s sitting in their stoops and storekeepers rubbing their bellies out front. The looks are perplexed and amused and maybe a little worried.
I’m only 300 yards from Carrera 5, which is a major street. The grade of the road is still dramatic though it’s beginning to level out. I’m running fast. Then I sense motion behind me. I turn to look over my left shoulder. I see a 30 year old man, shaved head, street clothes, sprinting about three feet away from me, holding a kitchen knife in classic slasher position. The knife is not particularly menacing in itself, maybe a foot long, kind of cheap-looking. Our eyes lock. I try to gage him, because my first thought is, this is a joke. In a fraction of a second that feels more like 2 full seconds I try to understand whether he would actually stick me. Then someone behind me shouts, ‘Money!’ and I realize all his buddies are behind me, also running, though not so fast. I rip the earbuds from my ears.
The man chasing me with a knife is keeping pace, even though he’s in jeans. Our feet slap the pavement loudly. There are several bizarre aspects to this moment. One is that my adrenaline never kicks in—I’m running very fast downhill (which is awkward to begin with), but I’m never sprinting at supernatural, life-on-the-fucking-line speeds, which seems absurd to me in retrospect, like despite the gravity of the situation I’m still doing close to the bare minimum like I always did in sports. Just fast enough not to get murked. Another strange thing: I have the impulse to stop running and explain to the man how ridiculous this is and that I’m not a bad guy. But I think of his buddies behind him and I realize stopping is not an option. So I spike my beloved iPod, my nightly source of comfort for the last three years, between my legs, just to give that motherfucker a reason to stop chasing me, and in 50 yards it’s over and I’m walking, looking back, wondering where in the fuck I actually am. Like what fucking planet.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Today I pooped a worm.
It’s night now, and music is playing in the streets. From my desk, which sits by the corner window on the corner of my block, I hear at least seven distinct sources. The most prominent is the television behind me in the sala where my roommate is channel surfing. Outside intermittent firecrackers pop like amplified bubblewrap.
A worm came out of my ass while I was taking a shit today. A fully formed creature was living inside me, died, and then fell out my ass.
The city is a sheet of bubblewrap at night. And the bubbles pop intermittently. I walk slowly around my barrio. The houses blink with various interpretations of the Christmas aesthetic. Though perhaps not as competitive as the American Xmas lighting ritual, the consistency of effort is impressive, if seizure inducing. Looking closer you can appreciate the creative wiring—the jerry-rigging, the electricity boosting, the endearing mix of resourcefulness and tack. But tackiness doesn’t really exist here. A plastic chair equals comfort, indoors or out.
I picked it out of the toilet, my hand wrapped in a plastic bag, and put it in an old mustard jar. It’s about six inches long.
Thursday night I went out. Friday evening I went to bed. Everything between these two events—the visions, odors, ejaculations, manifestations—it’s all fucked into one indistinct memory. The skinny girl with a boy’s haircut sitting atop me, pounding my chest, shouting ¡muévete! after I had come for the last time, I remember that. She wasn’t finished. I was wrung out like a dish towel soaked in jalapeño juice. There exists in my mind a triumphantly lucid moment when I dipped my turkey sandwich in the pile of perico like so much salad dressing. Sometime on the second day my roommate reincarnated as a black eyed sadomasochistic princess. She attacked me with the giant green onion, whipped my ass with its fragrant tails. Even in the delirious heat of that afternoon she had great posture, her eyes like glossy onyx coals. I disarmed her of the onion and she went to her room for an actual leather cat o’ nine tails. I remember that we stopped laughing at a certain point.
How many more worms are there inside me, eating my food, pressing their lipless mouths to my arteries?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Heaven is a Bagel
…warm, slightly toasted, yet still soft on the inside, moist even, slathered with cream cheese so that it mushrooms out the hole. Sprinkled with chives. Yeah. You won’t find that in Iquitos. Such are my thoughts as I emerge from the mareado stupor of the ayahuasca’s onset into the lucid state of memory. The truthful memory also remembers what is to be. I’ve been in the jungle fifty years, inundated with its sounds so that the chorus of slimy, feathered, chirping things encloses my thoughts like a lipid bilayer. Imagine. The calluses of city life have dissolved from the backsides of my eyes. I’m tender as my child, a soft sun behind obscuring clouds. There comes a déjà vu of that first realization of my own presence in the world. The absurd specificity of the room I was in—the moment of darkness in the late afternoon before someone turns on the lights. So this is how it is. You take psychedelic drugs to remember shit you knew when you were four years old.
An hour passes. My mind—light as balsa wood—prickles. Licked by a yellow shapeless flame. My head weighs fifty pounds, lolling around a cowboy collar. With soft dry hands I wipe my face over. The pleasure is just bearable. The red eye of Cameron’s mapachu (a harsh jungle cig) blinks, floating in the black night soup. There’s an angle for my rocking chair, just beyond the tip of my extended toe, where I balance for an undefined moment before I fall slowly forward or back. My head is too heavy to sit. I go to lie on my floor cot. The pass of my hand’s reassuring caress runs over my chest and abdomen. Cameron sings an icaro. I drift…
(I’m 45 kilometers outside of Iquitos, Peru, the largest city in the world—half a million souls—which is unreached by roads. We brew all day. Pound the vine into pulp. Lay it down in the giant pot. Layer the wambisa leaves on top. 15 kilos of ayahuasca. 1,200 wambisa leaves. Cameron adds bark of the tortuga tree and the palo de sagre to bring their spirits into the brew. We fill the pot with water from the creek, build the fire up and maintain a vigorous boil. Cameron sings his first icaro of the day, shaking his shaker. Cameron is deaf—he reads lips and though his voice hasn’t been conditioned from continuous self-correction like those of the hearing he speaks clearly, if atonally. His icaros, or shamanic chants, are off key, arrhythmic and haunting. Ambling around the fire, his stride is unnatural (makes me wonder if deafness affects balance), his shoulders hunched, one arm flailing out to the side as if he doesn’t usually carry it around, the other flexed tightly working the shaker. At hour two we added more water. Again after hours four and six. Around hour eight the sky darkens and the machinegun footsteps of heavy rain pound the canopy, advancing quickly. The flashes of lightning came at intervals. The claps of thunder steadily close the gap. In torrential downpour we strain the evil looking brew into a smaller pot and popped it back on the fire. I dance around the fire, swollen drops of rain exploding on my skin, jungle mud cake squeezing up between my toes. Cameron reduces the brew for two more hours until we funnel it out into a bottle and watch it flow out like ketchup. Just a liter and half of the bitter wood wine, crimson, auburn and purple.)
…and wake tripping. The vine has crept up and grown over me, its dead weight a pressure on my chest. I pull in a breath and the vine pushes it out. I remember that crawl space under the eave of the old house in Wellesley, my little attic hideout, its big corduroy elephant pillow, the mock porcelain treasure chest, the twisting sweep of the flash light. The little boy’s treasure nook, the door to a dark world, secret, subject to strange physics.
I’m twelve years old, in my red and blue room at 27 Winsor Ave, standing in front of my mirror, naked, swinging my semi in helicopters, slapping it leg to leg, belly to butthole. Mousy little brown pubes. White jerking body. Karate.
I think of that night in the hotel on the Upper West with the construction site outside, when you threw a fit about a missing iPhone charger and I thought it was really about the charger that you pounded the comforter with your bangled arms, eyeliner streaming over your temples, staring at the ceiling—and me helpless, irked, irretrievably in my own cloud. And a realization jumps eagerly out of hiding. It wasn’t the charger. It was the smothered betrayal of last summer’s dog days. The tear-logged months, nine of them, we shoveled over its dirty rearing head.
I hear jungle sounds. Ear pricking fear. From the first I always heard my fear. Its chameleon footstep. Cameron begins another icaro, the ever-so-slightly-irregular hush-crunch of the eucalyptus leaf shaker, the off-key droning, he sings: limpia el cuerpo, sana el animo, ayahuasca, wambisa, ayahuasca. Of tantamount importance in an ayahuasca ceremony, the icaros set the pace of the experience and guide the listener back from wherever he might stray. I smile with gritted teeth, the atonal icaro more bearable than calming. He gets up and starts his unsteady course around the prayer rug and over to me. I’m hanging on to the cot, the space behind me formless and beckoning. The shaker now beating over my chest and face. And me waiting until it’s over, until a thought bubbles up from down deep where it’s been waiting to be remembered. The ceremony, the song, the night, the whole damn thing isn’t about me. It’s not mine to hold. It’s nothing I have to be. What a holy burden off the chest. The vine loosens.
Intermission for peanut butter snack with Cameron in the kitchen. When our eyes meet in the low light he laughs, his skin pulled taught by the drug, his pleasure childlike.
But then, what thoughts bring me prostrate in prayer, knees curled under me, face mushed into the mattress, arms extended in supplication for who? James Eagan Holmes. Mind on fire, I imagine what horror strobes under his scalp, his roots showing now, brown, the red orange yellow not fading but floating out infinitesimally. Does it feel the same now, wiping a freshly washed and dried hand down from his brow, over his eyes, nose, his dry lips? Or have the intimate bodily awarenesses slipped out of the dream. Does he even feel his cock anymore? Pull on his balls to unstick them from his leg. Rub his chest to remember what it feels like. Does he relive those sparking, snapping moments in the theater every time he catches his thoughts drifting towards, say, fall in Denver, the way Amanda Lindgren can’t stop remembering her boyfriend’s tensile body jerking over hers—his torso and face smacking at bullets—forcing her so uncomfortably into the arm rest that her ribs are still bruised two weeks later. Or does James Eagan Holmes not even remember that night? Like a movie watched half-asleep. His mind just the usual nails down the chalk board everyday horror. Or is it quiet for him? Wordless thought muted by distant sound, far off explosions, so far he can’t hear them or feel them, every waking minute like 4 in the afternoon just after winter before the crocuses come, everything grey and mute and the distant shouting. Or maybe it’s just as you might expect—a terrified misanthropic kid, shocked, wanting not to die, which would be too human, too real, but instead wanting to not exist. So I prayed for him who needs it most—the unspeakable grief of the family, friends and community of the victims notwithstanding.
The night stretches before me. I put James to bed in his cell, crumpled fetally. Cameron’s on his cot looking at photos of his wife and girls on his phone. I breathe deep. Remember friends. The goodness of my family. Spend hours on my back, smiling. Then—a cloud precipitates sleep. The calm dark sky of my mind sours. As the vine creeps towards dawn the second poem of the night falls in my lap. I know it line by line, each occurring to me obvious and right.
pushing the black bulbous head
-beaked and tiny-toothed-
of purposelessness back into the frigid murk
lapping and slapping
against the edges of the hole in the ice
The Purposelessness Porpoise.