Spring 2011, #17


    an excerpt from
Twin Extra

     by Doren Robbins



We draw doubles, dreams do it to us, the dialogue we carry on with whoever's in there does it to us, I'm talking to somebody, the blues singer in the mirror, the Kabuki fool on the calendar cover behind him, my body's falling apart, he's losing his mind, somebody talks in his head, he mixed me up, he mixed up everybody, The Who Was Who Who's Who? — keep out if you know what's good.
Him downing all the half-and-half containers in Michael's and Terrie's, M&T Hot Roast Cafe, him with a bottle of Tabasco in his p-coat pocket—you're too close on me, he said, then right away started in because I wouldn't become a canvasser for the New Anarchist Eco-Feminist Whole Art Green Party Green Peace Leafy Green Androgyny Synaethesia Organization—what did he think I owed so much for? Does he think I would argue it was anything less?
I was a sailor of decay, I don't argue, the psychonautical don't argue, what excuses, I was in the middle of my badlands, I lived on Mormon Drek Lane, at least I was close to Vulgine's Deli where I could write at my table for two, my duce for one, they leave a thermos of coffee as soon as you sit down, and no other place within eighteen hundred miles I could eat hot pickled beef tongue. The smell in there never mattered, just after clean-up, the quietest time, almost un-breathable grease, garlic, pickling spices, lemon, poppy-seed, Lysol, vanilla icing odors—the symbolism never mattered, even the chipped rose bush thorns outside Vulgine's were emblems of melancholy, omens of periodontal ruin.
All the drowned places now. Tripped-up places. Some of them.
The unexpected unresolved. I moved to my regular table that wasn't free when I came in—for that enjoyment from the past, for the two tongues touching, in spite of the smell, that solitude, that pickled.


I'm sitting across from pistachio trees, the iridescence, the burnt leaf hole talking back to me, the counsel, what language, a year after Jack Arlon's funeral. I'm drinking miserable instant espresso crap, the true brand name. I'm inside the Dornogram now, or is it the Dornograph, or
the Arladorn? I'm wired now, in and out of the old geographies, remembered, interior, the currents roar back, not all of it welcome—never good at dividing things up, never fully connected to what it takes to absorb the dryness, to compartmentalize desire, dilute the very little that is sweet, the overflowing un-weighable amount that is sweet, if you notice, if you're inclined, the intractable but palpable amount, if you're lucky, however far I still walk into it neck-high in sand, mouth-high in timidity, still those, part way, my struggle to outsmart them, one myth of my labor, a shovel the size of a moustache comb I keep for digging a way through it all, whatever I call it whatever calls from there, what catches me, you poke around.


Those days, those Pitt and Hopper days.
Those lived in an old van used for meat delivery,
those grown comfortable with the meat hooks beef blood smeared, those had no idea how to clean up, those didn't mind the smell,
those were in preproduction, those had their research,
those were uninvited, those showed us money orders with our names
spelled right for once,
those were getting to the source, they came right at Arlon,
those had their luck, they pressed him, those had their character,
those got inside his head, those acted how those wanted to act,
they exchanged acting, those unacted everything he didn't like about
their act.
They saw Arlon carry himself as though Arlon had more guts, thought Arlon actually survived the journey that dumped him in a remote part of Crete—Arlon didn't survive anything, surviving is abstraction, surviving is inflated modesty , fortuitous caprice, and the other caprice, the Crete that left him agoraphobic, the trip that redumped him, half his head clear, the half he misjudged more than he should have, more than a decade since, more than enough answering more of the language of "his sirens."
That cave, that Crete, that retreat-a-Crete, he recounted, he signed the release form, the money was real, he made memory habitable, if they could find their way, like they could,
those two didn't know crap from rocks in their asses, one of those in the dream on the other of those's chest trying to suffocate him, if they knew anything if they saw the stained threads, the unchanged, the fissured, the untranslatable alphabets of the fissured.
He wasn't just having sandals repaired at the village sandal-maker, his pace, the quality of the leather, the price he had in mind, the cajoling charm that led to the desired quality, better than he could afford, the illusion of it, it went both ways for both of them both times, the deal, and more deal, whatever his lack of recourse, the direction, his thirst, the raki village wine erasing the stone in his throat, that ongoing stone.

He talked about sirens, he referred to sirens, those were entities, matters of fact. He believed in those, when he didn't he mocked himself for not passing into their grip, the magnetism, the chorus of those without human sound, the chorus for once without human interference.
He wasn't irritated, he wasn't compassionate, he was restless, immediacy was a siren, the drastic sides, the two-sided, the other side of the inner sides, the skinned, the unsoothed uninterrupted untraceable, the pressing aside side. He wouldn't give words to it, mocking was his natural dialect, his reasoning.
He wiped the back of his hand on his jaw.
Neither could get the hand movement right. He didn't give those the required defacements, his euphoricals, the gestures, bitter critiques, salutations, those commands those didn't get. I record a film unraveling in some other part of my head, he said to them and looked away, following what came next, the whip snapping with every one of their voices, the opposite contained a smaller opposite, a siren to itself, a magnetism,

the wild voices have their own way, sometimes they were the wrong wild voices, sometimes you don't know for sure, you can't untwine the loyalty, the uncertainty, the demands, you don't know enough, you misinform, you disalarm, loyalty the betrayer, you pull away, you pay for pulling away, there is no playing it back, you believe you made sure, subtides

control the consequences, you follow through, you intuit the location, it's natural to your development, it's not entirely somnambulistic, there were two epiphanies, one had two contradictions, no one notices, it is actually reasonable, it's the fate so to speak of unlabeled knowing, pleasure and damage mix—

doing 115mph up the interstate, the dumb exhilarating fact, the intricate unrealized chartered steps, the irresistible sound-track based on the simple facts, that was his loyalty, the mood, one or the others, and the spells complete themselves on their own terms, the blurry flood of their technique run their own shop, you look on, later you will look back.


That watching he used to do from a table, the one just inside a museum corridor, he saw everyone, every one, every time, move quickly by the Kwakiutl Indian mask with no slits for the eyes—was it vision turned inward, or no vision, no damned vision at all? No one (because no one stopped) recognized the first interpretation, and who could stand the second one? Ineluctable traffic in the corridor. The students of restraint would say the Kwakiutl mask is about seeing too much, and not to see is a purification. He would say: I can't argue against it.


That watching sitting across from pistachio trees iridescent qualities, the leaves, the agile, the breaking, a few broke off spasmodically, trembled of metaphors of trembling, the visual captive, the leaf core, the eyes, the spell, in the mental forest, in the pistachio tree juices.
A day you need to stay closer to what they are than to what you are.
At this moment. A lot of my moments. Those again.

Most of the logic is defective, a garden's under-layers make up the realism, enough of it, more than we can stand to notice, the mineral dreams, their demands, the ground, the under-the-ground, those, the exploration, the sunken freighter the boulder carries, the explored figment, the itinerary,

the chewing and secreting, the micro-insectile, the pistachio water tint inside them, the human parallel, the verisimilitude, all that coral, the compound pinnate leaf pores, their stark motion, the veins brimming, the point when dust ends what it lives on, what it consists of, does it devour itself?, what it transforms into when the dust teeth eat themselves, when it loses its trowel, when it last de-accumulates, when the micro-feelers re-expand, when the dust foraging reverses. All that.


"They broke him when they made the mold." They like to say that if they can. About everyone they can say it about, they like to say it. A few have to break the mold, to be unfit. He broke his neck a couple of times breaking the mold, he broke all his fingers, broke half of his nose twice—mother diddler!—his mold was a mass of chunks. He broke his balls only once. Thanks for that, he said. If he had only listened—things break on you that you always feared could break,
two balls once, two at the same time is enough, not because they are not re-breakable—and for some forever doomed to continued or threatened breaking—but because you so obviously so much never want to break them again. You can't fake the effort, you can't afford the risk.

His hang-ups were half of his sirens, he paddled out to reach them, floated on his back right up to them—and years to get there, in water that shrank him down to you know what. What jobs some of us have. What did he expect? When he was twelve, when the first globed ass drove him, he wanted to be Bo Diddly's drummer, he wanted to be the microphone for Martha Reeves and all three of the Vandellas, maybe there were four, four is better—seven years later, if he were alive he would've begged Chaim Soutine to let him watch for ten minutes while he mixed paint, his red fever, his murky delirium—he could've just been a libido with finger nails and hair, he might still be. He was until. And admit it, you don't actually know what a libido is, neither do I really know, and I too become skeptical reading or hearing such words, even when I get them—I see his face, I see the kinkiest hair ever on a white guy's head, it used to be like my head.

I'm sitting across from a parking lot, an electric water-pink pistachio tree, an outpouring, a neurotic attachment, a sympathetic breakdown, a leaf with a speaking hole, a betrothal, the imagination, memory's meth lab, Jack Arlon, brother-to-brother.



He tried to unfit himself, he was building up to, he was trying to unschlub himself, there was a fluttering around his heart, that thermos and a half of tar complected coffee—on the Santa Monica freeway, once the Richard M. "jailhouse-exempt" president Nixon Asian Assassin freeway, once Olympic Boulevard, once Mexico, once the unnamed national park of the Cahuenga people—now Exploiters' Paradise, Donald Duck's Bunghole and Disney's drekophilia, now bumper to bumper, burger to burger, Military Gate. Dorn's Graffiti: on the shit stall wall:" If you voted for Nixon you can't crap here your asshole is in Washington."

He was unfit.
He was never patriotically fit for example to line up alphabetically by height when they wanted him to. They lined up in a circle. Not a step in line. Maybe in general he had things backward. From the age of six till now everytime-everytime he saw the skinny brained clown Stan Laurel crying with hysterical ineptitude he laughed, but everyone in the room, in the dream, in the theater laughed, maybe it was more of a trend, maybe it was a condition.

I hoped I wasn't reading the future, not as a whole, the chances, nothing's far off now, mood burials, carcinogenic terror neurosis, the wrong secretions, dumbbell symbolism, delayed reduced rebates, no benefits, involuntary trauma—
not yet stung with seasonal thorn malaise, mental carbuncles, emotional wart configuration, omnivorous decay syndrome, predatory mold allergen breakdown from every direction, not counting the military direction.


After Crete, before they shifted him to the grill at The Italian Serpent Pasta Company, he worked the pantry six days a week, he worked humps of lettuce, melon rinds, pineapple leather stingers, artichoke armor either side of him surfaced in. When you work with your hands—you see yourself in the materials, not always the best materials, not always the bad sides, you see yourself in something else someone else, you think you're working it out, you get ruthless. Everyday you come in and tie the apron under that giant-sized hat worn by two men, worn like the fat-ass clown Lou Costello martyring every frustrated retardation inflicted injury, posed in the public relations' photo under a giant derby hat, head to head with his partner, his tormentor, his patron, his Bud, his dreamed head, his Abbot, his alternate drain.

There's a workable simultaneously working against you working for you and in spite of you system of twos. An accomplice to himself.
No wonder he hated the topography of foretelling, "I will hold on to my allegiance to the topography of remembering as long as I can," he said to himself, and prepared for the change to...mostly he was in the usual system, the intensity, that gear, his propulsion.

Coming down the alley, at the restaurant's back entrance where the cooks came and went, a derelict-healer beside the dumpster signaled to him. He was going on and on about a mold that grows "in there." With his finger he indicated the inside of his head, apparently a universal head: "You got t'know how t'sense the poison. No odor. Nothing. It doesn't have it. Don't you mistake it for something else." He listened to this advice from a man wearing two different shoes, one without laces, the advice with a shirt sleeve missing, a man with a beard covering his ears, a man who refused the dollar someone tried to give him and left it on the ground
by his bundle,
by his plastic bag luggage,
by a wad of spit-out gum,
by his stuffed dog, his non-biological twin, his non-identical co-worker, his publicity stunt specialist from his non-native land.
He placed two cigarettes next to the crumpled Washington and went inside, to punch in.


I click into the redwinged black birds' erratic singing, still ragged, I accept it, less red under my black, give or take a quill, give or take a day, the only day that matters, I'm in the fog texture I'm used to, what the birds make out of it, something more lucid, that yearning bud, throat music, not much to it, out of sound, the erratic black, that unwrapping, that breeze from the old ovum of the sea, old and to the brim, still, whatever we do to it, what we do.

I made it out of Rice Hill. The worst hill.
I tried writing the confession, someone kidding himself, right up to the end I tried. I won't forget it, can't forget that, the fuel, the sterility, somebody's mummified idea of pleasure, some kind of endurance.
The mock orange sucks the moth inside. The moth doesn't know if that's what it wanted. I understand.

One thing—I couldn't deal with the Rice Hill Jehovah's Witnesses people coming around to my apartment, the horrible surplus of their insinuated goodwill, nobody has that much goodwill, and nobody in that neighborhood had much of whatever there is to have. Most Saturdays I dodged them. When I remembered them, when I anticipated them, I moved a large potted palm in front of the door, I turned the Barbara George blues music way up. If I only wouldn't've heard the click of his rank shoes that had nothing manmade about them, their contact, a direct poisoning sound tapping concrete bled from them, and he woke me, always a bad thing. I stood there wishing him to return to the First Testament chapter on the vacuum, the spit pit of Cain, the fecal mountain, especially after he asked me for money.

And for all my actual and with-held nastiness, standing there wondering if he cased my apartment from the front door while blabbing about Matthew somebody—righteously, I thought—and for all that church solicitor's insipid hope and expectancy over the half' a'buck I gave him anyway, (and wish I had back now), for all his sanctimonious thankfulness, for the brochure I trashed without reading: think of it: I never saw him again. Neither did the world change.


3. Busted at Minerpuk's

There was going to be a meeting that day, that Rice Hill Jehovah's Witness day at Minerpuk's Book Store, that beginning of the day of the end of the unraveling of my internment at Rice Hill…I took the money from the cashbox for socks, wine, heavyduty shoe laces, that Greyhound bus ticket, the abortion/the abortion, those leather buttons, the bland excruciatingly precise Jim Hall concert I walked out on, too intense to sit through it...

I thought I would see who was in the centerfold, I got tired of sweeping, if I didn't like it I wouldn't look...not so much…I should've dusted the book cases more often, so I appeared occupied, I thought my patella, the right one, was dissolving, three years kneeling down on it to stack the lower shelves. Maybe I would get fired…I know without a flinch the whole point of that period in my life was to fall ass backwards…all I could do was try working with the carpenters again…I liked the way I sweated, I liked the sense of touch I had when I worked as a carpenter...I swept up the cigarette butts and went through a catalogue to look busy.

The truth is Roy wanted me out because of the money, which wasn't much, but "the principle of the thing," assistant manager Tilump said.
I was finished there. Maybe they found out I gave my employee discount to anyone I knew, maybe I put myself in the wrong place again. I thought I'd be all right with the 250,000 mites the dermatologist told me were living in my nose and all other noses, although he didn't have any idea what was growing in my armpit.

Maybe I put myself in the wrong hands again, I thought I might get my unemployment insurance and work as a laborer if nothing was going on as a carpenter, those jobs paid cash under the table. That's how I celebrated myself for a while before the 80s, before I got lucky, before I was able to put a few of the pieces together. To protect their own asses or the fingers and not any of the asses that didn't to get caught in the cashbox: no one was going to speak for me at the meeting. And what would they have said? The laws of work are packed in their own fungus. And who isn't a robot, any of us, dropping our minds into that drain feeding the growth.

I knew I was done there, I knew the mites were taking over in more places than noses, and I thought my Retriever-CockerSheltie, whatever he was, would be okay on his new diabetic drugs, "for a year," the Vet said. My RetrieverCockerSheltie humble to lick water from the street. I was about to lose the bookclerk job but I was going to go on trusting my own thirst, which meant I had to deliver take-out barbecue again, or buy a thrift shop suit and borrow a briefcase to telephone solicit tax shelter annuities again, or become a cook again, no carpentry I found out later, no building going on in those early Reagan cutback-high-variable-loan-rates-so-only-the-rich-could-risk-to-borrow-era, not over yet. Odd that the rich "borrow." Don't they have enough? And with what ease they do borrow. What is their need? That need.

I Fell back on cooking again, that broiler saute-man-vegetable-chopping-lackeytothechef-time again. The pans and oil flew in that kitchen. Seven years as a cook before Minerpuk's Book Store, then another two years, every year the uninterrupted schedule, whatever happened, every surge in the blade, every butchered pig and cow, grease burns, stitches in the hands and fingers, dogpiss on the deliveries, the weak sauce, the heavy sauce, the sweating through sauce too hot to eat, broccoli leaves in my beard, a hobbling ant in the Gorgonzola cheese, overtime, two-thirds cocaine-controlled holiday weekends golden time?the mania worth it right through the 650-700 dinners a'night rush, any other labor after Minerpuk's was going to be worth it, they were done with me there.


Minerpuk's was in Rice Hill. But it was all Rice Hill to me.
Don't go near Rice Hill. You could end up worseoff down the highway in Straw Hill, the worst straw ever—jobs in the nickel refinery, recycling dump, Rest Area Toilette Maintenance Unlimited wait for who's next in line at Straw Hill. But don't go near Rice Hill. Some people think you can make it in the remote places if you're not alone, but I'm telling you: stay out of Rice Hill, whether you've got a lover or not, whether you've got a dog or not, whether you're going to starve a little better or not, or you're going to learn something more about how to be efficient with your case of kidney beans and dayold bread shopathon, or not. Stay out of Rice Hill. Even if you get it down to the roots, don't let insight make you too cocky?

don't come near Rice Hill. Some people make it look easy turning themselves into a spit cup. Chronic Irritable Bowel Syndrome and NonSpecific Urethitis were alternating epidemics while I lived up there. Stay oughta' that place, stay outta' Rice Hill. Wherever it is you end up?don't even try Rice Hill. And let's face the fact?it wasn't just Rice Hill. Since I was eighteen and stood nine hours a day in a Jake L's Shoe Repair gluing soles, grinding heels, getting paid under the minimum wage?I always attacked,

I always hated any form of business, Western-Eastern-Northern-Southern Hemisphere corporate property managementarmed services, their Nosferatu investors, the gross money, the net money, whatever the country, whatever the economic system, wherever the capitalist state capitalist fake communist saccharine socialist Vichy gangster banker brain operates.

Stop the drugs of what you tell yourselves luckless future laidoff business majors?if you're not some hereditary peer owner's admiral's banker's royalty top of the landed military spawn or descendant, you end up with the rest of us working at The House of Suction, any job you have:

waitresses, electro dialysis technicians, computer programmers, laid-off dot.-comers, scabs in the sewers, bankrupt corn sweetener and denim investors, moonlighters for Cesspool Drainage, gas meter readers, postal slaves, penitentiary fry cooks, Radio Shack heads, meter maids, assemblyline workers, handicapped Xerox salespersons, Rock Star whores, sausage stuffers, defunct adjunct professors, all kinds of maintenance people, meat cutters, parttime and lifetime grocery baggers, carcinogenicized insulation installers, painters who end up sniffers and that cancer, plutonium pounders and that cancer, uranium handlers and that cancer, military flip-outs, depleted uranium gunners and that cancer, Agent Orange and meltdown clean-up crews and those cancers, halftime when you need fulltime, split shifts, partial benefits, six days, overtime, no over time, layoffs, strikes, pennies of raises, no smoking, no dating employees, no jacking off in bathrooms, this location when you need the other one, decreases of increases, bonuses shmonuses,

since I was eighteen I hated it, I was never right with the economy of anything, even as a kid the few times I played Monopoly I never handled much of the multicolored money, I was nervous about having more than one house, I didn't accumulate apartments very well. All I wanted when we played Monopoly, was to be the shoe.


Pitt and Hopper wanted to know Arlon's character, his idiosyncrasies, the text of omissions, could they be acted, were there preferences, what didn't he talk about, should one and not the other, were either of them suited?—

and what clothing, how much did they need to show sweat rings on their work shirts, how should they stand without flinching in police helicopter racket to show his expression, and the sequel expression, the way to set their jaws, to what degree did accelerated whipping propeller racket shred him from the inside—did he let on?—

what posture, what facial expression wheel-chairing his Alzheimered father ("I've got a nickel in my pocket, I've got a nickel in my pocket—there's a lot of no water in that empty bottle")?—

and how did he flinch or lock inside seeing the pewter dolphin necklace hanging from his dead sister's throat? which one should play death's accountant looking down at her, flossing his teeth with a busted guitar string?—

what way should they let on that bad luck follows the bitter heart, how long was his "heart" like that, how would he define "bitter"? —

how long do they have to run on cold, when, which days, are there particular days, is there a cycle, does he always recognize them, does "cold" mean luckless and to what degree?

and following which moods do they need to wear his lucky string tie to represent him? —

and which tools, work clothes, type of knee pads, glove thickness, what size respirator should they use to bring back that drunk carpenter day, that finishing a floor-stripping job alone day, that mean sanded-down-to-the-finish-nails in the layer above the termited hardwood period coming to an end when he lost his cool at Venice and Lincoln, that one last puke-hole of an oak floor job before he disappeared up north for nine years?

That wasn't for them, nobody, there wasn't going to be another money order, he doesn't say a thing about that time to anyone, they could imitate the munchkins of Shit Street and Vine for all he cared.

Then the floor job, what could he show them about the planing, the leveling, the shaded stain blending, breathing lacquer shavings and Vero thane fumes?—

how can you tell with your bare feet where the floor goes out of level, if level is not level, if it matters, if no one else notices do you bother?—

how do you treat hardwood splintered fingers, knuckles, palms, finger nails, which are the worst? How many are probable?

What should they know about oak dust paint-thinner lung-fuck and finger hair chemically burnt off, and how much pain-killer wine at the end of it to pour down to represent what led to the disappearing act up North for nine years?

Not a thing, he said, forget that, you should be telling Paul Wagner's story, Paul Wagner, that 212 pound kid in the seventh grade boasting he fingered his German Shepherd dog.

Pitt said, but how much would they have to persecute him for doing that, for freaking apart some division of things, how could they show that?

They stayed right on it, they wanted to know how many punches and how much spit from that crowd of boys would they have to give him to make that kind of thing real?—

and what would be the expression noticing Wagner when he noticed Wagner he said he saw Wagner stopped between buildings checking out Arlon to see if he meant to charge after him, and what to show in hm sensing his fear and not going after Wagner, how to gesture being outside the vigilante accomplice dimwit retaliation frenzy?—

and with what movement was he coiled-in-on-himself thinking how that kid with his dog made him sick with the smell and the overpowering of the animal he imagined, and to just leave him in the long paper-towel cylinder shadow view shielding him black between buildings, as he recalled?—

how to show the rupture, stopped moment, stopped motion, battered risk he deliberated the frenzy the world was in the wrong side of, the raw side of?

"We waited for the dummy target we tormented for drooling in half sleep on his math book during third period—we waited for Wagner, 'Wagner The Fat' with his long shirt sleeves buttoned, hiding bruises where they snapped punches at him at school whenever they found him since finding out about the finger-job—all of them, that day he drooled on the equations, spotting Wagner running from the window, they circled and rode their bikes over the grass and through the hydrangeas in front of the duplex where he lived with his grandmother, the chorus yelling for him to bring his dog out in his grandmother's bra—Play Wagner, find him, ask Wagner about it, who has the guts to play a fifty-one year-old Paul Wagner, Pitt, or Hopper, or who will it be?"


I haven't been this awake in a month, I feel the renewal coming—the Rastaman says "I-and-I," I don't mean the same thing—the filled-up part turns on—never more clear how the placement of the clouds eroticized the liquid in my eyes. Remember those eyes. Remember those cumulous.

The one I'm saying this to, an echo critiques what I say, an inexact echo mocks what I think about. I'm going too fast, it's the espresso-Excedrin-combination, it's Putt and Hupper, whatever their names are, those nosey-ass bastards, why do they keep hanging around—don't they have enough of whatever there is to get?

And does he know which one he resembles in the monologue in his head? The deadpan echo in his head? Could he express that? Everything he can't bring himself to say is disconcerting to me.

"Disconcerting? Disconcerting?" Sweet shit of life, what kind of language? He can kiss both my bagels if he won't speak up—will I ever know it from his way around, his cock-eyed-cacamania way around? And the fucking wonder is, the saving thing of it is, when I was alone at Pacifica Point I noticed the carob smell, I felt the mute shore, something defining itself, standing at the Russian Bakery window, a kind of

focal point, the glass shore, cinnamon sour cream apple coffee cake, that Russia—and carob, of all the fruit dangling in my mind, or was it wax-leaf privet, sticky white yolk flowering, the shimmed-up wooden tub, privet
shading and sprinkling a few chairs, the hot plant core secreting wildly, the insect mouth coming for it, the winged body resting inside the wet curve.

That small white table, they always talked at a small table, there's no explanation, there's nine explanations…but what I used to do, the way I came back, it was another table. That January

after I quit The Italian Serpent Pasta Company, I used to find a table with a built-in bench. At Pacifica Point, torrey pine and eucalyptus up there, maybe the last tree I will praise, not the fir,

not the torrey, I get nothing anymore from evergreens, they keep at it too long, they give the illusion, but the eucalyptus throws down its leaves and fruit, it gets rid of them

like they're an overload, a mother load, the eucalyptus
throws off its skin, is there a human comparison?

I was under the eucalyptus when everything came down, all the bench legs were under water, it was raining on the sea, the fishing boats were still, the light storm rocked them, not a path

out of the yard that wasn't under water, only red brick showed from the edge, along the patch where I grew sweet basil sleeves.
I walked by the line of bricks, the slant, the unevenness—later, without him, later, covering the wild mint and sweet basil with plastic against the heavy rain, every one of them, even the most mundane and trivial efforts I made in January, could be said to have been
against that sincere, that inexact, that persistent, that stump-head, that common ongoing, conspiracy of his, to close down, his half any way, not my part of the bargain.


But I was reading about microbes, I was attracted to microbes, they flourish in areas of extreme heat and pressure, and no way outta' that

world—when it all came down I could barely take in a cup of rice milk and banana in the mornings—just one time I needed to flourish in a way that had nothing to do with my gut or the other thing, I needed to

flourish without needing every drop of juice and pulp of every thing I wanted to put into it—what I needed was to be so plain there could be no confusion about what I felt.


One time at a time. Every little error. They add up. Waited too long. Is that it? Who was it supposed to lead to? Bad to you. To them. Up until. Even at Pacifica Point. Even with her. But not only that.

His hang-ups. My schisms. Self-worth. Self-warts. Frozen this. That other frozen. The old double-demia. D & D. Vim and Vigor. To see all of it. To un-schmuck myself. The ongoing discontinuous, the confrontation. Two minutes here. Half and half a minute there. That time. Those two. His fantasy. A siren to himself. He had to tell me. I had to ask. He had to show me. I had to look.

Comin' through comin' through, back off if you know what's good. The vast minimum, the set-up he didn't know he set himself up for. My myth. His job. The usual unavoidable. He went from losing a step to just being lost. The bottles of things he needs to take are adding up. The roots coming out the bottom of the planter—in his opinion they were not a sign. His opinion. I've been a man a long time. I've been wiping my ass right for a long time, I know when something's a sign, he said.
Whatever he thinks—I saw the shadow of a hummingbird
and it was a sign…of erratic grace doubled, hovering in two parts.

There's a deeper dryness further on down the road. It too has a double. And you see what you want to see. His choice in the matter, but one that goes against him, and no love lost there. Every extreme wants the flip side. That side. That's me, "Flip." For a while I was nobody's company. That collision course. That fusion.
What I'd like to do, what I'd like to do. Easy to say.


In the meantime I haven't put my fist through drywall since 1973. Haven't kicked in a slab door since '83. I remember that door. Working at home. Humiliated. My box of silver screws spilled over the landing. The cheap-ass drill-bit busted off inside the metal threshold,
my three-year-old running in…and staring.

In '83 the announcement on my carpenter's business card stated:
No Job Too Small.

I was twenty-nine the last time I took the machine up to 115 flashing my brights to clear the left lane. I don't remember where I was going.

It was just 1976, on Crete, camped-out below a remote ruin down the hill from an unlisted village, my exact kind of ruin, my preferred type of village, a worn-out temple to "Aphrodite...Mavros...Patos," the guy who sold me anchovies in wax paper, and wine out of a barrel, said in fragments: "black Aphrodite of the bottom, the end," I translated.

And I woke up in that ruin with Aphrodite's once full tits broken off among the collapsed columns, I came down, I finally rested, I got each ball adjusted, washed my face in cold tea, and started walking again.

Nineteen years later at Cape Corn he looked through the lens of grass emerging out of rock. Which was which? Him, the rocks, the grass, the tasseled ones looked weaker; he wore high rubber boots into the rising water...I'm getting to…I'm talking about...

there was a smaller Cape Corn he walked right out of in 1995?always a replica for him—lucky (some think unlucky) to live that way—the tide came heavy—he held on to the rocks, there wasn't any protection—he didn't know what protection meant anymore—the current was irresistible, especially with the rocks

dangerous beneath him, especially the ones the sea-grass split open—he was looking at the hair of a siren, "she" had a siren's desire, a heat that lifted you, he couldn't get over it, he couldn't get her out of his mind—the grass flowing out in long hot tendrils—his weakness for the current was the only thing he trusted—he lived with his weird customs, his compulsion for that current, even if his vow to it degraded him—he had to risk that, he had to answer for that, whatever it would reveal—

cobalt ice-light mussels poured stone sails on his eyes, an angry light, how groundless the mind is, just like that, the surf claw, the liquid clamps, "if it happens, it happens," that's what he told himself, on that side of luck, after the panic, his mind still in the water mass moving seaward, the water that almost chewed him down a gullet he didn't comprehend, as though it was just a dream of being dragged and swallowed, a myth of complacent masochism—the surf swinging out—merciful, random—an oracle with all of the answers in none of the languages.


1. Lama

How could Nora a twelve-year devotee to a Tibetan Lama, and how could Nora or any of them not see Lama's sleep shop salesman's claim that he was in contact with "the multiple worlds" and the nuances of the multiple worlds, the malignancies and nausea of multiple worlds— he wouldn't admit the weight and causation, the toxicology, its reflections, the fungus of appearance, the ramified, the crust divisions, the brain-plaque, the category's indecipherable total of myths of the multiple worlds,

the myth of categories, he claimed the connection, he barkered its purgation, that expert, that diagnostician of drowsiness—there were early withdrawal penalties, there were conference call memorandums while he dreamed about the contents of other peoples' dreams of other people that hadn't come to him yet but would, at least those devoted to him, though some didn't know they were, he had the facts, whether they knew it yet or not yet, in the multiple worlds "yet" meant nothing yet, in the wet and the semi-wet version, in the sub-grammar of yet, the para-etymology of yet that ultimately mattered to the ones who rotated cleaning his toe nails or flossing his teeth—

and what kind of a purist was she anyway with her hemp socks, recycled soybean sunglass frames, bottled imported re-filtered-non-anti-anti-oxidized water, parsley-cranberry-cohash-algae-spira-coiti-linial-yam-ash-and-beet juice essence breakfast, pale detoxidizing labial re-effluentizing white tea. The garden next to her garage grew most of the vegetables she ate. Usually her body, every part of it, had almost no taste. A great disappointment, Arlon said. It was all the purges and meatless water vegetable juice purity diets, including something one of Lama's twenty-six girl friends lectured about Royal Far Eastern Pre-Colonial-Purging Tantric Yoga non-lactic Archeo-Feminine Hygiene. Someone at her place was always going on and on about this and that bland herbal rejuvenation tea bath mineral herb oil libidonizing mood and estrogen stimulator to go along with their weekly spearmint enemas.
But for all her Lama servitude compassion-adoration-post-colonic trance cleanses Nora had no self-control for Michael, she was divorcing Michael, all maliceresentment when it came to Michael, what didn't she say trying to drive Michael crazy with molestation verbal abuse willed flatulence accusations, charging he had the sourest cum she ever bothered to compare, a locked-out dog barking in her head, in her larnyx, up the receiver, insults about his mother's glass dick she raged strategically into the telephone when Arlon was there.

And what was Nora thinking?—Arlon wasn't the tolerant vegan convert committed fellow traveler Buddhist retreater type. Arlon wasn't someone to walk with to Purgatory family Smirnoff's Dexedrine nervous breakdown recovery counseling sessions. He was blank about that package, what he knew about it, when he knew, and for his own reasons. She held the blinds tight, right down to the magnifying glass shaped like an ankh Lama used for going over her account. That's when Lama announced what they'd been dreaming or didn't remember dreaming and weren't sure what he recalled was what they didn't remember but couldn't reject what he recited back to them to the point he predicted what they would think or dream about and it was always the accepted verdict, because they made themselves curable, because obedience, because the preferred instinct, because all of them needed to find their "discipline," their "labor," in what he told them about themselves, so they would not dream or live through what tormented them again—
what compassion, what chicanery, everyone in such a rut, and they believed him: to be reborn there, or there. Lama, Fortytwo, dead to his twenty-six mourning girl friends, his devotees, his prominent Gopis, his spirituality punk-head strumpets mourning his end, the end of his directions, the end of his cock, in their dreams, in their conferences, his end, his rent up, his incarnation on the way, his ashes divided into twenty-six urns.

2. Petalled Blur

The promoter for three allgirl rhythm and blues singing groups when Nora was sixteen hung around where she was invited backstage after a high school concert to play pianorhythmand-blues and sing two of her own songs that were "good enough"—and invited her mother to call the studio connection for a demo and the next day she drove down the Interstate on her wheels of Dexedrine and Smirnoff's, then sent a no-show Western Union from Rolleway, New Hampshire 630 miles from Nora's piano. Part of their pact was Arlon attacking the mother's effects, the inherited, the command, every day, the slaughtering meat in the kitchen Nora mother grinding zone. He said it, she could never say it. It was part of Nora's protection. It was a mouth they shared. And she moved her part of it into his. The ventriloquism, the amnesia they were used to. Especially when she had to put the cat to sleep. He already encouraged her on the phone not to take care of her dying cat, he went over to the apartment of straw but they didn't know what to do. He warmed the milk and called a Vet. The cat dragged her ass-sagging guts under a chair, there was no touching her at all. Nora went over to stroke the sick cat and hold her against her chest but she dragged her organs into a corner under a couch where no one could reach her, as though the instincts in an animal signal when the organs fail. The organs failed. Trust failed, and sent her shrunken beneath a couch.

And when the pig in the apartment of straw sank down too far, the pig in the brick house came over to stay rather than risk the danger of possibly losing her, jeopardizing the integrity he placed on his compassion for her, or she might give up the sense of entitlement she felt from the integrity he experienced in his compassion, her enforced protection. There was some of that too.

Then Arlon started reducing everything to the metaphor of a garbage morning. The big truck outside the bedroom window woke him, she woke him getting straight out of bed kneeling at the end of the room addressing the wall: "my knoll of garbage," she kept saying, "my knoll of garbage," apologizing to "Susanna," she kept apologizing to Susanna, hands over her face, pleading, admonishing herself pitifully to "Susanna," and immediately climbed back in to bed—
he didn't know what burden of images held down in such a way flushed her out to the top of that garbage knoll of hers, still dreaming— and how could he question if "Susanna" was real? How could he reduce their chaos to a film running too fast for inconsistencies to be perceived, that they willfully left it that way, unclear, unsorted, unconfronted, mutual, an advantage to judge things only to the point they didn't interfere with "the setup"—Arlon was the pig in the brick house, Nora was the one in the apartment of straw—and they believed no matter how far down it went they could drop Quaaludes, whatever they had, smoke what they smoked and fuck their way back. No matter what.

Then that second time in a month her chestpains rushed them out of the house in the middle of the night to the emergency room for X-rays, and the blur the two of them made, the human garbage X-ray symbiosis defended to the point of frailty, one at a time, the same time, the heft of it, who can contain that? Part of someone's frailty and part

of someone else's prize, part of someone else prizes the power it places in someone, the accumulation, the lop-sided side, someone permits it, someone doesn't see someone the way someone has to go about it and doesn't get how to let go of it.

Why did the madness of inadequacy dominate someone's personality? And how did Nora threaten him? Why did someone become alarming? What incited the panic of running off to emergency rooms, what was the attachment to emergencies?

Saw the Nora pleading raw film dreaming for Susannah's forgiveness—the petalled blur in his head, the film, the truck blocking the narrow alley—saw the grass path dahlias' border from the apartment of straw, the differential pattern struck him, the variegated colors, the ardor, the way out, there was a swallowing effect, his intensity his decision disoriented him.