I dream of a studio in which silence fondles an air that is luminous and gold. A freshly squeezed tube of paint sags like a sack of potatoes. A jungle wildcat spins on a phonograph. There is cinnamon on the table and it dazzles the eyes and urges the need to paint. I am moody and glue. A moral wanders the room crying at the futility of it all. An indigo song works miracles of immersion in a book about pharmaceuticals.
Morning flops down on the ground religious as a color on fire. We climb into ourselves and clash with history. There is a peg for a leather hat and the cook pokes an animal into being. A harmonica murmurs something about life. The decorations on my jaw are vines seething with blackberries. A batch of words exults in the turmoil of life. Odors of strange ineffability drop from the sky. An indicative mood bends into infinity. There is no need to explain photosynthesis. It just happens, like words appearing on paper, or a leaf eating the sun.
Let us say presence is the alphabet of absence. It is like a pronoun wrapped in tinfoil, an illusion performed late at night on a Los Angeles stage. A man in a wig courts a frog. There is a stove of burners with the flavor of ascension. Consciousness is simultaneously three-dimensional and empty. It is shaped into a paragraph, the map of a magical land in which a sentence lies squashed and bleeding, introverted and glowing. There is a bazaar crowded with shoppers and a man stands near a table enthralled with a can of whipped cream. The way the cream ejaculates from the can conveys leniency.
The strongest version of subjectivity is that facts of consciousness are out of space and come in sequences that are attached to or are episodes of a subject in the sense of a self or ego out of space. Bach in the men’s room, washing his hands. There is, in all of us, a fairy sailing across a river in quest of God’s fresh bright ooze. We are hurled into this life like bowling balls, bald and heavy and smooth. Later, we grow hair, and arrive at conclusions that serve to enrich our world, while obfuscating and confusing it. The truth is bald. Always bald. This is the essence of hair, and why salvation is found in the desert.
Do you hear a seraph crying? Indulge this sound and drag it into a poem. Make something of it. Aluminum nipples, brass tongues. Scratch your leg with a rubber dinosaur. Write a book called Möbius Dick. Float like a spirit, punch like a clock. Drum something. Junkyard shadows. Footlocker doors.
We must learn to accommodate this convocation of skin called being. Flirt and adapt, wide-eyed in Kansas. I have thirty emotions in my left pocket and a stethoscope dangling from my neck. You see I am just like you. Bone black in England, shouting at the wall. I toss and turn in my bed at night. There is a sternum at the center of my chest staunch as an Arctic horizon. I wear Pythogorean pajamas and fold the heat of the room into a hummingbird. I drink from a waterfall. Horses gallop over the hill. Factory strikers stand around in the smoke. I grasp the kiwi and run.
Despair is Spanish, focused and deep. I draw the room until the space spits itself out of itself. Fiction is not always a fiction. A lame thing to say, I know, because it’s so obvious, and yet it needs to be said. I am peremptorily yours. I love you. I tumble down the alley looking for you. You must always seclude yourself in order to find yourself. I am full of lame things to say today. Here is another: power is intoxicating.
I raise my thumb, naked as a word, to the configurations of the world. The stickiness of my fingers indicates that I am in a Chinese restaurant fat and happy and remembering my days in California. I don’t argue with the world, I just tattoo it to my arm or rattle it in my finger. The raw umber of a mining town reposes under the heaviest snowfall of all time. There is medication for this life and it takes the form of reflections on moving water, the sleeve of an old coat, the heft of brocade or the very freight of the body itself lifting itself from a chair.
Coffee excites the nerves. And why not? You can crumple your narrative and begin anew. Earth is a serious place but it’s also round and malleable as molecules. There are pumpkins in the garden and fresh linen on the bed. William Wordsworth mutters something about little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. I can’t argue with that. Not all wounds heal, but most of them do. The ones that don’t heal make good decorations. Events of consciousness, whatever their intrinsic nature, will come creaking into the barn, and feed the cattle, and stir in the air when the door opens. Some will become words. The rest will concede in silence.
2007 Intro to reading by Peter Culley
5 days ago