Early tragic morning Nothing stands out like ruddy eyes Told trees a quick dyed face Fresh oranges for the crows Ten days a space of road Cars driven by dogs No one alone Everyone playing Pills for waking Pills for dying Dust hand tooth wide Hug tons of selves Early early morning Restrict everything not freedom
Mañana temprano trágica Nada se destaca como ojos rubicundos Árboles dichos una cara teñida rápida Naranjas frescas para los cuervos Diez días un espacio de camino Coches conducidos por perros Nadie solo Cada uno jugando Píldoras para despertar Píldoras para morir Diente de mano de polvo amplio Abrace toneladas de identidades Temprano temprano en mañana Restrinjas todo no libertad
Mark Leyner is the author of the wild novel, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. Part cyberpunk, part automatic Dadaist explosion, part pomo stuffpile, there's never a dull moment. He's also written The Tetherballs of Bougainville, I Smell Esther Williams, and several other novels. They all have a crazed intensity to them, tossing language against the wall and cracking its skull. If it's sheer ribald panting you seek, the first chapter of My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, "i was an infinitely hot and dense dot," will get you there. This link will take you to it, then you can "look inside the book" to read the first chapter.
I am up late. This night cannot sleep. And I wish for rain and to be with you; it’s a kind of rain. To wish for you is to wish for rain. And sudden things and higher things and all shelter is rain. I open my window and listen for you.
One can see Bird ladies landing coarsely over sand. Puzzled worms extend From the tips of their bayonets. Each small worm carries an umbrella. Each a tiny candy, dancing without music or sound. The swiveling night, rudely angular, Is a frieze of tangled lines, Twisted into trees, Gnawing at the earth. The soil of our great planet is falling, Cries fade into sepia daydreams. Tears illuminate the night.
The following is a message I received back in November from my great pal, Jamey:
Just an hour ago, as I walked into my back yard to throw cantaloupe scraps into the compost pile, I came upon a small square of paper bearing a neatly written note. It must have blown over the fence with the maple leaves in last night's wind. By the way, Im not making this up.
At the end of my block is Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which includes a best-of-class amputee center and major medical facility. Many of the injured soldiers from the current war wind up there. Just two doors down from our house is a barracks for outpatient soldiers who have mostly healed physically. I've met people staying there who, miraculously, though with grave injuries, survived instances in which their friends and fellows beside them were lost.
Of course, I cant say for sure where the note came from. And you can make your own sense of what it says.
For me, it is a reminder that there are people suffering right now and struggling to make sense of things not only out there in the world somewhere, but right next door. Though I'm loathe to insert a political tilt to this story, it is hard not to remember what Ronald Reagan said in his 1980 presidential campaign: Before you vote, ask yourself, Am I better off today than I was 4 years ago?
And how about your neighbor? Here's the note, copied as written: Wed Sept. 27, 2006 131pm * Be Honorable, never lie to hurt someone, and only under circumstances do you do so to protect feelings * respect wishes of other * Do not cheat myself * Be more Discipline * Seek Vast knowledge and wisdom * accept the way of this world as is * honor and remember those you knew know and love
Shall we dance? Shall Yul Brynner approach your town and sling his Winchester Model 94 over his shoulder and laugh a strongman’s laugh and erupt into gunfire and cat-calling while his hands rub against each other with precision? He always said that: “With precision.” And then he’d grin and shoot a cow in effigy. On his estate we used to watch him make papier mache animals for days, adjusting the horns of the water buffaloes to look startlingly authentic in the hot midday Texas sun. Then we would gather at the bay window
and watch him shoot those paper animal effigies to smithereens while he laughed and laughed
until he fell down, watching bits and shreds of animal paper falling away into the wind, swept along into the fields where real animals grazed. Goats. Yul always had goats so that he had something to eat up the paper that he would shoot all over his fields. It sort of made sense to all of us. All of us except Young Jesus, who never showed up. I can’t say where he was at those times. Perhaps moseying around the village square, bumping into people, saying, “Excuse me, if my mother is looking for me, would you please tell her that I’m in my father’s house?” But of course most of the people he bumped into were little children being led by their mothers and they would usually pull the children away and look back nervously at Young Jesus, wondering what kind of child would have such bloodshot eyes and why on earth he would be wearing a weird loincloth with tahini stains on the seat.
And it seems, but only seems, to come up out of doors and floors and in brine we fit ourselves with homing devices, shifting from one slippery foot to another, waiting to be taken away by pages and squires, also known as sharks.
The knights are cold, and called Ocean. Shimmying down into cranky cold bottom, sand whispers things like: Better not wait, I should be your priority, make me top of things to do. We wash our hands in the sea, which takes no time, since this is the long slow process of legally drowning.
Our airplane beeps down there, under my pants and the fishes under my pants. Floes of mentation imitate dollops of a hungry city. Idea-dirigibles swim around, but wait, no island. We wait. My comrades are here, just thoughts like a dozen or so effigies, dissolving.
Cranky thought of land runs up my leg and makes me laugh too hard. I survive once more and again. Even the sun has waited to hear something to give hope to the fishes.
This is a knot, a story of retribution, a scenario of the way I closed my eyes and felt around under a buoyant continent and came up shorthanded. Near to me is the fellow who marked me for dead, and he’s dead.
They find me departed and I find them the same. The captain of castaways said dine and we dined, although there was simply nothing.
You are the squadrons of youth. You, of the mighty darting limbs and the bug-bellied singing, I root for you. A country without you is a country without a president. You hunt even with your eyes. What foolish ambassador would fail to recognize your greatness? I once heard that the people of Mauritius sent a case of you to the planet Neptune and you took the place over.
And we ran as we glanced through sheets of rain, stumbled over brooks and wolf sounds. Walls around us filled with water, held us in with frogs and scared fauns. Streets bent and sank into city brine. Through the mist on the panes all the children watch a yellow tree change into birds.
Names exchange as stars beneath time burn day to cinders. Eyes blow on candles, sing their inceptions. Petals, out of space, split into here and not here.
Evening is stretched out all down the river. And the flush of an apple shivers over tile roofs.
Bodies of birds swim in gardens, pebbles quivering under grass. Leaping with all their fishes, ponds leave holes in the past. Moments share swiftness with drifting blossoms.
Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter, Out of black bean and wet slate bread, Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar, Out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies, They Lion grow.
Out of the gray hills Of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride, West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties, Mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps, Out of the bones' need to sharpen and the muscles' to stretch, They Lion grow.
Earth is eating trees, fence posts, Gutted cars, earth is calling in her little ones, "Come home, Come home!" From pig balls, From the ferocity of pig driven to holiness, From the furred ear and the full jowl come The repose of the hung belly, from the purpose They Lion grow.
From the sweet glues of the trotters Come the sweet kinks of the fist, from the full flower Of the hams the thorax of caves, From "Bow Down" come "Rise Up," Come they Lion from the reeds of shovels, The grained arm that pulls the hands, They Lion grow.
From my five arms and all my hands, From all my white sins forgiven, they feed, From my car passing under the stars, They Lion, from my children inherit, From the oak turned to a wall, they Lion, From they sack and they belly opened And all that was hidden burning on the oil-stained earth They feed they Lion and he comes.
An Italian-American Spaceman Foresees His Death:
Smashing against ashen walls, alone in space,/
Weirdly wired, mind warping/
Through the void, veering over/
The vapid edge of madness, mumbling aloud,/
"Per aspera ad astra, you young asshole./
It’s a rough road to the stars, Rotando."