NO ONE IS A PICNIC
I love a game that is also
a typology. I love discrete
and finite categories that
describe my constitution.
For example who am I
in the astrology of the 7
deadly sins. I have a lot of
gluttony in my chart, I am often
lust-ascendant, I would say
pride is my moon if the moon
is what you call your secret
compass. But the vice which
rules me hardest and most
intractably is wrath. I feel
a lot of wrath even though
I don't have what I think of
as the phenotype of wrath.
I am physically small to
medium but feel a lot of
wrath and I think, in fact,
it's tied up very much with
my small to medium being,
what it's worth and what it
isn't. When I was having sex
for money there was a man
who liked me angry, who wanted
me to break pencils in half
across his body and hock loogies
at a mirror and destroy the garbage
he had hoarded for who knows
how many years in his overfull
apartment. I was good at everything
but the loogies. And I felt
something approaching intimacy
that the wrath I guard so
privately could serve so private
a desire. Reciprocity is a game
I wish I played more often—
what kinds of currency do I
have that have nothing to do
with money. I've gone through
several periods of feeling
too poor for friendship—
one reason I started responding
to dollar signs and roses
from the gray faceless ghosts
of our digital hookup graveyards.
Another reason, boredom.
Another, curiosity. The last guy
I ever picked up kept coding
the transaction with that word,
reason. Hey. Gen Daddy here.
50 reasons I think we could
make a deal. 50 doesn't sound
so reasonable in retrospect
but I was piss-drunk
and locked out of my friend's
apartment and it was nearly
morning. We were at a stoplight
in Kensington next to junkies
drinking from the sprung tap
of a fire hydrant when he told
me he had failed the priesthood
and become a ranger for
the Park Service. I didn't ask
him any questions. He left
the television on, a heist
with Marcia Gay Harden,
which took me for a time
to a halfway tolerable nowhere
place. When he was through
he put $20 on the table and lay
down on my back with a weight
that felt tenderly a prison.
You're so small, he kept saying.
Yes. I'm so small I'm hardly
more than a fucking pile of
dust. A pile of dust for fucking.
You could blow me away and I'd
be not even 50 particles. It costs
$20 maybe to buy a one-way
bus ticket or 1.5 drinks at a
20 passengers on the flight—
I'm blacking out now, I'm headed
deep into the country of my oblivion.
Each of us lit by seatback television
in our varieties of public loneliness.
And the disembodied flight attendant
has just announced a change
in cabin pressure. 20 oxygen masks
fall from the ceiling like a soft rain
of condoms. Someone is telling me
to breathe normally—are you
there, are you breathing?—
but the pressure is coming from
inside the body. The pressure is
like a ribbon of ice gathering
in my esophagus. And I am upright
now. Is that normal. I am reporting
to the cockpit. The faultlines
in the windows, I can hear them,
are they normal. Is it normal
to experience the plumes of wind
like love tingling in my nosehair.
I have gone away inside myself.
Is this normal. Is normal
necessary or contrary to survival.
Is normal why the beautiful pilot
admits me to her chamber,
the pilot as beautiful as Marcia
Gay Harden. She is, in fact,
Marcia Gay Harden. And she places
her beautiful Marcia Gay hands
on my temples, commanding me
to fly. I grab the flying apparatus.
I play the game where I imagine
my friends as old and silver.
I like this game the most because
in it we survive the hateful,
warful years, all of the terrible things
that will inevitably happen,
the terrible things we will do
to one another. Miles beneath us
are people utterly convinced
their longevity goes unprayed for.
You don't believe children
kill themselves but they do.
And there are cities of men
cowering in hotel rooms, afraid
no one will ever freely want
to touch them. And bodies taken
hostage by disease. Bodies which
are wage-slaves to the necessities
of care. And people occupying
bodies for which they must forge
a different language. The clouds
are parting now. My son,
Marcia Gay says, her chin in my
cowlick. O my son. The fuselage
was always already burning.
Please just be kinder to yourself.
We are headed for a mountain.
By the pound and cut, I listened, cow after cow.
All day the sound of the slaughter
I was meant for, all day
the moan of the come-along hoist
hauling through the lairage my skinless, quartered herd.
I dreamt myself that night struck countless times
by lightning, waiting broken-bodied
to fly into the eye of what I believed
a cyclone—but as the sound drew closer,
I could hear it was, in fact, the lowing of the nameless
who had passed here before me,
my brothers, my sisters bucking my weight
upon their ghostly shoulders,
pulling me awake, as human hands had pulled me
by the ankles into life—and I, in my waking,
felt it was I who had been lowing, lowing
from the hurt of a man behind me,
himself weeping as he fucked me so roughly
I did not need to see the wound
to tell that I was bleeding. Worse than pain
of the body is the consciousness of wrong:
worse, still, to know the beast
one unchangeably is.
O hungry God, O butcher, O bearer
of the meathook and the stunner, why do I so love
what causes me to suffer?
For even as I kicked the man and trampled him
thereafter, how I wished to run my nose
across his battered parts. It was he I thought of
bounding through the gate which was left open,
his bones I hear when a storm tears branches
from the trees, his pale and doleful face,
like mine a wild itinerant's, it is his face
I see breaking when the moon breaks over water
I have wandered to so aimlessly, so wearily to drink.
Some reality is too painful, it needs dressing up. So you put on the costume of a game, or a cow, or a poem. And the truth trots out, more speakably than before.