Rode the elevator up to the 20th floor from somewhere in the middle, the doors parted and I stepped out into a field of eyes and a sea of sound, a small podium before me like a restaurant check in, and they looked at me and I knew it was wrong, knew the 20th wasn’t the top, afraid it might be where I belong.
Why do I keep counting all the ways you might not count on me, says the mouse inside, all the ways this “I” might fail, stuck on gelastic fantasies drawn off sheer fear and memorial disquiet of the sort that blood breeds, cut through with equal parts darkness and light, one might say in a nod toward fairness, or something like it, something balanced and even, even
Thank you for looking and seeing that something’s here—my sum, perhaps, or maybe just some pieces. Sum pieces. Clever, no? I don’t know, perhaps? No, not at all, not really, but thank you for the half-grin, the up-curving lip corner and askance glance with not-cold eyes, knowing me and my rhapsodic persuasions,
P.S. – Believe me, I’m not trying to embark on some regular correspondence, just offering a splat snap smattering of uncalculated afterthoughts and feeling Los Angeles as if it were a psychological condition but I’ll leave you to decide what that means
Everything I tell you is a story, or a part of one, and I’ve no inclination-desire to be less esoteric, only to be more poetic. The tussle with content and form, with self, in fact, un-fact, and all its reconstructions, even selflessness with the “I think” qualifier to down-tone the pathology, and how and in what mode or medium to paint it. Even now—where do the line breaks go, if any? Ok, none, for now, decision made, and then there’s Yiadom-Boakye saying “the power is in the painting itself.” Not the page or idiom, in other words, not those somehow alone, but the act. The actless act, I might add, to dig it a little deeper, the selfless-ful effort of the putting, free of mission or agenda or construct. The power is in the prompt, you might say, and it makes no difference who you are, listener, and doesn’t matter who I am—just another listener, a sometimes teller, enjoying how it feels to hear and be heard, back in a corner, down in a hole, out in the open.
You know most of this already.
In the car with them, sitting in the back seat with her up front passenger-wise and turned back to me the two of us and talking fast like always like she had something to sell that she knew we hadn’t the cash or care to buy and the rain pelted the windshield and the wipers swung right back and the dark was outside full of unfocused and flickering points of light, streetlamps and headlights and incidental bokeh, while some vague figure in shadow form all the while drove us on.
Richard Byrd was a person and he said “no man can hope to be completely free who lingers within reach of familiar habits” and I remember seeing the dark brown-bronze statue of him in his bear suit and loyal dog companion in its dog suit down beside its great master’s leg in the old public library in one of the towns I grew up in, the one he was from, in fact, and I wondered, amazed as a child should be, about the things before that idealized gaze, majestic and impotent,