Ladies and gentlemen, this is a hijack. Years lived mute, observing, absorbing, waiting for a time of passion and furious, astonishing life.
Then the cracks appear. After a while, everything false falls away or madness comes, a relief...another breath.
This is for all of those un-lived days, a distinct call for justice against paperwork, dead time and dishonesty. An embrace to confusion, the wild days and the dissection of masks & loveless times.
Contact can sometimes be found at - Tofeelalive (at) gmail (dot) com
"We will go up to God and salute him," said a Bedu to Palgrave in the 1860’s, ‘and if he proves hospitable, we will stay with him; if otherwise, we will mount our horses and ride off.’
It’s autumn. Working until collapse. And how good it feels! There are many tales to come here but time has been spent either hiking or husking corn. And dancing and writing in a cold caravan when fingers have been able to grip this pencil. The other night a black and yellow lizard by a small river in the forest. An immense clarity and lightness comes before winter, at last, after years of searching it. Languages, possibilities, catching both sunrise and sunset for the first time in years on a day-to-day basis. Tall oaks. Peruvian green tea that give dreams of Latin America once more. Flamenco and the accordion and her red shoes in Zurich. Palabras como fuego contigo! Ah, and necking beers after 14 hours work. This.
Brer Rabbit look like he feel sorry kaze Brer Fox sech a numbskull.
A. B. Frost, from Uncle Remus and his friends, by Joel Chandler Harris, Boston, 1892.\
He spoke in Spanish. In Spanish I hear things with my body; my blood, not with my mind. - Anais Nin, June 1936
Electric lights out of nowhere burning candle, camping, construct—-create something from all this before it all goes to flames. Go not to take photos of storms / only eyes can and electric people. The song of the chauve-souris…a bat overhead, thunder roaring in the trees nearby; stars; white clouds; pine tree forest. She has a tattoo of a feather beneath her ear and she has driven me 1,300km out of her way, close to Spain once again. Halva, the route for Portugal. We speak Spanish all the way.. I drink it with my ears.
There is no better way to make use of this time; perhaps I shall be able to make up for the time which I uselessly and senselessly lost when I had at my disposal so many years of possibilities, - Prince Yuri Lbovedsky as written in Meetings with Remarkable Men, GI Gurdjieff,
People hang their heads / look out deep from their nostrils. Paintings hang from every possible nail, placed in every corner of flowers and farmers ploughing their fields and all things that I thought I’d never get away from. As soon as we enter people change to their talk to what is outside rather than personal matters. Any speak of the heart is stamped out. Instead, words of what is out beside the pub. There’s nothing to do here, see, people catch fish for days on end and then leave them in unexpected places - playgrounds, supermarket entrances, fish and chip shops. Outside they were piled high staring at me through the walls. "What would you like to drink?", they ask. "Sea water." I can only think of the sea. I’d become one of them. Maybe that was the point of all this. I taste of it. Laughter. The refusal to be taken seriously. "Cider?" We’re on the wrong side for it. Nothing really has substance here. The best alternative is sand juice or pine needle ale. I must have grunted or barked out into the night like a roe deer. It appears that I have problems with my expression. The night after I would begin to learn of this, dancing. As much as I have denied it to myself for years now, I adore public meeting places. I stop thinking and just listen and gaze out. A couple in the corner keep glancing at us, their eyes bathing my skin. I must have been waving the feathers around, prancing around. I kept finding them everywhere when walking. We’re all birds over-intellegising flying anyhow, shitting in our stalls instead of from the sky. I would get mad at their eyes upon me and just hustle up and lay an egg right next to them, walking away as if nothing had ever happened. The next moment there was no egg there regardless. Returning to the thoughts of the fish outside, it’s a miracle that people can continue their sea food dinners and talk of the poor fish gathered up outside squirming around. There’s a hose turned up on them. Wonder how long it will last. The barmen keep pouring. Everything goes on as normal. Two girls walk in, pretty, made up, long boots, long legs and high heels. I could burst. I’d had this reaction for years, back when I was invisible and could only run into hard rain and crack my face open to thunderous drums - that I couldn’t see into them, that the distance stretched out so far that I couldn’t touch it, couldn’t move through it. It was a particular feeling with particular people. Guys too - tight jeans, slicked hair. Something about the eyes and the pride. If only I could get through this, to the vein. It was something old. It hadn’t risen in so long but lately, since coming back, it had returned. Thoughts without reason surfacing as if becoming I was, or wasn’t years and years ago. I go the other way to the side door. It’s a fresh night. I find it incredible that such a small place can hold so many people. Half the village must be here. They won some kind of national prize last year for its paintings. Damn. I scoop up the biggest fish I can find. It’s already given up. Too long. It’s so large that I have to drag it. A kind of hum comes out of me. I’m so content once I get out of my head. Even in times like this when I know the consequences of my strongest urges. Inside, again, my cider offering acquaintances looking on with apprehension but full well half-expecting this, one of them having given birth to me after-all, I shuffle on down to the well dressed girls, now accompanied by already acknowledged slick spring scented clean shaven young men, I plunk myself down next to them and heave the fish up onto the bar table. As expected, they are not well taken to my appearance. "Se digo, campaneros - mis pensamientos van a destruirme! Necesito vivir, vivir, VIVIR!" They look blank. "Did you know that the dark-bellied brent geese travel around 2,500 miles to the wash from Arctic Siberia and come here, The Wash, for winter?" I ask them. The whole establishment drops whatever they’re doing and everything goes quiet for a second and looks over at us. Nothing happens. People return to whatever they’re doing. And then one of the girls begins to laugh. Fuck. It’s all I needed all this time. I take the fish’s head out of my lap and lean it down on the stall. And I smile real big, a relief coursing through me. To be surprised by people is what I need. The two guys ask me what the fuck I’m playing at and would I like to go outside and settle this and they could knock me into the ground, and I’m sure they could but it’s alright, I found it, at last, the fish and I.
'Elle est encore jeune, uh?' The question suddenly opened up a hatred towards roads and grey buildings and what it is to be alone. Some could see it immediately, like her. Vesh I were outside a supermarket counting the last of our small coins. He had the idea to buy gallons and gallons of water so as to not run out on the trip back west. It would mean finding a trailer to drag behind us to carry everything else we’d collected since making the trip up together from the south. It would mean walking the whole way back. 'Soon they'll be no nothing left', he said, grasping for his throat. He had not noticed the woman speaking to me. All he could think of was the desert. I had my shirt off, under the sun. I wanted my heart to roast and become coffee. I wanted it to burst in the face of the security guard patrolling the supermarket complex. I yearned for it to leave my chest and return only when full and ripe again, to break open with the nectar of accepted madness and tangible tenderness.
The woman pointed at the girl behind her. 'She's still young', she repeated in coarse French. 'She's still pretty and we'll pay 10,000'. Thoughts stuck to my forehead like wet cement. I couldn't get anything out but for the roads, the things, the stack of tiny silver pieces in front of us and the cars all thick grey smog licked and large. French often gets clogged somewhere in my lungs as if replacing blood with strong cheese, water with wine. It was the first time I’d spoken it for a couple of weeks and it wouldn’t breathe, nothing made sense. 'Hmmm', I slur. 'And we can keep recycle any water we consume', Vesh tells me, excitedly. 'She'll be a wonderful fit for it', the woman counters, prodding my ribs. 'For what?' Was I “it”? I shuffled on the spot and began to sweat. No matter what, I am caught off guard. Here of all places. But it’s her eyes that have me hanging. They cut at my skin everywhere they touch, stripping me bare to the guts. She prods me by the spaces between my ribs one by one. 'Parfait, parfait,' she murmurs. 'Quoi?' Kidneys. She wants a kidney. I can already feel one leaving, in her hands already, rocking back and forth. Pulsating. I could barely move. I keep having huge energy disappearances. Stolen by words and eyes and the big gaps in between what people say and what they do. What I mean and how I act. In her cupboard wobbles dozens of jarred kidneys. Only the best will do. But there’s always one more. Her sister must have the perfect fit. They jiggle there in the night, glistening. I begin to run. At least I got legs. Visions of empty organs. '20,000!', she yells. And so do the beeping cars, rolling over the roofs, heart thumping, still there, still working. '30,000, 40,000!' she gasps. But I have always been fast. Vesh remains with the stacks of coins and the woman runs too and I can tell she is used to this kind of chase. I do not know if I can last.
But I do. And at night the kidneys come for me jumping into bed, the squidge of their tread carrying 40,000 francs in sealed checks. The largest, in a suit, sits on my chest bowing. You learn to sleep through almost everything. Vesh was correct. It’s all due to the water. We lead two camels across the Swiss border. But they will not allow them on the island but I must be here. I must be now. My heart has become my kidneys.
Image - graffiti in Brick Lane, London by Otto Schade : Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Je vous construirai une ville avec des loques, moi! / I will build you a city out of rags - Henri Michaux, Contre / Counter, 1934
it was midday and the mountain sun pressed against our skin I am slithering back towards feeling good again, this day. The feeling of doom had slipped away in the Spanish Pyranees. Now we were in the kind of noman’s land of Andorra, the tiny country nestled between Spain and France. And my voice was deep. It’s only deep when I’m sick. When I am coughing out my heart. There are stories of people who speak Spanish in Catalonia and have been beheaded. I am trying my best to appreciate it while it’s still there / He came to us while we were beginning a feast, for the third time this morning he had found us, small things grow in stature when you have little. We grinned, splitting our mouths open. I felt well with him immediately when he stopped. He was travelling with a truck to save the bees before they all disappeared. Me encanto el miel, he tells us. Pero estamos jodiendo todo. Everything is changing, he believes. They only want you to believe that what you do doesn’t matter. It’s all a lie. The borders are all just lines. And more than that, the borders of all. The way we look at people. Just as he was saying this, a man in orange crosses the road towards us. 'Joder, tio, estos maravillosos chicos,' he said, speaking to Benni. 'Viajando, tanto libre…' I was in disguise. He did not know I understood. He did know sometimes we were not maravilloso. Of the times when I coughed and wheezed and thought of all the things that were not true but that which I once believed. He showed his arm. He got this when he was a teenager. He stole from people, he was a cabron towards people dear to him but ‘no he hecho algo muy malo’ he said as if begging us to believe him. He could have been like us, he could have been gnawing his fingers when starving, he could have been travelling and passing the time with people’s explosions. When people just come and open up as if they had been waiting for it for years. Upon his arm was a jigsaw piece. 'He got it when he was still young', I translate for Es. I’m watching his eyes. Tears are forming. It’s been a long time since I saw a man cry. He has the eyes of a kid searching for some kind of acceptance, understanding. I was afraid he would just stop and turn away but he continued. He speaks a strong, thick Spanish crawling with slang. It makes me smile. I always felt Spanish from Spain to be particularly creative and colourful in comparison to the more formal Latin American Spanish, closer in the usage of the informal tu rather than usted. 'He's saying that his life is a prison and joder, he see's people like us and just breaks down and thinks of all the things that he cannot do', I tell S. He just watches his eyes. Watching this man split open in front of us, tears streaming down his face. 'Pero, eleges tu vida, eleges cada respiracion y como ves la vida.' I tell him. He looks at me, surprised, as if I had burst through his dream. 'Hay muchusimas formas de viajar, amigo. Yo, estoy viajando asi ahora. A veces en papel. En suenos, en conversaciones, en los canciones en el bano.' The mother of his children had stolen all his money. La puta calle, la puta calle, no puedo, he kept shouting. He couldn’t become homeless, out in the street. And I asked him what he dreamed of at night. And he stuttered. And at last he replied, donkeys in the mountains. And they were collapsing. They will not collapse tonight. They will go on or go back, but they will not fall down. Why the jigsaw piece? Because it cannot fit anywhere. My eyes open wide and my chest full of laughter. In six months I have felt myself in a forest of trees without leaves, where I could see for miles and there was no one. But constantly, in these months, things come to me telling me, it is not true. Look closer. In winter there is growth. La puta calle no es tan malo. I will take my heart and let it dry out. You cannot drown forever. 'I will cut off my arm', he says, pointing at the tattoo. 'No.' Benny and I both say in unison. I liked the jigsaw puzzle and Benny thought the arm would be useful for some things. He leaves. Benny leaves. I swallow. We will attempt to picnic again.