Someone on the ship had told me the joke that what the government in Brazil stole during the day grew back at night. It seemed to me now that I could hear juices flowing to the roots and being transformed into mangoes, bananas, papayas, pineapples,
-Issac Bashevis Singer from the short story, One Night in Brazil
He was straggly, wild eyed, hair wrenched down his shoulders and unwashed for decades, shirtless, no recognisable patterns or definition to his body . He had dug up a goldmine outside the supermarket - a shopping trolly full with ice and no one to attend to it. He grabbed at his forehead spinning in circles. One can only have so much ice without a freezer.
Meanwhile, a young man with toned muscles and slicked back hair walks past with a spandex superman vest - written - ‘who can save you now?’ He doesn’t notice anything apart from those who are looking at him.
In the pharmacy is the legless man pushing himself around on a skateboard. He’s moves up and down the streets with his hands out stretched, reaching for a better life. He’s a great deal quicker than superman.
Mexico, once more - home of unquenchable desires, jungles and a wallet sucking at the neck, relentless. Just to be here for a drop in the ocean. A thousand worries draining my blood - let the Cancun rats have the future. For everything lives inside the eyes and the chest. The armwrestle of death, the thousand proofs of being a man in these lands, the transcendence, the jungle snakes and the coming and going of breath beyond it all,
It’s time to become something, at last.
image via Indian Road Romeo
There was a story about a travelling salesman whose left wrist began to hurt him, just under his wrist watch. When he removed the watch, blood spurted out. The wound showed the imprints of very tiny teeth.
- Julio Cortazar, from Instructions On or Rather Examples of How to be Afraid,
I opened her stomach and inside I placed a small house made out of wood, the kind that I would build as a kid in late summer evenings to hide from my father pacing the ground below wanting to make me as small as a cocoa bean. It’s cold now and I wake with ice upon my tent. Far from those long shadow dusks. But this house will stand, I promise you.
In the house live birds with feathers from the sun and strong autumn leaves. And sometimes I live there too. On fire. I never knew it could stand all this. I couldn’t have imagined. There has been so many disasters in the last years,
I feel her writhing with it inside her.
A mangled beast walks out of her bellybutton. Its nose long and pointed, skin tingling, broken and on his back carrying a dozen ruined cities retrieved from out of the house. He is cold, trembling. But now it doesn’t affect him. Full of bird song and the roaring days, Outside, he chokes on the air - the smog of ugly lives of half truths and dead time, waiting..waiting…waiting for it all to become important again.
I cup him into the palm of my right hand and we march off to the sea. I tear open my appendix scar and gently place another house inside. I always wondered what the use of this wound was, that always made it look like I had two stomachs, that I always breathed deep with to show I wasn’t full of chocolate and tea biscuits. That I was whole enough to be loved or touched or looked at without flinching. So that I could live without murdering the days, without disappearing into the floorboards, or packing my bags and heading off for the moon once and for all, to hell with it, no regrets. But it would be lonesome up there and once up, there would be no way back down.
Image - Masao Yamamoto
People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”
His English was almost non existent and my German as small as a hummingbird, But we spoke. Almost with fluency.
He had whistled to me from a ways away at the peage. I had seen him pass me and he reminded me of an old friend in London town.
Russel was his name. He told me it was Russian. Or perhaps he was Russian. Or maybe he meant rustling and his name was some kind of native american traditional name. But his eyes were blue like burst water balloons, mid-destruction. I didn’t believe he was native.
He was travelling to Luxemburg to see a fuck buddy. Perhaps it would turn into more.
He told me his blood was deteriorating and in three years he would be all but gone.
'Ich bin nur fünfunddreißig', he kept saying. He has a ten year old daughter. And a wife who left him as soon as she found out. The air stung and hung down in the freezing night.
'And the woman in Luxenburg?'
A period of silence. It was the one that cracked it all open. I should never have allowed the air to expand.
'I leave you here'. He pulled up on the side of the road, motorway, pitch black. Instinct hits. I imagine waking in my frozen tent.
'I'll disappear forever', I shouted at him. 'I'll never leave!'.
'Just like me', he replies.
He left me outside of town, in the end. The cold seems to bring these things, attaching themselves to my skin. I wish it hadn’t ended like that. Wish I could have helped him more. But I walk into town feeling strong, the journey that felt impossible for several parts of the day now laughing in the echos of my footsteps. Here, cold and determined. Hot damn, how do these things just happen?
I arrive and find that my tongue has fallen off. I communicate in mute, slobbery French. There is hot soup and rice and my belly sings. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and winter takes even more away. There are so many more things that I have to learn in conjunction with the maddest moments, when the blood ceases to circulate, and when it charges on down into the night leaping upon anything that moves. The lack of life was always my downfall.
The soup drips from my beard. I dive my head in right up to the eyebrows. I’m that excited.
Picture - Edmond Bille, Une Danse Macabre
In the dark, a louse is worse than a tiger,
-Meetings with Remarkable Men, GI Gurdjieff
I will refuse to believe in winter ‘til my toes become a part of my boots and I only breathe out ice. I am always in the wrong part of the world…of myself at this time of year. But things are changing. I have stilts and the snow will not reach me.
Picture - Stanko Abadžic, “Bicycle Art on Wall,” 2008
If you don’t have room in your backpack for an elephant - do not make friends with the elephant trainer,
- Sufi expression
'Presente…Harry'. He took a bow. He had been standing across the road for a long time, watching me and then falling into a trance of his inner world. He seemed to neither speak English nor French very well which sometimes occurs with those who live beside borders. He claimed to have been copulated within the confines of the channel tunnel during the time it was being built on a rest run of the train. In the driver's seat.
Naturally, he believed I was from Paris. I spoke a strange French, he said. It sometimes sounded a little Spanish.
'I once knew a boy who go to Paris…the city de thousand lights…oui!'
I had been waiting for something there for fourteen days. One night I had got up and decided, ‘okay, I will leave and I will wait for something to happen’. I had ran out of hummus and bread a long time ago. Though his eyes kept coming in and out of focus and he smelt like baked beans washed in sea salt, I was glad for his company.
Perhaps this was what I had been waiting for. But I knew I was waiting for nothing, deep down in the pits of my rib bones.
I had began to live on car fumes and dandelion leaves. Both did me little good - the fumes made me dizzy and the leaves went better as a salad. I refused to eat. I yearned to be clear through, to be galvanised by something deeper. But sometimes it doesn’t happen. Or it never happens. The waiting could be my entire life - for words, for excitement, for work…for death.
No, it will be action. I will pull the teeth out of the easter bunny and create everything from my own approach. The natural rhythms of the world do not exist in the industrial wastelands.
We both sort of just hung there out beside the road, the cars whooshing past us, the two of us stitched in up with our own thoughts, separate and together with eyes gushing with the past or future days.
Harry shifts, becoming aware of where he was again at the same time as I become aware of a man on a small bicycle cycling up the entrance to the motorway. He wore camouflage and over his his back was slung a rifle. Instinctively, I knew he was someone who would find a way of shooting at the sun and manage to shoot me several miles away with a twitch of the elbow.
'So, mon pot, you live in catacombs in Paris, oui?', Harry asked.
'Bien sûr. Of course, of course', I reply.
'I heard the British Royal famille live there?'
'And they live with golden rats?'
'I…', he begins, lost in his thoughts again. In the distance came two more, nay, three - a small boy on the shoulders of a tall man covered yet again in army camou - guns swaying off their backs. Calais always gives this impression - that this will be the first place where the end of the world would arrive first.
They pass without greeting. Harry treats them as a normal occurrence, nodding.
'Qui son-ils?', I ask him.
'They're just…protecting the border. A lot of…uh…strangers…here…'
Soon we hear shots.
'Ah…we are safe now', Harry smiles, relieved. 'Oh, you know, I, as member of the Royal famile…this is why my name is Harry, tu vois, they protect me, everywhere I go'.
More shots. My stomach sloshes around. This is one of the things that makes me uncomfortable in this country. That and my dietary needs being complètement fou, monsieur.
Like the times when alone and loveless, the future becomes a horses mouth munching upon my legs while I wait. I leave the King of France and his stories of the fish at the bottom of the sea and go towards the falling sun to write, the nights getting colder and the days shorter. Bubbles float on out of my ears as seagulls screech past. It’s time to move now. The great days are here already, little man,
Image - W T Warren by Amphalon http://flic.kr/p/e38WSr