The Falling Leaf Review, September 2016

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The Falling Leaf Review A Monthly Literary Journal

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The Falling Leaf Review (c) 2016 Jay Victor Ruvolo

Publishing Editor: Jay Victor Ruvolo

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Table of Contents

Clouds Like White Hippos ……….…… 4 by JVR

Ring Around the Rosy ……………..…. 15 by JVR

Ludovico Media ….……………………. 24 by JVR

Ditch Plains Beach Dogs ………………35 by JVR

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Clouds like White Hippos I close my eyes. I ask myself other questions. I pause for new answers. I’d accept an old answer, one I had already given; one I had offered before knowing the truth—there is no Truth, I’ve been told this, There are no little truths, no more small ‘t’s or big ‘T’s. There is only what we feel, she used to say mockingly that too many of her girlfriends were idiots, as she used to say so many things about the people in her life or the people no longer in her life. New and improved inquiries are not mandatory. There are always questions following questions following yet other questions. I asked her how many times I cannot count about what she had decided. Questions beget questions . . . how many since she came to my apartment and said what she said about what she was going to do, what she wanted, I wondered, did she really want to do what she said she was going to do? She said what she said. I said nothing. Life provides questions in an avalanche. On occasion I have answers and from time to time I do not; now and then I respond without answering. Much of what I have been saying lately is beside the point. To answer and to respond; what was I supposed to say to

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her? They are not the same, responding and answering. Words spoken, meaning made, intention is important; what do I expect to gain by the opinions I hold; I hold dear what I think I should think, again and over again I say so many things, so many verses, yes, verses, line after line after line, if you understand what I mean, how many words spoken or other words written—everything is about expressing myself, what goes on and on with more and more words piling up and spilling over, everything about my talking is over the brim, maybe not all the time but certainly most of the time, talking too much she usually says at some point in a day, every day, how does time pass for me, how has time passed these last several days since? Time in the mind not time on the clock. Which words should I use now to say how I feel, to say at what I mean, to mean or not to mean, everything in the mean, I can be mean, I was not mean with her . . . from among so many choices I could choose, what should I choose, what should I have chosen? I've lost the words that could say what I mean at when I intend anything by saying something.

We could have used induced miscarriage as another way of saying abortion, but no. We had to say 'abortion,' had to pronounce it, elocution is important. There were received inflections, variations on themes. People have to hear words the way they expect them to be pronounced otherwise they won’t understand them. No one talked about it; we didn't, she and I moved 4


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around saying something about what we were going to do, what we thought we wanted, what we must have imagined we thought we wanted to hear. We were other than who we intended to be, something other than who we had become. People and things, the things we own, the things we want, the things we come to be in the end, all ends are arbitrarily placed. I was the same and she was the same and even we were the same as we had always been the same, everywhere, no matter how different we were from ourselves at any other time, we were the same two people, she and I . . . there were other days, other hours, and other meetings. People are always about things, with other things about them, what are you, what is he, and what is it? Things, things and more things, so many of them, how to name them, I wonder, naming a primal and primary activity; Adam names the things in Eden, another gift from God, like reason and free-will and babies. Everyone is the same coincidentally different. I wish I could say what I saw, what I heard, what I had come to know, but I cannot, about her before I knew, before she said what she had come to my apartment to tell me. I don't even know if I do wish what I have said herein that I wish. Wishing is useless; hoping neither less so nor more so, just about the same. I don't wish things anymore, wishing for things to be better. No, wishing is almost as useless as hoping, but not quite. Yes, hoping is more useless.

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I'm not in the least utilitarian. I see her on the bed in my room in the dark. I see her half sitting, half lying, leaning on her left arm. It appears hyper-extended; the elbow bent back farther than it's supposed to go, I thought I broke it when I did it, hyper-extend it, my elbow . . . the wind outside blowing, the shadows moving, dancing, you could say; sitting in the dark, the window with the street light blaring, and her silhouette . . . the word abortion scared the shit out of us—it was calculated to evoke fear, trepidation, we couldn’t avoid using it when all talk of it was incidental; but the minute it became integral to what any two people were going to do, the word disappeared from all talk. I was afraid, she was afraid. We did not know what we were afraid of, afraid for, with as much . . . I saw she was afraid, I’m sure now; I knew as much then; I think I was sure. To think or not to think; how can we think accurately about thinking—thought takes place in language, but remember, mathematics is a language with many dialects; music is a language with many dialects and ancestors and descendants; pictorial arts also a language. I did not question what I saw. I see what I see and perhaps more clearly than most. I was afraid to say anything to her that I was imagining might help ease her. Sticks and stones—we do throw words like sticks and stones, primitive me shaking a stick at the moon, Aunt Mae’s backyard in Pittsfield, it seems to me that I recall. The word was meant to terrify, it was inflected

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in such a way always, abortion, to abort or not to abort, that is a woman’s question; to keep and thus bear the baby or not. We are aborting democracy in America. I abort, you abort, and he, she, or it aborts. All pregnant women choose between having a child and aborting the pregnancy maybe not quite as easily or safely as missions to space—you know that more women die from medical malpractice than from breast cancer here in the United States. There was a rather conspicuous red button in the command capsule for the astronauts to push if a mission to space needed to be aborted before launch. After Roe versus Wade, a woman could seek to have an abortion within the law, although no red button was forthcoming. Choice has always existed. Choosing is elemental. To choose or not to choose, you cannot avoid choosing. We always think we can run and hide. The room was dark. The dark hid her face. There were large black ovals where her eyes were, deep black pools. When life begins is and is not the point, the only point. In truth what are we talking about when we talk about abortion, about a woman's choices, about a woman's rights, whether the law was going to get behind her rights, whether we were willing to understand who any woman is in this and how every woman is not all women and how any woman is never what we think or say about her in all the full blown harrowing arm waving diatribes we insist are meaningful, necessary,

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fruitful; all of them drivel. Words falling like spittle from the corner of my mouth. I won't count the months or the days certainly not the hours. A lot of time had passed before I knew I could have counted the hours. I parody not being able to talk about things I am sure are too shocking to talk about; yet I talk about so many things that others are afraid to talk about. Nonetheless, talk is talk only talk, what else is it? Talk, talk and more talk I hear women say about talk, the need to talk and all the talk they talk-talk about, how we never talk enough, how they always talk right talk necessary talk without confusing the talking for the feeling. They always insist they feel more when all I see or hear is them talking more about how they feel more. Talk, talk, talk; all women do is talk, they talk about how to talk, they talk about what to talk about, they talk about the need to talk, they talk about how not to talk, they talk about not talking, they talk about when to talk about what it is they have decided to talk about when they have agreed about where to talk about that. Talking is not doing unless the doing to be done is talking. We were going to be in at nine. I wanted to go to bed early. She didn’t want me to go. I didn’t dare suggest the same for her, to get up early. She said we did not have to get up at six. I didn’t say I wanted to get up at six. She said again that it was not necessary that I go; I didn’t want to argue about going, but I was sure it was necessary that I go. In at nine, up

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at six; I was used to it, used to getting up early. The process a woman undertook to get an abortion before the law of the land got behind her and her choice . . . there were always voices from other rooms, the door to my room was closed—I was supposed to be asleep—I heard adults talking when I was how old? How old was I? Her choice is her choice; it is important to honor her choice—I hate it when assholes say “I honor you,” assholes are assholes always assholes never not assholes only maybe some of the time when is impossible to predict. No, they don’t. They have no fucking idea what honor is. It had to be her choice. Oh yes, it had to be, and these were big words coming from me. She did not need me to say them. She did not need me to know that she did not need me to say them. I thought it was right that I did. Frightening, almost like imagining a concentration camp. Who the fuck is this person I to be thinking about concentration camps? Who would want to bleed chunks of embryo out of her cunt? How did girls hide the bleeding? They had to be bleeding after an abortion. How did their mothers not know? Legal means safer, we presume, but more women die every year from medical malpractice than breast cancer, and that is here in America, not Africa. You think women are more than second best in America? You do not want to imagine what they are elsewhere. No one really wants to know how many women get illegal abortions every year worldwide. No

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one wants to understand another’s despair. No one knows how to stand under another human being. We know how to talk about it; how to talk about it in such a way that makes others think we might be the kind of person who could. Church was not an option. No. Who confesses to a priest about an abortion? I have not been to church in I cannot even count how many years, now decades, a few. I imagine there were girls who did, who went to a priest . . . forgive me father . . . we were going to have pasta and peas with olive oil, onions and garlic for lunch. She was planning to come over. She walked in and told me. I checked to see if the water was boiling yet, first thing after. She did not knock. I did not wonder why I was not saying anything. I did not wonder why I was not wondering. I stood by the stove with the pot for the pasta and the pot for the peas in the oil with the onions and garlic. I don't have all of the little details. I'm not as enamored by the minor details of stories as some, and then I am. Would anyone know what to pick and choose that should be remembered on the pages of the history he leaves, she leaves; the leaves of the tree leave the tree barren and cold in winter? Falling leaves, the leaves in the fall. I love the fall, I recall the fall in The Berkshires when I was a boy, the fall at Land’s End how many years ago, the first summer was ten years ago. I’m bleeding now in the confessional. To question or not to question is a big part of my to be or not; as is reading

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and not reading, writing and not writing, listening and not listening, fucking and not fucking, what else is there to add to what makes me be who I am? We always ask questions when we do not want to talk, when we do not want to say anything revealing. Human is a choice. You must choose. They are not holy, they are not evil, they are unfortunate, they are fortunate, they are neither, they are something else, what else? They are nothing else. They are everything and nothing and every other something imaginable. Elsewhere people are happy or people are miserable, all over the world completely away from our view, our eyes and ears and touch. They are who they are when they are what they are no matter if they chose to be or not. All arguments are mute before the woman who chooses. Poor girls did things I know I cannot imagine. Rich Republicans can always pay for the services of good doctors who insure their high fees for being able to keep silent. Rich Democrats can too. The rich and the poor in America, different Americas; we have to stop comparing ourselves with the Third World—we used to say Third World, under developed, undeveloped, rubber tubes and hot water, ways for women to have abortions in America who were certainly never going to go to back alley carving boards knew plenty without knowing enough. Middle class women in the Fifties could imagine they could give themselves an abortion and some were lucky and others were not. The bath, the

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water, the rubber tubes . . . letting in the air will do it. I remember something about letting in the air . . . we could see the Pyrenees from atop Mont Juic one afternoon, looking down onto the Mediterranean in Barcelona, the beach and the docks, a ship about to descend into the parallax. Imagine shoving a curtain rod up your cunt? Imagine shoving anything up the cunt to open the cervix and let in the air; how could any girl do that, how could she not if that was all she could do? How desperate would you have to be to shove a curtain rod up your cunt, bleed chunks of embryo out of the cunt? Letting in the air; how much more sensible to do it yourself than let someone else do it for you. What about those miscarriage teas, abortion brews, and herbs to be steeped in hot water instead of the girl’s body in water almost too scalding, to induce miscarriage? Why are there no self-help books on how to induce a miscarriage . . . they let the air in, that’s what they do? I haven't the time to say enough. We put the chunks of embryo with medical waste. Dead babies and tumors . . . there are always choices, always things to cut out or cut off. Slaves had choices. Jews in the camps had choices, just not the same ones as I do, or in their cases completely different sets of them from the ones I have she has you have everyone has. A slave does have choices; everywhere for all time people have at least had the choice of choosing or not choosing, rocks and hard places are choices. Women

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have always had choices. Living or dying is a choice. Fucking yourself is another one. The Japanese sometimes gave a father in Nanking the choice of raping his own daughter or watching someone cut her throat. Choice is always essential. What else is there for me to say on the subject of air and the cervix? They dock a medical vacuum cleaner with high power suction? The medical vacuum cleaner is a certainty, I don't know about the suction. I do know that the nozzle has teeth, sharp metal teeth like sharks, except for the metal. They might as well be metal if a shark would ever take hold of you by them, his teeth in rows in his mouth. The shadows of the branches on the wall, moving in time with the branches of the tree outside in the wind gusting to twenty, as the weatherman had predicted. There is a time when every woman imagines she needs to have a baby. Falling leaf, falling leaves; autumn is upon us. The foliage in the park is beautiful. Do women still imagine themselves incomplete without a child? She wanted a baby. I heard her. Later it looked like she was not sure, and that was quick to come. I knew it by the way she looked, her face, how she sounded when she spoke of it. We know how others look, how the others in our lives should sound, looking at each other as we do, day in day out. We certainly can read the faces of the people we know intimately as if we were the person herself himself myself. I do not read my

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face very well, certainly not like anyone else. I knew her face. I knew her expressions, the cannibals and Calibans of the mind. Mirror, mirror and all that of the wall, the wall, she could not take her eyes off the shadows on the wall that night, late night, the line of her nose, the shape of her eyes, her eyebrows were thick, I was sure of what I saw when I saw it on her face, her glance, and the curve of a lip, the raising or the lowering of her eyebrows. We see; we know; we do. We have eyes to see. Seeing knows, knowing believes, believing understands. To understand what we are seeing is a double seeing. I was sitting on the other side of the bed. I looked, I watched, I glimpsed, I gazed. Caliban, Caliban, wherefore art thou Caliban? Deny thy false father and come out into the world half made up, or is that another monster in his make-up? I am pregnant. The only words, I am pregnant. She walked in without knocking. I knew she was coming. Who does not come into this world half made-up? Screaming bloody mess, the baby born into this world, infants first born are pretty ugly. She was pregnant. Leave people their choices my mother used to say. I was sure. I was not sure. It was no one. People are going to decide what they are going to decide anyway. It was not her. It was her. It was a mystery. I understood. It was inexplicable. I talked in circles to myself

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for weeks. It was her cousin. It was not her cousin. No, it was her cousin; I remember her cousin, one day beautiful, the next, a witch. She had no idea what she wanted. I had no idea. I was sure of both, it was not her cousin and it was her cousin. Her cousin was—I do not know what she was. I did not like her cousin. I did like her cousin. She was sexy, at least sometimes she was; she was annoying, that was for sure; she was intelligent, but then she was also pedantic, very, very pedantic. I liked her cousin; at least I imagined I could like her if I tried harder at liking her. There were times, though, I could not stand her. It was the same for her cousin with me I was sure. I was ambivalent—everyone is ambivalent. I was not ambivalent. I was ambivalent toward her cousin, toward her, toward the baby, having the baby, and I was not. I was sometimes both simultaneously. I have been many contradictory things simultaneously. You want to be able to see what you see when you look at yourself, and you want to be able to think no one else can see it. It helps you sleep. I did not know how she could see what she said she could see on my face. Maybe she could. Maybe she could not. No one can with anyone, not really. Some people are really good at guessing. I was certain the expression she said she could see and tell something about was not there. I know I could not see my eyes as she saw my eye’s, whether she saw what she could or not. She rarely looked in my eyes, or was it me who rarely looked into

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hers? Her eyes, the line of her eyes, how I watched them, gazed at them, gazing and looking at not the same thing she used to say, I think I remember. The fifteen year old girl who is not supposed to be mature enough to handle a pregnancy handle having a baby, but certainly can handle an abortion. What would we do with a woman if she cut off her hand? Peasants just have the baby or induce a miscarriage. You cannot help anyone. The argument of viability has its merits, but then I am sure that life begins at mitosis, yet I do not know what that means. A paramecium is fucking life. A leaf is life. A tomato, a potato, a chicken—what is anybody talking about, life? A fish is a life, my dog is a life. The mouse I suffocated in a plastic bag on a glue trap was a life. An embryo is a baby; an embryo is not a baby. A fucking fetus is not a baby. A fetus is a baby. Only a baby is a baby. A child is not an adult, not a little adult; a child is not yet a human-being. A child is not prepared for birth or abortion. Imagine a fifteen year old girl somewhere trying to shove the nozzle of her mother's vacuum cleaner up her cunt. To pass a baby through the cunt or to bleed chunks of embryo out of the cunt into her mother's vacuum cleaner, another to be or not. Is the cost of a vacuum cleaner with the necessary suction less than the cost of an abortion? The baby tears open the cunt I heard my Aunt and mother talking about giving birth when I was again not supposed to be listening . . . stitches—how many stitches

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to close the tears in the vagina. I think I wanted the baby. I could have wanted the baby. I should have other than I did. I could have been more confident. I was too flaccid. Not choosing is a choice. I wanted to say let's have the baby. Why don’t more girls try to abort their babies with vacuum cleaners? K-y that nozzle, honey . . . I do and do not know her. To know someone takes great effort my mother said. Don’t waste your time trying to understand like your father and I tried and tried without doing, my mother said. No, I don't know her. Why did she leave? I don't know why she left. Perhaps I should but I don't. She left for reasons I could not assume, would not even if I could. She left for every reason I already knew but had forgotten. Why do we forget what we should remember? Would I have known her if I had looked more closely, if I had opened my eyes, the eyes inside my head? Looking is not seeing any more than hearing is listening. They’re different, you know. I tried to see her; I couldn’t see her in my mind. Did I see her when I looked at her, when we gazed at each other in each other’s arms? She went to the store and did not return. You get ready to go to the store. I stand and half watch you. You do not ask me if I want anything. I am not curious why you do not ask me if I do or do not want anything. I have a mug of tea in my hand. I sit at the kitchen table. I look out the kitchen window. I watch the breeze in the leaves. I sip my tea slowly. It is hot. I

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have a spoon in the mug. I do not get up. You will be back soon. I am sure. I do not ask myself why I am so sure. I do not think about not asking why I am so sure. Who could think of so many things to think about? Where would I have to be in me to imagine such things? Maybe I should. Where did she go? I do not know. I try to recollect what. I try to piece it together, pieces rearranging themselves. You have put on your jacket. I have already gotten up; my tea is half finished. You take your bag hanging on one of the hooks on the outside of the closet door in the vestibule by the door to the apartment. You open the door. I take it before it closes. I say be careful. I do not know why I do. I usually say I love you when you are leaving temporarily for good until tomorrow or the day after, or even just to the store as you are now because you never know when the last time is going to be that you will see whom you love at present. I always say that everyone should remind himself how much he loves the people in his life, and how he should remind them that he loves them because if something happens after someone leaves that you do not say I love you to, you will think about that for the rest of your life. You go; you are gone. I think for a minute what we might need. I cannot remember what we need. Everyone knows what he needs. I can call you to tell you, if I remember, if I look and find out. I think for a second that maybe I should have gone with you. If you buy anything too heavy to carry

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you will call me, I am sure. I make certain that the phone is on and that the ringer is on. I do not think about not having said I love you as you left. I still look in the mailbox half expecting a letter to arrive. I look in the box every day. I have looked in the box every day since when, not the beginning, not the first day or the second day, nor the fifth or the sixth, I suspect. I do not remember the day. I needed to come to her one afternoon. I needed to come to her to talk to her. I needed to come to her to talk to her about why she had called me to talk with me about what she had decided without me. It was mostly her saying what she needed to say and me asking her repeatedly what she meant by what she had to say. I see her in silhouette on her bed in her room in her apartment. I would come in the night. I would stay until morning. Clink-clank, clink-clank went the steel wheels along the steel tracks over the steel bridge over the mutely flowing waters of the river passing below. I get off to go home to have ribs for dinner really sticking to ribs. She opened the door. She turned away and walked toward the living room knowing that I would take the door that would otherwise shut fast and slam if I did not take it and so I took it and closed it gently again taking the time to think about how I was closing the door, about how she might imagine me gentle . . . I sat on the couch, she stood and then walked away to the windows behind the long end of the L the couch made. I watched her; I followed her with my eyes to the window. I

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wondered if she thought this was what she wanted and that of course it was what she wanted—she would not have said what she said to me the other night on the phone if it were not what she wanted, that because she did say what she said on the phone and not to my face. Yes, because she said it on the phone and not to my face I thought she might not really want to do what she was so sure she wanted to do. She had taken the bag of ribs from my hand, a large bag with several bags of ribs, those keep-the-heat-in foil bags. The ribs, I really wanted to get at the ribs. I wanted to open the wine. I got up from the couch and went to the kitchen. I opened the wine. I poured our glasses. There are no answers to our problems, only an infinite number of beside-the-point responses. I often speak beside the point; speaking on the tangent, intersecting a point on the circle. All tangents extend for infinity. When does the soul inhabit the body? Not all these religious nuts think of that, or maybe they do. It is not a result of mitosis unless mitosis is entirely miraculous and then mitosis is not a biological process but a divine one. I cannot get there. The soul inhabits the body but just when that happens--is there mitosis for the soul? Then soul is biological? We do suppress notions of soul all in favor of a mind that anatomists, biologists, medical doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists cannot locate. Mind is no less a matter of faith than soul. Self, soul, mind; personhood;

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all of them are matters of faith. She was every woman and no other woman and every other possibility for woman, all the potential women who could be, should be, would be, might be—no I didn't—I had no idea what I was talking about. I like to think that I did or that it was possible for me to imagine such things, and it might not be impossible, but we are in love with stringing questions, answering one with another, a kind of intellectual Renga of inquiry, one in response to a former and so on in perpetuity. I was in love with the idea of being in love with her, I was sure. The way up has been the way down for a long time. I know that I cannot step into the same ocean twice, or is it a river—a shadow is an absence. Eyes closed, all at once, everything shattered. The glass dropped. Pieces went everywhere. I feared shards for weeks. She did not have a vacuum cleaner. I had imagined us happy. Since the day, she came in to tell me the news, I have not been sure of anything but my uncertainty. Shadow is a lack. Abrazar in Spanish means to embrace, abrasar means to set on fire. How long has it been? To have been on fire; I adored her embraces; I loved her kisses; I anticipated the times we spent alone, pacing from one end of my apartment to other before she'd arrive. We spent a lot of time alone. We did not spend any time with anyone. I did not like being with anyone with her. I did not need anyone else but her and her but me, I did

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not question. An embrace must set the one in your arms on fire as Dido was set on fire by the embraces of Aeneas, as she had to set herself on fire literally to put an end to her desire for consummation at the absence of Aeneas. Love is always a form of consumption by the flames, always another kind of immolation. With her, it was this way, one way for us, spontaneous combustion. Woman is not her abortion or her carrying to term or her ability to give birth or the fact she has a vagina or if she swallows after she lets her lover—woman is all she is; she does not need to be anything else; she is neither more than this nor less than this to give attribute to her would be to subtract from her. Which came first, the fire or the embrace? “Try not to pretend you don't understand because it is a woman defining this now, here, as I do—and I’m not saying that there is not another definition for another woman. I am only saying the only definition for the woman I am or the woman I will come to be, or the woman I could be you do not need as many restrictions as we come up with when we try to define a human nature to superimpose on a woman.” We are not limiting a woman by defining her nature. Narcissus loves Echo’s voice. The clouds on the horizon, see them? Look at them. Tell me what you see? The beach was bright. The sea was rough, the waves were big, and the tide was in. It was afternoon, the sun was behind us. We were waiting for the time to call the cab to

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take us to the train. We will be back in New York around supper. I see Hippos. Hippos. Hippopotami? I like the sound of the word. It is better than Hippopotamuses. I do not like the sound of the word Hippopotamuses. It does not sound as nice as Hippopotami. I see clouds like white hippos. I heard her laugh. I remember her laugh. She used to laugh a lot. I close my eyes and hear her more clearly. I was she and I in the dream, I am sure of it now. I did not see either of us; I was both of us though I am sure. Everywhere I go I put one on forgetting that I already have one on that I did not take off when I no longer needed it, left the stage I was performing on, went into the wings. I imagine actors sometimes forget to take off the paint. I looked to the horizon that morning we prepared to go back to New York. Clouds, she looked; eyes fixed, straight ahead, no turning to look at me as she talked. Yes, clouds like white hippos. Their weight makes it necessary that they swim and wade a lot nothing for how long I could not discern, time passing in the rhythm of the waves crashing to the shore, the surf in tumult, one after another, how many I was not counting. Imagine happiness a woman. I know Liberty is a woman, as I know Justice is a woman, as I know Wisdom is a woman, as I know Poetry and Music are women. I do not know what it is I think I am saying maybe proving, at least in mind, by saying what I am saying now about women. There were plenty of goddesses to go around, but I did say,

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Gods. I used to think that I wished things would have been different, but then I wasn't sure I wished this, and then I thought even if I had wished what I wasn't sure I might have wished, I knew I did not want that at the time, but what I want now I haven't the time to consider. She did not come back from the store. I cannot tell how long I waited. I continued to wait for her to call. She did not call. I then had a dream where in the dream she laughed. I heard her laugh. We loved to laugh together I think I can safely say. She always found something to turn her away from laughter. I used to make people laugh at wakes and sometimes at the graves. I wanted to wonder longer about her. I wanted to remain what I had once thought was being faithful to the people who have crossed paths with me, walked with a while as I used to think I liked having said. I had fallen asleep on the couch. I recall that I woke one morning laughing. She had said to me once that I had laughed in my sleep twice the night before. I laughed and said, Happy dreams. I paused this one time on the each at the surf’s edge without her as I looked to the horizon and remembered the day we looked for the last time together at the horizon. The clouds on the horizon that day then when we were together did look like hippos.

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Ring around the Rosy; or Reading between the Lines

I still press flowers between the pages of books. I used to do this more often when I was younger than I am now, no longer doing now, petals pressed between the pages of one book of poetry or another. I remember that I used to find them years later when I returned to the books again after an interim of years, sometimes only months, yet, once in a while decades, but more frequently, a matter of weeks. Now things I recollect are getting to be decades old. I can’t determine if what I remember is something that happened or something I dreamed or something I imagined. A faded crumbling daffodil between the pages of Yeats, “When You Are Old.” Childhood comes flooding back like the blood in my eye the day I hit myself in my right eye with my laptop bag caught on the chair it was hanging off of during a meeting at work, coming free of its hitch just as I was lowering my head to see if I could see better, ironies never end. But the rhythm of remembering, the punctuation of sound and pause, silences keeping time what I think I recall, recollection yet another thing. Ring around the rosy . . . all about understanding alliteration and consonance and assonance, keys to poetry in English. A pocket full of posies. I say again, no gain,

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something noticed for a long time now; this rhyme when I was a boy, I used to sing, now decades ago, other children’s rhymes as well, welling, I used to imagine what the song was about, my father had told me when I was still a boy, single digits. Ring around the rosy, a pocketful of posies, ashes, ashes, all fall . . . to fall in French is tomber, the origin of our word ‘tomb.’ The tomb is everyone’s final fall. Everything seems to be falling, falling down. I prefer the fall, the season, I was born in October. A pocketful of posies . . . posies, flowers, the petals of the flowers in the pockets of my ancestors . . . the plague would eventually ravish almost a third of Europe. London Bridge’s falling down too . . . The Twin Tower’s falling down, falling down, falling down . . . How many children's rhymes do I recollect? One-third of Europe died from the Black Death in the 14th century. I can recite “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” yes, with fleece as white as . . . I can recite “Hey Diddlediddle,” yes, the cat and the fiddle and all about how the cow jumped over the moon . . . cows could jump over the moon when I was a boy, and dog’s, well there was the dog that laughed to see such sport, yes, dog’s laughing at the sport of a cow jumping over the moon and a cat playing a fiddle, and then how all came together in the manner of a dish that could . . . yes, the dish ran away with the spoon, dishes could run as could spoons, the dish ran away with 15


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the spoon. I still have no idea what that nursery rhyme is about except as a rhyming

though some have another hypothesis for what afflicted Europe in the 14th century.

verse full of imaginative interplay the surrealists would have loved, I’m sure of this as I am sure Andre Breton would have been sure if this or Tristan Tzara, and certainly, I loved it. I have not seen a sheep

How many times did plague return? We read Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year; it was a seminar in the 18th century lit. I remember the class vaguely, where I was sitting, on the side by the window. How

with fleece as white as snow, but then the dish ran away with the spoon, the dish ran away with the spoon. I used to spy on spoons on the table . . . watch them, really, when I was a small boy.

many times did the peasants of Europe run to the churches or the synagogues to pray to God to deliver them from the wrath of God? Pray for us now and in the hour . . . Ave Maria Plena Gratia . . . ram's blood,

A children's rhyme about the Black Death, bubonic plague—everyone’s answer to plague was Ashes, ashes, yes, the flames, the fires burning into the night, sometimes all night and all day, the bodies

ram's blood; the blood of a sacrificial ram . . . Moses has the Hebrews brush their thresholds with ram's blood so the Angel of Death can Pass Over them. Behold the hand of God!

that could not be buried fast enough . . . everyone falling down, Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, all fall down. The Black Death wiped out nearly a third of Europe in the 14th century.

A pocket full of posies, talismans . . . the flower petals people carried as talismans against illness . . . ashes, ashes; the ashes were the bodies being burned, I’ve said already, because they could not be

I’ve said this already. The rise of Capitalism can be located in those fleas that had feasted on the rats carrying the plague. No irony there. Nursery rhymes gave expression to horrors in manageable forms,

buried fast enough with everybody falling down in the numbers they were falling; maybe the one thing they did right. Fire, fire, burning bright, in antiquity they burned out the cells of prisoners who had

a kind of magic over the evil spirits of the Black Death. I remember the posies, the Black Death, the rosy rings rising . . . Tower One is falling down, falling down, falling down; Tower One is falling down, my fair

contracted leprosy. Fire cleanses, fire cleans, fire is truth, fire is the Truth, fire is a final arbiter, God will end the world with fire, and the Hopi prophecies of the end time are filled with images of fire from the skies.

city! The rosy rings on the flesh were a symptom of Bubonic Plague; or so we used to think, used to say, continue to say even

Verity is in the flames. Fire is truth, we know, how could we not know? Burn, burn, burn . . . the persecutors of the Inquisition 16


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must have believed that verity was found in the flames, that fire was the brand of Truth.

Where is the train? The train is late. I need the train soon if I am not going to be

Fire cleanses, Nero must have thought; the Nero of legend, not necessarily of history. Joan was purged of her sins by Burgundian flames. All heretics must burn. Heretics are burning down, burning down, burning down

late for the seminar I registered for a week or more ago, I imagine Winston will be wondering where I am. I flatter myself often without gaining an unmanageable arrogance. I’m looking in the direction

heretics are burning down . . . I take a sip of Bourgogne, a thought of Joan of Lorraine, last night’s Puligny Montrachet with the Magret at Jule’s . . . some of the bistros is Paris were uneventful; some were

toward the interior of Queens where the train I got off when coming here continued on the track that curves sharply turning onto a street that lies at a right angle to the avenue the El is on at the station I’m

fantastic. Her statue by the Seine, I see in a shadow, the light in memory is oblique. I peer. I look more intently. Paris was terminally gray for days. I sometimes squint, thinking that I can see more sharply

waiting at on a bench on the platform. I am now and then looking out across the roofs toward Manhattan, the Citicorp building prominent in my view of Midtown. This train I’m waiting for, when it comes is going to

if I do. I do not. I open my eyes wider. I look again. I look back, I think back, images come, fractured as they are, out of nowhere, lights rushing past, lights fading back, retreating, I think I can see what it

wind through Queens and Brooklyn to Williamsburg where it’s going to cross the Williamsburg Bridge to Delancey Street where I’m not going to get off as I had planned. Duck French style is medium,

was I had seen. We had glasses of a Catalan white at the foot of the Statue of Columbus near the shore of the Mediterranean in Barcelona, the Colombian Holocaust, no? Today I pick up my mother’s

never well; well done is next to burned and charred is for barbarians who can only burn meat after they stopped eating it raw. If I could say what was on another person’s mind, I would be a wonder to others at first,

ashes at the funeral home in Ridgewood— bright, breezy, a slight chill in the wind as the gusts pick up near to twenty. I remember the weatherman having said something about the wind. The wind-chills

and in no time a freak, a monster, someone to hound to hunt to stone. I would be dead. It is natural for people to hurt, to hunt, and to hound others, for groups to kill, for mobs to do violence, to create mayhem, to

last winter were horrid, frigid temperatures, wind-chills well below 0 Fahrenheit, New York is a wild city, weather-wise. I have a copy of Scot’s The Talisman.

terrorize others who are not like them. Conformity is nature. Even the mutation that becomes advantageous is a kind of new conformity. (You should read Darwin, 17


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not just read about Darwin.) I wish I could say with some accuracy what was in my mind, on my mind as ephemeral as the words I speak, off my lips evaporated in the air, in the ether? Everything is new and improved like our paper towels have been for decades, new and improved reading, new and improved everything according to the dogmas of Madison Avenue . . . Victor Frankenstein abandons his responsibility to his being that then becomes his creature, and then his monster. You can trace how the being goes from one to the other to the final designation throughout the novel. There are magnificent passages in the middle of the novel, three chapters long, where the being and Victor are together in a cabin in the Alps, snowed in, and talking about, unbelievably, Paradise Lost. The being telling Victor, I could have been your Adam. Victor is no conqueror in this. Victor becomes a victim of his human inability to play God. What does this have to do with picking up my mother at the funeral home, her ashes? My mother, her ashes, and an urn with her ashes I will bring to Pine Lawn, a National Cemetery, a niche provided by Uncle Sam. I look at the faces of the people staring fixed at nothing with mouths agape and wonder how anyone can imagine we are not the first cousins of the Great Apes. Everybody says out loud that he would

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never want to be God, or that everyone must watch out for playing God, yet each of us inside of himself wants to be God, play God, judge as God judges. No one is fuller of shit than I am, and that is a universal quantification, not just an exclusive existential one for me. I am everyone and in as much as I am everyone, everyone is full of shit. I’ve been going on like this for several pages it seems, maybe only a couple, I don’t know how this will print, I have the computer at home set at one and half times the magnification because my eyes by now in my life are shittier at reading. My arms, however, are still long enough, and I stand at six foot two inches. Short people always get glasses sooner than tall people. Nobody in this culture knows what confession is. Why do we even pretend we do? Everybody with a twisted idea of when to confess, where to confess, how to confess, what to confess, talk about indulgences, media America not so unlike the middle ages, confess on TV and receive media absolution and a ticket to make money because they have already made a lot of money on you. Dogmas are dogmas everywhere dogma is made is enforced forces us to consider it, dogmas of the family, of the neighborhood of the race of the class of the nation of the office of the school of the restaurant you frequent for lunch because it is okay and cheap enough. Dogma is everywhere; every institution has its dogmas, every human interaction functions on, by and with dogma. 18


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Where this is going I have no idea; to come, to go, the concentric circles of here

it is. Where is everyone? There's hardly anyone here on this platform. Maybe this is

and there, questions begetting questions, I never really have one until the writing tells me what is to be said, like some writers tell you the characters speak to them, this is true, they do, they have minds of their own,

not a busy stop; I don’t think it is busy, what time is it? This time it is not busy; rush hour is busy. What this has to do with my mother dying, having died, she is dead. Having her cremated and coming to get her

speaking to me with their own points-ofview . . . I’m here in my seat in the waiting room I’m designated to wait in, and I have my journal in my lap, a black leather bound beauty that cost my wife sixty dollars one

ashes to bring home before I bring them to my father, his niche, side by side I will put them in the same place facing each other I intend, as if a pile of ashes could have a face, could face anyone, but the containers

Father’s Day how long ago now I could not say. Always is not a time. Usually is something else other than now or before now or after now, isn’t it? I drink liters and liters of red wine. What is digression,

do have an orientation, they have a back and a front oriented by the label the funeral home puts on the container with the ashes, and by this orientation I will leave them to rest in their niche together face to face what

anyway, when the progress is undecided? Where am I going? The principal question; if I don’t know, then there is no digression. I only began to write in it several years after having gotten it as a gift for my birthday.

do I face having her cremated the ashes in a bag in the container in the box in the bag I carry with me who will take care of them of it when I am gone dead I have the governments reassurance that all national

I’m presently in Ridgewood on the M platform and I’m waiting for the M train and it isn’t coming and I think that going downstairs to ask the token booth clerk what’s going on would be an exercise in

cemeteries will be perpetually cared for and I thought that that was nice seeing as the federal government cares so little for its living citizens as bought by money and controlled by power as it is, the government

futility. Maybe they’re twenty minutes apart. Maybe it's only a little delay. Maybe a train needed to be pulled, and so another twenty minutes will make forty, and the extra people will slow it down, not as much as it

in the grip of Wall Street and the kind of men who run Wall Street and the Heads of the Fed, who they have been for more than a generation, one after another, no love for America, for her people, feasting on the

would a bus, but it will slow it down somewhat; and so now I’m looking at fifty minutes, and I just missed a train as I was entering the station, so that must be it, what

carcass, the vindictive vultures they are. What I say, have said, think, imagine, do not say, have heard, will hear again and again, do not believe, use my head in 19


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rebuttal, my gut sometimes in ascent. The influences we talk about in our culture are

for soul, where and when does soul begin? It does have a beginning, doesn’t it? Do

mostly from media stooges who influence us away from radicalizing our politics. He who influences today is just another punk of power in the prison house of state—Obama is nothing more than the banker's bitch, or

souls grow as bodies grow? Minds do not grow as bodies grow, do they? They do. No?

is it that all Democrats are in bed with Wall Street; but then do not get me started on how insipid, though scary and dangerous the Republicans are. How could TV pundits and anchors be anything else? Where’s the train? I think I hear the train. Is that the train I hear? I think I hear steel wheels on steel tracks, the M here winds its way as it wends through Ridgewood from one street to another making its tight turns as it does how old is this El? It is the train I hear. It’s making its turn into the station from the street perpendicular to the street the station is on and the direction the train will be going from here. The breeze blows cool this early November. She died how many days ago was it? I went to pray with the priest. The doctor disconnected the machine. I waited for her heart to stop beating. It may have been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I’m not sure now. I don’t know why I’m not sure. I don’t care why I’m not certain. Twice she was confirmed brain dead. I don’t know what we feel in comas, or where the soul is, or if brain dead means soul dead, the French say one word for both and I don’t know if that spiritualizes mind or if it somehow makes soul more medical, biological. Is there biology for soul, mitosis

The faces I see are distant, some vacant, others puzzled, confused, bewildered, stunned, how else to say how the teaming masses yearning to be free feel as they take this train in this system they need but fear. Imagine someone being here only a few weeks or a couple of months, as if several years only might help. Two days, two years, are a lot closer to each other in the ways of immigration than being native. My mother is next to me. I have her ashes in a container in a box in a bag on the seat next to me, and a woman in a not too thickly annunciated Russian speaking accent out of a mouth not Russian asks why I have a bag on the seat, and I tell her that it is my mother that’s in the bag. Ashes, ashes, all fall down. At the end of “Ring around the Rosy,” the bodies burning all over Europe at the time of the Black Plague; the crematoriums of the Nazis again the Plague revisited. What were the temperatures of the ovens the Nazis used? Who wants to know that? Why would anyone ask anyone that question? I thought I would get to see them, their ashes, and the contents after burning. What do human ashes look like? I still don’t know the temperature. I think it’s somewhere around 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. It does not 20


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matter; their matter now is in their ashes. How hot do bodies have to get to burn, to

de-evolved, regressed, progressed. History is not progressive in the way we imagine it

burn everything including bone? I hope it’s their ashes that I have. What’s stopping funeral homes from selling bodies to dog food companies and giving us wood turned to ash? I have to believe that it’s each of

to be, but that does not mean individual human living cannot be progressive. Where have the days gone? I’m not really curious; I think I should be and that I should ask a question like this, but I’m not convinced that

their ashes in those containers I have gotten from the crematoriums. Are the ashes all of them? What is the essence of them? My mother and my father are what— what—why don’t we capitalize those words,

I will ever give a shit. I’m not diligent enough to keep a journal every day. I wish I could write every day in some book telling each night the events actions proceedings measures taken for against; telling the

mother and father? We could, as if it was his name, her name, Mother, Father, their titles, like Doctor, Professor. Dust thou art, you know. It’s all about returning. Religion is relinking, reconnecting with what? The One,

happenings deeds accomplishments endeavors, the feelings emotions passions hungers cravings appetites, or whatever have we have others in words ours theirs newer ones made older ones renewed

the Transcendent, the Absolute reality. God is one; God is great; God is Absolute . . . the Muslims say, the Jews say, the Christians too say regardless of what the Muslims and the Jews misunderstand about

older ones remaining old.

Christianity.

I wish I could tell my thoughts of the day, but no, I cringe at common conversation. I care and I do not care about so many things in my life. The one thing I

All this returning to dust; 4/5 of all dust is dead skin. How long does dead skin take before it disintegrates? How many remnants of the dead do we leave on our

do care about above all other things is writing; keeping this journal is more important to me than anything else, believing I do have something to say and that I should say it, even if nobody reads it

book shelves that then make us sneeze? Peeling layers of skin, all of us descendants of the serpent. Shed skins, all of this shedding and growing. The person I am now does not recall as the person who recalled twenty years ago. It has nothing to do with the passage of time, really. We are just different beings. We have evolved or

until I am dead. I keep thinking about Emily Dickinson in her room in Amherst, Dostoevsky in Siberia, and Melville for decades after Moby Dick. I will go to the cemetery in a few weeks. I set up the day with the office at the National Cemetery registry or something 21


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like that. I did it over the phone and just showed up at the same place I had brought

will love them. I sometimes feel sorry for them and then I think I’m feeling sorry for

my father about nine months earlier. It was strange and not so strange that my mother died nine months to the day my Father died. My mother had to gestate her sorrow and give birth to it by dying. Imagine that.

myself, and then I think that it’s okay to feel sorry for myself as I also sometimes think it is not okay. We will in the end regret more what we did not do than what we did . . . how many times I could have said I loved

Nine months to the day. I’m going to place them face to face; label to label will have to suffice.

them and did not? Why would I feel sorry for them if what I have believed or have been taught to believe by the Sisters at Saint Therese’s is even half true? The good is not interred with their ashes. I was left

I will put her in the niche with my father, his niche, the one the government gave him . . . II I laid their containers face to face inside, an Irishman from New York drove from the office to where my father’s ashes were in place. He unscrewed the slab with my father’s name and birth year and death year and branch of Armed Forces, USMC, and WWII, the Pacific, Guam, Saipan, Okinawa and the occupation Shandong China. I talked to them, I don’t recall about what, except just saying my good-byes again, remembering to say something about them, about our life together, my mother and father . . . was it genuine? What does it mean to ask if it were genuine? It’s not that I don’t have self-doubt now and then; I just don’t have it as deeply nor for as long as other people I know. I don’t know why I’m saying what I’m saying like I am saying this here, now. I did love them; I do love them. I

alone with them after the marble slab was put back and I talked to them for a while. I don’t remember what I said. I can’t recall how I said it. I know I said my I love you(s), my I’m sorries, my reassurances that they were good parents, my I forgive you(s)to each of them for what I know my mother at least said she was sorry for about a week before she had her stroke. It was as if she knew it was coming and I in my near infinite capacity for denial I was trying to convince her she was going to get better. I reminded her that she didn’t need to feel regret in her death and that I knew ultimately that she tried hard to be a good mother and that failing sometimes was nothing compared to the effort and the successes she had. I don’t know why we put things like this in terms like the ones we use, success--it doesn’t have to have the crass connotations we often give it in America judging everyone by how much money they have or make and we do this even at the same time we convince ourselves we do 22


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not, we should not. So much of what we hold onto is dead weight, no pun intended.

I haven’t been back out to see them since I put her ashes in with his almost a year ago.

So much of what we let go we need, how many times I recited, I sang ring around the rosy, I could not, cannot, say. Who sings that in the nursery? Who sings that to her child?

Death is not dying I remember having said. What does that mean? What could it mean? We know the one and the other differ as thing does from action. Death is a thing. Dying is an action, but also a thing. Death is

The rosy rings on the flesh from the plague, the Black Death, death, death, the posy flower petals one carried in his pockets as a ward against death, against sickness, a homeopathic talisman?

though also a being, is it not. Is it He, is it She--Death is an angel I have come to accept, expect now that I get older and it becomes more and more apparent that I am mortal.

Everyone falling down, one-third of Europe dies. Ashes, ashes, all the ashes of the bodies burned the one thing they did right? The Birth of Capitalism was bubonic plague. The fleas on the rats on the cats

This mortal coil, everything turning and twisting, Hamlet my brother is my father. We’re going to go the weekend after the weekend we get back from Montauk, the week after Labor Day. How can it be so

and on the livestock and made their ways to the people biting them biting them infecting them, how do you fight a flea? We’re like fleas, all of us, fleas. The Black Death caused the rise of Capitalism or the fall of

long we have not gone? You don't go away on the holiday weekends. Let everybody get out of town, get out of her, out of this place, the city drags me down too often, I'm not 21 anymore, nowhere near it. I need the

Feudalism. Imagine that, the flea, the real spur to capitalism. Blood sucking bugs, all of them, right. No? What then do we say, do I say, could you say, want to say, say as you do when . . . what when? What where?

shore at Land's End.

Free in the way we speak, do not speak, do not say what is, telling it as we were supposed to, giving up on liberation, becoming our parents, my parents now ashes, yes, ashes, ashes, all fall down. III

Everything seems to be collapsing around, crumbling under foot, on my head, from above and below, falling down, everything is falling down. The ocean, the sand, the sky, the waves, the clouds, the wind, the gulls, the sand pipers, the cliffs of Shadmoor, the echoes off the Hoodoos . . . I reach my right index and thumb into the change pocket of my jeans. I pull out the petals of an African violet I found in the grass out back where we were staying. I 23


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wish—no I do not wish anything. I thought for a moment I could wish for something someone might later say was trenchant, was incisive, pristine—? More questions arise; more than I am comfortable handling, or is fielding, we like to say? Talismans, talismans, the petals of flowers kept to protect against the plague— ring around the rosy, a pocketful of posies; ashes, ashes . . . all fall down.

The End

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Ludovico Media

I July 4th, 2016; 7:47 AM EST; New York City. Labyrinth and abyss. I have always imagined Alex in A Clockwork Orange singing "London Bridge is Falling Down." I do not think about why I have imagined thus. I have not asked the questions I would need to be able to--I have no questions ready. I have an idea why I imagine I see Alex singing falling down, falling down . . . London Bridge's falling down, falling down, falling down; London Bridge's falling down . . . my fair lady, clearly and distinctly I hear Malcolm McDowell in my mind's ears crooning this nursery rhyme, similarly crooning "Singing in the Rain." I understand why Burgess's book might have been disturbing to readers when published; I know how the movie was and is disturbing to many who have seen it, who still view it on DVD, as I myself have several times already. Midnight Cowboy received an X when it was first released. I do not know if anyone who finds this film equally disturbing from among those who are upset by Kubrick's film. Malcolm McDowell managed to be menacing and charming simultaneously and I still think it is 24


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one of the top five performances never to receive an Oscar. Midnight Cowboy

the author of their perdition, what roads or paths do I take, did I . . .

adjusted standards--by the time Kubrick's Clockwork had come out, ratings had shifted. I was twelve when I saw it alone at, I think, the Marine Theater on Flatlands Avenue, just off of Flatbush; there was one

When I was a boy I walked the winding paths in the woods by my Aunt Mae's in the Berkshires, how much cooler in the wooded shade, beware of poison ivy and [ poison oak, I never contracted either

around the corner on Flatbush. I am fairly sure that the Marine was the one on Flatlands; I had been at my Aunt Eleanor's house down the block from King's Plaza. My mother had given me money to go to

as carefully as I walked---or was it that I walked with awareness, something I told myself later. 'Awareness' as not a word I used as a boy, my diction circumscribed by the unthought notion that word and thing

the movies if I wanted--we all were watching movies perhaps we should not have been watching. I do see why some are disturbed by the film--I can see that a film might be or in

were one, and that speaking was akin to being, pronouncing with creating, how God created the world with a word, how Adam was given the task of naming creation, the first instance of free-will?

fact is disturbing without myself being disturbed. There are of course films that have disturbed me to no end. Perhaps I do not actually suspend disbelief when I rewatch the film--how many times I have I

Who can watch Alex hooked up during the technique, and how can we not be revolted by the results--effective was McDowell's ability to gain our sympathy-Burgess, Kubrick and McDowell all have a

cannot count. I can watch it re-watching it while my spouse has barely been able to manage a complete first see without turning away. The thing I have found the most interesting is

hand in readjusting our sense of sympathy and revulsion--our sense of social responsibility and our ever changing sense of our place in the world, in our families, our relationship to authority; and our perpetually

how the Ludovico Technique was used, what it enabled and how, and just what our media world does to each of us its viewers; spectacle and gaze. All of it amazing and amazed--the Labyrinth awaits, or is it the

shifting and projected sense of our selves to our selves, our individual responsibilities to others and ourselves . . . how we abandon we abdicate, how we abdicate, we abandon. How am I not like Alex before the

Abyss? What opens for a man in his fear; what breaks apart in his tepid pace . . . into the forrest I understood Hansel and Gretel walked, their brainstorm eaten by the birds,

television? Yes? No? Maybe? When? I know as stupid as we have become enmasse, the great lumpen base of society, there will be many, many on social media, if 25


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what I have said herein found its way to social media, who will say something like,

The Twin Towers have been absent for almost fifteen years. There used to be a

“What about Jesus,” or “Have you ever heard of Jesus Christ,” or “How could you say something like that? It’s an insult to your Savior,” or some other mindless, inane, visceral response in par-boiled

hole in lower Manhattan's skyline, one that smacked me in the eye every time I looked over from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or the walkways of the Brooklyn Bridge or out a subway car picture window clink-clank

words, like shitting from the mouth after having finished too many beers. I’m mixing metaphors here, am I not? London Bridge is falling down, falling down--of course it is. You do not recall

over the Manhattan Bridge, or so I wanted to believe--that is, before the Freedom Tower reached a certain height, and has subsequently been completed. I had already noticed that the feeling of being

singing this; I do. Of course they were, falling down, falling down, the towers, tower one and tower two, the twins attacked in lower Manhattan--how the media spent a few weeks bombarding is in one Ludovico

pierced had waned, that the stabbing pain in the eye was fading fast. [I wrote this at least seven or eight years ago and had even revised it several times until 9/11 was ten years old. Since then the Freedom

moment after another, a montage after another montage---Eisenstein would have been proud? What they had shown us, how so, Eisenstein had showed us, what intensifies experience, intensifies images,

Tower reached completion and the content of this paragraph needed revision . . . vision is one thing, vision again, another; to see and to re-see, look again, what vision did I have for this essay . . . to see or not to see

imagery, the significance of the signifier and the signified, repetition, repetition, fast cuts, one after another, Hitchcock shows us this perfectly. Ludovico---the media learning from Psycho. I watched and re-watched the

depends on how we stand under what we want to understand]. Nonetheless, this hole, this absence, I speak of here, was still bigger than the Towers were to my eyes, a paradox,

framing and re-framing of the event, crop, cropping, cropped.

perhaps, something about the size or displacing power of absence; that the absence might have greater density in our perception than does the sight of the object as a thing in space. London Bridge is falling

II The Fifth of July, 2016; 8:53 AM, EST; New York City. 9/11 and the media.

down, falling down . . . again and again without gain. We sometimes see absence more clearly than we do presence. I know I took 26


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them for granted when they were there, persistently there, agreed upon by all,

lessons of advertising through broadcast media not informed how news is

forever. How could things so large, so big, so humungous, gargantuan beyond gargantuan, how could buildings so immense--the largest buildings ever built even when they were no longer the tallest--

presented? How has Hollywood filming and editing not also informed how news items are presented or is it re-presented, or should I say created? What then am I saying about our

how could they be toppled. Who could have imagined their absence? I would never have thought of it--I do not know if anyone could have--the scenario was never imagined, except maybe by some

media? That they are less than what they are purported to be, that they are not the beacons we have assumed for them, their role in our society, our protectors no more. The media manipulates for power and

firefighters that bureaucrats and politicians in Manhattan and Albany ignored? Don't trust the truss was a firefighters mantra; it was also the subject of a video broadcast on television soon

corporate money. Only in dribs and drabs do we get truth or some sense of standing up for the little man, standing in support of the People--really standing for a state sponsored and media managed Public. But

afterwards, one that had quickly disappeared from anyone's rebroadcast list. You cannot even find it on the internet. I do find that suspect, yet without surprise. There came a time when their absence was

even the Nazis did not lie all the time--there were lies, but mostly half-truths with a sprinkling of truth in the Nazis propaganda machine. Our current media has more in common with Soviet or Nazis propaganda

less than imposing, yet they were never minor in their absence. The initial absence I speak of imposed itself on me with a force their presence could never have had. Even with

than it does to the media being any imagined defender of democracy and freedom. Do I need to say more, tell more, show more, manipulate other than? What do you need to know to hear to

that absence fading in presence, what exactly was falling down, falling down--all media in America is a variation on the theme of the Ludovico Technique--how we are conditioned to respond through a

understand---the news is not about understanding. The news is about information, information, in formation---that ism In Formation, all of us, yes in line as long as

manipulation of images and a repetition of sound bites. Over and over--maximum effect. How are agents of the media not agents of propaganda--how have the

we get the line they intend. To be on line today is to be in line, to b e straightened out, as once to be straight was not to be queer, only now being queer is to be 27


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straight, straightened the ways Power wants us to be straightened---all the

must be content with a certain measured silence, a quiet that also signals for me a

crooked shall be made straight. Made to at least appear straight. I wonder what it means to be queer today; yes, of course, Oscar---one should always want to be in love, to feel the joy of love, which is why

time to be self-conscious. All the world's a stage implies we must be aware of our presence on that stage, at least aware enough to keep our performance organic, what we like to mean

everyone should avoid marriage. Yes, queers demanding to be like straight people, and now they will have marriage, like straight people, which is also another way to be square.

by saying more natural. But we must always be careful about what we want to make more natural--nature and civilization are at odds; the former is red in tooth and claw--just look at Wall Street.

III July 5th, 2016; 5:30 PM.

But what does it mean to be selfconscious? Is it a reflective pose, but if so, then mirroring what? To be self-conscious or not to be only instructs myself; I impose on myself as much as I do others by the

Do you recollect the images set in one montage after another montage after yet another and another and another-deadening the effect or reshaping our sense of doom, alienation, fear? Then, after

poses I take. How do I take what it seems I am giving? All does fall down; the house of cards we build out of our selves. History; social science or any one of the humanities--how do these help us

this deadening, the videos disappeared entirely, thought to be too painful for us to see again. Just in time because maybe we would look for or find by accident inconsistencies with the reported facts--the

understand--there was no steel box construction for the Twin Towers--do not trust the Truss, the firemen were saying after the collapse ofd each building--Don't trust the truss, is a mantra in the New York

is flat was once a fact. I cannot say anything about their absence now, the Freedom Tower has replaced them in space--I do not know if they have replaced them in mind. Certainly

Fire Department. Ah, the humanities, the study of humanity without the science purported by the social scientific community--where was the humanity in those heinous acts. Osama

they have not been able to replace them in memory. I sometimes, though, wish I could; but then, how much do I actually wish this, another posture set, a pose imposed. I

Bin Laden's father and family ran one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East. He knew how vulnerable those buildings were. It was no mystery. It was 28


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something any Fire Marshal could have told you who had ever inspected a warehouse

as the buildings collapsed were set just in case something like this possibly

fire or a supermarket fire. Warehouses and supermarkets are built to maximize interior space--the roofs of these broad and horizontally super-large buildings are attached by trusses on the

happened? I cannot get there in my head about the implosions and the take down of the Twin Towers by its owners. Questions beget questions; paranoia begets paranoid questions; just because a

walls and only an aluminum brace underneath--in the Twin Towers there was no steel box that was the initial innovation and greatest security measure against collapse in skyscraper building.

question is rooted in paranoia does not mean it is not true, we used to say as undergraduate political science majors. History is the self-consciousness of a culture, a people, a nation, its intellectual

The Twin Towers were the largest warehouses ever built, stacked onehundred and ten times high, twice. Collapse under those fire and breach conditions from the crashes was imminent. It was

elite? Can history be populist without necessarily becoming popular, then subject to the demands of entertainment? What kind of history is a history that is entertaining in the way we mean

inevitable--and that is what no one in power or authority wants you to know. And the pigs who made billions on the collapse may not have known about the planes and the plan for them that day, but they could have

entertaining in this culture? Childhood was revisited that day into the next and the next one and the next one, each of them creeping in their petty paces as do all the days of recorded time. Chicken

known the possibility of ultimate failure because it was far too easily accomplished for people who could have known about their vulnerability not to have known they were vulnerable. Unless there was access

Little was I, was you, the sky is falling I said. . . the television screen another theater of a kind, and as in all theaters, we do become children once more, and the sky can fall on our heads. Chicken Little was a

to messages from foreign intelligence agencies that alerted the owners of the Twin Towers to imminent threat which allowed then to establish a building implosion under the cover of a terror

prophet. What more is there to say about me, about them, about this day, the event? The impact was the impact; but do we still feel it. I couldn't say what it was I saw as I looked

attack--maybe this information could have been received by the owners as possible and not imminent and the explosions that fire fighters swore they heard in succession

at the hole in the lower Manhattan skyline about a week after they fell; I couldn't even say what it was I saw watching the Towers fall over and over again on TV, already one 29


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or another cut and paste montage for maximum effect--this effect being how

childhood, soon after the day they fell, another day that will live in infamy, or so we

horror-stricken we could become. The image was replayed in mind as on tv. London Bridge is falling down, falling down. My son's kindergarten teacher talked about it ad nauseum, as far as I was concerned.

believe, all the former days of infamy falling below the horizon of memory. Soon after that apocalyptic day, we said how we would never forget. This current revision is nearly fifteen

July 12th, 2016; Brighton Beach Brooklyn; Happy Birthday I.

years later. Fifteen years after Pearl Harbor was 1956. What did this day reveal? “The Book of Revelation” in the Christian Bible is one and the same, “The Book of Apocalypse.” Apocalypse is from the Greek

The Woolworth Building has not imposed at this angle in almost forty years, I remember having said after the facts. There was a time when it was the tallest building in the

and means 'revelation,' but today means something else because what John revealed was the Christian End Time; his prophecies represent the teleological myth of Christianity. What did we see in those

world; the Empire State Building was for a time again the tallest building in New York. I was in lower Manhattan to get a birth certificate so we could go to Canada, Montreal, our hostess from the hotel we

planes crashing into the Twin Towers, the largest buildings ever built, even if they were not the tallest. John's book owed everything to Hebrew millennialist teleologies; how do we not learn from our

were going to stay at extending her heartfelt sympathy over the phone, a solidarity she expressed to me in French and English. I cannot however forget the smell, yes, the smell, the horror of burning flesh

mixed cosmogonies and myths of the End. Osama Bin Laden was paying Western Civilization back for the Crusades? I remembered how Milosovich in the fragmented Yugoslavia of the Serbian/

for a week still recognizable I imagined in the nose, my fellow New Yorkers and I walking the streets around City Hall, Chambers Street and Broadway as the fires below the rubble continued to burn the

Bosnian conflict in the 90s blew up a mosque because the Ottoman Turks had destroyed a church on the same site 500 years before. The clouds dividing on Patmos; the

missing bodies or their parts. London Bridge is falling down, more rhymes for the nursery, I recollect having hummed then sung the words from

smoke eventually clearing over lower Manhattan; the smell, the acrid taste in my mouth and residually evident in my throat as far from the site as Chambers Street at

IV

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the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. I looked to the medieval arches of that bridge, evoking

after the fact who are now fourteen years old. Will we remember? I ask rhetorically,

for me again the image of the Crusades. I looked for John the Divine's Horsemen in the sky when the Towers were falling down, falling down, replayed on the television all week. I cannot tell you in pounds how much

as if you know what the answer is--no. I doubted it immediately, knowing how we have forgotten so many days that were destined to live in infamy, days I had lived through, only to see them fade.

shit I hear coming from people on matters of grave importance. What do I remember having said? Words never mean what they say at, I recall Addy saying at the close of her narrative in

We have not completely forgotten but there are children ready to enter middle school this fall who were born after it happened. Children who were alive that day but who could not possibly have any recall

As I Lay Dying. What did we uncover there then? When will we know? Can we? There were four of them that John saw in the sky dividing the clouds; The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. What then

of the facts as they happened as they were made are themselves perhaps entering high school. . . most people I hear on social media talking about freedom only indicate that they will never know or understand the

did I say in diatribes unfit to print? I later said their absence was almost as big as were the towers themselves, again, the largest buildings ever built, even after they were no longer the tallest, the debris

level of literacy that went into “The Constitution,” “The Bill of Rights,” The Federalist Papers. Too often too many neocon reactionaries imagine that it was guns and only guns that have given us our

covering how large an area? We once knew. I forget. We will no longer remember, forgetting more and more of this event. It is natural, I imagine. I felt something I could not name for weeks, for months, how long

freedom, but how many of these etherpatriots would actually defend “The Constitution” with words that could influence pro-actively how we think about freedom, how we teach it, how we are able

did it last, this inability to suit word to action? I noticed for a time we shared more camaraderie in our travels about town; I imagined we had become friendlier. Was it myself who had become so and others did

to disseminate it, how to protect it and nourish it. If Madison and Jefferson were as guttural and as visceral and as ignorant and semi-literate as the mass of conservative boobs on social media, we would have no

not change? Does it matter who changed and how? It is now nearly fifteen years ago, soon to be more. There are children born

United States. Have another beer you stupid, narrow minded arrogant reflexive non-thinking automatons of the Reactionary

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Right. Our grandfathers are rolling over in their graves knowing you are voting for . . .

taken the videos that the media had in how much footage?

I am not a skeptic; in fact I have been considered by many to be an optimist. The fact is, do we really remember anything? Do we realize a decade and a half has passed. What was the difference

The towers were falling down in front of us, over and over as if no one could have seen it however many times they watched. This is the footage that will reveal something true--Revelation. Repeatedly on

between 1941 and 1956; 1961 and 1976; October 1991 and October 2006? It would be other than optimism if I avoided the facts I use to infer our future lapse in memory. I am sure there were atrocities of the

the television news, one station and another and another in a special pace. The only real gain was our deadened sensitivity. The Ludovico Technique was never so effective. My brother Alex's forays into

Franco-Prussian war that were so infamous as never to be forgotten. The Reign of Terror was sure to live in infamy forever-how far have the French come from the lessons of les Jacobins. The further they

redemption aside, and for you, my hypocrite reader, I assume, as I do for myself, we will not long remember. How many people lose the memory of horror? How many people's minds

get away from the blade of the guillotine, though, the less free they are in face of new power and new elite money virtually fearless in their contempt. This does not mean I support Americans being able to

enforce forgetting on them for things too terrible to remember? Oh, my hypocrite brothers, fellow readers, writers, cases in point made in another rhetoric of contempocentricity. You know the part. I remember

buy assault rifles. It also doesn't mean I think Jefferson was a stupid man—the placement of Second Amendment is integral to the Four Freedoms. That has always been clear.

my lines well. I speak about the worst of times and the best of times, how everything seen in the superlative degree is . . . this is where my doubt should be placed, no? What passes for facts is frightening.

We watched with deadening rapidity day after day, in and out and out again, one montage after another, how many angles, how many cuts, the media trying to rival Eisenstein or Hitchcock. The North and

July 14th, 2016; 7:42 AM, EST, New York City.

South Towers of The World Trade Center were falling down, first one, then the other, then the first again and the first from another angle, at what range were they

Will we come to forget this day, but not through the processes of a collective unconscious amnesia, no. I am sure the

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answer is yes that we will forget, as certain as I am that we have forgotten Pearl

sociolect. Can we do such a thing, take Wordsworth's maxim for poetic expression

Harbor. We have also forgotten Hiroshima, not a special roll at your favorite sushi bar. I try, though, to remember this day, September 11th, 2001, but the recollection is fractured, fragmented, fading in color,

and make it apply to those who do not speak our language? We must know that Shakespeare spoke to both Kurosawa, the great 20th century Japanese film director, and Dostoevsky, the great 19th century

intensity, definition. What I see I am not certain I had seen; what I saw is somewhere I could not go to as I do a dictionary, the internet, an old tape recording or video record of a

Russian novelist. Did he speak to them the same way he speaks to me? He speaks to me in a way differently than he speaks to every other native English speaker. Anyone born on December seventh

vacation. Searching again the lost recesses of mind, or is it time--time is only ever a state of mind, at least as far as we have dogmatically construed it. Success in recollecting has become difficult to gage.

nineteen forty one is now nearly seventyfive years old. The youngest possible person alive on that day is a certain member of the elderly. Ask any incoming freshman in college to tell you what

To see is to believe, of course, and then it is to know, it is a special kind of understanding, one where standing under is imagined although not really enacted. Of the body, of the mind, of course, we only

happened on that day--ask any one of these freshman to tell you what the significance of August 6th is, what happened on that day in 1945. I have, although I know that I repeat myself. The

learn through the crucible of recollection. How we remember today though is equal to being blind. Oedipus set himself on the road to truth after he gouged out his eyes; in blinding himself, Oedipus proclaimed a

responses were frightening from my students in Freshman Composition classes in The City University of New York; what was most frightening was how human they were, all too human, in their ignorance,

life of blindness needs no eyes. Eyes were wasted on Oedipus. What are ours for? Would you or I have his courage? Could we be as just? Ah! The tranquility that recollection

which is dependent on a culture's forgetting or its amnesia, which amounts to the same thing. Historical awareness in a culture as tempo-centric as ours is terribly foreshortened.

requires--I remember my Wordsworth. What then is this language of men, which we must extend to women, and to men and women not privy to our language, our

What did happen on that day, though? We know the physical facts of the day; the conclusions to draw from those facts are other things. What lessons can we 33


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learn from this event? What lessons do we usually learn from history? Very few, right?

thing. Knowledge has become impossible, so why endeavor at all. There is no

This history is one that has been conveyed through a historiography too susceptible to the backspace key. We love the eraser; educated people who resent usually do. Wilde was right when he said a

knowledge; there are only an infinite number of opinions which leads us to imagine things like infinite possibility. However, infinity is unreachable, not knowledge.

fool can always ask a question that a wise man cannot answer. We imagine ourselves geniuses because we do so on and on and on as we have now for several decades; intellectual hegemony won by those who

One billion is equally far from infinity as is one. But then knowledge today is confused with facts, facts themselves never knowledge, but who's to say remains our favorite rebuttal.

are no better than that famous emperor whose new clothes were so shocking to everybody's fashion sense. We all have a new set of intellectual clothes to wear on parade or promenade.

All historiography is more l'histoire in one sense of the word, a story told, something to tell, perhaps; or, it is most likely a fiction, again, a thing made. I don't have as much objections to the makerliness

We do not study history as much as we imagine what history might have been as if there were no way to discern facts, to weigh accounts, to manage our research, if we were even to attempt such a thing. We

of historical texts as I do to the intellectual dilettantism that rules our social discourse, sometimes, even, discourse in the Academy. Anyone can say because where anyone can say no one can say you can't

are too in love with doubt as the highest form of wisdom, articulating an epistemology where there are no truths let alone a capital 'T' Truth, where all opinions are special simply because they are

say. Everyone respects another's opinion no matter how ludicrous because he wants his opinions respected whether they deserve to be or not. On any of the days that fall below the

opinions. But then they are no more than opinions. No one corrects anyone's opinion because then anyone would not be able to say anything about anything the way they want to be able to say their opinions, off the

horizon of history, what will happen, what could, or would or should happen? We love saying we do not know; but then, what kind of people draw comfort from perpetually saying I do not know; I cannot know; I will

top of their heads? We would have to know something to be able to judge opinions in their quality, but we do not believe we can know enough for any of us to do such a

not know; knowing is impossible; knowledge is impossible; my doubt is the highest wisdom I can attain. The horizon of memory, the horizon of time, the one of 34


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being too. 9/11 will converge with December 7th and August 6th in a

and shell each other into a final submission until the 11 AM ceasefire, when all fronts

metaphysical parallax. It is inevitable. One difference today is how few monastic oases of learning, of knowledge, of cultural memory we have in the desert of our waning civilization. As concerns the

went still. How psychopathic could they have been? How psychopathic are we, collectively? There were limits that day in the skies above lower Manhattan, the limits

parallax, there are metaphysical ones as well as physical ones; the railroad tracks converging on the horizon is not an illusion, though; it reveals the curvature of the earth, which we see as flat on the ground we walk

they set, the ones we had put in place prior to the event, the result had put in place another set of limits; each differing by varying from the others in ways we have lost to inevitable forgetting--but then

on. Perception cannot always be the sole verifier of our reality, but it can aid in gathering information; empiricism has its limits; doubt is something a genuine First

forgetting is just that, something for-getting, but do we look for what we should be getting, to give, what do we give, to forgive? The limits of remembering had been set too, much by the way we think, by how

Philosophy can start with, but to end with it is a disingenuous philosophy perpetrated on a people in the name of other hegemonies, The Will to Power has everywhere been the will to power.

we react, not what we do, or how we do it, but by what and by how we determine ourselves capable of doing anything. We have no sense of our limits or of our limitations.

Soon this day, 9/11, will be below the horizon with all the other days that were once days that will never be forgotten. Who remembers Gettysburg? Who remembers Lindberg? Do you remember when we still

I know I would never do what they did that day, never. A clockwork Alex, I am; what more can I say when I know that this is true for each of us, or so I think I say to make

called Veteran's Day, Armistice day . . . the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month? Do you remember anyone using the phrase, the eleventh hour? That's where it came from. Do you even know

myself more comfortable about my limitations, although I might be saying this in an effort to pander to what I now imagine I might think you want to hear; that is, Â if you were what I imagine I am drawing in

what I am referring to when I say the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month? Who remembers 1918? Do we remember Europe's armies rising at dawn to bombard

mind.

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Ditch Plains Beach Dogs The distance between places in a city like New York is easy to determine. I count streets, I count avenues, or both, and I know approximately how far one place is from another by counting the number of blocks I have walked. Numbered streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn, for instances, are laid out at approximately 1/20th of a mile, and that includes the distance crossed at each crosswalk. Each Avenue is approximately three times the distance of one of these blocks. It makes it easy to determine just how far one has walked. When in a place like Montauk, though, no such grid arrangement is apparent, and I have to judge distance differently. I cannot count streets in the same way, laid out along the old village plan as they are in Montauk. Of course, there are other places like this, and walking in old Madrid was a trip into the labyrinth, the heat in July was the Minotaur lurking around every corner? Distance on the beach has to be judged by time, which is only referenced by how far I can walk in X time in the city, how many blocks by how many minutes equals how many miles per hour. However, beach walking and street walking are not completed at the same rate, so when I walk on the beach for a however much time I do, I have to adjust the time correlation with distance due to how much more slowly I walk on sand than I do on level concrete.

August 19, 2016

Nonetheless, we do walk long distances on the beach, judged by the length of time we spend walking on the beach. One summer, we wanted to walk along the beach to South Hampton, I remember, yes, one summer . . . every summer going to Montauk, sometimes twice in a summer. What year it was I am not certain. It was an afternoon sitting on our drift wood log, on the beach by where we were staying, our room eclipsed behind the dunes that run the length of beach between the cliffs of Shadmoor State Park and Hither Hills State Park. It was a huge piece of an even bigger tree trunk that had washed ashore in yet another summer, I don’t recall. I forget which summer it was when we first met the log, or which visit in which summer, sometimes visiting more than once, twice a summer not unusual for our summertime in Montauk, again Land’s End, the final destination on the South Fork, I liked saying Land’s End, an anthology of English Lit I had when I was taking Chief Romantic British Poets, a class in Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats, the map of England on the inside of the front cover marking the tip of Cornwall. Yes, on the inside front cover was a map of Great Britain and Ireland and at the furthest extent of the southern- and western-most peninsula of England was written the words Land’s End. It’s the peninsula bordered by The English Channel, Plymouth Sound to be exact, and The Irish Sea. Our Land’s End was surrounded by Peconic Bay, Block 36


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Island Sound and The Atlantic Ocean; Land’s End became, for a friend of mine, a

confuse for thinking has more to do with randomly passing images in the mind.

very, very close friend, soul mate, kindred spirit, fellow writer, the title of his first published collection of poetry. How far from the first summer we spent there, how many summers from, I

Again, I’ve said this before in other places —I’ve written so much in journals and notebooks over the decades, since I first took up pen, that it is impossible not to repeat myself, just as impossible as it is to

could not count, when the log appeared it just was there, nothing magical. How long by train to South Hampton we had forgotten, how many times checking our watches or cell phones on the train to

recollect where and when I said what I had said before before . . . we were often like this. In an inspired instant, we thought we could walk it. I adopted an unusual optimism--not that I am at all pessimistic—

Montauk and how much time between Southampton and Montauk with Amagansett between. We could have just looked at the train schedule, but we mislaid the one we had on our trip out. I am

no—I am not pessimistic in any way. I am realistic. I hold dialogue between positive and negative points of view—and I think that positive thinking is over valued in America, not really valid in the way we

remembering when we decided we might have wanted to walk to Southampton and how we naively asked if it was far to walk, I mean too far to walk; we did not think it was too far, we couldn’t imagine not being able

support; often times try to enforce ourselves to its adherence. It’s a creed. It’s doctrine. I can because I think I can is really bullshit. Thinking you can is never enough,

to. We knew it was not far by car or by train. I think once we went by bus, but we forgot how long that had taken. Cabs would be too expensive, no need to spend forty dollars to go to Southampton. If I won the lottery I

not that you know this as well as I do. I can fly, I can fly, I can fly; now jump off a building. The thing about I can is that it prevents you from actualizing or acting on I cannot. I cannot is equal to I never will. You

would not spend forty on a cab to Southampton—now even I know that’s bullshit. I’d be taking cabs everywhere. Was it too far on foot we wondered, thinking we could know this by just divining

won’t do by accident what you believe you cannot do, so it’s not this idea of positive thinking that is so powerful as to suddenly make you able to do what you have not done before, or able to do what you are in

it, although we did not say anything about divining or thinking in the way most people think which has nothing really to do with thinking, or so I imagined? What people

fact unable at the moment to do, as it is powerful in helping you to avoid the power of negative thinking. Yes, again, you won’t do what you believe you cannot do. I can’t 37


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won’t make you able, it will simply allow you to sidestep prima facie never will

to a stop to let off and on, all aboard. Three? Two? How many minutes at each

We did not consider if it were too far or not, just far enough, not far at all, we did not consider any of these, I could not say why. I would not try to. I would not spend a moment imagining why or how. Optimism is

platform? How long does the train travel between each stop, and how fast? How many minutes at what speed equals how far, length distance time--time and space are an indissoluble unity, the oneness of

often a delusion, a delusion often maintained by willfully forgetting the details how and how long, when and where and with what. How long could it be even if the train took forty minutes to get there? We

space and time is apparent in travel . . . no? I think it is. Distance and duration are either long or short. We were thinking of taking the train, take the train—if we took the train—we

thought we could walk it how could it be that we could not. A couple of hours? Maybe three . . . we did find the Long Island Rail Road schedule. We checked it and found that it was forty-three minutes by

would still have to take a cab to the train, and on the way back, a cab from the train to the motel, I mean why walk as far as we would have to walk to take the train and not instead take that time on the beach toward

train. When they came, would be a problem; our stop being the last, the End, Montauk. Fewer trains make it out this far. A train after Speonk—there is only one track, I think I remember, the last time I took

Southampton. We never drove out to Land’s End. We took the LIRR. We could walk to the Hampton Jitney in town; we could get this other bus just across the street from where we are staying, we could

notice was when I cannot say. One night going out to the point late, around eleven when we stepped aside, our eastbound train did, a sidetrack, and we waited nearly a half hour for the train going westbound to

take a cab, we could walk—I mean we could walk as anyone could walk. We could walk to California, but would we and in that would not we could not because will has as much to do with ability as any capability to

pass us. How far could it be if we walked, in time, how many hours, couldn’t we do it, on the beach, along the shore, I mean if we woke with the dawn and had breakfast and left right after, couldn’t we get to

do what we think we desire to do. And desire is everything. Will is desire; in fact in German, as in Anglo-Saxon, Will is desire, Willen to want to, so I will eat is I desire to eat, I want to eat, wanting, again, being

Southampton before lunch, I mean we could, couldn’t we, we wondered. Two stops on the train mean what to us walking; five minutes each stop at the stop coming

everything. If you want to, you will; if you do not, you did not want it badly enough. Willless perception? Desire is not torment.

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The train travels more slowly than cars on the highway. I do not know that, but

tide, not letting us around, the sea and shore conspiring against our progress. I

it must be true. We did not know anything, really. What if it were fifty miles an hour and it were traveling for about thirty minutes at that speed? Twenty-five miles along the shore? Thirty minutes a mile. That is twelve

was suddenly seized with a fear of drowning, not knowing what the rocks were like in that turbulent surf around the jutting promontory of the cliff seen from our beach, just below the plains of Shadmoor State

and a half hours. We would leave at seven and get there around eight, unless we averaged three miles an hour instead of two. Then we would get there around three in the afternoon. Maybe around four or five,

Park we will one day traverse along the paths that wind their way through to the sloping hill culminating at Ditch Plains. We will eat hot dogs there with green relish. I will remember.

figure ten hours, we decided. It would take us about ten hours on foot. That is ridiculous she says. I agreed. If we were sixteen or eighteen, then no problem . . . not at our age; although not too old,

I had wanted to go to Ditch Plains at dawn; each time out here I said we should go to Ditch Plains tomorrow at dawn, never doing it, only this time I feel resolute in my desire, again wanting to is will do. It did not

certainly no longer young. But walk on the shore for eight hours was a bit ridiculous; how could we think of that? We decided no, of course, no. How could we have decided otherwise? It makes you a bit upset that

matter that we never got there in the past, for how many years, what year was the first one out here? At dawn or near after dawn was when the surfers would come out, no? I thought as much. I am going to go there

you could have thought to do something that wound up so resoundingly no. That we spent as much time thinking about something we in the end could not do, would not attempt, would not even envision

one morning to see them before I die, I said. We stood for a time on the sand before the rocks that had piled up on the beach. We watched how violently the

or fantasize doing . . . what? I suggested we make it to Ditch Plains . . . finally, as I have wanted to go there since we started coming out here, but evidently not badly enough to do it. The last

waters came to the shore against the rocks. We were afraid to walk on them around the jutting bluff beneath the cliff worn by winds and storm surges from hurricanes in the past. We stood and listened to the echoes

time we tried to walk from the border between East Hampton and Montauk to Ditch Plains we stopped at the cliffs of Shadmoor and paused on the rocks at high

of the hoodoos that caught sailors in the distant past, the pirates who were alleged to have come this far North from the Carolinas and Bermuda to bury treasure 39


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and were captured by the Native spirits. I remembered how I said I would come back

being, other considerations pressing, or so they seem to be. Yes, wanting is doing, and

and dig until I found treasure buried by pirates. He said nothing. I said it again to myself. I said nothing else. We continued past the point we had last come to only to turn back because it

that is everything in a play, in theater, the stage, all the world, you know. What do the characters want? An actor prepares and considers his want; what do I want, Hamlet asks preparing for the play, the actor

was the wrong time for the tides. You can’t make it past that promontory with the rocks covering the sands into the surf from the base of the cliff because it is too dangerous for people who are even good swimmers to

playing Hamlet must know. To build a character or not to build a character, not exactly everything what they say they want, or what you think they should want, or could want if but don’t get

get past, or at least I thought so at the time, what time was it, the year escapes me now, which summer was it? It does not matter, the only matter now getting past where we had stopped before and went no farther.

because these ifs are always elusive--what do they want? What do I want? I me the person me, I me the Self of many selves me; who am I? What am I? Question following question. They do, they always

How much of life is lived in fear, how much does fear form it? How much do we intend to avoid ever knowing this fear? I had said okay about it that we should try to make it past our most recent

do, persistent as they become at times, questions, the questions raised, the questions found, the questions avoided, and the ones asked again. Identify that, what you want, and everything else falls

farthest extent and go all the way to Ditch Plains as I have already said. Why somewhere in all of this that I will not explore, find the reason. I will never find it, lost as it is in one distraction or diversion

into place. What do you want? He used to ask us, Bill, in workshop. I had wanted to go in the morning around dawn to see the surfers as they came to the spot where they ride waves on

after another. Wanting is everything Bill Packard had once said to us in his workshop at HB Studios--if you do not do it, you do not want it. That is where it’s from, Bill, at HB. How long ago is that? I am

boards. I could almost see them doing this from the distance of our spot on the beach next to the East Hampton line, right where Hither Hills State Park begins near where Second House Museum is--I have said this

starting to realize that I am older than I feel or older than I think I am. Imagine I could have become, how that is I do not know, will not think about now or for the time

already. Hither Hills is also home to many deer. We see them sometimes in the mornings coming and going in and out of the easternmost extent of the State Park. 40


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The easternmost edge of the park comes right up against the place we stay in

surfing, the boards and the waves, and the beach with the sand, the ocean, the sky,

Montauk. I have taken video of doe’s with their yearlings, or whatever you call baby deer, I don’t know. I’ve taken the video sometimes right at the edge of the backyard in Montauk. The photos I have and the

the girls, the tans, the bikinis, fires, and the sunsets. He talked of the madness and wisdom and how he broke the neck of his first guitar trying to surf on it one time when he was very, very drunk. He remembered

videos I’ve taken of the waves coming to the shore in succession from the beach at the edge of the surf looking down the length of the coast east to its extent in the distance past Ditch Plains nearly all the way to the

that just before he broke the neck, fell into the ocean, and lost his guitar forever he had discovered the desire to learn how to play the guitar with his toes. He never showed us if he had learned. I never asked

Point, but still a considerable distance on foot; what I could see that was not diminished in size by the distance in my eyes? Who am I here that I am not

him.

anywhere else I might be, that I am not when I am back in the city. I cannot recall. What do I call again to mind? Memory is a sound is an image is jump-cut motion picture? How old was I? Was I 14? Was I

ebb of high and the ebb of low. We collect stones. Some stones are wave worn pebbles. Some are flat. One is the shape of a surfboard. I could not help but show everyone who was watching me collect the

twelve? What year was it? Time in the mind, time on the clock, time on the calendar, time in the universe, space-time, historical time, time in history, in historiography, time in the mentality of a

stones. Look, it is a board. Nature in tune with what they do here, I said. Either a few smiled, one said, right on, actually did, say right on, others just did not respond verbally or facially, expressions worth a thousand

people, cultural time, making time, taking time, taking one’s time to do things, slow down and get things done faster. This past summer I have great shots of sunrise and some video too.

words my cousin Betty used to say. We had a small thermos bag with a couple bottles of beer, Blue Point Toasted Lager, and so I suggested we have the beers here on the beach at Ditch Plains

I knew a guy when I was around fourteen who said he had spent time out in California, on the coast, out in Malibu and at Big Sur. He talked of the surfers and

with dogs. I got a couple of dogs with mustard, relish, and sauerkraut at the truck at the end of Otis Road up the road in-land from the beach at Ditch Plains.We sat on

At Ditch Plains, we stood on the beach at the edge of the surf looking out on the waves coming in off the top of the tide coming in somewhere halfway between the

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the sands as the sun descended behind us as we faced southeast looking to the horizon watching the waves coming in to the shore, evening low tide. The dogs were good with the beers we had brought. I like dogs boiled in water with beer; we were planing on this one day out at the Point. I'm wondering if we should have dogs with beer and beans for dinner this night that night, a last night I shift in and out of time, past and present—or is it tense I shift, boiled or grilled, the dogs, how tense we are when we come here, and how loose we leave, another question about what is necessary in life, our living, the latter,living, is not in itself the former, life, don’t you know? Maybe we should get some kind of special sausage for the grill? That would be great to have some kind of gourmet sausage, maybe andouille or a chorizo or some really good kielbasa? “We should go to South Hampton to shop,” she said. We could get good special sausage in Southhampton—I still want to visit the brewery there. We have to go to the brewery when we’re there. I remember Ben and Jerry’s in Vermont. I miss Pittsfield. Pittsfield’s in the Berkshires, directly under the Green Mountains in Vermont. Do not ask me what this has to do with what I have herein so far said; or, if there is going to be anything else after this. It does not have to, you know, even if you choose to dis-understand.

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Back cover photo: "Without Julie Andrews" Vermont, 42 years later by Jay Ruvolo © 2007 Jay Ruvolo

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