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Vplume 1 Number 4

November 29, 2016

THE FALLING LEAF REVIEW A Monthly Literary Magazine


The Falling Leaf Review

Vol. 1 No. 4

Vplume 1 Number 4

November 29, 2016

The Falling Leaf Review Copyright (c) 2016 Jay V. Ruvolo

Publishing and Contributing Editor Jay V. Ruvolo


The Falling Leaf Review

Vol. 1 No. 4

Vplume 1 Number 4

November 29, 2016

Table of Contents

I Heard a Sad Story of a Beautiful Boy [a Short Story]


Caravaggio and I [a Short Story]


Nobody Knows How It Can Be Like That [a Short Story]


She Opened the Letter

[a Poem]



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I Heard a Sad Story of A Beautiful Boy by JVR

I Blesser is the French origin of the English word ‘blessed.’ Blesser, however, is the French infinitive for the verb ‘to wound.’ To be blessed is to be wounded; in this sense, most likely by God, as my Grandfather used to say when someone passed us who was lame, in a wheelchair or on crutches or with a walker; someone who might have Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy or MS or some kind of affliction visible to the eye . . . il a ete touché par dieux, or, “he has been touched by God.” To be touched by the divine, to be blessed, some physical sign was apparent . . . I recollect the several times I actually saw my maternal Grandfather from Pittsfield. You cannot be touched by God and not be wounded. The divine cannot touch anyone without leaving a mark, its stigma. God cannot touch the human without the human, as I have said above, receiving a wound . . . as Francis is blessed, is wounded, has received the stigma of Christ by having been touched by Him, so are we too touched by the divine, or so I have been told, taught, as I had been taught other things I was told Jews and Protestants did not believe, did not think, thus after both of these former, could not feel.We were different we were certain they thought. I have to choose humanity. I am not born with it. I am born with humanity as a potential. In choosing humanity, though, I also choose divinity. I recollect the Sisters at Saint Therese’s and the instructions from Catechism Class. I have neither the reasons some have for rejecting the Church , nor do I have the inclination to become devout in the way some have when being devout means missing the point, which then means they were never devout in the first place. Their devotion being 4

another way of being seen in the Synagogues, which I hope we know are also Churches and Mosques and schools and certainly television and film, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Divinity infers a hierarchy. It cannot be any other way. In ours, God is on high, all seeing and all knowing; but that does not mean He arbitrarily interferes in life, or that he weighs in for one or another more heavily than for another, no matter how many black basketball or football players think Jesus walks with them on the field or court of competition. Yes, Protestants in America telling us that Jesus is their friend. The Incarnation of the Son of God begotten not made before time and creation, the Lamb of God, the Word become flesh is my buddy. There has been no society more full-ofshit than ours. How their boy died is unrelated to how her husband disappeared. She does not make the connection, although they are connected for anyone else who thinks about them, thinks about her and her circumstance, the loss of a boy and the loss of her husband. Had the latter been lost before he disappeared she never asked, others did, and often, at their own tables, at times after having seen her, met her, talked with her a little while and after having watched her walk away, making sure she was not within ear shot. Their boy died coming home from basketball practice one evening. She was sitting in the chair by the window waiting for her son to come home, their son to come home. Everything and everyone were theirs, not hers. The chair she sat in every evening after dinner was their chair. It had not even been late, when it happened. He wasn't late, nor was it late on the clock. He was crossing the street, a familiar street, a street he had crossed thousands of times before, and a car, a car that should have stopped, a car that had not been in the boy’s peripheral vision, a car with a driver that had

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taken the opportunity to speed up and make a turn at the corner in the dark where there was no street light; the driver chose and did not stop. He had not been drinking, as God would have known. He was never caught. On that corner in the daytime visibility was poor. At night, it was appalling. It was impossible to see. The boy was wearing dark clothing, a windbreaker he liked and had wanted, asked his mother to get. It would be too painful for her to read this; it was far too excruciating for her to pass over this in thought from time to time in the days afterwards, in the nights. At his wake, his casket was closed. She still turns away from thinking about this. Some women might think about this obsessively. She does not. She will not. She has not. He liked how it looked on him, the windbreaker she let him have, the windbreaker she thought about one night, the windbreaker that was black and had to be the reason the driver did not see him. God knows. We do not. Of course in the light of the store and not at night no one had thought about visibility at night. He was going to wear it more often at night. At night it's chilly in the fall, cool in the summer sometimes. A lighter color would have saved him, she imagined one afternoon. The driver left the scene. They never found him, the driver, who wasn't drunk, I know, I'm telling you, he wasn't drunk. He got away with it. She assumed it was he. She said to herself that a woman would have stopped. No one knows if it was him or her. I know it was him—a man driver, she said. How many hit and run deaths are there? She thought she could remember the statistics she had become obsessed with gathering after his death. It was a man. She buried herself in facts that hovered on the periphery of her son’s death. She did not consider the facts of his death, but the facts in general of his kind of death. We bury ourselves 5

in facts, an avalanche of them is falling on us, on all of us everywhere every day; all over America we are burying ourselves alive with facts, facts and more facts. She did not know what was happening as it was happening, thinking about hit and run drivers, thinking about children, not hers specifically, but all children who die in accidents . . . there are no accidents I have been told. I'm not so sure I agree with that, that there are no accidents. I remember when we used to say something like, things done by accident on purpose. She sat in her chair looking out the window into the dark. The lights in the living room were off. She had had them off to be able to see more clearly out the window at night She has been sitting in this chair by the living room window at dusk every night since her son was killed. She watches the gloaming. She peers into it as she has before, as she has since before her son was killed. She fixes her gaze on the changing light. She can see him clearly the day he left, the last day she saw him alive, what he was wearing, his face, his voice she swears she can hear sometimes, one time from out of the dark of his room as she stood in the hall one night soon after. She sees him clearly I her dreams. She dreamed about him every night for almost a month. She remembered how many times she had to go to the doctor, feeling what she was feeling, mimicking the symptoms of a heart attack, she thought, how could she not be dying of a heart attack, or was it merely heart failure. She thinks of him and how he was before the accident, but does not think about what it must have felt like for him to lose his life, how it was for him--instantly or some variation on slowly. She loses her breath. How did it slip? Again, slowly? How long did it take him to die? Was it instantaneous as they said it must have been? How fast was the car going? It must have been upwards of sixty the

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way he was thrown; she does not think about his body in the air. She went over that in her mind one night how long afterwards she could not tell, does not now recall. She thinks of him in his crib. She has not allowed herself to consider the physics of the accident. She has not wanted to imagine what it must have been like to have been thrown as far as he was thrown by the car hitting hjm in its turn around that very dangerous corner, as others had said many times before the night of the day it happened. She recollects whatever fragments she can. She collects them. She does not try to piece them together. She goes over them, over and over them, however they arise and pass in the mind. She thinks about the photos of him she has, all the photos of him she had taken in her life with him, his life with her, their life together with her husband the boy's father. She thinks she wants to look at his photos, then thinks again that she does not want to look at his photos, that looking at his photos would be too painful, what it would dredge, what it would bring up, seized with fear, paralyzed by it, she refused to look for the photo albums she knew were somewhere in the hall closet next to the living room. The ambulance passed. She looked, she turned, she wondered a moment—she thought of that night and she remembered having heard the ambulance that night. She had paid no mind to the ambulance then; she did think about who might be dying at that moment as she thought of a half dozen other things. All of sudden in a rush it came over her that the ambulance then that night was for her boy. She recalled how she thought nothing about the ambulance that passed as it passed. She remembered how she innocently mocked her husband who used to make the Sign of the Cross every time he heard an ambulance. It was the ambulance that was going to her son when he was dying; she tried to think about 6

what she was thinking. She has tried this before to no avail. She had thought of this in the past, about the ambulance she had ignored. She thought about what her son was thinking about while she was ignoring the ambulance that was on its way to save him although it could not. She later thought about this one time too many. She then stopped thinking about this. She could not know if this had anything to do with her husband disappearing. It was fifteen years ago when he was sixteen when her son died alone in the dark in the street, she used to say in the weeks following. She imagines she must have run this over in her mind in those weeks enough to last anyone several, lifetimes of remembering. He was a beautiful boy, really a beautiful boy, not in the way we have in America of making the ugly and stupid feel better by degrading all sense of beauty, truth, intelligence and proportion. He was so smart, smart, not in the way we have of saying that in the Public Schools, not in the way we have of saying that in our polite conversations. She also forgets how horrible he was to her, he being a teenager, she used to say to herself, not at all worse than many other teenagers, she suspected. She remembered this. She remembered him. How do parents get over burying their child? She thought about having once asked herself before it had happened. How is it possible to endure the death of a child? She does not imagine she has. She says she never will. She says nothing is the same. She would not have to say that for anyone to know this, she thinks. I do not know what I would do. No one knows what he would do. It is different for women she might have said, but does not. What does it matter what I would do; what she did becomes more important? She does not know what she did. She remembers she could not say what it was she did to get past it

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because, she said, you never get over it. It’s always there. So what is this about getting past it? You don't get past it, she said. How can you? I might have asked. Being able to do the menial things—you can always do menial things. I imagine Christ wiped his nose in the Garden at Gethsemane. No one knows how she feels. This I do know. How she felt, what she felt, thought, wanted no longer—who? God? The suffering of children, she wonders. How does God allow children to suffer? She was sure no one knew how she felt. She knew she did not know how any other woman in a like situation felt. She could not say what it was she felt, what she thought, the images—the dreams she dreamed were fractured, everything in pieces, confetti. I was a jigsaw puzzle, I imagined she said. She said she remembered the framed jig saw puzzles some people hung on the walls in their homes. She had no idea then, as she has no idea now, why anyone would do that. Hang a jig-saw puzzle framed in the wall? I remember those. I think I remember Mrs Connolly having one on the wall on the first landing as you went upstairs in their one family two floor East Flatbush home. What could she want ever again? She did not ask. She would not ask. She was alone. She did not say it to herself, neither aloud nor in loud. She was, she is, she will remain alone in face of all the women who have ever lost a child. Big words from me she would say I'm sure I should think. No one knows what anyone else feels or what she thinks that he understands—who in my experience is unique, who is not, everyone is, everyone else and no one else simultaneously. Hers has to be—what does it have to be? Nothing is identical. There is only perpetual uniqueness. This is our mutual likeness. No one has this body or this mind, she said. Everyone can say the same for himself or for herself, or for her, any him wherever, whenever, however. I do not doubt that human to human understanding is possible although very, very difficult. 7

She will be alone as all women who face this are alone with or without their husbands, who have lost children as well, is it ever the same child that a husband and wife lose? Loss, absence, again this absence that is presence-how many times can someone think of something--how many ways to describe loss? Absence becomes a presence that can displace other presences. We know this. She knows this. I've said this before; she has said something like this before as well. Aren’t each of us as many people as the number of people we know and interact with day in and day in again without gain although a significant plurality persistent. With women who have lost them it is different, she imagined she heard herself say in another voice, one of hers, a voice from somewhere in her where lies another she, she was, then, when her boy was alive. Lying is lying. It is interesting how things lie in her . . . she recalls him saying his prayers before bed, she hears him saying, Now I lay me down to sleep . . . there are analogies, she remembers her husband trying to say, or something to this effect. Analogy is not sameness, she recalls saying. We have to be able to make them, though, he said. We can’t let being able to make them lead us to conclude I know how you feel, how she feels, how he feels, this one and this one and that one, she said. There is commonality, but common is not the same, is not identical, only the thing in itself is the thing in itself, only the woman herself is the woman herself--no one knows, she used to comfort herself by saying. Just like no woman knows exactly what another woman feels thinks goes through when she wants to or needs to have an abortion. No one knowing put her at ease in what she felt; what she felt she has never found the words for, as much as she has written over the years since the one or the other, her son and then her husband. Alone—Donne was wrong,

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she said. Everyone is an island. No one is a part of the main. I am an island, each of us an island. He was a beautiful boy, she said. He was really a beautiful boy, she repeated. Words are inadequate, she later added, thinking about what she has said in face of losing her boy. Everything everyone has ever said about language falling short was right. Words are not enough. I wish they were for they are all I have, she said. She said a lot after that. It would be like audio recording a person for the rest of her life if I were to put down everything she said. I tell you in the hopes you understand that writing this does something for me. Reading it does something for you. But what does having lived it do for her? II It had been seventeen years since a driver turning a corner without stopping or slowing down killed her son. The driver had never seen the boy everyone assumed. She did not make such assumptions. She knew that the driver could have seen him and still do what he did. She knew that maybe the driver had seen him but too late. The driver had to know he hit something. Any driver would get of his car to see what it was. No one knows that the driver did not stop. No one was out to see anything. Many would not have been able to see anything even if they were out and about in the dark, with that tree on the corner with its low hanging branches, the fullness of the trees. No one saw anything on that corner two blocks from her home that night he had gone to basketball practice alone. What is what was? She did not recall if she had wanted to go or not, if she had wanted to pick him up or not, or what her husband was doing that he did not pick him up, or if the boy himself put up resistance to the idea of having to be picked up after practice. She would have liked to have been able to say that not a day went by when 8

she did not redress the litany of shoulds but that would not have been true. She thought she remembered having realized one day that a day had gone by without thinking of him. She did not cry when she realized this. She does not cry remembering this. There are other days when she almost forgets but obliquely remembers yet does not go over and over in mind what she should have done. The nights are .longer, have been longer, she recalls in the first years after hew was killed the nights were interminable. She does not recall when she first was able to fall asleep soon after laying her down on her pillow. She knows she never felt about her husband the same after that day, no. Things were never the same would be an understatement. They did not separate. They never mentioned or thought about divorce. But they were separate in their home, never again being as they were and finding no other way of being together. Together apart, apart together; three, yet one; each apart, three is three are three are one is one what is what was has been will be and a time will come when it will have been. How could we she did not say but must have thought somehow in some way apart from words. One day he just did not come home. Her husband left for the day and did not come home the time he would usually come home. He did not call then or after and has not in all the years since. She never reported him missing. She does not know why she never reported him missing. She never asked herself why she never reported him missing. She continued to use all their joint accounts. Nothing had changed. Nothing ever was touched in any of them. He had left them alone. She never found out what had happened to him. She never wanted to find out. All joint accounts remained as they had been. Nothing closed, no other money but money she put in or took out or transferred had ever appeared or disappeared.

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She did not ask any questions. She did not want to know what happened to him. She had stopped caring what happened to him not too long after their boy her boy had died. He had no brothers or sisters, her husband. He had very, very few friends who knew anything really about him. He had not seen anyone who knew most of what there was to know about him in a long, long time. It was too long ago for anyone to fix on her and ask him where he was or if she had heard from him. Anyone he had known from childhood, family or friends were long ago gone from his life, no connection. If anyone died, no one would look for him to tell him. His parents had been dead for several years. He had lost contact with everyone else in his family. She realized how easily someone could just disappear. She imagined he had gone into a cave in some wooded mountainous area and shot himself. He did not have a gun. She did not call his work to find him. His work called the hime several times. She did not answer it. She identified the caller by caller ID. She was too embarrassed she imagined. The calls stopped. He was very inconspicuous in life, at home, at work. No one thought much of him, including her after how many years she forgets has forgotten will not remember unless she tries to remember she imagines. How many people disappear, she thinks, without a trace and without any fanfare. Just like this. People go and they do not come back and in a short time no one misses them. She never saw him at any of the places he and she had frequented. It then seemed to her that he must have resigned, must have tied up all loose ends at his work, must have fixed it so no one there would look for him. She began to think that he must not have shot himself because he was not the kind to shoot himself, kill himself by any means, but was he the kind to disappear, she asked? Not to contact anyone, though; not to tell anyone where he was or where he was going. Is that really odd? How unusual is it really? Is it? People do not 9

announce when they want to disappear. It's those who want to disappear and never be found that do disappear and are never found. Someone who wants to kill someone and have that person never found has a harder time. Not an impossible time, but a more difficult one. Her boy had told her how much he hates her in an argument before he left the last time she had seen him alive. There was no sense in the argument no matter how much media imbeciles make otherwise out of what goes on in the subjectivity of any person, especially a teenager. He was a miserable bastard, an ungrateful brat fuck who imagined he had the right to express every hateful thought about his mother that came to mind. She was never going to say this or think this. She only remembered what he said that day every day since he died. If he were to read this, nothing would change because he was a horribly arrogant fuck who could not imagine that he should not condescend to everyone around him, thinking, of course, that he was smarter than his mother who was only impossibly stupid. The pig should have been beaten with a stick, but he wasn’t, and I will go to my grave knowing that that would have been the right thing to do. Would it have saved his life—no one knows; no one? Someone else might have thought differently—could think differently—about what the boy said, how the boy was, what he was in the time he spoke to his mother as he did, the whys of what he said how he said it, the what of his and every other boy’s and no other boy’s reasons or unreasons for his behavior, how they mature, how they grow, how they learn, why they do what they do the times they do what it is we are certain they do not have to do, or so we go on saying, mystifying what adolescence is, mystifying what it is to know, what it is to take responsibility as a parent, what it is to teach, to show, to tell, to form inform reform . . . when where how why again why oh why do we doubt so much as we do, a culture

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of doubt raising basket cases for children, resentful hateful fuckers as teenagers. The End

Caravaggio and I by JVR I There have been many paintings I could not take my eyes off of, but this one, not simply large, no, it was . . . what was it? It was tremendous, the height, the width, it is not why I could not take my eyes off of it .I recall having said nothing as I walked into the gallery where it was hanging, Caravaggio's La Deposizione, Christ being placed in his tomb, the two Mary(s) behind with their hands raised in epiphany-dead Jesus, the man, the glowing Christ, still, chiaroscuro, a circumambient dark fading to black. I first went with a friend. I then went with family; then went by myself.  How long ago was it? I should be able to answer, but cannot. I do not wonder or worry why I cannot. I simply do not. I can check, but I won't. It was the visiting Vatican Collection. I went more than once. I went more than one time each time I made my way to this portrait, this painting, this most magnificent example of Italian baroque. Was this the only reason I went back to the collection? How many people who went to see Dead Jesus Still Vibrant Christ, I would like to know. You now what I am talking about, if you're Catholic, anyway. Do you need to be Catholic to understand this? I do not know what I never knew, what I will never know, what I might have forgotten I had forgotten. It is not a matter of having forgotten something I have remembered. The sense of one writer infecting another is one thing . . . how many do I owe a small debt of gratitude, perhaps also to every asshole I have ever had a conflict with in my life, the opportunity to have made one mistake after 10

another, the impossible to fathom anymore need to repeat mistakes as if doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result each time is not a form of insanity. No anxiety of influences here? I am only remembering having felt that one sensibility and my sensibility were parallel---what am I talking about with this other sensibility? Whose? Where these parallel lines would come to converge, I could not say, you know that that is not an illusion, not really. The illusion is the flatness of the ground and parallellity of the lines (and that is a word, you know; you have to stop deferring to Pages or Word and what they flag); when you see railroad tracks converge on the horizon, what that reveals is the curvature of the earth to the eye. I do not visit galleries the way others do---I have a wife who resents that I must think myself so special that I do not do what the other cattle do, as I say; but then she is from the Soviet Union, so joining one cattle drive here and another there is the only way to do things publicly, I guess. I am being too hard and unfair. I can be horribly unfair, but then so be it. I am quite capable of forgiving myself; it helps me to forgive others which I find better than what others do, which is to forget without forgiving. To give or to get; what is the difference there? You know. It should help you to understand the distinction between forgiving someone or forgetting what they have done instead off forgiving. Whatever, however, anyway nonetheless; I can see me flipping through the catalogue of the Vatican's art collection in the book store, the book I bought and brought home to show my father. I still have it on my book shelves having reacquired it after my father's death, having left it with my father when I removed from home. What does this say? I am not sure what it is supposed to say. I am here to talk about Caravaggio and his painting of the dead Jesus being placed in his tomb after the cross while the two Mary(s) hover his body

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with their hands raised in a typical iconographic gesture of epiphany, as I have already said. Mary called Magdalene and Mary, Mother of God. I could not take my eyes off of them, off of the corner of the slab of stone; this painting, my eyes not off of Him when they moved onto him, his figure, the lines of his form painted by Signore Merisi. And then other figures, the women's hands, their fingers, revelation of the Godhead? In the scene on the canvas, Magdalene, the first witness of the resurrection, the first Christian--what it really means to be a Christian? What does it really mean to be a Christian (and I can do without the mocking jibes I used to hear from nonChristians in New York when I was a boy and some did not realize I was around to hear them say what they actually said and would deny they ever have said or have believed, do believe, do say among themselves, just as black people and white people are sure the other is privy to things said by people they like, love even respect that neither wants anyone other-else to hear . . .). My Aunt Anna had a heavy, thick, carved wooden Crucifix above the upstairs bed where I slept in the summers in the Berkshires, Pittsfield, where Melville had written one-third of Moby Dick, in the hills, on a farm not far from where Hawthorne lived, not far from where Norman Rockwell painted his Saturday Evening Post covers. The Crucifix was draped in rosaries. I once had a dream, I imagine was a dream and not an actuality, perhaps that half sleep before waking, but Jesus took a high dive off of his cross into my eyes . . . It was huge, the painting by Signore Merisi; but its hugeness alone was not the reason for my fixation. Yes, there it was--yes, it; a larger than life painting, in a gallery, how far into the cattle drive I cannot recollect. I doubt I will ever recall. Yes, it--it--Caravaggio's La Deposizione, it. The depositing of the dead Christ--no, not dead Christ, but dead Jesus? Of course. Christos cannot die, I remember a Greek Orthodox friend had insisted over coffee at the Greek diner just off Brooklyn College 11

Campus on Hillel Road sometime in the early nineties. So, what was it beside it being there as large as it was--Caravaggio's naturalism? What does that mean--also the vibrancy he lends to Christ . . . the living Christ. Life indestructible. Zoe, the Greeks would have understood, might even say, I don't know. Yes, I am not alone in this sense. What sense? I have come across this idea in a great work on mythology on the subject of Dionysos by Kerenyi (I used to avoid the trite spiritualism and mythologizing that became popular when I was a teenager . . . I used to only read Mircea Eliade, but this is not for here, not for now). Anyway, and it should not trouble you that I take divergent paths to get to where I intend we go, and it is we, not I, that are traveling here; the journey, not the destination. All by way of indirection, I could say. How to tell a story straight, I have no idea, nor do I have any understanding of why. The Greeks had two words for life, the one, bios, as in biology, was for life destructible, life that had an end; the other, Zoë, was for life indestructible, life everlasting, life eternal . . . Jesus is not Dionysos--I hate stupid conflations that arise from an intellect too weak--or is it will? The will is weak in matters of learning by those who are attracted by simplistic answers and responses and conclusions where real intellect persists to the truth, yes there are many truths as well as Truth . . . don't get me started on the Transcendental. Yes, capital 'T.' Capital Truth, the compass heading. Set your sites; mark your heading and go in that direction. Readjust every day. Dead Jesus--the living Christ--Christ everlastingly alive shines through the body of Jesus being deposited into his tomb . . . and tomb is from the French tomber, to fall. Everyone's tomb, his final fall. The finality here is the end of bios, the continuation of Zoë. In fact, the resurrection is the reanimation through the everlastingness of Christos for the human person Jesus. The natural course has been reversed; the Divine has put a hold on Nature.

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Jesus was he, no, Jesus is He, capital 'H' He. Do I need to examine the pronoun references for God--God Is He, the Holy Ghost is It. Can God be He, She and It? Too many will shout No!. I disagree--God is He, She and It . . . and I am not using these pronouns here in a one-to-one correspondence with the Persons of God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost (you want to say spirit--say spirit). Is not was--Jesus is, Jesus remains, Jesus persists, Jesus is forever present tense; Jesus is, if I want to borrow from Aquinas. Deus Est; Iesus Est. The Jesus I saw was different from the Jesus that is, the Jesus painted by Caravaggio being one and the same and completely other than every Jesus seen in painting by whomever whenever--the Mass Card my father had received from my mother's cousin Barbara after my paternal grandmother died, Jesus on the cross being removed from the cross. The Descent from the cross not The Depositing in the tomb . . . you do know what I am talking about, right? No? Yes? Maybe? I saw--no, I say I watched--yes, I watched Jesus being placed into his tomb in Caravaggio's painting. How can anyone watch a painting? Understand what the baroque represented. Understand that the baroque did use what could be called exaggerated motion coupled with clear details and that these were employed for dramatic effect in painting, a theatricality absent in other ages? There was tension, what might be called tenebrismo . . . the use of  chiarascuro . . . there was an exuberance in the paintings; there was grandeur as well in sculpture . . . see Bernini. The baroque was an age, was an aesthetic, was an entire metaphysics of art . . . of painting, of architecture, of dance, of theater, of music, of literature. This depositing of Jesus after his descent from the cross. It was enormous, again, the painting, and in it, the body of Jesus, also enormous, also it, the body--but Corpus Christi, It or He--We?


Larger than life, of course, it would be larger than life on the canvas. Body of Christ; Body of Jesus--not exactly the same thing.are they? With Communion, we enter into Mystical Union in the Body of Christ. We chant the words themselves, “Body of Christ . . . speak but the Word and my soul shall be healed;” and so, the light from Christ in Signore Merisi's La Deposizione was--what was it? Questions beget questions I have said before, will say again. Was it intense? The light in the painting was what? What was it? Light in Christian iconography translates how? Light from a non specified source--the kind of light Merisi borrows from Tintoretto, for sure. It was supposed to be intense, mysterious, something evocative of the sacred-should I capitalize the word 'sacred?' Of the divine--the presence of Divinity, thus the gesture recognized in the two Marys' upraised hands; epiphany, as in the Feast of Epiphany, The Revelation to the Gentiles on January 6th on the Catholic Calendar. Yes, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the Holy Mother, are gesturing their recognition of divinity, it is a Revelation to them, and how Jesus is illuminated on that canvas, in that scene, and how He seems to be illuminated from within--He shines. You have to take notice whether you are Catholic or not. You do not need to be devout or practicing to understand what is happening on that canvas, within that frame, what scene is set, that place a stage---yes, all the world is a stage, in the baroque mind. It is the baroque mind that plays on the consonance and the assonance of 'State" and 'Stage." Statecraft is stage craft. In and on are mutually reciprocal, a dynamism itself. I could not imagine an Atheist, a Muslim or a Jew not being impressed; a Hindu, a Buddhist or one or another Animist would have to be impressed if he had the slightest appreciation for what we still liked calling at the time I saw this painting, artistic genius. I have no idea what that means now. I do not pretend that I did then. But you do not need to be Catholic as Signore Merisi

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understood in himself. Impression of this sort is what I call universal, if the person is opened, not full of prejudices and preconceived notions . First empty your cup; or, no more will go in. I do understand from experience here in New York City, in Public School, in my college days, in my personal life, in my professional occupations over time; in my travels to other cities and regions across America--and what it is that I do understand is that most Americans, Protestant Americans, will expend great energy to understand and respect Oceanic Spirituality, for example, but preclude themselves from doing the like with Catholic spirituality, Catholic metaphysics; and thus allow themselves, most often, condescension or mocking derision. I could say, Fuck them, but why should I? I know that I imagine that I would even like to say this, at least to myself, in my mind another stage. I have never had an aversion to say, or at least to having the inclination to say fuck you to someone or some others, in most places I have frequented do frequent. Whether I actually do or not is another thing. The good ones, I remember from Plato, are those who are content to dream what the evil actually practice. I do know that if I am Catholic and say anything about power or money in America and point to anyone Protestant or Jewish in critique, I will be lambasted, but then perhaps maybe this only my singular perception and that that perception is skewered as all Catholic opinions and critiques must be skewered, and I suppose no one has read Weber or reads Weber anymore? Caravaggio now matters more, and will matter in spite of being dead. Caravaggio and I are the focus. Let's not get lost on a tangent--I do not really know how one could get lost on a tangent. A tangent is a theoretical straight line intersecting a point on the circumference of a circle and one that extends for infinity . . . is it the infinity part that leads to the assumption of 13

lostness? How much has Caravaggio had an affect on me as a person, as a man, as a thinker, as a poet, as a writer, as an editor, as aesthetician? Immeasurable? I had already known about this other Michelangelo--Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio--before my visit to the Met for the Vatican Collection, my Dad spent a great deal of my childhood schooling me in the life and the art of Michelangelo Buonarroti. What was it, though, about this painting on the depositing of the dead Jesus in his tomb, the slab, the corner of the stone illuminated by a light you could not trace the source of; the two Mary(s), Mother Mary and Mary called Magdalene--what was it about them, about the iconography, the alterations of light and dark that faded to black in places along the perimeter and in the back ground? I remember writing a paper on the light in Tintoretto having an affect on Caravaggio's use of light. I do not continue to ask what, what, what--I ask only for you, a convention of the form. I cannot say exactly what it was. Every time I think about this I imagine it must lead to another essay, yes, another trial of ideas, of memory, of images randomly passing in the mind, of what I think. But thinking is not randomly passing images in the mind. How many times do I have to say this? Back in the early 80s, the visiting Vatican Collection was certainly one of the big deals in New York's museum going world; there were only representative pieces from the ages brought to New York. The whole of the collection would have been impossible to let loose. The numbers, the size was prohibitive. Yea, the fucking disgusting greedy inhumane Reagan eighties. You have no idea how much more Obama is like Reagan than his idiot supporters refuse to see and ironically that his detractors at ReaganiteMedia-Central Fox News miss entirely. Nevertheless, never mind. How to say it--say it again, the same way, repetition once more over again:

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Michelangelo Merisi's Dead Jesus was tremendous, both in size and impact. The painting was taller than I was, wide enough to hide two of me or more.Yes, as I have already said herein, and heard others related to me in mind say, I watched the painting--yes, the figures vibrated, they were, what were they? Words again fail. Christ in it was also tremendous, not just in size, but in Caravaggio's representation, a vitality he gave to the forms, the overall theatricality of the scene, the tenebrious movement of the elements in their places, the vibrating contrasts between light and dark . . . the age of the baroque should be especially known for the vitality it gives to the representation of flesh; the age of the Baroque champions the naturalism of flesh, the sensuality of flesh . . . one giant leap for mankind, have you ever noticed how Rubens handled flesh with his brush strokes, his use of light and shadow to gain effect? I watched this painting by M; I said this above. I did not just look at it. I could see the influence something like this could have had on later painters, perhaps where Reubens had gotten some of his notions of how to represent flesh--as I have said herein, the painting was larger than life-sized, as is, of course, the figure of Jesus, who as the Christ, must be represented as larger than life, even when represented dead. This was not a problem, though, for Merisi's naturalism; there are various naturalisms, of course, and this one is effective. Baroque painting must be watched, not merely looked at, if you understand what I am saying here? Do we recall Michelangelo's Mary in his Pieta? What was it he said about Mary? I forget. She in the statue, if she were to stand, would be about eight feet tall . . . the was-then and the is-now are perpetually contingent. But this enlargement of a figure in representation found in Michelangelo Buonaroti's Pieta, where Mary, if she were stand, would be about 8 feet tall---this, though, is only an if she were to stand---she does not 14

stand in the marble; get it? That fact is only implicit, not explicit as some like to say. But there is something about this woman in her extreme pity and piety that enlarges form, ourselves we feel being aggrandized by emotion, by love, by affection, by tenderness or sorrow. Mary holding her dead son in her arms there in Michelangelo's marble becomes the effective representation of a sorrow that transcends sorrow; it becomes a larger, grander sorrow, perhaps a universal sorrow. Hers is the sorrow of all mothers. Mary is gorged by it. The Mother of Sorrow is swollen beyond any normal or humanly possible sorrow, for hers is not only the sorrow of a mother for her son, but of the Queen of Heaven for the Incarnation of the Son of God. Looking at Caravaggio's painting must have given to viewers the imagined possibility of representing motion, of actually capturing it-it impresses you that way. La Madonna Dolorosa. I know about La Via Dolorosa; all Christians are supposed to walk the path, la via dolorosa, no? Caravaggio invests his Jesus with a strange vibrancy although the figure is obviously of a dead man--let us allow this persistence in repetition to become motif--the stirring of the living Christ that the human Jesus can barely house. Even in death, Christ remains vibrant. His executioners could kill the man Jesus, the human Jesus, but as the Incarnation of the Son of God, that agency of divinity housed by the flesh of Jesus--this could not be extinguished. The Christ shines through the form of Jesus; the dead Jesus is illuminated by this divinity. Caravaggio is dealing with both the humanity of Jesus and his followers and the divinity of the Son of God, Incarnate in Jesus. The naturalism of the figures was astounding, and nothing like it had ever been achieved in painting before him, Caravaggio. In statuary, perhaps--but then statues were three-d. There is a profound depth of the figures; there is a thick representation on the two dimensional canvas, a kind of statuary in the painting.

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The spiritualism--what could this mean to the age of the Baroque, not ours, where the term means nothing and too many other things, some of them beside the point. We have no handle on our words, or on our use of language in general. Speaking and writing have become a lot like throwing dice, haven't they? The mood of the painting--what could mood mean other than mode, from which it comes? There are declarative moods and moods of doubt we call subjunctive; but then these are linguistic references, overly determined. Chiaroscuro painting meant what--light and dark, opposing forces, oppositional placement? Contrapuntal arrangement, as in Vivaldi and Bach are each associative in meaning with chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro has everything to do with point counterpoint composition in music. Goethe had once said that architecture is music frozen in stone; this could be said of statuary, no? Have a look at Rodin, or Bernini, or Michelangelo, or any of the representative Greek and Roman statues at the Met. Among the Vatican Collection was the Porta Augustus statue of the young Octavius just before he becomes the August ruler of Rome. As I walked into the gallery I caught it centrally placed and I can swear to this day, I saw it breathe. The dead Christ; Christ represented dead—no. Christ cannot die, but Jesus could. Jesus the man died; Christ suffers as the man Jesus. The light of Christ, the use of shadows, a circumambient perimeter, black--all fades to black as in German Expressionist cinema, as in Gothic horror novels--there is a lot of blacking out in Gothic horror from the 18th century. Caravaggio uses black in his paintings in a way reminiscent of the dark, or the areas of black, used by De La Tour in his "Penitent Magdalenes"--there are more than one--and later by Fritz Lang, particularly in his film M. Notice Lang's use of the extremes of the monochromatic scale to set psychological tones. You do know that Caravaggio as we call him signed his paintings, when he did, M. I am not herein trying to confuse ages or cultural or 15

artistic currents; I am merely drawing analogies for the purposes of understanding. The Baroque is the Baroque; German Expressionism in film is German Expressionism in film, and for the most part, never the two together as one. Have you been to the Prado and seen the Goyas they call his Blacks. Lang was obliquely paying homage to Caravaggio; you can't see Lang's films and not see something of what Caravaggio was doing. In this vein of thinking or imagining, I should say, can we ask if there is something Gothic about the crucifixion--about any crucifixion--any representation of the central moment in Christianity—what? The horror; the horror; every heart of darkness spent night after night; spiritual night? Is it true that different representations of the crucifixion are all of them in one way or another Gothic? Of course not. But I do understand how the confusion can be made. We can see something of the elements of what we call Gothic in many representations of the Crucifixion--the event of any crucifixion possessing what could evoke Gothic feeling in the age that produces it--do we say that currents of Gothic run through Romanticism? Yes, we do. Am I stretching things here? No, I am not. But then, we are talking about the depositing of Jesus in his tomb--in Crucifixion we are talking about unimaginable suffering-and for Jesus this suffering was as a man nailed to the beams of wood that make the Cross--slow suffocation is the means of dying, it is slow torture. The effect of horror, of how it strikes a Gothic eye would be--how do we convey this? Is there a parallax on the horizon in the mind where all senses of horror converge as one? Is there then a close relationship between the Baroque aesthetics and the Gothic aesthetics? I imagine there is, although not completely and never in any one to one correspondent way.

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There is definitely something Gothic (as we understand the word from the fiction of the late 18th century; the style, the form, the genredetermined delineations that we find in works such as The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, “Manfred,� The Cenci, Frankenstein, even large swaths of Wuthering Heights) present in German Expressionist films of the silent 20s, recurring in American films of the 30s, particularly horror films such as The Mummy or Dracula, the novel itself from the Late Victorian Gothic revival which was a manipulation of the aesthetics of the High Middle Ages, as seen in architecture, particularly. This, of course, was in another and earlier animation, present in the cult of sensibility of the 18th century, a kind of medievalism present in what was later called Gothic fiction. Of course, this medievalism was a contrived sense of what seemed to be medieval, or a contrived use of medieval motifs, a number of them remaining and persisting throughout what we call Romanticism. But then, just what would evoke this idea of an age long gone where the ruins of that age then formed an image the grotesque? The idea of ruination of the past lingering in the present became part of the aesthetic; this is not present in what we might call Baroque sensibilities. Ruination becomes a theme explored in Romanticism. Dracula finds itself firmly in fin-de-siecle Victorian English/Irish literature as it also does in a continuum of Gothic fiction, perhaps even as a precursor to all horror stories as we understand the genre of horror today, or over the last century? Moreover, there are discernible lines that overlap among these artistic currents: there is significant mutability among the movements herein discussed; or, as aforementioned, the negotiated agreements among the artists of the particular times and places where these movements do overlap, do share something found in one another. Yes, Gothic Horror of the 18th century, 17th century Baroque painting and German Expressionist silent era films of the 20s all 16

share certain features that are alike; their motifs, their metaphors, their signs and their symbols do have currency exchange values. I insist on we when I want you to consider opinions I conceive in a posed omniscience; of course, I do not want you to side step my intellectual manias; I want you and I together in the more comfortable, and perhaps the more usefully rhetorically editorial we--yes, you and I see these overlaps among the movements (?) I have herein listed. We understand they have points of contact, even if you have never before considered them or even imagined them. Of course, I am not referring to the complete diapason of Baroque tragic emotion-although the two Mary(s) in Caravaggio's entombment, both in the effective expression of epiphany, are representative of a particularly Baroque emotional register; each in a moment captured with hands raised in epiphany, as we also see in Minoan figurines nearly two thousand years earlier--the revelation of Godhead is beheld. Yes, it is the vibrancy of Caravaggio's dead Jesus that reveals the divinity of Christos, Son of God incarnate in the person of Jesus. There is a complex of contrary forces and emotions, passions more precisely exhibited together in the figure and the light used to illuminate the figure of Jesus and the emanation of Christos. I am repeating. The use of light in Caravaggio, his unique chiaroscuro is what I am focussing on in any allusions to German Expressionist films or any mine-en-scene in Gothic horror fiction or Romantic poetry in parallel alongside Gothic horror. This light has its effective beginning, it could be said, in the tenebrismo of Tintoretto, and yes, you should examine prints of Tintoretto's most prominent works to understand just how baroque artists such as Caravaggio came to use light the way they did. I am not herein going to continue a discussion of Gothic fiction, whether in its 18th century varieties or in its appropriation by Romanticism and just how much Romanticism was informed by the Gothic, particularly in how

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the Gothic was also informed by the Cult of Feeling, of Sturm und Drang and the literary Cult of Sensibility. But back to the central point, experience, idea herein presented: Caravaggio's La Deposizione is more than one of my favorite paintings--it is one on the list that never comes off the list. If Singore Merisi had only painted this, we would still be talking about him; I would still be writing about him. I am also writing about me . . . today we have a degraded cult of feeling---no thinking allowed. II I am writing about me in everything I write-writers never write but their autobiographies, all of a writers writing episodes in the epic that is anyone's autobiography, no? You imagine otherwise? Respond, if you will, with letter, essay, diatribe or tirade. I am still a bit undecided on the differences, numbered and explained, as well as the general difference between the two articulated. Everything is autobiography, no? What then is a novel like Moll Flanders? What then is a woman like Moll. So then, your questions should be, Who am I? What am I doing? What have I said and how have I said it? What does it mean to say these things as I have said them? What kind of person says what I have said? What if you were a man or a woman who has said the things I have herein said, how would you get on a bus, how would you order a slice of pizza at Lenny's on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Please, let there be no snide remarks from anyone, whether they be Protestants, Asians, Jews or African-Americans who might not be as intelligent or as enlightened as they assume they are out of arrogance, hubris or ignorance-the latter more likely--and already imagine they know all that they need to know about Catholics and Catholicism. But why do I imagine I need to say what I have said? Because I know how tribal we are in America, and how endemically 17

anti-Catholic America and many Americans are. And please do not clamor about in one reflexive denial or another; it will only sicken me. And I do know how machiavellian print, broadcast and social media manipulation have become . . . Power and Money protected. You might also consider, and if you will, you might want to separate the expositor from the author, unless your critical skills are at minimum, right alongside your stunted imagination. And I am not being insulting, only cognizant of how mocking our entertainment and even most of our pedagogy has become concerning anything nearing erudite, intelligent, knowing. In this culture, doubt is the highest wisdom. Nonetheless, the fore mentioned persons I am really talking about are certainly not as intelligent or enlightened as I have found many from any of the four fore mentioned groups to be, none of which I belong to demographically, and I say demographically alone because all of us belong to one human family, if you can abide the cliche and anything else trite that goes along with many of the received ideas we have about ethnicity and race in America. Americans are horribly narrow and narrowing in the patterns of free association they confuse for thinking, as if randomly passing images in the mind or playing hopscotch with words has ever equalled thinking . . . and of course having been educated these last twenty-five years or so in this here post Reagan, Bush I and Bush II (and let's not forget the changeling Obama), you have assumed that you are educated enough, literate enough, and I do not want to, nor will I ever condescend to, anyone who is semiliterate, only to those of you in pedagogy, in private and civic administrative positions, in places of power and great influence who are really far stupider and a lot less literate than you should be permitted to be. I can't get a nearly literate anything written from far too many people I engage on a daily or weekly basis. It is

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horrifying to realize how fucking semi-literate most people I talk to really are. It's frightening. This, of course, includes America's liberals and not just her conservative troglodytes. Happy voting, suckers.

P. T. Barnum is the father of everything we engage, indulge and endure, sociopolitically, socio-economically, in, through and by the media. You do know that, don't you?

I recalled the fair my Uncle Martin and I had gone to one afternoon one summer how many years

Nobody Knows How It Can Be Like That

ago I could not count the same Uncle Martin who would get on his knees by his bed to say his prayers every day of his life since he could. I learned how to

by JVR

pray in French, believe that I don’t know how to mean it any other way. He wore pajamas.

Train letter D approaching from Bay Parkway. Car after car, soot dulled silver.

He kneeled by the side of his bed and prayed every night of his life since he was old enough to

It pulls in, the D I board.

mean something by praying, old enough to know

I sit, I open my book, I look across the aisle

what prayer meant, he too prayed at the side of his

from me, sun brilliant off blonde hair in disarray

bed on his knees on the floor asking God to

over the seat perpendicular to how I sit across the

intercede for him in case he died before he would

aisle she is facing in the direction opposite to the one

wake, his soul to take, Now I lay me down to sleep,

the train is going.

the prayer I learned as a boy, I pray the Lord my soul

Station after station passing slowly here on

to keep, words taught to me by parents by cousin

board as the Manhattan-bound D rides clink-clank

Betty, we used to walk together to the store by our

along to the 9th Avenue turn, where it slows onto the

home in East Flatbush, up to the Avenue of stores a

Fourth Avenue line, 36th Street Station.. How do I

few blocks from our then three-room ground floor

say what I want when I want it, wanting so often

apartment, step on a line, break your father’s spine,

what is not . . . day bright sun strong skies clear

step on a crack, break your mother’s back, we

breeze faint and warm.

hopped and avoided as many as we could, if I should

A person shifts between a totalized being that determines it incomprehensible that there should

die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take . I always kneeled on the floor by the side of

be any room left for any other human being and a

my bed, lights out, the one in the dining room or the

singularity that is as a result isolated from her own

hall outside my door on, maybe the bathroom across

natural plurality of being, separate from all others,

the hall from my bedroom I remember up the block

desiring to cleave to another, to hold on to another,

from the three-room ground floor one, he said. The

not to let go of this other whenever; I never

one flight up first floor, two bed room apartment

attempted the brass ring on the merry-go-round

across from a Public School, with its backyard

when I was a boy, a young man, I said to her one

adjacent to the empty lot lawn of the Synagogue


around the corner, the one I heard the Cantor sing


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from its opened windows in the spring and summer

undergraduates, at least in some comprehensive I is

and early fall.

whole—but how, when?

Who she was when she was young younger

Complete and incomplete, a perpetual series

than she was when she wondered aloud to him on

of one contradiction after another is I, the mirror

the beach one day, summer, early, late June it was an

with dust, the mirror on the wall; continuing to look

afternoon they had spent together alone if only I

on as I do at me this me that me which me is there to

were to wonder more, she said, but doubt is more

see, every this is that that is this, here is there and

deliberate, she meant to say who she imagined she

where is when, around and around all boundaries

would be when she was older she said she

trade in what they are, swapping one for the other,

remembered having recalled to a cousin at a

the other, for another, how then, we might ask, is

wedding they both attended how old were they she

this Self comprised of many selves, another delusion

tried to say could not if she could would just be


whatever only, of course possible, neither the same

Looking as I do at me in the mirror am I not

she said; she had thought about matters that were

we are we not supposed to be one and only one for

going to be as soon as after those that would be or

others, the dreaded constancy of our expectations

may well be but only if herein her is my too, how so

who do you know who would not look at you

much of everyone is the same for the entire,

askance if you said you were many and not one, if

accordingly, a person remains merely part of a

you said something like, I is we. I am more than one

whole, incomplete, a fragment, someone incapable

other than singular, plural me to be what I could

of conversing with any of the others she imagined

only be by nature. It is our nature to be this

she would be those she saw and said she wanted to

plurality; I am we, yet again I utter under another

be like those she had heard her mother say she

time, I suggests we, I am numerous, how many I do

should be like those her mother made up for her to

not count but many I know as I know things I cannot

be like as her grandmother had made up women for

see know things I cannot taste cannot breathe smell

her mother to be like redesigning her as she grew

touch feel all about me now this excess; yet this one

year in year out, each of us somebody unable to talk

and only concurrent singularity, I follow it, and so

to another person in any meaningful way, without

this plurality does not lead to perplexity, it only

me there can be no you she used to say, without you

positively confuses everyone else I know because of

there can be no me, no one can talk to anyone who

their commitment to something that strangles them,

cannot talk to himself herself the Self whoever he or

and they talk about my self-destructive behavior—

she might be when any one is who she is he is how

there are no greater self-killers than this mob-of-

anybody could be his own true self what is the truth

ruled-by-others, my friends and family I endure at

of the self follow one’s nature and in the end you

great cost to my sanity.

will be you who you were in the beginning. I have

Is there anyone we know close to us who

to be able to know myself he said to know another;

does not think that by being one and only one we

never another known without knowledge of one’s

become whole, complete, and inclusive? But don’t

Self, of course we remembered from our days as

we also subtract from ourselves; so much adding and subtracting I know I carry out, how I do it is still a


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wonder, but when I feel loss, when I feel empty,

becoming how this potential changeability of selves

when I feel sorry sorrow happy perhaps without

is a symptom of the dynamic Self one that exists

help, fractured once more this thing about ourselves

when being and becoming remain interactive; not

is how infinite reducibility arises—how does

one over the other or in substitution of the other, but

reduction rise? There are sub-atomic levels inside

mutual: Self, soul, mind, body, dualities and

sub-atomic levels on and on for infinity, no?

dichotomies, what have we in our arsenal of words

I sit in a bistro between opposite mirrors,

to know ourselves? I’ve been trying to know me,

one into the other into the other into the other I look

and at times I think I do know me, at others I’m

intently watch closely I think pass images fixedly

certain I don’t, at others I’m sure I won’t, at still

across the arc of the mind, how so does multiplicity

others I might—at another I do absolutely.

it is not subtraction, this reduction to one how we have to subtract from the ever on-going variety of the countless, each of us, I play so many roles, here

Where am I in this morass I call my present life, I imagined she would say. When has living not been a quagmire? Here

there every where any when I remember she had

I am among people I have grown to detest; who has

said that this was her to be or not how it becomes

not grown to detest the ones she loves? I do detest

her this becoming on-going to be doesn’t this

others around me; it’s not their motes that bother me,

plurality of selves in the Self wind up dividing us

but each of their like beams. One trite aphorism

against ourselves, doesn’t it subtract from us as

after another, after another spoken, heard, repeated,

much as we think it might add to us a super-Self, an

chanted, turned into slogan after slogan after slogan.

over-Self, how these apparently contrary states of

It’s not the two months of days at the end of

singularity and plurality coexist in a simple separate

an eight decade life that I will spend wiping my ass

person. Soul collapses inside itself and what then?

that bothers me; every attempt to hold the mirror up

Two to tango, a mid night yawning, another

to nature is vain; what then is nature, what nature,

view cavernous. All others in periphery fading to

we are horribly empirical, dogmatically so the

black, I said as if set by Lang, German expressionist

senses alone are our only verifier.

films from the 20s he recalled several by Murnau he

The glass I dropped on the floor the other

had said she should see he saw her legs her long

day, the shards of glass, I will imagine shards still

body slim torso supple in his bed recalled how he

available for my foot for years? A kaleidoscope,

noticed handled every consideration contemplation

more fractured pieces, each shard, a sliver, I see the

deliberation she said as well as much laying on her

linoleum floor. Recently washed; piercing my ears

couch languid looking about her length luxury his

as the light from the window also pierces as would

room that night an expressionist’s dream we had

sounds if sound could be like light I listen

seen Metropolis at the Film Forum a few weeks

absorbedly to her. I love her voice loved her voice

before wondering imagining how selves ever

the way she spoke, her way of phrasing things

become simultaneous is the question I can choose

turning speech, the sound of some voices is grating,

one or another self thus defining my humanity in a

is like proverbial fingernails along the blackboard,

way that demonstrates its great plasticity the

how sometimes chalk against the board makes me

interplay between distinctive states of being and

cringe, shiver, shudder.


The Falling Leaf Review

Vol. 1 No. 4

Vplume 1 Number 4

November 29, 2016

She was beautiful. She was dark. What

offense (because I was not so sure she was offended,

does that mean to say she was dark, she was

but only imagined that she should be) at the

amorphous, and she was changeable, immutable to,

presumption of Catholics to pray for Jews, but then

recent and everything that smacks of anachronism.

this was all very intellectual, and I later in life

She had exquisite legs. Who she was with me was

wondered if the Koran’s proclamation for death on

who she was with the world I assumed. There were

every page (does it really do so because my having

these women in her neighborhood when she was girl

read does not serve me in memoriam), every single

the mark, what mark, this mark, a woman up the

page, for all infidels, or the Jewish condescension of

block from her she used to go to the store for, the

indifference is really better; or, if it were better to

woman’d call her over to where she lived, a step

state that no one could get to the Father except

down basement apartment, Go to the store for me

through Christ?

please most of the kids in the neighborhood used to

I see soul in rocks, in mountains, in rivers,

make fun of her, taunt her, she did not want to, I

she said; nature is alive, she had been taught. I

used to think by how she described her that she must

thought so too, in the Berkshires, when a boy,

have looked a little like Quasimodo, Hugo’s, not

western Massachusetts, Pittsfield I have not given up


on the idea of soul.

The branches appeared on the wall at their

We cannot locate personality or mind either,

tips skeleton fingers clutching at something

but we don’t doubt them. Neither soul nor mind can

invisible; a singularity in astrophysics is another

be touched in the way a body can be, or a rock, or

term for what used to be called a black hole;

any thing that has this capacity to be known through

something of the physics of stars is correlative to the

the senses, every cock, every cunt, every pair of tits,

human soul—something in the theory of plate

each set of long legs will for always remain more

tectonics too I imagined, the fires and motions

tactile, thus for many, more real than anything

within a woman inside a man; geology offers the

abstract or metaphysical as many say who have no

best link for the human heart; at core we are a lot

notion what metaphysics is.

like the earth; or for the human soul—there was

For how many of the human race will

once a time when we were taught that only humans

fucking for always remain more tangible in the mind

had souls, animals did not, when my dog died when

than freedom or love or tenderness or compassion or

I was seven I did in spite of the nuns in Catechism

forgiveness or transcendence or absolution whatever

believe that the dog made it to heaven, Saint Francis

epiphany there m ay be lurking about in the shadows

would surely intercede I said to her one day that I

of our being?

remembered that Sister Mary Agnes in Catechism

I'm not talking about the tactility of one's

class had said that all humans have a soul but only

cock in a cunt; that is more tactile for sure.

through Christ could they reach salvation and that

Tactility is the basis for understanding tangibility;

we were supposed to pray for them, and I think I

validity; verity; vanity we are again terribly

remember a conversation between my parents and an

empirical, so then pussy will always remain more

Ashkenazi family from down the block, outside our

real than freedom, than civil rights, and as long as

school where the Jewish mother tried to feign

we can fuck if the Nazis kept people from fucking,


The Falling Leaf Review

Vol. 1 No. 4

Vplume 1 Number 4

November 29, 2016

it would have failed long before D-Day, long, long

determined as we are. Ask them any one of them,

before the Red Army entered Berlin.

who are you? I've never known a woman who has

Why life at all seems never to be a question

ever even looked at her cunt, she said to me, I said,

we ask. We take the existence of life for granted.

and said it was beautiful; if there is one who has

The irreducibility of this integral and individual

looked, she said, she most likely said her cunt was

human life, I accept; a plural Self and an immortal

ugly. Women are too cerebral about body; in touch

and transcendental soul is more difficult a soul, one,

with their bodies? Do women own their bodies?

of course, void of tactility, as is also the human Self,

Women do not own themselves, not by leave of man,

void of tactility; and the human mind, our dreams,

not by leave of feminists or academic dykes or

thoughts, ideas, I accept without doubt, but again, of

owners of cats.

course, no more tactile than either this heart, the seat of feeling, or this soul, the crucible of being. Speech itself is ephemeral; I don't doubt that

I remembered something my father had told me about how Michelangelo would choose the slabs he'd take from the quarries, something about what

I have spoken. For some reason we cannot get our

was trapped inside. All at hand, mind has surpassed

minds around what we cannot get our hands and

soul in believability; it ranks right alongside the loss

fingers or arms around. The shadows were deeper

of the Church, this loss in the believability of the

for the streetlight entering the room had made the

human soul, at least here in the West, most surely in

dark darker, the outside blind from the inside.

America, more so even in Europe. We insist on a

My mind, my soul each one a tangible non-

hierarchy of knowability for two things that should

tactility, no less real I was taught, came to

not ever have been a dichotomy to begin with—we

understand. In such, both remain without fixed

do create in America a dichotomy where other

position, no coordination inside the human body,

cultures understand duality?

which somehow holds a plural Self; we fumble the words as well as the concepts. Can brain hold what is not in the body? We dream, we imagine, we delude ourselves, we suffer or invite illusions. Mind is no better handled by psychologists than soul by theologians. Where is this I that Freud and all Freudians have us looking for? When will women own themselves, she said, ever stand solitary, and set apart from all the theoretical determinisms and the historical determinism and the determinisms of economics of sociology of society with or without sociology? Women will never so long as they stay as


The Falling Leaf Review

Vol. 1 No. 4

Vplume 1 Number 4

November 29, 2016

She Opened the Letter The bedroom door’s been locked No sound, I sound Am I moving— In my dreams? There are no faces— There are no faces, Muted lips, I do sleep soundly. What light in yonder dream appears? How dimly the passages, Newer images drawn by words, Suited or suited not, Cliche after cliche, goodly spoke, The tides that come again, A wonder of words in waves . Old message comes once more, an ancient symmetry. How do poets avoid Repeating themselves? I might ask.


The Falling Leaf Review

Vol. 1 No. 4

Vplume 1 Number 4

November 29, 2016

Land's End is not only the end of land at the edge of the sea, but the edge of everything we stand on. It is a precipice, a cliff, the opening of the abyss. The ocean's edge is land's end, but then that is also something primordial, what we have crawled out of, the depths of our beginning, the deep within us. It is a metaphor for the soul, a metaphor for the unconscious. History and time are not rivers, but oceans . . . There is an emotional vertigo when faced with the sea . . . we are calmed and thrilled at the same time,-but then horrifically, there is supposedly a moment of calm right before death when drowning. The edge of the known and the unknown. This is Land's End.

Available at and at


The Falling Leaf Review

Vol. 1 No. 4

The Falling Leaf Review, December 2016  

A Monthly Literary Review

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