The Unswung Bat

Friday, September 22, 2006
City of Dreams

I have time, technically, so I'm gonna click out another entry, of sorts. Only an hour, though. I have exposés to write and a breed of crabfaced warrior monstrosities to create. Try and separate fact from fiction in that statement and I bet you get at least two things wrong. Barring that, you are a clever ninja sleuth and may come over for celebratory shortbread cookies anytime.

I am already overschooled. That's not to say over-educated -- I got lots to learn -- just that the gurgling side-effects of university are starting to froth dangerously over the rim of my brain. My cup runneth over . . . with terrifying ooze!

[SFX: Per-i-lous-musiiiiiiic].

Margret Atwood, damn her zombie heart, dropped out of her PhD program because, supposedly, all the critical theory was killing her writing. Many authors do both things (writing and the ridiculous, sometimes invaluable metawriting bullcrap criticism that informs our English courses). I don't know what kind of robotic, compartmentalized brains are wired to these dual-beings, but they have given me something very rare: an argument in which I'm on Margaret Atwood's side.

Seriously, I don't know how a person can write naturally with a zillion lectural formalisms and critical gizmoleters chipmunking in the background, or, god help them, actually serving as inspiration. A story that sets out to illustrate a point is at best an anecdote. A story that follows rules or critical formulae is not a story, it is the aborted fetus of what should have been an essay. Notwithstanding, Lost in the Funhouse is fantabulous and proves there are exceptions. Or does it? I can't get these things out of my head. Out, damned reader response! Out I say!

Thank god for shit like this.

City of Dreams

The sores were spreading, hard white grains surrounded by pulpy red. Now it hurt to open my mouth, to purse my lips to whistle. Eating anything but spongy bread amounted to torture. I tried smoking, on the theory it might anesthetize them. I smoked a cigarette, it made it worse, I smoked part of a joint, it made it much worse. I smeared baking soda on the wounds. It was pasty and tasted like a crotch. It felt a little better. I almost cried.

There was an episode in my deep past -- I'm thinking this now in my kitchen, fishy bicarb water drooling through my beard as I pause in momentary relief at the undignified cure. The past-past, the impossible time, it shines clear as dawn, warming the cold roots of eyelashes and shelf of my brow (they seem physically to swell) and makes me wince.

When I was very much younger. When I was. I was standing on cold sand, the tea-colored sun warming everything but the wet grainy bottoms of my feet, the bicarbonate breeze puckering my nipples and causing me to unthinkingly clamp my armpits. When. Jerome. Was shooting barefoot along the waveline, jumping over bubble-fringed fingers and splashing down to break them. Was picking and choosing pebbles to drop into the slingpouch of his t-shirt, dripping wet and clinging to his tiny maniacal frame. His hair was fat bristles crosshatching down his neck and spitting droplets down his back. When holding his t-shirt like a satchel in one hand he lost his balance and pounded face-first into the knuckles of a wave.

I was there when he turned over, a powdery trail of half-moons shows I'd run over the sand. More and more defined as the beach got wet and crunchy. Picked him up -- his face was hot as he cried. When a couple moments. And he later. But it was his pebble hoard he was crying about. A few were fallen into smooth dents in the sand around him, retrievable, but most were washed away.

"I found a tooth."

He was looking for fossils, bear teeth or dinosaur claws, like we saw at. Thought he'd found one, in the lost pebbles of course. On the edge of nervous breakdown over the loss of his find.

We pulled a few other ones from the ocean hands to calm him, and made a promise of a trip back to the museum and ice cream. One fat blocky and essential rock we kept swirled pink and white like raw fatty meat. Afterwards dull and he ignored it but now lacquered. Tears of cold seawater drip off the gleaming. Irridescent with waterskin lit and leaking back to the ocean, but permanent enough because I recall it wet and shiny but rough-to-the-touch. This is meaning to illustrate depths becoming surfaces, and in a more literal way to suggest the permanent status in memory of transitory experience, standing out against the lackluster stretches of nonimportant static experience, and I am in the kitchen.


Should we awake, to find it gone, remember this our favorite town.

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