That Time (03) The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round

I was raped. I think. No, not raped. Sexually abused. No, not that. Well, yes, that, but that was at home and more subtle than the incident that I’m talking about now. That was subtle abuse. There’s nothing subtle about it. And we are surrounded by it. My early years at home included violence, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and worst of all, neglect. All of that is part or this story. But the centerpiece of this story is a sexual assault that occurred outside of the home.

Was I raped? It depends on how you define that word. When applied to men it evokes a specific kind of rape: prison rape. Prison rape is a boogey man, a joke, a warning. If you are not enough of a man, this might happen to you. My favorite trope is this: if you rape a child, you deserve to be raped in prison. Don’t pick up the soap, mate. Har har.

Everyone agrees, including the worst gangsters and homicidal maniacs among us, raping children is bad. That’s not true. What we agree on is that anally raping a child with a penis or other object deserves to be punished, if caught. That kind of rape is rape, especially if there is bleeding. The many other ways of violating children are brushed aside, hidden, ignored, denied, and otherwise enabled and perpetuated. How can it be stopped? Unfortunately, a large part of that burden rests on the shoulders of those of us who survived. This is one of my efforts in that regard.

Was I raped? It depends on who you ask.

Mind: “I can’t remember. I can’t be sure. Was it a dream? What’s the difference between memory and a nightmare? Something happened. I blacked out. No, absolutely not. It can’t be true. That would not have been possible. I couldn’t have kept something like that a secret. I must be making it up. I want it to be true so people will feel sorry for me. But if it isn’t true then why should they be sorry for me? It’s gone forever so stop trying to figure it out. It doesn’t matter. Why am I stuck in the past? Why can’t I just let it go, “move on.” That’s not something anyone would forget. I’m definitely making it up. I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t that big of a deal. It wasn’t as bad as I think. It probably didn’t happen. Just stop fucking thinking about it. It can’t be true if I don’t remember it. If my mind shut down, if I blacked out, was unconscious, then it couldn’t be traumatic because I didn’t experience it. I will never know. I have to know. Let it go. I can’t let it go.”

Body: “Something happened to me. I am not in control of my body. I am not in my body. I feel dizzy. I feel nauseous. I’m shaking. I am afraid. I am afraid all the time. I am going to die. I am going to be killed. I am not safe. Please don’t touch me. Don’t hug me. I can’t sleep. I can’t stay awake. Please love me. Please touch me. Please fill this hole inside of me. Don’t look at me. I am not my body. I hate my body. This is not my body! I can’t look at myself. I can’t look at my penis. I do not have genitals. I am dirty. I need take a shower. I need to clean myself. I do not have an anus. It doesn’t exist. Don’t ever let them see you naked. Sex is not safe. I need sex. I should not have sex. I I should not masturbate. I need to masturbate. Should I cut it off?. I’m exhausted all the time. I just want to sleep. I just want to die. Please don’t love me, I’m not deserving of it. Please don’t touch me. Don’t fucking hug me! Where am I?”

Thích Nhất Hạnh wants me to know my mind and my body are one. That may have been true at one time. Was I pure when born? Was I a baby Buddha? If so, what happened? Did I fall from grace? Was the severing gradual and natural? Could it have resulted from mere neglect? Or was it brutal and violent? Was it a kind of death? Was it an initiation? What even was “it”?

I know this to be true: I am still me but I was never me. I remember me but how could I have been me before I ever had memories?

This is also true: I am defined by what was done to me. I will always be defined by what was done to me. I could not be me, otherwise. I will never not be someone who was raped as a child. Even if I don’t even know if I was raped. (I was.) (It depends.)

If I go a long time without crying my body will find a way. Yogis promote slow breathing based on a belief that we have a finite amount of breaths available to us. By slowing them down we can extend our lives. I have a certain amount of tears that must be shed before I die. If I don’t shed them, I will never be free. I spent most of my life holding them back. Ashamed of them. So my body finds ways. I cry at the strangest things. I cry when the hero rescues the victim. I cry when I see children holding hands. I cry the most and the deepest, when I see a parent loving their child.

Trigger Warning: A trigger is a part of a gun. Triggers exist to fire the gun. Triggers wouldn’t exist without guns. Knives don’t have triggers but they can kill you just the same. Trigger warning? I don’t need no stinking trigger warning. I have a constitutional right to my Triggers. Don’t Trigger on me.

There has never been a time in my life when I did not consider suicide. I still do. Why do we place an ethical heirarchy on death and why do we put suicide at the bottom? Death of old age is acceptable, excusable, even appreciated. Death while sleeping is ideal. Sudden death better than slow death. Unless too young for it. Death by cancer? Tragic and noble. Death by accident? Injustice. Death by murder? Someone must pay for it. Replace the value. Death is rarely deserving. Unless you deserved it.

The best death? It comes late in life, with enough of a warning that we can prepare for it. So that we can say good bye. Not so long coming that we suffer. Peaceful death. This kind of death is revered. It’s a sweet release.

What is contemplation of suicide if not preparing for the inevitable? What if suicide, and by extension, death, is the most important thing that we can contemplate?

For years, the ringtone on my phone was the song, “Institutionalized,” by the band Suicidal Tendences. It’s an anthem about a young man struggling with mental illness. I didn’t put much thought into choosing it. I had seen them perform it in the 80’s, it’s a great song. The singer is yelling at everyone to just fucking leave him alone in the midst of his mental turmoil and that’s basically how I feel every time my phone rings. The song ends with his parents institutionalizing him for “his own safety.” Same reason I checked myself in a few years ago. Irony is one of my drugs of choice.

We don’t like to talk about these things. Much of what I’m saying is making some of you uncomfortable. Worried about me. Does he really still think about suicide? After all the healing work he’s done? In spite of the wonderful life and family he finally has? He seems so grounded. So… together. Yes, I am and yes, I do. Doesn’t everybody? Don’t you?

A psychic once told me that I was a kamikaze pilot in my previous life. She also said this one, my current life, is my 74th, and that it might be my last. That I was close to completing my work. I knew she was a quack, a grifter, a manipulator, but she had me bawling. Grieving for the sacrifice I had made. Greiving my own death. It wasn’t for the kamikaze pilot.

I did not believe in reincarnation. I do not. Not in the sense of ego identity, anyway. I know we’re made of energy and that energy, like matter, can’t be destroyed. I also know that Eric Benvenue-Jennings has never existed before now and never will again. I don’t know how to reconcile these beliefs with what I am about to tell you.

I was with a girlfriend on a beach on Cape Cod. Long before I met the psychic. I was young. It was a gorgeous cool night with clear skies and multitudes of stars brighter than seemed possible. It had been a romantic evening with some kissing but mostly just being together. I wasn’t in love but I was in peace. At peace. We had settled into a dreamy state of no more talking, just being. As I contemplated the milky way I was suddenly overcome by a feeling. A flash of insight. A memory. I wanted to commit suicide. No, that wasn’t it. It was something else. I had already committed suicide. Many, many times. This was my legacy. My past, my destiny, my future. Forever. Because the simple act of being born is suicide. I realized I was in a cycle. On a wheel. And that the only way off is through. The only way to be free is to live.

Want to know what really happened in that abandoned chicken coop? I died. I wasn’t raped, I was murdered. I have been dead all this time but I forgot. I am The Walking Dead. The Wicker Man. The Sixth Sense. I am Jacob’s Ladder. The Nightmare on Partridge Street.

You don’t understand paranoia if you think it means, “someone is out to get me.” You don’t understand paranoia if you think it means, “they’re all out to get me.” They? Them? They’re puppets. They probably don’t even know that they’re in on it. They aren’t out to get you. They’re just playing a role. They’re just fabric. Pull their thread and they disappear. But wait, what’s that? The thread is still in my hand when they’re gone. Oh, look, there’s another piece of fabric on this thread. Pull it away and there’s always more.

This is paranoia: the entire universe is an illusion. With a purpose. The purpose is you. The purpose is that you must die. Ritualistically, with a knife. You will be sacrificed. There’s no way out. You can run away. You can wake up screaming. You can curl up on the floor in the back of a  Volkswagon Beetle muttering to yourself over and over, “there’s no place like home.” But this? All of it? It’s just for you. Let me see your neck.

I’m good, though. I’m ok with it. I don’t take it personally. It just comes with the territory. With being the center of the universe. Because I’m still here. I escaped the knife. No matter how many times The Prince of Darkness comes for me, I always escape. I wake up. Still alive. Once I had that realization, things got better.

The last time I met the P of D I surrendered. I let him put his knife right through me. I woke up smiling. I can do this. I can ride this out. I’m aiming for an ideal death, but I’ll be ok with the bus, if it comes. Because that little kid that died in the chicken coop? He’s back. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.

That Time (02) Playing With Fire

stories about our childhood
known to be true
even if we don’t believe
memory is ours
or not
the way memory works

killing black
snakes from a boat
in the pond behind
art’s corner store
yellow green
dill pickles
crisp tart and perfect
thirty three cent smokes
mars bar under our belt
he caught us the first time
wouldn’t be the last

tell the stories
couldn’t be true
couldn’t not be

anything that could burn
went into the bag
cigarettes cigars matches
pipe tobacco
(for our pipes)
highway flares in our pants
pouring lighter fluid
on the chair in the woods
sitting it out
lighting our arms on fire
the smell of burnt hair
and grass
from that time
we blackened
the baseball field
ran barry’s tighty whiteys
up the flagpole

caught at
the five and dime
by the two-way mirror
the smug old bastard
waiting for our parents
who fucking cares
we’ll jump the train

heads rolled
one from a rolling car
crash
the other on the railroad
track
who fucking cares
not our head
not that time

the older kid with tin foil
wrapped around his head
we didn’t know about
alien lizards
but they are perfect
we woulda
made them up if not

is it a coincidence
that our childhood
was full of tropes
moments of apocryphy

true crime stories
sheriff killed someone
with a shotgun
then himself
deputy caught fucking
(raping)
in the back seat
fucking fourteen!

which came first
the chicken
or the coop?

tell the stories
not that one
not yet

that time our best friend
got the best of us in a fight
pinned us down
“if you don’t get off
we’ll kill you”
it worked
we beat his ass because
it was expected it was
our turn
felt bad about it
later in the penny candy store
across the street from the movie
theatre where we watched
to sir with the mark of the devil
said we was sorry but
the hurt in his eye
said more

stolen candles from the altar
we couldn’t find the wine
why should we tell the priest our sins
ok we lied so fucking what
old bastard
shit on the pew

code word: pencils
”let’s go buy us some pencils”
two quarters was all it took
for a pack of pencils
but why not take four
they stack so neatly
easily lifted
from her purse

parents don’t know anything
can’t see anything
can’t be found
parents are strangers
we were forced to abide
worse than that

that time we burned
down the barn
don’t worry the horses
weren’t in it
but if you put a fireplace in
a tack room under
a loft full of hay
someone has to light a fire
before the end of the act

our first paper tits
were behind that barn

we smoked it all
”oregano”
laced with dirt
palm leaves on easter sunday
banana skins any other saturday
seven kinds of liquor
in a peanut butter jar

sugar in the gas tank
run like hell

we put that firecracker
in the frogs mouth
blam!
cut the snakes head
off with a folding knife
we all had one
we were boy scouts
(torture camp)

frog egg fights
good old fashioned
fun with flaming plastic
cars speeding
down the driveway

crypt in the woods
or was it a tomb
I CAN NEVER REMEMBER
door cracked open
easy to pry
in the dirt
easy to dig
moist dirt
dried wood
bones
vertebra
vertebrae
whoa check it out
jaw bone with teeth
gold fuck yeah
take it home
made to put it back but
we didn’t

meet Frances
hiya kid hand out
for a shake
feeling cool until
down on the snow bank
boot against our head
please to meet ya
ha ha have some
whiskey
it burns so good
it helps to
ease the pain

the first time
talking to fred flintstone
from a nickel bag laced
with ashes
then it was all smiley button
and steak knife
by the pool

(we ended up finding
the cat’s body
in the storage room
under a pile of
garbage)

smoke bombs down the aisle
here kid wanna drag
ducks ass for you
plastic baggie of
various pills
various shapes
various purposes
various sizes
various colors
oops busted again
so fucking what
what does that do?

we didn’t flinch
when the Mr. Asshole punched
the locker right
next to our head
he got a pair of frog eyes
in a candy wrapper
for that one

another use for pencils
broken in half
at the right angle
scratched her name into our arm
bloody “linda”
we made out but
got in trouble
for not doing more
than that

running across the gym floor
legs moving in time
to the rhythm of the band
against our will
the first time we
realized the body
doesn’t always cooperate
whose body is it?
we did not want that to happen
the body does what
the body is made
to do

smoke bombs were
store bought
but the cannons and the
stink bombs were
home made
bunch of match heads
bobby pin rubber band
pen cap and copper tube
scientifically assembled

in the abandoned chicken
coop, where…

our other brother
heard we could get high
if we lick the skin of a toad
let’s find us some toad

we were all
American boys

That Time (01)

(Some names in this story have been changed, some have not.)

I was taking a break in a writing class when I decided to google my childhood rapists. I was 60 years old and it had never occurred to me to do that before. I found Frances’ obituary. Technically, it was his older brother who raped me but Francis held my face against the dirt with his boot. The obituary was about Frances but it mentioned Carl as surviving his brother. Who said irony is dead?

I’ve been trying to write this story for years and this is not what I usually start with. I didn’t know I was raped for most of my life. I lived in fear of a big, bad, dark secret that I never could get close to without feeling like it would kill me. I mean that literally. Every time I approached the memory I thought I had to die if I dared to remember it. I thought someone had to kill me. With a knife. I also very much wanted to remember.

This is all I knew: abandoned chicken coop; running; shouting; trying to get away; not being able to; a flash of white underpants; jack knife; black. This makes it sound obvious but it was always vague and blurred. In soft focus. I couldn’t really see any of it. I just had a sense. These weren’t memories. They were impressions received while in a fugue state. Look away.

The first nightmare was about dinosaurs. I wake up in my upstairs bedroom to see an ape man sitting in the tree outside my window, looking at me. I run downstairs, through the kitchen, then down more stairs to the basement. One of those dinosaurs with the long neck was down there. I run outside and the the front yard opens up and more dinosaurs come out from the ground. I had that dream a bunch of times. It was always exactly the same and I never remembered the ending. It was terrifying.

Every other time I tried writing about this I started by keeping you in the dark. I figured since I had to live with the mystery of what happened to me, you should, too. I started with the biggest clue, my brother’s suicide, and then slowly fed you more clues in preparation for a big reveal at the end. Because that’s how it went for me. My life was one long literary technique. Well, here we are: I Just gave away the ending.

Or did I?

The other nightmares, and there have been a lot of them, were also recurring but less exactly so. The gist was the same. A dark figure appears. Has a knife. Is going to kill me. I run away. I wake up, sometimes with a scream. He appeared so frequently I gave him a name: The Prince of Darkness. I wrote about him so often I dubbed him, “The P of D.”

I met him in real life a few times but I always managed to get away. I usually had to humiliate myself by running away in front of everybody but a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do. To stay alive.

Wondering about that suicide? It was the cataclysmic event that put me on the path to finally remembering everything. His name was Frankie. He was older by a couple years and we were best friends for a few years as kids. Some of my best memories were of me and him on various adventures. Riding bikes. Fishing. Skinny dipping. Stealing shit. Firecrackers. Exploring the burnt down drug store. Digging up bones in that crypt we found in the middle of the woods.

Hey, remember that time we rode our bikes 20 miles from Franklin to Sherborn? We were gonna spend the night at Nana’s house but as we finally turned onto her street I got this funny feeling and I slowed down and let you get ahead of me. Your turned into her driveway and I started pumping the pedals hard past the driveway. I just took off and never looked back. I never understood how or why but you didn’t come after me and I got lost. I spent hours riding who knows where but I miraculously ended up home again by nightfall. Everybody was worried, then relieved, but also amazed that I managed to get home. Ever since I have always trusted my innate sense of direction.

That story was always going to be one of the clues but the truth is I never solved it. Why was I so afraid that I chose to get lost instead of spend the night there at her house? What was I really running away from? I still don’t know.

I found out much later that she had sexually abused my father when he was little. I certainly couldn’t have known about that then. Could I?

Frankie and I eventually grew apart. By the time we were teenagers we avoided each other as much as possible. He seemed to think I was trying to follow in his footsteps and it was as if resented me for it. First, he went to the alternative high school program, Omnibus. Then, as soon as he graduated, I did too. Then, when he was living in that half-way house I lost my virginity to his girlfriend, Sheryl. After that, while he was hitch-hiking out west I had sex with his next girlfriend, Julie. Yeah, he resented me.

I’m going to make a big leap here to his suicide while we were in our forties. I came home one day to a message on the answering machine. “Hello Eric, this is your brother Tom. Call me as soon as you get this. And you better be sitting down.”

In all my other attempts to tell this story, that’s where I start. With Tom’s not subtle message. It seemed weird that he would say, “it’s your brother Tom” instead of just “it’s Tom” but that’s just Tom. And at the time we probably hadn’t spoken in a couple years so maybe he thought I’d forgotten about him? Nah. That’s just Tom. So was, “and you better be sitting down.” Tom doesn’t prevaricate. I knew immediately that someone (in the family) was dead. But who?

There were eight of us. Two parents, six kids. Now there were seven. None of us were close. Tom and I have had periods of being close, and since this call we’ve become closer. But he gave me nothing to indicate who had died.

I knew it was Frankie.

A few years prior I was in therapy. Well, actually, I had been in therapy for most of my life, but a few years prior I was specifically examining my relationship with my parents and I had decided that I wanted a break in contact with them. I wrote both of them (they were divorced) a brief note saying so. I put it in the simple context of “I’m going through a difficult time, emotionally.”

My father responded with a postcard (he always wrote postcards, never letters) saying, “I got your note. Ha, ha.” My mother responded with a letter of apology for my shitty childhood. I had gotten a lot of those so I “filed it” with the rest. I was expecting those responses. I wasn’t expecting the letter from Frankie, with whom I hadn’t communicated in a very long time.

He knew about my request because he lived with our mother. He was 44 at the time. I think he only lived apart from her for about 10 years of his life. That’s not a relationship I care to contemplate. But she showed him my note. Or told him what it said.

So, Frankie wrote me a letter. It was handwritten, five pages, both sides, in tiny cursive. In short, it was long. I almost didn’t read it out of spite. I couldn’t fathom why he would do such a thing after I specifically said I didn’t want to be contacted.

It began, “I hate myself so much and everyone else would hate me, too, if they knew who I really am.” Just like that, as if I would know what he meant. We hadn’t spoken in years and I rarely thought of him. He had become a stranger to me. The entire letter just kept saying the same thing over and over in different ways.

He was a wretch. He hated himself. He was a fake and a phony. Pretending to be like everyone else. His life was a lie. He thought about killing himself all the time. He was such a horrible human he probably should kill himself. Five fucking pages without any context or background. A hate letter to himself. Addressed to me.

I was stunned. I was pissed. I was mystified. Not just with the content but with the timing. He didn’t write me a letter. He wrote me a confession. It was almost as if he was apologizing. Was he unburdening himself of something? Was I expected to respond? My anger grew.

I tore up the letter, threw it away, and didn’t think about it again.

Until a few years later. Until the phone call. From my brother Tom. It was Frankie. Frankie had killed himself.

bovarysme diagnosis

Start diagnosis...
App name: bovarysme
App version: 1.11
App bundle ID: com.wwe
App Key: war without end
Device type: AK47
System version: 01.06.21
User account: kaos@com.wwe
Country code: 1
Region code: TMZ
Carrier name: GAB
VPN: COMPROMISED
isoCountryCode: kkkk
mobileCountryCode: 911
mobileNetworkCode: 666

Network type: BIO-FI
Device IP Address: d1xy:cap88:100w:ab12:ac13:acab
Biofi gateway address: death row
-----------------------------------------
Diagnosis domain: whitesupremacy.us
Start analysis domain...
DNS analysis result: 109.110.12.13, 14.23.14.88, 21.2.12.211, 23.16.28.311, 318.33.6.38, 43.5.511.737 (15 ms)

Ping 109.110.12.13...
ping: cannot resolve abuse 109.110.12.13: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve animus 109.110.12.13: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve self 109.110.12.13: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve loathing 109.110.12.13: TimeOut
Ping finished
Ping 14.23.14.88...
ping: cannot resolve severe 14.23.14.88: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve neglect 14.23.14.88: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve childhood 14.23.14.88: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve trauma 14.23.14.88: TimeOut
Ping finished
Ping 21.2.12.211...
ping: cannot resolve sexuality 21.2.12.211: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve dirty 21.2.12.211: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve oppressed 21.2.12.211: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve punishment 21.2.12.211: TimeOut
Ping finished
Ping 23.16.28.311...
ping: cannot resolve god 23.16.28.311: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve guns 23.16.28.311: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve guts 23.16.28.311: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve blame 23.16.28.311: TimeOut
Ping finished
Ping 318.33.6.38...
ping: cannot resolve patriotism 318.33.6.38: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve otherism 318.33.6.38: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve odonism 318.33.6.38: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve sophism 318.33.6.38: TimeOut
Ping finished
Ping 43.5.511.737...
ping: cannot resolve religion 43.5.511.737: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve conspiracy 43.5.511.737: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve misinformation 43.5.511.737: TimeOut
ping: cannot resolve propoganda 43.5.511.737: TimeOut
Ping finished

Tracerouter finished (not yet)

Diagnosis: delusions of grandeur

First Solution: science, BLM, perseverance furthers

Final Solution: love is love

when i die

when i die
when i’m gone
when i’m dead
and gone
mourn for me
keen and wail
kick and cry

don’t toast
don’t sing
don’t celebrate
don’t praise

keen and wail
bawl, howl
snivel, blubber
and moan

it was not my time
it was not for the best
i did not want to go
i did not blow
the scene

i did not surrender
i did not succumb
i did not go to rest
i did not fade away
i did not let go
i did not dearly depart

when i die
when i’m gone
when i’m dead
and gone
weep for me
whimper and whine
gnash your teeth
mewl and bleat

i did not want to go

kintsukuroi

before a thing can be whole,
there must be shards,
scattered and smothered

before a mirror can be whole,
it must be broken

before a thing can be kintsugi,
it must be kintsukuroi,

in the hallway is a mirror,
while passing this mirror,
we raised our fist,
and we broke it

smash smash smash.

like a hammer,
like a broken hammer

pieces of glass on the floor,
pick up the pieces,
and put them back,
one shard at a time

one day,
when we look in the mirror,
we will be whole again

Cobalt Blues

let us now sing the cobalt blues
that we may emerge from our
chronic circadian desynchronization,
that we consider and wonder how it is
that every 2, every 7, every 9 weeks,
our bodies obliterated and re-formed,
regurgitated and re-born of
archaic remnants of ancestors

let us now wonder
where but in the dark matter of space?
where but in the collective conscience?
where but in the supersilious?
where but in the original mind?
are our cellular memories stored?

let us now dance a dream time boogie
that we may recover our poetic,
divine, mystic, manic, madness,
that we may restore The Soul to the world
that we may remember,
in the sky of Love
gravity is merely a suggestion

untitled (how it begins #1039)

the beginning is not the beginning, this is how it starts but this is not the beginning, the beginning was before, the beginning was before that time, that time was a new beginning, that time was a death and a rebirth, the beginning was the beginning, then there was death, a death, the death, followed by a slow re-entry, a 40 year birth, during which time, nothing, except dreams, except nightmares, except hallucinations, except paranoid dreams, a long exception,

ring ring ring is, what a phone sounded like, nobody home to hear it,

flashing red light is, what we saw later, flashing red light is, how it starts, then a beep, a long slow beep of recognition, not memory, not yet, just, foreboding,

this is how it starts, hello, this is we brother, this is we brother, Tom, we have a message for we, and, we better be sitting down, we knew at that instant, not who but what, a death, not we death, not the death that time, we brother death, we other death, we new death, we knew death, Frankie is dead, we killed we-self, now we knew who,

death at that time, death now, always death, death not death,

before that time, was this time, this time became that time, that time became this time , it’s all the same, the same time, we must stretch the time, to see it,

we walked from this time, into that time, into a death, we push it away, we pushed it away, we walked from that time, into this time, which becomes that time, again,

we death that time, we death this time, it’s all the same,

that was how it started, this is how it started, that death, this death, two points, on an imaginary line, only one point, on a circle, a clock,

walking in this time, walking in to home, walking into a long slow beep, walking into we brother, Tom, walking into we brother, Frankie, walking into death, walking into the start, walking in to, not memory,

walking into a familiar feeling, into a sense of it, a recognition, the same that isn’t the same, walking into it, walking into that time, but from a distance, still, not ready,

many times, we was not ready, many times, we stumbled, from the dream into, that time, many times, we were close, without knowing, without memory, that time, was always close, has always been close, is always close, will always be close,

we are not ready we screamed, from the nightmare, back into the dream, we move between them so often, we don’t know which is the dream, which is the nightmare, we are not ready we screamed, we have always been screaming, because we didn’t scream, that time

September 27, 1959, 10:39 PM

A welcome would have been expected. A welcome might have been expected. You would think. One would think. One might think. If one thought about it. Might have made a difference. One might have thought. So.

There was an expectation. Certainly, there was an expectation. There might have been an expectation. There would have been an expectation. Must have been. One.

Nonetheless the event happened. It is known to have happened. It must have happened. Clearly, it happened. It could not have not happened. It conclusively happened. Of that there is no doubt. That it happened. As opposed to not. Happened.

The date is not in question. There has never been a question of the date. The date has never been contested. Nor would it be. Nor should it be. Nor has it been. The date is certain. Known.

The time is not certain. The exact time is not known with certainty. The time is different from the date in that it was not as unique. The time was not as clearly recognizable as the date. The time is probable. The time is possible. Assumed.

Exactly what happened is not known. The details of the event are unknowable. There has never been an inquiry into the particulars of the event. The precise actions or inactions are not known. The actions are unknown. The inactions are unknown. Unknowable.

What happened is known. The birth is known to have happened. What else happened is not known. The ancillary events are not known. The birth obviously happened. The details of the birth are not known. The events preceding the birth are not known. The events following the birth are not known. The ancillary events before and after the birth are unknown. Unknowable.

The number of participants in the event is not known. The total number of participants is not known. There must have been two. There would have been two. Two is the minimum number of participants possible. There might have been more. There should have been more. Could have been more participants. There might have been more. People.

The mother was there. The mother was a key participant. The mother had to have been there. Of that, there can be no doubt. The mother was required to have been there. The mother could not have not been there. The mother had to have been. There.

The doctor was there. A doctor was there. There was certainly a doctor there. There would have been a doctor there. The doctor must have participated. The doctor had to have participated. It is certain the doctor participated. A doctor must have been there. Working.

The father may have been there. It is probable that the father was there. The father may have been a participant. The father is a probable participant. The father is thought to have been a participant. The father is surmised to have been there. Present.

Others were there. Other people were there. There must have been other people there. There would have been other people there. The other people may have participated. The others may have been participants. It is probable that others were there. Participating.

A welcome would have been expected. A welcome might have been expected. You would think. One would think. One might think. If one thought about it. Might have made a difference. One might have thought. Welcome.

The day I was born. The day of my birth. My birth day. Birthday.

alps loiterer

literal prose:
we know how this ends
death smiles

every time they visit
to date
they have been responsive
to our refusal
to participate

they usually comes
in biker black
faded leather
white pills
leather jeans

oral reptiles:
we know how this started
derivative sins

it always goes the same
we might think
the frequency might
make it easier
might make right but not

we know they’re there
in plain sight
all we know
isn’t enough because
we’d rather not (know)

everything is good
we made it up that hill
saw the light sun of joy
let it all go the holding—
boom they’re there

with a smiley face
with a knife
with a knowing look
they’ve been waiting
for you

boom we see them
recall them from before
from those times to come
we know them

literal spore:
we know how this ended
they loved us not

it aint panic if
it saves your life
look right look left
where’s the exit?
WE’RE NOT READY!

escape is right there
we’re not sure
we can make it
aid comes but it requires
a sacrifice

oh the irony
to stay death
we must die
admit defeat
beg for mercy
again and
again
knowing
they will come
at last

never was able to
differentiate between a
trigger warning and a
spolier alert

My Echo, My Shadow, and Me

I am a sixty-one-year-old white male of English and Irish descent. I have a genetic disposition for acne, baldness and depression. I am taller than average and slender. Clothing rarely fits me well. I was lied to as a child and things were done to me that should never be done to another human being. I kept that a secret for most of my life. I am great at solving puzzles and I can readily spot patterns in the world around me. I have recurring nightmares and lucid dreams. I have a keen intuition and I don’t like being hugged. Children tend to like me. I am devoted to my wife. I’m not a good long-distance friend. I am often sad and quick to cry. I find comfort in that.

fruit lady

Inspired by a John Martini sculpture.

in her previous life
she held up the roof
of a high school gymnasium

she misses the sneaker chirps
and the thap thap thap
of bouncing orange balls
less than she enjoys
being upright in the sun
bearing only the weight
of an imaginary fruit bowl
on her upturned head

with her sculpted
muscular arms
slender hip-less torso
and pubescent boy breasts
she looks more like
a young heracles
than her brazilian bombshell
name sake

her primitive serpentine shadow
lengthens with the day
as the sun slowly etches
bronze and orange age spots
in streaked lines across
her dark brown metallic skin

forever frozen in profile
walking a junkanoo two-step line
she sings through
finger-thick lips
her caribbean song to the sky

Running A Way

1976.

I run into Mark in the Cap’n Kidd.

I believe I have to die, I say to Mark. We’re drinking Bud long necks at the bar.

We all have to die, Mark answers.

Of course but that’s not what I mean.

What do you mean?

It feels like I have to die in order to live. I say this to you and I’m not sure what it means. But everywhere I look I see my death.

Yet here you stand.

Only because I’m afraid to face it.

Aren’t you facing it now?

No. I always run away just before it happens.

Maybe it’s just your ego.

What? I take a swig.

That has to die.

What?

Mark puts his empty bottle down on the bar. Ego death. Maybe that’s what you’re facing — the dissolution of your ego identity.

I don’t know what that means.

Maybe it’s the way out.

Out of what?

Whatever it is you’re asking me about.

Mark signals with two fingers to the bartender.

You Couldn’t Have Known

Every time I imagine telling the story I start with you. It’s as obvious a place to start as it isn’t. You came into my life almost 30 years after it happened and only stayed a little while. I don’t remember your acquisition the duration of your time in my home nor your departure. Your physical attributes were and are irrelevant. You held no significant or symbolic meaning for me. Your purpose in my life was utilitarian.

If the full gravity of this one interaction with you—the one that I think of as the prologue to my story—had occurred to me as it was happening you might have met the fate of so many of the other objects in my life; destroyed flung across the room pounded against the wall leaving only pieces of you on the floor and another patched hole in the drywall. But it would take a couple of years for my brain to make the connection between that day so long ago your brief role in my story and my break— down? Through? Either word fits.

This is how it begins every time I replay it in my head; the flashing red light the beep. Then “hello this is your brother Max. Call me back as soon as you get this. And you’d better be sitting down.”

You couldn’t have known how awkward that would have sounded especially to anyone who didn’t know Max. You couldn’t have read between the lines but even if so you couldn’t have intervened. You couldn’t have edited his words to be less stilted less dramatic or less revealing to me. You couldn’t have known this was a message I had long been expecting. The only question in my mind was not what but who.

You couldn’t have known that anyone else might have assumed it was about Doug. You couldn’t have deduced that with all his years of accidents arrests and hospitalizations he was the most likely to have added another episode to our family’s litany of dramas. More than that you couldn’t have known by intuition by subconscious inference by a gut that you lack that it wasn’t Doug but Frankie — the brother with whom I shared a secret — who had killed himself. You couldn’t have known any of it. You were just a machine. You did what you were created to do. You did it well.

is that all there is?

the universe emerged
from the gap
between my scapulae
and follows me
everyam where I go

a hovering entirety
above behind my head
whirling devilishly
I shall never it see

I took up yoga
twisting asana (plural)
and meditation (singular)
with open eyes
in the front of the mirror

and yet still
I only sense the gap
from which it escaped
me