Saturday, August 3, 2013

Stephen Ellis

Fragments I

Pinks growing out of a cut-out wax cardboard half-gallon milk carton. Sound of crows.

Cornfield love and Neptunian flippers of Oz. Dougie's mom's egg-blue Plymouth and the holes the dog dug in the grass-less backyard. Dark scrub pine barrier to freedom facing west, smell of pine tar so close it seemed to come from under my eyelids.

Tune your radios to WQRZ.

The smell of the Nile early in the morning, watching out the back staircase hotel window a small man sweeping an empty, unpaved lot. Two rats moving slowly along the back of a couch in a fifth-floor room just around the corner from the Azjerbaijani embassy.

Gold teeth. I sold my own last year for $110.

Roman numerals add false dignity to both the sublime and the ridiculous.

Lucas Foss, solo piano pieces. I am with him and them in the current ear that hears my head in there. 15B Johnson Street, America AD, where the gas stove blew a six-foot blue flame under my jean jacket, maggots writhed in the trashed summer heat and windows were always wide open toward the slaughter-house packing plant and the shouts of guys in slippers in the street below trying to fix a car up on blocks.

From the vantage of a hilltop Zarka parking spot, crowds of orange Iraqi taxis are having gas supplies from clandestine extra tanks welded under back seats drained off, their value to be swapped out in Amman for medical supplies against the embargo. George Schultz was right: People are smart. People everywhere are smart. People are smarter where they live than any visitor could ever be. They are smarter than you. All of you. Forever. The souped-up Plymouth Fury taxi runs from Amman to Damascus all buy cut-rat gas from these guys. That was how I ended up there.

Sun goes down from gold to grey and the desert becomes a slope of tent. Arrive out of earth if you can find the help to get you out. Live with the help you hire. Keep the smoke from fragrant cooking fires somewhere near the tent flaps.

Birth is how you end up with things to look at. The occasion of the open moment hangs in no balance I can easily know. Live with it. Lived it. Lost it. Out of it. What a relief.

Gypsy encampments in the No Man's Land a kilometer in width between the official border Syria with Jordan. Bright clothes will always steal across borders in the night to steal a few cups of milk from local cows.

Milk adders in the deserted milk house that was always cold whatever the outside temperature, as if it were a sort of hell-mouth. Snakes have skin like us, but not like ours.

Cottonmouths at Magnolia Lake in among the remains of rotting boats. The years sound down to being nestled and bristling in bright sun down in behind the police station on the isle of Chios among the bleached and broken boats to see if I could hear in the untucked sheets of mild surf the sounds that Homer heard.

Salt to salt: “Are you guys married?”

Relationships grow partly in secret, disclosed only as evidence in things made with intent, where the accident of growth shows as surplus.

Bewitch your pronouns and bracket your misses.

Wool fibers wetted, pressed, beaten and dried out eventually bind together like Shiva's hair and felt. “People” references in mythology can be to landforms, events, territories, inclinations, objects, animals, weather patterns, that is, rarely “you” and rarely “me” but that we remember eye-holes and doorways: Our breathing pores.

When your Messerschmidt crashes, go immediately for the felt. Human warmth is the central quantity in the act of going down, coming down and being down. If you don't believe me, look it up.

I wish my “e” key worked better. Flaws are a kind of addiction.

Press the needle flat against the vein like a thin head and neck in the crease of a pillow to keep it from rolling and it will almost slide into Eden by itself with a “pop” you can't hear even as well as those seed pods that used to explode in the forest when your childhood came too near in the attempt to propagate itself.

Dream on.

Bread, hummus and fried bits of beef on near to midnight in Zameleck. Bob said through the jungle underbrush of Bolinas that after 50, life is lived as memory. Experience at that point is hunkering down behind the dunes to watch a calm sea.

Hilary said forget about counting and sequence: Begin instead by grouping fours, sixes and nines. Peter recommended grouping by color and then making a cut to make one of them bleed more intensely than the others.

There's a rag in the treetops. No one knows how it got there.

Themes. I hate them.

Dirt back road down behind the barn following along brilliant marble graveyard to the deserted house that got carried off on a flatbed truck in 1959. My father, if nothing else, at least said he liked Handel's Water Music, which was coincidentally on the radio this morning. The house was grey, and peeling. I sliced the palm of my hand open on a rusty tin can lid in its front yard several hours after asking my sister whether men in the Navy wore shorts. I wanted for nothing more than to be authentic as a man imagined by a boy, and as a boy. I was wearing shorts at the time, and couldn't move my fingers because of the gauze. The real question is, does the sea have a gender?

Rescue me from slaughter and light snow. Just now out of box out of closet back in mind from stack of papers set carefully away for “later”: Gburek's Tiptoes. Halliday's On Birdsong Summit. And I wonder if I still have a copy of Nick Lawrence's Timeserver?

The fifty-first sentence from Fifty One Sentences coming from Patanjali's Samadhi-Pada [ via Tom Meyer in 1996 ] is “So because this closing down closes everything else off it takes the seeds from the depth of thought.” On the back cover in my own hand: Go to Sharifiyya for bus and taxi, Barbir/Kola for taxi alone.

The sap travels. “The driver usually encounters his likeness on a billboard.” [ Tinker Greene ]

Tricky Cad, 1959, by Jess. You're in luck, buddy. I'm Dick Tracy.

Star Flower, with cover and drawings by Billy Greene, whose Mom in one of them says, “keep climbing, kid.” Three levels in Tantric Buddhism: Body, speech, thought. Each presents the opportunity for a completely novel solution. The collective mantra is that the days are all different. Sprites go fragment in each “natural” sheaf of wheat. That's the addiction of the Poet. To threads, replete with her and their special derangements.

Hezbollah fighter in Ba'albeck, dressed in checked flannel shirt of rural xenophobic caution, points a gun at my head, yelling at me in Arabic to give him my camera. It was a sunny day. People strolled by, with their Italian ices from the vendor over by the graveyard. A lieutenant came out and questioned me, and I assured him that I hadn't taken a picture of what turned out to be the entrance of a secret Hezbollah miltary base. I still have the photo of the guy with the gun, waving me off. When they let me go, I didn't run and I didn't look back, even once. The bus was late. Quivering in fear at dusk is interesting, but only as aftermath in consideration of a safe house.

Valium is a non-prescription item in Lebanon.

The neon sign said OPEN. It still does. The horror of the shimmering gas in that tube is the assimilated basis of prayer.

The form of change that is unchanging: It begins to look a lot like monotony and corruption from here. My ex-wife once said that fucking the same guy for too long (“forever” was her exact word) began to feel like incest after a while. And at Orly in Paris, she hit me over the head with her bag because the plane was delayed, then, in exhaustion, flopped down on our luggage and refused to move until it was certain that we had missed our flight.


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