Pub with Magnificent Paneling and Terrible Chairs
She was there to meet an old friend who had not yet arrived, so to kill time she was looking around—she"d eavesdrop, She thought, on the conversations of people much younger to see if mating rituals had changed since she had worshipped At that altar—but she found herself unable to hear, the music was so loud and alien, and honestly her inner ear Produced a constant high-pitched whine like a plague of crickets Descending on a field of amaranth outside Teotihuacán A thousand years before the Pacific wind made the same whine in the rigging of Cortez"s ships—so, buttocks tingling from the hard Seat of her terrible chair, she watched young lawyers and entrepreneurs unconsciously at play on the volcanic plains of history and biology, Creatures, as far as she could tell, devoid of language, their lips moving hungrily, and she thought of a film she"d seen about the Mariana Trench, Subaqueous life forms crowding around volcanic vents like Arctic explorers around a tiny stove at the heart of the great dark ice sheet: She and her friend—who was terribly late—had done the same things decades ago when they were lovers on another planet, where jazz leaked in Through speakers in the magnificent paneling, even in the toilets, and they drank Manhattans and one another and everything made sense. Didactic
The interior voice, the monkey mind, is tireless, nattering literally like mad, or metaphorically Like a distant cousin I met once when I was twelve, who corners me now at the funeral with a litany Of imaginary ills and a pointless story about Grandfather, who drank himself to dust because his grandfather Was a trader of slaves. When you read a book, you upload another member of the club, like that moment In chapter one of a Zane Grey novel when I was seven, the pioneer couple I had just begun to like, murdered Before my tender eyes by inhuman redskins, not even a capital R, as if I weren"t already racist enough Just from the things my parents told me, their judging sermons I can"t get rid of it, the auctioneer"s jeering Chant, the whip"s economic report, plus the voice now screaming No! Not the nice white pioneers! It was all done to teach A lesson about consciousness, how it needs to dream it has a center, a core, an essence, which is like trying to teach The cat to waltz, so much awkwardness, so many tender advances, and I"m shocked when it actually learns, When it minces toward me in a tiny cocktail gown, offering a martini, asking for this dance, insisting on hearing me refuse To reply, debating all along, in the chorus of its interior mewing, who are you really, peculiar animal, who taught you to call you you. Wolf
There is angst, which is a philosophical luxury, and there is anxiety, which is a black wolf. It wants to rip you open to eat your liver. You can try to make friends, but it remains an animal, Starving and sidelong. I first encountered him in an office, where you wouldn"t think wolves Would enter, but he came in dressed as a bureaucrat with a dossier of papers, one of which Appeared to be a contract, but I wasn"t asked for my soul, I was to give up my grandmother— Wolves are death on those—who was the one person in my childhood who could calm me. She would dress in black, take her walking stick, and go out into the orchard, where dark birds—crows?— Were blitzing the harvest. She"d raise her cane skyward, and they"d vanish. How could I relinquish her? I refused to sign. My punishment was this wolf who goes with me everywhere, opening doors For the elderly, comforting crying children, reciting poems, and all the while waiting for me To weaken, to slip, to fall asleep, and then he"ll chain me To a cliff like my brother, angst-riddled Prometheus— Those incompetent birds weren"t crows, they were bloody eagles— and, efficient as only a wolf can be, finally finish the job. Fear is a thing of the body, fear of the body is a thing only wolves are immune to—and bureaucrats, their slaves. Lost Sock
I was trying to read St. John of the Cross, but my mind kept sliding off. It would hit the floor, bounce like a cheap plastic mug, skitter under the sofa, And come to rest among tumbleweeds of cat hair, a 1947 penny, the wool sock I"d spent a whole week looking for. Beyond, near the wall, everything just went black. My mind went there in the form of a vessel to fill itself with that measure of nothingness And return to me humbly, so that I too could then return to The Dark Night of the Soul bearing my own Darkness, so that I could close my eyes and read and travel toward my spirit in the void, Barefoot on the road of lacerating stones, one sock in my left hand crying out blind for the other.



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