The I that I am is a reader of theology, a tracer of geneses, genealogies, and ingenuities, a deconstructor of dreamscapes Apollonian and Dionysian, and the I that I am is a thinker of theories long extinct and unwritten, yes, yes indeed, the I that I am proclaims dim and incendiary from the gallows of anti-thought, jotting the nuclei of composition on my laptop screen: Life contra Being, mystics obsolete, faculties of thought snuffed by chaos capital / The I that I am is the optics of filtration, a glass spiral tornadoing with properties less predictable than dice. The I that I am parts pink lips to inaugurate a bio-psychedelic odyssey to the heart of darkness or, rather, to the alveoli, and the I that I am presently gets drugfucked out of my ungrounded self / The I that I am has ironically retained a collection of catalogued club cards, and the I that I am gathers limited pressings of unheard doom metal, post-punk and acid folk, forgotten classics for the True Aficionado. The I that I am is an archivist and a fantasist whose mind does not have a smell, but if my consciousness were in fact a wafting and palpable thing, you would smell used books and cellophane, and the I that I am has a spreadsheet for a body, populated with monsters austere and grotesque / The I that I am writes a paper on Poe and titles it “The National (In)security of Public Secretion in the Divine Abyss; or, the Trace of Ontological Erasure, Bodiless Gore, Languid Waste, And Mews of Sublimation that Rape the Void”/ The I that I am shakes my hair out of my eyes, because the I that I am does not make certain gestures, that is, the I that I am does not brush my bangs with my fingers. The I that I am has scheduled an appointment to construct cosmic demons, to sedate unthinkable horror in ink filled-pores. The I that I am could die before dinner, and the I that I am desires the idea of nicotine.
The boy with the rock hunches in the grass, squinting gray eyes, plucking legs from cricket bodies. Carcasses collect, chirp chirp, twitchy mounds around his feet, and the boy with the scissors says Daddy cuts deep—snip, chirp, snip, crickets don’t hurt—while the boy with the rock says that bugs don’t feel nothin—snip—insects don’t got nervous systems—snip—don’t tell Daddy if Daddy don’t ask. Chirp, chirp. The boy with the jackknife is someplace else, a countenance of mandibles. He is the face of trauma, dying with the insects.
A poltergeist is loose
in the City of God.
A skeleton soaked in
the hubris of dead rhetoric
and spit fallen on ghosts.
This body is born
in smoke and shit,
a prosodic embryo
of misplaced rhyme.
Jack-o-lantern clouds rumble spears of lightning. Stay close to the ground where the air is clear. Employ half-dead recitations to ward away the visions. The madmen are dancing like minstrels, clawed feet clacking on a bed of bones. Vaudeville terror takes the form of leprous figures retreating into shadow, moaning an imprint on your future nightmares. The graveyard teems with embodied dread, fangs snapping at the autumn-dry air. The undead are out tonight. It’s an anniversary of the flesh, the twenty-thousandth appearance of the year. Here’s the underbelly of the carnival, where illicit sex acts are traded for odes to secrecy.
Dregs of incense slither through 60 watts of light.
She passes the roach so he can scorch his diaphragm.
Quasi-fictional flashbacks take arachnid forms,
confessions swimming in smoke …
Let’s fuck in the park she says.
It’s too cold he says.
Sacramental figures adorn the wall,
wraiths in waning white hue …
It’s time to change the light bulb but she likes being frightened.
Paradise lost in chronic self-glory,
threads of smoke that drift above the sin.
Intercourse deflates his pupils.
I’m sorry God he thinks as she extends the lighter.
Here come on try it—it makes you feel alive she says.
All he wants is to write the novel
but only poems will come.
The light of conflict glowing through the blinds. Cubby stirring in bed, eyeing the white slats that pierced his sleep. He retreats from the plot, too afraid to read his own doom as amateur prose. / Fuck, there are some disturbances I can handle. Everybody can, right. You know, a guy’s walking home one day, right. He sees a dead baby in the dumpster. He sees its little body all red and frosty in a KFC bucket. He pukes and he cries and he tells his wife and maybe he can’t sleep for a year. Maybe he never sleeps again. Who knows. But the guy handles it, and do you know why. I’ll tell you why. He handles it because he has to. He handles it because it happened. This is different. I mean, there are some aberrations I can stomach. I really mean that. But I can’t rationalize what I saw that night.—Tell me about it.—I can’t. You don’t understand. A man can’t see these things. A man can’t feel what I felt.—What did you feel.—Stop. You won’t get anywhere.—I’m here to help you.—Yeah, yeah, I know all that bullshit. I know you’re a professional and you took this in school and maybe you missed out on some really great dates because you wanted to pass those final exams. I know all that bullshit. But no matter how many of those fucking Scantron tests have met your pencil stroke, no matter how many fucking desks have holstered your fat ass, you will never understand this.—Why not.—Because you weren’t there. There are some things a man can’t. Some things a man won’t. Oh, forget it.—Why. Tell me why. / Movement in the hallway. The Plague as a prowling object. The grey flesh of an alien violating your body. The demonic white face hovering over your place of worship. You can hear Cubby howling inhuman noises. Shredding the bedsheets with yellow teeth, horror-sickened eyes lolling in the blackness. The Stenographer maps the route of death: subject diverges into the void. Vagueness shaves the boundary. The subject slips your reach. The plotline pulls apart. The denouement evaporates into episodic mayhem. / There are some things a man just can’t.
Here come the dope-fogged morning sounds—
the wrong RPM setting for
living room finger traps:
scratched records, butter-slimed dishes,
pot resin and foil bags.
Watch eusociality as a mural in motion—
six biramous legs bicycling air,
antennae and mandibles
pecking at the exoskeleton.
You exit with a shudder.
You buy some Advil.
You rub your eyes and frame the event with acronyms.
“They sacrificed to demons … to deities they had never known …” –Deuteronomy 32:17
Ray glides like a wraith. Silent. Unchallenged. Gun arm navigating through the crowds.
The bodies split for him, forming a strobe lit tunnel. They reassemble as he passes, hot organisms unbalanced by treble. Wet, vapid, contorting. Gyrating in the dark. Seductive. Vaginal.
“Where the fuck is he?” Ray asks. A question for deities, muted by bacchanalian mayhem. Lurid benediction.
The disc jockey sermonizes infidelity, headphones coiling his neck.Tongues moisten the blackness. MDMA fills the room like vapour.
Ray makes his way to the back door. Kicks it open and steps into the night, Colt first. Trained ears prick to catch the sound of cheap leather clopping asphalt.
Ray focuses on the Target. Sprints down the sidewalk, quickly gaining speed. Car speakers demonstrate the Doppler effect. Women exclaim from moving vehicles, imploring him like Argonautican sirens.
He ignores the sounds. The insanity. The chaos. His gun is ready. He is closing in. Catching up with the Target. This fucking deadbeat will need a headstone tomorrow.
His prey is taking form. The variables are falling into place. The outcome is clear.
Ray pursues the Target through traffic, his hands bumping headlights. Car horns assault his senses. An unwelcome choir.
He corners his game at last.
The familiar invocation: No. Please. Don’t. Stop. Listen. Etc, etc.
Ray lowers his Colt and prepares to fire, but the ritual changes direction. Fate has other plans.
The pleas stop. The Target is smiling. The body is bent, hissing and snarling. The face is darkening, features reassembling in shadow.
“What the fuck?” Ray says.
The Target rises to fix red eyes on him. Lips recede into a horrible smile, sharp teeth glinting dully.
All training is forgotten. Ray panics. Fires all his ammo. Head shots, chest shots, abdominal shots. The Target absorbs the bullets, still smiling.
Ray struggles to speak. To protest. To remove himself from the nightmare. No words will come. He stares in terrified awe, the gun slipping from his limp fingers.
The Target approaches. Ray closes his eyes. He braces himself and submits. The Target descends on him, all fangs and malice. Blood courses from Ray’s body and rains on cement. He is dead in seconds.
This ceremony is timeless, more ancient than the city itself. More ancient than every building. More ancient than every body inside those buildings. More ancient than the beliefs and morals that feign vitality inside every one of those bodies, guiding non-events in isolation.
under the dome.”
He coughs a digital halo,
surveys the assembly of
uniforms pawning corn syrup.
“Like a fucking snowglobe.”
This is infinite—
an effort to pierce the dome,
eradicate the barrier,
cancel the void.
this is what I’m saying.”
He swerves in time,
concrete blurring the past.
“Write a number repeatedly,
from the moment you’re born
‘til the moment you die.”
Eyes burst crimson,
words stick to his mouth like cotton.
“Just keep adding
and adding and adding
until you’re fucking dead.”
He flicks the turn signal,
lowers the music,
dominates the night’s vibrations.
“You can try to be the one,
but a computer will just
calculate the total.”
He takes another hit
as towers mimic deities,
probing at the sky.
you pry a strip of wood from the coffin:
this is where it happened.
N.L. wheezes, folds like a yoga instructor:
can we stop now?
you think you see a man in there,
a shadowy impression.
you squint, muffling white sunbeams:
you can stop any time you want.