Sunday, February 28, 2010


The Instrument, when raised from humble dirt,
Becomes a thing of finery renowned.
The Man whose being suffers great the hurt
Emerges nobly with a newborn sound.
But whether dream or conscious will becomes
Him now, as tool for Music must he rise.
And rise he does with Melody and Drums
The first from Laughter and the next from cries
Of working hands whose shovels clear the air
With powerful percussion. None can see,
However, how the Instrument will fair
And none can, with a certainty, decree
If Future lends a patron or an ear
Or History a legacy's career.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


The dirt and the muck is, at last, cleared. The shovels make air of the dirt -- or so the impression becomes to the Instrument that he has become. The shovels make air of the dirt by removing anything from around the Instrument that is not dirt. A convoluted way of viewing the world. The way to play a beautiful piece of music on an Instrument, a famous musician once said, is to play all the right notes at all the right times and in all the right ways. The laughter is now air-born and sounds different than when it was produced while the Instrument was buried in the earth. The air has a certain quality to it that was not immediately discernible while the world, as it were, was Dirt. The air is loud. The air is music. The material that makes the air is not only a mixture of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gasses. Air is music made of those gasses. Once, one would have thought -- the Instrument would have thought, before it became (before he became) the Instrument -- the air carries the music. Now, as the Instrument, he sees things inverted: The music is the vessel for the air. The music comes first. The shovels clear the Dirt and Music is the Air that fills everything that is not Dirt. Air - Dirt = Music. Or Music - Air = Dirt. He has been hungry. The hunger has directed him. The hunger would have directed him, that is, were it not for the constant parade of events that has been happening to him -- events that have brought him here. But isn't here okay? He is the Instrument; He is laughing; He is bathed in music; He isn't hungry. There is a constant exchange of pressure, and this produces the sound... There doesn't need to be balance. When there is balance, there is no sound, there is no music, there is no use for the Instrument. For any instrument. There is only the death of sound and of all which depends upon Sound. He is raised out of the Dirt, and as he is raised, he is laughing the laughter of musical instruments.

Friday, February 26, 2010


The digging sound creates a percussive accompaniment for the laughter. The percussive sound gets louder and more insistent the closer it comes. The sound of the digging begins to sound like the word for the tools that do the digging: sho-vels, shuh-vels, shh-vlz, sh-v-lz... The digging will be here, soon. The shovels and their digging. They will dig up the instrument and maybe stop the laughing, or else the laughing will stop because the instrument has been unearthed, regardless of whether by shovel or by clawing hand or by the natural, slow process of erosion. No... The shovels will not stop the laughter. The instrument will continue to laugh. The laughter and the shovelsounds make strange music together. It is not unpleasant. There are those who are listening to it. They are not the ones with the shovels, however. Well, some of them might be. Who can tell? Any sound, any sounds, and noise, any noises, soft, loud, melodic, a-tonal, harmonious, discordant, any sound (and some say any silence) will be music. Screaming will be music. Joyous, ritualistic music. Music of living and dying. Music of sloth or of industry. Music of peacefulness or of bellicosity. Music of power or of impotence. And we all have this music in us. We all laugh and scream at the behest of our own visceral experience, conscious or unconscious, abject or ecstatic.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


He is in a world of dirt. He is buried. Yet, he can breathe. He clutches the hand. He has come to think of it, by this point, not as "his" hand but as "the" hand. It is interesting, he thinks, while suspended in the dirt, how little time it takes to disassociate. He has lost "his" hand, and then he has found "his" hand, but now, it has become "the" hand. He can recognize it, he thinks -- with his own ridiculous brand of humor -- because he sees the back of it, which he knows so very well that he compares how well he knows all other things to how he knows this. But now, he reflects, again, that "his" hand might not actually still be the same as "the" hand. When has "his" hand turned into "the" hand? Perhaps when it has turned into a fish. But it has only turned into a fish when he has begun remembering... and, in particular, when he has remembered catching a trout with his father. He begins to laugh. And it is a laughter born of the abject. It is a laughter not of humor but of purgation. He laughs for a long time, and he laughs more loudly than he is aware. And then another sound begins to accompany the laughter, perhaps to respond to it. But he does not care, at this point, because he is all laughter. His body is an instrument of laughter. He does not hear the other sound, the sound of the digging which is being done to find him and to unbury that instrument. And, perhaps, when the instrument is unearthed, it will turn back into a body. But whether it turns back into "his" body or "a" body, remains to be seen. This is the thought that sits somewhere in that instrument he has become. And, obscured as this thought is by the noise of laughter, it is the only thought of which he is aware.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


At last, a shape becomes evident in the muck. The hand. He pulls on it. It does not come loose. The flesh does not lend itself to a good grip, and he has to reposition himself several times before he gets a good hold on it. When he does, it is a while before there is any give. The hand is... attached to something... He has to dig around the hand... to clear the muck. The hand is gripping something. A handle. He struggles a while and, at last, the hand and what it is gripping comes loose. It is, in fact, a handle. But nothing comes with the handle. Instead, the ground beneath him begins to tremble. He hears a rushing sound, and then there is no ground... only a falling and the threat of being buried alive.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


In there. The finger is quite adamant. There can be no doubt. Of course, he has been assuming that the finger is leading him toward the meeting place. But, he reflects, even if it hasn't been, it would have been rather... awkward... not to follow where it lead. Not that he had tried. So, into the cave. Down, down, and down some more. A world of mud and roots. His feet suck in and out of the mud at each step. Roots almost trip him from below; from the earthen roof they tangle about his head and shoulders as he makes his way. At one point, bothered by the roots, he drops the hand. It is lost in the mud. A shot of panic. He bends down to the floor, kneeling into the mud, digging into it, hand and stump. Sweat itches as it trickles hotly down his grimy forehead. He has to pick his nose, as always happens when he has both... hands... engaged. He wipes at his nose with his forearm, and the grainy grime of the mud smears across his face without really soothing the itch. His clothes cling to his back with sweat. The heat. The sweat. The grime. He begins to dig more urgently... not digging, exactly, but scooping, because the mud is not solid so much as a kind of gooey sandy substance. He is thankful, somewhere in the back of his brain, that he is not sinking into it. But, by and large, he is not thinking. He is fully engaged in digging. Scooping. Shoving the muck with his stump into his hand and then flinging it away. Just away.

Monday, February 22, 2010


So follow the finger. Follow the finger. He follows the finger. As he does, he mumbles, "Follow the finger; follow the finger," to himself. A ludicrous mantra. He is following the directions of a part of himself that has been severed and, at least within his quasi-hallucinatory awareness, been transformed into, of all things, a fish. Oh, the symbolism... This whole place is a great big smelly pit of symbolism. Stinking of fish (or of his hand...) A funny thought comes to him that, perhaps, this handfish has become a red-herring. Ha ha. Misguiding him. Throwing him off some path he is supposed to be pursuing. Throwing him from whatever hunt he is on that makes it proper that others in this realm should call him hunter. ...Or attracting whatever bugaboo it is that he is supposed to be either hunting or hiding from in sanctuary. And he knows, or feels it, as he feels everything he knows of late, that he is no longer in sanctuary. Or maybe that he has not yet reached sanctuary... for the priests who turned into the monster, a monster which cut off his hand in granting his desire to serve on a commitee -- they(it) were(was) hardly (a) character(s) acting as he imagines (a) character(s) acting who (is) are granting sanctuary to a weary and bewildered traveller. His mind is now thinking doubly. He finds it second nature to speak to himself of singular and plural things simultaneously. The finger continues to point, his hunger continues to grow, he continues to wonder about sanctuary. The finger takes him back into a forest, and eventually to a cave -- more of a hole carved out of a hilly slope rising out of the green, muddy tangles of the forest floor.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


There are certain memories that do not live within the fish that is his hand. He will have to go elsewhere to find those memories. The house in Maryland, for example, had a front yard, but he cannot see it now. He does not yet see his mother, either, but he knows that she was there. But not by looking at the fish. He knows his mother was there, but he knows because of a non-memory. A memory outside of a memory. A memory he knows he is not having, and he knows of it by its absence in the place of his own memory outside of the fish where he has seen her. Damn it all. Perhaps the girl will show him this memory if he can find her. But she is not in the fish, either. And this he knows as surely as he knows that he is hungry, once again. He will eat after he meets with The Committee. The handfish is starting to move, and as it does, as it points the way to the meeting place, it no longer yields him memories. It will, again, however. And this is something else that he knows.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Another time, his father had decided that the two of them would pick an entire bushel of crabs. All by themselves. They had never picked a crab, before. A bushel, he now knows, is a hell of a lot of crabs. But they sat there, in the living room, newspapers strewn all about the floor, and spent the day picking bluecrabs. They didn't know that there was a particular way that one picked bluecrabs economically so as to expend the least effort for the most meat. This was something they had to learn. And they learned it, more or less, over the span of hours. Not much meat comes from a crab, at least not if you have any idea of what you are doing. And if you do know what you are doing, it only seems as though you have picked a large amount if you compare it with the amount someone manages to get through having no idea what they are doing. The long and the short of it was that father and son persevered through an entire bushel of crabs. Suffice it to say that they never picked that many crabs, again. Ever.

Friday, February 19, 2010


He and his father were of similar humor. When they had first moved down there, the two of them had heard, somewhere, the state song of Maryland. The melody stayed in their minds (it was the same as "Oh Christmas Tree"), but the words, except for the title, were soon lost. No matter. They could sing the song using only those words, and it would come out just fine. Often, when father and son were out in the estuary to the north of their property chicken-necking bluecrabs on a piece of packing string, they would break into the song, more or less simultaneously, laughing while doing so, and doubtless losing crabs that they otherwise would have been able to pull up:
Oh Maryland, my Maryland,
Maryland, my Maryland!
Oh Maryland, my Maryland
Maryland, my Maryland --
Oh Maryland, my Maryland,
Maryland, my Maryland --
Oh Maryland, my Maryland,
Maryland, my Maryland!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Neither he nor his father were fishermen. Although they lived on the water, they did not take advantage of it as much as they could have. The boat they built was small. They only dared take it out on the Bay when the water was glassy. By and large, the Bay's waters were choppy and much too dangerous for their boat. So, apart from the handful of times they had sailed on the waters in back of their house, they had sailed on a nearby river. They had another boat, as well. An even smaller one of the kind they call a John Boat. It was made of some form of corrogated metal and had a flat bottom. This boat was no better for the Bay than the other, but it was much better for the estuary slightly to the north of their property. He and his father would take the John Boat to the estuary and try to catch crabs using chicken necks attached to string. They didn't tell people much about this because "chicken necker" was a derogatory term to the watermen in the area. And, when they lived down there, the vast majority of people you spoke with were either watermen or related to watermen, so word got around. If you told one person you used chicken necks to catch bluecrabs, it would not be long before everyone knew. And things like this are important to a young boy in a small town. Especially if he is not related to anyone except his immediate family.
And yet, he truly enjoyed catching bluecrabs with his father by dangling chicken legs. The way you did it was you felt a pull on the string and you pulled back as though you were not pulling back, because if it felt in the least way as though you were pulling back, the crab would know it and you'd lose him. But when you got him, you knew you got him. You got on a roll.
And when you got on a roll, you knew that, too, and you could never fail.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Down through the hand that is a fish he sees again the house on the shores of Maryland. He sees the boathouse and the boat that he and his father had built one Summer because his father had gotten it into his head that it would be a good thing for a father and a son to build a boat, together. And it was a good thing. He and his father bonded. That's the word they used. A bond. A connection. Stronger than a connection. The desire, fulfilled by shared activity, of uniting, of becoming one. Atonement. At-one-ment. He cannot see his mother, but he knows she must be in the house. There is a species of anxiety about the house, however. Perhaps it is in the physical environment of the property. The Chesapeake is unremitting in its erosive attack on the shoreline. When he first moved there, he used to go down to the shore to hunt fiddler crabs. There were always scores of them. By the time he moved, there were none. The erosion felled a half-dozen trees. Nothing did any good. He spent hour upon hour with his father, the two of them laboring beneath the Summer sun to place large rocks along the shoreline in order to stay the erosion. Eventually, his father ended up buying enormous chunks of broken pavement from the county, but even this did not work. His father envisioned the house itself falling into the Bay.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Memories are not linear, he realizes. They are concentric. One burrows into a memory. There are times when memories house themselves in the senses -- in a sound heard, in a vision seen, in an odor perceived. Memories do not reside in time. They are fully recalled in an instant. And they are private within the chambers of the mind. It is our choice whether we share them with others, but when we do, they become but poor reproductions. It is a mistake, however, to say that our kept memories -- the ones we do not share -- are themselves reproductions. They are not. Instead, they are the only things we can say, for sure, that we alone create. And he has created a kingdom of memories within the fish that has been made of his hand.

Monday, February 15, 2010


He stands looking at the hand that is a fish. He knows he is late for some meeting of some committee, and he knows that it has been his initiation into the committee that has, in an absurd way, enabled him to look at his own hand as no longer his own but as something outside of himself. As a fish. And he doesn't care that he is not hurrying to this meeting whose nature and content he doesn't know. He feels the urgency, but he doesn't pay it mind. Instead, he looks at the hand that was a hand and still is a hand but is now a fish. The fish makes everything real. Fish blood. Fish slime. Fish stench. Strong, gasping, fish. A muscle straining against its own suffocation out of water.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


He remembers going fishing with his father.
He hasn't remembered his father in a very long time.
When he went fishing with his father, he caught a trout.
They took it home and ate it.
His father cooked it on a skillet over an open flame.
The fish meat was orange.
It tasted wonderful.
He looks at the hand he is holding.
He thinks: I have caught another fish.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The voice on the other end of the line pauses. Then it says, with hostility, You're new to this Committee... aren't you. It is more of a statement than a question. And, as a statement, it is an accusation.
Do you not tell committee newcomers where your committee meets? he asks. His body is thrilling to a rising contempt of his own that, while somewhat surprizing him -- for he is not a contemptuous man, by general temperament -- nonetheless feels appropriate and wonderful.
We do not, says the voice. There is an undeniable authority in its tone. It is the responsibility of the committee member, newcomer or not, to find the meeting place and to be there on time.
And am I, then, to assume, he says in response, that it is also up to me as a newcomer to know that a meeting has been scheduled in the first place?
Not only that, says the voice, but the time.
And how, he says, am I supposed to know these things?
You are hunter, are you not?
That's what they call me. Jeesh, he thinks... this is sounding like a bad cowboy movie...
Well then, says the voice, HUNT for the meeting. The time I'm spending on the phone with you is taking valuable time away from our meeting. And we have a great deal to discuss on today's agenda. I will tell you this, however. If you miss this meeting, it will look very... very... bad.
With this, the line goes dead.
He stares at the phone, dumbly, for a moment or two and then puts it back in his pocket.
He looks around.
Down on the ground, he sees something he has not before seen. He walks up to it.
It is a bloody hand. His, perhaps... The hand is positioned in a fist, with the index finger extended.
Warding off a gag reflex, he reaches down and picks up the hand. He walks in the direction in which the index finger is pointing. When he has gone a hundred paces or so, the finger bends to point in another direction. He turns in that direction, and the finger straightens.
He still feels the visceral disgust, but he can't deny that something about this, down deep, is pretty neat.

Friday, February 12, 2010


He has not previously been told of a meeting, of course, despite the contempt of the voice on the phone. (And, anyway, who keeps putting things in his pockets? He has no idea, and feels a little violated. But he can stomach this level of violation, can't he? After all, he thinks, he has had his hand cut off. Everything else is peanuts.) He decides to act as he imagines committee members who are called to be reminded of meetings act. With corresponding, yet greater contempt. And it would, in part, be an act, for although most people who participate in meetings complain bitterly and often about how much they hate them, most of those people -- himself included -- at some deep and hidden part of their psyche actually rather enjoy them because it gives them a sense of being needed. A sense, perhaps beyond this, of being able at some point to throw their weight around. And he has to admit this to himself -- of late he has had absolutely no opportunities whatsoever to throw his weight around. And, so far as he is concerned, it has gotten damn' well and high time he was given such an opportunity. For he will take concerted advantage of this opportunity, and will damn' well throw around whatever weight he has, and, should he find himself with no weight to throw around will damn' well do whatever it takes to find himself some weight that he will be able to throw around and, having found that weight, will begin throwing it!
I was never told of a meeting for today, he says with an appropriate sneer.
There was a silence at the other end.
Oh, he thinks, this was going to be good.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


once we have have swum we I can go back to doing what I've been called here to do. His mind is coming back to him. His thinking is becoming more organized. Less abstract, less stream-of-consciousness oriented. More intelligible and less impressionistic. The sea. Where has this come from? For he is, indeed, standing in front of a sea. What has become of his sanctuary? Where is the church? Where are the priests? A tired, yet recurring question: Where is he? His hand is itching. There is no longer pain. Or, if there is, it is the ... the non-hallucinatory kind. Why has his hand been cut off? Ah yes: he has joined The Committee. Okay, well, ummm... Why has his hand been cut off? He has returned to asking questions of himself, of his situation. He has returned to thinking of himself in the first person singular rather than in the third person plural. He is not, after all, an aristocrat to declare himself through the Royal We. Then why has he been doing so? Hunter. The Committee. Where is The Committee? Why has he joined The Committee? He remembers: He has joined The Committee such that he may, through some level of maneuvering, become a member of The Order. And he wishes to join The Order why, exactly? Well, to be able to ask questions, apparently, without being screamed at by huge horrible monsters. But he has joined The Committee, and has still been screamed at by huge horrible monsters and, what's worse, is that he has lost a hand in the process.
This sucks. Where the hell is he? What has become of his sanctuary? And let's not forget about the hunger. He has eaten he knows not how long ago, with the priests, but now the hunger is returning. Has his sanctuary ended?
A buzzing comes from a pocket in his pants. It is a phone. Somehow. He takes it out of his pocket and answers it. An officious, irritated voice accosts him. Where are you? We have a meeting, this morning, and you are late.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


By the time he feels the pain, he has begun to accept it and to understand it. Whatever it is that has been done to his mind has helped him to accept and to understand. He is unable to describe or to explain what has happened to him, but describing and explaining are non-essential pursuits that are, at best, parallel to acceptance and understanding. His stump appears to have healed a little. Skin has grown over the open wound where his hand had been severed from his arm. But the healing has not been complete: there is discoloration and a bit of bloating and some other nasty stuff going on that will make him concerned about infection. But he will only be concerned once his mind has come back to normal. Now, all merges as a blissful one-ness; he is fascinated with everything but concerned with nothing. He is thinking about the sea and the sea and the sea is merged with everything everywhere hiding and revealing and soon I we will swim and then

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


and that's where everything was and is down by the sea where life began and begins and gets back to and where he is finding himself and it yawns wide before him and he can't see across it and the waves are smooth hills being born rising and falling not dying but being assumed back into the sea and all that is beneath it and it covers up all, does the sea, it will cover up you, it will cover up me and peacefully peacefully you will see all that ever was and all that will ever be

Monday, February 8, 2010


spoke volumes for the clergy and those three monstrous fellows and their monstrous fellow the one the all the none for The Magnificence and the girl and all that follows gotta give 'em a hand and go back to Maryland Maryland? My Maryland? and make the crabcakes they make there which they make other places but they don't make Maryland crab cakes and I gotta hand it to them and I followed her down through the library and into the sea down through the library and into the sea down into the library and what's a library but a forest a wood a tree cemetery and I went into the library the woods and down into the sea and that's where the house was down into the sea

Sunday, February 7, 2010


and when you recognize that The Magnificence is the magnificence because it has the power when it speaks through someones head and tells them to do what they then go and do and it is beautiful and there needs be no other truth than that and we find The Magnificence when we come out of the darkness because The Magnificence is dancing while standing still at the same time being many parts and one body but not like that because The Magnificence is really not like anything at all even in our head even in our body even in our spirit but it is at the same time itself and itself alone and needs nothing else and I had to go find it in the library it sent me there to the library so I so we so that it could be found in the book that we that I read and melted away into so that it all made sense when I had seen the girl and followed her and then it

Saturday, February 6, 2010


He watches himself:
get out of bed
walk to the window
look out the window
see a vast flat landscape
lit by a languid yet persistent sun
find a door next to the window
walk out the door
past the priests
past the behemoth
past the church
past the library
past the girl
past the town
past The Magnificence
and into the darkness
and walk past the darkness
and come out on its other side
and back into the world of memories
that he had not yet remembered
and that did not, still, avail themselves to him
and he continued to watch himself
and his progress
with a patience
that he felt
was beautiful

Friday, February 5, 2010


It is possible to live a life in which one's conscious awareness of the world is entirely physical. It is possible to be aware of the world through one's open nerves, one's working muscles, one's raw skin, one's naked hunger, one's urging thirst, one's soothing comfort, one's rushing pain, one's creeping fatigue, one's pumping invigoration, one's mindless desire. Happiness and fulfillment don't exist as part of this awareness because they are neither functional nor appropriate. Happiness and fulfillment are inefficient: satisfaction does the bodily work of both words. He knows this, now, not because he is thinking it but because his body tells him so. His own body is a masterful poet of non-symbolic language. Obey the body. He looks up at the ceiling and smiles in a rapture that can only come with the absence of thought. Thought is near, however, but it is mercifully slow. He can sense its presence and is delighted at how handily he can avoid it. He is completely satisfied with everything.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


It is a strange thing to lead a life of hallucination. It is perhaps a thing stranger still to lead a life in which hallucination and its counterpart share an equal role. He is somewhere, in a bed, looking at a wall. He looks at the wall with the meditative yet not quite connected look a sleeper just waking gives the objects in the small world around him. This is nice, he thinks. The world is a simple place. All a person has to do is lie here and, whether awake or asleep or somewhere in beween, be. He looks at the raw stump of his handless forearm. There's no need to get upset about such things, he thinks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


The pain does not begin right away. He looks at the behemoth and feels an adrenaline rush that doesn't quite allow his mind to get a handle on what has just happened.
He sees the creature transform back into the three priests. They look at him as people look at small children who have scraped a knee.
Oh dear, says Laurence. I see we have a new committee member. Here -- let me do that up for you... The priest undoes the sash of his cassock (which, strangely, has now reappeared on his person, completely intact -- and there is no evidence on any of the priests that they had been transformed into a monster made of solid, craggy rock material) and wraps it around the stump which by now is coursing with bright red arterial blood.
He has gone into shock.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Let's see... let's see... let's see... says the behemoth and then repeats the phrase a dozen or so more times such that he wonders whether the creature is actually a machine that has malfunctioned.
Let's see, let's see, let's see, let's see...
Gradually, the words slur together into a reptilian sibilance:
A rocky index finger flips the pages of the book (miniscule in the creature's hands).
Finally: Oh! oh oh oh oh oh! Hear it is! Hear it is! Now, says the behemoth, eyeing him over the bifocals, you say you... wish to... join the committee, do you?
Yes, says the man, now barely able to control the urge to call this creature an uncivil name. What must I do?
Oh, you don't really need to do anything. Let me see your left hand.
He holds his hand up to the creature.
In a motion so fast he hardly registers it, the creature produces a sword and cuts the hand off a few inches above his wrist.
WELCOME, NEW COMMITTEE MEMBER!!! screams the creature.

Monday, February 1, 2010


The behemoth stands over him. Lava drools from its mouth in long, unbroken strands.
And? he says.
AND... AND... AND NOTHING!!!!! screams the behemoth.
They look at one another, he and the behemoth.
Why, then, I would like to join the committee, he says, simply.
The behemoth gives him a look of... of what... of... bewilderment? It cocks one eyebrow-like ridge and then, straightening from its menacing hunch, cocks the other eyebrow-like ridge. It then cocks its entire head and says, much more softly:
You want to join the committee?
Yes, I do.
Well, umm, that is, says the behemoth... Are you sure?
Well, repeats the behemoth, I'm not sure exactly how to respond to this... Nobody has ever wanted to join the committee...!
The creature whips out a pair of bifocals which it places upon its gargantuan head. It then reaches into an unspeakable fold of skin (or whatever) and produces a book. It flips through the book while muttering this and that. At one point, it looks down at him and says,
Wants to join the committee... Most irregular... Most irregular, indeed!