Time: 10:15 a.m.
Music: “Last” | M. Ostermeier
I’m starting to feel like a fraud.
I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had with people recently about the ‘progress’ on my book. Sure, the semester starts next week, I’m teaching more classes than I ever have (meaning: two), and my freelance buffet plate is starting to carry more than side salads. But, still, I go around saying “the book I’m working on…” and my tongue all but falls off laughing every time it wraps around that in-process verb “working.”
I’ve done a spruce-up here and there, but the closest thing to a revision recently has been a lyric essay that is made up of the ‘introductory paragraphs’ to each chapter of the book. In the book, they act as thematic nuggets that tie my story together, since early on, it was evident that my book could never be told as strict chronology. So, these little intros thread ideas through, jumping around as chaotically-yet-naturally as a hyperlink tour of Wikipedia.
My friend RF gave me the idea to take all those nuggets and stick ’em together to see what would happen. The result has been more successful than I ever thought.
So: an excerpt from “Five Words Eternally Ending”
is the dots of pin-pricking sound that surround the ears when there is too much distance between the hearer and the source, the viewer and the screen, the father and the son, God the Father and Christ the Son, the heavens and the earth, the light and the dark. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and later, “God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.”
From the beginning, it was always about separation, of the fact that you have to sleep in order to wake up and hear the crackling messages that consume until you are too exhausted to separate the blips of half-words from the electric babble. Static, therefore, is the sound a memory makes: heaven and earth crossing their wires until your eyes close and forget.
Your father and you are separated by heaven and earth, and that has become the basis for creation.
is described as descending—like a curtain, a mouth closing, a quilt pulled up over eyes that won’t close. But you are told, heaven is above, hell is below, and there you are in the middle of it all, swearing that as day dies out, the ground seems hot under your heels, and if you could just be good enough to keep it from ascending, from coming up in conversation, in dreams. As your pillowed eyes look for sleep, the darkness thickens, arises, because it only comes out at night. Descending, ascending—it doesn’t matter where it comes from, only that the last letters always spell out ending.
beams are singed with the tar and fillers blown from a mouth that is drying, a ridge of spit turning slowly into glue that fuses the lips in the pursed position, looking like the o in doubt. The smoke rings seem to always be exhaling, leaving, the room suffused with the pungent, burnt mist of nicotine. The words of your mother repeat, It’s cancerous, It’s cancerous, while that word of your father, cancer, sticks like spit to your sense of belief. It’s as if that death-swell hanging in the air knows that you can’t hold your breath forever.
Inhale the sun-stung smoke. When you breathe out, what will be left?
lies on either side of your forehead, and when you rub slow circles into each depression with a thumb and ring finger, it tells people that you have a headache. Paradoxically, The more pressure you apply to the divots, the less your head hurts—or the less you think about the pain as centralized in your head. What if it was all in your head? Or, what if none of it was, and the pain you feel is simply the result of realizing you’re empty?
Don’t worry; this may not be a bad thing. There is a difference between emptying and emptiness, and as long as you keep moving, keep scooping and dumping the water out of the sinking birch canoe of your skull, you might actually get somewhere.