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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
new economics of late capitalism
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
working class sweat
the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
The Book of (Demotic) Revelations and (Common-sense) Epiphanies

Then
by Curtis Rama

1.

Then: I wore my crown wove of greenthreads and gold, woody wound vines unwound in chinese orchids and paper cranes and red ivy and blue and porcelain blue blossoms and lilies and rhododendrons and angels bells and bonsai baobabs 'n birdfeathers 'n birdswords and bat tongues and snaffled turtles' shells alabaster rime turquoise m.o.p'rl and ibzys and candle smelts and corinthians double-fisted and toothy with love in laces and the moonlight in the coming orchards strode then through the branches in beams as we drove and the wind in my hair rifled and roused and was lifted by fingers on wings. The time then was 4:30 am. I had my head hanging out the window. The One at times in the morning: you won't see a cop or a raccoon; you can pee in full phantasmagoria under the stars in the night with the wind high and salty and the dome of the sky in full splay sprayed and contusioned upon the black upon the twisted wicked love of the cypress in decline.
     We pulled the Volvo to a crank two miles out from Pfeiffer beach and began heading through the green brush, the moonlight bright as a spotlight, the trees and soil and riverheads and squirrelteeth pellucid and unhinged, and the moon was sailing across the branches and the branches cut the moon in shapes like those seen in the night by St. Julius Aquinas in decline. Rabbit tripped upon a stone and came to her knees and blood dripped from her knee like Coca-Cola and black in the moonlight like a spotlight. Bubbles emerged, a straw enters the scene and the bubbles suck blackly through the candycane bendy-bend thing, and red fish rise in wallpapers formation and the radio clicks and Stella stings and Garbo speaks his voice as if screwed from TV speakers like tin can transmitters and yarn yawned from Poughkeepsie to Tipperary. Rabbit and I know that in the high moonlight the waves will crash like skyscrapers and the rocks will blacken as if hit with ink. The rocks will become obsidian claws of the grand sparrow dead in the night, the claws curling up through the sand to cut the moon into a pussy. The waves will move like horses made of skyscrapers made of tetris in the night.
     Rabbit knows: she whips out her canteen and twirls amidst the ivy, the porcelain moving river purling Reykjavik spirituals. I always hated the name Pfeiffer beach: what fuckhead donated enough to get their name on it. Fuck it. God bless 'em. I stumble on. Were it not for Julia Pfeiffer Burns none of this might be here, all of this might be no better off than a railroad track, no better than a spit or potted flower or my hometown suburbia for example. From whom I ran, her fingers sapped in snail death and fabric softener following me, always on my tail like MTV upon the murderer's back, like a cone of atmosphere carved from dropsical skies, shoved all up in the human nose.
     Rabbit throws me into the grass and kisses me all over which I'm okay with because frankly lemme say I went to an all boys catholic school for a while too. We'll make it to the beach-head in time. I turn my head to the stream below and the wind from the beach tears upon the water, phalanges and subsquads and footpatrols and panzer divs rolling in on dimples and footprints in minutia of invisible whimsical animals which I have seen sometimes and do not speak of often.
     
The girls at my windows are watching the buildings burn as if upon the reflections of their own eyes reflected upon the TV screen out the window: bodies falling like manicured spidered parachutings, too small to be tigers, too big to be confetti, sometimes lovers, alltimes Americans, alltimes cigarettes all at the lips, my lips, her eyes, sirens arise, I am lying on the floor and feeling the grindings of cogs and ratchetry awakening as America is burning I am floating. Into my spine where the ghosts ride like light years. The guy on the thing says the Pentagon and not the White House though has been hit. A plane down in Philly. Kyle at the door twirls underwear and bedsheets into a shopping bag twirling like the sound of the name Philly. My eyes twirl. Live from the streets: bodies dying, New York city rising in a great windy spiritual sighing towards the clouds in green and blue and ivy and paisley. I can see it. I can't speak. I can speak. Call down: the building has been evacuated, like, 45 minutes ago. Checking the watches.
     Live from the streets! Live from New York! A man dusted in pure white like pure snow bleeds from the head blood like long fingers strung from head to toe in paper ribbons and violin ribbons the pure blood is a pure look into the life him and he can't sop it up, nevermind the kerchiefs and the sneakers on the streets shuffle and glide and no one speaks from Canal to 45th we all walk and the white pickup with the radio playing and the radio players don't know what yet to say for the facts are not yet in so let's just cry. A hoary suit with fat rolls, a twisted chink ma guzzling noodles, the dappled nigger and a dapper Jew and a musky fat and stupid grunt yokel emerge from the toilet of the country undead and gather around the white pickup and hear to the radioman calloo and are 2 in. from touching fingers rendingly, Americanly-unmanly and the line for Starbucks curls around Astor place like a drunk and unanswerable question mark for miles and miles and miles and curls and the people laugh and wait for coffee it's the weirdest sight I ever seen I swear to god cross my heart hope to die stick a million needles in my eyes 9/11/2001.
     
Radio zebra: planet teleo: crypton teleo: cat whiskers and toadies' breaths.
     "I come to the US in 1982 on a boat from Hokkaido. The boat is taking furniture cloth and a synthetic furniture stuffing which the sailors showed me like lionskins and I blew them for nickels or free because there was nothing to do. I saw it in an American movie: I have plenty of money for America, but I blow the sailors because I love Americans even though the sailors are Korean mainly. I heard the story from a friend who lives in Hollywood of that when James Dean blew a director-friend under a table dressed like a yellow bear in a real Halloween costume.
     When one sailor dies there is nothing to do but put him in the freezer. There are two American men who are sailors- Buzzy and Cherry- and they look at the body at night with flashlights: they have taken me with them. It takes one month and a half to reach San Diego and the sailor's eyes look like they are sewn shut because that's what happens when people freeze."
     Her name is Juri Matzuda from Shoshin prefecture, 21-B Fukuoka Square. Her building was a three story tenement walk up- not really- it was real 1,000,000 story bona-fide Japanese borealis: 1,000,000 balconies and 2,000,000 balustrades and 230,000,000 vines and greenleaves and tendrils and ivies coiled here and there through the slats and railings and drainpipes from pots and pottery and plastic cartons and egg cartons and- even more!- 45000,00000,000000000 kazillion kazowie cats sat and sate and red collared and smirk-whiskered right paw, left paw raised to Jericho-red sun which rises, so the Romans say, first upon our blasted, pocky world, ha!
     Kyoto, 1982!
     Nagoyana, 1976!
     Fukuwaya, 1874!
     Shoshin-Oyasuu Prefecture, June 14th: 1997, barf!
     Katakana! Hiragana! Shijo! Fried eels head roll! Fried gizzard glibber glab! Nippon! Naipur! Nirvana! Nasal!
     Japan, roll call 19ninety-yow: scream me into the warped and whistled, into the burnt and thistled bunk bed daydream reliquary of my hopes and yolk. The pharmacy, the big business skyscraper, the million storied pornography makeup domesticated lizards mirrored coffee tables fur felt and robot wizard coffee makers and sparkling dead eyes malls and streetlights and girls' cunts how does a Japanese woman's pussy taste like maybe a sunset skyline on the face of a pond interrupted and the buildings ripple a rad skeletal jig like the national flag? Maybe a raspberry bunt cake? Maybe artificial fruit flavoring though I salivate now as deep as the base of my throat dives. I also hunger for the black woman's pussy, because I have never been with a black girl either.
     All of Japan from the butcher to the baker to the designer-drug maker, top to bottom, left to right, ass to dingle hung in neon burning in waves and fingers boneless zoneless rising as do bowed ribbons of the famous violin or fire.
     Save me Kyoto, Tokyo, Juri Matzu, civilian, train-rider, high-flier- I feel nothing, make me feel something- I am an American- I am alone because I am an American because I have no history I am alone with the present which is broadcast twenty-four hours a day from CBS headquarters in hell. I am an American: the spit hangs from my lips in pearls. I am an American: the coy taxi driver is fucking me in the mouth. I am an American: buy me a diamond ring, please.
     
Kyle and Danny- my roomates- and me head uptown more to near the UN where Danny's dad works as a translator, and has a great apartment in an area near the UN which I somehow remember having something to do with the word Tudor. Danny insists, but Kyle and I are scared they'll bomb the UN too and so on the way we argue some of the logic behind that no they won't do it unless they want to get the whole world involved I say and Kyle is silent and his silences so deep and Danny's eyes swivel and wind and none of us then know what this really is and are we really boys on the run or are we Americans and are we back where we began at the movies?
     We walk, and other people walk everywhere and people say little and ambulances and cop cars and firetrucks and state and federal and military vans and sedans tear down the upon unlined avenues like zippers. For days the streets will remain open and windy and the only vehicles on them will scream as they ride, lights flashing, engines fumbling for words fit to roar into these open streets: Chris my brudda from Philly will take a camera to these streets and we will photograph these New York streets which are empty as they have and will never be again. Tanks and warplanes and red ambulances like Juliets shrieking their hair streaming and their horses bleeding come down the streets and we sit on the streets, on the benches, and we go to the theater in Union Square which plays movies 24 hours a day now and is open free to the public and we watch all the films there that will trick us again as we are only tourists here, in these theaters, these streets, we are merely here for the passing.
     The next night Kyle and Danny and I pick up pizzas we haven't eaten in 36 hours or maybe we have and it feels like we haven't eaten in 24 hours. We stop into the video store and outside a black man is screaming and gripping his face he is happy or sad and crying or laughing because all of his dreams have come true and what is left for a black man to do in New York city 9/12 lost at last, the city lost and the country aflame and you are on fire and no one still sees you. You cannot be distinguished from the flame. Now though white eyes may dart at you it is only as animals do, no longer bureaucrats, democrats, suit & ties or naysayers, now wildhearted unkindreded fingernails scratching at the intestines and, as always, seeing but not looking, the symbol for the symbolized, the flag for the black, you no longer lost in the distance or the darkness, no longer obscured by the absence, you are a nigger, and you are now another part of the grand national flame which harrumphs and ha-rawrs and falutes, a'high-trumpetin' and all that is different is that more dead have joined you and more are on the way. Though perhaps for the nigger nothing has changed. There is confetti in my pockets which I sprinkle some in my hair and perform a jangled mantra which I mess up and start again. Kyle is from Atlanta. I am from California. Danny is from here and toodles and colludes with VHS such as: The Pink Panther is Back, and Beginning Yoga. He is crying. Kyle pushes at his glasses and cannot stop blinking and the confetti is already at my feet and me I'm on my knees and there are two kinds of black in the world: the kind that takes you, and the kind that is you.
     Black rocks Big Sur right before we leave the TV gets turned on and everyone is mesmerized and we are all white and weeping and watching towers tumbling, wives looking back. The nigger live from the streets swings the door open and there is another black man in spectacles and a sweater grousing upon a copy of Taxi Driver in the back when he is called a house nigger and the nigger at the door stomps his feet and says things I cannot hear with my ears because being black is being in another world entirely it is called the world of America and I have not begun to live in this world even as airplanes fall from the sky and towers fall from the sky and people fall like pack snow from the roof sliding and burning paper falling and paper cranes falling and sailing and machines are screaming and carrying men who hope to help and their machines scream and they do all the screaming this country needs but not for the American in the door of the videostore who is swiveled at the fingers and readjusting his eyes and speaking of a country I do not belong to, a just-coming which I have not seen come even though I saw the World Trade Center fall from my bedroom window with my very eyes, my very fucking eyes don't you see and the sirens and callers and gurneys and bulldozers may not wipe the scent away which comes from the sky for weeks following when we will smoke cigarettes upon the pavement and smell the bodies and the iron burning though we do not know the name of the smell, we will learn that later, we will call it the smell of Then.
     The smell is at the edge of my mind, like the words of the nigger in the door, like the words of the other niggers in Washington square as I join hands in some bullshit gathering vigil neither me nor Kyle like too much, holding hands and singin' Beatles songs being fine and all, but, what about the great pumping crematorium downtown? And what about the great sore? It just doesn't add up now, does it? as we stand in the circle and eight feet behind me and to my right a congregation of niggers- field niggers, so they call themselves as they call out the house niggers who have joined hands with white people holding hands with me- I am a criminal holding hands with criminals and they are criminals screaming at criminals and we are criminals I can still remember their bandanas, their tall and reflective jersey numbers10, 37, 52 in shiny black puffy jackets and huge jeans and all their clothes though name-brand and impressive and gortex latex spandex ex-lax yes look slightly dirty, slightly, minutely gray or brown with the color of oil or bubble gum or newsprint or streets- and at the edge of my mind I can almost remember their words just as the scent of bodies burning edges about the other end of the mind, the two of them hovering, barely perceptible as they are barely luminous, the niggers knew it was coming- I think I remember- they want us to cry now, these field niggers, they know this is beautiful, they think we are criminals, we are criminals of the hearth and the heath, they think or know this has always been this way- twin towers or no towers- we have always been burning and this smell is our smell, has always stunk at our fingertips and the soles of our shoes, has clung to the carpet and stained the drapes grey, it is the churn and the propensity, risen from the sewers like Japhet Japhelathia who gloams where the nigger burns in the dark and slime. This is the smell of the human American heart.
     I stood in the circle of people and outside the circle the niggers wailed and throttled like Johns upon the riverbanks, ur-men, real men with real numbers tattooed upon their sails and black clean tight skulls and huge eyes and black mouths and people are beginning to swap quips and the quips turn to nibbles and the nibbles to chomps and large incisors and then huge chewing machines and left and right of me people are getting chewed up and spat back up play dough style or silly putty style already gray and dull with newsprint too oft pressed, to oft impressing I am dying I am throttling I am choking I am in Washington square 9/13/01 to 10/20/03 where I now am unable to hold hands, today, any hands at all, any place at all, my hands flaming and streaming flames like flags and smoke like towers I cannot hold your hands, you will burn with me.
     
2.

Big tats. Saltwater crocs. Brains no bigger then a rock, black eyeball to red eyeball, watch out for her bite.
     Eyeballs emerge from beneath the infamous blue-veined slacwŁter lily. 52 people have been attacked by crocodiles, 17 have perished in Upper Australia. This is not including wildebeests. Hara Tzarot: Sephael, Zarael, Ichiphon, Djvophael and toady brother Dinel, godtree Zaphael, Cronel, Dinel-Shemal and Lukester Killblazer are the seven or so angels who we seek today. Their exploits are spoken of in the Qabbala- Sephael is an initiate of the animal practice of magnetism; Ichiphon may chart the tickings of the moons and the stars with the tippity-pip of the pinky; Djvophael is a zeitgieser of electricity; Zaphael is angelic king of salamanders' holy lives.
     Beneath the moonlight, her black leather high heel boots & laces glowed like hot vellum in the night. I wonder how often the bird may call before I rise from the grave. Where are we? The leatherback turtle's nest:
     Keshkemal.
     In lake Champlaigne of New England, America, perhaps there is a close relative of nessie's of Lock Ness'. But I don't know, presently being in the Fauna Communications Research center, or F.C,R.C. for short, AKA Acapulco's of Westwood, Los Angeles, California, asshole. This because Rabbit and me live here because I go the local university which is strictly for drumsticks and turkey-legs only. There is nothing to do here in LA and we are often unhappy and often cry and often sleep in the bathtub with razor blades our only defense, and othertimes are lost, and other times upon its street which is the loneliest place in America to be caught on a street on foot. Soon we will ride silver planes to New York and then maybe Japan, Paris, or Nepal.
     Soon we will leave here.
     Half-way through the meal I have to use the men's restroom and so I cross the main dining room which is carpeted in a taut fibrous weave colored red or blue and there seem to be masks and cornucopia's hung upon the walls. The masks are of indeterminate cultural origins, perhaps a video game of late-British nightmare and between them were pegged prints of fruit and colored dandy pueblos and scribble-thatched huts, prairie women with their weavings or tamales chilling out in the shade. These prints are framed in fake gold and are very large and though each one is different, they all seem to be about the same thing: loneliness. Women alone- before telephones or airplanes or loudspeakers or proper catcalls were developed- women locked upon the trade winds locks tangled in the tall grass and they are forever alone, or with a mute-swaddled infant, and the clouds are pastel scribbles and the grass is scribbles growing up like fingers and the mountains are fine contoured scribbles like the travelways of the atom and all of it is color, all of it is bright and fruitless color. Such is the art in Los Angeles, one may find it upon the wall outside of the restroom where I am now pissing in a fancy hole- ha!- and imagining if it would be possible to imagine a more natural sight than the mother turtle slipped beneath the break's thick slide up-shore like great lips loosening, and the turtle's shell no more than a picture of an eye hammocked in a satchel of skin: surely the waters will part to reveal a whirling eye? Bump. What was that? I tuck myself away and spin into a stall, drawing in a lizard's heartbeat one pennybone pistol purchased at the haunted mansion at Lukester Killblazer's rock an roll fire tiger show and candypearl arcade in San Francisco, California, 1892. I can't hear a thing for the blood is thickening into orange peels. The blood is rushing in my ears. I feel the weight of the single-shot chamber's singular diamond-bladed bullet. I feel like sneezing, and feel pretty confident that there's no one about so I let myself, and then I wash my hands at the sink with a semi-fancy colored soap which smells like bitter almonds or suicide and slip the ol' pennybone back to from whence it came.
     I might carry a gun with me. I might be walking these boutiqued LA streets at midnight when I am finally accosted by the nemesis. Rabbit might be in bed at home- not knowing I even have left the aprtment (rising in the night and pulling on a t-shirt and hitting the streets in sunglasses in the night). My shirt will be tucked in but his hand will come up beneath the collar and when the back of my head hits the bricks I feel the cold emission wall-light fixed above me buzzing and sprinkling and yarbling like a sci-fi lie detector. All I can see are his teeth.
     My pennybone streaks across the pavement and vaishes like an animal into the night. I hear it clattering into the gutter as my collar begins to rip stitch by stitch in my nemesis' huge hands which are calloused with coral-like formations I feel scratching at the crook of the neck. This is my life.
     My skull is cracked against the wall.
     My voice is the size of a pebble.
     I know I am a scoundrel: will I speak?
     Naipur. Don P.Cosmo Herman and wife Caroline, dead, deader, deadsy.
     I am in the dark and I am alone and the hands about my neck have gone and times are getting tough. The metal garter cinches tighter about the neck. It has been left in the place of the hands, which have come and gone as if in a dream, and where am I? Westwood, CA where I am a dead piece of dick skin in the day and in the night Saladin the salamander, burning hot green in the vaccuum and my eyes are black with centuries upon centuries upon minutes upon inches of tears. I let the cinching happen, click by click, and the blood has long stopped dripping, and the pain has long stopped because it is now everywhere, and I wonder if I am dead and if death is getting used to pain. It seems like that, times. I am upon the Kamchatcka again. I am teleported to planet teleo. Here I am: Naipur. Cosmo, where breatheth you? I see the blood in the shape of my hand upon the brick wall sliding. My ass hits the pavement again and red stars like sparks begin boiling in my throat and I am sinking beneath the boiling and all I wanted was to ever be allowed to speak I am on the shorebreak. The moon is in full revolution. Towers crumble like wives resolving into angels. As if one million brown angels had eaten it away, seized by an earthly zeal, swarming at the top and swarming the bottom in great turning folds of ash and snow and diamonds and human hands clapping. After one tower falls, a bit of the skeleton remains- the structure of the NW or SE corner of the thing, some dust and wires, it points towards the sky a skeletal feather ornate and complete with ribs and vertabrae and claws and skulls and fire- hundreds of stories tall, and as if breathing for a moment it remains standing above the city sky line, a bladed fingernail and old croon's warped and wasted fingerbone jutting and pointing and teetering as if telling as if we are to look and in this moment the city's horizon is as it never was and never can be again: it tells one last story of the sky, and is dust.
     The waves turn as if ice reborn in motion. A black cat slinks along the shore, a half-Persian half-Russian blue, its coat hums the color purple beneath the gooned moonlight. Wind whips us into passions, pre-dawn Aeolus and his brood and his bag of purple tricks. The violet sands are devils' tails rising and whipping and swirling and dying: adumbrations of a life to come. I am sitting on a rock against the sea, and out of the blackness waves come in million-fingered diamond hands: they explode upon these rocks and reaching for me find me with their frigid salty touch and in my hypothermia I vibrate, atomized by the sea. Out there, the moonlight turns upon the surface. A giant squid emerges from the deep and his tentacles are exultant and his beak opens and blasts a call into the night which sounds much like a didjeridoo amplified through the left nostril of our lord. 

 

 

 

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the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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