Have you ever had a feeling you’ll never escape your epigenetics? Our table, the old throwaway, leaned toward the front door. A place where tenants could see their thoughts blowing straight off the porch. They are attached to something I couldn’t see, perhaps existing only in a sort of dialectical form, like some conversation frothing at the edge of the world. By the time it got to me I could only count the syllables and ponder their origins. I couldn’t imagine getting everything I wanted… could you? People certainly wouldn’t still be running around talking about poker in regards to causality if that were the case. Like you could just chalk up evil to bad luck or not knowing how to play your cards right. Did you hear that from along the edges? Doubt comes rearing it’s head into my fantasies like some future party late even coming from the other direction in time. Some futures are just camouflage for our fragile psyches. I think I should worry about the ones in disguise, who wouldn’t, they’ve put the most effort into tricking you. But if people are all that they can be from where they come from and one can only impart an understanding that another has the capacity to receive then give up now. There can be no blame. Give it up.
Just the thought of it bores the collective audience. Yawning, I stretched myself slowly upwards while chewing my food and picturing an imaginary layer of skin covering everything, sprawled out on the table to the lawn leaning towards a rest found only at heart. My blood.
Inspiring a lasting memory of my mother’s bones snapping. A clicking sound her jaw makes when chewing. It was unpleasant so as a child I would ask her to stop and she explained she couldn’t help it, it was hereditary. I didn’t know the word, she told me it meant that it will happen to me too. Her face seeming to be cast out from a projector in a hushed static of its own watery light. There are shadows of machines on the wall where her face is. They are coming to form from their implied objects flying behind my vision, that go on to build a city with impossible lights, the kind that would eclipse the milky way if only they weren’t from mere shadows.
Recently, my jaw started clicking when I eat. While I know that I know it’s my jaw, and that sound is of bone, I still can’t help my thoughts from honing in on dying when I hear it. My mother will pass and this tiniest nuance in a cosmic opera of her entire self will be the only sound that lives on, and through me. I feel somewhat cheated. Like I’m an unaware cover, unknowingly unoriginal. I want to wash my hands clean of the feeling but I do get hungry.
The simplest places, say the porch, start gaining a romance that wasn’t previously there. My genetic inheritance has made me Pavlov’s bitch. To the chime of my chewing, death dips a long finger into the very air around me, polishing the world’s color with a shiny gloss that scrubs everything clean. Then the finger beckons me to look again. A sharp wonder strikes hard in the gut, bewildering with a creeping caution that despite itself I know will be ignored.
My eyes are caught on a beam of sunlight reflecting off the lawn. I must be sitting at a perfect angle to the light because among them there is the most radiant blade of grass to have ever existed and I am sure with a distant knowing. A knowing that sort of bubbles up from nothing and you start to feel it in your bones.
I touch my mouth.
My feet leave the porch half expecting thunderclap to follow and am instead accosted by a disk from a nearby game of frisbee, that at first, looked as though it were on a collision course with me but fell almost silently to my feet. The lawn reduces any remaining momentum into a soft thud that somehow seems to leave me under the impression that it’s healthy grass.
Some kids from the neighborhood were watching me. Waiting to see what I would do next. I pick it up, it feels a bit heavier than it first looked and with an unconscious amount of strength I try to return to sender. As it’s seconds from hitting the wrong neighbor’s window I could just make out a line of the dialogue off at the edge of the world.
”I really do not want to have to apologize to anybody right now.” And the glass shatters under the weight of my impulse. I look back at the lawn to where the sun was hitting it and a cloud begun to pass overhead. Now uniform in shade, I find it impossible to distinguish the brightest blade from the rest.
The long finger is here. It’s watching me notice moments wither.
I try to think about what I will have to say in the coming moments with my neighbor, but when the effort is pursued, all that comes to mind is a tangle of antlers on the side of an imagined road. There, along that road, that is all that exists. As if my conscious self had evaporated, perhaps deleted.
”HEY!… Hey! You just going to stand there?”
There is a broad chin with a mustache in front of me.
I manage to pass on an automated response as I gathered my brain,
"I am so sorry!"
"What in the world are you doing?", hammered his big eyes, as they seemingly searched my face for the answer.
Some rudimentary parts had been gathered and assembled so I could muster a few more words.
"I can’t explain it right now. To be honest it was an accident. I’m sorry."
"Are you going to pay for that?"
"What about the shattered glass in my kitchen?"
"I’ll clean that up. Let me use the bathroom and I’ll be right over."
He looks at me for a lingering second, decides he trusts my word and turns to walk home.
In the bathroom mirror I see myself for what feels like the first time in a long time because I couldn’t remember the last. My pupils dilate when I notice how much I am sweating and dilate again when I notice the pupils. I rub water into my eyes and a wash of bleeding reds roll against the back of my eyelids. I start to wonder if I am even capable of going to the neighbors and being around the lingering guilt that I’m sure to encounter because of the hooks it already had in me. I feel like I need to lay down but my body is not the least bit tired. The hard white sink top sucks heat from my knuckles letting me know my fists are clenched as I lean with both hands. My whole body is in a knot all because of this stupid sound. I press on my jaw hoping to knock it in place and fix the creaky joint but give up after some time.
Exhaling slowly, I say to my self in the mirror,
"Time to go meet the neighbors."
After a generous amount of self abasing apology to the neighbors (the tension in the air and moustache’s agitation didn’t allow me a formal introduction to him and his wife) finally had let me in to sweep up the broken glass. These people had permitted me into their home to have me to clean up a mess that they, of course, felt I was responsible for. They were clearly old fashioned, the kind of people who probably still have a landline and voted. Their rigid demeanor and their silvered attributes only offered to confirm my pretensions.
“Now about the window. How do you want to do this?” I offered to the silent onlooking duo.
“Do what?” They said in unison, echoing each others words.
“About the payment for the damaged window.”
“Oh I’ll send my son over with a receipt from the hardware store tomorrow.”
I have no idea how such an orderly couple had bred the man they called son.
His hair long dark and disheveled, with a face to match.
A full nest of black tangle with one large egg of face buried in the middle.
The mane only served to draw attention to his bright eyes the way they contrasted against his darker features. Two coins catching the light from the bottom of a deep purse looking straight at me with a receipt in hand. I took it, glanced at the total and pocketed it while pulling out the money in a fluid motion.
“Play a lot of frisbee?… Don’t worry about exact change.” He offered as he took the cash for the window.
“I don’t know what happened. One moment I’m eating and the next I’m watching your parents window shatter. The in between is kinda fuzzy.”
“Do you get lapses in memory like that often?” He shot at me like he was asking a rhetorical question.
“Occasionally, never quite so dramatic.” He wasn’t interested in the answer after all judging from his blank stare. A silence grew. I had handed him the cash and answered his question and yet he remained.
I stood staring back waiting. Each elongated second justified by my certainty that he would act next. His gaze sucked my attention into the nest, scanning his face for any hint of what this man was about.
“Well, what do you think I’m about?” He spoke loud and clearly so that I made no mistake I didn’t just imagine him conversing with my thoughts.
I felt as if his face had suddenly become a well that I was cast down into with those two coins. All the while during the freefall I was trying to recall where I had seen his face before. I was overcome with a feeling of seeming familiarity. Just as I would start to be certain of remembering where the feeling stemmed from I would only confirm my doubt that it wasn’t the way I remembered after all.
I looked through the tunnel of this man’s mane and out at myself.
A stranger was looking into a mirror and his reflection showed me.
I knew the stranger’s unmitigated excitement in that instance.
A clarity of any implication in any action I thought to take became apparent like it were as simple as a breeze buffeting my nature.
“Why ask question’s if I already know the answer?”
Just as soon as the words were spoken I was myself hearing them.
The man smiled and slid a single word through his teeth,
Direct experience is the only thing that makes sense in a vacuum.
Perhaps that is why I could not doubt what happened.
The son never mentioned his name but I knew as much as he remembered about himself.
I have to assume the same was for him about me.
A new perspective was with me as I looked at anything. Like the world was coming in with a little more peripheral offered by the recollection of his memories.
He had a name he felt no ownership to, Oliver Ponds.
He had been born out of the world and I had been born into it.
Thinking with simultaneous perspectives created a new kind of tension in me.
An uncertainty between the two having felt both.
I wanted to forget. I could not hold it all.
All the lines I had spent my entire life defining started to blur.
I was a younger Oliver in a jungle I knew to be the Amazon, casting sticks covered in black tar into a great bonfire that lay under a clearing in the canopy. The trees tapered around this spot The shaman with us howled at pristine sky uncluttered from the cities as he beckoned to the fire. I rolled Oliver’s hands along the stick and realized it was actually a piece of antler.
The flames hissed and spat out a thick black smoke as it accepted the offer. Billows rose against the clear night sky as all eyes present followed it upward until they hung between them and the full moon where they twisted into a smog black hand with a single slender finger outstretched.
The shaman opened his mouth to speak and I stood on my lawn screaming as I threw a frisbee through the Pond’s kitchen window.
Each broken shard chiming Morse code as I counted their syllables as they fell to the ground,“You are at a junction, stay on the road you came to it by. Do not be afraid, be certain of the road, be certain of the junction and do not tarry down all it’s paths.”
Can you remember thoughts you never had? Like they always existed under the surface of your gaze and just hadn’t been arranged yet to your pleasure. I was forgetting them as fast as they were spoken.
I could not focus enough to even coherently retain any words to talk.
There was a space. A center of sorts that could be accessed through any location.
Here was where Oliver came to see himself as being born out of the world.
The truth of it was apparent and hung over my language for my own birth with an authority
that I could only submit to.
I was my kitchen table. Being sucked out the door to the lawn becoming the man before me and now being pulled even further.
Everywhere there was a divergence of thought, the impact of these interrelating experiences collided and scrambled meaning everywhere around this center that held through the turbulence like a
monument to rebellion itself.
What was left after the culling could only be accepted.
“Are we the same?” Flooded from my mouth as soon as I had pondered the question.
He mimicked my voice,“Why ask questions you already know the answer to? Because why is the quest of your own path. So long as you have questions, we are not uniform.”
I watched the end of his sentence turn into a black cloud over my lawn.
I watched the shadow of a cloud turn into a man, gain dimension and stand before me as Oliver.
This wasn’t first time he had this experience with somebody. I used that to understand.
Even still, armed with the conclusion he came to at the end of his experiences, understanding what was not satisfying. In fact it only opened up a bigger hole in my wonder;
I started to see my defining lines.
My self had been convinced of reasons I was attracted to due to the nature of my experience.
An overwhelming sense of something greater than compassion came over me as I realized if I did believe that people are all that they can be from where they come from then there can be no blame.
I had been asking the wrong questions.
Oliver was smiling at me with a gladness I was certain of.
I looked at him with inquisition.
He took my head into his hands, stared through me and began to speak in a lyrical meter,
outside of life,
a gleaned sum stacked into towers
that could never topple
because none ever amounted to a single stone.
This thing that, despite our best efforts to love,
often reminds us of a need to be contrary for the sake of being anything.
Still, all who attempt creation despite decay
carry a noble hope to never condemn the world
into an absolute knowing.
If described, heavier than ethereal
may come close to the tock implied in it’s tick, however neither
and right now.
Obsessed only with the capture of this resurgent thief
I am attempting to draw a circle around
knowing, very well, that it cannot be contained.
A phantom force lodged between complacency and rebellion.”
I understood. He let go of my face, turned, and walked away.
Nothing was left to say.
@4 days ago