I mean there were ten people. what more can you ask?
I was waiting for that one communique that would tell me that what I sought was waiting for me on the kitchen table or that I could get it from the man in the red hat standing beside the gate and I wouldn't have to ask in spanish. it was true that although one could buy anything one wanted within a mile of my house I was too shy to do other than send money to dubious addresses hoping to get the stuff mailorder. it worked some of the time or even most of the time but the real problem was the extended period of anxiety which otherwise would have worked itself out between the man you give the money to and the man you get your packet from. then the first swallow and within an hour you had your answer.
or so I fantasized. the fact is one probably can't get just what one wants on my street but only something infinitely worse and it was this fact that took the shine off the fantasy and with my bashfulness kept me from looking anyone in the eye from sixteenth street to eighteenth although I hoped to glean from a sneaking glance what any one of them might have for sale. they bore no signs.
one writes in the past tense hoping for that stately patina of history and the antiseptic barrier it lends against the puddles of streptococcus that gather in that one alley where there are gaping holes in the pavement and where for some reason always a knot of people mill about papersacked and shrouded all day without going anywhere or doing anything other than just exactly what they want to do. occasionally one spies a magnificent half naked body there and at other times nothing but the obscene crush of nakedness itself hung in thin drooping sheets between three-wheeled shopping carts and awnings once blue but now gray and full of holes. have you got a cigarette bares itself hostile and resigned.
in fact I rarely leave my room. and there is not much of poetry to be written from pillules rattling in the bottom of a brief amber tube please let there be twenty more. what separates us. well it is that door and perhaps a job although what I have could hardly be called a job as the balance of accounts rushes away from me in the wrong direction ever skyward.
so I can give you no sorry story except as they unfold in between unremarkable walls unremarkable as much for their clean white paint as for their absolute replicability. as one makes their way around the world one passes through one wall and then another wall and another and another and another and another and another and between them it so happens. it so happens over here that one faints on the couch and that over there one slams their hand in the door and that over this way are a number who sleep in the throes of their own dreams and sweat and legs that chafe at the sheets tucked too tightly at the foot of the bed. I speak in the abstract but mean precisely this and that is that for three days my ankles pled to be borne up in silk and cotton hammocks that would hold them exquisitely still and immune to gravity.
it was not enough to sink into the sheets. you remember don't you they said but it was a good tired and how the bed received you but my ankles were tossed about unkindly. at ten my legs ached nightly.
I wonder at the rate of recidivism. I have a friend who whispers in my ear to go for it as though living vacarious that one time on the edge of sleep when the well-being of the universe seemed to depend upon my hand suddenly springing away from the bed to whack the wall and then stay upright dazed yet sure that it had done the right thing. I was amazed at its impetuousness. it proclaimed itself drunk for one brief moment the archetypal stroke of fate and lightning and whatever else rises up from the earth to beckon heaven but the short of it is I had slammed my finger in a window days earlier and it was the same hand that rushed to meet the wall at twilight bruising and bemused. all the passion of fourteen ran itself out of my arm into the plaster.
for who is the last of us to fall asleep but one who lives always at the brink of fourteen. the bruising got worse. what could one expect but exactly that and exactly where the articulate cement meets obdurate the bruised hand.
some nights later I awoke with arm stretched out to the ceiling reaching for something forgotten in the half-dream which preceded my awakening. in some circles they say you must hit bottom before you can get better but things are working out all nonlinearly for me in that the bottom was the bottom of something else long ago and ever since then it has been up up up although occasionally sideways or in a circle in the air that your hand draws following sleep's solemn logic where significance alone bares itself as the sorry joke upon which your life depends.
as I was saying the story will not be sorry as the joke for the moment which brought me to my salvation was not a moment of pathos and awakening except to the cruel force of salvation and so I sidestepped it and found that having accomplished this once you only have to keep doing it as long as you also wish to say anything for saying anything implies coming down on one side or the other whereas to move laterally between choices does away with the whole necessity of making a choice but most don't see it that way. it is said he will spit out the lukewarm to which I reply how delightful to escape being devoured.
I carry a business card. I am not in business and nothing I do is categorizable in a rolodex but in case I feel the need to give someone evidence that I consider myself an entity I carry these cards and give them out at those moments when it seems like I should. so far as I can tell no one has ever thought it necessary to refer to one later on or that is I have yet to receive a phone call that began you gave me your card. I on the other hand have referred to a card like this more than once but generally it is only to check that the memory I have of being handed a card is truly a memory and not the recollection of something I made up. rarely do I do anything more with the information on the card than establish that it exists.
but so I have thought about carrying a business or calling card with me that I can leave with strangers at the end of the conversation or journey or meal or interminable line and this card would say you have just met a gay transsexual drug addict. wasn't he nice?
for an ambassador for all that is set to destroy society need only engage one of the embattled ones in conversation to make it clear that society is in no danger of being destroyed and is in fact the one thing that we could not possibly lose as long as conversations are being held in one quarter or another which they are even in hell. sure some of the rules could stand to be loosened and a modicum of chaos would be good for the terminally uptight but the craven among us will still say please and thank you when they want the salt. you don't need a nuclear family to keep the graces operating as they should.