Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm probably a saint or something

'Shootout in downtown Seattle' I think
I don't mean it and I feel guilty later
Which is what I tell my daughter in ten years
After I abandon my career
As bank-robber
Which was saint-ly or something I think
Because to have money
Is better
So I train my daughter to rob banks
And the FBI agent agrees
When he reads my email correspondence
On Sundays or late at night
At Denny's with Rock Hudson
And Leonardo DiCaprio
Who we all love so much
Because we love and love
And there are so many people to love
That I watch TV for ten hours
It's not evil or anything
To take steroids or human growth
Hormone because it makes me a better
Writer a better person a better house
Wife for the thirty-million men
Who love me at nine pm
Eastern-standard-time
So let's just murder everything
For hours extraordinarily with
Blood and knives and milk

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tongues in our stomachs

'Is there carbon-monoxide in this room'
I say and the health-inspector
Licks my grill
Until the grill slowly removes his tongue
And places the tongue on the tile-floor
'Talk to me' the tongue says
So I put the tongue in my pocket
Drive my tractor to Portland
And give the tongue to Madison
'Stop my body' the tongue says
'It's eating itself'
I chop the tongue in half
And in half again
And there are four tongues
And the four tongues simultaneously
Tell us about bureaucrats
Or meaninglessness or something
But Madison and me are too busy to listen
And we eat the tongues
And the tongues are in our stomachs
Talking to our stomachs
Until our stomachs eat our stomachs

Poem for Amber because she's fucking awesome

Amber rescues penguins from

Guatemala

Resells the penguins to discount-zoos

In Belize

Which is more beautiful

Than ten thousand paper-clips

Clipped together

In Akron Ohio

Where we drank

Fifteen bottles of wine

And recycled the bottles

Before feeding the bottles

To homeless television

Celebrities on our

Movie mini-series

Where we double-stabbed

William H. Macy impersonators

And ate chocolate-ice-cream

This poem is for Amber.

Note

Read an interview with Noah at Shikow.

Noah wrote The Human War which I read in about two hours and which devastated me in a good way.

Thank you.

Note

I have finished the rough-draft of a novel. The novel is called: Today and Tomorrow, or Something Something, or Lisbon, or Something Something Something, or Untitled.

Vital statistics:

Elapsed time: 7 months

Today: 27,364 words

Tomorrow: 24,972 words

Total words: 52,336 [I did that in my head so it could be wrong]

I will take a week break and then revise for two months, leisurely, I think, and try to write two stories or poems each week, and maybe write something in third person.

Thank you if you read any of my rough-draft-novel or if you came here and thought about reading it and then watched Survivor or Hell's Kitchen instead. After I revise the novel I will revise the novel again and revise for a while randomly and then force a publishing-entity to publish the novel. Who should that publishing-entity be? If you have a suggestion you should email me or something or just think about it for a while and then forget you ever read this and go bowling in Oklahoma with high-school students and eat a tofu-dog and drink wine-coolers.

Twenty-four







It's night.

Merna, my step-grand-mother, and Noah sleep.

My bedroom's still and gray and I sit grayly on the floor.

'Wake and funeral tomorrow,' I think. 'Morning body preparation with charcoal suit and make-up maybe or hair-dye. Who knows?' I imagine the body and in my brain the body remains silent and immovable in bed and alone with no suit and no make-up and no expression on its gray face. 'Body,' I think. 'It.' I close my eyes and the body's in my brain and I think about my body and my body unmoving and undressed and silent and in my mind I put my body next to my grandfather's body so there are two unmoving bodies.

In the corner of my bedroom stands the tall thin man, his hands flat on perpendicular walls. "This," the man says. He shows me his hand and his hand's narrow with long thin fingers and an unlined palm.

"Now," I say.

"This?" he says.

"Shut up," I say. I'm bored with the man so I put him away. When I put the man away, he reappears. "You're not here," I say. "You're not a you," I say. "I'm bored, okay." I blink for a while. "I'm sorry. I was rude."

I stand and walk quietly into my grandfather's bedroom and in the darkness stand next to my grandfather's body. I close my eyes and carefully place my hand on my grandfather's body's stomach.

In the corner of the bedroom stands the tall thin man, his hands flat on perpendicular walls. "This?" he says.

"Yes," I say. I don't know why I say that. "I'm sorry."

"Keys?"

"Yes," I say. I remove the keys from the dresser's top-drawer and place them in my pants-pocket. I roll my grandfather's body and squat and move the body onto my shoulder. I stand and lift and think, 'This body's lighter than I thought the body would be.' I carry the body through the still-open door, down the stairs slowly and quietly, along the long curving hallway, and into the garage. I concentrate on each step and watch the floor in front of me which is carpeted and then hardwood and then concrete. I keep my body low, my back straight, my knees bent. 'Lift with proper lifting-techniques,' I think.

'I wrote the lifting-technique-manual,' I imagine my grandfather saying. 'I drew diagrams, on a trek through the Pyrenees. Patented the instructions in Madrid. Sold the patents in Marseilles. Became a millionaire and lost the millions at a craps table in Borneo.'

'Did you journey with llamas?'

'Yes, with llamas. Spanish llamas. Hairy and with big swollen teets. Then gambled with the Portuguese.'

I lay my grandfather's body on the hood of his Cadillac and open the Cadillac and move the body in the backseat of the Cadillac. I turn off my cell-phone and start the Cadillac. I carefully lower the power-windows. I'm humming. I put the Cadillac in reverse.

"Okay," I say aloud. "Okay."

"Yes," I say. "Drive the car," I say.

I drive the car.

It's dark and there's snow and the air's cold on my face but I drive the Cadillac and the Cadillac's driving and being driven and moving quickly from streetlight to streetlight and the Cadillac's large and hardly controlled and I know I can't control the Cadillac but I can guide it so I guide the Cadillac and only when the Cadillac slides do I close my eyes.

"This," I say.

I'm smiling.

"Pyrenees," I say. "Lisbon."

I think about turning on my cell-phone and calling Merna. 'No,' I think. 'I can't and won't call any person.' I imagine Merna's babies.

The lights are spaced further apart until there are only the Cadillac's headlights and the interior-lights and I watch the interior-lights and the interior-lights are bright and solid and I'm between the interior-lights and cold and awake and with my finger I trace the interior-lights and touch the interior-lights and make the interior-lights disappear and reappear. "This," I say. I don't know what I mean because I don't know anything which is perfect and planned.

I think about something for a while but I forget what it is and think about other things.

At the rest stop I place a blanket over my grandfather's body and tuck the blanket beneath the body. The sky's distant and clouded and dark.

Later, at a motel, the clerk says, "My name's Vern. Let me know if there's anything you need."

"Vern," I say. "I don't need things." I take the elevator and think about the ocean. In my room I take a long shower and sit by the window. There's a digital-clock on the dresser and I watch the clock for a while. Then I don't.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Twenty-three







"I am twenty-years-old yesterday," I say aloud.

Nobody answers.

I'm in a narrow room with white walls and thin white venetian-blinds and between the blind-slats are thin white sun-beams. There are two empty beds and my bed which is soft and comfortable and which I lay in comfortably and unmovingly because I'm not moving and won't move and will not be moved.

It's very quiet.

There's a television but the television's distant and gray. The remote-control sits on a thick white-plastic table next to my bed but I ignore the table and I ignore the remote-control so that these objects don't exist.

"I could talk," I say. "But I don't have anything to say."

There's a door. The door opens. It's Merna. Merna's crying.

"Are you okay?" I ask. "What happened?"

"I called the police."

"You'll be okay," I say. "We'll watch television." I don't know why I say this. "Turn on the television and we'll watch it. There'll be lots to watch and we'll watch together and we can watch and be the watchers. Like the news and sitcoms. Like The People's Court and commercials for bar-soap and maybe The Travel Channel."

"What will you say?"
"You'll watch with me, right?"

"When the police come you'll have to say something. So they can write a report."

"I'll watch you Merna. I can watch you, can't I?"

"Who were they? What'd they want?"

"Pretty Merna."

"I'll fucking stab something."

I hum for a while and stare at the ceiling.

"Don't you want to say something? Aren't you concerned about the police-report? Accuracy? You should make notes or something."

I shake my head.

"Aren't you angry?"

"No, Merna. I'm not and never have been angry."

There's a silence.

"No reason to be angry," I say. "No reason to be anything ever at all."

Others enter the room through the door and the others are gray men and women and the gray men and women sit along the far wall near the television and a tiny brown potted-fern. The gray men and women talk quietly to each other and in little black notepads they produce from large pants-pockets, the gray men and women write long and hasty notations. I listen for the whispers but the whispers are quiet and low and covered by cupped-hands so I lay back in my soft and comfortable bed and think about Merna who has walked into the white hallway and who now paces in front of the still-open door and talks into her cell-phone. I look at my hand and my hand's cold.

"Excuse me," I say.

"Yes," a woman says. She cups her hand over her mouth and whispers something to her colleagues. When she receives an answer, she says, "Can I be of assistance?"

"Yes," I say. "You can."

"How may we be of assistance?" another woman asks.

"We want to be helpful," a man says.

"Do you need anything," a different man asks. "We can fluff pillows or bring new blankets or turn on the television. We could bring you a soda or something. Do you like Pepsi-cola?"

I consider these options. "I don't want any of that," I say.

"Well, what do you want?" the first woman asks.

"You must want something," a man says.

"Does she want money or what?" the woman says. "Everybody wants a little money."

I don't answer.

"Money to buy things," the woman says. "You could buy chocolate-cake or ice-cream."

"How about a beach-ball?" the man says to the woman.

"Would you like a beach-ball?" the woman asks.

The man watches his hands. "People can toss a beach-ball from person to person like as a game. It's fun. You could toss a beach-ball with your sister and think about the beach and the ocean and sitting on the beach and tossing beach-balls and watching the limitless ocean. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

"The ocean?" I shake my head. "I don't know," I say.

"She doesn't know," a man says.

"She doesn't know," a woman says. "What does she know? What does a person know?"

"What do you know?" the other woman says.

Merna's outside the door and speaking into her cell-phone and I want suddenly to be Merna's cell-phone and for Merna to speak into me and 'to be an object,' I think, 'is probably the most satisfying occupation.'

"She didn't answer," a man says. He makes a note.

"Why didn't you answer?" a woman asks. "Did you understand the question? You speak English, don't you?"

I nod.

"She speaks English!"

"Yes."

"She does."

"Ask her something."

"Yes, ask her something."

"Why are you here?"

"Where's here?" I ask.

The men and women look at other men and women. "This is a hospital."

"I'm tired," I say. "I'm here because I'm tired and because I am twenty-years-old yesterday."

The gray men and women make many notes and for a while there's only the sound of note-taking. Merna reenters the room and sits lightly at the end of my soft and comfortable bed.

"Noah's coming later," Merna says. "Grandma and Noah'll come together."

I don't answer. I touch Merna with my foot and Merna's body's soft and solid and very nearby so I rest my foot against the body and imagine the body as my body and so that every body's one body and connected somehow and quiet.

"Do you speak English?" a man asks Merna.

"Yes, please. Do you?" a woman asks.

"Yes," Merna says.

"She speaks English!" a woman says.

"Tell us about her," a man says.

"Please," the other man says.

"What does she know?" the woman asks.

"Neither of us know anything ever at all," Merna says.

"Yes," I say. "That's exactly it."





There's a doctor. The doctor holds a silver clipboard. The doctor's face's narrow and wrinkled and the wrinkles are extensive and interconnecting and I imagine tracing the wrinkles with my pinky-finger but my pinky-finger's too large and even in my brain I fail.

"How are we today?" the doctor asks. "Hmm," the doctor says. The doctor's red-painted fingernails tap the clipboard. "We'll fix you up," the doctor says.

"I'm okay," I say. "I probably don't need to be fixed. Probably."

"Yes," the doctor says. "I see." The doctor makes a notation. "I have something to tell you: pancreatic-cancer's really terrible." The doctor watches me. "Adenocarcinoma. Ninety-nine-percent of victims die within five years, painfully. Jaundice, blood clots, depression." The doctor chuckles. "Good thing you were only attacked."

"Hmm," I say.

"That's from my humor-model. I'm a part-time humorologist. What do you think?"

I don't answer.

"Emotional tension, then release. That's the theory. But you're not laughing…I don't know. Doesn't always work, I guess."

"Can I go today?"

"Defenstration?"

"What?"

The doctor makes a note. "You can go whenever you want."

I consider this. "Where should I go?"

"Wherever you want."

"Where do people go?"

"Home, theme-parks, Mexico."

"Hmm."

"Video-game arcades, Mount Rainier, inside submarines."

"Where would you go if you could go somewhere?" I watch the doctor.

"I'd disappear."

"Disappear?"

"I'd disappear everyday and change and be a new person in a new somewhere." The doctor sets her clipboard down. "You know, with costumes and stuff."





I'm in the backseat of Noah's car which is cold and soft and lined everywhere with brown leather. Noah's driving. Merna sits in the front-passenger-seat. My step-grand-mother sleeps softly beside me. The sky's bright and cold and the sun warms me through the car-window so I lean my face against the car-window and feel the car-window and the car-window's cold and hard.

Noah parks in the driveway.

"Thank you," I say. "Thank you for the ride."

"You're welcome."

"Let's go inside," Merna says.

"Okay." I wake my step-grand-mother. "Did you finish the funeral?" I ask Merna.

"What do you mean?"

We're standing on the front-porch. Merna unlocks the door and opens the door and we go inside.

"For grandpa."

"No," Merna says. "He's still in bed. Didn't want to move him."

"Oh."

"We should make some calls."

"Who do we call?"

"I don't know, the police, funeral parlors, somebody."

Noah sits on the kitchen-counter. My step-grand-mother walks to the family-room-couch and lays her body on the couch and slowly closes her eyes.

"What do we do with the body?" I ask. "Noah, you must know."

"I don't know," Noah says. "I'll research it for you." Noah walks out of the kitchen and disappears.

"Let's go upstairs," I say.

"What?"

"Let's see grandpa."

"No, I don't think that's a good idea."

"It'll be calming," I say.

"I can't look at him again and you should rest. You shouldn't do anything at all."

"We have to look at it. It's an it now, not a him. You could close your eyes."

"But." Merna watches me and Merna's eyes are very large and round and soft so that I want to touch her eyes but I don't touch her eyes. "But you need to rest, take a shower or something. Lay in bed. I can bring you food or coffee or whatever."

"I'm okay and I want to see grandpa."

"Okay, fine." Merna walks toward the stairs.

"Thank you."

We're in the hallway and the hallway's lined with doors and as we pass the doors I touch the doors and the doors are solid and rough.

Merna opens grandpa's door. "Okay," she says. "Ready?"

I nod. We go in the bedroom. The bedroom's cold and dark. I reach for the light-switch.

"Don't," Merna says. "No lights."

"Okay."

I walk to the side of the bed. Merna walks to the other side of the bed and we watch each other across the bed and across my grandfather's body which is round and long and which rises beneath the blankets very mound-like and still. I lay my hand on the belly.

"We need to take it," I say.

"What?"

"The body," I say. "We should take it somewhere outside and sunny." I sit on the bed. "We should put it in the car and drive it somewhere and take care of it ourselves."

"You can't do that."

"It's our grandfather."

"There are laws."

I watch Merna and Merna watches me. "We could take it to Lisbon. Grandpa would like that. We could ship it maybe. Or drive it to the sea and steal a boat and drive the boat to Lisbon. We could preserve the body in a box with ice or nitrogen or I don't know and take the body somewhere. It's our duty, isn't it? He's our grandfather not somebody else's and his body's dead and done or something and our body's also will be dead and done one day and would we want our body's given to the government or whatever or burned and buried quietly in some expensive grave-plot?"

"He's dead," Merna says. Her voice's low and warble-y. "You should respect the dead."

"You should respect the dead," I say. "I want the body and to care for the body and take the body carefully to Lisbon or somewhere, like Kansas."

"I'll call the police," Merna says.

I don't answer.

"I tell grandma and Noah. I'll tell everybody."

"It doesn't matter."

Merna walks to the doorway. "You wouldn't want them to know, anyway. It'll be a funeral and okay. You're just panicking or something." Merna walks out of the room and shuts the door.

I move my body closer to my grandfather's body and my grandfather's body's cold and solid and I touch the belly and the face and carefully close the mouth and eyes. I watch the face and face doesn't move. The body doesn't move and the temperature in the room doesn't change. There's no sound and I don't think or want or anything. I watch the digital-clock. I slowly lay next to my grandfather. I look at the body. I close my eyes.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Twenty-two







"I have to go," I say. I'm standing in the ice-arena parking-lot and my feet are buried in snow and ice and my feet are cold and thin and I fear that if I move my feet my feet will shatter slowly so that I'm wobblingly standing on ankle-stumps and dark frozen blood. "What are we doing here?"

"Necromancy."

"What?"

"Make the dog live and stuff…"

"Hmm."

"Why not? Like necro-surgery with chemicals and shit," the voice says. It moves. "I've got nitrogen and, nuclear salts…anyway, I'm lying. Dog's dead. Dead-dog and buried. Time to revitalize the security-guard."

"I have to go home, okay?"

"Just a second. Todd's coming. Todd's meeting us here."

"Who's Todd?"

"Erik."

I think about Erik and in my brain Erik's a faceless shape in a shapeless fog and there's a mouth and the mouth's moving so I listen for words but there are no words and only a gray shapeless face and a gigantic mechanical mouth opening and closing.

"Besides, promised the security-guard he could fuck you."

"I don't fuck security-guards."

"Just this once," the voice says. "In the ass."

"I don't have time for this. Merna's waiting," I say. "Merna needs me."

"She'll be fine. Just a few minutes. We promised the security-guard, okay. Part of the deal."

"I don't care."

"Don't you care about my good word?"

"Have to help plan my grandfather's funeral."

"Don't make me your fucking liar. I promised. Liars should be mutilated, randomly, with fire-axes or something. With pole-axes."

I begin walking. I walk in a circle. I circle the voice and the car. My feet form a narrow snow-rut and don't shatter and slowly my feet warm until the warmth's almost unbearable and I wonder why my feet aren't melting the snow and dissolving the snow and slowly turning the snow into steam because, I think, 'My feet are steam-engines, steam-engine, steam-shovels, my feet are steam-shovels.' I picture my feet as steam-shovels with nothing to shovel. The car's angle-parked and low and the voice's leaning against the car and above me the sky's low and very nearby and the parking-lot's snow-covered and not recognizable as a parking-lot and distantly the ice-arena waits with wide reflective-windows. Near the windows stands a thin gray figure and the figure's arms are raised and immobile with shadowy spread-fingered hands.

"Come on," the voice says.

"Merna needs me," I say. "I want to go home. I want to see Merna."

"It's just an errand. Five minutes. Maybe ten. Grandpa's not going anywhere." The voice laughs.

I follow the voice and we walk narrowly and at angles and as I watch the snowy ground our progress is slow and inefficient, but when I look up I see we're approaching the thin gray figure quickly and mechanically so that the figure looms large and shadowy before the windows. "Why?" I say aloud.

"What?" The voice's irritated.

I don't answer. My brain tries to answer but my mouth's silent. 'Why follow?' I think. I push and prod my brain but my brain stops and my brain has no answers and my brain waits quietly for further input.

We stand before the figure. The figure's face's a gigantic mouth and the mouth's open and wide with a wide row of thin shiny teeth. "Back to the ice-palace," the figure says.

"Let's go inside," the voice says.

I watch the pair. "Okay, I have to go now." My cell-phone plays a little song. "That's Merna and I have to leave but it's good seeing you and stuff."

"Just grab her arm," the voice says. "I'll grab the other arm."

"Do it carefully," the figure says. "Don't bruise the arm."

"I'll call you later maybe. We can get a snack or something tonight. See a movie."

"Get the door."

"I have your phone-numbers in my cell-phone probably. Or you could write them down for me. I probably have a pad you could write your numbers on, if you have a pen, or pencil, or I might have a pencil in my pocket."

"Be quiet," the voice says. "Can't concentrate."

The ice-arena door opens.

"I'll get the lights," the figure says. The figure departs.

"You could take me home now," I say. "Just you and me."

"Be quiet. No time for that." The voice locks the door.

"What about Lisbon and the dog?"

"Sshhh."

I try to move my arm but the voice holds it stiffly in place. "My arm hurts," I say. "What if my arm falls off or something? You don't want to be responsible for that? You'd be holding it. Detached arm. Bleeding."

"I said shut the fuck up."

"We could go together and rob banks or something. You could hang out with my grandmother and with Merna and we could watch tv. Something, something," I say. "We could do something, something."

The lights above the ice flicker and are bright and thin and fluorescent. All else is dark. The figure returns. The figure's arms are long and narrow and now jacket-less and hairy and the arms are crossed over the figure's chest until the figure's nearby. The arms slowly unfold and release the fingers and the fingers encircle my arm. "Let's go," the figure says.
"To the ice?" the voice asks.

"Yes, to the ice."

"Do you have the plan?"

The figure pats its pocket. "Of course."

"What's the plan?" I ask. "Can I see the plan. I need to call Merna and tell Merna the plan because Merna deserves to know the plan and really she's part of the plan because Merna was here earlier and Merna tried to save the dog and took us to the hospital and to Noah."

"Try and be quiet, okay."

I watch the voice and the figure, and the voice and the figure somehow become mirrored images of one another. But the voice's very fat and wide and with a small shaky head and pudgy dirty hands, and the figure's very thin and long with strangely angled limbs so that it seems impossible that the pair could be mirrored images of one another, but they are mirrored and I think about this and am confused. "Twinned," I say aloud.

"Just be quiet."

My cell-phone ring-tone plays a little song. "I have to answer this," I say. I turn on my cell-phone. "Hello," I say.

"Listen—"

The figure takes my cell-phones and turns off my cell-phone and places the cell-phone in its pocket. "No calls. Not in the plan."

"Let me see the plan," I say.

"She wants to see the plan," the voice says.

"Should we show her the plan?" the figure asks.

"I don't know, she might laugh."

The figure pats its horizontally-striped breast-pocket and the breast-pocket's bulging and the stripes are thin and gray. "What could we do if she laughs?"

I imagine myself as a thin gray stripe.

"She might cry, or try to run."

"I don't want to chase her," the figure says.

"I don't want to chase her either."

"Then we can't show her the plan, can we?"

"No, that'd be disaster," the voice says. The voice turns to me. "You can't see the plan right now. But later, maybe, I'll give it to you. I'll put it in your pocket."

"We can't have you laughing because if you laughed I'd cry and then there'd be laughing and crying, or you might cry and then there'd by crying and crying or crying and laughing."

"We can't have that."

"No, we can't." The figure's fingers grip my arm tightly so that my arm-muscles tighten painfully.

"Come with us."

"Yes, come."

The voice and the figure walk me forward. The ice's ahead and there's a gate and the gate's ajar and wide and the ice beyond is white and rough and dull. Our movement's smooth and conjoined and for a moment I feel like a miniature chrome-sprocket. I picture the chrome-sprocket and the chrome-sprocket's spinning and clicking and I'm the clicking and I am clicking and there's clicking because something clicks. My arms are numb. As we approach the gate, our speed increases until the gate's before me and I'm in the gate and I'm moving upward and sideways and my body's twisting and I want suddenly to see my body from a distance and enjoy the movements of the body as it searches slowly for balance, but all I see is ice and a blurred light and I'm airborne and falling until all there is is the ice and the ice's holding me up. I can't say anything. My lungs are empty. I push until I stop. When I stop, I don't move. 'I don't have to move,' I think. 'I should be motionless and close my eyes.' I close my eyes tightly.






If I could sit with my grandfather I would say, "We should steal like twenty-five llamas and set them free downtown. Or tether the llamas to police-cars and egg the police-cars and then steal potted-plants from cemeteries and corporate-gardens."

"Why," my grandfather might ask.

"I've always wanted to steal potted-plants."

If I said the same things to Merna, Merna would say, "That's illegal."

"I know," I might say. "But what's 'illegal' mean anyway?"

My grandmother might say, "Llamas are filthy animals and they smell bed."

"You smell bad," I'd answer.

If we rode a passenger-train, we'd dine in the dining-car with space-aliens and sit quietly with the space-aliens and discuss politics. "Are you some kind of commie-liberal," I might ask the space-alien. My grandfather would laugh

"What's a 'commie-liberal'?" the space-alien would ask because on the space-alien's planet there are no political-parties.

"Do you like to share your resources and labor and things with other space-aliens so that all space-aliens have basically the same things and work the same amount?" I'd say.

"What are 'things' and 'work'?"

This is where we'd grow frustrated and stab the space-aliens with our steak-knives and drop the space-alien-bodies from the back of the train where the space-alien-bodies would tumble over dusty train-tracks and bounce a little until the bodies disappear.

"How many eyes do they have?" My grandfather would ask.

"They don't have eyes."

"Then how do the see?" My grandfather would act perplexed.

"With belly-buttons. They have belly-button x-ray machines in their belly-buttons."

"And who will bury their bodies?"

"The government," I would answer. "To hide the space-aliens from the American-people, but only after removing the x-ray machines and experimenting with the x-ray machines and possibly dissecting the space-aliens with little scalpels and lasers maybe."

"I'd put the space-aliens in a museum," my grandfather might answer. "Stuff them taxidermically and model the space-aliens in life-like positions. Cooking. Piloting space-crafts." My grandfather would chuckle and stand very tall and watch the horizon. "I'd leave the steak-knives in their alien-chests and display the aliens in a darkened room and charge a twenty-dollar entry-fee."

Then we'd all agree for a while and imagine the space-alien-museum and drink chocolate-milk in a parking-lot on Mount Everest near a little campfire and the sky would be clear and distant and thick with breathable air.





"Kick her," someone says. "Kick her stupid face."

"Don't move," I say. My eyes are closed.

"Quiet."

I'm curled and still and my body's a soft round ball. My body spins. There's blood on my face probably and blood on other places and these bloody locations are warm.

"My name's fucking Todd."

I slide or my body slides. I think, 'I'm sliding.'

"That's funny. Do it again." There's laughing.

"No, you."

There's silence. 'Face,' I think.

"Cut her fucking fingers off."

"What?"

"Scissors or shears or something."

"Maybe toes."

I cover my head with my arms and from every side I feel sudden sharp kicks or punches or something else even that has no name so that each part of my body hurts and curls into itself until each part of my body's separate and isolated. There's a hand and other hands and tearing and I'm shirtless maybe and cold or my body's cold and shivering but separately in separate parts and I'm dragged awhile. Something slowly removes my hair.

There's laughing.

"Bitch."

"Grab pants. Pants grab."

"Choke her with pants." Laughing. "Choke."

"Funny word."

"Choke, choke." Laughing. "Choke, choke."

I'm naked or I feel naked or somehow my body's isolated parts are naked or unclothed or cold and wet and vibrating or shaking strangely so that I feel detached and nervous and in my brain there's only the image of trembling fingers. My body feels the ice and holds itself in a ball and my body shivers except for where warm blood traces little numb body-parts.

"Cut her fucking nipple off."

I think about Merna for a while. 'Merna's pregnant,' I think. 'I'm not and never will be pregnant.' I stop then I think, 'I want my body to separate into isolated self-sufficient pieces and for the pieces to move to different cities in different countries so that these pieces of me can feel independent and brain-less because brain-less body-parts are efficient or economical or something.' I keep my eyes closed and I wonder if brains can close too. 'Or close down,' I think. I want suddenly to go home and to lay quietly on the couch and to feel the couch-cushions against my body-parts until I sever my body-parts and hide the body-parts beneath couch-cushions or behind the television. 'But Lisbon,' I think. 'Body-parts to Lisbon and beneath dumpsters or hidden in churches or caf├ęs or along dark and useless highways. Body-parts as gifts to the homeless children. Body-parts as food.'

"She's shivering."

"Fuck, that's funny."

I'm a ball.

"Stomp her."

"That, do that. Good."

"I'm shivering," I say. "I'm not shivering my body's shivering and my body-part's shivering and separate and not me and I am not me now but there's something."

"Sshhh. Concentrating here."

"Yes, that."

"Chop off the lips, maybe." Laughing.

I can hardly move. I speak but muffled. I say, "The body shivers is shivering the body's mine and wet and cold and shivers is shivering or something something I am something now or am now something shivering this body the." My mouth's moving and talking and I think about my mouth and concentrate on the mouth-movements and mouth-sounds and for a while other things happen. Then things stop.