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ELLEN KIRVIN DUDIS SANTA MONICA OCEANFRONT, 1970 It hangs more like a parable's becalmed boat than land's end or even ghost port. There is wide, white beach, palmed and promenaded. It must have been a fine resort. The concessions had handsome stucco facades. A covered wagon boasting passage west looms on the pier, and loops of steel sky-high reiterating human guts. Divining rods the piles were once still creak, but boards shout messages from the redundant time it takes to die. There is a population here. Retired Jews in street clothes talk of Medicare and chant the faith of lyred David in two synagogues peeling in the salt air, fronting the promenade. Rising from her bench, alone, one old goodbody greets a tot, "God love you, God love you! Bye-bye. Bye-bye." There he goes, no parent in sight, a little mensch so much himself. She waves. The motherhood won't clot in this redundant time it takes to die. The rest are young, and they are unemployed, their lank lounging of bodies half-bare, guitars breathing a void, impersonal sleep. Ears pout in almost sexless hair. Big mutts lope at their own business. A sheepdog snoozes on the roof of a bungalow. Dark-niche boutiques sell day-glo outfits, tiedye jeans and gypsy jewels in colors that should laud creation, but here, like drugs and zodiacs, glow with the redundant time it takes to die. Small photo-offset signs on every tree are pleading, "Please help me find my sisters." There's a picture. DeeDee 23 is her name. The girlish writing begs, begs. They've missed her two months. Please, you, you be the one who knows! END THE WAR is scribbled on a window. "We're a dime short of a drink," moans the red-eyed spokesman for three sad thirsts. FALLAFEL. Snack bars vend THE DISH OF THE ISRAELI AIR FORCE, and old guts cheer this less redundant way they might have died. It's depressing. We had come here for sun and waves and broad wellbeing. You can't even see the foam run in or the high-horse surf rear from this irrelevant ocean some hundred yards away. Once I saw a man catch an eel. He threw it in the sand, and the redundant time it took to die convulsed me horribly. Here, dying draws my heart tight to its crowsnest on bones, the sails fan without tone. We go. There's no standing by. LONG HORROR STORY The medieval martyrdoms of saints had quit flaky paints and ravelled gore for film: grim enough in black & white and motion, loud with soundtrack devotion, horror shows reeled through the dark church gym. Our worst Sunday-school flick was Stephen stoned to death. The old shibboleth of lightshafts from above feel across his bruised, lip-moving last face —and we kids hadn't the grace not to snigger. We wanted to raise hell with phony heavens; we wanted a Steve we felt for to storm the pelters once, at least, like any brute man, 24 and shriek and plead. Saints as examples don't work. People want samples. Look what unholy guts illumine headlines! I heard it on the kitchen radio first. It made me so angry and sick I wrung my hands like a crackpot promising the mobs doomsday; except that sobs well up bone dry when an eye demands an eye in my house. The broadcast shook in the teeth of airwaves beneath the angels. "An old man, fishing, stoned to death by more than forty teenagers . " We'd use the green town ballfield, line 'em up and machine 'em down. That's all. Bang bang bang like a butcher chinees meat. We'd save the box seats for their parents. Wrong. Right is right to trial. It would drag on, diminish, and wear the net till the fish slipped through. An old man!, maybe a bite had just tugged his line—the very next instant rocks tearing his life! shocks agonizing his whole body! but nothing dreadful as the impact ME! I'm being in fact this minute murdered God NO] God? He actually died of stab wounds as...


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pp. 23-25
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