Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. v

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Part I - Scar Letters

read more

The Center

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 3

I returned to the Center prematurely. Naturally experiments had progressed in my absence. Under a silver leaf the size of an elephant’s ear something fleshy was rotting so I twisted it from the hairy cord. An as yet unnamed breed of spider had written three silver stars into the rosemary’s churning stillness before it carried its gold and black stripes away. Six stainless steel cages shone like rain lifting upward or stents where pulp ...

read more

Gnosis

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 4

Turns out the radiologist didn’t know thing one about radios. I stood there in my stocking feet and waited for the music to begin again. Being generally good with small motors I would mow and mow the lawn stoically with a white hand towel draped around my neck. I was stimulated by the reports of the optical scienteers. Because of the particular reflective and refractive qualities inherent in the molecular structure of the ...

read more

Salamander

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 5

If not for the rock the salamander wouldn’t twitch in the rain. The red twin doors stuck on one side, the one nobody used. An insect has left me with months of agues, a lump of greenish brown under my hip skin. The liquid on the keys is sticky. I knew ghosts who smell like turtles and put the erasure of the sun in a shoebox. If you walk before dawn in the grass by the river you will die. Make no mistake. The grackles knew. I ...

read more

Mercury

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 6

After a while nine planets dropped out of the book and the book went to Germany on a boat. Civilizations crawled across the floor from the glow in the wall with iron spears and pointed hats until the king threw a jar of ice water deep into my gagging pillows and the star exploded: click. In panels in the morning paper women got dragged by the hair and they were true. Abby was verso as were hints about blood and soda. Andy ...

read more

Vagaries

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 7

The doctor’s watch I hadn’t won showed up in my black box. It was square and dully metallic green, like the carapace a beetle has shed. She wanted a baby, she said, and I was moved to tears and mentioned while we hugged that we should meet back here at 2:30 because the party was large and we might get lost. On the radio was, as always, news of the war. The loyalists were taking a beating, but expected to resurge in a ...

read more

Revision

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 8

Grammar is my name and accidence is my heart. Don’t remind me of the soft fragrant telephone ringing in the back room. My head itches, I smell peaches, here comes a Rhino with a hole in his breeches. My Collected Works are a round mirror punched out in the center. I pull wire hairs from my face one by one. Someone has left a radio on the porch playing Pink Floyd and someone has stolen my paint-spattered stepladder. ...

read more

Clasp

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 9

The deep diver clasped my arm as I rose through the clouds and turned to the composition of the article that would soon establish my reputation as some sort of thinker. In hours I would be home again among the glow of sea dwellers and the legs of monstrous wines. What went wrong first was my ordering of the north terminal into Plan B. That changed everything and I never recovered. I pried the taps from my boots. The ...

read more

Forger

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 10

While the forger applied signatures to bootleg Balthus canvases I took notes for the biography I planned to write. Back then I planned a lot of books. Why Balthus, I asked him. Two kinds of greed lie extant in this world, he said. Money and sex? Nope, death and nostalgia. He swept his hand backward to the stack of canvases along the shadows of the wall. Wyeth, Remington, Benton. All with rather brassy and cartoonish ...

read more

Motive

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 11

Some small, forgettable creature, a rodent or a bird, is screeching in metallic pain just beyond my window. I stand, the sound ceases. My body grows heavy. I go outside and peer among the broken terra cotta pots and extension ladders that I hide in the bee- thickened bush beside the sill. When I close the door behind me the sound recommences, a shrilling agony. I sit down and plant my bare feet on the Iranian rug. The hideous note ...

read more

River

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 12

As I walk, the circular road begins a downward grade. The black dog beside me quickens his step and I begin to remark unnatural metallic shapes rising from the grassy woods—arcs with radial spines, as if giant wheels had been buried in the ground and the rain and wind had worked to expose their hidden constructions. The silence in this dry heat is like my sweat, clammy and appalling. Then a dim rushing sound penetrates my ...

read more

Open

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 13

When I open the red feeder I find a pair of barber’s scissors. I put away the ladder and give myself a quick haircut. Mites scramble invisibly into my ears. In the trees figs swell and crackle, shedding brown syrup on the thrushes’ wings. There is no excuse for my tears. When the delivery truck comes I am choosing between chameleons. Two men climb out wearing hoods against the dark clouds of wasps and flies. I see their ...

read more

India

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 14

Who knew the mother sauces would become water? That you could see fat flecks in the blood like snow in a crow’s eye? That the nautical clock would magnify under glass and grow greener than Argentina? I replaced the small letter I never sent to India with a jar of crystallized honey one autumn when the grapes bore. I clarified it in a bain marie. I need the same surgeon who put my crushed feet back together, his bags of ...

read more

Three

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 15

It is after midnight, and I am so hungry I will chew anything without a face. I keep three empty drawers in my kitchen. One for the shadows of future knives. One for the caul of brandy-colored light that wraps the squeals of the dying. The last I reserve for secretive notes of affection. I rub my cracked hands with ghee and swallow gulp by gulp a rope of boiled linen to pull from the other side. I tie my butcher’s apron on and slip out ...

read more

Goodbye

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 16

I never wanted to live a long time, he offers, as they mark the dotted lines. His chest is shaved and dyed orange as an Easter duckling’s. It waddles past Thumbelina zinnias toward the plastic pool. The nurse seems depressed, or at least pensive. They still sell painted turtles, don’t they? she asks. He knows what they smell like, but doesn’t answer. Instead: Did you know that coconut milk isn’t what’s inside the coconut? She ...

read more

Painter

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 17

When he closes the red door brilliantly the white wolf howls on his chain. The black one blinks topaz eyes, one ear miscocked in a delicate elegant feminine angle, as if the blue and vermiculite striped skinks she lunges to were a music of wind in the mountain mint and the hop-toad’s invisible heart. Far, O long away, Japanese monster hornets are scalding some heroic nonbody unto death as he trades his lovely old woman’s ...

read more

Vellum

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 18

A messenger collects the bundle of replies and is dismissed. The examination continues unabated. Dusk enters through the grates. I am seated at a small wooden table before a varnished map of the Eastern theater and a lamp shaped like the planet Saturn. The questions are the same as I have seen a hundred times. Ropes for binding lie scattered like tapeworms on the floor. It is not yet a matter of devices, the proctor explains evenly. ...

read more

Cesium

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 19

The dogs are running under the open moon, a deathly joy in their nearly silent sweep across the grass, along the edges of the field, where pines lift against the clouds. The hour lays a platinum bar, like a hand across a forehead, over the measured dark. Ladybugs sleep in clusters and the vines climb colorblind through muscles flying in the slowed dew. If you do not know how to find me, this is where you will find me, the ...

read more

Loving

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 20

When I wake from a long and dreamless sleep my limbs are stuck to the green sheets. The bedclothes come off like a bandage and I gaze down the length of my body to see that my nerves and vessels have risen through my skin and formed a caul containing me in the merest web of filaments and glossy tubes. I rise, leaving an imprint of myself in flecks and tatters of flesh on the bed. I stand before the long mirror, ...

read more

Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 21

I planted a garden of colossal vegetables, those three-to-a-pack seeds you order from the back pages of the catalogues. Win, place, show. I wanted a ribbon, the cordon to indicate my time spent watching and tending mattered. It did and it didn’t. What I got was a shadow carved across my face in the shape of a pumpkin. I didn’t have a forklift and I couldn’t, after checking, afford to rent one. I wasn’t sure anyway that when I ...

read more

Familiar

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 22

The game show host interrupts her answers and explains the terms of sudden death. The files are shredded and locked into a cabinet for disposal. The consolation is a one way ticket back to an afternoon with Cavity Sam and Mystery Date. The nurse is frightened. Bitten by an insect she went legally blind. Her buzzer won’t function so her questions are already too late. Her teeth, small and numerous, publish the final ...

read more

Permutations

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 23

The watchmaker lived in the caboose of a stationary train. He invented fresh ciphers for the Vietnamese and then just as quickly returned to the bench where his tools lay shining in chiseled troughs. On Wednesday he was fabricating mechanical replacement parts needed for the war effort. Being synchronous was key. There was a deadline but then a tin-flavored violin smashed against his arm and rainbow worms flowed like ...

read more

Recovery

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 24

When the doctor comes into recovery to tell me I will never see again the remote control is still in my hand. What a relief! Now comes the spiritus mundi to vernissage sensation and loose the gazelles crouched like crap-shooters in my skull. I am so weary of that pus-bright bulldozer piling autumn’s scarlet and golden mud into the corners of my heart. Of tall lustrous women and the museums of their smiles. The blue and purple ...

read more

Canvas

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 25

In Kingdom Come, by underwater fountains where our beautiful dead kiss the fragrances of sleep, I skin a spring lamb in the windless dew. I bleach every treasure map in a bottle I toss among feathering repressions of the sea. A long journey of forget-fulness rounds the horn and a painter coils on my prow. I was a thief, and so I am a thief. Beside a potbelly of burning embers I drape the black cloaca of champagne photographs ...

Part II - Impossible Objects

read more

Auditorium

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 29

The theorists were scheduled to meet in the auditorium. Some were early, to secure the best seats. Some were late, and made an entrance. The ones who were on time regarded their papers quietly. All agreed the topic had been decided upon. It was a question of great importance to the outcome of the conflict in the East. The moderator had been chosen carefully, by a panel of experts in the field. The lighting seemed dim. This had ...

read more

Portrait

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 30

Years passed before she suggested to me—in a letter—that she possessed a photograph I had come to believe was lost. It was a portrait of myself, an infant scowling, a Churchill on my grandfather’s knee. He was a young man then, younger than I am now, and between his teeth he clenches a pipe. His socks are lighter than his suit, a sumptuary fashion of the time, a nattiness of which I approve. I think that they were colored “Bird’s Egg.” In the ...

read more

Mimesis

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 31

A hundred copies of the examination lie on my desk. The answers are: a regular beating, a textiled figure, flowers and purple, weak then strong, slash and cup, what I step with, what we danced to, a room with a closing door, a straightened red wiggler, the ways in which one proffers a thing to a crowd, a transfer of identity in a dialectical motion, because he was adopting the power of Greek, Latin, and French, and the attempt to ...

read more

Funny

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 32

Desire, she said, is a funny thing. The more you have of it the less you want it. I was enmeshed in a delicate hermeneutical adventure. What is the difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami, a simple matter of distance? Suddenly I remembered that most of the universe is composed of invisible material. Some particles disappear before they exist. It is very possible that memory is vestigial, useless, an appendix of aromas, ...

read more

Home

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 33

When they came home from Europe they met me at the airport where I was returning from Disneyland. My favorites were the electric cars on tracks that I could speed up by pushing the pedal and the straw-roofed shop where I bought a human skull the size of an apple. I received presents: a Tissot watch, a leather peace symbol necklace, a hunting knife with a handle crafted from the foot of a deer. I already owned a hatchet. ...

read more

Species

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 34

The teacher wore a white laboratory coat and a solid gold razor blade on a lengthy chain and tried to pick up xy samples with his moustache. The worms were pickled, not the frogs. His science club was small, and drams of dandelion wine were rumored to be served there. I used drugs. Marianne on the first day asked me to be her partner and we hissed a loop of wire, zigged our stylus with a flourish across the agar, making ...

read more

Shoes

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 35

The ice cream truck pretends by moving slowly not to scream. The girls in sunglasses cover their ears. What with the cost of gas, you’d think, one of the boys is saying. I, from the years of painting, can’t flex my arm, the tendons are thickening. The figure inside, as close as I am, still is a shadowy flash, back bending over the freezer chest, lifting and closing and handing. Only the names are listed, not the prices. You know ...

read more

Ted

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 36

Top end drop. Turgid evangelical depravity. Topos evading description. Tank evacuation deployment. Typical enzyme depletion. Tracing electronic Democritus. Topiary Epsom deposits. Tippled every day. To end doom. To evince documents. Toward excavating dulcimers. Twin ebullient doctors. Two ebony dots. Today, everyday, doughboys. Total eviscerated dead. Tongue epitomes deprived. Taped exemplars dangling. Tools externally ...

read more

Anagram

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 37

Whose heart is a red sea risen past towers of salt and forgetting. Whose eyes are almonds robbers pursing gold from pharaohs’ tombs ignored. Whose breath is an apple broken on my teeth, juicing my throat with wordless sweetness. Whose brain is a soft spread of light in the nameless dark and a bare tree. Whose dew claw curls vestigial and sharply tiny as a soul. Who stands by the peeling door. Who watches, and who knows how ...

read more

Walk

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 38

They reported his lack of expression as the reason. The reason for the sentence. They spoke to the cameras as a panel. They sat at a table. One shrugged. One had frightening dyed hair and smiled directly at the lens. One said the unborn child hit her hardest. There were cheers outside, off camera. I imagined bobbing signs as I scooped at my grapefruit. The dead woman’s smile was infectious, her skin lustrous and olive. No ...

read more

Garum

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 39

The first editions fell onto my head like so many Roman garum pots. I perched cross-legged on the knotty pillow and watched a coil of something dark and spectral shimmer from my hands and flow away. Outside it was raining but the glass door led only further into rooms more lighted like oysters and the dog of my heart slipped past the margins of the meadow. Nothing, it seemed, would wash away the red grit I drew in the ...

read more

Profession

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 40

I hadn’t meant to disappear but every time I watch my hands they grow thinner, veins bulging over cartilage; my feet are bruised deep inside their clockwork bones and I can’t stop sneezing no matter how many times I stare at the sun. My hip hurts. I puke. Yet I walk ten miles plucking a classical guitar and then stick my finger up my nose. Soon my new objects will slip down into their familiar postures of caramelized ...

read more

Sorry

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 41

So what if I am ugly now? Oh well to love. A brand new bicycle gloams green by the punching bag and no one, I repeat no one, rides far into the long summer afternoon. Perfect food was ours for a time, but the beautiful woman who was a wind sailing across the picture I pretended was the sky was lost as dust last night, or I was in my seeing, and no map could bring what’s tumbled smooth as Fordite back from the place ...

read more

Thanks

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 42

Thank you for spitting like a red monkey on my feet. If excruciation is not a noun then George Curme is an obsolescent preposition. I glanced at my companion but she was an empty chair. Between the lush appetizers and the chopsticks I fell headfirst into a party of strangers when my hip separated from itself. Tonight I photographed the armadillo’s foot and sent off for a pentameter of bayous. I did the same with the original ...

read more

Boat

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 43

The doctor said quite soothingly that I ought to quit. I pointed to the brown spit- diluted stains of blood on my sateen pillow and the doctor quit his mockings. Now you are a doctor’s dream, he said, it is time not to dream. Put your foot on something cold. What will become of me without a boat between these fingers, the poison on my tongue, the leaf curled in the red box? I turn my head. There is only the synthesis of sleep to ...

read more

Beans

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 44

I can’t cook beans now. On the blue couch I can’t tell whether I am dreaming. The president of teeth says it can’t possibly be a black family. He sweats in the sun. His speech is disassembly. I am frightened, I cannot stop leaking and heaving. Bruise me God; mark my fat with your inky hammer. Their skins turn out tough. The clock in the film says 2:23; it is a brand new clock but time is silent. I must make her some earrings ...

read more

Michael Jackson Memory

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 45

Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The line drawing he steps into in profile. The rose crystal bell in the library book. Ghosts and More Ghosts. His bulbous nose, his triple chins, his Churchillian sang-froid as he proposes the murder of the sponsors...

read more

Michael Jackson Memory

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 46

The dishes and pots lie stacked in the tub, petri dishes growing things. Blair, who played Thriller a lot, carried them there out of desperation. I have to be in my class in three hours, at eight. Uncle Varner, I will decide, tithes at the church of humanity. There are no gables on our house. Blair shot out a traffic light with a .44 Magnum and then lent me his rusty Nova. I’d slapped the Audi into a telephone pole. Twice. Drunk ...

read more

Michael Jackson Memory

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 47

It was a summer day, and when I looked across the yard I witnessed the success of the vegetables before the beetles came. Mashed, the ones on the vines spewed French’s mustard...

read more

Keys

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 48

I buy my tomatoes and flour on credit and the kindly buxom blonde lady at the terminal announces how that fast that money went away, poof, and because I fall in love poorly with the least kindness I joke back and we smile in the way ugly people smile at each other, less in appraisal than in tender commiseration, though she of course...

read more

Spanish

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 49

Spanish, like those other languages I quickly found and lost a little more slowly, makes my teeth hurt and my tongue ache. Every day comes a messenger but no news. What, I am forced to wonder, does the festooned donkey filled with candies feel? The children move their shadows around his dangling belly. I wrote: I once lived here, where the walls were a yellow I cannot remember; I often ate there well, and Marisol ...

read more

Messenger

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 50

Someone wrote letters on my car with a key. I study them, as if silence might tell me something about quiet. Next week I take my scroll to several toothless auctioneers. I didn’t answer the door, I let my dog snort the jamb, I was afraid I might kill someone. Instead I bought a blanket. I have the propensity, which I hate, and a well-dressed snub-nosed gun. I handle a cigarette better than most men in the newer movies. I fly to ...

read more

Ant

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 51

Shaving keeps me company. So does the mirror. Sometimes I write letters long before they are mailed. You can’t “just write.” I heard through the crack in the window a father saying it’s 13:30 and discussing my English prospects. We call back across the slope of fallen trees the ones we love. They come, but too late, too late to stop their rush between two cars into the road. Suddenly I am a doctor with a bag of descriptions. ...

read more

Ingredients

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 52

Where the knife ends and the wood begins, I can’t say. Someone keeps trying to call. I am missing the tang of cooking. I never used to carry money in my wallet, only folded in my watch pocket, like butter lettuce. The woman was suspicious when I brought the braided loaf to thank her for her finding and returning it. I came from a bus, maybe that was why, or I smelled like the café. I go outside, my dog pisses on bricks, I discover ...

read more

Errata

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 53

The quietest mistake has crawled through the boards. The professor unfolds the cabinet clasps; he lifts up by the tail into the oystery kitchen light a field mouse, gray as the cornerstone of a cathedral and covered with the tiny marks of its own feces. Look at what you have done. What is your alibi? I have no explanation and he is disgusted. He gestures with his free hand, making clear the discovery of my Popish ...

read more

ECNALUBMA

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 54

Nine letters drew just behind our suicide door black Continental and I was safe in the tan back seat. Not quite, more a mirror. One of us said why is that written back-wards on the front, and if it was her then she probably didn’t know, and who can blame her, certainly not me. Certainly I will never blame her for that particular question. Some other matter of a dog comes up now and then in my undisciplined thoughts but ...

read more

Ossetra

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 55

It is not the dead who are ghastly. It is not only the deadened who wish. This way, that way, hair falling across hair; no way to know what scene will impinge itself immortally upon a mind, when that life begins to forget. The talcum of skin touching skin before the clinging sweat springs, that joinder lasts a long second. I think my tongue curls behind my teeth when I sleep, pressing flesh between the spaces. I taste strawberries ...

read more

Salvage

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 56

I was still trying to remember. Garlic minced or smashed. The smell of bread and hair. The music of slicing. Under the canvas tent, I browned some scrambled eggs in the backyard and gray light came in through the folds. The duck was missing. Worms have nine hearts, like cats have lives. I propped a dead jay in the crotch of a maple and shot him. I kissed my grandfather but his eyes were never blue before and he stared ...

read more

Days

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 57

I received a letter with no signature or return address. I responded quickly but my usual aplomb failed to please or even to communicate my simplest intentions or desires. My country, O my beloved, is under false or fraudulent impressions but I wrote and faxed the residual truth, returns, statements, etcetera ephemera. God Bless will be performed here, or so I just heard on the set. I am watchful but all I can hope for is the ...

read more

Curb

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 58

He was in the middle of a street, the day was bright, he lay inert, though with a suggestion of motion, as if chewing his dew claw, or just under it, at the firm leathery knob of flesh that sometimes bothers him for reasons I don’t understand. I, I was at the curb, kneeling and looking to my left seeing him there, angled and far. I watched the car coming in our direction, the old big blue car, and I knew whose car it was, that lawn ...

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF