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81 JOHN GALLAHER ERROR AS BEAUTY Because what is expected is only as beautiful as expectation allows. Because it only works as possibility, a trace of innocence that can only come near futility, and futility is the only explanation, the error of all things done or not done, things that are coming to their moment, the ship in flames, the final flames nearing where all trace of the future is written as something other, something unplanned but continually unfolding, the carnage of the face slowly turning into a child’s face. The beauty of the face rising into its own impossible moment, the holding no one holds, the realization there is nothing more to do, the almost question that is the end, the calendar uncoiling in a moment past the moment. We stand at the leading edge of the continent. We pay good money. We help roll out the carpet. We bring our photographs, our songs. The fight and the show. Because we are expected and plain, the sum of our flaws that we fall into is one hesitation, one crumbling knowledge of things standing and falling before us and after. That hover. The scroll telling who and what by seconds. The city becomes the shadow of the city. What did we say then. Who were our desires. Because you can stand or sit or lie down. The plan of the movement, the moment. We could make a killing. We could ride this out. Because we are going long before we’re gone. And this wind every year. This picture. There’s no moment to decide. There’s no plan. No song. There’s no retreat. For beauty. I can’t go any farther, as there is no farther to go. There’s no going. Because if you’re going to go, you have to go for nothing. And nothing rises. 82 JOHN GALLAHER AUTOMATED TOWN The automated town is purchasing a compass of afternoons. Look, I’m bored and empty too. What do you want? This room is nothing but racks of clothes. See how easy it is? That one, sides of beef. This one is people for the hanging. That one is religions. See, you didn’t call. I thought you were going to call. That one is rows of vegetables. This one is popular music. That room is racks of car parts. And you (not your real name) go out and back. You needed something or something to do. It’s your automated corner in the automated town. That one is sex toys and lubricants. Because it always comes out happy. Because it was the first idea that came to me. Or these are the people in my neighborhood. One works on cars. One works at the town transfer station. One runs a distributorship. One builds cabinets. One used to be a sheriff, until he had to quit. It was a movie once. The whole town killed someone. The clock read 10:10 and we realized we were in an advertisement. I could drive there. It’s about two hours away. I could have lunch there and ask the waitress. She could show me the rooms. And this one is rows of foreign students. That one is musical instruments. It’s about finding the next thing. It’s a room of hibachis. You got off work and you went home. It was almost midnight. It was mid-afternoon. You should ride a bicycle more. You should drink more water and less of everything else. It’s a room of people dressed in bright clothes. It’s a room of hanging doors. Of cell phones and one is ringing. Of people having sex. 83 Rows of bottles of vodka. Rows of sparklers. We could go on like this for some time so we do. Bugs are flying in and out of the open windows. All the TVs are on. ...


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