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Category: Writing/Lit related

Mirrored Eyes

Mirrored eyes will kill us all,
These mirrored eyes are darkened by
darkened by Sticking
to [you]
like glue
Sticking

Plexiglass screens
Will in the end mean
The outside
is gone
[LED]

All that remains
Are these mirrored eyes

Death is in your
disguise
Put death to these
mirrored eyes

-LCWB

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Nobody loves a genius child

This is a song for the genius child.
Sing it softly, for the song is wild.
Sing it softly as ever you can –
Lest the song get out of hand.

Nobody loves a genius child.

Can you love an eagle,
Tame or wild?
Can you love an eagle,
Wild or tame?
Can you love a monster
Of frightening name?

Nobody loves a genius child.

Kill him – and let his soul run wild.

|Langston Hughes|

Running to the other side of infinity

I ran to the other side of

Infinity,

only to find that I was

Alone.

I would have

Turned around and

laughed-

But with nobody around,

things just aren’t

as funny.

‘Walking Through a Wall’, by Louis Jenkins.

Unlike flying or astral projection, walking through walls is a totally earth-related craft, but a lot more interesting than pot making or driftwood lamps.  I got started at a picnic up in Bowstring in the northern part of the state.  A fellow walked through a brick wall right there in the park.  I said “Say, I want to try that.”  Stone walls are best, then brick and wood.  Wooden walls with fiberglass insulation and steel doors aren’t so good.  They won’t hurt you.  If your wall walking is done properly, both you and the wall are left intact.  It is just that they aren’t pleasant somehow.  The worst things are wire fences, maybe it’s the molecular structure of the alloy or just the amount of give in a fence, I don’t know, but I’ve torn my jacket and lost my hat in a lot of fences.  The best approach to a wall is, first, two hands placed flat against the surface; it’s a matter of concentration and just the right pressure.  You will feel the dry, cool inner wall with your fingers, then there is a moment of total darkness before you step through on the other side.

‘Eating Poetry’, by Mark Strand.

 

Eating Poetry
Mark Strand

I

Eating Poetry

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man,
I snarl at her and bark,
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Please go away, feeling

Please, go away

Feeling.

Do not stick to me like tar

Sticking to my soul;

Suffocating—

“You are not welcome here!”— I shout

But Here you linger.

Invisible and evil .

Seeping through my pores

Right into my marrow

Stealing all sanity there is to steal.

I am rampant

I am sallow

I am nothing

I bellow

Mambo Cadillac

Mambo cadillac, by Barbara hamby

Drive me to the edge in your Mambo Cadillac,
turn left at the graveyard and gas that baby, the black
night ringing with its holy roller scream. I’ll clock
you on the highway at three a.m., brother, amen, smack
the road as hard as we can, because I’m gonna crack
the world in two, make a hoodoo soup with chicken necks,
a gumbo with plutonium roux, a little snack
before the dirt-and-jalapeño stew that will shuck
the skin right off your slinky hips, Mr. I’m-not-stuck
in-a-middle-class-prison-with-someone-I-hate sack
of blues. Put on your high-wire shoes, Mr. Right, and stick
with me. I’m going nowhere fast, the burlesque
queen of this dim scene, I want to feel the wind, the Glock
in my mouth, going south, down-by-the-riverside shock
of the view. Take me to Shingles Fried Chicken Shack
in your Mambo Cadillac. I was gone, but I’m back
for good this time. I’ve taken a shine to daylight. Crank
up that radio, baby, put on some dance music
and shake your moneymaker, doll, rev it up to Mach
2, I’m talking to you, Mr. Magoo. Sit up, check
out that blonde with the leopard print tattoo. O she’ll lick
the sugar right off your doughnut and bill you, too, speak
French while she do the do. Parlez-vous français? So, pick
me up tonight at ten in your Mambo Cadillac
Chile, Argentina, Peru. Take some time off work;
we’re gonna be a lot longer than a week
or two. Is this D-day or Waterloo? White or black—
it’s up to you. We’ll be in Mexico tonight. Pack
a razor, pack some glue. Things fall apart off the track,
and that’s where we’ll be, baby, in our Mambo Cadillac,
cause you’re looking for love, but I’m looking for a wreck.

Bullet in the Brain

It is rare t0 find a good adaptation of a good written work, which is why I was surprised when I was shown the filmic adaptation of the short story “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff, who happens to be one of my favorite writers. David Von Ancken, the director of the 2001 adaptation, does an amazing job of preserving Wolff’s content and sound.

The short story, by Tobias Wolff:

Bullet in the Brain

Anders couldn’t get to the bank until just before it closed, so of course the line was endless and he got stuck behind two women whose loud, stupid conversation put him in a murderous temper. He was never in the best of tempers anyway, Anders – a book critic known for the weary, elegant savagery with which he dispatched almost everything he reviewed.

With the line still doubled around the rope, one of the tellers stuck a “POSITION CLOSED” sign in her window and walked to the back of the bank, where she leaned against a desk and began to pass the time with a man shuffling papers. The women in front of Anders broke off their conversation and watched the teller with hatred. “Oh, that’s nice,” one of them said. She turned to Anders and add, confident of his accord, “One of those little human touches that keep us coming back for more.”

Anders had conceived his own towering hatred of the teller, but he immediately turned it on the presumptuous crybaby in front of him. “Damned unfair,” he said. “Tragic, really. If they’re not chopping off the wrong leg, or bombing your ancestral village, they’re closing their positions.”

She stood her ground. “I didn’t say it was tragic,” she said. “I just think it’s a pretty lousy way to treat your customers.”

“Unforgivable,” Anders said. “Heaven will take note.”

She sucked in her cheeks but stared pas him and said nothing. Anders saw that the other woman, her friend, was looking in the same direction. And then the tellers stopped what they were doing, and the customers slowly turned, and silence came over the bank. Two men wearing black ski masks and blue business suits were standing to the side of the door. One of them had a pistol pressed against the guard’s neck. The guard’s eyes were closed, and his lips were moving. The other man had a sawed-off shotgun. “Keep your big mouth shut!” the man with the pistol said, though no one had spoken a word. “One of you tellers hits the alarm, you’re all dead meat. Got it?”

The tellers nodded.

“Oh, bravo, “Anders said. “Dead meat.” He turned to the woman in front of him. “Great script, eh? The stern, brass-knuckled poetry of the dangerous classes.”

She looked at him with drowning eyes.

The man with the shotgun pushed the guard to his knees. He handed up the shotgun to his partner and yanked the guard’s wrists up behind his back and locked them together with a pair of handcuffs. He toppled him onto the floor with a kick between the shoulder blades. Then he took his shotgun back and went over to the security gate at the end of the counter. He was short and heavy and moved with peculiar slowness, even torpor. “Buzz him in,” his partner said. The man with the shotgun opened the gate and sauntered along the line of tellers, handing each of them a Hefty bag. When he came to the empty position he looked over at the man with the pistol, who said, “Whose slot is that?”

Anders watched the teller. She put her hand to her throat and turned to the man she’d been talking to. He nodded. “Mine,” she said.

Tobias Wolff 1 / 4Bullet in the Brain

“Then get your ugly ass in gear and fill that bag.”

“There you go,” Anders said to the woman in front of him. “Justice is done.”

“Hey! Bright boy! Did I tell you talk?”

“No,” Anders said.

“Then shut your trap.”

“Did you hear that?” Anders said. “’Bright boy.’ Right out of ‘The Killers’.”

“Please be quiet,” the woman said.

“Hey, you deaf or what?” The man with the pistol walked over to Anders. He poked the weapon into Anders’ gut. “You think I’m playing games?”

“No,” Anders said, but the barrel tickled like a stiff finger and he had to fight back the titters. He did this by making himself stare into the man’s eyes, which were clearly visible behind the holes in the mask: pale blue, and rawly red-rimmed. The man’s left eyelid kept twitching. He breathed out a piercing, ammoniac smell that shocked Anders more than anything that had happened, and he was beginning to develop a sense of unease when the man prodded him again with the pistol.

“You like me, bright boy?” he said. “You want to suck my dick?” “No,” Anders said. “Then stop looking at me.” Anders fixed his gaze on the man’s shiny wing-top shoes.

“Not down there. Up there.” He stuck the pistol under Anders’ chin and pushed it upward until Anders was looking at the ceiling.

Anders had never paid much attention to that part of the bank, a pompous old building with marble floors and counters and pillars, and gilt scrollwork over the tellers’ cages. The domed ceiling had been decorated with mythological figures whose fleshy, toga-draped ugliness Anders had taken in at a glance many years earlier and afterward declined to notice. Now he had no choice but to scrutinize the painter’s work. It was even worse than he remembered, and all of it executed with the utmost gravity. The artist had a few tricks up his sleeve and used them again and again – a certain rosy blush on the underside of the clouds, a coy backward glance on the faces of the cupids and fauns. The ceiling was crowded with various dramas, but the one that caught Anders’ eye was Zeus and Europa – portrayed, in this rendition, as a bull ogling a cow from behind a haystack. To make the cow sexy, the painter had canted her hips suggestively and given her long, droopy eyelashes through which she gazed back at the bull with sultry welcome. The bull wore a smirk and his eyebrows were arched. If there’d been a bubble coming out of his mouth, it would have said, “Hubba hubba.”

“What’s so funny, bright boy?” “Nothing.”

Tobias Wolff 2 / 4

Bullet in the Brain

“You think I’m comical? You think I’m some kind of clown?” “No.” “You think you can fuck with me?” “No.”

“Fuck with me again, you’re history. Capiche?”

Anders burst our laughing. He covered his mouth with both hands and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” then snorted helplessly through his fingers and said, “Capiche – oh, God, capiche,” and at that the man with the pistol raised the pistol and shot Anders right in the head.

The bullet smashed Anders’ skull and ploughed through his brain and exited behind his right ear, scattering shards of bone into the cerebral cortex, the corpus callosum, back toward the basal ganglia, and down into the thalamus. But before all this occurred, the first appearance of the bullet in the cerebrum set off a crackling chain of ion transports and neuro-transmissions. Because of their peculiar origin these traced a peculiar patter, flukishly calling to life a summer afternoon some forty years past, and long since lost to memory. After striking the cranium the bullet was moving at 900 feet per second, a pathetically sluggish, glacial pace compared to the synaptic lighting that flashed around it. Once in the brain, that is, the bullet came under the mediation of brain time, which gave Anders plenty of leisure to contemplate the scene that, in a phrase he would have abhorred, “passed before his eyes.”

It is worth noting what Ambers did not remember, given what he did remember. He did not remember his first lover, Sherry, or what he had most madly loved about her, before it came to irritate him – her unembarrassed carnality, and especially the cordial way she had with his unit, which she called Mr. Mole, as in, “Uh-oh, looks like Mr. Mole wants to play,” and “Let’s hide Mr. Mole!” Anders did not remember his wife, whom he had also loved before she exhausted him with her predictability, or his daughter, now a sullen professor of economics at Dartmouth. He did not remember standing just outside his daughter’s door as she lectured her bear about his naughtiness and described the truly appalling punishments Paws would receive unless he changed his ways. He did not remember a single line of the hundreds of poems he had committed to memory in his youth so that he could give himself the shivers at will – not “Silent, upon a peak in Darien,” or “My God, I heard this day,” or “All my pretty ones? Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?” None of these did he remember; not one. Anders did not remember his dying mother saying of his father, “I should have stabbed him in his sleep.”

He did not remember Professor Josephs telling his class how Athenian prisoners in Sicily had been released if they could recite Aeschylus, and then reciting Aeschylus himself, right there, in the Greek. Anders did not remember how his eyes had burned at those sounds. He did not remember the surprise of seeing a college classmate’s name on the jacket of a novel not long after they graduated, or the respect he had felt after reading the book. He did not remember the pleasure of giving respect.

Nor did Anders remember seeing a woman leap to her death from the building opposite his own just days after his daughter was born. He did not remember shouting, “Lord have mercy!” He did not remember deliberately crashing his father’s car in to a tree, of having his ribs kicked in by three policemen at an anti-war rally, or waking himself up with laughter. He did not remember when he began to regard the heap of books on his desk with boredom and dread, or when he grew angry at

Tobias Wolff 3 / 4

Bullet in the Brain

writers for writing them. He did not remember when everything began to remind him of something else.

This is what he remembered. Heat. A baseball field. Yellow grass, the whirr of insects, himself leaning against a tree as the boys of the neighborhood gather for a pickup game. He looks on as the others argue the relative genius of Mantle and Mays. They have been worrying this subject all summer, and it has become tedious to Anders: an oppression, like the heat.

Then the last two boys arrive, Coyle and a cousin of his from Mississippi. Anders has never met Coyle’s cousin before and will never see him again. He says hi with the rest but takes no further notice of him until they’ve chosen sides and some asks the cousin what position he wants to play. “Shortstop,” the boy says. “Short’s the best position they is.” Anders turns and looks at him. He wants to hear Coyle’s cousin repeat what he’s just said, but he knows better than to ask. The others will think he’s being a jerk, ragging the kid for his grammar. But that isn’t it, not at all – it’s that Anders is strangely roused, elated, by those final two words, their pure unexpectedness and their music. He takes the field in a trance, repeating them to himself.

The bullet is already in the brain; it won’t be outrun forever, or charmed to a halt. In the end it will do its work and leave the troubled skull behind, dragging its comet’s tail of memory and hope and talent and love into the marble hall of commerce. That can’t be helped. But for now Anders can still make time. Time for the shadows to lengthen on the grass, time for the tethered dog to bark at the flying ball, time for the boy in right field to smack his sweat-blackened mitt and softly chant, They is, they is, they is.

The short film (in two parts), by Davis Von Ancken.

Enjoy!

-LCWB.