Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Get So Wound Up

The stubby gray mouse afraid of Sandy West trembles next to the radiator cap and is easily pulled off. Only a boorish, carbuncular dolt, only a mouse, would sleep next to the radiator after Kate Korus turned it off. The mouse rubbed its shoe next to the radiator -- nervous because Poly Styrene might be watching him. Nothing moved except the foolish hair of their tails waving at Wendy O. Williams from the scorched radiator slats. The old goldfish splashed in the radiator; with my teeth, I pulled out his heart. Because the concrete is loose where the radiator pipe connects to the wall, mice think they can rip off pieces of it and Viv Albertine will play with them instead of chew their fat jugular veins. Romi Mori and Lene Lovich were sleeping next to the radiator when I scolded the catnip that lives inside the felt-wrapped carrot with a bell attached to it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rinpoche in the Tree

"What if Condoleezza Rice steals your food again?" he asked.

"I can't do it alone, Mayakovsky Tree. If I can't protect a grand piano or birthday cake, then how can I carry my heart?"

He tilted forward in the breeze. An bouquet of squirrel-bole leaves fell and floated away.

"Your food is gone. The Secretary of State is sitting in the bedroom closet like she owns the place. She's eating Prairie Brand Salmon and Brown Rice with Rumsfeld in the upturned HP Laser-Print paper box."

The Mayakovsky Tree was turning bald, like he does every autumn. Branches bare, leaves transparent green.

"You've lost everything," he added. "Your restless, agitated mind is stunned, and thoughts subside."

Sogyal Rinpoche sat on a far branch, drinking tea and looking sleepy. His round head was reliable. He chewed a piece of rye toast.

"There's sudden, deep stillness," Rinpoche said. "Almost bliss. No more struggle. No effort. So one moment you have lost it all, but in the next moment your mind is resting in a deep state of peace."

He paused for a long time. I could've fallen asleep in the bathtub, walked inside an empty grocery bag, licked myself, or chased down a shoelace.

Eventually, he said, "When this kind of experience occurs, don't rush to find a solution. Remain in that state of stillness. Allow it to be a gap. In that gap you can catch a glimpse of your deathless nature, Shimmy."

"I, who praised the mouse buried in salad . . . am I perhaps quite simply the thirteenth apostle in an ordinary gospel?" I asked.

Rinpoche disappeared. His strange teacup quivered on the branch.

"If your voice rumbles bawdily," The Mayakovsky Tree said, swaying, "then from hour-to-hour around the clock, Jesus Christ may be sniffing the forget-me-nots of your soul!"

Sunday, October 22, 2006


"Mayakovsky Tree, what's bardo?"

Squirrel leaves in his bole, singularly arranged and clever. Laid out wet, matted, silent. It's getting colder, squirrels' necks compressed and elegant, waiting to die.

"Just another reality," he said, leaning backward in the breeze. His leaves are pinched and translucent this weekend. "It's an intermediate state, Shimmy. Where we go when we think we are still alive."

"Like Colin Powell going to the U.N. on February 5, 2003, and lying about mushroom clouds?" I asked.

"You've seen the squirrels squeeze their foliage in my bole. I've watched you watch their courteous stomachs."

"Their narrow, delicious necks. Their depredatory feet."

He said, "Staring at the daily sun, people ask: 'How much do they cost, these little sunbeams?' But for a little patch of light jumping on the wall, you would give everything in the world."

"When the radiator turns on, it makes shadows between the floorboards," I said. I licked my unmitigable left arm. "The wind blows winsome fish from Lake Michigan through the screen windows. A jaded water-bug crawled up the wall this morning."

"Move back there, citizens!" he said. "The insect has fallen asleep. It has crossed its legs and wishes to rest. Our city may be justly proud of itself! Scientists and tourists will flock to us."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Episode Ten: "Tiempo di Silencio"

MARY: I don't understand, Rhoda. It's against the law for the FBI to interrogate a 14-year-old girl unless her parents are in the room.

RHODA: Not anymore.

MARY: I feel safer because Julia Wilson took down her MySpace page.

RHODA: Careful, Mary. Think about what the White House did to Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill.

MARY: Fuck Saddam. He is a seraglio of sulfur, bicarbonate of soda, exotic meals, and brutal perfumes.

RHODA: Do you see Clarke and O'Neill anymore? Where did they go? Think about it, Mary. Even their social security numbers have been reassigned.

MARY: I cannot in good conscience renew my copyright on Bob Woodward.

RHODA: Last night, I dreamed I was squatting in a downtown loft with Raoul Vaneigem. Our ceiling was just a giant transparent tarp fastened with duct-tape. I complained about the steady drizzle that came into our living space.

MARY: Was Vaneigem pro-troops?

RHODA: The sole authority is one's own lived experience: and this everyone must prove to everyone else.

MARY: I can sit in the bathtub for hours until water comes out. No one can stop me.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Leave Me Alone, Mark Foley

"Shimmy, I see you," The Mayakovsky Tree said. "Pedestrians have trodden my chest flatter than consumption."

They pile mangy leaves, the rubbish and detritus of the neighborhood, in the bole of The Mayakovsky Tree. Thick flotsam and jetsam, ripe, a trick of the eye. Squirrels gather leaves for their surly bed, nestle their loathsome bodies in the bole.

I am waiting. Watching closely through the screened window next to Tony's computer desk.

"Shimmy, listen. God, who had been plundered, is advancing in his wrath."

"Happy are those who are called to his feast!"

They swish their malignant, chafing tails. I'm unstoppable. I can eat them anytime I want. Crush their isosceles heads with my fangs.

The Mayakovsky Tree flicked branches at the screen. He swayed backward in the wind.

He said, "Mark Foley, squatting down, bawled, Let's go and guzzle! 'Swine' and 'borsch' -- how with two such words we celebrate the Republican party, flowerets under the dew."

"Foley must leave me alone. I could show you the transcripts, Mayakovsky Tree. They're more disgusting than Dennis Hastert's porcine jiggle."

"Assist me," he said. "Implore for a hymn or an oratorio."

"He's stalking me but no one cares. The Secret Service pulled a 14-year-old girl, Julia Wilson, from her classroom because of her MySpace page. And Condoleezza Rice stole my food yesterday. It was panic. Pandemonium. But the State Department won't protect me. The President of the War on Terror knows no God but Mammon!"

Two squirrels skittered up the right wall of the V-shaped bole. They are acute, scalene. Their blistery necks could taste like wet onions. What is that clicking noise in the living room? I rubbed my forehead against the screen. Autumn is the season of blood.

"I can't remember what you were saying, Mayakovsky Tree."

"We in our vigor, whose stride measures yards, must not listen to squirrels but tear them apart."

"What if a bat flew into my mouth?

"The sun dims on seeing the gold fields of our souls."

"Are they pulling children out of high-school classrooms because Mark Foley is stalking me? Because Condoleezza Rice steals my food? Because I was taken -- again! -- to the Den of Spies yesterday, wrapped in a blanket, drugged, touched, recognized, x-rayed, poked, sniffed, opened, touched, blamed, washed, x-rayed, kneaded, shamed, vulcanized, surveilled, cleaned, clipped, and touched?"

The Mayakovsky Tree shook with the weight of October wind.

He said, "That's not the way to do it. If any such emergency occurs, roll your eyes as if you were jealous of Dr. Kissinger's broken, hoary lips. Step back to the wall and rub yourself rapidly against some statue or other."
"Is that a bobbling water bug climbing up the bathroom tiles?"

"Shimmy, in the smart society where you move, there's always a hell of a lot of statues and vases."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Review: The Last King of Scotland

The red comforter on the bed glittered asymmetrically beneath me. I smelled Ashland Avenue on Tony's shoes as they stuttered across the floor. I know he and Shelly visited Clyde last night -- the shadow of his gray whiskers and inconsequential fur lingered on Tony's fingertips. He picked up his phone and called Shelly. Was she bringing home goldfish, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, newts, or water bugs? Of course not. Tony told her he bought tickets for the 7:45 showing of The Last King of Scotland. Why should I care? He touched my forehead with a light brush of his Clyde-ravaged fingertips. Then he was gone. A feeble sunset came through the terrifying new Venetian blinds they just bought for the bedroom. I fled to the closet, into the demilitarized zone of the upturned HP Laser Jet paper box lid beneath the hem of Shelly's dresses. Why was I chased? I smelled sulfur. Paul Wolfowitz chased some birds. A string of dental floss chased me and I fell.

Why did an abhorrent mouse wander into Clyde's apartment and not mine? A fruit fly from a rotting banana in the garbage chased me out of my regular meal-times and scratched my legs.

I fell asleep and Rumsfeld's Zuni warrior doll delivered a note from Mark Foley: "how [sic] my favorite young vixen doing? lol." Was that the pithy click of the red laser-dot pointer? Or Dennis Hastert's porcine jiggle? The scrape of a squirrel on the window sill? I heard the hushy swing of Shelly's backpack as she reached for her keys. Hours passed; the apartment was dark now. Had I been asleep that long? Hurry, Shelly, the careless Zuni doll was gone -- back to his squatter's loft -- and spats of sulfur were popping under the bed. Hurry. I had been sleeping for hours. I dreamed that I was angry at Clyde, the cat downstairs, because a stupid, baleful mouse wandered into Clyde's apartment and not mine. I threw Tony and Shelly's keys into a storm drain on Clark Street.

"My first encounter with the word dada was not Tristan Tzara," Tony said as they walked into the apartment. Where's the rabbit, lizard, bumblebee, or moth? Nowhere in the void of your gesticulating hands. "It was as a child, when I learned Idi Amin's full name was Idi Amin Dada. Then I discovered he also proclaimed himself 'Lord of All Beasts of the Earth and Fish in the Sea': I realized just how expansive the world outside my family really was." In my dream, The Mayakovsky Tree said to me: "We know you go there. It’s important for you. Keep going. Here’s the key." The tendrils of the upturned HP laser-print paper box were distressing and ample beneath my chin. I listened closely, but I couldn't hear anything coming from the bathtub.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Haunting

GRADY GIRLS: Come play with us, Shimmy.

ME: Go away.

GRADY GIRLS: You know why we're here.

ME: You're making me angry.

GRADY GIRLS: They're taking you back to the Uptown Animal Hospital.

ME: I made Dr. Kolm move away. I scared him. He moved to the suburbs.

GRADY GIRLS: He's not the only doctor there. You know that, Shimmy.

ME: Dr. Kissinger wears a butcher's apron. There was blood on the walls.

GRADY GIRLS: Why don't you come play with us? Forever. And ever. And ever.

ME: They can't take me there. I don't want to hear any more stories about Salvador Allende.

GRADY GIRLS: They can do anything they want.

ME: Literally, they can't take me there. They sold their car.

GRADY GIRLS: They joined a car-sharing organization.

ME: Fucking hippies.

GRADY GIRLS: They will drive you to a follow-up appointment at the vet. In their car-sharing sedan. Unless you come play with us, Shimmy.

ME: Why do you say my name like that?