Friday, May 20, 2011



New. New York. New World… de novo.

For there was always the new, and if I was wrong anywhere it was there. For although life bifurcates and branches and forces us, with a steely agency that seems to not be our own, to transform us into something that we are not, often something simply horrid, it is always new, and as a consequence invested with at least an embryo of hope.

There is always the glimmer that perhaps the evolutionary tracks we seem to see, that appear to mark out the pathway of our life, were placed there for our own welfare. In life, eventually, and especially in self-imposed confinement, all people blend into a succession of neat and polar opposites, and behind this procession time beats out a steady, monotonous rhythm to indicate the topology of that irregular grade; a force whispers in our malformed little ears that perhaps there is a pattern snaking and weaving between legs both rotund and slim, arms atrophied and rugged, heads elongated and bold, faces animated and rosy or flattened and dead. Humanity is only a variation of a theme.

Eventually, after a period of latency, following a detumesence of considerable length visions shimmer into focus. Existing as I do on the naked flip side of human existence, I am privy to unseen forces that guide destiny. But I have neither the will, nor the inclination, to lay that bear here. Let us just say that Chaos and Order have more masks than any classical scheme. The complexity is vine ripe and rich. It’s intricacies are baroque and spellbinding. It is not for you to know.

Suffice it to say, being torn, rent, and suffering irrevocable division, spreads its manifold ills ever outward, not like ripples in a placid pond but like the arms of a cyclone. A hand raised up with a whip is a more debased stance than the poor creature receiving the blows, and if you are one of the unfortunates and carry that cleft within you, the damage is even more ruinous.

Little choice remains: cells, tissues, bones, will be sundered; intestines crushed from their own weight; a stomach shrunken from the top heavy coil of an esophagus gigantically deformed. Will it all sluice out, or will your heavy body, your whalesque rib cage, your calcified pelvis, be an adequate vessel? What good is a body if it can’t contain itself? Why should growth grow unrestricted, when there is no place left to go?

Example: once, walking about one night, my heavy shadow cast over a door frame, and I saw two men, one black and white, huddling in the cold. My presence frightened them, and for a brief and enchanting moment their bodies merged. I, of course, moved on, but they found solidarity even if it was fleeting.

For what is hope, after all, if not the promise that somehow we are not truly an isolated cell, that even when we turn the lights off, there is someone else in the dark that has the same burning awareness of the perpetual need for merger, of connection, again and again…

For periodically the veil is removed from my eyes.

The veil is removed from my eyes and I see, despite everything that clutters even my penetrating field of vision, (and despite my enormity) I’m truly just a pin prick of flesh. The pageant of human existence envelopes, enfolds, and diminishes me. For every man and woman that couples, and that strange admixture of the two that will result, takes a piece of flesh from me. What will happen to me? I have to make room --- give up one more precious atom of solitude for the newest version of the first man -- Adam. For the pain of being torn asunder necessitates the joy of reunion; they are the point-counter-point of the same immutable chain.

Example two: Homer is a white worm. I am a black behemoth. We are worse than Gog and Magog, for our struggles are a farce without ultimate meaning. Neither the righteous or the doomed feast on our flesh. Just a mammoth carcass and a dead worm under a rotting brownstone roof.

Example three: a glittering white flash and from this bafflement, clarity, from the bubbling pot of memory float up isolated gems for inspection, fragments that seemed displaced and incongruous then, but now stand proudly as new hope’s exemplar:

Homer and I are five and six respectively. We are both identical in height, weight, stature, and skin color. People often mistake us for identical twins; a truly edenic symmetry.

Mother’s wrists, smothered in peppermint, hold our small hands in her delicate, firm grasp. Father, a man walking at a brisk pace in front of us, grasps a light overnight carpet bag. His brown suit is in the fashionable checkerboard pattern of the time as he cuts a swatch through the dense Grand Central Station crowd.

I feel Grand and Central despite my diminutive size, despite my parody with Homer, despite the obvious rift between Father and Mother. The Union is splitting and to fill in that awful crack I grow, and it never ceases. But none of that now. On that day I’m small, hopping, skipping, singing, and it annoys and amuses Mother simultaneously. She tugs at me, admonishes.

“Come along Langley, don’t be so rambunctious!”

But I am happy, so I do not stop, but step up my hi-jinks several notches, twisting and wrenching her slender weak arms. All the mixing crowds of commuters and travelers seemed to my immature eye just the clowns of fate, and I felt immutable and fixed, next to their tragically mutable flesh. Everyone was a puppet on a string, but I was free to dance and sing among them. Ticket booth windows, banks of gray phones, subway platforms, the ceiling like a substitute sky, were all mine --- the vast, multitudinous array entered my mind wholesale --- without pain or pressure.

The heads, the arms, the legs in pants or skirts, the torsos in jackets, moving in straight lines, zig-zags, diagonally across the floor in concentric lines or circles. They enchanted me into action! They cast a spell over me! One final struggle and I broke free of Mother. I heard her utter a shrill cry of “Langley!” but it was too late.

The veil had fallen from my eyes, and I wanted to see what life was like without milky cataracts. Suddenly, none of my senses were adequate. I wanted to puncture a hole in my body and create a portal, a new open ended organ to perceive the subtle flowing undulations of this outlandishly beautiful medium I was skipping through; a medium both inadequate and wonderful! A new day and the full day of my life that had not yet begun!

My skip turned into a run, my run into a deadly sprint. My shoes were tightening, my little boy short trousers stretching over an expanding thigh, a school boy’s vest growing taut over expanding pectorals… no, that was merely a vision of a possible future. It bubbled in my mind’s eye and I saw it with concave clarity, mirrored on a small dollop of colored light on its outer skin, illustrating that the image existed only on a surface of that floating orb, like a child’s blown bubble, that I was still new, that I still had hope, that I could move beyond appearance, that I was tender, that I could, if I only kept my level forward momentum --- not cascade into lock-step definition, into drone like uniformity– but stay ever forward and changeless ---

One may as well begin here:

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