On Friday, August 28, I’ll be participating in a tribute to Jack Kirby conducted by Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. and featuring Steve Rude (!!!) So I’ve been doing some Kirby immersion, preparing for the event. One of Kirby’s creations was The Demon, who’d transform from the human with the incantation, “Leave, leave the form of man/Rise the Demon, Etrigan!” I always thought of him as a tortured soul. And in my novel attempt Auld Lang Synapse, I had an untortured soul who nonetheless was foredoomed from prebirth to be vastly different from his fellow human beings. His name was Noel the Fork.

Today, then, I did an odd mashup. I took the Excel grid upon which I constructed the sonnet encapsulation of Auld Lang Synapse, in acrostic form and strict as to characters/spaces per line, and did a line drawing of a creature that partakes both of Etrigan and Noel.

auld lang sonnet illo 082215

in the dream, the sad-eyed cyclops welcomed the dreamer/tourist.
the room was spacious, but the dreamer found it abutted a long corridor

that bent at slight angles at every door,
and the only way out of the ground floor
was through the dreamer’s room.

as if in apology, the cyclops handed the dreamer
a huge fistful of coins of his realm,
and the dreamer struggled

to look into the gentleman’s eye
with neither pity nor fascination.

the cyclops left and the dreamer was alone,
but he knew he had better wake up soon

or the dream would ossify
into the real.

Three Novembers ago I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I succeeded in that my word count exceeded 50,000 and my story had a beginning, a middle, and an end or two; but it was a horrible, disorganized mess with “unpublishable” written all over it. Still, I’m glad I went through all that.

Here is Chapter 29 of Auld Lang Synapse, unedited.

****

Chapter 29: The strange, continuing tale of Calvin and Iliana

Calvin reworked the faces and forms of his figure study to remove the resemblance to Iliana. Then he photographed the result and e-mailed a gallery, got funding for foundrification, employed the lost wax technique to turn it to bronze, and had it cast. It had never occurred to Cyril and Iliana that he would do this, and they hmmmmmed—but Cyril bought one of the castings through a dummy anyway. To Cyril’s (rare) astonishment, this infuriated Iliana, and she left Cyril Kowznofski for good, taking a substantial quantum of the smartest of the smart dust with her.

Exceeding her allotment of doorstep-drama scenarios by at least six, Iliana rang Calvin’s doorbell yet again.

This time he didn’t come to the door. He used the intercom instead: “You’re torturing me, Eely. Kindly get lost.”

“I’ve left Cyril for good.”

“So?”

“I want to be with you. I REALLY want to be with you. I miss you so much!”

“Are you going to suddenly become monogamous, Eel? You can’t. You won’t.”

“Maybe things will be different with the dust. I have some. I want to try it with you.”

Long silence. Calvin’s muscles were bunched, the bite-muscles most of all. Iliana waited on the darkening porch, weeping softly.

The lock clicked. “I’m in the studio. Please lock the door behind you.”

Iliana did, and turned lights on in the night-dark house as she went through it. She was surprised to see a dish in the sink and a rag on the floor of the kitchen—outside his studio Cal was fastidiously clean. She was gratified when a quick peek into the bedroom revealed no circumstantial evidence of recent effbuddy visitation. After a moment’s reflection, she decided to bring the dust and its support apparatus to the studio, rather than leave it in the bedroom where it would most likely be used.

In the studio, Cal was making either tall vases or bird-bodies. –No, it was birds: one leather-hard flamingo lay on its side on one of the tables.

“Hi.”

Furrowbrowed “Hey.” Cal squeezed a water-laden sponge on the rim of the form he was throwing on his wheel, and the inside and outside wall got a little water-skin from it. He pulled the form to another five inches of height, then switched the wheel off and toweled his hands and arms. She saw bleakness in his eyes as he regarded her.

“Iliana, I don’t know what it’s like to use the dust. I never have. I don’t know if I ever want to. Why should I?”

Iliana, simply: “For love, Calvin. For love of the woman who belongs to you.”

Quoting a song, Cal said, “What’s love/But a second hand emotion?” He was a Tina Turner fan, and he could not sing worth beans.

Iliana just looked at him through teardrops.

Eight minutes and thirty-six seconds passed.

“Tell you what—let’s go get something to eat, and talk about it.” So they got in Calvin’s green Green Jeeper and went to Red Devil Pizza. Iliana had red wine there, and Cal a root beer, and they shared a big antipasto salad and an extra-large mushroom/sun-dried tomato/artichoke-hearted pie with extra cheese. The while, Iliana told Cal about some of the more exotic discoveries Kowznofski had made with different formulations of dust, and described what made the batch of dust she’d brought so special.

“This stuff is like a blender with different speeds. You don’t strobe back and forth, you blend. If it’s at 50 percent you, Calvin, will be able to see through both of our eyes, and hear my thoughts and yours at the same time. At 100 percent we’re in each others’ bodies. But at 5 percent you just get a hint of me. This is especially good for people like you, who’ve never dusted before.”

“What’s being with Kowznofski like, Iliana,” Calvin asked, with a bit of self-loathing for having asked.

“I never did it with him. I’ve never done it with a lover, Cal. Not to say that Cyril didn’t want to. You and I will both be virgins to this.”

“Cmon, Iliana. Don’t tell me you never dusted with anyone.”

“Didn’t say I didn’t. I dusted with my chess teammates. For their sake, not mine. I did get a little out of the session with Katsuji, though. He is wily.”

“That’s it?”

“Not quite. I put in some volunteer time at the Hospice, but I was asleep and pain-blocked. I have a video. She got to dance ballroom and flirt. It was chaperoned, and a good thing.”

Calvin Enwright could not but smile. “Well, good for you on that one. No pets? No touch of the strange in those weird ‘petting zoos’?”

“No. I’m TELLING you, Calvin. I didn’t want to be really close with anyone but you.”

They finished what they wanted of the pizza and had the rest boxed up. On the drive back they briefly discussed what the dust did and what they would do with it.

Now they were in Cal’s studio, both facing small dust cannons (not much different than the equipment found in the optometrist’s office that administers the glaucoma “puff test”). They closed their eyes, Iliana flipped the switch, and their faces were puff-dusted.

They opened their eyes and looked at each other. Calvin shrugged. He felt no differ—

He got a hint of double vision, an odd overlap of tactility—

They stood and faced each other. Iliana said “Make something on your wheel” as Calvin mouthed her words—

Calvin told Iliana without words to find some music and dance for him on the platform. He (hint of they) got the wheelhead spinning, moistened it with a corpuscular sponge, and threw a five-pound plug of the Rod’s Bod clay body hard on the center of the wheelhead. Dreamily, Eely began undulating to a breathy Macy Grey song. Cal could feel the pole against her back and the silk of her scarf sliding over her collarbones as she swooped sideways. Looking down, they found that Cal had formed the bowl of a loving cup from the Rod’s Bod.

They shut off the wheel/climbed down from the platform/walked in lockstep to the loungey front room/sprawled onto a couch, one’s knee on one’s outer thigh.

Control of the transfer was mutual or other-directed; they couldn’t tell. Tactility was wild; a hand skimming on an other-bodied flesh sparked gentle lightning. As this happened they wandered through the memory trove of their one larger mind, sharing their first kiss and discovering that they really had been in perfect synchronization of want of it. This took them to desire and the removal of their clothing.

In the bedroom the minds parted for a time; the possession switched rhythmically and faster than a Ping-Pong match; when Iliana felt the wall of her own vagina through the tingling nerves of Calvin’s penis, they both gasped and quickly joined minds again. A guidance of motion that they had never achieved as individuals informed this new lovemaking, but that was mere enhancement to the mind-bliss. Orgiastic good-memory cascades and newfound-hope exploration drove them toward (theythey could tell) the inevitable peak—

The dust timed out. Suddenly they were exclusively in their own bodies and blind to shared thought.

Calvin gripped Iliana’s head and locked eyes with her. “We don’t need the fucking dust, Eely—look at me!!”

She did, and saw him, she saw him truly as she never had before, and felt him as well, and he her, and they weren’t blind any more, and they came just then, in astonishing slow silent motion. One of them wept on behalf of them both.

Side-facing, eyes closed, they wordlessly held each other until they fell asleep.

Miles away, Cyril Kowznofski, who had everything any of his post-Werewolf dust do beam a perceptual transmission of the dusts’ possessors to his sensory-recording studio, cursed himself for a weak-willed –voyeur but did not go so far as to commit the higher crime of invading Cal’s and Iliana’s privacy by viewing their doings. He did mark the datastream Special, and had a speed-dial-esque access code for it, should he weaken further.

****

dissatisfaction engenders achievement
achievement makes a person a different version of [her]self

a student may speak of “when i get my master’s”
meaning that there’s a master’s degree afloat in the future
that was always hers

but it was not
she needed  to become someone else to get it

“baby remember my name” sang the songbird irene cara
on her way to becoming someone else who bore the same name

and in the movie FAME in which she starred she was a victim
a sleazy wannabe movie director “auditioned” her
directing/commanding her to remove her top
and because her character burned so to become someone else
she did remove her top
and she cried with shame while doing so

and my humble opinion is her modesty so fueled her acting
that it was not acting
and i cried with and  for her

“and in time we will all be stars” is also in that revealing film

believe it friend

it makes it more true

The title of this post derives from the splendid, brutal novel Cool Hand Luke. Luke and his fellow fugitive Dragline are on the lam from prison personnel and their vicious, man-hunting hounds. Drag says he knows where they can get ahold of some nice, [generously-bosomed] country gals. Luke avers that they can’t be messing with women when they need to be making good their escape. “This bein’ free is hard work.”

And so it is. For me to be free of the matrix of indebtedness, ancillary guilt from being subsidized, and the various life-sucking distractions this evil world constantly proffers, I’ve taken a small, no-Internet-access apartment and a full-time, low-paying job that I can leave at the end of the workday without it following me. I’ve worn out my shoes to the point of harm, and then got a new pair that abraded the flesh atop my Achilles tendon into hamburger. I buy my toilet paper at the Family Dollar and my dollar-ninety-nine breakfast burrito at the QT.

But life is good. I had a wonderful day yesterday, my daughter Kate calling to ask for a guitar lesson and/or a movie (we saw the execrable FANTASTIC FOUR, knowing it would be bad, because that’s how we roll), and afterward, by prearrangement, I spent the night on the living-room couch of my ex-wife, getting the best night’s sleep I’ve had in many days. And today I had a quick and convivial lunch with the sweet and steadfast Joy Riner Taylor, and tonight we’ll be out on the town, not too lavishly.

While I was at Joni and Kate’s I saw one of Joni’s houseplants–she says a schefflera–in a planter I’d made a long time ago; I didn’t remember exactly when, but guessed ten years, then curiosity compelled me to hoist it up high and read the underside (I sign and date almost all my ceramic works). Sure enough, I’d done it in 2004. I was delighted to see it doing what I’d made it to do.

schefflera 080815

Bein’ free has been such hard work that my artwork and poetry have been nearly nil of late. (I put in eleven and a half hours of overtime last week, and public transportation and pedestrianism also take their toll.) But, Friends, I am finding my feet. Expect more from this source, well before the end of this month.

Nose blockage awoke me just shy of 4 a.m. My alarm was set for 4:45 but rising would enable me to arrive at work an hour earlier than intended, and squeeze in that much more overtime.

The walk was warm and humid, and a sweat-spot began to grow on the top side of my belly, which, though diminished, retains some convexity. I ended up taking off the shirt and waving it around to get some evaporation, and thought a little about the physics behind evaporative cooling.

Work was a pleasure. Despite a lack of sleep I was sharper than usual, and my Quality Assurance output reached an all-time high for one day.

On the walk home there was a dead pigeon. I felt ghoulish taking her picture, but she so reminded me of Rodin’s “Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone.”

golden pigeon

The Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone circa 1880-1, cast 1950 Auguste Rodin 1840-1917 Purchased 1950 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05955

The Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone circa 1880-1, cast 1950 Auguste Rodin 1840-1917 Purchased 1950 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05955

When I got home I fell into exhausted sleep. Not long after I woke my steady girlfriend Joy stopped by on her way home. We talked about her birthday, which is tomorrow, the weird skin-thing on my arm, which she agrees I should keep an eye on, and sewing, among other things. I walked her to her car and after she was gone I got a little money from an ATM and for the first time stopped by The Hideaway, a bar and grille close to where I live now.

hideaway

I’m still there, enjoying their Wi-Fi, eating some fantastic nachos made with super-fresh ingredients, and sipping on a Sprite. I’m up way past my bedtime, but some things are better than sleep.

(First appearance: Facebook, Poets All Call group, 26 July 2015. Poet Joseph Arechavala had posted a challenge to “wrote about any subject in Shakespearean English.” I have lost count of the number of sonnets I have written, but I know it was well into the three-hundreds in 2010, so i’m confident that i’ve gone beyond “ccclxxiii” and may shoehorn this into the canon.)

sonnet ccclxxiv

when we are by possessions too possess’d
and risk a heart for diamonds and the like
that heart is sour’d. acquisitive unrest
gives satisfaction chase, but fails to strike.

yet when we are by love most full unraptur’d
and risk our life and fortune for such love
possessions immaterial are captur’d
and we are dyed with rainbows from above.

the risk of loss is real and in its season
that dreaded loss will come, if soon or late,
and though with wrenchéd heart we plead for reason
some life is reasonless; such is our fate.

with time we may enjoy what had been felt
and then into eternity we melt . . .

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