I am urged out rummaging into the sunshine, and the depths increase of blue above. A paper hat on a cone of water … But, already, words … She is lying on her stomach with one eye closed, driving a toy truck along the road she has cleared with her fingers. I am not exaggerating when I say that everything that I have come to know about the absolute discontiguity (the best translation of chorismos I can come up with) of law and justice is in the shape of the opening bassoon phrase, and that every compelling submission to one’s rage appears as a distorted reflection of it. This evening I am in bed feeling upset – getting used to new defensive reactions, getting used to how they feel in my body, and how my body feels with them outside. How they cut through that division. My cigarettes taste like evidence bags, and I am less good at being still. My ear feels more oblique, or maybe the music does. “Sprecht leise! Haltet euch zurück! Wir sind belauscht mit Ohr und Blick.” To speak quietly and to tarry remains the most difficult thing. I make an appointment to get the necessary shots and, to my surprise, am seen by an infectious disease specialist, a slim woman with a Russian accent and fishnet stockings. She confirms my short list of shots and, after her nurse administers them to me, returns with an inch-thick packet on the health hazards of travel to Ethiopia. She tells me to memorize the section on eating and drinking, which suggests, among other things, bringing disinfectant wipes for the rims of glasses, and never accepting a bottle of anything that wasn’t opened in front of you. She points a red-tipped nail to the Food Safety chapter and recites a rule of thumb: The worst thing you can eat is a salad, the best is a banana. She says, if it were me, I’d stick to beer and wine. Though not endorsed by the treaty commissioner, I would like to acknowledge this book was written in the said country. While this book was written, contested territory was tested. I would like to acknowledge the Secwepemc, the Cree and the Algonquin nations, upon whose territories this book was written. The land was “shovel ready”. I would like to acknowledge I did not ask for permission, that I felt too uncomfortable to ask and didn’t know how to, that I don’t know if asking is the answer because I barely know the questions. I got Charlotte a doll because all her toys are her brother’s old toys and I thought well maybe I will get her a doll but when I gave her the doll she screamed really loudly. Are you back yet? OK, then, walk with me. Exiting Girard Station, I notice a white-bearded man leaning on a walker saying, “Good afternoon, can you spare some money for lunch,” while you, already down the block, stop at a table set up by an old lady. She’s selling old pots, five single rolls of toilet paper and an ashtray. Reality is reaffirmed, and humans are allowed to live within it alongside the sea urchins, kudzu, quasars, Tesla coils and, tumbling in vented steel cylinders, chiles crackling over an open flame. The scale of such operation is varied: the cell feeds and divides to repopulate the organ that circulates blood to the limb of the body that lifts the burrito up to the floodlight, screen print, Mastercard, rubber, asphalt, taco, Karmann Ghia, waste bin, oil stain. So I have a friend who lives in Port Townsend, Washington. I sent him some news. He wrote me back at 4:45 AM his time. “Insomnia,” he wrote. I sent him a picture of the “Grand Vizier” and told him he needs one of these magical blimp hats for sleeping. Why, if you’re wearing a hat like that to bed, you’re going to dream of the 2,000,000 year old man inside you, or woman inside you, and just as Jung either did or didn’t say, you will have some fun with your instincts. The day José died, I was working in the lounge of our English department. My mentor, and more importantly, José’s friend, Robert McRuer came in and told me on his way to a meeting. I walked down to my own office, stopping to knock on Holly Dugan’s door. Holly and I hugged. We didn’t say much. We felt, a cliché I so usually backspace from every poem or essay. I’m a twenty-something hipster, for Christ’s sake. José and I did meet in person once, at the American Studies Association this past November. We didn’t have long, just a passing ten minutes between panels where we sat and had a Coke in the lobby. José loved that the conference was at the Washington Hilton, where Ronald Reagan had been shot in 1981. Of course I don’t wish death on anyone, José said, but can you imagine? But then again, the first Bush presidency was total shit, too. I laughed. Now show me this Frank O’Hara tattoo. I unbuttoned the top of my shirt to reveal the typewriter inked there. José tapped the space bar with his pointer finger. Started singing, Tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen. Pour myself a cup of ambition. We laughed. Of course we both love Dolly, I said, I have to get back to the bookfair. He gave me a hug, Keep me posted on the dissertation, as he kissed my cheek, and shave, why don’t you.
[Note: Sources: Lyn Hejinian, quoted in Marthe Reed, FB post, 6 Dec 013; Jacob Bard-Rosenberg, FB post, 6 December 013 (re, Beethoven, Fidelio, Act 1.7); Anna Moschovakis, “A is for Addis / This Makes Me Think”, quoted in PEN, “PEN Poetry Series: Anna Moschovakis”, email rec’d 6 Dec 013 approx 10:30 AM PST; Shane Rhodes, “You Are Here”, at The Toronto Quarterly, 17 Sept 013; Sandra Simonds, FB post, 6 Dec 013; Linh Dinh, “Away From This Mind Rape”, at Detainees, 6 Dec 013; Ian Bogost, “TACOS, ENCHILADAS, BURRITOS, CHILES, &C.: A Mexican Food Index to Alien Phenomenology”, at Ian Bogost Blog, 5 Dec 013; JBR; Stephen Kuusisto, “Insomnia and the Hats of Sleep”, at Planet of the Blind, 6 Dec 013; D Gilson, “Having a Coke With You: For José Esteban Munoz (1966-2013)”, at punctum books, 6 Dec 013]