NEUTRAL SPACES

NEUTRAL

SPACES

Stream #02

19th - 25th Jan 2019

fire



Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.
― Ludwig Wittgenstein





* * *


Gin in the attic. ‘Price Is Right’ in a room under me, the lush bleat of the big wheel turning. Smell of cabbage cooking.

Another version of me plinkos down all the stairs of the house and out into the world of new cars and heartbreak.

This version of me pulls out the stuffed goat from the corner of the attic and places it in the center of the room.

Picks a dusty book from the shelf and reads a few chapters to it.

Puts the book back.

Finds short-lived euphoria in the nothing. Senses the other half getting farther and farther away. Clocking in at a warehouse job. The goat tells this version, so imagine something better.

I feel like the sticky fur of the goat is a look I want to establish more in my life. 

I imagine peeling the goat and laying it gently over my head and face. 

I worry that the weight of the fur might make me uncomfortable. Like my breathing will be harder, heavier. Like living will take more effort. 

My breath as buttery steam. Nascent horns breaching a thunderhead of gnats, standing astride a rowboat capsized in white mud.

The shore is littered with beer bottles and sardine tins.

I think something like, of course it is, and then scold myself for thinking that.

I like eating garbage.

I like the way it makes my hands smell.

It feels important that I tell you I wish I didn't. But do I? And why?

I like eating the wrapper off a Minute Made fruit punch (2L bottle, $1.89) staring at fish bodies. I eat a Capzasin-HP applicator, a Cinnamon Toast Crunch, an acid-free photo album of Ocean City memories.

I chew on my social security card until my identity becomes mush.

I am now Pan!

O landfill’s companion!

Beautiful.

Rotting cabbage is timeless.

I make a pan flute out of non-biodegradable plastic straws.

A tune for rot: A trill of notes and my home falls down dead, materially slain. Nothing left but a trap door in the earth. What will the other version of me think when he returns home? When he tries to turn on the television that is not there? When he goes for the fridge? When his hand closes on swamplight?

Another version of me holds a glass eye in my palm and gazes into it like it was a crystal ball and sees another version of me in the kitchen stirring a pot. The walls take shallow breaths.

The walls taste a lonesome bouquet.

Car follows me home most nights. Slides on by when I pull off. Think maybe they know something I don't.

Think maybe I know something they don't. If they keep following me, they'll end up going nowhere.

One version of me gets off at exit 28 and the other continues heading south on 83.

They reconvene a few years later at the only diner for miles. They both order the same meal but are sitting such that neither ever notices the other. They both tip 20% and spend the rest of the evening feeling strongly that something more was meant to happen. They never see each other again.

I don't trust endings. They're so Doogie Howser. They're so "As the World Turns." Carrie Fisher wrote it best: "It's never really over. It's just over there."

So I keep driving. I keep eating at diners.

In the mirrors of hotel bathrooms I check for horns.

I move into a cheap room on Limerick Street. The room is in the attic. There is a book shelf lined with dusty books. There is a stuffed goat in the corner. A threadbare rug in the center of the room. A rocking chair. I feel like I’ve been here before. In another life.

I open one of the books and read. The story is about doppelgängers, game shows, goats in a garbage dump. I shut it. Take a hit of gin. Look in the mirror. Nothing there.

I died before my life ended. 

It’s never really over.

A moth locked in a piece of ice.

A glass eye. A New Hope. “The Blues Brothers.” Another version of me. 

I decide to change forms. I become a hurricane and blow the roof of the attic. 

There I am on CNN. Spiraling my way up the eastern seaboard. Wrecking shit.

They call me by a wrong name. What's a name anyways? The wind still blows. 

They still send cars. One after another. Window tint. Borrowed plates. I go home through the woods, through the construction yard, or else I don't go home at all. Stay out all night, like when I was a teenager.

I am looking for myself. 

I destroy a city. It doesn’t matter. They’ll build another one. Bigger. More densely populated. More cages. Smoke. Barking dogs. Crying babies. Sirens. Nonstop construction. 

Born guilty of some crime. They never told me what I even did wrong. Gave me a name and started a manhunt.

One version of me crossing a border. One version gets shot by the cops. One version of my falls asleep in the woods. Another version sits alone in an attic. One version of me is shot into space. One version becomes a tennis instructor with a taste for gin. One version of me becomes a meteorologist. One version of me becomes an arsonist.

The nights go on forever. And when you die you never even know what hit you anyway. So what’s time?

Soup’s on.

Can’t believe it’s time for dinner again. 

Me and five reflections sit around the table. Another refuses to come to the table, on his knees in front of the television, flicking through channels, nose almost to the screen. His eyes blue zeroes.

Tiny stones hit the window from outside — click, click, click.

We all hear a commercial hawking soup. Then a weather report. The canned laughter of a sitcom. A hockey game. A murder mystery.

It’s time.

Whatever that means.

“Wanna make a murder mystery?” I ask myselves...

We look at one another. Soon it’s unclear who asked the question but slowly a nod takes over anyway, unifying us.

Just remember time ends forever this Friday, one of us says. 

Telepathically.

We pass around a photo of the target.

They looks just like us.

Outside: the wind. A goat bleating.

Not just like us, we think in unison, assuring ourselves of some unimportant distinction that must be made. But nearly. Almost exactly.

A dog chases its tail in the halo of a neon sign.

I walk back a few years and show you this night in swatches. Your smile that’s somehow not. How bled-dry you are, eyes never leaving the ceiling. You lift each one to the light, you squint, you tell me every color is wrong and this can’t be you, could never be you. But it is.

We decide to buy a surveillance van.

We pool our resources and find a credit card that works.

Get six burner phones too.

Decide on some aliases.

This leads to arguments. To break the stalemate I pick up a kitchen knife and carve a little hash mark on my wrist. I hold it up to show the others.

Who throws away a kitchen knife?

At least now I’ll know which one is me.

One of the vans had a logo. Some kind of contractor, garbage pick-up, painting company, roofers, something like that. Little horns on a little goat. Bold letters below. Idling in the driveway. Every night it's there. So we stop bothering. They can have it. They can take it all.

We pass around the knife until it comes back to me.

We wait in the van watching ourselves. 

I spin the knife. It always stops on me. 

It’s like a curse. I break a mirror just to have something to blame. I pass around six pieces of the broken mirror to my six selves.

We look at ourselves. The van is still in the street outside the house.

Crowded in the back of the van the stink is like an animal pen. Each of us holding a mirror blade, driver too. It’s pressure-cooker hot. I glance at my wrist to make sure I’m me.

We watch the house. Keep our eyes on the six of us sitting around the table, spinning the knife. 

We are plotting something.

We don’t trust us.

Big trash pickup day. Old chairs, broken television sets, empty book cases, all lined up neatly next to cans and loose bags. All down the street.

I grip the wheel.

Or look out the window.

Or think about the weather.

Or open up a burner phone and look at the only number in the contacts.

I think about calling it.

What would I say...

...we see you.

I bought a cheap digital watch to wear so nobody asks why I keep checking my wrist.

Don’t want to lose my identity.

Mickey Mouse knows.

It's always mouse o'clock.

The van is still outside I say to myself.

“The one with the goat logo?” I ask.

The radio in the van says a storm is coming.

The TV says a killer is on the loose.

“Pass the gin,” we say.

I think about the book in the attic. We are tempted to skip to the end.

Instead a take the bottle.

Tip the bottle over. Empty. A final drop hits my tongue and seems to detonate.

Like a city destroyed by a hurricane. A broken mirror. 

My face is contorted in the bottle.

Maybe there is a way out. To escape unseen.

Faint whisper of panpipes. Clinking of bottles. Ticking of the watch.

Mickey Mouse is mocking me.

“Time isn’t real,” I say.

I check my wrist make sure it’s me.

I feel hypnotized by the song – and the gin.

Inside the van, we watch ourselves in the kitchen. Something is wrong. There are five and there used to be six. Someone is missing.

Is it me?

There’s that song again. A flute...

The music and the gin create the beginning of a swirling hurricane. I am in the eye of it. I see myselves. But they don’t see me.

“Remember time ends forever on Friday,” I hear my voice say.

I check my wristwatch. I check my wrist.

Still me.

Still now.

“We should go in,” I say. “One of us is missing. We have to find me.”

The wind blows one of the trash cans over, bottles all over the street.

We break the glass in the kitchen window. And go in. The house is empty. Empty as the gin bottle on the table. 

A goat appears on the street. Sniffs at the overturned trash cans. Eats an apple core. The flutes play in the trees. 

I seem to have escaped from myself. Escaped from time. I pick up the knife. 

Tires burn out in the street. The van has disappeared.

I am alone. 

But eyes are watching me.

I can feel them like wind.

I turn on the TV. And see my face on the screen and hear a voice say: “Wanted for murder.”

I check my wrist. There’s the scar.

Which version of me is this?

I hear the Wheel of Fortune turning.

Alone, I sit down at the kitchen table and spin the knife.

I turn on the TV. It’s a sports segment. They are interviewing a football player. They keep calling him “The goat.” Seems like a sign. I switch it off. Put on my coat and go out. I turn around and pick up the knife from the table and go back out.

A mile turns into two, flicking my thumb across the blade in my pocket. Carrion on the wind. I’m coming up on the city dump. A dog breaks cover behind a parked car and runs down the street. I watch it go and my eyes fall upon a van in the distance, askew on the side of the road. I walk slowly, approach from the rear. It’s covered in grime. Walk around. All four tires flat. One headlight smashed out. Glass in the street sparkles like ice. On the driver’s side, something appears to have been blacked out in spray paint, little rivulets running down where it was laid on thick.

I can see a copy of a newspaper on the floor of the passenger side of the van. A headline reads: “Asteroid strike rate doubles.” There is another article beside it. There is my picture. I can’t make out the headline. I pull up my hood. I watch the dog chase its tail. 

I wish I lived somewhere with adequate public transportation.

I keep walking.

There is a small goat farm before the dump. I stand by the fencing watching the goats and flicking my knife.

The farmer comes out and tells me to move on or he’s going to call the cops.

I transform myself into a candy bar wrapper and fly away in the wind.

(A Payday wrapper, to be exact.)

I’m blown over the fence and land in the pasture. A goat sniffs at me. Tries to eat me. Spits me out. The wind carries me away again. All the way to the dump. Where I land on top of a mountain of trash.

I’m me again.

I’m hungry and broke.

Could use a Payday.

I’m King of Trash Mountain. Pan – the goat god. Wanted for an unknown crime. Thirsty for gin.

I find a banana that looks pretty good and eat that. 

I'm not doing so bad, all things considered. It's a decent situation. There are probably people who have it worse. People who're wanted for a known crime, for instance. 

I find an unopened Milky Way and think: I am inside the Milky Way and I am eating the Milky Way.

I feel a little loopy. 

Too much candy, probably.

Pretty good breakfast this morning at the dump. And nobody will find me here.

I see a green gem sparkling. A bottle of gin! Still half left!

Somewhere the pan flutes play “Let’s Get It On.”

I’m doing better than Marvin Gaye anyway. He’s dead. I’m only eating trash candy.

Marvin Gaye was shot by his father, wasn't he? I try to remember my father. He had a mustache, I think. Nice guy.

Never shot me once.

“Here’s to fathers!” I toast. The sunlight gleaming through my green trash bottle.

I hear sirens in the distance.

Or maybe just goats screaming.

Clouds form in the sky. They resemble an alphabet. They assemble into words. They spell: Remember time stops forever on Friday.

I try to remember when Friday is. 

I crunch through piles of garbage. Tobacco brown juice to my knees.

Do I have time?

At the gate I ask the goat. 

I ask the goat again. 

I walk away from the goat. 

I ask myself if I have enough time before Friday.

I feel as though this is something I should have been better prepared for.

I glance back.

The goat is following me.

Time is following me.

That’s what I named the goat.

I look up to see if there are any objects in the sky screaming down on me.

I walk back the way I came. The van is gone. In its place is a pile of Payday wrappers and Taco Bell soda cups. Baja Blast drips on the street. Time licks it up.

A tiny asteroid thuds on the ground beside me.

Or maybe it was an acorn.

Time eats the asteroid/acorn before I can tell.

I notice that the scar on my wrist has healed. And I’m not wearing my Mickey Mouse watch. I don’t entirely feel like myself.

Maybe just too much sugar.

My head is in the clouds. I can see everything from here. There are no limits. I can see Time. And all the versions of me scrambling around the world. 

It’s Monday.

Time is following close behind.

I stop and wait for it to catch up with me. It ambles up slowly. I squat and look at it. Usually, goats have those weird horizontal pupils, don't they? Not this one. Round and green.

I start to worry that I'll be separated from it. If so, how would I recognize it again? I scavenge a trash bag from a nearby pile and tie it around the goat's neck like a collar. Now I'll always be able to find it!

It chews at the bag. I smack it on the nose. It bleats. Training your goat is hard work. 

You can’t train Time, I think to myself.

Maybe you can’t escape Time either.

“You can kill Time,” a voice says.

I flick my knife.

But just keep walking.

I take Time all around the city and rip of the Wanted signs with my face on them.

I feed them to Time. 

He eats all my faces.

Yum! How nice for him! A warm feeling fills my chest. I'm really happy for the goat. I gave it the posters for my own selfish purposes, but they've made it so happy. Maybe, I think, there's more to life than knives and trash. I can imagine a different way of living: a life dedicated to taking care of this creature. A responsible life. It hits me: I'm a father now. I'll be a good father. Not like Marvin Gaye's.

Maybe I'll even grow a mustache.

I set the goat up in my bedroom, tether him to the bed post and put down a bowl of Cheerios.

Another version of me is a happy goat farmer happily telling hopeless loafers to leave or I’ll call the cops. Happily feeding happy goats Cheerios. Happily keeping Time tethered to a chain. Growing a happy dad mustache. Happily. 

Time eats my digital Mickey Mouse watch.

Time eats my “Jeopardy” calendar.

Time eats my carpet.

My TV.

My clothes.

My kitchen table.

My books.

Time eats everything.

And happily shits it out.

Someday Time will eat me too.

One morning Time is gone, tether chewed through. I pour a bowl of Cheerios and walk outside, shaking them in the bowl and bleating. Around the back of the house I find a bleached white nothingspace in the middle of the yard, raveled at the edges. I walk closer to it, expecting it to be cold. It isn’t— it’s nothing. I walk up to it, stick my arm in. It vanishes to the elbow.

Time has disappeared.

I hear a siren.

I see a white van in the distance.

I think about entering the whitespace.

I have to do it. I've lost my boy, and maybe he's in there. My goat boy, I mean. 

I'm a father now, and without my boy, I'm nothing. I can't just go back to eating candy and looking at decrepit vans. This is what it means to be responsible: you have to look for your goat boy when he's lost, even if it means walking into a mysterious hole in the fabric of existence.

I think I hear some cosmic bleating coming from the milky white orb.

What would my life be without time?

I remember writing a letter to God once when I was a kid and asking if God ever got bored with eternity.

I am hesitating at the edge – where Time has disappeared. 

I hear the squeal of brakes and van doors slamming. Glass breaking and voices yelling. 

I jump into nothingness.

I hear the pan flutes.

Pan is like the only Greek god who actually dies.

For a moment it’s like I’m floating in milk. But there are no Cheerios to grab a hold of.

Or if this is Pan’s kingdom – maybe white wine? Goat’s milk? Semen?

A sea of white salty water.

Is there what it was like before I was born?

Am I dead?

I think the pan flutes are playing “The Price is Right” theme song...

I remember a Wikipedia article that said Pan could be multiplied into a swarm of Pans. More versions of myself.

A hear a goat bleating.

I feel like I’m tripping – too hard.

I laugh. Bubbles of laughter. 

Then I see him. My boy. He seems very close, but when I reach out to touch his head, I realize he's miles and miles away. Maybe. It's a little unclear how things work here.

I try to paddle my way through the milky stuff toward him. But as I get closer, I see that there are two of him. Then four. Then eight. They all have his special eyes: not horizontal like other goats, but round and green.

I feel like somehow I can understand everything now. The goat bleats. What all these endless versions of Time are trying to tell me.

Still everything is fuzzy. And meaning is filtered through milk-soaked cotton. I feel ancient and also like a newborn baby.

A pretty good feeling, honestly. I paddle closer and closer to the goats, and they continue to multiply. By the time I get there, it's all goats. A universe of goats. There is nothing that is not goats now. I start to lose all that meaning I was feeling earlier. It's hard: if language is a differential system, you need at least two things in order to have meaning. This and not-this. You only understand this in relation to not-this. But there aren't two things anymore. There's just goats.

And me, I guess.

My entire field of vision becomes a tessellation of goats.

I am receiving information.

Bleat, bleat, bleat, bleat, bleat.

I open my eyes. Turn off my alarm clock.

I am in a basement. A bottle of cold green tea beside me.

Sounds of Schubert symphonies hovering above me.

Another version of me.

When does it end?

A tessellation of lives. 

I pick up the paper. The headline reads: “Asteroid strike rate doubles.” 

Today is the day they are taping my episode of “Jeopardy.”

Broken glass in the dew. Vomit on my sweater. It's going to be a good day. Faintly hear a baby. Is it crying? Today is mine. Just like the one before I died.

I didn't win. Destroy the tapes.

The day started out fine. I woke up, did some yoga, took a warm shower and ran the wet brush through my hair. Took two mg of Xanax and picked out a nice outfit for the taping.

It was all fine until Trebek revealed the categories for the Double Jeopardy round. 

“The categories are: Greatest of All Time, Goats, Greek mythology...”

I felt my head begin to spin.

I started losing. Every question that I buzzed in. I couldn’t get the words out. I didn’t even make it to Final.

I stopped at the Crown on the way home from the airport.

Blacked out.

What is...life.

I woke up with vomit on my sweater. 

Broken glass. This was all something I couldn’t stop. A cycle. 

I went looking for the whitespace. An escape.

Outside was the smell. Like a farm. I thought I heard pan flutes playing the “Jeopardy” theme.

It was Tuesday. 

A homeless man was on the side of the highway. I powered down the window and held out a five for him.

“Thank you miss,” he said. “And don’t forget all time ends on Friday”

He hitched up his filthy pants and scratched his beard. Another version of me.

I needed to find out how to stop time.

I'm stuck like a stale crouton in the salad of too much information.
There's too much ranch, not nearly enough cherry tomatoes.
Cans of fruit cocktail when I was a kid.
All that syrup.
Cherries were good luck.
Shit, Mom. Just buy me a candy bar.
Still mocked by Mickey Mouse o'clock.
Where's Pluto when you need him most?


A man walks up to me. His eyes are round and green. He stares at me until I feel like I’ve just taken 2 mg of Xanax. He shows me the inside of his jacket. Instead of boosted Mickey Mouse watches there is a giant swirling white nothingspace. “I’m late for work,” I say. And I step into nothingness.

The dinosaurs are all dead.

Scientists have been able to determine that the last dinosaur in existence died on a Wednesday.

The love of my life the loves of my lives always bring me plastic dinosaurs to delight my inner preschooler. The cerulean Ankylosaurus has always been my favorite. I call him Dill. I keep him in my right fist, rub him for anxiety relief while standing in line for lottery tickets.

A newspaper headlines says: “Ankylosaurus attacks have tripled.”

I am in my apartment.

My neighbor Kramer stutterbursts through the door and says “Hey buddy.”

I am in my apartment.

My neighbor Kramer stutterbursts through the door and says “Hey buddy.”

I am in my apartment.

My neighbor Kramer stutterbursts through the door and says “Hey buddy.”

I am in my apartment.

My neighbor Kramer stutterbursts through the door and says “Hey buddy.”

I fall into a white nothingspace - a timeless stutterbursting.

I am ejected from a baseball game.

Time seems to be speeding up and 

less and less

makes sense.

There are clues in each box of stale cereal. I send the stale cereal to former clients. Senators. Dentists. I keep the clues. I'll need them as I navigate this stutterverse.

Who's on first?
Has anyone seen my ukulele?
When's the next bus?
Gratuitous viscera.
Dripping mascara.
I didn't mean to turn you on.

I turn on the TV. “Wheel of Fortune” is ending. I sit there waiting for “Jeopardy” to come on. Then it comes on.

Alex reads an answer: “This is the day when all time end.”

Linda buzzes in. Hesitates. “Friday...?” 

“Correct,” says Alex.

Outside, an asteroid the size of a van empties out the neighbor’s swimming pool.

Globalization rancid goat milk chew
rosemary acne shellfish glue
Carnage utility onion frog

Well, anyway, you know how the song goes....

Abbott transforms into Costello.

Costello transforms into Tony Soprano.

Everyone is the world decides to get plastic surgery and move to Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Swarms of Pans organize orgies.

The Pans ejaculate in stutterbursts and where it lands a magnolia tree grows and blooms and catches on fire and fire turns to flowers and the flowers turn to rain. And we are in the ever-switching novelty of the stutterverse.

Yay!

We’re casually performing daredevil stunts in the stuntedverse.

Defying death as we jump flaming motorcycles of eternal canyons.

Or raising kids.

Kids come to dinner. I hear the voice. Lying face up in garbage staring up at an overpass listening to traffic. I am sinking. It is connected to nothing as the whitespace coalesces in the sky and I know it like how I know my father calling me to dinner – his moustached face big as the sun hanging over our house. Confused, wondering where we are – where did his kids where go. My eyes as I close them, so dear to me. My eyes sinking into me like into garbage believing the traffic will fly off the overpass and I will be driven under.

She asks me to drag the trash cans out to the curb and I comply. I drag the cans. They are heavy and it takes a while. One at a time.

Big trash pick-up day.

Couches. Bookshelves. Old television sets.

I work up a sweat, and everything feels familiar.

On the last bag she says, “Don’t forget this.” I put out my hand and instead of handing me something she grabs my wrist and scores it with a blade, a little mark. It doesn’t hurt that much, but I wince anyway. There’s blood. It rings my fingers. She doesn’t break eye contact. Her grip is stone. “I love you so much,” she says. “Don’t you know that?”

I leave with the last bag. The door closes and locks behind me.

Wednesday was trash night.

I feel the weight of the bags fall away from my hand.

There is a full moon. Ringed with blood.

A whitespace in the sky.

A white van drives by. The side panel reads: Greene’s Overhauling and Trash.

A cartoon goat grins at me as it passes.

All the stars that form Capricornus seem to blink at once and shine brighter.

I walk down the block. I feel drawn to the abandoned house at the end of the street.

I look at the broken windows in the window panes.

My face is fragmented. Pieces of many faces. 

I have a sudden urge to climb a mountain.

The walls of the abandoned house inhale. The half-shut curtains are like a dope fiend’s eyes.

The dead tree rattles against the side of the house. 

I see blue flashes in the house across the street. I hear a commercial for a mattress sale that has been playing recently:

“.....and don’t forget......everything must go.....it all ends.....this Friday.”

Tent my fingers against the door to the abandoned house and push. It isn’t latched, swings wide open. Trash everywhere, but it’s all old, dry, inert. The kitchen to the left of the entry has a table in its center. The table’s set like dinner’s seconds away— six settings. A knife in the middle of the table. I try to give it a spin. Everything’s too grimy, too gummy— it just kind of flops.

I don't know how to write poetry
I don't know why I stopped there
why I'm breaking my thoughts
so frequently
Like, why didn't I finish that line?
What made "frequently" a good jumping 
off point?
And now, "point" –I don't understand 
what it is I'm accomplishing 
by constraining myself by
shortening, minimizing, 
by becoming less than a whole sentence.
Oh.
I think I'm starting to understand. 
Poetry is how bullies made me feel
in the locker room back in high school
Poetry is the stop-start of emotion
the "don't you dare cry, pussy"
of literature.
Poetry is the beast straining against
its cage. It is me, scrappy, surviving
pale fists curved like shells vomited onto the sand.
I'm understanding poetry better now
I know why I did that
and this
I know why everything is happening 
now
Now, like then, I'm doing what I can with so little
But what I still don't get
What I'm still wrapping my head around 
is this Stream, this black box, this writing 
in anonymity
This expanding, enveloping, 
this ability to be my full self and more
the ability to not have to make sense
alongside the fear of disappointing others 
But I can't worry about that now
Now, like then, choosing myself in the face of chaos
Tyrannosaurus
Pterodactyl 
Pearlescent 
Rhapsodic 
Poetry, Poetry, Poetry 
is what the Universe looks like
after an intentional break. 

What do I look like after a similar break?

I walk through the house and find a mirror.

I stare into a blackspace.

The spaces between the mirror's shards.

Inside of the house is a rich swirling invisible city. I see a flash of millions of versions of me, crammed together in the house, no real room to move, everyme talking at once – then the hallucination evaporates. Outside of the house is an invisible dark ocean. Calm and warm nothingness – like the first sips from a bottle of gin.

The walls breathe in.

And out.

Things exist at different frequencies.

Life is a chain of moments.

And after...

A freedom beyond comprehension.

Flip a coin.

It does not drop.

Always spinning. Anything is possible.

A cat appears on the table.

Green eyes spinning.

A greenspace.

I flip between existence and nonexistence with each breath.

All the time and non-time.

It’s cool though. Like not a problem to worry about. 

I think a strange thought like life is a game of Tetris, shapes flying, everything fitting perfectly together or not, wild music, timerushingfunandalsoanxiousworry – and death is like turning off your Gameboy and noticing all the vibrant things that were around you all the while. 

The cat’s eyes flash green. Green lights flashing and flashing. A sinister party. 

What a funny thing to have a brain.

I wallpaper the walls with fragments of poetry written on Post-it notes – a strange story begins to emerge. A world create from the mind of a million versions of me.

My wrist starts bleeding. 

Six slit wrists bleeding in a funhouse.

A funhouse full of broken mirrors.

Broken faces. Fractured images. Stutterbursting time. 

Sitcoms and peaceful black oceans.

Every breath is a strobe light.

A sumo wrestler on a tightrope.

Whitespace take me. Give me a home.

Beyond this cage of time.

We are all echoes.

Cursed to party.

Pan can mean all.

Young gods in disguise drugged in milky pasture. 

Irrational marijuana panic winds. Calm Xanax seas. DMT limbo. Mushroom heavens. 

Stars are seeds.

Endless versions of one.

I hope that white van isn’t coming to take me away.

With the trash and toxic waste.

One version of me crossing an ocean. One version gets shot by a cheerleading squad. One version of me falls into the endless whitespace. Another version sits alone at a table. One version of me is cursed to be President. One version becomes a gangster. One version of me becomes a tiger in a jungle. One version of me becomes a sitcom star. One version of me cures cancer. One version is tried and convicted. One version of me is set free.

A dog chases its tail under a chaos moon.

Endless versions of me all contributing into the same stream. 

One version of me has become
so thin
that I’m skinnier than a skeleton.

Linda.

Linda makes it a true daily double. Linda lassos an asteroid. 

Linda masters the buzzer. Linda laughs at the apocalypse. Linda is the big winner.

Linda is
passing through

Linda doesn't scream at the sun.

One version of me asks a question.
Another version of me has the answer.

A surveillance van chases another surveillance van. 

Ouroboros in orbit. 

What is Linda.

What is whitespace.

What is white van consuming itself.

What is tessellation.

What is timelessness

What is Payday.

What is Alex Trebek.

What is the sound of one wrist bleeding.

What is lying in the bathtub in the middle of Limerick Street lining plastic dinosaurs along the edge. An ankylosaur falling in and poking me in the ass. A plastic breeze blowing over my wet skin. Thinking about changing it all. Wallpapering the sky. Headline news: “Father Abducted By Self.” “Teen’s Ghost Missing.” “Asteroid Strikes Rat.”

What is pity.

What is silence amid the omnipresent neon humming of ghostly electricity. 

What is Final Jeopardy.

What is the last question.

Trebek tessellates in rainbow.

M.C. Eschers over the horizon line.

Goats morph into game show hosts.

The seed for all of this was there since the beginning.

The lush bleat of the big wheel turning

I think about the seed in me. Escher buzzes in. My heart is a mezzotint.

Engraving gravestones for $200 please.

What is is this what they had planned from the beginning or is chaos always the end result. 

Triangles, hexagons, squares translated and reflected into empty space until space is completely occupied, time does not overlap it only continues on, a manic addiction to filling space completely. Flip a coin. An acorn, an asteroid.

We are all Baja Blasting deeper into space! 

Filling it up. With more of our trash.

Our beautiful trash.

I can’t eat it all. No matter how hard I try.

What is novelty ice cream cones > infinite nothingness.

May as well enjoy it before it melts in your hand for $1,000 please.

On Thursday every version of me slips on a banana peel at the exact same time. 

As we lay on our backs on the sidewalk we look up at the sky and see a skywriter making a message: “Time ends Friday!”

Triangle

hexagon and 

square-shaped asteroids.

Pan flutes playing the Tetris theme song.

All this must be building to something

right?

We don’t know.

Every version of me has been replaced with an actor that that looks and talks exactly like me.

They all have tiny scars on their wrists.

Blackspace 

and 

millions of glowing green eyes.

On TV, Jim Breuer does his Goat Boy character from “Saturday Night Live” on a loop. 

Another version of me.

A hand reaches out from the whitespace and hands me a cherry.

On TV I see Carrie Fisher. “The Empire Strikes Back.” I watch until the scene where Luke goes into the cave and has a lightsaber battle with Darth Vader. And cuts Vader’s head off. And it explodes to reveal Luke’s face. 

It never ends.

A parade of evil Mickey Mice.

Stomping on digital watches.

A male goat floats over the Western sky. A horn between his eyes. Offering himself for a sacrifice. The house transforms itself to a mountain. And I am holding a knife.

I make a fire.

What good is a sacrifice? The goat dances. The ostriches gather around in a circle.

I am chained to time.

And tomorrow is Friday.

I recreate the Bible from memory but replace Jesus with Kramer from “Seinfeld.”

Another version of me stutterbursting into existence.

We’ve built this tower too high. It’s bound to come crashing down.

Everything that crashes is still floating in space.

Time is a super-long joke and the punch line is only funny because the joke was so ridiculously long. 

Here on the mountain the night is brilliant with flying goats that streak and burn through the starry sky like fiery comets.

Remember that nature doc with the goats balanced on the thin branches of a stutterburst tree?

Fireworks exploding and burning out in every possible direction.

We have to do everything possible while we are here.

Explore the edges before time falls away.

Nothing is wrong anyway.

All the versions of myself tell each other that nothing is wrong anyway. There’s nothing to be scared of. Let’s be real for a second here. Be happy! 

Let’s be amazed and happy in the utter pandemonium. 

I find a party hat in the trash.

I sing from the top of the mountain:

“I am Linda!
I am Pan!
I am Jim Breuer!
I am Man!
I am the god of confusions and joy!
I want to rock and roll all night and party every day!”

Let’s make tomorrow a universal holiday

Friday – the end of time day

Let’s cry tears of joy! Swarms of Pans in a wine-soaked orgy! Laugh until we die!

Sing from the mountain!

*

Set off bottle rockets and drink bottles of gin.

We all wear chains and tomorrow is Friday!

Another version of me does the mashed potato.

Another version of me emerges from the fridge crusted in ice wearing a crown of knives.

Another version of me wears glasses and a goatee and says “Don’t mean to spoil all the fun, but we can never really be sure that there are other versions. We can only experience our own consciousness. Perhaps I am the only mind and existence is only what I experience. And pain is only my pain.”

Another version of me hits him with an egg.

Another version of me has the legs of a goat and horns and calls themselves Satan and Pan and Dave. “We are all unique my friends. The joy of life is we are all our own master! Drink!”

The world breaks out in a giant war party! Champagne corks cannonade across the sky! Friends wrestle and everyone is drunk. People blow whistles and wear party hats and charge into the chaos of music.

The glasses and goatee has a point. I wonder if I am the only version. If we are the only version. There must be a way to prove it. I don’t have any cameras. No other set of eyes. Time ends tomorrow. Does it matter?

A grayspace blooms on the ceiling. 

A beautiful stain blooming above me/us.

Clouds of nothingness appear on the ceiling/sky.

Linda knows the answer but she isn’t buzzing in yet.

She savors her knowledge.

Trebek stares for so long that his face turns into a hexagon.

Hexagon-Trebek says: “The name of a goat-man that lived in the south of France and painted expressionistic swirling flowers and buzzing stars and emotional peasants’ boots and fell hopelessly into an obsession with an unrequited love and dove deeper into the brilliantly-colored world of madness and cut off his own ear.”

Linda buzzes in: “Vincent Van Goat.”

“Correct for a million dollars!” screams Hexagon-Trebek.

The white van peels out leaving a trail of flame.

Linda forgets to say “what is” but nobody notices – the rules went out the window a long time ago

Linda drives the white van through the kitchen wall. She hops out in a gusting cloud of money.

“Pack your things,” she says. “We’re leaving.”

I grab my knife. My bottle. My TV. My clothes. My books. My stuffed goat. My party hat. I leave the gray nothingspace blooming on the ceiling of the abandoned house behind. And jump in the van with Linda.

She backs out and the front end of the house lurches. Suddenly it looks abandoned— not just abandoned, but long abandoned. Weeds sprout along the foundation. The driveway splits down the center in a crack. The grayspace continues to spread along the ceiling, drips down the walls. I clutch the goat to my chest. 

White beams of light blow out the windows. The roof erodes. The spiral staircase makes a plinko-y-skeleton-playing-a-cartoon-xylophone-made-of-bones sound and collapses. Moss and ivy overtake the walls. 

Ivy pulls the structure down, tentacles drowning it, all its ghosts cast into the earth.

The fragments of the house and all the debris rise into a mushroom cloud. Apocalyptic images and clips from game shows cycle through my mind. We leave it all in the dust. 

Linda floors it.

Gin in the third floor. “Wheel of Fortune” in a room under me, the lithe bleat of the little wheel turning. Smell of cabbage in the compost.

Time is in the rear view mirror. The highway crumbles behind us. 

Letters start to turn around in the sky. A giant “Wheel of Fortune” clue revealing itself. 

I can’t make out the language.

I want to win a trip to Hawaii.

Hexagons and squares and triangles Tetris down to the horizon line. Birds and fish and Pans and devils M.C Escher across the sky. A booming voice that sounds like Alex Trebek wearing a Darth Vadar helmet asks a Final Jeopardy question:

"This philosopher said: ‘The real question of life after death isn't whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.’"

Another version of me that looks exactly like Ludwig Wittgenstein says: “I am my world.” 

Linda buzzes in. She has the correct answer. She wins eternal bliss in the ever-flowing now. 

She invites me to join her in Hawaii. She speeds up the van to 22,366 mph and jumps over the Pacific Ocean and leaves the surveillance van with the six other versions of me that has been tailing us this whole time careening into the sea. 

Linda is my world. 

And today is Saturday.

Does the goat have me or do I have the goat?
I got this bleater by its throat.
Apologies to Pamela Anderson.
I'm lost in the discount record bin again. Axis bold as love. Trouble in dreams. Some girls. 

Some girls bologna.
Some girls jam.
I am Sam the sham in Goodwill drag.
"Don't conflate art with classism."
Karl Marx fuckerama.

We all pay in plasma.
It's the same channel on Sunday.
You breathe. You bleed.
You watch the sea monkeys
and confuse equilibrium with ennui.

Linda looks at me. She turns on the radio. The van splits down the middle and she’s driving in the wrong lane while I’m in the right one but we’re still heading the same direction. We gaze at one another across the freeway. The sound of our hearts thump like bass drums competing from different departments over the speakers at Kohl’s. She smiles at me. We’re mannequins. We’ve always been. I want to forget each other. I want her to raze me. Sell me on a watch I will never wear. Synthesize me. Brain me with Moog. Hold me prisoner in a Pepsi can and throw me away if necessary – but not before dinner at BW3. Our two halves of van recombine. She presses a banana sticker on my cheek, says: “I love you so much. Don’t you know that?”

Linda and I become an electro-pop song. We make the universe dance. We pass our faces back and forth like a beach ball in the surf. We mix our bodies up like a birthday cake batter. We join together like stars in the goat constellation. We ride a tandem bicycle. We take surfing lessons. We spear fish. We discover fire. We make love wearing KISS makeup. We blast our van through endless dimensions. Endless time. 

We build a golden city. We form a tsunami and flood the city until it is 10,000 leagues under the sea. We write all the great literature. 

Everything you can think....we do that.

And we do it well, obviously.
With grace. With style. With class. With intelligence. With charisma.
We are social media boast. We are reality television Emmy. We are silver screen in yo face glama.
Glama rama ding dong.
Every song Elton John records is about us. We've hung out at his palace.
Time does not exist for us, especially when we are swimming in Elton's piano shaped pool.
Will we last forever?
Yes.
Just to annoy you lesser mortals and fools.

Sometimes we just sit there and drink tea and look out the window.

Bored of eternity.

It happens.

Everything does.

That is.

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