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Friday, January 11, 2008

Latest 2 segments from my tale in progress, "Gated Communities"

(From Part II, in which the protagonist and reader assume that she's entered the gated community. In Part I, a series of prose poems, she was seemingly on the outside, wishing to be inside.) This portion may well be revised down the road, but I think it's entertaining enough to post. Hope you enjoy!

A Tourist Attraction

I left the hut with monkey and meandered without map or clue. Another monkey on the top branch of a ginglo tree whistled and sang a bawdy song to my comrade monkey --- a she simian with pendulous, shallow mammary glands. She displayed her sex, comrade monkey climbed the tree, and I continued alone. Family values are of prime importance among primates. As they say, “blood is thicker than water.” I recalled that canon and detached myself from monkey, acknowledging that salvation is not ownership.

I soon arrived at a massive, glowing red stone or rock, surrounded by an alarmingly high barbed wire fence. I walked around the object and surmised that it could be a planetary remnant, a mite of a meteor, no doubt with a flame in its core. I needed to feel it with my body and listen close to discover its story, but the barbs were menacing and loud and I had neither ladder nor nearby tree.

I sat down on the long grasses surrounding the object, hoping that it would speak to me, beyond the enclosure. Instead, a quizzical old woman arrived, wagging a pitchfork.

“What are you doing sitting there, child?” she inquired, pointing the pitchfork at me. “There are biting mouths in the grasses and the moon is avaricious in these parts,” she added.

“What are you doing out here so late, Grandma?” I asked.

“I am guarding, of course” she responded. “But that is not the point at all. What are you doing here?”

“I am a tourist, fancying what I find and looking for a room and ball. I will also need a fancy dress shop.”

“Nonsense,” the woman replied. “There are no tourists. There is nowhere to come from; accordingly, there are no strangers. You are confused and must leave towards whence you came . . . now. Before something happens.”

“But if there is no other place, how can I leave towards whence I came, and isn’t it true that something is always happening? As well as the reverse. And … and … there is always danger when there is happening and not happening? And wouldn’t I be proceeding backwards?”

“I have no time for theories. I am busy guarding. Currently, you are neither towards nor backwards. You are merely a forward, untoward nuisance.”

I skirted her insults and asked: “What are you guarding?”

“It’s perfectly obvious, young lady,” the woman answered, peevishly.

“Yes well, I agree, at this moment you appear to be guarding this monolith, but what is it? What is its meaning?”

“You ask too many questions. That is unwise and unruly.”

“Who says so?” I inquired.

“They say so.”

“Who is they?”

“All of them. Obviously.”

Abruptly, she smelled like noxious air and I was frightened “They” had always alarmed me. References to “they” made me sneeze violently, and so I did.

This woman would never listen to me. I kept talking to keep my self company, talked about my dead parents, my sequoia; spoke wistfully of the man in white and a friend who’d betrayed me. I just kept on, as she guarded the stone. Three times, she encircled it, looking anxiously about. Perhaps decades past, when she was a child, the woman had listened to her self. It was obvious that everything was obvious to her. Accordingly, she had no need to speak.

Some people frequently say: “You cannot listen to others unless you’ve learned how to listen to yourself.” When I first heard the adage, I considered it a profound revelation. I never quite grasped it, but thought I should. I didn’t doubt it, though I didn’t believe it absolutely either; cited it many times on public restroom walls, considering it my mission, the way Mother Teresa spread the word of the god in which she wanted to believe, but ultimately did not. I even tried to effect listening to my self during sleep, which disturbed my bio-rhythms. When friends were sad, I’d tell them they weren’t listening to themselves. Self-listening seemed a logical, reasonable, and attractive goal. People told me to record the mission in my own unique way and sell it. At one point, I thought of changing my name to Mataharia Mumja.

So here I was on the other side and at this time all I wanted fervently was the attention of this old woman, whose name I did not know. If she (let’s say Greta) listened to me, she’d cut the barbed wire fence around the object I saw as a stone. If she listened to me, perhaps she’d know how to listen to herself and realize that the stone wanted freedom --- I could tell it was throbbing. Well, perhaps I was projecting. I realized why I was trapped in this momentary, desperate obsession: she reminded me of my mother.

I wrapped myself around the old woman’s veined legs gently, yet with urgency, and called her “Grandmamma, dear.” She smelled like a lavender sachet, so I told her I’d been missing her since I was four. That was true. I convinced my self. She looked puzzled, scratched her head. I was afraid she’d turn into a crow. Instead, she sat down on the grass beside me and started to weep.

“It is good to weep,” I said, holding her. “Weeping is a form of vigilance. It means that you can listen to your self when necessary. Now all you have to do is cut the fence. You will feel so relieved, I promise.”

“I have severe sciatica and I can’t cut the fence when they’ve given me no tools. I feel pathetically limited, but realizing one’s limitations does not of itself set oneself free, as some would have us believe.”

At that point, the man in white appeared from the black and blue of nigh of night and from a whence with which I was no doubt unacquainted. “You are a troublemaker,” he said to me, shaking a white gloved index finger. “Be on your way and let things be as they be or not. You are disturbing the natural disorder. You lack respect for the sanctity of art.”

He then addressed the old woman: “I know you are tired, Mother Magda. Relief is imminent.”

Indeed, it was. A stretch limousine arrived to deposit another old woman and remove the one to whom I’d become attached. The man had disappeared and I had difficulty finding a road. But I took comfort in romantic reveries. The man was not a god yet he was watching me. Attention is the first step on the winding stairway of love. Oh dear. What dreadful poet wrote that? I did!

Mapquest (nb -- inspired by the primaries)

When you have no idea where and why you are going, fake it.

If people believe you are set on a way you call your way and you stick to it, you will gather a fan club.

If you invite them along, they will follow and pay your way.

Act passionately about nothing definite.

Wear moisturizing cream, drink 12 pints of water per day, and jog five miles.

This is the tao of the politician.

Never describe it as other than tao.

Never elaborate.

Smile, even if you’re about to fall off the edges.

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