for Casey McKinney
Ed-thoughts keep banging around inside my skull Ed and I step out of the black and white of e-mail and into the Fairmont’s floral mauves and teals I close my mouthhole, hoping the Ed-thoughts will suffocate, but they frizzle and hiss, whoosh out through noseholes I can’t believe he would stop loving me I snort like a moose my absolute belief in our fused magic so now I’m typing, hoping to lock the Ed-thoughts in a file, maybe I could print it out and burn it, maybe that would rid me of them his body felt solid yet puffy, like a water balloon, I loved the way clean cotton slid so easily across his massive flesh my keystrokes are the click of heels on a mausoleum floor—the vowels are all the same, it’s the consonants that change mrbl mrbl I make puddles to stay alive. Rejection is such a prickly emotion, you breathe it in as something transparent, but inside you it condenses, hardens, takes on pointed geometric shapes between your organs. A cock can gouge the soul right out of your pussy, but I’ve heard the soul grows back, slowly, like a lizard’s tail, I’m counting on that. He told me I was “fantastic.” Fantastic—a word which darts about braying and sputtering like a jackass, a fucking jackass. Oh, I’m such a bitter girl hollow mush of mouth and tongue what are words without an audience, what is a woman without an audience bitter herbs relieve constipation I dream I’m a stone skittering across a cold marble floor. This happens in a corridor so I must still believe in linearity.
Back to 1996: After months of email and dirty talk on my turquoise Princess phone, I’m finally going to set eyes on him. I’m at SFO, sitting on a ledge to the side of the security check station, nervous, chatting with two midwestern women about weather and airports, ladies in crisp white skirts and sandals. “It’s cooler here than in Nebraska.” From down the hallway, a stream of rumpled people gushes towards us, lugging carry-ons, none of them Ed, then finally he walks past the metal detectors, large and squishy, swelling about the middle in black pants and a dark brown shirt, tucked in, I recognize him from his photo but I’m shocked at how round he is. The dark clothes make him look like an eggplant, an excitedly smirking eggplant, his mouth a slit splitting his big pale face in two, soft fringe of black curls kind of femmy what to do about the issue of touch—fluorescent airport air, colorless indoor/outdoor carpeting, Ed in his dark brown shirt scanning the area, an eggplant lost in a wasteland—I stand and wave. No sign of recognition, so I run up, “Hi, it’s me.” He laughs. “Sweetie, I can’t believe I couldn’t find you.” He reaches out and I give him a quick hug, no kiss, so that maybe the Nebraskan women will think he’s just a friend. “Let’s get your luggage,” I say.
When we get down to the baggage claim he hugs me again, his body’s soft with lumps at unexpected places, like I’m embracing a rag doll whose stuffing has shifted. He hunches down and kisses me, gently, but I remain stiff, unresponsive. He looks much younger than 33, he could be a boy. We lean against a chrome railing and stare at the oval baggage carousel, a series of triangular metal plates shifting at weird angles, endlessly standing there in public, tentatively rubbing pinky fingers against one another, then sliding closer, arm pressing against arm, his soft dense heat, the dissonance of so much information, so much emotion, so many orgasms projected upon this foreign body whose fingers are now stroking my hand, harder and faster, chrome railing indenting our asses. The baggage carousel’s jerky revolutions. Many of our fantasies have centered on fucking in a rental car, as soon as we get in the mid-sized Honda he leans over and really kisses me. Twenty minutes later we’re still making out around the gear shift. I pull back and say, “Don’t you think we should like, leave the parking lot?” He drives with his left hand, with his right he reaches over and tweaks my nipple, then he moves his hand between my legs, rubs my cunt through my black dress, wet spot of pre-cum on the front of his Dockers. My clit gets hard as I write this, not because he was so good, but because he was so strange. I wasn’t attracted to him one iota, yet I submitted to him, it was thrilling, so Story of O. I did not know the hulk beside me. “Play with my cock,” he barked and I reached over, green rectangular exit signs whooshing by. We didn’t talk much.
I know I liked kissing his lips, soft, pillow-like.
It’s mid-afternoon when we arrive in San Jose, Ed’s hand still wriggling in my crotch. I marvel at the clean and manicured downtown, its broad pavements creamy as mother of pearl. We check in at the Fairmont then ride the elevator to the fourth floor. It takes forever for the bellman to deposit our luggage. We hover awkwardly around the two huge beds in the center of the room. Ed pulls back a stiff quilted cover. “Ready?” We lie down beneath its vaguely biomorphic design and sex until it’s dark out. I rub my face against his breasts, reach my arms around his fat belly, he feels like a tribal fertility figure, both tits and a cock—I suck on him until my cheeks collapse. He tweaks and turns my nipples, saying let’s turn up the volume, let’s balance the channels. To our right a wall of windows, heavy light-blocking drapes glide open, beneath them a layer of sheer white gauzes the skyline. Free from all context beyond our charged, leaking bodies, we tumble slowly through the Fairmont’s muted color scheme, teal, apricot, rose. I have to put a pillow under my ass to endure his breadth, his initial slow heaves shifting to rhythmic slamming, thighs spread achingly wide my whole body lunges with each thrust, and then he bellows and collapses on me THUD I am a pancake with bulging eyes, red tongue dangling to one side. Ed kisses me and with our lips still touching, whispers, “I love you.” A barely audible whisper I love you his lips pooching and parting against my lips, it’s as if he’s feeding me the words.
Around nine that evening we get up, woozy, and walk to the Italian cafe around the corner. The streetlights sparkle like crystal. Both of us are too nervous, too amniotic to eat much of our pizza margherita. Ed hunches over the white-clothed table, mutely clinging to my hand, inert, smooth, his back rounded as a Henry Moore sculpture, I want to climb on top of him, sprawl there, child-limp, unleashing the full weight of my body, warmed by the warmth of sun-warmed stone. Still I’m embarrassed to be seen in public with him the fat man with the mooning eyes. “Ed, you’re so quiet!” He says he doesn’t know what to say, that he was used to silence due to his deaf parents. “Were they born that way?” “Spinal meningitis. My father was three and had already learned to speak. Said he could remember what sound was like.” “And what was it like?” “I don’t know, he was such an asshole. My mother was only a year old when she got sick. Silence, or whatever it is that goes on inside her head—you know, John Cage—is all she’s ever known.” “You mean like silence as noise?” “Yeah, Sweetie, you got it.” He squeezes my hand and hypergrins, silky skin stretched over his hefty cheeks. My clit is so excited it glows in the dark sex uranium. “My mother was frightened of hearing people, she was like this little mouse huddled in our living room, everything covered with plastic, and so am I, a mouse. I need to be inside you.”
I loved our hotel room—small flat bottles of Neutrogena soap in the shower, pale amber, the glass door, the sink lined with pill bottles, burnt orange, bathtub, built-in vanity in the dressing room, Hollywood globe lights lining a huge mirror, me sitting on the wide padded stool putting on make-up, the hush of wall-to-wall carpeting, my movements are so slow they’re almost imperceptible, a series of stop frames dissolving into one another, his loose shit exploding into the toilet and then the air, my impulse is to retch, I suppress it, kiss his guilty face. His suitcase open on the floor, cotton shirts spilling over the sides. In the mornings Ed went down to the database convention DownWorld had sent him to and I’d lay in bed dreaming and reading, this messy left-over from the day before. The maids must have hated me. At lunch he’d climb back in bed with sandwiches, and we’d kiss and belly-rub, his cock snaking through the folds of his Dockers, breadcrumbs and mayonnaise gunking the sheets. Then I’d spend the afternoon sauntering through San Jose’s mall-like downtown, writing in my diary arousal mixed with pangs of What Am I Doing Here, drinking white wine while listening to the grand piano in the Fairmont’s cavernous lounge, lots of gold and foliage.
Who’d believe that in less than two months I’d hurl myself back into his roly-poly arms. Six weeks in Chicago. What was I thinking? I tossed my body about as if it were a dress, the skin mere fabric wrapped around pulp. No brains. The woman Ed was in love with is inaccessible to me—a sex goddess he called her, this raw ethereal creature. His silence during phone sex, I’d beg him to speak, but the line would remain dead save for his rapid exhalations and the slapping of fist against cock—he was with her then, a space bitch with three tits and fangs. Ed and She didn’t need words—thought waves, breath waves were their units of transmission, impulses shooting directly from her cunt into his bloodstream. When I arrived on his doorstep, my flesh a thick, sloppy shield, he lost her, his true alien mate. I unbutton my blouse a bit and lean over but Ed averts his eyes from my cleavage. It is then I know he’s an alien—like the man who suddenly stops smoking, like the lame man who can suddenly walk without a cane. Or any man unwilling to take off his shirt and show me his back. During a manic episode an evolved being from another dimension entered Ed’s body, and that’s why he got fat—to protect it. Aliens puff up right before our eyes, mature in a matter of days or even minutes. Under a microscope their cells reproduce wildly, hysterically, jigging around. Aliens have an obscene passion for life, they are so lowclass in that regard.
Everything is seen through the lens of Over. Ed lying on his back, his hinged arms and legs slow and graceful as a spider’s. Skin pink as kleenexes, and up close just that frail. I touched him gently. Ed in the Fairmont’s guest robe, hunched over as he clutches the front—he looked like a giant white single quotation mark. An opening quote. Six months later, when he curled down to kiss me at O’Hare, that was the closing quote. Color and texture took precedence over narrative progression, our moments were bathed in blue and pink and neon, a sultry ambience heightened by a bluesy sax my paunchy Venus, my bucket of playdough, my fucking zeppelin during sex my body felt too small, like a doll’s, like I would be crushed beneath his enormous weight, my little bent-back thighs snapped off. He was disappointed I was too tall to comfortably fuck from behind like he did his last girlfriend. Sometimes he couldn’t come but stayed hard, sometimes he went soft while fucking me, sometimes he couldn’t get hard at all—except when we were getting ready to go someplace. Small beams of light focus on him: pale hazel eyes, the pinkness of his lips, palms and fingers gnawed bloody. I’d catch a glimpse of him sometimes, a little animal racing through this white mass of flesh, peeking out through the holes. His eyes reminded me of John Cassavetes’, so much brain activity going on behind them, eyes registering with superhuman precision—like those security cameras in supermarkets and buses, stereoscopic cameras sweeping and weeping. Ed’s panoramic emotions scared most people, but bottomless need has always felt natural to me.
I pull out a snapshot of Ed from his college days. Lounging in the passenger seat of a car, he exudes an air of confidence that’s alien to the Ed I know. He’s checking himself out in the rearview mirror, smiling in sunglasses and red bandanna, like Johnny Depp playing a gypsy. He’s very thin, very handsome. Is his past an improvement? Fat chance. The oneness, the delicious harmony of a stretched round face, huge Buddha-men ambling past me on the street, my head turns towards them all, Hispanic, black, Asian, white, my eyes wet with longing. My breasts leap forward, plump nipples stiffen to rosy Buddha-heads. In front of me on the Mission bus sits a blond guy with a shaved head, fuzzy ripple of fat at the base of his neck, I imagine the tips of my fingers gently brushing across it, peach down everything comes and goes, no continuity except these fat men who wash over me, wave after wave of being—no longer am I a solid woman, whirling bits give the impression of the form of Carla, like a surrealist painting of a female tornado super vegetarian taco, decadently gunky—cheese, guacamole—and a Dos Equis, a fat black guy, kind of swan backed, just walked by, I look at his belly and wonder—is that how fat Ed was? Another fat guy cruises by, a white one, his flesh is jiggly, so he doesn’t count. Both of them in T-shirts. The city is so gorgeous I can barely stand it—hazy overcast sky, gust of wind, the streets are lined with Sumo wrestler silhouettes, so curvy, generous I gawk and BANG I’m creaming Mission Grounds, all the old timers sitting on Valencia Street in the cold chainsmoking, adapting to the 90s, some fat guy in a blue down jacket comes in, sits down two tables away from me and polishes off the potatoes left on a plate beneath every puffy surface elation flows on Lafayette two fat Filipino boys, 11-ish, short-cropped dark hair, peachy faces, matching baggy jeans, oversized black T-shirts, techno-tennies, gray with black racing stripes, apparently with little wheels on the soles, the boys begin gliding across the sidewalk, like telekinetic salt and pepper shakers, like Coppola’s Dracula, only cute. Walking down Van Ness from Geary to Market as the sun sets, I remember walking this same half mile when I first moved here, I must have done it a hundred times these past fifteen years snapshots of weather and concrete I see myself, Carla, as a line of selves in multiple exposures, one self stepping into another Nude Descending Van Ness at Market I get on MUNI, a heavy-set guy is sitting sideways at the front of the bus, the position Ed preferred, thighs spread, hand gripping the chrome railing, he’d talk to the driver pang of nostalgia and loss the guy doesn’t really look like Ed. Dark-haired, fat, sideways—that’s enough for me.
This sack/ is ripe like fallen fruit, like the earth/ used to be.
We fucked during one lunch and Ed skipped the afternoon session on object-oriented programming. He fretted that “that prick Donald” would notice his absence, but he was glued to my cunt. After a couple of hours we unstuck ourselves and drove North on 101. It’s drizzling as we walk through a park near Fort Mason. We’re on a pilgrimage to revisit places Ed knew in San Francisco, for he lived here, briefly, in his early 20s. Against the overcast, shadowless afternoon the grass glows, an unearthly chartreuse, the winding path is painted a Technicolor red. Ed wraps his arm around my shoulders and I hook a finger in a belt loop on the back of his pants, melt into his fondue-hot body. Entwined, we lurch from side to side towards the Marina. We’re so bubbled up into one another’s heads and bodies I hardly give a fuck who’s looking at us. It’s like we’re encased in this erotic space suit, gliding together through San Francisco’s alien atmosphere. Ed points to a tree, “I ate leaves from that tree.” “Ate leaves?” “Yeah, I thought I was a dinosaur. This asshole doctor refused to give me my medication because I asked his receptionist where to buy some grass. The receptionist was black, so I thought he’d understand, but then he told the doctor and the doctor said I had to go into rehab before I could have any more drugs and I said I’d go crazy without them, and sure enough, within a month, here I was in the Marina, eating leaves.” I look at the emerald grass, the ruby red curving walkway and think of Oz, the black and white of email bursting forth to glorious color. “What kind of dinosaur?” “A T-Rex.” “But weren’t T-Rexes carnivorous?” “When I was a T-Rex I ate leaves. What are you, some kind of lizard expert or something.”
We cross the street and head for the dock, fishy smell, dozens of boats lined up, covered with royal blue tarps. We read their names out loud Passing Wind, Indulgence, Caliban, Exhilaration, Elan. Martian-looking succulents line the sidewalk, large angled stones lead down to water, they look unreal like papier-mâché rocks in a movie set. Three Japanese tourists mom dad daughter ask Ed to photograph them with Alcatraz above their heads sure what button do you push click want me to do another click you’re welcome. “Then I walked around down here in circles busy psychically diverting missiles from the people I cared about. Hear the sound the boats make?” An arrhythmic, incessant clanking, morose, like a minuet of the dead. “Yeah, sort of sounds like a wind chime.” “The tinkles started speaking to me and they said that I had to go to the place of my first death, when I was a T-Rex, which happened to be in the middle of Lombard Street.” Wind chills our charged salty bodies, libido flowing along our skin, a kiwi-colored mist Lil Angel, Mistress Quickly, Prosper we stop in front of a kelly green dock that leads to the boats. At the foot of it a metal gate warns unauthorized people like us to keep out. “They also told me that Reagan was in a submarine on the Bay and I was supposed to go meet him, but I never got that far. I walked over to Lombard and stood between the lanes like a traffic cop, directing others back to the place of their first death, people were lined up on the sidewalk, cars were screeching and swerving, and I was pointing.” Ed pokes the air with his finger. “‘There, there, there!’ I was deadly serious.” We sit on a weather-stripped bench, Ed’s arm draped around my shoulders, his legs spread, thigh pressing into mine, wind rustles our hair, stings our ears, he kisses me, “Lala I need you,” and I could fuck him right there on the concrete walkway, on the green dock that creaks like a haunted house Polar Bear, Hunky Dory, Roma, Coral, Merlin Ed says, “Look at that seagull, it’s as big as a turkey.” Behind us kids fly kites, bright red and yellow diamonds. To our left the Golden Gate Bridge dissolves into fog. “So what happened?” “When?” “On Lombard Street.” “Oh, yeah, well eventually the cops showed up with a paddy wagon, put me to the ground and handcuffed me, they were standing over me with fucking billy clubs. I ended up in the psych ward at SF General, they drugged me so much, Haldol, that I drooled, one side of my face sagging, and the Haldol hurt like hell, cramped my muscles, and I told them, but they wouldn’t listen. A friend came to visit and when she saw me she started crying. I’m hungry, how about you?” “Well, what friend was that—she?”
We drive over to the Lower Haight, to an Indian restaurant Ed’s enthusiastic about. “The food’s great, you’ll love it!” We take the only open table, in the corner beside a couple dressed in black leather—jackets, boots, pants for the guy, tight miniskirt for the girl. Her black eyeliner’s thick as shoestrings. They look at us like we smell bad. I dramatically ignore them, opening my menu. Ed holds my hand across the pink tablecloth, I rub his palm with my thumb. “Great, they have onion nan.” When the sari-clad waitress arrives with our food, Ed points to my sag paneer. “Spinach, ugh, reminds me of leaves.” As we chuckle at his joke, the waitress glances at the leather couple and shares, not quite an eye-rolling, but definitely a look. “Would you like anything else?” “No thank you,” I say coldly. Oblivious, Ed scoops up some lamb. “It was terrible when I got out of the hospital. At the halfway house it was my job to set the table and I couldn’t do it, couldn’t remember, no matter how hard I tried, where the forks and spoons and knives went, it was humiliating, Lala, I couldn’t figure out the fucking silverware.” I awkwardly put down my fork and stroke his hand. “You poor thing.” His eyes are wet. He looks so tender, so vulnerable, so unmediated. I envy his mother, thirty some years before, holding him in his infanthood, his total dependence, their full body contact, she caresses his every limb, every orifice, he sucks her breast like a leech, just rubbing his hand I feel like I’m fucking him. “Sweetie, you better stop that, you’re making me hard.” We pull our hands away and eat in silence. After a few minutes I say, “You seem pretty deft with that fork, you must have eventually figured it out.” “Figured what out?” “The silverware.” “Ha ha, Lala—I did, but it seemed to take months, when I could set the table and I was doing well in my art classes—that’s the first time I’d ever painted, and my teacher was very impressed, I still have a couple of the paintings, I was in an art show they had—anyway, once I could set the table, they got me this job in a cookie factory, the owner liked me, he was a nice guy, even gave me a raise, and I enjoyed making cookies, it wasn’t hard to learn how, thank god, and I was comforted by the dough, it was so there, solid. And this restaurant is where the cookie factory used to be.” Ed looks around the room. “Wow, it’s so weird to be back here.” He points to the back wall. “The oven used to be over there. I must have made a million cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter, I got sick of them. After I moved to Bloomington I couldn’t eat cookies for a year.” The leather people have grown strangely silent, I know they’re eavesdropping. “Want some more pilau?” I say as I glare at them. “So when did you start writing poetry?” “That was later, when I was in college. My paintings were always about my madness, but it took me longer to figure out how to honor it in words—it was after I had that episode in Bloomington, you know, with the swans. When I write poems I can go back to that manic place, where I don’t have to be rational, to clean my act up. So I go there and I listen and I transcribe what the voices are telling me—it’s like the tinkling of the boats, but inside.” I can’t remember any of his poems, but I can visualize them—words stacked in narrow spines that hug the left margin—or words flung across the page in the shape of a wing, page after wingy page, the same wing. “Your poems are very difficult.” He shakes his head, makes a guilt smirk. “I know, Lala, they’re practically indecipherable but they have to be because my madness was indecipherable.” Ed pauses and listens to the leather guy, who’s saying, “I hope you have the courage to let go of the ones that are old and tattered—you don’t want to get in an accident with shabby underwear.” We share a suppressed giggle. “This lamb was really good, how about yours?” “Yeah, good, I like the chewy cheese, but you were saying…” “The poems—sometimes I use the syntax of sign language, it’s totally different than English, more cinematic, like you wouldn’t say, ‘John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in a theater.’ You’d start with the theater, situate it, then move on to the action. So sometimes I write in English but use this sign language syntax, so the English sounds foreign, nobody would see what I’m doing, but I want it there, hovering behind the surface.” He chews on his index finger as I wave for the check. “Sweetie,” his tone is urgent, “I miss you, I need to be back in our room, need to hold you.”
He was addictive as chocolate.
If only my words, like ultrasound, could revive the dead. Our seven-month affair ended with a memo, with a brief e-mail: the dancing geese animation on the DownWorld site was a nightmare of glitches; he no longer had time for me. WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? He said if I kept pressing him he’d end up in the hospital. WHY? WHY? “These are holes for the snow to seep though,” he replied. “I’m lighting my face with small fires.” WHY? He was having pinpricks along his back and shoulders, the pinpricks were a warning, the pinpricks were my fault. He took a fistful of drugs each day anti-psychotic anti-anxiety anti-convulsion anti- depression and the point of the drugs was to keep him understimulated no more directing traffic for Jesus I was counter-productive. Again, the timeline: fuck by e-mail for a couple months, fuck by phone and e-mail for a couple months, fuck in San Jose (iRL) for five days, fuck by phone mostly for two months, fuck in Chicago for six weeks. Then he excises me without warning—time reversed itself and I in my sex-charged forward momentum slammed against it. It’s like a gap or wedge opened for a bit rainbow halo around the edges our bodies dissolved to diamonds and together we frolicked through sexspace, the heavens revolved, then the gap collapsed and I was spit back out the clinical silence after the big crash, no human to negotiate with sexspace is a bleep of the collective unconscious, a vestigial memory of Atlantean netsex. Animal merges with man merges with microchip, and then the world sinks beneath the sea, millenniums later Donovan writes a song about it Fair Atlantis hippies fuck like dogs, the Univac sprawls big as a factory, then the incredible shrinking machine act begins and nobody’s cunt is safe, no longer can a nerdy girl find sanctuary in abstraction, I got fucked and fucked and fucked it was more than air but less than life my cunt rollicking, his sperm shot through me like a homeopathic poison no molecules just their essence, XXX a dimension opens a dimension closes, I twist myself to fit form after form, dependent, uncoordinated, chaotic. He tried to come back a couple of times but it didn’t work.
ok, carla. i’m not sure what prompted that response, other than that i haven’t kept in touch with you. but, obviously, you have not kept in touch with me either. fine. as far as what will happen with my life, it’ll just happen, i’m not talking about career here, but just living my life, which i try to share a tiny bit of with you, and it becomes increasingly clear to me that you have no interest in sharing any of that. no problem. take it easy, have a great life. —Ed
The memory part is so fuzzy but the four floppies of downloaded emails love bytes are solid as bone. The bed was our movie screen flesh dissolves, action dissolves the X-rays from my tremendous ego shrink his cock to the size of a microbe and Ed’s cock goes on a Fantastic Voyage. As I climax in tidal wave convulsions, sticky fluids suck Ed’s miniature cock through the cervix’s puffy hole and into my bloodstream. Iridescent blue and red blobs exchange gasses. This is the miracle of life. Ed’s cock squirms into a capillary, the capillary is warm and tiny, the perfect cunt. From the walls of my lymph system stringy swamp growth hangs ragged and diaphanous. Antibodies wrap themselves around Ed’s cock, cellophane noodles thick as snakes, at first Ed’s cock enjoys their snugness, his cock hardens and the noodles tighten, cock flesh bulging between them, tighter, cock flesh pressure building, on the verge of explosion, the antibodies wriggle and suck, Ed’s cock tumbles into my lungs where oxygen crystallizes the antibodies and they break off. Tender red stripes, rope burns, crisscross Ed’s distressed cock flesh. My lungs are full of black grit. Ed’s cock enters the spongy darkness of my tits, nipple holes spiral open like camera shutters, the onrush of light blinds Ed’s cock, all the cock has to do is shoot through the nipple holes, freedom, but what if they snap shut and decapitate the cock head. Ed’s cock moves on to my heart, marvels at the arches inside, rubbery lace. The cock has to sneak through between beats or face certain death. Next stop: ear drum, translucent and delicate as a Japanese paper lampshade. Ed’s cock whooshes out through a tear duct in my eyeball, my tears wash him down my cheeks. Relief returns his cock to normal size and the cock races back to Ed’s body, grossed out by my gooey insides. To know me is not to love me.
A modem doesn’t ask for a commitment if you use it. Getting a modem to obey you is as simple as typing “AT”. When you’re done using your modem, you can roll over and go to sleep without feeling guilty. A modem won’t say a word if you come home late. A modem can’t collect alimony if you decide to dump it.
A bit actor on Bravo is fat with dark hair and I feel such longing I squirm on the couch—big gut, dark hair, some fetish. I collage together body parts with the fury of a cubist, but Ed never returns. After I masturbate I sit up and eat some chocolate ice cream. Leaning against the back of the couch, legs drawn up like a fetus floating in a jar, I curl tighter and tighter, the tighter I curl the smaller I’ll become, tighter and smaller, until I disappear. And then I barf. The sticky glutinous stuff that gels my cells together and glues me to the universe is beginning to erode. I am losing my magnetism, becoming more liquid, denser, heavier, colder, cloying. As my electrical impulses weaken, I drift farther away from the core of substantiality emotions moving through time like music, emotions worked to the point where they almost fall apart Ed appears beside me in a rental car, the congealed face of existence, smirking at first the figures from my memory were anatomically correct but then the cunts/cocks got bigger and bigger and the bodies collapsed as he drives he holds my hand, the back of his hand resting in my crotch, my crotch is immense, the oyster shell holding up Botticelli’s Venus—I know I was there, I store the memories, but another woman did these things. She/I. Neither pronoun fits. There should be a hybrid pronoun. Sh/I. Shy. Shy hurled down the highway to San Jose with a certifiably insane man. Shy fucked him and fucked him and fucked until shy broke through the flesh barrier and fat was the sexiest dimension in the world. Ed feels so far away a spark of colored being but these thoughts of him still rattle, never stop rattling his cock the size of an alley cat I glimpse a suspicious mist wafting up from the keyboard from some angles I see the face of Satan.
A modem will always wait patiently by the phone. A modem doesn’t bitch if you sit and play with the computer all night long. You can always get a few bucks for an old modem when a faster model comes out.
You don’t have to bring a modem home to meet your parents. If an error occurs, Abort, Retry or Fail are the only options you have to worry about. Modems come with an instruction manual. Modems have a volume control—you can even turn the sound OFF.
I am lost
The screen says it has a penis. My hand traced is a turkey. For the same reason that the behavior of wildlife in captivity may tell you more about captivity than wildlife, it’s hard to test a lover in the petri dish of the internet. To get a better sense of the lover’s real vulnerabilities you need to meet him in San Jose, harvest some of his cock cells and inject the cock cells into the flanks of special immune-deficient mice. Like a table lamp, Ed was bright for a while, then he burnt out. He turned off his desire, casually, like you would a dripping faucet. Intensity followed by erasure. He transformed himself into a stream of silvery liquid, absorbed my punches and projectiles by molding himself around them, leaving holes where he once was. Deep inside my womb the Defense Department has installed a nuclear bomb. He doesn’t answer my calls, deletes my emails, I float about silent, gravity-free, an alien pod seeking a host somebody love me. I spend 2000 years frozen underwater staring, waiting, dreaming of fat little fairies. The shadows do not introduce themselves. I’m a black dress and he’s black Dockers and a brown shirt. The jet of his urine spells out apocalyptic messages in its expiring arc. I’ve got to get rid of him, I need a psychic snowplow to blow him away. My words are brittle, their connections weak, like clay apples they cannot reproduce themselves, cannot seed. Forensics performed on a water-damaged corpse sitting in a 127-year-old plot are considered more reliable than the documentary record. Interior horizons gaping open. My cunt cries out for a crust of bread, my cunt cries out for a bunch of flowers. I disintegrate, spew off molecules, pee them away. The molecules never get smaller, some of them just leave. Ed said we were never real, so here I am in San Francisco, this unreal thing, continuing. I back-up every message that Ed has ever sent me, then delete them from my hard drive. To further clear his dark vibrations I burn a sage stick, bitter smoke curling in six directions North South Ed as in id East West Ed as in past tense Heaven Earth Ed as in dead. Still my computer feels dangerous, Ed-ness suspended about the modem, invisible, lethal. Even the pattern on my desktop reminds me of him, pinpricks on a lavender background, a field of pinpricks in regular rows like tombstones in the Arlington Cemetery. Each pinprick’s a dead kiss, a hole where snow seeps through.
A modem is flat on top—hence your beer won’t fall over. A modem doesn’t mind if you call another modem.
I walk through the theft detector’s tall thin arches and into the Castro Street Walgreen’s. For the exorcism, I need a totem animal. None of the signs hanging from the ceiling reads TOYS, so I ramble through the cramped brightly-lit aisles. Outside the pharmacy window frail men sit on a brown naugahyde loveseat waiting for medication, one with a beet-red face carries away a shopping bag full of pills. I head towards the greeting cards and stumble upon a column of shelves overloaded with Teddy Bears, from hefty hugables to the miniature fuzzies I’ve seen men carrying around in their hip pockets. A bear won’t do. On the top shelf, like an afterthought or a leftover, sits a lone 4-inch baby dinosaur Ed as T-Rex eating leaves, perfect the dinosaur is sealed in hard plastic, its gaudy cardboard backdrop announces Baby Bop, I snatch it. Unearthing King Tut would be easier than freeing Baby Bop from its plastic casing, I take my house keys from my backpack and gouge the plastic, rip and wrestle, gouge some more, until, finally, I’m squeezing Baby Bop’s hard curvaceous body, fighting the urge to stick it in my mouth and gnaw. I’ve never heard of Baby Bop before. The thing is green with a seashell flaring from the back of its head like a halo. Round smiling piggy face, big snout—like Abbie Hoffman’s mascot, Pigasaurus, the pig he nominated for president. A magenta bow crowns Baby Bop’s forehead, magenta slippers, belly. Lashes surround its round eyes like a domino mask, chubby hands clutch a bright yellow towel. Its head swivels 360º like Linda Blair’s. Magenta zits sprout across its smooth green shoulders and sides psychic mole eyes watching me short tail whips out the back of its fat body. I put it in my shopping basket, pay for it, and I’m out of there.
So now for something that belonged to Ed, something he’s touched. From inside my diary I remove a line drawing frenetic blue ballpoint he did on a 3x5 inch index card the body of a woman jigsaw-puzzled, disjointed limbs rearranged as strange trophies it looks like Guernica done with an etch-a-sketch. On the back he’s written an invocation:
branch to your eyes
With a black Sharpie I print ED across Baby Bop’s unformed genitals, wrap the index card around the dinosaur body and slip on a rubber band, Baby Bop’s little magenta slippers, its seashell crown stick out either end. I gather my props and walk the three flights down the rickety back stairway cool breeze and the roar of traffic a block away colorless Bank of America offices loom the wood creaks with each step pale sky, purple-tinged, diminishing. My building’s tiny backyard is a pit enclosed on three sides by dirty red brick. I set Baby Bop down among the short decorative plants which cover the ground, a jungle to a four-inch dinosaur. With a tablespoon I dig a hole. A car alarm wails incessantly. I drop Baby Bop in the hole, then brush and pack the earth back over it. Baby Bop compresses into an eternity dark as coffee grounds, I pour maple syrup over his grave oh sticky love, stick to this dark gluey earth, oh pancake face, oh candy heart, you buried me in love, now I bury you alive.
When I’m done using my modem, I can roll over and go to sleep without feeling guilty. A virus I catch from my modem doesn’t require a trip to the doctor. I send him an anonymous e-mail. The subject line: The branch is broken. The message: THE BRANCH IS BROKEN/ THE BRANCH IS BROKEN/ THE BRANCH IS BROKEN.
It’s the second full moon of June, I fall asleep to the radio, K-Fog’s Blue Moon Special oh, I'm being followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow Baby Bop stalks me in a jungle, florescent magenta dots streaming though waist-high razor-sharp grasses. Terra trembles beneath leaden magenta slippers. Round eyes unreadable as foreign coins, pig face locked in grimace, Baby Bop unfurls its little yellow blanket a noose to hang the virgin-hearted then I’m back in bed and Baby Bop’s bouncing its magenta oval belly against me, my tits flatten as Baby Bop’s blubbery weight grinds me into the mattress, my legs sprung wide as a corkscrew’s arms, blubbery Bop the war the war, he wrote, a battle’s being fought for our souls no more ground we must recycle cartoon lives for bodies sand and heat Baby Bop stuffs my mouth with leaves oh sack of dinosaur flesh oh jiggly bellied Brando the horror Baby Bop Sha Bob Sha Bob Sha Bob Sha Bob Bob Bop. Baby Bop Sha Bob Sha Bob Sha Bob Bob Bop. Baby Bop Baby Baby Sha Bob Bob Bop Baby Bop Baby Bop Baby Bop Bop Bob Sha Bob Sha Bob Sha Baby Bop. Baby Bop Sha Bob Bob Baby Bop. I awaken to a wooden creak and then a thump which sounds like it’s coming from the roof, sounds as if a giant is stomping above my head, the bed jiggles exuberantly blue moon you saw me standing alone my tits jiggle in unison without a dream in my heart it’s Baby Bop, it has to be, sinking deeper into the backyard, as Baby Bop sinks the earth rumbles, black loam bubbling inward. “Did you feel that quake, Fogheads—5.2.”
The sex demon, without body, without organs, must possess fat bodies—fat bodies with cocks—to remain in the physical. He’s always on the lookout for a new host, moving from fat man to fat man through touch. If a fat man dies the sex demon has the length of one breath/500 cubits to fly into another fat body. If he doesn’t find a host, he disappears throughout eternity. The sex demon’s been haunting the earth for thousands of years, he’s very clever, sings Rolling Stones songs as he zips from chunky carcass to chunky carcass, it’s dizzying, each touch or bump on the shoulder a new possession, a fat man turns around and grins then bump and another fat man straightens, turns around and grins or continues whatever conversation the sex demon is having with you or sings the next line of “Ti-i-ime is on my side.” When the sex demon leaped into Baby Bop he knew he’d struck triple cherries, Baby Bop is plastic, and plastic is forever, the sex demon had finally found a home, he loved the toxic scent of his PVC cock.
A modem doesn’t require any foreplay—just an initialization command.
The earth beneath my computer churns and steams, the Blue Moon triangulates with San Francisco and Egypt, and out of the pyramidal vapors Baby Ka arises, all six feet of him, grave clothes crumbling, magenta torso glowing neon, his third eye, fourth eye, fifth eye, sixth, all his psychic mole eyes spin, piercing through the fog. He has an enormous 19-inch (on the diagonal) cranial capacity. I’m lying on my back in my white gown, arms thrown back above my head, shoulders drooping off the side of the bed limp as wilted flowers, my eyes bulge like a blind horse’s. The bare bulb in the ceiling casts amber shadows. Baby Ka crouches on my chest, piggy cheek resting in one hand. Since he has no genitals, Baby Ka’s trying to figure out what to do with me, he watches as I shift and my white gown tightens around my tits, they look like a pair of snowballs wrapped in tissue paper, Baby Ka’s tail hardens. It is then that he realizes his tail is really a cock, it pokes up between his pudgy thighs, a thick green arrow airless piggy grunts, seashell headdress above me madly fanning the tender air, green streaks I try to rise but I cannot move, I’m paralyzed on the bed, my cunt open as a 24-hour diner. When he comes it’s violent, sudden, doors ripping off hinges, my body hurling across the room. Afterwards I try to turn on the light switch, but it passes right through my hand.
I asked Ed about his father as we lay in the San Jose Fairmont’s king-sized bed, suitcase open on the floor beside us spilling Land’s End pin-striped shirts. He was a janitor, Ed said, at Wonder Bread, famous for his goofy good cheer. At the bakery they had these horse pill-sized vitamins they dropped in the dough, niacin, riboflavin, etc.—his father swallowed one once, on a dare. They said, you’ll be strong as Superman. He got sick as a dog. Later he swallowed a bottle of aspirin, said it made him feel like he was flying. And then one summer, behind a giant dough kneader he shot himself in the head. “That made the TV news,” Ed said. “Like he was some fucking sniper or something.” His mother was a basket case, Ed, a junior in high school, had to handle all the arrangements. At the funeral parlor a woman showed up weeping, a stranger, with frizzy red hair and a pink floral dress, huge pink flowers that should have been on a carpet instead of a woman. Large damp circles under her armpits, everybody had them, fucking Indianapolis July. She blew her nose into an embroidered hankie and made a beeline to Ed. “I work at the bakery, too, in packaging.” She engulfed him in her pasty arms, she smelled like lemons. “I loved your father!” she wailed. And then she said it again, in sign language, her gestures stilted and dramatic. “I LOVE YOU FATHER.” Ed on his back beside me, naked, mimicking her signs. “She didn’t even know how to do the past tense, and my mother’s right there for Christ sakes, I wanted to slap her.” The rose-scented air-freshener, a muzak version of “Amazing Grace” wobbling through hidden speakers, useless as road kill his sister and mother slouched in folding chairs, his father’s waxy face poking out of gleaming metal coffin painted to look like wood. “I told the bitch to shut up, and I said to myself fuck this and I walked out, Lala, I walked out on my father’s funeral, and I kept walking, came back two days later, and my mother says to me, ‘You’re trying to kill me too.’” He clung to me, his arms embracing every cheesy metaphor of need and salvation, his air-conditioned shoulders smooth and cool. When I looked down at him he glowed, his nuzzling face soft focus with a halo around the edges pink Jesus the thought of him left me breathless, the thought of him made me feel unworthy, drove me crazy, the thought of him sneaks into my bed and fucks me until I bruise. It’s not as bad as it sounds. PVC softens in sexspace. Baby Ka’s cock feels more like the new squishy silicone dildoes rather than the rigid pink billy clubs of the 80s. Sometimes he dry-fucks me, sometimes he spurts a huge amount of sperm. The sperm is red and moves faster than human sperm. There’s so much of it that my hemorrhaging uterus won’t wash it away. I imagine the interior of my womb as black, a huge black galaxy filled with pinpricks, I imagine it shot full of holes, light streaming in Ed plasma streaming like god’s rays into my womb a mass of jello-y crimson substance wavers before me, I open my mouth and gulp, my wild hair streaming about my face.
Baby Ka’s weight and gravity are considerably weaker than Ed’s. Shorter and flatter, with proximal portions missing, Baby Ka feels light and hollow, husklike. He’s lost the ability to perform finer, more nuanced acts of dexterity which Ed was able to undertake, and his movements appear as jump-cuts from one cramped position to another. He sees himself speed up the hill in a series of rapid, jerky zigzags, his course sometimes loopy, sometimes a pattern of spirals. He knows he’s in trouble. There are red flashes in the air. Baby Ka has changed dramatically over time. For instance, his hand now comes closer to his elbow and is smaller, like the hand of a child. His pubic hair’s still blue-black lush, but his cock feels thinglike, passive, inert, a mere object with no animating or receptive interiority if you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail I am colonized, my white gown flays out like feathers, my cunt gashes open like a strawberry, a horse bleeds on the carpet, a black lake sinks into his abdomen, rhythmic slap of jelly belly, his huge red eye above me advancing and retreating, no weeping, just this endless blood-shot staring. He delivers the asked-for results but the logic is asymmetrical, ornate, doubling back on itself like the web woven by a spider fed LSD admire those who succeed, and learn from their successes 01 21 29 35 36 41 sometimes he loses his solidity altogether and passes right through my body the bed looks like a movie screen night after night Baby Ka whines, wails, threatens, complains, and cajoles. Like a TV, he’s sure everyone’s staring at him. Like a telephone his ears ring and he hears voices. Like a calculator he thinks he’s just as good as a computer a modem doesn’t ask for a commitment heedlessly he pours forth his litanies of woe into darkened space. His stickiness directs moisture and immunity to the nucleus of my being, buffers the forces of entropy that accompany my long existence my branch, my golden bough I love him, but I wonder if he’ll hurt me the way Ed did.
Bio: Dodie Bellamy has written a novel, The Letters of Mina Harker (Hard Press, 1998), a collection of memoirs, Feminine Hijinx (Hanuman, 1990), and an epistolary collaboration on AIDS with the late Sam D’Allesandro, Real (Talisman House, 1994). Her latest book, Cunt-Ups (Tender Buttons, 2002), a radical feminist revision of the “cut-up” pioneered by William Burroughs and Bryon Gysin, won the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in, among others, the anthologies High Risk (Plume, 1991), The Art of Practice: 45 Contemporary Poets (Potes & Poets Press, 1994), A Poetics of Criticism (Leave Books, 1994), The New Fuck You (Semiotexte, 1995), Primary Trouble (Talisman House, 1996), and Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (Talisman House, 1998). In 1998 she won the San Francisco Bay Guardian “Goldie” Award for Literature. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bookforum, Out/Look, The San Diego Reader, Nest, as well as numerous small press literary journals and web sites. Currently she is an associate faculty member at Antioch Los Angeles and a lecturer in the Creative Writing Department of San Francisco State University. With Kevin Killian, she has edited over 100 issues of the literary/art zine Mirage #4/Period(ical).
See also How2 Issue 5 (in the archives) for extracts
from Bellamy’s Cunt-Up.