What to do? Well, I can plan the rest of my creative life with the detritus on my almost 5 year old MacBook Pro. For starters here's a piece I think I wrote a couple years ago for a theater project for my friend Niki. She convinced me to dance in her piece in a ladies wool bathing suit and to, as well, perform in a burlesque number where I'm given lipstick and dressed up like a woman. That was a high point of my enriching vulnerability. I need more of that.
The following piece has a lot to do with recent conversations. It's very long and unedited but I feel as a short essay it has promise. Might as well. I feel it contains grain of the themes that I've always wrestled with and will continue to, as my weakness is as instructive and guiding as what I misperceive as strength.
A DREAM OF DEATH (IN THE DESERT)
At eighteen, I kept a very embarrassing journal, or at least it appears that way today. It is the only journal I ever saved from my tumultuous adolescent years; I destroyed the other ones because they were mostly free-associating, beatnik wannabe jumbles of sexual fantasies and trivial dream sequences. Some of these destroyed journals included minute-by-minute breakdowns of elaborate autoerotic sessions not to mention photo collages that were snipped from either car magazines or stolen Penthouses. The journal I started at eighteen, however, had the fresh perspective of someone who was suddenly legal in every sense of the word and who had suddenly read a lot of books about mental and physical conditioning. Still, that journal is permeated with my frustrations with girls, with dating, with trying to get laid, only it is less about the things I’d like to do and more about how to get to the point where I can do those things with grace and grit. I am, after all a horny teen who needs to learn finesse. The hows and not the whats. It is infused with human potential theories, occult philosophy and the most obscure self-help rhetoric you can imagine, all in the service of screwing, which rarely, if ever happened to me back then. The love of my life (or so I believed at 18), Amy floats through the pages, short, pale, earthy in her figure with those upsetting green eyes and that heaving Irish bosom and that sort of demeaning, precocious laugh of hers which made her a favorite with her art and theatre friends. But towards the end of the journal she is dating a close friend of mine. Unspeakable rage and jealousy turns my language coarse and difficult. My cursive starts getting frantic, all over the page, instead of in the neat, tightly-packed rows as before. I write poems about the various ways she is torturing me. About how she plucks her own eyes out and distills an acidic broth from them that she drips on my skin, burning me all the way to the marrow. Drip by drip, she stings me with the bright, blinding green of her Irish beauty. She becomes a surrealist fantasy of unattainable desire. In chemistry class, she assails me with hands of zero Kelvin. At Irish club meetings, she undresses my ambitions and guffaws with endless cruelty. I had been reading too much Breton, too much Artaud back then. The body was only good for the hallucinations it produced. The body was only as good as the Muse that enslaved it. So I dragged mine through sleepless nights of overblown poetics and solo wine quaffing. She cornered me one day about my public displays of poetic yearning. She had her arms on her hips, those emerald vessels burning in her face, her skin as thick and formidable as whipped mare’s milk. I feel an atavistic rush—the knowledge that my manhood will be in direct proportion to how much a woman will humiliate me, upset me, turn my life upside down and denigrate me as a pitiful, truly repulsive acolyte. Is it guilt? Is it the Christ martyr complex inherited from my Catholic upbringing? Is it some early blossoming of homosexuality or my current S&M fascination? I bow to her, in faux reverence and she pushes me back with her arm, disgusted. At this level I can see where her sweater covers her bellybutton. Cashmere. Imported. Worn to clubs that she snuck into. Threads of violet fizz around the edges. My heart surges. I want to be enslaved by her. I want. . .I want. . . But she walks away and I slide to the ground, sighing.
Later on in the journal, there is a dream. I’m still in the habit at eighteen of recording my dreams, just not as many as before. In that journal, I write down only the ones that I believe are influenced by the events in my waking life. You see, I was looking for a logic to it all, a music of the inner spheres that would also help me in the sex department. The description of this particular dream reminds me of this weird kid’s film I saw once that was about secret agents: Cloak And Dagger. There is a scene, I believe, where a woman corners a young boy in an alley way and he drops to his knees as she prepares to shoot him. For a long while she just smiles while she toys with her pistol. There is a spirit of play in the air, almost like it’s just a game of hide n’ seek but more highly charged than that. In fact the viewer knows all along that this she-villain can never off the little kid hero because his imaginary friend who just happens to be a trench-coat wearing secret agent is going to prevent her from doing that. This boring foreknowledge makes it a kid’s movie. But when I first saw it, I was spellbound by this scene and more by the feelings the kid must have had, a strange fluttering of adrenaline in his solar plexus that was directly related to his domination, to his near death at the hands of this woman. At the time, I was probably bringing a lot of my own baggage to the table, baggage that I could barely understand or hope to articulate.
In this dream, I died. I died while asleep but contrary to the urban legend, I didn’t actually die. I woke up shaking, my vision pixilated. From a black car, I was kicked out onto burning sand around the hour of twilight. I’m not sure which twilight it was, whether the dusk or dawn variety but the desert was vermillion and indigo, the cactus and the canyon walls slightly orange and jackals lurched in the distance, coughing. The driver got out too, a woman with long hair and sunglasses and wearing a leather jacket. She dragged me by the hair across the sand. It was cold and massaging on my kneecaps. I was groaning to myself; she was silent. Finally we arrive at no remarkable place, just more sand, more dying reds and faint purples of twilight. Brandishing a long black, greased-up gun, she looks down at me through her sunglasses. I cannot tell if she is beautiful but she is certainly tall and limber. She points it at me. I feel helpless, distraught, not at all like the kid in the movie must have felt, not the cold, hormonal agitation, not the male Andromeda complex. The barrel is as cold as the sand against my forehead. It clicks, the bullet enters the flesh of my head. No explosion, just a mute entry. A slight crack and it brakes through, like a splinter in a peeled egg. I slope down on the ground, still conscious, still watching her, even as the bullet is swimming around in my brain, counting down the seconds until I die. Then in my dream, it goes black and I’m counting backwards to zero. The closer I get to zero the darker it gets. The numbers slow down. It is almost absolute night and finally we arrive and I have one last bit of commentary: “So this is it then. I’m dead. It’s a lot like sleep.” Four seconds or so of darkness, almost entirely quiet, then my eyes snap open. Brightness. Awake. Time to write this all down. Before something else happens. . . .