Filing out of the Holy Place in random bunches and out into the bursting sun rays in single file just like the cattle they rose and drove off back in their old country. Brass bells ringing and butterflies dancing off in the wind. The hulking black thing leading them down the steps; pulling them out. Its immensity intangible and not understood, its weight firmly placed upon their shoulders. He would be buried as was his father (and his father’s father and so on back) in the Old Country. In a rectangular black box of wood, pulled down the main avenue, by horse drawn hearse, from Holy Place to Graveyard. It thrusts itself forward and out of their hands. They shut the doors on the crosses and cross their chests.
A slow clatter of hoof softly cacophonous off the street sets in solemn and grave and slow, as if the sun has baked the street so deep, as to resound the hooves off in vibrations and waves. Beneath their feet they feel the ground pulse back and forth up and down their soles. All the black that they wear absorbs the light, and they are blanketed in a shadow of blind heat and faith, torn apart and singed at the edges of bones, as they watch and follow all the black funeral cars passing on down the avenue.
Which is flanked by a jagged bunch of trees (on and on) all the way down set over fences and sidewalks (like judges and owners) which digress and curve off horizontally at measured and equal spaces. (Which extend off in their own ways like choices whose outcomes fizz and sizzle and abstain) These trees do stand straighter now, as if the morning fog has nourished them after so long a neglect in the face of so cruel a day forthcoming. (Though he believes that they stand straight out of a sense of respect due his father) Flowers and buds of flowers and leaves all white and red fall off and off and drown in the shadows of the trees on the sidewalks. Great flashes of light. Explosions of instantaneous particles fighting through and shining. Sweating.
They are on the corner before the cemetery. Sitting under an ancient crimson oak tree, passing back and forth (back and forth) their last cigarette. They are not bodies, but legs jutting out and shoulders twisting and arms extending behind them palms tuning flat onto the deep and damp grass. Faces smiling and relaxed, their eyes hidden first and permanently by a layer of black and then indiscriminately by a dancing gray. As the black snake comes on down the avenue toward the two of them.
As a mass of black and colored edges which oscillate off and eventually dissipate into the explicit blue sky. And the sun is just a particle.
And they pass them and leave them there smoking and bellowing smoke and the father does not like the look of them they have no respect for customs or traditions or his (or his father’s) religion and he pulls his beautiful smooth brown warmth of a daughter close and tells her you are a princess and those two are paupers you are not meant for them and they are not meant for you.
And now by the end of it all he turns and follows the horses through the gates and follows his father through the gates and they move toward the gravesite past all the lowly tombstones which hallmark to his heart and his mind a lowly past and even a lowlier future where his father (and he too, eventually) will be underground beneath the Earth which once and now holds their shoes and the leather of them stripped and tanned of cowhide down back when he could remember the smell of cattle and the sight of the mounds of burnt orange and strawberry red rolling north like a stratagem placated and wallowing in echoes of how his ancestors with the big crosses dancing around their necks and the swords on their belts would ride their stallions through the canyons and ravines and they would stride the divides and mark letters in the dust which would not fall down and in unto dust but facilitate and freeze and make forever echoes through the canyons and ravines and caves and their stallions would have grand funerals like his father’s and his father’s father would never die but always whisper at the height of the day when the sun is shining brightest above the desert and falling into the sand the orange light engaging the orange land and the cactus blooming green in the yellow shine and a still wind vibrating and held in the light I love you I love you my country my country because you were my father’s and now you are mine and will be my son’s I love you my country I love you and will love you again and how the whispers one day stopped.
And how it struck his father in the gut and they set atop their horses all gaunt in the dust and bowing their nappy heads old and worn and they set off up the Earth and found a new place an altogether better and worse place but now he turned as a young boy as they were leaving and his soft face and soft hands grew heavy and solemn and how the love permanently left his heart and his (soul ripped from his chest and flew off down the ravines to rest and wait and flounder alone) country shined off and soon shined no more in his eyes and how he would look at and stroke his daughter in the night as she slept and say you are a princess and you are lost and one day you will see what is your kingdom and you will know a horse as it carries you into the desert and through the buzzards with the water full in your thighs and a prince curling in your belly and you will say my country my (father’s) country and you will be loved by the beasts and grasses and you will be home and safe and warm in a place not altogether worse or better but correct and how he would sit on the porch and the echoes and how they would sound, his father’s father sitting there atop his stallion his great gold cross alight in the moonshine and the stallion’s breath misting in the darkness and how it would make him feel that he is lost and his daughter must not be lost or forsaken because then that stallion will throw its rider and gallop off alone down into the Earth and lay with the Devil.
And so now the haunches of the horses come to stop swaying at the grave a black tombstone sunk deep in the Earth. (There was a fog this morning and everything is deep and wet the sun has not shined long enough yet to dry it all) And the Priest wailing and coming to him, his eyes black and big deep in his brown face (you mustn’t) and pushing him aside he passes the musty horses that wail and cry and a crack of thunder crashes in the distance around the horizon where the fog still broods and rolls on down to his feet and now he stands over the rectangular hole. A black pool. The leaves falling off and floating into it and swirling around and himself stares back into him and he hunches down and traces himself in the black water and dips his hand down in and destroys himself.
The great black cloak of the Priest is pulling him off and the Book jarred loose and falling into the water and a sharp gasp as the Book falls into the water and the priest throws him down and dives into the water; the Book soaked through to the spinal.
And he sits on the ground with the Priest as he holds the Book directly into the sun and stares off and curses the Angel of Death as it releases another thunder and the echoes are finally silent (there is now only rolling thunder) as they drain the grave of the water. The horses still hold his father’s casket, but they are small, weak, yellow horses, and his father’s gravestone is sunk in mud as the sun continues to shine and sweat on his forehead. The Priest wishes to cry but his tears are all invisible.
He awakens to the news that they are ready to bury his father. And he stands and comes forward as the casket is lowered, the Priest offering a benediction from his dry and stained Book. Fast, much more of a eulogy. Words of death echoing down and off, back toward the church. He takes a shovel and stands (the shovel full of dirt) and freezes as he thinks about what it is that he is about to do. And he cannot do it. Instead, he wants her to do it.
So he turns, but she is not there, and they know, so they all point with drab black and brown bony fingers past the cemetery fence, and out.
Now he leaves them to the burying, and follows the cobblestone pathway past the gate (as if a desert road, weeds fighting out of the dust along its side, him without a beast, without a home, without a sun behind him and a home in front of him), and he turns at the gate and walks and under the tree she is there surrounded by cigarette butts and those paupers. Facing them their white eyes beneath those sunglasses looking at her and stripping her like a filthy whore that they think she is. That is all she is to them. He knows.
(Her beautiful face with her brown hair pushed back and falling down her back all staunch and virgin and his daughter alone with two strange boys her back straight and staunch and deliberate her smiling her happy on a day in which the echoes stopped and her father’s father was laid to rest in a sea of leaves that fell off of trees)(and the flowers in her hair and the way they sit still at her their arms relaxed at their sides their palms on the ground their legs bowed out their feet pointing off)(and the way he loves her and won’t let her become lost or forsaken like himself) and so he violently grabs her and turns away, pushing her off, and turns back. Spitting with a great veracity his spit swamping in the dry grass at their feet which are bowed off
you are not suitable to be talking to my princess of a girl I will let you off with your lives because I am a new man but if I ever see you here again if I ever see you again if I ever see my father again I will kill you and cut you up and feed you with the feed to my horses you are to take that green beast of yours and leave this place and are not to wink at my princess while you are doing it I know your kind you are not our kind so leave
and he watches as they jump to their feet their wiry arms dusting off themselves of the dirt they have collected and the ash falls off of them and they stomp their feet in the ground and they turn to leave in their truck driving on down the avenue and turning off lost into the leaves.
And he turns to her and now everybody is gone and the grave is covered and the sun is beginning to slip down in the sky and mix with the Earth. And they are there alone with the noiseless echoes
I told you about them that they are paupers that you are above them and they just wish to steal what you have so sacred of I told you about them but you didn’t listen why didn’t you listen
and she stands proud and stares at the side of his face brown tanned (he in turn staring at the hole in the ground now covered) and she speaks in a calm mannered cadence safe in its place and time
they were nice boys, they had no bad intentions we were just talking while you slept, that is all, you just don’t understand but you can try, that is all I wish is for you to try and understand
and he stares
no you are not the one understanding you do not hear the echoes and see the stallions and read the scriptures you are not understanding what you are and what they are and the ravines and canyons you have never seen it you are my country
and she stares
but this is my country and this is my people, I love you (and grandfather) with everything, but his is my place and you must try to understand
and he stares, his voice beginning to tremble and treble
but this is not my place or our place it may be your place but it is not our place our place is down in the canyons and ravines galloping on staunch broncos and stallions and wearing golden crosses across our chests with swords on our belts and pride in our hearts that is our place and you know nothing of it save what you have read or been told
and she stares with her back straight
would you like to know what we talked about: we talked about the most important thing in the world – I asked them and they said fun, that is most important, and happiness even more; I said that they are wrong, that Love – there is absolutely nothing else. No parentheticals, only Love. And they say that I am naïve and I say that they are spoiled that they don’t know the orange sun the way I felt it in mother’s womb and the vibrations of my father; that they never knew the stallions and therefore not love
and he stares his lips shaking and fists twitching
and neither do you you are not understanding what you are love is not important only orange and red and stallions (not horses) that breathe mist out into the night and stomp on the ground with power and glory
and she moves to him and she reaches up and wraps her arms around his neck and rests her head on his shoulder (now bearing weight and love of weight) and she says her lips moving slowly and fully
I am understanding father, it is you (only you) who is lost, they were only lost (just like you) in the storm but I told them the way back and out of here and now they are not lost anymore, it is only you who is lost
and he begins to cry thick wet tears and she says a little softer wiping the tears away
they told me the story of their day but the story does not make sense, though it makes more sense to me than does yours, so I told them the ending and told them how to get back home
and she kisses him now and walks away, her hand lagging on his shoulder and finally (finally) falling off. As the sun hangs lower in the sky and begins mixing with the atmosphere of the Earth, casting off radiant flashes of purple and pink, as if the opposite of orange or something rather diluted, under the oppressive consternation of an endless depression.
Falling down in four lanes abreast as four great riders gone stale in the heat of their own essence, coming upon the lesser places like a ghost and passing over, calling upon a little bit more and a little bit less of what it is they have, and what less they have to spare. The Man walks about the swaying thin thickly green trees and places his hands on their trunks (if so they could indeed be called trunks) and holds them there as he passes. Turning off and past each new one as a little lost child searching frantically for a placement (or simply a place). He climbs the tallest among them, his staunch arms hoisting and his firm feet pushing, finding the topmost of the top and searching out with his eyes, brushing back locks of hair falling over and down his forehead. The green blanket enveloping off in haphazard leniency, the juice of the morning fog thick upon the leaves damped green the trunks soaking wet and brown, the fog still off in the horizon set there as if to remark upon what it has done. (Who writes westerns? people who like westerns) And in the space between the gray and green protrudes a gashish torn black and yellow, steaming impenetrable colored fumes into the sky wasted shining like the night.
So the Man descends the tree and walks about some more through. He comes to it and strips it of the last remaining pieces, and so he sits there in the shadow of the lurching bough, eating thick red fruits in the last light that will come through upon the soil. The juices dripping one by one in droplets down his cheeks and falling off his chin and lips. The four lanes abreast as four great flashes of pale light digitized in the action of their own essence, falling down and passing over, the ground singed off and cooked disappearing.
They are the riders ascending back up the lanes tearing apart and through the soft splotches of dusk light. Faces painted red as if ready for war or already reddened by the war stern shaking set in their shoulders tossed about the rocking vibrations of their truck gone back and forth from lane to lane by and by each car along.
so many cars, they never stop coming, where could they all be going? swear that you’ll never get used to it
there’s always another car
what’s this guy’s story?
Passing a slick shining silverbeast its rider no doubt a sharp one.
no shirt no shoes no service
ten minutes to dinnertime, never too late for a Dr. Pepper®
everything must go
I know what I’ll do when I get home, first thing is take a large drink of water, then eat a muffin, shower, and (finally) sleep
open all night
you sleepy already? just like that? man I ain’t tired
no shirt no shoes no service
how long have we been at this?
no shirt no shoes no service
not nearly long enough
no shoes no service no shirt
I haven’t slept in a week
no service no shirt no shoes
you’ve slept enough for both our lifetimes, you know, sleepin’ is givin’ in, no matter what the time is
no way, I mine as well fall asleep behind this wheel and kill everybody, then we all can sleep good forever
no shirt no shirt no shirt
that’s fucked up man, you’re not that tired
no shoes no shoes no shoes
I didn’t mean it, only that I’m practically dead asleep right now, swear I’m seeing doubles (or triples (or even more))
no service no service no service
you’re just hallucinating, get over your stupid self and drive me home safe
no service no shoes no shirt
think I’ll drop you off right here, right in the middle of this highway, junglecat
no shirt no shoes no service
don’t call me a fucking junglecat
open all night
I’ll call you whatever the hell I want to, Junglecat
They turn off at the exit and circle on down and come to
good enough for you now, Junglecat?
don’t call me a junglecat
not a junglecat, just Junglecat, don’t deny your true self, Junglecat
watch for that guy!
there’s always another car – relax, Junglecat
As darkness falling he walks through the trees and comes upon the scorched plain of sawdust and sapphire and rising haze and black tar soil. He walks across it barefoot. The fumes rise up and into him and about him and become him. They press upon his shoulders. Hold him down and choke him. Then carry him across as a child would be held by a demon.
And so he comes to the otherside, where the lights are all shut out except for the grayish; where the past is a rolling boil of dissertation and devolution and disease all unwinding unmasked.
In the murk he hears the babbling off and down just perceptible above the dull buzz of the static shock filled air. And he moves through the air a blind man to see through evil and into goodish. He kneels by it. It’s soft and clear blue moving across his hand its crystals shining along the soft ripples through the haze he feels it he feels it he feels it and now he knows it. He sees his own face.
It takes his touch with it downslope just down with the land but though more as if down out of the past and into the future. The gray clouds and hellish gas and reckoning coming upon not far behind.
He is swallowed, and gone.
and there it is, man I never believe how brightly it shines
you’re talking like a queer
no man, seriously, the way the sun all pink and orange just sits there on it, it really makes me think about stuff you know, like about God and the Devil, that type of stuff you know
you’re such a queer
no man, God and the Devil man, yin and yang, good and evil, pink and orange, that’s all man –
what about all of it?
Well you know, how you go about your normal life and you never think about that stuff – how nobody ever wants to talk about that stuff – but when you come across something so great and beautiful you just can’t help but wonder you know, about God and the Devil and all of that stuff
his name is Satan, and he doesn’t like to be disturbed
no man, just no, cut it out with the cynicism. Drop it now, or before long you’ll be alone and old and empty – you may be fine as old and alone, but no one ever wants to be empty you know. You gotta talk about God and the Devil when you see the world like this, all the colors bleeding off and mixing into new colors that you’ve never seen before. It’s almost as if God is there, behind it all, smearing Its paintstuffs all over your eyes and in your ears.
It isn’t there, and It never was.
No? What makes you so sure? How can you look at all that, and not believe for even the slightest moment (even slighter than creation) that Its behind there, smiling upon you?
How can you even think for one second that “It” exists (though Satan, who does not like to be disturbed, definitely does) after all that we have seen today?
And what have we seen today?
I’m not sure. But I’ll tell you something – get rid of all those shiny thoughts and fairytale pipedreams about buff bearded people floating around up there in the sky above you all omnipresent and benign. You can have the greatest spaceship and all the fuel in the universe and the only thing that you’ll find up there is more space and rock and gas. The people are all floating around down here, with us – you saw them. Just today, you saw them, so did I, but you didn’t get to know them, because you definitely wouldn’t be looking at any sunset and getting all creamy inside if you did.
I don’t understand what it is that we have seen. What did we see? Tell me, since apparently you understood it all.
I told you that I don’t know what we saw, but I know that I don’t like it. I mean all those people, just…just…floating, not all defined and stark, they’re floating, and they’re alone, without each other. It hurts to see it, that they’re there, and we were there, but somehow there was still something between us, even though we occupied the same space in time. Its growing on me, it’s like a high, this urge to change it – for the better or the worse, it just has to change, no matter what.
What about us?
What about us?
Well, why is it that we are the ones who have to change it (whatever it is) – maybe they aren’t the ones in need of changing.
Who knows? All I know is that all these heavy thoughts weigh me down its best to forget for now and act later, he he –
ya, and when you’re going to hallucinate, you should probably do it on the move, alone, or with a small group of people that you trust even though you barely know them – it’s best to do most things in such a manner I have found
ya man, this has been fun
save that heavy thinking for later, when you are bigger and better suited to lift it
ya, I guess so – I just wish that I knew what to make of it all
maybe you’ll get lucky, and you’ll never know
the world opening up all bright now. And glorious all behind them. Sunshine setting and the waves calming down off the shore, somewhere shadows lurking and coastlines cresting. Acting is an allusion. Believing is a terrible thing and a hard thing but it is the only thing. And they drive on past it. And the world is only a whisper. And it is nothing to them and everything to a broken heart or a lonely heart. Thick gray fog gathering above the horizon, harkening from the past into the future I have been here before, and I will be here again. Do not wait for me, because it is my place to find you.
And their shoulders weighing light in the dying red shine, blood spread all in their minds. And their eyelids are now light and free, their souls unburdened of the future, their day without judgment of the past, their hearts beating soft and over again with everything all theirs and nothing and again and again. The world opening up all bright and clear and soft and new – but it is only a whispering. The world is nothing but the slightest; the night is set and the day is ended. Again the ending has begun, if only to end again.