f u g u e   s t a t e   p r e s s
p.o. box 80, cooper station
new york, ny 10276
212-673-7922
208-693-6152 fax

from In Candyland it's Cool to Feed on Your Friends

by James Chapman



(No I canít go. Congratulations. No. Iím glad Albion you won whatever it is. No I canít deal with a dinner. No you donít understand!)

Jim come with me because friend, because support a friend. Go to a dinner could be helpful to you. Go because itís fake. Meet fake, learn about life. Go because free dinner free dinner.

(Iím not generous. Iím not your friend. I canít stand to watch you win some prize. I want my own prize.)

Now yr talking brother. Put on tux schmooze groundwork for monument to James Chapman--how you expect to win if nobody sees you, you dungeon.

(Your old tux? Am I getting fatter?)

Me in the mirror. Fat guy in my future. Bloat: TUXEDO: big MAN carry some weight heavy dude

Me with nothing. All burnt.

So yes: make new. Burn new.

Fuck everything. I almost fit in this glossy device.

I almost got to be well-rounded.

Candy is a fiction of food. I hurl Milk Duds one by one at dead kitchen of my ex-friends. Duds hit like click stone hitting a flat picture.

Picturesque in big flappy tux hurling stone.

Wearing his tux hand clutch Albionís own slippery jacket arm we walk out of town, down to the gatekeeper.

Down. Down to the gatekeeper.

You canít see the gatekeeper? You canít see us walk down?

I have to draw a picture:

Invisible smoke-thick smell of burnt toast. Blacked rice pot-bottom like popcorn burn. Crisped-out meat fry charcoal layer smells of damage.

You canít see that! Thatís no picture!

Down sudden slope like near sleep first dream before you see you feel walking along sudden step down--you jounce in the bed like dropped a foot--wakes you up into black room. Nothing to show for this.

Gatekeeper. You know what an obstacle is? You know jumping through hoops?

The crook dark arm of my supposed friend.

Invisible. Because I have nothing goodbye,

THE END

Dear _______.

The flesh of the gatekeeper face is like pink spun candy. Do you believe that?

The flesh of the gatekeeper. Is pink spun candy.

When I say "Iím sorry" you donít believe me, this is a novel Iím hiding behind a character. Iím sorry.

You could believe me and it not help.

I make strange self-hurt gesture with my arm, standing in front of the gate, gesture means forgive me. Print it in a thousand copies, the awkward arm twist a thousand times, forgive me a thousand times. Go on a talk show apologize "look how Iíve multiplied my sincerity image!"

So I have some profit even if you continue to despise me. And profit is

The gate Mexican skull-angels hammered in black iron posing as nine Muses. See them. Gold-fang gargoyles on top gate spikes.

So you can see. So I can demonstrate visibly. Details are additional little gifts. Propitiate reality weight to make the offering.

Thereís actually nothing in my hands.

Five hundred pounds of strawberries in a metal box, slow white smoke coming off them. High-voltage cable leading out of box through grass away down the road. Smell of air strawberries electrocuted intense as eating, makes saturating hunger, every pore now desperate to suck strawberry.

Did we get through the gate? Never saw it open.

Certain things missing. Leaving out little words rescue me fires of hell. So you wonít understand apology.

You wonít read this book anyhow. Weíll agree to never mention.

You arenít reading this now.

So Iím alone here. A row of flatbed horse-wagons, me and Albion climb aboard one says PIES red paint edge letters.

Iím alone of you. The driver of horse is wearing a large cardboard costume.

Itís addressed to you and you will not read it. So what is it?

Thing; novel; ship in a bottle. Chocolate-colored mare in yellow harness, yellow reins back to piewagon driver.

Write something you would love me for again if. In a big glass jar two little men in tuxedos. Toy wagon, toy plastic horse, the driver is a candybar. How did I get this toy stuff through narrow neck of jar? Thatís what counts, the trick. It could be any junk inside jar, a box of instant potato flakes. Amazing trick is amazing.

Mr. Goodbar six-foot cardboard-box yellow candywrap holding yellow reins, we ask him his name in there and he wonít step out of character, "Mr. Goodbar, sir."

Amazing trickís a trick. Bottleís empty. Roll up a photo of hillside scene. (Maybe you visited a hillside once, once in all your life, just to take the picture.) Paper photo dry rustling sound, stick through feed jar mouth fill with artificial world.

Albion shouts at driver if heís hot in that candybox costume heís wearing, hey haw haw you must be melting, I look away other hillside. Next tin box of electrocuting food approaches for odor silent firework decoration nothing smell. Nothing smell.

I canít smell it.

I do not see the valley into which I descend.

Dear ________,

Thereís a big party to tell about, then try to finish up. Then you donít read it anyway.

Glass jar with the picture inside, me and my fat friend in tuxedos descending into unseen valley in a piewagon driven by hands and legs of a chocolate bar, our faces are vapid little weddingcake plastic grooms. And black finger-paint letters Hölderlin quote smeared around the outside of the glass jar world TO LIVE IS TO DEFEND A FORM.

Dear _______.

I canít defend or explain what I did. [Proceeds to defend, explain.]

With all my love and incredible moral integrity, I remain

    St James

Always felt opposite about forms. Seems awaker to attack your own given form, attack what you naturally do well, what seems easiest you, what might get praise for its steadiness certainty. Accept no prefab self-power. Want to break that to find what I canít do, what I suck at, so learn what was defensible among now broken pieces.

Could be true of friendship, form of friendship. Make it new for truther truth. Damage out its rote shape, attack it where easily achieved.

Have done good job so far.

Want to insist fucking up doing what I donít know how. Be sure fail notably. Then any residue praise true love for me alone.

Brilliant. Who loves you like that.

One person. (Not pictured here.) I write for her.

Iím that lucky.

Will not write about her.

(She might want me to finish this...?)

NO     YES  x

(She says sheíd like to see my face.)

Canít you...? Didnít I--

Plastic cake-boy face, oh.

Plastic cake golem with un-face whimpers "I canít see, canít sniff, hey."

I canít do self-portrait: evade into cartoon bully safely worse than any self. Try to tell what really happened I jam up in flawed-tough mask hiding obvious other face Pre-Raphaelite shadow. Up above my swoon two Jims float feeding each other angel-cake.

Electric char of cake waste carbon sugar wrenches my face up wrinkles. Somebody doesnít want to want angel-cake. Albion says the air tastes great...him in the piewagon beside me big fat gulps of ashes air, heís awake at least and multiplied, thereís other tuxedo men walking across the green slope below, each thing I see is a wish to see the next, write down even for my old betrayed friend to never read, even for the word thing picture itself, for smells of cantaloupe and gasoline, for pyramid of burning apricots, for the raked-together pile of bay leaves smoke smoldering, for the autumn burn off other piled distant spices, I pick out nutmeg char and smoking celery, sniffing even if sniffing hurts somebody, even if it makes me so much worse than ever, do want to sniff and I do sniff.

Albion slapping my back, hey boy so you decided to get over it! Time to produce--

A great multiplication of piewagons, all leading down this slope of grasses into smogyellow valley. Multiplied fires, haze of heavy all-flavor smoke sugary meat taste. Bunches of identical little tuxedo people. Fertility, yells Albion, footwork! Bury the folks in your shit! All the other wagons are full of pies, the people are laughing pie-eating. We have no pies. Albion immediately leaves me, jumps down runs cross-slope to green wagon with lone tux-drag woman eating whole pies, they together eat the feast of smog valley pies of sweetmeats, pies quince and elderberry and hazelnut in custard, pies roast squashflowers in lime, they have every pie in multiple and me no pies at all.

Banners of red silk in white letters pass overhead

HEREíS YOUR REWARD

then a few yards later down slope

FOR WORKING SO HARD

On my back in the bare wood wagon Iím smiling. No trouble breathing, gut really not too bad. Rattle shake of wagon joggles me within baggy tuxedo, cradle soothing approval.

Albion careering ahead smeared with pies, his voice I hear near ear low like a prompter: I love an apocalypse at the end--turn the tables over, explode it up with smoke canisters and electric blow-up noise--every time I get to destroy the whole world--the whole world I destroy--

A field planted with living plants. Half a mile flat across valley farm plants. Even in brown food-smog after-sundown darkening huge haze ceiling, rows flutter plants deep green. It is not obvious what the plants are for.

A house far off tiny down hill across field.

We arrive at valley flat, not part of farm field, swamp water. Taller grassy plants wet below and burnt-dry on top. Look straight down in gray diffract water I see the whole purpose of these, they are weeds working to produce next weeds. Tuxedos forgather. A woman in low black dress flesh of her breastbone exposed, this breastbone is indented, a small cave. Indent could half hold contents of a gravyboat. Sheís treading mud holding high a quilt of lurid scraps. Swamp grass muds her black hem rasps her bare legs. Tuxedos collect at a long table in the weeds, men and women stained yellow laughing, sucking in air, praising the savor, multiples retch choking.

Seated dinner party of one hundred in murk swamp ice darkness, light shines up from the food, sorrel soup with figs and dates the light from soup-bowls up into these hungry faces, light lost above them in yellow smoke, soup-light never reaches farther high than low black clouds of valley night spiced chestnut cream people dip their hands in tureens of goop, everybody talking at all times, each performs his specialty, poets pout aloud and painters describe shapes in the smoke almond curry omelette woman with indent made her art quilt out of her motherís metaphor breast cancer says she, spreads it over the heads of other speakers and keens her motherís maiden name in bel canto brie tartlets in lemon malt the sleet slush bits fall bright into foodlight, the sleet fallen through darkness smoke is flavored with the smoke of all flavors, sleet into open upended mouths of eaters. A waiter touches the head of fat very young man sculptor talking gallery gossip, talk his art, heís mixing plate foods together sculpting for all-flavor, the sleet in his cold hair crust melts all at once when waiter leans over accidentally rubs his head, that young manís eyes close in ecstasy spiced toasted marshmallow with almond dust when I touch the flesh arm of the dented quilt woman she gasps midsentence talking now talking smiling swan neck pudding with roses and mustard///artichokes with blueberry rice///fried valencia oranges

Far downtable Albion throwing confetti shreds back up at the sleet. These white little paper slips like cookie fortunes flying across table everywhere, caught in food sodden, diving wet off table blowing at damage crawl away from us across freezing-over swamp.

Dry underneath the table of centipede knees, two hundred shoes. Itís warm and muffle quiet here. Heat rises from one square in center, an open book. Cat with orangeblack lynx ruff flattening open heat-source book with one paw, rips away pages with teeth. Confetti by thousands she creates shredding with chew, but always spitting pah always spitting out.

Tick clicks. Gray ice tidbits landing on our plates, tinging rim into china bowls of sugared cream, little gray hailstones suddenly increase music off silver and china bells, so everybody stops talking and listens to the chord arrivals. The confetti shreds of paper all over our table now getting shuffled by rattling attack hail. Paper word book shreds show bits of sentence,

   burlap ball is warm
   sheís gurgling at the ceiling
   ladyfern unfolds
   shard of window glass at her mouth
   light glow in wet grass
   blinking squinting twitching
   furry face of the white fungus
   she rolls into a mudball

These words--hail hits these words. Hail hits paper making holes. Hail bounces the little words to gray. Hail gnaws the dead book to pulp.

The clink of hail hitting teeth of one hundred diners, their heads all back now mouths open manna. Under table now flooded frozen swamp, cat escaped gone, book no words remain empty covers locked drowned under ice. Guests all so happy, big mouths piled stopped overflowing with tasty gray hail, eyesockets gray pyramids, laps filling up.

I donít feel it. Donít feel the cold. See hail bounce off my face and hands, nothing. Pick up tiny boulder of hail from the tablecloth, put it on my tongue. Pork intensity, agonizing. Another gray bit: hideous concentration of butterscotch.

This is all Iíve eaten all day! I want to tell my friend how pure Iíve been. Walk over to Albionís chair. He doesnít move. Jaw pulled down gape. Mouth eyes stopped all ice.

I tug a little his ice-weight beard. Donít want to be without him. On my knees in ice mud, whispering in his bright red ear "Today I hardly ate anything."

He shudders slight all over, his chair tips back slow fat ice man weight all falls backward into mud. Iím grappling him to rescue and all the hailstones in his mouth he suddenly spews right in my face, ice that sticks to me, roaring, roaring heís laughing, and shouts, hands gripped strangle around my neck, "Ainít you hungry?"

Yeah...IíM STARVING!

He pulls me weíre both laughing away from table through crazy hailstorm up a dead ridge toward the trees, thereís old wooden shed he yells pantry! weíre ready to bust down door but door just opens to admit, we rush into silent dark--start opening crates of candied figs each fig in its own little slide-open paper matchbox, we chew up the crunch gummy things and scatter boxes around the dark, attack rip apart a rope-hung medicine-ball-size wheel of wine-sweetened cheese, stab out paraffin seals on widemouth jars of red-syrup green berries, human hands designed to grab, a pine crate of thousands of sugar wafers, finally enough sugar wafers! then an open steel tub of eels and minnows in mint aspic, this is incredibly almost like real nourishment, stunned greenmouthed with minnows I look around for more meat. Itís cold in here. Meat is the cure, horizontal cabinets, pull handles out, horizontal drawers old walnut out of the wall, Albion throwing pottage at my back of head, this heavy long drawer lined with glass, slopping full of brine and a whole cleaned porpoise ready for in-skin Hawaii roast. We together pull the beast out of bed into our arms and standing up just start biting into the slitopen innards, staggering dancing, silver flesh on outside sleek sexy to grip and drips down our shirts fishwet smell of mammal and peppers, the brine tastes of Mexican chili, pepper makes harsh thirst and the fish sweet juice quenches, my eyes tears burning running salt over the pink Aztec fish meat. When Albion sneezes lets go his grip on her I canít stay dancing, trip over the heavy tail and fall right out the door of the shed. Iím safe because I fall within my big fish, the hail carpet rolls me on it like marbles, slide slow me inside porpoise together down the little hill, Iím still eating because Iím still hungry, slide together down into deep and cold swampwater. Albion splashing in trying to save me, grabbing, pulling, but if I keep quiet Iím warm in the fish, I wonít be rescued.

Chewing.

Gnawing, chewing.

Slowly, swamp ice muck edges into the flavor.

Slowly, I do not want any more.

Itís dark in here. I canít move.

Cracking sound when I shift my head. Nightmoon light. The fish is half-shell empty, most of the flesh weight on me is Albion. Weíre trapped in the ice. My teeth are sunk in the nape of Albionís neck.

The wind whip cold over my face and teeth. Eyes still watering; I see the table of iced-over guests dead stopped, I see the picture of that. See the ploughed field stretching green away, little house off away far, picture. Canít see how I myself look.

The cold glues up my eyes. The wet of my eyes is colder thick. When Iím frozen shut I will not see. At least will not see.

So I donít see. Frozen. I donít describe anything and thereís nothing at all.

(Dark.)

(But wind. The sound of wind. The cold of wind)

Wind. Worldís not destroyed. I freeze away but no apocalypse. Curtain doesnít rip top to bottom. Itís only me made nothing.

One last stomach gurgle, and become broken camera body. Some film went through it once.

order this title

return