This town, this town more unlivable-in than a broken box, more bleak than a knife edge. Iíve been imprisoned here because my legs got strong, and strength makes me wild.
Theyíve welded us all to the ground here. Soon we forget what we really wanted, we try to learn about escape, like frantic nerves were an emotion. But I canít bicycle out of this. Even huge boys in 4x4 vehicles who try to drive away from this place, they fall back in. With his car stereo the size of an avalanche, Victor could stomp his boot on the pedal, and Highway 99 suck him away. Yet heís always back before dawn. And all his stereo ever says is "Hey!"
Victor lets me ride with him, and weíre way up in the air, two music machines, Victor and me, power and noise, I feel the shower of sparks that means the weld is melting, the trap is silvering, trapís going to become our rocket! but Victor canít look at me. He roars our country-music-singing truck past miles of grapevines and alfalfa, past flats of dead wildflowers, past racks of raisins drying, wet dead things canít echo. How untouched they are by our self-noise. Music freedom goes right out into nothing.
The land in Victorís face never ends. Nothingís here for him, except maybe me. He touches me but believes heís nothing.
Night is falling. Night, somewhere night is celestial, but in Bakersfield it means living in a can of powdered ashes. Weíve returned here, where there is nothing, because beyond it we found nothing. We could escape by learning some thing, we donít know what. I canít cheer him up, because he thinks heís cheerful.
All of us wait for the secret, standing around together in the Taco Bell parking lot. We laugh, trying to sense whatís wrong with the laugh. (The way you laugh with just one other person, alone, isnít this laughing we do in loud parking lots.) The police think we look happy, they know thatís impossible. They walk slowly among us looking for the drugs.
The police are fathers and husbands who when they go home drink with drinking wives in houses, beat their wives and shout so some thing will hear them. But weíre still young enough to open to any rumor, we follow any song that might tell us where some thing is.
The song roaring from Victorís truck goes
My father promised me a sword
He swore Iíd find it, in my deepest need.
The steel guitar sounds like an ambulance. The police siren sings like moaning.
RULE 1: Youíre miserable, OK that just proves you have been chosen.
We all pile into six cars, heading out to Comanche. Somebody said a party was on out there: a party means anything might happen. Nothingís happened yet, but we havenít been to enough parties is why. Something could come out of the stars tonight, and make us electrify.
Crank it up crank it up
Victorís stereo wants to break the world. Itís louder & hurts more than anything. We are the notes, we shatter everything. But we also hear it like from far away. That distant little song that thinks it can exist.
Sheryl says Iím stuck-up. Tiff is mad cause I wouldnít help her boyfriend buy Southern Comfort. Julie told Mickey Iím a "spiritual whore." Freedom is something to do with other people. The earth has gravity so we wonít ever lose the smell of dirt.
April Wilkins is my friend, because she believes sheís dirt, and her incarnation of dirt can make me cry how much it wants to be the mist over a grotto. Iím her friend because sheís in love with Victor and heís with me. But Victor doesnít know what to talk about, so he cranks up the tape deck. Me and him and April, leading the caravan, ride over the ridge, and we see Comanche. Comanche is on fire.
Comanche is a word for Noplace. Itís the name of nothing but a big field, out by the foothills. The kids of this town called it the name Comanche so itíd be a place, so weíd have a place to go. Thereís never anything there but ourselves.
Itís all burning. Low little flames spread-out everywhere. I see the wishes on Aprilís face illuminated orange, I tell her sheís beautiful.
I do know how the fire started. Victorís stereoís musicís misery can focus heat, I believe that, RULE 2 believe always believe, believe it and believe.
I kiss him, and wishes knock us out of path, he swerves a little. Two fire trucks pass us on the right, ripping gravel out of the earth and dropping it back down again.
Fathers and husbands prepare to shoot water across our empty burning field. We all sit in our cars, weíre viewers, like for movies at the drive-in. Our faces are glowed-down sad. We stop existing to ourselves, because somebody else is actually doing something. Thatís how we look when weíre entertained.
Smoke at night is like an unsolvable problem. They shine red lights on it because they want to encourage us to give up and die. In this town right now hundreds of high-school kids are driving their cars very slowly the entire length of Chester Avenue, from the traffic circle to the underpass. Theyíre watching each other, but alone, armored in cars. Theyíve been doing this for hours, back and forth, pacing.
Hundreds more kids on foot are pacing through the shopping mall. Shyness will prevent more life than long vapid buildings can ever create. These kids know better than any people on earth that thereís really nothing to buy.
The train yard. Before any of us arrived, this town was already abandoned to destruction. The old station-masterís office like an earthquake museum: kids break in to stare at the destruction, then climb rubble and fall through the rotted floor trying to guess what these men were thinking when they invented a town like this. Southern Pacific uses Bakersfield to practice on, is all. Freight train backs up slowly for ten minutes, stops. Sits. Moves forward for ten minutes. You hear the train-whistle from everywhere: moaning because it has no reason to be here.
An adobe-looking hotel at the center of town is the tallest building anywhere, 8 stories. The hotel ownerís having an obscure feud with the city fathers, and his hotelís his cube-shaped body, quivering revealing his fury to the world. Heís covered the walls of his property with huge signs, which we all know by heart and have come to believe:
FALSITY RULES OUR TOWN
BLIGHT = EXODUS of TRUTH
CLIQUES RETARD GROWTH
BRAN DEN BURG GATE
QUAR AN TINE !
Hotel Padre, itís a place kids go sometimes. You walk through the big arch lobby casual like you live there, elevator up to the top floor, walk down the corridor pretend you feel fearless, and slide out window to the fire escape. Suddenly youíre in the wind at night. Go up step by step a scary wobbly metal fire ladder.
The only idea: sit out on the roof edge and talk about what you see. Look out over the town and try and feel understand something. Drink sweet wine. Try to believe (seeing it all-at-once, dusk) itís even beautiful here. Drink and gaze, and our eyes help our lives believe. Itís a place of viewership.
Comancheís all burned-away. They tell us we canít hang out here, cause itís unsafe. Weíve heard that before.
Their water hoses made smell of wet ashes. Smell of plastic sodabottles melted into black windows in the new mud.
No moon. Million stars. The milky part is an edge view of whole galaxy. A galaxy is a drop of milk sinking in black mud.
A beer cooler made of styrofoam, half-blacked, flipped over on its mouth. Somebodyíd put his foot through the bottom of it.
The lights from our cars blossom into one huge blister of light.
Aprilís crying, because she sees me crying, on my knees, in the mud, and sheís mud. We were brought to this pre-annihilated place as a test, and Iím crying because I want so much to know how to wrap my legs around the test.
The car radioís singing about farewell. If I have to lose you. Blaze of flame. Magic flame. Random flame, ARISE
The big red plastic gasoline can in Victorís trunk is so sloshing heavy because itís full of purifying fire.
Victor wrestles me for the gas can. So I give it up.
They wonít let me light this place again and ruin it better. Theyíre both yelling at me. Their eyes make bonfire. They donít see what I see at all.
RULE 3, let pain drag you into the mouth of the impossible.
Each of us has to pass the test alone, for the redemption of who will fail it. Itís midnight, Victor drops me at work. Summer job teaches responsibility. To be responsible is to be culpable. I work at Howdy House Coffee Shop so that Howdy House Coffee Shop will be my fault.
Cook says: None of us wants to be here. This is all there is. There are other jobs in this town theyíre the same. You have to settle in stop resisting. You really are here, you really are a dishwasher. In Utopia I would feed you angel-cake from my own fingers, because youíre pretty. In Heaven Iíll visit you with a fresh peach. But right now work. Have faith, this is all there is, believe me have faith, give up and believe. Crack 150 eggs into that bucket, take this huge wire whisk, destroy the boundaries between the see-through whites and the floating-self yolks. Then we can scream breakfast!
Busboy says: you should be up in the movies. Youíre gorgeous. You distract me from off my work, thereís something about it, youíre so tiny. I could break you like that, makes me strong. You turn this shit job into seeming like itís a poem. I start to love to pick up dirty dishes just because I know youíre gonna wash that dish. The good food turning into garbage, I used to hate thatóclean paper napkins making into wad-up trash, everything mixing together on everything to where I got to throw it all in gray bins and wipe away the table with a ragónow that all hits me as good. Itís, like, nature. Weíre nature, I mean we make nature go. I could love the whole world if I thought there was angels behind it. Come here.
Waitress says: I donít want to see you. There is no reason I should see you. Youíre back at your station, and Iím out front. Only if youíre putting out a clean rack of coffeecups should I ever see your hands red from the steam, or your hair greased-out, or your eyes gone flat. I canít stand that you should be here, it offends against hope. Me, I belong here, I fit in, Iím a fatso hag waitress. Thatís all right. Except you, weíre monsters, weíre all horribleóweíre here, arenít we? Here: please take this Peanutbutter Cup Iíve swiped out of the register case and wrapped in a napkin to give you. I want you to get strength up for escaping. Because I look at you and see a hole blown in the side of Howdy House. Donít you know what you look like? I see a door that leads you out of this cripple-town. Hurry up your face wonít last. You go talk to my friend about getting some pictures took. It didnít work for her, but look at you. Somebody has to deserve to escape. Weíre low on silverware. Save yourself!
RULE 4: Promise me.
On my belly. Crawling because thatís closest to the flames. On my belly crawling across kitchen floor (because Iím really beautiful). My mother at the breakfast table. She never eats (has no wish).
Hate is a sin (says my mother) youíve caused me to sin. Get away from me so I can feel love.
(Staring my eye one inch down into the black japanese-lacquer-looking linoleum. Worldís eye sees me from above. Heaven sees me crawling because beauty has a meaning.)
My mother says First I drink the beer, then I crush the can in one hand and cast it away. The chance to crush something is what the beer means to me.
(I tell her I donít want anything for myself. Look how really perfect-looking my thighs are, photographing each other.)
She says: I have to look at you every day. They make these beer cans very very delicate easy to crush. Because theyíve got tender hearts, the brewers. They understand what gives a mother solace.
(I will do anything you want. Just let me not exist here. I want to only exist on magazine pages.)
((Because I am underage, the talent agency wants my unbeautiful, my never-was-beautiful mother to sign a piece of paper. The piece of paper will get me a job as a model! And then))
(She can see the back of me, lying facedown. She can evaluate my curves. Me being underage is her fault.)
Says: Your life canít possibly depend on my signature. Life is not about paper. If they wonít photograph you till the law lets them, you must not be so beautiful as you think.
(I tell her the busboy is ruining his career over me.)
((This piece of paper is way more beautiful than anything in this town including my motherís face! Just sign this!))
She says: Weíre wasting electricity. Turn the light off [no!], we can talk in the dark [no!] if this is all weíre going to talk about. Go back to this agent tell him Iíll send him the waiver real soon. I wonít, though. If you deserve any happiness heíll give you it on trust. Then youíll have the teeth to scare even me.
((Iím looking down into the linoleum. Then: I absolutely concentrate my whole body and heart on raising my headómy head like a pause for breath, like catching your breath, like not breathing, like you canít breathe, youíll never breathe again, I raise my eyes and finally finally finally with all my hair and face and eyes look straight into her eyes.))
She says: nothing. Then she says: Let me see the paper.
Sheís not looking at me, but at my face. Her face has already started to dream. I can change the atoms in a table into boats.
Sit up, she says, that floorís not sweptówould you quit school, do you think?
I altered everything! Sheís a completely different voice. She says itís up to me, entirely my decision and she doesnít want to pressure me in any way.
Her voice before was the size of a beer can, now it speaks out of the whole body under her ratsnest kimono.
She points out, gently, that my body will be sometimes "unclad," according to the waiver. Unclad is a sword word.
Itís up to you, she repeats. Repeats she mustnít influence my decision. Of course, she says, this could be a wonderful opportunity.
I believe in her. I can alter myself! I can be atoms of a Frieda living with a loving mother, if thatíll release me into the steam that rises. RULE 5 compassion for absolutely anyone. I declare that I am safe at the center of a loving protective curve rounded by her signing her name.
Compassion because sheís trapped, her body is only a phrase she says to herself in her sleep, whereas my body, naked, is what people mean by prayer. I must resist the wish to save myself.
The talent agent is also the photographer. I see that he also answers the phones at his agency, and feeds the fish. He is hiding the intense light of all the escape maps he knows, all the treasure routes, all this is concealed behind his brown suit, keys are secret within his balding head. He is my conduit. He is the velvet path. The path is right here before me.
Speaking to me. Iím jumbled in his thick voice the color of burnt blood, his thin hair like dry rain, his high forehead bright with glass, he knows everything I love him I bear this willingly.
Each of the photographic lights has to be turned on with an awkward twist of his big fingers. With each light, the wide room gets that much less in-the-world.
The lights so bright make his brown suit seem crazy, heavy like a diving bell. The mechanics of film-loading are tremendously tense. Angrily he tells me get undressed. The viewer has the right to look at every inch of you. He has the right to hound you to the point of suicide. He cannot be saved except through his eyes, because his eyes take his life on this journey. And heís always alone.
I canít see my agent, these big lights in my eyesóheís a dark mirror with silver between me and his darkness. Me lying on the pure black paper thatís the floor but also curves up to be a wall, in the light Iím too white to look at, small bright and bent.
He begins to pose me. He explains:
I say, God in a rotted fish. This is what he means I say, a stinking hyena made of light. A dove that devours the universe, a silver feast of puke, thatís what he wants, thatís what he needs me to be.
His instructions pass all the way through my body go right to the center of the light. Iíve always known what a model is. Itís what people need to see to live their lives. So they can live, I have to carve myself.
Swimming this waterfall of light I stand up. My hips are my father, my eyes my mother. I lounge back hard against the paper wall. Mother when Iím following instructions, and when the light so bright itís going through my face bones: father. I canít think or know. But without knowing so, I know the moment of passing-through love is about to arrive (it will arrive).
Click. My agent is the modulator of light. He instructs my face, he tangles my arms, but I love him and I understand. He knows his orders are only music. We are both working for the viewer.
The viewer is staring at me.
Viewer wants to be the black paper wall Iím leaning against. Viewerís eyesí inability to touch me feels to him like blindness. Viewer shaking, heís shaking, seeing this square inch of my hip, and his eyes are without fingertip.
Because the viewerís eyes fork. They want the impossible solitary love, to have "me" yet be left alone with a magazine. They beg me:
catch rain in weasel nets
extract a sunbeam from cucumbers
feed us he-goat milk in a sieve
I have not come to fix peopleís everyday life, but to demolish it.
Turn my head to look at the camera. Because a sword must swing in an arc. The rat tangle of my hair has been touched, viewer-pre-handled. My skin doesnít have to know itís ringing through the soundproof wall of a lens. My lips can believe they are touching the wrist of the man who has nothing, nothing.
And my eyes have to try! All the photographic light, all the clattering precision of my agentís instructions, this all has to drop out of my eyes! So they can look at you. Viewer.
Thereís black in your eyes, my viewer. I know youíre older than me. I know youíre convinced you must go into the black earth, and your name be erased.
Look, my agent has brought a big mirror. Because we love you, viewer. Weíll reach me out to you in two paths.
Mirror on the floor, Frieda on the floor, a mirror lies down and Frieda lies down. When you die, your body will lie down and lie you down inside it. But I will be there.
My cheek on the mirror.
When you look in your own mirror, viewer, you grimace, because time wonít ever click to a stop.
So I grinch my mouth. Not as girl box of white chocolates, but as apology. When you are put in your grave (are you there already?) I will come and take you up. I can show you: look down into this mirror. Thereís no black earth down there, but sun! My face in the mirrorís looking away from the camera to look right at you in the mirror. We can meet, we can meet through this barrier.
The girl on the sidewalk, who always seems to ignore you, here is her alternate face looking into you. I am her impossible wish, just as when you die your ghost will feel the white of my bloodless flesh. All this light so I can reverse myself, bones-first, and give my mirror skin to you alone.
My face is white because blood takes time to flow, and timeís not in me. Click, see a click is not inside time. Trapped man I know exactly how you feel. When they walk up to me at school and say stuff that hangs in their eyes like fungus, "you think youíre something extraóI can just look at you and tell, you think you deserve some extra-special existence," I know the mechanism. You need me because youíre dying. Death has been pasted with papery colors and clocktime jokes and the flavors of starkest candy. For your sake I will not laugh at your jokes. I wonít embody myself just another girl in the elevator. I am a model, I have to compensate.
The original is God. My agent limns God so I can step into the glowing lines. We reach to touch
We want to love
We give you life
I wish my agent wouldnít talk. Viewer please donít listen to him.
That click, that metal click. Iím shuttered. And my face goes for a walk, my face walks all through the world.
So many viewers. He says the maximum number of viewers must be made to understand. He says the face is a story.
Viewers will want me if Iím readable. Sophisticated yet easy to completely understand.
Can I kiss a crowd? My throat, shown here in pale white, is a voice that tells the story, my private love, a gentle story, all you viewers. A timid understanding story to make a whole city of eyes go soft. Take the readers by the hand.
Agent says words like clicks. A pose is an important form of art, he says. (He says itóhe doesnít believe itóhe cannotóbut wants me to pose like I believe something!) He says I am "creating a reality." A "heightened" reality. I have a thing he calls a face of genius.
Light makes me sweat within. He says a package is full because itís been packaged. Every box is a carton, whatever you put inside. What to do with a carton is sell it. Where existence begins is Distribution.
Light hurts me. Heís heard thereís a brand of heroin called "Henry James," he says thatís good, it will get people reading books heís trying to remove me and put my body instead. Shut up!
No, rise, expand, trust him if he says a pose is not a pose itís all right to make a false smile false promise, itís not really false itís an evocation a carrier for God, itíll come out true in the long run and cheer up a crowd of mouthless men
(Whatís going wrong?)
Try to be understood, try to not hear too much
(I have to speak as myself donít I?) Hear nothing! Whyís my skin not me?
My agent twists the aluminum knob of a black lightpole. Now the pole will have to stand up tall like it has a true idea, he choked it into freeze and it can glare authority down on us all. What happened?
Iím still on, all I have to do to change everything is to become visually meaningful this second, before he clicks. I will try to hear my own voice.
(Sweat. Gulp. Whatís preventing my face?)
Click click click. Not these picturesówaitó
He says to stare into "the distance" but thatís why I want to look into the viewerís eyes! Because I already know whatís in the distance!
I (my version of trying to live) am my beloved, and my beloved (who is looking at me?) is mine, and if my face trying to look like a prayer for love actually appears bleak (in need) then I guess this is my truth, I offer you my face erasing itself, I show you that I can need (you) (can still love) (so so could you)
Viewers: and the lie in my body lets metal technique click up to fill in with its own lie. Iím posing exactly a girl exactly like a girl in a magazine.
Why doesnít he save me?
(But heís doused the lights. Cold black zones press in all around my body)
(My chance is over)
(Now Iíll never exist. Iíll only be myself. He was right, distribution is the path, and only an obedient product ever gets dealt out into strangersí laps)
(But...heís saying enthusiastic things! I think he means it. He does mean it. And itís true that he took a lot a lot)
In the mail, my mother receives an invoice from my agent. This invoice says she owes him $3200 for portfolio development and talent management. It mentions the contract she signed.
A picture is a wish. A wish is without time.
A wish is without time because itís fucking impossible.
Donít hit me.
"I have a daughter who can destroy me with money. My daughter Frieda, who has no money of her own, she uses money (which God gave us to stanch our wounds) uses money to devour her mother.
"She lives by a fable she reads in the mirror. She believes $3200 is nothing compared to her face. But money is concentrate of God! I canít pay this bill! Iím locked out of heaven! Iím damned by the self-love of my own child!"
Iíll fix everything. Iíll hate myself. Help. Iíll die Iíll die
"You have to die $3200 worth."
Tell me what to do and Iíll do it. I want to disappear.
It doesnít matter what I do when Iím unphotographed.
My agent is a thief, and a lid over Bakersfield.
He I love. Who knows all about the promise, all about transcending,
He who I loved. Who knows all about (uses of) the promise, (techniques of) transcending,
he will only meet me on the planet cash dirt money earth.
(He was the promise)
I will meet him and seduce him. This is my motherís actual scheme for me. I will extract his pledge not to invoice my mom this sum.
I will be more ordinary than anybody. Iíll be such trash Iíll control his eyes.
Iíll keep the whole truth in a trap box by smiling.
(Heíll never be the promise again)
My motherís flesh will be my sheath. Bakersfield has two nightclubs, which are machines that beat time into money, while people sit in them clubbing time into life. I will sit next to my agent in one of these buildings. He will believe in the tremendousness of my face, because he already believes in the tremendousness of his face!
Iíll smile. I am as creep a creep as he is. My young-liar face has the fake power that will stupefy $3200 cash back out of his eyes.
My motherís flesh will protect me till the moment he actually kisses it. Then because she hates me sheíll disappear, Iíll be unclad. His schnapps-distilling mouth will kiss mine, and will boast. Heíll say:
I believe in my craft.
Iíll agree with him. (NoóI believe in salvation)
Whatís important is charm.
Iíll try to totally charm. (Noówhatís important is clarity (I seek))
Pretty faces arrive in crops, chopped-down according to what this year we harvesters find pretty.
Iíll turn my neck to the scythe. (No!óevery face on earth can express love!)
Sex in redemption of $3200. He will undress me, unfuck my mother, return everything back how it was, every hope.
I will accept this with love. I will try to learn from it. I will create out of earthbound nothing, invisible spirit.
Virgin most Peaceful. Virgin most Merciful. Virgin most Renowned. Virgin most Wise.
Virgin most Hopeful.
Who can turn even a great evil into good, OK. Maybe.
And when itís over, will I come back home? Put my hand on my motherís forehead and let her feel my breast, how itís been scraped at? Will time stop there?
Time wonít stop.
Iíll wake up in his bed. Thatís his leg. Iíll cling on.
Iíll need him. Take me away from earth.
Heíll say he loves me.
The putty of his smile, the rolled-clay lower lip with its soft indent of fear. He might actually love me.
I will be able to control his mouth. I will get him to say he loves his wife, as a first step to unsaying it. He will decide Iím "spiritual" and heíll rip away some of his spirit, flap it in my eyes, love this. No, Iím serious.
Nobody stops believing, they stop expecting. If even just one of us has faith, the world will see it in her face. Take my picture!
And my agent will sit up, startled. Iím asking him to change totally. Leave his wife and have faith in the impossible. And because heís a faith machine (senses what wishes are in the world, and connects them to modelsí [fictional girlsí] desire to fulfil) he will resist breaking down. He will attack what he can understand of me.
Thereís a visible Frieda, saleable, yet standing in the way of the money she contains. Because any moment I might touch his heart, and he be unable to stick his fork in. The money-waste of love makes fear of a girlís neck. He is the book of himself burning in his own bedroom.
So he wonít leave his wife! Heíll keep me, grin, heíll enjoy our time together. "Love" a TV show heíll watch me in, two thumbs-up to transcendence the weight and meaning of a pig-iron bucket full of silk.
I will beat his ass with a rolled-up Paris-Match. I will shout at him about faith, believing in a deaf spirit locked in the cork and putty of his grin, his little sayings, his black puppet of being such a right guy, nice, who burns himself every day with the scalding shit of his smeared boyhood, who can so defile the human body as to put those tasseled beige shoes onto his human feet, who hates his own skull enough to spray funny brown paint onto its naked spot, this man must be abused!
Iíll addict him to me. Iíll phone his wife. Iíll disappear for two weeks, Iíll tell him "most women prefer to be left alone." Iíll soften his little black dried clump of spirit.
And my own spirit? So squeezed it smells of wet birds.
Just one feather on my body, and Iíll pluck it out for him, not knowing if itíll ever grow back.
Because I love him. I love him, he has me.
See a man shred a feather, then see him dance a little bitóslightóthe dance you dance from a cup of tea.
The burnt root of my feather. Heíll say something, finally, to pull the last gulp of prayer out of my throat. Heíll say "all dreams are lies," and Iíll slap his face, and heíll finally finally finally get mad.
And heíll kill me! And as he kills me with a fresh new expensive knife, heíll laugh and laugh, slice slice chop chop chop, because heís giving me what I was asking for all along. Heís letting me out.
My motherís waiting for my answer. Iím locked in my room till Iím ready to promise. Promise youíll fuck talk whore yourself out of this money invoice problem. I am dirt, grounded.
Night. Wild rain, tub-dumping rain outside. Nobody could breathe in that. Stay dry. Better not move.
The mirror on my locked door is a door to my mother.
The mirror on the foggy window is a ghost bed where something still lives. On this planet, water comes from the sky. Mirrors tell us weíd be beautiful if we could be seen rightly. Older women drink because they wonít gamble, they want their bodies to give them the sure thing. Money is so incredibly important because it can buy things too heavy to lift. Sex was invented to give people something to do about what they canít ever have.
A fashion photo is a money-sex-mirror. A sure thing is dried rain.
So now I am going to make my plan. I plan to fail, on a loud note, with grand crash. Iíll fail so well, nobody can fail to notice.
Open the window. Do the sure-to-miss. My father taught me how.
Window open crouched on my windowsill, the gorgeous wind, pajamas soaked instantly! Open window Iím already outside! The cloud field straight up heaven!
Jump/land in mud LAUGH running Iím running out my motherís yard down my motherís street away upward up the slant rain up the cloud field
If I canít breathe Iíll drink, if I choke Iíll float, I can fly if I forget
I gasping hear the music every gasp, total contact telephone of rain, all gasps on planet flow join this rain this rain gets in everyplace
You all soak me to my skin, the earth all slippery but my path to youís air water air
thunder shatter my enemy
Lightbulb light. Heís in there. I knew. He always works late.
Iím going to walk right in, dripping, because itís impossible. Iíll be caught stealing back the pictures, and thatís the ticket. Be caught and destroy this life, start the next life.
I walk right in his reception door.
And look how thin I amóI can slice air sideways, right through the light in the room.
I smell the false lightning of his ozone photo lamps. Heís in the back, in the studio, among his electrical snakes, he is less interesting than the bottom of one of my feet when itís most falsely posing, heís more untruthful than the cat-shaped coffin of a cat. Heís crawling behind that wall damaging hope in a different girl.
Suddenly itís impossible for me to fail. I donít even sneak. I donít even hush. Heíll never see me here. Iím invisible to a man like him.
Since he boasted and showed-off where everythingís kept, I know the file drawer with all my photographs, I only take whatís me. The negative strips in white glassine like tickets. The black box of prints, with my name in white grease-pencil written by his fingers. My pajamas cling to me soaking joy.
Here in my hands is my bodying-forth. Iíll take pictures away, send them to a true agent (I still believe) an agent in a real city, whoíll beckon me. And my mother is frozen, and I am done. Itís like taking the sun off a black shelf, and carrying it outside to throw in the sky!
BLAST outdoors THIEF running down the sidewalk I yell the rain itís OK to stop now, and it instantly stops, Iím laughing because it took me so literal, itís stopped in midair, mercury dimes hanging midair as I run, the proof is Iím breathing so hard and singing laughing and I never drown!
Awning says Candy itís striped peppermint, that is so nice of them. The grate is pulled down. Canít see inside.
But in my chest I see every piece of candy inside, behind my eyes taste every flavor. The flavors flip into me like cards shuffling, crackcrackcrack yum.
Telephone booth has a light inside it thatís soft as when somebody holds you so well you close your eyes to feel it. People who make phone booths are very kind.
Inside the booth the wind is still. Sound outside is a caress of music to help us talk to each other on telephones.
I did it. Iím going to call Victor. Iím smiling so hard.
Victor, to tell him itís him Iím callingóand this telephone could put my lips to anybodyís on the planet! Victor who I love because heís the force of beauty, heís going to be my bodyguard when my future viewers turn toward the light behind me. How his strong shoulder, walking next to mine, can freeze people, keep them so transfixed they forget to say mean things to me, they forget to be beasts who make themselves unhappy, Victor my bodyguard will protect them. Victor, whoís beautiful because his job is to preserve beauty against the world. Who is a fire burning out the fires around me, so that to walk through the streets of my famous fame will be to pass out of time through silent circles.
Victor, something funny happens. My hand reaches and hits my hip a little. My hand thinks my hipbone is going to give me something important.
I donít have a quarter, for the phone. My hand was looking for a coin, in a pocket, in pajamas.
But I can call Victor, I can call Victor. I take the phone and dial his number. I dial like I donít worry. Iím staring at the coin slot, and thinking quarter, feeling the quarter, the weight and clink ring of musical quarter, miracle quarter quarter quarter quarter quarter quarter quarter phone answers!
An automatic woman asking please for 25 cents.
Itís raining. Itís night.
Victor wonít reach through the wire. He could ring this telephone, but he hates me. Heís at his house, in his bed, singing hymns of hate. The last time I saw Victor he said "The problem is youíre too nutsy, I donít want to know." But I know thatís wrong.
He canít understand me yet. I love him so much I forgive him.
I hear his voice. His bass note in the phonebooth glass. The voice of who I love. Heís saying crazy bitch.
Victor even if you hate me ring this phone and tell me, tell me tell me what you want. If I want what you want, that could be like love.
The rain I canít stop, wind shaking my little phonebooth house, making the glass sing, that is Victor singing to himself rhyming ruthless with soundless, but Iím suddenly choked with the joy of the ruthless. The miracle Iím wishing forís propped right here under my toes! Victor reminded me. What Iím about to become is so great he canít even speak, he canít even phone me, breathless.
I will turn these beautiful photos of myself into a gift box to every cruel automatic beast, automatic beasts will love me so much timeíll pause, deactivate them all, time will pause, long enough.
Clouds will appear. Music will play, sounding like an expensive jewelled bag ripped open. Buildings of Chinese alloy will rise, surrounded by straw. Viewers will seek me on the lakes and in the mass of impacted snow. Nonexistence, Iíll tell them all, touch me not. But thatíll deepen them.
The town is a bonfire. People may be automatic beasts, but they need warmth. They circle, throwing their own stories into the flames. But a flame turned backwards is behind every face skin of them.
Only a pit could have made me. Only the forced-low can spring up and float.
My scrawny body can fill the pit
My scrawny face can reverse the flame
Human race, with only one tine to your fork, I will feed you.
The tiger pauses, absolutely still, at the edge of the clearing. That clearing already belongs to him.
Open your box. Expose the photos. Pause the miracle of time.
And under the all-rounding light at the bottom of my telephone booth, I sit and open this box of my photographs, the gift I was born to give.
The next ten minutes slide sideways on the ice. Iím waiting to reach a wall. It takes ten minutes to look at all these pictures. I start out knowing, then in a while Iím waiting to know.
While waiting to know, Iím finding out.
wham wham wham
Percussion means somebodyís not pure
These pictures are me. Pictures, me. They donít change. I canít hide this.
Picture each picture pang pang bang.
This is a true pause. A pause is horrible.
Pose after pose. Who poses as saint? Lookit that ugly, vain, little, naked, chick!
Poses next to poses revealed as poses. Horror
I canít move now. Iím this.
My horrible little eyes, again and again, the same fake same same.
What was the naked self-loving mirror creep thinking, behind her gosh "beautiful eyes"?
I remember I was thinking glory. I was thinking wonder. I was true-feeling.
None of that is here. One hundred forty of me, and they all agree Iím not real. They prove.
What I must think of the viewer. What hate for the viewer I must feel. To make myself such a fake, setting my body against them, giving them what I think they need, but always withholding. Like whoremaster for the whole planet, I chose to show naked butts of mine that would slide farthest, to slide across their eyes and blind them with smear of me. Meanwhile my eyes mustnít be touched! Arrogant little metal eyes must never see anything unpleasant.
Thatís what it is. Photos of a blind girl. Sheís not even pretty.
Iím lying in the bottom of the phonebooth, crying covered over with these pictures.
I never want to see me again.
Canít live in this body now.
I ruined my face.
Slice along the scalp-line and peel face down and off. Nail it to the back of the world, where it wonít be found.
Oh I wanted to be a thing, and I am a thing. Iím a paper doll, paper will rot. Rot will crumble. Crumb blow away.
I did it wrong. Itís too late. A blind girl is totally invisible.
I rotted-out my stomach.
Iím sitting alone.
In the Howdy House, the clink of bones is silverware of the ordinary. People need faith? People need...breakfast. Forks squeak potatoes off plates thousands of other eaters have scratched at. Absolutely new time that hasnít existed yet is chewed slowly into gray. Sugar and ketchup. Tin of old milk. Bodies use this food as suicide. Even so, even so theyíre sitting in groups looking exactly like themselves. Theyíre not posing and they donít need me.
A booth here is vast puffy orange. The shovel-blade table stretches miles. A girl is small, small. Posing Alone! Posing Misunderstood!
Last night I rubbed the pictures harsh against my head and face erased them with my skull. I scattered the erased pictures into the street rainstorm. I hurled wet negatives like confetti so they fell back dead. Yes I can destroy anything that belongs to me. I can do that. I have flesh of my own to burn. But I canít make the fire under that hamburger grill bloom up. I canít make the clock slow, even a little bit. I canít flicker the lights in here, or blink the window sun. That restaurant fly wonít stop midair to hover and gaze at my eyes. It has its own eyes.
I forget how to sit in a coffeeshop booth. Iím broken. Beauty would be accessible. The viewers would be able to destroy it freely, because they would own it. Not just rip up its picture.
Morning-crew people I donít know. This busboy treats me like a customer. The waitress assumes I want to eat this food. You would have to make friends with everybody, one by one. Youíd have to work in every diner on the planet.
I donít know what theyíre thinking.
Victor comes in. He sits a few booths away. He looks at me, and then he doesnít.
Victor is thinking: that face I used to kiss is the same type face I hate in magazines. Those faces that look at me from dry paper and say ADORE YOU AND YOU ALONE, YOUR SOUL HAS FOUND ME ACROSS THE ADVERTISING LIE, THANK YOU FOR EXISTING, KISS. Those faces I stare at but then they never move never change, they say that one thing forever. So I have to stare at the body, try to dry-rape her attention back, her face never cooperating, all beauty but no truth passion love no she doesnít change, speaks her soul unceasingly itís a horrible lie!
Victor thinks: face, bullshit! You donít look at me the way you look!
The whole world is pointed right at me. Frieda we are all staring right at you, so what. Weíd rather watch TV than look at your skinny ass. No more lies, liar.
The light here is horrible. The voices horrible.
I canít look.