--Herman Melville, Moby Dick
--Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman
Pale skin flushed with activity, arteries running blue carrying blood just under her surface like hidden tributary rivers. The wide unflawed expanse just under the subtle ridge of her collar bones, the country punctuated by her ribs, the plunging region to that juncture where they meet, and thus entwined and locked in a kiss, become a circle complete.
I dream of the faraway Nation of Ulysses under a shower I procrastinated all morning for fear of losing the smell of Her on me. Rivulets run down my own chest in clever patterns. I am navigator of my own mind, I am not lost here. I grew up, left and returned to
In the mountains, in a cold rain, he came upon a large hare lying wounded under an olive tree. A rabbit no longer running, out of tricks. Ulysses crouched, helmet pushed back on his head, rain shattering on the shield strapped across his back, holding the animal close to his chest. The matted fur and breathing of the rabbit, Ulysses’ cloak trapping their warmth. This is my story and my story is me.
A couple years ago, my dad and me took the bikes across the state to the trailer park retirement community where my grandparents had lived outside Ocala. From there we rode south, covering every bit of six hundred miles in a day. We got headed out early, before my kids were up, and roared westward.
We were into it a couple of hours, moving fast on a large empty four-lane, when one of those ubiquitous shitty little gas station came up on the left. You know the kind I'm talking about, concrete block and Winston ads. Nowhere you'd want to be late at night. At the same time we reached the apex of the curve the structure was tucked into, a lone man strode out of the woods immediately to our right.
The man was tall and lanky and walked through the tall grass the way a tall thin man walks after he's been at it a while. It's the same way I walk when I am working. I don't remember having seen any structures other than the Quickie-Mart for miles and miles. It was August in Florida but he was wearing long pants, a flannel shirt and a battered gray jacket. There was a wool confederate infantry cap on his head and an axe-handle firmly in his right hand. We rode right past him but he never once looked at us, his crooked nose and salt and pepper beard pointed intently in the direction of the gas station. It was maybe ten in the morning on a Saturday. All of this occurred in seconds, and years ago, so I'm not sure how much is properly remembered and how much has been fabricated for your benefit.
Me and the old man got stopped an hour later in a town by a train crossing the main road. We thumbed the bikes off and leaned back in our seats, balancing the bikes under us. I turned to him and asked "Did you see that guy back there?" and he laughed and said Yeah. I said "What the fuck was that?" and he just shrugged and laughed even harder.
I worked on through that whole day. Most everybody else on the job had stopped and listened to each of the radios on the different floors or cried. The asshole Turks I was framing a bathroom for wouldn’t let me quit. They had tile to run. I found it made me feel better to keep going anyway. The laborers cussed me when I asked them to move so that I could use the table saw, a natural gathering spot on any job. They seemed to think I was calloused or hard-hearted and it was because I was from
That afternoon, when it was determined safe to walk across the bridges, most of the job, the other carpenters and trades-people, wandered home to Brooklyn or
Whenever we went out to the bar afterwards Anthony would have a Bud tall boy in each hand at all times, the waitress would come up with four for him whenever we sat down. On the job we liked to yell at each other, I once told him I was doing him a favor by giving him such an easy target, and he never missed an occasion to oblige me. Duane was a single dad, dark haired with deep sunken yet kind eyes that always seemed to have bags under them. One of the black laborers told him once he was the most Uncle Fester looking motherfucker he had ever seen. I tended to agree.
We locked the job up at four I think, humped it across the park through the smoke to the A-train. There was smoke forming a mist around the trees of central park that day. There were no flower children loitering at Yoko’s “Imagine” monument to barge through. Our thinking was to get downtown to the Path train. We had no idea that two of the stations had been destroyed. It didn’t matter, we were underground fifteen minutes before Anthony vetoed the idea. People were running wild through the stations, on the trains, everything was panic and Oh Fuck and Anthony had no intention of being underground. He had a funny look on his face that I couldn’t figure out. It wouldn't occur to me until later that the big man was very afraid.
In the years since I have always wondered why people have reacted so strongly from that day. Later we would go to war because of a something that happened one day in
It was the fireman that did it. I still get upset when I think about the firemen. I have had a lot of trouble with cops in different times in my life, but I never had a problem with any fireman I ever encountered, drunk or otherwise. They seem to me to be a different animal entirely.
Anthony, Duane and me ran into two firemen on the deck of the cruise boat that carried us across to
I got drunk in this bar Sept. 10th while my wife and kid slept back home. She’d start nursing and pass out with him and I’d head out to roam. The thing I liked about this place was the Sinatra on the jukebox, so that night I loaded it up and sat at the bar listening. I think it was the first time I’d ever heard “Summer Wind.” The tattooed brunette tending bar must have thought it was cute because she serenaded me, singing along with a couple of the songs. There was another man with a mustache further down the line who was putting the blast on her and didn’t seem to like me much so I got the fuck out early. By “early” I mean I didn’t close the place.
I won’t tell you what we saw on the boat ride across the
Duane and me trudged the rest of
The only other incident I remember having to cry because of some assholes who decided to fly planes into tall buildings was coming across the
This particular night the
Wanna be the ruler of the galaxy
Wanna be the king of the universe
Let`s meet and have a baby now
In between each stanza, the different members give spoken-word tidbits of information about themselves. For example Ricky, the original guitarist, was a Pisces and “loved computers and hot tamales.“ Ricky also died from AIDS back in 1985 when people still had no idea what the disease was.
The version I heard that night had slowed the tempo to that of a blues song. The dip-shit ironic hipster that sang it reflected this. Stuck on the bridge it felt as though I was listening to a lament. What reduced me to tears, smoking Winstons in my little Saturn station wagon, was the feeling that whatever was left of innocence had recently been or was about to be brutally murdered by pig-face, ignorant men. Wanna be the first lady of infinity. Wanna be the nicest guy on earth. Let's meet and have a baby now.