“… as though all life were death.”
—FerdowsiI “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Say it: Implements speak. Thus guns whisper to ruptured psyches: Touch me all over. Feel how I quiver with the fire damped in us both. Hold me, breathes the gun. Trigger our one desire—and I will raise you up. II A street punk fucked my friend’s son up for his wallet and a thrill. Pop-pop. Everything bled out: past, future, Furies, gods. The gun barked, and the stars forgot how to speak, and silence poured down on my friend like fire as he reached out for what he could not touch. III Have bloody entertainments murdered touch? Facebook bullying? Torture by proxy? Look up: the sky that seems so empty is, in fact, on fire with being. We imagine emptiness in everything to break the shackles of desire, the longing to speak, to be. Emptiness absolves as it thunders from the gun. IV Mailman, mailman, where’s my gun? My gun, my flex-tip ammo, my 30-round mags. (A touch of manic cunning’s trained him not to speak such litanies out loud.) Who can say what’s up? Even the scheming shooter can’t grasp everything he aims to do; but he’ll at last feel real when he fires. V As a kid I watched Davy Crockett by the campfire: coonskin cap, possum stew, his muzzle-load long gun propped against a Hollywood pine. How everything glowed! How fondly the frontier king would touch Old Betsy, slowly swab her barrel, then snatch her up to kill some red marauder with nary a line to speak. VI They bleed in theaters, temples, schools; they speak no more, love and dream no more. The same fire kills them in cubicles, parking lots, alleys, up in the boardroom, down in the lobby. Only the gun doesn’t bleed, exists to penetrate what it won’t touch, what the shooter won’t touch—which is everything. VII Touch matters. Say it! Tears well up in everything. Touch them. Stroke skin, not steel. In the mirror, touch the Other’s face—a fire that will never speak from a gun. * ODE TO SOMETHING
“Zero does not exist.”
—Victor Hugo, Les MisérablesWhy is there something rather than nothing? Because nothing never was, was ever just a trick of math that turned a placeholder into lack, into absence— and zero like a ball-peen hailstone struck a crack across the smooth windshield of speeding reason, making the mind’s eye see nothing everywhere. But nothing is nothing like something, something with its amber honeys, cabernets and cheeses, blood, blindworms, blossoms, lips, hips, hands, pain and rage, heartbreak, night-sweats, ten thousand joys intense and transient. No wonder so many dread the sheer abundance of something, its “flow of unforeseeable novelty,” endless irruption of forms and essences. How can reason hope to hang its dream of knowing all on such a flood? How feed its fantasy of mapping every last height, every depth, making both beginning and end knuckle under to understanding? Therefore: nothing. Nothing that gives something direction, an arc of action, a story, a meaning, the way deities used to do. Truth is, though, we swim in mystery reason can’t (can never) plumb: no beyond, only being and somethingness: our lives like sparks in a vast becoming, bright flecks of foam on a breakneck river, swirling in the world as is.