Under Italy

by dschapman

“Tell me some good things,” about the days on the sea, the good days when you tormented me, when we took our time, always tender, in the talented half-honesty ravage at night as the magnets rose and nails shook loose. In the basement of the sonic chambers of the restless queen we mimicked the voices of the soft, easy singers, slipping in and out of plastic and brass, frothing under the wand as the water rises, always burning, marginalized and mysterious in the indecent brusque of the city. Shakespeare – but no clothes – and washing every day, away every day without washing your hands, you can wear my clothes, you can wear whatever you want, wear my own, wear these gowns, use my signature, hang this golden cross around your neck, I do not love you, stripping there, see me dipping into the secret well, with locks of secret hair – I did not love you, standing there, stepping around the dress on the floor. See sleeping with the doves in the water as the leaves fall like gold from the umbrella reach, motherly and grey, without my reading glasses and afraid of the handsome generalities, as the seraphim spilled out of the ship with the breach. “Mark my words,” I said, but I forgot my words, and I dug my nails into my scar tissue and pulled the parasite out of my veins.

“I have forgotten my mantra,” I said, inspiring myself to write a short erotica about the early career of Jeffrey Goldblum, the American tragedian. That would be the only thing to do if I were really a writer. That would be the virtuous thing. It would be production. The all-consuming mass would finally, for once, exhale. Trees would rise up on the slopes of the valley and deer would come eat the low-hanging peaches. Peaches grow in these hills like nothing else. Apples and pears can be tough but a peach tree is meant for it. 

“I’m an apple man,” I say, remembering my mantra. In the kaleidoscope screens of the city production house a man like Klaus Kinski danced seductive ballet for me wearing tights and short shorts with no ass in them. When I was a boy, in a barn in a field in the tundra underneath the aching stars, a young man chased me through the rafters, and pushed me into the hay, and the high north star shone in inconsistent drips through the last of the original window panes.

Beyond two arches and under the alley, there where the sign is just the small plaque on the wall that says nothing, a ginseng and lavender musk drifts over their shoulders. Two good Americans in the soul of their past, like kids, in secret pain with darkened eyes and naked handwriting. They are not holding hands but they could be. The white space of the betweenings is square and the transmittance untouched. Nothing touches, lines do not intercede.

Naked in bath playing chess, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes – a sexual ambiguity creeps in over the glistening skin of his fingers, a bath never shared in the past, warm water – I am cold – my chin is bare and I am starting to cry. I watch him naked, standing there, and in my nervous blues I laugh. I am always laughing. I laugh every time I speak. “I love it when you speak,” she said, “You always get that rascally smile, I know it’s going to be something interest.” But I laugh and I insist that I am not interesting, and that I am suffering a nervous reaction.

When yellow fields of rapeseed rise like rolling breasts and buttocks, the last car through the faulting dawn will park beside the loch-side house and a family will get out and camp out for the night under the stars, and in the middle of the night someone will be fucked in the ass.

My clothes are hanging in my closet. That is quite a feat. I haven’t hung a shirt of my own in years. But when they carved my back up one last time at the hospital my mother came and hung up clothes, every one. She went through my things and I said, “Please don’t go through my personal effects.” To what I meant by personal effects I did not know.

I imagine my friends on a train, barreling between two mountains with snowy peaks, and the chateaus on plateaus and the valleys. I do not like to travel anymore. I have changed. I want to fly first class or not at all. An ancient ghost ship wanders the coast of Alaska, spearing the corpses of frozen Aleutians and feeding them whole to the chthonic recessions.

The sun returns and the ice recedes and monsters come creeping at the windows again. In an apartment overlooking High Street our tongues wrapped up like twisted bows… All that rain, and I never thought to wear a rain jacket. Every time, once again, all that inelegant money tossed around in velvet and corduroy; who used to wear linen in summer, who used to wear wool in the winter, who used to wear cotton all year; now I wear only synthetics. And I can not ever go home, not even in these clothes, no matter how responsible I have promised I am. Perfect extension of the reflected self in the streets with the sun in the glass full of color. With the money, and the talent, and the fat, blond, blue-eyed fraud – wet Americans!

Freak shows, growing cabin crazy, stuck inside the liberated halls – not courageous, filtered through the mosaics and shimmering – hot sweat, “Have fun,” she misses me and loves me and I’ve already missed the train. The sexual tension is ludicrous. I suck her toes and chew on her leg like a bone. The columns of the war-torn past are resting, simply left alone, and colossi of the isles lay, the winds blowing around – amusing myself – all too strangely.

In a fishing vessel, by the ivory coast, I fell into the sea with the bayonets and shells. Now it’s just the boys, and now it’s just me, and I slowly drown them one by one, playing, and then not playing, and then skiing off the cliff into the desert of snow. The pages of the bible flipping restlessly in the wind, her pale legs swinging from pink, seafoam shorts, maintain the willing women in the drunken playboy sea, a strange sound, a familiar melody, like a lullaby, and I am again lost at sea, and I am sinking in the evil sleeping breeze. Under, under, pulling down, and folded into the grains of the coast.

What does the mallard believe? How do you wake up and be a person? What have you ever done wrong? Aren’t you tormented? Have you lost your naked way again in the claustrophobic convent? I pulled her organs wide apart and dove inside her, where the wicked demons lay, a darkness swelling under their eyelids, heavy with the weight of the needles, the flinging doors and aerial drones, voiceless, without a sound. If the wide-necked chariot racer won, and rolled the dawn back towards the stars again, king beyond kings in the wing of the last antiphonal, the Judas Iscariot.

In a playboy’s mansion, like a Ridley Scott movie, like Harvey Keitel’s in it, like a desert that sweats into blue moving cumulous clouds, lumbering mammoths that float through the sky and cool the burning sand.

“That is the last of me,” the schoolgirl cried, “you’ve really fucked me now.”

In those days in Toulouse, lost in the towers and sleeping on floors, I watched the collection of old American films with strong women characters, like Thelma and Louise and The Way We Were. I reacted emotionally to The Way We Were on the fifth viewing while the sacred French snow fell slowly over the heads and the hips of the prostitutes standing underneath my window.

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