God has created night-time, which he arms
With dreams, and mirrors, to make clear
To man he is a reflection and a mere Vanity.
Therefore these alarms. (Borges, 1960)
Under the guise of night, the mirror is a surgical tool.
There is a large box the color of wax resting against the back of my building, partially hidden beneath a surge of leaves that burnish the season into a singular spectacle of light and seduction that draws sadness from generations of the folly of human fate.
Pried open by the thoughts of birds disoriented by the carbon and fumes fused to the lilacs, the arcane air liberates its perimeters and negates all substance from chance events until lighter than air, memories hover from the box in clusters and worm their way into the dead of night, forming labyrinths within the evaporating shadows.
Exposed to the moonlight, they take on a livid glow; an agony of color engulfing each moving particle until they implode in a void where events, glutted with the destiny constituted in each, vanishes.
From this very first diffusion it is understood the world yields to the occultation inherent in “I”, adheres to a realm where an absolute laid bare reveals its secrets through the pulse of ordinary life.
Images of places and experiences that hold no meaning play unceremoniously through me.
In one image I see an emotionally charged man walking along this very street at this very time, only it’s a century earlier and the night seems infinitely darker.
His genius makes way for arthritic cohesion dragged in fog, a grail of graves on a road-trip through his mind, caught at a threshold, his lot lost in obscurity.
In another, summer seethes in a garden of dreams humming with insects and apparitions that illuminate the great stones carefully aligned to this occulted order of space.
While walking along a desolate Canal Street in the middle of the night, I recognize perfection in the crudest of forms; in mundane objects fallen prey to horrible parody;
in static crashing like lightning against my half-life; in wavelengths tuned to a frequency
filled by panoramic disturbances.
A fusion of past and future opens me, sensation a mute witness to a renegade fold in time.
As I approach the hidden Cortlandt Alley, I’m startled by a naked winged man running past me into the center of the street. Sensing the pressure mounting in him as he prepares for ascension I see he’s alarmed, disoriented by my disturbance of his trajectory, his stare revealing the betrayal he feels of having been snagged to such permanence.
His shadow, his veritable double beside him, is the absence that’s become the wormhole into which we will both perish and not be seen again.
He cautiously approaches and hands me a luminous cube:
a chronicle of tonalities; an edict of vexes; an elliptical dispersion of encoded dreams.
As I watch him take flight and dissolve into the cast iron buildings, spectral fissures rise, surface like sleep totems flowing through the imaginary streets I am moving backwards through, transported to a place where no bearings exist.
As mystery of its center knows no cause, one must set oneself adrift.
I drink stasis in all of its sobering containment
I come to live in the mirror going somewhere with heart’s ease
I walk along the market square of the Rhineside city Speyer, where the sky fills the space of time with cobalt hypnosis, and perpetuating sigils birth seismic imperatives (guardians of extinctions that float in perpetuity).
The streets are empty, the tired shutters of the crowded stone houses apparently flung open by phantom occupants who have placed themselves outside the clairvoyant realm of dreamers.
I glimpse an obscured view of the Imperial Basilica, its spires transmitting a cold, coded signal audible only to dogs and the demented that sweeps the boulevard for wounded men charged with expectation, then subtly plants false memories into their feeble falcon skulls.
I remember walking this street in a different dream, but then I had mistaken the Basilica for a platform and the spire for an aerial tramway that transported me from the end of its embankment through mountainous ridges, where the air was thin and the clouds were sparse and no one would meet me on the other side.
I feel the presence of my other here, around me, beside me, immersed in the artificial light and jaded to the boredom of destiny. Riddled at birth by the thorn birds that had taken him to death, he reappears in the guise of ripened wheat, golden grey and quivering, isolated by the winds that flow from the tombs of emperors and Germanic kings.
He is with me as these streets begin to break down, permutate
And another city opens…
Bernkastel on the banks of the Moselle, whose fiery wines devour the hills and smother the prospect of anything remotely encouraging change.
Feeling his breath undulating across the back of my neck pushes me beyond what separates me from the tempestuous corpses circling my wagon. The shadows from the ruined castle glisten like rubies across the river’s spine, and the fermenting foliage feeding the waters make them so thick with sludge the tide becomes inert. On tranquil nights lethargic lovers, in sleep and intoxicated by desire, are lured by the infective persuasion of its banks only to wake in terror, ensnared and unable to free themselves from the grip of the ominous sediment that will surely pull them to their death.
I carefully navigate the shoreline, always avoiding the bodies flaying in frenzy.
Today I assume that I will look into a reflection and will see you over by a marsh,
as pale as granite and as distant as the landscape permits, perhaps hidden beneath a stream, barely disturbed by mineralization or the exquisite song birds migrated here to engage in your return.
Soft winds carry your voice through the reeds, lost to me through the ages but now here,
a transgression of the boatman that led you to me and to greater danger (even the silence protracts, speaks like daggers). They are murderous, every one of them, each an accessory to the concentrations that would bring us together then set us apart.
By fortune I foresee a memory I have of an old woman who whispers to me:
“Soul in the water, I entered under the blue curve one evening, I thought it was the moon, friend to assassins, naked in the trees, when it was always our dream following you to the door”. I wanted to tear the flame from the blankness in her honor, but the truth was a much different matter, because like a banshee she had been displayed publicly for several hours each day where she was denigrated morally, perhaps vertically levitated to the cruel spire that stabbed at the sky to the delight of the cranes.
The site of our meeting was always a troubled place, gothic yet imbued by the elegance of an allegiance unblemished by the failings of the fading night whose mysterious song is never easily captured at this time and place.
I’ve returned there threadbare. Returned to the spent thoroughfares where sparrows shadow the women bearing the same fate fallen the fair haired men who built themselves houses made of hats. Everything was a joke to them, but you forget that that is another time and this is another place, and they are infamous among somnolent travelers, their rationale unassailable, except in matters of hunger, when they wander like crows into the street, bellowing and pecking at the burlap bags that line the gutters. The mountains of barley fill them like a labyrinth of song. Observing their reflections in store windows and seeing they’re headed in the wrong direction, they return to their homes of finest felt, satisfied and replenished.
Do I name that who is evocative of doubles, he is a prisoner too, falling into the dank hollow of mortal error like a child, wretched, wretched, why should he find any reason towards hope when he knows it’s the same for everyone?
Good and evil, I abandoned them to friends and enemies alike; madmen all, all caring more
for things as it all came back to me in spades.
I descend the rain shadow of a mountain chain, my attention defined by the debris fallen from the structure that lay across the desert in distant view. Getting there was an ambitious endeavor. I was prone to accidents and changes in direction, my velocity greatly affected by the intensity of the summer heat and a lush continuity of desert life.
I hear every sound at once going round the world a thousand times over, my descent bearing all the residue of a ghost suddenly trapped in an endless spiral.
Large scarabs scuttle over the edges of the debris that is not debris at all, but corpses lying malevolently beneath the turrets. In the shape of their flesh I can still sense remnants of the last impressions that were sucked from their souls.
I’m not a type that’s easily unsettled, but the absence of life overwhelms me and my knees buckle before this mountainous ruin. And the stillness of the clouds crown this shrine of buzzing insects and flesh in various stages of decay, trembling like echoes held out to silences in myself, resonating with the same terrible clarity of the fool who would count his stars and then ponder the imponderable.
The scarabs emit perceptible vibrations that cloud my mind and send me in an opposite direction of my original intent, the intensity of the humming increasing until I’m unable to resist the currents of their will. As harsh winds beat my back I am driven by shadows that bath me in the shape of ethereal wings.
Eventually the humming ceases and the insects that had given rise to it vanish.
Gone too is the altar of flesh. Its absence haunts me. It cuts deep because I knew you were there, but here nature is your ally and deters me, and I, far removed from the living, can only align myself to the revelation of mirrors.
I walk aimlessly for hours, impervious to the mocking eyes of women and men to whom I must have personified defeat, for they watched me contemptuously, seemed to shout
obscenities in languages I did not and never would understand.
I struggled to remain neutral, although I could not distinguish the past from the present in these decrepit hamlets and feared I would never again rise from the depths of this trance.
One woman sat herself at the foot of a shallow ridge and armed with the diamond light of incomprehension dug deep into the earth and hurled clumps of dirt at me (the veins of her raw, decrepit hands were as pale as an opal slipped from a stream).
And I bore the blows like a comedy of caresses, willfully absorbing the swarming shadows where desire lurks without any measure of degree.
I learned to disguise my reality; its ugliness frightened children and proved little use for forging any bonds at this edge of the abyss.
I willed myself invisible beyond sensorial dominion, operating above fear and judgment, and in doing so created a powerful servitor with which to maneuver this realm unobserved.
Free from scrutiny and in total abandon, the environment became less opaque, stretching out like sweeping black ibises, the shadow of my wolf-toothed half-brother half visible against the backdrop.
Propelled by a novel sense of elation, the adrenalin pulsing through me jolted my cortex with viral neural ignitions that illumined what had previously been hidden to me. A ring of sound slapped my nerves the second they emerged, and my spectral presence ached for the drug that was my physical presence not long before.
I sense myself lying listlessly by the side of a deserted street as fading light fills the cracks in the pavement and coils around my body like an inverse funnel splaying the sky, its source indeterminate. I was slow to acknowledge that my body was not surrounded by light at all,
but was the source from which the light was emanating, perhaps dominated by a systemic, unseen sentience.
That’s when the realization hits me of what those corpses under the turrets are.
Bodies discarded in need to enter this place unencumbered by flesh, long passed through the threshold that strips matter at the metastasis of its unbecoming.
I watch my body slip away from the light, confused as to where my vantage point begins and my conscious sense of self ends. Beyond my body, no longer grounded and slightly off the ground, I no longer sense nerve nor limb but nevertheless my perception remains intact.
My hearing and sight are by no means imbued. If anything, the absence of my humming blood and raking bones affords me a clarity I have never experienced before.
I watch my body fall sideways as the last stream of light drains from the top of my head.
The night summons a bitter gale that jolts just enough leaves from the trees to shroud my poor dormant shell until it is completely submerged under a barrage of flora and consumed by the landscape.
And without a glance
It is ten years later
My hair has been made to impossible jets of sand.
The cyclone hovering below has broken its restraints and severed gravity to the wind.
There was a memory of having lived in the same dark walls of the same damp flora twice.
The Burdock that creeps along the alleyway is as recognizable as the mist that has risen
and given me a glimpse of a clearing.
I knew well the rocks of its prison in the whole of its sky,
The fulcrum of its destinies in the returns of what is diminished.
It was the same for everyone whose crisis ports were set
amongst the lime brimmed surfaces of magnetic slips,
pumping vertigo into a vortex of colour
until the blues and grays of refracted light swirl from an opening
between two distinct fringes of darkness:
Nightly darkness, whose clouds filled with layers of silt are inhaled to impart precious vapors that add stars to our stars, and the Solar darkness that separates time from circles spinning through the shadows of sleep, so by morning there is no memory of the rushing air that has dissolved in dreams, because there is no morning.
A young girl whose lavender dress captures
the light of dusk in its splendor
summons me from beyond the clearing
she is prone to wander;
A signal in the airbrushed night
amongst weak transmissions
of suicided ghosts
her dress glistening and stretched lengthwise
across the cobblestone
like the open sky.
None of what she has portrayed has ever come to pass:
The churches and the tarnished temples were scattered in ruin.
In Autumn, men radioed from ships in the middle of night
to present a description of a coast where ships never land.
Her tears that stained the millstones were given names:
She was a motionless silhouette deep in dream
where all the while she beckoned like a hallucination
of a place I had never seen.
I stood trembling at her vertical edge,
the plinth of my blood sky blue
my shoulders weighed by all the thoughts
carefully cultivated from a life of disorder.
She has mysteriorized the falsehoods
by wearing them around her neck
where hopelessly abandoned they flourished.
But I have found them again by turning the key
that is moving through her
without waking her.
And every streetlight traces itself
upon the vicissitudes of her child like ruse,
for her labyrinths run deeper,
a network of recesses and hidden pikes
designed to put an end to play.
“It is dream” she whispers.
“It is the circle closing around the square like a couple making love”.
Standing before her fills my senses with a promise
as startling as the glistening sky
as the blues and grays of refracted light
weave a delicate web
that reduces the earth
Only the vibrations of stones still oscillate without knowing why.