He first preferred meals

He first preferred meals that cultivated the elegance of solitude, eating from cans with labels redacted by blooms of washed out ink, eaten with improvised implements and considered from above with disdain, still half-full with the ragged circular top. He wishes he had beaten it open with a rock. And meals, such as they are, have to be eaten after dark, by frail light. The pomp and satisfaction of the ritual acts soon become a concrete and indulgent charade. What remained at the bottoms of cans or caked on the lids sufficed. After not long, mixed with his saliva, an incestuous pasty toxin precipitated. He agonized after, the strangeness of the bodily functions deviating from the metabolic grandfather clock of his public life until even digesting the poison became rhythmic and commonplace. He ceased eating. He looks back toward the shade of the room where he sleeps. Colored lights, colored shadows, mix on the floor. From a cavity or shaft down through the apartment comes a dull arrhythmic thud. Clear, icy light plays in the window. The moon would be dilated on the sky. A pound of toasted grain swells in his stomach. Across the blank moon-chilled pad a gauzy cloak conceals the form and texture of the words he considers with his capped pen. Just uncapping it would choke the clarity of the sinuous moment. The sky which must be black, the pen would describe as ink, as a void, when it is just black. All that can be inferred, all that is clear, is that it is night. Even that can’t be committed to the paper. That it is night, that he is in the apartment, these all ratify the moment in a way that makes him concrete and connected to the sky and to hands and voices pressing against the walls of the apartment on other nights, dusting, hammering in anger, feeling in the dark. Oily streaks on the paint and worn down beads of base molding are haunted by people still stumbling through the apartment. The rectangular pad is a blank room, a glass room in a smoke world whose fresh crystal air chokes everyone but him. Rain would fall in between the window and the opposite wall. The multitudes in men distrust the singular. The dead things, never living things all around have consumed and house every vile look, smirk, boast, caress, and dribble of the population. He begins to write those past scratchings. It was just enough to do. It didn’t have to be ecstatic folds of swept histories. The route to the lost place is innate, carved in air to fit his body, to guide it. That place makes him ill. He longs for a band of men to assemble in the hallway and beat him with their fists. In mediocrity it is easier to urge life to go on separately. Jack’s was not an ecstatic life. He had the acute agitation of liquor, falling asleep too early sitting up, the darkening moonset just passing over him. A hollow forms around bubbles in his esophagus humming like a city around an empty void across which every citizen can see every other but could not reach them across its gulf. The stained door jamb materializes. The shadows of two wooden blocks are cast on it. In this room the city doesn’t hum. No people look out from the closet door. Nothing is further than inside. The pad of paper is a night, the ink is the night passing. Let it pass. Make it pass. Make it alone. Make it crisp. Make it reproducible like an experiment so that this particular night coils around every day. Loop it around Jack’s finger so he knows his body each time the night returns. Jack awakens late in light and puts on the clothes slung over the arm chair. He tries not to treat himself. Meager delights destroy ruts. The occult is investment in the simple nature of baseboards, pullcords on drapes, oily spots above toilets, gutters and bits of paper dried in gutters, all the shadows, all walls, all lines, cuffed pants, and cut hair strewn, that make up a place that is identical to this one, yet wholly different. Where these onlookers become absurd, disrobed of their intrinsic repetition, that they are named they are repeated, they are given the names of this place. A fine coat of magnetic hair separates them from abandoning their progenitors. Solitary occupation in solitary rooms must be acknowledged in its silent buffing away of that pith of agreement, by which people conspire to not be driven made by the perpetuity of everything beyond their flesh. In solitude he rubs against the surfaces. His eyes lick them long and cleaned of their cloaks. Both he and they, the rooms, denuded, then coalesce into this other state. Embers shimmering down Jack cuts off each light in the rooms save the lamp on an articulating arm reaching over the old arm chair. Transcribing marginalia in the tent of warm light decomposes the tissue of the rooms, erodes the vertices of their forms. Peace assembles in old reflections. Simple understandings of larger figures cloaked in new life, frail and impulsive assumptions, most words loiter alone appearing to exchange meaning with one another as if by silken cords, each sparking far at their edges yet never igniting, the words faintly writ astride voices etched by consensus into rigid dictations of the mass perspective of our own souls. These are words added to others whose only beauty is their silence. They posit concerns and reflections to inattentive partners long departed from the dialogue; the same returning voice is stranded in a place from which the mind has gone, only speaking back the same words, never affirming. So the marginalia control that distant mind. In altering the shape of the voice they resurrect its mind. The loose sands form blinds and protect new territories. If the man, the sorcerer, had returned to the echo of his voice he would find oddly corrupted specters of his face and hands, toiling still, unwavering to his commands. Arithmetic of text is a private exercise of control. He sifts the notes into simple new organs. Small pads from motels and motel stick pens secretly erode the excrescence of the mind. In a man’s wake many things wash away, drift away unknowable. Yet, as these things themselves become possessed by others, the man slowly loses the identity he has constructed. When he slept in the bed he was adrift and powerless over his routines. He couldn’t control his mind or that part of his mind that belonged to something living. He was waking up every few minutes terrified that he might have rolled over or changed the splay of his legs. He fell asleep in chairs during the daylight. In his awake state he conceived of a sleeping harness system that would subdue what came alive in his sleep. It was in essence a very tightly-made bed fortified with elastic cords and topped with oppressively heavy quilts, several of them. He could turn off the heat in night. Once slid into the bed like a magician’s card into the deck he was incapacitated. It had to be possible to wriggle out, which he did in the same panicked shimmy each morning at nine thirty. When he slept he was conscious of being buried. Layers of inanimate sheets, ties, and quilts became properties of his body. He was enormous in the slender way that a sick man becomes the universe and everything but his sickness. The others he left in the discarded routines of fitful sleep still at various times of the night would slip out to drink tea, pretending to chat in rigorously composed moments of conversation with no one, crying in the bathroom, timed poses he vaguely recalled. Immobilized, liberated, he saw strange others, not his, in various poses and activities, with vistas and consciousnesses that were familiar but slanted in odd manners by tingles and odors. A man in a room like a study would be with books all about walls disappearing and a gold upholstered armchair wrote and copied from the books. He watched something Jack couldn’t see in the room. There was a stain on the door jamb but it didn’t move the way the man’s eyes moved. He saw himself on nights before these standing next to his bed, falling down in the bathroom, or himself writing in the other room. He infrequently awoke out of sequence but when he did so more often he began setting his alarm clock to ring every thirty minutes at which point he would quickly give back in to the impression of the bed. He would not let himself out of the sleep’s routine. At one half hour he had awakened on the correct point but could not return to sleep. There was a fire in his chest like a black coffee waterfall behind his lungs. He was awake with his eyes to the ceiling. He would not look to the clock. When the pain began to rush away into a pool and he could breathe he noticed that he could move his arm. It was loose in the tourniquet bed, as was his leg, both on the left side. He slid them across the sweat wet sheets hot and obscure until they trolled into cold wetness like a sheet of wind. He foot first hit the other man in bed with him, then his fingers. Foot to foot and fingers to fingers. The second set freezing and still. When he wriggled out of bed in the morning it was tight around him and dry. He executed his day routine perfectly but as night and sleep approached he breached the form he had established. It would transpire nonetheless via the other he had sloughed off into bound slumber from his insomnia. He sat up that night in his spare room. Breathing was audible some time later in slurping hums. He sat in the gold upholstered armchair and described to himself the others he had left behind as his routine evolved in the apartment. Jack assembles an array of accessories around the armchair in preparation for his efforts. The partially formed ritual seems to metamorphose at each sitting. He forgets implements or atmospheric settings or notices something heretofore not assimilated and makes the necessary adjustments. He distrusted himself as the end of the line. All day shifting and rustling haunts the apartment of rooms. Only the shadows of surrounding buildings blot from the windows into the rooms. Jack camps in the armchair facing the wall of books, crossing his legs as the hip grows sore, feels twisted off. The torsion wracks up and down his bones, into his knee, the midst of the femur, the resting ankle, his back like an gritted investment. He breathes little as it distracts from the crystal pain. In that sheath of focus the tenants cannot register. Their movements become more repetitive, disenfranchising themselves by multiplying into obsolescence in spectral routine. A man sits at the desk. The shape of a man diffused at the edges, hairy in dim. He reaches from the swiveling seat to a nearby book and softens the spine by opening at various depths into the text to warm the mastic, scaling deeper then rising again lovingly until the always faint fractures cease to sift sighs from the leaves. Jack touches his neck warmed by canny networks spreading into his hair. The intruder’s movements foster sensitivity to the book and nerves prickle on Jack’s forearm as if it were he being lovingly plied. His stomach soaked in steam of thick liquor and of waxy hypnotic smokes. When the man begins to speak aloud in fragments each word hangs in tangible, insulated quasars. Their tones and legs and tails linger still when jack summons the sense to begin condensing them into ink forms on his blank stationery and as they condense the hum and click of each falls from the air. Burning leaves, saltspray, sickened stomped juniper berries, decaying cedar dust shaken into fine hair combed out and lifted on breeze, venereal pear blossom, balsam, dirt, hieroglyphs of drying worms, old rain, a crew cut, the oily sheen of a man gray and drawn into a warm fog geostationary within it, a malodorous alluring diffused handprint on glass, halcyon odors of the out of doors, upon the medium of lipid sunlight, phosphorescent undercloud day, a rent into the dark isolation of the room twirled about the odd alto whirring of his voice. Jack is transfixed upon all that was lost in the dissipation of each word spoken, both in the matter of each and in the particular bouquet that gathers amongst them, those of the useless world outside the apartment. The evocations built on his pad. The words and phrases belonging to neither of them spin etheric forms as the ink quickly dries. It is pointless to read back over them, even antithetical to the frantic conjuration converging. Leaves decay. The fever is the beauty of illness. However, once dictated, once emulsed, the pithy turns, impotent observations, and desperate assertions gather in Jack’s mind as well, he assumes, in the orator. They share communion entranced. They appear as wizened, old husks sagging between each syllable like collapsed blood vessels, like a final drowning exhalation awaiting the new medium of water. Another note then and they are elated. Each note constructing a third man between them whom they both descend from, a man lost to them both yet rapturous in his liberation from physicality so reduced to all that he might have ever succeeding in being in words that exist only tethered to another’s ciphered form. What then exists in this decorporalization of his already diffused existence. The orator’s voice sings in tones so otherworldly they can barely form words. Its texture is more of a whir, a sparkling, singing, little spinning top. The sound of a brittle page creaks shut the oppressive dim and detail of the room around the odd voice. Out from the disrupted trance of the moment the two of them then in the cramped room together panic, both simply existing, fog lifted, sobered, fully aware of each others’ expulsive and antagonistic contours. Jack flees, toppling his heavy armchair.

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