–figure: I remember that after all else fades perhaps that will endure. Touching–that, yes, that olive black, the night, the rolling hill. Standing
The drizzle–all the rain lights up as a passing vehicle catches the flash of the streetlamp and repeats it to my eye. My shadow falls upon the glowing tombstone beside me. Pieces of the name–my memory fills in the rest.
It is no wonder her brown study–
of no more than that. Isn’t that enough that stops me cold: leave me there is no room for thoughts I feel what I cannot think nothing clear all. It is a puzzle jumbled I–don’t, no I, no–they are so different only death in common. Nothing else. Mother no: I grieved I was at the funeral reading of the will, I hurt I grieved I tried so hard just
But now go/
I could not think. I can not must I cannot. Stop. Stop this. Stop now. Listen. Frost on grass in winter in my ears but it is not winter. I block. I shut the outside
now But now go the bells and we/
simply nothing to do but she, waiting, I don’t know nothing but to go–out and be with who–with each, alone, who? Who is this fool? Of course. Of course she would think have thought that as much. Fool. How could she no of course, course it was always business and they will look yes back as I am now they will look back and see that this all nothing meant nothing no feeling, nothing true just, and just money, just money and–that will be all a fool and his money, an addict and. A how and a could it have gone otherwise I pause and think as I could not think that No, no sympathy, not not, no not so much as a comment of pity that she was worth. Just a dancer a stripper a nothing else that mattered–a dead one now isn’t the world better for that is it a better place than malicious random chaos that denies life, strips as she, her beauty stripped of all. Meaning no, no lying so
Lying so primly propped–
up her feet she said you don’t remembering you don’t want to do that they’re all sweaty and gross but it’s all a part, of her, just feet, just sweat, just life and I always wanted to touch you even if it was just, just feet, just sweat, just close and yet sometimes there I shiver when I think of it of what of what am I doing here what comfort what does this satisfy no substitute for a real with a woman with a friend I think I lie awake but now go the bells and we are no no not quite yet still struggling struggle but give up nothing, no not, no up, no just
Years, almost forty of, struggling just, to be just and then just then beautiful, wonderful Jo from no where. In her I found no me–I wanted no me–but no her–I wanted her, her not three maybe four and a different face for each maybe name maybe she never could keep her face guises straight, who saw and who saw what mask was
–not themselves / being not but as themselves as they are trapped
The trap I–think my friend I curse him forever for ever introducing me to these people I never have, no not, not even a way for me to; no lisa no payton no tanya no one no joni/Jo…no, Jo, no…why–no why, no way should this no this should not be.
Kept safe here, knowing not of death, for death–
was always a fact from Father when I was a boy to now. Mom was old. I did know. I knew all men are mortal and Socrates is a man and therefore Socrates is mortal. I know Mom was mortal and it was inevitable and hurt like a pitchfork in my foot–I grieved, cried for the first time in twenty-five years and that was that. A few regrets. But, Jo–I didn’t, I do not no why no how no reason. An hour more and I’d have been there and this–I wanted to get her roses and there was my friend who said I should just get a single flower–did he know?
will you always be his and you will always be his best girl
I always wanted to ask what so beautiful, so sensitive, so hurt was like meant how it felt all the men looking down, mere and hideous faces blank, glazed, night after night after night after never a day without them. What’s it like to be you? Her little body
There was such speed in her little body / such lightness
about her then, that he said she looked awfully aloof, what was the word exactly he saw I think I remember it was self-conscious but he couldn’t know that from just her picture, even though he is my best friend and he didn’t even know her but he–was only
–not, themselves, the trap–
I couldn’t even. I mean, there is no reason. What reason could I possibly could there be to whom? I want to understand. There is no understanding. There are facts. There is an article in the newspaper.
Facts tell nothing. Facts are not reason, reasons. I want no more I do not understand, no other things. Death. There must be I will know.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my blood
This is now. I’m growing cold. The rain drenches me; I feel my bones beneath my skin. Crosses and cannons, cold stones and soaring cottonwoods; fall brings death. What the hell am I doing here anyway. Catching a chill. What fucking good is this, to anyone, to a ghost, a shadow dancer
How sweet it is to be
walking. My best friend beside me, the only one who understands. Coming from the flower shop. Just off the bus, long stem rose in my hand, and I see. Police. Vans. Lights. Reporters that smell like vulture feathers and flashing and whirling and buzzing that makes me sick with vertigo and I wonder–no, I don’t; I just stop. I don’t want to go any farther. I don’t want to go inside the club if the girls are being busted by vice squad pigs again for taking off their clothes, I don’t want to be aggravated today I just want to see Jo and I go to the bartender who’s standing by the door and give him the flower, tell him it’s for Joni. His eyes drop. I walk away and the Channel 11 reporter chases after me to see if–no, no, no I don’t no I want no what happened, no one knows. And then I am sick.
And I am dumb And I am dumb to tell
An hour. I was supposed to be here already and the knowledge whatever it is provokes the hero fantasy, how would I there have been, have done there what I might have seen, have felt knowing I can’t know, cannot no–the thought, my head seeing through the darkness it comes and the smoke and the naked twisting bodies and the evil gleam screaming shudder sick the glint of the muzzle as he puts–
it out–now. Shut it out. No feeling. I will not feel. I must won’t. Goddamn her couldn’t she see, couldn’t she see, couldn’t she see me didn’t she know why no more, no it wasn’t just words, no just gestures, no just looking, just dance, just pretend–just–just hold me.
The bar the bars–her little cage, she called it
Oh bars of my own body, open, open! The world goes by my cage and never
never said. Only knew. Only felt, wordless, too pure for words to say, for each other wordless so many–so many times, questions, so many I cannot.
It could not be that any other way. This is it. So perfect, so ugly this, could only be the work of goddamned gods, caprice, exterminating god oh God I cannot scream to recreate it all a hundred times how it must could not have happened, gun to her head as she pleaded I have two children praying to godless god oh God I love you Jo I love you don’t now you no don’t die not now when my hands are finally open when it’s my birthday for god’s sake and I am so–
Dumb. No anger. Unable to scream, only sit detached here. There are no flowers here for you, except the one I hold taste blood upon my tongue then it passes. There are bells. I am almost.
And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
I sit here eyes closed, drops of liquid frost slating down my face. I will not cannot cry anymore. Only think: I think of the curvature of your hips I drew so often on my canvas but never held. I draw again, my fingers scrawling a heart my heart as a child scratches pictures of his happy family in crayon on oatmeal paper. I close my eyes not to see you absent, your beautiful form no longer iced with sensual sweat but only love.
How sweet it is to be loved by you
Almost now. Another shiver, another release. Something about balm in Gilead, if there be balm for mere dancers, victims blamed and mothers of two children, and then are the bells.
But now go the bells and we are ready; In one house we are sternly stopped To say that we are vexed at her brown study Lying so primly propped.
We are alone now, finally, if only for this moment. Your brown study astonishes. No thoughts now. Patterns. No sentiment. No description. No reason. No justice. Only irony. Because there can be no other consolation. I cannot linger–I am growing cold. I will be cold as you if I stay.
This bright gold rose with its long green fuse. For you now, as then, as always. Your death may give it life a little longer.
Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net