Black Moons

“It’s so nice to feel good,” she said, and touched herself while she sucked his cock. Strewn over the table were the implements of their game, which had been her game first, and was now his too. Nothing kinky. It was art.

She was Julia; he was Thomas. Her boyfriend was Elliott. It had been Elliott’s idea, the project. There were some things you could only do in New York.

He’d met them first after a private screening of a cut-in-progress of their work, and Elliott and Julia had seemed the perfect hipsters: hipsters from a time before it was a pejorative term, Village people from before it was a gay rock band, when it was just people in their Village and their art. Even though this was 2005.

In her black, and her pageboy school cut, she could have been at home at any art school in Europe, though her contribution to Elliott’s project was more quotidian: she was just the leading lady.

“Black-and-white tells the best stories,” Elliott had told him, high on weed and comfortably ensconced in his room on his favourite pillow. “It softens the edges; makes everything seem more real. But what I want to know, what I’m worried about, is the ending. That’s why I need you.”

“I’ll do what I can,” Thomas had said. Really he was out of his depth, but he couldn’t leave. Elliott’s apartment was its own black and white story.

Mirielle came in, in her characteristic sheer panties and ’80s T-shirt. She had a new haircut and looked depressed; she wandered slowly through the kitchen.

“I can’t seem to find the right salad,” Mirielle said.

“We’ll find you one later,” Elliott said. “Right now we need to shoot.”

She held the book in her hands and propped herself up against the pillows and Thomas began to understand where Elliott was taking the thing: of course, first and foremost to some minds, it was a piece of genius just to take control of these beautiful young women, but Elliott was smarter than that, because he didn’t make them do anything overtly sexual. They just lounged around. Like odalisques, with nothing to do, in a New York hour, on a daddy-funded New York year, and where was the money coming from, anyway? Thomas didn’t want to ask.

“It’s partly a documentary,” Miri had told him when she’d first ushered him upstairs to their apartment. “But also we’re acting. Elliott hasn’t decided yet where the story is going.” Thomas became part of the story. Like a key in a lock, or a beautiful piece of jewellery set into the shoulder of a Roman emperor before an orgy-of-state, he was important.

*

Thomas had found himself stuck with both women, Miri and Julia, with only one umbrella, and rather than be a gentleman and hand it to the ladies he clutched it himself out of fear, and the ladies huddled under it with him, and they were less mobile this way, they stumbled, not too drunk but not sober, on their way back to the apartment.

In 2005 New York had not yet completely died; there was still life in it. That is, even Manhattan could still be dangerous, for brief little windows of the night. But they made it without incident, and Julia held the key between her teeth while Miri clutched the umbrella, and Thomas kissed Julia’s neck dramatically, as an offering, before putting the key into the lock and they made their way up the bruised marble stairs to their apartment.

Inside, a tiny minibar featured the smallest sink Thomas had ever seen, and he splashed water on his face, while Miri slumped sleepily against him.

“We should film this,” said Julia, and she set up their single remaining C-stand and light that they’d “forgotten” to return from the rental, and she clutched their little 3-chip camera with her pale fingers and Thomas caught the mood immediately; he played Elliot for a minute, played the rich boy, and led Miri delicately to their decadent pillows where he lay his head against her breasts and stared forlornly out into space.

“What is it we’re doing, Miri?” he said.

“I haven’t figured it out yet,” she said. “Something to do with a storm. A storm is coming.”

*

Elliott did not mind that Julia had fellated Thomas; or had he noticed? Something in the flicker of Elliott’s eyes told Thomas he had, and that he was forgiven, or even more weirdly, that he was praised, and Elliott hovered close to Thomas around their 1980s-style cocaine table, black mirrors and silver filigree, and told his friend what they were doing:

“I know you’re important for the project, Thomas, you’ve made everything come together. Without you, we couldn’t have finished it.”

They squatted together and stared into the face of Elliott’s silver MacBook, at the cut of the film Elliott had now been editing for six months.

On the screen, their lithe young bodies pirouetted through the apartment, and it was amazing how cinema could turn your own home into a movie set, or maybe that was just Elliott, and whatever went on in his brain.

“It looks beautiful,” said Thomas.

“Thank you, Thomas. I’m so pleased.”

*

In the bygone era of 2005, many things were possible which no longer are. For instance, you could have a loft party and just invite everyone, and no assholes would show up. You could buy cheap liquor from Jersey, and haul it over in a cheap minivan, without getting pulled over by the cops, and yes, even as late as 2005, you could have a party and not everyone would be staring at their cell phones every moment.

Outside, the city lights were like distant funeral processions, but inside Thomas he felt a thaw as a great weight lift from his body – he wasn’t even drunk – the beauty of the women’s faces and the shapes their bodies made in their black and white on the screen filled him with a deep and profound sadness, the kind of sadness that makes careers, that ends movies, and that transforms youth into middle age.

“I love you,” he whispered into Julia’s ear, and she laughed.

Up on the screen, Thomas watched his own face achieve orgasm.

“It’s beautiful,” said one of Julia’s friends. Her name was Dylan.

“It’s kind of cheesy, I know,” said Thomas.

“No, it isn’t,” said Dylan. “It’s beautiful.”

“It’s like I don’t want to leave the film,” Thomas said. “Boy, that sounds weird.”

“I understand. The film is more beautiful than you are. More beautiful than all of us.”

“Yes.”

“Do you have another joint?” Dylan asked.

“Yeah, I was saving it.”

“Save it for me,” she said, and she took his hand and led him out of the apartment, up to the roof, and Thomas realized then that his time in New York was coming to an end, that the beautiful film was now over, and his time with these beautiful people would soon be over too, and he took the young woman’s body in his hands and kissed her in the stairwell.

Up on the roof, through the yellow military haze of the city’s eternal glow, they could just make out three stars.




This is Not My Los Angeles

 This is not my Los Angeles; I don’t have a right to this Los Angeles. My Los Angeles is not right here, where I sleep, and where my things are kept. It’s in books.

 

The bookshelf is the only real thing.

 

The other things are waiting to leave. They don’t know why I am here either. I am an imposter.

 

Even on the street I’m not myself; I only become a man. Ape man, wicked and despairing, grumpy and full of himself, pushing through lines and harrumphing at stop lights, sighing to get old ladies to hurry up at the check-out.

 

It isn’t Los Angeles there either. Not even the taco truck is Los Angeles; that’s Mexico.

 

Los Angeles has not yet arrived. It is still flirting with the idea of arriving, like a young woman, eager to appear fashionably late, and unsure of how late is fashionable.

 

She is waiting.

 

I am not here in Los Angeles; not yet; this is not my story; not yet; we have not committed these awful crimes; not in our city; it is not our doing. Someone else. Blame someone else! It was him! Robin! Before! Before everything. He did it. Let’s forget all about it.

 

Los Angeles doesn’t want secrets. We say we do but we don’t. We want them all to disappear, along with ourselves. We want it to slide into the ocean (which isn’t what our fault does, it travels us to Alaska, you know that), we want it to drown us, eagerly, sexually, under the brimming waves for our solstice and our remembrance and our dance.

 

I’ve seen this Los Angeles; in some other Los Angeles. Some other play like mine, with the bitter old man and the bitter old city and the indifferent world outside of it, smoking cigarettes and watching the sun set. Like a bad movie, overdubbed and scratchy. That Los Angeles is nearby but it isn’t here.

 

This Los Angeles is in books.

 

Where we are flying.

 

I am flying, over Los Angeles, an angel, with eternal wings. I cry great steeds, from my mouth:

 

Pouring over the rain, onto the faces of the children, hooves and hoofbeats tremulous and watery, stoned and fire.

 

Around us mendicants gather with cans of Tecate and gossip, ushering in scenery for our terrifying play, where all the cities within our city shall become as Watts, burnt to a crisp and reborn, as Antigone from her honor, steps into the circle to announce that her blood is dead and she will seek her reward.

 

There is no reward in Los Angeles. We cannot find it here.

 

I keep it out of my room; it has tried to come in. Keep out; there is no reward wanted here. Go to New York with your fancy prizes and gold ribbons, that is for there.

 

This here will not be recorded. No one will photograph it. It exists already, in the slip of your tongue down to your lip, to speak:

 

Like a shaman under the sea of sky, casting bones to deliver the word of god.




Dystopia: Love and Transformation

Photo by bixentro (copied from Flickr)
Photo by bixentro (copied from Flickr)

We make love under the sun in our gas masks; I watch her skin turn pink, then yellow, as I ravish her, as we are ravished by our angry atmosphere.  She climaxes and I observe a blister forming on her shoulder and I hustle us inside, me not finished, but we’re finished, into the de-toxicizer: industrial revolution, love yet and still.

It’s funny, we were survivalists.  The thing about survivalists is, it often makes it harder to survive.  After the revolution, they gassed the forest and they mutated the local biosphere.  Once we came out, we realized we couldn’t leave; our gas masks won’t last that long, although we can recharge them in the basement.

There’s something erotic about the disaster; it makes me think of the nature of evolution, always in fits and starts.  It’s when the big asteroid comes that people start fucking each other big time, ready for the next mutation.  That’s what our little ancient cousins did, once the dinosaurs were through.  We were ready for the next stage: “I wanna be big.”

The trees emit bright-coloured gas, so does the ground.  It’s like everything is bleeding.  We’ll run out of food in a year, but I can hardly think about that now, what I think about is my wife’s body, her beautiful body, I want it to turn colours, I want to meld like a Vulcan into the mind of the angered earth, I want to steam.

The evolution of the breast, what a miracle that was.  Unlike the echidna that just squeezes milk right out of its pores; it’s not too particular where, sans nipple as it is.  The breast, specialized, eroticized, portable, shy, but dignified, like an old Vaudeville star, delivering the footwork even after the audience is dropping into their grave, the breast endorses a reality unlike the one we’ve found ourselves in.  Now the echidna would be better: redundancy is king in a toxic atmosphere, because you never know what might drop off next.

“You didn’t cum,” she says, drying off with the allergen-free towel.

“No,” I say, knowing that she won’t help me sans toxic air, we both seem to need it now, like fucking in public, fucking under the eye of the angry god of Chemical Freedom, Better Living Through Chemistry, GE inside my wife’s twat, and Dupont in my brain forever, it’s gonna be okay.

“I’ll make tea,” she says, and I watch the colours swirl outside the bunker.

***

The clean-up crew came the following month.  Like a toxic avenger set to stun, wading into the peepshow booth, long after all titillation is through, murmuring to themselves in their moon suits.

I wanted to cry, and not with joy.  It was the end.

We couldn’t do it after that.  I’d pour her a glass of wine, and put on some music, in our new apartment, under the artificial ozone generator, above the ruins, but it wasn’t the same, it could never be, and so I left before she would, I knew it was over.

I paint now, in watercolour, I watch the disaster from the windows, and we’ve got a lot of windows, the government doesn’t want us to forget where we’re at, and what we’ve done, and the beauty of it is so tantalizing, and that is the word, you see, Tantalus, who ate the flesh of his own son, albeit by accident, and was condemned to Hades to always see the grapes and never be able to reach them, that’s me, looking down on the cross-breeding mutant heaven, a horrific hard-on in my pants, but only my brush to keep me sane, I paint.

My wife takes other lovers; we don’t bother with a divorce, most have dispensed with marriage altogether in our hermetic community here, there are only 400 of us.  But I know it will never be the same for her either, and this gives me a strange joy.




Love by the Wall

Detail from "The Wedding Dance in the Barn, Pieter Bruegel the Younger
Detail from “The Wedding Dance in the Barn, Pieter Bruegel the Younger

The Margraviate of Brandenburg, Berlin, 1248 A.D.

They are building a wall in the swamp.

“Ever since Albert the Bear this backwater has smelled bad,” said Thomas.

“Albert the Bear?  Since Pribislav too.  It stinks.  It has always been stinking,” said Hermann.

“What is there to wall off?  Nothing.”

“You, you were made to dig a ditch.  Your ancestors were ditch-diggers, too, not like mine, mine were chiefs.”

“And what happened?”

“Therein lies a tale,” said Hermann.

[private]“I’d rather not hear it,” said Thomas.

They are building the wall in the swamp, digging the trench, maintaining the sluices to keep the area dry.  Still, water seeps in.  The wall will never stand for more than a week, but this is where the Rat wants it.

“The Rat can kiss my ass,” said Hermann.

“And it will, when you’re in the stocks.  You think I’ll guard you then?”

“Fraulein, bring us some water!”

The Fraulein lingered near the workers, watching the younger men.

“Fraulein!”

“Get it yourself, lecher!”

The men laughed and Hermann’s face grew dark.  “So I’ll get it myself,” he muttered.

The sky was clear;  autumn lingered richly.  Hermann eyed the Fraulein as he brought the water dipper to his lips.  His wife had left him for a merchant nearly seven years gone now;  he felt like a widow.

The Fraulein was a Sorb, or anyway her grandfathers had been.  The Margraves had brought civilization and the love of Christ to this backwater generations before;  some heathens persisted in their worship.

Hermann walked up behind the woman and whispered in her ear:  “Do you wish it were one of your ringed ditches, the one we dig, little pagan?”

She turned and caught his hand as he reached for her ass.

“You will never come to my bratchina, old man,” she whispered back.

“Then you will not have my lute.”

“You play it badly anyway.”  She frowned but her eyes were fiery;  she was a lonely woman.

“A bad song and a happy hearth,” Hermann replied, and nodded to her, returning to his ditch.

He dug, and he dug.  This ditch was partially ringed too, though not like the sacred groves of the Sorbish people.  Hermann assumed he had some Sorbish blood too;  the Margraves were not particular about peasant marriages, as long as their taxes were paid.

Some said the Fraulein was a whore;  Hermann was old enough to know that a whore waited inside every woman, but for this one it still had not quite yet shown its face.

The priest said this life was part illusion, only a journey towards the greater truth of heaven.  Hermann certainly wanted to meet Jesus ― great men had always fascinated him ― but part of him understood better the obeisances of the Sorbs, the reverence for this green, brown world.


Hermann did not see her for three days.  He spent most of Sunday drunk on mead;  he considered hanging himself.  It was not the first Sunday he had spent this way.

The Margrave grew nervous and demanded stronger walls;  forever uneasy lies the crown, but Hermann’s head rested no easier crownless.  He only seemed to grow more unhappy as the years passed.


He fucked her against the wall the next night, holding her mouth and shoving himself into her, listening with his whole body to every stifled cry the madchen made, feeling great pain even in that act of pleasure, unable to forget that it would not last.  He could not have her forever, and he wanted to.  He wanted to win and own her, to subdue her and tame her, to transform her slavic bitterness into saxon schadenfreude.

He came in her and shouted into the night.


What were the faerie circles, and where did they go, and why?  What spirits still remain?  It was not a joyful traipsing trip through the wood, the older man and madchen, but a wary spell, his steps heavy and hers light, the air and sky alive with the music of the sun.

“Where are you going, woman?  I’m getting tired.”

“Stop complaining!” she shouted as she ran ahead.

As on earth, so it is heaven.  Allegiance to the Pope, to the Holy Roman Emperor, allegiance to the margrave, allegiance to god.  But the women keep the dirk, not in their skirts, but in their minds, slipping under monotheistic hierarchies to swing the cycle out again, to fire their dreams like they fire their cunts, damning any effort to agree on the permanence of kings.

Pan or Innocent IV?  Tiu or Jarilo?

She stripped off her dress and stepped within the grove, the yellow light matching her hair.  Somewhere near, the spirits rustled, moving through her flesh to stir the world.

And what can man know of god, when he has woman?


They never married, though she bore his child.  He named his son Zarek, because he had a strange dream.

I hold you like my own skin, strung out and dangling in my hand, I wish I were dead, he had cried in the dream, holding his son, bleeding, by the wall he had built.


Berlin, the marsh city, felt tired to him.  In his son’s eyes, he saw the fire he had never had.

“Zarek, bring me the beer,” he said, watching his son’s face.  His son did as he was told.  The boy’s mother was out in the woods, doing whatever it was she did when alone and walking and singing to the trees.

“Your mother is a thief, you know.  She stole my heart,” he told his son.  The boy watched him, solemnly.

“Will you worship a German god, or her Slavic ones, boy?”

“Let me have some beer, Da,” the boy said, and the father gave it to him.

The wall did not stop the next margrave who took an interest in Berlin.  Years later, Zarek’s mother left Berlin, without a word, when her son was seventeen.

Zarek took his father’s tools and went east in search of her.

So too did Ing go, long ago, in the age of runes.  A man who went east and drove a knife into a million tongues.  What is a wall to history?

From Ing, England, and one bold man, inside the curl of tongue and logic of language, can inspire friends into worshippers.  What is Man, that we always want avatars in place of hominids?

Zarek never returned to Berlin, not even for his father’s funeral.[/private]