The reasons for the seas were lost in long lines coiled and made into the letters A G C T under our skin. "CAT G?" She asked and laughed. "Like a gansta?" But it was only sort of funny. The clouds kept circling the earth, vultures kept to the deserts and eagles were scarcer and scarcer in America. I saw one once, in a small nest, stuffed and waiting for her egg to hatch. "Momma eagle on a Grecian urn, huh?" But it was not funny.

When we were kids she said, "Heaven is like a white line on white paper," and we thought about that for a while before Bob Dylan came on the readio & told us not to think twice. So we kissed, and I walked back home on the empty night roads for the first time in my life. "Click, click," said the traffic lights. Later I would spend many nights on Walnut Street, high and hungover, listening to the lights after a day of school and talking calmly to pedophiles. What was their reason? And what about their victims?

Can you spell evil with four letters?

"L-I-V-E," said Tommy. "I LIVE in a house."

Good job, Tommy. What else can you spell?

"Lots of things!"

Then he would be alright. The ones who worried me were the bad spellers, the kids who didn't know where they lived and couldn't tell you who lived with them anyway. Like Marshall.

"Oh, you're always thinking about Marshall," she said. "Marhsall Marshall Marshall." Then she looked sad. I don't blame her, though. I try to be present, try to stay in the HERE and NOW and not the SOMEWHERE back THEN, or worse, wander off into A LONG TIME AGO...

Can you spell LIVE?

"Nah, I no good at spellin."

What are you good at?


You want to rap for me?


You sure?

"Mmn, ok." "Freestyle. You write it for me?" Marshall's eyes were very white, and he did not smell very good.

You want me to write down what you say?

"Mmn, yeah. Ready?"



All I need in this world is my bitch, my bitch
My glock nine, my fo five
My shotgun, I'll kill you nigga

All I need in this world is my bitch, my bitch
My glock nine, my fo five
My shotgun, I'll kill you nigga


"Wait, you wrote that down for him?" She looked worried. I didn't know Marshall was stealing from someone, a grown man who got paid plenty for the rhymes I made him change. When we spelled out the new words togther, Marshall tried his best to sound them out; but he didn't have the same letters in his brain, they weren't hooked up to sound like A is A and G is G. So mostly I did the spelling. Later, you know, later he---

"I know, Adam, I know." And took my hand.

She already knew this story.


Sometimes our memories circle round us and we are in the desert; sometimes we circle around them. The egg won't hatch, it's made of plaster, and anyway there is no Momma Eagle, no Grecian Urn, and truth is not the reason for the sea or what one man does to a boy with his body, or through the radio, or in a quiet office 17 floors above a street named for a beautiful tree. "You're nuts about walnuts," she said.

And that, we both agreed, was really funny.

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