The Film

An unidentified flying object crashes through the Statue of Liberty and buries itself in Manhattan. The night it hits the island's financial district, kids are having a party on the roof of an apartment building nearby. They are in their 20s, successful, and mostly beautiful. While filming the party, one kid catches sight of the object as it burns through the atmosphere, flies directly through the Statue of Liberty's head, and disappears out of sight.

"Oh my God, oh my God," he says.


The film recovered and sold to a production company in Los Angeles. "The sound is all out of sync," the director says. "We can see the collision before we hear the crash." The chief sound editor nods and takes notes. "And the dialogue is wrong. I want to hear that guy--" He points to one of the successful, particularly beautiful kids -- "I want to hear him crystal clear. Bring down the camera man and bring him up, you understand?"

The chief sound editor is insulted by the question. "I know what the fuck I'm doing. I've been doing it for two decades, studied with the best, and worked for men whose vision would grab your puny mind and BLOW IT AWAY. Whereas you, on the other hand, haven't made a picture worth watching since your mom taped your very first bowel movement." He doesn't say this. Instead:

"No problem."


Progress is good. There are a few snags in post-production -- some dialogue needs to be replaced and it is difficult to track down the kids from the party. The successful, particularly beautiful kid who has become the lead of the film is in fact missing. His parents have filed a report with the police, and his picture is posted downtown along with many others not seen since that night. In a press conference, the mayor states that there are "no known connection at the time" between the recent surge of disappearances and the crash, though he assures the public that the federal government in cooperation with state and local officials are doing all they could to ensure everyone's safety.

Fortunately technological advances in the field make it possible and even cost-effective to recreate the lead actor's lines synthetically, which pleases the director, though it leaves the chief sound editor with many extra late-night hours during an already over-long week. But his work is good. He is able to clear up almost half of the kid's lines, and there is agreement amongst his team that the synthetic lines are quite good, and in some cases delivered better.


The media blitz begins as construction and police vehicles quarantine the area of the crash.

"You can't buy this kind of publicity," the director says, watching the crews work on the screen as all over the city billboards and other print ads go up. The marketing team is experimenting with a new form of ad: a projector beams the film's central image -- the Statute of Liberty -- onto the wall inside the Union Square subway station. As commuters pass by, they interrupt the projection, triggering an image of the Statue crumbling so that it appears their own shadow is knocking down the Statute. It is similar to the ad a major broadcasting station used for their news show -- "Just amped up a bit," explains the director. He is excited; it seems as if forces beyond his control have conspired to make this film a undeniable comeback from what he is not quite ready yet to identify as a slump. He goes to bed with the TV on.


New Year's Eve comes and goes quietly in New York City.


January 2008: the film opens to number one at the box office and word of mouth is good. The crash site remains quarantined, though clean-up is delayed due to a sharp spike in sick days taken by the crew. Everyone comes out saying, "It reminded me of 9/11," and there is almost universal praise for the leading man. In the harbor it is only a matter of days before boats will be able to recover the Statue's head. There is debate over whether it can be re-attached, or if not, perhaps rendered holographically.

Sound moves slower than light, which is why you see a collision before you hear it, though it is SOP for sound editors to correct this for movie audiences.




The library is fifty-seven floors. Each floor has twenty-seven thousand books. There are two librarians and they do not speak common languages. They speak a compilation, indeed it is an entire catalogue, of languages and their variants learned from patterns in knowledge dispersal as best evidenced between levels Sixteen and Forty-One. Levels above forty-one are mathematical in theory but generally border on existential Marxism—which, evidently, is an elaborate form of post-conceptual materialism. There is one entrance to the library and there is one exit to the library. There is no elevator in the library and it is exceedingly difficult to locate the stairs. The examination to enter the first floor and then proceed into the adjoining stacks (complete with common learning theory, common exploitation techniques, etc) is simple in presentation and requires minimal empirical discourse. Librarian one—her actual self-imposed label has matured into a rather odd combination of Freudian sculpture and Copernican absolutism (spheres and whatnot)—administers the examination according to appointment and general appearance. While the further stretches of the rabid pursuit of idea and imagination demand complete absence and discipline and abstinence (for the perfected route into a reckless and horrific unknown), the commencement indicates a pleasant demeanor and a likeness to predecessors. Librarian one responds encouragingly and without question to those appropriately perceived. Perhaps due to her refusal to engage in common language, and her insistence that it is embarrassingly poor in conception and inadequately detailed to effectively pursue the greatest effort of any grand collection. [….. However insightful the above tangent may appear, all hypotheses have been extrapolated from theoretical conjecture. Any progress to dissect and decode the librarian language has successfully failed…..] The initial examination, thereby, is rarely physically administered due to its “Magnetic Navigation Identity”: those with attraction are ushered past the rolling gates and onto the first floor of the library.


From the distance it is clearly a building. It is clearly fifty-seven floors and it is complete with windows and visible stairwells behind tinted windows. The color of the building is gray but it is not depressing. The library is surrounded by gardens and trees and animals and children playing jump rope and other types of children games. On the inside, it is a place of immaculate chaos. The shelves and the rows are neatly kept. There are numbers on the bindings of books but there is no visible system. The pursuit of perfected knowledge is not a choice, is not a recognizable skill, is not an asset to the community.


I am nothing without the gift of transcendence and without the knowledge of perfection of absolutes and of observance in accordance with the great spirit of survival. And in this nothing that I continue to pursue I am a little too often consumed by the ephemeral dissonance of no man speak. There is no knowledge in just the knowledge of it.


And yet, I do not understand it.


Later, as the evening turns into the softer night, the quieter night, I am locked once again, beside Library one. She is counting, I believe. And there is a subtle hum of the electrical lights and the soft pattering of feet, maybe even Eskimo feet, up the rows of absolute harmony and the difference between the outside, the external world of expedition and the internal world of expedition begins to bleed and become, ever slightly, only an imagination deprived of chaos, challenge, and drowning. I am not afraid of drowning, I whisper, only whisper, but it is too much and I have taken in too much water and I am dead.


But, at least, for a moment, I was yet fearless, cocooned inside the institution where even the inhabitants do not waste breath.


Japarta has eaten so much there is nothing left for anyone else to eat. The people complain. They say, "Please, spare us something, we are hungry!" But Japarta does not listen. He has long ago grown too fat to get feed himself; he needs the people to do it for him. They bring him pigs and goats, hamburgers, wheelbarrows full of Coke. Some do it because they hope to get a little bit in return (they don't); but most are afraid that he will eat them.

Since 1972, Japarta has eaten some 500,000 men and women. Because he feels hunger differently, Japarta is in too much pain to pay close attention during meals. Sometimes he has eaten whole families, still in their clothes, and all their photographs and souvenirs and diaries. It is hard for everyone else to remember them.

"It was not always this way," says one woman to her daughter. "Before Japarta began to eat so much, he was a general. They called him the smiling general, because he always smiled and waved at the people whenever he came by."

"Why did he take all our food?" the girl asks. Her mother sighs.

"No one knows, honey. No one knows."

That night the girl, who has brown eyes, cannot sleep. Her stomach is growling, the bread her mother snuck her that morning dissolved away. She looks to the window where the night sky is coming on full of stars. "I wish there were more food to eat," she says, "for Mom and everyone."


In the morning people all over the world wake up to find there are twice as many pigs in the pen as there had been the night before. So it is with goats, and hamburger patties, and even the Coke containers have doubled in size. No one knows what to make of it, and for the first time in a very long time so people begin to feel hopeful. The girl's mother comes running to wake her up.

"Look! Look! The refrigerator is full!" They go and look inside. The girl has never seen the refrigerator have any food in it, and yet this morning in the white light there are fruits and vegetables and meat she has never seen.

"Mom! I made a wish last night and it came true!" Her mother hugs her and thinks about all the wishes she has made over the years and laughs. "Let's get you something to eat."

But Japarta wakes up that morning in the world and feels hungrier than ever. It is excruciating. His doctors, who scrape his arteries and perform enemas once a day, have told him that the problem is neurological in origin. Privately, they wonder if he suffered a traumatic brain injury during his younger days in the service. He begins moaning, a deep wail that disrupts the air and shakes the wall of his home. "Where is my food?"

The people who brought him his meals hoping to get scraps do not come -- "Why bother," they ask, "when we have so much food now?" Japarta, waiting for them, suddenly realizes that they were fair-weather friends at best. Loneliness sets in on top of his hunger, and the pain is too much. It builds up inside him and comes out as a sound unlike anything ever heard before. It sends the air rippling in concentric circles all around his body, and out into the world.

Everyone is eating breakfast. The people who bring him his meals laugh, relieved of their obligations, no longer afraid that Japarta will come to eat them. "There is so much food now," they said, "it is impossible he will need to come for us." That is when the wave and explodes their walls to plaster and dust. Everyone in Japarta's home is killed instantly. Every window, every pair of eyeglasses on the continent shatters. Across the seas water is lifted from the ocean and raised into waves that crash on the beaches and shore cities and towns already weakened by decades of hunger. The houses that once held families long forgotten come crashing down.

Some miles from the sea the girl with brown eyes feels a faint rumbling in the earth. "Mom, what's that noise?" They look out the window and see in the distant a great wall of water, full of fish and doors and glass, coming their way.


What does it mean, to make a wish? Japarta has often wished, in the precious few peaceful seconds after a meal, to feel that way forever: sated. People all over the world have wished for food, cures for loneliness, someone or something to hope for. Before Japarta came and ate so much history there was memory of other great unfairnesses: children in cattle cars, diamond dealers taking limbs, unstoppable disease. What could a wish mean in a world where someone is willing to eat it all up?


They watch as the wave hits the shore. Already people were running down the streets, away from the wave and past the house where the mother and her daughter look on from the window. "We have to go. Now," she grabs the girl and they run out the door and into the terrified mob.

"Where are we going," shouts the girl. She cannot hear her reply over the sound of shouts and the rumbling in the earth. Her mother grips her hand tightly. It is a beautiful afternoon sky. Above the bobbing heads the girl sees the moon, already visible above the horizon. She is crying. She doesn't understand why this is happening, or what it meant for her wish to come true if the next day the ocean came and took everyone away. "I wish it would all go back to being normal!" She thinks, hot tears and wind on her face.

As the wave gets closer, the noise of the crowd gets louder and some people fall and shout as they are trampled. The sound in the girl's ears is so much she can't help but try to cover them, and so in an instant she is separated from her mother. Frantically she searches the faces as she runs but they are all strangers, terrified but unfamiliar; so she cries aloud too because it hurts and that's when the air is moved just so.

A vacuum opens where the air had been. Now the cries and tired breaths of the running people open up so many vacuums that the air comes rushing back to fill it, and this happens over and over again until it becomes pattern, which is a wave; and the wave travels back over their heads and makes a sound like nothing anyone has ever heard as it rushes toward the water. For a perfect second there is no noise anywhere in the world at all before the two waves collide and form a standing wave, with one end fixed on Japarta, the other on the girl with brown eyes, and which will spin in place for rest of their lives.


SOTU (Abridged, of course)


Evasive, perhaps, stoic, balding eye shadows, mimicking a priest, a preacher, a church—at once, and once again. The repetitive nature of the thin, mildly attractive figure head, striding recklessly through doldrums, through gasps, through and back again: to home. We made it home, she remarks, casually, as though the cause, and yet again, the future, existed in turn by chance and yet by destined monologues. We create the future and the tomorrow. There is an odd and unfortunate miscalculation in the culture of the modern era, he says. He being partially responsible to her. Is it irresponsible? That would, again by vague definitions, demand importance, and, yes, the future again would become, would be, vital, necessary, important to us and to them, to both of them. It is an odd conversation, a discourse of synonyms, many many synonyms, doubled over metaphors, English class in the second year, maybe the first year, define in like terms. No, mathematics class. They were together, right next to one another and, he admits frequently, the second class, the later class proved to have better attendance better commitment and co-operation. I enjoy co-operation. The faculty board switched models, mathematics, science. Yet, as modeling continues, he is speaking about the past. I don’t even think he is considered the president, really, not really. The county has given up on him, allowed him to meander the gardens unbothered. There is another scenario, brewing, carefully concocted, in senate situation rooms. Evasive, always, but its relevance is minimal, un-noteworthy. Sleepless and rash caricatures, then, eventually, acceptance. It is enough that there are men, even women, dead in the street on the south side of second and Wabash. Bleeding because they were shot in the heart. Twelve of them bleeding out of the heart, modern suicide, social suicide, one against the other, looking alike, acting alike, not alike. There is still so much good things to say, and being partially included in the modern perspective, in the next great society, and never inattentive, somewhat cautious, he concludes with great care, glee and abandon: there is not a time that is unlike the greatest and the least greatest of these times.


It is Bartleby, the scrivener. I think I’d rather not.


Everywhere, it is, you see, he admits. It isn’t of any significance, none at all, not any longer, everything, all of that over there, is something else, something that we cannot even begin to detail, not yet. When the old habit of observing the universe finally broke down, when the man with the hat at the center eventually scoffed: it is a miracle that these little creatures do not care much about anything but forward—forward, forward. You’d think, maybe once in a while, stopping would be revolutionary.


I think I’d rather not.

Saying No

But why bother? If everything dies -- and too soon at that -- then shouldn't we just say yes?

Coming home yesterday to a particularly spectacular sunset I saw two men stopped on the sidewalk, looking west. I thought to myself: yes, yes to that! And when I got closer and notcied they were watching someone get beaten in the parking lot across the street, well, then yes to that, too. And the bag of weed you left could easily become a week's worth of lost thoughts. "There's nothing wrong with it," a therapist told me once, "it's just that it may be better to leave that private world now and then, to come out and join the rest of us."

But if we all said yes... why then it could be a community of private worlds! all rubbing shoulders and bumping elbows on wild train rides away from work, up from the tunnels and into the sun..."I quit" on everyone's lips... where kids can do their subway sports while the rest of us cheer them on or pull a gun saying "I have had enough." What a party it will be! Let there be music you love, and art; and let the moment last like that forever like the heat coming off our bodies, 24 hour party people, let there be no difference between you and me, no discrimination, no distinction, just the Universal Yes washing over to take us out to sea.

What the sea does not remember, we will not remember. And we will stay that way, adrift, until some God comes down from the sky to cleave us with his sword and so start creation again with a single word.



Every night he comes home wanting to write about the rings around the moon. But it is impossible. So he quits smoking, learns to cook a few more meals, makes plans. Keeps them. At best, it is multilayered -- a beautiful, shifting mass of relationships unfolding and folding up again, where nothing is ever lost. At worst, everything is lost. Face pressed against the bed in the dark.

I myself have taken up several new hobbies; sworn off collecting things; and exercise regularly. Two thousand and eight feels good. I find a few minutes of hope on the TV each day. It gets easier to tell the garbage from the soil -- the garbage really stinks.

But there remains the problem of the moon. And women. How does one learn to love? he asks himself. I can hear him through the wall. Should I tell him the question is flawed? "The truth is a pathless wood," someone said, and so I resist the urge to hang up signs. But...

The ring is the light of the sun reflected across the moon's surface and back to us by the clouds. At best, it is everything. At worst, it is something that happened three sentences ago, before the words move him to sleep where he dreams of a blank white page, folding and unfolding, into a perfect, paper flower.


Sweet 'N Low

The economy needs stimulation. "I will do it," Anne says, and she disappears in the bedroom. We watch on the webcam. Her technique is good, admirable even, but the economy is not satisfied. Anne leaves looking worse for the wear, and the stock market plummets.

Richard says, "That would have worked for me... did you see those hands?" We don't know what to do. The economy is listless as ever. "Maybe someone younger?" George ask. Ah, that is a good idea. Richard sends for his daughter, Lynn, but she won't cooperate. So he sits her down.

"Lynn, baby, darling, it is just like saying the Pledge of Allegiance. You like that feeling, don't you? When your heart gets so proud? It is just like that. Your civic duty. Go on and make the economy feel better."

But she still refuses. I try to remember what I was like at that age, but it is like pushing on a door that says PULL TO OPEN. So he sends for some men, and they take her, kicking and screaming to the bedroom.

"I don't want to watch," says Richard, who does not leave. The webcam has night vision so everything looks incandescent and green, as if it were happening on some alien place like Mars, and not in the bedroom. It is a little heart-breaking. At first the economy is disinterested, and keeps his eyes unwavering from the TV screen. Then Lynn must make a noise and startles him -- we can't hear anything -- because abruptly he looks at her and there is a flicker of something on his face we haven't seen for a long while. The economy gets up and moves toward her.

"It's working!"

Not surprisingly, there are complaints. A phone call from the Church -- yes, they are watching the broadcast and they've seen enough. George says, "I'll handle this," and tries Richard's Pledge of Allegiance speech. "Idiot," hisses Richard, "can't he try a novel solution for once?" George comes back waving the phone at us, looking a little frantic. "They say we're going to burn for this unless we stop it now!" Meanwhile the economy, which had been going strong, is starting to look like he needs a little boost.

I decide to give it a try, and take the phone from George. I ask, what's the problem.

"The problem, sir, is that there larger, ethical issues at stake here. You and your group are clearly not thinking about the majority of citizens who have come to association a certain style of conduct with our organization, and this broadcast will likely confuse them into thinking we are responsible for it."

I see, so it is a trademark issue.

"Indeed, sir, a trademark issue. This is about protecting the citizens of this country from any action unintentional or otherwise which will impair their ability to navigate the marketplace."

Forgive the analogy, but when a citizen reaches for a small pink packet of artificial sweetener, he expects Sweet 'N Low.

"Exactly, sir, exactly."

I realize I know what must be done, and am pleasantly surprised to realize that without guile or planning, I am in a position to please the Church and advance our cause. Perhaps I will be an important man after all.

Everyone is watching the screen and the mood is grim. Make way! I shout. "What are you doing, are you crazy?" George asks. I look at him, turn, and open the bedroom door.

At first it is strange to see the room in its natural color. Without the green tint, I realize that it could be any bedroom at all, really; in fact, it looks familiar, maybe from a long time ago, maybe even one I've slept in. I can't remember. The economy has his back turned to us, Lynn is crumpled by the door-frame, making small noises. The economy is weeping angrily. "I will be never been good enough." Very quickly, in one continuous motion, I pull the plastic off the tip off the syringe and jab it into the economy's left upper thigh.

He screams.

I have heard it said by scientists that there are two kinds of infinity -- the one the universe expands towards, and the one that comes after the collapse. I look into his eyes and am knocked back into myself as the door I was pushing on swings open. I was much younger. I felt my cheeks hot with tears and an awful burning in my chest as my father, God rest his soul, gently lifted me off the floor and said, "Don't cry, my boy, my son. It is just pride you're feeling in your heart. You did your duty, and now you can go through the rest of your life knowing you made this country better for all of us."

And as the economy rebounds with great vigor, I suddenly feel a hunger in my gut and wonder ow it could ever be satisfied.



When Bobby's father died it was my job to take him to the river. I was an APPLIED BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE SPECIALIST. I worked closely with the mentally retarded men and women under my care, formed relationships with them, and entered data about their progression in the proper book. Bobby's goals were (1) to adaptively response to feelings of anger; and (2) extinguish urinating in the hamper.

He was doing well with both when a staff member accidentally told him his father had passed away. It was not the fault of the staff member, who was unaware of the family's request to not tell Bobby about the death. They felt Bobby was not in a good place to handle it, and assured us that they would in fact tell him when THE TIME WAS RIGHT.

He locked himself in his room for three days before I walked him down to the Harlem River, where I told Bobby he could say goodbye to his father (in fact, his cremated remains were scattered in the Atlantic Ocean; the father was a fisherman as well as an alcoholic; or so I am told; I never met him).

"My father's in the water?"

I explained to Bobby what it meant to be cremated, and how his father wanted to go back to the sea with the fish he spent his life catching. I asked him if he wanted to say goodbye.


The team agreed that Bobby, whose IQ measured a developmental delay approximating the intelligence of a six-year-old, depended HEAVILY ON RITUAL to mark transition. He particularly loved church on Sundays, and looking at comics of Superman.


In Jerusalem, centered underneath the Temple Mount in a place called the Holy of Holies, lies the Foundation Stone. It is the rock from which God pulled out the world. Adam, whose name means "earth" and "made", was formed from the Foundation Stone. Abraham was to sacrifice his son there, and later, a piece was broken off to form the Ten Commandments.

The only time the stone was moved was when God lifted it and let the waters come out to flood the world and drown everyone but those on board Noah's ark.


There had been a misunderstanding.

"My father! Where are you! MY FATHER!"

People on the platform were moving away from Bobby, who was shouting himself hoarse into the river. He looked at me.

"Why won't he come?"

I was in a precarious situation. Bobby's grieving process, and his belief system, was his own, and far be it from to tell him how to communicate with the deceased fisherman. On the other hand, I had failed to make clear something ESSENTIAL ABOUT THE SITUATION, and was concerned that Bobby may jump into the river to find his father. So I compromised with a suggestion.

"Why don't you talk to him like you do in church?"


Bobby's Prayer:

"Oh my father my father help us my father my superman it's me Bobby please my father my father help me superman it's it's me it's Bobby..."

Bobby prayed aloud for thirty minutes. The sun was caught and reflected back from the river. A small boat full of passengers touring the island of Manhattan slowly drifted by.

"I see him!"

There were an unusual number of seagulls in the sky that day, I remember.

"Look! You see!"

Had he jumped in, it would have been very difficult to explain the situation to the team.

"Ah my father... I knew you would come!"

He waved at his father in the water. The boat full of passengers, delighted, waved back.

"See! I knew he would come."

He smiled.


In Israel I visited the graves of Holocaust victims buried near King David's tomb. His son, Solomon, finished building the temple there in 950 BCE. David could not, because "his hands were blooded". The temple would house the Foundation Stone.

An early Christian source noting Jewish attachment to the rock may be found in the Bordeaux Pilgrim, written between 333-334 CE, which describes a “…perforated stone to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart.”

According to Islamic tradition, angels visited the Foundation Stone two thousand years before Adam was created. They believe it is here that the angel of the trumpet, Israfil, will BLOW THE LAST HORN when Resurrection Day arrives.


Bobby and I took the longer way home, up Bailey Avenue, which was littered with trash from the highway.

You're my friend, right?

"Of course I am, Bobby."

You take care of me, okay?

"Don't worry about it Bobby.  You're a good guy."

"I'm a good guy."

"That's right."

After that I stopped logging in data for Bobby, and all my other residents. Then I quit the agency and left social services for good. Upon my father's advice, I spent some time in Israel, and when I came back he asked me what I planned to do next. I didn't know, though I am glad he asked.



The traffic lights in the state are long, slow to change, and there are few sirens, except for in the northern territory, between the New Delbourn Deli and Creighton Elementary School, yes, there are quite a few sirens there, even after dark, even late into the night. There are murders there, men stabbing women in the stomach, men shooting men in the face. They get violent and impatient there. It is poor and rundown and it is scary. I know a lot of people who make a lot of racists comments about those people, about the people who live in those neighborhoods. But I don’t. Not really. I was told differently. But they the ones shooting people, Darryl said once, in June, after school was let out for the summer and we were warned by the Vice Principle, not to wander over there, not to ask questions or answer questions on our way home. Just head straight home, children.

Generally, though, in the other parts of the county, the men and women are tall, unremarkable, dry. They have grown accustomed to waiting, sitting, wandering. They don't own a particularly patient disposition or a spiritual conquest, no, they are rather just exhausted from exhaling and now is the time for the un-being. I suppose theirs is one destined to be a fruitless journey to the aftermath: when is just IS. Now, they wait, resigned to the long greens, the long reds. Perhaps, theirs is even an evolved boredom, streaming out of a continually and historically overlooked and missed (not dismissed) population. Maybe, I don't know. Sure, lineages are vague and uninformative. But the population here never kept any of them. And they did not ever receive national attention. They weren’t quite impressive enough or disenfranchised enough to gather media attention, platform dialogues, or shouts and cries and great proclamations of social injustice. But there has always been a creeping illness to their anxiety, to their poise, to their hunching. There is a deep unhappiness and judgment that is carrying them into the tomb, begging them to become the IS, the ever IS. I don't trust people like that. I don't like them very much either. At least those people in the northern territores don't stare like they are zoo animals, I told Daryl. But we still didn't ask any questions.

The perfected place, as proposed by the mediocrity, encapsulated neatly in an ironic pretense (an academic discussing spirituality), is an active contentment. A satisfaction, a knowing satisfaction, with the world. A continual acceptance. The transients, the vagrants, the hobos, who come in and out of this world, indeed, venture recklessly and continuously through this vision, this reality, are outcasts, non-thinkers. They do not belong, however appropriate their ephemeral presence may be. The IS, I was told, must be achieved through Study. Careless chance, idiotic turns, haphazard motion, even modern dance, could never extrapolate the hidden horror and glamour of the IS. This was our education, later. After history. Few of us really understood it. It was more abstract and less useful and immediate. I don't know. I suffocated the day after I learned that the true nature of perfection is study and not acceptance—or perhaps acceptance through study and not accidental perfection. I cannot remember. It is a difficult notion now. You see, for me, the eventual and ultimate spiral into the IS, into the disdain for myself and my failed attempts at fatherhood, was drug use. I harbored relationships with law enforcement, bartered pathetic and unjust exchanges. Yes, for freedom. And I plunged deep into the sordid periphery of beauty, the outside glare at the inside. I was, once, in a dangerous place and I did not ever return.

At moment's end, there were four of us watching the sunset over the Cascades in July. It was a single moment, then, and it was captured by each one of us as a single moment. But there is only ever one authentic arrival at the IS, one experience that is not corrupted by fraudulent philosophy, arcane ideals, or clever illusion. And there was only one of us who launched—fully unclothed, lathered in his skin like a child of the universe, embraced as the incarnate man, and seen to plunge far into the abyss of the mountain, the smoke of the blue water river—from and forever, the world that is no longer what might be, but only ever what IS.


How The World Ends

I am not a receptacle for your feelings. I am a human being, there is a penis that hangs between my legs, and a heart in my chest.

Today In the world we can be certain of very few things: there is a girl kidnapped in Europe who will not sleep well tonight; a gunshot delivered to the back of the head will at best cause brain damage; and a young actor in Soho will leave his young actress wife and daughter, move to Manhattan, and quietly kill himself. The masseuse will find him.

This is not all we know. But I mention these facts, and not others, because you seem to have confused me with yourself.

In Gaza they are sleeping without power tonight. "Thank the Israelis," say the Palestinians, candles bobbing up and down in dark. "Thank their rockets," say the Israelis, and they go to work or the Wall or to King David's tomb to cry for where God can hear them. Did you know there is a stone underneath the Wall from which God pulled the Universe? At night American cameras catch the sight of so many candles in the street. In the darkness you can't tell whose hand holds what.

So there are many ways to forget yourself. Once I kissed a hand in bed only to find it was mine. How different that is than strapping a bomb to your chest to blast yourself through the warm bodies of other humans. Sunlight hanging for a instant in a suspension of lungs, livers, hearts and bones. Then who cares whose hand is whose? The journalist couldn't even tell it was a hand until he got close. Back in the States he tells the story over drinks, dinner, a taxi ride uptown. "It is hard to be back," he says, watching Manhattan flash like teeth.

See how he gives it away, into the air? Did you forget that words are complex patterns of pressure on the fragile ear? It takes sixteen still pictures flashed in a second to convince your eyes you saw someone moving out there. Computers must gather forty four thousand one hundred snapshot of sound before you hear my voice telling you:

Today In the world we can be certain of very few things: several nesting swans survived the sunrise, a man in the Bronx did not make it to the hospital in time, and the young actor left behind a bottle of pills, a movie, and a daughter. We don't know what happened to the girl. And yet you talk on as if it were not so, as if these things happen to other people, as if you had a good reason to strap a thousand words to your chest and light the fuse.

Don't make me build a wall.

The Whole World

There is the line that is no longer the sky, it is no longer a line, it is not anything at all, it is just a mark, a dot, now it is nothing at all. There is no longer the sky. The sky is like a line, Harrison says at midnight and then he is suiciding himself, against his better wishes, against her intentions, against both their plans, he is suiciding himself, he is not even sure if that is correct. It is painful to cut the skin, below the palm, in straight lines. It is painful without water, without warm water. You were supposed to get in a bath, Molly says. She is joking, she is making laughs about all of this. I can’t even remember seeing the sky, he thinks and he is certain, most certain, that he has not seen the sky in at least three days. She is stubborn like that. But it does hurt. The blade is brown, red, rusting. Like it will matter, she had scoffed, yes, indeed, scoffed. And if it did, well, then the infection would kill him and he would at least succeed. But he is not certain, not really certain if it is appropriate for him, indeed proper, for him to suicide. It was, at noon, in October, the day that he forgot about the universe, about the vacuum, about the around and around and bang and splatter of the world, the whole world—I mean all of it. He forgot about it at noon. Time was broken into specific segments after that: how to complete this, how not to do this, why this is important and very valuable for success. I am successful, he even voices to Sandy. Sandy is his therapist. She is forty-seven and plump, no, not fat, plump, like peach cobbler makes a woman plump. It is very impressive to be successful, she suggests and writes notes, but the notes are actually circles and the circles signify sex. At least that is what Mr. Gary tells her. Mr. Gary is her therapist, a professional psychotherapist. She is violating her ethics to improve her business in being supremely ethical. It is really common practice. Mr. Gary is not permitted to discuss patients or patients of patients for that matter (if patients were to have patients, like Sandy). But this is not the sky and this is certainly not remembering the sky. This is forgetting the sky, ignoring the sky, there is no line that is the sky. That is what he said, indeed, intoned, early, after the sun was a little bit up, a little bit up over the evergreens. See? Yes, see, he did see the sky—you did see the sky, you brat, Molly said, aggressive. No, it is ever so painful to kill yourself, Harrison admits to himself in the mirror. There are little tributaries of his blood falling into the sink and squirming down the drain, like in the movies. No, it is really too painful, and besides, there may, at some time, after all, be another time for him to see the sky, for him to see the line that is the sky and to remember it all is worth waiting. Worth waiting to suicide, at least until it is really impossible to see the line that is the sky at all. But at that point, I mean really, he would be already suicided.


We walked in the woods while it snowed. This much is historical fact. I myself remember the trees, the compass, and the blizzard. She remembers forgetting her glasses, and that I guided her home. At the time I didn't say it, but something came through the snow and touched my soul awake. That part is speculation. Later I would wish for machines to test my hypothesis. "Beauty seizures," I called them, and wanted them measured like the enlightened monks who sat in airless chambers while scientists watched them put their hearts to sleep.

Later that night I told her how the snow erased the difference between the trees and the leaves and the ground and me. She remembers me saying "I love you." But I never said it. Did I? I remember she wanted to hold my hand -- this was a bright spring day on the grounds of the church -- and I didn't want to. When I gave in she said, "See, doesn't this feel good?"

The machines showed a flat line. But when he stepped out the chamber, he reportedly felt quite fine.


Mom will die and Dad and then--- this is not news to anyone. I try not to read the paper, though sometimes in the train I forget and suddenly my head is full of rape and death. This is no way to commute. Then the world goes on. Sunset in the evening, the distant glow of cellphone lights in the park. Sometimes I come up from the underground and see the sky. I mean really see it. Mom will die and Dad and then there will be clothes to keep, or give away; closets to explore. What if I find his porn collection? The weed he didn't finish? Should I smoke it with my sisters, high together at last, and sad? I wish the stars would rearrange themselves and spell out their names. Then death would be fair -- no matter how he lived, whether she got the job she wanted or not, the sky would announce them forever as RICHARD and WENDY. Just above my head. So close I could almost touch--

This is not news to anyone, but I love them. It makes the commute bearable.


Knowledge of Good and Evil

(for Gloria)

We did not steal the apples. They were three for two and I bought two for me and one for you. "'We love one another,'" I say. So when you did not want to walk with the walker, I let it go. Later you spent the night designing a machine that would make life easier. After the fall it did not matter what Franz Wright poem I read in the rec room to keep you company. If my mind was half on something else. "'We don't really know anyone well, but we love each other.'" It took six decades and in the seventh your brain hit your skull when your head hit the floor. The Harlem river outside. Winter coming on. I know the names of several people who did not do anything about it, though they heard the sound. Somewhere sometime we are all accountable for what we do. It is not our soul. We must give it back the way we found it.

As for me I regret everything -- no, nothing: the river was just right, as I remember it, when I walked out into the rest of my life, exiled from the time I could have said goodbye



Though Kurt was a pedophile -- tried, convicted, sentenced to twelve years -- he was in many ways a nice man. In fact at the trial one young man testified by saying: "He never hurt me and was always polite."

It is difficult to imagine, but this may help: he wore striped shirts from Gap Kids and had scars on his face from teenaged acne. That is to say, Kurt did, and not the young victim who spoke warmly of him that afternoon, whose face was smooth and pretty in a way boys can be at his age, much to their embarrassment. Of course his testimony helped put him away. But it was inevitable. When they searched his hard drive, police officers found that Kurt was in possession of some 1500 photographs of child pornography, including those deleted in fits of conscience, which were recovered and prompted further investigation.

How does this happen? Files are stored on a hard drive by orienting the magnetic particles of the disk in one of two directions, zero and one (on/off, yes/no, etc.). Information about the stored file - in this case, one of the almost twelve hundred deleted jpegs - is kept in a file management system. When in crisis, Kurt was deleting only the reference to the file in management system. The picture, stored in as a pattern of zeros and ones, would remain at least partially intact until reformatting, or if the hard drive were exposed to a strong magnetic field.

I was Kurt's therapist in the nine months between arrest and the trial. That's me, seated two rows from the back.

"He's a faggot," is what Willie had to say on the matter. "He wears those faggy shirts and acts like he's better than us but he still makes boys suck his dick. That's what he does." Willie leaned back and nodded at the group. "And now he's got to do what we all got to do, though I don't wish it on anyone" -- murmurs of approval from the men -- "even if he is a faggot."

It's not worth fighting it; Willie is a bit of a monster and besides Kurt is gone. "Does anyone else want to take a moment and say something?" I choose my battles with these men. Gary raises his hand.

He speaks:

"You know I try to good with everybody, I like to joke around, you know, and you guys all make fun of me sometimes and everything, but we're always having a good time, right? And I hate to say it, but I never liked the guy. I know, I know and I really am trying... I know my triggers... and I'm real careful of my SUDs*... and I want to practice tolerance in my heart, you know, I'm reading the Bible every night. Lord knows I don't get much else to do, but I hate to say it but you know he was a faggot, Willie's right, and he got what was coming to him."

If you had access to their files, you would be able to read more about Gary and Willie, both African-American, both in their early 40s. Both offended against all their stepdaughters, aged six through ten, for as many years as it took for the girls to reach puberty.

I am white, like Kurt.

And so he got twelve years, and the young man with the pretty face cried when the judge said it, and the guard took Kurt away for the final time. In the hotel room he had given the boy a book called The Little Prince, and it ends with the narrator asking you to ask yourself: Is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And he says no grown up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!

Six decades after he crashed it, and one month after the trial, Antoine de Saint-Exupery's plane was found off the coast at Marseille. The author of The Little Prince was taking pictures in preparation for the Allied landing in 1944 when his plane went down. Researchers still have no idea what caused the experienced aviator to crash on that day, which was reportedly sunny and calm.

Like many things there are two answers, though it takes me a long time to choose.

*Seemingly Unimportant Decisions


Mission is Number One

Casual and intrusive, exhaustive: worse. It is not ever casually hot, Sue suggests, merely raises her hand, intoxicated and then dislocated: the fan is broken. There is no electricity. The secretary is without a desk. The detailed map of the interior, while highly sophisticated and indeed accurate, is no longer available. I believe it was a brief reminder, inappropriately quoted, Cheryl suggests. Her name is awkward. She needs to be fired, I mutter. Drinking, pandering, I do not care. The absolute reason, eventually, dissolves into the action, the consequence. I have, recently, abandoned stringent definitions and, instead and coyly, arrived for recognition. I have come for recognition. Six forty-nine in the morning and it is casually hot, though impossible, even improbable, yet existing. The electricity is broken, Warzol interrupts, as he is accustomed, a train of experience embracing a subjective universe—a metaphor?—yes, I apologize, allow me: a train of experience embracing a subjective track. Much better. Please begin again. It is like this at first. The themes were not adequately unveiled nor placed at mathematically unobtrusive and learnable intervals. The average mind, say the mind of reader X, would not subscribe nor comprehend this opening. He speaks to complete metaphors because he speaks complete metaphors. Sue is suggesting interesting ideas: mere intersections of possibilities, mere abilities to make me into a recognizable figure, a person of important ideas. I am trying, of late, and with minimal yet surprisingly aggressive success, to come to terms with my artistic self and I have found, without too much awesome introspective dialogue that I am fairly neat. You are neat, Cheryl says, reading, again, a quote: Unsuspectingly clever and upbeat. I have missed my exits and my smiles. No, no, there are forty-nine reasons why I am clever. I became an expert at reasoning when I was nineteen:

Don’t get caught out of bounds.


The Space Station Vacuum

I vomit for seven hours. You are nervous, she says. She is my wife. I am nervous, I say. I am agreeing. I am an agreeing person. And I am the man vomiting. My body is not agreeing with me, not anymore, no—not right now. They will bomb a village in Africa, Maurice says. It is a fair exchange, Hank says. Where is Africa, he asks. He is my son. He is always referred to as “he”—it was an agreement, another agreement, made under external pressure, coercion, really. She says he is my son, I consider later and even earlier, I did consider that earlier, once. I vomit again and I count to twenty-seven. I am on the floor, on a marble floor, I am in the bathroom. Twenty-seven? It is not so arbitrary a number, she says. She is my wife again. A person known as "she" more often than "her", and rarely as dear. There are twenty-seven men and women in the space station that is hovering around the earth. I have never been in space but I am told it is a vacuum and I am also told that there is very little air, perhaps no air at all, inside a vacuum. I cannot imagine a place where I couldn’t breathe, Maurice says. He is laughing. He is arrogant. It is really a fair exchange, Hank says again. They did not bomb the village in Africa because of the space station, Sally chuckles, but it was a logical incentive. It has already been bombed? Of course. The time is six forty-five. I cannot believe I am asking questions. I should not be asking questions. Of course it is fairly inaccurate to assume that the progressive argument would continue, would indeed surpass action. That is quite foolish, I admit, in private, only to my wife. This was the illogical particulars of events. I am in lack of a direct response, Cheryl responded, to an eager and overzealous press corps. However, I would be most interested in a hearty debate. Yet, privately, and most awkwardly, there was a sense that the general and prior flow of water, indeed any substance controlled by gravity, was not an act of logic, at this time. Like a vacuum, she asks. She is correct. Yes, exactly like a vacuum. How, I wonder, again senseless and without aid, did action become a vacuum—no!—how did the process of act and actor (combined to create action) fall under the control of a vacuum. We have a vacuum cleaner, he says and I am convinced, most certainly, he is not apparent in his resemblance to me. No, it is not possible. We could trade the passengers aboard the US Station 1BC to the African Union in exchange for a non-bombing non-binding agreement. It is a classy idea, it may even be genius. I am unafraid of admitting this fact. I am convinced of this fact. There are only so many children in the village and the act of bombing would create very little aches and pains and actual deaths—well, no, it would cause many deaths. Here are the pictures. These are projections, I suppose, wonder, voice. Fool! It was already an act. I vomit again. The actions inside a vacuum are most peculiar. Oh, outside it is already cold and dark and the view of earth, so tiny and so round makes me homesick. There are twenty six men and women in a space station, she says. You mean twenty-seven. No, she says, and he was not particularly fond of the vacuum cleaner.


Instead of a country there are numbers. The numbers go out in every direction at every angle, and the angles that describe them are also numbers, and the distance they travel are numbers too.

Instead of citizens there are patterns of change. Some pattern are predictable, certain number sequences reoccur, but always in a changing relationship to each other, themselves, and the whole.

The whole is what you call the world. Inside it are more wholes; they are smaller and infinite. What you call the world is itself a smaller, infinite whole inside a larger infinity of numbers in changing relation to each other, making patterns you can call the universe, or the multi-verse, and so on and on.

God is the name I use when I am thinking about the whole. I live in the United States of America. I am a citizen. There are infinities above me and below me. I am happy sometimes and scared of the part of the pattern that repeats for me and the smaller and infinite wholes I call Mom, Dad, Jennifer, and Sarah; and my friends; and some are named Steve and Marcus and Geoff and Miguel but when I am thinking of them and I am thinking very well God is the name that comes. Work is what binds me to the responsibilities of the world, which are: love, fairness, and participation with humility.

Mostly I participate; mostly I am not humble; and then comes the numbers with a new whole God made of stars or pain and what I do next is my choice, though it moves in every direction, at every angle, and belongs to everyone.


fat woman

naples, this year, this day:

…she is judgmental. She is eavesdropping. She is smelling. No, she is just a snoop. Bugging, taping a stifling dirty affair. He is sleeping with women in the second floor garbage shoot. That is the beginning. I didn’t agree with her, not at first, not at all, I didn’t agree that she could bug her man, her husband, her lover—her item. I didn’t agree at all. Not in the context. But of course I was a woman, a little mouse, a sneak, a peaker, a wanderer—a walker, yes, a gambler, a romantic. Alas, only a reader and a sitter. Everything is blissful in the zoo: the tiger, the smart tiger, the blessed and full and courageous lion (as proud and courageous as a lion), an ape, a gorilla, oh, as big and erotic and egotistical as an Ape!—any animal, any animal at all, of course, any animal, any animal in the zoo. She is a spy. A real fundamentally foul spy. And he is making sex with women in the second floor of a garbage heap because there is no place for the garbage and there is only place for the garbage of the mobsters. The italian mobsters, yes really, italian. No, I wouldn’t dare listen to the conversations, especially not the afterhour conversations, I am not permitted to listen to those, those are fearful and dangerous and full of plannings and plottings. Martha is fat. I am fat, she says. She is fat like a big dinner roll. Like a dinner roll that is human. She is plumpy, dumpy, lumpy. But, oh, she does not have mobster ties and she is lucky, at least, she is very lucky, to have such a garbage heap in front of her apartment. But two stories, two stories of garbage, and he, an insect, a man with six legs and six lives, is courageous enough is eager enough is playful enough to enact—like a lion, like a tiger, like a bear—the act of…oh my!...yes, but I am just a playful being, a sad and tragic target, a homely being, a woman of medium height and of interesting appeal, quite attractive in certain light, quite seductive in no light, purring like a kitten, no like a puma, and a leopard, oh, like a leopard I leap and plunge into the growl, the purring growl, oh, of a kitten, a puma—oh my!...He is, he is, even now, he is making the back and forth in the garbage, with, of course, with Tracy, she is a tramp, a whore of indulgence and self-importance, a woman, a classless woman looking for a fruitful introduction to intercourse—Oh, my!—not, intercourse, I meant discourse, they will bring me back. She is ever so judgmental. She is eavesdropping. She is ever so smelling. Ever so smelling…



Ruwa is a town in Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe, situated 22 km south-east of Harare on the main Harare-Mutare highway and railway line. In recent years it has grown rapidly and become a popular area for people moving out of Harare. When I was a girl, I had unusually vivid dreams there. One night I dreamt three beings from space visited me in my bedroom. Without moving their lips, they sent me a message: "You are all going to die."

Family who stayed watched President Mugabe destroy our infrastructure. I left when I could. While they cooked what they could over firewood I ate in my small apartment in the New York Bronx. Four nights a week I cared at a home for mentally retarded women. Daylight came through the curtainless bedroom and washed out my dreams.


LYNN: Is there such thing as UFOs?

I'm not sure, Lynn. Nobody knows for sure.

LYNN: Is there such thing as aliens?

I dont know... why are you asking all these funny questions?"

LYNN: I saw it on TV. Aliens on TV.

You saw aliens on TV?

LYNN: Yeah, yeah. Aliens on TV.


During the first decade of independence, Mugabe used the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade to silence any opposition from the Ndebele nation in an operation against dissidents referred to as Gukurahundi. Several thousand civilians, mostly Ndebele, were killed or disappeared and have not been accounted for to this date. Allegations of genocide and ethnic cleansing have resulted in calls for Mugabe's arrest and prosecution for crimes against humanity.

Then, last summer, I woke up with the hot afternoon sun in my window and saw men and women on fire falling from the sky. I threw open the window and watched the Harlem river sparkle and the commuters waiting for the train and the air was quiet and calm. After so many dreamless sleeps, were my dreams starting to spill out of my head? I shook and sat down on the bed.

That's when they started again. For three nights before September 11th, I dreamt of an exploding satellite, and an Asian man who looked very happy.


Mona asked me if I would go with her to church. Sometimes we talked when we passed shifts with each other. I had told her about life when I was younger, losing touch with everyone, and then about the drought, the famine. She nodded. "I hear you, honey, I hear you. “How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and the birds have perished.”"

That Sunday I sat next to her, in church for the first time since Ruwa...

And the preacher said:

Three days and there was a flash in the sky above the schoolyard. Three holy spirits in silver ships, angels' spaceships running on God's Eternal light -- they landed and the looked in the astonished faces of the children. And they said, See, We have set before you today life and death, good and evil; and the we will bless you in the land you are going to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish…

And the children heard the words though they did not open their mouths, and in from their conscience came a rumbling like a great ships through the darkness.


Time for your medicine.

LYNN: No, no sleep..

What's wrong? What do you mean?

MONA: She's just being difficult, aren't you Lynn?

LYNN: NO! No sleep!

Why no sleep?


MONA: Don't touch yourself! What's gotten into you?

She's scratching... let me see, Lynn, what have you-- oh, Mona!

MONA: Oh Lord what is that?

LYNN: He did it...

Oh Mona we have to page the nurse... who did it Lynn?


MONA: Don't act like you don't hear her, Lynn ------. Who is he?

LYNN: He did it. See?

Oh Lynn...

LYNN: See?


Please pray for the Christians suffering in Zimbabwe. Without speaking, open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause for all of us appointed to die.

Happy Birthday

If the satellite doesn't explode;
if the man on the screen got it wrong and tomorrow finds us in our beds,
then I'll come back and see you again.
We do not have much time. Soon our parents will die, and our brothers and sisters,
and the brothers and sisters of our friends.

(Sarah got Gumby for her birthday;
Jennifer hunts moths;
and I am dressing as a skeleton for Halloween again--)

Only then can we sit here and talk plainly:

"I love you. Do you love me?"

"I do. Can I keep you company?"

"Yes, please."

We sit in front of the television to see if it will snow. Groceries, a trip to the bank, download the pictures from the night before. I will stay in tonight, meet you at the bar tomorrow. Raise a glass and say: How perfect it was to be alive with you in the world today. Whether the camera catches us or not. Even if the sky fills with fire.

Border Crossings

The drive is mostly hills but there are some parts that are flat. The border is a gate and a hut. The hut is made of tin. The hut has three windows. One to see cars coming. One to see cars going. Another to look at the mountains and the flat desert. One man lives in the hut during the day, another in the night. The men carry weapons, long weapons. I do not pretend to know weapons. They are metal or plastic or iron or even wood. Some of them make a lot of noise and others are very quiet. There is always a lot of screaming when there are weapons around, screaming and crying. We arrive at the border in the morning. The man in the hut makes noise with his mouth, strange sounds, like an elephant—no, like a snake. He is too often in heat and in cold. The desert does not keep its visiting faces often. They are expelled quickly, almost whimsically, and then they are replaced just as suddenly, just as haphazardly. There is not anything that survives in the desert that is in motion. It is not like that in other places. We are stopped. He is babbling, again like a snake, and she is responding, with gestures and some words, animal sounds. He is making rice, she mutters. We interrupted his lunch. Later, as it happens, we meet again, the two of us, in a crowded square in the capital. He is not carrying his weapon and he is not making noises like a snake. I ask him for fifteen hundred American dollars and he agrees, stares at the eyes of the bartenders, the waiters. Tomorrow, in the morning. He agrees. The army soldiers guard the borders of some countries, guard the border with weapons and alcohol and illicit narcotics. They are bored and they do not usually concern themselves with the crossings, except sometimes, occasionally, they do. In other countries, it is special guards at the border, with special numbers, and colors. They are not as bad. They might even say good afternoon, or hello, or fifty dollars will make it easier. They will shoot you, he says later, in the square. The men with the red eyes, blood shot eyes. They will shoot you two times. I needed that hint later and I remembered it. The men in the southern river valley were not oil men and they did not care about the ex-patriot population. They were mercenaries, kidnappers, contractors. At one time it was unimaginable to own land, then it was people—now it is people again. No, it has been imaginable to own it all. The ownership of land and people is not so foreign. But, once, it was very foreign. It would be heroin, in the eyes, heroin, or something else. I am staring at the horizon. We are at the border. He wants fifteen American dollars. I am not annoyed but she is upset, agitated. It is the desert, I think. There is not any place here that would remember a traveler, even for the afternoon. It is a lost place, an eaten and eating place. It would be heroin, made in factories that are in tin huts, like this tin hut. On the border of a place that is abandoned, crossing into another territory. More men with guns, rules, imprisonments, capital punishment—all just to remind us, even now, that there is a line that is the sky and there is a line that is the land. The line that is the sky is not changing, is always the line that is the sky. The line that is the land, the very skin that is this line, is always changing. The rice is finished, it is ready. The man waves us through the gate and we cross the border. We are not remembered by the man until later when I remember him as well. The drive is mostly flat, this time, but there are hills on the right and on the left. I have always noticed the immediate change when crossing borders. The light is not the same. The shapes are not the same—the colors too, they are unlike the colors we have seen before. The lines are not so accidental as the drive makes them feel. No, the gate in the road is not accidental. There is no tree, no marker, no home, no people. But the crossing is a revolution, a rebellion. Even when there is little honesty there is rebellion. I am not loyal to the crossing nations. I am removed, un-committed to cause, leadership, movement. We are driving fast again, the landscape catches on fire and it is not the same fire as before. It will tire, eventually, but now it is glowing, novel—the world over here, right here is far greener, the desert is far more alluring, romantic. Reliable. There is memory in this desert. And the lines are like the lines in the sky. We wear different colors now. I am most taken. My arrival and my departure, I think. There is too much color and there is too much that is crossing paths, back against my memory and unleashed on the hospice care and unsuspecting grandchildren. I do not remember. But there was cool dry skin on the seamstress, unease in the cab driver, and of course, there was the maddening color and the strike against my face, the brand—that I am branded—and yet unattached, so un-attached and un-owned by that same continual arrival and departure—yes, yes, the arrival is mostly a change in the color, the texture of the upper lip, the romance of survival, the elbow, even the gain. And the departure is far from different: it is the solidarity of this collection. Eventually, as might may have it, one morning, I may kiss the lines of the land because it is the skin of the earth and I am speeding across the desert in so much color. I am left, here, only to become and un-become myself, always assured that I am not so timid and not so transient a beast. That I am not the strict and rigid foundation of the institutional earthly life. Indeed, my last crossing, deep in the desert where there was no reason for a border, where there was no reason for a war, where there was no reason for a change in color so drastic, I still see the lines of the sky. There, they are effortless, without judgment, swarmers and embracers of the lines of the earth, partners in the rejoining of the great vacuum. And we, we men and women, escape to undo the lives that are lost in the rewriting of our blood.



In August 2007, scientists discover an enormous black spot in the universe. It is neither a black hole nor dark matter. There are no stars inside, or planets, or cosmic dust. It is one billion light years across, and it is empty.


Seth and I smoke a cigarette on the steps of our apartment in Sunset Park, close to two in the morning, on one of the warmest days in January we can remember.


Zimbabwe 1994: it was in the morning of September and we were playing when Elsa said what's that and I turned my head and saw the thing past the playground, where we were not supposed to go. Because there are snakes and spiders and they didn't mow there with the tractors, but everyone went running to see. I didn't want to go but Emily said Come on, and we were both supposed to watch the younger ones but I did anyway. When I got there I saw there were three things, and one of them opened and he came out and started walking in the grass like bouncing on the moon, but not as much. He had eyes like rugby balls. Some of the younger ones started to cry, and I said hush! and the black boys from the village said they're going to eat us and ran back to the schoolhouse. I wanted to run but I felt weird. He was looking at me. When I got home I had a horrible feeling inside and I kept thinking things like how all the trees will go down and there will be no air and people will be dying. It was so bad, like having a dream but I was awake. Mum asked me what's wrong and I told her about the things that came down the the man that came out. She said Isabelle but I couldn't shaking and I said We are making harm on this world and she said Isabelle stop what's wrong but I couldn't stop I just said Something's going to happen It came through my head when he looked at me It came through my conscience Something is going to happen Something is going to happen Something -- and she slapped me. And that's how it happened.


"There are four types," Seth says. "There are skeptics. They assume that what you say is wrong, until they get some proof. Bud considers himself a skeptic. He asks his questions, and he has a template he works from, something he considers really reliable, to gauge 'Well, okay, this is the truth. There's nothing to gain here.' Versus, 'This is a lie, this one's crazy.'

"Then there are the Believers. Whatever you say, whatever you show them -- it's all bullshit to them. They know already what the story is, and if you ask them, 'Well, what about this and that, you know, the Rendlesham Forest, or the 60 kids in Zimbabwe...' they said, 'I don't know that.' But they still believe it's all bullshit. They think, 'Oh, these sad people, they just want to be in front of the camera and get out of their insignificant lives for 15 minutes.' You can't shake them.


Jim Penniston, Former USAF Staff Sergeant, 81st Security Police Squadron, Joint USAF and RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge, England Air Force Base: "As we got closer, a silhouette of an object was present and I realized at that point, it was not a conventional aircraft, meaning it was not one that was published in Jane's Defense book about aircraft. It was like no aircraft that I had ever seen."




No, no, it was triangular, straight on each side.

[Sketch of triangular craft by USAF Staff Sergeant, Jim Penniston, from his December 26, 1980 investigation notes made after midnight while examining the glowing craft of unknown origin in the Rendlesham forest near the joint RAF and USAF Bentwaters AFB in Woodbridge, England.]


Well, I couldn't tell at that point, but obviously I set the other airmen up to complete the radio relay because we were having awful bad static on the radios. I could barely talk to the first patrolman that I had set by the logging road. I could barely hear him. I could not hear our control center at all.

I had my notebook and my camera while I was out there because cameras were carried because of terrorism to take pictures of base encroachments. And it says what I wrote that night:

'Triangular in shape. A small amount of white light is appearing from the bottom of the craft. At the left side is a bluish light. And on the other side is red.'

Then at that time, I started taking photos. I think there were 36 in a roll. They were all B & W, that's what we carried.


Base photo lab.


U. S. Air Force.


Yes, as part of the investigation. The size of it was approximately 3 meters wide by 3 meters tall -- that's approximately 9 feet.


Well, I think the fabric or the shell was -- I guess the best description would be a very smooth opaque, like black glass. I was pretty confused at that point.


That's when it started to -- I backed away. I backed away from it because the light was starting to get brighter. There no sound. That is probably the most incredible part of this. There was absolutely no sound from this craft.

It lifted up a few feet, sort of went through the woods maybe 25 or 30 meters,
hovered momentarily, then lifted up to about 250 feet above the top of the trees and then it was literally in the blink of an eye, gone at that point.


Yeah, we kept a very sanitized -- we reported it to our Security Shift Commander, I think it was Captain Mike Verrano at the time. And we were assured by then the senior officer at Bentwaters that this information would not go outside the United States channels.


Oh, he was fully briefed.


No. No.


No, never.


In Philadelphia I heard it all:

We were playing barbershop so I got scissors and I nicked his head a little bit.

I always kept candy in my pocket and when I went up the stairs he tried to steal it.

My stepdad had these tapes and I watched them when he was out. That's when I started thinking about it.

He was a baby about it. I said, I didn't mean to cut you but then he started to cry. And I got mad.

I said, You can't have any candy, Maurice, but he kept grabbing around my pockets, and at my shorts.

I saw a woman lying on a table and they were strapping her hands down with these metal clamps.

I told him, You're being a big baby and he said, I'm telling Mom. So I said, I'll give you something to cry about.

He kept touching me around there and then I just stopped thinking and I grabbed his hand.

I knew something was about to happen.



Seth lit another cigarette. "The third type, they're the fanatics. They take anything you give them and say, 'Yes! I knew it.' They form cults and shit." He drags. I noticed Orion's belt, and tried to find his hands. "They're the loudest ones, you always hear them talking and it bothers the skeptics, who are trying to be logical and understand that this is really hard, it's nuanced, you can't say 'Well it's always this way or the other.'

The fourth are regular people. They don't give a shit either way. Bud think they should."

"But why?"

"Because it matters. You know, there are maybe 70% who are just making it up. And then there are the real crazy ones. But the rest -- they're not enjoying this. They aren't looking for a camera to talk to. They were driving somewhere, maybe with a few other friends, and suddenly they're on a different part of the same road and they feel the same, except a few hours are gone. Gone. That's what happened to Barney and Betty, back in the 60s. Something happened, they saw what they saw, felt a vibration and then it was all over. They went home.

"But Betty found powder on her dress, Barney kept checking his genitals. He couldn't explain why. Then the nightmares. Betty was on a table, they checked her teeth, her breast, they told her to lie down. They put a six inch needle in her vagina and said it was a pregnancy exam. She said it hurt until they touched her head and then she felt fine. They showed her a map of the heavens. She woke up and realized that the three hour drive that night took seven.

"The next morning a near perfect circle of warts appeared around Barney's groin."

We finished our cigarettes. We were in spring jackets, Seth's sleeves rolled up. He looked at me. "Did you ever tell those kids, 'No, you weren't raped? You're wrong, it didn't happen, get over with it?' What do you think that would do to someone? Did you know that Barney was black, that they were a mixed race couple? This was 1962. What do you think people thought? Betty became a celebrity in the community, but she didn't stop having nightmares. What would you do if you were driving and suddenly your standing next to your car, it's three hours later, and the radio's playing nothing but static? Who would you tell? And what would you expect them to say?"


"This is 1,000 times the volume of what we sort of expected to see in terms of a typical void," said Minnesota astronomy professor Lawrence Rudnick, author of the paper that will be published in Astrophysical Journal. "It's not clear that we have the right word yet ... This is too much of a surprise."

Holes in the universe probably occur when the gravity from areas with bigger mass pull matter from less dense areas, Rudnick said. After 13 billion years "they are losing out in the battle to where there are larger concentrations of matter," he said.

Retired NASA astronomer Steve Maran said of the discovery: "This is incredibly important for something where there is nothing to it."



The investigation lasted seventy-seven hours.

Police Buildings are four stories tall. There are no elevators in Police Buildings. The front doors stand nineteen steps above the sidewalk. There are no ramps. Officers routinely and vigilantly patrol the area immediately surrounding the Police Buildings to ensure the safety of the community. However, as the radius increases (i.e. as the distance away from the police building increases) the level of policing rapidly diminishes. As a result, there are a series of DEAD SPOTS in the city. A DEAD SPOT is a location with no police presence. A DEAD SPOT is not an official term, nor is it open policy to promote DEAD SPOTS. For example, the area between Martin Ave and 55th St is a DEAD SPOT. This too is not public knowledge. This area is forty-seven blocks. There are seventy four Police Buildings in the greater metropolitan area. Each building employs one hundred officers. Each building is twelve miles apart. Ten miles from each building is considered a high radius distance and is rarely patrolled. Eleven miles from any particular Police Building is considered unsafe and foreign territory. In short, all territories outside ten miles are considered DEAD SPOTS to the particular police building in question. If these areas are more than ten miles from any Police Buildings, these areas are not ever patrolled. The investigation in question occurred in a known DEAD SPOT but within range of accepted patrolling territory. The investigation lasted seventy-seven hours. One middle aged man was murdered within sight of Police Van 71 but outside the ten mile radius. Policy demands the reminder that it is not official protocol to abandon patrols outside the ten mile marker. During the night of October 21, Police Van 71 was at its outer marker for only a few minutes. Usual circumstances would require, by unofficial police code and conduct, the officers of Police Van 71 to immediately vacate the premises. However, due to eye witness accounts of Police Van 71, the victim lying in the street one block from police van 71, and a strict political climate in city hall, Officer Howard and Officer Cruz were encouraged to report and to launch investigation 11B-61. Neither Officer Howard nor Officer Cruz reported using narcotic or alcoholic substances during the night in question.

On the night of October 22, one hundred and twenty-seven potential suspects were brought to Police Building 55A in Precinct 11. Due to overcrowding, fifty suspects were eventually housed in Police Building 55B. Captain O’Donnell oversaw the investigation. Each suspect was weighed and measured in a proper and detailed examination that would reveal any and all physical contamination or deformity required for immoral or amoral activity. After twelve hours, seventy-nine suspects were released into the community. After twenty-four hours, forty-two additional suspects were released into the community. On the evening of October 24, seventy-one hours after the launch of the investigation, six suspects remained in police custody at Police Building 55A in Precinct 11. All suspects were disproportionately tall or wide in at least one particular area. Suspect 1 presented with poor posture due to the enormous size of his head. Sergeant J. Smitt reported that the pressure and exhaustion from such a physical state would induce serious and potentially violent fits of rage. Suspects 2, 3, and 6 fit the physical profile of the common aggressor or criminal: excessive muscle mass, petite ears, large and protruding chins, clearly defined cheek and jaw bones, and (most importantly) considerable, even inappropriate, arm length. Suspect 4 refused to co-operate with police procedure and with the physical examination. During the scalp evaluation, Suspect 5 presented with an inordinate amount of indentations and protrusions. Results of examinations were presented to Captain O'Donnell in the seventy-fifth hour. In the seventy-sixth hour, Captain O’Donnell reviewed all the appropriate material and judged, based on 115 unusual signs of indentation and protrusion, that suspect 5 was unequivocally the perpetrator of the murder on October 21. The investigation was closed on the seventy-seventh hour and suspect 5 was summarily let to the electric chair in the basement of Precinct 22. The execution lasted seventeen minutes.

The specifics of evaluations and examinations performed on suspects during detention will be released to public domain at the discretion of the Chairman of the Police and Fire Commission.


September 2001: I get high for the first time by myself. The space between the minutes was so wide -- how had I never noticed? And when I made it to bed outside a car drove by leaving a sound that resolved into a song as it faded, waves of air pressure swinging back and forth until the room went still and I slept and did not dream.

Incredibly enough Eve got me started. I wanted to fuck her so bad, knowing she was there right through my bedroom wall in her Led Zeppelin tee and eyes becoming more and more bored, the world was boring, smoke a bowel, stay awake for a little while... I told her on the blanket she laid out behind 36th Street and then nothing turned itself inside out and we agreed that was what this was all about. High times, long minutes in a boring world.


But we are in the world to love the world. I made a promise to myself, to the trees at Frost Valley. To Maureen. This is not about her. This was before Tiah came and turned trees to enemies who wanted to take her apart and she fought and fought and only after giving up did she see they were on her side from the start; it was a mental thing: to be held vs. taken apart, it was how you made up the meaning, what memories filled you up, and with what kind of feeling.

It's always women trying to take me apart, or else I'm dying to dissemble and my clothes are off and she's got bored eyes on, bored and boring me through and through.

Back on the blanket in the shadow of Hill College House underneath a billion invisible stars we are finally getting really high. Lights go on in rooms and you can trace connections between them like constellations changing as boys and girls go to bed or come back home. The building is a complex labrinyth of college freshmen and faculty and graduate students studying and eating and trying on talks about God, acoustic guitars... instant messengers drop a few words and then are idle... idle hands, touching hands, hands asking questions, hands on private parts, their own, someone else's. "Cold hands warm heart," says Tiah, so I write into a song on acoustic guitar for her when I am far away from 36th Street, lost in myself, after I've stopped making phone calls or opening the mail. Out there I thought: If I lose Tiah, at least I'll still have getting high. Where I counted cars that one night, bad night, first time doing an overnight at ATI and Heather locked herself in her room, reneging on the ride she promised, which meant reneging on everything, without warning, her eyes blue and bored. Tired of handcuffing herself to the couch to get a rise out of me. This is not her story.


This is about me; I am writing so I can see myself. I have heard we orbit our memories, and not vice-versa; so here they are, falling like tea leaves so I can read myself out of the patterns. Because we are in the world to love the world, and I am another limb; I am ready to be taken apart by words so I can be held by time. The women are all gone now. I can hear cars outside my apartment. There are so many songs, and it is not just the pain of things Last week I saw the milky way. I played mandolin with a stranger, we sang, "Hey I got some news for you..." When the chance came, I put my lips to the bowl and inhaled into my mouth, and then out into the stars.


tired song

broken down beaten and battered from lack of sleep
I jump the fence and count a thousand sheep:

why there's you, and you, and you and you and you...

and I am a sheep too!

"he wasn't the type of sheep to die...." --

"well, we all the type of sheep who dies, I tell you what. maybe not so young, but now he's gone and gone goes a long way. into the universe. out of the universe. straight through the heart and back."

some sheep die too soon; we all go on


So it was that early on Tuesday the man in the black coat stared blankly at the wall and listened to the clock in the town strike seven and looked at the empty, very white, page in front of him and concluded that he had nothing to say and that he had not had anything to say for a very long time. And so it was that this man felt very uncomfortable at his usual desk and very uncomfortable in his usual clothes and felt very uncomfortable in his usual house. I am very uncomfortable, said the man. And so it was, on that day, this man, quite young and of quite tremendous potential, set forth into the world a little bit gloomier and, still, a little bit happier all the same. Why there is not anything at all that I need to do anymore, said the man. And there wasn’t anything in the world, not yet, that he knew by name. All the things in the world looked as if they had just come out from the earth and from the trees and from under the rocks. All the things, indeed, looked as if they too were looking upon a strange world and such a strange day. Why, yes, the man in the black coat declared, it is as though the squirrels are even very much uncomfortable in their usual clothes and in their usual homes. It must be a most usual day.

Maureen: An Introduction

ah long day looking down it like a dark hallway, sometimes you rhyme sometimes you don't. it's the rhythm of it, without expectation to let the groove fall where it may. I'm tired of the things I can think about with my mind. the best stuff cannot possibly belong to me. I wrote a poem when I was 16 called The Stuff of Desire. It was two pages -- the first four lines, written about Meghan Smith during one of those sharp lust attacks in the computer lab, of all places, because our hands had touched over the keys. The rest was Mom cooking rice, something stolen from Corso, something else from Maureen. I had her running along the beach, out past Port Jeff. She would get into a rhythm and then I imagine gulls. Light bodies in the air. I call it autumn, make the sea do something memorable or her face. I could put her in running shorts, a nightgown - like I did at 20 for Michael Koch and when she read it she said, "Did I ever do that? Did I come into your room that night dressed in a nightgown?" She was all hysterical, laughing and little something else. The Stuff of Desire. That was her title, her words, even now they keep trying to come up on my screen, her hands meeting mine on the the keys...

This is not it, but at least I found a way in. At least these are mine.

At Frost Valley she held my hand while my head exploded with snow. It was a blizzard. We were orienteering -- finding our way, losing our way. On Shattuck, in Berkeley after the first real fucked up flashback, it was Maureen's line I took comfort in : "Sometimes we must learn to fall behind before we understand how we can go." She would never have understood this. Would she? The white robes she bought me - had made for me! - "because," she said, "you're the purest thing I know" - could she ever believe I needed her poem because my hands keep rotting on me? The first time she asked, it was like dare: I bet you've never had an impure thought in your life. Name one.


When I was 15 I wrote a poem about jerking off against the bathroom floor. I never used my hands. Even then I wanted to be tied up, and lust was something that held me down, and love was someone who would do it to me. In the silence I heard the car spitting muffled frequencies off the road and thought: if you only knew the things I think to get myself to cum. And then I said, "I can't name a single one."

It's boring to ask what if. We are in the world to love the world. I mean this one, the one I am sitting on right now, on the couch with the TV on and muted and the women in the infommerical doing aerobics backwards in the window that is otherwise completely dark. The world where I said "I can't name a single one" and the rest was history. I accepted the robe but never wore it. The snow fell around us in the woods of Frost Valley, NY. I never went back. It is the story of how I said yes to the world, and how the world said yes back. When I killed her off in the piece for Koch she asked, "I wonder if you're trying to tell me something." And 8 months later when I said No More, she asked, "What are you trying to say?" Some days the words are with you, other times the walk down the hall is long and you do it alone. She sent me my diaries in the mail with a card. She was still waiting. So I am. You always do it alone.



The magnificence is in the darkness in the hills. At first light, once estranged, then launched upon the earth in quick breaths, the dawn erupts, a magnanimous and tender despot, lynched each evening by jealous and haunting cries and rebirthed so soon, so early, in hibernated strength, oh, painless pregnancies--and yet, the setting moon neither, never, aggressor nor coward. Ah still, the magnificence is in the darkness in the hills, between the death and the rebirth, in the strange lone and lengthy shadow against the mountain, the sleeping soldier island, encased in his tomb, breathless, in rest, now not tempted to turn and uncross his celestial embrace of home, sword, god, earth. We raised ourselves amidst the darkness of the island. First occupied and led by duty in yellow sunlight, then unleashed into the wounded graveyard in cold black. I knew not myself apart from the triggers of the island midnight, the sporadic dance of starlight on the bare rock. We had been taught to starve the eye sight, unveil the sense that did not operate in market empires. There is no empire in the sleeping soldier. The somber, mild village, would succumb at last to rest and out of the attics and basements, now fleshed by skin, we rose and raced into the moonlight, up the steep earth path into the heights of the soldier island, a sanctuary for the last breath of man to make, a man who plunged, not once, but twice, into fire and brought back light in the darkness hills. We unclothed at nightfall. Deep into the midnight hour, the skin will tempt to abandon the uniform of cover, brought out to know its shadowless face and undo its habitual awkward crawl. I did allow--at least when I first removed, with great care, my pajama top and placed it by my night stand--I did allow myself to tremble. And, lured erotic by a forbidden deal, I slowly walked out of my pajama bottom, stood in the black of my room and stared at my naked body in the mirror. There was a pause, then, a pause I remember quite well. Ended by a call, a scream into my lungs. The sleeping soldier rises in the darkness in the hills and calls the heart out of the cellar, she whispered, only whispered once, at lunch, and kissed, perhaps, by the feel of the wetness in the air. The uninhibited mind was only once tempted to return and did not. I was outside, below my house, then, this the first time: barefoot, the earth is loose, cold, and my skin is not so protected, my organs are unleashed and my manhood is no longer bartered between futures, failures. The magnificence is in the screams to the precipice of the soldier island, alone, naked, hunting my skin in alleys, streets of a dormant village—there: even the animals have become the day. We are not alone, convinced to blindness, on occasion, in the black, told to let the skin erupt and foil the protectors, the guard. Told to launch the skin into wet air. We are chasing ourselves into the heights of the island we guardians of myth, of legend, of the supernatural. Yes, I am the possessor of new sense, the occupier of virgin soil, ready, within the muscle contortions and the exhibitors of faith, a new promise, in principle, un-readied and explosive. We are found, harbored by the mud, dried across the chests of llama fed pilgrims, dripped. Blinded and un-caught. The sea is a moody man, she says once, smiles, and without sight I am thrown into the whirlwind of an earthquake. I gasp, lynched, the body nailed to its own position, and like a worm split and re-birthed, and returned into the entrance of its father, too a worm, his mother, too a worm, his ancestral patterns, yes, yes, too were worms, now uncloaked in the basement of the sky, the attic of the mountain, ripped into the pieces of adolescence and maturity, remade like a manikin and left to linger, drown, in the waters of the soldier island’s highest peak, the cellar of the ocean. The magnificence is in the darkness in the hills and brought into the completeness of identity, remanded for structure and piety, permitted the excuse to exhale the human, the man, the organ brought into being and owned, encouraged to expansion. From birth, she yells, in each life! For birth, she whispers now, is truly acceptance of expansion. There is no more skin than this skin, she says, later, breathless in sweat and exultation. All this, this here, is acceptance of expansion. And I, in willful disobedience of the daylight protector, climbed unhampered into the midnight black, and there, in jubilation we lived our humble and sweet expanded acceptance. The magnificence is truly in the darkness in the hills. I no longer needed to see, not then, not after that.

Modern Assistance

Couple A:

The Newspaper says we are going to get bombed on Saturday, Hank says to his wife, Sue. They are eating breakfast and watching the television. The television doesn’t say anything about a bombing, Sue says and she stuffs egg and toast into her mouth. Usually she is more graceful, Hank thinks, it must be because of the bombing that is most certainly about to happen. I haven’t been all that reflective lately, Sue thinks, indeed I haven’t been thinking about anything at all. Sue and Hank were married in ’78, after the blizzard that closed the highway. The highway is open today though because there isn’t any snow. I hope I get out of work before five, Hank thinks while he drives to work. He likes it when he gets out of work early because he can go home and watch television. I like the television, Sue says to her friend, Barbara. The two women are knitting and sewing and making cookies and washing clothes. I like to gossip, Barbara says to Sue. Remember when Mary Beth stole the bag of cookies and ate them in the woods. Sue laughs and covers her mouth—and she got so fat, she whispers. She is still fat, Barbara says, I saw her at the grocery store last week. We didn’t sell so much last week, Bill says to Hank. We are going to have to really step it up this week. We need to sell a lot more than we did last week. Of course, Hank agrees. Anything I can do, he says and thinks, I am not going to get out of here early today. Hank counts the days on his calendar. Forty-five days until my next vacation, he mutters. We are going to go to Florida and visit my parents, Sue says. They are getting old and they have many aches and pains and life is very difficult for them. Sue is hanging clothes on the clothesline and Barbara is sitting on the deck and drinking lemonade. We made cookies for Sammy’s class today, Barbara says. We made oatmeal cookies because they are his favorite. Ben hates oatmeal cookies, Sue says. Oh, Barbara says. She made tuna fish salad again, Hank mutters. Didn’t you have tuna fish yesterday, Scott asks. Yes, Scott. She must have forgotten. Did she cut the crust off? No, Scott, she didn’t cut the crusts off. That is too bad, Scott says, it is always better without the crusts. I know, Scott. You know they are talking about a bombing here on Saturday, Barbara says. It is later in the afternoon but it is still not too cold outside. The newspaper said it would start at five in the morning. The television didn’t say anything about a bombing. I know, maybe it isn’t true. Well, Saturday isn’t a bad day for a bombing. I guess I’ll just stay in the house. Me too. My wife made ham and cheese, Scott says. I love ham and cheese. Me too, Hank says. I wish my wife would make me ham and cheese. That is one hour, Bill says, return to work and sell some units. Yes sir, Scott says. Yes sir, Hank says. That’s the spirit, Bill says. I hope Hank gets home early so we can watch television, Sue says. I know, Barbara agrees. I hope he does too. Barbara doesn’t have a television because her husband threw it out the second floor window. Donald was very angry, Barbara admits. Hank still hasn’t shown me how to turn on the television or we could watch it now, Sue says. She would watch television all day, Hank says to Scott. But she would make you ham and cheese sandwiches, Scott says. Really? I hope we don’t get bombed on Saturday, Hank says. Why can’t we get bombed on a work day, Scott says. I haven’t sold any units in two weeks, Hank says. Me neither, Scott says. Bill must be very angry.

I don’t know why you are upset, Stan says to Lucy. It isn’t like they have that much to live for anyway. I still don’t think we should kill them, Lucy says, maybe we should tell them to stop having babies instead. It isn’t like we are wiping out a political rival or an ideological rival. We are simply bombing a population that is too dull to know that they are getting bombed. It still doesn’t seem right, Lucy retorts. Of course it isn’t right, Stan says and smiles. But it’s not like I told them to stay in their homes.