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03.18.04, thursday morning

Ah! The Oakland haikus by the Gold Teeth Thief for Jimmyís Black Crown are done, the last stanza completed last booze-drowned night. So quick, write letters, finish the tell-all tale of James Joyceís model for Molly Bloom (his wife), return library books, &--most importantly--remember everything, all of it, before they vanish into the knownothingness that encroaches memory unfailingly, just as the Nothing had encroached Fantasia from all imaginable & imaginative fronts in The NeverEnding Story, until only a glowing grain of sand in a Queenly palm remained.

Cast your nets, word-woven & time-snarled, world-wide; retrieve what is irreducibly yours.

. . .

I'll remember them by certain phrases; language's apt if sometimes cruel. Say Sin & Syntax & a little movie whirrs in my head: there's a game of scrabble set up, with adorable Elka lying on my red rug, whisky-soaked ice cubes clinking in opaque green glasses. Splendor in the grass will recall giggly likkered-up lakeside demoiselles painting nails vixenish hues, eyelids heavy with false fake-hair lashes. In an i-zone flick's tiny span, fortunes come to disappear before images gel: there's Annieís vampish glance, here's my handís five lacquered tips. Later, I remember photos of my parents in the 70s, posing at the beach or in Disneyland before my birth, when they were young, lively &, for the child who never knew them then, forever mysterious.

But of course, as you know, words do not recall everything; sometimes words are needless. A skinny tree I biked by the other day recalls two other ones, meshing in the shadow of a luxury apartment house near Lake Merritt, one leafless & brown, the other dancing with spring's green; They're holding all their hands, Milan says. We try to dock our peddle-boats at a birdshit-crusty pier, to catch the ice cream peddler. Alas, we fail our strawberry-flavoured dreams. Later we climb into lifeguard chairs in complete darkness, to watch the hillside poshhouse lights flicker below Orion's belt.

Ah, & yessssssssssssss, the aroma of a matchscratchedlit cigarette! You & me, Rini, sitting the steps of a Buddhist temple, while you showed me your album of photos from India, of people & places I'll never see except through you--the women with whom you ground dietary supplements, the mudfloor of a village clinic, children bloated with malnutrition, brown hands spotted with the telltale signs of arsenic-laced wellwater, a highrise view of Calcutta, your uncle's dog & the man who takes care of him, the guitars your friends held as they stayed up, singing until dawn.

Later, Rini & I picked up the cigarettes that we had smashed into burnt paper, to throw them away elsewhere.

Forgive me. I'm awful with my stories. Like Jimmy once observed, You donít know how to tell a story. Although I believe wholeheartedly in the idea that images can be structural--not merely ornamental--to narrative, I do not easily control my images; hence my stories are usually a mess of details. & those pesky tenses get all mixed up, cuz I think of things ago as things now. How does that line by Tennyson go? Past and present, wound in one. As if when it happened, it always is, here, present, vitally so. Furthermore & damning to anyone who wishes to pretend authorial distance (that is, in a traditional literary sense, authoritative voice), I alternate in my approximations of intimacy, oscillating between calling who I remember by their proper names & calling them you, you, you, as if they (you, you, you) are close, close to me, as close as they (you, you, you) are dear.

. . .

And do you remember what happened nigh the end of The NeverEnding Story when all that remained of Fantasia was a glowing grain of sand that lit the darkness surrounding the queenly citizen & the child border-crosser?


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