Jung in the Garden with Philemon
Philemon says in his watery-sage voice, Carl, you’ve neglected the tomatoes. Carl
cannot speak. Even rotted, the tomatoes are red and earnest. The rain, everyone’s rain,
falls onto Carl’s open palms. He walks like a man being reintroduced to reality.
The beds are overgrown from the months Carl spent excavating his mind, and all
for this, for Philemon to transpose from the pages of Liber Novus and into the garden.
The leaf-crunch ground is littered with post-tree apples and other forgotten harvests.
Philemon smells like parchment and smoke. Carl lags behind Philemon to indicate his understanding of his role as mentee, child, wayfarer, but Philemon matches their pacing,
moves when Carl moves. Philemon does not seem to breathe. Carl’s nose runs
from the cold. Philemon offers him the sleeve of his long robe, and gratefully,
with extreme respect, bending low to meet his wizened hand, Carl blows his nose
into the loose linens of his fully corporeal friend, Philemon, who smiles.
This was an exchange they were supposed to have: of fluids and absorption.
Years from now, Carl will become Philemon, and Philemon will go back
into the book. Years from now, Carl will be day-dreaming about a robin and
a bluebird will fly into the window of his study, misperceiving glass,
seeing it as nothing, when it is in fact a barrier, which stops bodies in motion,
that which causes abrupt death for those who see through but cannot, cannot go in.
In an unknown home in Bolinas, CA,
where the locals take down directional signs
leading into the town: Brautigan and
his flowerburgers, ghosts.
In Marfa, TX, I looked for Eileen
around every corner,
in every Donald Judd mirror cube reflection,
all plumes of cigarette smoke.
There was a Luis Jiménez bull in a gallery—
how similar was it to the sculpture that crushed him?
What manner of betrayal is it
to be destroyed by one’s own art? I should
fucking be able to answer that question.
I sipped coffee, which is not allowed in galleries—
the recognition that you are embodied,
not all mind/ transcendence/ thought forms
In the woods of Camden, Tennessee, there’s
an area of no new growth where Patsy Cline’s
plane kissed the ground.
The time on her wristwatch read 6:20.
I went with nothing, not even flowers,
just greasy hair, so careless this close to her
resting place, that patch of woods
illuminated with nothing, the forest’s
memory of death. I longed to see
her ghost; it would be less lonely. She’ll
never know that in the backwoods of
California, there is a woman, not allowed
alone outside, who does nothing
but play Patsy Cline records.
“Stop the World
(And Let Me Off)”
A year ago, blackout drunk, an
idiot, I called you crying in the snow,
lying atop Alfred Kinsey’s grave, which is
adjacent to Clara’s grave, who wouldn’t mind;
they were open. I was doing my
Mary Shelley impression, but much less metal.
At Salvation Mountain, I took pictures of tourists,
GOD IS LOVE on the plaster hills behind the frame,
LA models sourcing Instagram content. I was sunburned,
I had not slept. I was fleeing a fire. I was fleeing
a man who claimed to know me,
and correctly referenced my grade school.
“Don’t worry, it’s me,” he said.
“I just have a new face now.”
In the diner, I asked a waiter,
“Did you know Leonard Knight?”
“You just missed him,” the waiter said,
meaning, he had only just died.
The first time I saw Body Worlds
was only the second time in my life
I’d seen an escalator, a freshman in college.
“Wow,” I said, while my peers laughed.
“Wow,” I said, giving myself away; I was from nowhere.
Though I don’t wish to over-identify with nowhere. My awe
is not disproportionate to the miracle of things.
In the exhibit, there was a pregnant woman
with a nearly nine-month fetus,
see-through. This body, her body,
the origin of human life, veins,
organs, tissue, her sacrifice,
her dedication to science and art.
They’re all perfectly mortal.
All artists die, you fanboy. All gives way to
entropy and decay, to transparency,
projections. The once-alive horse
in the Body Worlds exhibit reared,
in protest, in pain, front legs suspended,
airless, never landing.
Compartmentalization is protective, which is why I keep you under cover of night, under the covers, our intermingled carbon monoxide, inhaling each others’ poison. Everyone believes their love is special. It's a sad world, isn’t it, you said, hand on my cheek, both of us too invested to acknowledge our melodrama, azure neon bedroom LEDs, both of us blurred from the world by our horizontal orientation, our bedcover camouflage, safe from intruders. Who could find us there? No one, not even ourselves. You did not know me when you horror-spasmed in the night and I held your seizing, shook alongside you, urged you to come back from gore to the land of the living, reverse Styx crossing, baby; I meant, be reborn. I wanted to be your midwife, to deliver you, as you gripped my wrist, the imagined enemy, your nails digging in my flesh, I will allow it. You’re here, you’re safe–bewildered and almost returned. Earlier you’d suggested I read The Agony of Eros to understand the self-obliteration that must occur in order to truly know The Other, and I was offended you thought I didn’t already know Oblivion, you hadn’t even asked, when of course I did, Oblivion was the third in our polycule throuple. When I first met you, outside a cafe, awkwardly asked if you’re the hugging type, and you yielded to me for the first time, sure, we discovered an unlikely refuge in the space between us, a space that was strangely, immediately, and obviously habitable–and so we moved in, Oblivion there too of course, a package deal for us both. I try not to be jealous of Oblivion’s relationship with you, to be secure in our love, to come from a surplus mindset, the world of renewable resources, opportunity, excellence. But sometimes it becomes challenging understanding whose feelings I am feeling. Are they yours? Are they Oblivion’s? Which one of you have mine? Your intimacy with death and violence could easily be mine. My longing is yours. I tied an infinity knot in cord and gave it to you. Oblivion brought it back to me. You study these knots to learn about entropy; of course Oblivion and I are in love with you. You’re the savant genius of collapse and I’ll never know your findings, only what Oblivion mentions in passing, overly casual, as if the destruction you left us with was worthy of only study.
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