Fragment: Lesson One

I give you lesson one
That it is best to practice drowning
By closing oneself
In a small room with a dozen old records

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Triple Point

As you draw closer to christmas, perhaps it’s good to post something that fits the time of year. Something depressing. The title is based on the notion of the triple point in physics, the first temperature at which water can exist in solid, liquid or gas.

 

there is a point
at which friends are neither
necessary, sufficient or useful;
let us call it the triple point
where one is woven in with the background,
stitched to the passage of time.

for example:
I still receive mail for Mr. Daniel Bertrand,
which I place to one side each day,
and which, each day,
the postman places back inside the box
with the gloomy regularity
of a pendulum
My ventures outside become anonymous;
I try not to recognize people or move suddenly
in case they recognize me;
inside, I dart and scurry in hallways lest I get trapped
by a neighbour or lost child.
I have become a rarely-sighted species,
hunting laundry by night and groceries on Wednesday afternoons
the laundry tiger

When one disappears like this
(I think of a chalky white pill dissolving
in a lukewarm glass of water)
it is a gradual process. First
the
edges
dissolve:
one stops talking to those people who require
effort, those friends who are tiresome in one sense
or another.
Next come those who are far away,
then the unreliable
the circle constricts like the shrinking pill,
the shirts you could wear
when younger
which no longer fit right
you are simply a dot in the centre of an
expanding circle of whiteness
that eventually will average you out

Auden said ‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone’
Instead, I remove the battery from my Ikea clock,
accidentally dropping it down the side of the bed in the process;
my telephone cannot be cut off, only cancelled.
Too late, I will receive a large bill for my trouble.
And woven into the fibres of the paper,
so small that even microscopes holding microscopes
could only begin to make out the edges of letters,
are tiny words that reach out and pull me
into a womb of white noise.

Random Thought #4628

It is strange that something as personal as writing can still feel so impersonal. That despite the perfect clarity of the creative outlet, there is still so much kept back, so much unsaid. Even here, I cannot say what I want to say; and therefore this is not, as I once thought it would be, a sort of therapy for me. It is a simple passing of the hours.

exit;

Typo

Again this has been posted here before, but I do like it. What is strange to me is that I have a memory attached to this piece, and someone else may read it and attach it to a different memory. Even though the words are the same…

somewhere in this layered
cubist collage of touch
it is possible
if one peers from the right angle
to separate
three bodies
pry apart the tessellating edges –
divide this flesh into separate forms
but for a moment
we
linked together
a lifeline drawn in blood
pencil vein
for a brief pulse
a quartz vibration
there is something akin to perfection
in this movement
but
then you fold back
into the mental space
the thoughts return
of how his body is such
styled and flowing
copperplate in the square-nibbed pen
and red ink so distinctive
those complex German adjectives
seem to ripple across him
he is a living calligraphy
and she so
clear and radiant
freehand
she bends light towards her
like glass
it follows the waveforms
of the boundaries between
her and not-her
of what is sadness to touch
and what is nothing
your body is so
covered with corrections
rewrites and editing marks
the edges all noise
ink bleeds into the white fibres
from
the shouting of the fights
that made a simple skin
into this memoir, battleground
each skip dull version of
scratches between the grooves of the record
he holds it up to the light to test if it is warped
tosses it away
this is something too far from perfect

a friend in high school told me that if you go without sleep for a long time you can bring on hallucinations. We tried it once, but I fell asleep after about a day and a half of that thin, drawn-out feeling. My friend lasted two full days, and he started to see strange things: unreal moving shapes and noises becoming patterns in your head. A sentence condensed down to a single word that repeats over and over even after the sound has gone like a wave that keeps crashing.

That’s not what insomnia is. Some people believe they don’t sleep at all, but that’s not what it is either. You just never sleep enough. Your body runs you on the minimum amount of sleep required to keep you alive. Some nights there is no sleep. Other nights, you can grab maybe two, three hours. Mostly there are no dreams, so you think you haven’t slept. You roll over, and the clock is an hour closer to morning than it was before. The flicker of your eyes is slower for a moment, and that is the closest you get to real rest. Slowly the life drains out of you. The feeling of reality is gone, like you’re looking at everything through a sheet of clear perspex. Watching a movie that wraps all around you and will not let you go.

Sleep. deprivation. SD. Like Standard Deviation. The distance of data from the mean. The average person sleeps about 7 hours a night I think. We are definitely a deviation. The insomniacs. Some can’t sleep until the morning, some wake up too early. Some talk online in late night early morning hazes, wait through the sounds of waking that ripple across the country from East to West each day. I guess it’s a community, but one that none of us really want to be part of.
you can meet someone that way. There are ads on Craigslist: ‘can’t sleep – want some company’; ‘I can’t sleep. Anyone want to chat?’; ‘can’t sleep msn anyone? – w4mw – 19’. Insomniac sex is vague, impersonal, flat. That same feeling pervades all parts of the sleep-deprived life. we watch clocks. Tonight I climbed into bed at 11:17pm. It is now 1:31am. I have watched the digits flick their green bars into place so many times I have lost count, and my mind starts to wander. The green bars are imprinted on the inside of my closed eyes like a neon prison, blinking on and off but a little too fast for me to escape between the blinks. Eventually they slow to something like a heartbeat, but before I can relax too much I have a sudden panic. I sit up quickly in bed… I have left some food out on the kitchen counter. It’s been out there all day. An apple I took out of the fridge at 2am last night, but never ate. I can picture it growing wrinkled and old, attracting cockroaches and worms. Lie down. Now behind my eyes the green bars reform into a hexagonal green apple that starts to run out of the bottom of my view in a vile green mojito slush. After a few minutes of this I have to get up and find the apple. The attempt to sleep is reset as soon as I leave the bed.
there are lots of treatments. Melatonin kept me up even more, 5HTP did nothing, the list of sleeping pills is just another thing to cycle through my brain when I’m lying awake. Seroquel, temazepam, trazodone, zopiclone, remeron – put them in dosage order, alphabetical order, nausea strength order. I tried watching long slow movies like the Seventh Seal or Lawrence of Arabia; listening to slow, soothing music, wearing lavender eye masks. All just items in the cycling lists. Put them in order by director, by release date, by number of academy awards. My Doctor suggested finding the cause rather than treating the symptoms, but I think on some level I feel this torture is shaping me. I may even be encouraging it. The haggard face, the jitters, the unfocused way I watch the computer screen at work. I am letting them define me. I watch movies late at night, sleep with a clock in the room, bake cookies at 2am while listening to early Prodigy tracks. Maybe trying and failing is worse than not trying. Or maybe fixing this would leave me nothing else to blame.

Tessellate

bodiespressed

inarray

non-tessellating

wait

assortedshapes

they

oddangle in

seamand teeth

allcrooked

offaces

thepennies drop

fromripped pocket lining

infractured polygons

they

allon wires

tothe waist

staggerwith IV

objectpermanence

whitewire to VIII

tormentingor separate

allsunken

incurrent

they

scrapingcolour

fromgrey film

thecity lays

overeverything

cannothear the stenotype

silentchord

takingdictation

forevery glance

Three Questions: part 1

Food

after the third day, she starts to feel light-headed all the time. Her head is floating slightly above the rest of her world; still joined, but tenuously. She drinks small glasses of chilled water that burn her throat to keep her stomach full, but the light-headedness will not go away. Every couple of hours she checks her face in the bathroom mirror. The mirror is getting dirty and stained, she hasn’t cleaned the apartment in several weeks. Her skin looks dull, verging on unhealthy. Perhaps there is a tiny bit less fat around the cheeks than before? She checks her thighs, her stomach, the backs of her arms. Each maybe is a little smaller than yesterday. She will keep doing this. Perhaps just until she looks like the boys and girls in the bars downtown. Until someone beautiful stares at her and cannot pull away. That one boy. How romantic it will be when they are sitting over coffee together in some quiet café one day, and she tells him how she made herself beautiful for him.

on the fourth day she takes an antihistamine at a friend’s place and almost throws up. Blood flows into her head in a wide hot rush, making her dizzy. The edges of her vision start to turn purple like she’s blacking out and she staggers into her friend’s kitchen on legs that feel like thin strips of flexible steel, bending at random. Columns of numbers are pulsing through her head; calorie counts of all the different foods slowly mouldering in her fridge. If she picks right, perhaps she can eat one thing that will keep her alive without taking in too many calories. Cucumber, lettuce. Something that is food on the outside, water on the inside. This long line of thoughts follows her like a vapour trail all the way to the ground.

later that evening she rides downtown on her bike. It is almost pure white except for the stretched out French logo on the crossbar. The gears must be broken though, or maybe the tires are flat, because she can’t drag herself up the hill. Eventually she dismounts and pushes the bike up, her body angled against it so she is close to falling into the sidewalk. She can almost see the noise pushing through her, creating this sick feeling like a circular headache; the head that’s not even joined to her body any more.

that night, as a kind of torture of encouragement, she watches a documentary about chocolate. An expensive slideshow arrangement with close up shots of assortments and rich thick brown moving liquid fills the screen from edge to edge. Seeing the figures spooning chocolate into each other fills her with a horrible jolting nausea.

on the fifth morning, there is a sharp pain in her stomach, or maybe her kidneys, that will not go away. She tries stretching, but that makes it slightly worse. Even though her nails are short, one breaks off while she is cleaning the bathroom sink again. The apple that was left out on the counter five days ago has flies all over it, and there is a sick sweet smell from some food going bad somewhere else. She lies down on the kitchen floor and curls into a ball that stops the pain in her stomach for a little while.