Fracture & Gauze / Two Dogs
1. Riding the bus through Allston this past weekend, I began to think that there are two defining qualities to the memories I have of living in Boston: fracture and gauze. The fractured memories are recollections of hangovers – mornings afternoons nights – the feeling of hundreds of small pieces of glass embedded in my chest, weighing on the edges of my throat, along with smoke, maybe cum, maybe the drip of cocaine, maybe juice (if I were lucky, and had money left for the morning.) Then, gauze: Blanchard’s liquor store, its neon sign 20 feet high in the style of Fifties advertisements, dull in the afternoon light; Davis Square subway stop at night,the entire scene viewed with a dirty filter, all actions somehow separated from the present moment. I fell into all my old routes like playing the piano. It was as if I’d been gone for only a month, slipped into a long sleep like Ichabod Crane to awake and find that nearly everything was the same, only the city was emptier, and the people I loved were older, they had survived things.
2. Part of the timing of my trip to Boston was due to the fact that my dear friend Tom Johnston had set up a reading for Nick Flynn, as a part of his book tour in promotion of his new book, which I swallowed in two days, and am about to read again (there’s a reading tonight in NYC, then readings in L.A. & SF later this week). Nick is a lovely person to be around socially – he gives you a sense of possibility. He’s expansive and odd in a way that’s deeply familiar. There was some music at the readings – my friend the heart-breaking/warming Drew O’Doherty played a set. The whole evening was inspired & inspiring. I got to hang out a bit with my young & talented buddy Brendan Little, who is in The Painted Lights, a great band whose full-length album I eagerly await. Anyway, anyway, I’m getting carried away because I love and miss Boston & so many of the people in it.
The following is an excerpt from The Ticking is the Bomb.
Two dogs live inside me, a woman in Texas tells me, and the one I feed is the one that will grow. She tells me this as a way to explain why she won’t have coffee with me, ever–married, kids, happy, but sometimes her mind wanders, sometimes she thinks that another man, one that looks at her with kindness, one that seems to listen, is the answer, though she is unsure of the question. The thing is, her husband does all these things for her– he listens, he’s kind, there’s desire, everything’s fine.
But still, still, these two hungry dogs.
Wait–this woman didn’t say her dogs were hungry, did she? But aren’t all dogs hungry? Here Shadow, here Eros. Here Thanatos, here Light. The one she feeds is the one that will grow, but does that mean that the other one will grow smaller? Will it grow so small as to vanish? Do the dogs that live inside her come from some Alice-in-Wonderland world? Are they fighting inside her, does she love them both, does she sometimes think if one died it would be easier? But then she’ll have one dog inside her and the corpse of another dog– what good will that do, in the long run, what with all the other corpses we eventually end up dragging around inside us?