Wednesday, April 18, 2007

To Catherine Four. Lapping Lazily.


Your letter caught me off guard- surprised me rather seriously in the midst of an already shattering Saturday. You had escaped my thoughts briefly, for a few dark and dreary days spent in silence. There is a sharp chill in the air- an unlikely April. I keep waiting for the warmth with which I was teased only a mere few weeks ago yet each morning I step outside and it feels like late October.

I plucked your letter from the rusted innards of my mailbox and it slid out slowly, scraping the sides as it escaped. It was a second thought. I wasn't even going to check it, for fear of bills, a seething letter from Anna (whom I wrote while a bit too drunk the other evening), a letter from Miguel, my brother, who I think is also unhappy with me. I fall to harshly into things and I cannot fish myself out. You tell me that you are not sure I can love instantly, without contemplation. But, I have always been told that that very thing is amongst my most glaring flaws. I fall in love with everyone, with every glinting, glowing set of eyes, with each swoosh of hair behind a girl's face, with each click-clank of heeled shoes on the street. I always confuse myself because I know, somewhere, that it is not the people I love, it is only the fact of them. I love the sounds of the body as I love the sounds of the sky. Only the sky can bear to be loved as equally as the trees and the sun; the sky doesn't mind.

I am being silly? Maybe it is not the sounds of the city, (the sounds of each individual which make up the world) that I love. Perhaps it is just the fact that I can express it. Maybe what I love is only to be able to feel love and once I must prove it, once I must make something outside of words- that is when I lose control, lose balance. I have never been satisfied by a single love. It is always that deep intensity, the beginning of something, the falling back into an old thing, which captures me and penetrates my skin. I breath in the air of renewal and I exhale all the things I used to know.

You tell me you know nothing of my life, my loves, my habits. Take all my loves, my love, yea take them all; What hast thou then more than thou hadst before? I've told you of Anna, have I not? I've told you briefly, I suppose, of our marriage and of the way it disintegrated beneath the weight of time, beneath the build up of the past which I could not look away from. She wanted to grow, to grow something inside of her. And I scoffed at her. I told her silly things, stupid things. I warned her of her child's gaze, that those innocent eyes would not see her, would not even look for her. I told her cruelly and detachedly that long after her death her child too will lie dying. I asked her, "Do you think that she, like I, will cry out your name?" Yes, she may whisper "mother" but she will not be calling to Anna but only to the soft, steadily beating warmth she felt once, nestled against her mother's breast, to the gift of life she was given but could not be given again.

And Anna stood back in shocked horror, balked at the sudden shutting of a book, the book of our life together. I did not want a child. I only want to make what I believe in. I have no desire for responsibility. And so I shut her out with cruel intentions and with a cold hand. I slipped into another woman, into Claudia, who already had a child, a husband. It wasn't serious, at least not to me. I taught her a few things though. She left a loveless marriage and is now strong and living on her own. I pushed her away as well. But, that's a story for another day.

My love, you are young. But your wisdom outweighs your years. You are hesitant because you saw in my eyes all of the loss I have put myself purposely through. You heard in my voice the hesitation, the careful careening around any actual declarations. I did not want to make premature admissions. I did not want to scare you. I did not want to say something that I wasn't entirely certain of. It is in these letters, though, that I truly know you. I can say so much more in the safety of my own mind. The statements are more genuine because they are not clouded by the beauty of your eyes or the beauty of the sky. And your words are full and idealistic, young and fresh and yet they still resonate with an understanding of sorrow and pain.

You wonder if you had mistook some understanding beyond words, "a perfect silent stillness" for love? I say that they are one and the same. Without love there is no understanding at all. Perhaps, then, on the beach, beneath the beauty of the world around us and the sky above us,the ocean outstretched at our feet (lapping lazily as we slept) perhaps it was easy to find love because it was everywhere around us, right within our reach. But, now, far away in different cities and weighed down by ritual and routine, we are still seeking out that thing we found once, not so long ago, on an accidental evening. And maybe, just maybe, that is love.

Yours in words and waiting,

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wanting to Know- From Catherine Three.


Many times I have sat down at this table with a blank sheet of paper in front of me and eagerly held a pen in my hand intending to write you. I've read and reread the letters you've sent, searched them for a reply, searched over and over between the words trying to gather some sense of you and myself. I've closed my eyes and listened intently to the disquiet that hums in this room, listened for the words I hoped would come. And for so long they did not. I sat as time slipped away and I tried again and again to summon my courage and wits, to make some adequate thing to send back to you that did not trivialize nor misstate my thoughts. I don't know if it was confusion, perhaps I was sunk under the torrent of things left unsaid when we last parted. Or if it was fear. Some vague fear that I am not who you think I am, that I am not what you need me to be. Also a fear that the brief time we shared was an accident, a misstep into a dream that could not possibly be sustained in my real life.

When you folded me in your arms I felt your weight and warmth press into me and it was as if I had been clutched from the intertia of my life and made to stand in the still brightness of yours. I desired nothing more than that momentous falling away from myself, and I felt no need for the past nor the future. I loved you instantly and deeply. I hope I do not frighten you by being so direct. But I am young, Fernando, much younger than you, and I'm not sure you are still able to love instantly, without contemplation. Or perhaps for you love alone is not sufficient. Maybe you were once satisfied by a single love. I knew in the darkness of your gaze and your careful words that you were letting me see exactly what you wanted me to see of you. We slept a happy sleep together, and I dreamed as I slept beside you that I lived in a bright, empty house on a hill overlooking a city and the ocean. It was an ancient city littered with ruins, but it was full with all the motions of life. Through a wide window I looked down on the city, and it was far from me. The noise of life that always intrudes and distracts was nothing but a far away churning and hissing, like the lapping of the low tide on the beach, gently rolling. And I woke next to you and I was not sure if I had woken from the dream. I wasn't sure until you had gone.

When you say you want to come running to me I cannot help but wonder if you are running towards an image you have conjured, that you are running from your past and your loneliness that you understand less than you think you do. I am not saying this to be cruel, I am only searching you out. And I do not neglect your words. I hold them tightly and place them deep inside of me, next to my heart. They live there, you live there, and when I return to them, as I always do, I find them repeating in rhythm with the pulse of my blood, as real and as thick as my blood. But Fernando, we barely know each other. I know nothing of your life, nor your loves, nor your habits. I only know the warmth of your hand on my cheek, your lips and your eyes all aflame. I could see that there were worlds to know behind those eyes. I could hear, as I lay my head on your chest, your heart beating so heavy with some sorrow, many sorrows. I wondered what memories you kept there and I wondered what place I would take among them. I wondered why you had come to the ocean alone. But we hardly had time to ask each other "why". I knew that you saw a common sorrow in me, and I knew that there was some understanding there beyond words, in perfect silent stillness, as silent and still and illuminated as the night. Did I mistake that for love?

I do wish to write you and know you, but it frightens me when I am struck dumb and wordless by such an experience. I do not think it struck you blind, as it did me. You would not have left with so few words if it did.

And I don't know what you want from me.

Wanting to know,

To Catherine Three.


You neglect to write me, to return the words I send sprawling towards you. They eagerly await a response but I suppose I should take it in stride. I suppose I should consider those few brief moments we shared and my obvious distance, my eyes set on far off sights while yours were forward and focused. I have always been the same man, stuck inside a world of words trying desperately to make something besides what is made with pen and paper. I always want to push people into words, to make them write to me when they would rather speak, to make them read of me when they would rather touch. I thought, because of the intensity of your letter, that I had found someone, finally, who felt the same passion for this sort of expression as I. But, by your silence, I fear I was wrong.

Today, I climbed to the top of a tall building and I sat soaking in the first vibrant sun of the season. I read a book and listened to the sound of the wind blow by my ears, the sounds of the birds as they scattered across the sky- little black specks beaming against the bright blue. I squinted into the sun, my hand angled at my brow and I thought of things I'd like to say to you. I wished that I had whispered words into your ear after holding you so close beneath the stars. But, then, I cowered in fear. I was overwhelmed. I was indignant. And it wasn't until I stared, alone, up into that piercing sky that I realized the weight of what I had left behind. It sat stale in my memory as some distant dream I might have once dreamt about a beach and the moon and a lovely girl who took me in her arms. But, standing there, high above the ground, watching the world move around, oblivious to even the building on which I was perched, I felt a distance had been traversed. I was suddenly with you, beneath the gull-strewn sky- the sounds of squaking drowned out by our loud laughter. And the sun burned hotly on my head and it illuminated the light which burst out from inside you.

There, on that building, I felt more of an imbecile than I've ever felt. I descended the stairs with haste, skipping steps and nearly sliding down a whole flight. I held tightly to the railing and the bright white walls closed in on me. By the time I reached the bottom I was exhausted; sweat dripped down my face and I tasted it, salty, on my lips. As I paced the streets the light breeze cooled me and I considered my options. It might be nice to have a drink, to sit and sip and settle, to try to understand this sudden, screaming compulsion to run to this woman who I only know but a bit. It might be better to return to my hotel and write a letter which expresses all the things I have felt- the suddenness, the barely thought out and barely understood feelings. Or I could let it slide by, try to decipher it at a later date, when I'm not so attached.

But, I am not one to feel things and leave them unexpressed. Even as I write this I wonder what will become of it. Will it sit alone on the page, smushed between the other unrelated pages of this notebook which I only pick up randomly and when I am trying to work through some heavy emotion? Will I send it off to someone who will recieve it and be shocked, who will not understand what I am saying, what I am asking, because I also do not understand what I have said, what I have asked- if I have said or asked anything at all even!

I wonder what she is doing now, that beautiful Catherine. I am stricken with a bright image of her body outstreched on the roof of the same building I just came from. The light wind blowing her boundless blonde locks across her face. I can see her eyes fixed on the sky- following the birds in flight, the corners of her small, feminine mouth upturned into a simple smile. It baffles me to try to determine what she actually does with her days. She never even told me about a job but also- I never asked.

And now that I've gotten carried away speaking about you, my dear beautiful Catherine, I will close my eyes and send this letter without another thought.

Suddenly yours and always waiting,

Anchored- To Catherine Two.


These memories we make, the memories we keep, are for me a lifeline- a sort of protection that I can keep close and hold onto. There are certain things in my life that, though I don't often encounter them, they sit high up on a pedastal and they outline for me all of the things I must work towards. You have always been one of those things. Someone who remains peripheral in my life but who lives inside me always- a North Star, bright in my vision and leading me in the right direction.

Those few short days full of cool blue and caramel colors, the nights of firey red and midnight black are like movies which play again and again across my eyes. I lose myself in the smell of the salty sea, the vastness of all things stretched out across the horizon and the sky huge above us. The breeze which blew off the water brushed over my hair, across my ears and I felt so many things at once, the sand- millions and millions of tiny grains, the sun hot on my back, your hand warmly enclosed inside my own, the imminence of our departure. Even then, looking into your eyes, looking out onto the water, feeling your breath hot on my neck- I still was overwhelmed by the briefness of it all. I can never just sink into anything; I am always looking ahead or looking behind. And I felt I was cheating you out of those few precious moments we had together by counting them so meticulously as they passed.

Now, back again in my lonely world of my own words with no one to bounce them off of, I sit in silence and regret. I am always wondering what it would be like to wake up beside you- to fall asleep gently in your tender arms, to hear the words I whisper echo back in my ears. But, reality is always more stark, more jagged than memory. I fear that we would fight- that you would grow tired of the listless nature which fascinates you so in small bits. I have a raging distaste for cleanliness, for domesticity, for routine. And I suppose that is why those few memories we share are so dear to me, why they are played so often in the jukebox of my memory. Because they are always a total respite from routine. We can always be whomever we choose and there is never and evidence around to prove otherwise.

You mention Anna. You told me that you could see her behind my eyes. But, Catherine dear, Anna left me for that very reason. Because she was never alone behind my eyes. Because she saw all the other people who lived here and she wanted to be the only one. You cannot blame her; I certainly can't. I ran off in every direction. I tied myself to her, through marriage, but I did not give myself to her. As I cannot give myself to anyone.

Perhaps what you say is true: that we have nothing but misty memories of moments past and gone. I'd like to see you again, fall forward into that bubble where it is only you and I. Write me something soon; your words are an anchor.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

From Catherine One- Queen Anne's Lace.


Often, as I am laying in bed waiting for sleep to come, another's arms around me, another's body close to mine, my mind drifts back to those few nights we were allowed together. You chased me out into the water and we swam at dusk, after the horseflies had bitten our shoulders raw. The air had become cooler but the water was still warm, and we stayed in up to our chins to keep from freezing. We laughed and choked on seawater and held each other there, under the low tide, trying to keep submerged as long as we could. I watched your face against the darkening sky, your eyes bright in the twilight, full of energy and life and full of a dark thoughtfulness. We scrambled out of the water and ran shivering up to the fire. We stripped out of our wet clothes and lay together in the warm, dry sleeping bag. The night came on and the stars were bold and trembling above us. I counted three shooting stars lying in your arms as you fell in and out of sleep, murmuring words to me that I half-comprehended. And yes, I felt whole then. I felt my place and my emotions properly aligned. I wondered what it would have been like to have all the time in the world with you.

But, as I stared across the fire, its dancing light reflected in your eyes (bold against the night, your eyes always as bright as stars), I saw you trace the horizon, just a mute blue hue, almost complete night, and I knew you were thinking of another. We never spoke much about her. I didn't want to. In some ways, I wanted to believe the lie, that there was someone who drops into your life out of pure circumstance, and they are the ones who are to save you. I obviously wanted to believe that; I fell into you fully. And I am not bitter now that we are apart. I am grateful for having known you, to still know you, though only through these few letters or a chance encounter. Remember the last time we ran into each other? I dreamt of you for days.

The second night on the beach, when we were sunburned and weary from two days in the bright heat and the hot sand, we fell asleep in each other's arms. But I was restless. I dressed and walked out into the cool sand in the night. The night was so bright. The half-moon sat on a field of bright pinholes; the milky-way like queen anne's lace strewn carelessly across the sky. All of it reflected in the deep darkness of the Atlantic, the churning mirror that stretched the entire horizon. I walked out to where the waves were lapping at the shore, a strong breeze whipping my hair around my face. It was bright and the sound of the waves breaking in rhythm stirred the blood in my cheeks. And I wished you had walked out with me, to behold the perfect night in our world which was like a dream for that short time.

But I was also wearing the night like a mask. And the moon glowed, but it also glowed pale with a kind of grief. Our lives each seemed so full, and we were strangers to each other. Everything that happened happened suddenly and out of instinct. It often felt like we were not controlling things. But it was perfect and I felt myself small, so small beneath that giant night, the light from the stars a billion years old illuminating me, the moon slowly cycling over us. I felt ready to give into fate, to let everything slip away and let myself slip into you as easily as I glided through the water. And I rushed back to the tent; I undressed and pushed myself close to you. I took your arm as you roused from your sleep and pressed your palm onto my breast. I pushed my back against your chest and reached to pull your face close to mine. And we kissed and whispered to each other under the lull of the waves and the wind.

Yet here we are now, again each in our own world. I live on memories and hopes. I live because of things you have shown me. Yet we are still so separate, we are still strangers in so many ways. You were always some place distant. You were always many people at once. And I could never ask you to be only one for me. I could never ask you to give her up. Or the memory of her.

I will love you always, and I will always be your friend. But what do we have besides these misty memories?


The First Letter to Catherine.


Despite the cold chill of the wind and the ice which is still not fully melted which is scattered along the sides of the street, I can still smell the oncoming Spring. I have been pacing the streets, trying to find the places where the sun creeps through the bulidings, illuminating a small portion of sidewalk. Memories of the sun on my skin, the ocean water crisp and creeping up to my toes. Memories of those long nights we layed still and silent beneath a shimmering sky. My feet formed prints in the sand, that stick you used to scrape words in the sand: huge hearts bearing our initials. And it seems like a silly thing to miss if you think about it: those spontaneous moments when I wore my heart on my sleeve and you plucked it's strings easily and with only your eyes.

Perhaps, and this almost seems likely, it was the ocean and it's rhythmic moments, it's steadily slapping sounds that has imbedded those brief days so solidly in my memory. But, it was also your cheeks- aglow beneath a clear sky. It was the thousand freckles which formed on your face, right before my eyes- the way they ran in a little line across your nose and scattered over your shoulders, sprinkling your cheeks. It was the smell of the salt and the sound of your voice shouting, laughing while the small waves slapped the sand. It was the way you chased me out into the water and it was the sound of the sand you smacked against my burnt back.

Regardless, though, of what, precisely, echoes in my memory it is always outlined by your eyes, by the bright blue-green hue and the way you blink: meaningfully, thoughtfully. And when I look at the pictures you took of me, those washed out and overexposed images- I can still see the smiles I held- bolder and braver than in any photo I've ever seen of myself. I can still smell your saltwashed hair. I can still feel the big bumpy bugbites which lined up along my arms, the slap of the frisbee on my palms, the smack of my arms by my ears as I lapped through the thick water. I can still feel my feet sinking in the soaking sand, the rocks and shells which made little dents in the smooth stretch of beach.

The night, the cool breeze blowing off the water, the way your eyes lit up by the fire- ablaze with thought, emotion, desire. The way your smile matched your eyes, they way they shone together by the buzzing light of the flickering flames. And we could hear the sound of the horses hooves as they ran along the beach behind us; and we could see the moon- a half moon- blazing brightly between the small stars. I felt so earth-bound then, as if I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. So often I float and fly away from where I am standing, anywhere but present. But, with you, I feel the weight of each moment as it moves and shifts into the past, into memory.

I am now writing without thinking, remembering without really making anything of the memories. Perhaps you can make something solid of my spacey memories. Perhaps you can pull the meaning out of all these misty memories. You always could.

Yours in hope, in speech, and memory,

Monday, April 09, 2007



For every day of my life that I have spent full of passion for my words and for the fictions I craft with them there have been many others that I have spent murmuring sadly in a cold and quiet cell, looking over my desolate lot with gloomy despair. If I see myself in art, it is only because I have looked. When I work at my words, I believe in them. When I set them aside and glance over them rarely, I believe in nothing. Today, I saw the round, yellow moon through a dense web of tiny, fingering branches on a leafless tree. The lit up tips of the bare branches formed incomplete circles which spiraled infinitely away from me and up towards the full moon. I thought of you and your occasional mysticsm. You denied it most of the time, but often enough, some indication of a hidden soft spot for the infinite would brim up over the lip of your whiskey glass. When the human mind fearfully suspects its own finality, it can, by some trick of the light, perceive the divine. But mostly, the search for the infinite just sends you around in circles.

I am always searching for an infinity that I can barely feel. On a rare occasion I grasp, what I deem to be, the entirety of the human condition. I stand back and stare, in awe, at the depth there is inside me, at the simple fact that I can stand back and stare in awe. And I truly beleive that that is the entirety of the human condition. What is divine is that we can perceive divinity at all, that it is something which lives so brightly inside us. I suppose we all experience the same divinity in different ways. Anna sees it in glowing in the eyes of her child. I see it in the people who pass by me when I walk, in the way they hold their heads and in the fact that I can make them real by simply putting them into words. You, well, where do you see it? In the burning corners of the papers you wrote and then set to flame?

It is beyond me how you can understand so much about what it means to make yourself alive outside your skin, about what it means to do something more than yourself, and yet you glance fearfully to the sides whenever you have written something. As if someone might catch you actually building a life of the things inside you. But, perhaps I am less than objective? Perhaps you have so much more than I. It is true that you maintain a job; you maintain relationships with people outside of yourself. And maybe I make people so fervently because I cannot make them know me, or want to know me, in the outside world. Or maybe I choose to stay silent and hidden because I prefer to whisper some small and solid things to an indefinite audience of my own choosing. And maybe that is how I approach the infinite.

But, maybe, the infinite is only apparent in the definite. Maybe the infinite only lives in the silently setting sun, in the sound my steps make on the stairs at night. Maybe the infinite is just an illusion, just an imagined feeling, a feeling everyone has as he falls asleep beneath the stars. The sky is a pale milky blue pulsing purple at the horizon. High above me I can already see the moon, thin as tissue paper and fading from its fullness. Tonight the sky will be a brilliant wintery black and I will look up into those few stars which glow more brightly than the city lights. And I will believe that what I see is boundless.


My Own Voice Loudly Speaking.


You say that we missed things. I remember watching flickers in the corner of my eye while I kept my gaze directed towards some distant goal I imagined seeing. I remember missed whispers tickling my ear while I focused my attention on my own voice loudly speaking. Life is always there all around you; but you live it in a straight and narrow line. I'm telling you the very thing that I myself have the most trouble remembering. I used to try to extend my perceptions all around me as a way of testing their reality. I used to push myself out and into a vast circle. I find myself thinking that I was just blowing smoke. You talk about imagining my Anna. I also imagined her because I was afraid to know her. Lately, I have written her many letters. I have been forced to forget the Anna I made in my mind; but find myself more in love than ever with Anna as she actually is. And it's too late. And it will always be too late for anyone who prefers his visions to his life.

When you call yourself Buck Mulligan, I hear you calling me to come up. I see you drawing me from my moody brooding and directing my attention to the great and sparkling sea. I see you leaping in where I would hesitate. I see you sniffing at my choice of attire and pressing your own clothing on me. I think of you whenever I buy a suit. I've learned to give up my purposeful shabbiness (which I believe you once pointed out is nothing more than the vanity of the sartorially ignorant) only because of what you taught me. But you were never so empty as the jolly medical, thinking that if he only talked loudly enough, laughed hard enough, he could hide from the subtle sharpness he feared. And I, my friend, was no knife-blade. We swung around one another, building momentum with each turn and whirling with such breathless energy as neither of us could have done alone. When I found footing in your hesitations and leapt suddenly over you to a solid stance from which I could confidently lend you my hand, did you imagine that I had always known what you did not? I only went where you guided me, my friend. When we walked together we were each so soaked in himself; but a good part of each self was made of the other.

Comparing yourself to the simpering Sassenach is not something I will dignify with a reply.

I often wonder what it is that makes a person declare himself incapable of making anything. I have met many people who, full of themselves and their lives, still regarded me with envy and suspicion because I claimed to make something. The most intelligent, the most successful people often view creativity as a threat. And when I see this, I always picture them as children with their crayons scribbling fiercely and happily and then grimacing over the inept result. And I wonder if it was then that they gave up. Or maybe their pictures were proudly placed on a refrigerator door for years before they saw them for childish nonsense and suffered an even deeper disappointment. Does all the despair that drowns us descend from a day when we saw that our stubby fingers could never grasp our immense visions? Never mind Dedalus and Mulligan. Let us instead be Julian and Maddalo. And you will talk your gloomy sense to me and I will feel more and more and more certain that we are bound by brittle chains indeed. It isn't easy to be your own salvation; but I am full of hope. You fill me with hope. And Anna. And everyone I truly love.

Please continue to confide in your old friend,


A Bit Drunk. Garret.


I've just left the mess of the office and my mind is a muddle of unresolved issues and unfulfilled plans for the evening. I'm sitting at a bar surrounded by a jovial crowd and brooding in distinct contrast to the spirit of this "happy" hour (but taking full advantage of the half-price drink specials, nonetheless). Everyday I go to work gripped by something that I can only describe as dread. I leave my warm bed when my clamoring clock commands, grimacing and doing my best to ignore the murky light weakly peeking through my window panes and the chill that settles on my bare legs. I do my best to pretend that I'm not going to work. I putter about, make coffee, butter toast, pick out a tie and leave at the last possible second. I drive quickly, even aggressively, music blasting. It's my favorite part of the day: focusing all my attenton on surviving dangerous situations I've created with my own recklessness and impatience.

Somehow, I always make it to work and immediately find myself absorbed in the minor challenges of my daily tasks. I lose my self in the momentary, in the ordinary, in the necessary. I am asked a question, I am dragged into a dispute, I am locked in my daily battle with the quarrelsome fax machine. Eight (sometimes ten) hours pass. I'm good at my job; but it is so little of myself. I leave and the day is dimming. I wonder what is left of me after I have given so much to this company whose stones still stand so high above me as I walk wearily to my car and always into the reddening sky. And I am so exhausted by all the nothing I have so diligently done.

You'll have to excuse my self-pitying tone. You see, I've just been stood up. Well, not really. It's a long story. But it still ends with my sitting here all alone trying to piece my gloomy thoughts together and send them off to someone far away. And I'm feeling as if everything is somehow far away. As if I have nothing that I can actually touch. I'm wondering how much of my life is nothing but a distant idea half-thought in a hazy dream, how many of my passions are nothing but a faint light half-glimpsed in lazy glance. I'm missing something; I've missed something. Everything that matters is somewhere else and my life is stacking up behind me, day upon day of the same grim compromise that I have so carelessly shrugged on. And every day, the worries are getting a little harder to shrug away. I have grown quiet, solemn. I am in mourning for the self I leave further and further behind with every repetition of the day's little lies.

I'm sorry to subject you to this sulky scrawl, scattered with cigarette ash and stained with beer. I suppose I'm a bit drunk. But I'm sending this anyway. Because what's the point of talking to myself?


Willingly A Friend.


You speak of preferring your visions to life and, yet, is that not the only way to be sure that your visions are the centering aspect of your life? I am not talking about the visions of a madman. I am speaking of the creative visions of someone who understands what it means to make something. It seems to me, and I know that I am not an expert on this matter (though I've always wished I could be), that those of us who live linearly lose something. I've always known that it is not productive to follow a straight line through your life. But, I suppose it is hard to avoid. I suppose you can only stare off to the sides, behind you, and it does nothing much. If you make your visions into your life you can look at them from all sides, from all angles. You must follow them down their crooked and sometimes darkening paths.

It is true what you say, partly. Those of us who neglect to know anything but our own visions are often too late. They look past the people in their lives and only into themselves. But, it seems to be necessary to the production of their art. I learned this from you, Fernando. I saw the way your eyes lit up when you spoke, that the words coming forth from your lips were just what you had wanted. You almost looked down at them as they escaped your mouth. They danced off the tip of your tongue and I caught them and held them and knew them. Before you, I only knew of art in vagaries. I had seen it; I had smelled it. But, I had never tasted it. The passion with which you spoke of Dedalus, of Mulligan, made me feel like they were right there with us, inside of us. And it is this ability, this strength, that gives way to all others.

You taught me that to make people see what you see, to put yourself into something so much so that they know it and it moves them, is worth all the moments, all the movements of your life. And yet, still, I cannot find a way to see myself in art. And yet, still, I struggle to muster up the passion that we had. I sit in the same bars, drink merrily, tilting my head back and smiling as I sip my beer, wiping the foam from my mouth with the back of my hand. I look ahead at whomever happens to be sitting infront of me and they are never what you were. Their eyes do not glow with any passionate light; they do not inspire me to speak and to shout.

And I wonder, is it enough to only know you in memory? Is it enough to only feel your presence in the depths of my thoughts, in the dark corners of days I can barely grasp hold of. It is enough to know your art only in these few but fond letters we are only recently exchanging. It wasn't until your last letter that I was able to really recognize the things I am missing. I am missing a passionate face to run through the streets with, eyes lit by words and by music. I pluck at my guitar every once in a while and put it away before the strings have time even to indent the skin on my fingers. I sit alone in a bar and stare at a blank page beneath me and end up with only a few sentences scrawled haphazardly across the top.

You speak of Julian and Maddalo, of the brittle chains which bind us. And how we are assured that much may be conquered, much may be endured, of what degrades and crushes us. The power that we ourselves have is embedded deep down somewhere and is not always easy to come by. I refrain from that sweet sleep which medicines all pain; I refrain from all things unworthy and I bow my head to you, to your words, in hope that I may find words of my own. I think, even now, I am starting to sound too much like you. And I think this cold world shall never know the depths of my emotions.

Willingly A Friend,

From Garret.


I knew then that you knew me well, that you observed subtle shifts in my tones, the subtle motions of my mouth when I pressed it tightly in self-absorbtion. We were both joyous and floating forward, tumbling into the motions of youth with vigor and excitement. We were eager to live, eager to see.

I am also noticing a change in my momentum. Things I once looked at, convinced I understood them, I now look at with a hint of confusion. That's a good thing, though. I am less self-involved, more genuine. You know, honestly, sometimes when we would stumble together down those cobblestone roads, half-smashed from too many needless toasts, I felt that we were almost Joycean, or at least you were. I am different around you, you know; I'm much more confident. On good days I feel like the Buck Mulligan to your Dedalus, on bad days I feel more like Haines.
It is certainly something to be able to communicate with your fellow man, with those others who feel things as wholly and as completely as you do. It is certainly a rare treat to find someone with whom you can let your personality unfold naturally and honestly. But, I find the indulgence a bit too much at times. I am not so good at opening up; I am not so prone to letting anything in. I build myself in an image of who I want to be and I try to be that person whether I am or not. That can be rather transparent, I find.

I am also noticing a change in my pace. I move slower now, not because I must, but because I feel like we missed things. You remark on my observant nature, on the material things I made you more aware of. But, I was not nearly as observant about my own life. I let things fall to shatters while I laughed as if I didn't care. It is funny to tell you this because you always felt everything so supremely. The more I feel things, the more I pretend I don't. This doesn't go over well with the women, I'll tell you.

I remember the way you spoke of Anna, how you always spoke of her. And I invented her, my image of her, based on your descriptions. I doubt she's anything like I imagine her. I always wished I could adopt your passion, as you wished you could adopt my casual approach. But, perhaps you did not notice the cringes which crinkled my brow when you looked away. You see, I have spent all these years alone, with very few people to speak to seriously, to speak to simply and safely. That is perhaps why I wrote to you again. I was lucky to find your address.

You see, people live inside me because I cannot make them. I always envied you your creative center, your need to be more than yourself. I was always myself and no one but, and lucky, at that, to be myself at all. And I have struggled through these maddening moments when I wish, more than anything, that I could see myself reflected through someone else's eyes. It is in those times of weakness that I eventually turn to someone who I do not mean to turn to. This time it is you. I don't know if you expected this in response, but you've always brought out this tone in me.

Your recent confidant,

To Garret. Thin Threads.

Dear Garret,

I remember the summer we met when I was always walking side by side with the people I'd created. I would speak to strangers the things I imagined they would say and wake with their dreams entangled in my own. I truly felt a writer then, but my words often tripped clumsily over each other in their eagerness and my plots stumbled in confusion after their initial giddy flight. I would pause, on occasion, considering the mess I'd left behind, but move forward anyhow certain that the best was yet to come. These days, I can't even imagine that sort of confidence. I suppose you have to be young to be so certain that you matter. I'm still waiting for the age when I gain the wisdom to understand that you don't have to matter. Getting through that in-between time has been a strange and troublesome process and my greatest consolation is that I have never lost my faith in writing as my only salvation.

But my writing is unpublished and unacknowledged and so I am always excited by the prospect of tapping off some letter to someone I once knew. I am so tired of writing something and finding it beautiful only to be overwhelmed by the realization that it will not be read. I throw myself into these letters seeking out a way to say the truest things because when I write a letter I know that at least one person will read it and understand.

I was very self-absorbed when we last saw one another. I paid careful attention to other people, I meticulously noted their mannerisms and intonations, delicately registered their flickers of emotion. But I always felt that whatever I saw of them was mine to have. I would take these bits of their being and scatter them throughout my creations and when I reread my work the refuse of my relationships would bob about in the rush of words and alert me to moments in memory. I always wondered if any of the people I knew would some day read my work and be capable of discerning in my vague visions their own passing presence in my perceptions.

You had (perhaps you still do) a way of concluding your expositions by leaning forward, pausing briefly in your speech and pointing with your index finger before saying something completely inconsequential and no more worthy of emphasis than anything you had said before. This always amused me and I gave the mannerism to a character I particularly liked who inhabited a story I particularly disliked and have no remaining copies of. It always makes me sad to waste my friends in this way. I feel a sense of duty toward the things that I have seen and I am always disheartened by my failure to record them properly. Especially when I realize that others so often fail to notice.

It was always a great pleasure of mine when seated with you in a public place to make an off-hand remark about someone in the room whom we had not previously talked about and feel confident that you would reply without confusion. I always knew you were watching the jack-ass at the next table ramble on confidently about his golf game to a girl who nodded timidly never taking the smile off her face with just as much disgust as I was. And I knew that I could make a snide remark about his poor grammar and you would snort and note the size of her ring commenting that he had obviously hadn't bought her attention with his eloquence. You taught me to see things like that, you brought my attention from the abstract to the material and I always appreciated what that did for my writing.

I miss those days when we strode about, each lost in his own thoughts but linked by our mutual apprehension of our shared environment. I talk to so few people face-to-face, now. Everyone I know has resolved into thin threads of words. I suspect that I have done this intentionally in order to emphasize my responsibility for my own observations. It was good to hear from you. I don't know if you expected all this in response but you've always brought out this tone in me.

Please write again.

Your old friend,


Make Me A Pallet on Your .

Dear Anna,

Today is New Year's Eve and I spent it alone, simply observing the motions of others around me. At times like these I am always overwhelmed by the imagined need to display some sort of feeling, some sort of evidence that, yes, I am like them. I see them all celebrating, smiling and I want to lend a hand, a brief shake, a condolence. One more year dead, lost to all the things we did not do that we might have done. And I wonder what it is that I will do differently with this new year, with this new arrangement of numbers which I will keep beneath my belt.

I suppose the new year doesn't mean much to me, honestly. It means that I will have an even harder time remembering the date. It will take me many months to get it straight. I have always been baffled by the way that people celebrate the new year. I have always thought it silly, inane even. I have always looked at myself on the last evening in December and I have always known that I will be who I will be despite the things around me changing.

Regrets echo in my mind and I watch the chattering crowds with such distant disillusion. It is as if everything I hear is only a muted memory of what people might have been doing. And even when I engage in their silly charades I still feel lost in the midst of everything I cannot feel. I scrutinize my every action, my every thought, looking for something to improve, fruitlessly fumbling around for some new goal, something to change.

And honestly I wonder if I am capable of ever changing. I wonder if anyone is. I wonder if the New Year is not only a brief time where people rejoyce in knowing that there are so many things they could change and then the rest of their lives are played out the same as they always were. I think of all the things that I might have done differently if I would have been able to see into the future. I try to remember my own "resolution" from last year. I wonder what it was I even did last year. I wonder what it is I am doing now.

Inevitably my thoughts return to you, as they often do. I remember the few New Years' we spent together, curled up beneath blankets, sipping cheap Champagne and giggling. I remember how sharply those times contrasted with the fights, how we could jump from one mood to the next without a second thought. Or maybe it was mostly I who did the leaping. And you just tolerated it until you couldn't tolerate it any longer.

Perhaps I should have made a new years resolution to discontinue uselessly dragging up the past and analyzing it. But, I spend my life wondering who I would be if I would have done things differently. Which, I suppose, is the same thing as wondering who I would be if I wasn't myself. I spend each moment in perpetual curiosity, trying to discern how that moment would be if you were standing next to me. I let the things that pulled us apart slip from my mind and I remember only the beautiful times, the soft, silent seconds where we each did what we needed to and held each other afterwards. It is so rare that two people can bounce off of one another and use that interaction to create something worthwhile. So often people use each other for the exact opposite; they want excuses, some reason to do something other than what it is they know they need to. I know this because I have lived it. But, I suppose that is how I know most of the things I know.

Oh, Anna, I wonder if you miss me. I wonder if you think of those kisses we shared as the clock struck twelve. They are the only memories I have of a New Year. They are the only memories I can muster of having something to look forward to, of having some resolve. Now, I am stuck, shivering, beneath each moment, wishing that it would resonate with the strength of the moments we shared. Now, I compare the sound of each second to the sound of your smile. Nothing ever adds up, Anna. And when the countdown begins and the ball drops, it is your face I see in the crowd, smiling up at me, your eyes shaking with wonder. And when everything is silent after the celebration, it is only then that I can truly feel the weight of all that I have lost.
I hope that your New Year is full of all the things you want and that you have the resolve to change the way you need to at all times of the year.

Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor,

My Dear Beloved Anna.

My Dear Beloved Anna,

I spent this day wandering among ancient sculptures in a museum. I stood and stared into the pupil-less eyes and patrician nose of some nameless citizen of the Roman Empire and knew that he had paid his money to arrange just this, that he had wanted for me to stand here and think of him eighteen hundred years after his death. Immortality is our only dream, our sole endeavor. But he failed, Anna. That man is dead and I stared at marble today. Nothing lives behind dumb lips and expressionless eyes. Nothing lasts but the words we make and whisper on into the ears of future generations.

I wanted to whisper that you exist. I thought that it should be forever known that your shoulders curved just so and that your smile slipped into me so that hours later I stood in an empty street and laughed at nothing. I never did do it. I never did write those eternal lines. Have you read Ulysses yet? A blind man who tapped down a Dublin street, a pompous medical student who wrote bawdy doggerel, a couple of giggling barmaids shall all live. But I could never get past myself long enough to ensure that thy eternal summer shall not fade. All I ever did was to carve your image into marble with my sentimental idealism. I forgot that I loved Anna and wrote only that I loved and I nearly condemned you to life as one of those smooth-faced, interchangeable Roman ladies with high foreheads and low cheek-bones, staring forever into nothing (from nothing). And you always knew how I betrayed you. But I urged you to write, didn't I? I did that for you, wanted you to make something, too. And now you say that you have.

What have you, my love? An innocent gaze to watch you, a blank mind on which your image was the first to be emblazoned, a face, perhaps, to bear your beauty another generation into the future (for god knows this mad poet never could write the beauty of your eyes). But beware my Anna. Those innocent eyes do not see you, they do not even look for you. When, long after your death she too lies dying, do you think that she, like I, will cry out your name? She may whisper "mother" but she will not be calling to you but only to the soft, steadily beating warmth she felt once, nestled against your breast, to the gift of life you gave her but cannot give her again.

What is a mother, Anna? What is mine or your own? A guarded look, a sharp warning, arms that embrace you to take away the sting of the slap that they gave and then, suddenly, that great distance that will forever more separate you from your origin. Do you still weep for your Mother, Anna? I weep for the darkness from which I came. And she, who held me against her to shield me from it, claiming that I came from her, that I was hers, she is dead, now. And even then I regarded her with distrust. This child is not yours Anna. She is another. Remember what I taught you and teach it to her. She took words from your lips. I beg you, tell her what they are and do not forget yourself.

Thine Always