Phil Cordelli and Brandon Shimoda
While You Were Wandering
While You Were Wandering, Something Here Was Already Looking On
— Gaston Bachelard, Clear Waters, Springtime Waters and Running Waters
The night that you were asking about went something like this: I got nice and lubed up to go to the bar, which I found nearly empty, 6 or 7 immovable people exclaiming their shoulders at one another: plug one, plug two, et seq. I hesitantly tried my code: Does "34" still get one a free drink? The bartender, grinning like a goat landed from a daylong bound — horns curved back, fresh from nitrogen, you know, belaboring his reflection in all points — gave me a blank look, and then chuckled: I have no idea what you’re talking about, and ragged away, off to opine: hills and rocks, and HILLOCKS.
Defeated, I ordered a $5 Stella and chitchatted with the patrons. Have you ever stopped to consider the wingwork of a moth? For example, blood-running, light-enlarging, run-lighting, dust- and bone-blooding. Bemused, they all commended me for my guts at attempting the code word on the bartender. One of the barflies was a friend of A's, who still had not shown up at 11 or so; he had never heard of any "code" birthdays for literary editors are generally free, though you’ll be seduced to empty yourself of dignity, by the bale, so I split rather than face down more overpriced drinks and that; Face Down.
On Jay Street, in a jovial mood and laughing about the bar: a guy walked up to me and asked: Do you have a dollar? I said, No. Well, gimme what you got, he said. I was in such a state that I laughingly said, Man, I got nothing! At this point, he reached into his oiled flesh, with "a certain fat," and flashed a gun, not pointing it at me, or even being very threatening, and asked, What do you think of this? You think this looks real? I thought, amazed: they have not yet ordained townships in many parts of northern Maine. I started laughing harder: I got nothing, you got nothing, and we both walked away.
Down Bedford, through the Hasidic neighborhood: children were out walking around, dressed in uniform: policemen and cowboys; they are the arms of ritual massacre, clubbing and/or roping; the hands of harvesting to gnaw, of peeling away layers to brand. They are the fingers of need, of perishing, adding further to the full moon. No women were visible, but children and huddles of men under the light of bug zappers. Somebody put two quarters into a coin-operated dragon and then ran off: the dragon was bucking, slowly — oh, it’s riding, it’s coming. I found out later that it was Purim, the Feast of Lots.
On my way home, I got a drunken call from B.: Where are you? I happened to be right down the street from his apartment. It was his birthday; the whole city seemed to be waxing with age. When I arrived, the apartment was busty with anecdotes. B. was occupied in the back room. C. and I exchanged an awkward hug, recovered with wooden talk: one could see the cambium stretching. To allay any sense of statuary, I told the story about the guy on the street who demanded money from me at gun point. I aimed the dark and damp from my voice, trying not to betray the mediocre: was it a mugging?
By way of critique someone suggested that the guy was actually a butcher, trying to sell me a piece of meat, a charred and misshapen porkchop, effusively bloodless. This provoked a round of conversation that drained the fluid from each of my internal organs, one by one. I noticed that both B. and C. were absent; the music was thin and seemed to be playing entirely to the ceiling. In the midst of this, fed up, I slipped out the door. Even muggings are yesterday’s news, I thought. The G train was in rare form; I could hear it sounding from the gratings, exhaling its life-dust, dead steel, laboring blush.
I got home real late, though not too late for my roommate to be making sushi, rolling rice over nori next to small piles of pickled ginger, slices of eel and avocado. I had to pass: my tumbling was already salt-and-vinegared. I wondered about the guy in the street, the “butcher”: he did look familiar, in a sort of feminine way. My grandmother, for example, used to walk down to the river at night to feed the fish; she claimed they kept long hours. Now she lives in the South. She lives removed from any overpass. She lives among the trees, among the pampas grass. Dear grandma, she lives among the mourning doves.
Thanks for your letter, by the way. I read it with water,
Phil Cordelli and Brandon Shimoda, two-thirds of the Armageddon Brothers, a musical group formed in the mid-90s in the northeastern United States. In addition to their musical collaborations, they are currently involved in "Walk, Once Again / Peek Thru The Pines," an ongoing collaboration which can be viewed at http://thepines.blogspot.com. They now live in Brooklyn and Montana, respectively. The third member of the group lives in central Maine.
Copyright 2004 Phil Cordelli and Brandon Shimoda.