Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Happy National Useless Persons’ Day!

(Same as Secretaries’, Bosses’, Children’s, Grandparents’ Day!)

This is the day we pause to honor the useless persons in our lives, as well as the determination, luck and fortitude necessary to be useless in the long term.

This is our opportunity to recognize those folks who never quite pulled it together, who possessed either no luck or no visible talents, as well as those whom, by nature, are simply not suited to life in this world.

Useless persons, we salute you!  We celebrate you!  You and your abiding uselessness!

Useless persons, brush the moss from your teeth and climb the stairs of your mother’s basement, for today is your day to be garlanded!

Three hundred sixty four days of the year are reserved for those who strive to be Number One, who grow each day in importance and commotion.  One day alone is reserved for useless persons.  Useless persons, today is yours!

Today we honor the contribution made by useless persons.  A very real contribution -- even though it may seem that useless persons are only forever eating something, eating and complaining of some small pain, of the cost of dentistry, or the lateness of the bus.

In a world saturated by importance, the useless play a necessary role, their very unimportance is important, as persons who embrace unimportance grow ever more rare.

Today we salute useless persons.  The boon of uselessness!  The bliss of mediocrity.  The reliability of failure.

Because we cannot seriously expect the incessantly victorious to sit listening to Grandpa.  Who is going to walk the dogs of the ceaselessly dynamic?  Who will water the plants and wash the floors of the relentlessly beloved?

Even less often are useless persons recognized for their contribution of simple non-damage.  What a mercy it is to the world to never become a CEO, to never fly to your second home in your own small plane, munching on game hens and foie gras and sipping imported champagne.  

The beauty of failure is seldom recognized in a world where success is generally seen as synonymous with one’s capacity to harm.

Instead here you are, useless person, at home in your underwear, boiling lentils and chopping onions, writing poems about how the world is far gone in a dangerous and remarkably dumb direction (of which its total non-appreciation of you is but one small indication.)

Putting aside the poem, you check the clock.  Soon it will be time to walk the dog, maybe check on Great-Aunt Vinnie, before checking in with your sexual partner, likewise thoroughly mediocre, an amiable nobody who doubtless would have died long ago of liquor and TV dinners, if not for your tender and disappointed ministrations.

You pause for a moment to re-consider the poem, which is, after all, just a defense against the list of your friends who won and won and won and won and now explain, quite righteously, that of course they do not have time. 


Happy National Useless Persons’ Day!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bangkok Coup Special

small stories from beneath military rule

June 2014, Bangkok

He never imagined, before he began to wander, how many other people were wandering too, not quite living anywhere, just floating about, how many other people were naturalized citizens of the country called, “I have no place else to go.”  A lot of other people, it turns out, had also done the math and figured that they could live for a very long time in a cheap country and, because ties had grown so weak, had immediately done so, without ever deciding what, exactly, they would do during the day, without recognizing that sanity is just as fragile as any other form of health.

The first night the curfew is relaxed, Bangkok plays to an empty house.  The girls on their bar stools, the boys in white shorts, the rows of fake watches with no one to love them.  Even for the indomitable, maintaining the appearance of cheer is a strenuous task, like a devoted mother who makes her voice sound cheerful every time she walks into the room of her beautiful son, lying there hooked to machines.  Almost everyone is capable of heroics.  The trouble is that trouble goes on and on.

Lucky Lost
He was lost.  He recognized that he was lost.  He did not wish to be lost.  He did not want to go on being lost for a long time.  It was exhausting being lost.  It was better than wanting to die.  He knew that he was lucky to be lost in this way, in what seemed the luckiest possible way to be lost: alone in a bright stark room with white walls, white linoleum, blue polyester curtains, with desk, attached toilet, even a small refrigerator.  He did not wish to be lost and still he did not neglect to be grateful that he was lost in this way, so empty, so clean and so bright.

Thank You So Much
Those men who say, before removing their pants, Please ignore me if I say totally stupid and crazy things during sex, like I love you.

Ice Age Updates
Often it seems to me that return visits to the gay scene in Bangkok are essentially updates on the progress of meth, on an ever-encroaching ice age.  Sneaking up to hug an old friend from behind, hands over his eyes, Guess who? he turns, and I find his eyes like gutted candles, a smile but no one at home in it, and that voice, the voice of ice -- the words all the same, all correct, and the tone like reading aloud from old newspapers.

Sure, he’s using some, he admits, but only on weekends and he’s totally keeping it together, absolutely together, tight, the same four skin creams in the same order and all his porn alphabetized, the door knobs covered in plastic wrap and the shoes lined up, the bottles of poppers lined up, everything neat as a spice rack and he can tell you everyone he hates, either alphabetically or in order of intensity.

Even then there are surprises.  Like the news that one friend, long since zombified, has taken vows as a monk and returned, by all accounts, to being quite recognizably human.  Such is the state of affairs: losing another friend makes me shrug, but the news that one has returned leaves me here crying helplessly into my breakfast of rice soup with chicken.

How is Bangkok?
People want to know.  Speaking as a queer wanderer, Bangkok is fine.  Fine as long as it is enjoyed in a very ordinary way: for bags of sliced papaya, pineapple and guava, for aimless wandering in Lumpini Park, for the pleasures of a clean and silent room, for orchids and sidewalks.  Coup or no coup, the rule is the same: Bangkok is fine as long as you do not attempt to have fun.  If you attempt to have fun, the dogs of misery are at once set upon you.  The trouble is not so much the price list as it is being reminded you are worthless. We do not require the army to police us.  We have been policing ourselves all along.  Try to have fun and you will have toes shoved in your mouth by men who wish to make themselves feel big.   Attempts to have fun are besieged with old pictures of oneself, regrets, catty remarks.  Attempts to reprise one’s career in pornography result in a kind of cascading nightmare.   But if you give up, if you do not ask too much for yourself, it is all right.  Sometimes it can even be fun.

I heard a British woman ask, with zero irony, “Is there a coup rate?”

My very rich friend is part of the Chinese-Thai aristocracy.  He calls deposed prime minister Yingluck, that whore.  When the U.S. makes clear it disapproves of the coup, he refers to the ambassador as that bitch.  Nowadays almost every one of his sentences includes one of these words.  If he’s useless in sex, if there’s shit on the sheets, he says, “I’m Yingluck!”

My other Thai friends are not rich and they hate him.  Chink, they call him.

So true
This sign at the cafe that reads
Beware of your belongings. 

When he jacked off I was astonished by how far out in front of him his hand was, as he tugged on the first third of a cock so remarkably long that it seemed a great distance away from the rest of him, like Florida, or even Alaska.  Reminded me of the photos I’ve seen of Matt Hughes.  Not Matt Hughes the boxer. Matt Hughes eleven inches.  Didn’t look like he’s jacking off.  Not exactly.  More like he was strumming on a small guitar.

As for him, he was rightfully offended that people assumed he was a prostitute just because he was young and black and had a perfect muscular body, as well as a gigantic penis.  “People with big penises need sex too!” he insisted and I agreed vigorously, as vigorously as I could, while trying, at the same time, to seem neither patronizing nor desperate.

One of those things that isn’t mentioned nearly often enough:
You deserve to be warned that more than half the people who urge you to follow your dreams will never forgive you for doing so.

Every day I buy fruit from a vendor on the side of the street.  I feel lucky to be in a place where buying fruit can be such an ordinary thing.  Not like Tokyo, where buying two kinds of fruit that aren’t bananas is classified as an event.

I noticed that the kindly man who chopped up the guava always threw away the central part with the seeds, but that part is tasty too, as well as nutritious, so that I learned to say, in Thai, “give me all of it” and I practiced and then, when I went to buy my fruit, I said it to him, and he looked happy and surprised that I had learned a little Thai.  He put every part of the guava into the clear bag.  When he handed the fruit to me he grinned and asked, in English, “So -- where’d you learn to say that?”

The military has arrested the son of the former prime minister.  He was released after “a talk to fine-tune understanding”.

Because that is just what armies do.

5 Boats
I dreamt I was looking down steep stairs to a river, as though I had returned to Benaras.  Lined up in the water were five very narrow boats.  In each of them a young man was lying calmly, face up, with eyes open.  Each man gleamed, as if lightly coated in oil.

As I watched, the first young man was set on fire.  He had already been doused in kerosene.  His face contorted in agony and then the flames consumed him.  After a few minutes only a black husk was left.  Then it was time for the next young man.

I watched helplessly from the top of the staircase.  I did not understand why these young men had chosen to sacrifice themselves.  The second young man screamed and burst into flame.  The next three waited quietly, staring up into the sky.

If you are fortunate enough to receive an invitation, the host will greet you at the door with a plastic basket for your clothes and a remote control wrapped in plastic wrap.  “This is your remote and that is your TV,” says the host.  It is one of six flat-screen TVs lined up against the wall in a large room which has been cleared out except for the TVs, two cots, a sling, and a table in the corner with bottles of poppers and sugary drinks.

Each television has a memory card with hundreds of movies.  The movies are grouped according to both studio and theme.  You can choose twinks, bareback or Brazil, as well as HotHouse, Treasure Island, or MenAtPlay.  Thus every man can have exactly the porn of his choice.  It is no wonder that the host is renowned and that everyone wants to attend one of his parties.

Here at the orgy you may do whatever you like -- but you must not lose track of your remote and you must not touch anyone else’s.  Any man who attends a party must be both adventurous and versatile.  You must be beautiful and/or hung.  You can fuck the men or get fucked, suck or get sucked, you can fist, you can piss -- in the area designated area, please!  You can do anything -- but you must not touch anyone else’s remote.  Anything else you can do.  The man won’t mind.  He may not notice.  He is watching his television.  Even with his cock is buried in the back of your throat, he has his remote in hand and he is fast-forwarding, searching for the very hottest scene in Viral Loads.

Even if you are one of the passionate minority who believe that a man on the screen -- horsehung, ripped and gleaming -- cannot compare to an ordinary man in the flesh with hair on his belly and his briefs around his ankles, it is of no use.  The man has his remote and he is not letting go of it for anything.

The deposed former prime minister in exile, the man who is perhaps the cause of it all, is asked to comment on the coup.  He says, “I hope the military will soon return smiles to the faces of the people”.

Because, again, that’s just what armies do.

Flip fuck
“Sure, I get fucked, I want to feel what my man feels like, but mostly I am a top.  I like to flip fuck.  If you fuck me, then I am going to fuck you, that’s my rule.  Of course Antonio Banderas and Sean Connery can fuck me, but mostly I am a top.”

My friend is 71.  He makes a fine Manhattan and has just attempted to blow me on the fire escape.  He is upset because he has only gotten fucked in his fancy temporary apartment, he hasn’t fucked anyone, and he can only afford two more months here on the 21st floor.

I ask him what he will do when his visa runs out.  He says he might fly to Sweden -- because who doesn’t want to fuck a tall blonde Scandinavian?  “But it’s expensive,” I say, because I am a paragon of good sense and caution.  He says, “I haven’t figured that part out yet.”  Then he runs his fingers along my neck.  “I assume you’ll be staying over.”  I explain that I am a person who needs a lot of time alone.  It’s my all ages excuse.  He says, “For breakfast I brought croissants.”

I take my shoes from the shoe closet.  I kiss him quickly on his fuzzy mouth.  I didn’t bring flowers or fruit or wine or cheese to dinner with him.  I didn’t bring anything.  Manhattans were my father’s and grandfather’s favorite drink but I had never tasted one.  I don’t wait for the elevator.  I run down the emergency stairs, all the way down twenty-one floors.  It feels good to run.  Nothing will ever change unless I change it.  My bad habits are not going to just peter out on their own.

“He got everything he ever wanted for his funeral.  Except he didn’t want an open casket, so on that we fudged a little.  I decided it was OK because he couldn’t have imagined how good he was going to look!  He hadn’t looked that good in years.  Except they did his hair wrong.  So I got his comb and combed his hair the way he liked it.  He was a good-looking man, I realized then.  I hadn’t really known before.  He was my man and I loved him, but I didn’t know what a good-looking man he was until he was in his casket and I was combing his hair.”

Broad river
Making to love to a tender tall broad-shouldered man in the afternoon behind blue curtains on a clean hard white bed at the infamous and eternal Malaysia Hotel, I feel that my lover and I are just the surface.  Beneath my body, his body, the sheets, the bed, the Malaysia Hotel, there is a broad red river of molten earth and blood and we are just appearances, ripples, in that molten river, which is nothing like I have described, or is only so from this perspective, which is itself entirely dreamlike, an appearance.  That river is a hum, is being.  I see the river as a current underground, but in fact the river is all that is going on.

As I saw this, I carried on kissing him, holding him, tumbling with him, and although I suspect he guessed that something was a little strange, he was a great broad-hearted man and he did not mind.

The sense that a disaster would at least provide some structure.  Surely this is a more popular option than is generally recognized?

Because it is exhausting to make each day from nothing, and then to try to determine what the days before meant, or if they were worth anything.  Such a temptation: to want to know that you are doing it right.  I ought to have agreed on who I was for just one day, knowing full well that it was arbitrary, that I was not that.  I should have at least provided for myself a working title.

When I visited her in the hospital, my friend told me about the first time she ever smoked ice.  “For the first time I was fine just as I was.  I wasn’t being crushed to death.  Everything was so bright.  

“I went to take a shower and, as I dried off, I stood before a full-length mirror.  I looked at myself, at my whole body.  For the very first time in my entire life I did not feel ugly or ashamed.  Even then, high as a kite, it seemed to me a little sad that I had decided to destroy myself, just at the moment I discovered I was all right.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Not Until They ASK: The Rules of Helping in America

Not Until They ASK: The Rules of Helping in America

The United States of America is a profoundly spiritual nation.  To truly appreciate it, you must understand its spiritual underpinnings, its roots nourished by many faiths, and above all the words of Jesus Christ who taught, You’ve just got to stay positive!

As the bearer of “the good news”, Jesus was persecuted and finally crucified by critics who couldn’t handle his incessant optimism.  Jesus came to Earth to teach us to love, care for and help others.

But there is a very important clause.  (Thank God!  How else would we ever find time for ourselves!)  You are only ever allowed to help someone if they ASK for help.  They must ask.  Otherwise it’s no good.  Helping before you are asked is no good at all.  It’s interference.  It’s totally wrong.  You must not interfere with anyone’s process.  Especially if they’re in the process of dissolving their organs.  That’s, like, practically sacred.

If a person is ready for help, they will announce (to you, to the greater public, and in the presence of an authorized notary) the nature of their problem and their total helplessness in the face of it.  

For example, someone may say, “I am addicted to alcohol, shopping, and frozen desserts.  I have borderline narcissistic personality disorder and I cannot tolerate gluten.”  

Then you are allowed to help.  But not until they ASK.  Always remember: grovelling first!

People must ASK for help.  They must ask for help directly and specifically.  Then and only then you can help.  It’s not enough if they call up and say, for example, “I am covered in my own filth,” or “Honestly it’s difficult sometimes, living here under the bridge” or “I have burnt through my esophagus” or “Excuse me, would you mind if I borrowed a plastic bag, a roll of electrical tape and some barbiturates?”  No!  That’s not enough!  Don’t make a mistake.  They must ASK for help.  

In the meantime, while you are waiting and very carefully refraining from helping, what should you do?

Why not focus on yourself?  You’re an important person!  Your time is valuable.  Eat right, meditate, do workouts.  Practice the union of Pilates and Dzogchen.  You need all your force to bring your unique gifts and talents to market in this time of economic uncertainty.  Do you feel fulfilled?  Have you found your unique life path?  Are you receiving the recognition and love that you deserve?  Focus on YOU.  You are the only person you can change.  Be your very best you!  

Also, you need your strength because it is very likely that, by the time your friends and family members ask for help, there will be very little of them left.

America prides itself on efficiency and comfort -- and what could be more efficient or comfortable than ignoring the misery of those around us?  (Ignoring the wretchedness of those at a distance comes naturally.  Ignoring the misery of those in the same room with us requires special reasoning -- and is still totally easy.)

Nothing works -- about that we can agree.  Nearly all pious busybody interventions come to nought.  The simple truth is that many if not most of us, and many if not most, of those we love will be needlessly hindered by our addictions, habits, compulsions and fears.  Our bodies and minds will be damaged and destroyed, our beauty ruined and our talents pointlessly blighted.  

Nothing mysterious about this.  As you no doubt have noticed, life is often painful, not infrequently excruciating, and the desire to throw ourselves on anything that might make us feel momentarily better is well-nigh irresistible.

This is just the situation: pious interventions and equally pious non-interventions both fail most of the time.  The most brilliant and gorgeous people we know will go on drinking and we will watch helplessly as the system shuts down piece by piece: stomach, esophagus, colon, liver, kidneys.

This is the point at which the genius of America really comes to bear: in the assumption that averting our eyes will have a magical effect.  This is the triumph of positive thinking.  We can do little, so doing nothing must be right.  You’ve just got to stay positive!  

We are important people, after all.  We have so very many things to do.  We need more achievements, more successes, more credentials, more influence, more connections, more talents, more romance, more fulfillment.  Why should we waste our mental energy on what is probably a lost cause?  Life is short, people!  

Why should we be haunted by the suffering of those we love?

This is the daring Gospel of Jesus Christ, who said of Judas Iscariot, “You’ve got to let him hit bottom!”  Then wiped him clear out of his mind.  This is Jesus, after all, master of positive thinking and time management, who had the whole Holy Land atwitter and no doubt guessed his gig as World Prophet would be brief.

What is the use of grieving?  Why should we allow our hearts to be broken?  If we went on telling the truth all day long, how could we ever go on being positive positive positive?

You can’t understand America unless you know the Bible, on which the forefathers founded this great nation: Moses and his Ten Commandments, Jesus and his Twelve Steps.  “Not unless they ask for help,” says Jesus in the one of the Gospels.

Then of course there is that other Gospel, on which America was also founded, the Gospel wherein Christ teaches, “Never ask for help. Never ever EVER.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Hipsters Are Not All Bad

(Denver, 2014)

Welcome to the United States of America

I was born in the United States of America, I was raised there (by house cats, primarily) but, as soon as I could, I left the country and did not come back for a very long time.  More than twenty years had passed by the time I flew into Denver and thought I might stay.  Naturally I worried a little about how I might feel.  But I reckoned the U.S.A. would still feel like home.  I’m American, after all.  I thought it would seem, you know, normal.

When I admit I’ve been gone a long time, everyone says the same thing.  “I thought your accent sounded funny!”  Then, they say: “Didn’t you miss American food?!”  What am I supposed to say?  The truth is, I’ve had a stomach ache since I came home.  And my intestines appear to be tangled.  All my life the food has gone right on through.  Now I fear it’s getting lost somewhere in the middle.  Ever since I came back to America, there’s been this really weird knot.

I thought this was a problem because I’d been away so long.  Different water, food, bacteria, altitude, whatever.  But, no, it turns out that nearly everyone has the same trouble.  Bizarro allergies, sensitivities, digestive troubles, cancers.  And everyone seems to think it’s quite normal.  It is very American to be ill.

Hasids Dressed Down?

As is well-known, Americans are very friendly.  Right away I made friends with two men in my neighborhood.  I assumed at first they were Hasids, dressed down for some inexplicable reason.  I thought beards as voluminous as theirs were worn only by the most gung-ho of monotheists.  When they evidenced no religiosity, I thought, “Must be money in jazz nowadays” because, in Tokyo, a beard like that means you’re a musician.

At last I realized that these two gentlemen were examples of what is now called hipsters.  Hard as it is to believe, the ‘solitary forest hermit’ look is currently very fashionable.  And the hipsters are in fact adorable.  No forest hermit’s safe from me!  Crash me through the underbrush any day.

 Man Oil

When the hipsters invited me to a farmer’s market, I agreed enthusiastically.  After all, I grew up on a farm.  I looked forward to meeting Colorado farmers and finding affordable sources of fresh  local food.

I’m sorry if this sounds naive to the point of idiocy.  But this is  what a farmer’s market was, back when I left the country.

At the market the hipsters and I moved from one tent to the next.  We sampled limoncello poppy seed jam ($15), admired air plants in crystal hangers ($35) and ate biscuits and gravy made with portobella mushrooms ($11, but we didn’t pay it.  The hipsters had a connection to the biscuit truck.)  The hipsters were especially fond of a bergamot-scented oil with which they anointed their lush and enormous beards.  Man Oil, it’s called.  ($20)

As this was a farmer’s market, there were also a few cucumbers and eggplants that were organic, special and important.  They must have been because they were like a buck apiece.  Apiece, you may recall, means for one.

Thus I came to understand that a vegetable that tastes like a vegetable and hasn’t been saturated with poisonous chemicals is now officially a luxury item.  You may recall that, as chickens were once a symbol of prosperity, vegetables were once synonymous with poverty.  Think of potatoes in Europe or pumpkins in Japan.  Nowadays the poor have microwaveable burritos and the Value Menu; if you wish to acquire real non-toxic vegetables you must belong to the Vegetable Class.

It was the Vegetable Class I saw around me now, clutching thirty dollar jars of maple-bourbon beef rub.  The men with impeccably groomed beards, the women with gravity-defying breasts, the super-deluxe pets and the children who looked as though they’d been clipped from advertisements, like coupons from the future.

In Defense of Hipsters

As most of my friends are, at mid-life, struggling to remain living indoors, I understand that it is easy to be critical of hipsters, who appear to be living on great rafts constructed entirely of cash.

Just the same, I must insist that hipsters are not all bad.  The two I met had many positive qualities.  I will assign them some, arbitrarily,  just as I do for any person willing to go to bed with me.

(You may wish to keep this in mind.  It’s an easy way to acquire positive qualities overnight!)

My hipster friends turned out to be a couple of hunky woodsmen in love.  But they weren’t jealous.  (Jealousy is now passe, again, at least among persons providing explanations for their behavior.)

“Aren’t I kind of old for you?” I asked.

“We go to bed with plenty of guys older than you,” they said.  “It’s the daddy thing.  Daddies are in.”


Thus you will understand that I am not saying everything about modern life is bad.  Not at all.  Honestly I am excited to be alive now, when the very existence of life on the planet is threatened and, as compensation, the hipsters are enlisting me for threesomes.

In fact, there is something quite moving about the hipsters, at least those I have met.  There is good reason why they are so self-consciously decorative and avid for rarefied pleasures.

The hipsters understand that they have been given the world for only a very short time.  I suspect this is the reason they are able to make love without jealousy -- because they understand that this is most likely the end.

It’s like men have been saying for years: if the world ends in an hour, then let us pray that the stacked blonde executive assistant will permit us to ravish her right there on the Big Boss’ desk!

Let’s have a few more tall glasses of pomegranate juice, a few more nights at the oyster bar and, a few more thirty-eight dollar beard trims.  If you’ve got the money in your pocket, why not?  What are we saving it for?  It is not as if we, are anyone else, will be retiring to Arizona in twenty years.

Do not hate the hipsters.  Like young people everywhere, they want to enjoy themselves.  And they understand that they do not have much time.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Why Are These Bears Having Oral Sex?

Why Are These Bears Having Oral Sex?

My lover sent me a story from the news.  The story regarded “the first observations of long-term recurrent fellatio in captive brown bears kept in proper conditions.”  The observations were made at a sanctuary in Croatia.  28 instances of oral sex were observed within a period of 116 hours between two brown bears, both male.

Even before I had finished the second paragraph I was wondering about those researchers.  Imagine hanging out all day at a glorified zoo, your notebook and camera ready, just waiting for the bears to suck each other off again.  What do you think: did the researchers remain, at all times, very serious?  Did they crack a lot of jokes?  Did they tell their boyfriend or girlfriend what they were doing?  Did the boyfriends and girlfriends then tell their parents?  Did the parents then tell members of the bridge club: What’s Bojan up to nowadays?  Oh, Bojan?  He’s tallying fellatio among the bears. . .

Evidently this is by no means the first time that oral sex has been observed among bears.  Previously however it has only been seen among bears kept in “sub-standard conditions, with inadequate mental stimulation”.  This was the first time that fellatio had been observed among bears kept “in proper conditions.”  But -- how did the researchers determine that the conditions were proper?  Did they ask the bears?  Is there some ursine equivalent of the hotel comment card?

Scientists theorized that the bears, weaned too early from their mothers, had found alternate methods of comforting themselves and each other.  Or, as the researchers put it, “Forced early weaning and subsequent deprivation of proper and sufficient stimulus of the suckling reflex can result in teat-searching behavior persisting into adulthood.”

Other findings included: One bear was always the giver.  The other bear did not reciprocate.  The duration of sex was between one and four minutes.  The article was accompanied by four small blurred images showing the bears getting themselves into position and having sex.

The article was accompanied by four small blurred photographs of two brown bears getting into a position and having sex.  The images are not pornographic.  (But would they be pornographic if bears were looking at them?)  Still, it is very obvious what the bears are up to.

Here’s an excerpt from the report published by the researchers led by Agnieszka Sergiel of the Polish Academy of Sciences Department of Wildlife Conservation: If the receiver’s genitals were not exposed, the provider would push his head into the pelvic region or use his paws to separate the hind legs.  After accessing and initial licking of the penis, the provider would find a more comfortable posture, such as sitting or lying… once actual sucking started, neither bear changed position.

I also thought it was a very nice touch that, just below the headline: Why Are These Bears Having Oral Sex? there was a large color image of the absolute happiest brown bear I have ever seen or imagined, frolicking joyously upon the green, green grass.  The bear appears to be kicking its heels in sheer delight.

“Thank you very much for the article,” I wrote to my lover.  “It is the story of my life.”

My lover wrote back.  “I THOUGHT that.  Instantly I thought that.  But definitely I was NEVER going to actually SAY that.”

I tried to remember if I’d ever admitted to him that my first sexual fantasies were all about bears.  I was six years old.  I was every bit as depraved as I am now.  Back then, of course, I was still sorting out my options.

Aged six, what I wanted most in the world was to get into the bears’ cages at the zoo.  Brown or black, grizzly or polar, color and species didn’t matter to me.  I just wanted to be in with the bears.  I wanted the bears to hold me, to enfold me within their dense and cozy fur.

My fantasies in those days were of being a jungle boy.  I sensed something wild in me and did not know where to put it.  By appearances I was the most fearful bookish child you can imagine, with bifocals and a leg brace, limping around, wincing at any loud noise and cowering as if about be struck.  A feeble and ennervated child.  Just the same, in my mind there remained a free boy, a warm and wild animal, a boy who could run.

That year my mother put a black garbage bag underneath the Christmas tree for me.  In that bag was a large stuffed bear, a Kodiak according to the tag, with big bear eyes and coarse realistic fur.

She hinted later, or someone did, that my father had been very upset that my mother had driven all the way to Maine and spent so much money, just for a stuffed bear -- but I always thought it was lovely of my mother to have gone to so much trouble and effort when she must have been busy and was no doubt tired, that last Christmas she was alive.

My stuffed Kodiak bear was almost as big as I was.  I remember I used to have the most delectable naps, lying on the gold couch in a sunbeam, clutching my bear and imagining I was in a cage at Benson’s Animal Farm and the great grizzly bear was holding me.

When I look into my memory I now, I see grizzly bear pacing in his cage, back and forth non-stop, his head wobbling back and forth.  The polar bear was even worse.  I wove my comfy snuggling fantasy from the nightmare in which these animals were trapped.

While I was in grad school in Chicago, there was a therapist that students could go to for just ten bucks.  As a breathlessly avid student in the art department, I was devoted to scribbling and making portentous messes -- except that I spent 12 hours out of every 72 circling the halls at Steamworks, the gay baths, prowling for sex.  I was concerned that I was a raving sex maniac.  In fact, there was rather a lot of evidence in that direction.  (However, I still cannot compete with the bears.  I don’t think I came anywhere near 28 instances in 116 hours.  OK, maybe once.  Lord, how I miss Montreal!)

The therapist talked to me about “self-comforting activities”.  She said that I was just trying to calm myself down, to feel remotely all right.  It was exactly the right thing to say.  I couldn’t hear it.  I thought of everything as an addiction.  I was addicted and, as an addict, I felt terribly ashamed.

This was around the year 2000, when addiction was the fashion in the United States of America and people would say, “I am addicted to Saltines” and expect to be taken totally seriously.  I believed I had to control myself, I had to sit in a circle of addicts, I had to be good, I had to try harder.  I needed willpower, I needed self-discipline.  Comfort was for me a dirty word.

I tried so hard, I tried so hard in every way, all the right ways and all the wrong, I tried so hard it seems to me that you could summarize my life: “He tried so hard it was scary.”

Which is not to say that trying had much of an effect.  It did not.  Nothing.

Looking back now, I do not understand how it is possible that I did not see the fierce and terrible suffering of the bears.  The bears at the zoo were always either pacing or passed out.  If I’d seen a human act that way I would have understood in three seconds, but about the bears I did not think, I just admired.  I was too busy lusting, same as I do with horsehung Brazilian porn stars, who you know must suffer too.  I always think I wouldn’t suffer if I looked like that.  I’m wrong.

I am sure the bears in Benson’s Animal Farm would have sucked each other off if they could have, but I only remember solitary bears, a bear pacing alone in its cage.  And I doubt if bears can suck themselves off -- though no doubt they’ve tried a time or two, same as the rest of us.

I thought of the lover who sent me the story.  We were both furry smart people with gothic histories we’d somehow accidentally survived.  We had learned to comfort one another -- though it seems to me that comfort, like love, was an accident that happened as we both tried obsessively to give each other pleasure.  He was the one who taught me to accompany ravenous hunger with tenderness, to receive as well as to give.  I thought of him -- my lover who was thousands of miles away and whom I knew I might not see again.

My lover.  Have I told you how beautiful he is?  Outrageously so, to the point of absurdity really.  He is more beautiful than I was eligible for on my most beautiful day, which was something like five presidents ago.  Nonetheless he wanted to go to bed with me.  Because life, as you know, is neither fair nor sensible and often that works in your favor.  The fact that we don’t get what we deserve is more often fortune than punishment.

He tugged his shirt over his head and I was scared as a boy chased by a bear.  He unbuckled his pants.  It was like being devoured by lions.  I couldn’t run away; I was already naked.  I was fresh out of drugs.  I couldn’t possibly scream, so I found other things to do with my mouth.  I was scared and so I tried to give him as much pleasure as I possibly could.

A couple years later he told me he had also been scared.

Isn’t that just the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?

I don’t which is more strange -- that terror can transmit as passion, or that passion can transform to love.  The alchemy’s very weird on this particular planet.

Hey, when did the bears turn into men?  Did the bears turn into men?  Halfway, maybe.  (As a person with a fundamentally lustful nature, I have always made do with whatever’s available.)

I wish I could comfort the bears.  I so wish.  I wish I could rise up into the air and comfort could stream out of me, like the rain of mercy, to my lover far away, to the what’s left of me, and to anyone else pacing the floor in agony or sinking down like a stone.  Mercy.  Mercy to everyone.  And to the bears, to the bears above all, who embrace us, who devour us, who permit us refuge in their thick dank fur.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


This is what happens when I get drunk. I mean direly and exquisitely drunk and I am walking home alone after the bars close, along Broadway, left turn at 8th Avenue, and across the long bridge that swoops over the railroad tracks and above the former offices of Sears. Most people don’t like that bridge, it’s too long, too deserted, and the bicyclists will kill you, it’s true, because no one expects someone to be walking, not in the middle of nowhere, not at 3a.m., but I love that bridge and it seems to me that it goes clear across the sky. What do I do when I am walking home drunk across the sky? I argue with karma. Not with a person, not with a god. I argue with the law, with the law to end all laws. Sure, it’s a mad thing to do. But, you know how it is. Must be the liquor gets my courage up. I really let the law of karma have it. Blam! I don’t stop until karma’s shaking in its boots. I announce to the air, to the moon, to the street, to the bridge, that I am entirely FED UP with anyone getting what they deserve. Whamo! Which, as you no doubt have noticed, is not even what happens. Who gets what they deserve? When did you last see a elementary school teacher ascend into Heaven? When did you see a PR man for Big Oil disappear in a flash into a fiery pit? At best you receive a voucher good for justice in the invisible world, or so we are told. Why are you getting your ass kicked now? Because you fucked up big-time in Mesopotamia. Like that lesson is going to do you any good. Like you’re going to learn anything from that. It’s all about as useful as kicking the cat for shitting in the fireplace last week. Ka-POW! I’ve got the shit scared out of karma now! I throw a few punches in the air, just for good measure. I am walking home after six drinks with the outlaws and I am ready to award the outlaws everything. For a lifetime of bad behavior, mister, for sexy drunken lawlessness, here is your home beside the golf course, radiant good health, and an insatiable poolboy. In every desperate moment of my life, who has been there for me? The outlaws, always the outlaws. Blessed be the outlaws. You will know that I have been put in charge of the universe when aged hustlers receive better benefits than former members of Congress. Make no mistake. I got a serious chip on my shoulder. I’m a man with a venomous grudge. (Don’t blame the liquor for this, please. I’m just as pissed when I’m sober. The liquor simply augments my dazzling eloquence.) I am opposed, officially and on principle, to Respectable People whom I have throughout my life found to be reliably reprehensible and, above all, useless. It has been one of the largest and most unexpected lessons of my life, the reliable awfulness of Respectable People. Blindness you can count on. If you define respectable as an adjective meaning useless in emergencies, you will never be disappointed. Oh but they give money! Yes, as a means of not dirtying their hands. Don’t ask me to kiss their asses for it. Respectable People are above all fastidious. They are fastidious and they are busy. They are so very busy. They are busy because they are tremendously important. Too busy to dirty their hands! Busy, busy, busy believing in a fair, clean, decent profitable world, the primary function of which is to keep them comfortable and to tell them, over and over again, what decent and upstanding, nice, nice, nice people they are. Do you imagine you could actually interfere with that? With the messy details of your actual life? Go ahead and try! Whereas your friend of a certain age, with bottle red hair, too many bad lovers and too many cheap drinks, will prove a hundred times more helpful when trouble shows up. She knows trouble, oh yes she does. As opposed to the well-to-do Protestants, who are busy all the time pretending there’s no shit and no fan. Karma quivering in terror, drops the calculator and flees, spreadsheets fluttering out behind. A stampede of Respectable People follows, muttering to themselves what nice nice people they are. The outlaws whistle cheerfully in their wake and go are collecting piles of luxury cosmetics and department store charge cards. The vast majority of what gets called virtue is actually a simple lack of opportunity, initiative and imagination. I hereby command that we stop calling good what is only habitual and safe. What are Respectable People actually doing? They are gnawing their way through everything. They ought not be rich Presbyterians and luxury Buddhists. If they really prize honesty above all, as they are forever saying they do, they ought to worship the termites and the locusts. It’s a wonder the bridge doesn’t fall down, I’m telling you! Because I am mighty impressive when I get going on karma. I’m in tip-top form. I’m downright inspired and with good reason: it’s been quite a night at the bar, a tip-top night, which doesn’t mean the liquor was top-shelf. It certainly wasn’t. Why do people go to respectable bars? Respectable is something I can do on my own, alone, at home. Swooping upon me and my dollar beer, here is Jim, father of four, five foot six but don’t mess with him. Jim delivers a high-speed lecture on race that culminates in a surprise invitation. Turning around, he drops his pants and shows me his round smooth black ass, which even non-mystics would recognize at once as divine. Here, too, is Brian, a day laborer: he's willing to love me but warns he will need 48 hours to get hard. Brian is very drunk but obviously grasps the current situation better than I do. To Jim he announces, “Baby, I would rob a bank for you.” Dana’s a lesbian skinhead and the first thing she does, when she finds me in the corner reading Chinese Zen scriptures from the 11th century, is buy me another cocktail. Then she buys herself one. Then she goes to the toilet to throw up. Was that cocktail tallied? The one she bought me? Will she receive full credit for it? I want that karma to ripen now. Lesbian angels and an Alka-Selzer for Dana and now, in this life. Out of nowhere, Tracy the aesthetician says, “If you keep this in your pocket, it will help your sadness go away.” And she hands me a stone she says was called an Apache’s tear. I’d never met her before. She said she worked in Hollywood but it was making her crazy. Tact seized me in the nick of time and I didn’t ask her if she’d been doing porn. I’m not making any of this up. I got the rock right here, you want to see it? Don’t wait up for some Lutheran to give you a rock! Respectable People spend their evenings tallying reason why they mustn’t become involved. Tracy sees the sadness and right away she’s got a rock for it. Tracy’s 34 and she looks 17. Listen up karma, I want that beauty to go right on. This woman gave me a rock. I know I’m not the first to mention this but, it’s not justice if you have to wait for it, like a bus at the curb or a check in the mail. Tomorrow I will be someone else and so will Tracy. Ever notice how the people giving to the homeless are almost always the people who know they could be homeless next week? The Respectable People don’t give, or they give but look away, or they say, Oh he will just spend it on liquor! Karmically speaking, shouldn’t every bottle of chardonnay in the Respectable People’s homes spontaneously explode at that moment? I demand those bottles explode. BOOM! Bang! Ka-POW! Karma do your goddamned job. Be inexorable already, like you’re all the time boasting you are. Here and now where we can see it. If not, we’ve got Grace waiting in the wings. Grace is ready to take over at any time. I hereby command the chardonnay of Respectable People to explode! If that doesn’t work, I'm happy to smash those bottles myself. More than happy.   

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Right Under Their Noses

Right Under Their Noses

Way up on Colfax after a night at the baths, the bus won’t come.  I watch a very large black woman in sweatpants, her hair in a scarf, cross the street at the light and meet a young black man on a bicycle.  Off they go on a side street and eight minutes later they’re back.  If I could, just once in my life, leave the baths at a decent hour, there are regular buses and I wouldn’t have to wait around forever, staring down an empty Colfax, hoping the lights in the distance are the lights that I need.  

The young man on the bicycle pedals off past me now, muttering under his breath, high in one way or another.  The woman walks very slowly up to the bench where I’m sitting.  She’s got a bit of a saunter, a bit of a limp.  When she gets to the bench she lets herself down slowly and says to me, “Can I ask you a question and you are going to be brutally honest with me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I say.

“Do you think, if I go back home and change clothes and put down my long pretty hair that I can still go and sell it downtown?”

“With a spirit like yours?  I reckon you’re unstoppable.”  This isn’t sarcasm.  I’m earnest.  I’m so earnest people think I’m sarcastic, but I’m actually not.  Then I explain that maybe my opinion isn’t worth much, since I am not within the target audience.

She vetoes that idea immediately.  “Oh, no.  You are exactly who I want to talk to.  Someone with style.”  Then she decides that, even though she is still hot enough, she’s still going to stay where she’s at, this stretch between Monaco and the liquor store, because she likes it here.

“I love Colfax,” she says.  “I had my heyday on Colfax.  But that was maybe twenty years ago now.”

“Exactly the same as me!” I say.  Now we acknowledge each other as close personal friends.  Our heyday may have been twenty years ago, but we still got it, you bet your socks we do.

Her name is Jessica and she works this stretch of road most nights, little quiet but she likes it, doesn’t want all the circus and competition of being out on Havana.  She’s been on a bender real bad, gained a hundred pounds, she’s a mean bitch on gin and she doesn’t claim otherwise.

Tonight hasn’t been a good night but usually she does well.  “And the kids like me!  Twenny, twenny five.  They like thick girls.  They high on somethin’, they want mamma to comfort them and then some.”

One problem she has is that, while she has plenty of customers, her customers don’t have near enough money.  “They can pay with drugs, but I need some bread besides.  Always a little bread.  Gin’s still the best thing for me and gin costs bread.”

I say, “Excuse me, can I ask a personal question?”  She says I can.

“What do you do with the guys who don’t have cars?  Like that guy just now on the bicycle.  Where do you go?”

Jessica says, “The thing is to do it right under their noses.  Don’t creep off and hide.  Cops come looking for you.  You do it right under their noses.  Right under their noses they don’t look!”

She points to the cars on the used car lot.  “See all them cars?  Not all of them is locked.  Easy to use.  A little danger makes the prick hard.  If they be quick about it, so much the better.”   

Jessica explains a bit of her philosophy.  “I make ‘em pay for everything.  These kids got money.  Why should I pay for the condom?  I had one man the other day, he had drugs in every pocket and so many hunnerd dollar bills I couldn’t count ‘em all.  And I know why he likes thick girls.  Man got a dick like a telephone pole.  ‘Course he want me to be impressed or something but surprise, surprise, what I like is normal.”  She points to a place at the top of her neck.  “This far is far enough.  It aint got to go no farther than that.”

By now we can finally see the bus in the distance, the lights that are finally the lights of the bus.  We swear eternal friendship, we promise each other that we still got it, how could anyone not love us, since we are so overwhelmingly lovable and hot besides?

The bus arrives.  I’m getting on.  She’s not.  “My name is Sarah,” she says.  And shakes my hand.

How to Ruin a Day

How to Ruin a Day

A ruined day’s a grueling march, a slog with glass in both feet, a torture I look back on and say, “Wait.  Today was actually fine.  No tragedies, no emergencies, not even any major hassles.  No lasting harm, no serious losses.  Even the weather was good.  No real trouble except that I had to keep poking the day with a stick, poking and poking till the day and I both bled.

A ruined day is not a bad day.  Bad days just happen, from time to time or very often, as you already know.  For example, if you find out your beloved aunt died a month before, but you didn’t matter enough for anyone to tell you, and now the only person around to comfort you is your estranged husband’s new boyfriend.  That is a bad day.

Bad days are fairly straight-forward.  Basically you just have to survive and avoid biting, screaming and crying, as well as suicide and homicide, life’s two great temptations.  A bad day is not your fault.  Grace is indicative of spiritual muscle, but even if you cuss and wail, nobody really blames you.

Whereas, a ruined day is a perfectly good day I went ahead and spoiled, spat on and stomped to death.  Because (for example) today was the day I decided to become successful -- spiritually, practically, and in bed.

Dammit, even after it was clear I’d never be a pragmatic winner, even after it was very obvious that I was toast of nothing, I had to keep hammering away at the “in bed” part.  I couldn’t have just gone to the Peach Festival.  I couldn’t have just watched the squirrels.  Oh, no -- I had to be a winner in, you know, all the ways I decided I had to be -- in a profoundly spiritual way, and also for the good of all mankind and also like a porn star, you know, overall.  Pope Francis with a ten inch penis and, if that wasn’t the way it worked out, well, I was going to war.

I ruined a day.  There was nothing wrong with the day, but I ruined it.  And I’m not even talking about an plodding, employed, citified, file-cabinet-kind-of-a-day, but a truly first-rate day -- with trees, squirrels, cats, cherry juice -- to say nothing of the Peach Festival, which I missed.  I could have just eaten peaches but, no, I had to be somebody,  and I had to be somebody today.

It’s a very terrible thing to ruin a day.  Like a dog it just looks back at you mournfully, as if to ask how you could ever possibly do such a thing to such a perfectly good dog of a day.  It’s inexcusable, it’s excruciating.  I mean, seriously, how many green-leafed, idle, pain-free, fully-abled days could possibly be left?  I ruined one.  I couldn’t let it be.  I had to make it something.  Like a parent who vetoes every outfit the kid wants to wear, until finally the kid bursts into tears and shouts, Never mind!  I’ll stay home!, goes into her room and slams the door so hard the whole house shakes.

It’s a terrible thing, to ruin a day.  I must learn to let the day be.

Friday, September 12, 2014

What Makes Use

What Makes Use

What interests me most is whatever it is that immediately sets about making use of everything.  That which uses everything, even shame.

If I had not been ashamed I would still have left the house in order. But, to be honest, if I hadn’t been acutely self-nauseated from three hours of porn the night previous, I would not have crawled beneath the counter to scrub the baseboards, nor washed the fire extinguisher, nor scoured the cats’ dishes -- and those things really did need to be done.

If I’d woken up clear-headed and on time, with a heart like a meadow instead of a swamp, what would I have done?  I might have written a real story, with setting and plot and (gasp) other people, all in the style of Raymond Carver, with nods toward the other men of my generation making strides in fiction, all of whom are also named Jonathan.

As a heart like a meadow wasn’t really an option, not this morning, not generally, the fire extinguisher was made immaculate.

I am a person who is interested in everything, not as everything, but only as one very small thing at a time.  And above all I am interested in what makes use of everything.  A kind of relentless undercurrent, all the time making use, making use.  I stop just shy of the word benevolent.  Because it appears to be beyond human scale, that all- the-time streaming attention, that which makes use.

If I can’t say what it is -- what’s it like?  Like an all-encompassing, stop-at-nothing version of those mad cooking shows people love nowadays.  Here is a persimmon, brown bread in a can, freshly chopped chives, cauliflower, white eggplant, cocoa powder, two Toulouse goose eggs, corn tortillas and an abundance of tripe.  Please create a family-friendly entree and appetizer!  You have use of a professional kitchen.  The lights are surgically bright.  The panel of experts will do nothing but gasp and wince at your every move.  You have twenty minutes!  Have a good time!  Everyone is waiting for something delicious.  (Everyone hates tripe.)

Here is a middle-aged man with one leg, promising (formerly) except that he chose (as most men choose) the wrong person to believe.  At ease in ten countries and at home in none, with three areas of education (all equally unprofitable) and three venues of toxic habit (all equally ruinous), few human connections, an unpleasant personality and bad teeth -- now please, get a life!

The light is bright, the clock ticking, the experts wincing.  It is reasonable, sensible and true to say, “There is nothing that can be done with persimmons and tripe”.  We can say that and we do say it.  We say it and say it.  We may even sit for awhile, immobile on the floor of the kitchen, glaring at the studio audience.  It’s UNFAIR.  What sadistic chef could have selected such preposterous and doomed ingredients?

And yet.  All the time beneath the refusal, mine and yours, something is setting out, getting to work, making use -- even as you issue a formal statement to say absolutely not, under no circumstances.  It is unstoppable.  Something is all the time making use.  Making use of everything and anything.  Even making use of you, you and your ludicrous circumstances.

Something is forever making use.  Collaborating instinctively with what is here.  The plane hits turbulence and the mother of four says, “Wheee!  A roller coaster!”  Poets in Portland write poems about rain.  Parents of direly ill children become instantaneous specialists.  Zucchini pickles.  Solar power.  Yet it is more than necessity, much more than common sense.  What is it that puts limitation to such good use, what puts misery to work?

This force is everywhere at work, though perhaps it is unusually apparent in my case, devoted as I am to making art which consists solely of Dumb Things I’ve Done Recently.  On the very off-chance there is ever a Selected Works, people will be able to pick it up, shake their heads in wonder and exclaim, And it’s all made of trash!

Sulphur-fuelled living fossils lurking in the deepest ocean trench, Russian thistle on the overpass, it’s non-stop inspired improv.  A force is relentlessly making use of me and all my nonsense, making use even of the addictions, the nightmares and waiting in line.  It is not at all clear when it is all being used for.  (Though I’m pretty clear it’s not a family-friendly entree.)

What makes use?  There’s a force, not exactly a force, a something, though of course it’s not actually a thing.  It’s not interested in my comfort, it’s sure as hell not interested in making me look good, though it’s certainly willing to string me along, even rescue me, from time to time, in ways that aren’t strictly speaking believable.  

Something is always plotting, even when it’s nuts, stupid, impossible, ridiculous or too late.  There’s no way to stop it because,  whatever you do, it makes use of it.  Like an incorrigible lech, trimming his toenails at the age of 99, noting that the lady across the hall isn’t half bad-looking, not for a centenarian.  

What is it?  What is all the time making use?  I can’t say what it is. I can say what it isn’t.  It’s not a Republican engineer all the time mining the resources.  It isn’t practical or pragmatic, it isn’t regimented or capitalist.  It isn’t prudent.  If anything it’s profligate, making use of everything all the time, betting on everything with everything, like a fish that lays a thousand eggs and not one survives, then the next moment comes, with another thousand eggs.

It’s quite crazed really, Kolkata at rush hour, the very definition of stopping at nothing, or, as my father-in-law would say, throwing money after nothing.  It’s useless, it’s pointless (or use and point cannot be found and held) it’s gorgeous (if you’re not wedded to the family-friendly entree) and it’s actually more than slightly exciting -- IF you can accept that you are not in charge and this ain’t gonna be your non-stop coronation, the rich Dutch ladies all appeased, the toxic cousins looking pleased.

And it’s not about being good.  (It’s not about being bad either.)  This ain’t the Pilgrim’s Progress.  Being good is often just an imposition.  (I’m going to make my life something my mother likes to eat!)  Being good with all its incessant lists.  “From now on I’m going to be good.  For breakfast, only juice, followed by cardio, selfless service at work, clean up the credit rating, orthodontia research, family time”.  It is no wonder really that one more or less immediately decides, “You know what would really make this juice delicious?  Vodka!

As for the cooking show, I am tempted to put the chives on the eggplant and present the other items individually with simple condiments.  That’s not how it’s supposed to be, of course.  (What makes use is not what makes supposed to be.) 

Each item on small white plate.  How to disguise tripe?  I reckon you must let the tripe be the tripe.  The experts of course will disapprove.  That is their job.  But if you used nice plates, assorted drizzles and insisted, with your full authority, that it was all an example of French naturalism, I reckon you might get away with it.

You might get away with it.  You might not.  Whether you did or you didn’t, something would make use of the success or the failure, that which is all the time making use of lazy days and bad politicians, of eggplant and cocoa powder, of us.  

This moment’s predicament becomes the ingredient for whatever comes next, for that which is relentless and non-stop, neither benevolent nor heedless, neither pragmatic, infernal nor virtuous.  No time or chance for positive identifications of that which is all the time making use, making use, making use.