The Shanghai Scriptures
by Shane Hinton

 
 

Tearing the Spines from All of the Books Everywhere
I don't know what to say to make these words mean what they were intended to mean; I don't know how to give them back. They have lost their way somehow, been distorted and scaled, been taken out of context. Small parts of them have been magnified and grotesque, other parts have fallen from the edge of the glass.

These books have pushed us to and fro; they have dictated our lives and our emotions up to this hollow point. They have mired us into this explosion and keep us going through it endlessly. They have sucked us down drain pipes, through garbage disposals, and ultimately into sewers where we simmer and wait; where we stew. They have formed us, given us sympathetic voices, given us hope.

But they just aren't enough. No words that I or anyone else could ever write could explain where we are right now. These words, coming from the past, do not take into account what we are seeing manifested in front of us this very second, in mornings that leave us woeful and weary, in evenings that bring us to mountainsides and thundering river banks.

These words are mediation. They were written with the best possible intentions: to open our eyes, to make us see things that we were blind to. However, they have become blinders themselves, limiting our experience to comparisons and contrasting moments. They have tied us down and slammed our faces into headboards and used us and left us on sidewalks that mirror our naked anticipation. They have told us that these days are useless and that we have no voices and that we are to measure ourselves by what has come before us, but we know that these are lies. We are ready for truths, and I...

I think we already know them. We have caught a flickering glimpse from the corners of our eyes, and it is the stopper hiding behind the murky bathwater that these words have been trying to sell us on for so long. It is waiting to release the floods.

So let's forget everything we've ever known about anyone or anything and let these days come to us as perfectly new and untouched as they wish. Let's let these days burn with the passions that pour from every pore and not try to stop them up with wine corks and spark plugs; let's let them consume us.

And let's run through the halls of all of the libraries and schools, tearing the spines from every book that has ever been printed and throwing the pages into the wind to be scattered like our thoughts and beliefs... to be distributed into the dirt. Let's let the boundaries of the past blur and drip out-of-focus to show something far more complete. Let's let today stand alone in a front room, not bound in leather or cardboard, not printed on parchment or wood pulp, not written in inks or charcoals or lines in the sand.

And as we look into the sky and the sun is obscured by a whirlwind of words, as the light is blotted out in a literary eclipse, as the day is plastered and strung up in grand hues of grey and orange, we will look into jaded eyes and see that there was nothing to fear all along, that we are simply growing into each other and there's nothing that anyone can do to stop that. We will finally realize it here, in streets that have gone silent, in alleyways that swallow us in wretched waves of waste. We will find that all these goddamn books have done is make us question what we know in patterns of our heartbeats to be truer than any words ever spoken or printed--and all that we can do is believe ourselves.

Window Panes, Silicon Dreams
Spittle flung from parched lips dries silently on the window pane as I wait patiently, staring out at a horizon overlain by clouds, and yet...

Somewhere in the distance a thin slit of light breaks through and sears itself into my retinas, lingering like a portrait of a fallen soldier. Composure falters and I find comfort in the incandescent potency outside myself. In unknowing; in purposeful ignorance. This somehow becomes omniscience... a circle of intellectual stumbling blocks. A misguided parade.

The window shivers and I can see the noise from the traffic passing below. Windshields, faces, screams, tires... rising in shattering rhythms that soar over, under, around and through all of us, here in this filthy city; drive us all insane. Push us closer to windowsills and forty-story leaps. We're dancing to it. It brings forth shallow emotions that stumble and rust in rainy season solitudes. It tries to define us with lines on a page, but we are non-linear and we are pages and we are volumes and we are libraries in length.

We are different. If you've made it this far and you're still standing, then at least we have something in common. We've found our melodies somewhere... and I can imagine that they might sound just fine if superimposed on one another...

Or all at the same time. Let's just all of us, all at once, all in unison and with conviction declare that we don't need these concrete prison walls and glass shackles and silicon dreams. We can bear the music that we are ready to give release, after all of these years. Let's you and you and you and you and you and you, and I... let's scream what is inside of us. From the rooftops, from the stairwells, from the mountain tops and from the backs of shadowy silhouettes.

And we will laugh in choruses that climb high into the night sky and rise above the window panes and the city lights to dance beside stars that have faded into the spherical orange glow around us; our laughter will reach the heavens. And the heavens will smile, and we might just reach that island in the middle of a wine dark sea...

Or... we may just lie here, stifling ourselves into submission. Remitting and remembering times that we haven't the ability to forget for their vivacity, their sincerity. We may just lie here letting our hearts be worn down to nubs by the solicitude and the rhymeless rhythms that float all around us and dominate our lives. Dominate the symphonies we carry inside of us.

But we can't, I think. We can't go on like this. We can't keep dancing behind these dirty, cracked filters; these grimy window panes. We can't dance this way anymore...

We're capable of better things. My life is worth more than these city streets. I believe that yours are too.

But once again I must turn my back on the traffic and the noise, for it is maddening and I can only bear so many hours, so many hours...

Blood, Spit, and Bile, or: On Top of the Pile
Why is it, do you think, that we believe ourselves mutually exclusive? Is it our nature to be this segregated, this fierce? Are we really as rabid and irrational as we seem?

I believe that this is a product of something more sinister. I can feel its arms protruding from my spine... wrangling me into disbelief and mistrust. I can feel it dripping from my neck and running down my side, collecting in puddles around my feet. I can feel it breathing heavily in my ear as you stare from dimly lit corners, park benches, from between trees that shoot upward in city nights.

And I can see it clinging onto your back as well, rising above your fragile form and overwhelming you; forcing you into confusion, delirium. I can see it sitting on top of you, intermittently whispering into your ears promises and damn lies in between long stretches of chewing violently on your neck.

And it makes me wonder if maybe the beast on my back is doing these same hideous things to me, and maybe I don't realize it because I have grown so used to its presence over the years. I swing my arms in frantic circles trying to bat it off of me before it begins chewing again and I lose the will to resist...

But...

I believe that we can step out of the shadows and rise from the park benches and stand in the rays of the sun that feeds us and brings us back to where we started from. I believe that we can dance again without the weight of these beasts on our backs.

And once they are gone, they will never return. We will wait at the edges of the cities with flaming torches and baseball bats for a show of force, should one be necessary. But it won't be, and the torches will light our movements and laughter and the bats will beat out rhythms against brick walls that our movements will mimic and absorb.

Why do you think we are sequestered indoors all day, every day, kept locked behind glass panels and off-white blinds? For fear that in the sunlight we will see these snarling beasts and be disgusted at the impositions which we have not yet recognized for lack of illumination...

The Vine Grows Where the Sunlight Shows
Where were you when I created this sickness? Were you there at the beginning of my trials, or the middle, or for that matter, the end? Were you standing beside me, drawing fishhooks through bloody nostrils, dragging beasts onto shorelines and stringing intestines and organs on vines for the day to dry and consume? For the flies and the ants and the wild things to feast upon? Where were you?

I'll tell you where you were. You were festering in your mother's womb, in her mother's womb, and in her mother's womb before her. You were not yet a possibility. You were as insignificant as you now feel on rainy days. On empty days when you feel like nothing matters and you realize that it really doesn't and you drink yourself under the table and crumple in a heap on the unforgiving linoleum... on these days you can feel my eternity.

My eternity is restless and damp. One of these days they're going to lock me up and my eternity will be ceaselessly noiseless and grey...

But forever the song inside of me will swell and descend, and I will smile with passive discrepancies. I will reach and stretch out my arms to receive it, for it is not of me or of this world...

Like a satellite I will stand in the yard and soak up the transmissions that rain down on us all, with the sunshine and the moonlight and the vacuous intermissions between. The spacemen and the chunks of stone caught in the middle will vibrate with the weight of it. Synchronously, we will all feel it. Singly, it will change us. Sadly, we will quickly forget.

Months will pass and years will pass and the sun will grow larger in the sky, yet we will continue burning in forgetful circles. These incestuous circles will break themselves and heal, fracture and repeat. We will sink, slightly, as a path to something great opens and closes; we will quietly taste it in the backs of our mouths, smell it on a shifting wind.

But we will carry it with us, somehow; we always have. It will be tucked somewhere behind a yellowing memory of an ancient lover, a quiet morning before dawn sometime in spring.

Or it will manifest itself in other ways, forcing itself upon some of us and thrusting and thrusting, driving us into the walls, into the streets, into doorways and alleyways, into shivering, mumbling mounds devoid of reason, devoid of mediation. Some of us must deal with it. That is the simple fact.

The Daughter of the Sun
She moves around us, inside of us. She is perfect form; she is hidden grace. She is thoughtful moments and half-forgotten dreams. Tiny whispered revelations that fall through three a.m. sweats and drunken mumbles. Tinier hairs on the back of your neck...

She walks these sidewalks and stumbles through these traffic jams on the way to things that we have never seen or heard spoken aloud. She shatters us; splits us into thousands of fragmented versions of ourselves that glisten and glitter in the noonday sun. She makes us whole.

She strides alongside of us, in perfect time with our footsteps, so silently and steadily that she goes unnoticed amongst us. She yearns with the ferocity of a wild animal, with the tenacity of a grizzly bear. She laughs, she laughs...

We have opened lines of communication. We have repaired broken contacts; we have immersed ourselves in the procedure. Mostly while asleep.

In return we have received things that we would never have seen or heard or felt. Things that have brought us to cliffs and left us dangling by fingertips and wits' ends. Things that are running inside of us; metaphysical mice on spinning metal wheels.

And still, somewhere between the lines, between the cold metal bars beneath our feet, she is there... providing rhythm and harmony, providing an acceptance of the vastness beneath us, providing a place where there formerly was none. Allowing space for us in the falling rays to see and breathe, to create ourselves. To grow upward and outward.

To grow in the direction that we all know we must move. Over the walls, around the trees, into the unfettered streams that will feed us and let us feel again. Into the womb where our ideas are conceived. Into the blunt noises that sift somewhere bottomless within us, that live beneath the paperweights and cornerstones.

Hands raised in the air, to the sky above us, she points the path to the sun. Let us follow her silent instruction, lest we rupture and perish in shadows beneath freshly polished leather boots, in open fields covered in our blood, and the blood of our brothers and sisters, and our parents and children, and the blood of people we will never know or see, and their brothers and sisters and parents and children. Let us succumb to the symphony whispering through us...

A Voice From the Back of the Room
Crimped hairs and filed nails sit silently at tables, at bars, behind vending machines, on toilet seats. These faces hidden in clouds of smoke sit and stare blankly, speaking in twitches and tics. Shitty music rises from jukeboxes and hangs in the air stagnant and repressive, mustard gas slides into blistering ears.

We are quiet because we don't know what to say anymore. We have run out of small talk and meaningless sentences. It has grown increasingly difficult to articulate thoughts and prayers recently; things keep running together and blending into an intangible mess.

We have given up on communication, for the barriers between us seem too high and the buildings they compose are condemned due to asbestos contamination and the signs on the windows warning us away frighten us through to the marrow of our bones, keep us weeping on sidewalks in the cold.

So we just sit here, staring at each other and trying not to make complete fools of ourselves. Our behaviors mask common confusion and disarray. Glasses and ashtrays overflow and run onto wooden tables and bars, run over onto tile and linoleum, and carpets of all thicknesses and colors, and bare concrete floors that are far more honest than we will ever be.

But rising above the din of speechless irradiation I see a chariot, through windows that have been painted over announcing happy hour specials; I see it rising above the moon and mingling with the stars, wheels turning in fiery circles, rising above our private calamities.

Suddenly, in the back of the room someone begins to sing, and our heads all turn at the same instant. Someone has broken the silence and we are shocked...

We are shocked into full attention. And this stranger whom none of us has ever seen before hits keys on a battered piano, grossly out of tune and date. His voice lifts us from our seats like nothing ever has and sends us slamming into tables and spilling glasses and ashtrays all over the room. His voice is mangled and yet more beautiful than anything we've ever heard...

And the words that he speaks make perfect sense, they make us tingle and shake without regard to composure, without exception. We have waited to hear these words, or words like them, for millennia, and here they are; sung by a thrift-store suit that swaddles a decomposing drifter, while he sways slightly and nearly falls from the stool once or twice.

And when the song is through we all remember how to speak again and we scream for more. We beg and plead and use our rickety voices, the tools that we have neglected. We just needed a shattering, splitting song to wake us up. This stranger knew it, I knew it, you and everyone around us knew it -- why has none of us played this way before?

Theoretically Speaking
This is a simple day, this is purity, this is everything that we wanted it to be. Morning light falls silently on dumpsters and puddles of urine; falls silently on things we once held dear...

Maybe it's snowing, maybe it isn't. The day and the time and the place and the year, decade, millennium... these are all unimportant. In the garden, behind rows of hedges that partially hide red brick homes... in a dream that is comfortably unfamiliar.

Sitting at the window on this fateful morning, we will feel a slight draft run through the kitchen on shaky legs; we will feel it run through and beside us, around and over, outside. It will bolt for the door and we will follow it, not realizing the path on which our legs are taking us.

And this path will lead us into the street, about a half-mile from the house, where we will discover, much to our pleasant surprise, a stranger bearing gifts from the Orient. A stranger having traveled many miles and being very hungry and tired, with a mad glint in his eyes which hang above a long, gnarled beard. Twigs and leaves will protrude from this mass of hair.

We will walk with this stranger back over the hill, through a little path in the woods, into a clearing that has housed many late-afternoon picnics and lovemaking sessions. We will sit with this stranger, and he will chant spells through whiskey fumes over the sounds of passing trains.

Trumpets will ring out in the early evening wind, and the stranger will beg our leave. We will not give in to the temptation to fly away with him for we are tied into this deterioration by gravity, amongst other unproven theories.

In Through the Window, Over the Roof
The doors and shutters are all locked tight... the vents have been boarded up and nailed down. This house is perfectly postured, homogenous, discreet. We are living in the yard, overgrown with weeds and wildflowers. We are living on the border.

We are lying together in rose petals and sage, we are forcing our way inside. We are climbing up trellises grown heavy with ivy, climbing up walls that we were never meant to see or feel. We are jumping from rooftops into an abusive sunset painted purple and choking on cacophonous waste. We are sliding into the most beautiful moment ever experienced anywhere and there is nothing to fear, nothing to hide.

And this house that has so long served as an obstacle has been bypassed completely. We have circumvented what at first appeared to be insurmountable, almost surreal. It stood before us an unapproachable institution, and we have dwarfed it with our passions, with our blind courage. You and I, making love on the rooftop; you and I, defying the gods.

These Four Walls are Waiting to Fall
These four walls dry themselves of rainwater and radiation daily. They are misshapen opportunities that arise in the middle of fragmented sentences. They grow and bellow over a landscape that constructs itself from isolation and reprieve. They are products of this landscape.

These four walls have been forged from the raw materials that surround us, but somehow they are different. They are wisps of hope in wandering eyes. They are holding back the floodwaters and filling us with spite. We have built them with our own blood and tears, broken bones, broken spirits.

Now these four walls that have protected us from the pollution and the reckless endangerment that spread out on all sides are restraining our growth. They have become choke-chains where they once were incubators.

The roots beneath us are grinding into the concrete blocks that underlie these four walls and are preventing us from accessing the vibrancy that runs beneath these cities and these walls and all of us individually. Our roots are pressing against these fours walls and are begging for them to fall, are secretly crying deep inside themselves over things that we will never know or see unless we crush these four walls and stomp them into dust to be quietly whipped away in circles and ovals, to be carried in the arms of passing gales.

These four walls have served us well, have served their place. However, these four walls now belong in the ground and on top of it, providing platforms upon which we will announce our plans into the open air, providing mountains for us to sing to, providing open plains for us to cross.

Overload, Overboard
Emphatic sails point away from the wind and billow like curtains beneath a vaulted ceiling; beneath a sky that is separate neither from sea nor earth. A sky in which stars burn like illegible digits on a screen, or faulty connections on a circuit board. A night that has been pulled violently from the depths inflames us, whispers archaic messages in our ears. The moon stands silent and complete, removed from it all; watching, watching.

Matchbooks litter countertops, half-used and bent, their rough surfaces worn away and blown to the four corners of the globe. Sulfurous smoke burns holes through nostrils below deck, deep inside this pile of fifty-two, this stack of possibilities and certain failures.

Bright colors, dancing patterns of light distract us from the endless swaying and vomiting, the constant forward progression. We are lost at sea, but seas only stretch so far, and this one has already spanned so many miles...

And the night is boundless, it is growing, second by second, growing closer to us...

It is wrapping around us in blankets of uneasy peace. Forcibly restrained from movement by the weight and breadth of the night, we are learning to tolerate ourselves, as we have nowhere else to turn. It is inward motion, a train moving backward into the station from which it rose on clouds of smoke and thrown dust in warm summer afternoons.

We are tearing up the tracks as we go and their magnetic power weakens and disappears in front of us; the day brings back memories of a time before these tracks were laid across our psychosis, before we learned to behave ourselves. The rigidity of this metal and its fortitude only makes these tracks easier to rip from the earth and bury beneath the sea where no one will ever find them. The sea is hungry to consume these malformations, these hideous creations of scheming intellects and profit margins.

And the circuit boards and wiring systems are flashing and burning, are destroying the simple complacency of the night. We are counteracted and retracted and retraced... our footsteps are in shambles amidst the purposeful organization in the layers of sand forming around our feet.

At the end of the day, we are something like that from which we came. We are the wind, the beginnings of a day that is as sweet as it claims to be. We are nondescript and aligned perfectly with everything that has passed between us and through us, we are rising from beneath stones that carry the weight of authors and authoritarians and sectarians that loomed long before our birth; we are replete.

Wings of an Albatross
These streets are not wide enough for us. They were built for lesser beings, with smaller bodies and arm spans, to walk. They were built to contain beasts like us, to keep our wings tucked quietly at our sides, to keep us from flight.

They were built to keep us from rising above these asphyxiating spheres, these mournful moderations of ourselves. They were sold to us on layaway, paid for with every cent we earned. We have purchased our own salvation through damnation, denial of ourselves. We feel a need to compromise what we have been born with through addition and subtraction and addictions and satisfactions. We feel a need to tie our wings at our sides.

But through the concrete and the sleet we're staring up and watching for passing memories on warm updrafts. We have only been sold on limitations in stone, we have learned how to mimic the clipped tips of the drones.

But they, too, are waiting to grow. If we leap out of the windows of apartments and office buildings and airplanes and spread our wings proudly on either side of us, they will watch in wistful silence and seek their own. We will string banners across the clouds that will decry our hesitance, that will unravel our unwillingness for all to see.

Our unwillingness to spread our wings and JUMP! We have the ability, the want and the need, all that's left is to destroy these buildings and make room for these magnificent wings.

These cities are ready to fall. Hymns and chants and trumpet blasts and marching feet and flapping wings and rising voices in the night will topple these obstructions as they did at Jericho. And atop the dust and the mounds of rock we will begin to run, faster and faster, and our wings will slowly open, tired from such a long rest; they will move instinctually and we will begin to fly, and the heat of the sun will be our only constraint, our only deterrent.

Power Cords Lead into Quietly Humming Holes in the Wall
This is not a manifesto, nor a declaration with a stated purpose; this will not even have a clearly identifiable beginning, middle, or end. This is simply the insulation that wraps around a tangle of live wires and keeps the electricity inside from spilling out into bathtubs and kitchen sinks, keeps me from becoming a danger to myself.

This is giving me the will to live. It is pushing me forward and into you, all of you; into your sweaty bodies, into collisions with your faces and bent, broken teeth. There is something inside of you that is doing the same thing.

This is simply the conduit through which the magic is passing, right in front of my eyes, from some anonymous source and into my veins, and into your veins, and into the smaller appliances and lesser beings that litter the floors and the front rooms and the picture frames that encircle us. Without it, we would not be jittering so madly in epileptic fits of ecstasy interspersed with blinding bouts of despair, nor would we be able to sing so loudly or clearly through still summer nights that beg for our voices to ring out of the windows and into the canyons and across the river beds for miles on gilded wings that recognize no limits.

Three prongs are cracking and popping inside of these walls, white walls that burn with the boredom and nicotine stains that have defined them. Traces of smoke from candles once forgotten on hallway tables creep calmly up them. In black lines they spell dark nights; nights dancing with shadows of discontent.

But now... we are lifted from these shadows that have been cast behind us, just behind us, for so long. The power is on and the lights are on and we are on, and yet not knowing what to do with this static energy is making our movements so jerky and blunt that we can't stop ourselves from crushing the furniture into splinters of what it was intended to be.

And so I propose that we rip these cords from their quietly humming holes in the wall this instant... let's look inward for a moment and, without the blinding lights flashing into our eyes, we may see something that was once drowned out entirely but will have its say when we take control over when and where the current may flow...

A Semblance of Order is Still Too Much Order
This room is so filled with sweat and musty smells of days and weeks in similar rooms with similar crowds learning similarly useless facts, phrases, syllogisms and anachronisms--so overflowing with the stink of all of this unnecessitude that it keeps us from even moving, let alone thinking or breathing.

It has lured us in, promising miscarried dreams and in the end it has delivered perfectly healthy, hungry infants that are waiting to be bathed in holy water and clothed with the same inhibitions that we ourselves carry. And the band on the stage plays endlessly through set lists and requests and one-more-timer's and sixteen or seventeen encores, before finally relinquishing the stage to another band that looks strangely similar and sounds vaguely familiar and plays for a comparable length of time...

We are swaying numbly, breathing in the unmusical miscalculations and disembodied voices that ring out around us, above our own quiet, hidden, tucked-away-trembling voices. And guitar riffs burn the air up with a hunger that is crumbling the night, that is sweating us out of our beds and into cities where we stumble and vomit and wrap ourselves in blankets that neither warm nor conceal us from the ruins of our brothers and sisters who are also so abused by this room and these rhythms and those words that have been spoken from hillsides down onto masses and crowds and spectators and competitors and comrades and angry mobs for centuries, for millennia, for all of the history of humanity and beyond...

And just as these words have done for all of our fore-mothers and -fathers, we are silenced by the soulless music that floats above us, drips down on us in acid streams that sizzle and creep their way down through our skin and into our bloodstreams, producing thin white trails of smoke that slip inside our nostrils and remind us of the primal prejudices and glorious genetics that are now mere vapors, floating off and spreading without ceremony into this otherwise stagnant room...

Missing Pages Flap in Mid-Afternoon Winds
It's murder; and these numbered pages, burnt through with droplets of sweat falling in increasingly rapid succession, are signing our lives away. It's a sad, sad joke.

Somewhere down the line it's a little bit less involved, and these numbered pages are only scars at the backs of our necks; nothing that we can think about too clearly or with too much passion. But they are still there, defining us, calling us by a long string of digits that we have no personal attachment to, that we do not own in any way.

I think that I can recall a time when we were more than these numbered pages, when our voices were clear and not beaten down by the monotony and endless repetitions thrown down before our feet; can't you?

These numbered pages surely have cracked whips across our backs, surely have left these scars that are now making motion so painful, drying streaks of blood that harden and tear and pull away from the wounds they conceal in the heat of a tropical sun. These numbered pages have lifted flags in conquest above the fruitless lands that now compose us, stretching out dry arms with leafless trees, bathed in Agent Orange, put to bed on a triple-dose of Valium and a large glass of scotch.

But the rainy season will come; it will come.

And the ripping torrents will wash down on this cracked, muddled landscape so hard that the chemicals and the corpses and the unexploded ordinances will be carried into the seas and drowned, and drowned.

The rain will be so heavy that we will be broken, and rebuilt. It will be so full and thick that it will wipe the scars from the backs of our necks, and it will wipe out our necks entirely, and everything else above and beneath them...

Gather yourselves, friends. Let's dance in these filthy streets and sing, and watch the skies for signs of their turning. And when they darken we will know that it is time for our rebirth; our faces will be squeezed from wombs that have strangled our gestation; in ecstatic infantilism we will taste the coming downpour.

The Contemplative Nature of Willow Trees and Their Perches on River Banks
As we listen for the ships rolling in beside peaceful waters, on sly plateaus; as we wait for the train to come, for its steely wheels grinding along miles of stormy track; as we lift our arms to the clouds above us and shake fists in fury and breathe through nostrils, wide-open and inflamed; as we collapse from the crescendo--we are undone.

Our skin is brightly colored papier mache torn apart and littering the ground when all of the liveliness has left and all of the guests have gone away; the peel of a piņata that holds itself back for nothing. The sun burns through the clouds and down onto the screaming grass, highlighting pieces of candy where we stood only moments ago, with quiet smiles and hidden glances anticipating the next step.

The river lapping at our feet is brown with sewage and waste from the freighters and pipelines and from the city behind us, the ghastly breathing organism that calls to us in curling fingers and toes, beckons to us with total abandon, smiles hideously around rows of teeth that decay and break into black, brittle chunks before our eyes. Teeth that have been cemented into the pavement of the boulevards by dilettantes through years of high-heeled walking and rubber-tired compressing and contracting...

But we are immune for a moment, we are temporarily autonomous in the middle of this charade, and the chocolates and taffies that were inside of us are melting into the grass, through wax papers that were never really meant to hold what they have been applied to, in the heat of a sun that has enslaved the clouds which overbore it for so long.

As we are undone, the willow tree to our right continues to sway in the disaffected wind; fed on dead waters and planted in salted earth; in opposition to the storm about it; in picturesque visions obtained from portholes in ships passing by, growing small in the distance.

Somewhere there are Open Fields
We may now be grid-locked in traffic, or we may be silent in dirty apartments staring down onto that traffic, or we may be sleeping quietly on the sidewalks in blissful ignorance of that traffic and those apartments, or we may be jumping from the roofs of skyscrapers and plummeting into gaping holes and masses of bones and broken flesh and organs in the middle of that traffic, fully disrupting it all.

The tilt and the sway throws us against brick walls and into head-on collisions and out of the windows of these buildings and makes the buildings themselves shake slightly, sending their inhabitants into a mass panic. It is coming from below, from the stricken, diseased malformations that blister beneath us and send us in uncomfortable proclamations forward, forward, into the heart of the night.

Forward, looking for escape from these distant cousins of happiness and betrayal. Inward, finding meaning in patterns made by streetlights on the backs of eyelids.

Southward from the mouths of the cities around us. Driving on highways that we are burning with bottles of gasoline stopped up with rags and set aflame by reckless cigarette lighters and damp matches. Highways that burn with the knowing that we will never cross their empty white lines again, for we are on the road to great things while they merely lie in contempt of the tires and the feet that pass in endless patterns over and above them.

And we will never look back into the night to see what we have done or where we have gone; it will never release itself upon us in any way that is real or consequential; it will only rise in smoke and drip down inclines behind us. It will dissolve into what we may or may not have wanted it to be as we drive off into the night, as we lift ourselves up above it, grimacing with our own weight; it will leave us as quickly as we have left ourselves on this seemingly quiet night, as quickly as we have abandoned all hope for success or fear of failure, as quickly as the tide has washed over us and swept us out to sea.

Lungs Collapsing with the Weight of What They are About to Say
These lungs of ours, these fleshy, fragile sacs embracing and exhuming, all day, every day; these lungs that are so weathered and beaten and cancerous are being slowly crushed by what we are about to say to you. The weight of the moment that is fast approaching in the growing heat of a summer morn is filling us while you sit unaware of the movement around you. Inside your body and lifeblood. Inside of the easily missed little toes that give you the balance you crave from stern temples and hard jaw lines.

But these lungs of ours know what they're doing; they have been programmed to understand the power that their breaths may be used to enunciate, they have been waiting for nerve endings to sizzle into their sickly walls in nervous anticipation. And all of the tumors and all of the toxins that you can throw at them cannot stop them from drawing the one breath that will change all of this forever, that will stop this constant constriction.

These lungs of ours will carry through this coming moment and onto the next, where something is whimpering to be discovered, is patiently sitting with its hands in its lap, smiling at the doorway and watching for the turn of the knob that will signal our entrance. And this moment is waiting to wrap its arms around our necks and nibble gently at our ears, and whisper empathy and hopeful abandon.

And the words that are coming forth from us, the words that are building in chests and swelling into the misused linings of these lungs of ours, these words are ready to throw that door open with axes torn from "For Emergency Use Only" boxes and splinter the wooden frames that surround and support it, and we are ready for these words to swing these axes and demolish this door, for we have been running into it over and over again and bloody noses and bruised shins have gotten us nowhere. Our silence has permitted this circle to take squeamish precedence over what we know is the way through the keyhole; we can see it plainly when we double over to catch sight of the rays from within and the movement spurs us onward, but we have nowhere to go without the destruction that these forgotten voices alone have the ability to bring to solid obstacles made of earth and wood.

These words are inside of us. They are growing, and soon they will burst from us in echoes that reach all corners of the globe, with waves rising from them that rival the deepest oceans of the earth and penetrate every television set and radio and computer and thatched roof and clay wall everywhere; every medium, every empty space.

And these words are pleading, chanting, crying to be let out of us and run in streams through crowded streets and pass from lip to lip to person to person and breathe through all of us in harmony, in unison, in perpetual motion that sends us reaching out to each other and embracing, lifting voices high above heads with arms strengthened by the collective adrenaline surging through our glands, emboldened by the passions that we have bottled up for so long and kept hidden in back rooms away from prying eyes, passions that are growing and shattering glass and pouring into tenuous muscles fed on hope and slipped sincerities from our best moments, shouts from our worst, screams from days we thought would never end; our lungs are strong and proud and are rising with the ambition to heal everything we see and set bones and stitch torn-open flesh and breathe mercy on those we have been taught to hate, our brothers and sisters that are lying here with us, on empty plains that stretch out into skies and seas and continents that we will never see, in grass that grows tall with no branches to stop the sunlight, plains that will block nothing of the wind that is waiting to rush from between our lips and push the oceans back in tides that swallow whole cities and spray against jagged mountains, the wind that will force the clouds from their thrones and scatter them into mindless corners cobwebbed and gone unnoticed, the wind that will sweep through these streets and these buildings and these people and their families and their lovers and their friends and, work itself into the core of what they thought they were, redefine everything, and leave as quietly as it came.