Excerpt from _1998.6
by Matt Roberson


5/15 he and The Wife have sex once a week Saturdays late morning or afternoon. They've never had much sex ever since they first started dating it's not him maybe The Wife doesn't like it had a bad experience that she's never told him about. Maybe they understand it differently. He's not sure he understands it all and doesn't want to wants to just do it and that's the appeal. Maybe she thinks she understands it too well and so doesn't want to do it at all. What is it she understands. The story of him and The Wife started with nervousness where she was still and he moved a lot segued to nervousness where she was less still but still still and he didn't move as much and then they had fun one summer when it seemed easy they were relaxed and now there's not much of anything to it at all nothing not like the story of him and how many women in college dropped into a new environment at eighteen and opened onto new sets of things to do and new involvements and the desire to eat and sleep and breathe almost became secondary to him because there was always something else to do and be involved in people to be with things to talk about. Hanging out with a bunch of wanna-be- hippies wanting to be was enough it seemed made life for a while a non-stop festival bumming around the campus radio station the vegetarian food co-op. Going to concerts. Parties. Running like some idiot embodiment of Eros with a swollen cock from room to room person to person sometimes drunk and sometimes just feeling drunk on hormones whatever drove him then everyone stoned all day towels lodged morning and night against the cracks where dorm room doors met the floor everyone drunk too in the evenings no one studied. Half of everyone on academic probation. Everyone too busy indulging fucking whatever was in their minds to study fortunate to have among them the guy with the blond hair who was selling off acid ecstasy mushrooms mostly a pound of weed to finance a ski trip to Austria. The stuff was without a doubt quite righteous discounted for friends or free lying heaped in a flipped- over frisbee if you stopped in to see him and people did when they weren't running around fucking switching bed-frames with their roommates at some point during the day no one wanted the squeaky one when the lights went out four people to two beds in a tiny room. This is not really how it was really he reminds himself. Not this good. Not this much. A B movie a bogus story. Sometimes he's on top. She's on top when she's got the energy to bring herself to orgasm. The Wife doesn't like oral sex. They're friendly enough during mostly chatting about nonsense as they take care of business. It doesn't take long.

4/25 at the worst times what he hangs onto is that he's not dead. Not that he's not dead by suffocation under a pile of shit in the camp latrine or a tunnel collapsed or sucked under a muddy bog the wrong place to squat for the night. Or beaten to death by guards after being forced to copulate with his daughter or watching his wife being gangraped or hanging for months in a bamboo cage dehydrated because everything that comes in he shits right out. Or been thrown out of a helicopter after torture bamboo under his fingernails electrodes on his balls. Or had his skin toasted off in a napalm attack. Or shot down in the desert breathing oil smoke fumes and airborne toxins. Or any one of a number of grotesqueries he carries in his memory of the vast culture failures of recent generations. So many moments the phenomenon of life energy in the absence of creative forms turning against itself. So many moments. Him at the worst times what he hangs onto is that he's not dead from the ubiquitous. Everyday life. No virus has shut his body down. He's not been exposed that he knows of to chemicals radiation airborne pollutants. His cells don't proliferate unregulated. He's not been cut or shot in a robbery on a highway in the classroom. He's never picked the wrong fight in a bar at a party never ingested much red meat fatty foods artificial flavors. He doesn't smoke tobacco or dope. Not too much alcohol. Doesn't get too much sun. Filters his water. The doctor's gloved finger up his ass finds nothing swollen. He's not been around the diseased. He's not sure what he thinks of life energy maintaining itself in the face of ubiquitous death. A holding pattern. Health the status quo. What he knows is it is at least the key to a long life is what everyone says.

5/09 what The Wife wants she says is a change. Something. Anything. No not anything. Something. A change. A specific change.

What he wants to know he says is what that is. What change? What does she want?

She's not sure she says although she is obviously maybe. She's sure she doesn't want new things which she can have new clothes new furniture new toys a new car though that would be a stretch financially.

She says I mean I don't want new clothes.

She says and I don't want new furniture.

She goes through a list this way one thing at a time.

She says I don't want these things. These are not what I want.

She says setting her face and I don't want to rearrange the goddamn apartment which he's done how many times? when the letters the pages of his dissertation rearranged themselves to present Basil Utter's face.

She doesn't want new things for the apartment.

She doesn't want a new apartment.

Well what the fuck does she want?

He's not a stupid man. He knows not to ask. But he does anyway his stomach is tight enough to shorten his breath his morning class went badly he's a boring fat underpaid lecturer overeducated housekeeper live-in cook. He's a fucking caterer in every fucking sense. Well what the fuck does she want?

Not be yelled at first off The Wife yells her face red.

5/09 Transcript Just something.

Something what?

Something different.

Different than what? What is it that makes you so unhappy?

I don't know.

What do you mean you don't know?

I don't know exactly.

But you know. You must know if you want a change.

Don't you know? Don't you want a change?

I don't know. What do you mean?

Jesus. What's wrong with...

Not what's wrong? What's wrong with? With me?

I didn't say that.

But that's what you meant...

That's not what I meant to say.

Not what you meant to say. But what you meant?

No. What I meant is...


Don't you know?

Know? No! What? What the fuck is the fucking problem you come in here and just because you've had a shitty day. Fuck! I had a shitty day too but. Christ!



I don't need this.

You don't need What?

How dare you speak to me like that?


I just don't need this?



What? What? What don't you need? You come in here and you want a change and you don't need this. What?

You obviously feel the same way...

Maybe I do.

Well then you know.

Maybe I do.

It's not me.

What's not you?

You said you knew.

Maybe I do.

Well it's not me...

So it's me.

I don't know.

What's me?

I didn't say that.


That it's you.

But that's what you meant.

I don't even know what we're talking about.

Me. You're saying that because of me you can't get what you want.

Which is something different.

Which is what?