THE VOICE IN THE CLOSET
by Raymond Federman


1 here now again selectricstud makes me speak with its balls all balls foutaise sam says in his closet upstairs but this time it's going to be serious no more masturbating on the third floor escaping into the trees no the trees were cut down liar it's winter now delays no more false starts yesterday a rock flew through the windowpane voices and all I see him from the corner of my eye no more playing dumb boys in the street laughing up and down the pages en fourire goofing my life it's a sign almost hit him in the face scared the hell out of him as he waits for me to unfold upstairs perhaps the signal of a departure in my own voice at last a beginning after so many detours relentless false justifications in the margins more to come in my own words now that I may speak say I the real story from the other side extricated from inside roles reversed without further delay they pushed me into the closet on the third floor I am speaking of us into a box beat me black and blue question of perspective how it should have started in my little boy's shorts I am speaking of me sssh it's summertime lies again we must hide the boy sssh mother whispering in her tears hurts to lose all the time in the courtyard bird blowing his 2 brains out on alto guts squeaking lover man hey can you hear it now yellow feather cam sent it to me at his fingertips plagiarizing my life boys passing in the street they threw sand in his eyes it begins downstairs soldiers calling our names his too federman all wrong don't let him escape no not this time must save the boy full circle from his fingers into my voice back to him on the machine just heard the first echo tioli how idiotic what did he expect callow it says after so many years banging his head against the wall rattling the old stories ah what's the use watch him search in his dictionary callow unfledged youth almost hit him in the face federman featherless little boy dammit in our closet after so many false names foisted upon me evading the truth he wrote all the doors opened to stare at my nakedness a metaphor I suppose a twisted laugh wrong again writing himself into a corner inside where they kept old newspapers delirious strokes of typographiphobia fatal however only on occasions his fingers on the machine make me book of flights speak traps evasions question of patience determination take it or leave it of all places one hundred years of solitary work down the drain through the windowpane something to do with the 3 futility of telling experimenting with the peripatetic search for love sex self or is it real people america aside from what is said there is nothing silence sam again what takes place in the closet is not said irrelevant here if it were to be known one would know it my life began in a closet a symbolic rebirth in retrospect as he shoves me in his stories whines his radical laughter up and down pulverized pages with his balls mad fizzling punctuation question of changing one's perspective view the self from the inside from the point of view of its capacity its will power federman achieve the vocation of your name beyond all forms of anthropologism a positive child anthropomorphism rather than the sad off-spring of a family giggling they pushed me into the closet among empty skins and dusty hats my mother my father the soldiers they cut little boys' hands old wife's tale send him into his life cut me now from your voice not that I be what I was machine but what I will be mother father quick downstairs already the boots same old problem he tried oh how he tried of course imagining that the self must be made remade unmade caught from some retroactive present apprehended reinstated I presume looking back how naive into the past my life began not again whereas in fact my mother was crying softly as the door closes 4 on me I'm beginning to see my shape only from the past from the reverse of farness looking to the present can one possibly into the future even create the true me invent you federman with your noodles gambling my life away double or nothing in your verbal delirium don't let anyone interfere with our project cancel our journey in my own words inside the real story again my father too coughing his tuberculosis as they locked him into the closet they cut little boys' hands alone waiting on the third floor crapping me on his paper what a joke the soldiers quick sssh and all the doors slammed shut the boots in the staircase where it should have started but not him no instead calmly he shoves the statue of liberty at us very symbolic over the girl's shoulder I tremble in his lies nothing he says about the past but I see it from the corner of my eye even tried to protest while the outside goes in then smiles among the beasts and writes one morning a bird flew into my head ah what insolence what about the yellow star on my chest yes what about it federman the truth to say where they kept old wrinkled clothes empty skins dusty hats and behind the newspapers stolen bags of sugar cubes how I crouched like a sphinx falling for his wordshit 5 moinous ah but where were you tell me dancing when it all started where were you when the door closed on my shouting I ask you when I needed you the most letting me be erased in the dark at random in his words scattered nakedly telling me where to go how many times yes how many times must he foist his old voice on me his detours digressions ah that's a good one lies lies cancellations me to tell now procrastinations I warned him deep into my design refusing to say millions of words wasted to say the same old thing mere competence never getting it straight his repetitions what really happened ways to cancel my life digressively each space relating to nothing other than itself me inside his hands progress quickly discouraged saying that it was mad laughter to pass the time two boxes correspondence of space the right aggregate while he inflicts false names on me then distorts our beginning but now I stoop like an beast on the newspapers groping to the walls for the dimensions of my body while he stares at his selectricstud humping paper each space within itself becoming the figure of our unreality scratched from words the designs twirl just enough for me to speak and I fall for his crap to become puppet 6 believing he is me or vice versa born voiceless I wait in the dark now down the staircase with their bundles moaning yellow stars to the furnace the boots my father mother sisters too to their final solution when I needed him the most last image of my beginning to the trains to be remade unable to shade the light and he calls me boris when I stood on the threshold boris my first false name but he erased that too in a stroke of impatience made me anonymous nameless choose for yourself he mutters a name among infinite possibilities I tried to protest gives us blank spaces instead while he hides inside his own decomposition homme de plume hombre della pluma reverses his real name namredef between the lines in the corners featherman sings his signs anticipating his vocation leaps over the precipice cancels the real story with exaggerations I watched him long ago make images among the beasts how many false starts for me to go but where if the door had opened by mid-afternoon the world would be alive dust burnt pains in the guts squeaking pretending to be dead I replay the scene down the staircase perhaps I slept the whole time and a bird flew into my head past his face through the windowpane scared him face to 7 face with myself I threw sand in his eyes struck his back with a stick in his delirium whining like a wounded animal I squat on the newspapers unfolded here by shame to defecate my fear as he continues to scream multiplying voices within voices to silence me holding my penis away not to piss on my legs clumsily continues to fabricate his design in circles doodles me up and down his pages of insolence two closets on the third floor separate correspondence of birth in time seeking the right connection meaning of all meanings but from this angle never a primary phenomenon to end again reducible to nonsense excrement of a beginning in the dark I folded the paper into a neat package for the birds smelling my hands by reflex or to disintegrate years later but he ignores that too obsessed by fake images while sucking the pieces of stolen sugar on the roof by the ladder outside the glass door the moon tiptoed across the clouds curiosity drove me down the staircase but I stumbled on the twelfth step and fell and all the doors opened dumb eyes to stare at my nakedness among the beasts still hoping for survival my father mother sisters but already the trains are rolling in the night as I ran beneath the sky a yellow star struck my breast and all the dumb eyes turned away I told him tried to explain how it must 8 have started upstairs they grabbed me and locked me in a box dragged me a hundred times over the earth in metaphorical disgrace while the soldiers chased each other with stones in their hands and burned all the stars in a furnace my survival a mistake he cannot accept forces him to begin conditionally by another form of sequestration pretends to lock himself in a room with the if of my existence the story told in laughter but it resists and recites first the displacement of its displacements leaving me on the threshold staring dumbfounded at the statue of liberty over the girl's shoulder question of selecting the proper beginning he claims then drags me into the subway to stare in guilt again between the woman's legs at the triangular cunt of america leads me down the corridor to masturbate his substitution instead of giving me an original experience to deceive the absence of a woman's hand makes believe that I am dead twelve years old when they left me in the primordial closet moment upstairs on the third floor with the old newspapers crapping out his fear empty skins seeking unknown pleasures which is only an amorphous substitution thinking that memory is innocent always tells the truth while cheating the original experience or 9 substituting a dream for the first gesture a hand reaching for the walls to find its proper place since he failed to generate the real story in vain situates me in the wrong abode as I turn in a void in his obligation to assign a beginning however sad it may be to my residence here before memory had a source so that it may unfold according to a temporal order a spatial displacement made of words inside his noodling complexities of plagiaristic form I was dead he thinks skips me but I am being given birth into death beyond the open door such is my condition the feet are clear already of the great cunt of existence backward my head will be last to come out on the paper spread your arms voices shout behind the walls I can't but the teller rants my story again and I am alive promising situation I am my beginning in this strange gestation I say I for the first time as he gesticulates in his room surrounded by his madness having once more succeeded he thinks in assembling singlehandedly the carbon design of my life as I remember the first sound heard in this place when I said I to invent an origin for myself before crumbling into his nonsense on the edge of the precipice leaning against the wind I placed my filthy package on the roof its warmth still on my hands far away the empty skins already 10 remade into lampshades past moments old dreams I am back again in the actuality of my fragile predicament backtracked into false ambiguities smelling my hands by reflex out of the closet now to affirm the certainty of how it was annul the hypothesis of my excessiveness on which he postulates his babblings his unqualifiable design as I register the final absence of my mother crying softly in the night my father coughing his blood down the staircase they threw sand in their eyes struck their back kicked them to exterminate them his calculations yes explanations yes the whole story crossed out my whole family parenthetically xxxx into typographic symbols while I endure my survival from its implausible beginning to its unthinkable end yes false balls all balls ejaculating on his machine reducing my real life to the verbal rehearsals of a little boy half naked trying to extricate himself as he goes on formulating yet another paradox I witness to substitute a guilty gesture for my innocent pleasure call that cleverness indeed to impose on my predicament his false notions of order truth plausibility down the corridor triptoes now listens to voices 11 murmuring behind the doors refusing that which negates itself as it creates itself both recipient and dispatcher of a story teller told creature on my hands the smell of the package up on the roof to disintegrate in laughter divided I who speaks both the truth and the lie of my condition at the same time from the corner of its mouth to enclose the enunciation and denunciation of what he says in semantic fraudulence because I am untraceable in the dark again as I move now toward my birth out of the closet unable to become the correspondent of his illusions in his chamber where everything happens by duplication and repetition displacing the object he wants to apprehend with fake metaphors which bring together on the same level the incongruous the incompatible whereas in my paradox a split exists between the actual me wandering voiceless in temporary landscapes and the virtual being federman pretends to invent in his excremental packages of delusions a survivor who dissolves in verbal disarticulations unable to do what I had to do admit that his fictions can no longer match the reality of my past me blushing sphinx defecating the riddle of my birth instead he invents me playmates in his chaotic progress for his deficiencies to tell the truth moinous he calls them ahah but let us be honest even if it hurts it is some 12 considerable time now since he last knew what he was talking about in his flow of words that counterfeit my escape if I dare say as he toys with my fears makes of me a puppet-child whose strings are entangled rather than letting me be free and spontaneous to run under the grey canvas sky in search of my present-future then injects into my eyes a functionless reflexivity but no one is fooled by his disabused attitude which makes me forget my mother's face her sad dark eyes forces me to reshape my father's hopes to convenient usage for a future life in some far away land sublty hidden into his voice seeking to vanish again while he thinks words will make me he thinks his words will eventually stumble on the right aggregate of my being how clever he would like it to be my fault if his words fail to save me I resist curious reversal of roles whereby the rustle of his lies above my head leaves my storyless but through a crack in the wall of my closet I see his hand draw a tree and on a branch a bird a scared mockingbird the shape of a leaf I loved that bird so much that while my scribbler stared at the sun and was blinded I opened the door and his my heart in a yellow feather to blank his doodling words mimicry of my condition which repeats 13 sam's pell mell babel object without a proper name and inversely named captive of his designs as soon as he stands opposite the space of this flagrant contradiction in the heat of our confrontation but because he failed by substitute himself for the first witness of my beginning he cannot improve his account only reinvents what he thinks really happened on the third floor when the door slammed shut on me summertime escaping into the trees the boots in the courtyard moanings down the staircase my experience retold in false versions inscribed in a fraudulent present-past space that can barely approximate the condition of my voicelessness and so he looks toward the days of my wandering indicating what has been restored by faulty memory how can I progress in deliberate distortions even when the present feeds upon the coming future of this escapee who assumes here his true identity as he decries his own story locked in a space beyond his hands on the periphery of his circular rumbling inside as the selectricstud balls away whirls me in a verbal vacuum pretending to set me free at last in the absence of my own presence no I cannot resign myself to being the inventory of his miscalculations I am not ready for my summation nor do I wish to 14 participate any longer willy nilly in the fiasco of his fabrication failed account of my survival abandoned in the dark with nothing but my own excrement to play with now neatly packaged on the roof to become the symbol of my origin in the wordshit of his fabulation that futile act of creating images of birth into death backward into the great cunt of reality regressing toward my presence in his exercise-book speak my first words on the margins of verbal authenticity I will step into the light emerge run to some other refuge survive work tell the truth I give you my word resist I will abolish his sustaining paradox expose the implausibility of his fiction with cunning expedients stratagems that will cure him of his madness even if the act of telling my own tale sends him to oblivion his journey to chaos ended his temporary landscapes frozen his visit among the beasts forgotten his real fictitious discourse denounced I will be relentless his exaggerated second-hand tale retold anew with the correct accent all his words obliterated from cambrian brainless algae to imagination plagiarized his head crushed against the wall I will step out of my reversed role speak in my own voice at last even if I must outstretch myself to the unattainable but 15 suppose fatigued and disgusted he abandons me will I be able to emerge alone down the corridor out into the sun will I be able to become the essential and not remain a special event on the edge of the abyss stalled words in regress without destination an historic fiasco within his hysterical screaming obscured by faulty memory yes suppose he gives up dies one morning among millions of unfinished moments in the middle of a sentence will I remain suspended from his ink-blood lifeless voice within a voice without a story to tell my beginning postponed erased by federman's absence now then I forever been where to now don't even say why but you you ask how I skip never before spoken yet what for me no sleep selectricstud hassle stir again in the closet upright now unfolded unself movements toward unspeakable future between two refuges alive yet afraid yellow feather boy confined manchild symptom rarely fatal controlled pressure producing typographical hijinx voodoo machines I located in nakedness metaphorically exposed federman out then facing the sun following shadows time 16 again for another book of flights old friend ass in gear detours speak traps crap it all symbolic evasions rebirth this time masturbating no more false closet go run above the stars where tension between peripatetic hysterical search for people makes love unique case unreal america sam no less midwife to rebirth time to admit unredeemed mess accept little boy described fervor not in present retroactive quite never apprehended entirely echoes space of future reinstated in stories only from past images presumed shape reverse of farness stifling faces federman now confront much moinous wordshit start there to provide single voice long dodge closet yet a single word failed logos draws map of journey to chaos evoked a bird here where moinous rendered speech burns out to better question fear realize aspects cancel life digressively movements to touch hands or allow feelings propelling words eventually confront mother now beast father now antics sisters too from other side stars burning the felt atrocity in furnace as necessary alchemical fire or both let it burn or neither erased let it go here now again featherless risk of death ultimate helplessness startling puppet fails to fly crafty dodger by props replays old tale artificer of fledgling 17 birth in retrospect for remade self caught in unself present as yet unmade unimagined lost in soaring echoes of voices floating from future to decide discover survival toward shared unwritten life coasting above abyss crossing selectrified eye dissolved issues beyond death duplicating open door tearing the veil of high priestess prepare last scroll played out ready to escape now behind walls sssh necessary energy repulverized pages disaster words threatens unqualifiable babble cheating original experience locked I frantic he cunningly futile primordial elements of flight activities rectifying themselves from different angles useless divergence draws linearity of life undermines word circularity to voices which scream reducible again machine discourse system of recuperation by loss end father now mother seen sisters too measured calculated formulated by typographical symbols within closets correspondence to what again is seen again measured again calculated reformulated even with nearness slight variations to something possible against background of dreams already said already seen foolish pleasures to proliferate in verbal mud to build come back upon retrace already traced lines inscribed a course of action but only certitude here in closet alone outside mystery to be found helplessness of an 18 elsewhere beginning veiled fingers of plagiarism who speaks to whom with neutral voice the questioning lie masks subjects from other stories toward where it dies sometime much wordshit provides single light in closet the threat of becoming just another paradox presence split voice in absentia from failure spoken reconstructs past staging of possible conditionals of ifs connects a certitude pretends to offer less said perhaps wanted less trying yet from afar in hollow sound assert itself weakness void rather than an absence force or source previously expected to hear better say admit failure by designating who makes non-existence connivance laughter I unable to invent delegating names anonymous machine in motion scream questions affirmations texture designs negations speculations double or nothing where sun and other stars still burn neither symbols of a beginning nor metaphors microcosm reality gigantic mythocosm edifice of words integrating space figures inside rhetorical perfection name canceled as uttered with balls foutaise again reaches all balls from impossible survival repeats even less than nothing perpetuates itself into an implausible future-past region of ruins full circle fingers back to voice a prehistoric 19 closet condition doors locked in first refuge plays dead in issueless memories erased illusion of survival in excessiveness with cries to infinity in either direction tried to mock silence as rumor hooked to primary self into body splintered fantastically into other versions of real story lingers as alternative traces along diverging tracks of probable digressions onward lessness to endlessness admits reverse of farness equals inverse of nearness in reconciliating four swords piercing armored body by acceptance of youthful defiance with folly sam knows perseverance furthers more shadow box of guilt after newspaper wraps excrement on roof from rolling trains to furnace now remade lampshades runs down staircase to night call of fear smelling hands naked yellow star bird seeks beginning of historic fiasco free at last to journey among the beasts where guts squeaking unfold into laughter from darkness displacement of solitary work recalling newspaper pages faces of soldiers staring victorious sphinx defecating his life begins again closet confined as selectricstud resumes movement among empty skins images crumble through distortions spins out lies into a false version leapfrogs infinite stories falling silently into abyss to be 20 replaced retold confusion foretelling subsequent enlightenment by what right a fool echoes from near farness the design of youthful folly for neither darkness fear struggle hopelessness nor resistance forces success symmetry to grasp buried sword reluctant to transgress as he learns to listen be silent accepts bewildered others too exist in closet who seek acceptance not defiance of words secret young boy with hope asks again but to ask again is importunity and here he who importunes receives no answer to importune is folly to strengthen in a fool what is right is holy task as spring wells up at last at foot of mountain face of superior manchild fosters character he knows now by thoroughness in all that he does to go on this way brings madness humiliation childish folly good fortune from devotion gentleness expelled from mother tongue exiled from motherland tongueless he extracts words from other tongues to exact his speechlessness ubiquitous wanting to be everywhere at the same time he disperses his words everywhere at the same time to commit transgression for those above those below negates absence time now then to be serious upstairs in his closet foutaise to speak no more my truth to say from fingers federman here now again at last