Phantom Limb Syndrome

12FEB2012 – Dutch Boy, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn. Waiting for coffee and eggs Benedict amidst the sonic swath of: the singing click of washing plates, running water and loud reggae flowing forth from the kitchen; the layers of conversation bolted to the cafe walls by sibilant hooks ejected into fricative fucking existence by the deadlier of the species dominating the room; the silence of couples exchanging a kiss on the sidewalk outside.

On top of the world one minute, lying prostrate in the valley with a face full of frozen pig shit the next. It’s not as complicated as you make it. (In fact, it’s much, much worse…) The clock ticks louder, each second resounding like a rifle shot until the explosions are loud enough to wring water from blood. Each blastwave shakes the table, rattling flatware and clinking the glasses. I am beyond screaming at this point. This goes unnoticed by everyone else.

Everything we do takes place in this world, during this timeline and in this dimension. We are captive court jesters; reciting our lines at the top of our lungs and juggling just as fast as we can, giving our all to a sleepy king who yawns once an hour, resting his fat head on a meaty palm. No escape pod, and no way to hug the beyond from here.

While escorting a friend to Grand Central Station on Saturday, I theorized that our emotions were somehow anchored to the ocean. When we enter this world, we are issued an anonymous measure of the sea which goes about behaving as the sea is meant to behave, all the while manipulating our moods, governing our capacity to give and our eventual tendency to need something in return for ourselves. The throbbing desire to give is proportional to the clawing need to receive. Some of the blocks are subsurface, cold and salty. Some of them crash frequently upon sunny shores and white sand beaches, aerated like blue champagne. When we pass on from this world, our block of ocean is returned. Renew, reduce, recycle. Our emotions are by no means new. Sign and date here, please.

Maybe I’m getting it right but I’m not loud enough. Maybe I’m doing it wrong and thankfully no one has noticed. Or maybe I’m doing it wrong but no one has bothered to tell me, like the elderly deaf uncle who shows up to a funeral with his fly open. I have no choice but to carry on — the desire to write burns as brightly as ever.

On good days, it feels like having lengths of exposed copper hair shoved deep beneath my skin; there is a stink of ozone and tiny sparks are born to die as the wires are scraped across the leads of a battery with a pop, propelling my left hand to spasm and flail for the nearest pen and begin stabbing words into existence across the surface of anything that will carry ink. Those of us afflicted by this terrible disease meet twice weekly in anonymous church basements, sharing our shame over stale donuts and buckets of burnt coffee. It is foolish, embarrassing and wrong but I know I’ll never be able to stop, even if I fail.

Putting way too much thought into the expression “I don’t mind”,


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