Saturday, February 17, 2007


To not write it, nor paint it, nor sing it, is to sit on it, sit on it, sit on it. Is to let it hang there, hang there, hang there. Is to let it block out everything else.

To not write it, I am left looking out through bars in a Spanish jail which I know is Spanish because the ornately uniformed keeper wears the tri-corner hat of Franco's Guardia Civil.

To not write I am left a thousand miles up the Kapuas River in Borneo with a party including a four-foot Ambonese spy, and an irregular soldier with a Tommy gun who shoots chickens for fun and a wiry flunky who rolls our cigarettes, all of us surrounded by grim men in white robes who climb into the stilt house at 3 a.m., wake us on the bamboo floor, turn lantern light on a treasured sacred kris they carry to prove some point.

Without writing, I am left forever behind an open air dance place in a Haitian brothel shack where they put me and one of the girls to lie safely while out under colored lights on the dance floor armed men in Hawaiian shirts spot a student leader, beat him, carry him away

I am left on a dark street in Kuala Lumpur, when a race war is on, knowing there can be snipers at any of the unlit windows and wondering why I put myself here.

Without writing or painting or singing I am forever on the floor of the Murdock¹s Park Avenue apartment where sixth grade classmates cheer as the rich bully I had challenged pins me, pummels me.

Without writing, I can so easily slip through time and land again on the floor at the Murdock's. And here again - as I was down and pinned and he was still hitting me and they were still jeering and cheering - I was even then slipping back still further through other scenes of terror, all the way back to the scene of my first memory which took place on an old steam-driven train headed to New Hampshire, in a Pullman drawing room that smells of whisky with Mother in despair,Grandmother Clark making shouts and gurgles, Peter screaming, as I try to call for help but know in my bones that it is over and no help will come - something I will know again and again and never escape until I write about it. I did not know the smell was whisky until years later it wafted in again when someone opened a bottle in strange circumstances in Angola. I did not know the other smell was human blood until a man on the ground floor of my West 25th Street building was slashed up and down and crosswise.

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