The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


Alan always misread me, I scratched my skin, burned myself with flares,
with torch, with bamboo stem cut deep, with ink of squid, with hammered
gold, with the poison of lead and mercury - radiation flared my skin,
torched me, cut deep into me, marked me with black metal - he'd read
anything but pain, anything but death, but wound - he wanted me to fuck
everyone because he wanted to fuck me, I didn't want him to, I wanted him
to read death, he wouldn't read death - I'd show him victims with the skin
burned off, impaled victims, blind and poisoned victims - I'd show him
animals crawling with their heads half severed - he didn't want any of it
- he wanted to write - he wanted to read what he wanted to read - just
that - he'd write it down - take it down - take it in - how could I fuck
someone who couldn't speak - who couldn't listen - I posed naked for him,
I spread my legs, I opened my arms to him, he read my breasts, my arms -
he read my back, slowly, the message of off-kilter, skewed message - some
of the scars were old, the characters obliterated by war and history -
everywhere he went he saw language, he gnawed language, swallowed it whole
-  inside he was festering, it was worse there, not as bad as black
shadows on the bridge or slumped against a wall - One night I saw him up
against the cathedral, trying to match the shadow-outline with his own -
fucking the shadow of a dead girl - One night I knew it wasn't him - it
was the words and their nearness - it was the words and their expectancy -
words everywhere - choked and strangled language - that's what he was
doing - killing whatever sounds were left - the world murmured and moaned
- Honey, it was my mistake - my eyelids were cut off - did I tell you - I
could only see - that's all I could do - my lips cut off as well - tongue
torn out - I babbled blood - he mistook participles - I screamed - he
heard infinitive - I fell unconscious - half-dead - against the wall - I
was charred - hardly alive - he read the signs - he thought they were
signs - Honey,  I'd have said - signs of what - there's nothing there -
What are things, that they may be named, that man may have done with them
- he thought they were nouns - he thought of the world of nouns - my
nipples were hacked, did I tell you - he thought the world was permanent -
structured forever like the nighttime sky - my wounds! - he thought I was
speaking to him - I thought him Legalist, this naive American boy, this
boy of the camps and tropics, this boy of torture and finesse - he was
sure I had something to tell him - the real thing, authentic experience -
he saw through earphones, heard through a camera - I stared - frozen - he
read my body like Leviticus - like the Cow - like Revelations - no, he
read my body like Shakespeare - like Dogen - like Voltaire - no, he sang
of Hugh of Lincoln, Horst Wessel, Celan and Sarah Bernhardt - no - no - he
sang his own song - his song of love and tears - his song of tenderness -
I could not close my eyes - my nails had been pulled - arms skinned - head
close to severed - no - no - my legs were sawed through, ears cut off -
skull crushed - Honey, there aren't enough words in the language - the
enemy read and read - newspapers, posters, books, pamphlets, broadsides,
magazines, emails, weblogs, listservs, newsgroups - he gathered strength -
he didn't want to fuck me any more - he spat on me - he wrote 'someone
dies' and that other song - I was stoned to death - I scratched my name
into him - I scratched my flesh into him - my bones were his bones - my
eyes were his eyes - my mouth was his mouth - my mind was his - my cunt
was his - the years of my coming and going - the years of my birth and
deaths - my death was his - my deaths are his - just now he's dying - he's
writing and he's dying - he's reading and he's dying - he's remembering -
he's memory - he's remembering -

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