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Fiction by Vanessa Place
 
 
Art 'Lilith on the Stairs' by Daniel Y. Harris
'Lilith on the Stairs' © 2007 Daniel Y. Harris

8And even in this, banality reigns, and insists on our best interests, it’s not easy being blasphemous these days, now that individuality’s an excuse for sensitive insensibility, now that the machine-made man’s now dust-bunny present, the Chinese you know, make them cheaper and more than anybody, but those are the extra human beings, the ones that accompany the main meal, the Diet of Us, for we’re made to order as a hamburger, medium done, with pickles and ketchup and a coat of orange cheese, and when the bun’s slightly toasted, the round scent of fresh quiff. We, like all suns, sample death as a day-trip, we believe it’s there, though no more or less than necessary to souvenir. But it’s an ass that gee-gaws in a cemetery. And us, we’re now braying here.

Where is this? Don’t you mean who? Look close, if you want to know where you stand. Examine the citizen. For house may be hovel or mansion, as hovel is raised as mansion is razed, as each is jointed to someone’s estate, so your where is most determined by who calls it home. Look closer. After all, the face is a map, and you might just locate mine from any of those rags that paper your candy-racked and cashiered immediate. Given, that is, the where, or who, are you. Given, that is, that your landscapes do not host embalmed trees or smoked bees or the bitty flights of bitty birds, or a thunderous cliffside curded with a well-turnered sea, but rather those pricks and mugs of the indisputable, them that fucks with all of us, filling our mouths and minds with their little tadpoles and bits of used tissue, and in this contest of existence I was, and will be again. As you stare slack-shouldered at those who are, believing as you do that death is, it behooves the better mind to see that life’s line is not by time, but in. I’m age. The face of me specifies a when that was once, and once such portrait lies, its subject not only may be disinterred, but will pop up with accident’s prime regularity. For the hourly state of a corpse unstops any given minute, don’t you agree? Live by the clock, die by the hand. And having punched in for or against the moment, haven’t you already seconded your own currency? You, now, that’s what matters. After all, perspective’s subject to endless composition, and only the unknown are as is. Quite famous, I am, therefore, forever unfinished, and all the more, evermore, all men. Who, now, that’s what matters, and once I’ve convicted you of that, my what will be so much easier to swallow.

Let us die, hourly, under the red-walled sky.
Let us go, to and fro, into the red-walled studio.
Let us stop, drop by drop, below the asynchronous bottletop.

It’s an inquisition into the abyss, a sermon sung into the chamber-pot. An inquiry unto continency, in which I prove the greatest sin is continuous consumption, and-but that’s a predicate premise, we need spend no more time on her, for it’s a historical fact like train tracks and bread and real butter, like the three-in-one of the gluttonous god, forever gnawing upon His most faithful followers. Consummatu consummatum est. And in this, you may choose your deity: first, there’s Heaven’s single triplicate, its presence now more absent, featuring a stately enfleshed son, salted pillar of His saltless Father, and the honeycombed grand uncle, known only by name, flocked by a warm crowd of thousands, maybe more, and this has the crimeless taste of coddled mutton. Or there’s our own triple threat of the artful patriotic, the devil’s cream-faced mouthful, the chum that cashes in on a kiss or who pales in close comparison, turning by this stinking turn to greater chum, kicking and cursing, flecked with its own flesh and frothed with yellow bile. And this, as you know, has a faith-based population of very many men and very many young women, disciples of the fickle scent of sewage and raw pork. But there’s a third theology, fresher-made, a double-faced Honor of Heaven and Hell that as well embraces present, past, and future untensed, each spread thin as if on dry toast, and the rich beauty of This amuse-bouche is it’s à la mode and au courant, hide-bound and senseless as a crop, for in these gated craws, best-beloved bastards alternate like inhalations, though the giants stay the same, so rather than stand pitty-pat at the Right Hand or gurgitating in the infinite Maw-Maw, our nameless eternity’s more or less a hand-to-mouth job like every other sole satisfaction. This is just a proposal, you understand. Nothing’s been set.

A pane of purple, scored four times on the left. There is not Collioure. There is not a window. There is not.

The theme of my sermon, seeker, is that we’ve done in death. Through a combination of copyright and indifferent self-regard, the nature of mortality is no more awful than any long Sunday afternoon. Stingless, pointless, your not remains, terminal as a bus stop, shiningly patent as my guilt, and precious as honey milked from weeds. And now that we’ve done away with all deep audits, the exit interview’s a mere formality, though we will be going through your box of personality, checking for office property, and six will escort you to the door, which does not, despite rumors to the contrary, swing both ways. In your last moments, before the next set, you will unspool what’s left of your soul, shitting a well-formed personal essay on the log-point of your pointlessness, pricked with your etceteras, licked clean by your wasted time. There may be a sob. You will die, holding a plastic man in your plastic hand. You will die, your conceit conceded, your obviousness entirely manifest, the sheet folded over the blanket and your nails yellow with age. Or you will have a list of things to do tomorrow, important things which must be done, or you will be just a boy, your cranium still stuffed with sweet sugared clouds. You will die, and it will be horrible. You will burn, or rot, your skin will blister black and boil until it is brought pink off the bone, the chemical you will spark all sorts of hues, your copper will burn blue-green, your potassium will purple, what is soft will grow hard, what is hard will go soft, gums will bubble and Vulcanize, silicon will shellac, shell’ll weave and warp and twist into a model’s frozen motion. You will sit up, to no one’s notice, a pathetic final attempt to rise. Then you will be fully checked, crushed, and run through a sieve, your annihilation complete. Or you will pale and purple as your blood drains and pools and the bacteria within you begins to move, you will serve the hot center of your sentence with blue bottle flies tickling your eyes and buzzing the confines of your putrification while their maggots root in the warm hot muck where was your stomach. Your flesh will grow sticky and creamy as cheese and the body will black and the heat will rise with the smell insects find delicious, your belly will bloat with its own blue meat, as excrement runs from your anus as vomit from your nose and blood-frothed mouth. Your eyelids will swell, your mouth will pout. Your swollen tongue will fall from your split broken lips. Your hair and skin will loose in sheets, and your eyes will liquify. Your heart will become flabby, your lungs honey-combed, your brain will turn mush as your ballooed gut will finally burst like old fruit, hitting the ground. You will stink, for only money does not smell, and you will mold, and grow dry and the beetles will come to chew through your ligaments and what’s left of your skin. And then you will be bone and a little hair to wrap her in. You will die, and you will not be terrified, and this is most horrible.

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last update: July 2, 2007