Self In 1958

What is reality? I am a plaster doll; I pose with eyes that cut open without landfall or nightfall upon some shellacked and grinning person, eyes that open, blue, steel, and close.

Am I approximately an I. Magnin transplant?

I have hair, black angel, black-angel-stuffing to comb, nylon legs, luminous arms and some advertised clothes.

I live in a doll's house with four chairs, a counterfeit table, a flat roof and a big front door.

Many have come to such a small crossroad. There is an iron bed, (Life enlarges, life takes aim) a cardboard floor, windows that flash open on someone's city, and little more.

Someone plays with me, plants me in the all-electric kitchen, Is this what Mrs. Rombauer said? Someone pretends with me — I am walled in solid by their noise — or puts me upon their straight bed. They think I am me!

Their warmth? Their warmth is not a friend! They pry my mouth for their cups of gin and their stale bread.

^hat is reality to this synthetic doll who should smile, who should shift gears, should spring the doors open in a wholesome disorder, and have no evidence of ruin or fears?

But I would cry, rooted into the wall that was once my mother, if I could remember how and if I had the tears.

June 1958-June 1965


You speak to me of narcissism but I reply that it is a matter of my life . . . Artaud

At this time let me somehow bequeath all the leftovers to my daughters and their daughters . . . Anonymous

Better, despite the worms talking to the mare's hoof in the field; better, despite the season of young girls dropping their blood;

better somehow to drop myself quickly into an old room.

Better (someone said)

not to be born and far better not to be born twice at thirteen where the boardinghouse, each year a bedroom, caught fire.

Dear friend,

I will have to sink with hundreds of others on a dumbwaiter into hell.

I will be a light thing.

I will enter death like someone's lost optical lens.

Life is half enlarged.

The fish and owls are fierce today.

Life tilts backward and forward.

Even the wasps cannot find my eyes.

Yes, eyes that were immediate once. Eyes that have been truly awake, eyes that told the whole story — poor dumb animals. Eyes that were pierced, little nail heads, light blue gunshots.

And once with a mouth like a cup, clay colored or blood colored, open like the breakwater for the lost ocean and open like the noose for the first head.

Once upon a time my hunger was for Jesus. O my hunger! My hunger! Before he grew old he rode calmly into Jerusalem in search of death.

This time I certainly do not ask for understanding and yet I hope everyone else will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps on the surface of Echo Lake;

when moonlight, its bass note turned up loud, hurts some building in Boston, when the truly beautiful lie together.

I think of this, surely, and would think of it far longer if I were not... if I were not at that old fire.

I could admit that I am only a coward crying me me me and not mention the little gnats, the moths, forced by circumstance to suck on the electric bulb.

But surely you know that everyone has a death, his own death, waiting for him.

So I will go now without old age or disease, wildly but accurately, knowing my best route, carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years, never asking, "Where are we going?" We were riding (if I'd only known) to this.

Dear friend, please do not think that I visualize guitars playing or my father arching his bone.

I do not even expect my mother's mouth.

I know that I have died before —

once in November, once in June.

How strange to choose June again, so concrete with its green breasts and bellies.

Of course guitars will not play!

The snakes will certainly not notice.

New York City will not mind.

At night the bats will beat on the trees, knowing it all, seeing what they sensed all day.

June 1965

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