Portland Place . . . furtive seedy figures,
rooming houses and chili parlors, hop joints,
cathouses . . . July 27, 1991—after three
weeks in the hospital in Topeka for triple by-
pass and fractured hip.
Flying over African set in a rickety old tin
plane. I am in a windowless cubicle, jiggling
about; if it turns upside down I will know
this is It. But we land on the edge of a lake or
inlet, in a basin. Standing there on the shore,
Ican see fish swimming in the clear, yellow
water, twenty or thirty feet deep, and deeper
towards the middle. Lily pads three feet
across, yellow-grey in color, some dry on
top—others soaked through, stems reaching
down into the clear, still water. In the dis-
tance an inlet, in clear, golden afternoon
In that hospital there were interludes of
blissful, painless tranquillity. (I start awake
with a cry of fear.) Slipping, falling, deeper
and deeper into easeful rest after the
perilous journey, silent peace by the after-
noon lake where the sun never sets and it is
always late afternoon.
How did we get here, somewhere in
Africa? In a rickety old tin plane. He was in a
metal-lined cubicle, sheet iron, like the in-
side of an orgone accumulator. There were
no windows but it was light. He could feel
the vibrations and he knew the plane was in
danger of a crash, but it lands and he gets
He is on the edge of a lake, sixty feet deep
in the middle. About two hundred yards
across. On the other side is a village. Black
children trickling out along the shore of the
lake, in little white suits and dresses. The wa-
ter is a clear yellow, slanting steeply down to
the center. There are large lily pads three feet
across, and the stems reaching down to the
bottom in a green-yellow haze where big,
black fish swim around the stems. Fish range
from one foot to three feet in length. The
lake is in a basin. Away in the distance in a
golden glow, I can see more water, a larger
lake or river.
Iam standing on the near side of the basin
with the pilot, who wears shorts and knee-
length socks. He says something about the
white stones that litter the slope, none larger
than a Ping-Pong ball. I cannot see over the
Slowly a familiar odor fills my nostrils.
Piss? Piss!!! The lake is piss. Years and years
of strong yellow piss. And slowly the full des-
olate horror of that stagnant place hits him
like a kick in the stomach.
“Fishing, anyone?” The scales are encrus-
ted with crystals of yellow piss, the flesh yel-
low and oily with piss. Where is the plane?
No plane here. He tries to reach the top of
the basin. Keeps sliding back on white
stones, smooth and slippery. Where is the pi-
lot? No pilot here. The sun is not moving.
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Just a steady glow in the golden distance, on
the great brown-yellow river of shit and piss.
The Duad! Out of the basin!? Beyond the
basin? There is nothing beyond the basin!
Adeep slough of clear, yellow urine, seep-
age of centuries from the Duad, there in the
western distance, bathed in the golden glow
of a sun that never sets.
Eternal vigilance and skill in the use of
weapons that will never be needed here in
this yellow stalemate where it is always late
The city is vaguely reminiscent of New York,
with the Land of the Dead superimposed.
Dark, dirty streets littered with trash and
garbage, but trash from what usage? And
garbage from what foods and what contain-
ers? The smell of death and rot is here, from
decay of unfamiliar offal. Many of the build-
ings appear deserted or semi-deserted. Many
have stained marble facades and steps. The
streets are narrow. A park in front of the
traveler is a twisted tangle of roots and vines
and misshapen trees.
Iam leaving an old lover, who has taken a
wife and has no further need of me. Looking
at the tangled roots, the rotting fruit and
phosphorescent excrement, I realize that I
must face the nature of my own need.
Why do I need to be needed, and why can I
not face and eliminate this abject need? For
inexplicable and therefore inordinate need is
always abject and unsightly. A man who suf-
fers, however intensely, from frustrated
sexual needs is always an object of contempt.
He has only himself to blame. But it may be
very difficult for him to face the parts of him-
self he can blame.
The pain of thinking about the lost lover
and his new lover disporting themselves,
with no thought of my pain and need, cuts
like a salted wire whip.
Cabin on the Lake
Now I got no use for a big house, just two
bedrooms, and one is my art studio . . . don’t
really want a guest room, ‘cause I don’t really
want guests, they can sleep on the sofa . . .
and I got me this cabin out on the lake. Got it
cheap since I was able to put up cash, which
the owners needed to put down on another
house they is buying out in the country.
Could easy sell it now, but what for? A few
thousand profit? Nowadays what can you do
with that kinda money?
My neighbor tells me right in front of my
dock (I’ve got the access, and that is the
thing matters here on the lake . . . a dock,
see!), well, my neighbor tells me that right in
front of my dock is the best catfish fishing in
the lake, but I don’t want to catch a catfish.
They squawk when you pull them out of the
water and snap at you like an animal, and I
don’t want to kill no animal. Besides which,
they is a bitch to clean . . . have to skin them
with a pair of pliers, and their guts is like
animal guts. Course, I could turn the fish
loose—unless he swallowed the hook, and
then what I’d have to do is cut his head clean
off with a machete and end his misery.
Icould cope with a bass, or better, some
bluegills—half pound, as tasty a fish as a man
can eat—fresh from the lake, and I got me an
aluminum flat bottom boat, ten foot long,
$270 . . . a real bargain. I likes to row out in
the middle of the lake and just let the boat
drift. I hear tell there’s been flying saucers
sighted out here on the lake, and I’m hoping
maybe one will pick me up. These aliens the
government is trying to hush up, they got no
stomachs, nourish themselves from photo-
synthesis—so you can see why the scum on
top of us want to hack that up. The whole
fucking planet is built on eating, and if a sur-
gical intervention could remove all stomachs,
the whole shithouse would come crashing
down and then we could look at Bush and
Mohamad Mahathir, that Malaysian bastard
hangs people for smoking pot . . . would be
flopping around like displaced catfish, only I
wouldn’t feel a thing for them, just stand
there and watch them die. It would be my
So I rows out and lets the boat drift, look-
ing at the hill beyond the lake and just hop-
ing for a flying saucer and humming to my-
self, “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to
carry me home,” and take out my stomach so
I don’t give a shit about no government. I
can just set there from here on out. . . but
nothing happens, leastwise nothing I can feel
happening . . . but maybe it will happen
when I go to sleep . . . but then I just wake up
in my bed, to get up and feed my six cats.
First thing would be to have their stomachs
took out, so they would let up aggravating
Now lying comes as natural as breathing to
a politician, and just as necessary for his
survival. I reckon that’s what happened with
John F. Kennedy . . . he was on the edge of
committing the criminal, unforgivable sin:
he was about to tell the truth, and somebody
called a special number in Washington.
Yeah, it sure would pleasure me to see the
whole lot of them—Bennett, Bush, Thatcher,
Mohamad Mahathir, Sad-Ass Hussein—flop-
ping around out of their medium and gasp-
ing out their last lies.
One thing I hate more than other things is
aliar. Maybe it’s because I am not capable of
lying. Even a simple everyday lie, like claim-
ing I am sick to avoid a trip or an appoint-
ment, rings so hollow, even over the phone,
that nobody will buy it.
It was a Thursday. For me, a portentous con-
junction: I was born February 5, 1914, which
was a Thursday. September 17 is also a spe-
cial date for me. Arbitrary but significant,
with potential for good or bad luck.
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