"Unthinking Miracle" by Tom Snarsky

I spit the light out onto the floor. Francesca Woodman

Still exists. There's a character in the woods who sings

And who has created sixty-five new metaphors for light.

Their name is Blind Justice. Thirty-four days ago, Blind

Justice met a friend of mine for the first time, a friend

Who is a writer in love with winter. My friend asked,

"How far do the headlights penetrate into this eldritch

Darkness?" Blind Justice just laughed and looked away.

Blind Justice sang "Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson and the

Cavaliers as they receded into the vacant moon. "Our

Ideas are too thin for this light" is something the moss

Opined that was not taken up in the Senate. They made

A movie about Francesca Woodman and her family. It

Was well-received and I still haven't seen it. The moon

Looks honest & fair, which is its greatest trick. Some

Abstract party is ending now and people are going

Home, some of them together, some of them never

Again. Bargain basement lighting of the heart. I told

Him once, in my dream, and I convinced myself that

Was enough, that it wouldn't make sense now, not at

This stage of life. High modern yellow meeting green.

When they turn the furnace off, that's how you'll know.

 

 

The spatial trauma of the sun knows you can love with-

Out occupying, occupy without thinking, and read the

Branches to a lover without a whiff of malicious intent.

Try telling that to the form of the Beautiful. Strike out

"Comedy" and instead write "Dire Fuselage of Living."

It's more accurate and less marketable. Actually, just

As marketable, but that's much better than the fore-

Cast numbers so what more do you want? A little

Song, a little dance, a little rain. Some choreography

To smarten up the evening. The rainbow over the river

Could not be painted; the gentle fox who served as

Messenger brought dire news from the north. Maps

Have died for less than this. The other animals weren't

Dead, but they were certainly in danger, and far from

Home. Close your eyes and picture an ocean

Of diplomats. What is it that we expect of their souls?

I made an anarchic diagram of the future that no one

Could read and I buried it right there in the middle

Of the street, where cops grow (if you water them).

There's a miserable kind of fear in landscapes, one that

People really respond to, especially in the dark. Vanta-

Black microwave. The one unpublic love I have

 

 

To break. Can you torture a secret or just keep it?

Blind Justice sang "Dusty" by Connor Kirby-Long and I

Entered into a bruised sleep, one that began & ended

With the lights on. J. Frank Wilson died of alcoholism

And complications from diabetes, says Wikipedia.

I'm reaching for the gray that will let me look at any-

Thing and see the world, a specular sufficiency that

Roils in the lower gut like a tainted vision on fire.

Jake Byrne wrote a poem that says, "I laughed and

a little jet [//] of blood shot from my mouth [/] into

your eye. How embarrassing. [/] Please, let's not

do this here, you said." Everything about the need

To get away makes sense. Strike out "Tragedy" and

Instead write "A Quarter Turn Away from Madness."

Our green, green souls in a material world. Okay, now

Try it with less darkness, more in the hands, less on

The tongue. Exposed shin bone evaporates the mood

And greater beings than I have been sprawled out on

This couch with you on their minds. A sinning fever.

Tracers continue undetected in the water, the bullet

Of their form mirroring the salvo of their content. I

Think you will need a warrant to move forward with

 

 

That, and all the small animals have correctly vowed

Never to assist the law in desperate times. Connor

Kirby-Long made beautiful music as Khonnor for a

Few years. I don't know what he's doing now. They

Made a little documentary about him, set in his

Hometown of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. I watched it

On YouTube and remember a lot of feelings. I also

Remember finding a recording of Jackson C. Frank

Performing "(Tumble) in the Wind" when he was

Older, his voice like a dead aviator, soaring but also

Barely mobile. "I wait for it to begin" and "Hurry

home to your loved ones now [/] Wintertime is near."

Blind Justice knew all about this, but of course they

Didn't say anything before disappearing into a hole

In the sky. Sex is like love in that I'm really fucking

Arrogant. It's a pretty unsettled question, how long

You have to wait before you can go home. If we

Picked you your flowers would you still be dead? If

No one understands the marketplace then I think

That means everyone understands the marketplace.

My friend put their jacket on and pulled me out in-

To the world. I bristled like a thoughtless policeman

 

 

And quietly died. These borders are militancies, but

Ugly ones—they hover over our capacities to love

With bricks in their hands they're unable to throw.

The black plastic's mysterious coating helps me ask

A question: "Did you have anything left [/] As salve

or sovereign [/] Anything left to chance?" All these

Beautiful stolen mortuaries. He is off wishing some-

Where, probably near a fire, probably not alone in

Body, definitely not alone in spirit. The fake lemon

Next to the real lemon on the countertop. I fought

The true and the [/] true won, but decently. A gun-

Metal sky and the load that it bears. A continuous

Fracture building and building with the sound that

Night keeps locked deep in the pulp of the rotting

Trees at the perimeter, arranged in a half-moon to

Which the wolves are never not listening. Breath

Meaning birth and birth meaning unimaginable

Pain. The hands, though close, do not communicate

In whispers or shouts or hums or songs—only in

Mysteries, told one town away and brought upriver

By well-intentioned wanderers who wrongly think

Music only ever brings joy. The harvest coming up

 

 

Short again, brutalized by an inability to keep up

Appearances in the face of purest evil. "There's a

Natural history with your name on it," my friend

Said in an attempt to be encouraging when we

Both knew we had missed Blind Justice and might

Never see them again. I imagined Blind Justice

Singing "Ever-Lovin' Sam" by Odyssey, one of my

Mom's favorite songs. Samuel means "God has

Heard," I think. I Googled it once because I was

Going to write a play or something with a character

Named Samuel who never spoke, only listened,

Maybe for medical reasons. I have a recording

Somewhere of my mom singing "Ever-Lovin' Sam"

Over a backing track I crappily edited from You-

Tube; we were making a CD for my Papa of songs

He liked, where we all (even the ones who couldn't

Sing) recorded a song for him. My sister and I did

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough", and my dad did

"You Got It" by Roy Orbison. "Ever-Lovin' Sam" is

The best one, though, because it's shot through

With the knowledge that my Papa was going to die

Soon from colon cancer that had gotten everywhere,

 

 

Even into my mom's brain. My friend tried a new

Thing: instead of writing about winter, they wrote

A paean to spring. It was good and they liked the

Way it came out; they read it to me several times

As I fell asleep, and when I woke up the window

Was still open on their laptop. I have been to St.

Johnsbury, Vermont one time, but I don't recall

Much about the place besides the green. There are

Other colors to think about, especially right now,

But green is the color that comes from the root

In Proto-Indo-European that means "to grow."

I don't know how they reconstruct the old roots

But I believe in the hiddenness of the third term.

The heart might not be sure how naked to be

In all this. When love grows, it is rarely green, or

Maybe it is always green (i.e. behind the ears).

Confer with Attar, as translated by Sholeh Wolpé:

"When the sheikh fell into the jaws of a crocodile,

you all quickly ran for fear of infamy. But love's

foundation is infamy. Whoever shies away from

it is unschooled, green and crass in heart and

head." So green is different from love, but not

 

 

Eternally separate. Thesis: no two things are ever

Eternally separate. Like green and the crocodile.

Like James Dean and the higher concept of Rebel

Without a Cause. Maybe Blind Justice will reappear

Singing a new song, something they composed just

For the occasion. There's something bleeding in

The art and that seems okay, even necessary. Not

Necessarily for everyone, but what is? What is

Necessarily for everyone? A posture of openness?

Life itself? A window made of the kind of glass that

Is slightly deformed by time, showing evidence of

Its imperfections? This is usually the point where

Sirens sound in the distance and you either give up

Or embrace ideology. My friend told me once that

They had made the same wish every single day

Since they were twelve or thirteen years old. They

Wouldn't tell me the wish, since a told wish might

Not come true, but I was honored that they told me

Even that much. A field of wreckage separates you

From me, and the wreckage is mostly mine, stuff I

Never claimed. The future we build together will be

Made of doves that do not know which one of us to

 

 

Answer to. Think of the structure of bird language,

Which is probably somewhat well-understood but

The rulebook is hiding somewhere deep in the base-

Ment of a house you don't know well enough to feel

Comfortable in and every sound you hear doubles

An early trauma you'd rather not discuss with your

Hosts, who have been inerrantly kind but whom you

Cannot bring yourself to like. When empathy fails,

Goodwill can try to play unaccompanied for a little

While, long enough at least for a reed change or a re-

Entry. I've never recorded a song but surely I sing

To myself a lot—car radio, shower, a forgetful hum

In the presence of others. This is much, much less

Important than listening. I am prorating a part of the

Infinite project of language to lay out at your door-

Step along with a bundle full of expectations, some

Of which you've already flouted and others we have

Not discussed, but that I've thought about carefully

And that make me wish beyond all hope that you'll

Hear me. There's a whole catalogue of lost sounds I

Cannot play for you now, though they ring through

The bullshit with a pronounced clarity that I envy

 

 

And have yet to successfully emulate. We grew up

On streets that intersected eventually, kind of like

Our lives, which go on & on without my permission.

My life does, anyway. My permission doesn't mean

Anything for yours. The possessive is the most pre-

Tentious thing I could imagine, but it sits in my body

Like a heart and lungs and for some reason I cannot

Shake it. Bright yellow dishtowel have mercy on me.

"Do you still love me, really?" the wood asks the

Paint, and the paint is not ready to offer a reply. I

Feel about you the way a song must feel when it's

Shoved into a different key: it maintains coherence

But not the absolute pitch, which is black like night

On a staff half-written in memory of an arrangement

That doesn't obtain anymore, in this weather. There

Is something acrimonious hiding in those woods. It's

Only quarter past eleven and the mind is tired but

The spirit is ready to pick up the slack, serve the sub-

Poena. Life itself wobbles when it walks and it sings

Happy songs even when they don't apply. The water

Hangs like a suspended myth over the region, as if

The lake were still a question rather than a deed.

 

 

When you are a guest, you are more present than

The rest because you are aware of your precarity,

Which no one is taking great pains to alleviate be-

Cause, as guest, you are never really allowed to be

There. The victim is being immolated on the marble

Surface and it's high time you paid the fuck attention

To what got us here, burning bodies in the woods

And rephrasing our chimeras so they look like the

Ocean, with all its febrile lies and unassuming, un-

Dulatory ways. The blood of a pig flowed that night,

But in a different context. I am Rimbaud and you

Are the sea, telling me beautiful stories about the

Way my joints work. To understand the photograph

As pulse is one aim they had for me, aspirationally

At least, even if they never thought I'd get there.

The tragic voyager is set against a backdrop of deep

Space and we are immanent to it, selling cotton

Candy as exchangeable currency against the unit

Of total darkness that hasn't yet been named or

Given an economic function. I know the struggle

Has been consistently repressed until now, and

I'm really seeing it with the bald eagle vision the

 

 

State has granted to my heart, which walked away

From the crash unharmed, a complete miracle. I

Followed the sun here and then waited for some-

One to sing it so I'd know what to do. My friend

Left me here long ago, at this Greyhound terminal,

Company- and luggage-less. What a great place for

A funeral. Katie Peterson, in the Massachusetts

Book of the Dead: "It was said of the recluse: she

loved music," and I like to imagine too that music

Loved her. I am giving living a break from itself to

Rest and keep my name hidden from me—I still

Don't know it—and nothing beyond this operates

On the valence of flowers, so here I'll be picking

Them 'til the end of time, or at least 'til the end of

Blind Justice's erstwhile song. Time has kept my

Friend away from me, but if we generalize, so has

Loss, which is also being immolated if only to be-

Come more permanent. I love you in linen, I love

The necks no one mentions. I love your burlesque

Way of reminding me I've disappointed you the

Old way, the old-fashioned way, the way that in-

Volves breaking a promise. I am terrified of the

 

 

Force of the present unmediated by your face,

And I don't know how I will continue to live in the

Actual world if I have to do it without you. A liver

Is only a manifestation of an idea of sadness. Of

Course New York must have taught you that. We

Decline in the same way but no longer at the same

Time. There is an archer and he is substituting love

Arrows for some fake version of the same thing. He

Is shooting men at random and what am I to do but

The relevant follow-up, enacting a cute division of

Labor that is catlike but also hungry. I manifest an

Entire convention of clouds that you probably have

Never seen. There is a film called Worm by Andrew

Bowser that reminds me of this night, one of the

Only nights that I nearly killed myself with alcohol

Because I was sad or experimental, or something

Less simple, but whatever way you think it, that

Film was the one playing while I cleaned the world,

Tried to scrub it of my influence, played music that

Was sober and responsible but would not translate

Well into the dog and pony show I have imagined

For myself this night, without ever pausing for time.

 

 

Jonty Tiplady: "Nothing ever happens except that I

love my fucking life through you." The gentle fox is

Worried about the status of your soul, and tells you

As much. He's holding the tarot deck behind his

Back a little sheepishly, hoping you'll suggest it so

He won't have to. In this scenario, the gentle fox is

Me and I am that third party of silent smolder, this

Fake dream as just another way to carve out some

Happenstance intimacy for us to fall into together.

Explanation is a funny thing in that in love it doesn't

Work. Don't tell me to hold my breath. I've already

Got a ritual to die by if it goes too far. I don't recall

All of the details of Worm, but I remember there's

Something like a torture scene in a bar, and of course

It was also one very long continuous shot, which is

Amazing to think about. It really gives me feelings

In the gut, both as art and as flora memory, which

Could well be the same thing. Sorry if I'm fifty years

Behind painting. You put your lips against the bleed-

Ing and ask if I'm okay; yeah sure but now my heart

Is on fire. Googling "how to be less self-involved,"

Opening thirty tabs, reading one and then going to

 

 

Bed. One of the best-known actual dog and pony

Shows was originally called "Gentry's Equine and

Canine Paradox," which was apparently a common

Naming convention since there were also "Morris'

Equine and Canine Paradoxes." Robert Lax loved

The circus so much he traveled with one for a while,

Performing as Chesko the Clown and being amazed

By the artistry of the Cristiani brothers, especially

Mogador, who rode horses. It's hard not to fall in

Love with Mogador, reading Lax's poems about him.

Like Augustine meeting the boy on the beach. Like

La música callada of San Juan de la Cruz. Blind Just-

Ice could sing no song at all, really. No song with

Sound. Kierkegaard called paradox "the passion of

thought,” and talked about how passion seeks

Its own end, so thought seeking paradox is thought

On fire with the unthinkable. The turkeys walk like

They own the place, and we find Socrates "stalking

like a pelican" in the Symposium. No fire here, but

Certainly the unthinkable. If you share language

With someone, be prepared to be washed away by

That oceanic force, the forgetfulness of the spoken.

 

 

***

 

 

Sacrament 1: A heavy heart. St. John Bosco wrote

that evil boys tended to attract one another with

remarkable speed, as if they were guided by some

"malefic spirit" or a "diabolic magnet" (his words).

Could I maybe get one of those, put it in my pocket,

and run through an open field to meet the evil boy

who will be waiting to find me on the other side?

 

 

Sacrament 2: Fireblight. Camille Rankine: "It is easy,

how the night [/] is beautiful. The moon bows to the

earth [/] and is swallowed by the sea." When I read

that the first time, I drowned too. I can't walk beside

lakes alone anymore. I can't feed the plant names

to the Internet in the hopes that something new

will come up. Please, if you find this, just / bury it.

 

 

Sacrament 3: Unknown. How much of life is blurred

faces and the burning need to eat the sea. Like many

Americans I'd like to scream into the mouth of Ryan

Gosling and hear my sound reverberate. The violence

tells me he's okay. It opens its slime mouth and tells

me he's okay, but could maybe be improved, just a

bit of tinkering before the universal death sets in.

 

 

Sacrament 4: Suspicion. It is hard to think about

jealousy one unit at a time. No two things are ever

eternally separate, but if you let your thought be like

a lake—still, greenish, flush with mosquito eggs—

then maybe they will never come together, at least

not while you're alive. This is, of course, not a wish.

Everything up to now could only be called a warning.

 

 

Sacrament 5: Elemental violence. Partly there, you

are lost / Time building a tunnel to somewhere else,

the broken mold / Shaping your destiny but not / In

any adequate form, not in the shadow of the sun,

not in the / Way this religion might require. // Two

losses, three dreams, the lightning way to remember

a home. Death / Is a force and so, by god, are you.

 

 

Sacrament 6: Mortality. Derek Gromadzki: "held  up

to  a  fire's  glare  [/]  that  greed  of  evening  strips

to embers"—the twilit rounds emptied into night

skies in heartland USA, some of them ever-lowering.

Think of ownership as owning a gun, dismantling the

object of possession to keep the children safe. What if

one died in your house, as if by your hand. What then.

 

 

Sacrament 7: Infancy. The phoenix as a brother to the

lost, a comrade-in-arms of their inner story, sitting in

the pile of ashes and listening to the tales of the dead.

The phoenix's shriveled head has just developed ears

for this task—impressive since we've been around for

centuries and still haven't. But there are some things.

St. Macrina the Younger, it is said, could heal the blind.