Muzhiks

When I was too little to be recognized my mother took me out in a stroller. She met an old woman who asked her if I was a boy or a girl. My mother said that I was a boy. The woman showed her hand, missing two fingers. “A boy did this to me,” she said.

Neighbor.


Another man who sits in the yard all day, he has a big dog. All day today, other days he is inside in a dark apartment or else he goes to work, he runs local shipping-receiving stuff, he thinks of himself like a sergeant. He is hairy, slavically, he wears loose shirts and lifts weights in the backyard listening to ГрОб, Nirvana, Bathory. Now he is in the front yard and the dog sits or runs around him. Lila passes and almost walks to the door but sees him there and keeps walking.

The Minyekeen go to Baghdad.


From Pennsylvania the car goes on through Cleveland, speed traps along Lake Erie to Chicago and then (in heat, in chaos; fires and a mess of police cordons. Movements in L.A.) back to Detroit, Mecca, through broad Midwestern streets that get East Coast blood flowing like it was the surface of the moon. They go to the holy sites, Temple One on an empty boulevard all boarded up, lonely reading group sign, a friend, a rich friend, takes them to what he calls “the hood mosque” in Dearborn, built like a converted Walmart. Since it is Friday they stand in the back not knowing what to do or say, heads full of crazy Bush-vintage mischief like “don’t they stone fags?” and then put their shoes back on and walk to the car. Khidr/Equality and they feel both more and less out of place. Pastries, bookstore, the sun goes down, a car that pulls through long empty streets (friend behind the wheel, they drove too long) from one block to the next is the difference between Big City Living and a civilization that humans have ditched for the stars. Casinos sprouting in Hiroshima. The curb of gentrification shimmers back and forth like the front of a 20th century war. They break down the number-ology, hovering Hebrew letters coalesce into the outline of a drone. Holy books rearrange themselves and describe not just ancient Middle Eastern lives but the present and the future, every directive is itself and its opposite. The car takes them back out of the 38th province of Iraq into more central territory of the city and it starts to fold and unfold around them. He gets a call and doesn’t answer. “What do you think?” America grew wrong and no one pinned it down, but it’s all in there, wheezing Connecticut geriatrics doing their best to shit out an ethnostate. I look at him and he’s very beautiful and he’s not from this country any more than I am.

Bad Arts.


Young, excited. The physique of a desk-worker, stretched by youth metabolism. Curated. When I ask what he is working on it is the history of prostitution, not modern or European thank god but way back, back to the river valley, before inverted morals, when it was not so explicit as it is now and the oldest profession was mixed up with the splintering arts, religion, storytelling, growth. Safe passage. Etched image of a naked woman or boy in the temple. “I always got the impression that with Orthodoxy or some other religions you don’t actually have to believe that stuff, the service is just something you do to keep the world running. Is that true?”

Don.


There’s a man who lives in an 18th century estate, just him and his wife, and so they must be very wealthy. He was a Don Juan in his day and so he keeps a whole herd of tomcats around, none of them fixed, they piss on all the nice furniture and sometimes the bed and they screw anything that moves, cat or not, which is what he relates to, more than he relates to most people since they usually have a bit more restraint, or he likes having animals which will piss all over his estate which should really be a museum or something, not in private hands, he would release a herd of goats into it if he could and become their indoor shepherd, or else maybe it’s about blood sport and the cats must fight each other. He sometimes puts up a boxing ring and invites young men from a nearby town, since he lives like a country squire and has concerned himself unsolicited with their upbringing and education, and he has them fight each other too, and although when egged on and a little loaded he will take off his shirt and shadowbox a little his joints creak to much for him to live like the half-decent middleweight he once was, and so when he sends the lads home and has a glass of tea with scotch in it, unfortunately adulterating both, he surrounds himself with the cats, which despite their macho posturing and generally bad behavior are pretty nice animals.

Half a Finger.


Big Song. He is day drunk and plays accordion by the museum. We talk some times.

Out.


I called Lila from the bus station and asked if I could stay with her. It spooked her at first cause she didn’t know who or where I was or why I would call so early but I explained it all and forty minutes later she had pulled up outside, I got in the passengers seat and leaned in and hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, we went out under the overhang and along the river, the windows down cause I smelled like I’d been on the Greyhound for twenty hours and no one deserves that. I told her about riding through the desert. We came to her house out in the suburbs and her mom was already drinking and I had a beer with them and started to relax. Her mum was surprised really, she’d had to do some explaining and I helped her now and soon mother disappeared upstairs. Then she gave me something to eat and we sat outside and I started to explain things in earnest. Almost tearfully or like a confession or rather like I was a police investigator in a crisp white shirt, my sleeves rolled up and broad forearms exposed, leaning in across the table in a smoky room and pleading with the suspect, who would sit with his knees close together like a Catholic schoolgirl caught in the act, and was telling the suspect how what he’d done was not just a crime but had in fact hurt me personally, had wounded me to my core since up to that point I, the policeman, had been so sheltered, happy, and naïve that I had not believed such people existed in the world among all these other happy and naïve civilians, preying on them like wolves, and that the only thing that could possibly make up for this wrong would be for him to confess to his crime, that would be the first step, and then we, the populace, could begin to decide whether we might accept him again, whether he would be allowed to walk amongst us again or whether he was rotten in the soul. When I had finished Lila understood and began to confess.

Look away.


My father’s divisions were different, the opposite of straight was “hip” or “out”, the latter reserved for Albert Ayler and other heroes.

Zodiac.


Out of the train window I see men working on farms. This is the first sign that I am not in America. At home the fields are full of automation. I see broad naked backs, stooping & gathering, and they hold still or blend together in movement and seem to inflate themselves to fill the windows, each distinct beyond archetype and acutely beautiful. Deep tan and black skin in verdant green. It occurs to me that out of the window I am looking at every type of man there is, each represented perfectly and a single time and justifying himself by being perfectly himself. I suspect that I or that someone I know is, by some alchemical process, becoming less and less like any of these types—that certain thoughts in correct sequence (certain ways of thinking) actually leave residue that corrodes and shapes the structure of the whole. The whole brain. I fear the speciation of rich and poor if that is the same thing. Farmland turns to suburb, factory, favela. The blinds on the train are lowered and someone begins to throw rocks, to shoot.

Corduroy the Bear.


There’s something tender about him, about the weird flatfooted walk he does like he’s dog tired all the time, in tiredness, when you are worn down you do not have the energy to be anything other than yourself (which is best seen in the repeated gestures, lighting a joint, scratching), in the ratty corduroys he wears with no underwear, no shirt except sometimes a ratty wifebeater, who needs one, it’s Chicago in the summer. He was once a weightlifter and is now walking flatfooted into middle age.

Петр Первый.


Wine drunk not by the glass but by the bottle, though the glass is a unit that has to be included in the process, between the bottle and the mouth, since his European values see something odious in drinking straight from it, as if all pleasures and any immoderation he might indulge in are acceptable as long as they do not violate the decadence of it—so the process of pleasure must be an educated, beautiful process. Porn yes, but high class, big name porn, de Sade, Pauline Reage (he is exclusively heterosexual except in bearing, in practice), elegantly composed photos of nude white ass, wine, yes but drunk as they do it in Europe, that is in the West and South of Europe, he loves life but fears the toothiness of beer and vodka country, sljiva, he balks at the autocrats and whores himself for democracy. He cooks pain au levain in a brick oven, and before that pizzas that sizzle to completion in a 45 second half-life; having the time and leisure to live this way, he does. He believes in pleasure and uses his money for that end. He believes in work and uses it to earn and learn his pleasure. This is a life in the country.

French Inhale.


“What can you do? The whole world is flies.”

Back Country.


I am not one to lie or to invent things so I will tell you right now that I am not lying or inventing. This happened only once. I woke up early in the morning and I am an early riser so this was earlier still. I might guess that it was between four and five in the morning. I was already up and I couldn’t go back to sleep so I made my coffee and I went to feed the chickens. Back then I had goats too and I just left them to run in the woods, I had fenced off an area so they would clear out all the brush. I went and fed the birds and then the goats and when I was coming back to the house a third time I saw someone walk around the corner of my house, right over there on the east side. You can see I live pretty far away from anything else and if someone comes to visit they would phone first. I followed him around the corner and didn’t see him, and then I saw him come back around and it wasn’t like a person at all. He was shaped mostly like a goat and he was about four foot at the shoulder and he walked like gorillas do when you see them hunched up on TV. We looked at each other for about a couple seconds and then he booked it into the woods.

New Jerusalem.


When I was very young (he says, though he still looks it), I found myself in Russia and I actually walked from Moscow to the farm where Tolstoy lived out his last years. I don’t think I’m alone in my generation in doing things like that, we all have a kind of secular instinct for hagiography, to go through the motions of castigation and pilgrimage, because we feel that religion has abandoned us or that in a more sensible world it ought to have abandoned us. Later we found out that all these stories haven’t gone anywhere, thought and history just keep on accumulating and you either stop thinking of yourself as outside of the process or you get crazy or deluded. Then he’s quiet for a little while.

There’s Orthodoxy.


A modern looks at Ottomans, Greeks, their strange and touching habits that are different from his own. “That could be me,” he thinks. Could it?

Broke Dishes.


I once shot a man and got away with it. Coming in to talk every night at 1 am, at that point what else do you have to do, there is no oversight and the building is clean already. Most of work is a formality. Besides that, descriptions of two pit bulls living on meat and rice, sleeping outside in the Chicago winter. Something I never learned. How can you be sure that the human lives like a human and the animal lives like an animal and there is a distinction between the two. He breathes partially through a whole in his neck and still has a cigarette every shift and a blunt after work, straight killer instinct, I bow to that. I get off, make a cocktail, put on a Curtis Mayfield record and let it play till the sun comes up, that is the routine. In the day he is also a janitor somewhere else, he tells me this while we are mopping. And mockery and concern for the Virgin who works with us since he has been getting it, he says, since the age of twelve, and any alternative to this means you have failed to bite the ass of life, or maybe he’s gay, how can you be gay these days, the men are all dead or in prison, or gay, that’s right, the women are all alone with their children, the whole world around me while my body fades through despite everything it is barely fading, the whole world around me is fading and every further step I take it winds down a little further, towards absolute rest, the men on television, internet streams of plague reassurance or masked warmongering, finger on the long arm pointing to a martyred animal, they grimace wider and speak less ideas, the atoms of everything slow and halt, young men explode into violence or wrap themselves up and glide into stasis, into greenback and silicon cocoons, you’ve been born in a crazy time, and it’s only gonna get crazier, he says, he’s unbuckled the bible belt a long time ago and no longer thinks tattoos are a sin, military dot work along his arms, now that he has seen the world and has seen that out there is a frightening range of human experience and that all action is its contraction and its growth.

Patterning.


And its confirmation and its growth, in the center of the ring, in the center of fights whose endless repetition has made them no longer a blow by blow but a reciprocal expansion and contraction which proceeds according to a long-established pattern, and although he is sometimes surprised he can dig every detail of a fight, right from the movement he sees them step off and throw the first punches, and he knows if not whose hand he will be lifting right then, then at least who will be fighting with integrity, who will spit more blood, the punctured eardrum and the loss of balance. He wears a concealed handgun to the grocery store. He is bull necked and pink in a suit and he wears that suit for work, for the big names, the special occasions, otherwise stripes up and down his back, checked or patterned fabric. He goes to drink at hotel bars, if he is lucky, if he is invited, with the commentators and sometimes with the boxers, with the men paid six figures to say I wonder how many pennies he could fit in that cut, spitting teeth, they all hug after. Their immobile hands. He tries to talk to Britney but Britney doesn’t want to talk to him. Thank you, Britney. One night, he did not work, he squeaks across the marble in his sneakers and opens his front door and heads through the culdesac, three am, past the Pakistani family who ladled him out Zamzam water when he came for dinner, the dad was a great fan, he put down the sport and sang its praises. They’re different, he makes that clear. Machete ragheads on TV, Russian sidearms and beheadings. Uh-uh. Not you. He makes that clear. No one you can see sleeping and the TVs are off, he doesn’t see the news, he doesn’t see himself. Past there he was on exposed narrow highway, exposed to the sky, where big cars hurtle out of Dearborn infrequently, who knows where they are going, and he walks up to his ankles in old Modelo bottles since once you are out of the culdesac no one cleans up, he sweats when he walks this long even in the cool summer, listening to cicadas gentrified out of the ground his house is built on, and half surprised, invisible in dark clothing, he watches a fleet of Range Rovers tearing down a dead end street, music bumping out, and he stands and looks after them for ten minutes. He knows where the street leads. He thinks, he has not walked here, that it will take no more than a few minutes to walk to the waterfront where they must be stopped now. He decides to follow them.

Reb.


It is noon, we are here for lunch, he offers me brandy from the bottle that was brought to him. Ornery and rabbinical. Riga. I drink the brandy. We have only just met, he speaks with an accent that amazes me since in America the Yiddish accent is something preserved in cellulose or aspic, it dates to another part of the century, but he changes his Г for Х and asks, are you a Jew by nationality? Did you vote for Trump? No & no. I don’t like him. Surely he has done some good for the economy? Но экономика—далеко не все. Much later, in a tiny Boston bookstore, an old woman spits, saying she would go anywhere but she would never go to Latvia, it’s the most anti-Semitic country in the world, the Nazis are marching in the street again, so what must he be doing? Standing still, amassing books and keeping them from being plowed under, with little pictures of himself, much younger, in the Soviet army and the IDF, better posture than he has now when you lean in close (since his hearing got blown out somewhere in Afghanistan, back in another war, a story I never managed to wring any form or truth out of since true to stereotype war in the memory of regular people who are the same everywhere is something you had better not talk about, on the personal level it makes no sense and geniuses are reduced to stealing words from Andropov) and try to hang on to every word.

Michael Johnson.


Another time we sat in the comfortable mouth formed by the back of his minivan, still with our clothes full of smoke from the house. It was early summer and very hot. We had left because an airplane had flown low over the house, slower than it should have been moving, low enough that for long seconds you expected it to trim our useless chimney off, and he instantly became agitated and stood in the yard for a long time looking up at the sky. First he was looking at where it had come from and then he was looking at the white lines in the sky like a conspiracist, like he was going to come back inside and say, there weren’t any white lines like that when I was little. I hear they’re cloudseeding. He said, let’s go somewhere else and we got in the car. First we went swimming with Lila, she showed off her tattoos and I looked past her to see his cock hang while he loped into the water. Then we all drove out to the field which hadn’t been a field a week ago, it was freshly brush hogged and covered in bramble stubble that cut my feet. We met Max there and smoked and Lila was kissing on him till we got embarrassed for her. He talked about UFC and the end of Michael Johnson, smoking over or under a mask, how hot Michael Johnson was and his fighting or at least his boxing and the rosary tattoo on his neck, hot too, then he talked about the referee and about boxing, how all referees seemed to be the same guy or one of two archetypical guys. Either they were ancient and pickled by elective surgery in which case they wore white suits that were part of their bodies and they did the announcing too, or they wore the traditional striped shirts and were younger or at least middle aged with fat bull necks. These guys didn’t do any announcing. It’s those guys I wonder about, he said, you can tell they want blood but they can’t take it out in the ring so where do they take it out? He said, probably on the wives. I heard a big engine. I wasn’t so sure. I imagined that this guy or at least the guy I had seen would be a family man, and gentle in his own home, but the violence would still be there, or at least the tension, the potential, and if he kept it bottled up and was maybe even unaware of it, it would build up and keep building up until it was expressed in a way that he didn’t know or even understand. I clung onto his arm tight and was glad that it wasn’t me that was like that. Lila came around the edge of the car and she was upset but wouldn’t show it or say why. He pushed her for an answer but couldn’t get one and then he went to say something to Max. We heard them talking quietly and then loudly and I tried to tell her it was all right, that this was his way of showing concern, but she just packed her things, her wet clothes. Then he came back very quickly and we left.

Animals.


“Sometimes I think I’ve lived my whole life in dog years…”
“Jesus Christ, just shut up.”

No I hadn’t thought about it.


I hung very tightly on to him and said I was scared of getting old, not cause I was scared of dying but I didn’t want to become whatever I thought an old gay guy was, if I was a gay guy, after a certain age it all fades away. I thought that everyone died or blew up because it seemed like they just vanished, blame Reagan maybe. He didn’t listen, he talked about something else. There’s a type of person who I want to be….

The Broken Ear.


We watch boxing together, and although it is a big match, Wilder/Fury, we have been waiting for it a long time, he is not looking at the fighters. He is looking at the referee.

Benito.


We remember scenes of countryside patronage. We remember that it had what we called, facetiously, a homosexual character, since these were rich and bored men and they paid you a great deal of attention when they spoke to you, they held your hand in one of theirs and rested the other on your shoulder. We baked bread together or just walked and talked. We felt this way because we had got the idea that no man would ever treat another man kindly, giving him his full attention, unless he had a sexual motive, otherwise he was less man. I don’t really believe that we had any conception of what it means to be gay or what it means to be straight.

People.


Thick air like butter, like cold oil, the bristling of trees, the bristling of animals that scatter or howl in the dark. A path that readjusts from one moment to the next as new trees and new hills appear in the foggy night, as assessments are made. He hears breathing, footsteps 30 yards off and moves toward them or away from them. Jittery vision, figures and outlines like Aztec portraits. Fog between the trees in discrete strands. Howling in the woods and in the town, again they are fighting their own people. Bear shit along the path that only he knows is a path, it becomes a path as he moves. Broad shoulders between trees. Shallow, chewed-out undergrowth. Big creeping. Down by the road there are lights and when he gets there he sits invisible in the trees, flaring huge nostrils.

Needles are big.


He felt there was something unfortunate, like tetanus, that had been introduced into his system by the book and that the only way to drive it out was prayer. A decade of the rosary; if the feeling persisted he would say the whole thing. The book was the first that he had read in years, since high school, and he read it first with idle curiosity, then growing interest, and finally standing up. With great emotion. When he had put the book down he realized the emotion was a clinging, evil feeling. He had been tricked. His apartment was sad and lonely. The place was undecorated except for items of masculine function, a television, a weight set. Easily prepared meals. Heavy clutter, body hair, and the sharp smell of women who have not bathed. Until she had, and he had sat there in the shower without a curtain, where water pooled on the floor. She was very consciously putting on a show, she knew him, had seen T on the counter, and as she stood in the shower lathering herself up it seemed to him more and more that she was behaving this way not because she thought that he would like it, in order to be seen, because it brought her pleasure, but because it proved to her that she was an egalitarian person, no slave to bourgeois morality nor constipated heterosex, and he was the implement of liberation here, in fact it would have been no different if he had not been there at all, if she had been alone, imagining some queer but suitably masculine lover or potential lover whose eyes she would feel all over her but perhaps with a different and more subtle character than he actually had (which if it meant anything it meant she didn’t get why, in what way, he looked at her) on and on and on with the endless self-flagellating dialogue until he was sick of her and he stood up off the toilet seat in his steamy bathroom and went to his bed, until she came in with a towel over her chest which he quickly pulled at, let slip, sat her on the bed and got to work, got her warm/cold wet thighs around his head and after she had come & come again he talked her into her clothing, no, it’s really fine, you don’t need to do anything and I don’t want you to anyway, and into her winter coat and out the door, and when she was out the door he picked up the book that he had been reading for the past few months and which had interested him but never really grabbed his attention, and which now he was amazed to find was completely enthralling, but also that the author was an asshole of the absolute highest order and that no amount of brilliant writing could possibly excuse or disguise his flaws—but every time he became convinced of this the book would take another turn which opened up new realms of hope and beauty for it, all of which were ultimately disappointing. After he had finished he sat and thought for a long time and then he decided not to read anymore.

Bigfoot.


I am not one to lie or to invent things so I will tell you.

Arezzo; Piero.


He peels across Sunoco, nowhere, Pennsylvania, just outside a town which is an intersection of two interstate highways and which therefore is populated by Arby’s, by grandiose midwestern hunting gear and camouflage decals, Trump shit, in his U-Haul, and as soon as he is behind the wheel he pulls off his flannel shirt and wifebeater and settles in, there is a long way to go. He is a sculptor, he makes nude Greeks out of clay and plaster, bronze when commissioned, in a style that resembles Classical to payment but he knows just enough to know they are not tradition. He is a giant. He looks almost like a power lifter or rather a man with a huge amount of practical muscle, which he does have, but if you lift his shirt and feel his stomach it is flabby and smooth, the skin is loose like unbaked croissant dough. Tattooed on his chest are further forms, sailors kissing, lurching dickless David, some sharp and professional, some handmade, some black fading into uncertain blue. In the car he talks to his boyfriend about Ovid, they listen to the precise Brit reading, and it occurs to him that the gays-Greeks affiliation is not just a question of their shared proclivities although that is of course significant, but maybe, he thinks, because this psychotic Prot culture never figured out how to account for a divine feminine (since Catholic fages at least seem to have it figured out, he remembers a younger guy on a Pasolini trip who talked endless about the Black Madonna in all forms, in Poland, Zurich, Mexico, broke her down with Oshun and Kali, said that when he was getting fucked a kind of energy flow began up and down his entire spine and maybe into his brain stem—this energy was what he called the Black Madonna) the many people like him, inverts, minyekeen, came to prefer what seemed to them a more holistic kind of philosophy than the Judeo-Christian one and at least became Greeks or Romans themselves. He felt that no time had passed, that he was living on the Italian peninsula in the days of Constantine, that some day there would be an inversion of power and everything would be torn away from him that he had secured.

Frank.


Ok so. Move out, I won’t stop you. See how you do. Go to Lila I know you don’t know anyone else here. I introduce you to people and you didn’t want it. You didn’t ever want to be called the boy friend. Do you know how that makes me feel. I keep trying to reach out to you but you’re not interested. Don’t bring that up. I felt bad about it the moment I said it and I knew it wasn’t a good thing to say but I had tried asking you and you didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t know what else to do but threaten you.

White hands folded in the dark. His composure is like a metal pole suspended without supports in the center of the room.

Ask?


Why are we going? Big things live in the woods. That is a reason to go and a reason to not go.

Monk Monk.


He’s bigger than all of them combined, as if he had arrived out of a dream. Or scripture. Muscular, both function and beauty. His neatly braided hair. Regular men are literally in his shadow; when he walks by they look up to see if it will rain. He wears a Mosin on his back that is almost seven feet long. He is always dressed for the occasion—a tuxedo or robe with heads of state, a barbarian among barbarians. He begins the march, shouting military orders, with a huge drooping spliff in his mouth and they all fall in line, the devils do. He returns to their temple and finds their idols in an endless row like porcelain shepherdesses. He smashes every idol with the butt of his rifle, carefully, one at a time.

Basement, Utica, NY.


We sit in a quiet room in the wood panelling, smoke ached into the furniture of which there is next to none, the original tenant owned nothing but a mattress and would film himself for hours at a time, pornography projected onto his face, and we do nothing, having nothing to talk about. We live in the downstairs and upstairs is a guy with a gun. We’re going to have a party, he says, trying to excite me and it works, I have never been to a party, an openness to vice. And the party happens, and we drink whisky, it happens, I talk to a girl chain smoking outside because this is that part of Ohio and that time of year that it has rained and now the moisture is baking out of the asphalt so it is nice to be there. Later I go in and see him from behind, kneeling, with his ass out, kissing the little face of a sailor tattooed on hairy inner thigh. I walk back outside and go around the building and think about what I’ve seen, and having come back inside I feel good and find him having a drink and pull him into the other empty room where our inherited mattress is and we lay very close to each other while music plays louder outside and we fall asleep for a little while and when we wake up the music is off and the lights are out. We hear no one outside. We hear another knock and then the door opens immediately. He gets up, he is still not wearing any shirt, he moves slowly down the hallway with his shoulders hunched up, like a lizard or a bird.

Falls.


He lives in a house with no running water, electricity partial (big generator out back) roofing also. Big commodities—motorcycle, pickup, electric splitter. Goats and chickens out in the woods. The water doesn’t bother him because he has a well with a trout in it and this way he doesn’t drink fluoride. The boys pull up and they talk in circles for two hours, like as he knows it’s painful for them and that hurts him but he loves to see them more. Company. Still a fairy. No limp wrists though. He’s been lifting weights (actually, stacking boxes in a warehouse) you wouldn’t know it about him until he opened his mouth or you saw the guy with him. They drink Nescafe, cook sausages out on the grill, bread that the boys have brought. Bud, a joint. Towards evening they drive off and he watches anxiously, looking for something in the trees.

56 Missed Calls.


Despite all of the difficult things that happened I was never really down about any of it. sometimes difficult things do happen and often the alternative is for nothing to happen at all which makes me feel like the furniture is eating me alive. So I always prefer, and if something bad does come I make myself a cup of coffee and sit somewhere beautiful, outdoors, and I think it all through until I can’t anymore, to me it feels like a scallop worrying a grain of sand until it becomes a pearl but realistically it is like plain digestion.

Like that, god willing.


He invited me out to work and when we had done working we sat at his table and prodded the dough we had made which was like a fat white thigh and he started to talk at me, and when he talked he got more excited and then agitated, talking about someone who wasn’t there, someone he had had to interact and cooperate with like a coworker maybe, and started to carry on an argument with that coworker although they were not there to defend themselves, totally angry, but to me in that moment it seemed justifiable, totally unselfconscious, the full steam eroticism that only men are allowed. He was not wearing any pants. In the middle of the speech I saw that there was a drop of some fluid, cum or lube or precum, that had formed at the end of his dick and was stretching towards the ground, like when you are a child and you hold someone down to drool in their face, I think he did that to me, and he’s older than I am not a child, and this drop reached a point where its continued structural integrity seemed impossible since he was waving his arms, shouting, stomping around, none of which halted its progress, protein is strong stuff, and I thought about licking it and did so and was ashamed to have called his attention to it because his only purpose in my life was to be unselfconscious. But I was not ashamed to have done it.

Fin.


Our path in the woods led us to a little stone amphitheater. Us and our host who walked with a stick like landed gentry, a waistcoat. Wet leaves about. Abundance. Like the belly of a jungle. In some places forest grows and grows. I had been told we were seeing a play, he told me that, we met our host and drank Georgian wine from tiny silver glasses. He told us about the play but when we had described our way through a path of lanterns the thing we were presented with was more like dance and had no relation to anything he had said. Nude contorted bodies. Backs wet from fog. Big shiny eyes in the woods, wet also. The players made entrances and exits too rapidly so they seemed unable to finish the few thoughts they did express, which were confusing and unpleasant, before they were carried off in the movement of the thing. The play began and ended in the middle of action and nothing was accomplished. I felt uneasy once it was finished, since there was no one else there and I did not know if we were expected to clap, and while we were walking back and the other two were discussing it, cleverly, intimately, my uneasiness became anger at our host which is maybe what it had been all along, I trusted him as a critic but the play had made me feel so bleak that I was pretty sure it had to be intentional and that maybe he had even put the thing together as some kind of calibrated psychological attack, to separate me from the man I had arrived with and take him for himself. By the time we reached the road I had forgotten all of this for good.

— Isak Saaf is a writer, translator, and Chicagoan. He has a Twitter account.

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