Mitch Highfill

from Turn


I arrived at Pavel's building at 6:30 on Saturday evening, which was our usual time. The doorman recognized me, and told me that Pavel was dead. I asked him what happened, but he would only say that he was forbidden to talk about it, and that I should call Pavel's wife. I went to the park, to this bench I would visit when I was early for my sessions with Pavel, by the shore of a small fetid pond. Smoked a couple of cigarettes and finished the flabby novel I was reading that week. Stared at the overgrown algae on the pond. Gnats and late summer mosquitos hovering over its surface. Watched a young boy trying to skip stones which were not flat and plunked to the bottom pronto, his dog endlessly scratching behind his ear, death around the edges of everything.

A few weeks later, a modest gathering of Pavel's clients met at that same stinky water hole to share grief at his passing. His big dog came over and licked my hand. I decided to skip shrinkage for a while. Take a break. Break the surface of the soil
                geen things rise up
                out of the ground
                lots of fucking and giving birth
                happiness sways endeavor.

The Queen of Wands presides
                                    over early Spring
                                                          and kindness
Rest and movement agree with each other.
Early bloomers bloom
                                 projects completed,
                                                    Water of Fire.
                                                     Momentum takes over worry.

Air of Earth has to do with
                                 development, stability:
                                 things going right when they are supposed to
in the same way, Fire of Air
                                  regulates duration through failure,
                                  the long hot summer
                                  pearl grey
                                  no rain in sight
                                  Just lots of hot air.

Water of Water rules the heat
                                 ruin, love and abundance
                                  the way dead things nurture live ones,
                                  lay of lakes.

Air of Fire meaning strife,
                                 the large eat the small
                                                                   or on Wall Street the small eat the large
                                 an hysterical application
                                 of the same principal.

Fire of Earth as in earthquakes,
                                                 petrol and lava
                                                                         leads to the Queen of Swords,
ruler of widows and hurricanes,
                                                  and under Air of water,
                                                                                    disappointment and nostalgia.
Fire of Fire an illusion.
                                  Sharper angle shorter light
                                                                                   Bright colors give way
to brown shoes and rusty blouses
ubiquitous autumn colors.

Hedges out back trimmed
one last time before
frost sets in.

One more picnic.
One more barbeque.
Cold-pressed apple cider
             (noting the skull in the tree
             in Furtmeyer's Apple as
             the tree of death and life).

             Songs loaded with sunsets
             on the car radio.
The next song is an island
                                    breakfast in the dark
                                                                      digital watch on the nightstand.

Debris, all unconscious aspects of the interest maintained by everything in the world, the muses, what they rejuvenated. The obvious but trite form of the dreamers are crouched getting stoned drunk.

The duck population notices the bread that has been flosting around them for hours, dissolving.

The language of essences
                                       undresses the perfection
                                                                            of red autumn hills
                                                                                                         into the glad
                                                                                                          dark browns with gold.

That which is fierce now passing through the silent filter of exxageration.

How wonderful.
This is what I wanted to hold.
These are the tracks
                       and all the lit up fantasies
                                                               that is not blue sky
                                                                                           too hard to carve
                                                                                                                       out anything.

Birds fly South or get ready to.
The sky gets greyer and greyer.
Oppression of Winter
change and cabin fever.

First snow.
First freeze.

The real revolution is the poem.
To act not react.
To demand to see Fidel
eyeball to eyeball
scuffed bark on the estuary.

Please pass the relationship
                                               down here on my mattress
                                                                                            open from the inside out.
Gestures of tireless calm
                                               blaze clear where I can see them.
Not to look away.

And if that means putting horns on yr head
or smearing your face with ketchup,
                                                  then by all means
                                                  put together a rock band
                                                   and record it all furiously
                                                   cool farfisa organ
                                                                          in the background.
Or cut a big hole in a cardboard
                                                box and put your head in it
                                                                                 maybe covered with aluminum foil
                                                                                 like Captain Video.

Devise a memory system
                                      based on numbers like
                                                                          Dr. Bruno Furst,
where 0 = icehouse; 1 is seesaw oasis; 2 is sinew; 3, asthma; 4, seer, sour; 5 weasel; 6 usage; 7 soggy; 8 ossify; 9 is soap and then read out your friends phone numbers as sentences;

so that Joe and Ann can be called at sinew usage icehouse asthma asthma seesaw oasis sinew.

Line up the ducks
                          and fire away
                                               fire for good.


Lorca said to Neruda, "Stop, stop,
                                                    I'm letting myself be influenced by you!"

It was drizzling.
In Winter there are three for a dollar
edging off into
                       mouth to mouth
                                               bullhorn opinions
                                                                          no longer focused on the road.
After chopping off arms
                                   wire them together
                                                               waiting on a movie line
                                                                                                perfecting these moves.
Inert not blown
                      tunneling through
                                                  tourist dollar traps.
Paper whitened by light
                                     so that the inside could be seen
                                                                                     transparent and fluid.
A storm blows away
                               my first and only cure
                                                                  border erasure
too tight to breathe
                              but grow with it
                                                      (I repeated myself).

Make sure the words step on toes.
A void ricochet.
O small notebook.

After the dinner dishes are cleared.
Reflect you back.

The last time I saw Elio was at the farewell reading for Bill Luoma who was going off to Hawaii. We were promised free admission if we were wearing loud shirts. I put on the loudest shirt I could find. Elio was in a button down white shirt. He looked a bit yellow around the edges, pupils fully dilated and a small film of sweat rested on his upper lip. He said he had just returned from a detox clinic in Europe, that he felt he had his addiction licked and how much he wanted to get together. He slurred his speech slightly and wobbled as he walked. He asked me if I was walking his way after the reading, and I said sure, but after the reading, when I looked for him, he had already left. I saw him a block away. We spoke on the phone a couple of times after that. I could feel something rise in my throat when I lifted my alotted corner of his coffin, how light he was. Harris said Elio's death had changed him. Change again. Changes everything. Does. All the time. Me too.

Sunlight shrinks
and people shop for
Christmas, spending money
they don't have
in stores playing Elvis' Blue
Christmas and Bing Crosby
and David Bowie singing
Little Drummer Boy on and on
from Bloomingdales to K-Mart,
until the sun dies and is eaten up
and reborn on the solstice.

Page of Swords
Queen of Coins
Devil and Star
come into play.

Dealer takes all ties, reshuffles the deck and deals again.

Asthma usage soap asthma seer sour ossify sinew.
Language and number:

Fat banker fascist
                            flung like a brick
                                                     to let the staleness out.
Criss-crossing letters
                                 emptying and breaking
                                                                   where glands open.
Next hand on top a face
                                      too much whiskey
                                                                  for harmonious numbers.
Small is beautiful
                            except for the part about
                                                                metal threads.
Next hand a good night to stay once every ten years.

Dealer's choice.
Old thought.
Impulse blur.
As usual.

Turn it up.
Turn up the light.
Turn up the stove.
Turn up the coin,
Take up the opposite side.
Turn up on a warm table,
eyes filled with goop
                                and a tiny footprint
                                                            some kind of injection
The light seen for the first time
                                               beautiful hands and feet
                                                                                   crying no tears yet
Milk milk and more milk.
Everything a first for years.
Gas, sleep and pleasure.

Turn up at the dividing line
of a new millennium
politics hopeless and desparate
and due for a rehaul
which will happen
because it always does
because it never did
because you distill and burn
the first matter to ashes
because love and light
penetrate hate shit every time
because the bad guys always win
because the good guys never win
and they are due.
Because the body is naked
and beautiful and luminous
and perfect.

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