A Poem for Pancakes

Untitled piece to be performed by Alex Bleecker and Greg Bem while eating pancakes or shortly thereafter in a cooperative house in Southern Siem Reap, Cambodia, in September, 2015. Alex’s lines are in bold. This piece was written via Facebook in July and August, 2015.

Swollen thick into the deep nuclear night, the sky escapes a pale pink haze, a subtle of invitation.

Gratings sweat here, as do the skin of animal and insect. Little birds only through echoes. Motor engines of bikes larger than the bodies of humans. Sighing of sun and disappearance of moon through rain walls.

On the flattest of tracts must the body grow open, the mind trained to local customs. through multiple points of entry, the body infinitely breachable–oxcart, dreamspeak, sleeper bus–means without a visa. The body’s own porous borders. All these bodies.

First light and then sunlight. A calming from yesterday forward then toward: the glimpse of the day. Chorused by machine hounds and rooftop pounds. The grown as new physiology awakes.

The ground as a new topology takes hold. Clay dust from a short ride down the red road covers you if you aren’t. Pariah dogs snarl from darkened corners–you’re learning to pick up pretend rocks. You’d cast real stones if it came to it. First time for everything. First time in a gunfight.

Stones have stories like rubber tires. Where did those stones get overturned, when they first heard the music of the plantations in the form of circles kicking up dust cousins? We seek out the last prayer of our rides by listening to the whimsy of other beings unknowable.

When the NGO breaks ground, smart farmers know skepticism. What will happen to our narratives once the ribbons of altruism are cut? Where will you take our faith? Promises are campaigned across vast swaths of paddied hectares; village chiefs trade loyalty to the unnamed, as ancients to gods in the what-have-you-done-for-us-lately days–a velvet transference of power to men in linen Lexuses.

Excuse the mesh of pockets, where transfer of power is an exchange resembling the churning of the SUV, systematic, there is always more ways to take your cut. Or earn yourself. Or a proof of being understood. The narratives are as captured as those of the ants: we know their existence through a ghostly consistency, but what precision is information waiting to be released in another realm.

In times warm as these, in hot climes, it’s all you can do to freeze water. Arrest the frenzied molecules, alter the structure. It’s ultimately up to governance. a 51/49 split. The agrarian-urban shift. You want it, you gotta work it, bee. Train your brain. I THINK I CAN. Show a little moxy. And make sure to pay the man. Off.

They’ve learned on and leaned on their abilities to make ice: freezing segments of liquid to turn warm drinks cold for extended periods of time, an extension of turning anything something else for some duration. I sit and watch the ice melt and dilute my coffee, or my beer, or my juice, or my coca. And perhaps I dilute as well.

Block-solid trucks sawed and cut into enough divvyable chunks for the whole pool of vendors. Nothing machine-like here, where trickle-down technology fuels the economy just enough to keep’ em coming back–drops in a puddle barely sufficient to allot each expecting mosquito adequate breeding real estate.

Oh god the divisibles and divisionaries . . . mutilate mantrasia and fallible larynx from depth scream in the plungers nonexistent in French plumbing, just long creep cord dangling low, lower, jet stream making us match the flood season in the inside of a paradise of tiles.

Though down below, style becomes the opposite of academic, becomes an unfathomable endeavor, becomes carts and horses to pull them with. Against a devaluing colonial landscape, art evolves into anti-art, a baser form of grace, an ancient aesthetic the modernist mindset, fueled by theory and lidocaine, is but numb to.

Is but numb and is but the numbness fueled by electric light and reams of reading materials? Where does the light find its flight through an air as dense as forest honey hiding in combs in trees? Where does the sound go when the cicadas growl in lightning tones and the rats hop like failed ghosts?

Here’s the hard part: you got what you wanted. the hot car with the trunk bumping full of freon. The AC that goes to 11. The j-o-b with the 6-fingered salary. But the market queered. Shanghai went from square to weird overnight, and your bubble-perfect prescription burst into smoke. So here’s the good news: you get to reclaim your baby fat. You have to walk home in your 30-year-old birthday skin while the rain jackhammers corrugated tin roofs calling out the dawn toads. You get to reconnect with your lizard brain, with the road. You get to get soaked.

Pieces in the rain. Pieces of flesh. To be soaked like yellowed memories sizzling in sweat. No. Cover: obscure and obtuse. There is and there is not wet meat. You are the wet meat. What you will put in your mouths: dry and greasy.

Fuck, they ran amuck–banana leafed without a sack of reason people were put out to pasture brother number underlord of artist intellectuals the fattest stacking cats of equatorial perpetually ritually killing Sector 6’ers cleared the cities to the countryside the jungle broke their glasses, put’em all in paddies, made’em slave away until the sun became the only thing they recognized and scorched the earth that they were forced to harvest forced to till until they lost the names they came with and the ground became the field their families all disappeared into year zero.

Asked to provide some jazz music, the gift true exchange where smile is like pen knife revealing the message within the missive, or perhaps razor wire signifying what’s within versus what’s without, endless stamps of green dotting us, telling us, the rivers, the floods, the harvests not necessarily forced by hands, not necessarily forced by the sky.

Under the hidden electric guise of vicious improvisation comes a stunning revelatory experience—a maximalist vision—current, fully, realized. a bursting-at-the-hostile economy where exists no competition and only competition in a marketplace corrupt with fertility. Buck the seems-like, the may-resemble, the could-be-considered. “these people,” says the outsider. “These people,” says the bystander. “My people,” say the willing, the post-passive, the fuck-the-police-state-of-being language borders drawn indelible—occidental heads buried in occidental sand that drop empty aid to appease guilty burdens.

The guilty are visited by ghosts–spirits. But these haunts are not merely shades of former selves. They are complete with moving bowels and disembodied heads. Every symbolic gesture is a choice. You accept or you obey. You become part of the people or you abandon the people, only to become the next victim. The challenge is in the everyday: how do you manage the rest of your supernatural existence?

A happy home keeps an open box in the front yard to enshrine it’s colored ghosts—to let them come & go. Between the plastic red chair and broken moto, the bitch protects her pups. Lets you know when you get too close. This is nothing to celebrate or shame. Don’t mistake the dark water for fear. Favors, we emerge simple pillars of salt, and must return.

Words were scratched to pillar. The song of stubble. The song of rumbling thunder cracked like mangosteen at a party. The song of delirium. The song of opiate counters and meth harvesters. The song of fake Beats crumbled in a corner, another song played at less potential, a disappointment and a broken shower head. The song of a broken shower head.

A carcass stays intact only as long as it takes the hungry to detect it. Then comes the feeding rain. on the street the child splashes, shrieks, then scurries back to her mother’s hem. Repeat. We seek protection, leave, then seek. In the morning in the mirror is an image of your father. The frogs croaked all night long.

Watching the shadows transform into frogs. Frogs transform into shadows. Later, when morning hits, the swallow of four living chickens rejected from sale get repositioned near the spokes of a cringing moto. Those girls, salespeople, must be sisters.

Neither here nor there, everyone is everyone’s something. The market-meat butcher, the french café baker, the temple-sweetened incense maker. My neighbors to the left import beer and ice cream. To the right, they save lives. I impose labels on the mind. you either do, or you don’t really exist, only writing poems. The children learn this. The children with no choice. Learn to write poems. The children of killing.

I watched the children ride bicycles down the sticky mud road, covered red in tones I dream belong to the inside of my mouth. I dream little, overwhelmed by the vertebrae of being here. Everything is a component in a larger body. Every last glance: insight into the appendages and the assortments. We are allotted and awaiting, back absent like the ibises, frail roosts long since passed.

The base & the nape—opposite poles of the spine, turning the same frame.
The glance & the glare—the spiteful eye, or how it pretends it doesn’t care.
The boy & the body—lessons in how we’re never static, how we’re never cold.
The dream & the drum—what keeps us beating, keeps us whole.

Half spiral staircase a dream spiral, with Beng wood coated over in a deep red varnish. Gray tiles textured to look like birch. Tables of acute triangles. Outside, a sepia falls down as the sun begins its death blow to the city, yet again. Hunched, the fingers of the boy type key, then, later, press into belly, for this is the new conversation: aging again, and the stasis of fat content: the conversation of manhood.

In the floodplain countryside, a square spiral as a sign of Shakespeare. The acacias that line the property the mark of imported poetry. Someone in the house is practicing hymns with perfect pitch. Someone has their pronunciation down. Even a Babylonian sandstorm couldn’t dry the mouth out of its discomfort zone. Even a tropical tempest won’t dislodge this staircase.

Like you I started inventorying and like you I started making decisions, and seeing conclusions. From the bamboo to concrete, there are some things we just know. We know they have been made wet from the rain and dusty from the dryness of the air. This is maturity, this totality of form. When we realize the spectrum is one from side A to side B: two sides of the coin, both the fingers and the string, vibrating vocal cords and expansive quiver of mouth. Everything is fluttering, cracking, rumbling beneath a moist, bruised vision, where the bruise formed is one from continual pleasure.

So here you are and aren’t and it still isn’t enough. the jetpacks, the confetti, the parade of love in your name . . . still waiting.
Why do your eyes dart? Why do your teeth still tremble?
Oh, the uncontrollables. the facile woes. The states of being you thought you left when you bought the ticket.
But it isn’t so simple, is it? As a whole number, one hides behind an asymptote—a horizon line you’ll always be able to see, But never breach. It’s the distance you’re coming to appreciate. The rush that comes with the thrill of just inching forward.
Before sunrise, a mosquito bites the tattooed scar on your wrist. You laugh now, knowing the blood it takes never belonged to you, either. The morning will always be blueblack. you decided one day, and stole a part of yourself back.

Submit a comment