After Thomas Bernhard
Barrett’s in Medical School, I thought. The Medical College of Georgia, to be precise, a good school, more reasonable the Emory, price wise, and who would want to deal with the traffic, sure his residency could be at Emory University Hospital, the lobby of which rivals a hotel, the Waldorf Astoria even, but he’d probably land his second or third choice, Grady Memorial Hospital, and live in an “studio”—read “one-room”—apartment in Decatur, where they pack that heat, which is better than West Virginia’s slogan “Open for Business,” but gunshot wounds only excite interns for a month or two, I thought, standing in Sylvia’s office. I would rather have mountains than bullets, that’s the obvious choice, those kind of bullet at least, humanities and fine arts, but the dilemma, though, is when that business strips those mountains of their coal, the history of the union, the red bandana, the skirmish with the Detective Agency, gone. Caroline attends Emory anyway, I thought, and he would rather rent with Adam, our friend from High School, but he (Barrett) didn’t plan on this, Adam’s acceptance into MCG, Dahlonegans, or Dahloneginians as we like to joke, can always find one another, like the time I sat next to Joe on the first day of Spanish 1001, on our first day at UGA, though neither knew the other had moved to Athens, I thought, handing Sylvia the Independent Study form. They gave us our cadavers today, I made the dorsal incision, and Adam used his pencil to identify the silverskin and tendons, he chews his pencil remember, and when I said something, he threw up in the hall, Barrett said, I thought, walking down the stairs. I would donate my body to science, but I would get a tattoo first that said look in my stomach, Joe said, I thought, stepping outside.
Maxwell Demon Bottle
Bleach [ME blechen < OE blæcan “whiten,”
deriv. of blāc “radiant, ablaze,” originally,
“without hue,” e.g. “He saw the firelight,
the brilliant beams that brightly shone.”
blāc alt. sp. of blæc, cf. BLACK]
An argument in barefoot
to track a rabbit in the young snow,
a rabbit smoking a tavern pipe.
Lampblack from the gaslight,
marrow and pitch, the portcullis.
Sirrah, sirrah, sirrah, obelus.
Black [ME blak < OE blæc, “jet, dark,”
also n. “ink,” e.g. “The guest slept inside
until the black raven, blithe of heart,
bode Heaven’s bliss.”] Black and white
tap the root, the salamander’s tongue.
being a forty-five second drama performed in a crosswalk
Quentin, reserved, while Rube Goldberg illustrates his constitution
Chas, the roommate, oblivious, but kind nonetheless
Mia, Chas’ girlfriend, a gull and melodramatic
Act I, Scene I. The living room.
QUENTIN: When are they going to move their coffee table? We have to be out by tomorrow. . . .
God, just get it out of the way!
CHAS: What’s wrong?
QUENTIN: Nothing. . . . Do you want to trick Mia later?
CHAS: Sure, but how?
QUENTIN: While you hide the coffee table in your car, I’ll tell Mia
that I tossed it in the dumpster. How does that sound?
CHAS: She’ll die! But, I better hurry. She’ll be here soon.
(CHAS exits with the coffee table and returns a moment later, smiling.)
MIA: Hello—where’s my coffee table?
QUENTIN: You . . . you didn’t want it. Did you?
MIA: What? Yes, I wanted the coffee table. It’s my grandmother’s!
QUENTIN: Well . . . I threw it out. I didn’t, I didn’t know it was your grandmother’s!
MIA: Quentin! Do something, Chas!
CHAS: (Laughing.) Perfect! Your face!
MIA: You were playing a joke on me? Why? Where is the coffee table?
CHAS: It’s in my car, not in the dumpster.
MIA: Well, it better stay there! I don’t want anything to happen to it. You scared me.
“It’s . . . I don’t . . . I will not suffer—at all. It’s just mainly, mainly, what it was, I guess, is just trying to find my place in life, try to figure out what the Hell I’m supposed to do.”“That means that life is a journey like that—”
“Well, yeah, I know.”
“—and that maybe, I mean, that’s what all of life, I mean, for all of us, will be, whether to change occupations several times or—and maybe you should just, kind of, lay back and let it come to you, instead of being so worried about it.”
“Exactly, that’s exactly, what I realize.”
“Yeah, it’s just, I’m . . . I’m young. I’m young. I’m young! I got time.”
“Yeah, you don’t even need to be worried about it.”
“Exactly. I’m in school. I’m where I’m supposed to be, you know. It’s just. . . . Basically, it’s just stress. When stress comes, when I got a butt-load of crap to do, it’s just like ‘holy crap, there’s no way in Hell I’m going to be able to do this,’ you know. I don’t have time to eat.”