Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Prologue is Future

This is a bit of a mad experiment. Against my better instincts, my best experience, and anyone's good advice, I've decided to revisit an old short story and not only rewrite it, but transform it. I've kept the bare bones, but I'm giving it new flesh. I like it much better than the original, but it'll be a challenge to sustain the for the 15 chapters I've sketched out. This isn't a final draft, so more changes may come.


Let's peek in where it all starts and ends,
at that moment of a single movement when

The head, once so deadly heavy,
is reanimated
to jerk up in a backward nod.

This jump lumped with the looking-in
may make your graceless gaze feel
like a twitchy puppeteer's hand, sadly
forgetful of the pulled strings. Get past it.

See the light.
His two blue irises gasp at that light.
They gasp at the spray of pallid yellow
light that washes over them
when he rears his reluctant lids.

Notice the ears,
his nicely rounded ears. Those cauliflower
receptacles are made more prominent
by the gleam of a cleanly shaved pate.
They receive the sounding waves
as his mechanical keeper regains its motive.

Watch his nostrils.
That pair of nostrils that have grown
fleshier with the facial widening of passing
years. They flare at first to gulp and then more
slowly sip the stagnant air
perfumed with a mix of sweat
and snow-wetted wool.

We welcome Jonas back to the jostle
of the boxing car in which he's stuffed.
It's a thoughtless train that carries him through
circular sentences punctuated by fits
and false starts, the small jabs and stronger
punches that toy with rag-doll chins.

We'll read into his tale and we'll find
this Jonas is a stand-in man perhaps
too cleverly named. And what is it,
this his tale? His is a tale of bellies, and being
trapped. The first and seeming

Everlasting belly surrounds him
now with walls crafted from cookie-cutter
steel. It's a strong-link drop, down
in the chain of silvery likes.

The time.
What's the time?
What's the day, for that matter.

The left arm wears a watch, but its skin,
pinned till pins and needles called,

Won't lift up. It's left to the right hand
to drag its partnered player to where
Jonas can read the scissor-splayed dial.

Seven o’clock.
It's always been Seven o'clock.
It may well always be. Square

With rounded corners,
the window backed by early winter
morning’s black, gives out no
further clues. Does it make a difference?

It doesn't.
How could it? Suspended
above the flash-bulb scenes
of troubled and troubling city blocks,
Jonas lets his mind again go slack.

With it, once-sharp voices
dull to indistinct mumbles, as if they were
spoken long ago, leagues distant
and in an incomprehensible tongue.
Jonas's head nods forward, and with it,
we slip away to darkness once more.
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