The refulgent quality of my psychopomp is only surpassed by my staring into the sun.
Psychopomp? Who the hell needs to be led in?
And I often stare into the sun. It’s the only way I know to calm down. My father required it of me when I was a young boy — he broke me early and often. He was the superintendent of our crumbling building in Camarioca after the revolution. Our homely squalor had a taste and a color: bile-yellow.
When I was a pre-teen my mother also demanded that I stare for hours at the sun. One early morning she plunged all of my father’s screwdrivers — a dozen from his tool box — into his chest; and when I say early morning I mean when it was still dark out. The talon ends of three claw hammers were embedded into his head.
None of this was traumatizing at the time. But over the past few years I find myself living inside that visionary loop multiple times daily. And here, when I say daily, I mean when it’s light out. In the dark I have other devices and literary tropes to rely on.
All these years later, I live in exile in Hialeah, as you can imagine I’m half blind. I still look into the sun out of habit, but the sun at this hyper-capitalist meridian is out of tune — a legato A minor flat 6 chord that fills me with revulsion. I want to go back to my island where the sun is in the proper key.
But for now I wait in this dollar-rama thrift shop of a philosophically bankrupt and pestilent country. At least I still have my guaguancó and my son montuno. I carry those in my heart everywhere I go.
I do like the sound of the word kookaburra but I hate the fact that’s it’s a god damned dumb-ass looking bird. It should be a god damned marsupial with a name like that. I hate it when life does that!
Life does that all the time.
And I hate inhabiting my skin. It gets to me, especially these days — it happens more and more that I find myself with some sharp implement in hand ideating about all sorts of bitter and painful ends for myself, but I can’t get anything to happen. My hands won’t conform to the images unspooling in the projection room in my head.
But, man, do I remember mother and those stare-downs with the sun. For the record, I never blinked first. I was always called away to do my chores.
Sometimes I envy how the Mongols had Caffa (I think they call it Feodosia now) and their trebuchet delights; how the Spaniards had their mastiffs for Taino ambush oneupmanship; and how deftly American colonials deployed their pox blankets.
Why can’t I get what I want?
Please, please, please let me get what I want… but I’m even off of that song, as the man who sang it is a supremacist of some sort now.
The rails— bottom and top — don’t stay in place anymore… everything that rises must converge… or so mother told me. But I found, as all frauds are eventually found out — it was really something she gleaned from a Flannery O’Connor narrative… and then she said that Hemingway rewrote the last page of The Sun Also Rises 39 times.
Sometimes I feel like a detached bathysphere.
All I have is this metaphoric gibbet and the wheel. I’m here alone. Pitched up here — 30 feet in the air, spinning a half turn with every stiff breeze…
“I can tell you what it is! It is nothing, simple hideous nothing! The final truth of all things of all things is that there is no final truth! Truth is what’s transitory. It’s human life that is real! Truth is the illusion! Life is the only substance we have! I am truth; it is God that is fiction!”
— Paddy Chayefsky / Altered States