“Spit is what holds everything together. Its friction keeps things gripping. Spit is aimed at the floor but sometimes lands on people’s faces. Spit is a defiant bird flying against the wind.”
— O.S. 1969
Identifying with his reflection in the mirror is a predicament. He does not know how to accept who he sees. He sees someone else. Is he an extension of his parents or a free individual? Is he fake or real? What part of him is genuinely himself? Or is he simply a hereditary accumulation?
He watches the mirror as if it is a movie, an actor with a paintbrush in his hand. He searches the eyes and his eyes look back searching. They stare face-to-face, motionless, each waiting for the other to make a move. Who is he? Is there a hidden clue in his features: intelligence, desirability, abandon, hurt, weakness, compliance, happy sadness? Can everyone see him but himself? What is he capable of?
Odysseus ponders. “We can examine our toes, feet, ankles, shins, calves, knees, thighs, genitals, hips, abdomen, bellybutton, waist, chest, nipples, shoulders, arms, underarms, elbows, wrists, hands, palms and fingers. None of us can actually witness our own facial expressions. We think we know our own faces yet we rely on mirrors and cameras and other people’s reactions.
Our gaze, facial appearance and fleeting glances so readable and telling to others elude us. Each of us is born with a face and all our interactions with humanity have results determined by that visage. It epitomizes the character of one’s being. Is the face of a person the fate of a person? Are people that superficial or are faces that revealing? Is it within our power to shape our own destiny?”
People read each other by how they interact with others. They see through hierarchies of conduct and language. Eyes cannot feel. People see through their guts. Some people have stronger personalities. Dad is like that. Odysseus is a stumbler and skittish as a racehorse.
He cuts each palm and presses them together. He becomes blood brothers with himself. This action is intended to provide an inner alliance so all other relationships stand a fair chance.
Thus spoke Odysseus. “We are taught our shit and pee are dirty but why? Isn’t shit and pee what our bodies naturally produce? We are taught to hide our nakedness and scents, to use deodorant and air fresheners, to wear clothing to conceal ourselves. Nature made each of us as we are. We are trained to find fault within ourselves and to conform to some popular standard. We are raised to bear shame and guilt, and practice secrecy and betrayal. We’re taught so much nonsense until we cannot see ourselves.”
His voice grows louder. “I have been insane and let me tell you, insanity has its laughs, wise cracks, face slaps, no tags back. I’ve watched myself split apart in utter hysteria in a straight jacket in the mirror in the sickest insane asylum in the world. Absolutely insane. No need to feel ashamed around me. I’ve danced nude exotic in the company of stark raving lunatics, beating on their chests, peeing in their pants, pulling out their hair, biting their tongues. Wild reckless romping in the rubber room. Real Theater! I’ve spit out food in the faces of distinguished doctors. There are places in my mind where no one can hear me when I scream. I do not have a brother.
“Now, Go away. Please, just leave me alone. When did I become so interesting? I’m chewing my gum, Juicy Fruit, up down, up down. I am thinking, deep in thought. What do you want? Why must you ask so many questions? Nag, nag, nag. What is your problem? All right, so you want to know the details? Well then, I’ll tell you. I’m wretched, tormented and blamed by all. Now go. I’ve said enough. You don’t want to know. Just go! You’re forcing me. All right, okay, I’ll admit everything.
“I’m the hunched back pervert who sordidly gawks at everyone and covets everything. I project my own damaged fantasy, kangaroo court, clown-mafia and shotgun-jury, my personal recipe of truth and filth and beauty. I tear apart everybody, twist their arms and torture their bodies. I make each confess. I unbutton a dress and slip my hand inside her panties. Close my fist and hold her so no other man can have her. I machine-gun everyone. I make all obey my perfect order.
“I ignore and forget them. No, I never forget them. They haunt me. They torture me. I’m a lost cause. I’ve known it all along. Don’t touch me! I’m hypersensitive, nitroglycerine, ready to detonate at any second. I really don’t give a damn. Am I talking too fast for you?”
`“Heaven and Hell, Heaven and Hell, come out of your corners when you hear the bell. Ding, ding, ding! All kidding aside, do you think punishment has fixed me? The doctors say I might get better but I’ll never get well. Well then what the hell! Who dares to pass this way? I’m not holding back anything. I’m going to spill it all out.
“For openers I say there’s nothing wrong with a little shot of whiskey with your beer, a little white lie or two to flavor the stew. I guess I’d say take it as far as you can go. If you get to where nobody believes you then that’s still all right because you always have yourself to fool.
“There are two kinds of people in this world, Cowboys and Indians and I’m all Indian. There is a class and culture struggle within me. I become self-destructive around the materialist values and vanity of my parents.
My families are descendents from Russian and European inner city Jewish ghettos. I go the way of the Indian. I am an outsider of the Illinois, Kaskaskia, Kickapoo, Oneida, Peoria, Sauk Fox, Santee Souix and Winnebago tribes.
My self-appointed Native American name is birdfishdog or flyingswimsniff. My nicknames are speed, smiley and crashkiss. I am one fast motherfucker with a smart-ass tongue and a fatal weakness for longhaired skinny girls.”
“For as long as I can remember I have been considered a bad influence. Anyone who crosses my path winds up in trouble. Honestly, it’s not my intention. It’s just a tendency. I know how to have fun. It’s why people gravitate to me. I’m a wizard at getting things going out of control: trash talking, naked dancing, binge drugging, group sex, fire-worship, whatever. I’m an instigator with a contagious laugh and a swift getaway. Don’t want to see no one get hurt. I’m just addicted to adrenaline. Come on now with that golden egg, boy. Lay, lay. Bawk! Bawk!
“I’m a chosen one, of sorts. My ancestors were made into soap, lampshades and bricks of gold fillings. I was born at a cocktail party and I never knew my real parents. A Zenith portable black and white TV raised me. Diagnosed early as a troubled child, I was expelled out of three different academies, a wayward preppy.
My favorite color is pussy. Will your family mind if I wear a hint of eyeliner, nothing too mystifying? I haven’t found a woman yet who can keep up with me. I want to look deep into her eyes and tell her I’m having her baby. The pains are getting closer. My water is breaking!
“Truth is, I lie about everything. Keep them laughing not with common mumbo jumbo but with slashing wit, sublimely genuine. Here comes da slasher, dasher, prancer, vixen. Yeah, I steal from everyone and cover my tracks with lies. I want to lie down on the floor and look up your dress while you’re dancing. Tell me you were in a rush and that’s why you forgot to wear panties. Tell me anything. I’m very gullible.”
“Hey, I’m the saint you’ve been waiting for, prophet from the fire, intrepid insurgent, young hooligan, rowdy rogue, Apache on the warpath. I’m just rapping, man, slapping, scrapping, skanking on your chamber door. ‘Tis the knave and nothing more, just another foul-mouthed filthy whore. Hang me, bang me, cane me, gore!
“I’m in the mood to blab, jab, snag, stab. My left is strong but my right is my knock out punch. It’s not that powerful, just sudden. You want intellectual shit then read Nietzsche, Plato, read the obituaries. I’m flying off the handle, Randal. I feel joy, Roy. Here come the boy wonder, lightning and thunder, pillage and plunder, strike under. Shhhitt! Scream, run, hide. All I want is my Juicy Fruit gum back, Jack. Give it to me or die!”
“I want to make love to the universe but first a kiss from the earth. I want to shake, shock and stun the world with a crude phrase. To awaken the dormant spirituality in humanity with one unspoken word, a drip of spit from my lips.
“My people? Can I call you so? May I? Are you? Are you truly? I can call you anything I want because I am a Poet. But if I call you greedy vulgar parasites, will you still think I am a Poet? And if I must have your approval, then what is it you want? Must I run for your every fantasy?
“I answer to no one except my mom sometimes. ‘Mom, I’m going to be somebody, I swear. Someone you’ll be proud of someday. Mama, why is the world so scary?
“I don’t seek power or property. I want love. Is that what you call impractical? Hey, I ain’t no flag-waving capitalist son. I value the U.S.A. because it stomachs me. But I don’t buy into the American Dream with its suburban strip mall, consumer convenience, trivia pursuit game show, sterilized supermodel, Super Bowl, popularity poll and fantasy society.”
“History is fiction, opinion and lies. The bare truth is unbearable, greedy economics always candy-coated with more pretty lies. Beauty and love and integrity are exploited and senselessly violated. The crimes of men are heinous beyond words. The world is a frightening place filled with horrifying acts of hatred and viciousness.
“The naked truth about humanity is we are all selfish. We all lie, cheat, steal and are capable of killing anything no matter whom: Dad, Mom, brothers and sisters, relatives, friends, lovers and even precious pets.
“Anyone who attains power tends to abuse it. Rich people require the appeasement of their arrogant wills. Parents ignore, dominate and abuse their own children. The whole parent-child relationship is corrupt. It’s almost impossible to act responsibly when it comes to power.
“There are people out there powerful enough to silence the most famous voices, powerful enough to kill the President of the United States and get away with it. These are the lessons of our age. No one is sheltered from evil and evil seems to rule.
“There is no escaping betrayal. It begins in childhood. Growing callous to duplicity only serves to negate one’s faith and integrity. How can we believe in ourselves when we constantly lie to ourselves? Why are we so dishonest with each other? How do we complacently live in a world where deceit is the rule? Maybe childhood curriculums should include the science of lying, cheating and stealing and forget about the A,B,C’s.
“The law is not real or honest law, rather it’s a theatrical scheme for extorting money. The world is conducted by bribes. You can be or get anything you want with a big enough bribe.
“We live in a lawless time. Corruption prevails benefiting the rich. Industry poisons and deceives the public. Police brutalize. Famous people get away with murder while women and children are routinely kidnapped and slain. Cruel unthinkable atrocities are committed daily. The News ignores the news. TV praises all the happy people and great deals promising viewers they can have it all. The future leers as a horrible nightmare, a highly advanced technological world run by packs of post-gorillas.”
“How can you know whom to trust? What must they do? Even if they prove themselves, can you truly trust them? Is the finesse of the double-cross the great lesson of earthly existence? How well can one develop betrayal skills and come out victorious? Is living in the world a curse on the human soul? Is reality a terrible enemy? Are we each born soldiers destined to fight a system of deception?
“When you meet someone, if you greet them with respect and a smile they usually return the civility. It’s important to show your trust right off. When people feel trusted then they often come through and might not steal from you. Honestly, never trust anyone. Maintain apprehensions and always keep one eye open. Many people will view you as a sucker and will try to take advantage. Always have an alibi and escape plan.
“I walk into a room, shoulders pulled back and a smile on my face. I acknowledge everyone. Hi. I have nothing to offer except a ridiculous world. I’m sure you already have your own.”
“Knowing money can buy my way out of anything, why don’t I pursue money and money be my God? Probably because I do not wish to cultivate crooked habits that require buying my way in and out. I don’t want to abuse anyone or anything.
“I want to live a fair and honest life. I am aware I am mistake prone yet have no desires to be intentionally exploitive. Whether or not my thinking is un-American, I don’t give a damn.”
“Talent comes cheap in America. We are a nation of movie stars, rock stars, gangsters, scammers, suckers, drug addicts, drunks and smokers. Even in our darkest hour, we delight in being viewed. Anything is permissible if the reward is celebrity. What is a celebrity? A cheapened version of immortality or a person whose privacy is on display?”
“Don’t dare second guess me. You will lose. Nobody wins. I’m always walking away from people who say, ‘You weren’t fooling, were you?’ People are so used to having their chains yanked they wouldn’t recognize an authentic action or original idea if it was begging for the next dance right there in front of them.”
“I remember the Smash Gang. We shared between each other, ran and chased and challenged. We were a daring pack of wild seeds, dancing on the lip of the volcano while flames shot out. Blood was always on our taste buds. Sex was a life-support. Chance was a calculated advantage.
“We tested the limits, risked and reached for the unattainable. We did not consider the world we were inheriting. We thought simply what we might possibly create. We thought we could change the world.
“When we were kids we were flipped out and ferocious. We thought we could do anything. Shit, we did. We were little terrors, vandals out-of-control solely for the intrinsic pleasure.
“So now the baby boom generation are growing up and joining in the avarice and fraud they once condemned. I do not cross the line. I stay behind. I remain loyal to the original plan.”
“We are all damaged children. Some of us never recover.
“Call me a gerontophobe or misogerontist, I don’t know. I don’t trust old people. They’re too fat and opinionated, moneyed and cautious and cranky. They smell foul.”
“I believe in God. I believe men evolved from fish and animals. If animals grew into men then what could men become? What divine beings of courage, compassion and creativity?
“Am I jerking myself around? In reality, is it weakness that drives people to be who they are and do what they do? Why do men choose to murder? What does ‘survival of the fittest’ mean? The last ones left standing are the most ferocious monkeys?
“The men who invaded and slaughtered, the men who sold and owned slaves, the men who ignored or ran the death camps, what kind of men were they? What grim species of animal?”
“I don’t understand. Innumerable more times, I don’t understand. Why does everyone want to be a king or queen? Why do we maintain these condescending hierarchies? Must there always be an oppressor and slave? I never want to be anybody’s tyrant. The only power I want is power over myself.
“Why does there have to be pecking orders and spiteful paltry politics? Will rivaling tribal hatred ever go away? Why are we stumped in these ancient ruts? Could there be another outcome where everybody takes part more fairly?”
“What does anyone win if it is at another’s expense? Are we not wise enough to adopt new roles and different systems? The goal of the game is equality and world peace. Or do I simply sound like a spirited, stupid idealist?”
Odysseus lashes out at his make-believe audience. “You say I need more plot, direction, transition, less choppiness, chaos and digression. You were expecting me to take you and lead you somewhere. I am a traveler. Screw destinations. They are always a disappointment once you arrive. I write to write. No matter what I write, you tell me, ‘Change it, more of this, less of that.’
“No matter how much I give, you always want more. This is not a slab of meat on a conveyor belt you skim through then slap with your stamp of approval or cut to find the filet. What filet? This telling is an earnest investigation of a person’s life. It is not the studied script of a copywriter pandering to persuasion nor is it intended to be entertaining. I may be a fool but I am no intentional clown. Am I a dreamer? Elitist? Anarchist? Nihilist? Fool? You have so many names for me. Forget them all and just read or go away!”