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my name is alex and i was born in a manger

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It’s been too long since I been to the house, she says. (Outside falls a light rain, barely audible, but a heavy mist obscures everything, even the other side of the street.)

Save for a few dumb stragglers everyone’s come inside, I say. They’re crazy if they wanna be out there in that, anyway. Devil’s weather.

It’s an omen, she says.

An omen for what, I ask.

I don’t know, she says. Long pause.


I don’t press further. She’s not in a speaking mood. I can tell that. I can always tell that. I’ve known her for too long to be comfortable around her, especially times like these. The air is suffocating and all the color has been drowned out of the room, all the paint peeled off the walls recklessly like they had something to prove in doing it so.

The last time it rained I can’t even remember. There are long periods now where it doesn’t rain at all. I don’t remember it being that way when we were kids. It used to rain so much. I sat on the porch with Mom and Dad and we sat around and watched the rain fall and watched the cars speed through the puddles in the intersections where the land was too low, and I remember these things together with a deep but only flickering sadness; a muted limerence, begging for the past to remember me.

A lot of things changed.

I know that much. I know that there are a lot of buildings that weren’t there when I was a kid, when I grew up there. A lot of things that stand on top of my memories of the place. A lot of shit that got stacked on top of the eyesores I loved to hate. Shit I was foolish then, foolish to assume I had an out, foolish to assume that I wanted an out. Foolish to assume that what I wanted was to leave. (My baptism… I was never baptized. But I remember a baptism. Was it me? I don’t remember who it was. At the Pentecostal Church on Main. Where Mom did her prayers in the morning every Sunday before skipping the service. Was it me?)

Now this is a woman I haven’t spoken to in nearly six years and I’m sitting in the kitchen staring out a cracked-open window as the water starts to patter onto the windowsill inside with increasing urgency and resonance with her standing next to me but we don’t close the window, we just let it hang open that way. What do you do in a situation like this? You don’t do anything, Dad would’ve said. But he was never so good at these kinds of things. That I’m aware of now. Certain things come to pass. That I’m aware of now.

I don’t think I want to leave, I say, and all the ice between us falls like daggers sinking itself into the flesh of the mood of the place.

Outside of an old blue house on Willow, in the bushes, the blind woman cries. A house is burning in the Meadow District, but it’s not hers. Nobody lives there but everyone has been there. I’m outside the blue house now.

There’s an old TV set playing reruns of American Family forever. This place is a womb, the womb of time. The old blue house calls and I answer. I feel like a mystical man slithering through the alleyways and gardens of Eden when I call and when I call she picks up the phone. She does that now.

The phone doesn’t say anything to her, it just is. It just is and that’s what she does, too. She listens. Her guard dog gets real agitated. Guide dog too. They both stand defensive with ears back and growl a whisper’s height. It’s happening again. The phone rings.

And it’s over. The way it started. I’m at the blue house now. All the lights are on but one. The laundry room. There are baskets everywhere. Clothes strewn all over the floor. Tangled, awful messes. I feel afraid. For the first time in months I feel afraid and I am afraid.

But it’s okay. Nothing to be afraid of. Just a beckoning in the night. I’m back in the blue house again. It’s daytime. I’m sitting there in the kitchen and Kate is with me. I miss her so much, I want to touch her. I reach out my hand to feel her hair, a strand of it, and she turns to sand. Outside, I’m outside the blue house now. That blind woman is back there. She scares me, but I know her. She was a caretaker. Or something like that. Kate’s. Kate needed her. She provided a service, and I acted alone. I’m in the blue house now. It’s not a blue house anymore, it’s yellow. There are people here, a family. Young kids and two happy parents. Nuclear family. I’m outside the yellow house now. It’s a sad house. There’s nobody in it anymore but an old man sitting on a couch in the entry room aimed directly at the front door. Come on, he says. I’m inside the blue house again. It’s a blue house again, but it’s not the same blue house. It’s not on Willow anymore. It’s on Dairy. Dairy Street. In Kilnes Square. That’s not the blue house. I’m outside the blue house again. It’s a blue house this time, and it’s the one I remember. I’m in there, and I’m having a conversation. I can’t make a sound but I’m screaming somehow. I’m letting someone know that I’m there and then I see myself (the other I sees myself with his other “eye” and I’m in the blue room again. Fading onto paper the last parenthese. White paper, black paper with white ink, white paper with black ink, black highlighter all over the thing. But I’m here again. An unclosed operation. I’m in the blue house now. I’m in the red house now. I’m in the yellow house now. I’m in every house. I’m not in the house.

And Jesus was born of furs in Sault Ste. Marie
and you that walked his plateau I say
are the last free ones on the trail of pain

He said turn those quiet hands to labor
Our sails were homeward bound going away and forever free
the men with their emeralds sink aimlessly
sitting at the bar drinking it away

We pass through sea and through silent valley
looking through the parish to the free men wavering
with their pallid voices glum together
looking that way forever til they meet again
in those freedom fields

Never did much like the way these streets burn up under the candles at night

First thing I did when I got back was go to the old house and see what had been done to it, this great place, real small but real great and you could feel the love and dedication put into it even in the patchy soil never quite grown right coming up in uneven patches and the sod never grown right either

But now what they done to it is changed everything up and some rednecks bought the place took the trim out made it white that old trim I had worked on with dad when I was nine gone now replaced with white and the whole building is all white and the grass been replaced by all these fake plants all these fake things and the garage ain’t changed a bit, looks the same they just fucked it up by putting everything white

And I thought this is sure sad this ain’t nothing good anyone wanted to see this place come out this way but I didn’t think too much on it went back to that gas station they changed the name but ain’t much else and kinda drifted off and past into the dream again I didn’t feel a damn thing walking into the place but I never walked out I guess you don’t come out of a place like that with your head in one place I really felt nothing going in that place but going out I felt even less I guess I never walked out

But anyway I guess that’s what happens and all these good places get burnt up in the end and I see them talking about selling the place again they just bought it some years ago the place ain’t even worth a cent but they talking about selling it again and again always like they got a damn thing to prove like they got some money to make off the place but they ain’t ever gonna sell the dream that was and the place that was before it became what they made it into that place that ruined everything like some god damn parade got rained on real bad and they decided to pack up their shit and set the shop on fire on top of it

Luminaria was yesterday
maybe day before

This is the first room. The room of a city at night. And down the hallway if you keep to yourself you’ll find it again (a U-shaped room). It fires on all muted cylinders and it’s hard to forget the squeal of the drapes. You’d have to be real close or real far to hear their sound for what it is otherwise it’s just crude infantile agony and a beckoning lust, tied up in bed with Baroque tones underneath; real awful and unorganized, like a disturbed symphony. It’s really a beautiful piece; a meeting hall for the forbidden kings. An open road that burns the tires of the incomplete. A eulogy for another time, for another place.

Water flows in the imperfect river run dry.
A million swallows dance over the virgin valleys
coated silver with the first fresh snow
and I am reminded that I love you

The mornings tinted rose-gold
exchanged for a sea of gray winter dawns
care little about the rising tides past the hills
and I am reminded that I love you

The ice clings without rest to fledgling branches
that sink and swim with the color of the wind;
broken meadows read soft hazel in the rare sunlight.
The young lover's earnest heart burns with optimism
in the coldest ends of an old world's earnest winter.
For few are fortunate enough to be spared the misery
by that greatest feeling which is to know an innocent beauty
untouched by the unfair misery of the lives of the rest.
Burnt Sunday, a last reminder, I love you once again

The most important thing to remember about us in those times is that we had nothing to our name, nothing to remember us by. We were just walking images, shadows, passing through on the way to the next meager camp where the people in it would forget our names long before anybody had even spoken a word to them. Where nobody was immune to being forgotten, to being lost. People would vanish from our camps because they found a new one, or it found them, or something; truth be told I can't really answer for what happened to the ones we lost, just that somewhere downstream they got separated from the pack in another crowd, another one of those constantly shifting and forming social organisms that we let fester far too long in the sunlight.

Ever so often comments flash upon the screen and we are reminded that we aren't really there. Passing through again. Fog, liminal. A survivor among many. The comments, innocuous. They told us things we knew or things that were so disconnected from any kind of organic communication that they seemed more like another slogan in the spray. Gangrene civilization, open biomes. Body modifications. A lot of the comments asked for support. They asked for how to fix things. Never themselves, but always things. Objects that could be manipulated were always to be fixed. There was always a problem -- if there weren't problems you weren't working hard enough, they'd say. We were halfway around the Czech Republic when one of the most disturbing ones flashed before our eyes. I can't even call back the memory of what the comment actually said. It was meaningless, a string of letters and symbols. But something about it rang deep within me, and deep within the rest of the pack, something prenudial, something clothed and cloaked behind peaks of doubt and expressive discontent. Engineers and geneticists strived for this shit, it was their lifeblood. They were losing the game if they didn't win, if they didn't chase us down, didn't find us. And that was what kept the comments coming, in our minds. We didn't know it was automatic, that there was no human behind it, no light at the end of the tunnel. Everything seemed more natural and controlled then than it is now. Everything now is so thinly veiled under the suppressive energy of chance. Some writer called chance the chance for liberation, but not when it is sought. When chance is realized, all is lost. It becomes then an exercise in your own possible calculation of the events beyond. We were free when we didn't know, not when we knew. And that was what the comments were. They were a vestige of our previous civilization, another world blinking before us like a low battery signal. This is not the Hell nor the Heaven we had asked for. We got scammed. We got neither.

the marshes
we used to pass
the mornings
we used to waste
the moss and anthills
we used to be

the pine forests and Rosemary babies
on the evening news we used to watch
the storms in the summer
which grew flowers in your hair
the pools and springtime creeks
we used to wade in

the old Victorians and other queens
we used to love
like we did each other
and maybe this is, like those are,
nothing but time
and its cruel and steady course

I can feel these things slipping
off the surface of my memory
and fading
as impermanent
as these restless images are

but please
don’t let them take you away again

Those who suffer are the best artists.

That's what I was told all my life. That if I had never experienced hardship, I'd never be anything artistically; I'd just end up wallowing in a cave of my own happiness and writing dreck that nobody would pay a dime of attention to. This hallowed rhetoric was all I could think about each time I'd try to create a piece... some kind of writing that would give myself a name. But it seemed like for all the voices I'd heard they had been correct, and they were all telling truths that went without necessitating validation.

So, for a grand period of my life, I lived in the slum of rebellion, where the world in all my rose-tinted glasses was an oyster of reflection, and I could do nothing but give unto it glory. I couldn't stop myself from writing these long-winded pieces about the abstract nature of its beauty and the way the voices of women singing silk to my young, open ears would melt the shadows away before me and give me light in the darkest of hours. It seemed to me like such a glorious phase would never end, but I knew that soon I would be met with the need to step out of the brightest corners and find my way into the darkened centre of our hive -- the place in which all human communication was born and deigned with sentience, the place where the rhetoric of our moral values would be born and killed again and again.

And so I wandered like a young bird with its wings clipped around the strata of this intellectual deep-end... I began to think that if I would never give myself a voice of reputation, a kind of badge of war-torn glory, like I had been in the military for years, I would never make it in art, I would never make it in anything. And to some extent, they were right... I was never going to make anything out of what I had before, nothing out of the glorious conception of glamour I had tried so desperately to craft in the brightest of hours.

I began to torture myself, slowly, removing any kind of pleasure until I revealed from myself a dark spirit, a hedonistic creature that couldn't exist without an ascetic narcissism that bled out upon the gallows of creation. I spent hours in the sweat and tears of toil and service, and I never created anything worth a dime. I cut off limbs of my soul, the digits of my connection to the merry nature of drinking with my family and friends in unlit bars and wandering the streets with the best-natured sirens that money could possibly go to waste for. I lost myself in this vortex of destruction. I was no longer a happy creature... no longer a creature that could feel abstract joys, moreso a creature who felt cheated of the compassion of reality...

I wandered the streets, lost, afraid, without kin. I was never going to find my way back. But was there a way I wanted to see..

The building I live in is thirty stories tall and made of sheer slab concrete. It is sturdy for its environment, but were there any earthquakes here it would probably collapse due to the way it was constructed. I live on the 20th floor. Perhaps the most notable thing about this building is the fact that there is no staircase, nor is there an elevator; instead, the door you have leads immediately outside. If I were to, at any time, leave my apartment for any reason, I would most certainly drop the 19 remaining stories down to the gigantic, expansive river of asphalt below me, the termitized mass of anthropocenia watching me break the rule of our existence in the most measelly predictable manner.

The rush of air on all sides, taking away my sense of hearing.

I have lived here for most of my life, but I do not know why or how I ended up here. My family was never present. Some of the people in this building have had family before. I cannot see them well, but I know when I look out my window and see an aged, decrepit corpse gracefully falling past that there was some semblance of a familial structure present, one that could possibly provide for the birth of more children (theoretically: incest would have to be the most common way to reproduce, but I am sure there have been non-familial romantic relationships here), and I am robbed of my senses. That isn't to say that I am shocked or stunned by what I see, but more that I am unable to accurately respond to or reflect on what I have just seen out of a lack of experience with the topic.

The momentary lapse of judgement, predicting the consequences.

For all intents and purposes, I am neither happy nor unhappy. I am somewhere between. I could probably subsist on myself for years and years and years but of course companionship is welcomed as well — as is the reason for my use of the internet. Here, I have taken up arms in cataloguing the most peculiar or remarkable things I see. More often than not these items of interest are of a sexual connotation, but sex is a foreign concept to me. I am unable to describe what sex is like. I have seen it over 400-500,000 times in multiple forms on the Internet, as if I'm connected to a fragile machine of orgasmic, raw-pleasuring tendency.

The snapping of bone and the crunch of its matter.

I am unable to describe in any safe form any of the things I find interesting or find worth saving. I cannot even begin to start with things of the oddest nature — that is, sexual items that are not exactly sexual. I do not have a clear grasp on sexual intercourse but I can identify what is __not__ it and these would exist as an example. The idea that these people receive some kind of primal lust, some urge, some pleasure from these things is completely alien to me, but I have a profound respect for it.

The sound of sirens wailing on all sides, waiting for crowds to clear to continue forward.

I once saw a video of a man having his genitalia hacked off by an attractive woman and thought to myself how it was possible that this came into being as an idea. How could it be? I started wondering about the future of this man — did he even have one? That became the most important question to myself over many years. What purpose did he have? What future did he have? I couldn't think of it... I couldn't begin to comprehend the mathematics, the networking of such a concept. It scared me to think about. I cannot cry, but I was nervous.


One day I was sitting in bed thinking deeply about this video again. I have seen it hundreds, thousands of times. I still do not know what it means or why it is such a significant image to me. I spent years looking for this video in full but I was unable to find it despite my best efforts, which usually fruit some valuable information. I quit one day. I woke up and that was it. I do not know what the reason was. I do not know why I am here, or what I am doing. I do not know what it was that compelled me to search it up in the first place. I am ultimately unknowing of any concept, because the idea of having a concept is completely foreign to me. One day I would like to have one. I do not know what it will be like to have one; of course, that goes without saying. I will miss where I am currently, but it would be nice to experience it for just a short moment.

Sometimes I enter periods of my life where things get rough.

I do not think about anything other than the incidents of my past that I cannot make out in my head. They smell like the kind of clay that you smell when you are in elementary school, Play-Doh. But I do not know what this is, or why I know that they smell like this. I cannot see them either; they are blurry, too dark and noisy to make out any kind of coherence. Over time, I will stop thinking. This is my natural progression.

Finding a corpse.

I hear stories, sometimes, from the outside world. People who do not live in these shanties that stack infinitely upwards, without care for their reality or definition. I do not care for these stories. By no means do they explain anything that I can use to my advantage. They make no effort to save the symbiosis of my flesh and brain. I am no longer awake, but I am aware; these stories fail to remind me of my livelihood. I think about what it must be like to live there (or at least I did). I have decided that I would not like it. There is much going on there, and I am used to the comfortable loneliness of this world that I am in. I do not care for women. I do not care for men. I have no understanding of anything. I live alone, but without being lonely. I went to great lengths to find this video. The outside world never had a source. They were never able to describe it or its creator to me. The internet failed me in every way possible. I have not touched my computer in 24 hours. There is a note taped to the screen. I do not remember writing it. I remember nothing that could be called peripherally useful. I will never leave my building... not out of fear for what is outside, but out of spite. I played a game called Second Life a lot when I was in this mode. How can it be a second life if there was no first one?

An unidentified corpse, face up, on the ground, nude but with no genitalia to speak of.

this one sucks so i removed it lol

I often feel like I wasn’t made for this world, or the pleasures contained within. It’s kind of a deep-seated fear, and one I can’t avoid. But I sit here, and I look at you, and I see you standing there, and I see you looking out the window, and I see the rain coming down on the window, and I see the rain coming down harder and I see the lightning flash and show me your figure, your form, and I see the way that your hips look in the dead of night as you’re just standing there and you see something outside the window, and I can’t see it, and I can’t see what you’re looking at, like you’re a cat, with extrasensory abilities, like you can feel something’s outside, even if it’s not, you know, I can see that, I can see your body standing there, twitching, convulsing, but you’re still standing, I can see all of that, I can see you looking but I can’t see what you’re looking at, and I can only see you, and I can’t see the rest of myself, and I can see the room you’re in, and I can see that it’s my living room, and I can see that you spent the night at my flat, and I can see that we’re here together on the 31st floor and I can see that you’re worried about something but I don’t know what it is, and I can see that, and I look at you anxiously, and I see you anxiously, and I worry about you, and I see the worry about you in myself when I look really deep, when I try to ‘see’ as I see things, I can see that I’m lying in bed a figure of my own spirit, and I can see that there’s nothing more to me, no legs, no arms, no body, no face, and I can sit here gazing up at the stars over and over but I can’t see you, and I can’t see your face, and I’m concerned about who you are, and how you found your way into my house, and how you found your way into Shanghai at 3 in the morning and especially I can’t see how they’d let you through customs dressed the way you are or maybe you came into my house dressed somewhat different and I guess now I can see your clothes on the floor but I don’t know how they got there because I look deep within myself but I can’t see us having sex, the two of us lying in bed seeing each other in these contorted forms, amalgams of sweat and body, I can’t see this, I can’t see it as hard as I want to see it, I can’t picture it in my head or see it in the physical, 3-d plane, and I can’t see anything, actually, but I can really see that you’re still standing there but maybe now you’re turning, and now I can see the curvature of the Earth, and now it’s beautiful, and I can see that the sun isn’t going to come up and I can see that these are truly the end times, and I can see that I lack fear, and I can see that I’m proud of us, and I can see that what we accomplished was great, even though I can’t see what we did, I can’t see what we got done, I can’t see what we completed together, I can’t see the result of our hard work and toil anymore, I can’t see that you once loved me and left me in an airport once because you couldn’t bear to see me anymore and you left me and I can see that I tried to call you, thirty times, or so, and you never picked up, and I can see that you left your phone at my apartment and I can see that it was disposable and you never wanted to hear from me outside of Shanghai, and I can see that I’m in bed in my flat, and I can see lightning turn the sky purple, and I can see that my TV is on but I can’t see anything happening nor can I hear anything, and I can’t see that we were once truly in love, madly, I can’t see that I once gave you a wedding ring worth thousands of dollars and I look up and I can’t see you at all anymore

@onehallyu (telegram)
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"A folded old tongue sitting on an emerald casket. This is eruption, this is sane again. Forever and ever again, this is sane."