THE HUMPTY DUMPTY HIKIKOMORI
IN SEVERAL PIECES
… in the refusal
To balance on a ledger – the declining
Of a challenge to step
The tip-tied tight-rope
Rope of pleasure
Deep in a warmthening pigpan
Or tight between four walls of tight dominion
Like an egg-shell speckled loosely in an egg:
If, high above the spigot of a fountain, floating
Like a ping-pong ball, one should fall –
But I’d rather, in all honesty, grow a tail
Than pull the strings that pull together in a thought.
Let words hang in the air
Like a wet tongue, nameless
While I fix myself to sleep… I know thy works,
That thou art neither cold nor hot. I would
That thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm,
And neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth!
I, hikikomori, high on moratory
Like black pine curtains at last cold light
In the tattered light
Of winter –
Ah, this would the divinities
In draped sheltering of them,
Cottoning the carriage of empty bottles… Ah,
Forever the divinity’s undrowning of them –
If solitude descended in suchly ways.
Like slow-hanging stars hung on wires above deserts!
In flip-books of hat-wearing monks in high forests,
The unassembled armies of Tokyo, Berlin, and Paris
Marching in slippers down air-conditioned halls
In satiety behind unbuilded walls and windows –
The empty mountain, no one seen
Sunset, light enters the deep forest
Shines across green moss.
If solitude descended
In suchly ways.
If solitude descended in such-like luxuriancies
Telegenic, irreversible, then the emperor
Might return at nectar’s exhaustion, day’s end
With his heading and beheading behind him,
And with his high bed be heading
To sleep. But finally it does not,
Finally it comes down, stripped,
Like a drop of water breaking in the heat
Pulled to the surface
Of an electric range.
A Memory of My Youth
“Come one and come all, my young ones, my children,
Hold your folding legs on blackboard chairs, on folded wings,
Come and see through morning thickness the many things
Caught in the moment when a music stops,
And each chair must find a dancer, more or less willing,
To settle down under. Come and see the intermittence
In the spectacle, circulating in these morning halls
Like the unwashed breath and pinkish fingers
Of a thousand spotted feathers… Come,
Together we can gather in the paintchips, you and me…
Well let me see – there once was a shadow –
Of a young hirondelle – not yet a podium –
Waiting on a steel branch – for her parole.
Living on scalded shins with scalded hands
And when I remember I wait for the end – which is to say
There once was a copy of a hirondelle
Waiting by a lectern for a tabula rasa,
Whiling away the hours with a game of hearts.
Meals for one, good with names, overfrozen –
Yes, spare me your syphilitic moonshine.
I have seen you trotting the fields with silver cane
And I can smell your pine-tar medicines.
He placed his hands in my hair and I heard nothing
But my breath, wanted nothing.
The obstinacy of forgotten music.
On the fourth day I opened my mouth to scream
The mute wail of a carhorn
Splitting the night in three. There is a crease
By my eye that will not go away.
I pull the threads around me
Each in a separate direction,
A separate sense –”
Remembered ads, remembered temptations,
Abandoned hopes for haircream medications…
To sleep the sleep of names,
Sleeps of ambrosial anesthesia and lost hours,
Hours recorded in neon by reluctant clocks
Or bulging like fruitflies in summer airs
Lying on the fat and ripened pears
Of rotten days. To be once more enthroned
In the middles of quiet festivals
In the middling of the stalls
While the tattoos snake across my walls
Like starry frescoes… I wake, I feed, I sleep,
Huis clos, in the canicular summer heat
And the flickering that rubs across my eyes
Is like vaseline across my lids
A headlight through the glass
As it rolls above the grating
Through the milkcloud of steam.
In the crepuscular sunrise, the blue asshole of regret,
I drift around the ceiling like a nodding silhouette.
Let us go, you said, and meant –
but meant instead:
Diverse languages, and horrible jargons,
words of dolour, accents of rage,
loud voices, raucous, noises of hands with them,
made a whirling fracas
always, in this eternally somber air,
like the sand where blows a whirlwind.
And me, with my head surrounded by shadow,
I said: “Master, what do I hear?
who are these people so undone by suffering?”
And him to me: “This miserable state
is that of the spiteful souls of the humans
who lived without infamy and without praise.
They are mixed among the low choir of the angels
who were neither rebels to God
nor faithful, and who were only for themselves.
The heavens chased them out, for not being less beautiful,
and the profound inferno wanted none of them,
because the damned would have more glory from a soul.”
Now an old man cursing the sidewalk.
Now a scarecrow
Cast out from huddled fields.
I know what I mean to say
And said what I meant to mean:
I’ve held my belly leaking at the seams
When the sentier of sing-song
Was incapable of dreams;
When the abundance
Of sickness in the air
Resting on the skin
Enjoined a struggle with oxygen –
O Quasimodo, mon amour,
Like the receptive apex
Of the pistil of a flower
Disfigured by a stem
There are no words for you.
Though blue-dyed bluish green
And vaccinated in turpentine
I could hear the skinheads stomping
In the vacant hollow walls
And the hollowed Walla halls
Beating a vagrant
Wailing beneath my window.
I know the look of joy, the look of fear,
Have seen the forced contortions in the mirror –
Seen bodies sprawled on sidewalks
And understood desire, still breathing.
Leaves withered from lack of light
To quiet the shaking of a bed.
The face of an opposed building
Until you are
Again, in the pith path of memory.
There, in the yellow loudness of a hallway waiting,
Far from the crowd, on a winter night excursion
I felt you leaning back like a small green sapling
Your twisting arms extending
Like thin young branches into space…
You dried your hands with several paper towels
Between the tagged genitals, the porcelain,
The eternal melody… on the Boulevard Saint-Germain
A greasy film of paper
Clenched in a swollen hand.
In the sunlit four o’clock morning
Still traces rolled behind me
Of an unmistakable scent
Nipping at my back in public corridors
Pawing at my heels
In the late-night backs
Of overlit convenience stores
Until I returned for the silent observance
At the counter
At the door –
Unmistakable, still embarrassing,
The transaction will take place
With minimal harassing.
You were unrecognized blood on a tissue
In the dryness of Sunday mornings.
A glory in a mirror in the redness of eyes
When out of the cinders
A flag did rise…
At the end of the line
The back of the cellar
The busy signal swallowed
With half a glassful of water:
Dead voices shuffle leaves
In whispered rhythm.
Maybe next fall they’ll set off another nuclear bomb.
Dr Nicolas Bourbaki is a poet and philosopher living in Guatemala. He is currently writing a literary Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel.