{sunday} Aldo Pacheco ~ The horizon of those who left us

The Day Antonioni Came to the Asylum
by Anne Carson
Paris Review Issue no. 171 (Fall 2004)


It was a restless moment. He came closer.
—Lucia Bosé

It was the sound of her writing that woke me. Since you ask, this
is what I remember. Her desk is just outside my room. Some days
I hear sounds too loud. Some days I hear a crowd and there is
no crowd.

At her desk she keeps notes. She lists our medications. She does the
crossword puzzle or puts checkmarks in the margins of Classified.
A little dry grinding sound. Others are unaware. These differences
are hard to bear.

Then there it was, mutiny. They told us we had to come downstairs
to the salon early and “participate” so we all took our clothes off.
Eighteen naked people in the hall. She said not a word. That’s
what scared us. We got dressed again. Overalls, no more women
and men.

What the eye saw was a pile of documents on her desk with tiny
paragraphs and signatures and staples. These documents were not
seen again in the salon or elsewhere. I keep my eye on documents.
Documents are how most of us ended up here. That’s him, said
someone as we descended the stairs. Antonioni wore a small
brown sweater and looked like a cat. I wanted to give him a lick
or a pat.

Swoony was the mood I would say in the room. A suddenly
arriving beautiful man will not so much fool people as keep them
awake—drunk with our own awakeness we rushed around doing
his bidding. To be awake was a thing many had dreamed of, while
continuing to sleep for years, like the famous princess in her coffin
of glass. Once I opened a Chinese fortune cookie that said, Some
will attain their heart’s desire, alas.

He got behind his 16 mm Bell & Howell. Two of his men gave
instructions. Patty and Bates and I were dragging chairs out of
the way. The big black cords had to be run out to plugs. We were
making no mistakes. We were being extremely careful. No jokes.
No sleep. No staring. And she in her place by the wall, refolding
her crossword and trying to look calm. Because it contains the
word hyssop the 51st is my favourite Psalm.

Hyssop is (as you may know) a purificatory herb that smells like
mint from outer space. Create in me a clean heart O God. I got
a whiff of hyssop just when those big black cords lit (light starts
to smell when there’s too much of it) and some sudden radiance
aligned me with the rugs on the floor. So there we all were on
the floor and Patty yelled Keep turning so we did (to ward off
death) and every time Bates turned past me we kissed which is
one of our interior arrangements in group activities (of which
there are a lot here), life being short and burning yearning being
burning yearning.

Patty’s view is that if I weren’t in this place I wouldn’t have time
for someone like Bates. I told her I’m a practical fellow and Bates
is my practice right now. “Have time for” is exactly the point—
days here are two hundred years long. Outsiders (Antonioni)
come in at the wrong velocity. I bet he knew that. His face had
the look of someone who enters a room and there’s no floor.
Meanwhile we rolled all the way to the wall and at a signal
from Patty reversed and rolled back—beautifully, I thought, it
was somehow like bowling. Antonioni seemed pained by
everyone yowling.

To yell is the rule here—rule of the mad—it disguises the kissing
and makes us less sad.

Antonioni opened his eyes. She left her place by the wall and came
over to him. The patients are afraid of the light,   she explained,
they think it is a monster.   This kind of spontaneous misinformation
is typical of the medical profession. Well I suppose she could
hardly say, The patients worship life-giving Aphrodite every
chance they get, thank you for furnishing this opportunity.
Anyway I’m not sure how smart she is. One day I told her about
evolution—how in the beginning people didn’t have selves as we
have selves, there were arms heads torsos what have you roaming
about by the breakers of the shore of life, ankles unattached, eyes
needing brows, until at last what made the parts come together as
whole creatures was Love—and she said, Do you know a seven-letter
word for loose or wanton woman derived from the sound of
a horse’s hooves going down the road at night?
 To which I replied,
Yes I do and I can shower with Bates tonight, right?

Always planning ahead that’s me, practical as purgatory my mom
used to say. That the bones which thou has broken may rejoice.
But now there we were eighteen terrible people in a room trying
not to look at one another as we got up off the floor. Antonioni
gave himself a tidy cat shake and returned to form. The director of
the asylum was beside him murmuring low in a Let’s-See-What-
We’ve-Learned-Today tone. Sober nods all round. I would have
liked to hear from Antonioni. Cats don’t spend themselves but
they notice everything. I saw he noticed Bates. How close for an
instant we grazed our fates.

New white snow had fallen over dark slush outside. Patty
expressed disappointment in the morning’s pitch and tenor overall.
Fuckin sketchy gig, man—was I believe her phrasing. Still we take
our blessings where they fall. Nothing improves community life
like an hour of aerobics first thing. The yelling is mild all the rest
of the day. Purge me and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be
whiter than snow.
 And it was Friday, angel cake for supper, hot
showers later and who knows what interior arrangements there.
Since the day I gave her “?” she treats me with extra care. Don’t
be a mourner
, she says and juts way back on two legs of her chair.

If you enjoyed this poem, why not …

  • read an excerpt from “The Trojan Woman,” a comic by Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson featured in the Spring 2021 issue of The Paris Review?

girl in a gale Residency Old Jet, Bentwaters, Nov 2019

Happy Sunday.

{en vedette} Leon Williams ~ The Sounds

This picture, poem, and music were featured as a {daily pic} on May 29, 2016.

Was it like lifting a veil
And was the grass treacherous, the green grass
 Did you think of your own mother
 Was it like a virus

Did the software flicker
 And was this the beginning

Was it like that
Was there gas station food
 and was it a long trip
 And is there sun there
or drones
or punishment
or growth
Was it a blackout
And did you still create me
And what was I like on the first day of my life
Were we two from the start
And was our time an entrance
or an ending
Did we stand in the heated room
Did we look at the painting
Did the snow appear cold
Were our feet red with it, with the wet snow

And then what were our names
Did you love me or did I misunderstand
Is it terrible
 Do you intend to come back
 Do you hear the world’s keening
 Will you stay the night

The Night Where You No Longer Live
 By Meghan O’Rourke

Arvo Part ~ Te Deum

{sunday} Paul Toussaint ~ Bell

Because we love each other by Rickey Laurentiis

The weather is rude today, too full of good
color and cheer, and makes me want to be out
of here, out of the interior time pandemic time
trauma has made me. I would sing as the canary
passes gently thru the break of my vision; I would
listen as the cat’s ear stings patiently at its Lord;
I would gorge deeply on my own fruit’s womb;
I would entomb blind joy in its spell: et benedictus
fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Iesus is us, and he isn’t,
anymore than Byzantine raised halos and bronze
disease is us, and they are—though most I enjoy
these hiccups come also witty with the breast, with
the breath, in the idea disease, ease, and that we
might just be metal too close together that will infect
each other, brother, brother, sister, sister, sister,
brother, comma, comma, trans—with revision then,
reglistening, which is love, becaused.

Happy Sunday.


Paul Toussaint ~ Seagull You Fly

Donovan ~ Bert’s Blues

Been a-lookin’ for a good girl,
But it’s taking time.
A-been a-lookin’ for a good girl,
A-one to please my mind as well as my time.

I’ve been singing in the evening,
Flying through the night.
But I hurt my good gal,
I hope she makes out right,
Flying through the night.

I’ve been picking up the sunshine,
I’ve been drinking down the rain, girl,
I’ve been picking up the sunshine,
It makes me think on when I’ll see you again.

You know time could bring a change, girl,
It ain’t for me to say.
You’ll soon be out of range, girl,
A-this could only be the way it’s meant to be.

Fairy castle stark and black in the moonlight,
The jingle jangle jester rides his stallion
Seagull flies across my eyes forever.
Sadly goes the wind on its way to Hades.
Would I, should I, could I be a stranger,
I shall walk right by and sigh goodbye.

Lucifer calls his legions from the hillside.
Sadly goes the wind on its way to Hades.

I’ve been lookin’, oh yeah,
I say I’ve been lookin’ far a good girl,
You better believe it, baby, yeah!
Yes, I’ve been lookin’ for a good gal, oh yeah!
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm,
Ain’t kiddin’ you, ain’t kiddin’ you, ain’t kiddin’ you
Yeah, I’ve been a-lookin

The Art of iPhonism

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