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   q u e s t i o n s    o f    t o n e:    a n    i n v o c a t i o n

--- D A N I E L   N E S T E R

Here comes the temperament!  

*** These questions, questions of tone, are always left unanswered, and yet, and yet, when they are filled in, it's not unlike some big first-date, Wurdy-Gurdy evening paper game, something I'd fill out in Grandmom's front room, waiting for canned fruit desserts.

*** The counterpoint to the wail of the trash truck on my Brooklyn mornings is the knife sharpener gypsy, who rings a sleigh bell atop a converted ice cream cart. Nil carborundum illigitium, as they used to say when I was in the service.

*** Back then all I'd accomplish is some undeniably small, kumquat of a point.

*** Back then there would be one mot juste, one clean silver stool to sit on during lunch, and half of the umpteenth cup of coffee. One snap of a soft drink can. The first gurgle over the cubicle wall from my former temp boss. As I filled out the sheet with my hours, I'd say, I'll pad one hour for each time that gurgle is audible.

*** For most of this "solemn abandon," as Frost calls modern art, follow-through is all. A knuckleball, for example, finishing with the snap of index and middle finger.

*** "That's cos Icarus was stupid, yo." A student of mine, extraneous remark, first class in September.

*** In his letters home to my grandmom during the war, my grandpop always ended a paragraph with either or both of the following remarks-

"I like to fool, see."

"Ha, ha!"

*** Sometimes, as Frost says again, interjecting himself, 'a talk is just trying to run away from one word.'

*** My one word is Cock. Big Bad Cock. Cockle doodle do. The password is Cock. A little cock'll do. A cylindrical cock. Ha, ha!

*** "I tell these stories to explain why people stop liking me" - Paul Taylor, unpublished novel about the Jersey Devil, 1990.

*** I am a monstrous man of homunculan proportions.

*** Sometimes, with my hand on my cock, I seize the doorknob with my other hand and awkwardly greet Jehovah's Witnesses. Helloo, I say through the chain lock. Chipper chipper chipper. And the stained glass look of them! My magna mater! My sinful pride! And you - with your look of recognition - how dare you!

*** My Uncle Tom on a bug exterminating job, says he's "checking cracks and crevices" to the housewives of the neighborhood. Giggle giggle. Double-entendre. Check them check them!

*** This will be complete disaster, an antisymetry, a chrysalis, a guest list, a field dowsed with gasoline, then flame.

*** Programmed to set out into suburbia, ape-man indefinite, ape-man on the front lawn, sitting on concrete, rust from rain and car hulls. I need to save myself from this.

*** I am thinking of a movie trailer this morning, but only the drawn-out intro. I don't have sun hitting my esplanade, see. A movie trailer being, perforce, a stutter of rigmarole, always beginning with the infamous participial phrase-


IN A WORLD WHEN LOVE... IN A WORLD WHERE HISTORY AND DESTINY COLLIDE... And that one voice, the one that comes in tardily, horizontal views of the meadow, the panning down onto the dress. Resolve it always on that one dress, then the meadow. Docent, the voice, Oh yes.

*** I choked a duck in a petting zoo once. Oh yes, I did. It's true. I am upright and sincere in this. Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The smoothed-over humidified beak, a Yeatsian swoop in front of white model dresses. This wasn't just last summer, as many of you wiseasses might have it, but an appropriately long period of time ago. And yes, it was traumatic, and yes, I'm bringing it up because I wondered why that little swan-pig thought my arm was food.

*** How did my arm become food? In a world where I consult the chrysalis on Seventh Avenue, jaywalk across to it, flashing yellows all around me. Why, I begin, why did the duck's chomp trigger a toddler whoop-ass moment?

*** Why did the rent-a-cop see me as some dangerous harbinger of a rainy afternoon? It's all too much, all too much.

*** Why, Bon Jovi Bon Jovi Bon Jovi?

*** Eggs on my face biking home, 1982. Third base with JZ in purple shorts. Fingersmell on bike handles as I fall into the woods, the metalhead car catcalling, yellow and white juices all over me, face a WaWa dairy section money shot to make Peter North proud.

*** And as I emerge out of that sonic athermancy, I wave my arms around me as if playing an electronic harp.

*** Arbitrary onslaught of freight, it seemed to most.

*** As I set up my inaugural podium stance (hunched, Oh, hunched, and with cribbed lines from others who came before me), I don't need to turn around and quiet the child, or stutter, or call up any other time than now, after dark, overloaded and sweating out the weigh-in at the state line.

*** In Russia, in Israel, in Thailand, men insert small objects inside the skin of their cocks. It's like a mini-Ben Wa ball, and it makes the ladies go crazy. The medical term is "Pearly Penile Papules."

*** The author of this study, who teaches in Kansas, is rather matter-of-fact, and I, merely his indigent copy editor, cannot question his tone, nor can I suggest enlarging the pictures. "To exacerbate sexual pleasure," the article begins. Laid out like deli meats, the rocks, kernels of dried corn, rice, plastic smoothed down, pebbles from the beach, all adorning the cocks of sailors, husbands, writers, emergent computer technicians, all hammered into their cocks, a couple shots of whiskey, wax paper from a friend, and a bandage, then sent out to sea.

*** They-the papules-measure from 2-5 millimeters usually, and have only now come to our attention because of Russian Jews coming to Israel and getting circumcised. The tradition has been around for, like, a thousand years.

*** Captions accompanying a photos of "gross" Japanese bathroom stalls- "This toilet is under a stair to a platform and lawless zone." "It has shit outside of the bowl and has the worst smell." "Help me! After taking this picture I felt nauseated." "This toilet is famous."

*** All of this because of lebensraum? I don't think so.

*** I stop breathing when I take pictures.

*** Like I said, I am that uproarious child!

*** Plus:

*** Now:

*** And:

*** The bugaboo of addressing the ages.

© crossconnect 1995-2001 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |