I Was Lucky, David Carmack Lewis
REVEAL CODES : “& NOW THAT YOU ARE MERE EYE. . .” DON’T PUSH PLAY : CONTEMPT OF COURT & RUNAWAY CONFESSION
you’d have to meet her as I did. “Opening & shutting on me. . .” On that day, just at sundown. “Am I as much as. . .” On that night. Hours after sundown. You’d have to meet her. There. Where I did. Having seen her before, many times, even spoken, twice, but never met. Until. “Am I. . .” On that road. “as much as. . .” On that curve in that road on that night. Day. You’d have to slow way down. Headlights off. You’d have had to stop. “Am I as much as. . .” Every single thing you’re doing. Where I did. As I did. & meet her, us, then, there in that curve on that day. Night. Us. Then, there’d be three. Follow me. & more. You’d have to watch her. As I did. Do. Move as she did. Does. There. In that night. That sleep. On that road. In that curve. You’d have had to have stopped. Parked. Walked thru barefoot grass. The pond on her back. You’d have to smell the pond at your back. Like I did. See. Like I did. Her. Us. To have met her. What’s this? She never saw me approach. Fact is, I didn’t. Approach. You’d have had to have followed me. First, I wasn’t there. Then, there. Like that. You’d have had to be there like that. And not. Then, there. Like me. Not her. Stop. She wasn’t there. The trick. Is. She wasn’t there. There were hands in the pond. There was no sound coming from the hands in the pond. No splash. Not a swish. They never surfaced from the pond. Water over thin as the skin on the backs. Clear waves over wrist bones. Paper thin. If she wasn’t there; then neither the hands. Never broke the surface. That’s the sound. The movement under the pond. Hands. White hands. The sound of white hands moving under dark water. Thin as unbroken paper. & Eyes. In the air. Close in the air. First, none. Then, all I could see. So close I couldn’t count. One, two, three, four, ten eyes. So close I couldn’t tell who blinked. All eyes. I felt the wind blink. A pond with no bank. The rims moved. I couldn’t see the rims. & no bottom. As if off screen. Back stage. Music from the pit. As if in the margin. Movement beyond the edge. Music in air. A smile. I know there was a face. & hair. Eyes, giveaways. Even today. Right now. [applause] I close my eyes & there they are. Right there. Not an inch. They’re not mine. And, a voice: “Save the deaf eyes, what the hell’s going to happen to me?” & movement beyond the rim. Hands make waves. A smile. Hands. Movement underwater. There’s a pond at her back. Must have heard me coming. Though I never did. Come. First nothing. Then, there. & no traceable route. No job to do. Just eyes. Not an inch. Right now, there. Before me. Nothing. Then, there. And now. Here. Mine close. Beyond the rim. No sound. White hands & movement beyond the edge. A smile. & pain. Still pain. & music. & movement I can’t see. & there’s pain. First, nothing. Then, there. Pain beyond the rim. Moves & remains. Beyond the invisible edge. The sound of movement. The sound of water underwater. She said : “Save the blind ears, I’ve got a lot of sadness in me” White hands of pain without edge. White hours after sundown with no bottom. A torso rises from the grass. There’s nothing beyond the rim. Arms above the head. Imperceptible breasts & nothing moves above the surface. Wild movement underwater. Waves. Eyes float. I’ve seen them float before me. Not an inch from the bottom. First not. Then, there. & movement. A torso. But not from place to place. A to B. There. Worse, here. Moved & was still there. Worse, here. Like eyes. Beyond the rim. A torso with grass beyond & a pond behind. Blades of grass tickle her legs, sweat clots in the dirt. All eyes disappear. Not here. Worse, then, not there. & still. & there’s my torso. Hands risen. White hands break the surface of the eye. Drops fall. Three, four, ten, they move without a sound. Then merge. A stream in a still pond moves over skin. Ears shattered. Some kind of Socratic passion this is. . . White skin goes away in streaks. Dark streaks blink down my back & onto the ground. They’ve fallen from hands. Run from leg to leg. Hers to mine. Methodical sweat. You’d have had to have fallen from hands. Thru the surface without a sound. & a cello. Or not. Silence & no cello. Then, there. Or worse. & the eyes appear. Deaf. The whites of these eyes move toward me. Whites hold the darkness at the center. & the darkness at the center moves toward me. There’s all the movement I can’t see. Streams. Waves travel the pond from where the hands might have tasted the eye. Drops gather drops from where they’ve fallen to the ground. A torso in the grass. Moves. Remains. Twists. & eyes. Whiteness holds the darkness & the darkness moves toward me & the darkness at the center of whiteness holds the blackness. The otherwise unavailable, hitherto unalterable, bottom of blackness. Beneath the night that can prove it’s the night. Beside the sound of water under hands underwater hands. Her eyes move toward me & look away. Away. Into the sky. Or worse. I’ve watched eyes move toward me and look away into a sky that can’t prove it’s not the bottom. I’ve seen it happen. It has happened. To me & I’ve seen it. [applause] Eyes away! From my torso to the night sky, proved, & the blackness at the center of darkness opens wide. I’ve seen eyes look away & I’ve heard it happen. All I can hear is this happening. You’d have had to have heard it with me. From the inside. Out. O. U. T : out. Hands like silent waves couldn’t stop even this. I’ve heard the blackness overtake the darkness. As the darkness turns from a twist of whiteness & looks away into blackness. A torso moves & remains. Liquids. Blackness overtakes darkness. Darkness at the center of whiteness moves. Now that’s away. Proved. Off center, the blackness opens. Twice at once. I’ve cursed my brain. An already accursed brain forces all this into one vision. Two into one. I’ve cut this skin. One into two. Cursed. The eyes stare back. So close & I can’t focus & it’s my torso that moves in the grass. Remains. Twists. & darkness moves back to the center of whiteness. & blackness closes down. Gives way to darkness. Blackness is, again, a pin-prick pointed at me out of the darkness. . . Now that’s away. I didn’t have to be this. Me. & eyes I can’t count. Two, Six, ten. Huge eyes & not an inch. If there’d been an inch, or if pond-wet fingers found my mouth, I’d be breathing still. In all this time & there’s not so much as an inch. There they are now. Reflex & no apologies. For what!? Whiteness, darkness, blindness & blackness. Deafness. & there’s movement, away, I can’t see. Drops run down the back into Socrates’ mouth. Skin. Off the map, a hairpin on a chalk road at midnight. You’d have had to have locked them up. Skin disappears into streams. In front of a pond. Breath opened the pond. The pond at the center of the grass. Torsos move & remain. Twist. Then, there. Eyes inside eyes. Worse. Twisted, remains. First silence. Hands underwater. Then, there. The broken neck of a cello on its back in the grass. Calm insertions. Arrivals appear. & she said : “save the thoughtless tongue, excuse me, you’ve gone red” Nothing approaches. Nothing recedes. You’d have had to have never opened the door. You’d have to never have slammed the door. Teeth marks under the arm’d prove the night’s the night. You’d have to forget the door altogether. Shadows bite under the arms. & pleasure searches the bottom. If you’d have seen her. If you’d have seen the darkness hold the blackness & turn away from the torso & the blackness open & swallow the hands & the pond. A black stone dropped into a pool of darkness. Her eye turns away. My torso moves & remains. Twists. A black wave overtakes the dark. We were there, or worse. Overtaken by black, dark moves into the corner of the white pool. Away. The dark moves. Twists. There’s movement in places. & I can’t see. There are places beyond places. & I can’t move. Beyond the rim. Hands back underwater. [applause] We know them by the sound of a splash we never see. We know them by rings in trees we can’t taste. So, we lie about what we haven’t seen. Emphatic retractions. Splash. Calm insertions. Lie. Calm retractions & panicked insertions. Panicked retractions. There’s a rim beyond the movement. Things remain that can’t be seen. The bottom’s there. Or worse. Here. Or worse. The movement can’t be seen. Things remain despite retraction. Things one should never have seen. Move & remain. Twist, then there. You thought you’d retracted. Or worse. In fact, you’d plunged beyond the rim. Beyond the movement. Into a kind of falling without moving. You glimpsed movements that remained, you didn’t want to see. Or move. Movement beyond the ripple of black thru dark. Calm. Movement surrounds the hand underwater. There’s confusion. What’s inserted & what retracted? Deliberate panic. A question of duration? In relation to what? Clocks? [laughter] In relation to a point beyond the invisible rim by which one tells insertion apart from retraction. Beyond the bottomless bottom. Calm from panic. Fatigue from endurance. A point in a night of wild color. You know, for instance, in bright light heat has a shadow. Say, a tree falls thru the wind. Say you’re on a train. You’d have had to have sat & watched. The two of them. Float, still. Rail ties & stone blur by in a riot. Branches cut the sight of the river. You’d have had to have performed. Experiments with distance. Science. You’d have had to have known the West. On a train. Beyond the blur & the mute cuts thru vision. & thru the realm of circles. The mid-range that revolves. Beyond the blur and past the cut. You’d have had to have focused beyond the cut of poles and branches. Beyond the river. Trees, a fence line revolves. But then up, again, from the circles. The blurred fringe of wheat beyond the rim of your sight. Just beyond that, there’s a zone that only moves when you look away. & beyond all that blurs, cuts, spins, lies. There’s a point. A tree. An abandoned car. A burnt fort. A broken fence post wrapped in wire. . . You’d have to have known the West. There’s point that doesn’t move at all. From which insertion & panic depart. Retraction recedes & hands sweep under the surface. Eyes float [a voice off stage reads from Newton. . . laughter. . . Copernicus . . . jeers. . . Kepler. . .tomatoes]. They’d have to have seen her in the grass. Have they!? They’re her eyes. Have they seen her move & remain. A torso disappears in the grass. Twists. Then, there. & worse. Darkness overtaken by blackness in the eye & movement beyond the rim. & if they’d seen it. Have they heard it as I did? Eyes. Two handfuls of mud from the bottom of the pond. Tasted, conceived & reported to you now. Explain the plunging, the calm insertion & the vanishing without retraction. The appearing without approaching. The movement beyond the rim. Then, the bottom there. Or worse. The retraction, away, that plunges thru darkness overtaken by blackness. My torso in the grass. Moves & remains. Twists. Right between the eyes & the eyes narrow as a soft mouth [applause] at the hard edge beyond the rim. A smile & the calm insertion. & pain that won’t appear. Then, there. Won’t approach. Then worse. Retraction? [laughter] Exception? [jeers] Come now, come now. Objection! [tomatoes] And, we’ve left things out. Like the cello. Most often, in these times, we blame it on the cello. Or on machines. &, if all else fails, the devil, what of friction? There’s a point beyond friction from which calm insertion & panicked retraction depart. But, you’d have to have known the West. & felt the grass move beneath your back as mine. Conceived and reported. Blades tickle. Tasted. Balls wet from the grass, you’d have had to have heard her laugh. Red-handed in the West, man, as soon as there’s friction. It’s not far from the hips. Never is. Hips beyond the narrowed edge beyond the rim of the eyes. A smile. & she said : “Fuck the dream, I’m getting ready to rape you” Idiot voices from the pit; “Can’t be!” But, once the eyes have narrowed, without, an inch between. Something at the bottom breathes. A banana skin withers faster without the fruit. No matter sun or shade, tree or picked. Faster, wither. Without the fruit. Consult science for the rate. The increase. The fact remains. The fact is faster but not as fast as that broken limb wrapped in wire. Or was it a fence post? & there’s the fruit without. & in the West, without approach, & once there are hips & friction & a cello. There’s always something to feel. Calm insertion &, yes, beyond a certain unavailable point in the unapproachable distance. Or worse. & beyond what’s known of the West. Panicked retraction. Once you’ve felt the friction, the faster fact is, there’s simply no retraction. Plunge within or without; the skin withers. It’s the definition of recoil : post-frictional retraction. In other words, calm insertion. Movement beyond the rim, white hands beneath the surface, blackness over darkness. Away. Then, there. Moves & remains. Once there’s friction nothing can appear. Or worse. Twists, tangled. The eyes never retract. Every time one closes, another, inside, opens. The West never sleeps, or wakes. It can’t even blink. Hacks on stage mis-quoting Pozzo: “The eyes of the world are a constant quantity.” Never you mind experimental performances. Plunges further thru the blackness overtaking darkness. Away. Travels to the corner of whiteness & open. Back. So, need it be said? & if need be if need be. Can it be said? Calm insertion. And, íf can. There’s always must. Or worse. Can’t. So go ahead on & must it. But, of course, if there’s friction there must. “Am I as much as. . .” The devil’s quiver, heat. “. . .as much as” Teeth marks on the hips & narrowing beyond the rim. A smile. “Am I as much as. . .” Teeth marks under arms. Truth is : it had nothing to do with what she said– If there’s a narrowing there’s heat. If friction, the hips. & then the narrowing. “ . . .as much as” Calm insertion. & what of light? No, not in this sense, no. Hours ago. Sundown. At night, eyes float & the hands at the bottom of a silent white wave & “Am I as much as being seen?”
Ed’s own comments on REVEAL CODES:
“Reveal Codes. . .”. takes off from Beckett’s “love triangle” play called, “Play.” Most of the quoted “refrains” in “Reveal Codes” come from Beckett’s “Play.” Some of them are lines from that play that I’ve invented. Reveal Codes, maybe obviously, comes from an old word processing command (don’t know if it still exists. . .) by which all the normally invisible codes that format a piece of writing (tabs, section breaks, italics, etc.) become visible on the screen. The poem is a political monologue about a “white” person’s terror of being seen. I think “whiteness” as a social and personal (and legal) category stems from , among other things, the effort to create a situation where people can see but not be seen. It’s an illusion. Vision is reciprocal, I think. One can’t see anyone clearly if they can’t “see you back.” The consciousness of “how one is seen” is, in fact, a crucial facet of self-consciousness. Whiteness is, I think, among other things, an effort to avoid that facet of self-consciousness. A kind of corruption of Descartes, “I think I am how I think I am.” Or is that Seuss? Anyway, in “Reveal Codes,” our speaker is now intensely aware of being seen politically, philosophically, and, in this case, by a lover. It’s a close up of how his awareness of being seen alters what he sees, all the way down to the lover’s pupils that constrict when they fall upon the “bright” object, etc.