I. Boston, the tongue, curls in New Hampshire, the somehow adjectivized lozenge, which is somehow bereft of wind, and is somehow smaller than Rhode Island, the doorless apartment, which ransoms prized gusts from its inside. The letters and exclamation points on the ransom note: teeth-torn from the newspaper, Maine. Maryland and Delaware aren’t anywhere. Florida, the shaven neck, pulls handfuls of Diet Coke from the Atlantic to wash its car, Miami, using Gainsville, its chamois.
California, the war, is soon to be made a well; shallow and celluloid-sodden and beaten and filled with daily rain. Sacramento, the librarian, digs a tunnel to Spokane, the archive. When no one is watching, the Royal We, Pennsylvania, thrusts diets on unsuspecting pets. Maryland and Delaware slink into view from behind the couch (Ohio) and claw at Fancy Feast (or Texas), which secedes waterways in fear, and when that no one who isn’t watching doesn’t notice, Arizona jigsaw-puzzle-pieces out of the union and materializes in the Gulf of Mexico, spit just north-west of Cuba from the fissured cock, AKA Washington D.C., who’s the sole heir of flyable sky.
Brightest minds were flown in from the all corners of the broken union to Dulles International, then ferried across one of many new rivers to Queen-wave at our big, sedentary, sinecurine, sitting Honest Abe, and whisked to labs (near where the UFOs and Jimmy Hoffa and secret Sarcophagi are vacuum-sealed) to construct and actualize the capitol’s ability to hover around in knots of American cumuli high above the forty-eight piece excreta of a shaking, majorly pissed-off planet. Maryland and Delaware flop on their backs and play with fuzzy strings hanging from the mitten, Michigan.
We (Pennsylvania) seize and clobber and skip-rope triumphant. The Earthquake pulls state lines about like taffy. Clownboys in Kansas side with drowned Texas. It’s a godawful mess and not much fun, except for a few blocs that—We need to get started. Get on with it.
Right, here we go.
The ten years which pass are the “It Years,” the hot-stuff years, the glitzy persecution. The salad decade. Things are, now, different, but somehow more the same. Sameness amplified. A normality known before the quake subsequently exercised; all bumpy with nutso-muscles. Where once the union of states was known and felt, and felt and known, and understood though questioned, and cheapened and strengthened, now the heretical disunion, releasing the continent into forty-eight exact parts, has learned an awkward Hawaiin lesson wearing a holey, stretching sweater of mucho gravitas, in fear and pride (same shit), each chunk moving through the steps of chopped-continent islandic grief. Air-Force Forty-Eight climbs sky miles into ravels of altocumuli. Hurry up, map man.
Picture this. A supreme being-type-person takes the U.S., sets it on a chopping board, and Ginsus the still-spinning bleached asshole of The Galaxy into many digitated spots of slick, slippery, topological withdrawal. The galaxy’s mother, who is not the supreme being-type-person, wisely aborts. The supreme-being-type-person he-man woman-hater schleps his way down a galactic being-mover, (akin to an airport’s people-mover) pinches his love-handles, digs around in his nose while pulling his underpants from his crack, smells his fingers, tastes his digits, and rescues the union. The union, despite the shit-stench, can’t complain.
Anything to survive.
Deftly tearing around the stars sears a stabbing galactic mop, which swabs the disjointed union clean of pederasts, pedophiles, and killers of children and death.
Death is gone, dead. Or, really, better put, death has been made different and requires a new definition. Death=Methusalistic Boredom.
Mexico and Canada are, for the most part, glad we’re gone. Some ferry south or north from untouched countries to visit relatives, but as each year is turned like a page in a book being slow-roasted over a shitfire, familial relations start to stink and the deunionised citizens of all kinds of American places lose their heart to do anything but mow their bronzing lawns and make new angry babies, trying and failing to count upwards the population cuz of the idiots who tried to escape across widening inlets that are the new waterlogged body-yards, the new boundary lines between this or that new, cramped, fool nation.
Ten years is a long time. Time enough for all iterations of those (those) periods of transition to occur. One year is Medieval, another Renaissance, go through it, you get it, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Industrial. But the union never gets to modernity. Can’t happen. The simulacra are too necessary. All air-transport suspended indefinitely. I try hard to remember these shifts (no pun intended) but it’s tough when you’re like me and you exercise your brain as much as you do your body.
The girls at my gym (Indianapolis) know to wipe their seats (Stockdale, Scottsdale, Porterville, Buttonwillow, Bakersfield). That there map man you see was a cartographer (‘is what we’re called) and boy, was he a man, and boy, was he tired. Like the bootstraps of this great nation (busted seams and shredded civic stitches) I pulled myself up and built a business out of this pants-shitted mess. Trousers, for the limeys, who are to be respected.
England wants us back.
It would've been one of one nights where drawings of Jumanji priests could know creation, inhabit the newly renovated Couch-Surfer gallery stationed east of the Mississip (it’s just broader) in those apotropaically symmetrical groupings M4Fers lodge Yelp complaints about e.g. motel beds with the sheets pulled back in cum petrification and silverfish nesting and moving toward a cooling meatball sub.
Keep your grubby limbs off you cunt-buggers!
But even then, I don’t know quite what to say. The only possibility is you’ve made it to other side, so most of this is going to be redundant. Boring. But there are things you might not know. For instance, did you know that deep in the Black Hills, Roosevelt and Lincoln sword-fought while Jefferson, like he always wished he could, finally fucked Washington in his bleeding, loving-it, fine-granite alimentary canal? That Mount Rushmore raped itself into Heaven, past the gate.
The gate, opaline snarl of pipe cleaners topped with milky skewers. The impaled bodies and decapitated heads were and still are indiscernible from the escalator. But as the corporeal, salvaged newcomers approach the gate, they’re distracted from their prepared-note index cards, affronted by the harpooned spirits of Wal-Mart greeters as these fresh off the celestial escalator people prepare to meet their maker.
There’re trails of blue and yellow cue cards, red and blue-lined, simply all over the steamy space between the escalator and the gate.
Heaven’s changing and nobody likes it. And was it changing then or now? Now and then things change ten years before and presently. This rule is a stale bread stick, underbaked, left in a powder-blue unlocked safe on the top floor of Chicago, the Executive Suite.
C.I.A. reps nosedive Rez's recruiting glasslayers. Injecting anaclitic hormones in-between recruits' toes after they’re chloroformed in hotel beds and behind hotel shower-curtains. The rest of the time sleeping and showering and awaiting previously promised and never delivered "physicals."
If you headed out east (far east) you could find the iron, windowless tollbooths, pocket change glinting off their sides, stuck in tar-paint. As you may remember, drivers were asked to throw their toll against the sticky, honey bitter boxes.
Union Pacifics careened off their greasy tracks through the late 40's, hellzapoppin' a disturbing number of Buicks into Oklahomatic pines, then locomotioning westwardly, bilging every boat-shaped sushi spot in Amarillo.
Traincrashes were American myth gold long before Aztecs even bothered to think to draw up proto-rail-plans. But with Murrow speculating as to train-burrowing–saying maybe the conductors were AWOL, but maybe they weren’t–even New Mexicans stayed indoors and off the crispate glass of the slunking 66 while coal charged grills chomped desert dirt, steam-whistlin’: next stop, center Earth.
Patrick Benjamin lives and writes near Los Angeles, California. He is a regular contributor for Trop and is the senior associate editor for Black Clock.