“A normal man given a group photograph of school girls or Girl Scouts and asked to point out the comeliest one will not necessarily choose the nymphet among them. You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy, with a bubble of hot poison in your loins and a super-voluptuous flame permanently aglow in your subtle spine (oh, how you have to cringe and hide!), in order to discern at once, by ineffable signs–the slightly feline outline of a cheekbone, the slenderness of a downy limb, and other indices which despair and shame and tears of tenderness forbid me to tabulate–the little deadly demon among the wholesome children; she stands unrecognized by them and unconscious herself of her fantastic power.”
“Each day he swore was the last. Each night they’d be abroad with the tools in the bed of the old truck. It was a wide world with no shortage of graveyards, and he began to think of the earth as ripe and fecund with the dead, stick a spade anywhere and you’d strike a corpse. Nor was it lost upon him that they were wresting secrets from the millennia. Burial is sacred. It is secret. When the lid is sealed, it is for all time. For all time. The earth with its cargo of dead shuttles through the black dusty void while empires rise out of nothingness, others fade into the same. Days clock into night and back again and the seasons cycle their endless repetition while the dead repose with their clasped hands and their dreamless sleep and it is all the same to them.
A cold detachment had seized him. He was wrenching open the forbidden with a crowbar and each atrocity he was uncovering seemed worse than the last. An old man in a shirt and tie and a gray suitcoat and no more. He was buried a eunuch though he’d not been one in life. A woman who had been buried with these missing or other similar genitalsbetween her thighs. As if he’d alter these helpless folk to his liking. Or was yet some mad geneticist burying his mistakes and starting anew.
Some of the caskets had garbage in them. He recorded all these minutiae with a spacey disbelief. Coke bottles, candy wrappers, half an apple, old newspapers, emptied ashtrays. The ultimate garbage disposal. Someone had just swept up the trash and disposed of it forevermore.
There was a body with no coffin at all laid a foot or so beneath the earth in windings of stained bedsheet. An old woman shared her resting place with a young man who’d had his throat straightrazored, and he lay humped athwart her thighs as they lay arm in arm in eternal debauchery.
At first she had refused but now she was looking too. Cataloguing these forbidden exhibits. From a carnival freakshow wended here from the windy reaches of dementia praecox. He hadn’t known there were perversions this dark, souls this twisted.”
“There, conspicuous in the light of the conflagration, lay the dead body of a woman—the white face turned upward, the hands thrown out and clutched full of grass, the clothing deranged, the long dark hair in tangles and full of clotted blood. The greater part of the forehead was torn away, and from the jagged hole the brain protruded, overflowing the temple, a frothy mass of gray, crowned with clusters of crimson bubbles—the work of a shell.
The child moved his little hands, making wild, uncertain gestures. He uttered a series of inarticulate and indescribable cries—something between the chattering of an ape and the gobbling of a turkey—a startling, soulless, unholy sound, the language of a devil. The child was a deaf mute.
Then he stood motionless, with quivering lips, looking down upon the wreck.”
“He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.”
“I was glad I’d never had any kids on the reservation, because this is what happens. They drive off every road they can, and then, because it hasn’t started hurting yet, whichever one can still walk does, to the nearest light, his face packed with windshield glass.”
“Only that man who has offered up himself entire to the blood of war, who has been to the floor of the pit and seen horror in the round and learned at last that it speaks to his inmost heart, only that man can dance.”
“They were men. They crept upon their hands and knees. They used their hands only, dragging their legs. They used their knees only, their arms hanging idle at their sides. They strove to rise to their feet, but fell prone in the attempt. They did nothing naturally, and nothing alike, save only to advance foot by foot in the same direction. Singly, in pairs and in little groups, they came on through the gloom, some halting now and again while others crept slowly past them, then resuming their movement. They came by dozens and by hundreds; as far on either hand as one could see in the deepening gloom they extended and the black wood behind them appeared to be inexhaustible. The very ground seemed in motion toward the creek. Occasionally one who had paused did not again go on, but lay motionless. He was dead. Some, pausing, made strange gestures with their hands, erected their arms and lowered them again, clasped their heads; spread their palms upward, as men are sometimes seen to do in public prayer.”
are no longer
We don’t study horizons
One, or two, several soldiers
self her generations
‘oh susanna don’t
you cry for me’
on their hats to dry.
Their fingers greasy
“She saw the man’s face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest.”