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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 71 - 07/24/02

Matt Valentine
Tonight One Night Only! MV & EE in Heaven
Child of Microtones

Ruby is a child of microtones. And the neighbors downstairs. Her skateboard rolls side to side, from sunrise to dusk, on the crayon-scrap balcony plane, playing. She rubs rainbow scratches of chalk into the sidewalk shapes all along her trajectory. One of 99 children, burned out re-generational, reaching back forty or fifty ought score years, lots of zeroes, like little dirts and scraped knees, multitudinous. A love child. The skateboard to-n-fro as she sings to herself.

I just started communicating with them, the fam, after months of seeing how they sat in the shadows on their balcony right outside my kitchen and bedroom window. Their profiled purse of curves in moonlight. Murmurs and dark peals of laughs and breath. The whispers would lilt towards me. They in turn could see my outlines beyond the kitchen light, how I stomped and ghosted from illumed window to room, my shape as it morphed between the walls. Drinking milk out of the carton or scratching my polka dots, belly pooching out. There was that fear of new neighbors, strangers staring in, once as glimmering and obscure as the far-off stars, now drawn near, like glasses to lip-glints in the moonlight. The way the interior of beer bottles glow and wobble with each pull, galaxy-white and watery in reflecting pools under the sky, sips and smokes in the middle of the night, so intimate, and yet unattainable to me and my floor. Each of us straining to reckon each others' shadows. As it is on the top floor, so it is on the bottom. But finally engaging them in conversation was not mysterious in anyway. Aside from bill talk, landlady slagging, the fate of the neighborhood, etc. we had little in common. Mostly we just swapped drug tales. About smoking Jimson Weed in the core of the forest: "I felt my fingers burning, dude, and slowly I ground my head down to see that after four hours, my cigarette ember had reached the filter and my eternal fingers. By morning, I had dropped it to the forest floor. The campfire talked very slow and slurred. The leaves shattered like glass. It was beautiful, dude."

Or: "That one time I swallered a whole handful of little yellow pills, like stars in my hand. 'Pharmaceutical Hallucinogens'. That's how they were put to me. When you pop pills, you just fuggin' forget everything, man. You wind up at some stranger's house. How did we even get over here? Where? Uh, it's somebody's house, I knew that, but forgetful that it feels like it could be someone's home too. Lived in. That place where language disintegrates into groans, ahhhhs, awkward abandoned laughs, spittle loosed at the lips, more uhhhs. I could see the clocks dancing off of the warbling walls, in tightening twirling arms of black. The space behind the white face of the clock, it's dark in there. How the rugs would breathe, flutter their fibers, bunch up on the bathroom floor and then smooth back out, the tiles sweating as I tried to remain upright myself. A firm grip, so as to hold on tight. To what? Looking down, there was nothing in my hand. I would then fall down, look hard at the floor. Couldn't ascend again for a few more minutes."

Matt and Erika must be my neighbors; they could as well be yours. As they must be normal people, right? Comfortable wherever they may roam and rent space. But they are pro-dust, perhaps dopers even, their fans turned at the open windows so as to blow the particles of the outerspace all over their interior curves and crannies. A fine film coats their every drawing, token, idol, drape, record stack, and old cat dish that might lie about the apartment. How this dust glows in the moonlight though! A radiance about the place, even in the cramped bedroom and out onto the fire escape, each mote whole and beaming. So why clean it up? No dust my broom or dust pan blues for the couple, but the intent staring at the floorboards does bring to mind Skip James' "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues," which they do indeed hum here. Shining like a dime in a hairball. They see how the dust bunnies and sooty clumps all cluster together in every corner and cobweb. Still their chromochord/yayli tambur/Silvertone 6 gently weep. Why clean when the days gather over each other, heavenly gossamer layers, warm and reverberating under it all? Echoes whistle far off, relaxed and at home here.

Perhaps that's what freaked me about walking into the Charalambides House the first time. That at any moment, the missus would hand me a beer, then accidentally loose from her lips a call that would conjure the void in its entirety in the middle of their record-filled living room while I slouched on their couch. Between pulls at my beer, the true presence of the room turning so slow and abyss-eyed black, slowly stirring. From beyond the windows, staring in at me, what do I see?

This is the cosmic conspiracy, that every such house, hovel, rented room, every penthouse or weekend condo even, may contain this intimacy with the infinite, on every Joe Sixpack's block, the portals are loosed, wooed and weaved open with the sound of the drone, every evening at home lined with jewels glimmering, re-generational, the TV disconnected, vibrating in the Inner Living Room Space. Staring deep into the omphalos. To intrude on this to ask for sugar, to knock and stick your head in the door, bumming a Coca-Cola bottle, a bong hit, a cigarette, beer or whatever is to threaten the secret. Maybe that's why each one of these is handmade, to keep it a secret between intimates, mediums. To invite that life over for a drink, a look over the balcony and fire escape out onto the brink of black streets hallowed out below, to at least drop by and say hey to your new neighbors, to do this is to create a new world. Or to get the landlady to kick you out, being druggies or a bunch of weirdos, whatever the excuse must be to break the spell and scatter their possessions to the crosswinds. No matter where Matt and Erika move to next, this dust and rarefied air will forever cling to them. I hope it goes smoothly.

Copyright © 2002 Andy Beta e-mail address

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