A Quote Lost in the German Version

I am happy here. I am happy with processed foods and plastics. I do my face, clean my teeth, and even ride horses. I’ve been tranquility before. I have a flashlight that has suffered a great deal – much more than most flashlights can handle. I found there’s more than isolation at the beginning of the rope. I’ve thought why is that so curious gasping in the rain so sad. I see as a human in the eyes of other animals. I’m neither anatomically incorrect nor do I have a compost pile. I suppose that mankind has forgotten about the necessity of trees to birds. I guess the sun is dark in a cloak of night. I guess a certain baby deer dies young. If I could, I’d like to ask Bosley if there is a specific diet that the Angels follow. I could hug the roots. I dreamt as the peaches already. I live through ordinary acts in the order they are lived in. I achieve the well-rounded beauty. I am happy here. I am happy with processed foods and plastics. I do my face, clean my teeth, and even ride horses.

Episode Summary: Of Birds and Beetles (Season 2: Episode #3)

Momma chews off the part of the umbilical cord that was on the ground. Camilla bends rods and Coco leaves for England. Deidra releases two birds. Lex orders enough Japanese Maples for a whole year. The Scots cultivate their land. Mr. Chen nudges, rolls, and picks up grains. In South Africa, a car comes to a stop. Archer and Churchill pause occasionally to discuss some aspects of the anemometer. Sandra loses the race against her will until the self-sustaining process ends.

On the Dangers of Having Options

A horse is placed in a field between two pails of oats. He stands there reviewing and contemplating his options, is paralyzed by indecision, and starves rather than eats.

The horse’s owner comes upon the horse. He stands there reviewing and contemplating whether the horse is sleeping, in a coma, or dead, is paralyzed by indecision, and eventually starves to death.

The son of the horse’s owner finds his father and the horse in the field. He stands there reviewing and contemplating his options, is paralyzed by indecision over whether he should use his left or right hand to nudge his father’s shoulder to tell if he is sleeping, drunk or dead, and dies from insulin shock.

A vulture flying overhead spies the two dead man and their horse and flies down to the field. He stands there reviewing and contemplating which carcass he should eat first, becomes paralyzed with indecision, and also starves rather than eats.

Another vulture flies down into the field. He stands there knowing he will eat the horse first, but when reviewing and contemplating which eyeball to start with, he is paralyzed with indecision and also starves to death.

A third vulture flies into the field. He stands there reviewing and contemplating where exactly the basis for moral action comes from in the absence of a belief in a god or higher power, is paralyzed by indecision, and also starves to death.

A wild dog comes upon the field. He stands there convinced that he will eat one of the vultures first, but, when reviewing and contemplating which vulture to start with, he is paralyzed by indecision, and starves rather than eats.

A man passing by on the nearby road stops his motorcycle. As he stands their reviewing and contemplating this scene of carnage, he becomes paralyzed with indecision trying to decide whether there has been some kind of toxic gas release or if it was some variant of bubonic plague, and he also starves to death.

Another man on the road, also riding a motorcycle, comes upon the dead man and his motorcycle. He becomes paralyzed with indecision while reviewing and contemplating who has the nicer motorcycle. Before he can starve to death, he is hit by a garbage truck.

The driver of the garbage truck gets out and becomes paralyzed with indecision when reviewing and contemplating his options: a) bury the corpse of the motorcyclist he has just killed in the woods, b) bury both the corpse and the motorcycle of the motorcyclist he has just killed in the woods, but leave the other dead motorcyclist and his motorcycle on the road, because he really had nothing to do with that, c) bury both corpses and both motorcycles in the woods; d) attempt to crush both the corpses and the motorcycles in his trash truck; e) finally act on his secret “necrophilia-curious” nature and bugger the corpses of both motorcyclists before disposing of them via some method to be determined. He also starves to death.

In a very similar field, roughly 600 miles away, a minister begins to set up tents for a Church revival. He stands there looking in his toolbox reviewing and contemplating his options, becomes paralyzed with indecision over which hammer to use, and starves to death.

His wife, while bringing pies to the tent from the car, suddenly realizes she is thirsty. She stands there reviewing and contemplating whether she should drink water straight from the bottle she is holding or go back to the car and pour it into a cup, is paralyzed with indecision, and dies of thirst.

And in a nearby prison, an inmate is given only a small, stale piece of bread for dinner and savors every bite.

The Barest Details of the Case

At home, they had 10 servants and a French chef.

Their home had – and still has, although they are now gone – 22 rooms, nine bedrooms, nine baths, 11 fireplaces, a wine cellar, a trunk room and a walk-in vault.

I do not know a generic term in French for any kind of mass rail transit tickets, let alone one to be used for the trip to Disneyland or one to be used by persons with mobility problems.

Proposal to the Tate Museum for the Interactive Installation Exhibit “Soil Room”

Artist’s Statement

​Our primitive ancestors knew the value of soil and respected the soil.

Yet, as the story of humanity has left its footprints upon history, soil has been trampled underfoot, becoming a mere footnote in the long march when it is fact its very foundation.

Here are the facts on the ground: We may not be made of the soil, but soil has made us.

It is safe to say that we would not be standing (or sitting or lying or crouching) here today without soil; we would be still be some type of fish, as without soil there is no shore upon which our super-primitive ancestors (i.e. those even more primitive than our primitive ancestors who knew the value of soil and respected it) could have place a tentative tentacle, fin, antennae, etc. and quickly perished, somehow beginning the great evolutionary process that has resulted in proposals of exactly this kind.

No. Soil has become a dirty word. Your good name has been soiled. Your reputation has been soiled. You’ve soiled your pants, your diapers, your dress, your futon, your rug, the reputations of those previously believed to be virgins, etc.

Even when taken as a signifier (“soil”) of a material object (“[soil]”), “soil” immediately takes us to one of two bad places – either we are worms endlessly burrowing through the soil only to have the soil pass through us (please see T.F. Burns, “The Soil Traveler”) or we bodies that are entombed within the soil (please see “The Obituaries”). In rare cases, we can imagine ourselves as both (please see K.F. von Braunstein’s, “On The Dead Worm Which Eats Through Its Own Corpse”). ​

Farmers appreciate the soil, but many have bought the farm – driven off their land by foreclosures and the rapaciousness of multinational agribusiness conglomerates, which despite their vast amounts of capital have yet to produce a self-cleaning head of lettuce or a self-dicing tomato. And besides, farmers are not our intended audience – as they are far too busy doing the hard work of farming to frequent the Tate in meaningful numbers.

​”Soil Room” is an interactive installation which attempts to start both a discursive and recursive dialogue (ideal mix: 3 parts discursivity for every 2 parts of recursivity, with a bitter lemon rubbed in sweet bitters) on our concepts of the “soil” by boldly challenging visitors to re-envision “soilness” by navigating (in this case, physically navigating) a recontextualization of the soil into a decontextualized environment itself contextualized by its surroundings.

Proposal for Installation – The Basics

The Tate will give over to me a gallery room approximately 100’x100′ with a ceiling height no less than 25 hands or 25 feet (whichever is larger).

I, with the help of a team of experienced landscapers, will cover the entire surface of the room – floor, walls and ceiling – with a 6″ coating of soil.

Visitors will enter the installation via a 50′ long rounded stone chamber resembling the sides of a stone well. The Tate will be responsible for furnishing this entrance, as I do not do stonework.

Lighting

​The installation will be unlit, so visitors can experience the soil in complete darkness.

Prohibition Against the Sale or Rental of or Provision of Illumination Devices Including Torches and Flashlights

The Tate is hereby prohibited from selling, renting or providing its visitors any illumination devices for use in “Soil Room.” However, if visitors choose to hold aloft any lighters or flashlights they are carrying, this is fine, although in theory, if there were no legal matters to consider, those using illumination devices would be eaten by predators.

Maximum Number of Visitors at Any One Time

There will be no limit on the number of persons allowed to enter the exhibit at any one time (Fire codes are for bureaucrats and Cassandras!).

​Duration of Installation Exhibit

The exhibit will run for one year, allowing “Soil Room” to experience all four seasons. If the show would naturally end in a winter, but the Groundhog has seen his shadow, the exhibit will be extended another 6 weeks. ​

Temperature of “Soil Room”

During the summer season the room is to be cooled to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (I’m an American. I don’t do the Celsius thing. I’m sure you can figure it out.) and during the winter season heated to 70 degrees. During the Fall and Spring the temperature will be whatever the midpoint is between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (I’m an installation artist. Simple math is beneath me.)

Synergistic Possibilities for Future Exhibitions Based on “Soil Room”​

Future Video Installation – “Humans Moving Through Soil”

For a 3-hour period during a random Saturday of each of the four seasons, every visitor entering “Soil Room” will be required to wear a special jumpsuit, along with shoes, a helmet and special gloves (4 fingers mandatory – no mittens!) the effect of which is to cover all surface skin. Video cameras inserted into various places will recorded the motions of visitors wearing their special suits (whether the film will pick up body heat, infrared waves or radiation waves is still TBD). Edited portions of these videos will form a new video installation entitled “Humans Moving Through Soil.” Unedited video will form the 12-hour long “exclusive director’s cut” version.

​[Ammendment to the preceding paragraph: I have consulted with several experts and now understand that filming the video in infrared will not require special suits, therefore…no, on second thought, have them wear the suits anyway.]

[Ammendment to the preceding ammendment: Please ignore the preceding ammendment].

Future Found Sculpture Exhibit – “Things Left on the Soil”

At the end of each day, Tate Museum curatorial personnel – with the assistance of janitorial personnel – will curate the room of any objects left by visitors. These will be further curated into an exhibit showcasing items left behind. Vsitors who identify objects lost while in “Soil Room” will have the option of recovering them by paying the ransom.

Synergistic and Crassly Commercial Possibilities

​The Tate gift museum is encouraged to exploit all available profitable synergistic product off-shoots as the artist believes this will help to further raise “soil consciousness.” The following are merely examples of the possibilities:

The “Soil Room” Dollhouse – a cube with one open face and the rest of all surfaces covered in soil. Sold in the following sizes: Starter, First Promotion, McMansion, Empty Nest, Empty NestEgg (alternatively titled the “Bernie Did What?”).

​Soil – Soil will be sold in the following sizes: Large bucket, Grande Bucket, Tall bucket. Also sold in 20lb., 50lb. and 100lb. bags.

Soil Room T-shirt (standard) – This will be a mass reproduction of a t-shirt worn by the artist as he rolled around in freshly landscaped flower bed.

Soil Room T-shirt (worn by artist) – This will be a t-shirt worn by the artist as he rolled around in freshly landscaped flower bed. Authenticated with artist’s initials hand-cleaned using an instant stain-remover pen.

​​​Closing Statement

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I want to start by saying thank you – thank you for your time. I appreciate it tremendously and I will therefore keep my closing statement mercifully short. Two simple words – not guilty. Why? Two simple words and an acronym – the DNA test. Thank you. That’s all your honor.

Artist’s Closing Statement

I really can’t say it any better than what you just heard from my attorney, Mr. Hobson. But, here’s hoping to see you hopping and bopping in “Soil Room” soon!

The Parable of the Fishermen

about halfway
down a primrose lane

where prime numbers are unheard of
in a rose of horns

throughout the era
of thought

wise men proclaimed
“We’re through with aughts!”

and the area awaited
its parable…

You Can Stop Waiting – The Parable Starts Here

There once were two fishermen who were brothers – each legendary for the bounty of their catches.

One brother poured his earnings into bigger and bigger boats, amassed a fleet of fishing vessels and eventually came to own the finest fleet in the harbor. But when The Great Hurricaine came his entire fleet was destroyed and – this being prior to the invention of commerical property insurance – he had to start over as a lowly ship’s mate.

The other brother stubbornly remained fishing in the small dinghy he started with year after year. When The Great Hurricaine came, his was the first boat smashed into into splinters; yet, he greeted the event with stoical indifference.

Three days after The Great Hurricaine passed he came to the docks alone after dark, long after everyone had gone home to their suppers. He walked to the slip where he’d anchored his boat, stripped down to his skivvies, and threw himself into the harbor.

Good News Comes to Those Who Wait for the Next Line Rather Than Make the Leap That the Leap Was a Final Leap

After a minute he surfaced with a bedazzling jewel-encrusted anchor.

And as much as we’d like to think the story could very well stop before the unfortunate coda – as the storyteller has spent most of his life putting jewels on an anchor – it doesn’t.

The Unfortunate Coda

It turns out that not everyone had gone home to their supper.

Several crafty thieves had been standing in the shadows and witnessed this improbable event. They soon set upon the unfortunate brother, beating him senseless and taking his anchor. This brother could not even land a job as an assistant to a ship’s mate and had to stoop to becoming a meter maid, ticketing horses whose inspection stickers had expired.

And what’s the moral of this story?

The Moral of This Story

No less an authority than Wallace Stevens himself, might say that the moral of this story is that insurance is indeed a godsend (with the secondary lesson being that that the docks are a dangerous place after dark).

William Carlos Williams might say that the primary moral of this story is that the docks of Patterson are a dangerous place after dark, assuming that this story was set in Patterson (which it isn’t) and Patterson had docks (it does not).

But it isn’t it much better to say that the real moral of the story is simply this:

One need not test the tuna to know that fishing is a mercurial business.

Yes. Let us say that and go on adding what jewels we can find to the anchors under our beds – beds preferably located in a location where hurricanes rarely hit and in residences with ample amounts of property and casualty coverage.

Contractually Obligated Sponsorship Mentions

This prose poem was made possible with the generous support of Triple Z Insurance. Triple Z Insurance – the first name in insurance located at the bottom of the last page of the book.

Also made possible by the support of HeavilyArmedBodyguards.com. HeavilyArmedBodyguards.com, we carry and shoot our large caliber weapons so you don’t have to carry and shoot large caliber weapons. Visit us on the web at HeavilyArmedBodyguards.com.

Tightrope Walking While Sleeping

A man sleepwalks off of a high cliff by the ocean dreaming he is walking a tightrope to the top of a volcano in the middle of the sea.

He makes it three miles out – the whole time in midair without a wire or support – and does not start to fall until he is blown awake by the wind.

He has the presence of mind to think “I’ll be fine if can dream of falling upwards,” and closes his eyes to fall asleep.

Seconds later his eyes open wide in panic when he remembers that he is an insomniac – a thought which seals his fate.

And so are we limited by the labels we believe.

The Most Beautiful Mule in the World

All morning, a man pulls a cart containing his mule up a mountain then breaks for lunch.

He gives the mule his sandwich and apple and hitches himself to the oat bag.

After lunch he hops into the cart next to the mule and steers them both down the mountain into the valley with a wooden rudder.

They stop just outside of town where he hitches the mule up to the cart.

He arrives at the warehouse where he meets Mr. Jacobs.

While they’re loading the cart, Mr. Jacobs pats the mule on the nose, grabs a carrot out of one of the sacks and feeds it to her.

He turns to the man and says, “God, if she just ain’t the most beautiful mule I ever seen.”

When they’re outside of town, the man unhitches the mule, ties him behind the cart and proceeds to pull the cart himself up the mountain.

After stopping briefly for light dinner at the top of the mountain, they both follow the cart down the hill – the man guiding it with a special tether.

About a mile from home, the man then hitches up the mule to the cart

On his deathbed, the man tells his grandson “I once had a beautiful mule. When I’d go over the mountain and take her into the valley town, Mr. Jacobs would always say, ‘God, if she’s not the most beautiful mule in the world.'”

[I Fed My Bird a Cat]

I fed my bird a cat.

Then fed my bird another.

I promised my bird that she would eat the cat who ate her mother.

Bowl of Face

Her husband’s face floods with water and empties itself into a bowl.

The wife places the bowl in her freezer.

Once the body starts to turn, she files the proper papers and has it disposed of, but keeps the bowl.

Each morning she takes the bowl out, lets it melt, and then stares into it, hoping to see her husbands face – but she only sees her own reflection.

One day she takes the bowl out with her into the garden.

Halfway through her weeding, she hears the phone ringing indoors and leaves to answer it.

A stray dog comes into the garden and laps up all the water in the bowl.

She returns to find that the dog’s face is now her husband’s face and screams with delight, “Truly! Why if this just isn’t the best of all possible worlds!”

But the dog runs away and she spends the rest of her life searching for this unique animal.