My heart is bleeding. It bleeds upward and fills
my mouth up with salt. It bleeds because of a city in ruins,
the chair still warm from sister’s body,
because it will all be irreproducible. My heart
bleeds because of baby bear not finding mama bear and it bleeds
to the tips of my fingers like I painted my nails Crimson.
Sometimes my heart bleeds so much I am a raisin.
It bleeds until I am a quivering ragged clot, bleeds at the ending
with the heroine and her sunken cancer eyes, at the ending
with the plaintive flute over smoke-choked killing fields. I’m bleeding
a river of blood right now and it’s wearing a culvert in me for the blood. My heart
rises up in me, becomes the cork of me and I choke on it. I am bleeding
for you and for me and for the tiny babies and the IED-blown
leg. It bleeds because I’m made that way, all filled up with blood,
my sloppy heart a sponge filled with blood to squeeze onto
any circumstance. Because it is mine, it will always bleed.
My heart bled today. It bled onto the streets
and the steps of city hall. It bled in the pizza parlor with the useless jukebox.
I’ve got so much blood to give inside and outside of any milieu.
Even for a bad zoning decision, I’ll bleed so much you’ll be bleeding,
all of us bleeding in and out like it’s breathing,
or kissing, and because it is righteous and terrible and red.
The Lost Generation is a documentary produced by A&E Biography in 2001. It first aired on November 15, 2001.
The Lost Generation, in general, is the post-World War I generation, but specifically a group of U.S. writers who came of age during the war and established their literary reputations in the 1920s. The term stems from a remark made by Gertrude Stein to Ernest Hemingway, “You are all a lost generation.” This generation included artists and writers who came of age during the war such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Olaf Stapledon, Sherwood Anderson, John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Djuna Barnes, Glenway Wescott, Waldo Peirce, Isadora Duncan, Abraham Walkowitz, Ezra Pound, Alan Seeger, Henry Miller, Aldous Huxley, Malcolm Cowley, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Erich Maria Remarque, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and the composers Sergei Prokofiev, Paul Hindemith, George Gershwin and Aaron Copland.
The documentary focuses on American expatriate writers living in Paris in the 1920s,including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Archibald MacLeish, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and John Dos Passos.
Sex is always monstrous. Blood appears in the air next to the body but nobody asks a question about the body. “Please touch me there. More. Oh god.” For a hitchhiker, the problem of the boudoir is transferred to a makeshift, itchy, unsafe space on the verge of a New Mexico highway. It is often the sex of another era, in which the socks and dress shirt/blouse are not necessarily removed.
I hitchhiked in the beginning because it seemed glamorous to me, ultra-American, like a Christian with an entrenched migraine who resorts to brand-name anti-inflammatories when prayer does not do the trick. At first, my encounters on the thoroughfares of your country were quotidian; after all, it is not really hitchhiking to buy a Greyhound ticket three weeks in advance then have a going-away party in a dorm with a banner and balloons. Again, this is an example of departure in another time. As a foreign student on scholarship, it was an ordinary matter to file for an extension for the completion of a thesis on Salman Rushdie’s early works. Nevertheless: “How can we keep tabs on these JI visa holders, who come over here and . . . the university, as an institution, really needs to be more accountable. We need a database and we need a system of checks and balances to make sure any change of address is verified by at least two pieces of information. They need to do their course work and then they need to go home.”
I didn’t want to go home. This is a boring sentence. Perhaps for you Oregon is a calming word, evoking images of blackberry pie, ocean vistas, and the capture of suspected felons. I had never heard the word Oregon before. Like the distance of Scotland from London, it seemed impossibly far. A beautiful hazard: to go and keep going. How can I put this? In England, nobody ever, ever, ever did this. I, who once drove straight to Glasgow with a thermos of instant coffee mixed with milk and sugar, in a dinged-up Datsun Cherry, was considered an anomaly. “Are you demented? Why do you want to drive in a car to bloody Scotland? It’s seven hours on the M1, man!” Though, outwardly, I was wan and somewhat reticent, I . . . no, I was. My sexual experience consisted of lying under an elm tree in Hyde Park at the age of seventeen and being told by an undergraduate student of the London School of Economics that my breasts in that position, from that angle, resembled two fried eggs. We were meeting in a park as per the era. I am sure contemporary Punjabi-British teenagers are fearless individuals, undaunted by the prospect of community censure. Back then we met by the iron-wrought gate on a park bench, on a path built for seventeenth-century promenades. It is always a century. In my century, sex was a field of restraint and intensity unsurpassed by anything except drinking coffee in a foreign country like Scotland or Wales and borrowing my father’s car forever. “Are you out of your bleeding head? Your dad’s going to skin you alive!”
In some sense, this (driving) is the opposite of hitchhiking, in which the interior of the car is always unfamiliar. The day was real in a different way back then, in the way that it sensitized me to risk, a kind of twin to permisson. Two black swans: that day and this one, history and fiction, what I went for and what I really wanted, which I didn’t know until I got there by which time it was impossible to consider the long journey home as either practical or sensible, considering the trouble I was already in and the rain, which had started to come down in a series of reddish sheets; the streetlamps were pink.
On Prince Street, in Glasgow, I saw the sign for American style pizza and went down the steps to the basement café. The tables were coated with green plastic. There was hot tea, which the waitress slung down my gullet with a funnel as I focused my eye on a laminated print of a white, blocky rose with a pink dot at its center. “Charles Rennie Mackintosh,” the waitress, pronouncing “osh” so that it rhymed with horse. “Are you from India?” “Would you like some jam with that scone? I bet they don’t have scones in India, do they?” “More tea? I heard you have a lot of tea, over there, isn’t that right?”
Plan b: The extension of my throat. The euphoria of theft. Other countries with their sayings and beliefs. The original plan, formulated by my father during his morning communte across London: marrying a British-born Hindu Brahmin dentist with brown skin, but not too brown, and rosy cheeks. Note on the mantelpiece, tucked behind the marble figurine of Shiva: what is forthcoming under the original plan? Extraction? What kind of sex is possible on the dentist’s chair late at night for that girl, your girl, who nervously asks for a blanket? She has her socks on. She’s shivering. It is sometimes sex when you touch yourself beneath the proffered blanket clearly not washed between patients, but in this scene the limbs of the dentist’s young Asian bride are rigid and smell faintly of wintergreen-scented nail polish or mouthwash. Dad, “please don’t swallow.” Rinse then spit. Spit then swallow.
I could not go home and so, after a brief visit to the Hill House—Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s art deco home on the Firth of Clyde, where he painted geometric rosebuds forever in a kind of frenzy, as it seemed from the décor—I turned left and kept driving. I drove my car into the Atlantic and kept driving, my chest very tight beneath the surface. It was difficult to feel anything or really to see, and so I can only say that I went into a damaging ocean. This is going. Damaged, washed up on the mythical shores of New Jersey a few days later, my car failed to start. This is later, when the car stopped, and, looking up from my hands, white-knuckled on the steering wheel, I realized that I was okay.
Now I am here, in the future of color. I’m sorry I do not have more to say about the period of submergence that preceded my arrival. I am not interested in it. I do not recall it. I . . . It was only when my car stopped that I realized what I had to do, on my own terms, with my own two legs: get going. Is that how you say it? Get up and go. The destiny of my body as separate from my childhood: I came here to hitchhike. I came here to complete a thing I began in another place. Removing wet pages from my rucksack, I lay them on the shore, securing them with beautiful shells and pebbles. When they dried, I folded them into squares and put them in my pocket, next to my body. Misshapen, exhilarated, I said get. I said go. Get up now and go. “Are you okay?” “Do you need a ride somewhere?” “Let me look in the trunk. I might have something in there. Here you go. You’re shivering! Do you need to go to the hospital? At least let me buy you a cup of coffee.”
A Noiseless Patient Spider
By Walt Whitman
Writer Salman Rushdie speaks with Richard Wolinsky as part of Montalvo Arts Center’s Censorship and Dissent series, 2007.
A fascinating and inspiring conversation between novelist Paulo Coelho and On Being host Krista Tippett. This clip contains the whole unedited interview. From August 4, 2016.
“Paulo Coelho is the author of many books including “The Pilgrimage,” “Veronika Decides to Die” and “The Alchemist.” His forthcoming book out in the fall is “The Spy.” This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Paulo Coelho — The Alchemy of Pilgrimage.”
William S Burroughs narrates his story about Danny, a poor unfortunate junkie who reveals his last remains of selflessness and humanity despite his urgent physical predicament.
The Junky’s Christmas is a story by William S. Burroughs. It appears in the 1989 collection Interzone and on the 1993 album Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales. It was also made into a 1993 short claymation film directed by Nick Donkin and Melodie McDaniel. The film was produced by Francis Ford Coppola and was released by Koch Vision on DVD in North America on Nov. 21, 2006. Burroughs narrates the film and appears in live-action footage at the beginning and end of the film.
Wisconsin Death Trip is a 1999 American black-and-white and color docudrama film written and directed by James Marsh, based on the 1973 book of the same name by Michael Lesy. Original music for the film was composed by DJ Shadow, with original piano music for the closing credits by John Cale.
The film dramatizes the photographs by Charles Van Schaick found by in the early 1970s by Lesy, connected to a series of macabre incidents that took place in Black River Falls, Wisconsin in the late 19th century, and, in part, the film was shot on location there. Marsh makes use of silent black-and-white recreations with voice-over narration by Ian Holm contrasted with contemporary color footage of the area.
Wisconsin Death Trip is a 1973 non-fiction book by Michael Lesy, based on a collection of late 19th century photographs by Jackson County, Wisconsin photographer Charles Van Schaick – mostly taken in the city of Black River Falls – and local news reports from the same period. It emphasizes the harsh aspects of Midwestern rural life under the pressures of crime, disease, mental illness, and urbanization.
A seven and a half minute interview of John Giorno, by Geore Stroumboulopoulos on his CBC show, Strombo. February, 2012