Our Compass Spins, The Wilderness Remains

By Jack T. Tumult


           The stars, they shine along the contours of the silver serpent; he hisses and the sky fills with slumping clouds that resemble domestic violence after three days of swelling, and I am sitting here drinking blood, drinking the night, drinking the past, drinking memory and I know that the madness will soon forgive me but I want it to last, as long as I can write the next chapter in the memoir that’s been brewing for nearly five years now: outlasting addiction, outlasting ambivalence, outlasting the anger that I had for her for so long after leaving me here in these uncomfortable arms and fingers and other limbs like golden lions at an estate sale. The prices are low. The country is in a recession. But all the merchandize must go.

        And after all the women I’ve had, I was only grateful when I fucked you. Disappeared with you. I don’t want to hear how you’ve laid with them, but it’s not because it bothers me to think of them atop of you, inside of you, it simply hurts my ego to think that any of them could fuck you better. Any fantasy you wanted to reveal to me I would have made come true, because it was never about me. After finding you, you were the miracle I wanted to preserve. You were the first and only one that I found. This dying city must be running out.  

        But, then again, you know how truth turns to abandon. How being honest eventually breaks you down, makes you weaker, vulnerable. You know how that particular criminal quakes as soon as she crosses her front door. And my brother never died.

        There’s nothing in the fridge to cook, so I’ll just boil some water for the Nambarrie that my friend sentimentally smuggled out of Glasgow.

        I heard a gauge go off and a streetlight crying blind glass outside. But there wasn’t anyone to kill tonight and so I could relax and put my slippers on, pour myself a cup of tea, and watch as another day passes by unremarkable.

        And since she still ends her regrets with the words “I love you”, I am still a prisoner of war, lifting my hands with no devotion left, for no reason at all.

        There was some compassion left, but a lack of common sense. I watched the people pixelate and their form slowly expand and constrict as though I was trying to force a hallucination down after a trip that’s taken far too long. I can barely comprehend what’s real and what’s really talking to me. But I know that the television is in color and there’s a newscaster that’s telling me about some new bit of ultraviolent performance art displayed in some forgotten Lower East Side neighborhood that the Latin Kings expropriated long ago. Soon enough there’ll be a new mural on a wall, with flowers, candles, and prayer-beads hugging at the legs like a child skittish of her bedtime.

        But this whole process of waiting is like communion for the starved. Her ghost and I will reach our dissensus by morning and I’ll finally go to sleep. As always I’ll wake and find nothing I’m capable of doing. It won’t be the hangover, nor some streaky apathy that’s been rooted in, but rather an acknowledgment of an inability to write without her. It will pass. And I will make believe. And I will do the Anthony Patch like a terminal dance or a penny stock and rest indifferent in my easy-chair and watch people pass by me with a forced loathing.

        No nightmare with a cigar, he’s picking them out at the discount smoke shop on Greenwich Ave. where I used to buy my pixie sticks as a kid. The cold and the DVT swelled his legs purple as though he’s been sleeping outside like a hungry schizophrenic. He’s got some time to kill before our scheduled visit. I know he’s going to go for the cheap Cohiba; my company is not regal enough to waste a better import. We find what we need and then we try to take it, instead of trying to earn it.

        The silent queen was you, so were the women in the other pieces – even if they started off as other lovers, caricatures, plaintiffs, doters, jesters, tasters, critics (they fuck like bad editors), and others like a weeklong fever in an enemy’s bed.

        And nothing comes of this consciousness. I was always a better writer than Joyce, like I shot better coke than Siggy. What does the FDA say about creation, and pygmalionism, and this, and that time that the flowers cost $134, and that time when there was nothing before we met, and tears brought about by a shitty vignette, and that time that my brother died or I pretended that he did, because I was a desperate bootlegger of the dramatic, I needed something new to write, except all I had was fourteen hour days and the paranoid hustle; we controlled all the blocks from 8th street to 23rd on the west side, too many cops on the east, and all those times you saw me sick, and I was, and you held me and bluffed an understanding, bluffed compassion because the years taught you well, and that time that Juan gave me the burner to put fear into that Bay Ridge junkie that ran up a debt, and when I told you, you told me it wasn’t my fault, and then we watched that French film where Romain Duris ran around as an adorable wordsmith and we ate bad fried chicken sandwiches delivered from the spot down the block from your parents’ apartment, and then I slipped myself a vicodin so I could sleep, and I closed my eyes while you told me that you worried about how much I smoked and I said that I didn’t mind, and I said “goodnight, my little darling” – because there was nothing else to do. Somehow it all seemed vaguely illegal.  

        Madness like ain’t nothing pure you’ve ever seen. Fuck a double negative and any fragmented sentences – someone needs to write me a check for being so loyal to the craft, all this time. Even if it’s misunderstood: like the flow, or the connection – but trust me, the thread exists and it all fits where it should.

        The stars, they shine along the neck of the night, graceful as pearls passed down after the death of a matriarch, and I am sitting here drinking blood, drinking the coming dawn, drinking the past, drinking memory and I know that the madness will soon forgive me but I want it to last, as long as I can still have time to put the pen down when it’s all done: when I’ve gotten it all out, the lonesome mornings, the dead friends, the sad love, the time when I wanted her to smile and look back at me when I was leaving. The prices are low. The country is resilient. All this merchandize must go.


Jack is a damned writer floating through the streets of NYC, and sometimes you can catch him performing poetry throughout different venues in the city like a drunken ghost; a few sweet, a few bombastic lines, and then he disappears into the ether. You can check out his work on his site, a short film he wrote,  and updates about future readings on Facebook

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