The Elusive Barbarian

I visited her in my dreams. She had on her mother’s robe. She was not expecting me so, when I arrived, she prompty asked me to leave, but first offered me a cup of tea to have on my way. It was not my custom to pry, so I chose to leave her behind, but the way I came was not the way I would return, and the doors all around us remained shut. This is the sort of spiritual justification for lingering uninvited, and so I stayed, removing my boots at the door, returning the kettle of tea to the fire. She had not expected me to cooperate, so in seeing me take my comfort on the floor beside the fire she poured herself some brandy and took a seat by the door.

“I was not expecting you so early.”

“It’s not nearly so late.”

“That is what I mean.”

“I wouldn’t mean you otherwise.”

“Let’s see where this whole thing goes.”

“Let’s just stay in and absord the winter.”

“Is it snowing outside?”

“It’s nearly fall, it ought to start soon.”

“We’re in such a haze, you and I.”

“Tell me, what did you expect hearing knocks at the door?”

She makes a fuss with her face and finishes her drink, pouring herself another. It is early, sure, but in this life that is so short, why count minutes by the value of an hour, when there are paradigms at stake?

“Do you know what I mean?”

“What is it dear?”

“I’m bored sick of our searching.”

“It’s futile, I know.”


“Real jobs, real people.”

“It’s what she wants me to do!”

“How can you say anything else?”

“I have other games I’d like to play.”

“Sure, surviving the winter.”

“It’s not all that way, really.”

I want these scenes to manifest something greater, in that they do not really offer a paradigm shift or continuity of plot but more along the lines of interiority and vision. Like, an empoerer taking his breakfast by the peasant quarter, only to remind himself of his riches. These words, they long for execution and meaning, but when they are spoken, the abstraction desists, and I wonder why in the hell I take so much comfort with my organs.

She continues with her eyes on me the way an owl teases leaflets from falling. A crow might cry at dawn but I only hear her sing at night, while everyone is asleep and I’m yet to stavre my eyes of sight.

“It’s the loneliness,” she says.”

“Well, it’s something, at least.”

That’s right, it’s mescaline mornings followed by prayer afternoons. Spritual apocaplypse, does that make sense? The keen stalwart of another uncontested rebellion sleeping in an urban temple. But who builds these towers with their hands with cranes and Nepalese at their disposal? That is the function of our four roofs, these nine walls, her dragging robe, my insistent burning of hashish. Pretty ordinary, you think, until you pour me a cup of tea and in my accepting hand you notice the lines of my blood vessels, the torment of my veins apparent. Sure, I’ve had a touch of his syringe before leaving the school, but that was years ago, when still I could name the Buddhist verses like a dog sniffs the prairie of foxes. Nothing eludes me but this bore, whose legs ruminate our condition, shining under thin lighting, escaping the drudgery of our prior lives. I smoke what she hands me because in her destitute condition she is only offering what she can, and our prayers never cease so early in the morning but who prays so early before noon, unless one is accustomed to the blazing hour of sunrise and the feeling everything will remain content. Like this, she digs another wound, like that, she pries another soul. I am mistaken for arriving, yet remaining at her cost. Her junk diffuses our condition. Our prayers cease, her eyelids drape over her eyes, leaving her a remnant of a wasteland, slouched along the sofa, toes creeping to my mouth.

“Some coffee?”

She speaks over the shuffling of two toes in my mouth, gorging. I nod my head. Coffee at this hour will do me tricks I live for. I remove her foot from my mouth.

“What is like out there,” she asks.

“Like nothing we’ve ever seen.”

“Is it worth a venture?”

“Worth clawing at the walls, if that’s what you mean.”

“So many rebels.”

“So many refugees.”

“What happened to our comfort?”

“Mescaline and RPGs.”

“Sad, really.”

“I dreamt of cokorec sandwiches and doner kebabs.”

“What else?”

“Lost my car, my keys, to a parking servant. Rode a scooter on the highway. Traded lingerie for answers to an exam. Searched the internet for an escort. Doping under the bridge. Mother’s eyes, mother’s lips. Her stare, cruel, judgmental. An old rhymist colored lines on my bandana. You see what I mean?”



“What lacks my dearest?”

“Love, sex, infatuation, the mountains, revolution, praise, almighty healing, singing Surah Yasin, oiling her back, her ankles, biting her neck, screaming Whitman and Lao Tzu in the shower. Publications! A free press! A model society! Hunting corruption by the heel, dragging idolaters to prison. Educating the young, again, society at its worth.”

“We’ll have a go.”

“Will we?”

“In years gone by.”

“And opium?”

“Comes with freedom. If the Bastard has any.”

“He’s an artifact of Turin.”

“Won’t budge?”

“Sell him an orgy.”

“Mmm.” She looks off into the distance, mesmerized by the thought of herself centuries later. “Renegades, scrambling the effeminate.” She looks into my eyes. “Victims of the ineptitude of government.”

“Yes, somewhat.”

“Don’t resign.”

“What are we waiting for?”

“Something extraordinary!”


“Draped in Joshua’s cloak.”

“Adorned in the envy of the masses.”

She bores, looks at her watch, reads the time. The electricity cuts, the stove lets out a howl. Her legs bend behind her knees, feet in hands. She rubs herself smoothly, softly. “The Bastard better show soon, he’s running late, as usual.”

“Anything for the road?”

“Isn’t there always?”

“Fuck…” I leave. She hands me some hash. Where are you? I wander through the forest, a road not taken in my dreams, but staged some centuries later, biting into bread and toast, jam and butter spread. If I had labne I would, but, it’s barely midsummer, we’re delicately dreaming.

He passes over lines of pines and cherry trees. Do they grow together? They must. Here anything grows that is planted. It is not a farm. There are no ranches. He leaves the thick of a forest but he needs only to fall some steps downward, passing lightly over shards of shattered glass, dipping his heels between irrigation tunnels, and the main road opens, vast. The bush of Africa disappears, the romance of Germanic woods forgotten. Suddenly, an urban jungle, the temple left behind. Does she man the temple? If she can do what men have done.

He passes by a checkpoint, but the silence is foreboding. Maybe of some nature, or some disaster yet to come. There is nightfall, too early. There is war, too late. There are tragedies of the Greeks, but those are social and obstructed. Here, Quranic quagmire, foolish interventions, civil disassociation, prowess of exteriority imagined. He loses imagination fumbling for his papers.

“Where are you going?”

“Must we do this every time?”

“Is there a problem?”

“It’s just, I’m bored of this harassment.”

“It’s for your own good.”

“Is it? Well, I suppose the bombings are as well!”

He hands him his papers, asks him to leave, kindly, noting that he is young and apathetic and not really a threat, to anything. If he were a threat to himself, he would be more threatening, yet less threatening to others, but more enticing to those who know him, but not those who come a long way, seeking asylum as refugees. If he could muster up the abstractions necessary to propagate ideas amongst the masses, he would be a threat, but his relation to the masses constitutes an eyesore, nothing more. He does not carry weapons, of material or ideology. He does not carry pamphlets decrying the death of anarchy. He sees the invisible, in his mind, but reflects the visible in his dreams, somehow coming to life completely orthodox when the pains of living pure cost him little more than a smoke.

How he moves from this place to that is still a mystery. He does not watch the sun rise or set with any interest, but always seems to be there, watching others meditate, noting their enchantment to the real. What is natural, he obsesses, what is unnatural he defends. Somehow, this is his poetry, blurring the lines of freedom. Liberty compounding inner mischief. At least, this is what he thinks, splurging on his fantasies.


He turns around. More soldiers manning a checkpoint.

“What is it?”

“You cannot go this way.”

“But this way leads nowhere!”


“There is nothing there!”

“I understand, but…”

“There is nothing of any value whatsoever!”

“It is for your own good.”

He turns. Where to now?

The sacrifice.

















The Port of Ports is an unspeakable illusion.

The Port of Ports is an illustrious construction. I want to subjugate the entire landscape to my theories on the abstract and the conformed, as they cohabit a sort of conflict zone, an interior washing away with tertiary significance, because that is all it is, and that is all we are, you and I, and the others sleeping near escort housing, brothel chambers, social quarter dams. To be secular is to be damned. But what good is the contrary? Nothing, it makes of us liars and thieves. Not thieving, in that we steal, because even a loaf of bread costs your soul an encounter with karmic derision. But what you pay in gold you carry in weight, that is the relation between the two, and why I am always apt to repeat it. The same with favela seekers from the West. They carry pamphlets and declarations in their knapsacks, and that is all well and good, until one of them crosses the border with too much other rubbish, like daggers of rhinoceros horns made off the junction at Sana’a. Are you used to it, bargaining for freedom with the religious order?

These comedies are my rite of passage, towards renewal, and San Francisco, city of gold, Berlin, the ancient theater houses near checkpoint Charlie, or Kreuzberg, where all the other heads live, daring machines to fulfill their promise of cooperation. Democracy! Entertainment! Say it again! We are hurdling past winter solstice! Announcement!

















These are such testing times, really. Why, if we have the means to kill, why don’t we employ the tactic with more vitality, vigor? I am not going to mention the name, but you all know where God forms his alliances, and where he does not, and when he capitalizes his own name, he runs amuck in the politics of children. Children! I nearly forgot. The last thing we need is an apocalypse, lest we ruin what these children have already lost, a future, that is. And, if I am to be so much more grateful, and thankful for your coming, hand me over your papers, so that we can both send wishes to the aggrieved, without further delay.

He wondered if he might be sold to slavery. Why not? He had nothing but the clothes on his back, and having only recently arrived at the conclusion that his life was of no inherent value, he could foresee no reason to remain locked in an unwavering silence to the Senator. If he could not be dismantled by his very own constituents, then what purpose did he serve?

It would be greatly freeing to be a slave, performing the tasks of others for no reward or compensation, beaten by broomsticks and clubs, sleeping like a dog in a kennel, drinking water from a tin bowl and eating shit scraped off farm animal hooves. It would be even more pleasing to be hung for some outrageous gesture, softening these prairie winds in the dystopic October night, preceding our downfall,, receding grace like the hairline of a skinned lamb.

Since his return nothing had changed for the better, only worsening at incremental stages of despair. And men gathered for morning work no longer showed, hiding from the authorities for fear of inspection, or detention in some camp, settled off the low lying bridge that runs outside the city walls, stepping over the highway like a moat, delivering goods and foot soldiers at municipal requests.

I am hungry, and bored. All I have are pages, unwound to fascinate my mind but they leave me ruthless in apathy. Six whole baskets of molasses cookies and sour grapes, traded for a collection of poetry, has got me nowhere. I want a smoke and a peace pipe, cognac from the Muse’s lips, spliffs from the Juggler’s hands. I am famished with words. The Acrobat traded his penniless virtue for a craft. He sits silent waiting for some microscopic entirety to unfold. And me? Left wishing, dreaming, days brooding, nights scavenging sex by whistlers and faggots.