The following pieces are part of a larger body of work that is forthcoming by Difalco.
The blinded glass at midnight and the eye between slats spying someone on the lawn in a Pierrot costume: this is how we begin.
A music box bumped by the elbow tinkles a delicate tune that summons childhood. The painted ballerina turns.
The Pierrot on the lawn drags a sack.
The calendar pumpkin tells you a story.
Everyone feels good about the plans for confections instead of fruits and vegetables. A carrot would thwart good showing and generosity. Living blinded makes it hard to compromise, even in tiny matters. One gives as one sees fit. No one can regulate the spirit.
“Are you sleepwalking again?”
“I am not. Someone lurks.”
“Perhaps the medication has triggered hallucinations.”
“I’m not hallucinating.”
“I will not look.”
“The evidence, sincerely.”
“This is getting long.”
The only thing getting long is the shadow of the Pierrot, creeping closer by the moment to the bungalow, closer and closer.
“I’ll warm you some milk.”
“I’d prefer a blunderbuss.”
“Always the comedian.”
I glance at the calendar pumpkin. Pumpkins do not move me.
The Pierrot draws close to the window. His eye aligns with mine through the slats.
“I’ve made contact.”
“It’s the medication, trust me.”
The gurgling in the kitchen preceded the burnt aroma, and the supple flowering of consciousness. A man sat by a window, neither happy nor sad. He contemplated the world outside the dirty window.
“Smells good. You slept?”
“Yeah, fighting cats kept me up. You must have heard them.”
“It’s funny, just before you—"
“Just before I what?”
A jet plane thundered in the sky. People were traveling. And if he thought of them, was it possible they thought of him?
“Dreaming . . .”
“I was dreaming about this wall, trying to climb it. But I was on a white horse.”
“You were trying to climb the wall with the horse?”
“Yeah, strange. The horse talked.”
“Like Mr. Ed?”
“Like Mr. Ed?”
The reference drifted into the dust of morning, swirling over the table and illuminated by the weak light pouring in through the window. The jet plane roared in the distance.
I held up the marionette. It was a cool thing, dressed in a seneschal’s red with a happy little red-cheeked face. I called it Toby. It looked like a Toby. I liked how disjointed Toby could be if I slackened the strings. I could also make Toby dance and do acrobatics I could not do myself. I liked the marionette. I really liked letting it flop around.
“You offend me sometimes.”
“I won’t debate you.”
“Look at my face.”
“I have looked at your face.”
“Don’t you see how you’re hurting me?”
This may be how some people’s mornings unfold, but I live a more sanguine, that is to say, saner existence. Ridicule me for my peccadillos, but show me someone free of them and I will bow. Show me someone certain they will live forever and I will nod. Show me someone who believes the Earth is flat and I will point to the horizon.
“What do you make of climate-change deniers?”
“They are fatuous.”
“I come from a good tree.”
“Toby, babe, we all come from good trees.”
You can’t believe everything you hear these days. People make up stories and get other people to believe their made up stories. I actually saw a UFO once. I was with Nancy Quinn on her back deck, enjoying a warm August evening with the moon almost full, waiting for the fireworks planned on the waterfront for midnight. You could see the lake from Nancy’s deck, so it promised to be a fine show.
“That orb is moving fast.”
“Looks like a light being shone from below.”
“Nah, it’s up there. Really moving fast. Oh, look it ducked behind the moon.”
“Behind the moon?”
“There it goes again.”
We watched it for an hour. Then Nancy said she wasn’t feeling well. She had a headache.
“What about the fireworks?”
“Think we’ve seen enough for one night.”
“Are you breaking up with me?”
Nancy didn’t say anything. The rictus twisting her lips and the distance in her eyes said it all.
An oversized diptych stood in the middle of the loft. The figure depicted on one of its panels bore an uncanny resemblance to Saddam Hussein.
“Think you could subtract the ‘stache?”
“It’s important, symbolically speaking.”
“And the army-green, why not tone it down some?”
“He’s wearing fatigues.”
“Why fatigues? Is he military?”
“That’s the enigma. We don’t know.”
The artist who shared the loft with me kept a bucket full of crushed glass. Now and then he dipped his right hand into it. The hand bled, but not as bad as one would have thought, or hoped.
“It steals my hand,” he said. “My right hand is the artist, not I.”
“Sort of like a Bruce Lee thing.”
“I disagree, but tell me, why are you dissecting the diptych?”
“Don’t really want to say. But the right panel needs work.”
The left panel looked like Soviet-era propaganda, with a helmeted proletariat and a farm girl from a collective striding into unseen glory.
“I see you’re impressed at least with the left.”
“I did not say that.”
“You’re too critical.”
“I’m going to bed.”
I slept in a tent-like structure in the corner of the loft. Through a tapered hole at the top of the tent I could look up at the tin ceiling, cut off from roommates and politics and aesthetics and all other distractions and concentrate on its dull shine. In this way, my eyes would tire and I would effortlessly drift off to sleep.