by Kevin Johnson Murillo
The Beggar The Giver
“The fact of the matter is I have nothing to offer you, my pockets are empty, my shirt coat is empty, my stomach is empty. If I had anything to offer you, I’d give it away freely without a moment’s hesitation. I’ve never been one to cling to things. Everything I have is in my head. I rummage about in there and grant you droppings, this I can do, freely, but something tells me you won’t want them. It makes this whole gesture sterile, then, to give and for others not to receive, but that’s beside the point, it’s never discouraged me to take note of the fact that all I am is worth less than shit to busy passersby, as long as I have the opportunity to rummage and then display. These are my wares, laid out bare on this blanket. There’re all free for the taking, anyone can grab them and take them with them to faraway corners of the city or beyond, they are to be taken. If left where they are on the blanket. No one bothers, and that’s just as well because, as I’ve made clear, as far as I can tell, it makes no difference, the point is they exist and here they are and if that’s not enough for you, then fine.”
The beggar paced back and forth beside the blanket. All there was on it was the odd coin from bewildered bystanders who pitied his destitution, nay, madness, a swarm of sound that bubbled forth continuously teetering on the most inconsequential nothing.
Someone I Never Knew
There are, undoubtably, many different ways to get to know a person. You can, as I did, admire them from afar for ages and never say a word to them. You can work together for a common cause and receive them by osmosis. You can befriend, bewitch them—but as I’ve already pointed out, my case was the former, I never talked to them. I watched them in poetry class from behind and took note of their changing facial expressions depending on who they talked to. I watched them leave, taciturn, a bundle of textbooks under one arm. I watched them sitting listless from above, a gaze as empty as ice. I don’t think they ever noticed me watching them; at least I didn’t notice them notice me watching them. They were, for the most part, unremarkable, but still there was something about them that brought me back to check up on them. How were they doing? Were they drinking enough water? Were they content? There was nothing (explicitly) sexual about my fascination. A better word, then, would be curiosity. They were an anomaly, as all human beings are, but there was something about their chunky face, their stilted walk or desperate attempts at appeasement that kept bringing me back. Until one day they stopped coming to class. Then the scenario changed; I wasn’t dealing with them anymore but with their absence. At first I told myself they’d be back any day now, that nothing had changed. With acceptance I had to deal with their memory. When I felt their attraction I worked to reconstruct their living image in my head, the futile exercise I’m partaking in now. Eventually you forget. Then all you have is the hole in your head that used to contain them. Eventually you forget that too and your body takes care to fill in that space.
Seer Seas Still
So soon so see, all that’s left is to write. I’ve seen all there is to be seen. I’ve been to the ocean. I saw the dolphins swimming in complex formations. I’ve seen wrinkly faces, weathered, tattered. I’ve seen hands that have seen too many days. I’ve seen rambunctious children chase each other around and around in a circle. I’ve seen water spiral on its way down a drain. I’ve seen fingers curl up like talons. I’ve seen empty hospital beds. I’ve seen automated motor cars take people safely to their destination. I’ve seen the pointlessness of arrival. I’ve seen dew drip off leaves in the early morning, among other things. I’ve witnessed all this and I fear there’s nothing left to be seen. This isn’t definitive. I know I could go outside tomorrow and come across some strange animal I never saw before, say a cross between a hyena and a bear, but that’s too unlikely. Probably I am correct and there’s nothing left to see. Which means I must be dead. If there’s nothing left to see. But that’s where writing comes in. There might in fact be nothing left to see, but there are still a great many things to be recorded, registered, filed away. I know that sounds awfully tedious, but the prospect of doing so now seems less tedious than living—now that I’m dead. What is this if not an extensive act of registering what was once seen with the aid of this, our great compliment of sight, language? I wonder, in my deadness, whether or not one might want to consider this act of registering with words a form of seeing as well (?), in which case it might be preferable to say that I am not dead but dying. Every word wrings out another possible sight from the (apparently) endless possible configurations of light and shadow. How does this compare to dolphins? I find it a lot more engaging to die this way, dispelling the magic of this yarn of clay that comes undone as we roll on and transfigure, disfigure, relocate with language. Maybe I’ll never die! The prospect never sounded so sweet. Before I embarked on this act of writing down, I must admit I had already lost what little faith I had left in the business of living, though, I suppose, as deep as I am in this aktion, that what I had lost faith in could more accurately be described as the action of watching, so I extracted my eyes and replaced them with a tongue (metaphorically speaking, of course). And now I find that limits are illusory in this act of locution which actually has so very little to do with foresight, hindsight, or any other kind of seeing. In doing I’m not watching, I’m simply being, am being, and insofar as I am I suppose I’m awfully far away from death, aren’t I? Which is not-being, the negation of that which I am when I’m talking or writing down thoughts, whichever one it is. And I do find that I’m farther, farther still than I ever was from the ocean. I must admit that it was a real special treat for me, that, to bear witness to foamy water, crests of waves, chipped seashells, the marks our feet left on wet sand (I was not alone then), the pearls. That was something(s) to behold. On the second day it wasn’t so drastic. On the third day I was bored, though I never ceased to admire the “majesty” of that (apparently) endless expanse of salty salty water. If only I could have swum to the other side, but I didn’t know how to swim nor did I have any interest in learning. I show an interest in action now, in writing—to the extent one can call this an action—, but, at the time, the only action I cared about—also dubious—was seeing. I saw what had to be seen and then took leave of it. When there was nothing more to be seen, it was as if that panorama had died to me, as I am dead to the world now that I’ve seen it all and all I can do is scream and hope desperately for this to sustain me indefinitely. For how long will this be necessary? It all depends on my limb(it)s, when will they grow numb, when will they be unmoving, supposing this isn’t a trick of my mind from the lack of stimulation in the death of darkness or the darkness of death: Ʉncontrollable.