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The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover. (A Novel of Mass Surveillance).

“People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying.”

— Edward Snowden

“…angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…”

— Allen Gisberg

— Howl

 

The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover

(Overture)

 

Come metropolis soldiers, where I am spread against the sky like a prisoner in your slinky cuffs of discipline. Let us go see hummingbird moths buzz making twilight a live wire of interrogation…oh, do not ask, what does he mean; what does it mean…in the secret womb, the special agents come and the addicted informants go, saying: I’m held together by crazy glue, aren’t you…

Come metropolis soldiers, another date with that cliché history; with larval shadows and ideas, unmade…in the secret womb, the special agents come and go, saying: I’m held together by crazy glue, aren’t you…

In a roach-heavy hotel I passed my memory and broke myself as a plate in a sink and began to dare to eat my mind as a ripening peach…oh, they shall say – whisper-whisper – there he goes, Ulysses pretending to be a drag queen (again: just another hash-baby who doesn’t want to lay siege to Troy). Oh, do not ask, what does he mean; what does it mean…in the secret womb the special agents come, and go, saying: I’m held together by crazy glue, how ‘bout you…

Now, a ragged informant looking for a gossip fix buzzes in my vein – if we squeeze the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover like an accordion, will he cum spraying spy-spittle-seed, or will he wheeze and rise like a torn blow-up doll…

Special Agent: Explain the network!?!

“I am not Prince Hamlet…a bit obtuse; at times, indeed, almost ridiculous – Almost, at times the fool…”

And now, the telephone rings in Arabic and New York emerges bleeding from my eyes and I wish only to be quiet in a quiet place and there find an age of sleep.

So, history is a dim rusty shovel and god digs and digs and we are the soil, and we are the earth and how I love you is every precious word, so come metropolis soldiers, let us go and spread ourselves across the night, as lovers do.

1.

The Fool

After the big rain made channels in the dirt the earth was a map around a field of damp stones that were enormous breasts. The persistence of memory made my expedition arduous. Pine cones, a nickel, a bus pass, a blue button still trailing the umbilical string torn screaming from a shirt, a jacket; who can say? This is my crew. We were exhausted. Far away a great beast washed up on the shore. I sent the pinecone to make a reconnaissance. We waited patiently fearful that our presence would be detected before he returned.

All clear, he reported, wetly. It’s a piece of the universe, disguised as driftwood.

I was unconvinced. The whole earth (do you hear what I’m telling you? I said: The whole earth) tilted just a little and between the very white sea spray and the very gray sky, we marked in our time upon our invisible map, the outermost edge of truth.

2.

Late at night I harvest my skull using ideas as shovels. I work this field deep. There are rusty shoes, fur, books, paintings and photographs; beautiful pieces of charcoal and clean sheets of white paper, the past, women who open and close and open again the future arriving as a very blue bird stepping delicately between the tall reeds and blue moss electrified and sometimes, there is a sign. It says: Touch me.

So: poems, as loose change precisely planted between the cushions of many chairs and couches. And on the street, below the happy fog, even then in late hours such as everyone knows, the earth vibrates as an idea or a blueprint for constructing a life or a cat and quietly before the mercy of sleep, I remember that I’ve forgotten how using us as a plough, god seeds the earth with blood and words.

3.

The Priestess

She is the girl who arrives bouncing like the night except when she is the night who arrives bouncing like a girl. She is very white, except when she is very dark. Sometimes I know she comes from an island where they cover themselves in the peat and the bogs stir silently in memory and loudly in gestures encoded by ten thousand years of earth dirt. She has every name.

Sometimes she comes from the desert. Her father was a giant oak tree and sometimes he was a mountain; it’s often very confusing and often there is a ram or a hero, a sacrifice and great rhythms chime the hour.

When she is from the mythical land they call Ireland, her father is a singing fish in a leaky tub or a tree with many branches and deep dark roots that hold the earth like flesh and when she is from the desert her father is a bull or a star, a serpent or a spring, and you can think it’s a metaphor as much as you like but I am telling you the truth, as clearly cleanly and precisely as I know how.

When she is from the desert she is dark and I see her naked in a side pool of a fast river and the river says oh we are so much touching each other and her eyes are very very dark and she is ten thousand years old because DNA is a poem; an epic and a river that says oh hubly-bubly and oh.

When she is white skinned and her eyes are gray and graygreen and bluegray and bluegreen and bluegraygreen as the sea or the day she carries a dead god on a stick of wood.

She hangs it from her neck until it drags her down so far she becomes an expert on the tops of people’s shoes. And if you think this is pleasantly clever or amusing and charming somehow then you know nothing about girls and their fathers, fathers and their girls and your turtle mind is slow and forever as a turtle but soon enough you will learn and be turned on your back to die slowly in the sun.

In their homes they hang the dead god on a stick on many walls and they pretend to eat his flesh and drink his blood and count the days and the hours, and no one except the ones who finally snap like dry rubber bands ever say, I feel flowers growing in my eyes, and none but those who say nothing (and plan meticulously their escape, by tunnel, glider and underground rail), ever say anything at all but have a pious silence because they know silence is holy.

4.

The Fool, The Priestess & The King of Swords

So, she does not carry that anymore but still because we are so small and the great king has made a terrible war in far far Babylon and the mad prophet has come again screaming out of the desert we shiver in the day as if the day were naked and ashamed and had the certain knowledge of death and to ward off the evil we have a clock in the shape of a cat and the cat’s tail swishes the hours and the cat’s eyes move side to side.

The cat makes us smile and our cats are both black and one is bigger than the other and the big one likes to sit on books and to chew plastic but don’t ask me why and the other one we found in the park and she likes to sleep under blankets or on your lap and this is one component for the secret formula to Katzenberg’s Super Atomic Piston Ring that The Ministry of Ambiance searches for but they can never find because it is right in front of them and they are very dry in stern hours and they are bad actors demanding answers to questions no one has asked scurrying and secretly hiring people to be snitchy informants twitching for a gossip-fix that never satisfies and they listen and listen and pour over transcripts and intercepts and often say: Ah-ha!

But then, the trees snore loudly at them and terrible things go on happening and good things too and The Ministry of Ambiance has many deep tunnels and in sealed rooms the files grow as the biggest city with small electric cars and mechanical arms like traffic lights and street signs and there, no one is ever happy.

5.

The Observer & The Observed

A beautiful woman comes into a cafe. She is Russian and looks like a ballerina in a movie about a Russian ballerina and her face is glacial, regal and sometimes she sits on a terrace in Trieste and it is 1913 and everyone is frozen, then moves very slowly, and Thomas Mann is watching them and he is very serious. He feels a wrinkle in time and the wave washes over him and he writes down the code for recognizing the way the waiters move as the dots and dashes signaling cataclysm. He drinks a lot of coffee and watches everything with great big tiger eyes and I am watching the Russian woman who is aloof, regal, beautiful and smells of new money with brain enough to make it look old. She sits in the cafe and waits. A young girl who resembles her and an old woman who looks as she will look later when she appears again in another story come into the cafe and they sit together speaking Russian while outside it rains because the Russians (like everyone else) have stories with rain and snow and long long long remembrances and now the Russians are us, and we are them entwined strands of a story called DNA in G Sharp and F and A and so on, etc, etc, and the little girl touches the fur trim on the beautiful woman’s right sleeve and the beautiful woman jerks her arm away to fix her hair which does not need fixing or anything except a stroke from a hand softly and soon she leaves as if for an appointment and you know she is being paid for it and everything suddenly constricts, freeze-dried and zip-locked for storage with a label that reads: Just Add Writer.

6.

The Lovers, Part I

I’m walking down Nelly Street with the very beautiful white skinned girl. She’s got a spear, and a necklace made from bones. You can’t see them, but I can. When the Romans come, she’ll kill many of them and there will be a great feast and a lot of brutal greasy titanic ritualized sex and the severed heads of the Romans will hang before tents and there will be grunting in the dark because time goes in every direction at once.

In the meantime, we go to a health food store where the neo-amazonian Ukrainian girl beeps and flashes and whirls like a disco queen whose throne is made from roller skates. Soon-to-be-faded and dilapidated like-a-palace-after-the-revolution intellectual Russian boys flock around her trying to dock with her breasts but so far, they have no luck, and you can see them brooding in cafes in Little Odessa hunched over their siege equipment and they are drawing diagrams, making models to scale with the angle of her magnificent breasts relative to the slope of their rampant cocks and their eyes are very hungry.

So, in the health food store we go shopping and we talk to Troy. He’s a film-maker and tells funny stories and has a kind wit that he shares sometimes shyly and sometimes with tender irony but mostly he is from Vermont and pours slowly.

Later we buy some smoke from Mister Jellybean and he’s a luthrenbudhistagnostic who says; I accept Jesus Christ as my savior and he introduces us to his wife who is from Mother India and was raised by evangelical Baptists.

She points to a doll on their bed and she says in a voice that scares you half to death, I have a baby too, and she is a child of children tyrannical fierce and narrow who are each a dull shopping mall where every store sells the same thing and at night metal curtains come down and the merchandise is put away in pleasing rows and after smoking we have sex sweaty and languid and find in each other every trauma, hurt, wound, ache and desire and we bruise each other terribly and we realize Mr. Jellybean is a snitch for the Ministry of Ambiance so we let him go spiraling down into the black hole of history and silence and these are the times we live in and who can say anything about it except these sweet rags of growing young again.

7.

A King of Broken Cups

So, the pretty very white skinned girl’s father was an oak tree and he lived in Minnesota and was raped by a priest repeatedly, and that’s an old story full of blood excrement and humiliation and the turning of sex inside out emerging as the shaking desire to receive communion holy true and electric.

There were rules and accidents that were never accidents and the rules were changed to suit the circumstances of broken desire so of course the oak tree that was her father had sex with the broken glass that was her mother and she was pregnant and they married and he went door to door selling meat in the early days of Dubliners and Jim Joyce said: You shall know him by these signs, and I did and he drove a big American car from the fifties, smoked cheep cigars and his little blue eyes were sad, mean and fearful, and he called grown men lad, (if they were waiters or attending him somehow), ate his meals quickly without joy as joy but anxiety as pleasure and then he had a heart attack and was erased from existence in that form and was recycled and became someone else with encoded memories that popped open like dark wet flowers or doors expanding in the heat.

8.

The Deceivers

In the heat the room like shrink-wrap constricts thinking and thinking expands to include enclose, this idea: The fat woman who lives across the street harnesses flesh and Audrey who is the very white skinned girl says she remembers living in Paris and knowing Gargantuan Jean who would never allow anyone to see him sit down, or stand up – no, he would say, it is inconceivable (she said, knowing-remembering to convey wistfulness as sex; as if to say, I know-remembering and will hold you with it between my legs by saying this is my knowledge of life) and the fat woman makes me remember Audrey and her way of speaking with a southern accent when she wants to play at being a Tennessee Williams or William Faulkner wild drunk slut who begs to be fucked up the ass while screaming, oh, Daddy, or shoot empty gin bottles with a 22. pistol she calls Brick, and the first morning after the first night she said I dreamed you were sitting in a chair next to my father in a chair and his chair was much bigger than yours and she had the good grace to laugh mostly at her own self and to only cut me a little with her vapor-knife and honest the hours walk till they wobble and break down as perfect equations for building a life or a shoe.

9.

Shadow of the Fool & The Lovers, Part II

Good Christ, but it’s hot. I mean the walls, without insulation, exposed all day to the sun, get so warm that the tape I’m using to hold my drawings peels, melts, drips sticky adhesive like semi-dried cum, and the drawings slide and I think of Jorge Picardo who paints so badly but sculpts well enough and lives here in our new bohemia; this true Montmartre where the artists live only because it’s cheap but never cheap enough and the noise never stops and Jorge is another drunk almost always ready to spring like a jack rabbit of violence hopping, punching the air in the dead run of violence that comes from the Spain of his memory and lands in the San Francisco of his life and when he says as an artist you should come to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I know and Audrey knows he’s asking for company because he says he had god when he was in Spain and he doesn’t want to substitute booze for god and he wages an endless trench war in his mind going over the top, slaughtering himself and rising again and the bottle blows the charge but he’s lost weight and sleeps better and doesn’t spend his time with the other drunks who never want anything good he says (and his paintings are some combined horde from the burial mounds of a disco as if mile-high boots and mood rings and gold leaf on read paint were all Tut or the bust of Nefertiti or even a long ship pulled from the bogs of Scandinavia) and Audrey says she’s worried that if Jorge sees my paintings or reads what I’m writing he’ll start drinking again; that he may hit me and he’s not especially large but he’s built like a short brick wall with legs and then there’s the still the drinking and the hysterical latin-thing patented three-hundred years ago by El Greco and refined for world-wide distribution by Goya and the Jesuits in which content is subordinate to expression and drama is the point – well, hell, I say, leaning a little closer to the telephone so that The Ministry can hear me all the better – imagine a man exploding like the fourth of July – all those memories of lace mantillas and wax figures under glass and the heat and the cool dead spaces of big churches with leprous blood soaking the stale air that walks centuries at a time from the treasure ships of conquest to Pablo fucking Maya and thinking of Françoise who took it like Olga who became Fernande (or the other way around) and the nose next to the strange eye in the painting that looks like Greco but isn’t and from one lane of thought to the next with no speed limit except those imposed by something called rules, or The Ministry, Audrey, bent over the table in the sort-of-kitchen of our too-tiny overpriced apartment is moaning and letting out, oh daddy more, I need it more I’ve been so naughty do you see me, tell me you’re watching me daddy and I say knowing The Ministry is recording everything that sexing them is the thing and that’s a play and Audrey cumming is a wonder because she gets a little quiet and a cry comes up deep from within and she shakes and shivers, cries a whimper and splash of pleasure and her hips flare out curving ‘round and down and I’ve got by fingers dug into her ass and she’s bucking and we’re riding it until she arches her back, her head swings side to side and then she goes and comes back slowly as a hand opening after touch has departed like some sort of approximation of the end of the world screaming Daddy, Daddy, Daddy and falls over in a growling exhausted electrically charged pile of skin and desire as a small wave pulls back from the shore and the sand is left glassy smooth like paint that never dries.

 

 

Note: This is a work of fiction. It is excerpted from, The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover, by Charles Talkoff. We are working on making the entire novel available as a pdf .

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