Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Peter Markus

What a Bird Can’t Say

It happened when it happened.
It happened like this.
It happened near a church.
It happened on a Wednesday.
It did not happen in the morning.
It happened in the night.
Doesn’t it always happen in the night?
It did not happen in the day.
It did not happen in the daylight.
I am telling about what happened on the train.
I am writing this all down while sitting on the train.
I would say while riding on the train but when I say riding that makes me think of riding as in I am riding on a bike.
I am not riding on a bike.
I am sitting on a train.
I am writing on a train.
The sky outside is blue.
When what happened happened the sky outside and above us all was black.
It was not blue.
The sun it wasn’t shining.
Somewhere I am sure the sun was shining when what happened happened.
The sun is always somewhere shining when things happen like they did.
What happened happened on a night when the stars in the sky were shining bright.
Each star in the sky is a burning sun.
What happened did not happen in the sky.
But the sky that night was watching when what happened did.
A bird in the sky might have seen it happen.
But since birds can’t tell of what they’ve seen since birds can only sing, I am here to tell it.
To say what a bird can’t say.
It’s not what is said that’s important here.
What’s important is how I say what I saw when I say what happened did.
I saw what happened happen.
It happened in a town.
When I say it happened in a town what I mean to say is in a place that is smaller than a city.
Things like this, like what I saw happen, always seem to happen in the city.
Things like this, like what I say happened happened, don’t usually happen in towns.
At least not in a town like ours.
It’s time for me to come clean.
What happened happened when it happened like it did because of me.
What happened happened, is what I’m trying to say, because of what I didn’t do when I saw what I say did.
What happened happened because I was there.
I was there to say what I saw.
It’s not what I did but what I didn’t.
I was near the church when what happened did.
I was there that night, is what I am saying, when I saw what I’m saying about did.
Outside my window right now the world is passing by me fast.
There is a lake right now outside this window.
This window that is the train’s.
There is a factory right now outside this window that makes me think of the town where what happened happened did.
May this train on its track stay on its track.
I do not want to be derailed or to be run off of this track.
In our town there is only one side of the tracks.
There is the tracks in our town and then there is the river.
The church where what happened happened is somewhere in between.
The price of gas right now is a few cents shy of four dollars.
I remember when the price of gas was forty-seven cents a gallon.
When I was a kid, I used to think if I was the one selling the gas I’d sell it for fifteen cents a gallon so that cars would line up for miles to buy their gas from me.
This must’ve been back in like 1973.
I was like seven in 1973.
In 1973 the A’s of Oakland won the American League pennant.
Ten years later I could throw a baseball eighty-four miles an hour.
In 1984, a year later, my right shoulder made a sound that shoulders aren’t supposed to make.
It wasn’t so much a sound as it was a feeling.
I might have made the sound that it made up.
When I went with my shoulder to our town’s local doctor, this doctor said I should take up running track.
I ran myself away from this doctor and went down to the river.
If I said I know of a man who lives on the river, would you believe that this was true?
The back of the church where what happened happened looks out onto the river.
When a train runs through town and runs its whistle up against the sky the preacher in this church has to raise his voice up to be heard.
I like to sing nursery rhymes to myself when I am supposed to be sitting in church.
A rhyme is its own religion.
The smoke in the sky makes it hard for me to sometimes breathe.
When things burn, where does what they turn into go?
Smokestacks, when they raise up all rusty against the sky, they make the sky seem human.
Rust is both a color and a state of being.
There is a book that I know called On Being and Nothingness.
About this book I like its title but the words inside put me to sleep.
I sleep on the side and with the lights in the hall burning.
I am not afraid of the dark.
What I am afraid of at night is what I might see looking back out at me from inside of the dark.
It was dark out when it happened.
It was night.
It was night and the night is always dark.
When the sun at night sets like it does like it is doing outside right now the sky loses hold of its blueness.
What would happen if I’d just said right now that when the sun sets the sky loses hold of its balloon-ness?
What does a balloon lose hold of?
What a balloon loses is the breath that we blow up inside it.
When we blow out the candles on a birthday cake, we can’t forget to make a wish.
I wish right now I had a cake with candles on it for me to blow out.
The balloon I am picturing, it is always blue.
A balloon that is blue when it’s held up against the sky it’s hard to tell which is which.
The blue of the balloon, it blends in with the blue of the sky.
The balloon becomes the sky.
And the train conductor says what he says, what he says, what he says he says in a song.
I cannot say what was said on the train but I can beat time with my hand upon my head.
It takes some time for the sky to turn all dark.
It takes a while for the blue of the sky to give up the sky to black.
It takes some time too to set the record straight.
I am doing my best to do what I am doing, to say what I saw when what happened did.
Take your time, I keep telling myself, and the story of how so and what did will get told.
The night is not yet entirely dark.
Streetlights, traffic-lights, buoys on the river.
Each one does battle against the dark.
The church at night is as dark and quiet as a bible.
In the Bible it says, Let there be light.
But it also says that the darkness is what came first.
A fire burns bright in the back of the yard.
In the woods four boys with sticks raise their arms up against the dark.
The husk of an army tank sits rusting out in front of a house.
The church where what happened happened has a name.
The Rock of Christ on the River.
The preacher inside The Rock of Christ on the River is a man named Bob.
I once knew a man who lived out on the river in a boat and this man and his boat were both named Bob too.
In the woods behind the church as boys we used to build bonfires at night and piss out beer into the flames.
One night I believed the end was near.
We stepped out of our clothes in the starless dark and ran ourselves down to the river.
The sign at the edge of the river said, Do Not Swim and another sign said to us, Do Not Eat The Fish, but us boys we knew not to listen.
We swam out into the dark waters.
We found a fish washed up on the muddy shore and we stuck a stick up through its mouth until it came out the side of its belly.
We held this fish over the fire.
We held it like this, over the fire, until its tail curled and blackened and we knew it was ready for us to eat.
We ate the fish.
We took turns eating the fish.
I ate its eyes.
I ate its eyes so that I could better see.
So that I could see like a fish.
I shut my eyes.
I did not see.
I did not want to believe.

Peter Markus' newest book We Make Mud is out now from Dzanc Books.

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