Here is a wall. The strange empty space above
the wall... what is it for? Here, a little boat, a canopy of silver plastic
rattling above it.
Listen to the babe-scare cry of the wind. You are in
the unsteady boat and this poem is a lake.
It's too late now. You are
in the boat my little skipperoo, my kitzie koodle. Look. In the other boat,
your son. All the rest, the other sons, the boy you blinded and the daughter
you maimed, the weapons and the armor, is film, a thin and punctured membrane, a
There's no place for that weapon here. Come on now,
you have no choice. Trust me.
I'll speak nonsense. You speak truth.
We'll see what comes of it.
The Pirates (An Introduction)
The author of
this text has two bodies, contiguous biologically and historically, perhaps even
spiritually, a metonymy of himself, his own son, his own father. He is his
elder by 48 years. He is Robert and Peter Streckfus. He was born in 1921,
authored his first novel manuscript in 1954 under the title Two Golden
, fathered himself in 1969, and in 2005 smuggled language from his
first manuscript into The Pirates
, pages of which, imagine, you now hold.
As a child of nine, Peter saw Robert revising Two Golden
and decided to be an author. He took paper and pencil to the
playhouse and composed the following sentences:
Today I am in my office.
My desk is where I write. I am a writer.
[Displayed in a child’s
Peter assumed his father’s mantel at this moment,
though Robert had hardly given it. To what degree did the author of the
child’s sentences above represent Peter and to what degree did he
From here the history of that author might have
gone any "where". In 1983 Peter entered the last American high school in which
Robert taught as a Marianist brother before leaving for Peru in 1952; thus Peter
and his siblings first learned Robert’s religious identity. In that
school, Peter studied writing with a former colleague and schoolmate of
Robert’s, Bro. Martin McMurtrey, SM. But these occurrences are
impertinent. Today this author assumes the form of two selves who cancel each
other out. Who efface and erase each other in this text. Who overwrite one
another. Loving one another and repelled by one another. Standing in for each
other. Two bodies, two signs, for one voice. Plato argues that such a voice,
because it can exist as two, exist unchanging, is a dead voice.
Idiot Big Mouth Leads Us to a
Gathering of Birds
We shall tell you more about us. On entering
the forest, we found dear Idiot tied to a tree, screaming continuously because
of the pain, and above his voice, we heard a party not far away. A gathering of
birds, dancing and playing, and you, I’m Cold Monkey, on your hands and
feet, capered like a white tailed deer among them, while we, Storyteller,
Witness, Big Mouth and Reader, hid in a foliage of trees, words, and grass. The
bird we had seen before, which we agreed that evening to name The Butcher Bird
and the Mocking Bird, each black feather on its body, each curl of hair on its
head, a small tear, took the role of a human man, its pants partly undone,
exposing the skin of its lower abdomen, and with you, Monkey, it began its play.
You in its wings, the two of you pretended to couple. It thrust at your stomach
– instead of between your legs; why, we don’t know – hard,
then more violently, and then it pretended to come. The other birds chattered
and whirred, “marvelous Earth and Water!”
from this mockery of our sex.
In the heat of the day, The Butcher
Bird and the Mocking Bird occupied a locust tree with its immediate kin, often,
for some unknown reason, in a pack of four. We called on it at this tree and
requested a tour of the compound to which it graciously agreed. In the garden,
it showed us two trees, one that would bear fruit soon; “Lemon
trees,” it said. We each found in the daylight its tears of bird raiment
physically disturbing but contained ourselves. “Yes, this one has
fruit,” said The Storyteller, who looked above and discerned a fruit the
color and texture of a lemon. We then noticed in the branches more such fruit,
elongated and yellow, shaped almost as if each held inside it a human form, some
as full as grown persons. At this point, Witness had already climbed into the
tree. And so we give you his account:
Finding an easier route,
Storyteller followed me.
Expertly and violently I threw her to the ground
And climbed further, about to throw out The Butcher and the
But fearing I might crush its delicate tears
I climbed another branch, and
the bird began to pull me
Down. “Don’t,” I cried, “I
don’t want to fall!” I achieved
A higher perch—and then
looked down. I was so high, incredibly
High. Neither bird nor tree, I was
Meanwhile, Storyteller brushed herself off, sat down and
composed the following verse:
Morning on the fig tree and the resident
garden. With his attendant in attendance,
my old man, our pilgrim.