In the hospital. In the gown. On the gurney. Strange me but I love it here. I like the inside. I'd rather be well, but I love to hear the people speak. An old woman in her room wants to speak sputum. I hear garbage bags being opened. I don't know what they are. I'm on a hospital bed not a gurney. There are crash reports. People say stable. I hear little crinkling sounds.
I am to have a CTscan.
See, I came to the hospital. No one or me knew what went wrong. Rib pain, lung pain, stomach pain, pain in the guts and groin. Groaning pain doubled me over.
See, I start to resent the woman old in the unseen room. I yell for her to quiet down. She gets sandwiches, I hear, which I don't get. She talks about Anus Parade Nursing Home. I miss so many words. I get others wrong.
I can partly see a sign outside the woman's door. I can't make out the words or pictures. A doctor comes and wears a front plastic coating, gloves, eye gear.
He enters her.
I pick apart a newspaper in my gown. I find the inside pages with pictures of steak, potatoes, Mr. Clean.
We had an IGA we had called Wagners in Ohio. That's where I grew up. It was all pick-up trucks and football, basketball, baseball, football again.
Who am I, now, but a weird patient part of all this world, in a little room with a sign about pain? It ranks pain from No Pain, to 1, 2, 3-Mild Pain, 4,5,6-Moderate Pain, 7,8,9-Severe Pain with faces that show increased suffering. 10 is Worst Possible and the face looks about right for the living. I can take the body's betrayal, at first I think, but I think of Catherine and I'm done for.
I told her, when she left me, on the phone, that I had memorized her feet, I told her. I had them sunk in my mind. I had lust on all over for them I told her. She waited on me to prove it. She was always waiting on me to win her. The first times we were together I sucked her feet whole. I licked her from crack to crack. I sat back on her couch and she stood on the arm and the back of the sofa and lowered herself down to my taste. I always feel like a little guy trying to prove I can. She is beyond immaculate. Then I went nuts along her. Mouthed everything.
A nurse puts the ink into me.
Do you know how nervous it makes me? They are going to look inside. Look inside of me. They are going to look inside. I prefer not to think about what's inside. Than the heart, gut, words. You want to look? Hey, don't look! Hey, hey, don't look in there.
A stroke person is coming from below -- being rolled around the halls.
I feel the iodine. It is for the CTscan. The ink, they call it. It is warmer than the blood. It is like a whiskey, hot bourbon in my tea, in my lungs and stomach first without throat and I feel I've wet myself and am weak. I feel the warm ink reach my toes. Whiskey is a taste I haven't had since the snow coming sideways through Montana, blinding out the black mountain, long ago with a woman who worked the casinos and cooked for me. I'm a living thing in a hospital on my back.
Catherine is from Colorado.
I am from Ohio. Who wins, you figure?
While inside the Cat-Scan, Oh, I see Jesus Christ. I see serpents. I see lots of things with my eyes shut. Leftovers from peyote. I wore a blanket around a bunch of Injuns for sixteen hours, plus. Up in Mendocino. Afterwards, we ate ribs out of styraphome, store bought fried chickens, brownies, and Fago Soda -- I looked at the ice of vision on everything in the new sun moving -- I still don't see like a person.
Now, I know I'm not just going to die from suffering. That's what peyote is good for.
Catherine, I don't know.
For the past five or six or seven days I had broken ribs or lung and bone cancer. I went from doctor to doctor holding my side. They said, "Muscular skeletal, from coughing, those ciggies, hold on, it will heal." I had only thoughts of Catherine and feeling the hurt side.
I'm Six Foot Five, Six, Seven, and have had pain.
A femur in half, my skull broke a few times, busted arms, some dog bites and cuts and minor burns.
My grandfather started one of his legs on fire thirty-however-many years ago. He burned the eyelets of his boots black into the skin, green hickory fire lit with gasoline, gasoline, leg, Ohio. He made himself a roast-beef sandwich before he drove up to the hospital. Little horseradish, mustard, on pumpernickel. "They never feed you in those places," he said to his wife, my Mamma. His leg was smelling up the kitchen, the way she tells it -- 80 years old and clean -- them still together humping across the weather.
So, I waited out pain upon a bare futon mattress on my floor at home until here. None of us have the same homes. We are all just looking around a lot of the time. Unless you count some of the great jumping beans I have known. Guys who grunt and hump and hope their way through life. All of them have done time in the nut house bin or prison. All drugged up and half-drunk. I only ever did jail. I spent my early twenties in rehabs -- got used to the music of shifts.
See, I adjusted to the pain, used Icey Hot, had pills and ciggies. Finally, it was thinking of Catherine did me in, and I decided to come to the ER for a jot of R and R. Catherine is in New York City. She says she needs to get herself figured out first. She says she needs to clean house first. She says all sorts of things. Bottom line, I'm suffering from love lost. I waited till I was thirty to do more than sex.
I told her about her feet I'd memorized.
"Your first two toes peek from those red mules," I proved on a phone line to her. I was hunching over standing in my living room with no furniture. "Your bigtoe toenails are symmetrical, rising from their sides to a higher curve of middle," I said. We had been all throughout New York City. Lived there together. Looked at fine things and plays and walked through talking -- never got real sleep. I love how the pigeons will bank crazy with their wings spread high through the angles of a shadow on a summer day in Hell's Kitchen. A dollar slice. The bandaged smells of the subways that are all hers. I was smoking a cig in my living room in the woods. "Your second toes are long," I said, "but not longer. Your other three are nearly the same length as one another. You have high strong arches. Nice little heels. I want to suck on them Baby, Kitten, Sex." She didn't say a word or even giggle. I miss driving when I was fifteen years ago. When I was a jumping jack and didn't think but new pussy and highway. A clot of sun. A song. I hear the old woman coughing her sputum. Steak, potato, then a doctor comes in with no hair.
"Mr. Clean," I address him.
I ask him about the woman. Say I've had it with her. Say, I'm not right.
He tells me she's paralyzed from the neck down. Gives me the look like he understands where I'm coming from. I cannot remember where I'm coming from. I've been East a long time. I fell in love for the first time with a New York woman. I hadn't had any steak. I think it'd be Christian to put that old woman out of this life. Unless Catherine is coming back someday for us all, each one of us our respective vision.
Lately, I've been keeping lakeside in my cottage in Western New York. I teach freshman college. The other day, middle of class, me showing them all who's boss, a woman's voice is climbing through the scales. She's singing up my spine. I got tears in my face. The kids are all staring at me. Sometimes it's unbreakable how the beauty of art comes after you, making you feel everything and bawl in front of the very people you're supposed to be hectoring. I felt every moment of her singing after she was finished, singing through my spine. I had to walk home and leave everyone behind.
You know why we get sick?
Giving away what we should have kept. You have to put your foot down. I'm sorry.
A few days ago, before I came here, a fox showed while I was on the floor. It looked sick. He was on my porch and I am laying in the room on the floor mat playing with myself naked to the fall, the whole great long stretch of my body. Playing with myself to shoots of orange like bayonets of majestic New York trees. The sliding door open to the colors. I can almost get quiet, nearly, at times.
This is all, it seems, of any God.
The little tail was thin and wispy, the eyes nearly closed, it wobbled from side to side. I was jerking off trying not to hurt the ribs. I'd been thinking of Catherine's big nipples, her Greek pussy, her big ass and tiny middle. Her green eyes her dark hair and pale skin with blue veins. She has golden circuits around her pupils. She rode on a motor-scooter in the rain with me through Spain on a freeway. There is nothing outside of America. Love is when you start watching dirty movies and wind up thinking of someone you've had your penis in and wind up turning off the movie.
Once my father and me and my brother went to Montana. When Brother was a few years old, he had spinal meningitis. He snapped out of it. All he has left over is a twitch and a squeak. First cast, a trout through the eye. When I was a few years older than 7 or so, I broke my arm badly in several places. I was so impressed with the hospital, with the doctors, the rooms, all the people and fluorescents and smells, I forgot all about the arm. See, Doc starts telling me jokes and chatting up my mother (a real looker and rich), sets the arm, puts the cast on the other. It takes hours to get home, and I realize the mistake -- sometimes it's like that when I think of Catherine.
I made a mistake and dated my first girlfriend. This was at eighteen. I thought I was a man and wore a woman's fur coat around. A huge Nigroid tried to hold me up for cash outside of the club where she worked. She worked taking off her clothes like a boy. That's how she looked on stage. Hey, it's work! I don't judge. Look, I told that Nigroid, flatten me. He was six foot ten and full of jails and sperm, only. He started laughing and gripping crotch. He shot his head toward me. He wound cloth around his knuckles. I couldn't wait for the jets overhead to knock me back. But he just gets into his car and asks me and my girl who'd come out and started smoking and yelling if we needed to get to someplace. She had just come out the club's exit. Me and my stripper gal crawled in. It was a great old Cadillac with a leather roof. She was the kind of little girl who had a dildo that plugged into the wall and had a long chord and the end she put inside her was a terrible color of skin.
After I saw her use it, and her paintings, I didn't ever want to touch her or watch her dance, but we were together.
She and the Negroid decided to make it. It was my fault. I had to walk all the way back to my kin. When I was 19 it was jail plus rehabs. When I was 20, it was rehab. When I was 21, rehab again two more times. This was the last time, but the night guards made such a nice sound walking around at night. I wish I could go back. Life was simpler. Here I am. There was an Armenian man doing one rehab with me. Harry. He would tell me sometimes he couldn't get it up, but Harry's tongue always worked overtime, it said. He looked at me so blankly. He was enormous and showed me his tongue. It was full of bumps. That's all they want, he, and it, told me.
I've tried that approach myself, when I first started seeing Catherine. On account of I could not get functioning. That's how much I was in love. It took time to get over that and get it worked out.
There was another guy, he had a colostomy bag and got it all over our shower until I transferred up to a room with a view of an older British woman with pearls for her neck and breasts across the courtyard. The man with the shit told me I had girly tits when we lived together. He tried to touch them. I punched his face. I still remember that.
They are hairy now, but I guess he was partly right. When I walk around with my wiener low, I think of that. Of how my body isn't pretty like a fighter's. Catherine says she feels awkward standing naked in front of animals. I tell you. I'll love a woman for that. Everything that was ever before me I have done wrong to. She smokes ciggies. She has hair like Turkish smoke. She steps through Manhattan. She can play Arabian music on recordings for days. She is my girl even now she isn't.
See, they move me up to my room. They give me numbers now and iv's.
Amylase 876Lipase 2660
They come at 4:00am or after that slightly and put a needle in my arm. I ask them to use it in my hand. They start taking blood from my hand each morning. It feels good, to be asleep. Then to have a woman wake me up and take my hand, even to stick a vein, take part of me away with her.
Nothing is working and I know why, it's Catherine. I am feeling often like I don't have enough jump in my beans. The truth is, I have given too much away. I'm like Christ without his magic. All I got is the side wound. The open heart. The world doesn't want to hear this sort of thing out of me. That Negroid, he probably stretched my first girlfriend to the moon. Men like thinking of things like that. Everywhere my Catherine and I went, men had urges for her. She's in New York. She says to me last week, a woman like me in a town like this, and she giggles. You should see what a class act she is, always. The kind who won't let you in the room while she's taking a pee. Always locks the door. Always hose and perfect dresses. Ties around the waist. Little ears and earrings and that neck on her. I could get sick all over again.
See, a few days now and they think they got my case figured out, finally.
I got drinking man's disease. Pancreatitis. The banana above the gut is enflamed. All I can do is lie around and not eat and wait. They give me a suppository. Hard as Hell to peel. I get it free and run it under cold water, crouch in my robe, slip it up inside.
You know who used to like to play with my hole? Catherine. She was always rubbing it while she would please me. Well, and enough of that. I got shy telling her secrets and using her name. Why do I do it? For sound. And for feeling.
Funny I got drinker's disease after all these years without a whiskey. I can't take the good drugs because of sobriety. Well, a little bit here and there I slip out of the nurses. But for the most part, it's just Hell and waiting. Catherine doesn't call. I'm getting older. The old crippled woman died in her sleep with nothing doing on my part. They don't let me eat. I can't drink water. I smoke in the shower here and the nurses know my tricks. Catherine is the most beautiful part of me I have ever had removed. I can't believe I still got to let her go. Feels like I am just touring the facilities here. Next time, though, it will be for keeps. They'll take me and keep me and put me down. All my skin then will be in the game. This time I am lucky, I suppose. The suppository is kicking in and the world is opening back to me like a morning glory in the sphincter of evening. I'm just waiting to get another round of trouble lined up. I'll never get over her, you know? You know that? Hey, you want to know, hey look? You're looking. You're looking.