today I am writing a biography about writing a biography that floats like electric scum on the darkness of cyber-space
which did not exist before the computer age
before the internet
a boundless sea calling out for the Ancient Mariner
so do we stretch the metaphors
boundless, endless, remorseless, humorless
so what now, cyber-sailors?
now that we have heard the sirens call?
now that we have launched our tiny electronic rafts?
now that we have pushed out into the dark?
our blogs laden with artifacts from the time before cyber-space?
so what now, I ask you?
pushing out to sea with docking stations
but no known shore
no Côte d’Azur
no coast of Taormina
no Sea of Marmora
it’s not a real sea, see
not a real ocean
but rather a metaphor so grimly grabbed
so agreed upon by the mass of men
because the cyber-sea is madness
because it promises the world
life after life, oh my yes
1,000 Amazon reviews will win you writerly fame
but only on Amazon
the kingdom which rules the cyber sea
with promises of unsubtle sirens singing to homesick sailors
Mariner, turn your prow shoreward
where you will founder in the shoals of cyberness
hearing the songs sung
from the heart of metaphor
Mariner, turn your prow
B is for Biography
the facts of a life
written in Third Person Omniscient
because third person gives you a distance from yourself
that lonely sailor fighting the currents of the assumed cyber-sea
where you close the distance with a selfie:
see your ancient self in the gloss of the computer screen
Christ, how did you get that old?
Christ, how did you get that gray? That wrinkled?
And behold those ancient eyeballs on the cutting edge of rheumy.
Stay there and death will find you
stick to your guns and damn the torpedoes
B is for Biography
I was born in a red-brick hospital in a red-brick town in the great prairie sea in the Texas Panhandle
my first memory is a photo
a baby on a blanket on a rug in front of a gas-fireplace
that photo-baby eight decades later is a skeletal face setting sail in cyber-space
who is the baby?
who is that skeletal selfie?
what metaphor connects start and finish?
Biography is anecdotal evidence.
The metaphor of the baby in the blanket.
Hear the voice of the mother.
Baby Bob crawled for 18 months.
He did not stand.
Did not try to stand.
Was not curious about what it would feel like to stand.
He talked early, Mommy said.
Words were this boy’s salvation.
He loved stories told by Mommy.
In school, he had trouble reading.
C is for Cat.
B is for Boy.
See Spot Run.
His no. 2 yellow pencil made marks on lined paper.
His eyeball close to the page. Dot. Dot. Dot.
Where is the fucking blackboard?
Where is the fabled cyber sea?
In third grade they broke from the huddle brandishing a pair of old man spectacles.
Metal rims like photos of Leon Trotsky.
Metal ear-pieces that pinched the boy’s brain, squeezed the words tight.
The school books were useless.
See Spot Run.
See it Go.
See it go up.
The boy smelled the oily ink of the cyber-sea.
Where are the dancing girls?
Where are the half-naked sirens luring the pubescent males to die on the rocks of doom?
Ask a question the right number of times and the answer arrives with the Sunday morning paper, week after week, rising up from the ocean inside your head.
The dancing girls lived in the funny papers.
That’s where the near-sighted lad behind the metal-rimmed Trotsky specks found the girls, the sirens and femmes fatale, the dangerous ladies who haunted Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates.
The boy loved the cartoon females with perfect bosoms and devilish hips, garbed in jungle gun belts, pistols and bandoleers showing crevices and curves, shards of underwear peeking out from the action boxes on the page, terse talk trapped in little puff-ball dialogue bubbles, confident females who snapped orders, who could wise-crack with the boys—soldiers of fortune, mercs, Grail Knights and cowboys launched on manly quests—a sea-world away from See Spot Run.
if only the boy could draw
if only he had a knowing hand like Mommy
if only he had an eye like his sister
she could draw, cruel fate
his daddy did wood carvings
his kid brother could draw
The art teacher smirked at his sketches.
“What is it supposed to be?” she said.
“It’s the Heap,” he said.
“It looks like a pile of moldy hay,” she said.
“He’s a Luftwaffe pilot,” the boy said. “He got shot down over Belgium. He crash-landed in a giant haystack. The ack-ack guns set the stack on fire. The Heap was born by fire.”
“Tell you what,” the teacher said. “Get your little Heap friend into three dimensions. We’ve got some clay left over. See how he handles the kiln.”
The near-sighted boy with the Trotsky glasses bent over his desk.
He felt Art between his hands.
He felt the power of creation, making something from nothing.
Like the artist who conjured the Dragon Lady, the boy was headed for fame through Art.
The Art that spilled from the hot kiln looked like a barn owl grafted onto a pig’s ass.
The Art teacher gave the boy a B.
B is for Biography.
A verbal record of a single life.
The old man in the selfie was born to dust.
To dust storms at high noon.
To street lights turned on at high noon to show the way home through the dust.
Home to dish-towels crammed under doorways to keep the dust out.
So what if the Heap forged through Art does not resemble the Heap from the comic book, anyway?
This is the problem, not only of Art, but also Biography.
How do you drag a memory from a photo taken eight decades ago onto the easel of Art in our time?
How do you haul the Dragon Lady from the action boxes inside the newsprint into your bedroom where you sit in your boy bathrobe in the old man’s easy chair next to the great orange sea-chest layered with comic book characters—Daredevil, Wonder Woman, Brenda Starr, Blackhawk, Dale Arden—and secured with a padlock to keep the world at bay?
How do you steal something from one static medium so you can create an artifact in our time that will make you famous in cyber-space?
What magic can you deploy to become an Amazon author crowned king by one-thousand reviews?
How can you at eighty grab just one lousy fucking Like on Facebook?
Like me or I die.
Like me and I die.
And float me out like a viking on a burning death ship into the far reaches of Cyber-Sea.
Like me, please.