CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
The Book of Beginnings & Endings
Jenny Boully



1.

And if it were possible to pursue the bleeding heart dove to her nest, what then? It doesn’t make sense for me to say, Forgive—I’m naturally inclined to a day-dreamy disposition, and leave it all at that. There was more to it, to that story, that I kept leaving out: the car so close it almost. But some things were true: When I cry, it is as I said, always in first person. At least now I understand the poem involving traffic lights. Symbols will always present accidents of themselves. When the bleeding heart dove flies into the cathedral’s windows and falls out of favor with the skies, this is no accident; what it is is the manner in which symbols will make themselves known to us.
     To begin and then end—it makes me fall out of favor with myself. The sky full of false surmises, the desert empty: I only exist elsewhere. Tell me what it is that you know about me because you seem to think that I can save myself. Is it wrong to attribute to you all of my happiness? What was it that made the bishop believe in my sexuality? I keep falling out of use-value. In the rain, the street lamps empty their pockets of change. If only it were possible to love without consequences, because sometimes, I forget just where it is that I am; this however, has no bearing on where it is I may be going. If I begin to call the shots, it is because so many things have already been shattered. It was wrong of me to believe that you had invented your stories; even the alluded-to rocks were based on real rocks and so the girl who you met in the rain, who slipped suddenly into your car to say that she had always loved you, that was true; and therefore, from then on, up through London Towers, over London Bridges, through London Mazes, you try but fail to find her. I am thinking of a number from one to ten, and you are rowing a boat further and further from shore. If there were false surmises, it was I who embedded them into the locks, the open windows, the space of ajar. When you said we would read this book together, I assumed you meant it was the one








presumably with daggers, although the real cause is unknown. Perhaps, his mother kept saying, perhaps the deed was come undone. It was true that the pumpkin reared itself very well, but the silk panties of its maidens left a trail as wet as a snail’s.








I.

When I first met Butch, he was rehearsing a play about lovers; his doublet kept coming undone. I thought his performance would improve before the end of the first act, but he kept, with his lance, slicing through the scenery. It might be best to end here—your lines all wrong. What we didn’t know was: Raise the curtains and we are all free. Don’t think about it too much: If you do, you won’t say it, and what director then would want to hire you? Believe me: I will blame myself first before anyone. It was I who swallowed the pill; it was I who said follow; who discovered, but could not fit through, the little doors; and so, as ever, the whole other world escapes me.
     But let me talk about blue for a moment: that is the color of light the director will always chose for events which take place in the past. And so, character A will remember a walk in the snow: And although we are still in this character’s living room in the present, the lights dim and the blue gel shines solely upon him while he embarks to the past and reŽnacts for us his struggles to find shelter, his near-death in a desert of white. And so, here I am, so blue, so blue—it is summer; I am at my parents’ house, outside reading, and hummingbirds flit about the red hibiscus, while you are on the other side of the scaffolding, refusing to break through.
     You are god’s actor, you used to say; and so, I never questioned the daily rearrangement of your props—a new cooking pan, a fork in your shower, the manuscript suddenly complete, the new woman in your bed sheets. I know now that god is a trickster; he likes the arrangement of wildcards, the surprise under the nutshell, the harlot behind the winning door. All I wanted was to name the imaginary. The child lives on—oh but with different eyes, different manes. She will never look like you. I know too now that if the scenery changes, then it was never real; and so, I lay elegies upon the blue mountains—now lavender, now








and although the photographs might have been incriminating, the autopsy revealed the murder had been faked. Authorities were shocked. One witness described the crime scene as eerily horrific: “The blood looked real. The smell of death smelt real. The flesh and wounds were so, should I say, life-like? ” Upon further investigation, authorities concluded that the body never existed before the murder. “This is no longer a murder investigation,” Nolan said, “but an investigation into identity theft.” There were no fingerprints found at the scene, but rather the presence could be felt of some malingering entity.








They would wait weeks for the sun to rise. By that time, the newborn would be discovered among the bull rushes; by then, they would have a terrible feeling on their hands.
     No one believed anymore in saviors.
     A bell sounded for the children to gather; slowly, they woke from caves.
     Never a memory of suckling; never a memory of falling from grace.
     By the time anything happens, it will be too late: The hearse departed, the casket full of weight. What is it that this is trying to do?
     Why then the burdens? Why then the events that bring us through? Why then not absence instead of brilliance?
     By the time the sun rose, the maidens were all weary, the fields barren, the plows rusty, the weather sluggish, the oxen slow. Perhaps the muddy waters would point the way to which the tribe was to go. A bird flew opposite of the hunter’s arrow; this, the sage insisted, meant that they would all die soon. No one knew, however, the clear location of when. The mountains in the distance revealed themselves as huddled old men.
     By the time the sun rose, the crops had turned to mush; the stench from the rotting horse was unbearable. No one believed anymore in saviors. Nevertheless, young girls continued with their budding of breasts, and old men continued to want them. The old tradition would continue, the one of births and funerals.
     The mother of the foundling continued to bury the birth cowl,








whatever it was, she could continue clinging in this manner, her date book now just a sorry excuse to let linger her pain. Besides, the dowager had warned her against it. Noon would come soon to make impossible her connecting flight anyhow. No one in the world knew but she, how lovely the motes looked in shafts of sunlight and how—like galaxies floating in endless space—they swirled in equal attraction and opposition to one another. No one knew but she how the voice over the intercom was plotting the end of the world. She planned to wash her hands over and over again in the bathroom, and if anyone asked, she would explain that they smelt of tarnish. In the end, she would know exactly just what it was that she had lost. She would take herself seriously; she would refuse to let in the maintenance men.








Chapter One

In which it is related that the Duchess of Irvington has lost her Necklace and the Perils, including the Coach being lost in the Forest, which befall our unfortunate Heroine thereafter.


It was not that the Necklace was particularly valuable, nor did it have a storied and rich origin involving Royalty or Crusaders; but rather, it was simply that her Grandmother had given it to her on the occasion of her first “Woman’s Holiday,” which made the Necklace a valuable Possession to her and the fact of its having been missing was enough to cause the Duchess of Irvington much worry and heartache. She delineated the Days which preceded the Necklace’s loss, or quite possible theft, but no matter the Details she remember’d—the Sunlight on the trees during the Picnic at Count Wisherwam’s or the smell of Madame DuTece’s Lap-dog’s Breath—she simply could not place just when exactly the Necklace had gone astray. It would be time soon to break-fast, which meant that she would have to suppress her worry and nausea in favor of appearing genteel and polite, glowing and cheerful, for the sake of others. After all, if she let it be known how griev’d she was over the loss of her Necklace, it might cause alarm among her Family and, Heaven forefend, among her Servants, that perhaps she was losing her Mind, or worse, that her Finances were such that the loss of a tawdry Necklace was reason for alarm. It was not a particularly flattering Necklace, nor was it fashioned from the best metals and gems in all of Christendom, and it certainly was not of the fashion of the times, but nevertheless, Elizabeth liked to have it near and to know that it was there, to be able to pick it up whenever it was that she might be wanting it. She wished that it might have been stolen, for in matters of theft it was easier to pinpoint a Culprit than it was in matters of loss to pinpoint the Location where the Unfortunate event








to the fact that someone had been taking advantage. The old Mr. Woods laughed it off—perhaps he too would be young again and all would be set to rights. When he counted out his change for the last time to little Mary, she looked up at him with a forlorn face and said, “Mister, but if you’re no longer our Ice Cream Man, who will be?” For the first time, it occurred to him that not only were his daily rounds daily miracles to the children, but no one would take his place. He felt a certain sadness as he placed a nickel and a dime into Mary’s palm. He remembered each of her phases: orange-cream popsicles followed by a vanilla mouse-head with chocolate-dipped ears, then it was strawberry-shortcake bars, then no ice cream, just sour things—pickles and salted plums—then orange-cream popsicles again.
     He wondered just what kind of child-kingdom it was that he was about to destroy—those long summer hours, which the children spent collecting change and then playing outdoors to wait for the familiar jingle and horn, would now be gone.
     Mary would continue to look for four-leafed clovers when the Ice Cream Man drove his wares away; she would continue to catch and release butterflies in her room with the belief that they would mate and lay eggs, which would hatch and produce caterpillars, which would swoon and spin themselves into green cocoons, which would split and spit out more butterflies, that they would all forever stay alive.








One

She could not remember when she began believing that if she didn’t build a brick house, in her mind each night before sleep, that she would not have a place, in her dreams, in which to live. Try as she might, she could not imagine anything without having first to build it. And so, this was when she began to become an insomniac, because what had started out as bricks, evolved into the making of the bricks, which of course, evolved into the birth of the brick-makers, which predicated that she imagine the brick-builder’s conception and then their slow and sorry childhoods, their plights into puberty, and then their being forced to become brick-makers. It became more complicated because there was the question of the mortar and the glass for windows. And then, as if the devil were trying to win at her game, right when the imaginary house was almost complete, a windstorm or some other such natural disaster would occur and send her nightly feat down, leaving her to begin her travails all over again.
     Then, there was the labor of steps. She had to walk a given number of steps each day in order to ensure that her family would remain alive. She alone had the power to give them life day after day by walking, and if she had not, due to missing school or there not being a recess at school due to bad weather, she would pace in the dark of her room








So perhaps after all it was true, that his toy bear had come back to haunt him, had not forgiven him his neglect after so many years. He tried to imagine how he might explain the presence of this bear, its placement at the dining table and accompaniment on dates, to his girlfriends, how he would have to hide the midnight conversations with Snappy-Poo.
     Snappy-Poo, Snappy-Poo, with one black-button eye glistening in the moonlight; Snappy-Poo, Snappy- Poo, with stuffing protruding from his belly.
     Samuel suddenly did not care about the ridiculous reality of things, about appointments and oil changes or young girls with vibrant hand bags: There was Snappy-Poo, the last survivor of that long tread down a dark hallway that he recalled as being his childhood; there was Snappy-Poo with his red felt tongue beckoning Samuel to go back there.








i.


My body wasn’t taken with me, the soul being a very spacious thing. Our dreams were correct: We would come to, over time, discover independent yet certain truths. Discovery number one: It is lonely. Discovery number two: No matter what, you will never be privy to my diary. Three: Even though the moon may be rising, there will be no Spartica and intervening ivy, no conscious oaks, no doweries, no contemplating orderlies, no oranges, no redeeming qualities. When you leave, you will leave incredibly softly.

*


The cry of a whistle, a belly still heaving, I set the clock back each morning.

*


I found myself, along with the other absurd people, taking photographs of animals at the zoo.

*


The publishing houses give dead authors contemporary book covers and jackets, making it seem as if these writers were still living.


ii.


Suddenly, so says Longfellow in his translation of Dante, you are not in the body of the text—the dash makes this clear.








magicians know will hurt you, as it is they who possess the knowledge of from whence objects come and whither they go. The white rabbit never exists until summoned, and the place where the white rabbit existed before being summoned never existed—only in the spectator’s mind do these places exist. When the flock of doves flies forth from the magician’s breast pocket, they do not enter our world to perch on random branches of earthbound trees—we only see them briefly for the sake of the trick. When I meet whomever it is I meet, this person never existed before and exists then, at the meeting, simply for the sake of the trick. What the magicians know will hurt you, because when whoever it is I meet flies forth from my breast, as they will and as they must, these beings do not enter this world, but go only where the magicians know they belong. Into the black hat of disappearances so many loves go and reemerge as playing cards and the animal manifestations of the symbols of fecundity or hope.








An Introduction to Invertebrate Zoology

Preface

Before one can begin a study, one must realize that the most difficult task in invertebrate zoology is believing that these certain specimen are indeed alive, or at least alive in the sense that they are and not, although they should seem so, flora. For instance, anemones, although they always appear to be beckoning, are not vegetation produced merely to hide small schools of fish. The sea cucumber certainly has been given a lay name to suggest that it is not an invertebrate. Star fish and sea dollars, of course, as all invertebrates, seem to want eyes and a mouth, some sort of face, which will help it to appear human. This is what makes it so difficult to ascribe the term alive to invertebrates—their seeming indifference caused by the lack of facial apparatus, which in turn makes it so that they are indeed vegetation. Coconuts certainly have afforded better treatment simply because, with their shaggy seed casings and those three dark spots, they resemble at best a confused, old, tribal man. Earthworms are easier to believe as being alive, simply because we witness their struggle and deaths as hundreds are left to die on sidewalks during each spring rain; certainly, our earliest memories of dissecting such a specimen in elementary school is enough to cause us to remember for all time that earthworms are indeed alive. For instance, when I sit on my lover’s face, I oftentimes experience a








convenience. She was probed about her admiration for the theorist. She did not know just how to say that she hadn’t thought much of him at all and had used his work as a reference merely to mock him. But the man was dying. He was dying this very moment in a hospital not more than twenty miles away and if she were to start her criticizing now, they would say that she was insensitive, as if a person’s work was indeed a suitable substitute for the person himself. She imagined him on his deathbed, his doctor staring over him saying, “Sir, you are dying.” The theorist’s rebuttal would be, “I don’t understand. What do you mean?” The rebuttal would be like a shot heard round the word, and people would say, “Oh, he is so clever! He didn’t even understand his doctor when his doctor said he was dying! Oh, what a clever, clever man!” She felt like punching someone in the face. Death’s meaning, she thought, was definite; there was, in matters of death, no miscommunication, no lingering of linguistic possibilities, no sign substitution— death meant death; if any signifier was “slipping,” then it was slipping into an abyss where it could not and would not “slip” any longer. She could not understand how a man, who did not believe in literature, who in fact loathed literature to the point of saying that it simply did not exist, could call himself a literary theorist. Around the dying theorist’s deathbed, she imagined gathered there the many students who worshiped and adored him. One of them would be angry that the passing away of his mentor meant that he would have to find a new thesis advisor. Another was already plotting the biography. Another would write a memoir about his time as a doting student assistant and the mad sex he had in the dying theorist’s university office. Somehow, she knew that they would all be men and each one of them would have a penis what was somehow unsatisfied. She was afraid that if she told this to the interviewer, she would be labeled as a feminist writer, which would be worse than being labeled as insensitive. Worse, she would be labeled as an insensitive feminist writer. Looking outside the window, she noticed that the trees were finally budding with their bursts of chartreuse, and within their branches, two larks were busy with their callings to one another.








On Probability

If one is of a mind such as mine, then there does not exist a program of study which will satisfy fully one’s need to apply what is quotidian to the infinite-nature of one’s perceivable κοσμος. What means apparently so much and what is doted upon inexhaustibly in doctorate seminars and labored over in dissertations seems nil when compared to the vastness of space-time, the mystery of star-formation, the mythological insight into dreams, the afterlife, the fear of Alzheimer’s, or countless veils which seem intent upon separating one from the sacred. These veils change as one changes, and this is disappointing. For example, the holy of holies once for me was the gift of flight; although I believed it possible, I could not—not even with the aid of a dozen black umbrellas—unlock the mechanism. Nor did I once believe that it was owing only to Jesus’s Christhood that he was able to walk on water; however, as one grows older—specifically, as one begins that violent snap into puberty—one begins to believe less and less in miracles. Children live in miracles, and as an adult a miracle becomes something unbelievable: I can’t believe it: It’s a miracle, people will say upon the resurrection of the dead or the ability of some people to walk away from scenes of disasters unscathed. In adulthood, only those events which seem to live in the 0.000000001 percent margins of probability and which seem to have no rational basis for occurring can be attributed to a miracle.








facility. According to the visitor’s log during this time, we know that his mother visited a total of eight times. No gifts were deposited. He never did cease with the seeing of his visions, nor did he cease hearing the voices which would call to him. He did learn how to eventually ignore everyone and everything, and so, when he was released at the age of forty-three, he cared very little for Marjorie, although she loved him so completely. He simply could not bring himself to know that she was real. What mattered most to him was what object she might choose to remove from his refrigerator, as it would reveal to him her true intentions. His diaries recorded how he told himself that if she removed item x, then it would surely be a sign of portent y and so on and so forth. She chose a jar of maraschino cherries, which, to her dismay and utter heartbreak, revealed her as a devil sent to earth to lure him away from his true work of decoding fast-food restaurant marquees. As far as we know, this is the last account of his having relations with another real human being.


—Eds.








A Heuristic Account of What Is at Stake

What is probable is that all things are probable; however, owing to our short life spans, the mathematical formulae to explain away statistics are not meant for us, but rather for the accumulation of lifetimes upon lifetimes. (For instance, the death of one man is a rare occurrence; however the deaths of many men are frequent over many lifetimes.) I will refrain from saying anything that might be construed as being sacrilegious; however, as we know from the laws of physics (which were not made for our lifespans, but rather for the span of infinity—not to be confused here with eternity) if event X occurs within a living system, the event occurs within a living system1. The difference between events occurring in a living system and those occurring in non-living systems is that living systems are open systems, as opposed to the closed, non-living systems.
     If one is human, then one is certainly a living system; living systems are autopoietic, and literature and miracles, although they may exist as perceivably closed systems, should be understood as being sympoietic living systems2. In the vast network of systems—open/closed, living, dead, homeostatic/homeorhetic—where galaxies upon galaxies drift further and further apart from one another in a race to create more and more space, the only means to arrive at a theory which may aid in reconciling the miracle to the mundane will need to adapt the scientific art of heuristics. Physics, being an intuitive science, is a field where, although undemonstrated, theories birthed from heuristic voyages are allowed to be believed. From the OED: “WHEWELL in Todhunter’s Acc. W.’s Wks. (1876) II. 418 If you will not let me treat the Art of Discovery as a kind of Logic, I must take a new name for it, Heuristic,



1. For those with no elementary knowledge of physics and especially the physics regarding entropy of systems, it is recommended that one read up on the living and the dead.

2. Autopoietic and sympoietic are two natures of living systems: Autopoietic systems are self-defined, self-producing, predictable; sympoietic systems have boundaries which are not defined, ajar, collectively produced, erratic.