Posted from The Citrus Report
Written in Paris after piecing together information / interviews with local prostitutes and presented here after having long been sold-out, A Thousand Words is a zine by Jason Jaworski consisting of a found photo and a story based off its image.
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And it was death that smiled upon me, death which opened up its arms and greeted me with muted embrace. The colors of the rags which I’d worn for too long had now gone gray, tattered and torn. The strings of the cloth had begun to drag themselves on the floor, running into puddles, collecting dirt, covering themselves in the rubbish of the world- a rag of disease, a mulch which was spread around my body, kept on my skin to insulate myself from the outside world which had become so distant since then. Since Robert had left, since the clocks stopped turning, since the sea had frozen over, since the wind picked up, since that niagara of water within me had drowned itself, covered itself with too much. Everything I’d done was in excess. Everything I saw or sought was too large for me. I’d become a failure without ever trying.
By the time I straightened things out, it was too late. My house had already gone under, my business failed and I was alone. I started living in my car, sleeping in the back seat, eating what I could find or steal- whatever was readily available I clung to like some steel magnet. I tried selling myself, selling my body, but I could never go through with it. I’d have men drag me back to their places, tongue down their throat, laughingly telling them how I wanted to stay with them, that I needed a meal and then that would be it, perhaps a few bucks if you could spare it, that would do well. Where is it you said you lived? On Montmarte, passed the bridge? Which one? The Pont-Neuf? The Bir-Hakeim? What was that? The Mirabeau. Yes, I know it, sure. In the west, right? Beyond the Eiffel. Yes. Meet there?
His name Gregory. He wouldn’t tell me his last name, but he seemed nice enough. He had a wife and three children back home, back in New York where he lived.
–I’m just on vacation– he told me, –a bit of business, you know?–
I poured back what remained in my glass, swallowing it down as I smiled at him, taking his tie in my right hand and wrapping it around my wrist. A two-bulbed lamp hung from the ceiling, around it was a red fabric shade which breathed off an air of burgundy. The beige colored walls mixed themselves in the light, as if both were two paints on a sheet of paper doused in water. I kept looking around the room, studying the architecture. All along the top corners of the walls were small mosaics made of tile, showing the numbers seven-one-four. From the window, I caught the view of some large building across the way. Outside the lobby stood huge columns- corinthian, doric, ionic. Every piece and era of the old and new seemed to be in this city. The floor was covered in marble, the walls lined with gold leaf. I was almost overwhelmed by it, but soon remembered what I’d come here for- money.
He had an odd complexion. His faced looked as though it were carved in stone, having a Keaton-quality to it. Whenever I looked at him all I saw was Keaton, the general, the cameraman. I laughed somewhat loudly, breaking up a bit of the tension which had been building around us. Soon though, a skin of silence covered everything and he grabbed me by the waist, pulling me towards him and throwing the both of us on the couch. I tried to break free of him, his grip, but he held me tightly. We made it to the floor, both of us squirming and by then he had become stiff. I was laying on top of him and felt it through my thigh, throbbing.
–Where’s the switch?– I stuttered, –Can’t we shut the light? I don’t like doing this when I can see the room around me.–
He said nothing, just grinned, spreading his lips wide to expose a set of crooked teeth.
–They’re yellow,– I said.
–Everything’s yellow in the beginning. Just got to go through with it, that’s all. You’ll do good. You could use the experience.–
And with that he shut his lips, put his hand around the back of my neck and pushed me down toward him, opening up his mouth, whispering a few words before placing his tongue in me.
I pulled backward.
–I’d really prefer it if we shut the light. Isn’t it bright in here to you?–
–I’ll shut it in a bit…alright I’ll do it now. Take off that blouse. I’m not gonna be able to see that skin, but I at least want to feel it.–
He rounded a corner. Once out of his sight, I looked to see where his wallet was, looked around and found it on a stool, the third one from the kitchen window. When he came back I was nude, my body outlined by the moon’s light. I lay on the floor, outstretched and exposed.
–Come here,– he said, pulling me from the thighs. –It’s warm ain’t it. It’s been a bit gray for my taste, but when you got something like you, who’s to complain..–
He started to take off his clothes with one arm, the other he had around my wrist, moving my palms over his body. When he was fully nude he lay himself down on me.
–Vive la France.– he muttered under his breath.
When morning came, he was gone. On the counter was a wad of bills, a note and some cold coffee. I didn’t bother to read the note. I counted the bills quickly, looked around the room for more, took what I could and left. It was impossibly cold outside, a few degrees colder and it’d be unbearable. Snow hadn’t yet started to fall, but with the silken frost somewhat visible on odd street corners and lampposts one felt that it was coming. Either within the span of this day or tomorrow. I wrapped myself in my jacket, put on some gloves and caught the train to the other side of the city. I meant to go towards my car, but decided to get off earlier, finding a few scraps of food in a pastry shop. From there it was a quick stroll down the Rue Laffitte.
I always seem to get angry with things when I walk alone, and now was no different. For some reason everything irritated me. There were the children in the street, fights breaking out, the homeless, the masses of cars which crowded every corner with their smoke and noise, there were the buildings around me, each one centuries old and vomitous in their design. I didn’t care for much and despised most of everything. I just couldn’t deal with it- with this cloud, this smoke which had covered me. Some sewer line, a punctured wound in the city, steam rising from it, covering all in its stink, its vapor, its cough. And from this cloud I caught everything. I caught the hate, I caught the germ, I caught the disease, the plague, the cancer, tuberculosis, the mercurial fits which further fecundated the morrows of my soul. Everything climbing into some case, some bill which was pasted and then nailed onto my torso. A fucking stink it was! Some gaudy maelstrom/bedlam of beings all scrounged up and tossed into this tank, left there to talk of each one’s own, talk it up and then rot away, our limbs soon filed down to stubs. But we didn’t notice, nor did we care! We had art! We had the music! We had the fucking word! It was literature which folded our being, it was song which sewed its way through our fabric, it was the paintings of the past which swung in the lamplight, further guiding us. That beacon! The lighthouse! …….and after we had been ground up in the blue, they swept us up and bottled us out, tacking on labels and throwing us farther and further away. By then, everything was lost….
I’d tried for a while to find the words to write this, but never did. Everything I put down was either too soaked in hyperbole or watered down too far to the point of becoming a euphemism. –With things like this, you have to go at them head on,– that’s what Jane always said, what she would always tell me back at home. So I opt now for what I have, for what I know and what I can deal. Then I come back to the world, I step out of the lobby and come to the realization that everything’s falling apart. You can either watch it go, help it further to fall, or try to rebuild. Unfortunately, my passivity kept me on the sidelines. I complained, but did nothing to further alleviate the situation. I sat like this, my arms crossed, my lips wrapped ‘round a cigarette. Under the awning of some rotting building, my arm on the old weathered gate which ran along the Seine, that river which ran through all. Paris. The city of the soul. Behind that street, inside the garret, the needle is all that helps me. I find the vein and puncture the wound. – Bliss. –
I kneel back into the white, wrapping myself in the sheet. I smell it, I feel it, I breathe it… Everything is wonderful for just a moment, everything dances and swirls…everything moves.
oh everything, everything, everything….
Soon my thoughts run out from behind me.
I needed someone to love and someone to love me. There was so much I had to give, so much it was stuffing me, coming up through the throat. I had nothing to give but love, yet whenever I came across someone, I pushed them away, I spewed out hate. Why had this curse been thrust upon me? What were the distractions which caused the fractions of my mind to become maligned? What words were there, words I had yet to know // what songs were there, songs I’d yet to hear/sing // what sky was there, not yet visible to me, covered in a canvas of clouds // what color was there that I’d yet to see, what paintings, sculptures and persons // what letters were there, languages which I’d yet to hear speech from // what lists had I not yet made // who had I not yet met, not yet loved, hugged and hated // what future had I not yet seen // what past ////
Jupiter floats by my window, riding along the pink, polio, promethium, pyrite, purity, π……… my mind rambled on now, nothing I said or wrote made any sense. I had lost myself to the drug. Onward and downward I spiraled, falling through the cracks of my heart, falling deeper, toward the abyss of my being, toward the black, toward that which was colorless, toward my ruin, toward the muted marrow of the soul, the night’s claws digging into my flesh…and past that I fell- past feeling, past emotion, past tears. I fell further and further… I fell past it all, and now I’d arrived, kicking the habit and heading toward the light.
The railing wasn’t paved, and the tunnel was much too thin to walk through standing upright. I crawled at first. I crawled through the mud, the frost, the sea and the others. Crawling through the fire, the earth, the lava of life- I let it flow through me. This gapless information- none of it lost. I was a newly set sponge, nothing left me unabsorbed. Like cotton I covered and smudged most of it, but on my skin there were layers piling up-layers of the night, layers of the light, layers, layers, layers. And once I’d reached the middle, once I’d passed myself in knowledge there was nothing to do but look upward, look up at that ocean, that gray sheet of sky. I looked up smilingly, laughingly, hysterically. I looked up at this big joke of the sky, I looked up and laughed. People passed, confused by it all, not sure of the situation, not sure of anything really. What was I doing? I myself didn’t know, but I knew it was right. Had I reached the ninth sphere? That “primum mobile,” that “abode of the angels” which Alighieri spoke of so eloquently?.. There were answers up there, there were answers in that mountainous village of the sky, within that gray of day I saw the answers. And with my heart as a pickaxe, I pulled back the skin of the land, and I bored through it, mining for the words and vessels, my body filled with a vim/vigor I hadn’t yet known. I hadn’t seen this part of myself. Who was I? Had I changed? Or was this person always in me, lying dormant and now just waking, spreading her wings and setting off to fly toward that lake, that newly constructed cauldron, the waters of which boiled in the heat. That heat of day, that heat of night. Oh, the heat. How it permeated through my being, through the forrest of all. The strings had begun to swell, and the orchestra was readying themselves. The crowd came in like snakes, wrapping around the sides of the building, each one turning over their seats as if they were turning the page of some novel, some newly gutted work which had ran its way through The Times. And in they came, in they poured, and once seated they stared forward, clapping maddeningly as the curtain rose. It was Christmas Eve in Cairo, 1871. The actors came out in costume and performed the piece. Verdi’s Aida.
“Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.”
– Jason Jaworski
Parc Geroges Brassens
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Posted By The Citrus Report