Plain American Language

I cut a sliver/of WC William's finger
and placed it inside/my philosophy...

Friday, May 5, 2017

Untitled Short Story or Prose Poem?

"I've been thinking a lot about refusal. Take a baby, for example: a baby refuses to eat, or go to bed, my baby, for example, when she eats or refuses to go to bed, she sits and thumps something or says 'I don't want it' and the 'it' that she speaks of, this larger 'it,' refuses to give itself away to meaning--it could be dinner or bed or the bath or the shoe strewn on the chair next to her bed. And that thump. The thump and the sound and echo of the thump, caused by the refusal the hard wood of the table or flooring or chair to break or bend or even give an inch, rings in all of our ears. It's almost like--it's almost like there's a refusal in practically everything we do. Even an agreement is a refusal of something.

"Two hands meet in the air, pierce the space between, and meet, grasp, acquiesce to each other's presence, and shake. And for that moment, there is an acceptance of refusal: neither one will back away from the upward-downward motion, the quickness or slowness, a small social contract made sudden and true between two people. They push the air and make it move around them. They refuse to let that moment go undone. And in that agreement, they refuse all other options. They're one. For that twenty, thirty seconds or so.

"There are moments in a person's life when refusal is everything. Your teenage years. Early adulthood. Or now. Now is the best time to refuse. That refusal is the one true thing you've seen in your life. It defines you. People tell you, I've heard people tell me, that if you only live in the negation, then you'll live in comparison and contrasts all your life. You'll measure yourself with what you will not be, not what you will. But how can that be true if, when I walk, I am constantly refused? That's what physics is: things keep in motion until they've been refused by some other force. Forces so strong, you never knew they existed. People call them walls, but I know better. I am the sum of the refusals of forces. There's been a wind whipping at me since before I was born and it refuses me. People talk about it. They philosophize over it. But all it is is refusal. I don't shape myself by saying what I'm not. That's already been decided."

Don stood up from his chair and exited. His hands were dusted opal in the sun. Everything was a sharp breath in. And the first shot hit him square in the leg.

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