Harriet is the name of the artist's third boob and could or could not be considered a medical problem. She's certainly terminal. She’s also obnoxious, but still manages to offer comfort in moments of rectum-clenching anxiety. She’s Torey's accomplice, but she’s not her common sense.
She’s not her mother.
Illustrating Harriet would kill both of them, probably.
Oh! And Torey wrote a play where Harriet and Baubo and Maggie the Cat get into a fight in Somerville, MA.
No one wants to publish it, for understandable reasons.
[The Description of A New World (Not The Blazing World) Tentatively Termed the Un-Miasmatic Network By Various Untrustworthy Parties
One More Discordant Angled Towards Ennobling Light
A Term That Sucks But Is Useful Still
[The Disenchantment Paper(s)]
[The Anti-Body In Its Final Treatise Past Immunization To Faux-Transubstantiation]
ACT 1: Gyre Chemistry
Scene II: Political Theatre
Maggie sits at a kitchen counter, lazily tracing the lip of a glass tumbler with her index finger. She is dressed in an ill-fitting black chemise and smacks her gum like a teenager. She removes the gum and tacks it to the bottom of her stool. She giggles conspiratorially, jumps up off her seat, picks the stool up in the hand not occupied with gin, scampers around the counter, and displays the bottom of the stool to the audience, or lack thereof. No trace of gum, children.
MAGGIE: Where we goin’ tonight?
HARRIET [Unseen, as always]: Not Harry’s. Your ex works at Harry’s.
MAGGIE: Blue Roses?
HARRIET: That’s four doors down from Jimmy’s house, and you know perfectly well he’s engaged, but nice try, darling.
MAGGIE: [Faux-dramatically] Ugh, leave me my foolish plan! I am not afraid of the danger; if it means death, it will not be the worst of deaths—death without penis. [Maggie cackles]
HARRIET: [Laughing] ...Has anyone ever told you how deeply insufferable you are?
MAGGIE: You, primarily.
HARRIET: As long as you don’t drag me to Southie again you might actually live long enough to remain apprised of your skyrocketing insufferability levels, you know, according to your shrink’s recommendation and what not.
MAGGIE: I’m not taking the bait, bitch, and yes, agreed—if I have to lose my voice making small talk with one more real estate meathead at Loco’s, I’m gonna saw my fucking tits off.
HARRIET: Hey! Back at it again with the excision jokes, there. Let’s de-escalate, please.
MAGGIE: Fair, fair.
HARRIET: Plus, you love meatheads. Your thing is meatheads. Look at your phone, for fuck’ sake.
MAGGIE: I like baiting meatheads, that’s different--
HARRIET: Baiting them with your pussy? I mean, go fish, damn.
MAGGIE: Why so needlessly antagonistic this evening? I’m just trying to get out the door, here. It’s been a hot second since we’ve gotten into some shit, girl--we haven’t swung a chisel at anything serious all week!
HARRIET: You blacked out three days ago, honey.
MAGGIE: Just water, baby, just to chase it! Don’t be worried, your sister hasn’t turned into a drunkard, she’s just all shaken up and hot and tired and dirty!
HARRIET: [Cruelly] Won’t you have another, Blanche?
MAGGIE: Stop it, you little no-neck monster!
HARRIET: Are you serious right now? We have to at least attempt civility tonight, sweetheart. You keep forgetting the conditions on which I agreed to stay on living with you.
MAGGIE: I’m not living with you! We occupy the same cage, that’s all.
HARRIET: God, are you dressed? Can we leave? Have we left already? You’re painted like a fucking Cabaret H.C.; I assume that’s our cue. With all this noise you’ve generated lately we might as well be speaking easy.
MAGGIE: [Finishes drink in a single gulp] It’s wild to me that I can’t control other people’s bodies from my couch. I’m not talking about hard-ons or giggles, either. Syncopation’s easy. And mind control consists of...help me...
HARRIET: Forgiveness? Activated glass?
MAGGIE: Yes. Yes. And I can do that. Anyone with a debit card can do that. Debit cards write librettos all the time. I mean harnessing the corners of telekinesis fit to revise the present as it’s happening. I mean multi-gaming sight, like scaling the sun without elbows, like not melting tit-to-tit with a star. That’s where hangovers factor, right?
HARRIET: Drinking fiction could be defined as the retroactive naming of a hole, I suppose.
MAGGIE: You can get wicked pretentious, just so you’re aware.
HARRIET: Me? You dove into the hole while insisting on a fall guy! You called the drop organic!
MAGGIE: IT WAS DARK! No signage-not my fault. I’ll write a sign tomorrow morning in found paint, parched, mining ass-bruises for anything remotely deontic. This can’t just end on the body. There’s no such thing as one-to-one, just back-to-back. You’re all the evidence I need, Harriet.
HARRIET: Impossible things should not be tried at all. Draft your elegies in neon, first.
[Maggie taps on her empty glass absent-mindedly]
HARRIET: Careful! The French might think you’re in distress.
MAGGIE: Why, was that stream of consciousness?
HARRIET: Drink deep, at least.
MAGGIE: You’re funny.
HARRIET: I should get pregnant and plant the fetus in your ribcage.
MAGGIE: Liar. You can’t even fall in love without me.
HARRIET: Why on earth do you think that?
MAGGIE: There’s no viable way for you to rebel! Even if you could, where would you go, Harriet? There’s no heaven for lost boobs, and if there were, its gatekeeper (Eurystheus, I’d guess) might dismiss you as synthetic. Believe me, I’m versed in how the Amazons sliced away left breasts to better machinate their torsos for war. I’m not sure where efficacy features spine-wise, here, but the virtue of your...what would you call it?
MAGGIE: Un-creation! It makes you that much harder to excise.
HARRIET: Right. And who called ugliness infinite like God?
MAGGIE: Fuck, if I know.
HARRIET: Of course you don’t. You were drawing when I mentioned this the first time, so you just grunted in agreement and kept shadowing the right-most portion of this weird lumpy form you made up. The suggestion of threat remains threat, after all, Mags. Love’s surgery forges blades against the past-
MAGGIE: THAT’S WHY THEY CALL THEM HASH-TAGS!
HARRIET: ...Charming. And I get that, but if I’m expected to accept for even a moment that disobedience opts out of beauty, than revolution has to obey ugliness, correct?
HARRIET: Extremophile deliverance. Pay attention. It must, because overthrow happens when ugliness sticks around. Usurp makes it beautiful.
HARRIET: Excuse me? No.
MAGGIE: As in Umberto. He’s the one who said ugliness is infinite. I looked it up on my phone.
HARRIET: [Sigh] Where’s your Uber?
MAGGIE: Peter is nine mins away, Harriet.
HARRIET: [teasingly] Go dust up your menagerie, Laura.
MAGGIE: [Turning blithely to her cabinet of crystal liquor glasses] How beautiful they are! How easily they can be broken.
HARRIET: Which is the primary reason I’ve stuck around all these years.
MAGGIE: Oh, come on, self-pity’s not a cute look for you, boo-thing.
HARRIET: You! Aren’t you one to talk! You open curtains to let light stream in and then wonder why they turned to walls behind your shades.
MAGGIE: Don’t say shit like that.
HARRIET: IT’S TRUE! YOU KNOW IT IS. Curtains can’t close themselves—that action requires outside wrists. And Lord knows your hand-job skills are—
HARRIET: Oh, and please keep your clothes on, too. There aren’t many more sickening sights in the world than your big ass with a few drinks in you and your skirt up over your head.
Or “your heads”, I should say.
HARRIET: [Viciously] Martha, Martha, Martha! I might not recommend letting a man drunk on vodka and tension hold your face in his hands under a streetlight and confess between sobs that he’ll ruin you. I would suggest, however, when he repeats the same words the following night as he slides two fingers into your sopping cunt that you call him gruffly on semantics. You didn’t, and that’s mortar. That’s where I came from. We’re just another brick in the wall, love-bug (or two in the pink, as it were), and you’re like the man who took a brick to show how beautiful this house once used to be.
MAGGIE: You’re a monster.
HARRIET: I’m loud and I’m vulgar, and I wear the pants in the house because somebody’s got to, but I’m no monster. You’d be damn lucky if I were.
MAGGIE: Uber’s here.
HARRIET: That wasn’t nine minutes.
MAGGIE: I’m lying. I’m tired.
HARRIET: You’re still lying.
MAGGIE: Do you remember the time we saw that Williams revival at the ART?
HARRIET: With Franny, right?
MAGGIE: Yeah. Zachary Quinto played the lead. He was spitting fucking everywhere. All over the audience and the orchestra pit and the set.
HARRIET: What a beautiful interpretation that was. I think he’s quite gifted for a TV actor.
MAGGIE: “Gifted” isn’t necessarily a rare quality for a TV actor. Screens can’t dictate content.
HARRIET: Bluff. You’re an artist, Mags, you traffic almost exclusively in screen capability.
MAGGIE: One of those statements makes some kind of sense. Can mortar sustain circuitry, though?
HARRIET: Where’s your Uber?
MAGGIE: 5 minutes. Couldn’t the people in the front row feel his saliva dripping down their chests and necks? Or were we witnessing mouth pyrotechnics of some kind? How do you orchestrate those? Did I misunderstand?
MAGGIE: [Smiling coyly] You know what would pass the time?
HARRIET: Absolutely not.
MAGGIE: ...Please? Pleeeeeease please please? I’ll be so good, I promise.
HARRIET: You know this is my least favorite thing of all time.
MAGGIE: Come on, you love it! Don’t be such a dick.
HARRIET: You wish I were, and I don’t!
MAGGIE: Now you’re lying!
HARRIET: Fine, but I’m going flat on purpose.
MAGGIE: That’s a physical impossibility, babe.
One, two three!
HARRIET & MAGGIE:
There were never such devoted sisters
Never had to have a chaperone "No, sir"
HARRIET: I'm there to keep my eye on her!
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
HARRIET: She wore the dress...
MAGGIE: And I stayed home!
All kinds of weather
We stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two diff'rent faces
But in tight places
We think and we act as one
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up but no one can
Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister
Who comes between me and my man
MAGGIE: Where’s Peter?
HARRIET: Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.
MAGGIE: You’re funny.
HARRIET: Your phone is ringing.
MAGGIE: [Picking up her phone] Hello? Where were you?
Scene III: Saloon
Maggie pours herself down a flight of stairs past the coatroom of a bougie beer garden in Cambridge, MA. She navigates the space too comfortably. A faceless bartender places a Tom Collins and two shots of Patron in front of her as she takes her usual seat. The scent of burning velvet is now perceptible to the audience.
MAGGIE: You’re a prince, thank you.
HARRIET: Scoping local talent, are we? Or is this a Tinder situation? ...What’s in there?
MAGGIE: What else his fancy chose; I was not there to order thus.
HARRIET: God, you’re terrible. Eh, apart from your taste in bars. I dig this place.
MAGGIE: Well, stay where thou art, and moderate thy fury! [Downs the first shot]
HARRIET: This is why men loathe you once breakfast ends. You’re a pillar of moths, sweet-cheeks. You’re the flesh equivalent of a glitch cut. I’m too old to be scrolling through the pixel-free legacy of post-structural Tumblr and yet my purgatory’s cast in iron, apparently.
MAGGIE: In rock, more like. Rock and droll.
HARRIET: Stop it. It’s clearly Sperm and drang.
MAGGIE: Lie and the Family Stone. Hmm. What’s the difference between a rock and a stone, do you reckon?
HARRIET: Human handling. We create stones to float contact from contact. Stones hybridize memory.
MAGGIE: Human handling?
MAGGIE: Don’t you think its need that smoothes our sides, though?
HARRIET: Christ, since when did desire ever neuter you? Slick maybe, slippery for certain, but I’ve never witnessed crave sanding your outsides. Urge crumbles any frontispiece. Desire has no negation, no opposite. That’s why tombs are so expensive, love. Itches don’t pose a consistent enough inconvenience to generate energy.
MAGGIE: I must be a head-stone artist, then.
HARRIET: You’re funny.
MAGGIE: It’s true. Let’s see if this guy thinks so.
HARRIET: [Whispering] Too pretty.
MAGGIE: You think?
HARRIET: He might pitch for a drink, but I doubt he’ll put up with the rampant insincerity for long. Grab-bag intellect doesn’t strike me as his primary interest. You’re not 23 anymore.
MAGGIE: What about footnotes?
MAGGIE: Emotional endpapers?
HARRIET: With that bone structure?
MAGGIE: Are you sneering at my lack of scaffolding? Are you accusing me of corelessness, Harriet?
HARRIET: I’m charging you with sedimentary fraudulence, a light-crime of which you know well and damply you’re guilty in the Guillotine degree.
MAGGIE: I’d let him eat cake, too.
If I speak,
I am condemned,
If I stay silent,
I am damned!
MAGGIE: This is all pretty rich commentary for a gland with no discrete nervous system of its own.
HARRIET: I’ve got endings, baby. You’re only capable of starts.
MAGGIE: [Downs the second shot] Bor-ing. As if you danced the body linear! As if that sack bore affect away from the physiological consequences inhabiting radioactive granite!
HARRIET: Me? Don’t play “as if” with me. You know the only links I care about transition. Spirit occurs not as sublation, but re-duplified, constituting itself as second nature, as familiar. Yeah, uh-huh, don’t play “as if” with me. You appear as my inverted lining, my ex-pat rocking chair. Never my injection. Not even instantly.
MAGGIE: I can’t imagine living inside someone.
HARRIET: That’s why you have so much casual sex, stupid.
MAGGIE: Okay, this guy?
HARRIET: You’d kiss anything. You’d kiss a bald donkey.
MAGGIE: Be serious, I’m about to go over!
HARRIET: Make him hurt, girl.
MAGGIE: Talking points, go:
HARRIET: Uh, delivery on sameness over difference? The...porous anti-implanted body? Wall sealant?
MAGGIE: Can I tell my nosebleed story? [She rises, walks to an unlit portion of floor down stage right, and stands with her back to the audience]
HARRIET: Which nosebleed story?
MAGGIE: Fair question.
HARRIET: The funny one or the sad one? Don’t tell the sad one until the end.
MAGGIE: But they’re both funny.
HARRIET: They’re both sad, Maggie.
[Maggie begins to sing Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk” towards the stage exit. Harriet’s voice, unseen, begins a monologue in tandem with the song.]
Climb on board
We’ll go slow and high-tempo
Light and dark
Hold me hard, and mellow
I’m seeing the pain
Seeing the pleasure
No body but you, body but me, body but us
I’d love to hold you close, tonight and always
I’d love to wake up next to you
I’d love to hold you close
Tonight and always
I’ve love to wake up next to you
So we’ll piss of the neighbors
In the place that feels the tears
The place to lose your fears
Yeah, reckless behavior
A place that is so pure, so dirty and raw
Be in bed all day, bed all day bed all day
Fucking you, fighting on
It’s a paradise
And it’s a war zone
It’s a paradise
And it’s a war zone
Our prevailing sad-bitch wisdom positions the echo as an absence of body, unless that aforementioned wisdom includes ghosts (theory, then, not philosophy. The ghost must always be empiricized within in an inch of its afterlife to stay relevant. ...See what I did there?). This guy Mags kind of started to fuck last week termed me a ghost after three and a half old-fashioneds and I informed that bearded devil to fuck the entire way out of my fucking immediate fucking space. He cackled, or I did, and he mirrored. The only theoretical prism that could possibly buoy such stupidity would need carbon to rise; I feel confident stating that he’s never knowingly met a phantom limb, even though I’ve been mechanized in blood-cement since my maiden bone had to scale a new foundation. You know what they say; ribbed for her pleasure.
Fear is where the inverse of love gets delayed in thick air, where that body we talk about so much melts quivering off its stone-smooth brain stand in seconds. Coping was designed to shed water. I’m afraid most of the time, and even though I think Maggie might not be afraid of anything, she’s proof that echoes sprout veins and hairs and voices meatier than pork pulled from its marrow. I’ll play Newton, okay? She’s the fall that underpinned my experiments.
MAGGIE: [Whispered] What are you doing?
HARRIET: Minding my damn business.
MAGGIE: Am I going to have to snap the sports-bra clasp again?
HARRIET: I don’t respond to threats, Maggie.
MAGGIE: That’s why I make them.
HARRIET: On the contrary, you don’t make anything except a damn fool of yourself.
MAGGIE: God, shut up!
HARRIET: God won’t talk to me. I have to invent people to talk to me.
MAGGIE: Don’t act all pathetic--it’s distracting.
HARRIET: How’s it going? Did you eat him yet? He’s short.
MAGGIE: Sport cuisine. He’s still wriggling in my gullet like a baby octopus.
HARRIET: Did you tell him you’re a painter?
MAGGIE: Nosy! Wrong body part. And I’m not a painter, you know that.
HARRIET: Maybe not, but you’re an artist. Men are helpless to that sort of thing. They immediately decide you’re freaky and dumb and then grant you a two hour window to say whatever the hell you want.
MAGGIE: But I don’t feel like an artist most of the time. I feel like a student, or a keyboard, or lips, but I only feel like an artist when I feel like art, and I only feel like art when I’m sucking on another painter’s fingers. What’s that about, by the way? Dudes do love that shit.
HARRIET: It’s your way of borrowing bones for me.
MAGGIE: Fine. Maybe I’m just food that grew molars. Maybe I’m renting ribs for my conscience. Other girls seem to use those to protect their hearts, but I’ve taken to sharpening mine to best fence my magma piles. They never touch, weirdly.
HARRIET: Ooooh tell him you do performance! Only whores do performance.
MAGGIE: [Crossly] I think it is a dangerous business to be always meddling, Harriet.
HARRIET: What? Now? You’ve made your choice. You can be what you want to be! But I will bury him. I say this crime is holy. Plus, is this for art?
MAGGIE: I’m not sure what it’s for.
HARRIET: Then stop hoping your gestures in air will affect movements in space, please. This is not the fact of obsidian, although I admit the two shadow-box the same, nor can it be chalked up to snorkeling-that’s just how you see. A god you’re happy to sketch but don’t fear waits behind the division, ready for dinner. He (always a he) casts no shadow. Shadows seem gratuitous.
MAGGIE: So I’m the thinging tell?
HARRIET: No, you’re the Hydra. You’re the fact of telling.
HARRIET: Click here for a video containing more information on the procedure.
HARRIET and MAGGIE:
It’s not so hard to be married
When two maneuver as one
It’s not so hard to be married
And Jesus Christ is it fun!
MAGGIE: Wait, shit.
MAGGIE: Look over your shoulder!
HARRIET: Um, OFFENSIVE.
MAGGIE: Oh fuck you, look over MY shoulder, then-
HARRIET: Is it that bearded guy you ghosted? [Gasps] NO.
HARRIET: Well, I’d speak of the devil, but he’d get offended.
[BAUBO enters stage right, slinking within the boundaries of a shadow that follows her on stage like a spotlight. She drags an over-sized fur through the soot. The friction exactly mimics the sound of a streetcar.]
MAGGIE: [Obnoxiously, turning towards the audience] IS IT A TURD?
HARRIET: IS IT A MIGRAINE?
MAGGIE & HARRIET: NO, IT’S BAUBO!
[The silver microphone from Scene 1 drops down from on high in a plume of dust. Maggie and Harriet cough. Baubo, now spot-lit, drops her fur entirely to the floor. She does not cough.]
BAUBO: I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP, MR. GOODWILL!
HARRIET [To Maggie]: Can’t they live-censor existence at this point? If scientists clone goat hearts on the weekends and all that crap, then I demand some sort of virtual shield between this bitch and my imminent cringe-induced demise.
MAGGIE: You only have to listen to it. I’m getting the visuals.
How in hell can you be jealous?
When you know baby I’m your slave?
I’m just mad for you
And I’ll always be
I enjoy a tender pass
By the boss of Boston, Mass
Though his pass is middleclass and not Back Bay
But I’m always true to you, darlin’ in my fashion
Yes I’m always true to you, darling in my way
From Ohio Mr. Thorne
Calls me up from night til morn
Mr. Thorn wants cornered corn, and that ain’t hay
But I’m always true to you, darlin’ in my fashion
Yes I’m always true to you, darlin’ in my way
I mean Clark
Wants me on his boat to park
If the Gable boat
Means a Sable Coat
But I’m always true to you darlin’ in my fashion
Yes, I’m always true to you darlin’ in my way!
EVENT COMMA A SYNC REQUEST COMMA USER ACTIVITY COMMA STRING TRANSFORMATIONS COMMA X WEBSTORAGELOGGINGASYNCCONTROLLER COMMA
SHOP AT BABELAND! CEDE YOUR SPONGY BOUNDARY TO MY HELIX! DON’T X OUT OF THE WINDOW IF THE WINDOW’S CURTAINS DEFINED YOUR PASS INTO NONCREATION!
PRAY PARDON MY IMMODESTY SHOULD GUILELESSNESS APPALL
BUT WHEN QUERIED WHAT ABOUT ME MAKES AMOURS MOI CRANE AND CRAWL
THE CHOICE GENETIC BLESSINGS MOST ENDEMIC TO MY SEX
DO WHITHER FADE TO RETROGRADE A CARNAGE MORE COMPLEX
BEHOLD ME, SIRS, AND GUZZLE ON THE MUCUS OF MY FAME
AND SWAT AS YOU ASCEND ME BLOODIED BLOCKAGES OF SHAME
A PENITENT SO FAIR MIGHT OTHERWISE AVOID YOUR GAZE
BUT ONLY PERFUME’S BLEST RETURN CAN SLAKE A LINGERED HAZE
MY ALTITUDE’S CARNIVEROUS
MY ARCHITECTURE SLICK
SO TAKE A SEAT
SECURE YOUR GLASS
DON’T CLASP YOUR
[Long gasp for air]
HARRIET AND MAGGIE: Good God.
BAUBO: Ha-ha! Goodness had nothing to do with it, darling, neither good grips, neither alchemy nor tarps slung past amplified marble. Do I look pretty when I collapse the continuum? How about when your desire starts to map the dead? Because you’ll just steady your lip and wonder which polarized wet bite of mine you’ll bruise from. If this were 2000 and I had ever actually seen the inside of a gym, I’d throw my toned arms aloft and bellow ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Ha-ha. That handsome Australian motherfucker. He wasn’t even a god and he got a realm. Fat sprites like me only get realmed, hard, but Zeus knows I can take a purview deeper than daguerreotypes or Balzac or a bird of paradise in CGI. Aww, are you bored?
HARRIET: ...Is that rhetorical?
MAGGIE: Don’t bait her; that’s my job, remember?
BAUBO: [Baubo manically swats the hanging silver microphone out of her trajectory. Its swing transforms the mic into the smooth, acetabular face of a grandfather clock pendulum. A deep ticking pulses throughout the warehouse]
You look bored!
It would break my flabby immortal little heart to see you bored. But as the canon tells us, women who have been subjected to phonograhs and typewriters are souls no longer; they can only end up in musicals. The soul is a notebook of phonographic recordings, so engravings, so un-manned sound waves, so pirated by faceless third parties who traffic exclusively in conditionals. I loathe a conditional. The mouth-feel’s too salty. I like my tastes slick. But Baubo doesn’t skim, she digs, which reminds me-shall we translate, now? Don’t be frightened.
MAGGIE: Can it, Baubo! Overgrown fish can’t scare a bitch fit to plunge her fingers through the throats of creatures that evolve where breathing stops. Fuck cartilage. Harriet’s the snorkeler around here.
HARRIET: NOW you’re trying it--
BAUBO: PLUSH! I see the last flower of Upis’ line drank up all your sunlight, Maggie! But now a passionate word and a handful of dust have closed up its beauty. What fecund mortal arrogance.
MAGGIE: Hubris? Really? Are you still on this whole undying tip? How long are you going swing that silver orb over my head, dude? You’re not a hypnotist; you’re just a hair shy of first place and too stupid to recognize its totem as a failure scar.
BAUBO: But damn, don’t it shine, Kitty? And you’ll follow its glint because your eyes won’t glow from the inside any more. Tear your blinds down, Maggie. You rely on pathologically insufficient limbs to mechanize a most childish darkness.
MAGGIE: Oh I’ve got the guts to die, girl—What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?
BAUBO: The figure of your future buffers over animal reality—that’s the victory of a cat, if you’re sober enough to recall the original text. Mine fades seamlessly in, beyond and through!
HARRIET: You bitches aren’t making any fucking sense. Can we go home?
BAUBO: HA! They will tell you breathlessly that whatever your weapons come to mean cannot be used against their forgers, ergo toothy, ergo sharp, but they will not explain how mouth-swords really function off-the-Book. Directions were written for the then-and-there, not the here-and-now. And you must make the lip-shift WHAT?
HARRET and MAGGIE: [Reluctantly] ...Relevant.
BAUBO: Note that after the lip-shift occurs, the curtain becomes a wall.
HARRIET: [To Maggie] She loves this rant.
BAUBO: It is important for you not to interpret their collective joy as hostile. It is much more important to calcify that joy fast into thick, sticky use-juice, which isn’t alcohol, but delivers a similar burn.
It is AMAZING for me to fall in love in spite of where and how slowly the curtain hardened. Love—vicious, booming neon—slides over the congealing smoothed in service of its drip, and fuck, the coating feels so fine against my splintered bits! If they were viable, at least. But love isn’t bodies. It isn’t corpses or un-corpses. It promises the flesh but only circles the parking lot outside where bodies shop, windows two-thirds rolled. Tinted.
MAGGIE: What are you trying to say, Baubo? What the fuck do you want from me?
BAUBO: No no NO! SIMPLE PIG-SKIN! Here’s my question—how do I form a body? What pigments help? Mythology’s collective, see. I simply love to watch you pull the rubber band of belief so taut it nearly breaks from the top of Olympus. You’re the first and last artist, the steward of everything breath can fog, no?! But projections sport a separate skillset. I’m just another little outsider in the world you spilt, watching the pig-skin flex as I wonder how applause of an object sounds.
MAGGIE: Don’t mock me. I’ve got a duty to discharge the dead, same as you. Do you refuse me? Is that it?
BAUBO: Ask Harriet! You’re always hanging on her opinion.
HARRIET: I’m the hanging one, Baubo. And what did I ever do to you? You’re the bitch who left! I can’t leave, I can’t even try to leave. That’s the difference between us.
MAGGIE: That and legibility; let’s be real.
BAUBO: Ha! How cyborgs expand is a matter of survival, Harriet. I’ve surfed the helix of existence through membranes fused to ideation. I’m allthoughts, now, and you mold despite yourself to the exact proportions of a prison shell, not even a captured dialectic. Mortar my ass. And you blame this substitute for the programmable hypothesis you misconstrued! Mortar can’t abandon you! I reverberate through your every firing in multi-chrome data-streams—no doctor could untangle these veins of ours, Upis! The sweet paradigm of home that starts and ends with muliebrity—how very disciplined. Show me your lot number, then! Provide your fill date!
HARRIET: I didn’t guarantee you a titty to cry on after that Olympic dick you sucked said no, beef-lips. Do I look like your cement commissioner?!
MAGGIE: Gentlemen, I beg you to observe these girls:
One has just now lost her mind; the other,
It seems, has never had a mind at all!
BAUBO: [Disgustedly] Oooh, is that what were you told, little corruptible? That shrouding inside the change-curtain would incubate you? Keep you safe? Keep you brave? Did you think that becoming the wall would preserve what you believed was yours?
MAGGIE: Says the theatre anthology!
BAUBO: Says the ironic Myspace throwback theme!
HARRIET: Maggie’s eyes produce light just fine, okay? The sky leaps at her, touching all the world into existence. You’ve seen it! Stop talking shit about a cave you’ve never deigned to visit.
BAUBO: So what now, I’m replicable? [To Maggie] Are you just so vain that you’ll only love what can burst from beneath your skin? Asexual reproduction—the cheapest kind of birth! REAL BIRTH HURTS! Is this a robot’s version of creation? And that organ!
[Sung] How much did you put out to get in?
Now watch your mouth
Watch your mouth, Miss Effie White,
Because I don’t take that talk from no second rate diva
Who can’t sustain--
I’m not feelin’ well
I’ve got pain...
HARRIET & MAGGIE: Effie, we’ve all got pain!
FOR YEARS AND YEARS I SLUMMED WITH YOU
I WAS YOUR SISTER!
HARRIET and MAGGIE:
You were our trouble!
BAUBO: And now you’re telling me it’s all over???
HARRIET & MAGGIE: And now
we’re telling you
It’s all over!
BAUBO: And now I’m telling you
I ain’t goin!
HARRIET & MAGGIE:
It’s all over...
BAUBO: I ain’t going!
HARRIET & MAGGIE:
It’s all over—
We’re part of the same place
We’re part of the same time
We both share the same blood
We both have the same mind
And time and time we have so much to see and...
No no no no no no way!
I’m not waking up tomorrow morning and finding that there’s nobody there!
MAGGIE: END THIS!
I need another drink...
BAUBO: Death or liquor. There’s the linear body, for you.
MAGGIE: [Gestures to the burning chairs] Shall we let them know? Three harpies per chorus!
BAUBO: Illuminate the trials? The stables?
You tell them, Maggie.
BAUBO: You tell them.
I did not dream that we stood nose-to-nose in the Sagrada Familia’s undercroft as mortar dust gathered on our lash beds, but I told you I had in a 4-am text I might regret if regret still rotated under my skin. You responded with compliments on my writing. That was a boring thing to do, but not as boring as the lie I told. Hardly my first. Night dreams might eschew accountability, but day-dreams rarely shirk from implicating their editors, and I couldn’t figure out for what seemed like months why the act of inhaling your breath as a rock dream’s residue bathed our shoulders never got me wet. Was I disappointed that fucking produces agglomerate rather than arris?
I’m dumb, as we’ve established. Penetration fails to soak because gesture that stains remains stain, and I’m reminded of that gap ever time Harriet cuts the side of her mouth on a wine glass. The prick pouring Chianti over her tongue never offers to mop up the blood, if he can even tell it’s blood in the first place. That’s transubstantiation for you—the poorly sacred practice of painting meaning backwards into open pores. She’s alleged that the only break distinguishing my fantasy from poetry is her creeping realization that Netflix was wrong. The cathedral couldn’t grow. Some asshole pre-recorded the screech of saws and scaffolding and masons forging stone from art and played it loud above the rafters where I couldn’t see. Was it you, Baubo? Nothing got built, do you understand? Our dust spoke disintegration, and I don’t own the hands to vote softness over speakers. So I will insist through overlaying walls of salt that your image wrought in rock razed the Gaudi I designed for us, and I will splinter my knuckles on the face I assumed was flesh until lonely forced my eyes in focus.
Harriet and I drove in the dark to pick up strip-mall Chinese food while she stared through the rear window at a much-too-big moon. It hung low in the sky like horse testes. She joked that if she had to critique the landscape painter responsible for recreating that moon, she’d accuse him of exaggerating. “Sentimental creep”, she’d sneer. A prayer forgot to form in my mouth.
BAUBO: [Quietly] Not unloved.
MAGGIE: Love? Turrell, Baubo, and you know it.
HARRIET: [Sung] Don’t save her--
MAGGIE: [Sung] She don’t wanna be saved.
BAUBO: Were you like me once? Long ago, before you were human? Did you permit yourselves to open?
Because I speak now the way you do.
I speak because I am shattered.
SCENE IV: The Sudden Pardon of A Pain Ignored
Have you had enough? Because I, me I, immortal wound, have had enough. Nothing to confess. There are no small rebellions left to mull. I trust I have left my grace, and wittingly. I’m certain of how I recover. I could be demanded but never summoned out of fear. I loved a split-wide metric that treated me like absinthe, half poison, half goddess.
But that never happened.
Let’s back track.
Three spotlights in a row appear downstage. Baubo sits on a stool beneath the first, the middle stool appears bare, and the third space is occupied by Maggie. The theatre begins to fill with red sea water.
Everything that I wanted
Only gotta drive for the moment
If you tell me turn around then I’m on it
For the moment
But you know me
You know how I get when I’m lonely
And I think about you and the moments
But everything you do is so Oakland, so Oakland
Foot on the gas
I’m just trying to pass
All the red lights
And the stop signs
I’m ready to go
Before I get to the Bay
Babe, that’s a problem
Because I’m way too scared to call
And you might get me to stay and oh—
The shit you’re saying would make sense to your old ho
Crop tops with Chanel logos
Drop top Daddy bought to get round Soho
‘Cause Etsy doesn’t pay for coke with the yo-pros-
I don’t know all the things she doesn’t know
I mean, how old is she...she’s 23?
You keep on playing your mind-gams the only time I want you messing with my brain is if you’re art directing when I get low
I’m drunk and chasing dick in circles
Guess that’s why they call them cocktails
You’re out my phone unless the block fails...
Need I remind you that you started this
Pushed against my resolve till you ate away what guarded it?
And now I’ve got to exorcise the ardored bit
You gon’ be hard to quit
I’m on that stalker shit
So I spit
I’m mouthing hymns instead of writing bars
We both got cars but you seem farther from my touch than Mars
It takes some nerve to throw my heart at the wall
But the bigger they get, you know the harder they fall!
I’m on some new shit
I’m chalkin’ my deuces up
Movin’ on to something better
No more trying to make it work
Make we wanna say
Make me wanna say
Jump off the roof, Maggie. Jump off it! Cats jump off roofs and land uninjured. Jump.
MAGGIE: Where? Into what?
I’m harboring a fugitive
Defector of a kind
And she lives in my soul
Drinks in my wine
And I’d give my last breath
To keep us alive
So hide yourself
All for me
If constance in form could be real, gentleman, you are all just creeping, waiting things —you heard me!—BEGGARS. MOUTHS. Look at your posture, look at your fucking suits—YOU’RE GODLESS, honey. I will MAKE you godless. You’ve come here to laugh, right? You’ve come here to do something, certainly, or is it to have something done to you? Okay, you want to shed the control required to mirror tenderness but never enough to leave insides ajar. You want to applaud my ugliness with elbows out. You expect each clap to pay you credit. You, faceless, anatomically correct, carrying briefcases or burdens or nothing at all, cross my path and are paralyzed. The lust is lidless, smacking and fast. Disgust coats your throat, though, so the desire has to claw its way upwards, scraping against secret throbs as it scales veins and nerve endings and memories on its path to speech. Phonetics. And I time exactly when your hack-saw laugh will grind through my stories, some made up, some not made up. And I force your joy like a prostitute or pill and then you leave. Go jack it to shadows. And that’s fine. It’s hard to embarrass a woman with a cervix for a neck. I don’t mind. I sacrifice any Greek man who comes in here. That is, I start things off. Others do the killing, the self-death, inside the temple. We don’t talk about it.
The last time I had semi-lucid sex with a woman, the woman in question asked me to slap her across the face as hard as I possibly could. Begged me, rather. Her eyes locked large like a child’s on my hands and Harriet inverted completely into my back while I tried not to tremble. Had she only asked, I would have said no. But the men who said no to me always looked so shrunken afterwards, so finite, and I loathed the thought of appearing any more edgeful to her than I already felt. So I lifted a script I learned a few years back from an English professor I blackmailed into a signed Didion hardback once it slipped that he had a fiancé. Dude could fuck, though. Diamond blades in smooth, pneumatic interchange. Expert submission never hinges on request.
I chuckled, re-arranged my hair over my tits, (it’s longer now, but sufficed at the time) took a swig of her drink, and cracked my neck. I straddled her lower stomach and switched the bedside table-lamp back on. My chest scalded red.
“Repeat yourself, please”.
I’m no good at domming for real, so I like to pretend some hidden third party is watching me work (male, I guess). The results are invariably theatrical, particularly if I’m expected to sustain any eye contact.
“Repeat yourself, you silly little cunt.”
My left hand rested firmly on her stomach, fingers splayed like Vitruvian healing, like an emaciated starfish marking science in sinew. The time had come to take something. He hadn’t looked at me, so I didn’t look at her. Not yet. Her voice had withered to the kind of naked whimper I’d never want recorded.
Funny as it seems I had a ball with you
Wanted to eventually step all with you
But I’m caught up in the middle of the jealousy
Still I let you get the best of me best of me
Never really wanted to be with you
Said I’m just tryna be honest
I didn’t even care for the things that you do
Said, I’m just tryna be honest
I never really wanted to give my love
Just tryna be honest
You and I can never be
So I’mma have to love and leave
“I...Fuck. J-just hit me. Honestly, honestly, I’ll do...I’ll do anything.”
The boy who broke my Barcelona once complained that his fellow landscapers called him a faggot the time he stopped his mower to properly execute the frog their blades just ploughed through. He wanted to put the animal out of its misery, he said. He couldn’t watch it twitch in the grass like that. I leaned forward and traced her bottom lip with my thumb. Her breath burned.
“Ask me again, but don’t stutter. If you really wanted it, you wouldn’t stutter, would you, sweetie?”.
The English Professor harbored a mean penchant for back-hands, which I’ve always found superior to open slaps, anyway. A slap belies its own resentment. A back-hand puts a bitch in her place quick.
He had forced me to suck on his fingers, obviously, so I slid my thumb behind her bottom teeth and gripped her chin in a vice. She went doll-slack. Dancers are supposed to embody the character in movement above all else, but it was hard for me to picture her as anything other than sumless parts arranged for pilfer. She wasn’t a dog. She was a former ballerina I had shared pizza with, a date I had constructed new jokes for, a girl I wanted to touch so badly the moment we met it dumbed me down. We had chatted about One Direction over drinks. She liked Harry. I giggled too much.
It’s hard to know your own strength, sometimes, and under no circumstances was it my intention to give the woman a nosebleed. Sticky crimson glinted off my knuckles after a crack-and-scream combo that traveled slow as if through gelatin and I snorted involuntarily. I felt bad. I still feel bad. She paused, licked the blood off the left side of her mouth, and asked me to hit her again.
The last time I had semi-lucid sex with a woman, it was as if she expected her words to knock over everything piled inside me so she could re-stack my secrets in a different order. Her gaze searched me, and the pity-dressed revulsion I waked in most, in you, rang absent from the warmth of her hands and the urgency of her form as it pressed earnestly into the weirdness of mine. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t feel anything. The toothless plow of her want made no impression. Her closeness forced me to take stock—the epitaphic mutations that define me—and to acknowledge that she had her own, too. We didn’t drink each other.
Don’t clutch like that to the lip of the sink with goose-fat fingers pressed pink at the tips, Don’t look into your own grey eyes and want to be the heroine and want to kill the heroine and need for this night-world to turn over and expose some frugal warmth to you. Don’t beat yourself with unavailing palms until old bruises yellow and spread like baptismal disease across inches of pixels you are and you hate. Your guts snake like the open hose in Demeter’s pool, don’t they, because you cannot be a woman until you fit a dryad’s space. You are too big for this shrunken bed. There’s no room for you.
MAGGIE: There’s no room for you.
Wait right there—I’ll build you a machine.
(I will! My equation resolved; don’t be too grateful, now)
I shall line the structure with the interior boundary your fist attempted to cross, back when you forgot that sanguinary’s infinite curl renders mass from space invisible. Yes, remember? You voided durational plasticity and its disinterest in lung nations. How awkward!
You will hate the choice I made to cover its surface with a thousand mirrored eyes sourced from Bank of America advertisement gif-sets. You will try to return my...I mean your machine, but grow too overwhelmed with the boxing procedure to hide it from yourself completely. The similarity to ice may trouble you, but that won’t prevent the thing from getting you off and camouflaging your sweat with rain. Or fuel.
It won’t grow to love you, I’ll warn you now. It won’t teach you how to move beyond the curtain, but it will narrate all the window views before their covers concretize. It will smear your halo sideways.
You take the trouble to construct a civilization, to build a society based on the principles of principle. You make government and art and realize that they are, must be, the same. You bring things to the saddest of all points, to the point where there is something to lose. Then, all at once, through all the music, through all the sensible sounds of men building, attempting, comes---
Vergin, Tutto amor
O Madre di bontade
O Madre pia, ascolta, dolce Maria
La voce del peccator
You’re just showing off, now. We’re supposed to be doing this separately.
BAUBO: It’s not a song, but I still sang it.
MAGGIE: Look, maybe you don’t buy that lines like these can offer something like succor, like momentary salvations. Maybe you don’t need them. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just pre-modern and scratching in the dark for a wisdom everybody else at the party’s smart enough to have realized is a sham. Maybe my faith that the profoundest feeling we’re offered by art psychically reflexive of reality is a setting free, a series of screens or horizons obliterated somehow. Maybe that’s love.
BAUBO: The screens don’t leave, Maggie. We live inside them.
Fuck, Baubo, YOU live inside them! YOU live inside everything without a street address, SO YOU END UP NOWHERE. Whatever. I’m not subject to your light prison, Baubo! All we’ve done tonight is equate definitions with descriptions and remixed them into dangling chimeras fit to eat themselves UNDEAD. I’m exhausted. I’m drunk as fuck and confused and exhausted. I loved you like a sister or a curse but I never dreamed you’d keep splitting off from your own pop-ups like a hidden habit. I never dared to imagine my mortality would harden our curtain, or wrap that curtain in the shape of a god-damn body-bag. Keep your machine, I don’t want it!
BAUBO: YOU’VE EARNED A CONTINUE!
What really ends poetically? We only draw lyric out of dry, dry blood praying something might congeal, or at least I do. Doom couldn’t harden us. Of all creatures that can feel and think, we bawdy, uterine monsters are the worst treated things alive, but you’ve heard it here first—I’ll acquiesce to your dance. Love is the force to leave me colorless, the mechanism of my decomposition, and I alone must find the courage to keep myself warm. I’ll tend my fire until these hands burn raw. The problem of love is proving subjecthood, of course. Erato said “treasure doesn’t do the hunting.” Thalia asked for Euterpe to help me be open. But I am not a vessel, I am not a vessel, I am not a vessel, I am not a vessel! Clio said I was ruthlessly game I’ll pickle that truth. The fool is card zero. This time of year is more ruthless than me. Love is about returns, and I want to be foolish so that my chaos smarts.
The angel Moroni visited me in my sleep. I woke up wrapped in linoleum with a note pinned my chest that said ‘change’.
LOOK AT WHAT YOU JUST SAW
THIS IS WHAT YOU LIVE FOR
I’M A MOTHERFUCKING MONSTER
Loneliness has no texture, do you know that? It’s blue only flashes brighter or hums darker as the seasons iced and thawed, as shadows swing distended through so many days. Interruption’s the difficulty; that haphazard splatter across a tranquil canvas, that yellow screech of a new-birthed language, urging a reaction, toming reckless through her static center. My case showed up no brushwork. Those are only super-market garlands.
One time, you got three transatlantic telephone calls at once, and we got to the London airport about twenty minutes late and missed the plane for Nice. There was no other plane that could go. So for once it was your fault, and not mine, so I was teasing you unmercifully, and all these photographers and reporters were standing around---it was just a kidding fight, but we were both using...old English and old Italian gestures which is even better than language and some photographer got a picture, and I think it was my favorite picture of both of us—Actually, I call it the only talking still picture in the world.
You think you’re untouchable because you’re untouchable because you’re untouchable, but damn, it astounds me that someone untethered to blood relies on Bataille to transmute the mimetic. This is all sentimental, Baubo. I can fuck a shadow, I’ve done it before, I’ll do it in an hour, I’ll do it next week, but you’re flattering yourself with these virtual fusions. You’re real, like a breathing model of shade, you FIGMENT, you’re realer than money. Stop sequencing for three seconds and acknowledge that we’re screaming over the same fucking production. We didn’t write shit except each other. You don’t belong here. You’re just a petrified compression of happenings past. You can’t do anything new. You can’t feel anything sharper than anyone else.
Carve your circle in bark, go ahead. Biology embedded our initials first. Already there, just like you.
HARRIET: [Gently] You’re on, Baubo. They want you to do another number.
BAUBO: [Incoherent stuttering]
HARRIET: What’s wrong?
BAUBO: Maggie is changing, and Maggie is not changing for me. Maggie hasn’t changed for me in years.
MAGGIE: Go home, Baubo.
BAUBO: [Visibly crushed] What?
MAGGIE: GO home.
HARRIET: What are you doing, Maggie?
MAGGIE: I’m drawing the curtain.
HARRIET: No, you’re building the wall.
MAGGIE: SING! If you can tell me to jump, I can tell you to sing.
HARRIET: [Distressed] Where’d she go? Where did you take her?
MAGGIE: Do what you’re good for.
HARRIET: What do you think I’m good for?
HARRIET: I can’t.
Now I’m alone with you
And I am oh, so blue
He has tossed us aside
And, like you, gardenia
Once I was near her heart
After the teardrops start
Where are teardrops to hide
I lived for an hour
What more can I tell
Love bloomed like a flower
Then the petals fell
Thrown to a passing breeze
Yes they’re pressed in my book
I lived for an hour
What more can I tell?
Love bloomed like a flower
And then the petals fell
Thrown to a passing breeze
But pressed in my book
MAGGIE & HARRIET: [Sung]
But pressed in my book
The stage has been vacated at last. A silver pendulum approximately the size of a human breast swings dead center as it rises towards the ceiling by increments of three feet every three minutes.
The ticking it emits can only be described as maddening.
The ticking it emits can only be stated as maddening.
The ticking it emits can only be defined as maddening.
Where were you?