Slope Street Codex

by James Greer


Everything that was invented has to be reinvented, for instance: the sound of waves slapping wet rocks in the dark. We once called this night rote. We also used the phrase heart murmurs. If you look carefully you’ll see that this isn’t appropriate or necessary. You’ll see instead track marks, not on your arm but in the damp sand or [other] — a piper birdly walking the sine wave’s edge; a squirrel rattling down tremulous branches in the hot wind.

I have an urban confession: cars make me proud because I don’t understand them. I’m proud of everything that runs when you want, stops when you can; mechanical reactions to a muscular prompt. Because it proves that Fielding was right, and Burton, too: right. There’s a line in the song that goes “Bumps a lot, bumps a lot,” crushed now to cinders, heaped in ashy piles, a volcano of mistakes. “Wrong again, wrong again, come along home.” How we count the days, how we tear back pin-holed roof and radiate the sky. The slick approaching your shore is a hit-and-run kiss, and don’t say you had no idea, because we’re fraught with ideas. Cop-killer bullets: your idea. Crib death: idea. Why insist on throwing rotten apples at the apple tree? You’ll only make the squirrel happy, and the piper tramping through the muck has nothing to do with your lousy aim.

An empty house, close to the ocean, windows open to admit the breeze. From everything I’ve confessed there’s no reason it should not be clear that we are summer. There’s a book, and in the book there’s a set of rules, and these rules have a purpose. To ease you down the hill. To show the best route to the worst driver.

Thomas Quin doesn’t care how you arrive, only that you arrive, and he doesn’t care how you’re dressed, you can dress like a fruit tree, a dandelion, a Ford Fusion, the angel of history. Tel que tu es, in better words. He’s flush with ammo, and the minute you reach the barbed wire, he’ll butcher your best ideas. Bits of your body will be strung along the line, lifeless. Like pulpy diamonds, like organic melons eaten inside out by maggots. What remains of what was you he will scoop and use to fertilize his land.

On that land grows nothing like an idea, and there is peace, and fields of rape-seed.