Witness

Month 4 down. It’s time to take stock.

Porn is blocked in China and fireworks are illegal. Both, you might argue, pollute in their own way, but I’m a big fan of living in moderation, so I wouldn’t agree. I’m also a depraved individual who likes bright lights, so I wouldn’t be easily convinced, either way. While I don’t think I’ll breathe my last breath in Nanjing, I’m convinced the poor air quality here has contributed to it. On days when the Air Quality Index shines orange or red, indicating the intensity of pollutants in the air, I get the sensation of inhaling vaporized metal, both in the rusty, smoky smell akin to that of soldered chips flying from the grinder that presses against smoothing metal, and in the phlegm that accumulates in my throat throughout the day. Chinese men and women spit—a lot. It was quite off-putting when I first witnessed the phenomenon, and incredibly disconcerting when I would hear the cooks in the restaurant do it, too. But it’s a habit that emanates from necessity, because if they didn’t do it—if I didn’t do it—we’d constantly push back the mucous our bodies desperately wanted out. Like water vapor, the haze is visible, though I didn’t know it was haze when I first saw it. I remember walking across a busy intersection and seeing what I first thought was fog. Odd, I thought, since it’s early afternoon, on a dry and sunny day; I didn’t make anything of it until much later when, in retrospect, I thought, “Oh, that was haze. Interesting.”

Normally, my posts take an abstract angle at right about this point, and this one will be no different. I, however, felt like rekindling the poetic sparks that initially lit my desire to write—I’m talking my first desire to write, back in middle school. Bad writing tells you what is going to come next. It warns you and bores you with every unnecessary word inside the author’s head. Good writing is direct and demonstrative. This, right here, is an example of bad writing, but I’m doing it for stylistic reasons. I hope you’ll excuse my doing so. It’s enough to provide an explanation as to why what’s coming next, is coming next.

Testimony

The only thing to which I’ll confess won’t be to a cross or bishop,
But my consciousness.

The only one whose blessing I seek
Won’t be from some indirect figure or emotional trigger,
But from this natural freak.

Always looking outward for a kind of release,
When, actually, all I needed resided inside of these dreams,
Nocturnal visions tearing apart all of my seams,
And burst open, from which falls this stream
Of consciousness.
Restlessness, helplessness, and all endless feelings
Stop here, in this pew, and listen to this healing,
Stop here, and listen to this, my sermon,
Look to your enemy and tell them how you love them,
Celebrate the new feelings with some coke and ice and bourbon,
Protect one another like a night-patrolling warden,
Release your feelings from their cell, don’t leave them off cordoned,
I am the only that’s according to who,
I am the only one that offers the truce,
No loose alliance, no more false compliance,
Only wanna speak truth, show you how easy that is.

Awake, awake, I feel I’m finally awake,
Shaking those around me I’m only doing it for your sake,
Because the hate and the ignorance are really too, too much,
Hate and ignorance feed themselves, on and on, and such.

Oh well, oh well? I won’t sigh and say oh well,
I won’t silence my perspective and say all is well,
Because they say those who are really hurting you could never tell,
The ones who sobbed and cried, felt ashamed and died, until silence finally fell.

So what do I carry, to what past do I owe?
If I can’t even look at myself, tell me what the hell do I own?
Not my reflection, not this inward reflection,
Not my pride, the sole receiver of your false affection.

I seek certainty and truth—only simple truths,
The truism that mix together like gin and vermouth,
I can no longer pass by ignorance and hate acting aloof,
Sooner or later, both those things will catch up with you, too.

It’s time to get violent,
Plant the red violets,
I’m the Flower Knight with a view to the future
That’s my future eyelet,
You can bet I won’t forget the once and future targets,
It’s to that future I prepare for, that future that I harken.
Alarming, I say it’s really alarming,
The noise and confusion, I say it’s really something,
Frightening, that’s right, heightening fright,
Without a check or armistice will enter the night,
Stage right,
Cashing in its spite,
The violence around will find its peak tonight,
Well, all right, all right, bite down hard on this wood,
It could have been painless; I say it could have been good.
But now we butt heads, with the other buttheads,
Once I knew them by a different name, just some more friends,
But they have their allegiance and call my actions malfeasance,
They wish that I was silent ‘cause my silence appeases,
And eases,
The fake world they live in,
The world where me and my kind are better off hidden,
Well, listen to this sermon I’m preachin’
With a view to the future, these words you’d best get used to seein’

Start believing, in your fellow man and myself,
We’re here to warn you, to save yourself from yourself,
We’re here to warm you, from the cold hate you brought in,
We’re here to calm you, from the fire raging within,

You’ve spoken and we’ve listened now listen to us,
We have the balm to soothe your words that drip so venomous,
We want an end to the ignorance and quell animus,
There’s no need for a struggle, no need for a fuss.
Relax, just listen,
To these words I christen,
I break out from this prison
And my sour disposition,
Because I’m tired of this war of attrition,
Because I’m tired, of only ever listening.

So we’ll start here with this queer,
Ask me can I make it clear?
Falling veneer, I tell you this is how I make it clear,
That’s right, this is the opening from which I appear,
No longer hidden, no, no longer disappeared,
This is how I make it clear.

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