The History of Welcome
Published in Everyone's a fucking poet! 1995
Twenty-three revolutionaries arrived at my door. One by one. And I welcomed them. One by one. And they never left. Well most of them. The fourteenth came just around midnight and stared in my window, said he was a psychologer, said he wanted to understand human behavior. I opened the window to converse "You mean 'a psychologist'?" I asked and he said "No, a psychologer." I don't understand either but I let him in, fascinated. The nineteenth let himself in and started talking what must have been seventeen blue streaks and explained very quickly very quickly that the essence of the human soul was poetic and not prosaic, that the truth of the spirit was consequently not constrained by the limits of structure and shouldn't our linguistic reality reflect the natural fluency of experience as it occurs in real and quantum worlds? I think it was a brilliant philosophical beat novel in progress so I offered him dinner. The twentieth said nothing. I gave him a closet in my house. The seventh, eighth, and ninth, who, incidentally, did not know each other, came dressed as punk rock versions of the three wise men, but none of them bore any special gifts because they'd hitchhiked 600 miles to visit, eating dumpster food and spouting slogans of future revolutions and obscene songs to pass the time. They are the gutter that works to clean the streets. The first knock on my door was an ambitious young man with a tongueful of good intentions and a hatful of tricks up his sleeve. I thought he had something to sell, invited him in to give me his pitch; he handed me his library card and said "Do it yourself, it's a bitch." The thirteenth visitor came as a cat, a black cat, in fact, with a suitcase packed with the history of symbols, which I read as he purred and I studied as he purred and I memorized as he purred and I catalogued as he purred then I purred and he purred back. Then a knock on the door was my twenty-first guest. It was an old man with a vestcoat he stood quite politely and I said "Are you a republican?" "No." "Then you're a Democrat?" "No." "Then you're a monarchist?" "No." "Then you're a Communist?" "No." "Well, then, what are you?" "I am an anarchist." And the twenty-second knock was a woman's knock, sounded just like a man's knock; who am I to say there's a difference to be made? She wasn't raised in a social Skinner box and neither was I (though they tried) and I know what a woman could do was only repressed by desire, not her desire, not my desire. "Come in, come in. That man by the window would like to speak with you." The seventeenth and eighteenth guests sat quietly at the typewriter tapping out poems and whimsical rants, mumbled dadadadadadadadadadadaDADAdadadadadadada. They wore monocles which represented the nearsighted vision of the present which is essential to the Now. The second, fourth, and fifth guests came disguised as unknown deliveries of blanket-wrapped babies too young to offer coffee or to ask demanding questions. I will nurture them until they come into their own. The third one to stop by called himself Jean-Paul and unloaded a mass of books which I read slowly while his tortured lips pulled on a pipe and I learned a new vocabulary for things I knew by heart: "There are no simple answers because there are no simple questions," said the sixth guest upon arrival, "and you're a genius if you understand." "You are not," said Jean-Paul, and smiled like the Buddha. The fifteenth approached with common sense and respect and helped around the house and kept the guest rooms clean and kept the guests in line. The sixteenth was sociological and semiotic and demanded metaphysical space to investigate the social construction of reality and housing. Ten, eleven, and twelve left rain checks but no umbrellas. Still I love them. I love them all. And the twenty-third visitor will never show up and has always already been here. It's confusing and keeps me on edge.
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