Robert Kelly: An Alchemical Journal (10)


To my delight, the chauffeur was a girl, a tall young lesbian soft-skinned under her green silky mannish uniform. I thought of the softness of her calves inside the boots, & went so far as to insert a finger. She smiled in a business-like way, but made me sit in the back. I could watch her through the glass partition. She would not talk, but did answer specific questions I asked over the intercom. At first I was able to relax, but the drive was a long one & I soon grew nervous. I examined with the minute attention of boredom all the accessories & conveniences installed in the car. This entailed fiddling with the short wave radio, watching the six-inch television screen until the news telecast terrified me, raiding the ice-box for cheese & crackers & a little bottle of champagne, pressing the taps for hot water & washing my hands, fr ice water & drinking some, putting a tape on the machine & listening to Charles Ives, then to A Winter’s Tale. I found the cigars, but I do not like cigars. Fishing in the sapodilla wood cabinets in front of me, I detected on a bookshelf a tantric text I didnt know. When I tried to pull it forward the whole bookcase section swung out, & there before me were the buttocks & hips of the driver. I reached in & felt them repeatedly, they were warm & almost damp from contact with the leather seat. She gave no indication that she felt me. The aperture through which I was feeling her up was so small that I couldnt reach around to her thighs or lap. I couldnt let go of what I held; hungrily I pressed & squeezed & stroked & pinched, though the flesh was not even soft now, the muscles compressed by her position. For a long time I fidgeted at her, but she gave no sign of notice. Finally I stopped & closed the cabinet, settled back in my seat, lit a cigarette, my fingers trembling with shame & frustration & boredom & worse than these. I smoked constantly, could not look up at her green eyes that occasionally, in reflection, passed through me in her rear view mirror. Couldn’t even look long at the nape of her neck, the smooth blonde hair beneath the cap. I dozed, woke to see the cigarette burning my fingers. The car was still moving. I grabbed the intercom & shouted I’m sorry please forgive me I’m only a man I’m too strong, I need, I want, I dont know what I want, I’m sorry, forgive me, please forgive me. What have you done that merits forgiveness? She asked.

Vear surdan words at nighd. All the drees mound around her. Bangoom Leber Asylum I saw the words. The gade of wroughd irom, spikes on to po vit, runed hands & davaged faces phases reatching through the bars ad me. They all said the word I veared, lep ro sy they said, say it wiv us lep ro sy, let rose see the garden, leap roses, thorns tear, thorns dare, lap us we are le pers, le pards walk in the gar den, leo is a lion, our faces are lion masks, we have no phases, when you ged like us you’re stuck, roses stuck, lep rush roses, say it wiv us lep ro sy, you fin dus every wear, our names are in all your books,you cand flee us in books or in trees or in gardens or in caves of even in the sea the lep ro sea.

Childhood dreams, the dead black leopard become a leper, heuristic terror of like sounds. Alchemy is the science of having silent dreams, having no dreams. Only syntax can tell you apart, you menacing words-of-power, only syntax can heal the wound, right the warp you leave in the child’s mind.

We stopped at the gate so she could tell the sentry. This is Kelly, he’s coming to pay his debts. The sentry scowled at me but handed me a flower. A rose, upon examination. We drove up a long curving gravel drive, pines at our left & a vast meadow on the right, a pond in it far off, movement as if of ducks on its surface, geese rising or coming down. She made me get out at a new cinder-block cubical building. Debriefing it said over the door. A man came out & led me in, sat me down in a chair, gave me a glass of water, & took my syntax away.

Days or hours later I woke up still howling with pain. One came to me & bound my noises, forced a bitter thing between my teeth, & left me to sleep.

Most things can be done without machines. Enough suitably intricate vacant circuitry is available inside us to obviate external mechanisms. The adjusters of these circuits are called angels, the program tapes fed in are called reality, or time. Whoever the programmer may be, he or they or she are anxiously awaiting the outcome of each run. Alchemy is the science of becoming aware of the whole project in which we are being engaged. Alchemy is the science of being used. Alchemy is the science of use. Its name probably means the art of the black, & alludes in all likelihood not to the black soil of Egypt but to the black blankness of the unknown brain, the silent areas’ in which the Operator, bent night & day over his fire, eventually kindles a Voice, one that guides him in the science of penetration, science of final separations.

Everyone who has gone there knows there is an utter darkness in the back of the brain where the Images go to die. This is called the Elephants’ Graveyard. Follow the dying animal, learn the valley where all things perish but ivory, gather the ivory. Transformation is peeling away the irrelevant. A matter of time, as they say. (But Elephants, to speak only of elephants, live a long time, have excellent memories, & mate in secrecy. Christ, the power & beauty of elephants!

Of women, my angels. At very least I will say this of them: they are distractions from distraction. What this means is: Glory. Glory a woman in her womb. A man’s heart is an imperfect womb, but glory a man in his heart).

When came to again was no pain. They brought me a rough white robe, led me out into the bright, a cool wind from the shadows, led me up a long rising lawn towards three maples. Under the trees white chairs & wicker tables. Women moved there & soon moved among them. They had left only one word in my head, Glory, it kept saying Glory over & over. The women looked at me, some with desire & some with aversion & some with no trace of movement on their faces. One woman came to me smiling broadly, & speared white & blue feathers into my hair & beard & robe, then took me further up the lawn, up to where a great house stood on the knoll. Kept looking back at the women left behind, kept saying Glory. Her hand was soft & held me tight, she bumped against me as we walked. Glory. Saw our shadows in front of us, & followed them. She led me right up onto the terrace. The door of the house opened & another woman came out, older than the first but not less beautiful. Between them brought me into the cool hallway, led to a small table with a green cup on it. The woman handed me the cup. Drank it all. It was warm & deep & sweet. Becognized the smell & tried to find its name. They led me between them up the stairs. Its name was Glory.

— End of An Alchemical Journal —


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