When I answer the telephone it is Cleo Lane again,
or someone pretending to be Cleo Lane, or someone
calling from the number of Cleo Lane and Cleo Lane

and I have become close friends if for no other reason
than his number is constantly calling mine. But I am not
nor never will be who the number of Cleo Lane is looking

for, I am someone else completely but they gave me this
number which apparently is also or was also the number
of an entirely different person for which the folks at the residence

of Cleo Lane have a great and unending affection.
And they’re always asking for some girl who is not here
and they never believe me when I say she is not here

it is only I here, the big ole me, yea, and not and never
the person for which they are asking. If organized religion
really wanted to get organized they would hire a thousand

telemarketers not to market in the traditional sense, but in the new
sense which says Buy me or else. All this would entail
is calling everyone in the middle of the night and saying something

like You will go to hell for that or God sees everything
and then hanging up to leave the person on the other end wondering
is this a joke or something more. Because every joke is really

something more, really some way to get at the deeper stuff
which was what Corso said about humor, but there is nothing
humorous anymore about the hundred calls I keep getting

from the residence of Cleo Lane, which makes me wonder
who the fuck does Cleo Lane think he is, and who exactly am I
if I can be so easily confused with a number issued at random

by the invisible people in the telephone receiver. And if Frank O’Hara
called me from the dead I would write every goddamn word down
but when the good people of Cleo Lane call I don’t write anything down,

except that I am writing this down so maybe we’re all really just one
big AT&T commune set to motion by the almost endless formations
of ten numbers arranging themselves into these beautiful codes

that mean nothing on the surface but when taken as a distinction
between one person and the next mean everything and mean even
we are exactly who the book says we are even if we were once someone else.




Long and tired and my face drew itself
into a sort of pout in the bathroom mirror
that made me sorry I can never really
slap myself as hard as I want because I’m one
of those persons who always holds back.
I bought one of those clapping contraptions
because I like to imitate god as most of us do
and I like to say And then there was light
and clap my hands, and boom, light, except
these devices are finicky and it doesn’t always
work, and sometimes even just goes off
randomly so that my free will and control
of the universe are undermined by who knows
what, maybe the wind, maybe two crickets
making the music of two crickets. It’s like Galileo
said, or maybe said, about all objects falling
at the same rate, dropping melons and olives
off the leaning tower of Pisa while making
a mess of the ground below and Aristotle
all at once. Except that’s not right either
because somebody else told me this requires
a vacuum—not like a Hoover, you know,
but like no pressure, which is something
I know nothing about even though it was
a definition I used to state over and over
without even knowing the word: No pressure,
man, No pressure, but of course I was
saying this to myself because I felt pressure
all over. Where did Galileo go? I was just
talking about him but now he has fallen
at not exactly the same rate as the skin
off my face. If I stand here forever I will
eventually fill up the sink with a revision
of my atomic structure. And come to think
of it Galileo is probably the wrong metaphor,
albeit a handsome one. What I want to know
is when I clap two hands together how do I
understand sound if I also understand
that my hands are never really touching but only
perpetually getting half the distance closer
to each other. And even if they never touch
why half, why not a third, or three-eights,
which was always my favorite fraction
for strictly aesthetic reasons. You see I’m
not very good at science but go barging in
on all the good people in lab coats
nonetheless. All I know is that in the end
sometimes the light turns on by accident
and sometimes because I tell it to
with my bare hands, but what’s important
to this conversation is that there is undeniably
an on and an off, and once I get there
no matter how I get there I am able to see.