Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shakespeare & Failure

The Drama Club
or, Hamlet is cancelled and the kid director feels sorry and low
by Lonely Christopher

Everything is the same failure. The moon landing was filmed underwater in the wreckage of the sunken Titanic. I’ve only ever seen two episodes of “Seinfeld”: the last one and the one that takes place in a parking garage.

A Pathetic Variorum,
Shakespeare is hegemony. Shakespeare is a monolithic prayer. We were born in love with Shakespeare. Shakespeare was bald and gay. Shakespeare was a black woman. What is foundational about Shakespeare? Shakespeare is our vocabulary. Shakespeare is an interesting subject for a new critical study. What is Shakespearean? Shakespeare is encoded with secret messages. Shakespeare is a teenager taking the retarded kid from her gym period to junior prom. We can’t help Shakespeare. Shakespeare isn’t responsible. Shakespeare is a cathedral. Shakespeare is Palestine. Shakespeare is the periodic table of elements. There is no language without Shakespeare. Shakespeare freed the slaves. Shakespeare voted for Proposition Eight. Shakespeare ran over the neighbor’s dog backing out of the driveway on the way to the airport. Shakespeare is someone else. Shakespeare is my document. Shakespeare is a federal prison. Shakespeare is pedophilic sex tourism. Shakespeare is not plural; Shakespeare is a wedding. Shakespeare is nothing. What is reading Shakespeare? Shakespeare’s name is unpronounceable. Shakespeare is a lady’s magazine. Shakespeare is a gun cabinet. Shakespeare is modern medicine. I am going to murder myself by jumping off Shakespeare into the cold river far below. Shakespeare is an English poet and playwright and he wrote Hamlet and King Lear. I sat on a sofa with a girl and she said her brother said Shakespeare hated me. Shakespeare is a divorce lawyer. Shakespeare is Helen Keller wearing a dress soaked in kerosene. Shakespeare is my definition. Shakespeare is our hometown. Shakespeare is a perfect example. Shakespeare is some puffy engine, a cereal box. Shakespeare is the information. We understand Shakespeare. This is a lesson in Shakespeare. Shakespeare is exhausted. When will Shakespeare not matter? Shakespeare is logical pornography. Shakespeare is the military. Shakespeare is the woods outside of town. Shakespeare isn’t out of the woods yet, kids. Shakespeare is terrorism. As far as Shakespeare goes: we liked his early stuff, you know, before he sold out. Shakespeare is a happy camper. Shakespeare is collectable commemorative plates. Shakespeare is a peasant woman watching her only child starve in a gray ditch. Shakespeare is the shape we’re in. I don’t know.

The VHS Bin,
Kenneth Branagh weeps when he gets a new haircut. Kenneth Branagh recites the Gettysburg Address with a belt tightened around his neck. Kenneth Branagh’s spine hurts from carrying a writing desk up ten flights of stairs to the roof. Kenneth Branagh pours salt water into his morning tea. The audience applauds and turns into the film “Jurassic Park” and its first sequel. Lawrence Olivier wipes the shoe polish off his face with the bed sheets; the juicy red flesh inside his mouth is a spooky punctuation mark. Lawrence Oliver bullies a journalist into omitting from a forthcoming article any mention of his having fathered a severely autistic daughter he keeps in a home for invalids and never visits. Lawrence Oliver is an old queen, wearing too much eye makeup, hunched unnoticed at the far end of the bar, nursing a warm Cherry Coke, wincing at the pretty boys all around the joint. Lawrence Oliver makes the waitresses on the breakfast shift uncomfortable. Lawrence Oliver enters pirouetting and fucks his mom, shoving lace curtains down her throat; he goes to sleep presently and has an obvious dream. There are fingerprints blanketing the crime scene like recent snowfall over a yellow prairie of rape. Ethan Hawke dropped out of college in the second semester of his junior year as a political science major. Ethan Hawke prints out a picture of a Nintendo Gameboy from 1998 that he found on the Internet; he tapes it above his bed, which is plastic and shaped like a racecar. Mel Gibson is a dump truck or a sort of plow, some yellow machinery for moving heavy objects around a construction site. Mel Gibson barfs football jocks of stupidly digested scenery during the Christmas pageant. Mel Gibson masturbates to drawings of the character Storm in some wrinkled X-Men comics. Mel Gibson touches his girlfriend’s face like it’s a lump of greasy ham; he doesn’t know what her vulva is. I make unimportant decisions for my friends when they are asleep or in the other room. This house is on fire and burning to the ground. Everything we learn becomes tacky in retrospect; nobody knew what to do when the pregnant farmer’s daughter miscarried an ugly pink germy thing in the parking lot during the lawn social. The town was sick of tire fires and gay bashings. Disneyland was built on an Indian graveyard.

My Dying Voice,
Shakespeare is a tuxedo worn at an awards ceremony. My Hamlet presupposes the tragic end by not happening. This fancy language remains dumped inside my friends’ brains like a baby abandoned inside a parked car, windows rolled, on a hot summer day: the mother on her way to the tattoo parlor before she gets on the bus, her purse fat with nylon stockings and snack cakes. I couldn’t read a clock until after the second grade. I didn’t write this. I made my friends move around in light; I was allowed because I made a play make promises. We don’t have the kind of insurance that covers this scenario. My defeat is a swimming pool filled with the public education system. I don’t care: I want a Shakespeare. The text doesn’t end. My failures are the corpse of a daughter; I carry her, bringing the body in. I edit my victims. I am a drear, greedy murder suspect. I choke on my tongue until a bloody soup gurgles up in my throat. I pray you undo this button. The undone can’t be undone, nothing can be made from nothing. My conclusion is wrapped ingloriously in my nervous system like a dangerous coloring book. A sparrow drops from the firmament and splatters on the pavement in front of Wal-Mart. I watch her pretty guts stain her feathers and bleed around bits of gravel. She’s dead as earth. Do you see this? Look there, look there:

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