barcelona review #11   february - march 1999

Home | Michael Knight | Juan Abreu | Marcia Morgado | Mary Warren | Tim Turnbull | Essay | Book Reviews | Back issues | Links

author bio | spanish translation (issue 12)

pair of dividersTracing the Light of the Sun in an Empty Room Through an Open Window (A Prose Raga)
David Alexander



6:20a • sun has risen yet its face unseen. light is diffused beneath cloud infested sky. streetlights have this moment gone off. birds chirp but still cannot see them. all windows pitch dark their panes empty revealing a lie within. yet there is hope, a promise of the glories to come as left outer window seems to take on the faintest dusting of approaching daylight. (have a feeling that today a face will appear!)

Tonight I'm on patrol. I am pumping myself up on steroids one declaring I would go blind if not submit to an operation which refused to do. Hope was gone pressure built up tremendously within me. I'm taking names but what I really need is numbers.

I keep working on my car. Today I'm working on the doors I bang the dents out of the doors then sand. Them down and paint. Them I don't know. How I got this car into my apartment but here it is. So I work on it the neighbors complain but fuck them all (author's note: neighbors = soon dead fucks).

He can neither sin, suffer, be subject to matter nor disobey the will of god. Like a hand touched me. It wasn't like it was supposed to be in the moves movies people can't can't understand. When you tell them. Something like that maybe another veteran can understand. My tears crawl down the window. Life is too short to fuck around this this is the message of this air its gift to my nostrils. I am observant. I think through my eyes. Scrawl, as in above.

6:36a • light intensifying sun near, can sense this. left interior wall of left outer window now visible and faint streaks of white reflected in right center window marks iron steps of firescape ladder. nothing shines yet. but soon.

December was filled with many more patrols and ambushes. Numerous operations. Marines and enemy killed and I became a walking robot constantly on alert for trouble. My only escape were letters. I received from home. Thank god for letters. My parents sent me clippings of hate dissent riots and hatred for war. January and February were filled with more of same. Dying wounded blood death. Every day I awoke wondering who'd get it next. When you have a weapon in your hands and develop its full power you become a god with power over life and death.

Quickly things deteriorate I have often noticed wondered. All of a sudden the news breaks the waters have turned to blood. People are like tubes nothing more than tubes spewing fluids from top and bottom. Injected with fluids on bottom spewing more tubes from the bottom. Spewing elbow macaroni dishes full of more and more tubes. Fuck the tubes. Found a large cockroach in my sink this morning. Crushed its head and flushed it. Your dark windows affront me.

7:42a • glass smooth, reflective. dark, tho not quite black, with faint twinge of green. shadow tracery of firescape scrollwork in center window. diagonal of radiator in first window now clear. with individual segments well defined. color of frames is truer in this pale light, a yellowish peach, with weathered areas near the sills showing up as faint black horizontal striations. crows flocking now. plane comes overhead as i come to window, black against a white marbling of low nimbus clouds. does this have meaning? can also discern imperfections in sections of wall. note how the bricks are light and dark fitting together as individuals in a group. rust streaks mottle the darker cream paint of firescape and i now see small objects on the rightmost corner, close to second window. cannot make out what these are or why there.

Took aim at the old man allowing for windage and distance I put my. Crosshairs on his chest and squeezed off. A shot watched in my scope as old man fell the boy. Beside him began running toward trees I took aim and as. Boy reached the treeline squeezed off my second shot watched as boy grabbed right leg and fell toward the ground then crawled toward the trees I aimed. Again and. Fired he jerked straight in the air fell back. Down and didn't move. Their papers said they were enemy so it was okay.


12:17p • subtle textures on glass from reflected afternoon light. outer left window. striations of frozen sound or ripples in water from torsion of tree branch in uneven surface of glass. large branches twisted into figure of fingers forming okay sign. left inner, venetian blinds straight horizontals distorted, exploded, bent out of shape. a white inverted triangle perches like a heaven a helical blob of light, braque painting. right inner, faint diagonal of fire ladder railing outlined in darkened glass, a halftone more or less and it would not be visible. twin horizontal stripes where sun has broken across the rooftop and lit a single iron step midway up the ladder. outer right, total blackness, opaque and silent, an obsidian questionmark three stories above the street.

Can't take these depressions anymore. Fuck them government cocksuckers I need a rest from shit shit I was fucking brain raped and nobody cares shit fuck you government pricks stand on the other end of my M16 I show you brain rape you fucks. I know you think it's sick I did that but that's okay because I was mentally gone.

Enough for now let's get back to the insanity of reality. Today I finished banging out the doors of my car and worked on the engine. Found another wreck on the street some junkie boosters left under the bridge overnight. Stripped as many parts I could. Front and rear fender. Headlights. Radiator. Alternator. Choke valve choke linkage choke housing. Throttle solenoid.

Hauled the radiator up in the elevator and one of my motherfucker neighbors started giving me shit. I said what the fuck you looking at. Complained to me about the ceiling looks like it starting to sag in the middle of the livingroom. You got something heavy in there maybe? Kept looking at the radiator and my dirty hands from the soot and the grease. Said you are a fucking tube. A what? A fucking tube spewed from the bottom of another fucking tube. Get that look outa your eyes. I got off at my floor. Fuck her ceiling. Fucking tube bitch tube. Show her my M16 one of these days.

I was assigned to a combat platoon once again enemy. Was not to be seen or heard. As water flows uphill and the first angel poured out his vessel upon the earth. As sweetness drives out sweetness when the plagues begin to fall you'll know that every case is decided for eternity. As light drives out light the first thing that struck me was the stench in the air second was the landscape. Flat with mountains the rescue team finally got to my buddy and by this time he looked like a lobster. If the spark plug is damaged or fouled with carbon it won't fire right. They picked him up by his armpits and dragged him into the bush and the meat on his arms came right off.

3:05p • sun reaching zenith, a few degrees from maximum light and heat. all four windows still in shadow, but ambient light has intensified the planes, blobs, angles and other geometric figures in them. left inner window has taken on sharpness of planes white right inner window shows that triangular form has been replaced by white rhomb that moves as it is reflection of towels hanging from windowsill of bldg across street. right outer window now shows multicolored concentric arches, blue, gold, flashes of umber, pink, yellow, and shapes of all description that are the roofs and bodies of parked vehicles reflecting, radiating afternoon sunlight into space with diamondlike points of intensity. side windows now in full glare of sun but their panes are dark.

On garbage days stray dogs come out of the cemetery and chew the garbage bags looking for scraps to eat. Saw three this morning. Big shepherd and small fluffy white dog. Then later on a medium size black dog with a big white head. Though they'll be sentenced to death god's people will not die while the wicked are perishing with pestilence and famine. Under the third plague the rivers will also turn to blood. The word soul here means living creature, of course.

I kept working on my car today even though the cops came around in the afternoon I happened to be looking out the window and saw them coming. Was ready for anything because there was no way they were gonna stop me from finishing my car and this last part I admit must be pretty noisy if some tube motherfucker happens to be home instead of out working like they should be during the day. Watched them coming. Got out of the car and rang my bell I didn't answer but somebody must have let them in probably that prick the super. Watched them get off the elevator walk toward my door ring my bell. Still didn't answer. They gave up and went away saw cop car leave after awhile.

Went back to work on my car doing the suspension system putting in the springs and front and rear struts, installing the brakes then bolting on the tires with my pneumatic drill I got hooked up to air tanks I hauled up in the beginning fuck the tubes. Every car on the street is now mine anyway. Sometimes I have dreams where I can't walk but can fly or where I can't fly but can walk or where strangers come into my house and give me a hard time then just leave.

6:21p • finally evening sun slants thru side windows into room, highlighting wall of right outer window w/ crosshatching of shadow. wonderful cubist painting made up of intersecting planes of light in center right window its existence is fleeting. as the light shifts and changes it vanishes. the sun calls it into being and returns it to the void. sun steals it back into the fire. now 3 other windows going blank reflections dying as evening light moves across bldgs' rear. their patterns and colors losing intensity, waning to black nothing i am still waiting to see a face a face in the window.


7:12p • sun's disk now low over river staining water with blob of yellow-white glare that leaves flecks of yellow in my vision when i look straight at it then away. left rear window -- room beyond -- bathed in yellow brilliance tinged w/ faint promise of copper radiance to follow at sunset. i shot video footage of the sun's path across the window, speeding it up and slowing it down. there is something i have not seen but i know is there. there is a process breaks thru that is not known to the naked eye. other windows blank and dark, premonition of the night to come.

Made three trips to the gas station around the corner filled the six gallon jerrycan I bought at the Shop Rite three times and hauled it up in the elevator. Guy asked me what was wrong he could send a truck. Told him to go fuck himself that was my business. Saw more tube bitches standing outside the building they were talking to each other and eying me each time I went out and came back in then they stared at me. The lamp goes your eyes go the cars go your legs go. Walking around with a twenty year old piece of tape stuck to my back. Situations deteriorate quickly, just like a car does. I saw the connection.

There's a lot of activity today, a lot of voices changing. Each time I go up and down in the elevator there's more pressure knock it from your hand. Go ahead say something to me tube say one word to me I think into those tubes which stand outside watching. Sunday morning jokers. Make more tubes from the bottom of the tube. I hear you fucks through the walls and I know what you're planning. Lessening to braindrops tall. There is good I sense this but like a lamp in the sun it only shines in the darkness. Weather's changing too, you'll see.

7:27p • sun has gone down windows are black, leafless, telling no story, only right outer window shows any sign of light and life as the last rays of sun trickle in through the side windows but this too will soon be extinguished and soon the colors of the frame too will fade to grey as the night falls forever.

You make a wrong turn, go down a wrong street went down this trail with a fucking new guy lieutenant all day long with no contact till close to five when the choppers were on the way but he wants to take the same trail back which got my buddy killed last time so we fragged the fuck my head was killing me bad electricity the reason why such a terrible warning is given against receiving the mark of the beast because to receive it is to sin against god filled up the tank with the gas I hauled up from the station and fired up the engine came on like a dream then the phone rings entire right leg missing blood spurting from the stump he had stepped on a land mine on the elevator some motherfucker asks for me by name which is impossible since I never give out the number to nobody period so I know it's the fucking cops right away I don't waste time fucking around just hang up grab my rifle get out of the car and go over to the window wait for it to grip my collar and screamed and my hand went inside the wound a few minutes later he bled to death as he radioed the chopper the whole mountain above us exploded with gunfire and rocket fire all I saw was the mountain flashing at nine in the morning as we came around the chopper exploded the second commandment which forbids the making of and bowing down to images the sea is lashed into fury the earth heaves and swells wicked cities that have become like Sodom are swallowed

8:02a • sun seems to flow or bend around corners of the building. light can indeed wrap itself around objects. this is important. it has an elastic quality, coils in sinuous ropy loops through side windows and out the front again, sinks into the bricks as water from rain dries and becomes steam in its radiant warmth. have you ever stared at anything so long it starts to have meaning although normally meaningless. now my face has certainly appeared. the face of a fly magnified into the face of the enemy who polishes the window with a rag.

I have a green bottle fly I killed last year on the window I look out through it my fly's eyes see through my own reflection in the glass that there is no way out that way. I expected that anyway. The phone rang again twice in fact but I didn't. Answer it again what the fuck for? Knowing it was the cops and expecting them to come around. Through my green fly eye am naked and can see through my window without any clothes owning every car on the street including the one that pulls up in front of the building and stops at the edge of my vision. Not surprised when two cops get out one carrying a bunch of paper clipped together you don't need a lawyer to tell you how easy it is to get a warrant nowadays in the midst of the chaos the sixth angel pours out his vessel upon the earth I get back in the car and fire up the engine again I know what I have to do exploded about fifty feet off the ground showering them with burning phosphor powder and from the mouth of a false prophet began running around like ants then fell and died I heard them ringing the bell its glory like consuming fire then began pounding on the door when I didn't answer telling me it's the cops as if I didn't already fucking know I'm outside my car looking in through my fly's bottle eyes naked as glass he forced in the grenade and ran back toward us hollering questions at her she told everything the wicked are finally left to the master they have chosen put her in drive and pulled the pin anyway blowing her apart in screaming rubber at my reflection in the window across the street where the sun lives and I get out shoulder my rifle and put the muzzle in my mouth and wait for the chopper to come in low from the burning center heat of the rising


1999 David Alexander
   spanish translation

This story may not be archived or distributed further without the author's express permission. Please see our conditions of use.

David AlexanderDavid Alexander lives in New York City, but spends any time away from home in Europe. His work has appeared variously on the Web, including recent appearances in Mississippi Review, Recursive Angel,  Morpo Review and in issue 6 of the Barcelona Review with "Keno Money"

  the author's e-mail:

.Home | Michael Knight | Juan Abreu | Marcia Morgado | Mary Warren | Tim Turnbull | Essay | Book Reviews | Back issues | Links