The Journal Petra

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John Rufo

From Delete

I wake up into fury. No, that's not right — the anger does not reside somewhere outside my body but

instead as an atmosphere that can be permeated and lived within. Lived under. To be alive, but under.

To make up the requirements for living when under. Because of the under. Understand me: I am in

no way to be screwed with at these precise moments, or any of the other preliminary ones plotted out

in this spaceship we call the future. I wake up      ~*~*~*~      into fury in the same way I wake up into

my body, in the same way I wake up into the dream that produces all other dreams, which is to say,

nightmares, which is to say, the same way I wake up is the way in which I will die, which is to say,

slowly, which is to say, saying, which is to say, with the fury of a thousand flowers opening up through

the words, coming up through the page, alighting all letters, a letting that prescribes blood and water,

undulations I make whenever I come up through the dirt and find an unclean spirit to do my bidding,

to bide the time until the next time remaining comes to find me. For fury to be furious, let its activating

agent try me. Try me. There is a precedent for this, as if your attempts to erase past can be looked

passed. When I wake up I am already an exhaustion, but I'm going to ask you to calm down with me.

Wear out with me. Let's be thoroughly together at the same time. Because the combination's already

all in. And the garden's our own dry decay. Come she will in the come‐up, in the tumult and thicket,

rot and rotated.

* * *

My priestly non‐priest, your prescience is so near, both before the silences of science and after, all

prickly pear. I say "my" with the full knowledge that you aren't and were never mine, just as I was

never myself mine, that I never held myself without being also yours. That we come forward with the

foreknowledge and hindsight, the seeing. Under cover by being under covers, the "under several

beehives" as you write it. Sometimes we look back at                                              the old writing and

realize we already knew what we're writing now, but         *~*~*~*~*~*~*~         we're led into the lie
that we're re‐inventing it and just seeing it now. No, we     ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*         knew.                The
knowledge was a whirlpool. Later rationalized as a                                                  whirlpool: I often

think about this phrase, which I picked up through some dictionary or another, that Charybdis, narrow

swirling sea monster with rock‐teeth and many‐waved‐tongue, which licks your sores to death, was, at

a certain point, re‐realized as whirlpool. Name changed, but maybe key changed. Meaning fluctuated,

sank, rose up, got caught in itself again, rotating. What rots at sea except wood and ship, ledger and

compass, maps? I'll tell you the rotting, which is itself also growing and groaning and growling, or will

try to. To what you get accustomed becomes what you are — no, it's where people can find your

location, its echo and purr. It's your email address. It's the letters that get sent and you send, sending

forth a churning that sends back, in an instant, auto‐reply. To consider the number of the drowned,

to even start comprehension.

* * *

When Janice says the sky isn't blue, she's considering how Los Angeles distances itself from blue‐

black through continual gentrifying pollution, through fog‐conquest that ends up coming back,

through endless commutes that actually do end, and that this is the problem: if they seemingly went

up and made themselves truly endless, that would be reckoning and recognition, whirlpool on pause.

Obfuscated and fussy, mostly fed‐up and foliaceous. With earned insight into how one once was, how

does one continually prepare for the present and its presentation? Its pretentious and portentousness.

Its purple prose, all gloomy and cloud with no rain. But maybe I'm still discussing the past as Tarot

methodology into future. My problematic with time arrives something like junk: the present presents

itself as a dilapidated dumpster, trash‐pile, not closed‐up landfill, an arrangement of physical things as

messed up with an emphasis on mess and up; and that the past understands itself through nostalgia

weeping, sepia‐tone yet still suddenly blue, question of blue, postcards post‐tense post‐matter, post‐

present, even, silver‐plated copper with mirror finish, emulsion and ambrotype and tintype, dark

lacquer and enamel, watching you come and stay running. Where the flowers swell above water and

blush in surfacing, oxygen‐laden.

* * *




















John Rufo's materials have been published, or are forthcoming, on Poets [dot] org, Ploughshares, The Offing, The Capilano Review, Tagvverk, and Dreginald. Links and contact at