Monday, June 10, 2013

In the Chalk Circle—Part 4

aturday, March 19, 2010
10:08—In the Giant Bagel
I had a singular dream last night: I was given two small diagrams of Washington Square Park: one of the old park, and one of the new park (after the dreaded renovation). They were only about 2 or 3 inches long, almost like oversized postage stamps, with an antique brownish color. I was fascinated by them and I don’t know if I dreamed the following or if it was a conscious embellishment: using the maps as a guide, I secured the end of a rope to the exact center of where the old fountain had existed, and affixed a piece of chalk to the other end, and traced the circumference of the fountain’s original location on the flagstones! Marvellous! A thing of beauty!

Wednesday, March 23, 2010

8:29—Giant Bagel
I have an appt. with the WTC Bellevue Group on Monday at 8:30—scheduled for a chest X-Ray, blood test, and a pulmonary function test. It’ll take 4 1/2 hours! It ain’t gonna be fun, but I’ll go through it just to qualify for any possible benefits/compensation/treatments, etc. I was 2 blocks from Ground Zero and I got that f*cking dust in my lungs and around my heart! A God-damned time bomb! Christ.

11:25—On a Q-Train heading to 14th Street
Oh, no—wait a minute! I’m on a f*cking B-Train! Christ! Where should I get off?

1:21—WSQ—On a narcoleptoid bench
Skittish, irritable, and paranoid. It’s just a bit too chilly out here and I may have to relocate to the Albatross.

What am I gonna do? A job would solve most of my problems—but are there any such things as jobs anymore?
I should try to convince X to apply for WTC benefits also. Too cold out here—I gotta duck inside somewhere—perhaps the Temple over on Thompson...

Debt collectors calling, calling, calling...vultures circling everywhere in the Poison City. 
Trying to conjure the Springtime into existence. Park cooling off as the sun goes down one more time. Phantoms pass by, sit for awhile, and then move on into the oblivion of the late afternoon. Fear is ascendent! I am afraid all of the time now—it must be a result of weakened kidneys. Maybe I do need some kind of medication—nah!—that stuff never worked for me. Heading to Barnes & Noble...

4:50—Barnes & Noble—4th floor reading area—
I’m sitting in the 3rd row all the way on the right side with a view of Union Square West out of the front windows. It’s cloudy—a gray, swirling sky—overcast, spooky, funereal. I have a terribly creepy, paranoid sense of doom swirling around me. It must be the debilitating effects of the last poisoning coursing through my system. I wanted to take a walk down to Mosco Street, but it was too cold. Sinking into junk-food narcosis...

6:00—In the Phó Viêt Huong Restaurant on Mulberry Street
I haven’t been here in ages—one of my old haunts. The Temple has closed! Another one of my favorite places is gone forever! Dusk down in Chinatown—always a melancholy undertaking. A thousand memories down here.

Ancient insults torment me—why did I put up with them? Number 52: journal of a burnt-out, half-animate ghoul trying to hang on in the toxic soup.

Monday, March 15, 2010
7:13—In the Connecticut Muffin
My biological clock says that it is actually 6:13, because we are on Daylight Savings Time.
Dark and spooky out—rainy and overcast. Heading to Bellevue for a 5-hour physical.

8:45—In the wilds of Bellevue 
Waiting to be interviewed by the psychiatrist—the first stage of the WTC intake procedure. I hope that I am not delivering myself into the jaws of Moloch—after all, how trustworthy can they be?  Christ! Be alert!
Now I’m waiting to see Dr. Y—but she has disappeared somewhere and I’m stuck here in this hallway. Getting sleepy.

2:32—In the Goodburger on B’way & 16th, right on the north end of Union Square Park.
Came to $9.25, and now I’m broke.
Still reeling from my day at the WTC Clinic—I can’t even write about it yet—too much information to process.

5:33—In the back room of the Albatross

A strange clear light reflecting from the back courtyard and patch of sky. I guess I should amble down to the park again—no sense in returning to the hell-hole of my apartment too soon. Every hour I stay away from that place is an hour added to my life!

6:04—WSQ—on a non-committal bench—

The past flows and tugs all around me in the Cathedral Park. I am deeply saddened by the loss of the old park—all the magic has been drained out of it. There is almost nothing left of the old city... I move among its ruins... lost and mourning its demise.

I have devolved into a complete sputtering, useless idiot! Damn! I smell chemical toxins in the air—gotta move to another bench. Now the damn asphalt-cutter has resumed! Bastards!

7:27—Shuttling back & forth between B&N, WSQ, and the Albatross—

Lost on an unnumbered day. Ill from too much coffee.

#52: Book of Cliff’s Edge Prayers and Silent Screams.

Circumnavigation of the Fountain in a Season of Dread and Dislocation.

I just had an unbelievable encounter with a man on 14th street right across from Union Square: I’ve already forgotten his name, but he was a 911 first-responder: eleven months in the pit! Homeless, poisoned, ill, hallucinatory and reduced to begging for change on the street. He told me he periodically goes crazy from the poisons and hallucinates snakes and mice crawling on his skin, and he cuts himself with a knife to try and get rid of them! He is a slightly built man of indeterminate age—maybe 40?—his teeth are loosening and falling out as a result of the toxins and he sleeps on the street. He is enrolled in the Bellvue Hospital 911 Program and also went through the Bellevue intake process, but he says that they don’t help him—welfare gives him $60 a month and he is turned away from any further compensation! It was one of the saddest encounters I’ve ever had. He even asked me if I needed a roomate. I wish I could help him in some way, but aside from sweat-lodges and detox diets, there’s no way I can think of to help him except to give him $5.00 when I see him on Wednesday. He told me he used to own a gas station before he got sick—then his wife left him. He sleeps on the streets and eats out of garbage cans. The horror!

“The poison moves around—it goes up into my head and then I see the snakes and the mice on my skin and I have to try and get them out! When the poison takes over, that becomes the reality! The 911 system is no good—they won’t help you—you’ll see!” He told me he was from—where was it? Kashmir? I can’t remember. He actually has an e-mail address and he gave it to me. He seemed to know a lot of people on the street—he must have waved hello to a dozen people in about 15 minutes. I’ve already forgotten his name, but he gave me a card that says: NADIR PETROLUM with an e-mail address.

Is that his name—Nadir?

A strange and luminous evening as I exit the park..

                                    TO BE CONTINUED

///   Washington Square  ///  911  ///  NYC  ///


  1. C'est magnifique! They get better each time.

    I made a few notes. Perhaps they sound flippant and trivial, but they come in homage to your art.

    “I don’t know if I dreamed the following or if it was a conscious embellishment.” I would say that every remembered dream is glued together with conscious embellishment; and go further to assert that conscious embellishment and remembering the dream are synonymous.

    And this post is a milestone too in several ways. The reader discovers what that haunting title (reminiscent of Brecht) is about. We are introduced to the existence of X, though fittingly X remains an unknown. If we get enough equations we’ll be able to triangulate him or her. The photos are artfully distressed. I mean the are transformed by a meticulous artist to express what’s seen in the eye of the beholder. Yes, they perform that conjuring trick.

    Come on Brian! Dr X? Surely Dr Y. I note two it’s that should be its.

    “Book of Cliff’s Edge Prayers and Silent Screams”: where can I buy a copy?

    “First-responder”. I had to look that up.

    1. Thanks, Vincent—you are very kind with your words (and not flippant or trivial at all)
      "Dr.Y" it is! You are right (lol).
      “Book of Cliff’s Edge Prayers and Silent Screams”: I seem to be able to come up with endless ideas for titles and books (my journals are littered with them) but only a handful are realized stories I'm afraid.

      Yes, the first-responders are the ones that took the brunt of the toxins and are paying a terrible price for their heroism—steadily dying off with rare forms of cancer and all manner of other diseases. An unimaginable horror that was visited upon the city. I myself was not a first-responder, but was exposed to the toxins about a year after the attacks when the building I was living in (two blocks from Ground Zero) was sand-blasted, which stirred up all the dust from the attack that was in all the nooks & crannies everywhere around the building. I already had a compromised immune system from a previous chemical exposure and I was driven out and rendered homeless and extremely ill for the second time in less than 4 years.

  2. . . . and I love the new name and banner picture.

  3. From the understanding I obtained via Drs Mickel & Rees, this “compromised immune system” needs damping down; just as every car needs shock absorbers as well as springs.

    Putting it simply, it is not the “toxins” which make you ill, but your allergic reaction to them. Instead of being desensitized to the catastrophe, our body becomes hypersensitized to similar hazards in the future. The condition is, I hazard, almost identical to the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by many soldiers. They hear a bang in the night: the body reacts in terror, as if they are back in the war zone.

    This happens when the enemy is unseen, as in acts of terrorism, landmines, insurgents in the uniform of allies, etc. With such enemies, you cannot use adrenalin to fight back. You can only cringe and wait. In such a case it's one's own body that makes one ill. The alarm system inside needs to be calmed, for it is sapping our entire strength. As in the tale of my miracle cure.

  4. Vincent, you are certainly correct—it's the body turning on itself that is the mechanism.