Fiction - Dropping Balm, The Absinthe Literary Review

Adult Horoscopes
a short story by Frank Morris

On Saussure and Communicating Desire (for Leo)

Ferdinand de Saussure, father of linguistics and consummate bullshit artist, says the following: 

“... the written word is so intimately connected with the spoken word it represents that it manages to usurp the principle role. As much or even more importance is given to this representation of the vocal sign as to the vocal sign itself. It is rather as if people believed that in order to find out what a person looks like it is better to study his photograph than his face.”

Think about this, Leo. Lately, you’ve been horribly tongue tied each time you attempt to communicate with members of the opposite sex. You need time to stilt your expression—time alone, Leo. Go off, probably with a jug of cheap wine, and write down your exact sexual desires. Describe in detail the beautiful aspects of your lover’s face and chest and the things you would do if you were to pin him or her against a bedroom wall. Then slip your letter through the mail slot, bypassing the postal system. Sit and wait for your lover to appreciate the erotic precision of your words. Unexpected, visceral and hypnotic, your written sentiments will brand themselves on his/her subconscious and speed wild fantasies until your moment of coital union. Become your own de Bergerac, Leo. 

On Testicles (For Virgo)

Amongst the hoity-toities at the dining table of an Upper West Side dinner party I recently attended, one guest had an amazing story. 

He spoke of growing up the younger of two sons in a well-to-do family in Cadiz, Spain, where his older brother was a popular bullfighter. Often, his brother would come home in the late afternoon from victorious fights with a bloody cloth slung over his shoulder. Wrapped in the cloth were cojones del toro—bull’s testicles. Their mother would get very excited and start a spiced broth, into which she would pitch the testicles and boil them for an hour until dinner. As the tender spheroids simmered in rosemary, garlic and white wine, the mother would tell fanciful stories of the power a growing child could derive from eating bull’s testicles, and how she knew her sons would grow up to be powerful men of great physical and intellectual stature. And indeed, she was correct! The older son went on to become a Spanish Ambassador to the United States, and the younger brother, now sitting across from me telling the story—all 6’ 4’’of him—was now an oft-published graduate professor of poetry at Columbia. 

Virgo Man, casually ask your lover to accept your testicles into her mouth. Lady Virgo, I implore you to accept. Remember the story of the Spanish Ambassador and his poet brother who grew up eating cojones del toro, and that intense cosmic powers are radiating from the Virgo scrotum this month.

On Priceless Art Found on the Walls of a Restaurant at a Highway Rest Stop (For Libra)

Remember Bunching at the Confluence of The Warren and The Miriam, the priceless J.M.W. Turner painting lifted from London’s Tate Gallery in 1982 that hasn’t been found since?* Well, I know where it is. It’s hanging on a wall in the dining room of a Sbarro at a rest stop off the New Jersey Turnpike.

I was driving to a wedding in Virginia last month, and I pulled into a service area for a bite to eat. As I sat in the dining room with my cannelloni and garlic knots, I looked haphazardly to my left and saw it—the lost-long and thought-destroyed Turner painting, just above my head. The scene of a barge-filled Berkhamsted canal bordered on the psychedelic, exploding in a splay of sharp greens and yellows. It was only when I distanced myself a body length from the painting that I noticed the most important strokes on the canvas—a pair of daintily placed lovers picnicking in the far left bottom corner. There they sat, hidden buds of passion sharing wine in the grass, oblivious to the tumult of the clogged waterway. I bit my tongue for nearly not noticing them. 

I considered the enormity of my discovery and thought about whom I would alert first. But then I thought, My god. What a tremendous place for a Turner painting! Have others noticed it and not told the world? Who am I to ruin the mystery of the stolen Turner painting

I rose from my table and walked out into the food court, looking around in an enlightened stupor as if I’d been hit in the head with a metal rake. Everything I saw was now fraught with possibility. Mine eyes met with those of Botticelli-faced Latina working the register of a T.J. Cinnamon’s. I walked directly to her, past a line of patrons and extended my hand, whereupon she climbed the counter and leapt ceremoniously into my arms. I carried her across four lanes of highway to a Red Roof Inn, where we rented a suite and made love for three hours. 

How are you a part of this story, Libra? Do not look too far. The beauty you’ve been searching for is right next to your head.

On Bondage (For Sagittarius) 

Do you know what it feels like to have your freedom taken away from you? Have you ever been falsely accused of a crime and incarcerated? Have you ever been enslaved? Were you ever kidnapped? Fettered? Forced against your will not to speak? 

How liberating! It’s like all the weights of the world slip off you, and there is no other recourse than to summon the entirety of your spirit towards the plight of freeing yourself. Your senses come flying to the forefront of your consciousness. Sagittarius, please don’t be shocked by this and please don’t ask any questions. Do it. Go into bondage. Get wrapped up, subjugated, and forced to perform something. Get humiliated with your own tie. Ask to have a toaster thrown directly at your crotch. Get put in a pickle barrel and pushed down a flight of stairs. 

Go through some process of pain, and the product will be sexual satisfaction. It’s this extra element of being in a physical and psychological dilemma that will leave you utterly wasted in ecstasy on the floor when you experience the most intense orgasm of your life.

On The Sexual Potential of Hands (For Capricorn) 

Capricorn, your hands are your most important instruments for sensory perception. Reading and gathering information, they are at the same time antennas and tentacles, receiving and also reaching, exquisite equipment tapering into fingers for even finer perception, with nerve bundles as dense as in our eyes, ears or tongue. 

Think of meditative body movements practiced in the East—hands outstretched, leading the head and torso, wiping away a membrane of tension from the immediate atmosphere. The most ancient of martial arts were based on simple movements of the hand as a means of relaxation. The word karate means “hands of China.” As children, the bulk of our learning involved kinesthetic interaction with the world—touching, grasping, caressing. Magicians and surgeons talk to their hands, counseling them like babies, knowing that success depends on their “leger de main.” Perhaps more than any of his attributes, the abnormal size of Michael Jordan’s hands contributed to his success on the basketball court. Popes consecrate hands. Accurate destinies are read in palms. Steady digits orchestrated all of the great bombing runs in history. How often does a woman instinctually grab a man’s hands and force them inside her? 

Capricorn, harness the power in your hands and lay them upon your lover. Imagine the impulse of caressing your lover’s skin and the firestorm of electrical impulse that shoots through the hot cabling in your arms to your brain. Buoy your hands like small floating blankets and pray them across your lover’s thighs. Drag your fingers across your lover’s back; set them out on an expedition across her topography, mapping her body. Then, like a searchlight returning to a mysterious corner, seek out her moist regions. Record the progress of their saturation with a slow, expert frequency and cultivate the sensuousness of those seconds. Put goose bumps on her skin. Search for circles to touch, badges of the flesh into which you can induce ripples of pleasure. Point to these erogenous zones and go about touching them. Gently snap your fingers on her nipples as though you were buttoning the waistcoat of everyone’s friend, the panda bear. Reach around and touch the rim of her asshole as though you were closing the eyelid of a dying deer. Scoop your hand under her bush and press on her clit as if ringing the doorbell to a cloister of nuns. 

Your stars are in a distant corner of the night this month, Capricorn, their burn peeking. If you can’t see them, hold your hand in front of your face and look between your fingers.

On Interpreting The Zodiac (For Aquarius)


There are times when I have difficulty getting a clear reading for certain signs at certain times of the year. This problem perplexed me in my salad days as a sex reader. But like all the good lawyers in John Grisham novels, I had an old alcoholic mentor who advised me on my problems. He was an ancient reader from my hometown of Nahant, Massachusetts, and whenever I felt the weight of the stars was too much, I always knew I could walk down to the Grey Walnut and he’d be there, sipping a gimlet at the end of the bar by the cigarette machine. Just sit and think, he would always say. His no-answer, it turned out, was the answer, and I began doing just that, sitting and thinking until, without meaning to, I would begin seeing images. At first they made no sense to me, but I learned that if I drew a relationship between what I was seeing in these meditative states, and what vestiges of information the stars were giving me, I could derive a rich reading. I soon became obsessed with this technique and rushed to dive into the seemingly limitless pool of images my subconscious could create. 

It was then I realized that the ease with which I could access this rife a priori expanse varied with certain methods specific to the dates dividing the twelve signs of the Zodiac. In the phase of Leo, it was standing in front of the mirror and waiting for my body to mime something. For Sagittarius, it was falling into a brown study with a burning stick of sandalwood in my urethra while listening to Kraftwerk. In the phase of Virgo, I could achieve complete sensory deprivation to the outside world by bathing in a tub of alkali and watching episodes of Manimal on Beta. It soon became obvious, especially to my friends and family, that I was “going there” way too much. It wasn’t until I woke up one afternoon cross-gartered in the woman’s bathroom of a TJ Maxx with close to two hundred bubbles of tuberculosis skin-test solution on my forearm that I decided to limit this tapping of my subconscious. 

Since then, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to use meditation as a reading technique. Well, I needed to do it for this month’s Aquarius reading. And what I saw was clear as day, Aquarius—RED. What do I mean, red? I mean war paint. I mean marking your arms with the blood of a menstruating zebra. I mean renting a white three-piece suit and shooting yourself in the leg with a handgun. I mean getting drunk and hopping a razor-wire fence. I mean actively agitating, challenging, and throwing hands with a monster. I mean a cranberry bog baptism. I mean animal sacrifice in a Rosicrucian church. I mean posing as a doctor and delivering a child. I mean attending a mass blood-brothering ceremony at a convention center. I mean calling a temp agency and hiring twenty people to come to your house and perforate you. I mean legitimately trying to fuck yourself. I mean wearing a red tie. Mark yourself red, Aquarius, and your unseen lover with see that you are for real. The horizon you’ve been studying is finally at your feet. Cut through the eclipse that obscures your love life with your red signal. A lover will recognize you from afar and come down from the mountains to meet you at the shore on the sea of sexual salvation.

On Martin Luther in Rome (For Cancer)

You’re so much like Martin Luther in Rome. In 1510, Luther was sent from Germany to represent his Augustinian Cloister in a bureaucratic dispute with the pope. Traveling from the most stringent of lifestyles, Luther was shocked by what he saw in Rome. Pagan art? Sunbathing priests? Fifteen-minute masses? The bones of martyrs for sale? Clergymen comparing penis sizes? In the midst of this was Luther, fortified to the fingers with moral conviction, sweating at the pulpit while a congregation of Italian priests yawned and coughed intentionally, even shouting, “Passa! Passa!” (Get on with it!) as he plods purposefully though a presentation of the sacraments. 

You, like Luther, are disillusioned with the spaces and contexts in with sacred acts are performed. Sex has become less like a sacrament and more like a press conference, a dick n’ cunt product placement, a commercial flash of body logos and post-coital slogans, a gathering of clothes after the basket is poked through the pews. In the club, you stand at the bar and see demonic reflections in the mirror behind the liquor. There is cocaine in the chorus and smack in the sacrament, dust on the angels, ecstasy in the mediocrity. Priests pushing, nuns nodding, strings of nylon hammocking their frothing clits under bad habits. Jesus on a blotter-tab rainbow; Mary, all drunk and saggy like a whore with her leg out the window, being pushed into a cab by a broker; Mephistopheles on his cell phone. You once watched a woman get fucked between the trains of a subway car. The girls went wild not too long ago. Your memory burns with the image of the girl with the one-word name who methodically rubbed a handful of Vaseline between her legs and toggled through her voicemail as you fucked her cavernous pussy, mercifully granting you leave after ejaculating on her coffee table full of fashion magazines. Like Luther in Rome, you have seen the show of horrors in the Camel-toe Thunderdome.

Where is the concern? Where is the contemplative, the arms in arms, the chairs at the table? You are a sentient being, Cancer, not lost to the machinations of modernity. While others gawk and talk over the empty vessels they see in the store windows, you sit alone in your pew, thinking deeply. Luther saw the femur of a dog in a rib of Saint Paul. You see plastic bags of salt solution sewn under the skin in a pair of breasts, agents for an illiterate heart. No sale of indulgences can rescue a man from a desert of moral aridity.

Luther ended up affecting the entire Western world. Had he not raised his voice in anger, not called for an end to the deification of the bullshit artist, the world may have met its end long ago. Thank god for the iconoclast. Thank god for the Cancers of the world! Ready your parchment, nail and hammer, Cancer. Your philosophy is sound and needs posting. Be ready as the masses turn towards you, and stand tall as the virgins exit their homes with your name on their lips.



© 2003 Frank Morris


*Editor’s Note:  Both theft and painting are fictional.

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