a short story by Frank
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
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
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
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
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
Note: Both theft and painting are fictional.
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