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A BarBe Award Winner: A Music of the Humors

A Music of the Humors

Vernal ovens beckon; skins stream, stomachs sour, heads cloud, business is horrible, news is bad.


[1] The lights around the window have gone out in new places and have relit, revived, where they had long been dead. A hot salt bath. Wind stealing in through the spaces under the shut glass— paint peeling from wood casements in an imitation of bark. Steam on an occasional surface, while others run dry— the inexplicable affinities of textures. [2] Vaporous nicotine over the bedsheets spread in silence; a coral reef of softness, the saturated fibre of color, monads of imagination, vision, bubbling in the water glass— I am drinking both oxygen and worlds like mirrory pearls. Inside me, somewhere near the surface, a sickness is fighting for its life. Everything, a healthful decadence of the body perpendicular to the spirit— and I sweat. [3] One wonders into nothing. Outside the door there are footsteps. On the other outside of the door, a breath gently held. The naiad (the goblin?) who lives upstairs pours glasses of water in the rain gutters and I imagine that people are only dense clouds in the weather of a well illuminated underworld. Dewy rain; thick yellow, blue and green impasto painted in dreams under the glow of strange plants. [4] While food cooks I do something like calculus behind my artificial eyes. While I clean, music comes up from the intestines. And no matter what I am doing, I am always writing. I clean blood; sweep food and pieces of stray paper and used latex, turned inside-out; deal with idiots (thank God there are many; they render themselves harmless in each other’s cordial presence), and through all of it I am writing. Things pose as if to write me back, but I resist like the eddies of a small river pushing against the insane flesh of swimmers… The flesh and the word… Everything else is crystal clear and fragmented; description, concern over money, distant military movements, tribal relations, contract renewal, book shipments, a poet’s desperate letters to his mother, taxonomy, dissociation, et cetera. The way one writes about money is indicative of something (what is not clear), similar to the way that when one writes about food and eating, one unwittingly makes a libidinal confession—. [5] To read a situation as the enunciated word at the core of a greater silence—. [6] Nobody was moving and we grabbed each other— began dancing in the midst of the dead, gray, wet, and the sorrowing in the whirl of their expressionlessness. We danced and danced until their souls stirred. Then everything opened in the dark. I put my arms around her and she put my hands low on her stomach, a world of silk at my fingertips. I let her hands slide over mine, I twined my fingers around hers, moving, and closed my eyes— the dead and their dirge disappeared and our four hands dissolved in a secret conversation. She leaned into my body while my head wilted down to her neck, her fine hair. I looked into a new little world, hidden there on her shoulder. Then, the lights disappeared, our faces turned black. Very close. We hovered for a moment and recognized each other, like two snakes of the same species being mesmerized, not by the song of a charmer, but by the deeper music of the four humors, ruled in the key of blood.

Zane Rougier Perdue is originally from Albuquerque, NM., but currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. His work can be found with The Decadent Review, Punt Volat, The Hong Kong Review and elsewhere.

One response to “A BarBe Award Winner: A Music of the Humors”

  1. Clare Avatar

    This is the winner in my book!

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