Home | Archive | Itineraries | Events | FAQ | Columns/Links
Advertise | Newsletter | About/Subscribe | Submissions | Art Walk | Books | THE2NDHAND Writers Fund

**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

Back to Archive Index

Joe Jarvis

9 March 2003**

I'm writing this for you and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Surely this is the sole triumph of the writer.

My boy says "She will prevail against this man." I say "And I'll be there to carpetbag." Neither of us ever completely got over the Civil War. Letting go of the things you never experience proves the most difficult withdrawal. "We never give up," he adds. "Bodies thrown against the wall. Lacerate yourself." Now, I'm not the kind of man who cares to be held to his own words, especially when I was talking about Bataille, not aloof bartenders. As if there's much difference.

Character should be measured not by action but reticence. I'm writing here about Lost Causes, the stuff of romance, tragedy-posture. Or perhaps I've no idea what I'm talking about because it's eight in the morning and the image of the curve of your belly woke me up after four hours of sleep-again-hardly enough time for my system to clear twelve Old Styles, one Bell's (thanks again) and four Summits, or so my credit receipt tells me.

You only lose once. Persistence amounts to appendix, underscoring established conclusion. It's the American Disease: nose to the grindstone; hard work pays off and so on and so forth and so on and so forth. Our great flaw is that we've never learned how to lose. The swerve on Vietnam isn't arrogant, but confused. Oh, to be French. Now there's a culture that knows how to lose with inimitable skill. I mean, A Hundred Year's War? And what, it took us like a half decade to beat the world's best army, what with their snazzy volley firing stances and absolutely divine uniforms, with a bunch of half-shoed Nathaniel Greene guerilla motherfuckers popping caps from behind Carolina trees?

But how does this present defeat become definable; what, when my deferential ubiquity at the bar and seventh grade notes scrawled on free advert postcards warrant restraining order? I want a fist against the bridge of my nose to open a quarter-inch gash evidencing a pearly basin of cartilage brimming and spilling the taste of copper into my mouth, tongue lapping and all that good stuff. But that won't happen, not even if Mr. Replaceable as Parts of a Broken Down Lawnmower were to catch scent. We're civilized, dear.

In eight days America invades Iraq. I'll buy the popcorn, you bring the beer. First thing every morning I check cnn.com to make sure I'm still alive. Maybe the day I can't log on because my fingertips stick to the keys, nevermind that Korean missiles melted all landlines -- perhaps then I'll be better equipped for this. As for now, all I can do is resign, concede what surely must be a defeat.

**Sir, Below you will please find pasted something I wrote yesterday morning while contemplating breakfast. Eggs. Perhaps salmon. Foodstuffs -- that which sustains us. I am sustained by Love. I eat it greedily, with such haste that I bite through the bones of my fingers, snatching digits clean from hands with fierce horizontal canine jerking of head and neck. Surely I know the new hour finds me collased atop the open toilet, vomiting purple wads of half-masticated tendons, but even before the sickness passes my body has regenerated new fingers, slender porcelain cheek-strokers. Just in time for lunch.

Feel free to post this where you care, just as the wind bloweth where it listeth. -JJ