Jonathan Mack

Paragraphism: Series Two
Alchemy Does Not Begin With Gold: The Report on Love

Note from the Editor: This essay contains graphic content of a sexual nature as well as explicit references to drugs and alcohol. 

Introductory Note:
Every day I write on a stack of blank 3 by 5 cards. I write my life — not exactly my life, more like a series of single-panel cartoons. An account of moments, as directly as I can, just as they arise in the mind and infused by obsessive reading. In this way, many years have passed. Recently I began to share pieces of my peculiar work with friends and allies, asking, “This is what appears to me. This is what shows up. Do you see any use for it? Do you have any idea what might be done with this kind of mind?” Those are my questions. This is a work-in-progress. Any response is deeply appreciated.

Ida chose just that piece of the day and just that piece of the night that she would use.
All right.

— Gertrude Stein, Ida

Every day, at sunset on the ocean, there’s the moment when the sun dips beneath the water, is gone, but it’s still quite bright and somehow, in spite of every other day, and every other night, in the history of your life, you think, that’s it, the sun is gone: this is as dark as it will get. Despite all evidence to the contrary, there is that moment.
That is where we live now.

This is called co-working, or a shared workspace — it’s something very fashionable for those of us intent on networking, getting ahead, and unleashing our visions on the world. I rent space in the common area, in hopes of sharing in a sense of shared energy, inspiration, and industry.
At this moment just 4 of us are working. 1 is selling coke, 1 is selling his ass, the 3rd is the bartender, and I am crafting high literature, at a time of unprecedented global peril, for the uplift of all humankind.
In other words, 3 of us are already making other people happy, whereas I remain an aspirant.

He asks for change but doesn’t wait for it, homeless old man in a hurry, dragging behind him what appears to be first-class, luxury, pull-luggage from the Nineties.
Someone made something that lasts. Now here it is.
Old enough, by now, to understand that endurance can have unforeseen effects.

Something’s got to give! I said, over and over again, for 20 years or so, while I was making what I considered to be a great effort. I was right! And how funny it is that, for all my self-dramatizing, I thought for sure that it would be the world.

Dignity, the demise of. Dammit, the tall cans of whiskey soda aren’t on sale anymore. I thought I had enough, with my collection of five peso coins. Whereas now here I am, at the counter, everyone waiting behind me, deep into the twos and the ones.

I am SO ready to be another of those grouchy middle-aged bastards I’ve heard so much about my whole entire life. The kind of men around whom everyone tiptoes and maneuvers, the kind of men for whom everyone makes excuses. Oh, but he has a heart of gold! Like, if you show up as late as 7:15pm you do NOT expect Uncle Don to be remotely sober and, oh no, you do NOT mention black people, lesbians, vegetarians, oceans, the atmosphere, dolphins, deer or owls around Uncle Don, lest we all be reminded of what he is actually like. Except for me it’d be the paleo diet, homeopathy, the Republican party, astrology, manifesting abundance, and how green solutions will pay for themselves in an unprecedented economic boom. How hard it is to find good help, how we are blessed, how much to fucking tip. Because I AM NOT REMOTELY WELL ENOUGH. I want to be your Uncle Don. I want you to believe in my deep deep down, very hidden goodness. I want you to forgive me in advance.

Rahula is a Pali word. It means “fetter”. Rahula is the name the Buddha gave his son. Although it does not say so in the suttas, nor is it suggested in the commentaries, I remain certain that it must have really sucked sometimes, to be the Buddha’s son.
OK, so: your Dad names you ‘Handcuffs’ and abandons you and your Mom. When he shows up again you ordain as a monk. We all know how fun it is to be the Boss’ son. And your Dad — he’s someone who regularly has to point out to folks that he’s not actually a god.
Rahula shows up, now and then, in the ancient Pali suttas, trailing after his dad. In Sutta 62 of the Majjhima Nikaya the Buddha turns back to look at him, then chastises him, perhaps for thinking there’s something special about himself, the Buddha’s son.
Is it any wonder that young monk Rahula sinks down, then and there, right in the road, and thinks, What’s the point of going into town?

A snack is an example of a thing that is minor and cheap, exalted and profound. In my experience, the snack reaches its highest expression in Mexico, on the beach: bags of potato chips made fresh that morning; ripe mangoes carved into flowers and layered with lemon, Tajin and chamoy; tostadas assembled before you out of a bucket; camarones, aguacate, limon, mas limon, por favor! All of these things are small, cheap, unpredictable, and worth postponing self-slaughter to engage in.
At the beach with the angel, the only things we have are small and cheap and glorious. We see the man pass by with the plates of ostiones but we do not wave him down, because we are not fresas, Mexicanos ricos, except when we have to be, when Angel announces, My father must have his oysters! and we prepare them just as he likes them, mas chile, mas limon, but then we must eat them for him, because he has been dead a long time.

Both of us have disabilities, from birth. I have my crippled leg, Angel is moderately to severely deaf in a very specific way: many tones are entirely missing; he hears many words wrong but with startling accuracy.
For example, I was telling him about my spiritual life, my tremendously spiritual life. How decades before, in Dharamsala, I had knelt before a rinpoche and received the name Dharma.
Angel was respectful. He was obviously very impressed. “Wow, amor,” he said. “That is so perfect. Johnny Drama is exactly the right name for you.”

Angel’s dream was to have a decent car and now he has a decent car and we use it to travel to distant beaches as was his dream. Meanwhile I am asking myself, Why did I never dream of dreaming for something obtainable, something I could actually have?

It’s funny how one must teach oneself to be what one has been all along, a failure. Although there is no good way, some ways are decidedly worse. Failure is a gray thing expelling heat, like an ember or a stomachache, or an old dog that can’t stand up. The way it just lies there. And looks at you.
The best, it seems to me, is to rake smooth some space around it, secure the trash. As for a bonfire on a cold, clear night in late autumn. A clear space. Then stand back and watch all night, whether it flares up or only, dully, radiates. The ache, the dog, the fire. Let us have the pain then, and just the pain, to the degree that that is possible.

Saturday afternoon, broke and down, Angel says to me, “I forget you don’t know how to be poor and I have to teach you.” And that offends me, because what else have I been doing my entire life, pathetically, reprehensibly, despite possessing every possible advantage? My whole life, excepting, of course, my upbringing among blue-blooded Yankee sociopaths and my years as the second-most neurotic princess in Japan. The angel is mistaken here. I, too, am an expert.

A day like today, for example. When there isn’t money to do anything and hope is running short. The path is clear. I, too, am an emperor: these are my notes on horseback.

What you do is collect all possible spare change, every teacup and pocket, not neglecting to check under the bed, and you invest your savings in hot dogs and cans of whiskey cola, to be administered along with neglected works of world literature (or Netflix) until a better day arrives.

Or, alternately: if you think, dammit, I am a responsible, grown person, and who but myself can look after my physical and spiritual well-being? Then, easy: go with canned tuna and straight tequila. A fraction of the calories. Though you have to be careful, obviously, because too much canned tuna can make you insane.

But noooo, Angel says we are a poor Mexican family and it is Saturday and therefore what we must do is clean the entire apartment and then prepare dinner together. Every corner must be swept, every vegetable diced. No gas! No money for gas! I say triumphantly. He points to car and there it is, in the backseat: the electric skillet.     

Also, about mopping — when he mops what is it he actually does? And there is nothing he does more often than mop. The angel mops the way other people smoke. Every spare minute he is at it with the mop. He cannot be restrained from mopping, and he insists there is nothing excessive or unusual about his mopping, that every right-thinking person in Mexico mops every bit as often, and with just as much bleach. Commanded to stay out of the way, like a troublesome pet, I am forever watching, and yet I can neither explain nor replicate just exactly how he is mopping. Not only does he get the floor to gleam in a way I never can, he is somehow also so thorough that all the evil spirits, minor and major hierarchies both, with or without hats, are obliged to retreat to the vestibule for 4 or 5 days. Such is the angel’s authority, with the mop.

My bald, bearded, big-bellied enamorado, my Angel, macho, Mexicano, celoso, treats me always with amor, exactitude, cuidado, just as he does his family, his patients, his friends, his car, his plants, the floor. I mean to say, it’s not necessarily personal. He decided to love me, some time ago, and goes on doing so, regardless of whether I’m all that particularly interesting.
A good man has taken me on as work. I should be honored. It’s true I’m grateful.

His philosophy, as best I understand it: a man ought to have a job, a car, an apartment, a dog, a best friend, and a lover. When one wears out, runs out, or drops dead, you get a new one.
Any gaps are filled in with beer.

I should be careful. He will love me slightly but significantly less if I stink of wine. And he can always always tell. Just imagine, how much more money the cops on Alcoholimetro would earn, if they took Angel on patrol instead of an ordinary breathalyzer. Because Angel can tell you what you drank yesterday.
Roadblock. Window rolls down. Angel sniffs. “Sure, you’re perfectly sober now — but yesterday! you were totally blitzed! on el Cabrito and Fresca! in this same car! all over town! Join the line on the side of the road, sir.”

Few statements are as immediately or reliably wrong as,
“That never happens!”

Precision is a natural response to great pain. That has always been obvious and yet it comes as a surprise to me.
When I was in 2nd grade the wrong one of my parents died. My father took me to Disneyland to make up for it and I entirely missed learning cursive. When I returned to school I discovered the other children had all converted to a new religion. I was appalled. I persisted in print, which gradually shrank, became militant and remains to this day almost a typewriter font.

So many truly excellent things have arisen from a misplaced, unfounded, and entirely faulty sense of confidence. Including most of us. So, too, paragraphism. Therefore: be minor and be free. Be negligible, undetectable, and unrestrained. Surrender and set down. Let loose. A paragraph is not a gun. Anyone is at liberty to maintain any number of them, unlocked and unlicensed, in their own home.
The children, the children will be appalled. They won’t die.

Right now it seems so simple, the most natural thing in the world: all I do is stenograph out each moment, just exactly as it appears on the screen. Then of course there is the making sense and the arranging, which I do like a hungover substitute teacher in it for the money, i.e. I mostly don’t.
If the children tire of anarchy they can arrange themselves.

The owner of the bar desired me. The end of one problem and the start of so many others. He said he knew a place on the beach that made the best seafood stew for hangovers. He was sure that I would love it. He also knew another guy, that he could bring, and he was 20 centimeters. But for him he’d have to pay, whereas I didn’t cost anything.
I want to report that I promptly located moral outrage and employed it. Ashamed my first thought was, Oh, but why don’t we ALL go, and I can chip in maybe, for gas, and beer, and seafood stew, and Mr. 20 cms?

Sorry if I already mentioned this. Even though this is high literature, I want to make sure I include plenty of practical tips for real life.
It has been my persistent experience, in regard to centimeters, and to those gentlemen who provide their measurements in advance, that those who give even numbers are usually lying, but those who give odd numbers are almost always telling the truth. Trust me, I was as taken aback as you are. As well as disappointed by Monsieurs 16, 18, and 20. To the point that I openly mocked Mr. 21, only to be stunned by his manifest truthfulness, which I struggled to accommodate in a manner sufficiently courteous and contrite.
As for 19 centimeters, this is real life, people, that is still a red letter day.
I hope this is helpful. Of course I welcome correspondence in regard to your own experiences.

Angel is appalled that I do sometimes resort to benzodiazepines, which he sees, quite rightly, as the devil. Nonetheless, he did finally ask for one, because that is just this life: sometimes you need the devil. But, since there are a few sounds Angel can neither hear nor pronounce, he asked me very politely for — Hanah. If I could bring him some Hanah, for the spasms in his back, so he could rest, some Hanah please, oh lovely harmless Hanah, everybody’s best friend Hanah!

Remember, whatever drugs you are already using, it’s always easy and cost-free to add another. Speaking personally, it’s that one that really does the trick for me, just to say to myself very often, help comes, help comes in time, big help, big big help! Because the cliche is totally true: hope is the opiate of the masses.

But: why does it look like this? Why this form? Jesus fuck. Because it is broken. Because it is broken is why. What was it before? It wasn’t before. It was born smashed. What was it intended to be? A radiant and invisible being. No, I made that up. I don’t know what’s it supposed to be. How can we say it’s broken then? Well, in comparison. Well, fuck comparison.

Paragraphism, because to have very few desires is itself already a step on the path to liberation.

Paragraphism, or, “to delight in seclusion”. The paragraph is a cave, a glen, a secret door. The paragraph wants to be a parachute and manages at least to be earplugs.

Paragraphism, a non-glamorous form of preservation. A do-it-yourself project. Yes, exactly — like canning. Paragraphism, which does not in any way chastise you or avert its eyes on the days you admit, I maintain myself alive only because someone might find a use for me later. Who knows? Even I might.

I try to take advantage of all possible states of consciousness, and not only those labelled “responsible”, “sane”, “sober”, “adult”, “humane”, “reasonable”, etc.
As surely must be obvious by now.

This strata of drunkenness, the last before unconsciousness, which horrifically, pathetically, is always, always titled, in italics,

But what if help arrived in time?

Glassed-in, for the Chinese packet lunch, on a pouring Sunday afternoon, because for 40 pesos extra you can have, instead of 1 nice thing, 4 things that aren’t much good at all, but it is Sunday, Sunday afternoon when families have a proper dinner, Angel wants to see plates coming in succession, who blames him? I’m that thing that everyone warns against, a very negative person. “I could just cry,” I say, and Angel says, “Not only you.”

It’s a bad time for everyone, we keep telling ourselves. It’s nothing we have done so specifically wrong. He has almost no patients, or only angry ones demanding repairs on what he did before and guaranteed. The world, for once quite reasonable, continues to evince no interest in an in-depth study of the present moment, as investigated by one neurotic, gimp-legged faggot. It might make all the difference in the world, if anyone still read de Caussade, but no one does.

Father Jean Pierre de Caussade. (1675-1751)
to God:
You speak to every individual through what happens to them moment by moment.
to the nuns:
All we do from moment to moment is live this new gospel of the Holy Spirit.
The paper is blacker than the ink and the type is pied; the language is not of this world and we understand nothing.

So much is about knowing the right time to do things. It is very important and very precise. There is even a right time to do the wrong things, which also must be done. Which are looked down upon but essential. Which someone has to do, same as the dishes.

About mouthwash: abruptly I recall a water fountain at the baths, 20 years ago, the one that dispensed diluted Scope. Excuse me, what is the chance it saved my life? Because if the HIV risk from sucking cock was 1 in a 1000, 9 lives would not have been enough. Hitting the fountain was my quick ritual between cocks. Even the druggies who were still cute had mouths like a morgue in a power cut. In truth, I was more afraid of having bad breath than having AIDS. I was so afraid to give offense.

About the avant-garde: successful artists assemble a cast of persons to tell them regularly that they are real. And then they return the favor. In the end, hallowed and august, they write forewords for each other’s books, which are then also published elsewhere, likewise heralded.

A literature which seeks to be small, which devotes itself to the negligible, to the fleeting, and succeeds so utterly that it entirely evades notice — is that still literature?

Like something made with popsicle sticks. Like something made with macaroni. Something no one anywhere takes seriously.
Except its enraptured child.

It’s very funny. I read many, many fancy books, literary books. I devote myself, my poverty is in pursuit of reading. Because a little difficulty, in words, is a very great pleasure to me, how else could I forget my life, and yet — everything I write could have been written by a maniacally diligent 5th grader who has wandered into the restricted adults-only section of the library and spent a lot, a lot, really a lot, of time there.

This isn’t a book because this isn’t how anyone writes. Clarice Lispector, Agua Viva. Agua viva: water of life, jellyfish. The book Olga Borelli assembled from the scraps Lispector wrote and and placed in an envelope. After working on the book for years, she abandoned it. Borelli was its rescuer. She found the order. She reports that some of the scraps still smelled of Clarice’s lipstick. The result was a book unlike any other, a late-life triumph for Lispector, which the singer Cazuza insisted he’d read 111 times.

That non-book is the inspiration for this one. A statement both true and ridiculous. Like an alcoholic math teacher who declares he receives spiritual fortitude from a tacked-up poster of Einstein. Unlike Lispector, I do not attempt to convey consciousness directly, nor to depict the hum of being, because I’d just end up like a dumb-ass smug New Ager loopy after 2 pot brownies. But Clarice is the Master, and the Master is right: what saves you is writing absentmindedly.

Notas al azar, notes at random, random but careful, seem to me the correct expression and function of this, my accidental life. The doctors told my father they could save his wife but not the baby. Sickly, clubfooted preemie, stuck in an incubator, unaccountably lingered. Or later — the other faggots mostly died, especially the bad ones, the promiscuous ones, the ones like me, and even now there is no shortage of nice, right-thinking, clean-living, decent, white people who must disguise their confusion and disappointment that I do not have AIDS, that I am still here in the corner, drinking, leering, reading something no one’s ever heard of, and taking endless notes. It’s not that way the world’s supposed to work, that I am still alive.

This? Just this? Yes, you can use even this, this scrap, this waste, this almost-nothing which the moment presents: the Buddha, in the Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta #96, arguing for the umpteenth with brahmins about caste. The Buddha invites the brahmins to build a fire, a fire of sala wood, salala wood, sandalwood and padumaka wood, while the outcastes make a fire from a dog’s trough, a pig’s trough, castor-oil wood or a dust-bin.
The Buddha then asks, about the second fire, Is it useless? Does it make no heat? Does it not shine?
And the brahmins are forced to admit, All fire has a flame, a colour, and a radiance, and it is possible to use all fire for the purposes of fire.

If you are doing something odd, something nobody recognizes, then to be an artist, practically speaking, you have to have 6 important people declare that you matter, that your work, despite its oddity, its childishness, its unevenness, does matter. 3? Of course you can get by with 3, there is a tradition of getting by with 3, and still it is tenuous. Tenuous is honorable, but tenuous is tenuous.

Paragraphism, because the wise instruct, You must make yourself a shelter from anguish. Some refuge must be located. Ideally it is said to be the result of a lifetime of wholesome action. That’s the deluxe model, evidently. I wish you luck with it. Paragraphism is the makeshift, improvisatory version, the one for right now. For which all you need is whatever something, whatever nothing, you have right now, plus attention. Without regard to future or past, except as it comes into view right now. The key is that you can use anything, any anything, any insight, any humiliation, any dog passing by.

It occurs to me that I am now free to go to parties with beer-drunk Canadians. The pinche codo Candadienses who control fully half of this town. I’ve been hiding out from them for years. I don’t belong. They want to know, “But where does yr money come from?” What money? Have you seen my shoes? They want to know, “But what is yr book ABOUT?” And finally I absolutely can tell them.
My book is about how to make use of everything.

Previous goal: every day, one thoughtful and extended letter that really matters.
What an idiot! Who has experience in receiving or fielding such a thing? Is this the 19th century? Tis no wonder sir yr a pariah.
New goal: every 3 days, a minor “off-hand” note, with typos, that doesn’t cause anyone to feel burdened or alarmed.
(More time’s allotted because it’s so much harder.)

The man with the most beautiful dick in the city is otherwise so nondescript that I never remember him and we’ve had sex at least 4 times. Sad-faced middle-aged Mexican, slouched in the back row of the triple-X theater, placidly stroking something you’d think belonged to donkey. Even when I see his dong I don’t remember him, my neck’s twisted all the way round and I’m staring at this new and unexpected radiant star. At last he takes mercy on me, waddles over with his pants half down, feeds it to me, pats my head, and calls me by my name.

Love is a thing that is refreshing because it is so simple, so entirely straightforward. Love is the easiest thing to understand. Love is a noun. The synonym of love is inconvenience. The amount you love someone is exactly equal to how much you are willing to be inconvenienced by them. If you say you love someone but cannot be bothered, well then you are a liar.
Therefore the love of an old woman who must take her walker and two buses in order to sit at the bedside of her husband, by now in a vegetative state, surpasses by great lengths the shiny love of the resplendent, who perform great romantic stunts, but cannot otherwise be hassled.
“I love you” is a lovely phrase. It means, “I stand ready to be inconvenienced, hassled, and delayed!”
Love is inconvenience.
But that is not at all how other people see it. A thing I would do well to keep in mind. Instead of walking around so often with this dreadful, resentful, stupid, pouty face.

This is my treatise on the art of living, of which I am an acknowledged master, being functional, more or less, in a limited way, maybe 63% of the time, on a good week. Monday is a particularly good day for me. Tuesday, too, albeit in a lesser way. Wednesday and Thursday are out of the question. By Friday there is often a mild recovery. Saturday I am out of commission almost the entire day, like all good people everywhere. Sunday I am commendable, but nervous.
Does it sound daunting?
Fear not! I will show you the way.

(a) Alchemy does not begin with gold. 3 years in, this is the report on love.
Nowadays the cane is neither his nor mine. We share the cane. My left leg’s a stick below the knee, he fucked up his right ankle dancing drunk on cobblestones, and do ankles ever get better? I lost my belly but it’s coming back, too many cans of whiskey soda, I sit on a low wall near the ocean for sunset and that’s my bar. If he’s ever going to start fucking me again I need a new bottle of poppers, 400 pesos, and what is the condition of my asshole now, and how is his heart, his belly is bigger than ever, there are important moments he is not the right color, I worry he might take a huff and die.

(b) Somehow we always find enough pesos for comida economica, we know every place they make tortillas by hand, there are plenty of good places he won’t go, tortillas muy tristes amor, made in a factory, cold. In my room food has 3 types: oatmeal, tunafish sandwiches, bean soup in the electric pot, which sometimes has this in it, other times that, and always tastes exactly the same. Thus food is managed, rent is underway, phone is whenever, cooking gas, hot water and the gym can wait. On principle, we never say, “I wish that I could buy a shirt.” We are always on the lookout for oceanfront properties. We never consider buying anything that costs less than 1.3 million dollars.

(c) He has a really spectacular car, it’s used but very new, it’s a sort of a van, he just got it, it’s his inheritance, his old mama insisted on it, maybe because she feels too old to push cars out of intersections, she is Catholic and we are not but the car is Catholic, extremely devout, mama blessed it with holy water and the Virgin holds unlimited liability.

(d) As for his apartment, he often has no water now, there is mostly only water at night, it is important for a dentist to appear professional, at least hygienic, the landlady says there’s no money for a new tinaco, if he doesn’t like it he can move. After the last robbery he got a better door bolt, a determined ratero could still get through it, there’s not much left to steal, though the rateros do not refrain from taking ordinary things, like his favorite t-shirt with a pineapple on it, or all his sandals. Plus, there’s still the television, though we continue to hope, perhaps wistfully, that it’s large enough to attract notice, if it were being carried out the door.

(e) We ought to give up Fridays: tacos de pescado, tostadas de camaron, no beer is cheap is you are drinking 12, no matter how slowly, between late afternoon and the 3am drag show at Paco’s Ranch. His friends were once the stars of every Friday night — amigochos, drinking buddies, good ol’ boys, fancy fresas with Botox touch-ups, now we rarely see them, they do not age as we age, they do not cease to rise. When they had sporadic boyfriends from Toronto we were still good enough; now the boyfriends are from San Francisco, they don’t rent they own, the amigochos fly to meet them, we no longer see them; they were poor once, poorer than us, they rose and rose, we didn’t rise, we actually forgot all about rising. He misses them, the amigochos, I don’t miss them (they were selfish, mean, catty bitches) but I miss his gleeful face when he was with them. He explains it very gently, so that both of us can hear: we are educados amor, we are buena gente, but we are not fancy.
We are mostly alone on Fridays now, on Fridays we will never give up.

(f) He is a dentist like Stein once said of Picasso, he is never not working he is never entirely working, he’s never busy and he’s never free. When asked for an appointment he checks his calendar, but he is always available whenever, and right now is always possible. No Estadounidense is ever going to believe a dentist in plaza de Pitillal earns less than a hairdresser in el Centro but that is the truth. Yesterday he only had one appointment, an old man past 80. His consultorio is right across from Costco, the viejito couldn’t find it. He was waiting in his office when the viejito called, Lo siento, I’ll have to come another day. No, he said, where do you live, I’ll be right there. He went and got him, fixed his teeth, and brought him home. Of course the old man could hardly walk, of course he half-led, half-carried him, of course he made his fucking ankle worse.

(g) My fantasy is a cholo with bad facial tattoos and a tremendous verga, like 23 real centimeters. His fantasy is a brand-new deluxe dental unit, con todo, fully adjustable chair, light, tray, and basin. My dream in life is a small book that old, smart people might cherish. His dream in life is a house big enough so we can both have a room, big enough so his mama could also have a room, her own bath and no stairs, because the cold in Durango is a danger to her fragile lungs. We both agree that an important thing about this house is its proximity to any ancient and enormous tree.

(h) I have been lifting weights and studying Buddhism, earnestly and consistently, for 27 years, and I have never improved in any way. His religion is swimming. He must swim any possible day. I am forever standing next to the car trying to get my shorts off from under a towel and people will not stop walking by. He must swim but sand is absolutely the worst thing for him, for his ankle, and so he holds onto my forearm, I have a lot of strength and absolutely no balance, when he needs me I wobble, he asks what the hell I go to the gym for, but smilingly, and if we fall over we laugh, we are pinguinos! Pinguinos, amor, pinguinos enamorados.

end of second series

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About the Author

Jonathan Mack was raised on a family farm in New Hampshire, but has spent most of his adult life in India and Japan. Stories and essays have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Quarter After Eight, Foglifter, Crooked Fagazine, Green Mountains Review, Epiphany, Zymbol, Gargoyle, the Tokyo Advocate, Japanzine and elsewhere. His story “The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked” is the title story of an anthology of fiction about disability published by Cinco Puntos Press. He was a 2016 Lambda Literary fellow in fiction. Several years ago he chose to drop out of society in order to read more. He now lives in Mexico, where his peculiar, studious, monkish life is made possible by people who support his work.

I am always grateful to hear from anyone.