Be Not Afraid of the Clown
by Amin Erfani
Words slip through my lips to my fingertips. My eyelids open and shut intermittently. TV screen break news every minute. Man with pack enter crowded mall. Toddler’s tantrum shrivel the skin off the back wall. Father bawl: You are a detriment to my every second of every day. Skin supersensitive to touch. Random letters get lost during transcription. Four break-dancers spin on heads in synchrony inside scooting train. Brick facades shift with oblique letters scribbled over. Back alleys with staircases vanish by the second. Humdrum day in day out. Indecisiveness of color over color. Skin cut into morning mirror. Dark red permeate bright white. Milk in plastic bottle turn bad before its date. Ice in glass of water spin without any extrinsic pressure applied but that brought to bear by its own deliquescence. Isles of cold shelves bear lumps of blood-drained flesh laying bare side by side in bright red. Shades of flame turn tame then back to light again. Underground smell of wet and woman’s scent and sweat all in one breath. On reds at crossings flocks of people like sheep. Dark suit and white shirt with suitcase stare over his shoulder to the left. In subway fat lady foray with fury into crammed doorway. Elevator smiles and lavatory gossips. Hand dryer smother sounds of faucet flushing and urine hit water. Plausibility of solar explosion within twenty-four hours. Newsflash: Civil unrest enter fourth year. How forests think. In Harlem: Africa’s my middle name. Paraplegic in Kingsbridge: It hurts then I’ve hurt my whole life. Beggar reply: What you’re sorry for. Orgies in people’s eyes in public places. Government ban several letters of the alphabet. Infomercials flash across hemispheres. Suspicious train collision injures dozens. Government and military prepare for collision amid protests. Rats over railways. Keep razor blades razor-sharp by storing them in baby oil. My earliest memory randomly recounted to me an evening eleven years after the fact. Feel of things fade with words popping on screen. My voice played on tape sound foreign to my ears. Sleep never come easy. Subway banner: You are more than a diagnostic. Loner lament to himself aloud in the crowd: I can’t stand you scolding me anymore it’s degrading. Broadcaster blare on air: Sonars alter whale behavior to the brink of mass beaching. Stumped tabloid sullied on concrete read: Microbes will be last survivors on future earth. Spectrum of saturation. Music on radio improved cut out with white noise. Story end abruptly mid-sentence. Wait for the afterthought. Pleasure of defecation. Its pain beyond words. Incontinence at seven. Casts of white and red and yellow collide in one frame. Bodily secretion in every state and form. Excreta’s texture and mud indistinguishable by touch. Hygienic paper folded systemically two to four over. The way toilet paper rolls: Best arguments. One hundred one ways to wipe one’s ass per the sixteen-century humanist’s exhausting list: Prithee go on with this torcheculative wipe-bummatory discourse. Puppeteered mouths deliver ventriloquistic phrases. How to explain your plush business without turning people off. Flush people in shorts and flip flops dozed off behind desks gape directly at me. Ape gab in gape. Placard in a public park probe: Is heroine a problem for you. Need Help. Up close a stutterer face’s ghastly disfigurement as he stumbles upon sound. Mute monstrous lineaments claim facial territory for a split second before retreat. Someone uncompromisingly disliked comment back: Sounds like you really wanna say something but can’t just say it. At bus stop an ear-splitting lone lost little girl vociferate bullishly to a petrified quadragenarian Caucasian male commuter: Sir take my money. College classmate confess: I knew this kid and he was a good kid and apparently he is also a monster. Old socialite bric-a-brac-incense-newspaper street-vendor profess every morning: A mother’s work is never done ’tis what mommy tells me. Sunglasses in the subway. Lot of candy lady gentlemen one dollar. Not easy to stand here asking for money when people make fun of me every day. Ladies and gentlemen be thankful on his Lord’s glorious morning that I ain’t gonna be singing. Crammed elevator vault shut unmoving for over one minute. Two blood gushed leonine eyes rivet on me one foot apart behind iron bars. Toddler in rage throw peanuts at a caged gorilla while yawping with animosity: Say mommy you dummy. Small supine frog’s belly soft and swollen smell of death and feel tepid at my fingertip. Butterfly wings severed from thorax by toddler fingers. Lepidopteran plod like petty tapeworm. Pleasure of guilt in a three year-old remain indelible. Different degrees of dyslexia. Pomegranate be the first word of the alphabet. Study: Poverty reduces brain power. Dusk streetlight fizzle with agony for minutes before ending in an explosive apex. Window frame and rain on red bricks and rusted staircase collide in conflicted geometries. Trumpet in an underground tunnel mute out. Commitment on my brand of toothpaste. Perplexity about people fostering feelings of enmity against bananas. Of all edibles bananas trigger in me the most noncommittal response. Of two men known by me to foster feelings of enmity against bananas one commit suicide at forty-two. Gunman in clown suit. President spurned deals seeing military as tamed. Sexagenarian retort to lifelong husband: A dog’s better than you. Man self-immolating on the National Mall shelved: An isolated incident. Fatigue turn dark spots in my eyesight into menacing animals. How a lemon can save your life. Prompter in the foreground: I personally guarantee this is going to be the most comfortable pillow you will ever own. Comfort in falling into the void before sleep. Engraved grave: Dripping water hollows out stone. Grown sensitivity to perforations in my skin. Forgetting the ventilator’s whisper. Skin over boiled milk. Deformity of yogurt spilled over metal kitchen faucet. Pamphleteer in subway: This is your opportunity to receive Him as your savior. Inclination toward red meat cooked so rare it barely meets standards for healthy digestion. Compulsion to look into the mirror from the same angle. Little boy: Cars are smaller than ants. Vertigo at takeoff or landing when scale of things wither from everyday familiarity. Landscapes through window at mid-flight trigger dissociation similar to images on screen. Panic about plane crashing with me inside felt no sooner than age twenty. Music in my ears during turbulence. Woman jerk up mid-flight pointing her index directly at me shouting with a southern accent: Hey look at this guy. Stuttering scholar ostracized from academe due to unintelligibility. Incomprehensible comfort in picturing shooting at random people before falling asleep. Cashier smirk: You stuttered for a second there. Film end abruptly mid-way without end credits. Pop up ad: We can help you quit. Passport falsely state September 11 as my day of birth. Patron in shoe shop ask if he could try on my shoes. Twenty-three-year-old fret he had not seen his father barefoot his whole life. Familiar voice on landline: I’ve internalized a system that does not believe in life. The utility of bad art. Fatherly figure fist-pound over-counter: He is no poet. Don’t assume it’s been left there by accident. Large red stained face stare back unblinking many stations long. Shadow follow my back. Knife cutting though red tomato flesh make me jitter.
Amin Erfani is a published writer, translator, and scholar of avant-garde theater. He is a recipient of the “Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Award for Fiction in the Face of Adversity,” distributed by Unsaid Literary Magazine. His collected monologues in French, Figures nues, with a preface by Valère Novarina, are available in book format at “ThTr,” a new publishing platform for experimental voices in theater, on Publie.net. Erfani is also a published translator of avant-garde French drama (Bernard-Marie Koltès, The Night Just Before The Forests, 2014; Valère Novarina, An Incomprehensible Mother Tongue, 2015), and a professor of French language and literature at Lehman College, in New York City.
July 8, 2015
Photo by: Gessy Alvarez