THE GENIUS SEES WHAT'S SMALL IN THE GALAXY, SEES FROM HERE TO THERE AND BACK AGAIN AND TAKING HIS VISION ONTO THE NERVES OF HIS BODY, LETS OTHERS SEE WHAT HE SEES.
This is genius, ever a version of eros.
Sharing a Telescope
Someone else: a minor for another two months and six days. A someone else eager to see what he could see, a minor who put his eye against the telescope when it was still warm from his own. That was the first heat they shared.
His parents note that prison is reconstructing him: Once stocky and short, he’s now wiry. Near the others, he’s merely small, not a good choice here where the men are tougher than any he’d ever imagined.
Boys were his delection; girls, always an option.
His sex life, a smorgasbord of the cake and the eating of it.
He thinks the genesis of his crime is greed. Are some people more omnivorous than others?
For years, he was taken too seriously; now, he’s a number and an asshole. Even though he knew enough to tell them he was in for robbery.
The Perfect Crime
He thinks about the perfect crime and knows he’s reached a limit when he sees himself killing his parents in order to stop them from making him.
After a few weeks, he’s become so sensitive to everything unspoken that he knows which men have killed. As if he’s observing through a microscope, he knows what’s happening inside each one of these men, and never lets down his guard.
The free circulation of air at his back is not an option.
The only other time he messed up was for plagiarizing a friend’s homework. Not an exam, test, or even a quiz. Just the homework.
The first step on the slippery road?
Here he is, in prison, #..........., less man than number, except when they’re together, eating or walking in the yard. Then, he stands alone. Fear springs him a life.
He knows what a shank is, that they’re made using various ingredients in the basement shop. He’s heard that one made of paper went straight through the skin of a little guy in for armed robbery and rape. It seems an odd mixture but he’s learning the mixtures are practically infinite.
Is this really his country? Is he really here?
He’s always been propelled toward the stars.
Now, he makes his own constellations, each beam of light a man. He memorizes the constellations, and knows when a star is out of place.
All maps are internal
All maps, he discerns, are internal.
If he’d walked a different path, clung to the cliff.
He, a ball
Once a star in a constellation, now he’s a ball in a pinball machine with nothing but gravity to carry him.
He wills himself a particular gravity, waiting out the days, the court proceedings; he tries to pray.
If it had been a girl, none of this would’ve happened.
He pictures himself centaur
Monsters, like maps, are internal, but his country has forgotten, or still hasn’t learned what’s private. He pictures himself centaur, looks down at his hooves.
Cell doors bang, keys clang, hoarse voices shout. No songs here. Just noise.
He resists the temptation to make a song of this cacophony. Doing so could keep him here forever.
His mother brings her lovely aging face that he must prepare himself to see. The familiarity of it tears him down to boy, something he mustn’t be here where anything boy is hurt.
It happened in a stall, his head held so tightly against their biceps that afterwards, his neck hurt more than his asshole which was not exactly virginal.
He hid the bleeding with torn paper, knew the red of it was a bright flag.
Coming out of something he called sleep, his hands were fisted, his feet hurt as if he’d walked miles in the wrong shoes.
It was doubly shameful, an insult to anything he might have thought of as integrity—that place had once given him pleasure. So this is rape, he thinks, and knows a different version of women.
Everything here is rusty, water or some other liquid eats away at things. Nothing shines or sparkles. Knowing this ugliness is a mirror of himself, he takes another bite of something white and bland.
On the other side, this would be called a panic attack.
He lets his heart beat as if it would remove itself from his body.
In a pocket of the long, never-dark, never-silent night, there’s a tune he knows but can’t bring forth. Its beauty sickens him, epitomizing everything he must resist.
At the same time, this unsung tune holds him together in a way more visceral than bones and muscle.
How many more days? Nights? Noons? Shadows?
If he’s a genius, it is because he’s learned to pull inside himself everything that could’ve been showing. This is being vacuum-packed, a pinpoint in the universe. (Never a star.)
Anne Germanacos' work has appeared recently in Santa Monica Review, Descant, Quarterly West, Blackbird, Salamander, Florida Review, Pindeldyboz, Agni-online and many others. She lives in San Francisco and on Crete.