c o r e y    m e s l e r

Boo Enema

 

Afternoon. Rembert Street, Memphis, Tennessee. The weather has turned slightly warmer. A misty rain falling. The home of poet Camel Jeremy Eros soaks in the steam like spongecake.

Inside Casa de Camel the record player (and here we may still speak of record players) is warbling out a wobbly, low-fi CSNY “Déjà vu.” Camel is seated, cross-legged on the floor, his old man’s body still spry enough, just barely.

In his lap he holds a legal pad. He is furiously scribbling away, the lines accumulating like moss on the North Side of the Ancient Tree. They almost flow off the edge of the page and pool on the floor but Camel manages to keep them corralled with a sharp-edged simile here and a lovely apercu there.

The light in the room is fairy light, refracted through moisture like putting phosphorous in a blender. Camel sways as he writes.

Outside, in Camel’s mailbox, there is a letter. It is from New Directions Press. An editor there has come up with the idea of a Collected Poems of Camel Jeremy Eros, a befitting accolade for one of the last of the hippie writers. But, Camel is blissfully unaware of this late-life tribute, this opportunity, which, truthfully, he thought would pass him by as it has so many. What was he but one more forgotten writer? And sympathy for forgotten writers was at low ebb, such were the times we live in.

No, Camel does not know that he is about to be memorialized, honored and collected. Instead he is working for a Hollywood movie company, punching up a punchless script. This is what his later years have made of him, a script-doctor. He is, for the moment, concerned with how to get one actor to say one line, a line so perfect it is inevitable, like Death, like Forgetting. The line must be said. It’s the best thing he’s written in many years, this line. Yet, he cannot lead his actors—which is how he has come to think of them—up to that crucial and absolute line. He shuts his eyes and squints hard. He is remembering an old gift, a facility with language that was close to godhead. Inside his brain a small star is exploding, the light flowing into his pineal gland. This was how it happened, Camel thought. This is how it happens.

Somewhere, out on the edge of thought, somewhere even beyond Neil Young’s life-affirming descant, Camel is aware of some small distress. Earth is calling on the Cosmic Cellphone and Camel, slowly, like a titan emerging from the enveloping sea, raises his head. He can hear moaning from the bedroom.

Slowly, he unfolds his body upward. He stands.

Yes, there is moaning from the bedroom. It is not the moaning of physical love. It is Lorax, his teenage runaway, his houseguest, and she is in misery.

Camel moves to the bedroom door. His bedroom is a dark cave. The windows were covered years ago with Indian blankets. The walls are festooned with memorabilia from a life lived for pleasure, for art, for love. Many photos of his now dead ex-love, Allen, hang in the bedroom, from her youthful slim-waisted days of power and beauty, right up until her once lithe body, wrinkled and grayed, was twisting inward like a question mark, folding up into the final obscurity.

On the bed, profuse with blankets and afghans and scarves and gauzy tie-dye, sprawls the moaning child, Lorax, holding her little belly as if it contained new life.

“Lorax,” Camel says softly.

He moves to the bed and places a hand on her hip. Lorax is wearing low-slung jeans and a long-sleeve work shirt. It is the most clothing Camel has ever seen on her and he wonders, briefly, where it came from. She had arrived with only the clothes she was wearing.

“Oh, oh, Camel,” Lorax bombilates.

“What is it, my sweet?”

“My tummy. My little tummy hurts something awful. Oh, oh, oh.”

“Lemme see, dear. Lie flat. Stop tensing.”

Lorax straightens out. Camel places a consoling hand on her stomach. Her body relaxes some. Only some.

“Isn’t that a little better?”

“Yes, Camel.”

“That will be better.”

“Yes, Camel.”

“Good, good.”

“Oh, and Camel?”

“Yes, sweet.”

“It really hurts.”

“Hm,” Camel says. “Show me where.”

“Here and here,” she says, placing her own palm on her mid-torso and lower.

“Dear, dear,” Camel says. “What have you eaten today, or yesterday?”

“Mm, mm, mm,” Lorax hums. “Lots of bananas, Camel. I ate your bowl of bananas. You told me it was ok.”

“Of course, it’s ok, sweet. Bananas. Yes. I think maybe, just maybe, you’ve blocked yourself up but good. Have you had a BM lately?”

“Poop. Oh no, no poop, Camel. Not today. Not yesterday. Um, the day before…is that bad, Camel?”

“Not too bad, sweet. We can fix it, yes?”

“Oh, Camel, can you? Can you make it not hurt, wonderful Camel?”

“Stay with me. This is what I’m thinking. This may startle. Back in the day here’s what we did. A cure that came from Abbie, I think. Or Grace. Or—well, no matter. Richard called it the Boo Enema, because he loved ghosts.”

“Your good friend, Richard. Richard the poet.”

“Yes.”

“What, what do I have to do?”

“You have to do little, my dear. Relax. Trust me. Take your clothes off. How does that sound?”

“Yes, Camel.”

Lorax rises, painfully, purring little mm’s, and removes her shirt. Camel helps her pull the very tight jeans off her lovely hips and legs.

“Lie on your stomach, sweet, and I’ll get us some reefer.”

“Camel, do you always use lay and lie correctly?” she asks, softly.

“I try, Pumpkin.”

“That’s beautiful, Camel. You’re a beautiful cat.”

“Ok, Pumpkin.”

While he is gone Lorax thinks about Camel, his lovely soul, his wisdom, his gentle way of moving through the world. What benevolent gods led her to him, led her here? She thinks, not for the first time, that she loves him just about more than anyone she has ever met.

Camel returns, pulling on a toro-sized joint. The sweet smoke fills the dim room. He sits on the bed next to his guest’s small, naked body. It seems especially white against the piled bedclothes. Lorax seems to glow in the murk.

Camel strokes her back and ass and thighs. While he does so he hums and tokes, hums and tokes. Lorax thinks, oh, this part will go on forever and she doesn’t mind if it does. Her stomach still hurts like hell but Camel’s ministrations feel heaven-sent.

“Ok,” Camel ekes around a mouthful of smoke. “Relax your ass and spread your legs.”

Camel positions himself behind her and takes a great long pull on the doobie. He leans in close. Between the legs Lorax smells of forest damp and leafrot. Camel parts her round cheeks and places his mouth gently between them. And, even more gently, like a genie’s best feat, he releases the smoke into Lorax’s little anus. And, having released his smoke, he lingers there, pulling the cheeks around his face like a mask. Then he tenderly licks down her deep crack and darts his tongue, once, twice, into her now smoky anus. He rises from her reluctantly.

“Oh my Camel, oh my brilliant Camel,” Lorax sings. Something is happening but she doesn’t know what it is. Camel is sitting upright now, stroking her body.

“We can repeat as often as necessary,” Camel says.

“Hm, hm, hm,” Lorax answers.

She sits up slowly. She seems a bit dazed. She materializes like a photo developing.

“Oh my Camel,” she says, dreamily.

“How do you feel?” he asks.

“Oh, oh, Camel, something is happening.”

“Relax, sweet.”

“Oh!” Lorax says, suddenly. “OH!”

“Yes, sweet,” Camel says, brushing a strand of hair from the corner of her mouth.

“Here we go,” Lorax sings, and passes an elongated, melodious fart that somewhat resembles the swirling organ in “Like a Rolling Stone.” Or maybe it’s “Inna-gadda-da-vida.”

“Better?”

“Much better, oh my precious Camel,” Lorax says, throwing her arms around him. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Camel says.

“I gotta go real bad,” Lorax says.

“Yes, that’s good, my sweet.”

Come, Camel, come sit beside me while I poop. Oh, please, come talk to me.”

And he does. He talks to her while the sun departs and the Memphis night creeps around their house like the shadowy whisperings of the angels. And he never does go back to his legal pad to find the connections that would lead him to his perfect line. The words are never written, never used, never recalled, until 2 years later when The Collected Poems of Camel Jeremy Eros is released by New Directions and that line, that one perfect line, is the book’s opening epigram.

 

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COREY MESLER has published in numerous journals and anthologies. His novel, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue, was released in 2002. His second novel, We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon, came out in January 2006. He has also published numerous chapbooks and one full-length poetry collection, Some Identity Problems. He has been nominated for a Pushcart numerous times, and one of his poems was chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store in Memphis TN. He can be found at www.coreymesler.com.


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