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Atlantis Vertigo
by Christopher Bradley
Dedicated to Don Chris (Dogwhistle) Ian Jason Bowie Scott Shauna
Every Poet Whose Challenge Arises With The Changing Time
and The Crystal Princess.
4/14/00 12:51:26 AM

They announced it in August
In the Metro West Convention Center
Under the Pulsing of a Revolving E
On two screens on the outsides of a Green Argon Laser.

The city was going to rise
To the top of the spire
At the epicenter of the Emerald field
Near the intersection of Spadina and Front.

Moments after the announcement
The club kids were moving through the crowd
With the multicolored slicks
Dated October 23.

The 23s were signifigant
It was as if they had stepped out of the Stars to me
December the date I had started making money
October the day I would get out.

I had it in the back of my mind
It would be my last trip to eternity
And it would be fabulous
And there would be nothing to alter the course of events.
It would be the end of a Trilogy
The end of an Era
The conclusion of a compacted year
Of absolute entrenchment in potential jeopardy.

I called Berns and asked for a discount ticket on the day of the show
He put me on the guest list
The guest list to the city in the clouds
A circular flywheel in space.
I was hoping to see Stormtroopers
one last time
Before the rhythm ebbed
and my heart would start to grow old.

I was 19 and my affair with Canada was about to end.

Canada was a blond woman in black stretch pants
Her long curling hair was drifting away into Ontario
It had brushed my chest with sunglassed vision
more than once in an eternal sea of hot chocolate
in the back seat of the Shadow behind Tim Hortons
and in a roadside motel in Windsor on travels to Detroit.

Canada was moving in with other people
People with herbal remedies for glaucomatic presidents
Whose armed forces moved quickly with Uzis and Axes
While the frost drifted lower toward the edge of America.
I met her in her small apartments
And watched her slowly siphon away my liquid assets
Forgiving her wiles
knowing that at some point
the copious entanglements would come to a conclusion.

In any case the Tower was there for the climbing
And if there is a Tower to climb
Then there is the reason for climbing it
Because it is there.

October 23rd arrived
And the Gardiner Expressway rushed by in the late afternoon
Minolta EDS Ford and Scotiabank
Greeted me in their green bush form.

I slid over the bump at 100 kilometers
And noted the presence of an emergency telephone
As the sidewalk to the right passed
And then it was there Spadina Exit.

I passed the closed Dome of the stadium
Remembering the Blue Jays game
I had taken the Pleasuredome barmaid to
Maybe three weeks earlier.
We had watched them play Chicago
and visited The Olive Garden along the strip.
She'd told me she had a Marine boyfriend
and I'd ignored that fact
And kept the conversation going
All the way back to the Rainbow Center.

I parked in back of Queen Street
Down past the Pizza Pizza
at the intersection opposite Speakers Corner
The place where I had danced
On Much Music
Broadcast to the Northern World.

It was a cool but comfortable evening
The lamp posts began to cast glowing photons on the pavement
And I passed the intersection of John and Mercer
Remembering the place that was there before it changed to Oz.
An industrialized nightclub that was called The Factory
where I took my friends
and I met the Roses
While dancing in a Neon green Labcoat
purchased from South Pacific Surplus
Before I graduated with honors.

The Factory was the origin of rave in Toronto
When Ian spun Messiah and Apotheosis
With the launch into bounce mode
With Rotterdam Termination Source - Poing.
Back before he changed stations
Sheppard twisted disks there
And set the metropolis on fire
With his Techno Trip Compact Discs.

Nothing could stop Oz from being beautiful
except for the winged monkeys
who decended on the child-like munchkins
who were only trying to follow the Yellow Brick Road.

I continued to wonder
as I flowed into the soccer garbed massive
at the base of the citadel
Who is the Great and Powerful Oz
and why does he project such a frightening spectre?
Could I rub my purple and green sneakers together
and Find my ticket back to Kansas?
Or would I have to seek out Dorothy
The Crystal Princess
And ride on the heels of her ruby slippers
transforming from the Tin Man
back into a simple farmer?

There was no music at Dusk
But there was a sharp green light
Gliding around the cylindrical structure
beckoning into the fog.

After my contemplations
and greetings to groove riders and strangers of all sorts
I signed the third page
Was waved through security
And stepped through the door.
I'd already found my Purple Window Sky
and I was grinning knowing they would never discover
What was already in my spine.

I was alone in the ebb of humans
More alone than I had ever been
Ecstatic that there was no chain to hold me to earth
Ready to take the Tour of the Universe
A close substitute
for the Millennium Falcon.

I was to be the closest to the Moon that I had ever been
The Black Raybans shielding my dilated Pupils covered the fact that I would never fly
Never pilot a shuttle like the one I commanded in Seventh Grade
The one I commanded into implosion and fiery death in Alabama.
The Speedball Surface Cleaner in nineteen eighty eight
had made certain I would never pass an eye exam without lenses.

The elevator stood before us as we anxiously waited
The boy in the orange Fresh Jive shirt with the long hair
And the girl with the twist tied pigtails
sucking on the clear magenta pacifier attached to a whistle strap around her neck
The people in Addidas stripes and painters caps
And shirts with the Atlantis logo stenciled in black on rainbow tye dye.
The soft electric sound of the bell sounded
And we climbed into an empty cell
Standing in noiseless anticipation
during the smooth sensual voyage to the pinnacle of Architectural wonder.

When I was in sixth grade
I had been up there briefly
Looking down and hoping to see from the observation deck
The massive shopping center called Eaton
On Yonge and Dundas
where I had shopped with Robin and Isaac and Casey and Shannon and DeEtte.
I opened fortune cookies in Chinatown
and bought Sunglasses with straps and a Bryan Adams tape
to listen to on my generic walk-man
in the Train on the way back to my side of Niagara Falls.

What my eyes showed me when the door opened was entirely different from that time.
It took my ears a fraction of a second to recognize the audio
But it was somehow different than what I had heard when I first came home from Chicago.
The track phased the Shamen's voices through space
between multi-dimensionally arranged speaker housings
And before I knew what I was up to
I had asked three people who was spinning
The answer had been Ian.

I circled around the outside of the centered ring
and found the Tall Dark haired Jockey standing with one hand at a headset at his ear.
The circles on the Mark II plates were slowing and quickening as his fingers manipulated the vinyl
I watched him slide the pitch bar up toward the +8 marker
He organized the flow into a white label.
When he was done he turned and smiled
He knew that I wanted to know what he'd been up to
He handed me the slip cover for the single
And I looked at the circuited design
Wishing that I knew where on earth he'd discovered it.
I let the cover rest on his crate and walked into the crowd.

People were dancing against Virtual Reality Projected on the walls
In the gaps where the souvenir stands would have been on any given day
I tried to find space to let my arms fly and my feet shuffle
But I was beyond excitement
And the doughnut ring of the Cement Nail was becoming smaller
as the elevators brought the teeming humanity into the sky.
I decided to drop back to earth and take the Tour.

The Tour of the Universe was a Computer Generated flight
through a quadrant of the Galaxy that I had never before seen
Girders of space stations and Planets and Constellations whizzed past
Burning jets of color into my perspiring retinas.
The seat I had strapped into tilted with the whole thirty member audience
And my blood poured into my feet
while my head stumbled on visual sketches of Android controlled vessels.
I was lost in the Cosmos for five minutes
in a physical man machine interface
Wishing that I could never stop coming to the end of Gravity's Rainbow.

In the middle of it all
I remembered Tron and The Black Hole
and Blade Runner and The Terminator
and had a thought to pray that one of Gibson's novels would make it to film.
I had a vision that I might someday try to put the whole kaleidoscope of HallucinoGen-X into print.

And it was quickly forgotten
as the Falcon swiftly landed
and it's razored talons gripped the earth
Ripping up the ground
And needling my tear gassed brain
Like "Good Bye Blue Skies"
Just before the lights came back up.

As I left the Pod and carefully set my feet on each stair
I looked ahead to the tilted floor of the ramp
And set myself into careful motion
Swaying with the chosen thirty.
Some said that the end was near
I could see that the beginning was near
And that there would be no turning back
from the bath of liquid sunshine
of the silicon age.

At the base of the tower
In the House Cage
The Detroit people were playing Dimensional Holophonic Sound
"The House of God"
A dance fell into my step as I moved toward the elevator
And at the entrance I spotted Jason.

He was wearing his graphite lenses
and smoothing back his blond hair
The girl who'd sold me John Player Specials on the Mountain wasn't with him
He was alone and headed for the T-Shirt vendors.
I banged his knuckles with mine and told him about the Shamen mix
and that I'd just come back from the Tour.
I kept walking at the elevator
and he kept straight on to the vendors
and then I was in the frictionless tunnel again.

At the top things had changed
People were sitting on the rug with their backs to the glass
And there was a little bit more space to dance
I stood for a bit and just took in the sound
piercing harmonic frequencies at enormous decibels in hyper-clarity
Bass guitar samples that made the high ground shake
Frenetic loops of syncopated swing Jazz drums
Sputtered hiccups of Triangle and Sawtooth wave modulating in burst pulses.

I was inside a lightning bolt of Audio
watching the frantic motion of hip cracking thigh twists and knife handed jabs at the air.
People wearing Sun-In and Electric Kool Aid in their hair passed
as the Chinese Dragons of firecracking Wavesample barraged the pulse of my heart.
I nearly cried at the beauty of the smiles on their lips and the smiles on their linen
A warm tear ran down my right cheek as I smiled back and I swallowed it.
The salt hit me and I realized that it was time to drink.

Liquid Adrenaline was there.
I had never directly competed with them
So I let them fix me a drink.
Banannas Wild Cherry Drink Mix Orange Juice and L-Phenylalanine.
I gave them the extra two dollars for the choline because I wanted to see the walls breathe.
I took a sip of the wet chipped cherry ice concoction and walked to the steps ringing the outer rim.
The Liquid Adrenaline people were smiling too.

That's when I lost track of time.
I slowly set myself down on the steps
and pulled a Benson and Hedges Special King Light Menthol cigarette from my sky blue pocket.
The flame flickered on my Bic disposable after I struck the flint.
I pulled my Sunglasses down slightly
so that I could watch myself start the correct end of the cylinder smoke.
I watched the ice swirl in the cup and had another sip.
And I started to realize
That I was beginning to forget.

I was forgetting the sand volley ball pit of my first day away at school
Forgetting paint ball in the forests of Illinois
Forgetting fraternity football in the Rain of October
Forgetting the Grain Alcohol behind the bar in the basement at the Pledge Halloween Party

Forgetting Two girls who wanted to buy me a Pizza while I was trying to write a song
Forgetting Cool Vaughn the Air Force ROTC and our Fortran 77 class
Forgetting Business English and Being Carried to Calculus to earn a C while drunk
Forgetting Being Thrown into the Pool after a game of Risk in the living room of the house

Forgetting breaking my roomate's custom designed bed
Forgetting having the telephone line installed in our Dorm Room
Forgetting the picture of the Ace of Spades that Aiston kept hidden under the floorboards of his deck.

Forgetting Brian's Japanese American Girlfriend
who wound up in bed with another brother after too much liquor.

I was forgetting that this had all started in WJJL on Main Street
Where Scott and I Listened to The Announcements of the First Parties on CFNY.

I was forgetting the computer engineering class at University at Buffalo
Forgetting the Physics I took in high school
Forgetting how I ran for class President and lost to Eugene Williams
Forgetting Quickbasic and the Electronic Data Systems Co-Operative

Forgetting my crush on Emily when she sang Bette Middler for our graduation
Forgetting the Electronic Music Workshop and the people who taught me to compose
Forgetting sitting on Karen's back porch with Rob plotting our final Yawp at class day
Forgetting Sitting on the Rock above the Whirlpool with Robin S after Lunch at Emperor of China

Forgetting Selecting the Engagement band at Zales in Summit Park Mall.
Forgetting the Two Proms I attended with the same girl
Forgetting that same girl as I left her on Regent Avenue far behind the Shadow to dive into Nitrous 013

Forgetting my Mother and my Father who labored day and night so that I could attend private schools
Forgetting Ike Chris and the Boys Club kids on Portage and Niagara who taught me how to use the Apple
Forgetting how to play Axis and Allies which I discovered in Huntsville
Forgetting the Role Playing Games and the people I collected and left for my own peace of mind

Forgetting the summer Bicycle Camp which took me through Genesee county and Batavia
Forgetting taking Jennifer out alone on a Sunfish on Silver Lake during the Regatta.
Forgetting a picnic lunch with Tammy who taught me to write poetry to go with my music
Forgetting spending an afternoon in a wavepool with Mesha.

Forgetting learning to speak Japanese with Charlene and then taking her to a Fugazi concert at Buff State.
Forgetting the red haired girl that helped me obtain Depeche Mode 101 on video tape.
Forgetting watching my first PG-13 Movie with a long haired Jennifer
and seeing Charlie take Tom Cruise's Breath away.

Forgetting Bowling at Bowl O Drome on Pine Avenue with Paula and my Brother and Sister.
Forgetting Valentines Day at The Red Coach Inn with Michelle.
Forgetting Programming Color Macros for C-NET on the Commodore 64.
Forgetting Rides out to Glenn's houses in Lockport and Wilson to learn about PC's.

Forgetting the thrown Chestnut incident on Lewiston Road near Deveaux manor.
Forgetting being kicked in the head by Rob in Hyde Park at a picnic in the Fall.

Forgetting my Math teacher who died of Cancer.
Forgetting my grandmother whose estate bought me the Ensoniq Sampler.
Forgetting my Grandfather who lived just long enough for Joshua to be born.
Forgetting my Aunts and Uncles and their families

Forgetting that I should have taken pride in my work and not kept it behind the closed wooden door of my
tiny goblin green bedroom.

In an instant after that final thought she was there
My Crystal Princess.
She had long brown hair and Ruby Slippers
All I can call her now is Dorothy
I never knew her real name.

I left my half finished cup to rest on the tight fibers of the carpet when she asked me if I was Ok
and if I wanted to dance.
She put my hands on her shoulders and started slow.
While in motion I looked at my chrome swatch and realized that I had been motionless for an hour.
I also noticed that I was still holding the cigarette butt.
I let the paper fall.

I watched her chest heave with the music and followed their downward motion to her feet
They rested beneath the edge of her long cotton shirt
Beyond the rustling cut strings of torn blue jean
And they were clicking together
I didn't have to count
They had hit many more than three times.

I saw her face and she smiled at me
and I smiled back
her eyes were narrow
and I could feel that we were both sweating
like the clouds fogging the windows from the outside.
Sweat that comes from just under the surface to make the skin of the face glow.
It was all over both of us.
I ran my fingers through my hair and it spiked up
And I saw many figures of her dancing inside her platinum aura.
She was here to take me home.

In that instant I realized that what I thought was forgetting
Was remembering.
I had somewhere to go.
The end of my time in the Tower in the Emerald Patch was here.
I kissed her sweaty lips and we walked past each other.

I made for the elevator at the center of the tower and walked past a spinning Disco Ball.
There were Gel Lights on the floor in the coridor flashing patterns that flashed
like Fourth of July Fireworks against the wall.
America was coming back.

I remembered standing in the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center with my Aunt when I was Five
and pouring Pepsi in my eye to put out an ash that had fallen into it.

I remembered choking on a lifesaver at the Auto Vue drive in while watching Luke Skywalker fire his Photon Torpedo into the Death Star.

I remembered dashing up sloping sidewalks in Winter to drop rolled newspapers into mailboxes.
I remembered that I earned my component Stereo system steaming Eggs for Breakfast at McDonalds.
I remembered that the Wicked Witch was dead.
I remembered that it was always safe to come home.

And then I was in the elevator and there was the musty smell of already smoked marijuana
And I put my sunglasses on and struck my lighter to another Menthol
And the smell vanished as the doors opened
And I was vibrating on a tiled floor

And I caught the back of Jason's head
and then I thought better of annoying him with my discovery
after all where exactly does his concern for my travel come into play?
He told me once that I'd meet up with him in Hollywood.

And I thought Maybe it's better that the continuing party in Oz costs only $2.00.
I will go for a little while
And let the Medicine run its course.
And find a clean bottle of Evian to run through my veins.

And then I think
The House of God was there through it all
There is something of a Soul lurking out there
and Maybe it is worth the cost of a careful ride home.

But only after a brief visit to Rochester
And a long float across a field full of people in England
who've been around thirty years longer than I.
In a white balloon painted with love
While the Sun Machine
was coming down.

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