Issue No 17

Where Did I Went Wrong?

BY Nadia Szold

This is a self-portrait circa a decade ago– me doing me, an unrecognizable me. We shed ourselves. And any revisit is an exercise in revulsion. But instead of burying the traces, I've decided to try this foreign person on– as a character too close to home for comfort. I wrote this serenade on a Chinatown bus, Boston-New York, exactly ten years ago to the month. I remember because of the gray November rain swimming down the window.

The limit I set for myself was the Fibonacci series. Each line had to adhere to this fractal pattern, in this case made up of syllables– 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and so on up to 610 and then back down again to 1. Visually, it creates a mirror. Something you look into to find a current representation of yourself. You are one. Your reflection is one. You and your reflection added together is two. Two plus your reflection is three. And so goes the Fibonacci series ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

I recorded the series a couple times for my friend Rammellzee, first at the Battle Station on Canal & Hudson (since destroyed) and then at a studio on Ludlow. He used a few of the verses on a track called "Me, Czar of the Magyars" on the last album he recorded with his Death Comet Crew. It turned out to be the last album he recorded before he kicked it.

I had long filed away "Fibonacci" as a sketch, a snapshot of my mind taken at a certain time. To resurrect it now… well, let's just say a wave has washed it once more ashore.




1. I

1. speak

2. in tongues

3. mathematiques

5. breathe air, in my lungs

8. encroach on rhyme cycles divine

13. discover complex fractal patterned seashells in shrine

21. yet actually simple and magnificent when scholarred, labored and decoded

34. life's heart beat pumps onward thanks the mythology of creation/destruction that enshrouds the mind's eye clouding our cataract vision

55. pixilated prisms we divine as truths creating a system called time and a fictitious locale called space, running the rat race against others' minds, waging science wars to be fought in another age, save apocalypse for next week

89. timing our successes to correspond coincidentally with others' failures, playing billiards with the planets, high on superpower, heavens shower down your mercy, forge world war for water, rearranging history, scheming overseen symmetry, scaling towers of Babel, bargaining for hubris to unstable our lost but not forgotten Ace's fables

144. you promised me half your kingdom, 'stead send me an invitation to my beheading, shedding your pride, join the masses in a primevally medeival massive, primal yolp, follow the executioner all whilst jeering, cheering on the grim reaper, beg my head on a platter, for this here is the darkest matter, throw it into the ocean, feel the reverberation of this motion, this naive mass suicide notion, let it sink under the sunset, check the green flash, much wiser than letting it stink up a gallery of masterpieces, death museum, admission twenty bucks

233. you could have framed it, hanged it along a long hall of martyred saints, join the cannoned ranks, spear me but I will not faint under the weight of the hour, I will not cowardly cower away from my persecutors, cuz in my mind I'm surrounded by a bower of flowers, lock me up in a tower, my beliefs will not sour, my faith grip grasps just as a full grown anaconda, think I like my fate? think again, brethren, an artist creates not only due to within, but primarily due to a destined fate, manifest destiny, something we once called 'divine inspiration' til we feared that once revered phrase, taboo now to say god uses my hand, my mouth as a conduit, shit, man, think I understand half I spit? think it over, red rover, and once ya think ya got my drift, come over here, little fellow and whisper it in my ear, so no one else can hear, so they can go on through the motions cuz ignorance is bliss, and only we'll know, only we'll burn, and for this be spurned

377. bear in mind, my friend, that we shall bear that final truth burnt wain to our conscious, maiming our conscience, torturing us like we're heretics burning in a middle earthed village fire, until our souls have flown and only our bones remain to bless our own funeral pyre. Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate, To know that for destruction ice is also great and would suffice. now has come the day when I must turn to frost, the ice melteth, and with it I have fallen in a great puddle, my mind spins in a muddle and my limbs are lost in space, and I cannot express my own thoughts so clear, as dear old grandfather frost, but even immortals die, yet I refuse to hang my head and cry, instead I'll count my last hours out by the belfry, while I wile away the time willfully, wiley I'll play an involuted chess game against my very self, paint one side white and the other black, fight, fight, fight; attack, attack, attack, until the pieces pause at this insane state of things, cause their own revolution ringing the bell til it sings, for the bell tolls for you, and the arrows they shoot sure sting, bred in the land of riots, springs a hero of the people, morphs into a mythic figurine, dismantles this dystopia, makes his wife scrub latrines clean, yes our hero dies a hero's death, he recites his manifesto on his very last breath, a million foot soldiers visit his grave, grave-faced proles and civilians pray his soul to be saved

610. let us go then you and I when the evening is spread out against the shylock nailed to a stake, a man locked to his fate, hate crimes of heinous proportions, abortions of faith, for the libertines cost me my liberty, locked me up in a ken, bars on the windows, bolts on the doors, freedom forgot to ring from the bells of the elevator whores when they alighted on our floor, explore your own personal circle of hell, sit down to a feast of air, walk amongst the other skeletal shells, master welcomes you to his lair, run with the pack, sleep sound in their den, dream of animal bones crushing under the weight of your boot, pent up carnivore turns cannibal, the only will to survive, the strong walk ashore, while the weak they die, welcome to my callous reality, where things may seem, but they sure can't be what they mean, welcome to sin city, leave your coat at the door, soon enough this place'll get hotter than you can bare, come to me half-naked, your shoulders bare, caught the beware sign on the door? thought it was a false warning? darling, you've got much more learning, welcome to my inferno, make yourself at home, i've got a kettle on the stove, I'll serve up you an elixir, brewed special by my personal alchemist, drink up cuz he's found the philosopher's stone, turns metal into gold, good ain't it? drink a little more, can't be a traitor now you're in the grip of the grape, hear my wrath if you try to daunt me, take a blood bubble bath if you try to taunt me, hear me roar louder than the MGM lion, if I catch you cryin', I'll cut out the tear ducts from your eyes, feed 'em to the vultures screeching outside, now your wounds weep themselves to sleep, ran your sore eyes dry, washed out nigh and high, like a hyena on the pry, watch your mouth, else I'll cut throat that whisper to a sigh, wash your mouth, with good ol' lard and lye, send ya out on a mission to miss your mother, make a sin then you'll run for cover, got enough venom in my mouth right now to poison a small country, swipe 'em out, shame you'll say, they had such hopeful prospects of joining the E.U., shut the Foucault! my mind's a whirling dervish dancing towards his ecstasy, not a fool floundering in his own stenching stagnancy, I have danced with the best, bare-chested mermaids by the sea, swashbuckled with redbeards, made 'em black -'n'-bluebeards, traded pearls for opium with the locals of Mergee, watched the sun dip into the indigo, raised a son to be my heir, give me the horizon, woman, get lost in a gypsy part of town, til human voices wake us and we drown

377. down, down, uhhhhhp!, nearing naught after the climax has been climbed and conquered, rhymed and bonkered outta your brainards, dimwitted, blurry eyed vision of our great schism, seen through its transparent wonderland cold fision, never never land fusion, captain of my band of bedouin bandits and thieves, won't soon be loosin', aside for my mind, step in time with my rhyme, provide a beat that won't meet me halfway, bury my bones, carry me home, sweet chariot, cuz all roads lead to Rome, I confess I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another, rewind past your brother, milkshake it with your sister, don't fake it with my mother, else my father's gonna break it, sick of tolerating drizzle from the orchestra, we all know structure gives infinity and limits allow for abandon, the unreliable narrator promenades a live butterfly on a leash of thread, the workers don't punch in their cards today, instead they cry "Dead! Dead! Dead!", no diurnal double could have unleashed half this trouble, when does hell call to me? hell calls to me throughout the day and into the night, hear the barking of the two-headed dog, feel the sweaty snapping of slippery jaws and the clawing of paws at my ankles, hear the galloping of a shiny soot stained arabian steed, oh, take me away across the centuries and into a virgin mongolia where I can steep in delect and stealth, safely solipsize you, licking your red lollypop, you, mine, we

233. me the czar of the Magyars, enjoying you, my frailest and youngest slave, do not shave the whiskers I've labored so long to grow, blow smoke rings through the air of sweet, rotten worm wooded opium dens that would not be much longer, allow me to dream my life away there, my imagination growing stronger, my spirit fading away, swept under the carpet, king cockroach skeleton, I am a red-eyed spider constantly casting out threads, waiting to reel a lost and found soul into my web, for I have seen birds with fins and fish with feathers, circus scorpians wear leather and toads turn to princes, watched meat made to minces, never flinched at a finch plucked of feathers nor a runaway slave fucked, tarred and feathered, witnessed a clumsy oaf gently stroke a giant moth, relished in the wet dreams of concubines play coitus with one another, don't alert authorities if my mind starts to creep, digging for the good dirt, felt the kiss of the crab, nab my neck, nick my nape

144. a supposition supposing, fraudulent gentry, perpetually posing, dazzling attractive work force welding their wedding rings to slavery, glorious years of aesthetic bliss bent wrong, where did I went wrong? I invite disaster, entice catastrophe, look! there's a trope of my poetry, taken to extremes, stretched out a smile, swimming upstream, at my own volition, waging my perdition, counting the thirteen blackbirds that once flew my way, made a blackbird pie, then gave it away, to a teacher who taught me a globe of good and a bagful of bad, taught me the world gone right

89. the reel to reel world outta tune, gone mad, taught me the tartar invasions and how to turn your sad, into beautiful blue, taught me everything I once knew, before the cookoo flew over the cookoo's nest, who? you contest, no other creature than yourself, perception of the proletariat, nothing nefarious, meaningfully meaning well yet meaningless

55. blessed, give me my fifteen minutes of vainglorious fame then dump in the river of fear, loathing and pain, watch the blue smoke curl from your cigarette cool, witness my insides unfurl before the deep pools of your eyes, be mine

34. now I've reached the apex of this affection, and you are the apple seed of my eye, the apple-cuore of my heart, my king of hearts

21. in a single sigh sing a love song over this sky, for this angel has flown too high

13. hit the highest note from the underground, got sound unbound

8. satellites circle above ground

5. the earth is just a

3. conductor

2. for all

1. our

1. sound


"Me, Czar of the Magyars" by Death Comet Crew, vocals by Rammellzee and Nadia Szold