When ort is art I disable my Spell Check function and try to imagine. My subject veers off. A man is serving me soup from WWII and I am thoughtful. Siegfried, my alter ego, serves me lie upon lie, unraveling wit from truth. Here—a man wearing tweed in the men’s clothing department at Wal-Mart but rejecting all my choices like the lie that he is. (Do I only imagine I am double?) There—a man in a hurry squeezing the fruit but tasting nothing, abhorring the words that I live with, that make him OK with me. The real exists somewhere between us like a bubble of description I find difficult to explain. What is paramount about a circus coming to town is that someone believes in it, that everyone attending is lost and then found. Even as a single sneaker dangles from a restless child’s foot in the toy section at Wal-Mart, his mother negotiates her little boy’s future, careful not to exaggerate or divulge inaccurate information that may cause him some harm in the eyes of the world. And Siegfried is that boy. A flicker of opium in my alphabet soup. What he’s paying for are the three rings of life and madness and boredom deleted from his cradle. And he remembers them—the ritual folding of the big top tents, the well planned escape of the roustabouts, the whole cast of characters packing up and moving on. Another city, another boy. Identity crammed into a clown’s valise. What Siegfried considers “the real thing” has abandoned the real and is traveling with the acrobats. He hallucinates what he can’t control. A little sleet seeping into the coal chute, into the memory banks where Siegfried sleeps, hiding his face from the world in a pillow of fog blossoms smothered in coal dust. And this is his dream. I am his dream. We are engaged in a contest. In the arms of stabbed winter the players lay shackles at the entrance to Wal-Mart in honor of Siegfried. Whose compression of facts converts our improbable lives to improbable fictions. Existence, he screams, is the art of pure elaboration until that elaboration fails us and we are set upon by looming apes. Do we dare to laugh at a looming ape, taunts Siegfried? We bungle our performance. Stand wobbling at the acme of our achievements. We dawdle a little, wondering where is that fine line between madness and genius? Our lives are a creature we shoot out of sequence and then re-sequence as fantasy. What the camera reveals becomes invisible in Siegfried’s hands. He tricks all his subjects into strange candid “poses.” His art is the art of the shining made possible. Let the ultimate Nothing bring us our voices, he demands. But configures each angle as he positions his shots. Each motion picture image looking slantways at language as language reciprocates in honor of silence which is sweeter than night according to Siegfried. Fantastic as snow drifts. Borrowed like a book for a week. Or only a lifetime. For as real as words are they are only impossible. They rearrange what we see. We are the puppets of dada standing on line, talking in riddles, talking amongst ourselves as we wait for a booth at a restaurant or a seat at the movies. We are the puns on the tongues of stunning blue mannequins. We always seem plastic as anyone’s version of loneliness. As public as sunlight, we are the faceless somebody calling out for a cab. We are an army of Siegfrieds. Now our feet are boiled beets. And the man working produce is not reassured but tosses a token into the splash of apple sauce that is our mind. The blind melons, he assures us, have roots that reach and reach. A tune he alludes to arrives like a tune by an alternate route. And as always, Siegfried’s out to kill a goose tonight. Or it’s cough syrup in the alley at twenty paces. And the man working produce at Wal-Mart never suspects, has spent his last happy days holding onto a secret he keeps under his hat, oblivious to any version of a man working produce that he can’t earn a living with. You must blend with the kumquats, he tells me, camouflage is key. You mustn’t be paranoid. The passion fruit’s yr ace in the hole. O for the beauty of what isn’t in yr produce, I think. Mistaking grandeur in Siegfried’s head — two underwater bubbles — for his Windex-colored eyes. But Siegfried rallies, taking no for an answer in the produce aisle at Wal-Mart. Believing nothing of value must go to waste.