Basquiat paints a crown on cardboard. He paints another. He paints one for Louis Armstrong. He paints one for everyone in New York. Basquiat paints a grid. It’s a guide to the metro. And the central nervous system. Here are the arteries, here the veins. He paints a belt to start tying some of them off. Basquiat paints a red doorway. The red doorway is death. He paints an angry alphabet beside it. He paints semen and cartoons. He paints a pastiche of nude nights. The painting is almost done. He just has to paint the wall behind the painting. And the people partying around him. And the history of black bodies in America. And all of Manhattan. It will take no time at all. He’s very fast.
Child with Matches
The child saw what happens with matches. He found where they were in the shed. He started with paper. He watched how beautifully the paper became ash. He burned more paper. He found a metal bucket. He fed the fire slowly, like a pet.
One day he captured a spider. He giggled when he gave it to the fire. He found other insects. He liked seeing how desperate they were to escape as he held them over his metal bucket full of fire.
He brought his bucket into a field. Every day he watched the fire burn away. Little things started missing from around the house. He always told his mother he hadn’t seen them.
At last one day as he was burning leaves, some sticks, one of his mother’s books, and a dead bird, part of the fire jumped out of the bucket. The child watched it flicker in the dry grass. Then the fire started walking towards him. The child backed away. The fire started running toward him. The child ran too. He ran desperately. Then the fire was on his clothes. The fire was his clothes. The fire was his skin. The fire was his running. The child was the fire and the field around him burning.
Bruno Schultz is writing down everything the Messiah says. The Messiah is small. You could hide him in your cupboard, he could sit inside your tea cup. His hands move as he speaks of a second childhood, and the nature of shame, and an unlimited autumn. In the next room someone is playing a piano, but with their blood instead of their fingers. If he looked up, Bruno would see through his window people burying letters in their gardens. But he does not look up. He continues writing his manuscript.