Escape From Venice (Snake's Postcard to Utopia On Moving Fast Over the Water)


I’m sorry this is going to be so brief, as in just a bit, I’m going before the Tourism Bureau to present my proposal to revamp Venice.  I’m all nerves, hot stones in the gut, but I got a clean shave, I know my material, I’m feeling sharp. 

And they have to take my idea.  They just have to.  Because sure, I know what some of the others are talking about: better access to potable water, proper burning of corpses in a single quarter of the city, knife-free zones, killing those birds, hydroponic permaculture.  And I’ll admit, they really should do something about the corpses, which, I suppose, would also have a positive effect on the whole water that can be swallowed without coming back up problem.  And I shouldn’t even think that because when I think my lips tend to move and they will see and join forces to propose to Take All Corpses Out Of The Water Supply - TACOOTWS, they even have an acronym!  But christ, I heard one of them going over his notes, his lips fluttering silent too, to try and reopen some of the old guild workshops and to make new masks - with “organic materials” - to sell as handicrafts.  He swears that we could get a Fair Trade certification, like we were chocolate or bees, and I am neither, and that we are still a World Heritage site so double-whammy.  And this woman is promising that restarting Carnevale would be “just the ticket - a dazzle of mystery and romance to show that Venice has still got it.”  Yeah, got it like the plague, we got it.

But I got it.  I know what’s going to change the whole game.  Because what do you think when you see all this water, these tight twisting back alley canals, the wide-open spaces of the Grand one, all this rippling sheen, this shimmer surface?  When you see those dim tools putter around on those gondolas, sweating, their hands blistered into claws?  When you see how long it takes to get from place to place and how you’re supposed to respect tradition but what does tradition mean when it has necrosis and when what we all really want is the future, the future throwing up a hell’s spray, the future the way that particles of water in the air make - yes, I dare to say it - a rainbow, the future's wet, the future joyous, a bit American even, unwept, the future that roars into view, throwing out a big wake with a big grin on its face?

Because that’s what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about Jet Skis in Venice.

I mean, what else is there to do here?  Maggiore or minor, it’s not gonna matter, because these things don’t need more than a half-inch of water to run, hell, you can gun up over the stones if you got enough speed, they’re great for fishing, and on that note, if we did still want to do something about the soggy bodies, I mean someone should, they are full of holes but not holes that make something sink, and there is the problem of the eyes that remain, but if we wanted to get rid of them, just hook em, hook em up to a hot Polaris and it is on.  But mostly, just tearing all over, hauling big loads, doing some jousting, running the waves dog-tired past the breakers.  Just letting ourselves live, and live with something fiberglass and howling between our legs.  For once.

And this place will never be the same.  Down with the funereal pomp, that dirge of lapping waves.  I want them drowned out in the sound of what runs them.  Once they take my plan, there will be no sound anymore, just flash and burp, throttles floored, and the canals full, teeming as if we were birds and birds were painted hot green.

But what really matters is what I’ve been dreaming since I came up with this plan and I think I came up with it, a whole scheme not to better the city, because I do not need this place, I do not need this wrecked bilge pump, but I want it just to lay the groundwork for my big dream.  Which is you and me, queen and king of this swamp, the ones who brought the end of sound to it, who brought the new days, and everyone knows it, and we’re riding only the best, a custom painted, gondola black to mock the past but it is not all black because there along the side, there’s a growing neon, and the black is burned out with color, airbrushed flawless, a hunter orange off-set with purple accents, and written across it in double cursive, black and gold, is LA SERENISSIMA.  Yes.  And we sit above these words on this four-stroke Sea-Doo RXP-X, 260 horsepower, and at first, we’re barely using them, we’re chugging along real slow, a little time to ourselves through San Polo, and then we’re there in front of all of them, shining, bottle of champagne in your hands, we’re puffing bud, a little hazy now so that it looks as though the water was half-sand half-water and no glare, it’s all polarized.  And they are high-fiving us as they roll by, no one’s got a machine like ours but fuck it they’re happy I brought them this gift, ridded their world of the floating coffins and the day is good the weed is good, and you’re looking beautiful and sometimes I make us jerk forward just a bit so you scream and hit me playing a bit and then you put your arms around me tighter.

But we’re leaving all this behind, and I’m opening up the engine which is happy to finally let itself go, and we’re whipping under the bridges, like a tranche, the arching plume of spat water behind us doesn’t even have time to fall, it hangs there, a barricade in the river, made of river and the sun caught it just mirror right and there they stood, facing their own faces, their ache bodies hung in the light.  But we, we’re not there, and we can hardly be seen, we’re too fast, they can’t even read the back of my shirt where it says IF YOU CAN READ THIS, UTOPIA FELL OFF and they couldn’t anyway because you’re clutching hard to me, not a sound now, and we rip past the Academy, the Leoni, Maria de la Salute, Dogana di Mare into the channel, where the water past Giudecca joins it, colder, and we barely touch any of it, we are a stone that we have skipped ourselves.  And are curving just around Lido out to the open sea so that we follow the line of every ferry that runs through here but how there are none now, they are there just as shuddering brief images of themselves, white hulks, and it does not matter anyway, because there are those who wave when they see you pass and there are those who do not know what it is to wave, do not know what it is to see, do not know how it is to be held, and who do not understand the fact of this hurtling speed that touches so little.  And behind me you too shudder and I do not know what kind of shuddering sound it is and when I turn back to be sure that yes it is laughter I cannot help but see that even you are not there and there is no one at all to read my shirt or to laugh that the sea lasts a long time, whether or not you run across it like a stone.


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