Possible Routes from You to I: A Walking Tour

Written by  Joe Mayers

You are trying to walk the dialogic imagination of downtown Salt Lake City to my apartment.

Does nothing point you here?

You read—

Nowhere is there a community more logically planned than Salt Lake City. And logical means easy to understand. Think of the point at which the Equator intersects the Greenwich Meridian – in other words, 0 degrees longitude and 0 degrees latitude. On the globe, that zero-point is just south of Ghana off the West African Coast. In Salt Lake City, it's at Temple Square

—and reflect. You weigh the grid beneath your feet. You long for dialog, powwow, and in the streets pointing back you hear too tall a tale, too singular a voice, though its roads are wide, its sidewalks a safe distance from traffic.

You find yourself before the flat reflecting pool, reflecting the Temple, what else, and wonder at Main Street still beneath your feet.

Wander this half-secular slice south, noting the doors you cannot open, to the left, to the right, and consider origin. Consider zero-point. Consider ground zero. Imagine the Temple's feel against the palm of your hand and what tools you would need to scale its 222 feet and ask the trumpeter his name.

Your task in walking the dialogic of this city's downtown to my apartment is, how do I say, the impossible?

You read Salt Lake City's grid in cities that are not Salt Lake. In Ogden, Utah, in Sandy, Utah, in Bluffdale and Box Elder. Impossible names. You say them aloud: Eleven-Thousand-Four-Hundred-South, Two-Thousand-One-Hundred-and-Fifty North, Twenty-One-Thousand-Seven-Hundred West, pointing your lost soul's way back to Zion, recalling each of your runaway soul's possible lines of flight.

Continue south on Main. Wrench to walk the dialogic imagination out of Temple Square. Gesture wildly so folk look to that divot in the sidewalk, to the bit of spit you see dangling from that Tulip in the fountain garden, to that infant towhead bawling babble and tongues to no one, and know the plots that await, that point back. In each North and South and East and West, you read a signified insisted upon, concrete semantics.

You read

As closed as a circle. Inside it, everything finished, already over. No place. For openendedness, indecision, indeterminacy. No loopholes in it through which we glimpse the future; it suffices unto itself. It manages without the other, and therefore to some degree materializes all reality. It closes down the represented world.

Yours is a desperate attempt. To walk the dialogic imagination of downtown Salt Lake City to my apartment. To begin with, my address is 550 South, 500 East, so you'll likely have to get in through the back door.

But you are getting ahead of yourself. What is this between you and I?

You read downtown from the edge of Temple Square. Between you and I. South. Main crossing South Temple. It is summer. You shield your eyes from the dependable sun, sop sweat from your brow, with your palm, your shirt's sleeve, with your pocket hanky and wonder at where the salt in you in here comes from. You read

The transparency and supernatural, otherworldly cleanness of a thing from outer space. A symmetrical, luminous, overpowering abstraction.

To cross South Temple along Main and maintain your walking the dialogic imagination to my apartment, you pull your shirtfront over your face.

Your shirtfront is white and casts a gauzy heaven-tone over glass and stoplights and street tar you sniff.

Your shirtfront is business casual, smells impossibly of starch, and you cross South Temple with a single eyehole born between two buttons.

Your shirtfront is opaque over your face still in this sun and you await the cuckoo-clock-street-crossing-birds-for-the-blind to sing you across South Temple, to keep you from getting killed dead in walking the dialogic imagination to my apartment, to chirp a song that reveals your movement, notes that warp or bleed with your steps from them, like flat dips in the siren that is coming or going.

Main crossing South Temple, south. You pull your finger from your bellybutton now, your shirtfront from your face, and encounter City Creek First-Class Family-Oriented Shopping Center, bodily.

You read that

The victory of one reigning language over the others, the supplanting of languages, their enslavement, the process of illuminating them with the True Word, the incorporation of barbarians and lower social strata into a unitary language of culture and truth, the canonization of ideological systems, philology with its methods of studying and teaching dead languages, languages that were by that very fact "unities," Indo-European linguistics with its focus of attention, directed away from plurality to a single proto-language, this, its centripetal force.

Though my building has a sign, a retired neon, dull and only whispering Rosedell above a weather-ripped awning, you will be coming in via the dialogic imagination of downtown and so from the back; how will you know you are here?

Is this love between you and I?

You read

On the north and south are to be laid off the farms for the agriculturist, and sufficient quantity of land to supply the whole plot; and if it cannot be laid off without going too great a distance from the city there must also be some laid
off on the east and west. When this square is thus laid off and supplied, lay off another in the same way, and so fill up the world in these last days, and let every man live in the city, for this is the city of Zion.

You walk into City Creek, you bump into City Creek, you pound your head a handful of times into the unrelenting marble of City Creek's exterior without attracting undue attention unto yourself.

You read the Code. The Creek's Code of Conduct. The Rules. You read The Rules of the Game, in French, La Règle du Jeu, The Rules of the I. It is winter and you duck east into City Creek along Main where the closed retractable roof calls to life a kind of biodome, calls to life the inverse of a snow globe, calls to life a greenhouse with racks and racks of first-class clothing.

Remove your winter cap. You peel your scarf in the slow, ribboned revolutions of a becoming as you walk the length of the City Creek and its tranquil pour east. Untie your boots and massage the soles of your cold feet. Let the dialogic imagination of water course about your bared toes. It is Christmas and you bathe in the warm, sun-shined, gentle-flowing City Creek like a kind of rebirth. Make yourself dizzy now, spinning in the cozy interior of a circle sales rack in Macy's, fleeces and flannel-pajama-bottoms and turtlenecks, to dry off, where 24.98, this Christmas, means 19.49, where 46 even means just under 37. You nap nude beneath the Holiday Tree, dream the locus amoenus of your slumber, and wake along the West Side of State Street between South Temple and 100 South, fully clothed, and sweating.

South, again, along State some thirty paces. You read signage. Read

Need some gas money.


Bet you can't hit me with a quarter.


You know, if I listened to Dukakis long enough, I'd be convinced we're in an economic downturn and people are homeless and going without food and medical attention and that we've got to do something about the unemployed.


Will not kill you for food.

and wonder at statehood, tried once, tried twice; read retellings, becomings masked, and hang a right, west, into the midblock hook of Regent Street (formerly Commercial Street).

Walking the dialogic imagination of downtown to my apartment via Regent (Commercial)Street invites you to read history (Renamed Regentin the1920s, Commericial Street, the mid block avenue running north-to-south between Main and State in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, was home to multiple houses of tacitly sanctioned prostitution for more than 50 years.) and it is Autumn and the air is crisp and you hug the east side of Regent's slow-hook south to catch the sun, to press the bricks it's warmed against your body.

Cross 100 South. Quickly, and on all fours. Leaves from trees you cannot see crunch beneath your hands, your knees, and you crawl on to the second half of Regent (You read Madams and their ladies were "arrested" monthly, "fined" $50.00 each, given a physical examination, and released on their own recognizance.). You resist the urge to ingest the fallen foliage, barely.

You read Appropriation (characterized by a homogeneity (staticequilibrium) of the author of the appropriation, and of objects as final result. Man does not only appropriate his food, but also different products of his activity: clothes, furniture, dwellings, and instruments of production. Finally,he appropriates land divided into parcels. Such appropriation stake place by means of a more or less conventional homogeneity (identity) established between the possess or and the object possessed.) and Excretion (the result of a heterogeneity, and can move in the direction of an ever greater heterogeneity, liberating impulses whose mabivalence is more and more pronounced.) but here it's held in the bowels, without pulled so deep within as to be invisible. Regent (Commercial) Street.

It is midnight and you paw desire on all fours, slink down the half-dead interiority of Regent, crawl the walls and ceilings of its parking garages where paint peels like the inside skin of some creature irrupting. You read women from the turn of the century in this gut of the city, single bodies with seven names. You read of father's, mother's, you read The Scarlet Letter, by Janey Smith, read of roads, that (The towns people think Pearl's evil because she lives off the roads. 'No man will ever love a woman like you when you grow up, 'say the towns people. 'The roads are our civilization. They're the order men have impressed on chaos so that men's lives can be safer and more secure and, thus, so that we can all progress. Human life gets better and better.). In The Scarlet Letter, by Janey Smith you read (I want to write myself between your lips and between your thighs. How can I get in touch with you?

A final scene focuses this swirling horror. The young handsome Reverend who everyone thinks is gentle, honest, and kind takes up the spreading mockery and hatred and vomiting and says to Hester: 'You are the worst piece of trash-cunt who ever lived, no one will ever ever love you, there will be no more love in your life because, mainly because, you won't tell us who your bastard's father is. 'Hester can't reply' cause the guy who's screaming at her is the guy who fucked her. How can HE scream at her?

All that she has left of the world: her memories disappear. Do you understand what reality is? She begins to go crazy) and find yourself before three two-story cabinets along the west side of Regent, purple and yellow and blue from north to south, closed.

Might this love between You and I leave us both bruised?

Crossing 200 South, you walk the dialogic imagination with two pedestrian flags, brilliantly orange, tailing out your asshole like kinds of flat fire in the breeze and enter Gallivan Center.

You read it aloud like bile, gall-ivan, gall, pluck the flags from their post, and defecate in a non-corner of the ice rink.

Continue south through the Center. You pause to read the time of day, to check your progress in the sundial artwork

Asteroid Landed Softly

You read


You read


You read


Dance the stairs south and down and slip onto Weechquootee Place, some twenty paces, just slightly longer than its name that you try to say in unordered pieces. You suspect the echoes assemble the right way to voice it.

If I say your name, how many ways to I cease to say you?

Take Broadway in a single broad-jump and windsprint the alley between Jimmy John's and Toasters. You check the dumpster behind Proforma Peak Printing & Promotions, find it's got exactly nothing for you, cartwheel east up Exchange Place, cut a quick right, south, down Cactus Street, and, gaining some momentum, triple-jump 400 South and scream an emphatic yawlp upon landing in the city court's courtyard.

You read social-realist-fiction crossing Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard.

It is spring and you gulp what's fresh in your nose cutting through the back-lots shared by Garden Café and Flower Patch. In slow motion you cut through garden and flower and their slipping partition and read nonfiction. In slow motion, you read, Life, in 1938; it is bitter cold – January 3rd, the new issue – and the snow tosses sun in your face with a kind of violence.

You slip your sunglasses back up from the bottom of your chilled nose and read

The Destiny of 747,000 Mormons Shaped in These Hallowed Temple Rooms

The first published images from within you read in slow motion in walking the dialogic imagination to my apartment. Sandwiched between

A Religious Play Stirs Broadway: Father Malachy's Miracle,


The Maginot Line: Shield of France – Vast border defense system makes first appearance in a new French spy movie,

You read, in slow motion, in 1938,

Devout believers in divine revelation, the Latter-Day Saints are perhaps the most sturdy and self-reliant religious group in existence today. Eight decades ago their independence outraged the shaky Federal Government. Today Washington smiles gratefully on their spectacular Church Security Program. Since its inception nearly two years ago, 21,000 unemployed Mormons have been taken off Federal relief. 30,000 others have been aided. Hundreds of tons of food, grain, clothing and bedding have been assembled in regional storehouses, thence distributed to those in need.

No innovation, the Mormon security plan is simply a renascence of the venerable church aim "to help people help themselves," a response to the venerable precept, "pay without work is distasteful." Application of these tenets first enabled the Mormons to bring fruit from the barren deserts of the West, later helped them to build the shining edifices of Salt Lake City and establish themselves firmly as the political and financial masters of Utah.

Quickly now.

You walk the dialogic imagination east across State and press-blow your face against the display glass of Salt Lake City Mercedes-Benz.

You confront the shrub blocking your way between the backsides of Mercedes-Benz and Ken Garff Volvo, get tangled in trying to respect its wildness –cuts you suck and make bloodless quick – and go on. You chop the shrub between Ken Garff Volvo and Ken Garff Mitsubishi with a pocket hatchet and go on.

The shrub keeping you from going between Ken Garff Mitsubishi and Ken Garff Hyundai: uproot with your own ungloved hands, and go on.

And the shrub between Ken Garff Hyundai and Ken Garff Saab you douse in lye and wait the passage's becoming, east, still.

Am I a you when you call out to me?

And my apartment is one in a building of sixteen. Do you expect me to leave a light on for you?

You read –

Feelings one "has." Love occurs. No metaphor but actuality. Love does not cling to an I, as if the You were merely its "content" or object –

and walk the dialogic of downtown along the south exterior of Weather Vane Market. You take the alley 70 paces to the east, then 65 paces south, place your shoes on your hands and cross 600 in bare feet. You enter Salt Lake City Traffic Control Center via the north entrance, ask the fellow at the front to point you to the south exit, and you emerge at the dead end of Colfax Avenue.

Fences. Four chain-linked and a wrought iron running in your way at Colfax's dead end: scale them.

You are nearing the end, impossibly, of walking the dialogic imagination of downtown Salt Lake City to my apartment. The last leg. You do not pat yourself on the back.

You read a stage-play, a drama, crossing 300 East with dirt stuffed in your ears, and stroll into Central City Recreation Center like some kind of cowboy. You're instantly recruited by the children for a game of Red Rover – you beam, you blush, you tower over every one of these kids – and you play. You read a polyphonic play,

The First Transcontinental Railroad

You read nineteenth-century voices and the dust of the West.

None know your name and so Red Rover is not asked to send you over. In another's first-person, you read

If I could direct the route they should take, I should have it come down Echo and Weber canyons, and, from there, through the lower part of Salt Lake City. It would be the height of folly for the managers of this great enterprise to pass by what has been accomplished in this territory for the past twenty years.

In no time, it's you versus the whole pack. In the first-person-plural of the same, you read

We want the railroad. We are not afraid. We know the better the truth is known, the more it will be loved by the good, the virtuous and the noble. And when this road is finished our friends can come and see us, and witness the peace, the order, the freedom from crime that possesses our city of Zion, and they will compare them with the sinful, depraved cities of our neighbors, and we shall lose nothing.

Out the back of Central City Recreation Center, you walk east and catch Cottage Avenue. It is winter, and these cottages: cozy. Water in soft beads on their windows. It is summer and you ask these cottages for a glass of tap. It is winterizing season and you agree to melt insulation plastic with a hairdryer about these cottages' windows, the interiors, in exchange for a mug of cocoa. It is 8:15 in the evening with these cottages and you are sobbing, uncontrollably.

Though there is an arrow drawn with a Sharpie pointing to a spare atop the frame of my apartment building's door, for UPS, for FedEX, for potential renters, that key won't grant you access to my apartment. Do you have a crowbar?

You read far away. You read Promontory Summit, site of the Golden Spike Ceremony, 87 miles from the city. You say it aloud: Twenty-Two-Thousand-West.

You read

"Far Away": the Zulu has a sentence-word instead that means: Where one cries, "Mother, I am lost"

and dig a hole in Richmond Park.

And dig a tunnel in Richmond Park.

And tunnel Richmond Park, north, 'neath 600 South and

Experience is remoteness from You

and, don't I see you now?

Emerging from an up-hole, impossibly, in the empty lot in front of the abandoned Salt Lake Soap Company along Denver Street?

Or should I close my eyes?

And can I see you? Running now, north, up Denver. Can I hear the back neighbor's doorbell ring?

Through my apartment's back window, I read after you. Is that you? Cut in pieces and made whole again depending on my focus through the chain-link west of my apartment's lot? I read you in the long plastic lip running vertically to cap the chain's or the link's sharp ends. In the tree whose name I don't know but catch catching and tossing light in its leaves like glass in the summer sun. In the tracks in the snow. The back-face of the neighbor's house like a sudden Cyclops with its collapsed porch. I read you in the grass. Is that you? The junk piled and bleeding impossibly into the landscape in the neighbor's back yard? The trampoline? The trumpet? The tarp?

Is there nothing with which I can spot you?

It is moon and gibbous and the night is winter and can I join the dogs west of my apartment's parking lot? The dogs you've made to sit and set to howling?

Additional Info

  • Location: Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT