Saturday, March 14, 2015

Misleading The Way




“Gin martini, straight up, heavy on the olives.”
“How many’s heavy?”
“I don’t rightly know. Three. No. Five.”
“Let’s agree on four, then. I gotta watch the inventory on garnishes best I can. Gin’s a-whole-nother thing.”
“You know what they used to call gin?”
“What?”
“Blue Ruin. And beer was Heavy Wet.”
“Have another, will you?”
“Well, you know, these things probably ain’t cheap. And besides, I’m going steady with another bottle of gin. Don’t want to make it jealous.”
“Gosh bless you.”
“Gesundheit.”
“Nobody sneezed.”
“I’m preparing for an unknown future.”
“Settling in, no?”
“Yes.”
“Perhaps the mood’s defunct, or at least deficient in airy wonder.”
“All I notice is all I got.”
“Cherries are all picked. Better back that rig up.”
“Hedge all the bets, too. Fearlessness backs up worry’s tough-guy stance with cashless transactions of kill-or-be-buried-alive politics.”
“Hell, put the artillery away, will you? Somebody’s going to get an accidental bullet to the chops. Besides I’ve got a heavy date coming in here in a bit.”
“How’s that?”
“I don’t know. It just happened. She’s a tiny wisp of a thing, just under a bill, and she dresses like a Russian Peasant. The kind of girl you wouldn’t think twice about hefting up over the threshold.”
“I’m getting in of there.”
“Trust me, it’s a bargain to be born this late into things. A real inert reaction to medicinal motivation. I just can’t get myself to believe that it’s butter, or whether it makes a difference, or if butter’d be better, or if not believing that it’s not butter is the better option to retreat with. And guffawing’s all I’ve got to show for it.”
“Don’t let the NSA catch you crying. Hold your phone at arm’s length. Place all the trinkets of your past in recycling containers. Be false to all senses of self, or selves, or others who categorize your delicately applied indifference as being a sucker for a girl in cowboy boots.”
“But just think of all the displaced citizens currently residing in a tent city beneath a freeway overpass who go batty with waiting. Are we blaming the right structural fixtures for the complacency of the passed-over many?” 
“I’ve got to just start being more daring.”
“Therein’s the rubric we are too shallow to follow. All the whimsy’s in the getting. And we get by with it for the satisfaction of appeased appetites and unruly sight-setters.”     
“I’m in desperate need of a guru.”
“A watchful, mindless grace imbues your lackluster spirit. Keep rummaging around in the red. Empty’s just a clear-cut in the forest of glum, aspirational, dance-move gestation. So, go ahead and shortchange yourself. What’s the point of all this itch-scratch-scratch-itching that you’re plying.”
“Better get a refill, here.”
“Who’s babbling?”
“I left this conversation a good while ago.”
“Who?”
“Another necktied bastard with his thumbs up.”
“Is that bartender ever coming back?”
“The chances are extremely unknown. Maybe we should take matters into our own fists.”
“I’m giving myself a standing ovation.”     
“Who?”
“Not you. Does it really matter after that?”
“Praise be the holier momentum of these wishy-washy times we abide in.”
“I’m back.”
“I’m front.”
“Well, competition’s the gray day’s wane, and I’m none for it, any of the ways. Been beaten down too much to care what I’m being kept from. Get me another and another, and then another two, too.”
“Thought you split with that bowler from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.”
“Nope. I left him for a bottle of Pernod and a rack of flashy gowns.”
“Play it perilous, kid. We’re all from not-around-there. And they're playing craps in the drained fountain on Boardner's patio again.”
“The sky’s sweeter than a bagful of jelly doughnuts, bursting apart all pink and orange flames, scratches of bright streaking through baleful tatters of cloud, and we’re stuck in here discussing and ordering our own demise. Misery loves its own kind.”
“Well, the water pressure’s been downgraded to low in my building. Showers are a sad affair again.”
“Nobody lives the magic long.”
“I’ve just become a stock character witnessing these live events of my life unfold.”
“Where’s Lady Addendum?”
“Not far off, I figure.”
“Or left, or rights away, too. Maybe the culled stoicism of reformed lunatics will assuage the guilt of grumbling through the years. Man’s inhumanity to God and all that blowharding. Fellows, we should all take that drink now.”
“That last long swim.”
“To cash-hungry rapscallions on a scarecrow’s diet with an easy touch.”
“To last laughs and later loves.”
“To be restless moonlight resurrected by daylight.”     
“To fishy love: an old relentless song a drunken fiddler plays.”
“To air-conditioned cocktail-lounge songs and more foes than any honest man could count.”
“Patch it up. Down the gullet. To triumph and broken chains.”
“Playing quiet?”
“Another hard night to get through.”
“A voluptuous crucifixion: the featherweight burden and bitter beauty of being alone.”
“Did you hear the one about the nihilist who found meaning in nihilism?”   
“He imploded with importance, with…mattering. It was all, well, not enough?”
“One is always, at best, alone.”
“Where’d that old blonde girl run off to?”
“Some place sadder. Somewhere more kind and gentle, and less human.”
“To outrun a few more devils before injuring any more of God’s creatures.”
“Just more betrayal of despair. Blanched sky and all, we get the least out of it, not so courageous now, are we?”
“One of these days we’ll stop running at our loosest ends. We’ll rest well and often. We’ll scrub the mud from our worst deeds and get set free.”
“A woman’s presence is required.”
“Of course. Of course. Of the most casual and complacent course.”
“You know what I say?”
“Too much.”
“I say this: dance with beautiful girls. The rest works itself out.”
“So you say.”
“So I do.”



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Liquid Daylight’s Meniscus

A frivolous young woman, with a brand-new pair of dancing slippers and a mouth like a valentine. She goes out, laugh in hand, without as much as an easy time to never have again. Backwards. That’s how it always happens. In good-old reverse, permanent rewind, at the beckoning globules of nose drippings from a certain dubious cretin. That’s the reckless way the story usually rolls. Life: just a boring way to go through the motions and watch other people have all the fun. I sure could use a special occasion now and then. Sometimes your head just gets stuck, and you’re done for. I know. I’ve dated my share of cocktail waitresses. Named 19th century presidents all in a row. Put the sights away for later, the lead bringing up the rear. Not for something, all pastures gone to heaven. Butterfly Weed for the whole cacophonous mess. Mostly all’s just trying. The scrimmage for attention, bowed or hunched shoulders scuffling by in scuffed shoes, drawn, only noticing what will keep the process going until the final grinding halt of existence. Longshoremen, daffy and dull, wipe tired smiles from daylong grinds, eying lady’s asses with quick double takes as they stroll by, say close to sunset on a muggy late September day. A crazed beeline for the Underground, the trains echoing up morbidly through the street’s grating. Nobody’s asking the time. The Russian’s aren’t coming. Giant cranes take in the scene from godly heights. Construction’s taken over. Noise is all there is.
    
Then I just thought, ‘Well, I’m going to be dead someday. I might as well do something with my life while I have it.’ Then it all just started to happen. It was easy. Nothing to it. I was only surprised by how little any of it mattered, and the less I cared about it the easier it was. Typically I only wavered on Wednesdays and Sundays; and even that was of little help. My overall demeanor was mildly disinterested. A hurl was slopped in my head to tinker with drafty thoughts: a natural kempt hold on what tried to never be there, or just a nodding off to precipitate rational reactions to other more dizzying flights.     
  
“There just wasn’t anyone to talk to tonight. So I got scared and came over here. Here? Here’s where the flophouses get flipped for somebody else’s living. Bottle it all up, shut in, there. There? There’s here’s other motivation. Try me. When it rains we pour. Freeze-dried Americana. Remind me about when there were better things to come. Because, I tell you, a looser tie you won’t find. Your dilly’s my dally, Parlay Vu. And before any tick’s attack you’ll find limes in the freezer, spoiled, left for comatose, creasing and golf-ball pocked. Stalwart and underfed. Fended off. Bored and elated. Badly punctuated. TV staring. Pajama wearing. Head in a sling. Worried about every last thing.

“There’s got to be casement for it, you know? Some outsides to hold it all in. Well, who knows, or can tell, what’s the beef, not where, no, but what, of course, you know? See? Well. Yeah. You heard me. Well. Well. Well. It’s a scorched matter of scalding facts that beat the shit out of, once and after all, the dreary way you make sense of these fuckers doing the fucked-up shit that they do. Ignite. Incite. Whatever. I’m bored with people so easily offended. Go take a bath and get over it, you sissies. There are more horrible institutions making your breakfast goodies than in all the cartoons you’ll ever not see. And that’s the thing. Why do you feel the need to look? If you don’t want to see something, well, just look at something else. There’s no shortage of stuff to see, you know? Gentle looks and big, dark eyes aside, we’ve got to come to grips with being spared or the world will rip us a new one.”   

A few laughs lots later, a man enters a small office building brandishing a tennis racket and a pocket bible. Riotous applause, please. Thank you. Now, this guy’s befuddled over some minor trivialities in his demeanor. Nothing suitable or “at will” if that’ll do. “Be little so as not to be noticed.” Some bad advice, followed, and he’s in under his ass. Can’t just will these things away, you know. He takes out a solar-powered calculator and starts crunching numbers. Mild laughter. That’ll do. And he thinks, ‘Just some ramshackle tabernacle.’ And the choir’s warming up in the basement with some seriously phlegmy throat clearing. “Lookin’ mighty likely that it’ll try to scare up some rain here,” goes the building’s Water Officer. Highly qualified to make distinctions twixt the norm and the careless & unusual, the customary and the cosmetic, and soon to not solely just be a “cop” in terms of position but a worn and recklessly edgy cog in the lower-down movements, not unlike a battered cello in need of some heavy-duty servicing. Some shocked calm here, please. Thanks a bunch.

“To pee or not to pee. Or to forever hold your pee,” he quietly asserts. “Level me, soon. I need a John close by at all times, like a strapped-for-cash Lady Of The Night. Maybe with steam coming out of the manholes while she balances herself ass-down atop a fire hydrant, heels kicked up, alit there like Grace Kelly or something, maybe the moon’s glint and the streetlights hazy shine providing the backdrop a halo of class, schmaltzy as it all might be, before reality crumbles her dreams to a morbid halt.” He totters, swung low. The wall holds him up. His lean comes in quick, feet still flat, about as delicate as a bulldozer, as he tries to pluralize his bearings, and his shoulder takes the brunt. ‘Pain’s all that’s real, now. Pain’s all there is.’ A comforting thought that surrenders all other thought to eternity’s tiny grasp. Blunt and traumatic. Forcefully adept. His instincts trigger nothing suitable to surviving. Plus, there should be some gasping and oh-my-god stuff here. Okay. That’s about right. ‘Keep moving. Keep moving.’ The refrain assists his ambulatory struggle. A heaviness lightly strums in his boots. ‘I’m not much of what I always am. Just an idea in others’ heads. Just something dreamt up and put here for kicks. I don’t imagine any of this will last.” Down the primrose path he continues. All’s as it should.

“We cannot keep compensating you for the use of the unused portion of the premises. Here’s your mask. Put it on. Save face. Be critical. Take your clothes off. Leer. Bring that body over here. Have a blessed afternoon.”

So, the guy slims and slides along the wall. A purr’s excuse for a whimper, a sidled prayer. A shush followed by some awed gasps perhaps. Voices recorded in a bathroom. Pretty good.  So long Marianne. The glow’s gone from the cheek, but he’s still at it, again and again, while over the intercom a hushed booming voice declares a state of mandatory incongruous dismay: “Who’s left to withstand the pummeled? Deeper shallows of swallowed reasoning conduct their own all-thumbs investigations into these sucker-punched situations. Standards of decency be damned. Drawing distinctions is for the petty and softer-lensed. Be of good care. Take cheer. There’s a moan here somewhere with nowhere left to go. Silence. We’re through.”

Stumped. The mortician’s slumped out of thought. The ceiling’s pocked, Styrofoam, stringy zucchini strands dangling in the a.c.: the confetti of modernity’s rusty interior waving in the chemically antiseptic breeze. Sporting a tweed Chesterfield coat with a gold cigarette holder clenched sideways between a few cracked molars, the guy wends his wiry way through the slightest of gestures. Nothing noticeable let go of at the right moment. And so the burnt-out ex-holy man states his case: “I’m standing as close as possible to the TV from here on out.” A real sketchy marginalized sort of foul-mouthed beast, something to be pounced on, never-questioning looks, expeditions lusted together through halos and sobs, tepid insight doomed to colder smiles, postponed restitution, the closing of all doors. And then the odd-toed among the creatures got even. 





Saturday, December 6, 2014

maybe just happy




RIOTER #1: Were we less free then?

RIOTER #2: Not now. I think.

RIOTER #1: Then we’d have to please the court, if it would, I’d venture to guess, please them to have us.

RIOTER #2: Not a chance in a pear tree for even a drop of accountability.

RIOTER #1: Can I not get a witness?

RIOTER #2: Without even a partridge to your name, this time of year.

RIOTER #1: Lying in the street, pretending that you’re dead, trying to whip up some rabble to be roused over it all. I’d dare a peach.

RIOTER #2: You’re sinister enough without it. Stranglers make bad scapegoats. Trust me.

RIOTER #1: Bishop takes rook.

RIOTER #2: Something like that, but less essential. More universal. I don’t know. I don’t breathe anymore. I don’t hold up my hands in surrender.

RIOTER #1: A taciturn mold for the egalitarian modes of getting around. Elvis always said that only Jesus was the king. For me? I don’t think it matters. We make up what we want to see or believe. All evidence aside, I’m phoning in my sentiments. Not expecting much of a return, if any.

RIOTER #2: Belated sorrow or regret tinged with disbelief over the willful ignorance of some power-hungry sucker in a $1,000 suit.  

RIOTER #1: Not so grand, really. Reckless? Hell, we’re an endangered species, taking potshots at each other, pretending that the subtle nuanced differences between us make any bit of a difference. Take that, you person with a darker hued skin tone! You are not as deserving of a human being as I am. It’s all a bunch of name-calling, bullying, and other grade-school theatrics. It’s stupid.

RIOTER #2: Nobody notices.

RIOTER #1: It’s a really dog-gone shame. Really. We could be nice to each other, but we choose to be mean.

RIOTER #2: Being hateful towards others makes cowards feel better about themselves. “At least I’m not like that guy, you know? I’m better than those people.” That sort of thing. Justifying one’s shortcomings by attributing false ones to other, usually less fortunate persons. Passing judgment to shore up your self esteem. We’ve been going too damn gentle into these horrible nights for too long. I want the meat-and-potatoes of me to mean something. Nothing need be ideal, but shit, maybe head in that direction at least?   

RIOTER #1: Mattering. Is that it?

RIOTER #2: I’ve heard it. Maybe just checking under your own hood for faults before telling others about what’s wrong with theirs, because maybe the check-engine light’s broken and you’re in dire need of an overhaul.

RIOTER #1: Be able and willing to be judged before passing judgment on others. I mean, if you’ve really got nothing to hide and have done no wrong then what’re you scared of?

RIOTER #2: I’m indicting myself. From here on out let’s let it all hang out. I’m a willing participant, see? This is me not resisting. This is me playing along. Ain’t even going to struggle. Let me tell my story, you tell yours. Let’s see where any of this gets us.

RIOTER #1: Nowhere, most likely.

RIOTER #2: The truth dies easy under the gaze of the partial eye.

RIOTER #1: God awful, these positions we are put in, the things that come to define us, the horror of living with the fear of retribution, or dying by it. I am me just because I am. There’s nothing else. Get over it.  

RIOTER #2: The minor inconsistencies of major network failures. I am speaking no language. The rest is not up to anyone.

RIOTER #1: Bare it all. Or bear it?

RIOTER #2: The difference is lost, failed and familiar, on all onlookers.

RIOTER #1: Structural integrity, lacking the imagination for a real empathic quality about one’s own perilous sojourn through the sadder fields of plenty. People come from all over to leave here, and to ask stuff like, “How will I think about this strange time of my life when it’s all through.”

RIOTER #2: I need a body double, a stand-in for the reasonable essence of guilt, courage, and strife. Plans to never attack. Those wayward whiffs of pacifistic, surcharged enough-is-enough marginalized into victimization. I play it dangerous. There’s just no other way.

RIOTER #1: Sure. And mercy’s just a plea deal gone wrong. A broken sort of miracle that hampers your better instincts for escaping the pressure of fitting. There are blocks and blocks cursed by false grades drawn up by no-good wealthy industrialists with greedy pens, where the widows mourn through shallow fits and the stray dogs nose through junkyards of foul promises, probing for reassuring signs of the past.

RIOTER #2: The safety of it. The comfort of being forgotten. My edges have been dulled by financial institutions who need naught but themselves. There used to be a wig shop and a funeral parlor there where that 40-story condo complex now stands. Taking back what they long left to let grow fallow, and now bulldoze in a tax-free exchange to build castles in the sky for yuppies. We are the diminished, the refugees of capitalism’s greasy smile, the chased and the frisked and the choked, the ones who cry wolf in their sleep and crowd the hidden fringes of a world with no need of memories.     

RIOTER #1: Place stripped of time.

RIOTER #2: Try not to breathe. I believe in such miserable things.

RIOTER #1: And by the way, no. Everyone is not entitled to their own opinion. We are a nation of the lazy and the busy, the misinformed and the needy. What we lack’s all substance with a surface sheen. There’s an undelivered keening just below the sound commercials make. A mild sort of despair, timid and brash, scared and selfish and mean. I used to know a guy, a fire eater who would get drunk and burn his throat. He dated a lady we used to call Priscilla the Monkey Girl. She looked just like Uma Thurman, and danced like Rita Hayworth. Couldn’t take your eyes off of here, twirling through the drugstore. The way she swayed through a barely lit room, no stage would’ve cut it. But when it was all told and said, the lather told the housesmith to ruin a hod carrier, and it got loneliest at the bottom for everyone. Just more failed greatness. A nation of wannabes.

RIOTER #2: Christopher fucking Columbus. I could use a good week’s sleep. No. I am not mighty. I just toss with no more turns to take.

RIOTER #1: Hey God, you can go fuck yourself, you piece of shit.

RIOTER #2: That’s more like it. Our rebellion is too mild, too easy to overlook. Seldom is the slice of it all that all of our laboring gets us. We are easily made before our time’s ever got a chance to come. Wither and fold without even a flash…or a pan for that matter. 

RIOTER #1: Revenge never served except as an appetite-whetting rouse. I mean, what the purgatory’s happening to those so-called innocent-until-proved-guilty among us? What a dump. What a dive. What a devil-damned shame. I am not so moved. Not ever less than now, then.

RIOTER #2: Put me in your will. Sew me as a seam into all of your I-have-a-dreams. Then the neighbors start to whine and we all dress for church, and the real reason you’re fomenting the rage of so many window smashers is merely the unique properties of forced demand poorly disguised as options . Retribution slips in through the service entrance while the waiters smoke in doorways of discontent. We are without the true channels to willingly make the proper choices. Everything is rigged.    

RIOTER #1: Perhaps pretending to behave is best. Falling in line just to eventually, quietly, without notice, destroy the whole idea of the need for a line in the first place. And nobody knows or cares when it goes.

RIOTER #2: Fuck that. Fuck God and country and all that other jingoistic, egomaniacal bullshit. I’m burning the ship before I go down with it. The video replay will be ruled inconclusive.

RIOTER #1: Cudgeled saps. Conked on the pate. Fustigated to an early retirement from the big show. Castigate! Retreat! Rebel! Attack! Lie low! We are all made of and by things outside of who we believe ourselves to be. The eye squints until it can perceive things the way the mind wants them to be. These are just things to say out loud in times of doubt and rumination. Well, because, strangers in relation to other strangers, all the stitching and unstitching is for not.   

RIOTER #2: An entire generation tossed aside, lost in the byzantine circuits of gadgetry, addicted to being entertained, never looking back, entitled and comfortably ruined for daydreams at such a young time in their lives. The same mistakes. The same whimpers of giving up. Put a catch phrase on a banner and wave it in the streets. Chant the same phrase in a mob while clapping hands. Block traffic. Stand up. Lie down. Dance. Follow along with the crowd. Shit. Just more useless histrionics. Is this the best we can do?    

RIOTER #1: Probably. Hey, I hear there’s a party going on in the basement of a burned-out building on Mission. Super underground sort of thing. Music. Dancing. Hallucinogens. Real live girls. Ramen burritos. Locally grown organic beet-and-goat tacos. Gluten-free microbrews. Whisky distilled from apricots and guava seeds. Wanna split?

RIOTER #2: Sure.