Monday, July 27, 2009

bits and pieces in a spontaneous manner

I quote Mickey Spillane and E.E. Cummings to the rain, and think, ‘The fanciest way to die is in a brand new, tailored, three-piece suit on your birthday.’ Sometimes, like say when anticipation wends its tinted-windowed way through the bright lights of your dreams, there might be a wrinkle of worry there, stalking you like a parrot, caged and loud and repeating, stapling your indecisiveness to the wall like a bad check, and you might just copout and take the least resistant path, again, and it’ll be one more thing that you have to hate about being you to-morrow. The alarm clock is set, by me, and I set it knowing full well that I’ll be most displeased at myself for doing it in the morning, most displeased. Not all tired are the true, even if they’ve been tried with falseness for too long, so, maybe some can survive it, and live it, and be it, and dream it, and feel it, and then, hell, who knows, yeah? I play pattycake with myself along the trestles, pawning the Harvard Classics along the way, a long way away, in the wind, going home, in the wind, too far to be away, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, whistling Stephen Foster songs, making up all the sense that isn’t even a cent rattling around in my threadbare pockets so close to my bones, so I can’t ever go home this way, so I can’t ever go home again because there just ain’t such a place anymore. I chipmunk my way around town. I hunker. I threaten. I am a conductor of police sirens. My baton is a tennis racket. My uniform is my boxers, a crinkled old button-up shirt, and a ragged wine-stained tie wrapped around my neck like a noose. The window is filled with sparrows and leaves and other windows and parked cars and air. If it is the shattering of TV screens, if it is spoonfuls of melody and mashed potatoes, if it is departmentalization, if it is strange weather, if it is Colorado, if it is the sound of a thousand ceiling fans, if it is every single blade of grass on a baseball field, if it is the graying of the day, if it is laughing through a trumpet, if it is caught in the clip of scissors, if it is just left of dead wrong, if it is saying and telling and trying and touching and trouble on the horizon, if it is much more than just this me who I happen to be at any given moment, then it is. So what? I run races from the bedroom to the bathroom and back again. Hand-carved cares weigh down the decoy of idiocy left holding what is left of what never was or at least shouldn’t have been. Cluelessly careful, cheap, left indignantly weary and washed with jealousy once again, the moon moved its shadows over where I’d been standing in the street smoking a cigarette. I lean off of 14th story balconies in heavy wind with a bottle in one hand and a wish of fall held up high and waving in the other, not thinking and thinking too much, craning my neck to get a good look at Orion’s belt over the swan-neck curve of a streetlight, hoping, maybe, that the railing holds my weight, as I sway, as I sing, as I try not to be anything at all, not paying any mind to whatever is passing for now. I am coincidentally inclined. Options of other options are crowding out any chance of even having a choice to make. I tear out pages from the bible and make paper airplanes. If I am caught up in one thing, or booing, or sleeping, or jumping over brooms, or fielding soft grounders, or getting sunburned, or swallowing capsules, or pinning down enemies, or crying, or chopping down telephone poles, or surrendering to the authorities, or imitating barn animals, or rioting, or doing pushups, or reading comic books out loud, or frying eggs, or chewing gum with xylitol, or contemplating Satchel Paige’s Midnight Creeper, or doing my best Stan Laurel, or talking to myself while doing the dishes, or just thumbing through the dictionary, it is probably not enough. Praying for silence, I forgive the glassmith, and turn towards the truck’s headlights. I am chanting the names of old ball players. I am playing it fucking loud. I am not so great at taking fateful leaps into the dark. I am poor enough. I am going, going, going, gone. In the fog is a lost dog. In the street is a scarecrow. In the garbage is the news. In a voice is the music of mist getting blown past a makeshift wooden cross stuck into the wildly blooming plumbago on the side of the highway. I am in the midst of things. Lastly, the way she left the light on for me, when I’d been out drinking and walking all over the city and staring at old buildings all night, was more a sign of her dissatisfaction with me than anything else. The saltwater fish soon adapted to their new freshwater world by going belly up. Sleeplessness is a blessing and curse and a big waster of time. I go through socks like toilet paper. There is a meanness to the kind of freedom I’m trying to convince myself I deserve. Using dollar bills for bookmarks, crabby and clubbing at the floor with a closed umbrella, all my socks filled with holes, all my shirts smelling worse than a gym locker room, my fingers flying over the keys, sipping cold coffee from a chipped mug, shivering from time to time and belching out the chorus from old folk songs in a screechy falsetto, jumping up and down on my bed, skipping by the window and heckling the pigeons on the phone lines, dancing, sparring with a lamp, slumping my shoulders, leaning, rocking back and forth ever so slowly in a fold-up chair, squatting down, balancing on my toes on the edge of the window sill, rubbing my glasses off on my shirt, rubbing my eyes, mistaking a yodel for a curtain call, clinging to clothes hangers, scraping the dust from the heirlooms of memories growing senescent in my woe-filled head, glum and grim and happy as hell, you know me, slapping high fives to the top of doorframes. Nothing new. The plastic doll heads drifting in a northeasterly direction on the tide somewhere near the Farrallon Islands had black hair and blue eyes and sleepy smiles painted on their sun-bleached faces. Is all there is to know all there is to know if you can lose it in your purse or between the tessellated tiles of the subway station’s floor or if you can now know that you will only know now what it means to be in a constant state of thrilling enchantment only if you know nothing about what you want more than anything else in the world to know about because then when it does happen in some other now it will not be a surprise and you will have expected more in the now of your knowing what was going to happen already, you know? Flood lights were not even bright enough to snap the slumbering dipsomaniac out of his done-with-drink-downing stupor. Blending in has its rewards. People seem to dislike the prick of the sea urchin, which is an echinoderm, a thing God created with a mesodermal skeleton made up of calcareous plates that some fancy folks call ossicle. Wretches are not always saved, and can be lost and never found, and sure they can be blind, but that’s okay, because what the hell is worth looking at when you’re a wretch and nothing really sounds that sweet to you. Fleeing is sometimes a fleeting thing, and when you look back at it, well, the staying would’ve mattered more in the end. A ball is balancing on the brim of a cowboy hat, which has a head under it. Getting down on his knees to measure the resistance of sand to little ink dots of shade made by an oddly shaped tree, the climatologist warned himself not to forget the jar of pickles he’d bought at the market in the trunk of the car. A licker of lollipops, a careful chooser, a candle blower, a wind sniffer, a grader of days, a changer of tires, a swimmer of pools, a changer of channels, a limper, a bad speller, a hurler of paperclips, a misdirected driver, a gum smacker, a hippopotamus photographer, a looker, a salivater, a porch swing sitter, a squinter, a watcher of things in the sky through a telescope. We have art and we have delivery trucks and we have reflections of ourselves in shop windows and we have windup toys and we have wedding cakes and we have movie screens and we have postcards and we have hinges and we have homes and we have different voices and we have fire. I am dreaming of expensive cars again. Listening to the clank that flagpoles make in a strong wind, their ropes swinging wild, the flag on top fluttering, making those indescribable rippling sounds, something like flapping but more rich and textured, a strange whisking that rolls and dives with a whip-like precision, a dancing thing with wings. I told the guy in the truck, who had asked me how to get to the courthouse on Grove Street and was idling in his truck next to me on Leavenworth and Sutter, to just drive as far as he could south, and then take a right, keep going until you see City Hall, and then, well, it’ll be on the left somewhere. I am at the mercy of the bacteria in my gut. Pouting is not the best way to make a good impression on a waiter. Public places are sometimes the best places to do things in private. Wallets, keys, stuff like that, stuff that you make sure is with you at all times when you go out, wherever out is, anywhere, things that need a place to be kept, a place to put them, these things, things you don’t want to replace, that you hope will never get old, never wear out, these things, are not much really. My toothbrush was made in China. Opportunity used the doorbell this time around, and I had the bath water running, and missed it. Concentrating on the last quantitative arch of resting assured in the timely manner of all fixed objects apart from their usual associative qualities is decadent at best and immature at its lowest point, at least until your car won’t start one morning. The rattling hum of the leaf blower and then the slicing whine of the circular saw kept me from taking a nap. A fallowness ran its course through me after I hung up the phone, and I turned my stereo up as loud as it would go to chase away whatever was left empty inside of me, but it hung around anyway, so I just ignored it. Sweetness was welling up inside of the plumber as he tightened the plug on the end of the pipe underneath the cocktail waitress’s sink. A quick breeze squeezed through a crack in the window to chaperone the dust mites to their dizzying dance. Oh, to be a bulldozer barreling down a crowded city street. Zip codes and ice trays and water guns and evaporation and harmoniums and the shredded skipping spark and metallic buzzing screech of thinly sliced grating sounds that flush from train tracks as the boxcars streak and trundle by on a cold November afternoon. Reciting the alphabet backwards before the cop got out of the car made the High School principal feel a bit calmer. Groping for some kind of refuse to fill the days with until that one thing comes along that will make me want the days to stick around for a while is how I pass many hours. Blunt, hard-nosed, glum, indirectly out-of-touch, trumpeting the next big thing, crumpling with anxiety over the change of a channel, glib, undone, inefficient, unruly, stuck to a worry like a fly to flypaper, sleepy, sucker-punched by a romantic whim, granting every wish that happens by, torn, multidimensional, unreal, leaping from a thousand frying pans, worn out, happy, sit-com looking, gummed up, duped, partially invested in outer space, usually rotating, placated, histrionic, posing for trophies, strapped in the for the long haul, interestingly dull, batting around, cursing, absent, throwing pennies at a yield sign, finding pleasure in the dimness of the stars. The exposed rafters on the ceiling of the basement room were rotting and warped, but they gave some comfort in the cold night, as I stared at them, sleepless, wondering about how the familiarity of certain things could keep obscuring the wonder of my just being alive. Birds high and swaying, branches like a dozen gnarled arms spread, lording over a rabbit hole, the trees do not forget their leaves in fall. Executing the quasi-sentimental plan was not difficult for the nonbelievers. Like suspenders holding up the pants of the world, thick strands of mud-colored clouds stretched across the edges of the sky. Kindling was all the firewood salesman had for sale. Sometimes the backup middle infielder would kick a few grounders on purpose, just so people would know he was still around. Daybreak went on forever, and the fields gave up their ghost, and the millionaires all lost their hair, and the curbstones were laughing, and the milliners went mad, and the ugly became easier on the eyes of the damned, and the parking meters were not weeping just yet, and the fountains were dry, and the country was loved, and the revolution was laughing, and chances were being taken for granted, and the wind was blowing cold, and glee was happening, and music was turning into algorithms, and green was gold, and every dream she had was about me, and her mind was made up, and the centuries started to turn, and the guests were serving dinner, and the sunrise was louder than a million airplanes taking off all at once, and this Friday lasted until next Friday, and open was closed, and up was high, and the sad were glad, and, Ol’ Man Mose didn’t kick the bucket, and nobody was blowing their horn. Sure, some things are foolish, but they don’t have to remind me of anything, like the dust jacket of The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze, or a clarinet’s moan, or the heaving way the jackhammers jar me out of laziness, or a particular ring tone of some stranger’s phone, they can just be things, foolish or not, and I don’t have to do anything with them. I was listening to Alka-Seltzer Time one cloudy Thursday afternoon when I suddenly realized that I was completely out of my mind. Morris was standing at the bus stop, but the bus didn’t stop, and instead, against all of his protestations and the wild flailing of his arms, kept on going by. Comfort is not something to be desired except in short stretches as respite from uncomfortableness, and even then in very insignificant doses. Miles are just things to be counted. Time won’t let me wait around for long. Getting beyond belief is sometimes the whole point. I had gravity all figured out, and even though it was keeping me down, I stopped letting it get me down. The best laid men sometimes don’t have any plans. Jet propulsion is only possible because of Isaac Newton’s laws of motion. When I die I want somebody to make a slideshow with pictures of me to play at the funeral along with The Pretenders’ Back On The Chain Gain. Putty isn’t always silly. The wedding photographer used to feel so brave about things before he got engaged to his assistant, before he started to want to do everything alone. Vespers just kept coming earlier and earlier every day that summer. After the bank teller got fired he got a job working at a tea house, serving people tea in tiny cups at strange tables, telling them about the different types of tea, about how it smelled and how to brew it properly, and sometimes he served two people who were in love, and this made him sad. Hiding behind a curtain with flowers in his hand, the copy editor felt a trickle of sweat slip down his forehead. Though the sophomore fullback would never think of what he and that cheerleader were doing on his parent’s couch in the afternoons after school let out as heavy petting, really, that’s what it was. Beckoning the grifter over to the swimming pool, the fortyish moon-faced woman with Cushing’s syndrome had a sensation she would later describe as, “feeling very alive,” for the first time in six years. Static is something to fall asleep to. Restarting at the end was about all that was left to do after the train left me behind, but instead I ended up right where I’d begun, hanging my head and wandering around downtown until the sun too left me behind. He’d never felt so lonesome as when he heard Patsy Cline’s I Fall To Pieces playing rather loudly on the jukebox at some dive off of Burnside while he was sitting at the bar, nursing his beer, and staring wistfully at the bottles behind the bar. After she got out of jury duty, the Aesthetician stood on the subway platform and thought, ‘Only 180 seconds until the next train.’ Smashing a moth between one’s hands while clapping can be quite an exquisite thrill. Let’s paint the town blue, so it’ll feel just like we do. Trusting the water to turn on, believing in the shrill squeaky blare of alarm clocks, knowing just how the microwave will hum, having faith in the traffic lights to stop cars, finding comfort in some numbers in a bank account, growing older, hating the wind, just being happy enough to get by. I gauge the way the wind blows by the heartbreak left in the dirty dishes piled like junked cars in the sink. Cordiality was the cause of her worst traffic accident. Drinking Brandy Alexanders and swaying her hips and smoking menthol cigarettes, the out-of-work sales clerk batted her eyes at the well-dressed Hungarian. Make God an offer he can’t refuse. Bending over backwards is not the best way to get what you want from somebody, especially if they’re drunk. The firemen were all singing San Antonio Rose as they slid down the fire pole the night of the great 48th Street fire. On the road, far away from anything that mattered, all alone, in a cheap hotel room off Highway 99, with only a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of sweet vermouth, the night club bouncer found a place to fall apart. I am stuck, in some regard, in a sticky situation, involving an indecent amount of waiting around doing nothing at all. The smell of a stranger’s cigarette hitching a ride on the wind was making me nostalgic for things I couldn’t quite remember. I know when you’ve got worries all the noise and the hurry seems to help, but downtown isn’t always waiting for me. The lamplight was smudged like a thumbprint on my window by the mist. I pray for an earthquake, or for just anything exciting to happen. Mostly, you, just, make, me, mad. The smell of dust burning in the heater when it was turned on for the first time at the beginning of winter was something none of us kids would ever forget. I talk too much. The world is neither as big or as small as you think it is. Questions are out of the question at this point. What? In the end, no matter what either side thought, it was the umpire’s call, and even if he didn’t see the runner’s foot sneak in under the catcher’s tag, it didn’t matter, the fucker was out. Making an excited anticipatory gesture with his free hand, the coroner marveled at the cracked jaw line of the recently deceased taxidermist. The clouds were hanging around like laundry clothespinned to the sky, and the wind was doing all kinds of funny things with them, like turning them into torn bits of paper, scraps of something bigger than anything the sky could ever dream of anyway. Paying rent, tipping well, dining alone, having it out with the television, haunted and hunted and hurt by indecipherable nightmares, gathering up toenail clippings, inventing new ways to walk, not smoking, not drinking, not living well, ordering takeout Chinese food late at night, memorizing lines from Fletch, boiling water, texting the moon. A mass of tangled video cables and other various auxiliary wires were what tripped the 87-year-old retired parking lot attendant as he was scrounging around for cigarettes in his one-bedroom walkup, and he went tumbling to the floor, hitting his head on the corner of his mahogany cabinet just before everything finally went black for good. John Updike’s short story “A&P” was something she read over and over that year when she was 19 and spending the summer in a small Ohio town living with her estranged father and working at a convenience store. The times are always a changing. Wolfing down his breakfast was one of the things Chester Carlton was known for. I am more desperate than I appear. After his company got bought out by a multinational corporation, the man with a long chestnut beard and azure eyes laughed quietly to himself because for some inexplicable reason he had whispered the word, “nifty,” as he hung up the phone. The waiting in line for the free meal at the shelter was the hardest part of being down and out. Do blind people like silence any more than people who can see? The flies fly in fast tight circles around my head as I sit and stare into the guts of a freshly cut grapefruit. It’s been years since I opened a window in this apartment. Climbing hills was something the telemarketer prided herself on being good at, even though she often pretended to be struggling with asthma. Wooing is not called wooing anymore, but it is still done, in all kinds of ways, or maybe, sort of, like say when somebody might be missing somebody else a little more than a lot. Elsie is tired of going crazy. Entering from the backdoor, behind where the mistletoe was, the diminutive physics professor tried to not be noticed and hoped to just blend in with the crowd at the department’s Christmas party. Trying not to spread myself too thin is something which is constantly occupying my mind. Due to certain payroll restrictions, all in complete regulation with the laws regarding such things, a minute amount of the caretaker’s salary was deducted and put into a “safety net” account which he only had access to if his terms of employment were canceled for reasons out of his control and having nothing to do with his job performance. The record producer was looking for something more anthemic from the pop quartet, like Simple Minds or something. I must be better off now than I was then, whenever then was, ago, let’s just say ago, before, that’s what it was. Reading the emergency evacuation signs on the wall of the BART train passed a lot of time during the commute for the architect when he didn’t know where to look. In search of richer and more fulfilling experiences the kindergarten teacher quit his job and bought a plane ticket for Thailand. Quid pro quo destroys more men than natural selection. Touching saliva with your fingers is rarely a good experience. When the stores are all closed, the lips are all unkissed, the grapes are all sour, the beans are all spilt, the grooms are all swept away, the entryway to to-morrow is blocked off by yesterday’s gunk, the soup kitchen is on fire, the wisteria is weeping, the owls have all been sold off to the highest bidder, the stamps are all licked, the wit is all out of stock, and Seals & Crofts are playing an acoustic set at a small cafe off Mission Street. Something walked into that room, but it sure wasn’t love. West of great, north of nothing, south of an oil spill, east of Easter, right smack dab in the middle of whatever is passing for holy these days, the strict grammarian found solace in an adjectival clause. An elephant could not fit into my pajamas. I stuck out like a dick at a funeral in the high-end department store’s jewelry section. Masonry was attempted, but all efforts at any kind of a barricade were thwarted by the Wal-Mart security guards. The lady at the liquor store always remembers my name even though I keep forgetting hers. Good haircuts never last long enough. The city wouldn’t hold him anymore and he thought of the skyscrapers as being hideous soot-stained monsters, their lit windows like carious teeth, and he’d lost a girl recently, maybe never really found her in the first place, but he was suffering, unjustly, bringing it all upon himself, as was his wont, and the city was an angry beast clawing at him, making him welter and cringe under its onslaught of pesky neon and insalubrious intent, so he decided to make a run for it, but he only got as far as the beer bar down the street where he played the jukebox and drank away what was left of his meager sadness and discontent until the shadows that had been hanging around him for way too long finally disappeared for a bit. “Fascinating” was not the first word that came to my head when I heard the rhythm of the cable cars fumbling along like ruined Cadillacs crawling up the hill. Glazed by the rain, yes, just like that, the wheelchair shone like a polished statue out in the open field. A keyboardist was playing the blues as the rain soaked the audience, and while this was happening the dentist, who was in the audience and sitting on a wooden plank bleacher seat next to his wife, thought of the word “blue” in a way he had never thought of it before, and it made him smile. Nothing is going my way. When the world is tilting like a pinball machine, when your head is too, when the only thing that’s keeping your woebegone soul afloat is the sound of the jackhammers tearing apart the street, when the holes you are digging are big enough to fit an army, when the wind sounds like a hundred machine guns firing at you, when you’re brewing coffee at midnight, when all the bars are closed, when your wishes are nothing but a thousand dead cigars, when the ground is cold, when the moon is gone, when hurt won’t go, when the days fall all over the floor like a dropped deck of cards, when the champagne bottles are all empty, when the buses are all going the other way, when what happens in your head stays in your head. Tell my friends that I’m doing just fine.