Saturday, December 18, 2010

people with high hair who talk a lot

x: I just get so annihilated by the suffering of others.

o: Like a scalpel for your emotions.

x: If you’d say that kind of thing and think it to be true then…

o: Oh. Well that does say a whole lot more about the sayer than it does…

x: Lord it over yourself, why don’t you?

o: Pussy.

x: Hard-on.

o: What the fuck? And you’re going to sit there and tell me that you have this over-active empathic capacity, and you’re going to sit there and say shit like that?

x: I could stand and say it.

o: Ah, go twist a nutsac.

x: Please. You can do better than that.

o: Would it were that I could, but, alas, my hindside is blind.

x: Shit. So. What I was a saying…

o: Or more like what you meant.

x: Is that there’s no real reason for me to be so, well, overwhelmed by this hurt I see going on in other people. Well, except that I want maybe to have somebody else feel that way for me if I were in their situation.

o: A morsel of harm does a body good every now and then.

x: But it’s not really driven by selfishness.

o: Really? That sounds like a butt plug for pity.

x: No. It’s more like a condom for tears.

o: Not bad. It’s like you don’t want the mess, or…no. It’s more like you don’t want the consequences of your, or their, suffering to like ejaculate all over you. But it saps you nonetheless, perhaps more so because there’s not the same release. It’s almost fake. And then you tie up the soiled rubber and toss it away.

x: Away. That’s just it. It’s maybe sort of a purity issue. Keeping my soul as clean as possible.

o: Your soul? No. More like a crusty rag for the finished product of your baser instincts having the rule of the roost.

x: Maybe it’s embarrassing. Like I don’t want others to see the real me.

o: Ah. Well. Let’s not go that far. You’re doing fine treading water where you are. Keep at it.

x: Genital wart.

o: Dick cramp.

x: Ah fuck. Anyway. People go into convulsions. I’ve seen it. And I’m not talking physical pain.

o: Of course.

x: That’s a different ballpark.

o: A-whole-nother cup of piss.

x: I’m talking about emotional pain, manic grips of depression wielding insanity as a hammer.

o: Who’s got the sickle?

x: Oh, the tortured physics of understanding. How much must be taken before we learn to give?

o: I’m going to pinch this loaf pre-sphincter.

x: Be my guest.

o: People hold a lot of stuff in, right?

x: Sure, but that’s not…

o: Hold on. Now. I’m going to veer here.

x: Go swerve on ahead.

o: It’s the whole that-person-in-the-picture-is-not-me thing. Though it is you in the picture. And you know this. But you don’t want it to be. It’s not the person who you think that you are, who you want to be when others look. And it freaks you out. It makes you question the very nature of your existence.

x: And a bible to the head could knock some sense into the creepiest among us.

o: I once was lost but now I’m found. But there before the grace of blah, blah, blah go I. Yeah. I know. All that crap.

x: It’s the steps you take to get where you end up, right?

o: I don’t know about that. To tell you the truth, it sounds like a load a manure to me right now. But it might pass.

x: And then you find yourself in line at the grocery store, wondering why they can’t change the express-line sign to read, “Ten items or fewer.”

o: Something like that.

x: A best-side-facing-the-world-at-all-times thing. A minor kink in the operations of expressing your personality, of gaining access to special moments of rapport.

o: Something to live for, right? Or would that be creating things to make your life seem like it’s worth living.

x: Is there really a difference?

o: I don’t know. Really. I don’t. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Is seeing really always believing?

x: My default mode of thinking keeps getting set to the same things. Hell, and I’m stuck with screen-saver sensibilities.

o: It’s like we’re defining ourselves more and more by the things we like. Who we are is what we like, or more importantly, what we own, or, um, that is, I guess, what we import into our lives. We’re turning into a bunch of spoiled kids who are addicts of instant gratification. Gimme, gimme this. Gimme, gimme that. Gimme it all, and gimme it all right now.

x: Gershwin slimmed down to an airplane commercial. Jabba The Hut reciting Milton. Outdoor space heaters.

o: And we get all the news we need from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

x: There’s a flattering going on. An urge beat into us, something that is constantly trying to persuade us to attempt to satisfy our desires, to want without end, to drink and eat and laugh and play video games and watch the latest big-budget Hollywood movie and to, above all else, spend money on things that we’re taught to need. We’re instilled with a poison-ivy-itch hankering to consume, to be impatient and greedy, to pay with the dollar-sign-hued hours of our days for this priceless gift of existence.

o: And all you’re left with is this life you’ve built from pop songs and loud TV commercials and WiFi tendencies and logos of professional sports teams and the immediate, though extremely ephemeral, satisfaction of texting.

x: Emptiness. Unquenchable desires. And only an escalating debt inflating all the time in the ruins of your spiritual bank account. A job that leaves you dead to the world, exhausted, barely able to push the buttons of your remote control, eat some corndogs, and cachinnate like a Tickle Me Elmo doll while plopped bloated and weary on your couch.

o: O’ beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain!

x: So where does that leave us?

o: Thumb wrestling our way through the cosmos.

x: Shouldn’t I have more to show for myself than a handful of gripes about other people and their problems?

o: Maybe you know it is o’ so possible. Brother, by the way, could you, uh, maybe, perhaps, spare a dime or two?

x: Just being appreciated. That’s what most of my emotional trunk of levied hurt comes down to. That wanting to feel important to somebody else. And somebody with whom to appreciate this distinctly short wonderful thing called being alive. I’m not thorning from the sidelines much these days. You know. You know. You know. Lap it up and let the moonlight wane on away.

o: And you’ve got to ask yourself if it’s merely self-serving, this love you keep forking over.

x: Getting fucked over for.

o: Or fucking over somebody else. If you can tell the difference.

x: Reading bodies and predicting the past.

o: Fall maundering to the ground and ghost the roots of your passivity with chummy sucks of face.

x: Vested interest comes and goes. We pocket what’s left of our heart and move on and move on and move on and move on and move on and move on and move on and move on and move on.

o: A manifesto for evading whatever it is that’s been put in us by nature. A call to arms for the ass scratchers and the mouth breathers and the leg humpers and the condiment lovers and those who’d rather spell words than watch TV.

x: Well clear cut my forest and mistake my mountains for spider bites.

o: It’s never enough.

x: What is?

o: Everything. Nothing. It’s never enough. You just keep wanting more and more and more.

x: Love decks itself out with airbrushed delusions, and we wait and ship off for the ruinous smoldering shores of carpe diem satisfaction.

o: Horace is still quite hip among the heathens I take it.

x: Odes and Epodes, motherfucker.

o: There’s no substitute for lunching with passionate dos-à-dosers. An eclogue raspberries to obscenity. Violence bojangles to freedom. Hear my lust roar!

x: Can it. I’m hullaballoing until the cows croak for dragon-tail snacks.

o: Materializing as a look-the-other-way kind of guy.

x: Fly down into the hard-back chair of your life and kick.

o: Who wants to see the way they are seen?

x: You rise from the plain astral plane of your thoughts to new dimensions of decoding the chaos you believe to be the world around you.

o: A ruche of distilled memories taking root in the briar patch of your hindsight’s sunglasses-tinted retrospective. Tread or be trod on. I guess.

x: That man in the picture.

o: Yes.

x: That stranger who others mistake for being me.

o: He straggles about in your clothes.

x: He puts on my face and wears my hair.

o: There is no you in him.

x: No me to be.

o: Just an imposter who serves as some kind of margrave seeking resources to feed his troops.

x: Pestering me with indifference. Gandering the unanimous night. Nobody knows his name like mine but something the whole tipped-over rent-apart flushed-toilet of wiped-cleaned forgiveness in just-for-you don’t-look-backs follows and follows, and we are born into things too.

o: How many yous can you be at once?

x: Never enough. And still the traffic lights clack up to red, lined up and flashing as they jog away by the ocean in the deep air-sadness of it all. Lately I’ve been noticing the limning that goes unsaid in the amphetamine nightmares of hilltop gazing. The breaks in the yellow-orange decadence, the wounded lines scratching through black-boned swaths of mangled tree and concrete. Mist chugging through in the clumpy cough of fog’s junked lungs over the ocean’s forgone disappearing longing. There’s nothing except everything wrong with me.

o: Empathy swears off bathos and dons a red rubber clown nose.

x: I can’t offer succor to every fucking asshole screaming her way through the chains of being a person alive in the world.

o: You can be you.

x: Ass dimple.

o: Butter fart.

x: Punching through the surface of small talk, of chatter, of burping wit, of dinner conversation, of we-need-to-talk seriousness, to get to the bloody pulp of being singularly you in the plurals of made-up selves.

o: We’ve got to get down to the white, fibrillose ballerina socks of the thing.

x: Fuck it. I’m learning sign language.

o: Yes. We strive for new endeavors of self-expression.

x: I’m growing a mustache. I’m shaving my head. I will give ear to a cut toenail’s final plea.

o: Ten thousand. Ten thousand and one. Ten thousand and…

x: Guns drawn. Hair slicked back with motor oil. Couples getting married. Why not? Why? Why not? Why? Why not?

o: Short pleadings for attention scribbled on tiny scraps of paper tossed towards a trashcan. Balled up. Gone. Still here. Gone.

x: If I could climb inside of your suffering and build myself a fire to keep you warm. If I could cry your tears for you. If I could fight Sonny Liston on the moon.

o: Help me Geraldine! Help me Geraldine!

x: Somebody else always running to your side or running for cover. It’s a gaff to support the woebegone sails of trying to be everything that you are not.

o: And me here all vaccinated against courage. You thriftily spend through the dollars of your days.

x: I tell stuff. I says, ‘I’ve got sleep in my eyes for you,’ to some curdled-milk mouth of a dame. Cat hair all over my clothes. Frozen toes.

o: The mustard’s on the sandwich. The syrup’s in the coffee. The rubber bands are on the wrist. The hotels are all out of vacancy. The best of who we are is only streamed at the speed of the sound of loneliness. Nail a sign to your door that reads, “My heart is not my own.”

x: Got it. Stop twisting my titties about it. Seriously. I got it down pat.

o: By rote. By rote. That’s all. You learn it but you don’t know it on the inside. You just taste it. You don’t digest it.

x: Pacing myself. Keeping the ship afloat for my personal time being.

o: Not anybody else’s?

x: Hope not. Hope not. Hope not. Hope not. Hope not. Hope not.

o: Me too.

x: Do you believe in sanity?

o: Something more.

x: Just suppressed anxiety maybe.

o: Something less.

x: We’ve got more filling. We’ve got tastes like pie.

o: Starts out in all directions, perhaps, or maybe, like a new moon, like shushes chowdering the night, like hassle-free checking, like fallow periods for crop plots, like bloody gums, like the way cars blush in traffic.

x: Where does it end?

o: Warmly.

x: Where?

o: Distinctly when the maple leaves are falling, falling.

x: In the hopes of recovering a surface tension that was lost in the sad closeness of rubbed-the-wrong-way yesterdays.

o: Of course.

x: Yep.

o: The coloring doesn’t go away, does it?

x: It might not. It’ll change, swirl around a bit, pop up for air, deal a Kansas City to your misery, hopscotch over your heart. What is much less if it’s not going to be more eventually? Bad habits add up, and we’ve got bowling shoes horseshoed on our lonely feet to dance away the blues with.

o: A sneeze of gold dust?

x: If not then likely something particularly similar, in the way that disparate things can often times be found to be oddly related.

o: A pedestal to stare from. To feel better about being you. To grunt up hysteria and fool passivity into being humble and never grumbling.

x: A frigate to laugh at the turbid waters of your life from.

o: Hoisted and balled-out. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Must we always make only muck from our missteps?

x: Probably.

o: Fuck.

x: Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh….well.

o: I want to reach out my window with an arm longer than an oarfish, and I want to nab an oranged greeny sheen-slick slippery maroonish leaf from the drooping wiry branches of the tree out there, outside my window I want to sail like a chucked goldfish into the street-slapping rain, I want to extend a hand to the bullion-skinned clouds, and if I draw back in fear let the lasting imprint of my summery seduction leave itself alone, at last, and then, let me reach outside, let me blunder, all the cities of me, let me fail to see what’s right there, let me join a chancy traveling sideshow speaking badinage and wearing horse-mane scarves, let me run to other skins, let the roof hold me, let me, let me, let me, let me, let go.

x: Oh.

o: Oh?

x: See?

o: Never. Never.

x: Dependent on others for the thoughts they keep you in.

o: On the thoughts of others. Sometimes, late at night, I lie in bed, wide awake, making faces out of the darkness, and I want to talk to all of my old friends whom I don’t talk to anymore. I want to be connected, to be enmeshed in the lives of others, to have somebody else care that I exist, to fit into the mechanics of their schedule somewhere, to have a place to do my living in that coincides with where others are doing theirs.

x: Likely it’ll end in Missouri.

o: Like Kansas-City eyes?

x: Almost. Eyes are hard to tell.

o: If there were a storm to tremble the spell from your…

x: Stop it.

o: Now, lord, now here’s a needy time. Jesus why don’t you come by here? Don’t stay long on your knees and pray. Come on by here, come on Jesus won’t you come by here? Don’t stay long. Don’t stay too long lord. Jesus. Lord. Why don’t you come on by here?

x: Keep it up.

o: Parlor talk. Staircase stuff.

x: That need be enough in this case it’s general and we’re speaking troves of pampasy-clear shrugging like indoor wilderness almost.

o: Impersonal. Needy.

x: Galvanized with personable automobiling.

o: Lie down on your bed in the middle of the day and turn all the lights off and turn your phone off and unplug your TV and your stereo and think about who it is you really are when it comes down to it and ponder if that’s who you want to be.

x: Been here. Done this.

o: Check out the ass-cheek flapping on this guy.

x: Go percolate a jar of shit.

o: Sure. Sure. Sure. I guess bliss is not for everybody.

x: Seems like I hear somebody calling, calling, calling, calling. But are they calling me?

o: Not by name. A prominent custom though it is, still, the lottery will take you by number. And that’s not your dollar. There’s a you who license-plates your corporeal shape with letters signifying personhood, this self that is a calligraphic assertion of what this specific entity bearing witness to the world is. A form you take. Hats on a cotton roof. A rustling of leaves. And then, after nobody’s noticed, drooping home to peter out in the shallows.

x: Older than old times.

o: Similar to new times.

x: Just like it, almost.

o: Let me blink and forget about my self for a while.

x: Please. Do the rest of us a favor.

o: I’m like a sorcerer who unwittingly constructs a labyrinth that he can’t escape from, and therefore is doomed to wander within its solitary confines forever.

x: Playing nice with the history of your past. Talking so all the time.

o: So?

x: What’s missing is the retention. It’s like the powder of your experiences is passing through a sieve that catches nothing except empty air in its screen.

o: Bored empathy rears its miscalculating head. Emotional contagion spreading like a smallpox epidemic. Take care of yourself. The rest will follow.

x: Dine alone.

o: Sure, because if there’s a library, and if that library is a universe of multi-leveled hungers, well, my appetite is pathologically strained and full. The tiered nature, whether Platonic or Aristolian, of stacked-plate platitudes will give all-you-can-eat lunches to the more Machiavellian natured among us. And if the news is breaking, and if the bomb’s interminable infinite nature is not my own, is there something wrong? Yes. So wrong. So motherfucking wrong. Something that plows through the current of centuries and leafs through books of days and gets lost in the simulacra-saturated fussy gestures of a generation’s download aptitude. An artist’s rendering of fatty foods.

x: My friends will surround me with the things I need to survive. I will drift in their current. Is that carelessly getting carried away?

o: With care. Always, remember, with care.

x: Being a person can be difficult, can it not?

o: It’s rough stuff sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

from "slightly altered or drawn-out famous moments in history"

Clapton fell in love rather quick with George Harrison’s wife. Pattie Boyd was quite the looker. It was hard for Clapton. His good friend’s wife. But Clapton was uncredited on the Beatles’ White Album, so that was kind of fucked up. But still, Clapton’s jealousy probably should’ve been kept in his lips. His pining not lost on anyone. Not subtle at all. Wished his friend dead, or more like just out of the picture…no. Not that at all. He could lip sync his love to anybody. Got stuck in some fable about a prince or somebody being given away to somebody else who was unworthy of her company. Turned his pain to the proverbial drawing board of music. Chastened? Perhaps. A lost notation of what not to do with what’s left of his passion. Adultery swinging like an axe through his mindset, which was set on stun anyway, for the time being, whatever time having to do with love at all completely beyond him of course. What did it matter how long? A few months? That could be an eternity if he were by her side. Only a night to stay and hold and be held. That would be more than enough. But Georgie boy was in the way, no longer a moptop, just some longish-haired dude with a mustache who could’ve been a car salesman for whatever it was worth. No longer did it matter. Clapton’s love would throw more shadows on the walls of sorrow. Clapton would play his guitar until it wept. Not like him. Not like him at all. But what could he do? Just move around and on and over. Over? Maybe. Some day. But he was really starting to doubt it rather big time. A movement, one of the lesser known ones as far as movements go, crammed into his head, and he rattled off some scrappy lyrics and tugged and tied them together with some scratchy riffing and some plucky licks. Got himself some dominoes and rechristened himself to go along with them. He dealt himself a stacked deck. Without warning or sign from god this thing came on and wrecked him, his guts all knotted and his head crunched with unrequited longing. He didn’t want to hurt anybody, but he himself was already hurt pretty bad. Clapton was a mess. He played his guitar and dreamed of Pattie’s eyes. Kept his wishes that it wouldn’t last to himself. But really she did have him on his knees, doing a lot of begging please and all the likes. Probably Clapton wasn’t sleeping well. Maybe he drowned his going-nowhere ideas of romance in alcohol and flushed them up and out with cocaine. What was right wasn’t what was whating the whatever of what mattered to the what muttering, “what, what, what,” in his heart. Clapton was in a lonely place. Everything else going on in the world seemed insignificant. He couldn’t sleep. He lay awake at night and made up stories about his life, about he and Pattie making a life together, just them two. It soon transmogrified into all he wanted to do. Sweetly begging off today for tomorrow’s sourest notes. It was no way for a guitarist to be behaving. Time was something just to push his way through, to get over with, or to have to dreamily look forward to. The now he had wasn’t worth having. All we wanted was a then that never came. It sucked. Clapton played his song for Pattie. It got pretty popular. People thought it rocked. Harrison had no comment. He had Pattie. He’d made All Things Must Pass. What the hell did he care about some cry-me-a-river up-and-comer trying to get all smoochy with his lady? Not that Clapton was getting too pretty with his miss, but still, he must’ve been at least slightly enraged at this encroachment upon the attention of his inamorata. Clapton played his guitar. Clapton cried himself to sleep, fists clenched, screaming, “Layla!” at his ceiling fan. It wasn’t pleasant for anybody, especially his neighbors. But there was nothing to be done. You don’t get to choose whom you fall in love with. You just meet somebody, you fall in love, and then that’s it.


Jones Very just showed up at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s door one day. It was raining. Jones was drenched. His clothes were covered in mud. He’d been thrashing around in the forest, tumbling in the flowers, talking to trees and squirrels, like he was St. Francis of Assisi or something. Emerson liked him immediately and invited him in, soiled, wet clothes and all. They talked about Hamlet for a bit, both agreeing that the poor prince was merely feigning to feign madness, which made him quite mad, and a hero too. Jones told Ralph that Christ was speaking through him quite often these days. The second coming was here, and Jones was it, kindly donating his body as a vessel for good old JC to speak through. He showed him some sonnets he’d written while under the influence. Ralph thought them badly written, and told him that the holy spirit could do with some grammar and spelling lessons. But while in an ecstatic revelry, well, really, who could possibly concentrate on such mundane things? It was a ghost surging through his veins, and when it spoke to him he had no choice but to listen. Ralph made them some tea. He then proceeded to whine about how much he was at the mercy of the disturbances of daily life, and they spoke of the meteorology of thought, acute loneliness and the paradoxical need for solitude, and about how life was at bottom only flux, transition, and undulation. Jones wasn’t reticent in the least, and told Ralph that maybe they should flee to the mountains for a spell. Ralph guffawed, drank some tea, told him that everyone was dying of miscellany these days, and invited Jones to a meeting of his Transcendental Club. He even offered to print some of Jones’ poems in his tidy, little magazine called The Dial. They were both very excited about the divine nature and mystical prospects of this serendipitous encounter. Ralph told Jones about his recalcitrant, garrulous friend Henry David Thoreau, whom he thought would get along splendidly with this wild, crazed fellow who was born out-of-wedlock to a couple of first cousins. They chatted about how life was all circles with no circumference, and how around every circle another one can be drawn, meaning that everything was without end, that it all just went on and on. Though the night was clawing and scratching at the hours, their small time together seemed essential and immortal. Jones stood on a chair and recited a few of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Ralph looked on, softly smiling, beaming with gratitude for this strange man’s special sort of madness. ‘My eyes are like raindrops,’ he thought. ‘I will not let the days carry their gifts silently away. Fuck it. Politeness was invented by wise men to keep fools at a distance. I will marry this fellow to the infinitely repellent orb of my ways.’ Ralph then also stood up on his chair. He screamed at Jones, “Alone is wisdom! Alone is happiness! Society only makes us all low-spirited and hopeless! Alone! Alone is heaven alone!” Jones looked down at his muddy shoes, his sopping and shredded clothes flecked with bits of fern, and he ran his hands through his disheveled hair, and softly said, “Mr. Emerson. I am the second coming of Christ. I am in the midst of going completely mad, but I, my good fellow, am not quite sure how to do so. Surely somebody else will speak for me, for I cannot.” The wind trilled. Rustling came and went. A mouse scampered by over creak mines in the floorboards. Nothing happened. They both sat back down and silently contemplated what it meant to be alive, to be this particular person who they happened to be at this particular juncture in time, and felt damn lucky to be living just then, no matter what the hell else was ever going to happen to them. Then they both retreated to separate rooms and fell asleep.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

fragment #33

The infant was at the door. The doorbell was broken. The thing was whimpering. The thing was soft and small. This thing we’d never beheld the likes of before. Now it was all ours. To be had with an urgent gifting, plump and labile. Trying to share something but it was hard to tell. It was alone and replete with geranium kisses. Rootlessly alive. There was this misbehaving nightlight. There were onyx eyes in a mug’s milk. The aftertaste of mood investigators clearing away the rubble of first times made alternatives to a one or a two. Spatially adept, teary, snotty, this infant folded through the origami of our affairs. Ramshackling and punted into the hurl of the atmosphere’s tendencies towards blue we hardlucked it and made it work. Do not give the baby chocolate. Do not warn me against calamity. Jot down my hunches. In the here and now the infant is not smelling so grand. This pyrrhic victory is starting to stink of defeat. Later the lollipops will sour, the potty-trained will lob skyward, the lucky will come down with a bad case of rheumatism. On this brave day we will all be chewing gum. After a letter arrived notifying us of pleasure and doom, we tracked down the infant’s missing rattle and insulated our cares with Saran wrap. Coupled with exercising our freewill over minor moments of panic, we had jobs that left us uninspired and in bad need of charged batteries. The infant sleeps and wakes and screams and sleeps and wakes and screams all of the night. Music comes in handy. Is there a ballistic missile of opportunity headed our way? Time will tell. For now we put peanut butter on our fingertips. Only once-daily doses will do. The infant is on the floor. The carpet’s thick with porridge. No new deal will thresh beyond the husking of what we’ve come to become. Maundering is our lot. Things are curtailed and growing, and things are hard. The cottonwoods, flushed with flowers straining from yellow to orange to blood-red before they flutter to their destiny, are brushed with wind while rushes sprout beneath, antlering their skinny way through the bonds of love and terrible footwear choices. The infant’s eyebrows gush squid ink. A moral is lost. Zeal sweeps away the tenets of love with snoopings and banana-skin pelts of looking-the-other-way. The infant, that thing that arrived at our door so innocently, that thing that is munching on the snackfood of our togetherness, that thing that is believable only in gasps of want in junked-car hysteria, that thing that speaks in louvered chants and knows not how to whisper, well, it seems the infant’s taken a shine to the porcelain of being on the lam. We don’t hold anybody responsible.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Homeliest Woman In Town

I’m nothing but a shit and piss factory. People come in and out of here, draining me of my sap, nudging my head towards the end of a rifle, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for them? Fuck that. That’s not what I was made for. What was I made for? Beats me. But one of the things I knows. And I knows it for sure. I knows it well. I wasn’t made for doling out pity to strangers. That much I do knows. So, now, well there’s this way I have about me though. Some might call it good old-fashioned generosity of spirit. That’d be okay by me. My footsteps ain’t so hard to follow in. Maybe I’d get clued into the happenings of whatever it was going on down the hall, you know, with those folks who just can’t keep it down. I could stay up all night. Sure. But that’s a matter of the circumstances being, well, downright accommodating, I guess. Nothing I'm spoiling to get all vexed over. Surely it’ll get to be going that I’ll be digging my own grave before long. I chew nails and spit rust at the ruder among us, but still I try to use that halt-who-goes-there strategy often enough for it to matter to the makings of this here personality. There was a day before when I wasn’t so damn evaporated and lacking motivation for making things happen in this here life I lead. Can’t rightly remember it exactly, but I knows it was there. I knows it because I lived it, and living it was all there was to do then. I managed without disco balls and high-wire shit. Sorry for all the rambling. I’ll make it back to the bar at some point. Back to the bar. Let’s hobble back to the bar then. Buy me a drink and I’ll think it over. So. Let’s just us see. It was back when I was wearing those thick sideburns, you know, those muttonchops. I’m one hairy s.o.b anyway, and this just added to it. Would hang out with the top two buttons of my shirt undone and this thick mat of thick, scraggy hair straggling out like an ape unleashed. Late nights I’d spend there. Get kicked out most nights some time after last call. Some times carried out. Ah, that’s the way it goes. Get so soused that you blow your own candle out. Rotten-candy-apple reddish rolling along, you know? Atlas couldn’t a hefted me on some nights, let me tells you. Gorging on about my, you know, self-indulgent ways, that’s what was suiting me at the time. Staying dry was out of the question. So, I’m hunkering down for another night of whisky and cigarettes, and I’m sort of masquerading as a playboy too. Got my best suit on, double breasted. Feeling swanky for some reason. I don’t know. Sometimes it was just like that. Chase the blues away with some duding up. Every chance I got to run I took it. That was how it was then. Blabbering on and justifying my life with pretzels. Living one-shot-at-a-time. So, I’m stool-bound and hunting for something eventful. I wasn’t really convinced of my own mortality. Then there’s this chick thumping herself down next to me. I’m trying not to look. It’s just my way. Don’t want to be too obvious. But I sneak a few glances over, and there’s just this mass of wiry brown curls fuzzed out all over the place, and this snout hooked out from it like a beak almost. The breath was like bad salami. I decided to keep minding my own. Mockingbird wish me luck, you know? But there’s this break in the action. A time when life kind of just settles down and dims. I was fishing around for a smoke in my vest pocket. I knew there’d be one there. I’d always put one there before I went out just in case I forgot where my pack was or lost it or was just too lazy to go wondering about where it was. Her look was like palpable. That witch-like creature on the stool to my right, and I made it a point not to look her way or give her a sign that she was invited to this here party. I found the smoke and stumbled outside to smoke it. So, outside I was smoking and pondering over the sky going pink just before sunset, lighting up the clouds all salmon and rose. Don’t know why. Just get to thinking that way sometimes. And I was leaning against a telephone pole and just feeling nice and calm. Nobody was bothering me. This wouldn’t last. Of course. Somebody will always start bothering you, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, somebody will always come along and, without asking, destroy your peace of mind for you. That’s for sure. That don’t ever seem to change. Leaves you wiped out and alone in the end too. But that’s nothing to mind. So, I’m dragging out the smoke there, holding up the telephone pole, and I’m saxophoning my guts up to a tolerable level with fantasies of a life I’m too much of a wimp to actually start leading. It’s passing the time alright. So, this lucky lady of the Medusa curls is, unbeknownst to me, well on her way to cramming herself into my situation. At first it’s just a poke in my ribs. I don’t like it. But what’s a you to do? You know? This hideous lady is jabbing at me, and there’s no ignoring her. So I give her some attention. That’s all some people want in this world. Just a little attention to be paid to them. I gave her a nod. She was grinning like a lunatic. Something had to be done. Irking my way around, you know, I can be jerk too, but I didn’t want to try sarcasm on for size just then. Not yet at least. Not right away. I was in a playful mood I guess. That kind of windy feeling you get sometimes after a few beers, stepping outside, being nonchalant and at ease about your ways. People say things like moseying I guess. Moseying in your mind. Something like that. Any whose-it-or-lose-it way, I was pleasant, and we started chatting, after she bummed a smoke from me of course. There was something bovine about her mouth, like her teeth were too big for it, and her lips seemed to be pulled really tight across, almost like they were going to split if she weren’t careful about her smiling technique. And her ears. They were chewed pepperoni jutting out antennae-like from her hair’s brown stringy tangles. It was like they had a life of their own. Very strange. I couldn’t help staring. I’m quite the ogler any how, but this chick was hard not to look at, though I’d been doing such a fantastic job in the bar, but it was dark in there and, well, whatever. It’s just that way sometimes. Once you start it gets to be addictive, like the more you see the more you want to keep looking. The sharp horrible red veins like cuts in her eyeballs, the gnarled flaking skin all pustuled like Braille on her cheeks, eyebrows that seemed like they might wake up and crawl away any minute. It was ghastly but somehow enjoyable to keep checking out. Was I charmed? I don’t know. Caught in a spell. Warped. Something. Or maybe just groping through shit-stained weather and hoping to renovate my attitude towards strangers in general. Enough said, you know? I kept thinking about that song Chelsea Hotel. Just popped in and looted my best intentions, or worst for that matter. Running for the money and the flesh, and that was called love for the workers in song, and all that, etcetera, etcetera, and all of that jiving around. The chick’s got her sights set on plunder, and she’s asking me about personality disorders and the comfort of long train rides in the rain, the way the drops splatter and stick and drip down the windows. I’m not sure how to respond to anything. The sky’s mending bluebells, and it’s all harps with broken strings and puttered out grain-of-sand mindsets from there on out. I wasn’t too cranky, and we conversed, and I was light and bantery, and she was hoarse and done-in. There wasn’t much left in the way of coppered sunsets and the missing letters of dead movie marquees. Let’s move a rain cloud on over here, huh? But there was a certain doting way she had of dealing with my presence. I’ve got to admit. I was eating it up. I usually do when confronted with stuff like that. It helps my self-esteem out something remarkable. So I let her go on and on, and it’s nothing. It’s not a beveled edge at all. We joke and get along. Sometimes, well, what else is there? Once you’ve got that. Like singing to crickets. And this gruesome female is wrecking some havoc with my vision. I can’t help but be drawn by this certain terror clapping behind the theater of her eyes. Some specious lurk packing on the pounds in my baser instincts. A seeing that is pleased by being seen. So, I flick my cigarette butt into the street, wink around a bit, and she flexes her way back into the bar with me. Nobody’s flipping a lid in there or anything like that, but there’s this stupor of weirdness axing through the remains of what I thought I’d left behind, perhaps in that bar, a long time ago, you know? Young enough at the time, I guess, to pull my dreary ass through the minefields of regret. Jesus. It’s all shit and piss with me. That’s my creed in these drafty times. Gotta rip this hairnet of inanition off my damn skull at some point, right? So we sit on barstools and we order drinks for each other. Music’s not happening. The dark’s taking over. And we light candles with some sort of lucid care. There’s more than nothing to say, but we don’t say it anyway. ‘Don’t go tipping over,’ I keep telling myself. ‘Don’t toss your cards all over the floor for her to pick up.’ Swearing wouldn’t do any good. I knew that. Fast to start and quicker to end. Just a lot of scenery to ambush. Booming crawls of cunning stepping from diving boards of clemency. ‘Tonight. Tonight,’ I think. ‘A poor border for synchronizing smiles. Come on. Get over your pleads for lasting.’ There was music enough in her name to make me dance. Go ahead. Laugh. See where it gets you. I care less and more all the time. Don’t mess with my kindness. I spurn all kinds of opportunities. Just get the basics back to additional means to fuck over what’s just a substitute for peripheral sappiness. Don’t get me finished. So of course I’m not berating her or any of the things like that, you know, for being doe eyed or earnestly disposed or ironically challenged or having that face-smashed-into-concrete look about her. Most of our interacting-type behavior was modified by restraint and hesitation. The levers cranked in our favor, and some light sprinkling rain slicked the streets, and the moon had a rakishly angled trilby atop its bald pate. It wasn’t anything to get weepy about. I run on beer and popcorn most nights. Rest assured, my motivation was not hampered by baser patty-cake instincts or pop-goes-the-weasel sensibilities. I mean, shit, there was a string quartet playing Born To Run in my head. Get it straight. Light the top of my x-mas tree and run for cover. It’s not red, white, or blue in here. It’s mostly gray and royal blue. Nobody understands you when you’re scarred and routed. But there at the bar, back at the bar, well, there’s plenty to go on about, to soak up and enliven your personality with, to suppose with unknown prefixes of habit, to yank and yearn, to understate and munch on about. Tips were not included. You know how that goes. Every low-life needling intimation in the world coming for the lunch special in your soul. Getting a grip? Maybe I was fond of the notion. But mostly with me, as you know, it’s just shit and piss, shit and piss. That’s how it mostly goes. What’s you going to do? Huh? What? Shit and piss. Like a tapping at my stall door. Only this. Merely this, and nothing more. Any what’s-in-a-name way, I planted a bug in the deceptions of whatever the hell I was going to do for my next move. It wasn’t anything plop-heavy. It was a name-dropping urge at best. Beats the dick out of me what was churning cheap-like around in that rugged female specimen’s soupy demeanor. Dinner was not served. Dessert was not on the way. The bartender was having none of our leftovers. Damn it all. Get me to a bathroom. Why would I be a shitter of assumptions? No ways I knows. I just don’t. And nothing was weird at all. Let there be light, you know? And all that. And all that. And all that too.

now it's borodin...

Plath did it with gas

at 4:30 in the morning

what a time to go

just after the soul’s night is darkest

sealed the doors to her kids’ room with wet blankets

placed her head in the oven

what a way to go

her last breath oxygen-less

kneeling down on the kitchen tile

not hysterical at all

probably as calm and determined as she’d ever been

maybe delusioned into expecting breakfast

or dreaming of bumblebees on Johnson Avenue

while the trash trucks hummed and sighed outside

shards of gobbledygook and palindromic names threshing her memories

no longer crawling underneath houses to drown in sleeping pills

a more direct approach that doesn’t cry for help

or hurt


Hemmingway ended it with a twelve-gauge

a felo-de-se just like his old man

put a bullet through his head with his favorite shotgun

in Ketchum, Idaho

nowhere left to run

some say a rope will snap quicker what’s left of you

not so

not so

the noose might fail

or a beam might break

leaving complications of the senses

or bewildered drooling

I knew a guy who tried 4 stories

but gravity let him down

so he went up to thirteen

a popular number for jumpers

the sirens sang him away in roughly 15 minutes

there will always be mothballs in the brain

a spate of rash decisions

that won’t make it far enough

to try keeping on for size

some say pentobarbital will do the job

but take too much and you’ll sick it all up

too little and you’ll linger around like rotten cabbage

leap into fire

get dashed by flames


there are gray jays pleading in the basement

and the water’s too cold for the mess of a drowning

besides suddenness might come on too slow

as taking cues from Spalding Gray or Hart Crane

is not for those of the wavering or timid sort

knew a kid who used a dead-end street as a drag strip

in his parent’s brand new Honda

thought the brick wall at the finish would do the job

crashed the thing through doing 70 and sailed it into a pool

but he was foiled by the car’s safety features

the airbag made sure he was laid up for 6 months

recovering his miserable self

one must be sure to be thorough

and fortify one’s spirit to be hasty and cocksure

at the end

when that gorgeous green window lifts

to reveal the hidden components of necessity

and you sip the tides from the lunatics and the bums

and the lawyers flash smiles like tossed gold pieces below your calloused feet

like bird feed

which was incurred during flush times of survival

while there were still a few horses left to bet on

while time marched instead of nose diving

one must respect the ones who are left behind

a mush of reminiscing

a curling spit of sun

charred descendents of other scars and fleshy misgivings

a respite is not enough


there is no training ground for hesitation

a white-winged dove will not swoop down to the rescue

and angels have more important matters to attend to

like saving whales and planting the seeds of next year’s harvest


don’t grow too fond of farewells

circles mend their own bends

even if darkness lowers the boom

perhaps a burial ground for the static-brained yawns of bored evenings might do

or a leper colony for jealousy

sometimes mercy will not strain

not even for a quality individual

like yourself

a girl who once lived upstairs

sliced her wrists both ways

and bled into bathwater

until the super came breaking in to see about a noise complaint

seems she’d been blasting the radio the whole while

the unfortunate bastard bandaged her up and called the paramedics

who arrived too early to save her

so she went on

until a bottle of tranquilizers found her stomach

and then a bottle of cheap vodka

which finally finished off what she’d never wanted to begin

her bed held her shape for almost a week

before they found her

lying there prone with hands outstretched

as if posing for a crucifixion

smiling at what she’d done

Wallace Carothers

the inventor of nylon

mixed his cyanide with lemon juice

in a cheap Philadelphia hotel room

to work the trick quicker

endurance and willpower

strength and hope

things to say on a string of petty days with nothing to be tied to

just one after the next

clomping along

in a business-as-usual clump

but somewhere

like a crane fly skimming frost flowers in January’s meanest

or a sky glutted with the bent-paperclip shapes of birds

a newfangled buffet car for the freshly dead is rumbling by

and there is no place to put the things one might miss

on a cold day at the end of November

no place that’ll hold what remains

and it is just this now

that matters

in whatever capacity we might have for imagining it

like eating an apple

or forgetting to close the garage door

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Predicament of Pepperidge Potts (excerpted from "Short-Lived Correspondences")

Hello my dear brother. You must be closing up shop for the night by now. Funny, that phrase, “closing up shop.” Makes me think of daffodils withering in a gully desiccated by drought. I’m not sure why.

I got a phone call last week from a man named Ron. He claimed some man named Demetrius told him I was looking for people to hand out fliers for my business. As you well know, I have no business. Well, other than the weekly humor column I write for the local paper. But, needless to say, I’d never imagined needing somebody to distribute leaflets extolling my virtues as a humorist. This Ron person was very insistent though, and said his name and phone number multiple times on my answering machine. I thought, ‘What the heck. I’ll give this guy a shot. Maybe he knows something I don’t.’

A few days later we met at a coffee shop. I was rather nervous, but was wearing tweed, which usually bodes well for my social interactions. You know how anxious I can get when meeting somebody for the first time. I’m always afraid of mistaken- identity situations as well. Remember when I killed the mailman because I thought he was dad coming home early from work to spy on me? But I digress.

There was no mistaking this Ron character. He’d told me he’d be wearing silver nylon stretch pants, and he was. My sigh of relief was noticeably dramatic. This Ron was very astute. He knew what a ziggurat was, and was well versed in all things riparian. I have no idea why this mattered in the least to somebody who was wanting to pass out flyers for a company, but it didn’t detract from my interest in him as a potential employee.

I asked him a few getting-to-know-you questions. His responses were adequate.

A point came in our conversation, just after my coffee was about half gone (his being already gone and refilled), when juxtaposition’s peppering pang, almost like rain pattering tin, became overwhelming. He dropped trou, in the midst of the coffee-shop crowd mind you, and screamed, “I am monstered with moans and sedentary chimes!” I hired him on the spot. Both of us were asked to leave, and did so with a security escort.

Some colluvium’s been gathering in my thoughts of late. I hesitate to call it detritus, though that is precisely what it might end up being. One thing: It matters less what we do in this life than with whom we do it. Obviously, grey fogs of confusion prevail. I make lists. I use less sugar. My cares like cats come crawling through the carpet’s crumbs and whine for water.

I don’t remember what mother used to call hamburgers. Was it greebers or gloobers?

Please write. I am desperate for attention. Send your regards. Mail me a poem or a rubber garden snake or some plastic green army men or a rental agreement for a timeshare in New Zealand. Anything will suffice.

Ron is doing well so far. He passes out fliers with my byline, some quotes showcasing my acerbic wit, quite a handsome headshot of me, and my business address on them. To the far corners of the city he treads, giving paper to passersby, chatting about my column, and giving credence to my better half: the funny one.

When we were young we read paperbacks. There were times though, if I recall accurately, when you chose magazines from the rack at the supermarket and snuck them into mother’s cart. What were those magazines? Time? Newsweek? Vanity Fair? I never asked you for some reason. I let you alone with your secret vice. Now I stay up nights and wonder about such things. Could it be that I am becoming soft?

It would surprise most people how melancholy a man who writes humor for a living is. I wear depression around like a cloche hat. Insomnia drives me mad, and makes my matins habits preposterous. After all, the rising sun is better to wake to than fall asleep to. I am not prince Hamlet, but might care to be would I could. For the time being I’d be satisfied if I could make coffee that didn’t leave me with a mouthful of wet grounds.

I gained a dishtowel at the Laundromat yesterday. Is this a sign of me having a good life? I hope so.

A new idea sprouted today: making t-shirts of classic literature book-jacket-cover illustrations. Just think! Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Journey To The End Of The Night, Groucho Marx’s letters. Wouldn’t it be grand? I think people in droves would buy them, and, I hope, wear them outdoors.

My Time In The Shower (TITS) is increasing of late. It’s gone from 11-12 minutes to almost 18. I’ve taken to bathing myself in long, luxurious swaths. I will try to cut down soon, but I foresee it being difficult, as I’ve become accustomed to this ablutionary indulgence. Do not fret my dear brother, for my attempt will be a valiant one.

I fear that I’ve lost the ability to have empathy for myself. This may have occurred between 3:13 pm and 3:17 pm last Wednesday. It is a small space in my life that I cannot recall.

Tell that wife of yours to remember me fondly. I beg you. As for me? Well, it has come to the point where Matilda yawns during the Love-Act. I believe this stems from her lack of enthusiasm for my chosen profession. She wondered aloud one rain-swept evening, “What’s the point in being alive if you’re just going to laugh your way through life?” I had no response. I rarely do.

The moon is goopy tonight. Sometimes I think it’ll get in my eye if I look too long.

Take care of Cid and Wilkie for me. Tell Tin-Pan Sam I say howdy. Will write again soon when I know more about my circumstances.


Hello again dear brother!

I was heartened much by your last letter. So compelling yet not overwrought. Thanks for the timely response.

As you advised I’ve been trying to get Ron to say what he means more often, instead of letting his inhibitions sway him into hording up his emotions. I tell him to say things like, “I need nourishment in the form of Nilla Wafers, damn it!” This strategy seems to be paying off already, as his flier-passing-out promotional skills are becoming finely honed. I don’t think he will be absquatulating any time soon.

Heavy clouds like dirty socks this week but only a smattering of sprinkled rain to show for it. Next week I will pray for sun.

So I bet you’re wondering how slick Ron’s becoming at being my numero uno proponent. Well, he’s prone to fits of lackluster fury, and gets teary eyed when his shoes come untied, but we’ve started making bets on when the various formicaries in the yard will implode. You know me; I’ve always been a sucker for the doings of ants. All in all I must say Mr. Ron is meeting all expectations quite well. He’s got strangers chanting my name underneath the huddled shacks of boredom. He makes shopgirls go glitter-eyed with doting woe over my funny lines. I think I’m going to keep the silly bastard around for a while.

Do you remember mother’s maiden name? It’s slipped from the dewy banks of my present tense.

Will write again as soon as is mammaly possible.


Oh woe is me my dear brother.

How I wish I could rinse the eyebrows of loss from my cerebral gutters. My business relationship with Ron is officially kaput. Do not worry over the prospect of a decapitation though. This time I kept it simple and clean. Very little blood loss.

Why have you not written since my last letter? Are family needs pressing you in to the jackhammers of sorrow? Do not leave me guessing. You know such things trouble my will.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Tell mother I have a cup of sugar for her, if she’s got the time.



It seems my life is only a chilled champagne flute, empty and awaiting champagne that never arrives. I wouldn’t recommend cranes that swing wrecking balls smashing in the walls of the past. It opens up too much. Too much for others to gander. It is too late for me. Save yourself. Get a cat. Make pasta from scratch. Wear robes and trounce the dust to death.

Is that avocado tree in the backyard of mother’s place still producing? How I dream of fresh avocadoes lately. Please, if you can muster up the brio, send a few of those old green boys along to me. It would lift my spirits some.

We’ve got nothing to lose. I am free enough. I pound the rats from the basement walls. Hot chocolate has gone out of style again, and spring has come too early. Look out for kites. Your hair, like mine, is still a delicate mess.

Maybe I’ll get cat. Their company can be vastly misunderstood, but I feel it is something I might come to know and cherish in time. For now there is sleep to catch up with before it dashes off into the unknowable again.

Don’t forget about the avocadoes.



What a delightful surprise to find a dozen ripe, not-too-soft, not-too-hard avocadoes on my doorstep! Just the tactile delight of their cratered skin sent shudders trembling throughout my being. I will rainy-day them for now, and tell Matilda to do with them as suits her. She is hard up for daily tasks around here. The whole of our life together is jaunting away on the fritz.

Success alludes me. Not that I seek fame in the form of worship, or rewards in the senseless parade of dollar signs. To be myself always, without fail, in whatever capacity that allows me to do that, in regards to the kinship of others, well, that would be fine by me. For now I am toiling away in obscurity’s tenebrific lair, with no flashlight.

Matilda jokes with me about the rotting, sweetly sour odor emanating from somewhere below our abode. She plays our answering machine in hopes of answers. I tell her that my voice is on fire, and to forward all messages to The Great Beyond. She yawns and fly-swats at the empty air.

Rumors abound. Police sirens chase their own dopplered sound. Being alive can be a tricky endeavor, but I am glad we get to have it at a contemporary time. My urine has begun to stink of cabbage.


Oh brother,

Once again I find myself skidding across the thin ice of the world. Also, there is something about the smell of my shower curtain that’s hauntingly reassuring. Another example of me crying wolf to myself? Perhaps. You know my furious miscalculations when it comes to self-examination. But I won’t bore you with freedom’s lost art. Unknown pharmaceuticals practice synchronized swimming routines in my bathtub. I vomit mothballs. Of course you of all people understand what I’m coming to. Let’s not drown the kittens just yet though. I believe there is more noodling to come over the next few nights, and somewhere a grazing lark will be traumatized by harsh disciplines of muted contentedness.

I fool nobody.

Kiss your wife’s forehead for me. Your arthritic whims are nothing new. And please note that I still have much bravado left to fill my mornings.


So, brother, here we find ourselves again: bemoaning participles, lengthening delays between after-dinner drinks. Your last letter (I almost wrote “late letter.” More apt? Perhaps.) filled me with mischievous doubts as to your whereabouts. While I perform these Flying-Wallenda acts in my mind, tripping over moldy tombstones of regret the whole while, you fasten purblind chance to run-away-with-me novelty. Can I clip the wind’s earhair? Can I rain?

God moves and retreats without harming anybody but herself. At least that’s what I’ve inferred from your letter. Are we not blood-clung? Are we not singing the same tune but in just a slightly different key? Of course, these questions don’t touch harmony. We have that. Of course, brother. Who can deny this?

Have you ever tasted my wife’s guacamole? It’s tangy sweet and delightful. I think you should.

Brother, there’s so much we never say. Half-a-night away we live in our own isolated darkness. Bend a river and the fool will swim the softest route. Let’s pound back at our bête noires for once. Give a name to our fears so we can rip ‘em a new one. That’s dad’s old talk. I know. But we can still get something from it, can’t we? Just a thoughtless suicide note if nothing else, right? It’s on the tip of my tongue.



Brother, brother, brother…

Where will I rest when I am living below the rising tide? Cooking is rare around here. I keep talking to myself, saying things like, “Come back.”

Directly, there are mules around the corner shaggy with greed. I am getting it straight, pulling the threads back together.

The Mrs. has gone missing.

So, redirect all of your mail. Sleep will no longer be necessary.

I miss the smell of cookies baking in mother’s kitchen. Soft chocolatechipmacadamianut swirls lifting pressedheads from concretebeds.

Brother. Let me bow my head, but not in shame, not in hopes of some irreconcilable redemption, but in honest kinship with the natural state of affairs. Remember, the person who you see is not always the person who you get. Let’s leave it at a handshake.



Do you whisper in the night, “It is raining. It is raining. There, there, now.”?

I often contemplate minutes not attaching to each other, each one separate from the last, each its own eternity, nothing connecting to the last thing.

By the way, spells don’t work. Conjuring just brings minds to an unsteady ease.

I have grown fond of concord grapes. Do they grow in mother’s yard still?

It is not lonely here at all.

I don’t believe in me



please help




Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sonata Epistaxis

I am in high spirits as I’ve just doused my brain with a boatload of caffeine, and now will relate to you in the most roundabout and senselessly obscure of ways, with myriad digressions and saliva-inducing moments, something that happened to me about four years ago, back when I could still drink whisky all night and not suffer horrible suicidal consequences the following morning. From the fucking shores of Tripoli, my friend. Ah. But it was not the first time I’d broken furniture. No. I’ve punched my fists through and kicked over my share of coffee tables and the likes. Buying brokenness? Hardly, hardly, hardly. It doesn’t take tulips in the glove compartment to drive the final nail in. It’s more of an accretion, of becoming unmoored to the rhythms and conditions of everyday life. My temper’s as short as you’d live shot into outer space with no spacesuit. Entropic concerns notwithstanding, well, plug, plug, plug. Ever the mind wanders, huh? Got a light? Ya, ya, ya, ya. Dank Cha. Muchos. So, there’s this only, well, once-in-a-…….decade? Maybe. Something more than less often than cockroaches die. So, then there’s this guy leaning against the railing on the balcony. He’s doing a great impression of a trapeze artist or something. This guy? Well, he seems like he’s about to go plummeting ass-over-weedwhacker to the floor. I don’t want this to happen, you know? Who would? I mean, I’m like you and me, and me and you, and all of us, and we all go in for the same types of dismantling gestures from time to time, right? Where there’s this feeling called loathe, and lisping doesn’t squirt mustard at the speed of light. Well, we all get down with the times in the now and now. And playing comeback is better from behind a windscreen. Cigarettes and my old lady. Yep. So, there’s this kink in the fixations of my wayward loopiness that’s catching me off guard here and there. But, be sure, I will continue. Oh. And let me tell you all about the bar. You know, it was one of those Thomas-Pynchon type places. They’re showing a subtitled 50’s sci-fi B-movie on a wall, and the bartenders are dressed like doofuses, and they’re slobs to boot. I’m pleased as a prince though. I’m trotting around and picking my boxers out of my ass without any self-consciousness at all. Surfers and boombox salesgirls in bandanas were wandering in and out. Purity had jet out of style. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, getting broadsided was imminent. A garage-band cover of Neil Diamond’s Solitary Man blasted. I couldn’t think of anyone who was having a birthday. I made haste for the potty station. Traffic of bodies in motion was crowding things up, and I was slithering through it all like a man in nothing but slippers and an overcoat, which is exactly what I was not wearing. In fact, if truth be known, I was duded up in golf-ball print Parachute Pants, a salmon-colored cowboy shirt with scared horses on the front, horn-rimmed sunglasses, brogued beige monk shoes, and a newspaper hat. Let’s all look at me folks. Look at me! Look at me! I’m weird. See? That kind of thing, you know? Any old how, let’s butter up some bacon and get this show on the go. Tempestuous gargling aside, I was trunking along a whole sheep herd of gewgaws and frown-weather inhibitions, so I wanted to, well, wake myself up a bit before I go-go’d. Playing catch-up with sleep is a battered slurping affair, and I showboated about it ‘til the band banged out the blues into reds and yellows, but the concoctions of better-off-dead weren’t wearing off so well, and, as if you really need to know, I was mustering up my pain threshold for the becomings of blotto. Grew up too slow. Got frazzled on the streets of Chicago for 11 days when it was doing nothing but rain. And now? Well, now I’m more afraid of trains than planes. That about sums it all up. Letter’s in the mail, you know, that kind of thing. So, I’m wailing on the inside, creeping along with duct tape covering up my wounds, and I dash off for a spell into the bathroom, where there’s running water, of course, and I make nice with the sink, and I rinse off my face and arms, ogle my features in the mirror, flat-out refuse to make exceptions when it comes to paper towels and soap, and then I’m all bug-eyed and awash in adjectival phrases, reflecting mood music from the whispers inside of my skull. I was making history. I was listlessly aware. So, move over Colonel Swanky, I’m parking my Chevrolet spirits right outside the door. Hold the door motherfucker? You know? Well, that’s the way it don’t go sometimes. It just don’t. I was starting to suspect that I never’d get my bearings back. Then it was, “Look out!” I mean, well, more like, “Wait here, please. I will have a silver trophy for you shortly, and, I give you my word, it’ll look swell on your chrome mantel.” Don’t get me wrong. I wash up after wiping my ass and all, but there’s just a Psychadelic Western movie playing in my head that’s more mean than moral, and also less normal than I’d originally thought it to be. Yep. Gobble it up, buddy. If it might be a rental purchased from the clutches of armchair mathematicians, alone, thinking and drinking, following the tail of nature around the corner to the nearest Catholic Church, or maybe a classy wheelchair, well, that’d be the slices-of-bread of the thing, wouldn’t it? Wise up. Get a corner to do your whimpering in. I give up a thousand times a day, sure. But I keep trying. Who cares about mustard-colored bananas anyway? I am not the hand-wrung colors of grief. I am not wilting, at least not in the knees. So the dolorous music plays, and I care a little bit about all the crabbing going on. The bar’s filled with jealousy and motorboat kindness. The sure-footed are on the balcony, and they’re cutting everybody breaks, and the floor’s got a bad case of jaundice. I fix my flat and swear my way out of a few conversations with almost-strangers. My eyes are x-ray machines. It was a sweetheart of a deal, cardboard style. You know that song Battle Hymn Of The Republic? Well, I prefer the Ellstein & Rechtzeit Yiddish version myself. But, at the time, with a plaid-coated vision of the propositions abounding, what I’m gunning for is a timely recounting of whether or not this song’s got sex appeal. So, I started humming the damn thing, and pretty soon I’m messing around with the words too. Mrs. Howe wrote them in her sleep, basically, and apparently didn’t even glance at the paper once while she was at it. A bit of inspired somnambulism to say the least. But that’s a paperclip’s load of pure bickering, if you hold all of your appointments and really do some recon. Jon Brown’s body ain’t rising from the grave anytime soon. And look, I was trespassing in truth’s realm at the time, and all this glory, glory, hallelujah and marching on was just more jabber to add to the pasta primavera sloshing around in my thoughts. Dying to make people free is not always so valiant. Let me tell you, I’ve buttered my bread with the gestures of being facetiously nice from time to time. Cop to it? Sure. The nuances of gypping weasels out of their unfair share is appling the orange of conviction, which I swear is my wont, especially on days spent shredding postcards and scissoring diamond-shaped holes into my socks. Well. You get the whole causality of my instance here. My ideas were morally bankrupt, and, at least in that instant’s Time Present, situational prurience was on the wane. So, then suddenly, and this is all pre-balcony, there’s this guy in wingtips with golf gloves on and he’s saying, “Hello. I’m here to talk to you about your life.” I found it strange that he said, “talk to you,” instead of, “talk with you.” His hair is like wet brown clay. Talking to myself, clueing my ears into what’s what, I fought off the impetuous urge to clean up shop and take my hassles out on this hoe-nest chair-ick-ter who was licking his chops to sway my at-attention salute towards his ship’s shore. I tripped over an ice cube. I thought about the girl in grammar school who always fainted. We called her The Fainting Girl. Vastly underrated as a stunner, she was. So, there’s this not-too-bright place that my mind kept dwelling in, and then there’s this momentum that tips and borrows addresses, this sinister-notioned thing, and it kept meeting up with my love at gas stations and bird stores. Lump me in with the corny. That’ll save a date or two. Or at least imprecate what fondness has now come to represent. Until then I’m, or was, cheating the night out of its moments. But this guy, this greaseball of a waiter’s uncle, he’s got some serious business to attend to with regards to me. He’s claptrapping at me big time. He’s going on about my wayfaring nature, the holes in my head letting sappiness drift in, and he’s even giving me grief about my overcoat being in not-too-top-shape. The landmass of me was flopping over beneath a mound of horror at what I’d so carelessly become. Griping wasn’t going to do any good. Maybe a beheading would’ve helped. There’s not a tinge of happenstance round those parts. It’s all over-hard eggs and church bells tolling If I Were A Rich Man. Kind of helps to stare back though. So I did. Glared right into those pea-sized eyes of his, made my mark, left the working parts of me for Good House Keeping to clean up. Casseroles of my cares put up Gone Fishing signs and spilt. These things I sort of hold to be other-evident, and by looking I made up my mind to splatter-proof my soul. This slimy specimen giving me all this trash to digest about living, well, he’s puttering about, side-swiping what I should be doing with the stilts of god-willing maneuvers. I tell him I don’t like the looks of him. He responds with the impishness of a stand-up’s forgotten punch line. Making movies was out of the question. We were talking. Damn. For a lack of a better term, well, we were associating. Like that. Just like that. And it was on to the races. So I’m thinking, ‘Why don’t you pipe down man?’ But he’s not looking me in the eyes anymore. He’s looking at the balcony above us. I’m stewing dodges and galoshes up in my pate. Just measly notions of getting by. I’m, you know, worn out by this point. For christ’s sake, my grandmother kept a 1964 plane ticket from Omaha, Nebraska to Louisville, Kentucky in her wallet until they shoved her under the earth forty years later. Some junk we keep. Some keeps us. Nothing was lending a decent name to my fractured manners. I tilted my head back and espied trouble a brewing up above. I thought, ‘I am not the sun.’ Everything changed. Dumbshit was my middle name. It was like finding an apricot in the freezer without the foggiest how it got there. Interesting? Perhaps. Well, the long and longer of it is that my vapid lawn-chair existence was fraught with peril. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I marched. I stayed assiduous. Not that patterning myself after a club-footed Demiurge was going to plink away at an understanding, but I held my ground nonetheless. Lying to myself was the only proposition I wanted to catch an earful of. And so, well, who’d a thunk it, huh? The grass here is cooler, but less green than it once was, you know? So, forget about battle hymns and bathrooms. Overlook the refinancing of good intentions. We live in a world that is fixated on visual and audio stimulation, gentle exfoliating visions that lull us into a dispassionate, brain-warped state. Well. Just get on with it. Looks like supper’s ready, and I haven’t heard a name like yours in years…

Monday, November 8, 2010

how death came to sandovar ruddly

You’ve got to hand it to the weather. Sometimes it just knows when to rain. Like today, when I don’t have an umbrella handy, and there’s no food here, and I’ve got to wear my nice wool jacket. Don’t ask me about the jacket. When it comes to the jacket I’ve got no idea. It’s got to be worn. I don’t want it to get wet. So, here I am, stuck. That’s about all you’ll get out of me. But if the circumstances permit, and when it comes to circumstances I don’t know much, I might get lucky and catch a cold. The circumstances have to permit it though. Permission must be acquired, like a new hat or a botched haircut. Let’s agree on principle. Here, let’s have at it then. When the whole bucks, and we part, then, of course you’ll see a marginal amount of detail in the differences between the color and loop. A barn burns so we like fire. It’s a matter of distinction. Pride and goofing off. Greed leaves us subtle. Then, also of course, a miserable amount of grief stomps in with two-by-fours strapped to its feet like skis. You’d be better off just splitting the returns. I know, when it comes to returns we’re more even keel. I understand this. Bottle caps scattered around the shore. I’ve got my scars too. Let’s talk equipment. If it’s necessary to be liked then we’d do well to wish for ailments. Don’t worry. When it comes to ailments there’s not a lot of aught to. If we’re talking ailments, well, call me a water hog all you want, but there’s thunder in my cereal. Nobody’s as funny as they think. Hell, there’s a mission statement in my coffee cup. I’d draw you a map, but my face will cringe. And I’m the one left pulling strings on the inside, hefting garbage bags down to the trashcans in the basement, and chinning up to the moon. Well call me Lady Day and tie a ribbon around my neck. I’ve got facts to figure out. I’ve got cases to explain. We’ve got to talk cases and facts at some point. Just like alphabets try on words for size. I’m going to test the bill. Exposition rendered precisely, in the minutest of ways, kind of positive in spending habits, that’ll do for me. For me, well, there’s no real try in it. Got to get mama’s house all sorted out. Of course there’s always that. That’s first on the list. Got to get those Jack In The Box burgers out of the freezer. Patch up the walls. Spackle the place up. Really, when the weather gets this way, well, it’s just like this. Quit. Get a job. Move the bulldozers over the hill. I can’t help getting needy in the wintertime. Sure, I’ve bricked my fair share of shots at getting ahead. Like being addicted to temporary tattoos, or being a little bit pregnant. For me lying is a rebellious act. I create this life, manufacture this person to be, and I wonder why people mistake me for a stranger. I won’t go on getting all morose about it. There’s no danger. It’ll be winter soon. All the drunks will come staggering in, ass-holing on about the spiritual side of things. After all, we’re lucky because we get to be humans and exist in the world the way we do. It’s just that my face doesn’t always make the right faces. That about sums up my adult life. Summing up? Well, that’s a funny thing. Like an umbrella being out of tune. I’ve done a few stints in the nuthouse. Can’t say anything too fascinating about it. Only thought about doing away with myself a dozen or so times a day. So there’s this patch of land in my head, this scrap of a thing, a borderline hysterical place that metes out parking tickets to bad memories and tries to restore peace. There’s just something about thinking that’s always eating away at itself. You go around. You come back. You bite off more than you could ever chew, and then get frustrated with your own cud. And so then you go and lop off a snake-like chunk of the thought that’s squirming here and there and everywhere, and pander to it some, and there’s only one place to go back to. Yep. And there’s always something lurking just around the corner like holy god bringing down his judgment on some specified day that everybody but yours truly knows about. I offered my condolences to the Hasblitt sisters when their daddy went AWOL and shot the moon with Francine Yeller that awful February night, and there’s no telling what exactly did happen to them both, though I’m sure Mrs. Hasblitt maybe might be able to offer up some. Nobody’s asking anymore, what with the aforementioned misses now being gone to the great baseball stadium in the sky, through doings all her own, mainly a shotgun’s last call. Now, I don’t mean to be implying that this lovely woebegone thing had anything to do with the disappearing of those two trysters under the moonless sky, but there are those whose suspicions were aroused, seeing that the petering out of Mr. Hasblitt’s amorousness for his dearly beloved wife were well known to me. He’d often gate around the yard, out where the wrecks rust and the feral dogs growl, and we’d stoop and squat and smoke hand-rolled cigarettes, Old Gold, and he’d get to yodeling on about some ripe young thing he was about to tear into. I’d let him talk. I liked the cigarettes, and it was nice to be out there getting away from my damn infernal solitude for a spell, and he had a hand pistol he’d use to scare the wild dogs away. He’d rave on about the tempest of his doings, the way his misses stunk, the hurt that was hanging onto his heart like a claw hammer. I didn’t pay it a whole lot of mind. Murder was thicker out there than in most places, and it got slimy and mucked around like week-old stew being dumped into the road. Oh, let me tell you. There was world enough and time for it all out there. People stood around and ogled. Sometimes it was like the stars were watching you too, and there’s plenty more than a lot of them. Let’s not dawdle around on the circumstances of me being close with that wily bastard. I’ll just say he showed up sometimes, and we shot the shit and smoked cigarettes out in the yard, and it was pleasant enough for a hermit like me to have some company nights. Sure, he talked rot, and was vile and rude and all what have you, but I didn’t put much stock in his ever doing much besides jabbering about what he wanted you to think we was doing. One of those talkers you just let slide because they don’t matter much to anyone except themselves. Me? I think too much. Too much cerebration. It makes me bad company. I count stars, read the bible, and gun down snakes with an old Springfield bolt-action rifle from my bedroom window. People seem to stay away. Moved out here in ’82, before the Paddington Stock & Rebar Co. moved in and sucked away a bunch of the land, putting up stakes, claiming land at next-to-nothing prices, and then trying to profit on the people who’d come to rely on that land. People got mad, but what could they do? Money won out in the end, as it tends to do. I got myself this junkyard. I did okay. I managed. Things just ended up in my yard. It was like ghosts were dropping them off in the middle of the night, and maybe they were. I never ask those kinds of questions. I just go about my ways, counting my luck on the three fingers of my left hand, the other two gone to a stray bullet when I was just scrappy kid, the where and why of which I know about none, since it was before my powers of memory reached their full potential, and, from what I was told, the pain of it knocked me out cold, and in fact my ma and pop thought I’d done gone clean dead on them. But I didn’t. I kept on breathing. And when I woke up there was my left hand all bandaged up by Doc Shivers, who mussed my hair and told me what a brave boy I’d been. Brave? Shit. I slept through the whole ordeal. I guess sometimes you miss the rainstorm but get credit for walking home through it. Anyhow, I turned out like this with eight digits, and some folks call me Mordecai still, recalling the great 3-fingered righty of the turn-of-the-century Chicago Cubs, and I took this as an honor, and now go by Mordy to most. Though what people call me isn’t a blister or a burp to me. I’m my own man. That’s obvious of course, but what it means is true. So my junkyard grew as people moved on, and the scarp heap blossomed into an eremite’s dream. Carcasses of rotting dodges flanked with sunflowers and moss-covered refrigerators. It was something to behold. Stuff just found its way to me, and stayed found for the most part. Television sets lost their knobs and dials. Glass splintered like spider webs in the sun, which bleached everything to a stale, desert hue. The rivers of rust ran wild, and like wisteria climbed over toilet bowls, lunch pails, VCRs, x-mas-tree tinsel, radios, aluminum siding, cookware and computers just the same. I had buyers from time to time, but mostly it felt like a giant tomb of things people didn’t want around anymore. Maybe I felt like I was one of those things. But I’m not one to get too sentimental over objects. They get made, and they’ve got to be discarded. I do my part to help them on their way. There was a guy at my door one day, banging on the screen, and I went out there to see what all the hubbub was. This guy’s grease-splattered and unshaven, and stinks like a brewery floor. He’s got on these gold-rimmed sunglasses, and his hair is all bunched up like a tumbleweed. I don’t want to let him in, or get too close, so I only open the door a crack, and I yell at him from behind the screen with the door still latched. Turns out he’s a scholar. He wants to talk to me. He’s on some kick where he’s trying to interview the old timers like me who’ve been around here and through some stuff. I don’t like the looks of him. He’s got holes in his shoes and shirt. It seems like he’s had his pants on for about a month without changing or washing them. I just know he’s not going to be nice on my upholstery or my carpet. But for some reason I let him talk his way in there, and we get to jawing, mostly him, about the old days when I first moved in here. At first I was kind of curt with him. Didn’t want to give too much away. And being laconic’s in my nature anyway. Most days I hardly say a word except when the mail arrives. But this tawdry scholar guy, well, he’s really trying to dig in for some information, and I’m curious as to why, but mostly keep that to myself, as is my wont. I’ve learned to play it close to the vest over the years. So I get to saying a few things I probably shouldn’t, and then he starts getting into a huff about it, and my mean streak comes out in spades, and soon we're cussing and throwing good-sized objects at each other, and I tell him to go fuck himself and all this, and he’s seeing red, and I realize that he’s not so small of a guy really, and that maybe he’d take me. I mean without weapons. But I’ve got weapons of all sorts. So, I run back to my bedroom and make sure to slam the door behind me so it thwacks him, because I know he’s coming after me, and it knocks his ass right down hard, which gives me time to grab my….well, I’m not going to go into all that. No need to implicate myself. Let’s just say, he got what was a coming, and what was a coming was a trip to county. That did him well I think. Lousy bastard. Never saw him after that. Heard he was living in Topeka, last I know, and had shacked up with a bow-tie salesman named Robert. It was odd, but I didn’t care. To each their each. That’s what I say. But me? Well, I’m done losing fingers. Let him take a shot at my head next time. That’d be okay by me. Until then? Well, it’s think, think, think. Collect junk and wonder about god. There’s nothing left I can do.