Thursday, July 29, 2010

Calling In Well

Kafka: What do you know about the Hot Dog Show?

Santa: The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: Yes. The Hot Dog Show.

Santa: I know that it’s catching to the eye.

Kafka: I catch you. I catch the mood. The mood is everything. Emotionally speaking.

Santa: An emotional striptease?

Kafka: That’s asking too much.

Santa: No it’s not. It’s asking more than some would ask.

Kafka: Same thing.

Santa: Let’s not dawdle around in circumstantial muck.

Kafka: Okay. So. The Hot Dog Show. When it comes down to what we all want…

Santa: From the Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: Yes. What we all want from the Hot Dog Show...

Santa: When it comes down to it.

Kafka: When it comes down to it we all want to be in it.

Santa: The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: Absolutely. It’s all about clarifying the recidivist moral structure of our well-to-do instinctual guides.

Santa: Hot dogs for a dollar!

Kafka: I saw the sign. It opened up my eyes. I saw the sign.

Santa: Get your juicy plump franks.

Kafka: All the fixings included?

Santa: At The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: Of course. We’re talking about The Hot Dog Show.

Santa: Of course.

Kafka: All for a dollar.

Santa: Everything for a dollar. A joachimsthaler. A buck. A greenback.

Kafka: Washington! You’re no fun. You’re no fun. Washington! Right down the barrel of a…

Santa: Exactly. Good point. And it’s just handing over some wrinkled paper for a meal.

Kafka: But when it comes down to it…

Santa: And it always does.

Kafka: The Hot Dog Show is worth more…

Santa: The Hot Dog Show.

Kafka: Yes. It’s worth more than the paper it’s printed on.

Santa: The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: Precisely.

Santa: Oh.

Kafka: All accounts payable to…

Santa: The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: Not as I see it.

Santa: How’s that?

Kafka: Well, you see, I keep getting these phone calls from Lincoln, Nebraska.

Santa: Who do you know in Nebraska?

Kafka: That’s what I kept asking myself.

Santa: And?

Kafka: Nobody. Not that I could think of. And this Nebraska number kept coming up on my caller ID. It’d happen like four or five times a day. Sometimes in the middle of the night. I had to start sleeping with my phone off.

Santa: Would they leave messages?

Kafka: No. Not usually. Not until this one day. And it was like this rambling thing. This guy reciting passages from the bible.

Santa: Residual wisdom attained by rote osmosis.

Kafka: Not like The Hot Dog Show at all.

Santa: Really?

Kafka: Sure. This guy kept calling. And eventually I started answering his calls. Turns out he was living in the basement of a church. There were some bunk beds down there where they let transients sleep at night. The water heaters squealed. And the creaks of the boards overhead were like sea lions sneezing through sawed-off kazoos. This guy had been down there quite a while. There were exposed light bulbs dangling and swaying from gnawed wires. He could hear people praying all through the night. And all he had to read was the bible. He had whole passages committed to memory.

Santa: Really, though, is that so unlike The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: “His power and his wrath is against them who forsake him.”

Santa: Ezra? That ain’t right.

Kafka: It ain’t?

Santa: Not if we’re still talking about The Hot Dog Show.

Kafka: Why I oughta…

Santa: Yeah. You and an army of Al Jolson wannabes.

Kafka: Swaneeeeeeee Rieeeeverrrrr!

Santa: Whatever. So. This guy in the basement, he’s…

Kafka: Forget that guy.

Santa: Really? Forget him?

Kafka: Yeah. He’s out of the picture.

Santa: That was quick.

Kafka: Ah, you are too beautiful for silences.

Santa: Look out. I’m liable to direct our attention away from The Hot Dog Show.

Kafka: You wouldn’t.

Santa: Wouldn’t I?

Kafka: You love the Hot Dog Show. You can’t get enough of it.

Santa: Of The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: Yes. You admire it. You hold The Hot Dog Show in great esteem.

Santa: I estimate it’s worth as being….high?

Kafka: Would I were the relish on your bun.

Santa: It is appraised, by me, to be, The Hot Dog Show that is, an excellent revenue enhancer.

Kafka: Ha cha cha cha….

Santa: Hooray for baby and me!

Kafka: Put a stick in it.

Santa: Say something that matters. Something important.

Kafka: The women on the bus speak of Kierkegaard while holding their Louis Vuitton purses in their laps. Somebody pipes up, “Compliments say more about the person giving them than the person receiving them.” I want everybody to spit all at once. There aren’t many ways left to wipe my ass.

Santa: And still, The Hot Dog Show don’t care.

Kafka: It don’t care at all.

Santa: It’s just The Hot Dog Show. That’s all. There’s nothing more to it.

Kafka: There must be. I mean, it’s The Hot Dog Show.

Santa: Nope. It’s just what it is, nothing more.

Kafka: Something less?

Santa: Not that I’ve ever noticed.

Kafka: But you told me once that your bible’s covered in cobwebs, that the pages are filled with dust.

Santa: No. I said spider webs. There’s a subtle difference.

Kafka: Don’t be so implacable.

Santa: I don’t ever want to be placated or appeased. I don’t want domestication to come crawling up on me, catching me off my guard. Let’s have a party! Let’s have a party tonight!

Kafka: A Hot Dog Show party?

Santa: No. A Wanda Jackson party.

Kafka: You mean like a Fujiyama Moma?

Santa: Shoot out the light, you know?

Kafka: Unfortunately I do.

Santa: Great. So. When’s The Hot Dog Show?

Kafka: It never stops or starts. A dollar. A dollar. Your Cadillac for a dollar.

Santa: Paint it on a sign.

Kafka: Scratch it in your skin.

Santa: Until the blood runs out.

Kafka: Starring?

Santa: Joan Wayne. The girl of everybody’s dreams.

Kafka: Cladding to keep your fantasies safe from harm.

Santa: The inimitable Joan Wayne! The Hot Dog Show’s biggest draw.

Kafka: As it were.

Santa: Loan me a dollar. Please. Please. Please.

Kafka: Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of The Hot Dog Show?

Santa: Singing, “She can’t help it. The girl can’t help it,” for all to hear from sea to foggy sea.

Kafka: An aubergine mood has swept its rascally way over the hollows of my days.

Santa: Being old and full of days.

Kafka: I might lend ya a buck or two, buddy. But if I am a going to go on and scratch your hairy back, well, you better be ready to scratch back at me someday, ya know?

Santa: Maybe I scratch your front. Ya know?

Kafka: Get your own stinking money. Get your salty salary somewhere else.

Santa: Just a pinch?

Kafka: No. No way. No how. Not going to budge on this one.

Santa: We all just want to go…

Kafka: To The Hot Dog Show. To The Hot Dog Show.

Santa: I know, I know, I know.

Kafka: Get your dollar’s worth, oh, oh, oh...

Santa: And so much more so...

Kafka: At The Hot Dog Show!

Santa: Nonononononononononono…

Kafka: The Hot Dog Show!

Santa: Okay. I get my own stinking dollar.

Kafka: That’s all?

Santa: For folks like us.

Kafka: Folks who want to ban all dogs and cars from the city.

Santa: Nothing but cats and pedestrians.

Kafka: Folks who read aloud when they’re alone.

Santa: Who sing commercial jingles and put mustard on steaks.

Kafka: And it’s still all a matter of…

Santa: The Hot Dog Show!

Kafka: Yes. By gum. That it is!

Santa: Let’s all go down to the Hot Dog Show.

Kafka: To The Hot Dog Show let us go.

Santa: Let us go. Let us go.

Kafka: All this while the chromosomes of tears get lost in the omnium-gatherum of canned laughter. How well do we know the show?

Santa: How well can we ever know the hot dog?

Kafka: To go or not to go.

Santa: To the show. To The Hot Dog Show.

Kafka: A collective anosognosia prevails. Nothing wrong here. Nothing here is wrong at all.

Santa: We two-step to our own inhibitions. We cut in line.

Kafka: Temptation calls us by name. It hollers o’er the tombstones.

Santa: And what we don’t say is never heard, except maybe by our own personal Hot Dog Show.

Kafka: The Hot Dog Show will tell all.

Santa: Bounded only by the infinite and the hawkers of cotton candy.

Kafka: Countervailed by the inscrutable satiation of fair-weather dipsomaniacs.

Santa: We must target The Hot Dog Show’s least known demographic: ice-cream soup drinkers.

Kafka: Stained with steel. Look inward. Take inventory. Make the hubris-challenged swill their own sweat.

Santa: You make a better wall than a wall.

Kafka: A wall built with vain tools, brought on by vexation of spirit, profitless under the sun.

Santa: But we’ve still got The Hot Dog Show, right?

Kafka: Until they come for our bodies. Until our minds skip town for the century. Until everybody’s gone fishing.

Santa: Ah. Don’t worry about that.

Kafka: The Hot Dog Show?

Santa: Yes. That that.

Kafka: Oh.

Santa: Uh huh. And the whole time…

Kafka: All the while.

Santa: It was just civil servants whispering my dreams to sleep, chanting, “The dead are more dead than the living are alive.”

Kafka: Na na na na na…

Santa: Na nanana na nana!

Kafka: Hey! Ho!

Santa: To The Hot Dog Show…

Kafka: We all are going to go…

Santa: Whether we like it or no…

Kafka: In the end it’s only clavichords playing scales of woe…

Santa: Like a fretful fletcher stringing a broken bow…

Kafka: Heigh-ho! It’s only disco…

Santa: Return to the world below…

Kafka: At…

Santa: Theeeeeeeeeeee…

Kafka & Santa: HOT DOG SHOW!



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

extended-release form crucifixion

That noise I made was inappropriate. Don’t listen to such things. Don’t pay me any mind. I’m just practicing my poor-man’s ukulele during office hours: a miniature tennis racket with very pluckable strings. It makes time pass, though time would pass anyway I suspect. It’s hard to know these things for sure.

I flatter myself with suppositions as to the true nature of reflection. The rudimentary aspects of mood, daunting indifference, pages of unread letters, a tenseless love for reiteration and madcap lessons in saintliness. Do not want. This is what I tell myself on long, dull, menacingly slow afternoons. Just be. There is no end to the present; it follows one with stingy footfalls; it becomes itself all the time--a constant leaky trickle above the clogged drain of the past.

A woman here said to me, “Jesus. Jesus. You must accept him as your personal savior. Can you do this? Huh? Can you? I dare you. I double-dog dare you! Accept Jesus as your personal savior. Repent! God damn it! Repent!”

I thought, ‘Is she warbling or wobbling?’ Her dewlap was most certainly doing some jiggling. It was like watching the scrambled screen of a Pay Per View Channel I hadn’t paid for. Sometimes life is like that. I thought, ‘By jingo!’ It was a loud thought, but it didn’t scare me so much.

People were praying on the sofa. At first I’d mistaken it for a divan. But, as I gave it a twice-over, I realized that I was wrong in this generalization. A clear head was needed. I began to wonder if a couch would make a better place to pray, or maybe a bed? It was possible. I chalked it up to half-a-dozen of one or three-times-two of another. Blessed was the whole situation, I do believe.

Caustic remarks will not be tolerated. A few triggers of regret might slip in, but right away they will be plattered with teacups and beach sand. Getting a grip, a few people in here whispered about Moses. They proceeded to slap each other until a good lesson was felt to have been learned by all involved. “Tee hee,” laughed the widow, “I will not be underfed until the sea meets the ocean.”

Tramps sweep the front steps with greedy brooms. Outstretched arms with palms up--that is how they pray--make others feel either ambivalent or chickenshit. “You must give of yourself,” says the over-sexed Pilates instructor. “Feel at home with what you can always afford to not have. Bite snakes. Take time to be irrational. The dimes add up. The favors grant themselves. Be lax with your fortune if you can. Bend. Hide. Retract. Piss me a river.”

The yuppies come here for supper. Before eating they place their hands in a washbasin filled with rosewater, making sure to remove their rings and bracelets first. The Cosby Show will play on the television. It makes everyone laugh, even the butlers and henchwomen. “Reruns are for suckers,” cries the Holy Ghost. “Want all. Waste all.”

“I will not kiss you. My lips were made for daffodils only.” That’s what I heard the house paramour gibing about with the Evil Loch Ness Sailor. They danced directionless. North, South, East, or West is lost on most dinner guests. We strive for circles but end up with motley wends of amorphous shape. The sailor quips, “A kiss is never a kiss until it is kissed.” Nobody tries to retrace their steps.

Somewhere a dog hunts his superiors down and feeds them to hushed kittens. A horse is made into a radish. A ball of chewed gum is thrown at a burglar. “Felons! Make amends! Amen!” screams the venomous ex-uncle of the bourgeois. Nobody is scared at all.

Clamps keep us down. I do not mean to make errors in my nonjudgmental opinions. It is just those clamps, those vices of virtue, which hold us pressed to our fear. “Fear all!” scolds the breadwinner. “We have not made even an ice cream cone yet.”

Dessert happens in heaped-on helpings of affected scolding. I do not pay attention to the pace of fortune. I make disgruntled burping sounds at the end of the table. I clean my fingernails on the tablecloth. I sit bowlegged and yawn gratuitously. I earn a discount on forgiveness.

The dishes stacked. The silverware rattled. Dancing became a factory-made necessity. I grabbed a paunchy stout kid named Lewis and threw him against the armoire. A few panes of dismal glass broke. Some china was chipped. My foot fell from grace. I decided to eat some odors. It was not the wisest of choices. A clatter of stampeding gaurs rambled by. A clay clown figurine exclaimed, “Gadzooks!” All present were relieved by this. While nobody was looking I made a dash for the crapper.

The toilet runs. My hands tremble. There is a mild threat of retaliation from the hard-nosed bible humpers. The door, locked for my safety, resounds with blows. I make haste. There is nothing good to come from this. A leap from the window? The guards would have me dismantled before my batteries had a chance to refresh. I will sit down. The toilet seat is cold. I have premonitions all the time, but this is not one. A voice rends my thoughts, “Do not flush away your soul. We know what you are doing in there. Stop this madness at once!” I relive my childhood. It is nothing but blunted bursts of electricity. Somebody read to me.

I was not made for nights like these. My circuits are irreconcilable with despair. I do not want these thorns of things. I do not want this wayward soul. Get me to a place where I can arrange all sources of light, where I can make that light flattering to me. Kindness repays itself. That’s what the gardener told me. My exit has been misconstrued.


the insulating fibers of particular borders


when it comes down to it there is really nothing left to do except bottle water and move from hill to hill. it is treacherous to think otherwise. we all know this. the plumage is in the feather. the cap fits. solitude is a country we have all kept our passports for. hear the cluck of the razor strop? that is foreboding enough as it is, without all of this buttery froth thrown in for no apparent reason. get the grease out of your ears. it is pounce time.

the girls are grilling salmon out on the deck. sometimes the meat slips from the bone and drips like oil between the grill’s slats and steams from the coals below, and smokes too. oh, there is a lot of smoke involved. always a lot of smoke. it stings your eyes like lemon juice. you become blind for a frightful moment, and then you stagger back and laugh at yourself. because you have got to laugh at yourself. that is a prerequisite of this fiber-optic hissy fit we are all involved in. the foliage tell its own stories. mostly about banana trees in the backyard. boats? boats know better. they keep to the water.

we make plans. there are festivities on the north porches. pinball when it rains. the cats purr and curve carelessly into pillows. waning moons are not too much of a bother. we seem to have light enough to battle damselflies and possums. sometimes a grip will become loose, merchandise will be lost, and then there is hell to pay for those of us who still retain a few toes. the pompoms are filled with dragon teeth around here. don’t be a sucker. we are all out just for love. just for love.

the horizontals are all clipped. it is done after a fashion. a wormy skill that is not regarded highly anymore. though many in-the-know think these things through, and then they tell us how wrong we all are. just a mist to reconsider hindsight. a nettled medicine man with his hands tied behind his head. do not forget shorts weather. it comes around even if you are not looking for it. sometimes dossiers are kept of such things. but mostly we just keep strumming the hard dirt with rakes. listening takes two. also, a parakeet will get caught in the gears a few times a week, and we have got to clean them out with hoses. the list of daily tasks grows ever long.

the pages of our lives are now dog-eared with worry, though the breaks along the barriers of our skirmished creeping-thistle souls have become more frequent in these hydra-headed days. we only want to love and be loved, preferably by the same person or persons. sometimes a spare part will fit eloquently into the works of the pasty maker, and then the girls will be less skittish on the more-than-enchanted evenings, and then nobody will get all tangled up in microphone cords, and then we will learn a lesson in saying goodbye, and then tinfoil music will fill cupcakes with mechanical hearts, and then jealousy will be defeated by candy addicts, and then orphans will weep during an organ recital, and then we will reconnect with nature’s blues.

the points of no return keep getting lost. a purse was filled with shriveling old-newspaper-colored apple cores. we found it on the stairs where nobody belongs. everybody wants to belong somewhere. the moon is losing its class. the pawnshops around here have started selling valor by the handful, and we have got large hands. the shop owners have sworn off gin, but they have not sworn off love. not yet. we mean less than the urine-soaked scarecrows. we play pre-recorded homilies on full blast. the neighbors never complain.

the ruins of dismissiveness come to crowd us. there is a feeling of togetherness mashed with specks of isolation. communities tend to thrive in times of gilded arrivals. do not discount our capacity for pity. there will be a bonfire of empty amber pill bottles when the crows take over lengthwise segments of tomorrow’s yield. in the meantime we will forsake the keeping of records. spinning bottle caps will cover the spread. people lose noses over less.

a copse young in the rain. a fresh lawnmower smell. there is something better than dusk fading leeward, and we all know shadows like that, like capes of indifference. the machines run their man-made course. the levers get cranked. the circle is never complete. we blow bow-tie kisses at ice cream socials, at chemistry events in the town rhombus, at sour-graped girls, at movie screens. our fun days may be over, but we still have inlays of opal threading what is left of our dreams. supper is not quite cold enough yet.

bottle. bottle. bottle. move over. move on. bottle it up. screw the cap on tight. move. read romance into the annotations in the pinch of metal arms. grade the plastic on its capacity to like and worth of being liked. unscrew. open. scrunch. bottle. bottle. move. move. move on.

patents on arm-bending methods are due to expire soon. our ghosts are reliving their own nightmares for all eternity. getting a steel slide for our deliveries has been difficult. grass ceases to grow in rare instances and clear-cut cases of overweening cowardice. diesel stains the conveyor belts. we have got deals to meet and ends to make and mistakes to stumble upon and planets to never visit. and we err by justifying the clover’s honest touch with pellets of hostility. things have become louder than we can hear.

under the awnings we sweat. we sweat and mutter. we catch our breath only to lose it once again. a rate is raised. purchases are easily bought out. those of us with anatomy-model figures make the most of open windows, though our peripheral vision is not what it should be. last night a white bat winged through the makeshift pope-colored curtains in the attic window. everything here is broken and old.

we have been hard at work lately on soul-baring techniques. they come in handy during hailstorms and marching drills, when, of course, we moue with single-file compunction. we have been reassured that reinforcements are on the way, but for the time being we must make do with golf pencils, postcards, and discarded wax paper. the smallest amount of ink spilled for unreasonable reasons can make even the most usurious among us plaintive and ill-disposed. and if in times of doubt we cheat on our small-motor-skills scantron tests, well, at least we never scribble outside the bubbles.

yesterday a wolf cub was found lost in one of the machines. it was gruesome, stretched like taffy by the jostles and pins, and its skin was burnt, its thin coat of tawny hair mottled and sheared through in places as if with a laser beam. saffron and tar came to our minds when we whiffed it, while a hint of berber stubbed the toes of our senses with a synesthetic blur. nobody was quite sure why, but we were suspicious of the lug nuts. they were aligned horizontally. the stench stayed with us all night, and many were those who dreamt in cloudy sepia splotches of flaming tundras. an ordinary man with a rattan cane rescued the carcass from its assumed abode. it was placed in the pink disposal bin marked: “For Laundry Use Only.”

without care we sponge the floors. we mop the ceilings. everybody gets drenched. soapy hair is the norm, though goggles help us remain courageous in all of our endeavors. even in victory we do not speak above a whisper about blood or urine. what goes on in the spirit room is debated weekly, with an almost barnstorming passion. multiplying usually helps even things out. it pays its dividends in leak-proof skies and rubber bands wrapped around the diaphanous skin of empty plastic bottles. we take our fill.

pass that bottle over here. we need room to move too. too much is enough. enough is not enough. bottle us a smile. no more is more than enough. rain us a body. instill virtues in cucurbits. nobody laughs at brute force anymore. smooth the grooved style of the surface with shallow convictions. call the country. the bottles empty into another alaska-sized flask. get rid of the evidence. move into a valley without fear. bottle no more.

pinch.


Friday, July 9, 2010

my grammatical sentiments exactly


a: All of my favorite memories are photo-shopped.

b: That’s not as passive nor as aggressive as I thought it was going to be.

a: Thanks. Thanks a lot. Really. I mean it.

b: You’re not being sarcastic.

a: That’s what you say.

b: My interpretation of the given language at any given time, attuned to my ear’s way of hearing, my own delicate perceptual delight, while considering a residual factor of…

a: Shut the front door already.

b: I know what you meant.

a: My meaning was got.

b: Yep. I get what was implied.

a: What I inferred.

b: No. What you implied. The inferring was left to me.

a: Oh. What about my inference of my own implications?

b: Oh. Those.

a: Yep. Those. “I’ll know my song well before I start singing.”

b: Those aren’t your words.

a: They’re not? But I said them.

b: But you were quoting them. Bob Dylan said them.

a: Sang them.

b: Wrote them.

a: So. So what? What does that matter? I, just now, said them, therefore they are my words. Words that I’ve spoken.

b: But not in your own words.

a: How can somebody own words?

b: A writer owns his/her/its books, right? He/she/it's got a copyright. They are his/her/its words.

a: But we all borrow. There are only so many words.

b: An infinite set of connections. An illimitable supply of ammunition for making sentences.

a: What about completing one of those?

b: My sentences need not objects. A subject shall do. My kingdom for a…

a: Stop. That was going to be dumb.

b: What?

a: I could tell. I know about such things. I have good editorial instincts.

b: Pansy.

a: That’s what you say.

b: My word.

a: You’d really want that to be “your word”?

b: I’d lease it, with an option to buy.

a: Your instincts for comedy are less than stellar.

b: I quip better than most.

a: Quip off.

b: I’ve won a few.

a: I know what you mean.

b: Where was the emphasis there? Which word?

a: Couldn’t decipher my saying? Semantically speaking, of course.

b: Your saying. What you’re saying. Semantically. I don’t know what you mean when you say, “I know what you mean.”

a: My saying.

b: As far as saying goes.

a: How far?

b: Not so far that I don’t think I’ll be able to catch it.

a: That was horrible.

b: Can’t resist bad jokes. They make life more funner.

a: Funny. Anyway. My emphasis in this particular case, in this context, which for some reason you could not catch the drift of, even though we are speaking aloud, out loud, and therefore it should be easy for you to understand where the putting of my stress was, on which word or words, but for some reason you have failed in this venture…

b: Venture?

a: Yes. So. I will put some quality italicizing in there for you. Some top-of-the-line font change. Some…

b: Got it.

a: Good. So. Here goes no thing.

b:

a: Ahem. “I know what you mean.”

b: That can’t be right.

a: Why not?

b: It doesn’t make sense.

a: It does to me.

b: Not in the context in to which it was put.

a: Who are you? Winston Churchill?

b: You got it. You know what I mean.

a: Wait. Gosh flame it. What do you mean?

b: I know not “means,” fine sir.

a: You mean “seems.”

b: I know what I mean.

a: That makes one of us.

b: Are we not two?

a: Not in the making of sense.

b: A penny for your…

a: Don’t make me slap you.

b: I couldn’t make you. You have your own volition. I do not control your actions. Ever hear about this thing called Free Will? You’re kind of born with it.

a: I’m a determinist. Or at least I’m determined to try and be one.

b: Cause and effect. I am the cause but you control the effect.

a: But if I lose control? Am I then to blame?

b: You mean if your actions are not your own? Whose would they be?

a: God’s?

b: Bullhunky. Don’t believe he exists anymore.

a: Whom are we supposed to pray to then?

b: Country.

a: Like Waylon Jennings?

b: No. I’m still mad at him about the whole Buddy-Holly-Plane-Crash thing.

a: Give the guy a break.

b: I’m giving him a Thumb’s Up on the inside.

a: That I understand.

b: Wait. Did you say, “That I UNDERstand,” or “THAT i underSTAND,”?

a: A lowercase i? Really? Wow. Now you’re playing dirty.

b: Down and dirty, like my grandma used to say. The only way to play.

a: I bet.

b: I will not stand for this defamation of my dear grandmother’s reputation. This objurgation of my sweet lovely grandma’s character. This sullying…

a: Will you sit for it?

b: I’d lie down for it.

a: Thank god you didn’t say “lay.”

b: Thank who?

a: Whom.

b: Waylon Jennings.

a: Oh.

b: What? Now I’m confused.

a: Confounded by the natural order of things.

b: Words. Words. Words.

a: Word.

b: Just like my grandmommy used to say.

a: Really? Grandmommy?

b: Would you prefer “Nana”?

a: Where was that question mark?

b: Outside the quotes.

a: Is that correct?

b: In this instance, yes, it was especially apt.

a: I’m not sure about this “Nana” business. That’s more of a cognomen really. An appellation.

b: A ghost.

a: Did I stutter?

b: Calgon. Take me away.

a: You might need a little copyright symbol there.

b: Nah. I don’t believe in them.

a: So. No god. No ownership. You a damn pinko?

b: I don’t believe in the masses. I’m more of a soloist by nature.

a: You’ve got to be strong to make a go of it alone.

b: Sure do. You’re going to get sued for that one, by the way.

a: Let him try. When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to…

b: Aha! See? Stopped cold in his tracks with another man’s words.

a: Mule shit!

b: Basically.

a: Poor wretches who we are. Stranded here with a pocketful of ungranted wishes.

b: Basically.

a: You said that.

b: Basically.

a: Say it once, why say it again?

b: Because.

a: Good answer.

b: Thanks.

a: What? Was that sarcastic?

b: No. Ironic.

a: Oh. That figures. Irony is always lost on me. I do enjoy me some good pleonasm now and again though.

b: Mao and a gimp?

a: No. The chairman walked without a limp, as far as I know.

b: As far as you know.

a: Yes.

b: That far.

a: Yes. Any further than that, I don’t know.

b: How could you?

a: Don’t know.

b: Are we through yet?

a: Threw? I haven’t thrown anything.

b: Tossed something perhaps?

a: Perhaps?

b: Oh shit. That’s my phone. Sorry. I’ve got to take this.

a: No problem.

b: Hello. 911 emergency and rescue. Please state your name, address, and emergency situation.



Thursday, July 8, 2010

the suburbs of life


Euripides--I just can’t stop thinking about her. It’s an addiction.

Hesiod--How many times a day?

Euripides--I can’t count high enough. It’s like…so I’m doing something, like sprinkling salt on celery or walking on the side of the freeway or watching TV or flipping up the tab on a can of Pepsi, and then I’m wondering at the same time, what would this be like if she were here with me? And it always seems so much better, the thought of having her there with me. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing.

Hesiod--Sounds pretty abysmal. You’re giving yourself an unsolvable dilemma on purpose.

Euripides--I know. I’m doing it to myself. It’s self-defeating. I set my sights on what I know I can’t have, and then I become miserable because I can’t have it.

Hesiod--Sit on something soft, and you will have soft thoughts.

Euripides--Hard to say.

Hesiod--Find other things to bring you pleasure in your life. Something can, once in a while, be better than nothing. Replace. Replace. Replace.

Euripides--It’s allowed?

Hesiod--Sure. Why not?

Euripides--Don’t know.

Hesiod--Does it cause you guilt in excess of what reality’s really proffered?

Euripides--Deriving pleasure from certain things comes with its downfall…for me.

Hesiod--Stop putting a guilt trip on yourself. It’s not worth it.

Euripides--Can’t help it. Old habits die hard.

Hesiod--Sure. But we grow more mindful of time as we become more accustomed to passing through it, as we age and get more experienced with it.

Euripides--Time slipping away. Will I wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled?

Hesiod--No. But you might eat a peach. You might become splintered in your decision making. Things will seem to be dragging you in many different directions all at once. Time is still there though, waiting, right?

Euripides--Yes. I am absurd. I realize this.

Hesiod--But you seem to accept it too readily. There is always a chance that things will change.

Euripides--Like playing footsie with the weather.

Hesiod--Maybe more like arm wrestling with wind. Would you consider yourself somebody who thinks deep thoughts?

Euripides--No. I’m strictly a shallowender, but I’m in denial about it too.

Hesiod--Have you ever bridled a horse?

Euripides--How dare you.

Hesiod--Calm down. I didn’t mean it like that.

Euripides--How’d you mean it then?

Hesiod--Don’t know. Not sure. The days are getting longer.

Euripides--15 microseconds a year.

Hesiod--Need those leap seconds. About every 18 months.

Euripides--Those IERS bastards. Keeping time.

Hesiod--Calculating. Observing. Making a fuss over the decoupling of the definition of the second from the rotational period of the earth.

Euripides--Are we talking solar days?

Hesiod--We’re talking atomic clocks. International Atomic Time.

Euripides--Sounds like a bad moment in the arms race.

Hesiod--Is a moment more or less than a second?

Euripides--You mean as far as time passing?

Hesiod--That’s what time does, right?

Euripides--It is one of the necessities of being alive. Like owning a luxury sedan.

Hesiod--Like grilling salmon.

Euripides--Like going to a Cineplex.

Hesiod--We say one-one thousand.

Euripides--One Mississippi.

Hesiod--The deviation of the days.

Euripides--It’s all a matter of looking the right way at the situation.

Hesiod--The situation is grave and pot-holed.

Euripides--The situation is gravy and gristle.

Hesiod--Uncertainty thrives. Abolishment is the only answer.

Euripides--Wait a sec.

Hesiod--Hold on.

Euripides--Clock drift?

Hesiod--I think it’s a myth. All is relative.

Euripides--Drifting ahead in time. Always meandering our way into the future.

Hesiod--Relatively. Generally.

Euripides--What about gravitational time dilation?

Hesiod--‘Spose it could be time that changes, not the clock itself.

Euripides--‘Spose so.

Hesiod--If it moos I call it a cow. I don’t let it get the best of me.

Euripides--The worst of you then?

Hesiod--Sincerely, my letters end. And we talk of adorning ourselves with myrrh.

Euripides--Phenol on the breeze.

Hesiod--It’ll bleach your skin after you die. I’d prefer formaldehyde myself.

Euripides--Yep.

Hesiod--And remember St. Maximilian Kolbe?

Euripides--Injection, right?

Hesiod--You got it. Prisoner #16670. Auschwitz. He was starved too. Wouldn’t even let him drink water towards the end.

Euripides--Please make of me whatever pleases you.

Hesiod--We talking the immaculata?

Euripides--Give me strength against your enemies, O Sacred Virgin.

Hesiod--We must’a be a’talkin’ that old immaculata.

Euripides--Gimme that old time immaculata. Some of that old time immaculata.

Hesiod--It’s good enough for me. Still thinking about her?

Euripides--Not sure. My mood is ampersanding its way through difficult terrain.

Hesiod--Maybe a cleft would help?

Euripides--It is difficult terrain that my mood is ampersanding its way through.

Hesiod--Nope. Didn’t help.

Euripides--Damn. Maybe a clef. A nice G-clef for example.

Hesiod--No. That won’t do. Misses the point.

Euripides--Missing. That’s part of it. I’m always missing certain things, even when I have them, sometimes, well, I already miss them.

Hesiod--Dear lord. Ain’t nobody here but us chickens. Ain’t nobody here at all.

Euripides--Well, I accept the fact that I might be in need of some diversionary tactics.

Hesiod--This is tuckering me out.

Euripides--Oh. Come on. Keep your shirttails in.

Hesiod--So it came to be that he wanted somebody to share his life with.

Euripides--Put a sock in it.

Hesiod--He reconciled himself to being disappointed by just about everything life had to offer.

Euripides--Barefoot girls don’t run too fast.

Hesiod--Lemme git me my bb gun.

Euripides--Shoot out yer eye, kiddo.

Hesiod--Fear is nothing shot out of caterpillared dreams. Portions of success avenue to other lends of trying. And we get caught up making reservations for our own funeral. Vomit me a river.

Euripides--I got lost in the fumes of staring. Can’t wish yourself back, can you?

Hesiod--Getting caught in the net of somebody else’s life. There’s no excuse that’ll work.

Euripides--Hyperacusis?

Hesiod--No way in hell. That’s absurd. Quiet down.

Euripides--I still have these dreams where I’m in a huddle, but it’s not with football players. It’s not at a football game. It is in an auditorium that’s jam-packed with people dressed up like kings, you know with robes and crowns and jewels and stuff like that, and all these kings are singing a love song. It’s a song I’ve never heard. Maybe I made it up in the dream. But they’re all singing it together. It goes, “La la la, boo, and a boom, la la la la, and boo, boo, boo, dada, dada, la.” It just keeps repeating like that. It’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. At least I think that in the dream. Not so sure upon waking. But the huddle, in the huddle, there are all these farmers, and they’ve got on suspenders and blue jeans and are wearing straw hats, and I’m huddled there with them, and nobody’s talking. We’re just huddled there together, and it seems really important that we stay that way. I am not a farmer.

Hesiod--It’s only time we're wasting.

Euripides--I’m bored.

Hesiod--I’m boring.

Euripides--Change tips.

Hesiod--I was married once and I had this Eskimo I kept as a butler.

Euripides--You kept a butler?

Hesiod--Sure did. What a wonderful time in my life that was. I had an evil twin.

Euripides--What happened?

Hesiod--He bit the Big One one cool, balmy day at a Texaco station. Poisoned. Rid of him at last.

Euripides--What happened?

Hesiod--Creative differences.

Euripides--What happened?

Hesiod--Love went the way of the passenger pigeon.

Euripides--What happened?

Hesiod--Smoke in the brain like the filling of Twinkies

Euripides--What happened?

Hesiod--Nothing.

Euripides--Oh. I see. There’s a lanyard.

Hesiod--Where? I don’t see.

Euripides--Palling around with that pig-tailed girl ‘neath the shade of that umbrella tree.

Hesiod--I’m tongue-tied with doubt.

Euripides--I want an elevator that goes sideways instead of up and down. It’d be a box to take you all over town.

Hesiod--Still got her on your mind?

Euripides--Not sure my mind’s even my own anymore. It’s gone like Wally Pipp, who touted his own replacement to his boss, and then lost his job to him forever.

Hesiod--I get the feeling you’d rather love than be loved.

Euripides--My heart’s just a canceled check.

Hesiod--Better than a blank check.

Euripides--Dear oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Hesiod--Singularly afflicted with pessimistic tendencies.

Euripides--Meaninglessness.

Hesiod--Not socially inclined by nature.

Euripides--Waving goodbye. Bring me back my girl. Bring her back. Bring her back to me. To me. Waving goodbye for good.

Hesiod--Don’t flower yourself with hurt. I mean, what phase is this that you seem to be going through?

Euripides--A phase. You’re right. It’s just a phase.

Hesiod--Curses.

Euripides--Was bound to happen like that.

Hesiod--Curses.

Euripides--My concern would be with repercussions. The algorithms of the world we live in. Things sinking and rising at the same time.

Hesiod--Don’t forget luck. A role, caution thrown at a pedestrian, to grow accustomed to, like all things, just an acrimonious but well-intentioned step in a formerly unknown direction. Without the moon we’d all be dead in a matter of days.

Euripides--I stand up. I sit down. Life.

Hesiod--But the shine of it all, sometimes like moonglow streaking off a sallet before summer dies one more time, still proves its own worth, you must admit.

Euripides--A thief to steal my dreams. Of her. Of her. Of cigarettes. Of a demitasse filled with swan tears. Of her. Of tiny kids wearing tiny bascinets. Of saving the life of crossing guards. Of tossing terrible things out the window. Of miracles in iceboxes. Of her. Of silky scarlet-petaled poppies with black hearts. Of being transformed into a pleasant reptile. Of loamy mounds between snake holes. Of nodding heads fuming to face the sun. Of dusting for fingerprints on cabbage leaves. Of six-wheeled bicycles. Of her. Of cindery blasts of rockets. Of hanging from an observation window in the Statue of Liberty’s crown. Of sea-colored Baltic creatures whose waxy heads pop out of holes in the ground.

Hesiod--Blame is a fixed game.

Euripides--From the highest authority, from already over-delved depths of despair, from curtains, from showers, from the open road, from me, from this to that to there to here, from…

Hesiod--Closed for business until sunup.

Euripides--We purchase mules from sharpshooters and pull cords and make mistletoe tea.

Hesiod--Gone gone gone gone gone…

Euripides--Two characters in search of an entrance.

Hesiod--Ha.

Euripides--The veneration of ordinary things.

Hesiod--Tranquilizers for the overly anxious.

Euripides--Mood music for horticulturists.

Hesiod--And we’ve got hard-hearted hussies screaming sansculotte sermons over the horizon’s nipples.

Euripides--We do?

Hesiod--Sometimes. Like when the doors of perception squeak ajar and let in a fart on the breeze.

Euripides--Oh. Yeah. Those times.

Hesiod--I am nothing but a silent film with the sound turned all the way up. A breath without air. A mirror with nothing to reflect. A pompom lying flat and tangled like a yarn mop on the floor. Describe the state of your mind as of this very moment.

Euripides--Perhaps an example will do.

Hesiod--Perhaps.

Euripides--So. Here’s a conversation we once had…we had once…she and I…um…ok, “ --The moon’s dreamy tonight. --Yes. Its coal-like surface, all those dark volcanic maria among bright crustal highlands and impact craters, of course in synchronous rotation with the earth, our planet’s only natural satellite, always showing that same face to us, with really such a low albedo, though enhanced as it is by the opposition effect of course, is quite splendidly lit by the sun tonight. --I wonder if anybody owns the moon? --We do. The Outer Space Treaty was signed in 1967, and it defines the moon as the province of all mankind, and its uses are restricted to those of peace. --That’s nice. I like that. --Yeah. At least the moon’s not for sale. --Sometimes I think the moon wiggles, or kind of wrinkles its nose at me. --Actually that’s sort of true. Its orbit is rather eccentric around the earth, due to its libration, and we can glimpse almost 60 percent of its surface over time. Maybe the man in the moon does seem to be winking at us a bit because of the diurnal oscillation.”

Hesiod--Now I see. You’re flitting o’er the wide scars of Now in hopes of reaching the pits of Why.

Euripides--More or less.

Hesiod--Put an apple upon thy noggin and she shall only pierce thine eye with silver-bullet dreams.

Euripides--Amply put.

Hesiod--Well, I am in a waning gibbous period of my life.

Euripides--Bossing caddies around and...

Hesiod--Missing root-beer lips and coca-cola eyes…

Euripides--Disappearing under the curling waves of soup…

Hesiod--Chalking leaving the crime scene up to the smell of her mouth…

Euripides--Not like a cold to catch…

Hesiod--Not like lyme disease jumping a host…

Euripides--Not like a dot or dash of Jainism…

Hesiod--Destroy thy passions! Or, well…at least subdue the damn shit.

Euripides--Just this little feeling called love.

Hesiod--Tackle it and shackle it to the ground. Beat hell out of it with a cane. Break its spirit. Crush its will power. Smash its head in. Kill off whatever’s left.

Euripides--I am in opposition to that which holds me in thrall. I creep away while nobody’s looking. I can be stealthy when I wish to be.

Hesiod--Lose it in a bet. Throw it in with the towel. Mash it with some hard-boiled eggs.

Euripides--I am curious about the historical inaccuracies in my own life. I’ve eaten many bagels, but never one covered with coal tar. Get it straight. I am not in love. I am not.

Hesiod--Point and stare. Point. Stare. Lie down. Jump. Start rumors. Shower x-mas trees with gasoline.

Euripides--Badly in need of a razor.

Hesiod--Got it straight?

Euripides--I am a cloche hat thrown in the gutter.

Hesiod--But with sequins to see the stars?

Euripides--Shame. Shame. Shame.

Hesiod--Ty Cobb’s mommy killed his daddy.

Euripides--With a rifle. With a rifle she shot him in his head.

Hesiod--Ain’t got no home in this world, boys. He ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

Euripides--My daddy will bring your daddy back home again. Don’t be afraid if it gets dark and rains.

Hesiod--Something like that…I guess.

Euripides--If there is a mortician, if he sees me wishing I were in his care, if the bells are all tolling for somebody else, if the trumpets are all crumpling the same old benedictions foreboding morning, if my will is hunting cross-dressing baritones, if my lord, my lord, my good lord is supping with a wingless angel, if I’m skimming the Daily Worker and singing those anti-labor Taft-Hartley blues again.

Hesiod--The outcome of many concurrent or contiguous events might seem aberrational at the time or in the times we live outside the circular molecular patterns of the land beyond and then some possibility screaming, “Woe, woe, woe is me!”

Euripides--Not me.

Hesiod--That’s what they all say.

Euripides--Shoot.

Hesiod--Wonderment is achieved at random hints of velocity.

Euripides--I’m plugging the coin slots of my ambitions with dirty thoughts.

Hesiod--Lonesome is as lonesome does, scaredy cat.

Euripides--When is all this going to end?

Hesiod--Whenever you let it end.

Euripides--Can it end now?

Hesiod--Good question. What’s the answer?

Euripides--Well, you know, you know, you know. Plant a banana tree. Put heavy things in your pockets. Become weighed down.

Hesiod--Fruit punch!

Euripides--Loss grows its own achievements, maybe like a chayote, but we must admit, while the show goes on, if it must, a Euler diagram might help, as far as clusterings go, as far as milquetoast sensibilities run the races of your life’s course, as far as seeing it all like a little kid would, as far as far will go.

Hesiod--Wear a helmet. Take a chance. Stay up all night. Write a book on tape. Pitch a shutout with a tennis ball in the gimcrack, hard-to-notice stadium of bad luck badly fitted to the confines of your friendliest tendencies. Get on with it.

Euripides--My train’s leaving.

Hesiod--Get on with it.

Euripides--I’ve got my ticket.

Hesiod--Get on with it.

Euripides--But I’m scared to leave.

Hesiod--Get on with it.

Euripides--Dreaming about the weather.

Hesiod--Get on with it.

Euripides--Love on the tracks.

Hesiod--Flimflam and slapdash.

Euripides--That is all we are.

Hesiod--That is all.

Euripides--Two characters in search of…

Hesiod--A snowy sidewalk.

Euripides--A cowboy hat.

Hesiod--Get on with it.

Euripides--Making believe…

Hesiod--Get on with it.

Euripides--In the reality of business as usual.

Hesiod--Get on with it.

Euripides--The highway goes in both directions. Not too comfortable. The highway goes. Goes and goes and goes. Goes in all these ways. Not too ordinary. On any map. Red and black squiggles. Going in all these ways. The dashes and dots. Yellow and white on the long stretches of tarry road. Going. Going. Dividers. Shrubbery. Promises. Going. Going. Cement and separation. Going. Going. Gone…

Hesiod--Yes.



it'sonlytime

marythe

el

ephant

parades and stamps

and maybe stomps

transient

mary

thetwotonelephant

with songs in her trunk

she sings me anything

can play baseball too

and checkers

she keeps me ingoodcompany

even when I don't deserve it

mary

the

elephant

stampedestorms

mary

stoppingtime

with her singing

elephantmentary

miss mary

dear

marytheelephant

heartstringstrumming

to stay

just the night

tonight

twotonmary

lets me borrow

her harmonium

inthemorninglight

marythe

elemenopea

elephant

would never prick

the toes of my shoes

with sharp

getawayspines

mary

the unmarryingkind

kindofelephant

better than

annie

the cactus

any

old

rainyday

when smoking quits me

and raisins turn to prunes

and I maybe

get trampled

under

giantelephantfeet

bigger

than the sky

later than this late at night

when restoril brings no rest

and marythe

elephant

goes rumbletumbling by

overandoverandoverandover

andoveragain

marythe

clockcrushingelephant

with a cloudstopping heart

work your

thunderboom magic

tonight

for me