Sunday, March 27, 2011

yelling timber

Child: Would the streets of a paper city be paved with cardboard?

Benito Mussolini: I don’t respond well to questions.

Child: As if the day of the week, all dandy-fancy, were capable of being told.

Leonard Susskind: Extrapolating has its kind side. There. I said it.

Child: If I am movie-mad?

Slavoj Žižek: Movies are mad and therefore we target them…individually.

Child: I want my journey to consist of three-point plays and untested excuses.

Lawyer: Please remain silent, or neutral at least.

Loved One: Pshaw.

Child: Pamper me, please.

Loved One: No.

Benito Mussolini: Somebody put me on a train. For Jesus, the sake of.

Child: Blocks. Offensive Rebounds. Trailing the break. Holding for the last shot. Dribble drives. Giving a smooch to each bicep for the crowd. These things? Yeah. These things.

Dom DiMaggio: Chances that you give, if they don’t get taken, come back, in the mix of it all, to haunt your streakiness.

Child: Agreed.

Mother Of Loved One: Sweep west, young man. Sweep west.

Loved One: She knows some of what of where she speaks of.

Rosie The Riveter: There’s a whole world out there filled with people doing things to make your life easier…for very little money.

Leonard Susskind: Don’t refill your cup too soon, buck-o.

Patti Smith: Darn crooked. Somebody toss one of them veggie patties on the grill for me.

The Count: Lord help me. Yes sir, I will.

Child: Getting better, soon.

Loved One: Still?

Morrissey: How soon is it?

Child: Not quite now.

Slavoj Žižek: Putting off the inevitable, are we not? Basic manipulation of mise-en-scène, drawbacks of iris-like styles, holes in the bucket, and we get the heart of the matter to bleed through to us in the bright CinemaScope of celluloid. Lavishly darning the unstitched ends of consciousness; that is more like us.

Johann Sebastian Bach: I think I left my heart in the gutter. Anybody seen a sewer drain around here?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Get bent.

Child: My tolerance for nitwits is plunging.

Paul Verlaine: I’d paint your fence for just about nothing.

Tom Verlaine: I’d do it just for fun.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens: Well, that’s good of you both. But is that a flag I smell burning?

Roger Clemens: No. It’s my loins.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens: Oh. When’s recess?

Child: That’s what we’re all wondering.

Lawyer: Play fair or go home.

Child: Is that right?

Lawyer: Well, according to my records everybody’s got a right to fight…or was that…? Let’s see….was that to…to…to party?

Dee Snider: I want a rock.

John Donne: I want an island. And a bell.

Joyce Carol Oates: You would.

Child: Within the first 5 minutes of talking to somebody I can usually tell if I ever want to talk to them again.

Sigmund Freud: You should use that mouth to kiss your mother.

Child: Only if my loneliness increases exponentially. Just existing, now, here, is enough.

Ringo Starr: Okay everybody. Now, I don’t want any of you to lend me your ear. Okay?

Mother Of Loved One: I would say, “Play it again Sam,” but you haven’t played it yet.

The Count: In among the trees again, are we?

Methuselah: Somebody leave me out of this.

Child: As if that were ever fine by me. At least we’ve found out what you’re no good for, at last.

Mark Fidrych: If we don’t know you by now…

Thales of Miletus: I give you all the digitus impudicus.

Child: I guess hate conquers some.

Benito Mussolini: Quiet down. I can’t hear the TV.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Ouch! My back.

Snoopy: Sorry. I was marching on a dime. Sorry.

Child: If I were only empty inside there’d be a reason for all this, but I’ve tasted what’s sweetest around the block and back again, so there must be an exception to make as far as my sanity is concerned.

Father: Shut your mouth or I’ll shut it for you.

Loved One: That’s more like it.

David Foster Wallace: Escaping towards a better way of life; the difference between what I want and what I need--the confusion too, between the two. Knuckle-biting about not writing, essentially stuttering….erase, erase, add, erase. Just footnotes to my dreams.

Arlo Guthrie: All the dogs to me are killed until they’re dead.

Warren Gamaliel Harding: Weird.

Joan Crawford: Hounding seems thunderous at times, to me, and as long as we’re fantailing o’re the kiddies, well, let’s holster our civility and just be.

Child: Like, so, how? How so?

Voltairine de Cleyre: He’s a brat. Give ‘em to me. I’ll make a mouse of him.

Child: Give? Who says?

Billie Holiday: I died with seventy cents in the bank, and was arrested as I lay dying. Who needs to say? Who?

William Faulkner: Shit.

Child: I might be who, but who is that who? And to whom is my sense of self given? And who is giving it? Shall it be I? Who am I? Who is who?

Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg: Recess.

Carol Burnett: Ghosting around has left us dull in the middle. Let’s do this shit up right, or why do it at all?

Steve Ignorant: After this I’m going to owe all of you a living.

Child: Naivety is sort of blissful, you know?

Margaret Thatcher: Isn’t it though?

The Count: Huh?

Child: There’s room for my love in a battered old suitcase, in a crossword puzzle’s starred clues, in an unlocked safe labeled For Jane’s Use Only, in a moonrise, in a few glasses of beer, in sign-language lessons, in the pleasant way cars shine their headlights through mist in the early morning, in well-timed smiles, in the bashful tuck of a kitten’s paw, in the rocks’ spit at a semi’s mudflaps, in the scrublands of crowberry and vervain and leycesteria and cotoneaster and silverbell and firethorn, in the president’s spittle, in the whore’s made bed, in songs to sing while drinking, in useless hours spent waiting out the rain, in love, in protest banners, in 12-hour shifts in a windowless factory, in the companionship of a bottle of cheap rye whisky, in untended lawns, in bones that break and heads that hang, in a calendar’s x’d out squares, in a cricket’s dreams, in throat lumps, in card games and baseballs and Morningbirds and lazy bartenders, and in you too, in you, and me, and all of us, at last, yes, all of us, at long last, in us all.

Lazarus: Yeah. But who’s counting?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

a burin that chisels a flower’s brain

you’ve got to admit, helen’s a rather odd name for a young girl. well, either way, it seems i’ve got a bit of the old cruel & unusual crawling around in me today. i don’t know, something to do with germanium-crystal skinned spaceships flying close to mercury. or maybe it's the goddamn rain. goes to show you though, partnering with premium idols is bussing a lost cause to shams of look-at-me withdrawal. i was talking real funny this week. it worked as an allure, part & parcel of my charm, and people kept mistaking me for jack kennedy. i could’ve made a fortune if only i wouldn’t a been stuck all day in a factory making doll shoes. but my ears hint that there’ll be some remittance coming yet, at least that’s what keeps me chummy through the days’ piled-up hair. plus, i have never been outsourced. but i’ll also admit that i’ve never been a structuralist, and when the cars slop and slush through the streets on rainy days, well, i make ashtrays and spindles and motorcarts for the wind-chilled. it’s my lot, and i cringe through it with style. telling myself another whopper as the windows cry with raindrops, as the gray buildings smoke white puffs, as i grow cranky and used to, and by, the things that make up a life. helen cheers and jeers with the sound of my name, and i’ve been patted on the back enough, and spit on, too, for that matter, to know when i’m being taken advantage of, sold out, or pushed into the pool, so to speak. there’s a top spot in my heart for failures still. mostly it’s the lacking in the capacity to make a big deal out of one’s self. incurable, am i, in the horror-shop ways of dealing with what’s misconstrued and chucked at my wishy-washy ways. the rain putters and lifts, and bone-strong it comes down pounding again, without wind, and i’m calling sunup a liar, and i’m moody at best, and the hickory smells like cactus today. nothing ever happens. in the frozen-toed here & now that i’m apprehensively taking part in, always fashioning a new way to be late, nobody’s reciprocating. the sunsets have turned to mauve, and the bananas have mushed to brown. my face turns a certain color, too, when i give helen one of my expressions. i have multiple looks to choose from now. it is something i’ve been working on, preparing my face to gaze in indirect ways with a directness only i can achieve. carve off a slice of your life and feed it to the graying eagles among us. i’m fooling around with her money now, shortchanging myself, falling down in the crapper at the track, and i’m treasuring the ways of my escape. colder, not quite as wise, bumming time from the lampposts, downshifting through the weeks with the emergency brake on. the weather won’t make up its mind. it’s the buildings, their certain shine at sunset, the fading advertisements melting down their worn-brick sides, the rain-slick facades crumbling peels of paint, plaster of paris antlers over the entryway, smokestacks & water towers & sad graffitied droopy faces & lilts of white pillars, the sag of weather-beaten years plopping the ceiling, gravel pooled thin on the roof. my eyes create their own diversions. sometimes credit gets me by. but then again, well, i’ve gone and lost interest in most things that interest most people. my bookie says maybe i’ll win a prize. in the meanest of times, here, gut-shooting myself might make up for lost time, but i still think of ogling as my occupation, and my condition. helen is grieving over my motivation, or lack thereof, as it’ll be recorded in the annals. and so here i go again living my life in roll-over patterns. no small getaways. no bananas to split. driving with no radio, windshield wipers ripped off too by some cross-eyed kid with a vendetta against buicks. i’m too unkind to even dabble in caring about these things. if i ever could’ve thought a thought out it’d make me sweller to be around, that’s pretty for sure. maybe put me in touch with the lord. maybe. helen apes my blues, coerces a croon from my patchwork of winks & dangerous lip curls & and the swish of my hip swayings, and i give her a tabula rasa to scratch out her dreams on. barely fair, if you ask me, baldly, what i think. but it’s a captious question, if you ask me, and nobody here’s going to go on ruminating about it, or take my picture for the cover of some glossy magazine cover. i’ve built up enough resistance to the sentimentalities of the world to cover my ass. toss me a stradivarius and blow smoke at the rain. what’s the difference what i do here huddled within my indefatigable smallness? sure, i oboe the line between safe and scared, but the hurt’s what’s keeping sure-enough sweeps of tectonic change from catapulting me into an abysmal crevice, and you tend to stick a bit closer to home once you’ve taught yourself to run away. you can’t keep throwing spaghetti on the wall all the time. as helen is so fond of telling me, listening is now optional. the tonal flush of pinks, lost in a violet spin, check their bags in the wayward cuts of a shadow’s bloom. don’t blame me for the shortcomings of ambition. there’s a whole stew of otherness that calls the kettle a pot, and that should be enough. if we can get the hours to agree with us, and mostly they won't, helen won’t, by any stretch, get muscled out of the attack position. i’ve been out-of-line for a promotion anyway. more’s gone on behind the scenes for us to ever have anything to say about it anymore. i may dress like a session man but nobody’s going to make this shirt tuck. my bookie calls and tells me he’s on to something, that he’s got a feeling about something, and that it’ll scamper my soul off to the races just to be near his giddy breath. i have my doubts, as per usual. apparently i am becoming quite the absurdist to him, though that doesn’t keep him from pulling the old waterworks out on me when he really needs some advice, or dough. but it suits him. i let him go on in his hobbled ramble, digesting nothing except the occasional minty aftertaste, which sunnies my future a tad, and leaves me less enervated than usual, and even, sometimes, pirating my way to a new form of reasonableness. he hangs up on me four out of five times. i prefer it that way. it enables me to feel more victimized, more at risk, and, therefore, more able to cope with the isolated stuffiness that some like to call the comfortable & boring rote of life. i say yes just about as much as i say no. capability? i’m lacking in enough already. so, yes. and as long as i’m considering the sparks-without-gas stove of what needs i’m not “capable” of satisfying yet, well, i might as well curate the trove of my bad-luck cures. i can’t help but injure myself partaking in the most routine of things. pigeons are not cooing for the likes of me. i sleep to the sound of car alarms. blondes come and blonde they go. commercials are my only friends. distinctions? beats the heaven out of me. leaves me drooling on the pillow for another cheap christ substitute to wonder my way towards. hefting crosses is my lot, barely, and if i get tied down to back floating through it all, staring up at a hundred half-dollar moons spotting my skies, depending on mirrors for my self esteem, vesting ideas with their share of my head’s refinanced mortgage, well, i want to take something back, something to have, something that would be real in this hopped-up world of imaginary circumstances. when the weather gets dreamy like this i still get upset. omaha’s off limits, and the playground’s littered with failed heroes. helen’s dancing in the kitchen to the drummings of mice behind the drywall. it’s not that odd. we used to fight about the strangest things. the heater’s kicked on, and now all i can smell is burning dust. after giving some harmonical advice to the church bells, i flump onto the bed, lie there with the blanket pulled up to my chin, and dream of sheep who count me. the air is plenty and too little. i’m moving to mars.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

it gets loneliest at night

a: but she’s fucking gorgeous.

b: but the parkinson’s?

a: yeah. the p-fucking-d.

b: crazy. parkinson’s. shit. that’s some serious point scoring with the world though, you know?

a: damn straight. that’s part of it too. that’s like what i’m kind of trying to relate in this fucking situation. i was like all up on this chick and shit, you know? we were going vertical with the horizontal, and this parkinson’s, fuck, the parkinson’s made it like fucking crazy. all those random jittery shakes and shit. it was fucking amazing.

b: fuck. parkinson’s. the pd. that’s some serious shit man. fucking parkinson’s.

a: that’s right. fucking parkinson’s, like michael j. fox. and i was so like taken by her too. something about her just drove me pit-over-pendulum wild.

b: ain’t that about’a bitch.

a: let’s think strategically for a sec.

b: got it. i see. let’s make the course fucking clear here. um…

a: yeah. there’s a hump in the street down there, you know, on bush, for drainage i guess, and all the lanes, you know when there’s no parking on the street, like during rush hour, and it seems, i don’t know, kind of clear, clean even. nothing but the sweeping gush and swish of traffic. i sit outside of that sandwich shop there and look at that damn humped street and listen to the sound of cars going by, people on cell phones, the footsteps of peds xing, you know, just stupid shit like that.

b: teriyaki beef. kimchi sub. kalbi. crab. fried egg sandwich. bad rap music and a tube tv. cute japanese girls slicing bread.

a: yep. that’s the place.

b: rattrap.

a: sure. that’s why i fucking sit outside.

b: sure.

a: so i’m sitting out there one day, checking out the street’s hump as usual, trying to muster up some serious getter done.

b: gotta.

a: yeah. and i’m like tossing around the possibility, you know, because i see this chick walking towards me, and i can tell something’s up.

b: all systems are not quite go.

a: but she’s smoking hot.

b: nice.

a: and so i’m giving my eyes a little pleasure cruise.

b: who wouldn’t?

a: and i’m working up a nudge into my disposition, wondering if i can at least catch a smile off of her, maybe do a flyby, scope out the sitch.

b: caught in the bitch of being between things.

a: always. fucking always. anyway. i’m sketching snappy plans in my head, just spur-of-the-moment shit, like whoops, I dropped my phone, or whatever. something better than your ordinary do-you-got-the-time bullcrap.

b: hatching a snare.

a: what?

b: you know, like…i don’t know. you know.

a: whatever. so, she’s wobbling and jerking her way towards me, elbows and knees jutting out, legs like rubber, kind of like a robot gone berserk.

b: awesome. like robot theater on laugh in.

a: what the fuck are you talking about?

b: it was a show in the 60s with goldie hawn.

a: goldie hawn. shit. she was hot.

b: i know.

a: nobody knows what the hell that show is, you moron. shit. just shut the fuck up and listen.

b: but…

a: so, this chick comes hobbling by. and she doesn’t have a cane or a walker or anything. she’s just gyrating on about her way, and she seems to be pretty deft at it, at maneuvering her way about and not bumping into things and like injuring herself or others. it seemed dangerous, you know, to be strutting around all wild and out of control like that. could’ve broke a window with a flying elbow or something, or scratched a cornea with an unbridled finger. but there’s this strange sense of her body’s movements that she seems to have. like she knows just how far her flailing limbs are going out from her, and how to swing her hips around so as to never give the whack to anything around her. it’s kind of amazing. i’m not talking anosognosia. no. it’s more like she’s got an extremely high level of proprioception.

b: like a woman with windmill arms.

a: what? no. not like that at all. that doesn’t even make sense. could you can it for a minute and listen?


a: so she works her quaking way up to me, and i’m just kind of lying back, pretending to be all aloof and not paying any mind to much. cool and unconcerned. all iceberg-slim style. and i can sense her likely getting near. so, in a moment of spontaneity, i stick out my foot a bit, just knowing, somehow, what would happen. and sure enough, slamm’a jamm’a, she steps on my shoe.

b: wow. taking some serious chances there.

a: sure. but it works. she’s like so apologetic. and i’m milking it a bit too.

b: bastard.

a: whatever. it did kind of hurt. anyway, i’m faking a little losing my breakfast there before i’ve even got my lunch in me. it’s quite possible i shed a tear.

b: son of a bitch.

a: Well, lick a stamp and send me off to the races. you have not the slightest fucking idea of what the fuck you speak. just shut it and listen. you might learn yourself something.


a: so i’m doing a little play acting there, grabbing at my toes and wincing and all the likes, and she’s like, ‘i’m so sorry, oh my god,’ and all those likes. i’m dosing her with dabs of woe-is-me, and she’s soaking it up and like exuding fucking pity for me.

b: you’re like one of those guys who calls shin guards “greaves” or “jambeaux.”

a: you going to pipe down and let me finish? or am i gonna have to plug your pie hole for you?


a: well, i’m going all lump-in-the-throat tongue-tied and all the likes, faking it though, you know? and she’s buying it ham hock and all. but then i’m like, of course, not blaming her at all, and am like being very forgiving, and we’re both caught up in this it’s-not-your-fault-it’s-mine thing, but i’m discovering some very interesting things about her figure. she’s built, this chick. all rolling soft hills and slender curves of leg. an ass that you could set your drink down on all night without spilling a drop, hips you just want to grab a hold of and never let go, and the neck of an egyptian goddess. i’m stuffing my head with fantasies of what she’s going to be like naked, and it’s making me more than a lot glad. but there’s this palmist place next door. you know. one of those places where they perform chiromancy and shit. tell you your future by looking at the wrinkles in your palm. and i’d been checking out the sign out front, these purple and yellow bent neon tubes spelling out, “Palms Read. Tarot Cards,” and stuff like that, wondering about what’d happen if i did something like that. never done something like that before. let some fat old lady in a cloak run her hand over mine. shit. i don’t know. i was just pedaling it around in my head a little. and this idea just like sprouts, and soon i’m like telling her we should get our palms read at this place.

b: just out of fucking nowhere?

a: well, no. there’s more to it. we started chatting about the window display for some reason. there are a couple of busts of caesar in there, and a plaster of paris hand, kind of like that hamburger helper hand character, with all the markings of different astral signs or some shit on the palm. also there are these what i guess were tarot cards or something positioned among giant candles with gold crosses, the cards were bearing like religious pictures of like the virgin mary praying or something, and there’s your usual assortment of potion bottles and a chart of the chakras scattered around in the window plants there. but i’ve got to leave some shit out, you know, or else we’ll be here until fucking xmas. can’t tell you every little scrap of conversation between us. shit. let’s just say it was a fairly easy veer point.

b: okay. get on with it.

a: so she’s like feeling all sorry for me. this girl with parkinson’s, you know. and i feel kind of guilty but, it’s not a big deal. i figure i can swing my way out of it. i’m not really positive about the parkinson’s yet anyway. i knew something was wrong, but wasn’t quite sure exactly what kind of beast i was dealing with. so, after a bit more jabbering and are-you-okaying, she decides, sure, why not? and we stride on in to the palmistry place, both us kind of limping, mind you. her in her way. me in my faking way. we must have been a little bit of a sight. but the chiromancer’s pretty chill about it. she’s this old bag in a veil. she’s maybe middle eastern or something. i don’t know. but we sit down at her table in the low light, and we’re both kind of nervous, and the parkinson’s girl’s making a little bit of a racket clattering around, you know, with the parkinson’s and all, but we settle in and get started. there’s a small genie-type lamp on the table, tarot cards lying around, the aroma of scented candles, the whole bit. i’m decorating my head with delusional visions, as per usual, and sitting rather close to she of the parkinson’s and curvaceous figure, endowed with all of the pleasantries the more-superficial man holds in high regard. her knee knocks into mine every so often, and she’s very apologetic about it. i don’t mind it of course. whatever brings her closer on over to me is right as rain. but i’m way the fuck out of my element, to say the least. sitting next to miss parkinson’s, who i don’t even really know at all, in a palm reader’s den. shit. what’s next, you know? and i’m still feigning nursing a sore toe.

b: it’s not like she had stilettos on or something, right?

a: well, whatever. i’m just trying to extract a bit more sympathy without really appearing to be trying to. it’s a very delicate operation. you’ve got to play it very carefully. not overdo it.

b: sounds stupid.

a: i don’t disagree. but once you start in with something like that…well, anyway, i’m sitting there and the room’s pretty dark and this chick with the parkinson’s is right next to me, and i’m thinking, this is great, you know? this is prime territory to start making inroads to a coup d'éta of her undergarments. you know, it’s dark, candlelight, strange old lady in a silk robe, hands being held. i was thinking this all seemed very auspicious to a romantic affair. i can tell looks, you know? she was giving looks. i could feel her looks. and what i was feeling was like hop on the wagon and get this hayride started right. even accounting for the mercurial nature of people’s looks, well, even then i still felt i had that feeling that you get maybe when like a girl whom you’re like majorly crushing on says your name for the first time. there’s nothing like that feeling, and i was flush with something akin to it. i just knew.

b: you sensed it. maybe you’re the one with esp. maybe you should’ve been doing the palm reading.

a: a fly. a fuck. so maybe i’ll just go have lunch with your mom in the rain tomorrow. can’t you nix the interruptions for even a minute?


a: so we’re laying our hands out on the table, palms up, and this old lady is like chanting this divination-like shit at us, and i’m hoping my palms aren’t too sweaty to be read, you know, because i’ve always got sweaty palms. i wasn’t sure if this would like skew the reading or something. like maybe the clamminess would foul things up. i don’t know. there’s a lot of i-don’t-know about these astrological matters. anyway, i’m starting to wonder if there’s a chance on mars that i’m going to actually get into this parkinson’s chick’s groovier parts at some point in the not-too distant future. you always start to weigh those things at some point, you know, like if the risk is worth the reward. but nothing was too bad yet. the whole vibe situation was seeming alright. interstellar connections were being made. i hooked wise to a chance and held my ground. the palm-reader lady was rather lumpy and creased, and her fingers were swelled with all kinds of rings. she had a musky, sour-milk odor to her and seemed to be wearing a cape of some sort, though it was rather dark and being in a strange environment like that one was making my head dull to subtle differences in the fabric of things. but i’m pretty sure it was a cape. i remember how chubby her fingers were, how massive and bloated her hands were, and as she took my limp, scrawny hand in hers i kept thinking about that mike wells’ picture. you know, the one where that beef-jerky skinned, emaciated ugandan’s hand is juxtaposed with that much larger well-fed white hand like black twigs on a pillow. it was that dramatic of a dichotomy. i don’t know, maybe i felt a sort of uxorious tug there, or just an emasculated jab at my efforts, thrown in to bop me back to the reality and not just the, you know, quote-unquote aura of the situation. a large, odiferous, bovine-like woman with a swath of curtain for a dress and wearing what could quite possibly be a felt cape, well, it was just so strange, with my small delicately thin fingers lying spread in her chunky paw, and i can’t quit the feeling that she’s got this eerie power over me, like i’m under her control almost. part of me, though, i think, was actually enjoying this. something submissive rousting about in my unconscious that maybe desired to be controlled and therefore, you know, free of any blame or care, like, you know, somebody else is doing all the decision making and all you’ve got to do is sit back and watch it all happen and be carried away like a feather on the wings of wind.

b: something like that.

a: so she’s starting in with the jumbo and the mumbo, and i’m just playing along, and sharing a few looks with my newfound friend with parkinson’s there sitting next to me, kind of clanking her legs around a bit, but mostly pretty calm and still. and i’m a little nervous so i’m making dumb small talk and wiggling around a little. telling her that this is my first time and that i’ll always remember it and that it’ll never be just like this again, and the fortune teller lady is kind of liking it and kind of over it too, you know, as she probably hears this kind of shtick all the time. but we’re getting going there, and i make a few cracks about my sweaty palms and shit, and the plump clairvoyant starts in on the palm digging. and she’s going over the heart and the head line, the life line, the girdle of venus, the whole ninety-nine yards. and it kind of tickles and is nice. i like it, which surprises me. this fat madame rue’s got a soft touch.

b: she does do this for a living.

a: yeah. and so this parkinson’s girl is like leaning in close with her elbow on the table, and she’s trembling a bit, but not too bad, and she’s nodding some with her chin cupped in a hand, almost like she’s going, ‘yes, yes, uh huh, yes,’ with an eager interest in the goings on. neither of us was worried about a thing.

b: what?

a: it’s just the way it was. i don’t know.

b: what?

a: i don’t know. anyway. i ain’t no miracle worker. i ain’t no miracle man, you know?

b: no. i don’t. what the fuck are you…?

a: no, no, no, no, no…don’t you…can’t you see what i’m saying? don’t you know what i’m telling you? don’t you? huh? huh?


a: i’m just me. i do what i can. i don’t control things. i just go along.


a: anyway. so i’m shipping up and shaping out, and i’m getting dizzying with omens and harbingers and prophecies of what’ll be surely, she says, coming on up ahead for me, waiting for me like a dream/nightmare i’ve yet to have. she’s perspicaciously going on about how the convergence of my life and my love will derail my destiny with mothballs and origami wings, and she tells me that i’m a loner but not a rebel, and that i’d better strangle the demons of my past with somebody else’s hands. it’s all a blur from there on out. my hands were soaked with sweat and i kept apologizing under my breath, and my fingers were squirming around, and miss parkinson’s is kind of laughing at and with me at the same time, and the palm-reader lady is being polite and nonchalant about it, and she like takes some gauzy fabric from her sleeve and wipes down my hand a few times, assuring me that this is normal, that this happens to everyone. her smile is very comforting and reassuring. it makes me feel like i’m in good hands.

b: that’s one way to put it.

a: and this parkinson’s girl. she’s leaning in real close. she’s interested. she’s quirky and unabashed. the walls melt. i’m stealing signs. the whole shebang’s gonna blow. but i can’t move. i’m just sitting there letting it all happen. and somewhere there are heads of various flora gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek.

b: what?

a: it hasn’t happened yet. come tax day you’ll come to know these things. a bloom, a dusty cloud, an open door. i will heave forward and wretch back. give me a gas mask and a lead jacket. curtail my desire to just drift. skew lines in a sky the color of canted rust.

b: harmonize with me.

a: no. it’s a loose-leafed instinct. i was entertaining the thought of going insane, actually. but that soon became irrelevant.

b: thoughts like that come and go and go and go and come again but then they go and then….then….well, um, you know.

a: i wasn’t crying or anything like that. but parkinson’s chick was copious in her grief. parkinson’s miss was blowing an oboe of sorrow for all the dead birds. there were things we’d still have to learn. under certain suspicions we withheld our honor and spit into kleenex.

b: not that we’d have to expect…

a: no. that’s not…well, you see, well…i was hangnailing some boldness there, and there were mistakes i knew i’d never get to make if i didn’t, you know, act fast, while supplies last, you know, and i phoned in my weakness, and it was all a mess.

b: so. what happened next? what’s next? and then, and then, and then…you know.

a: i was fucking sapped. parkinson’s was clinging to me and laughing and smiling and it felt like i was on the cover of that bob dylan album freewheelin’. but inside i was torn to bits. there’s a matter of bragging and keeping it all safe on the inside. shit. like slamming the car door on jealousy’s fingers. it didn’t do any damn good in the long of the short of it. everything’s a coincidence.

b: i was born under the sign of come-closer-or-don’t-come-at-all.

a: we can count now. so, i was…one, two, three…shy enough at the time…four, five…up a tree…six…

b: shouldn’t we be counting down?

a: doesn’t matter. that girl and me, well, we ran away from it all and back again, and we went all over and around. we clasped hands. we kissed. her lips were a flurry of soft, wet, quivering frisson. she shimmied and shook in my arms. it was like being electrocuted, like dancing without even trying. wild spikes of energy pinballing through us. it just happened and there was nothing we could do about it. i don’t know if it was the parkinson’s or what but it was like hitching a ride on a lightning bolt, and we flopped all around and twisted and jangled our way down the block, almost running too, hand in hand, missing everything except each other. it was all the thrill of being alive without any of the worry. and then it was like, well, blue my past and mint the gold of now. past the liquor store, past the parking garage, the smell of gasoline and cigarettes and the sewer, past the video store, and the scent of bacon from the sandwich shop is long gone now. she’s whistling a captain beefheart tune. i’m doing my best bill-cosby two-step. something about it breaks my heart. it doesn’t matter. it doesn’t. we keep dancing. the sidewalk’s sparkling silver. we keep dancing. we keep dancing.

b: strychnine is good. i like the taste. that kind of thing?

a: well, i don’t know. i pray in my spare time. i tinker around with necessity. my doorbell sings to me all through the daylight. under the right set of wrongs, well, i just might allow for a song to keep me warm at night.

b: and then, and then, and then…seven, eight…come on. you know.

a: nine. okay. so i peeped into my future a teeny bit. so what?

b: ten.

a: is that it?

b: guess so.

a: blam?

b: yep.

a: but i was just getting started…but i…

b: doesn’t matter. time don’t care.

a: and then you drop your fork and the whole place shivers with the threat of a falling-out over things to come. and then? and then, well, i guess you’re left with nothing to depend on.

b: but that’s okay. but that’s okay. but that’s okay. walking in the rain. nothing left but pain. it’s okay. it’s…okay.

a: everything will be alright. everything will be…

b: so what now?

a: now? well, i’m a violent and a tender man. the ways of seclusion stain my days. a hurried occupation kicks in the water, and i float and float and float. cardboard soles on my shoes, a richter-scale needle jabbing at my heart, and an empty picture frame where her face used to be. more and more each day i am coming to appreciate the simple fact of being alive, but it’s also becoming something that i am scared less and less to lose.

b: we’re different now.

a: yes. we’ve come to know things we’d only heard about before. a more direct way to beg, borrow, and steal away the days.

b: god. i’m getting choosy lately. i run towards green lights and wonder about hiroshima. i want to do something for myself but keep not doing it. hey. you’ve lost count. you forgot an and-then.

a: there’s stability in being lost and forgotten. everybody’s misunderstood. we all need, we all need, we all need…

b: a little bit o’ soul to put you right, to see you through.

a: with the right kind of eyes, well…fuck it. let’s count backwards from ten.

b: fads of being, looks of seeing, a better way to laugh…ten, nine…

a: the locals are going native…eight…scoundrels are having their moments…seven…

b: savages.

a: there’s a crook in her back, and she’s straining, it’s unbecoming, and i’m clock-less and twenty hours behind as always.

b: six, five…

a: i’ve lost my fingerprints.

b: four.

a: i want a national silence…three….falling down, and then, and then, and then it’s all over and begun.

b: the good guys. the bad guys. we’re all wearing bandanas on our faces these days.

a: two. messed up pretty good, huh?

b: yeah. can’t help it. and then…?

a: there was…one. that’s that.

b: good. i was starting to think….

Saturday, March 5, 2011

the worst Valentine’s Day that Harland Sanders ever had

I have, you see, confessions to make. I do make things like that. Yes, I can make things, too, besides coffins, like the one I made for the fat kid who fell down the stairs. I use my hands to shape things. There a various ways of making yourself content, well, some would say happy, but that doesn’t make sense anymore. The plumbers had problems getting in the door. Insulation serves me well, though, occasionally, it doesn’t.

Confessions, like my original 11 herbs and spices, get watered down over the years, and you can piss away what’s left into the slop trough as far as I’m concerned. I’m not one who’s willing to get down and dirty over it. So, well, there’s that.

I ran away from home before I knew how to read or ride a bike. There’s, when you get mushy, like a violin without its strings, some things you do out of needing to do them, when you’re getting beat up all the time and you’re just a little kid, so you split and that’s that. Maybe you join the army. Maybe you get mauled by a wild dog. Could be you end up starving and alone in a ditch somewhere. Eventually you open up shop across the way from a cheap hotel, invent knew ways of frying chicken, get a wife, and spend a lot of time trying to keep her from hating you.

Well, I deep-fried my soul in that damn kitchen, among other things. Skedaddling was an art form I never had much luck with. Sticking around is about all I’ve ever done. Promised in lucky strutting. That’ll be the day.

Get grown…damn flowers. I’m less sturdy now. Bum ankles topple me. Empty vases. Flares unforgiving in the flashed temperance that just hardens to a mold with time. Crusty, pebbled, briefly unstoppable, cut with dull diamonds, coolly stable. There are fasts that never end with or without the borders of love to keep their promises. I am a broken man. Some walks wile away a suitable shade of what I’d hope to become, while dreaming of course, small, hurried, non-union, almost awake enough to care. Church bound on a Wednesday night, then, old indifference, there I am sitting in a pew, bored, gazing beyond all the other gazes, holding my hands palm to palm in my lap. Busted, copping a purpose, out to lunch for a year, glued to sapped strength, half lurid and mostly held in contempt of an imaginary court.

Gunned down. The length of bluebells. One of these days my head will explode. The oil bubbling to burn a hand not deft enough yet to outmaneuver a grease splash. I get glued up with busyness. I steam through the grill all day, and nights are smoked out before they get started. A soiled deal all around. Sure, but who’s asking? Never the right person. Enough sputters into enough. I’m all out of baking soda.

A movie was playing at the Beulah Land Theatre: The Lonely Ones. Silence hadn’t become quite golden yet, or maybe it’d just hinted towards rusting, pieced and prodded and persuading itself to leave. Greta and I had an opportunity there to steer our way towards it, wheel around beneath the stars on unlit dirt roads, find our way, maybe, sped on through the heart of things, dressed ruminatively in the falling of weather towards ice and chains. Pragmatism wasn’t going to win out. I was mostly dropping lucky pennies all over town in those days anyway, so it wasn’t so much as a few dandruff flakes off my scalp, at the time, at least, that’s what I was convinced of. Could be that looking back’s just a better way to fake yourself out. Fall wears itself out, and you end up longing after what you’ve once had but somehow, as hibernation lures you and stunts your efforts, feel you never had enough of for long enough. And so, even as my cohorts amass vats of sludge for the masses, I still make my own gravy from scratch. Long and hard is the well-worth-it way.

The soundtrack to my dreams was cutting Greta’s hair in a cheap hotel room, the strands of lopped off hair all over the bathroom tiles: sea-colored squares littered with swirls of black curls. I was wounded with worry over insubstantial mania, and it was all cinders and ash to me, but I was clamming up, sorting out what purpose I might have in the keel of my existence, speculating, ordering takeout from supermarket deli counters, and finishing Greta’s sentences for her. I got used to saying in my head, “Just another one of my numerous doomed romances.” Talking about the weather was reserved for phone calls. I had to use other-tinted motivation to corral her attention. Beans and rice. Beans and rice. That was more like it.

A put-up-with-it attitude was getting me nowhere. The movie was going to start soon. I fiddled with the radio dials. Greta held her breath and puffed out her cheeks. Her eyes were bulging. I said, “Welcome to your life. There’s no turning back.” I’m not sure if I said it out loud. I’m not sure it would’ve mattered. Greta had a fingertip in each ear. The walls turned into wind.

I was bullying myself. The hotel room’s carpet was burlap, and my hair smelled like electricity. Out the window, between the thick pulled curtains, over the parking lot, in the light of the freeway, I spotted a butler. He was shaggy and green, and he was smoking a clove cigarette, and he had on rhinestone-studded wingtips. As a passing semi flashed its brights on his gray face the butler snarled at me. I grew furious with all butlers and all things butlers do and don’t do. Greta let her breath out.

Somewhere between the pipes of a dream, in the corner of charred cemetery leaves, beyond losing and leaving, in the farewell of an all-aboard, last times come up in footprints, in the water gone from bathtubs, in made-up names and the sound of clacking wooden spoons, in the waiting for trains on barstools and inking in the squares of crossword puzzles on the bar. Tell me my name and I’ll change it for a song.

Samantha-toothed, beguiled by disguises of same same same same…cooks all the time….he wills away the bad press in the decibels of hurt, and we manage, and the sky’s still hanging in there okay. Provoked, Cadillac-ward, in heat-lamp bliss…generally. Step on over here. Step away. It’s a lode to be savvy to, this gleaming thin through the mattress, and at a payout of cents to the intractable galaxies of nightmares, more comeuppance to come, low-beam high and sweating out the impurities, luckiest me there is to be.

A stoplight is charging me with infatuated insanity. Is there a crime to mewl my way out of? I orchestrate the pulling of teeth. Insinuations fly. A boiling sound is matriculating through yellow wallpaper. Abbreviations turn the lights low and then turn out the dark.

The Lonely Ones shoot toothbrushes from air guns. Their prey are nuns and insurance investigators. While engaged in warfare with their enemies-- clad in leather jackets with white spray-painted letters on the back proclaiming: “The Lonely Ones, Don’t Crowd Us Out!”-- they spread out and muffle the pain of their surroundings. Sometimes they assert themselves with aggressive dance moves, usually involving their black-jeaned posteriors, which they use to divert others from their course. To them this is merely a conceptual bit of maneuvering, and they will say, “We may gyrate, but only to our own internal rhythms.” It is not foolish or cute, and it does not betray any signs of personal-space issues. These boys hide daggers in their boots. One should try at all costs to avoid The Lonely Ones on attack. It is dangerous and derivative and beyond all counseling solutions. I am giving myself away.

Cool it. Cursive writes your will on take-out buckets. Fingers get licked. Crunchiness loses its charm. There’s a heart painted on a gas station’s bathroom wall. It’s bloated and pink and riddled with holes. Can it. A toilet flushes. It’s a Hobson’s choice, and then the stall door slams leaving you cleaner than a frog’s armpit. Everything goes mushy. Everything’s gone Katy bar the door. Helped out by long-in-the-tooth tiles that don’t listen too well anymore. Think. Think. Damn it. I’m going to go and ruin everything.

“Help the shower run. It’s on low. Some powder bugs got in the dynamite.”

“There’s pleasure and drama lurking in and behind my funny faces.”

“Come Valentine’s Day they’ll be hunting us down. The blades of helicopters and brightness of search lights will find us out.”

“We’ll be lazy. We’ll kidnap ourselves.”

“Moving around won’t take up our time.”

“Keep your voice.”

“Make pajamas my uniform. There.”


“No. There.”



“Oh. There. There. There.”

“We have faces so people can recognize us.”

The pinnacle of playing hookey. Unreachable. Paved and minty. Slammed open. Where even the horses have wings. Put a dish of honey out for the bees. The airplanes of our tomorrows will all crash into flying time. Be the first to flee. An antidote for being shy and nervous. A cog in the jammed gears running the sad machinery of spring. This way around. Over here. Over here.

Gobs of sunlight jellying through and frying the plate glass, and I’m yellow-gold soaked, in a crispy mood that oils satisfaction’s motor and spots checks-in-the-mail famuli their last rites. The meanness, shattered to splinters, deeply undone, gasoline on the tongue, madness in the family. Values packed through snowed-in starlight. She said don’t betray me, don’t delay me, get the music to move in time. She said she’s opening a restaurant in a tree. Hairpieces caught in branches, floating on a sea of leaves. Sporks stuck in the trunk. Patrons wearing hardhats while they dine. She said hold your head against my hand, she said, she said, she said things like trace my shadow on the sidewalk outside. Crawl through pine needles. Never enough time in the morning, and we covet the lives that detectives lead. Brown my sugar and muddy my eyes. Valor is not the rarest ingredient, but this batch of remorse has grown cranky underneath the bloodshot moon. I will build the butler a brand new sky.