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.