Tuesday, July 19, 2011

xerxes in arrears

Dear Esther,

I have no interest in big stupid oafs who sleep well at night. You who know me so well should know this well. It’s an echo of snores, of blubbering burps, the stink of cheese, rotten chard from the flatus of fools. Don’t you worry though; corrosion is a principle I’m well aware of. You can’t keep blinding me with science and expect me to just gung-ho go along with whatever it is you’re using to stave off being tired. The wiles of musclemen and the ruses of muscleheads lead one nowhere except to the brink of undone chores. The pomes of cotoneasters tell us more about quick fixes in the grout of things, things being the instrumentation of your life’s music. Contentment comes at a price. Sleep comes sometimes, but not rest. Never rest. You’ve got to beat the tiredness somehow. Strangle it to the floor, suffocate it, grind it down to dust and powder. Grain alcohol and soda water. Maple syrup and barley wine. A concoction of pulverized dandelions, the juice of a dozen Sour Patch Kids, a thimbleful of meatloaf grease, 4 ounces of Diet Rite, a squirt of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of liquid pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, a splash of crushed quartz, and a few sprigs of watercress floated on top. As always, I ideate in the slow hours of sleepless dawns these recipes. What the Q-tip-inclined among us might come to think of as the tip of a pinky finger quickly plugging then just as quickly unplugging the ear.

Essentially I’m hog tired, which is a fatter and even lazier sort of tired than dog tired. A term that suits its owner well. Nothing blaring but those essentials, essentially. Put forth your bravest hand and the foot will dodge out of the way. Other than that it’s keeping time to mental balancing acts, or screaming, “Over and out!” over and over. Me? I’m more interested in the quality of observed holidays. The spiritual nature of them, what will surely out-and-out come to pass while we all dance around playing hopscotch, or drinking scotch, or wrapping scotch tape around our heads, or scotching plans to be more prudent in our foresight.

It’s silly to be realistic when it comes to people. Trust me. I know people; I know what they like. People like ribs. Hickory-smoked baby-back racks of ribs with honey mesquite sauce slathered on them. Spare ribs. St. Louis Style. Country-style. Button ribs, rib roasts, rib chops, riblets. You give them ribs and they’ll be happy. Baked, smoked, grilled. It don’t matter. They will say, “Give me ribs or give me death.” Well, that and maybe a bowling ball. I know people. Yep. Have them eating out of the palm of my hand if I wanted. Don’t want it though. Not now. Hands are too delicate for such things. I’ve got motions so fluent they’ll put the socks back on you. Trouble is, I don’t wake up to it fast enough, and spearheading another wince-able castoff into the parsed plien-air of it is making goop and flavorless dog food for jeerers and flouters.

The city sweeps at you, coins phrases with windy gestures as plastic soda-cup lids and leaves twirl in the same jumble, and you step over street-sleepers and slap your hands on lampposts and jump at yellow lights. It’s manageable. Access dismembers partners of double takes. I order takeout whenever possible. My sensibilities are constantly being baffled. And you take your blue periods, more or less, and spread them out over a fire-splotched lake of maybe a few years more. And you take them as they go, each one a deeper and less refined blue than the one before. But your best shades were never much anyway. Hopes get dashed, or dotted, and then some guy with a bad haircut and sandals on comes by and tells you to knock it off just when you thought you were really getting started on something. Cashed out before you even knew you were in. Think of it: normal people in their normal clothes. Jeans, flowy button-ups tucked in, too-big t-shirts, white socks, combed hair, flab and filler, locked up and empty. Sometimes I shout, “The clouds are pink! Look up! Look up!” but nobody listens or looks.

A mustache is painted on a marble lion. A rooftop antenna sprouts like a miracle above, and I stare at it, so arrow-like with its almost ornate metal fletchings, and I think about human beings in a very odd way. Busy things waddling about in these bodies: hairy, flabby, awkward, lumbering, skin-covered creatures who breathe and eat and lounge and defecate. Personalities are diminishing. It’s like wandering around on another planet, or more like in a wild animal park where the animals are not so wild nor are they really that animal, really. Humans seem unnatural, as if they’ve forgotten how to live in the world they’ve been brought into, if they’d ever known, and now are just finding more ways to avoid that world, to build their own out of cement and radio waves and fabricated reality. It’s a triple standard, maybe quadruple even. I sidearm pennies into traffic.

The best thing to do sometimes is just wonder about the quality of tree leaves that get in the wind’s way. The redolence of dead grass (as the wind in this season blows from the land to the sea) keeps you guessing. There’s always the past. And it’s always gaining on us.

But get this: the clock above my head said, “I miss you,” as I waited at the terminal’s entrance for the deboarders to go by, then you reminded me that every first last is timed effort strained without deliberateness. I told you that seas don’t become rivers. That was a time when we could still laugh. Before we made history inside our History Factory. Before I was so casual with my I-love-yous. Before you had somebody in line who was waiting to take my place. Thieves of discontent rattle the bars of my sanity’s silence. I am quiet, quiet. You had candy-bar lips and root-beer hair, and the place where our eyes met was corduroy on a tarantula’s silk footprints. The bathroom was always a little too far away. A Quonset hut of emotional repair work kept us warm on cooler nights, that and a temporary disregard for temporal satisfaction.

I dream of terraces and plum blossoms, crocodile clips holding love letters intact. And then some white sedan drives by with “Don’t Believe Everything You Think” stenciled in black on the side door. Gushing, the plain-clothed haberdasher says, “Those palm trees on the roof of the building, look at them, think about looking at them, what it means to look at them, for them to be seen.” And I listen to it, mostly. I only know space and time autonomously. Already, there isn’t too much to see, and it is only getting darker. The spiders are barking. The buses are all going the other way. Even the lunatics agree; it’s time to spatter the gist of who we are onto to-morrow's windows. I’m baking a canna pie that won’t be eaten before it cools. It’s a shame, really, as there were always a few spots of gold in the oil in the old days. The neighbors are teaching me French.

Au revoir.