Friday, October 14, 2011

the smell of purple (an exercise in stenography)

(The meeting of fledging millionaires was taking place at precisely 9:34 am in the Difficult room of the Easy Does It Palace. No sabotage was attempted. A reclusive mourning dove took a shower in the rain while perched on the palace’s outer bronze gate. The inner bronze gate was bird free.)

Any day now. Any day now.

We run through the gazes of whole-milk variances. Stuck in alto, ruined through a cappella, adducing what we’re likely to find in copper skillets-- nothing cooks, though-- here whiter than sky. "Have at it."

You tell me, “Running is rampant.”

I think, ‘We, we, we.”

In this similar spot of telling, we both go for rich, undulating in the least fashionable way. Go about your playfulness. With treaties to never sign, differences resigned to be the same, we slurp sunflower juice from lichenous mugs.

“Leave me together.” There. You left it never rolled and always rocking. Laterally, there’s something to stay right for a while. “Cussed out.” Yes. There was that, too, as well as also. “Bend down the branches, baby.” It’s singing. It’s that. It’s groveling for a stretch. “‘Able to’ is the most of ‘cannot’ in otherwise fair foul play.” Okay. Lay it on me, bumpkin. That’s a gleam without a shine, a shine without a sword to fight with, a lake with no pines, a river raft gone down, down, gone. Same’s a shiver. Send it back, back, back; “No!” Back.

Go brown. Go Septemberish. Bids start at nickel and ten.

Most months then. More years for a while.

Visiting graveyards, graves too, without spitting. All fessed up. Go around. Get without it. An opening, and there, to look, to see through, into, about, as it gets early, and leaving is scrawled in the dead leaves.

Lured and liked, that’s us. Grown down? Dressed five to nine, only, so to not say, it gets rather easy to implement, sans a face slap, what’s mattered more than this, or less than that. All that remains is a ton of bad mints to swing stringless racquets at, pine-needle tea stains on the place mats, and delirious cut-less veal squirming for attention among the used coffee grounds. Riding less than easy, harder than planned past.

All leftovers should be consumed within 39 days and nights of first attempt at consumption.

We are, “warped and hazard free.” Our, “you know,” is nothing to get caught down in, sappy about, or afflicted with like mice trained to wear dentures without ever drooling. “Pat me on the front.” That’ll be just fine. “Cram!” I mean, “Scram!” That’s all.

They learned to hover well, those gnats, and, “More or less where or when that came from or went to,” was turned to mush before any of us here or there caught wind of it. “Messy obtains crucial oversight.” That’s none of what she wrote, most of what she didn’t say, and about a third of what’s happening right about then. “Now!” We can no longer live without toothpicks.

Famous for being unknown, leveling on to glib’s demeanor-- with a proud penchant for banana-happy Romeos, the licked aftertaste of stamps, and a drifter’s gumption for noncommittal silence-- the more obtainable among the seated rose to, “speak below a whisper. Content, aren’t our minions of faithless saddened boos?” Watery nosed, and then, “You bossed around those booing ones, and now?” Intermittent eternity puts on its gloves in the springy fall of deuterium monoxide and spars with drop-dead medium-classy hearts while under the influence of a gallon jug of table wine. “There’s a low-'unlevel'-salary sort of paycheck spasm for you. But who needs signs of dollars when the yen to ache’s being sold off for less than inspiration’s transitional paradox?” Above? “We’re still not hungry.” In medias res. Ab ovo. Post tenebras lux. It’s an adding to subtract what’s left of multiple divisions that never equal a fair share. “Score!” We’ve tasted worse: “Better?” There’s a catch without a number assigned to it yet.

Warnings are butterflies.

“There’s a vehemence to your conjecture, sir. I, and, I, and, I, and,” ahem, “am not so sure without it.”

“Better yet?” It’s grainy in the afterthought of life.

“Pancakes for dinner? Again?”

“Yes was the first no.”

I do; I do. “Then,” I don’t or won’t. “Then?” I will or should or cannot, too.

“A bag for your garbage, Miss.”

“That is Miss S, to you.”

“Trees have better things to do than make money.”

Taking care of steel prices, contingency plans for concrete lobbying that was taking the place of bridge building for the winter, boats taking cruises in circles-- “Taking leaves options given towards staying.” Put it up, wrecked but not ruined: an institution for intuition, hardly.

“We are not insensate rubber blocks,” although paying ill, “to traffic through and about until there’s a revision to the light-refraction dynamics of handouts in the plausibility of estimating today’s returns staying put.” No defense to ever rest. “Go build idea machines, dissect normality into display-case dreams, and,” after, after, “get a stay off it!”

It never gets dark or cold enough. The ground plays alive. Wallop around in the sty of it all long enough and the stench becomes pleasant and reassuring. A voice isn’t enough without music to believe in it. “Enough!” Sure.

Raw creeps into morning’s blush. “I am hunching.” Bow-tie the thieves. Nobody recognizes Hunchers. “We’ve, here, now, got to,” you know, “believe in creeps.” The laundry is trash. “Candles are waxing from chandeliers, and we’ll go under, knocked keister-first into unfortunate wealth, and,” drip, drip, drip, “there’ll be no new tax on refinement or never-sundered wear.”

Inspiration’s plugs are bent by buzzing television the color of dead sky. Channels are staying the same. “And now to trace, heavenly, with due process, the course back to the irregularities of scheduled programming…”

Stay oblivious. Smell the Statue of Liberty’s armpit and see if despair will take care of the rest. Remain neutral. Raise the rent on longing. It is well to keep secret the hooded croaks of your desire.

“Take it all off!”


Say, “yes,” to deplorable options. More bankrupt fruit exists. “Candy?” Deceitful. “Rubric gets the job,” done.

Now’s enough.

Friday, October 7, 2011

anxiously awaiting the return of topcoat weather

a: Look at that.

b: Bonsai tree.

a: Up on the balcony.

b: Yep. Put on the ledge.

a: Way up high. Twenty stories?

b: About that.

a: Damn high up there. Different weather at that altitude.

b: Yep. Maybe some atypical condensation. Good for the tree.

a: Keep it wet. Like a mist. A spray.

b: Sure. Gotta keep them trees moist so they don’t dry out and die on you.

a: That guy’s got it pretty good up there, huh?

b: Could be a lot worse for him.

a: He’s way the fuck up there. Nosebleed stuff.

b: Yeah. Up there like that. Imagine moving in.

a: Hauling all that furniture up to that deluxe apartment in the sky.

b: But I’m sure there’s an elevator.

a: That’d help. Still. Hell of a move. Not for pansies.

b: Hire movers. They’ll do all the sweaty shit.

a: Maybe this guy, maybe he goes out there on his balcony late at night. Maybe he sits there and smokes and looks at his bonsai tree, looks at his view. Must be quite a view.

b: Yep. Lots to see. All those lights. Gold and yellow and white. The bridge. The bay. The sky. The whole dreaming immensity of it all. Traffic puttering away down there between the houses. Headlamp light. Brake lights. Red and white. Buildings bruising the horizon.

a: Plush. That life. Not too shabby of a way to be doing your living.

b: Yep. That guy probably ain’t got it too bad.

a: Not like us.

b: Nope. Not like us.

a: Look at us.

b: Us?

a: Yeah. What do we do?

b: We stand and talk.

a: We shiver in the cold. We smoke cigarettes down to the filter.

b: We’re nubbers.

a: Yup. Always got a nub between our fingers. Holding our shoulders.

b: Freezing in the wind. Breathing so you can see it.

a: Lots of time he’s got up there.

b: Up there all he’s got is time.

a: Down here all we’ve got is class struggles.

b: Looking Classes.

a: Those?

b: Sure. Like when you see a girl, and you’re not too scared to talk to her because you think she’s in a lower Looking Class than you.

a: Looking Class. Like that.

b: You’re above her. She should be thankful.

a: She should be down on her knees.

b: Intimidated by your dashing charm and good looks.

a: A man she’d never imagined would ever talk to the likes of her.

b: Yep. You can take charge. Don’t got to put yourself out there too much. Not much risk. Just a toe tap.

a: But if she doesn’t bite?

b: Well. Then. Yep. That’s bad. That’s the worst.

a: She’s rejecting me?

b: Yep.

a: Shit. She should be grateful.

b: Down on her knees.

a: I’m the one should be doing the rejecting.

b: Damn straight.

a: I’m the one slumming it.

b: Who does she think she is?

a: She’s nobody.

b: Girls can be so damn picky.

a: They’ve got their sights set. They know what they want.

b: But do we?

a: No. We don’t know shit about what they like.

b: We know what we like.

a: Of course. Everybody knows what we like. That’s easy.

b: They know what we’re buying.

a: But what they’re shopping for?

b: Nada.

a: One of life’s great mysteries.

b: Yep.

a: We stand and shiver. We blow smoke.

b: We get tired of ourselves. We chuck cigarette butts at pigeons.

a: This is living.

b: Yup.

a: Flick the glowing orange ends, make tiny sparks fly, pass the time.

b: I don’t want much.

a: Don’t get much.

b: It’s all we’ve got, though. And you gotta admit, it’s flowery sometimes. Sometimes it’s gold.

a: Damn straight. Weather the bad to bathe in the good.

b: Yep. Life’s a goddamn miracle. Live it like you mean it.

a: Seriously, play for fun.

b: The rain comes and goes, and for sure, yeah, the cold wind blows from time to time, but we’re here, stuck in the middle of it all, and we’ve got less, sure. But, shit, we’ve got more too, right?

a: Yep. More’s more.

b: What about that guy? That guy way up there with his bonsai tree?

a: That guy? He’s got his hard times too.

b: Rough stuff, now and again.

a: Sure. Maybe his dog died last February. His mommy might’ve beat him up when he was a toddler.

b: Some girl done him wrong.

a: Could be. What do we know?

b: We’re just a couple of nubbers standing around in the cold, holding our shoulders, blowing our nose. Who are we?

a: Working stiffs. Plebs without much chance. Just some jimmies on a pile of ice cream.

b: But the ice cream’s tasty. It’s got a good chance, right?

a: The ice cream? It’ll do okay. It’ll be alright.

b: Look at that thing.

a: Bonsai?

b: Yep. So high up there. It’s doing fine. It’s making it.

a: It’s scraping things together as best it can. Not too shabby, up there.

b: I bet.

a: Catching colds and throwing out yesterday’s news.

b: Pissing underneath a sign that says, “I ain’t got no name.”

a: Shit. More like, I ain’t got a dime.

b: My woman. My woman. Yep. She sure as hell won’t leave me none alone.

a: No more. No more. Nope. Never been so all alone.

b: My song’s all I got left.

a: Broken down hungry 5,000 miles from home.

b: Yep. We’ve got the cockroach-black sky at night. We’ve got knees to pray on. We’ve got guns we’ll never shoot. And then, well shit, our boat’s gone and sprung a leak.

a: The rats are jumping ship.

b: Should we too?

a: Nope. We’re here for the long haul.

b: Damn. It’s all we’ve got.

a: Yep. But that’s enough.

b: For a couple of nubbers like us.

a: Sure.

b: I get the shakes so bad sometimes.

a: It’s par for the course. It’s the residue from being alive like this, in this way, like we are.

b: Soap scum on the tiles gunking up the works of being me.

a: Yep. We all get jumpy here and there.

b: Scared and anxious. Waiting for something, you know? That feeling that something’s just around the corner. And you keep walking down these spiral stairs trying to get at it, but it’s never there.

a: Just close enough to be too far away.

b: But you can’t stop walking down, and you get farther than you’d like to be underground, way down there, and you keep thinking, ‘It’s just right there, right around the next bend,’ but it keeps not being there.

a: Chasing and never catching.

b: That’s life.

a: Always just an almost away from where you want to be.

b: And we dream of better days just up ahead.

a: Sure. Better times. We’re sure of it. Almost there. Any day now.

b: There are limits. These things are in the act of balancing, you know?

a: Maybe. I do and I don’t.

b: Maybe.

a: There was a time, you know, when I was wearing the same suit jacket every day.

b: I remember it. Yep.

a: It had a rip in the shoulder…

b: Uh huh.

a: and that rip kept ripping larger, and the lining was hanging on by a few threads. I’m not sure that there was anything magical about it, but it felt like it sometimes. Anyway, I was used to wearing it, and without it on I felt exposed and lackluster, like I wasn’t myself. So, there you have it. I wore the thing way past wearing out.

b: Everything’s got to wear out sometime. Can’t hold on forever.

a: The passing’s what all things must do.

b: Can’t grow a new now in a here that’s always gone, always changing into a then.

a: Wait. How big you think one of them trees can get?

b: Bonsai? Don’t know. Not too big, I’d figure. Always see them rather on the tiny side, you know?

a: Yep. Miniature trees. Like midgets. Wonder if any of them ever get really big, though. Like some mutant ones. Imagine, giant bonsai trees, a forest of them, like redwoods. That’d be something.

b: Sure would. Don’t reckon it too likely. There’s a good reason, probably, that they’re so small. That’s the way they do best.

a: Their best shot at making it in this cruel, cold world of ours.

b: Uh huh.

a: And us?

b: Two guys like us?

a: What’re we going to do?

b: Anxiously await the return of topcoat weather.

a: That’s what we’re made for. Enduring. Getting by. Sticking it out. We abide. We survive on other people’s scraps.

b: What they throw away.

a: Huddled here, scrapping our shoes back and forth on the sidewalk, spitting in the street, making it the only way we’ve got.

b: We know how to get through the days.

a: But the nights?

b: The nights? Well, that’s too much, even for a couple of nubbers like us.

a: Trolls sucking up air. Farming out our souls for the right to live the way we do, day to day, week to month to what he hope is another year. And then…

b: And then.

a: What’re you going to do? A guy like you or me? We’re stuck being ourselves.

b: But that guy, way up there with his bonsai tree, think he’s got a chance?

a: That guy? Hell. That guy’s got no chance. None at all.

b: He’s way up there.

a: Yep.

b: Above everybody else.

a: Sure.

b: And he’s looking down.

a: Right.

b: And he’s thinking that maybe, just maybe…

a: He’s giving it quite a bit of pondering.

b: It’s not worth it, all alone, up above it all like that.

a: Perhaps.

b: With that bonsai tree crumbling in the chill of winter wind, and his dead dog, or his woman who treats him bad, or the skylight in his ceiling that doesn’t quite give him a glimpse of god.

a: Could be.

b: And maybe being down here, in all the muck and hollering madness and free-for-all horseshit that makes up our daily lives, well, maybe it just starts to seem to him…

a: Yep. Down below’s where it’s at, and he’s long gone from it.

b: But he can’t get back down. It’s not so easy once you’ve climbed up so high like that. There’s only one way back, maybe, and it’s a much more direct route. Maybe he start’s to think he’s only got one way to go from there, and it’s a long, fast fall.

a: A falling through to the bottom. One final plunge.

b: A leap from faith to cold, hard fact.

a: Happen just like that. Like pigeon shit.

b: Maybe it comes to him that being up there’s worse, you know. It’s only like he’s making believe that he’s got it so good. The weather still arrives from the same place. Comfort only feels nice for so long.

a: And then it’s too much dessert and not enough meals.

b: Stuck.

a: Yep.

b: Up there. So far away. So tiny. So useless.

a: What’s the point? Right?

b: I don’t know. Maybe he’s just sad enough to be alright…to be…happy.

a: Fuck. I don’t even know what the hell to say to that.

b: Yeah. It’s freezing out here. Shit. I’m going back in.

a: Me too. What’re we doing freezing our asses off out here? They got the heater on in there. Shit.

b: Just a couple’a nubbers.

a: Shit. Not going to argue with that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

might as well live

My guess would be that he was from somewhere in Central or South America. I know. Real specific. But he’s going on, rather animatedly, about guitar playing. Acoustic. Electric. I don’t know. There was a substantial enough language barrier to reduce us to the use of simple nouns and verbs. A lot of, “What’s that?” and repeating things louder and slower. The cab’s not being driven at a comfortable clip. The guy’s weaving and taking his hands off the wheel, emphasizing things he’s saying with these wild semaphore-like gesticulations, and keeps making wrong turns, and this one time he like comes up real close to this bus that’s like taking up a lane and a half, and he is trying to squeeze by it, but can’t, you know, because of traffic going the other way. And so the bus stops to let people on and off, and this guy’s like right on the thing’s ass, and he starts going off, or on I guess, about buses and how much he hates them and how they take up so much space, and stuff like that. It’s weird. I don’t get it. Anyway. He keeps asking me for directions, and then keeps not taking them, and we’re going all nine ways from bananas over the city. I had my seat belt on. I wasn’t worried. So, he’s got this burly mustache, which is pretty greasy looking. A lot of spittle probably collected on it from his weather-not-the-news elocutions. Maybe it was sweat. Any why’s what, we’re bumbling along like that, his eyes not on the road as much as they should’ve been, and he’s jabbering about music, and he’s getting all excited about piano playing, and he’s like showing me how he plays, very soft or extremely violent-- “bang like percussion,” he says, while his hands are off the wheel for-- what I deem to be-- a dangerous amount of time. So, I’m like, ‘Whoa, fella. Get them hands back at two and ten there. Please.’ He’s mad for talking about music, this cabbie. I’m trying to keep my eyes peeled for turns he should be making, and at the same time trying to have this makeshift conversation with him, nodding and responding and having to pay much more than a bargain rate for attention to what he’s saying because his accent and bad English are making the guy a bit difficult to follow. Once in a while he’ll ask me where we’re going, and I keep telling him, and naming stuff that’s around there, and he seems to know where that “there” is that I’m talking about, but it’s hard to figure. So I’m like giving him street names to go down, but have no idea if he’s hip to any of it, or if he’s just going along and pretending so he can like keep rattling off about his love of music. All the wonderful while the meter’s ticking away, and the fare is growing mighty exorbitant, more rich than my blood’ll take, you know. It’s kind of awful and almost not, too. I like the guy’s excitement level. It’s nice that he’s so passionate about something. The wind of a god blown into him. Real-live enthusiasm on display there, I’ve got to admit. But it was late. I wanted to get home. Then again, feeling connected with others is something I strive for in this little here life I’m leading, and I didn’t want to be rude or asshole-ish in any way’s shape’s form to this guy. It’s a going without a saying, you know? Don’t want to yawn myself away. But I was tired. I was beat. I was horribly, annihilatedly bushed. Exhausted through skin and bone. And I wasn’t being discerning enough in my, “likes.” It was a hard time in New York town, as they say back in the good old world. I’m a casserole of doubt. I’m twice-baked potatoes upstairs. And this Latin-American music aficionado is screeching around corners at the last minute as I scream at him to, “Turn here! Here!” And he’s spitting sunflowers seeds out the window as he goes, and yammering on and emphatically gesturing all the way’s while, charging up hills and coasting down. It’s delirious. It’s wild. It’s a gas. Shit. Jumping Jack Flash, you know? Some of that and less. Well, I’m worried, sort of, but not overly. It’s like how I get in cabs, I guess. Relinquishing control to somebody else, just along for the ride, safe, somehow, and completely trusting. It’s weird. I wasn’t nervous at all. I just wanted him to get a move on it in the right direction, you know? Take me home. But maybe you can never really get back home, again. My instincts were fluttering with casual distress, but sealed inside this fantasy-realm intrepidness I knew no wrong that could become of us. It’s like I was afflicted with a bad case of predestination blues. Nothing mattered, and that was pretty A-okay as far as this here shredded envelope of misgivings was concerned. I pass myself off as courageous and bold most times, though in the thick of it I probably prefer to dart away rather than stick around for the nasty stuff. It works well enough when it works well. But I’m mindful of my own hazardous personality defects in a way that most don’t suspect or even care to know about. And why would they? It’s my own wax’s bees that keep the honey slow and sweet around these here hives. Any which-or-ever way, I’m doing quite a swell job of keeping the conversation working both ways, while also worrying my eyes out the windows for signs of familiarity, for streets we might head down to get to other streets that might sweep us a bit closer on to where it is that I really do want to be getting to. Really, in any situation where I find myself far away from where it is my heart wants to be, well, the later it gets the more I just seem to go along with whatever’s around me in hopes that I’ll be able to reconnoiter my way, at some point, back home. Maybe I don’t listen as well as I should to what’s important, to what’s coming my way from the colliding porous worlds of others. Have to admit that it’s not a task I was made very suitable for the doing of. And it’s part of my self-centered concern for seeming magnanimous that brings on these horripilating pangs of guilt I get for not being able to better care for lives outside of my own life. Seven times out of eleven I’ll be just waiting it all out, for it to be over, and then it’s, “Well, hope you’re enjoying your summer. Take care, buddy,” and all that mamba. Besides, who cares about this here guy me and his pathetic little life he’s trying to lead? Ruins of an underwater ghost town be damned. Lying’s often the best bet in these matters. Once in a lifetime meetings. It’ll all be over soon. That’s a that that’ll stick, right? Maybe. Maybe. Sun that won’t shine. Rain that’ll never pour. We’ve all met our beginning around such things. Cab rides. Phone calls late at night. Ring. Ring. Ring. Nothing. Turned more than around. Less? I know. It’s cradles of mistakes going sleepless before the alarm clock performs its subtle act of murder. We’ve got a handle on it, less or less’s more. Then you come to this juncture in the sway of things, this conceptualizing of rational how-do-you-doing. And it’s learn, craft a way, create your own exegesis and escape. It is what’s hardly lacking in all of us. Something that boils far from any stovetop burner. Openness doesn’t cost a penny, but I still catch myself fleeing from it as much as I can. The cabbie’s all flailing arms and air-instrumentation and gasping breath. I’m on to nothing. I’m dwindling. An open window’s blast of wind is crushing me, and I’m all lunched out, dinnered to dull, and in the meantime snacked all over and in. Mind’s low and away, in the dirt, stray thoughts rolling all the way to the backstop. Nothing seems as ugly as still being who I am, in the back of a cab, plodding along, small-talking and drying out to a bleached awareness, which is sated with the over-ripe boredom of daylight you’ve never had to struggle to see. A particle that’s lost its charge. I’m rainy in the head, wilted and gone too wrong for too long. It’s getting cold in the backseat with the window open, and I want him to close it, but he’s yapping so much now it’s hard for me to interject even the slightest suggestion of a phrase, or really do much more than nod in agreement and go, “Yeah. Totally. Right on,” or some other shield for him to bounce things off. It’s too much ado that I can’t get myself to get on with the doing of. On it goes. As on we all go, too, with it. Like, or just like, always. Vested interest is not taking. I’m up for grabs, my fears and nightmares right along side my hopes and dreams. Put the cream cheese on the bagel already. I’m through, you know? Well, comma comma comma. Shit. Usually I can get by between things, in the spaces nobody thinks about. I can grow slowly, without much notice, through accretion and well-timed attention-paying, to become the steeped rebuff to the slick quips of instant gratification’s spell. It’s not a talent I let on about. It’s dumb. I admit this to anybody who cares about such things. Getting over myself is something I’m constantly challenged to do, and failing seems the only option right about now-- now being in the cab, then, getting socked by wind and this windbag of a cabbie, lost and roaming, licked, spit out into the bathtub of the world, bumming around complacent and secluded from what I should be diving headfirst into. It’s cause's lostness, and I’m dumbed-down and skimmed over the gist of it. The color of gold is changing, imitating fallen leaves and the ragged coats of stray dogs. There’s an ever-increasing surcharge on what we amass, what we spend, what we hunt and gather into our homes. The skirmish of “me” with “you” and “them” with “us” is a battle without ground, and I’m wiped out on the shores of, “Well, you don’t say. How interesting, really.” It’s a bullshit exchange of bad for more bad, and we keep losing more while we think we’re winning it back. Ever the missed point, and I’m lonely as hell. Taking the backseat in the trek of my life, always just a bit behind whoever’s running the show, checking out the back of their head for signs of, well, I don’t know, love? It’s taking a gamble with whatever years you’ve got left, and the odds are never favorable. In fact, they stink to low heaven. Born into this, weaned on it, only to be eventually murdered by it in our sleep, and all the die-short-while we only stray closer to where it hurts us most to be. All of this striving around to be happy. All of this cursed luck and charmed negligence. Not owing even the slightest attention to what’s becoming of the factors that control the world we’re being trained to become accustom to existing in, with, for, or whatever else we can get by with not knowing or caring about. Just here for no reason, you know, and never rocking the boat with our rollicking on the boat. Soft footsteps on the padding that keeps us safely entertained away from boredom, cursed to be in want of distraction, taken care of, just drifting along without even the idea that there might be a different set of eyes to see all of this with, to know it in a way that’s not just, “Oh well, geez, that’s just the way it’s always been, so fuck it,” and in a way that’s not just without hope or concern, filled with apathy and nonchalant greed, but to be somehow craning your neck over the wreck and screaming, “I will not be just another mindless drone on the wide plains of what those around me keep for some absurd reason calling civilization. I will fight against the mechanics of this thing until the gears crack and the whole manipulative contraption blows higher than the sky.” That’s about what it comes up to. You get to choose what you notice, right? The things you notice become the things that make up who you are. A seriously long winding motherfuck of a road of thought and experience between it all, but it’s something to take care of, for, about. Maybe. Or, maybe it’s a combustible and spoiled half-ass solution to rectifying this powerless feeling you get, a warped state of being that’s dependent on outside forces for a way out of malaise and ennui that doesn’t involve any uncomfortable suffering or messy toil. The easy out instead of the hard in. Holy fuck. Shit. Everything, everything, every last goddamned everything is dead. Moses’d shit himself silly over it. Fuck. The cab ride? Fuck the cab ride. I made it home. I gave the guy a decent enough tip for jabbering my ear off while taking me on an unwanted sightseeing trip of wrong turns all over the fucking place. I made it home. I went inside. I didn’t go right to sleep. I stayed up for a while, staring at the walls, wondering what “being home” really meant, what it was or could be, and who it was that I was going to be for the rest of my life, and if it’d even matter. Plunk times plop goes windowing towards struggle’s leash divided by what might equal your future tense. Anyway. I’m an asshole. Don’t listen to me. I know not whereof I speak.

Monday, October 3, 2011

after my guitar is done gently weeping

Being a public figure takes its toll. I was shopped around on the banks, washed up, in a restoration of wearing whatever you will, in the time to do what does or does not take, busy reapplying nonexistence to younger standards, motivation lining the walls as factions of flower-wearers slimmed down behind the thickness of trees; and there was other higher documentation involved; and yes, conniving shields the eyes, I know, from what experience can’t bring itself to learn; but there, in less than a flash, of course, enlightenment comes with a cost-restrictive clause. The sky is borrowing grays from the cement rooftops and pink from the neon, and some buttery yellow swirls from the lit facades of grand mansions and somewhat less grand hotels. Looking up has left my toes stubbed too many times on these rock-strewn streets. Being a private person leaves one little room to maneuver past life’s wrecking ball; I tell my admirers (the ones who are left) that it gets less lonely all the time. Variations on themeless spectacles, honey-licked leaves fallen through my put-off air’s mush, and it’s like Betty Grable cutting the rug with Hermes Pan before the clinging arms of Coney Island break to cinnamon-strangled pie. I am parrot-lipped. Nobody supports the barking of dogs.

A list of ordinary things: My TV’s quit working, and I’ve quit cigarettes and booze. Music’s gone. The cars still thrash about on the street outside. Toiling away in obscurity has become my day job. Passions have ceased to grip me. Off the record, I am suffering less than you’d be led to believe. I am calling the sorting out of my consciousness a matter of Quality Of Death Issues. Haven’t been eating much before midnight.

I don’t know why my dentist was calling me at 8 in the morning. Her voice was trapped in her throat. We get along during business hours, but this early call was unprecedented in our relationship. I’m considering having my teeth shined elsewhere. Only so much, when it comes to matters of dental hygiene, will I put up with. There are boundaries. We must respect them, or else we become little more than frenzied atoms coalescing into chaotic, less-than-important structures. Then again, I now mostly just wish to be gassed with nitrous oxide. Maybe I should reconsider my instincts to flee.

Fortune is frowning at me, but, as luck would or wouldn’t have it, forgiveness shoves my back away from the wall. People are dying all around me. Mildew has become my one steady friend; I count on it to center my State Of Being. Bravery, if I can harness it, wears me around like a torn-up book jacket, and, without a way to steer, I let wishes drive. “Don’t be feeble,” people say. I put off listening to them until the money runs in.

Very adept, yes, and here comes a gang of softies to ram the door with shoulder-padded kindness. I let them have their agony. I offer them sugarcoated vitamins for dessert. Softies will always go for stuff like that.

So, the afternoons have been playing havoc with my sensibilities. Corruption, inside my skull at least, is rampant. I make some amends here and there, do a few dishes, rearrange my socks in the drawer, and dial the nearest library just to listen to the sound that books make when their pages are flipped through over the phone, almost like a fanning-type thing. The librarian there knows me well, and humors my wishes for such things-- at least for the time being. She must be getting lonelier all the time. She must be like me in a certain way, a seamless curtain of doubt and remorse, a Slipping Away that nobody will ever guess at.

Where the famous go, where the harness keeping me saddled to regret is stronger than my honor, and the Blue Danube flows where all, even the lowly Eskimo-shaped, are scared to march. I pocket my fame; I disrupt a balcony’s serenade; I pot easily persuaded folks like plants; I crave deer meat and sour-apple cider. There’s no church or music hall that’ll hold me. The crowd jeers and it sounds the way my name used to: aluminum crumpled on velvet. The B-side of my life is playing long and mellow and vastly out of tune. The garbage men scream from below: “Go get ‘em, ladies!” That about does it for my good cheer.

Faith keeps plucking at my hope’s viola (though I’m not insulated from bad reviews here), and more than ever I need sticky rice to calm my nerves. Once, being a hero’s hero, I played the chump in the tape-delayed rabid bark of mob justice. Now, oddly enough, dikephobia keeps my socks up. I don’t pander to losers as much, and my checks are watered down with trademark stamps, but I am bronzing the days toward chancy, and I am never surprised by the contents of my evening soup. Once I was not overlooked. That wasn’t so long ago. The minutes starve me from what that was. The hours count me out. The weeks hock themselves to months, and I grow less and less young.

A man who named himself Palace used to wander these halls with a copy of Melville’s Pierre in his back pocket. He’d pound on a few doors. He’d mumble to strangers. He’d sip tap water from an Elmer’s glue bottle. One night, after a violent episode of tiptoeing, the merchants of peace carried him away on a few discarded boards from a scaffolding setup. I miss the sound his shoes made on the thin carpet late at night.

Comfort has gone. My persona, what most would believe to be a true succès de scandale, is held aloft by a bosun’s chair of nostalgia. I would abseil towards acceptance, but am lacking the proper foresight, and so I stay stranded in a home built on the ruins of what seems another’s life-- safe from the unknown, yet dangerously lonely. The morning’s quick beginnings turn to dead halts by evening. Catbirding, I have seen the sea beyond, and, I fear to report, it is too much like all the land that I know too well. Emptiness does not have room for itself.

There are very few places in this country left where I can get a good shave. Most cities leave my face sticky and scattered with stray hairs. Sioux City, Iowa is prime shaving territory, always leaving my skin smooth and stubble-less. I’ve heard Lewis and Clark felt the same way. Something to do with the wind and air quality, or barometer readings. For now? In this city? Fuck it. I’m growing a beard.

A thick, scabby rust corrugates the iron bars on my window. I cannot look out and not see it there, scarring my vision like a gnarled vine gone dead and hard in the sun: one more thing locking me up here, inside.

“Very well, you can have your cashews, your mint tarts, your lazy girth, your canned lust and your cheap substitute for a wimple.” I hear one end of this phone conversation through the walls. “I see through and under all that. I’ll candycane your soul with mean streaks.” The voice checks itself, coughs a bit, then continues. “Yeah. Yeah. You know what I see when I look at you? I see a scared little girl who’s so afraid of being hurt that she goes around hurting everybody else, who’s scared to death of being an actual adult, who pretends to be laughing when she’s sobbing. And, you know what? The act’s getting really tired.” There is some general noise of banging and thrashing about, the thud of what’s quite possibly the phone thrown at some inanimate object. And then, after some more theatrics and the slamming of a door, silence comes back. It is, as always, a welcome thing into the reams of my life.

Scattering, there goes helicopters, and the sound of gunshots, and, scrambling all over for something to steady me, I realize that my holsters have been empty for far too long. The searchlights blind me, but they come and go, as I adjust to window glare and decipher the language of sirens. Decrying the chauvinism of Toucan Troops, with the verisimilitude of circumstances always just beyond the reach of my control, joyriding destiny, devouring hearsaying former sycophants, and chancing, in regards to complex histories of always-almost-over-with events, what little remains of my sanity, I feel my way over the humps and thorny turf of what has, unfortunately, come to be a simulacrum of me.

My sums of money have come down to rolled coins, embroidered cloth napkins, yellow handkerchiefs with delicately tatted edges, paint-splattered pajamas, and a statue of a golden goose who lays no eggs. I use old t-shirts for place mats. I roll toilet paper down the hallway stairs. Death has lost his pen; we know each other somewhat less than we used to, in the past’s music, when we resuscitated one another constantly through pain that pounded down in sheets. I destroyed my bugle last Tuesday, mangling it into an abstract construction, a mute contraption of bent tubes going nowhere that steals music from me no more. The charmed life I once led has been swapped for today’s meat and bread, for tomorrow’s wine, and for doing away with what yesterday has wrought. I will blow my nose no more into this now archaic brand of gold-dusted tissue, and instead I think it’ll just be unwearable boxers cankered with holes that’ll get the brunt of my phlegm and mucus.

Things that come too easy are rarely worth having. My record player’s lost its needle, and the belt’s been cogging and fluttering for years. Fidelity is not in high demand. Most things here have become obscenely intimate, and instead of compassion I find myself strung with the flaking tinsel of a curmudgeon’s dying x-mas tree. Popularity is a temporary thing, and it is a sham. Fling yourself into it; end up flung. I have given up eating toast.

You can read about my life, not at the newspaper stands, but in the sky. Harrowing guilt-- born of failure’s success-- tosses worn Blüchers from high windows. Now? I mutter this: “I don’t want to fit fit fit fit fit.” My speech patterns have lost their punctuation; words are sometimes hard to distinguish from each other. Me? Just building flowers out of milk cartons in the wind. This here guy? He’s whittling younger forms of himself out of the same old wood. He’s just a peruke covering what’s left of what he used to be. Sure, maybe he can stomach it some days. There’s some smoldering posing as hard-won affection still left where his heart once burned into the dying of the light. All is dim now, though, and there isn’t much left to admire.

I used to use my morning to be lazy. Over the course of turning into lazy evenings, somewhere, I lost track of how to not lose my languorous whims while the sun bloated its course through shimmery haze to bland haunts of sky. This face I’ve cultivated far from stardom conceals itself from what it was, from the well-known features that brought swoons and applause at a glance; and now it is only the mirror’s trust that keeps me from thinking, ‘This isn’t me.’ Dirt paints my fingernails. Grime outlines my lifestyle. The surface of who before (it seems so long ago) garnered attention has now been lost and buried in the present’s soot. An overflowing trashcan has come to symbolize my existence; I often catch myself wishing somebody would take it out.

Propellers, cooked raisins, avocado-chunk honey, twice distilled 7-Up, casual relationships with flags from countries I can’t name, sipping vermouth through a straw, olives on fingers, decomposing clutter, flailing charm, greasy toes, long of breath, at a loss for gum, hurried to a standstill, and here comes flinching deviants selling quarters for a dollar each. You’ve got to admit, it takes guts to slap folks around like that. I’ve been relegated to the number nine slot in the line up of my life. When you start kicking your socks off in your sleep, from one lonely place to another, it’s time to reconnoiter your position. There are no birds left to view this disaster that I’ve been growing accustom to being.

The cafes stink of cigarettes and mold. I function religiously gloomy under awnings of discontent. Pounding hammers provide the soundtrack to my mornings, which is better than chainsaws and fire alarms. Rushing no longer concerns me. I make guesses at the noise of passing vehicles. Indisitinctions crawl through the carpet and mumble up with the elevator and spill coffee on the bed. There is no agility to spare in the hard-to-capture clunk of my motions.

I used to know a destitute man who lived a few doors down named Franklin: a guy in his seventies with a patchy white beard mottling the scarred and sun-cooked skin of his face; a guy who’d spent what he had while he had it, and ergo came close to having nothing left; and who attempted to hold himself hostage in a small room 14 floors above the pavement. Just another name and face that I can place all too well from paddling through the gurgle of my past. I get the shakes so bad that I can hardly hold a pen. In dreams I am always running, hurrying to and/or away from something. There is never enough time. I am always unprepared, and a feeling of being exposed haunts me. I meet Franklin in these dreams, perhaps, wandering by the side of the road, trapped in a burned-out building, floating in a ravaged, swampy green swimming pool; and he doesn’t speak to me, but I know there is something futile about my whole traversing of this fluctuating and death-cluttered landscape. Endlessly packing my bags and charging off to nowhere. Hopelessness infuses me as I wake and stare at the yellow walls that speak in drunken platitudes and never forgive. Franklin, too, had walls like this; I believe this may have driven him to clutch violets late at night, dripping with sweat, lost between sleep, pleading with the windows to keep him away from them until morning, praying for the foul weather of his mood to lift. It is always walls, always there to stare back at you with empty awe, and no answers lie behind them. You pay double for your loneliest hours, in the dark, lost, trapped, and mesmerized by the street’s soul-crushing séance: trucks beeping backwards, bus motors idling, the rattle of trashcan lids, the scampering pound of sudden steps on the sidewalk, voices scratching violent chords between the lampposts’ steady hum.

I hear protests still, but they are of the mild variety-- not hurt enough to be more than a bit sore, not weighted enough to know what it’s like be smashed by oppression, to be thumbed to a pulp. And here I am, caught on guard, channeling curtain calls that possibly never were, finding fault with every moment I’ve existed, while they go on rosy faced and boring, tempered and bubbly, not scaring anybody, doing the only thing they know how: useless wiggling to music that means less than something, chanting in the singsong language of empty gestures, frowning coolly in the gusty warmth of a blank-faced grimace. I remember the latter. It wasn’t so long ago, and as I build these houses out of memories to store more memories inside of (it takes cautionary logic to undo me), I sense the ceiling caving in, bubbling downward in blobs of regret as I stick to the present-soaked floor tiles. Sarcasm is the latest form of nihilism, and I put up with my own grumbling too, I admit, but there you have it, right? There. The want of money keeps us all in line. We are merely instruments of capitalism’s blunt force. For the three years I had in the limelight, surceased in a fatal blow of overweening pride, I got what I deserved. Before, I walked early so I wouldn’t run late. It got me everywhere slow, and now that seems bright. Now? Well, now the banks are fighting mean, without my money, and it keeps me wearily edged with a bitter happiness-- one that scurries along on wobbly legs and forgets to say grace until after supper’s gone away forever. There are limits, and there are always more to test, even when you’re up and in; it gets dark; it gets cold. Trumpets hide in my basement as the attic seals itself away, plied with bourbon and roses. Everything, in the end, fits.

silent night

I don’t want to be Jesus anymore.

Mary’s harping on me in the wings, and I smell golden beets cooking on the horizon. Joseph says, “Hold your tongue, little bitch,” as he nudges me with a freshly sharpened pencil and then scampers off. Everything stinks of mud and straw. The rain’s been miserable lately, leaving a coarse stench of aluminum and kale behind, though it doesn’t come often. I’ve forgotten my middle name again.

“Thorny bastard!” Screams The Little Dictator. He’s mad at me for reasons I’d fathom if it didn’t make me feel so damn uncomfortable.

I walk over the water towards where he’s standing, talking to him well above a whisper: “I don’t go in for all the uncouth blabbering. Hell. I mean, shit. I make enough to ride in a carriage, at least.”

He’s scared. But still mean as hell.

The wind stinks like KFC. I’m not as hungry as I should be. Stomach’s like rotten olives soaked in gasoline.

I catch a glance of The Three Wise Men, who are in camouflage for the day. They can do such things, as they outrank me by more than they should. Muck is their color, and it suits them, I guess. It’s not for me to judge anybody around these parts. I’m lucky just to get to milk a few cows now and again. I’m no-thumbs in matters like those.

“Remember when we were witty?” It’s The Little Dictator. He’s craning his neck up at me. I’m standing real close, pretending, just for a moment there, that I’m a mannequin. It’s a hard task to keep at.


“Who else?”



The lake’s close. I can smell dandruff and bleachy suds. The Loch Ness Monster Replica is moaning to be oiled.

“Mary’s been sneaking off with Grendel again.”

I try not to look surprised. “I’m not surprised.” The Little Dictator looks dismayed. I want him to be dismal instead. “There’s no use hoping for what isn’t. What is is what matters. It’s pertinent.”

With some tears welling, The Little Dictator looks at his shiny leather boots and mutters, “Examples piss the shit out of me.” That makes me feel better. I clear my throat and flip-flop away.

The days have grown dung colored. The flies are thick. A dusty film covers the guts of the manger. I’ve been thinking about shaving again. It’s just a small thing, and it makes me feel freer. Or, at least, more godly.

Over by the lake I see Joseph, who seems to be talking to himself. Then I realize that he’s on the phone.

“Who are you to say who I am not? Who are you to say? I am not me? I am the only me that there is. That is a motherfucking fact of life, motherfucker!”

It all rings false. Stilted. Too well rehearsed. I nod to him, solemnly, knowingly, lovingly, and walk on.

I am not the only Jesus. In fact, I’m just on a per diem basis right now. Two more guys, who are both noticeably younger and spryer than I, are nabbing what they can of the regular hours. Things are slow around here. It’s making all of us a bit jittery. I’m down to twenty a week, and their talking benefit cuts too. If things keep like this, I might have to sell the piano. The other Jesuses are whispering behind my back, I’ve heard, and they’re not happy with their hours being sucked by a on-call shyster like me, as they put it. At least that’s what I’ve heard. Rumors are always psalming around here. I’m praying they’ll go easy on me.

Last night Mary came looking for me. Neither of us has been dreaming well. I was lying on a bed of nails in the dark, and was a bit startled when she came upon me. I told her a few parables, winked at her some, and kissed her brow, after I mopped it off of course.

“Is this your house?”

“Not exactly.”

“But you live here.”

“Almost exactly.”

“Then why do you pound it so?”

“For a living? Maybe?”

“Ah. Fuck it.”

I get these pills from my MD. They make me spooked, so I try to pawn them off as something worthwhile to the folks around here who go in for such stuff. Recently I mad a small transaction with Merlin. He was cooing to his mechanical doves.

“Yo. Magic man.”


“I got some treaty treats hangin’ like sweaty balls from my chin for yous.”

“No shit? Fuck. Like the sound of them clankers.”

“Damn. Magic man. You gotta chill. Shit. I’m all in for the day. But yous gots to keep it real down and lowly.”

“In of that world!”


The doves poohed glue. We both ignored them.

I didn’t want to insist too much. I was tired. But I also didn’t want to seem gullible.

“My man, Mr. Magic. I’m so running on fumes right up in here. I gots to make me some tweety-tweet, you know?

“Oh holy fuck of lord, yes! Oh god god god god god, yip-a-hip-a-yee yes!”

I knew I had him snared. We made the exchange of bills for pills, and I was out like the light bulb in Mary’s bedroom, which I was pondering replacing for her now that I had this little bit of greenery. Generosity does not come natural to me. I have to work at it.

Vapid assholes run the show. I get it. I’ve always gotten it. That doesn’t make me feel better about my smallness. This something that is all that I have, all that I’ll ever have or be, is always, no matter what, better than nothing. That’s, at least, what I keep telling myself. This is my body. This is how I go through the world. There’s nothing to be done.


It was Mr. Salubrity. He was looking not so tiptop.


“There’s been plenty of rosemary in my tea lately. Have you noticed?”


“Yes. It makes my sipping soapy. My gums are sudsy. I don’t think they care…those…above.”

I didn’t care for his ellipses.

In my best sermonizing alto I told him, “I wish you good spaces. Volunteer your support.” I walked away over a fake cobblestone parkway, looking at my toenails and shaking my head. My tooled-leather flip-flops were making it difficult to stay steady, and the hard-plastic rocks jabbed at my feet as I went, but I didn’t grimace or wince at all. I told myself, “No pain no game, you sick son of a bitch.” That helped.

Mary was in the changing room. She was being petulant. I tried to keep my quiet. I didn’t want to get a wimple thrown at me. She heard the sound of my tooled-leather flip-flops on the rubber of the simulated dirt path.

“I hear you, asshole. I know the sound you make.”

I tried to act startled. “Oh my, Mary. Well, how now does this eve find thee?”

“Eve? Jesus fuck nuts. It finds me in a fucking tizzy. Don’t play coy, dick licker. I’m in a vile motherfuck of a mood, this eve.”

I coughed. I swallowed hard. I made choking sounds. I scratched all around my crotch area.

“Well, well. Mary, Mary, Mary. So good to hear those dulcet tones of yours. Well, I must be on my way. Have a good one!”

I began to shuffle away. She cried after me, “Oh, go fuck a lamb, assmunch!”

As I walked, I searched the sky for answers. The moon was the color of pastrami, and the traces of a few early stars salted the sky’s moldy skin here and there. It reminded me of crushed Oreos.

I want to commission a portrait of Mary and me. There will be cotton fields behind us. Angels will be swinging axes in the sky, chopping apart giant insects and littering the landscape with their bloody bug guts. Drowsiness will have eclipsed us, and our bowed heads will be slack-mouthed and limp. She will be wearing a purple cotton jumpsuit. I will be dressed in a unitard. My socks will be bright yellow in my tooled-leather flip-flops. Suffused with a sleepy forgiveness, everything will fluff and softly fall into place. Mary’s hands will be folded in her lap. Mine will be tucked under my chin, as if I am in contemplation of a somewhat dire situation, or asleep on the job.

Today has been a bitch. It’s a rough world in here. The screams of Sand Blasters, Duster 2000s, Scour&Scrapers, and Industrial Howling Wind Fans ruin my early morning peace. There’s always construction work being done. Everything is being remodeled only to be remodeled again when that’s done. It assures a steady stream of jobs for those who build and destroy things. Also, the cottages are being rewired for Hi-Def capabilities; we are told this will behoove us when it comes to receiving signals from above. I’m not sure I can still believe in the power of the word, but it’s near impossible to remain quiet, and it would be even more difficult to stop listening.

I have become suspicious of meals. At breakfast in the Group Area somebody handed me some orange juice. I took a sniff. The glass smelled faintly of egg whites. Perhaps it was the juice. It did seem a tad too frothy. I was hesitant to sip. Sipping tends to get me into the most trouble. But a gulp? Would that be too much, too soon? I didn’t want to attract attention. Eyes were peeled in my general direction. My picnic table was bereft of other breakfasters besides myself. Whoever had handed me the glass of juice was long gone. I thought about giraffes, wondering if they ever cried. It did no good. Distractions were not helping my cause. The glass of frothy orange liquid was there in front of me. It wasn’t going anywhere. “Drink me or else,” it whispered. Or maybe it didn’t. It was hard to tell.

“I’ve been living to meet you.” It was a jockey-sized person in a white rabbit suit. He had peanuts on his breath.


I have no idea why I said this.

“No. No. I hop so much. I munch. I am subsidized by the corporations that own the holes. My ears are too floppy for their own good. What else is there? I can’t see past my own nibbling.”

Looking at the sky, feigning a holy gesture of a sort, hoping to seem wise and sincere, I sighed.

The rabbit-suited person coughed mildly into a paw, and then piped up: “I don’t want a lump sum for my efforts. A tidy little accruement would be fine, over the course of a few months. That will do me just dandy.”

I belched, mildly. Then I said, “Look. I’m just not with it. As much as you think I am it, that there is no ‘with’ when it comes to me and it, well, that’s malarkey. A pile of pooh. Fancy and complicated. We should know better, but we don’t, still. Would you care for some OJ?”

The rabbit stood up on his hind legs and bowed, deeply. He didn’t take the glass of juice. Instead he bounced his way out of the Group Area. I wasn’t happy with that at all. I stood up abruptly and screamed after him, “That’s right! Just hop away, you dick. Never mind me and my troubles, right?” But I was only screaming at a cloud of dust and cotton. I sat back down, almost as abruptly as I’d stood up, and began to ponder the juice situation again. I thought, ‘What a load of sheep shit. Where’s my holy ghost?’ I drank the juice down in one giant swallow. It tasted like salmon and chicken nuggets.

By that afternoon I was a bit more than a tad queasy. After wandering around for a bit among the metal frames of fake palms, I decided to lie down by Baptism Creek. It was warm out, and the sun felt nice on my face. I lay down on my back, closed my eyes, and clasped my hands over my crotch. Soon I was fevered somewhere between sleep and death. A hazy bleakness overcame me. All was a blender’s puree of mashed and liquefied demons swirled with angels. All at once I was lost, gone, and believed myself to be a meteor fired off into the great beyond. There was no going back. I was out. It was easy, and I wanted nothing more than to keep hurtling off and out, farther and farther into nothing.

A noise startles me out of a bleak trance. Blackness reverse pinholes away as I am rushed with bright. I prop myself up on my elbows, shaking my head to clear my vision. John The Baptist is running towards me, his bald head shiny with sweat. He looks piqued. His terrycloth robe is ripped and worn through in all the wrong places. It makes me incredibly sad and agitated. I want to tell him, “Currently, I don’t feel so hot.” But then I realized all modes of communication with others are quite useless. This realization improves my mood significantly.

“Jesus! Jesus!”

He’s getting closer, closer still. Comfort has gone fishing.

“Save yourself!”

I cannot. I know this. I do not even want to ever want to. It’s not too late. It’s too early. I want to tell him, “We were all getting picked over and pocketed by strangers. At least that’s the way the storms told us we felt, in our bones, in our feet, and in the bowls of pistachios we’d snack on during breaks. The times of being lively were well behind us. Being ahead of the game was our last resort, so we tired fish sticks and macadamia nuts. And so, here, then, there’s a whole lot of screeching going on. Metal shrieking against more metal. Raspy and shrill. High-pitched and yowling. Necessary no longer means what it should. We just do, and we do some more, and we adjust, and we maintain our composure for as long as we can. It is all tooth for an eye stuff. As the neon crosses blister the hills. As rust lasts and lasts. Daunting clauses litter the canvas of my formerly blank thoughts about wear and tear. Inspect what has faded, what luster has been lost. Give your attention to and away from detail. Humans are just another blotch on the surface of things. Decide for yourself what it is that you will notice.”

But I don’t tell him this. I don’t even look at him. I don’t hear him. He does not exist. I lie back down. I close my eyes again. There is nothing there. There is no there. There is nothing. This pleases me immensely.