Wednesday, November 30, 2011

birmingham has gone to motors again

The piano player in here is mysterious, and through the windows I can see the ocean. Everybody’s jotting. Notes are being taken, along with photographs of small children and animals. The ceiling’s creased with seams of meringue. I can discern the taste of jellybeans through the atmosphere, which is thick with card tricks and deep-fried tarantulas. Disfavor brooms the dust of staying put. Like weeds, my temper grows wild when left untended. The piano player is on to me. I try to daydream of voluptuous catkins getting screwed by the wind.

There goes another swiping scrawl of my hand, scribbling something about concrete gardens, outward of its own volition now, things beyond my reach, mud slopped between layers of hard work, and I’m slouching to stay as hidden as possible. This situation is becoming humdrum. My ears are all eyes.

Every fold is strumming. Paper is recherch√©. The waiters walk away from orders as records get fixed instead of broken. Be me. It’s not that boring or easy. Even at night it’s not like this: “Have at it all, moon! Hunch over that range of skyscrapers to the east. Peek away!” It’s not like that at all. Some things will boom before the light of day blues the crest of rage from them. Crashing? That takes the pie. Before I am done here, or after, the piano player will get what he’s got coming. Maybe I will whisper just soft enough so he can’t hear, “Roll before the bones break, buddy.”

Brightness, flooding in with sharp edges, steadies me. The windows are clean. All is clear. The ocean laps the hard sand. I am mushy at worst. Be kind. The piano player has taken a short break. Disruptions will make do. I will make them make do. Who plays the piano when the piano player has gone away? I am planked and deconstructed hourly, but am only paid per swindle. Nobody dwells in exceptions through clear-cuts like this, like mine, like a diaphanous swig of phosphorescence. Yes, I am bubbled so I can quietly scream, “Effervesce!” while being simultaneously jealous of the piano player and myself. But that’s not my conundrum to fritter away.

Lord, won’t you buy me a Lincoln Continental. Oh, but I am crude. Oh. Oh, and there goes a harmony scrubbed pure; it halts still as salt on the tabletop. I’m close to positive it’ll be negative for the salubrity of my thoughts. At least until the piano music continues.

Don’t spot the piano player. Let him dawdle without noticing it. You know what? He’s about as well-adjusted as a vacuum’s nozzle attachment. ‘Eyes on the consolation prize,’ is the warning I give. ‘Gas it when you’ve had enough.’ I know. Pray with me: “Thomas Bernhard was a good old pal of mine a way back when before it was correct to be incorrect.” Now, that’s worse if not better, yes?

The piano player strives. He will not be served. Not plattered. Not stuffed or suppered on. I think, ‘Dexterity mashed with celerity is his game.’ I am hunched, sitting at this table, over my paper, letting my hand scratch out its business. The piano player has magnificent hands. Me? No. Mine do not glide effortlessly over the ebony and ivory, plashing a tad here, smooth, fluent, grand, marvelously adroit, almost a liquid grace to it all. No. My own paws, like talons a tad, are better for clubbing, cracking ribs, lickety-splitting, handling crotchety levers, scaring kids, oafing gestures, milking ibex, and pulling triggers. The piano player knows the score. Nobody draws conclusions like me. But for now, I am keeping the paper covered. My elbows are on the table.

While the piano player was gone I made up a song: “Claw, claw, claw out my eyes, for me. They are not gauzy with you anymore, no more. So do me a solid, and claw, claw, claw away.” I am scraped. Another note: make landfills more exciting. Are you (me) cruel? Will yesterday’s makeup cover another folky disaster? Well’s well. These here fleas that are too lazy to crawl emote with such stuff as, “Give me misery or give me life! Ah, banisters they crumble, and we’ve got salt to shake; we’ve got sand between our toes; we take dream-vitamins crushed in dog-food souls.” The song’s distant, pitched to go, and I will cower here over my paper, sit at this table, here, and I will know the form my enemies take before I even start humming.

At another table, one not far from my own (at mine I am the only one who sits), are seated three ladies. They are dressed in the checkered red and black of lumberjacks-- two in ankle-length plaid dresses, one in a plaid dress shirt and jeans-- and are drinking tea while munching on graham crackers. The one in jeans (and I can tell this) wants to ask quite loudly, “Would somebody critique pure reason for me?” But she doesn’t. She merely munches on crackers and sips tea while rocking slightly in a diagonal pattern from the shorter back left leg to the longer front right leg of her unbalanced chair. I want to awaken her from her dogmatic slumbers by telling her things like, “It is quite dangerous being a pedestrian out there on the streets in these modern times. You could be creamed to a pulp by any number of careering motorized vehicles.” I am living a food-stamped life quashed by military-style forces who surround my ambitions with chewed gum. But, in the end, I believe the piano player will cure us of our a posteriori ways. That is what he is for.

Here is another is: a stint of reducing barely visible moments to their stripped-down essence, almost soundless too, and I get the theme song from MASH stuck in my head. I lie to myself that my nose isn’t growing as I age. Breathing, for now, keeps me steady. Enemies? Unknown. Friends? Dashing. Always dashing. There are, you see, dull knives that slash jaggedly at rational forms of knowledge (some gained, some released), and rip janky holes through my inferences of small matters. Nobody plays nice around these parts. The goodness of one’s actions cannot be measured out in coffee spoons. Act slow. Think quickly. Operating on stun is stalling what’s inevitable. There is not room enough here (in this is) to shake a fist at. The eagle has lost its sight.

The ocean beyond the window’s plate glass is not calling me. The tables are turning out to be used against my better operational modes. I am out of opinions, sided out, breached and disquieted. My sheet of paper has no room left. Gazes are looking the other way. Scuttled whispers come coughing, bargains galore, through diacritical perceptions of who is left to ponder what goes on inside this dusty head of mine, murmuring such things as, “Professionals only, boys. We write our own tickets to hell. Amateur hour is expired. Come on. It’s later than now. Get a move on. We play in borrowed time, only.”

The piano player is gunning for me. A breach of steam-powered etiquette. But I won’t laugh first. It’s better to be mashed by a delicate frustration than be the cheek-turner of the party. Shoot first. That’s a heavy bargain. To shoot last would be preferred.