Saturday, March 17, 2012

sublet lampblack (where no gentle breezes blow)

I rarely can ever figure out if I’m being sincere or not. I go out and stand around on street corners in the wee small hours. I duck under porticos of ancient buildings to stay dry as the rain machineguns the street. A woman in chartreuse rain boots tucks her small dog-- a Papillon, it turns out-- under her arm and joins me to take shelter from the deluge. We talk about carrion, roadkill, the five best ways to be indiscreet with a shovel and leather gloves. There are branches to unfurl, claims to discredit, and the momentum of a union’s busted chops to take a few heavy swings at. We get up in arms about op-ed pieces we haven’t read. I take a deep bow and flee the scene. Nobody worries about clammed up handouts. Not around here. Not when it’s pouring. Not when this cab’s coming at me like suicide’s back in style. God. I’m leafing through papers, playing hangman with pigeon shit. The usual. It’s copper and steel, the sky, and we’re all under it, trying to spatula ourselves up over a fading rainbow. I’ve got a nervous disposition. I’m the kind of guy that’ll knock over the sugar shaker at breakfast and then, as I’m getting up to clean it up, dump my coffee over. But I stay out of the trouble most folks dive neck-deep into for the most part. And waking up with a land’s end headache, fists clenching ground ore and a Michigan twenty-gauge. There are more famous guns than these, the ones I show, the ones I never keep.
Get me far, get me behind, get the robes from a thousand lawyers and soak them in gasoline. Fool around with love long enough and you’ll get a couple of eyes blacker and more blue than this. She wrote notes on secret Polaroids. Were there never scraps in the hayloft? Sure, we’ve got proofs that don’t blame anyone. But trust me, seagulls'll tell more. Smoke Throat Mira loses paychecks like marbles, and life’s just a short vacation from being dead. Faces fade like reputations. I mumble more first names than I know, cussed back to breathing again. Bastards mill the gin before they talk tough about speak-easy dreams. Shove another plug in the candy machine, I’m lowing myself into range. There’s a crooked life straying to get in line. Some of it’s plowing over roses. Some of it’s nothing but what it’s not. An overcoat, pants, or vest away up on Pacific Street, with the moon in my pocket and an introduction at the melodeons to The Galloping Cow, Lady Jane Grey, The Roaring Gimlet, and The Dancing Heifer. Go get melted and poured into your pants while Happy Jack gets saved from the purple crocodiles by the ladies of the Praying Band. I am less than weak when it comes to the destructive effects of temperance. In low places where the terriers fight ten-cent rats a toothless kid talks of Haymarket Theatre, Sydney Ducks, the Hop Sings and the Suey Sings, dollar melodrama, the company-girls contralto of Madame Bertha, La Rosa Del Peru, Emperor Norton’s bills, and a blood-stained trampled violet. We cater to the rain. The Bella Union’s gone under, and if it’s midway to another we’ve got mouths that don’t want to be fed. Rust is just a gilt edge on the wrought-iron thoughts I’ve got, the ones that sleep dewy in worried concrete gardens where they’ll never be found.
Engaged to snapped-off tree branches and closed-down clothing stores. Very little is lost. Tap my shoes on the pavement, guess at some change in my pocket, toss a pretzel to the birds. The marquees are drooling Casablanca with a rubato wheeze as the moon hangs its head towards a rippled halo of fog. But the finches sneak up on me, and class wears off, and even the snails are rushing off somewhere else. Hell, people want to reduce you to the smallest molecule of your personality. So save it up. Don’t go spilling it all over town. Try not to pencil too many people in to the circumstances of your life. Wait until the air’s so still it’s like being underwater, then make a splash for the brighter of the lights.
Some mornings you wake up, go into the bathroom to take a piss, and the rod for the shower curtain’s collapsed, taking the shower curtain and your bath mat with it into the tub. And your mule’s left without you. On a day, too, when you wake up with strange phone numbers in your coat pocket written on crumpled dollar bills and bits of cocktail napkins. Maybe there’s some bricks slopped with orange paint that are doing their best imitation of a wall, and that’s about all that’s holding up your head as you wait for your order of broccoli and beef chow mein. The whole place smells like white-bread toast. There’s something that comes begging, hopscotched, into your life at around noon or so. And they call this business show. There’s something that’s very too-close-to-call about it, huh? Like bologna on rye. Big whoop. That’s what I say. This business called show. So what? It’s all about as exciting as watching paint dry. And I’m eating chocolate cake for breakfast. Insert cello solo here, you know? Something reeks. Oh lord, I just burped the Subway five-dollar-foot-long song. A smile that’ll fix a flat playing a split-squad game with my emotions, while I go around with a pair of baby-sized moccasins in the breast pocket of my Salvation Army suit. But, maybe, just maybe, I don’t know, you spot a couple of skillets on the sidewalk resting atop discarded couch cushions, and you get to thinking about the rut you’ve been calling your life lately-- the long sobs of the violins of autumn. Shit, I was just a deadbeat kid with skinned knees and ripped pants. We’re going everywhere from now on. Hats are no longer optional. Easters spent getting drunk in a coat-check closet. Dipping more than big, the blasted wreck of the sky’s ship is anchored to streetlights and hydrangeas. The tattered silver vest of a three-piece is hanging from a fire hydrant. Done with doing something, living conditions straying towards anorexic. A glass eye’s take on the surroundings, a few booze-soaked aperçus leveling the playing field for schmaltzy daffodil hoarders and train conductors. But, who knows, maybe there’s another reckless pull left in you. And, well, maybe there’s more left to lose than this. But, you know, probably not.