Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the weary and conflicted kindness of shy strangers

            Sometimes it’s like you’ve either got too much salsa or too many chips. Let me tell you, it’s a gamble, and every so often you’ve got to run with the mustard and take cover when the hotdog buns come for you. Trust me. I’ve lived through enough barbeques and picnics to know better. Bring some snacks. Take an umbrella. Smoke armadillo-skin cigars. Tie my spikes together and chuck ‘em up over the telephone wire. Dog-tired? I’m taking the kids out to breakfast. It’s a sure thing. Wrapped up. Boy, these broken heels are killing me.
            Crabapple jelly on dark Russian rye. That’s what I’m talking about. Here, there, we’ve got pounds of sugar to dump. The comic strips tell the future while I go around closing windows and, when the mood strikes me, bark at the television. Warming up but never sleeping, it’s ornaments of rust and gold that keep the eyes half-shut all the time. Reused elements of cocoa powder and stylish hope, the dreams I can’t make out are off to keep pace without even a hat to their name, and the high-pressure zones, and the bottle-cap patched pants, and the yellowing tape marks on the balding shoulders of a thrill-seeking jacket, and, and, and, that’ll have to do. It’s a Henson Stitch: something you’ll never see but that’s there just the same anyhow.
            Atypical romantic schemes, dialing up the wrong sort, pay saved up until it’s spent, and the old and staying-put dawdle in the pool-hall light. Wedged and insufferable, the table’s been set but nobody’s eating dinner. Devil my eggs and roll that old tire down the driveway with me inside of it. Please stand clear of the closing doors while I’m up on the roof with my vacuum cleaner and box of dominoes. And a Bronx Cheer goes out to the Appomattox-soured cads among us. Where does this escalator let off? Under the river or into the doctored night’s teeth? I’m willing to put up with off days midweek and the Coeur d'Alene sliced heaven of it all, if need be, but there’ll be no gimmicks in the hollow of a dying cedar, if you’re floating with this buzzard’s drift. After all, I’m no Trimalchio in West Egg; rather, just a gouache of a guy splattering his way through the headlands with a dyed-blue heart dripping from his sleeve to his jacket’s elbow patch. Nobody’s offering me a ride.
            So, as accidents happen (and we’re all to blame here, really) there’s little indication that I’ll take my Kangaroo stew recipe with me to Harlem. The supports for such an effort were pretty damn small, if truth tells on itself about it. Certain spices, well, you just can’t go lugging them around. And when it comes down to grit and the richness of sauced pride, well, there are moons we’ve yet to land on still, and it’ll keep us lucky and grounded wherever we go, which, of course, is nowhere but here where the stalls reek of pissed-on dandelions. For this here being’s time, I’ve been nicknamed to death, and there’s a real way not quite out of staying the course, but that’s a long-gone decision that pretty much all takers around here and there are almost too brave to make. That’s really getting your mayonnaise in your mustard, if you’re in the business of asking. I can hardly bother the diced tomatoes to stay put, myself; and if you’re planning a coup in the sauerkraut it’d serve the needs of most better to just lie lazy in the bouillabaisse until the crops pick themselves for the remainder of the summer’s blackbirding.
            The captain’s one-eyed dwarf sings, “I would like to be in love, in love, in love, in love,” almost every evening. This is not the land of the blind, apparently, and he will have to be satisfied with his cravings alone. I suspect that he’s waning gibbous in his moods, especially late at night when I’ve spied him dipping his stubby toes into the pool’s icy waters and epode-ing to the dismay of the sleepy and harassed charter-club members, most of whom don’t give a rattle about this particular asp’s melodies. The boiler room’s becoming more crowded than they’d like to admit. It’s enough, I figure at least, to permanently etch a five-dollar bill into the pockets of unsuspecting visitors. They don’t know what's there, right in their pocket, and it doesn’t matter because we’ve too little faith in what somebody else might bestow into the fold of our lives to even check things like jacket linings for clues to a better way to get help, to heal, or to set up shop on a banana tree farm and stay open all through the night. It’s more or less what we give that matters, not whom we give it to or what we take from it. There are stars closer than the distance it takes to muster a simple hello from time to time. Remember, oleander kills.
            The brunt of what I say is lost in the soft cushion of my surrender. Do not mistake my lavish appetites for greed. It’ll be a frank goodbye that gets mileage out of all this, and the artichoke leaves have all been brushed with kerosene, and I’ve donned my crepe myrtle sombrero. It’s in the misty hindsight of liking’s look that we’ve stabbed all the champs-- in the midst of it. And there is still very little now in the force-fed hunger of missing, in the lonely eyes of dry-iced laughter; and we’re not taking care; and we’re a pound over the limit by now, very little left hiding below the stairs, or on a barstool sad with bad meatloaf and worse beer. 
            So now it’s almost when we lived (or could live) on dream’s smoke and the love of cats, when we hung (or were hung) around drugstores and pool halls, when the cops never came-- very little now-- while the snowy speeches still could wreck, while the whores slip (or slipped off) down the stairs, or now while the sneaks fluster and hurry sugar away from the coffee-loaded grandstanders. And it is all as it were, where we happen and were happened upon, and I still slice my pie with a stiletto, if you really want to know. The lie is that we are all bona fide citizens of our own subconscious realms. Here? Well, we climb back, the radio tuned to static, a violin in the trunk, waiting around to start having a good time, letting the statute of limitations on prayers elapse. And then, the lent of love’s like gives a wink backwards, and there is a sprinkling of sun after the hail’s let up, and there is hell to never pay, and there is the sound of that old gypsy saying my name. Do not forget what I gave and never asked for back-- it is legendary. And, as I arrive home from Hushpuckena, watering the fake dirt of plastic plants with real water, well, it has become all that I own.