Wednesday, June 20, 2012

never drive a car when you’re dead

            When I first met Hurky he was doing balancing acts in the sunshine. One leg in the air held perpendicularly from his body, arms out like wings. He closed his eyes. There were stranger things. You get to wandering. You hear the oddest music. Hurky was playing the sarrusophone back then. It got so bad though, with the rust and with how pregnancy got to going around, that he had to give up all that hubbub. Improving the darkness with a chromelodeon. At it. Again. That fill’er-up sort, Hurky, he made inscriptions in telephone poles with a penknife. I allowed a certain painted flip-everybody-off attitude to prevail. A bound and cagey love. It described a hampering willfulness towards numbering letters. You had it, and he was having none of it. Hurky could explain it better, if he could, but he won’t so it’s up to me.
            “Do you have machines to sing you to sleep?”
            Over a while I asked only what questions I could. Poor habits of dreaming. Deeper pockets while the Fortified Sleep Machine roars. Opted in, to stay wherever put’s happening.
            You leave him on a street corner. He’s a barker, Hurky is. You get what you’re not supposed to be paying for. A swelling, long in the throat, gets what’s up and under his cover, and you go ballyhoo crazy with waiting. Short of it? Well, Hurky’s not making any enemies. And, composing around nightmares, there gets to be a dull aftertaste to the tang of it. Well and sturdy suit it though, still, and Hurky’s running with the law off to the side.
            Viable. I’m looking. Quiet.
            The machines are grunting, waking me every three hours. The television blinks alive. I am gamey with worry as a voice screeches, “Get out!” It is inside of me, ghostly, and I don’t dance with it. Plotting is what gives the voice its lush terror, maybe.
            “Hello, buddy. I’m not named.”
            “We are a right-away sort.”
            “You better not bet.”
            People are nowhere.
            Hurky gets to find out what’s feinting truth. Hangs a bottle from a string tied around his neck like a sign telling everybody he’s not asking for anything to change. The art-brut attention withers. I miss certain sliding steps of his cadence. I miss scents I can’t recall. The way shadows get to dancing. It’s all the slope of a peculiar cursive, and we derive ourselves from it. The windows fill with electricity.
            I almost hear a voice, and I almost listen: “I am not the person you thought you saw that night when I was gripping the table edge and gazing uncomfortably out the window. I am less strained, now. There it is. See? Attack a Moog. Go about it. For yourself, or anybody. Less far, though I am nearer when distant, ubiquity calls me by name. I am not clutching pieces of tattered Eisenhower jackets. I am open to old ideas. I am not this good at humming. You should know by now.”            
            There are other measures I could take. I could make a sandwich. I could dress in tweed. I could try to hail down a cab in a deserted parking lot at four in the morning. I am bow-legged in my appeals for help, which are mostly lost on hairy-eared individuals. It’s similar to when my dignity just up and left me. An abandoned stench hung on all my thoughts. I walked everywhere.
             A white-haired man in an all-black outfit walks by with his hands clasped behind his back. A thief of gloom, he carries the neighborhood’s sins on his shoulders. The syncopated clop of his shoes on the pavement has a backbeat that I wish to never lose.
            The delicate crush of foam. Angered out of grief. Stare in. Stare out. Nothing’s grabbing a hold. A ball-crumpled plastic Subway bag. Shattered neon bulbs cascading clunky twinkles of blare. Punched holes in plaster. I can’t have peace in the tumult of scratched lottery tickets, ATM receipts, Owl Clips, and portraits of James Montgomery Flagg pointing at me.      
            Something came into my life recently. It was a scrap of tinfoil. I nailed it to the wall. I’m not sure whether this was natural or an imposed stance due to the nature of rebellion. A nail in each corner, it flattened out against the eggshell paint.
            There was a sheen to it. A glittery spark. I packed my bags and left.
            I wasn’t sure, and am not still, what reflection I was expecting. A crinkled one? A silver-dollar flash with my face strained and cracked into it. A wrinkled disappearance into the slivers and folds of shiny abandon. Something real and lived-in. Cowboy boots on my doorstep? It was something at least partly as farfetched. 
            Well, let’s see. Here are some things. We are what the road has made us. A couple of wrecks. Conned out of a purpose. Settled in on the low side of a bluff. Gouged for nobody’s profit. We can wink at our future and call it a liar. I’ve got my clavichord. I’ve got my cloud chamber bowls and gourd tree. Spelling is singing. Threads loop from my buttonholes.
            Hurky doesn’t trust what he’s not doing. I watch him from above when I can. Sometimes a high room in a building. Who knows who’s knocking before leaving here? Not while the machines disinter the grayness from tosses that won’t turn. I place Hurky’s suspicion along with regional fire hazards in a fur-lined box. There are motors here. There are gears that won’t mesh. Volatility has lost its purpose. From up high Hurky doesn’t look busy or worried. He lurks on curbs, a relic, scarecrow of the streets with dandelion stems in his teeth, slightly less tattered than the stuff it takes to be more than a little less than alive. I’ve given up matching my socks.
            So, we churn. These machines run on nitroglycerin and hay. We boss around our blemishes. And these machines distract us from being awake. So, us? We marvel at our own speech. We take cuts. The florid wear and tear of speech gets us, and we attack each other out of reasonableness.              
            Down below a woman screams, “You are abomination! You…are…abomination!”
            “An.” I hear Hurky tell her, his voice a grain above forgiving. “You keep forgetting your determiners. Now, again.”
            “I can’t. I just… can’t.” She starts to softly cry.
            Hurky spins on his toes. Somewhere down there I imagine myself telling myself, “Oh lord. Not again with this stuff.”
            I’m done with this purring around. I close all of the windows.
            I’ve got my tinfoil. I’ve got my lambda calculus. I’ve got my obsidian scalpel and my bleeding-heart monitor. Bothering me is quite a proposition.
            Slumber’s closed for the season.
            When I last saw Hurky he was strung up like a discarded marionette from a power line. His shoes were up there too, laces tied together, dangling there just like him. He was so light. He held wind in his teeth now. You get to sob less when the machines do your dreaming for you. You come to invoke certain privileges, and you take your time picking out the perfect nectarine to take home with you from the produce stand. I stood under Hurky and looked up. I wouldn’t say I stared. No. I just gazed. I glanced without ogling. I’m sure nobody noticed. I can tell such things.
            The trees are wearing vests of ivy. A swirl and gasp of leaves eddying up and over the sidewalk. The machines are gone with drift, bruised back to stop-and-start technology. Trembles letter what hand-cranked passion spills down to us. Manufactured birdsong rolls behind my closed eyelids. Honked to a hypnagogic reverie. It’s fair. I’m alert in my passivity. I’m a gumball rotting in a glass sphere. Something drains down: the clatter of metal sheets, awful explosions of beeps void of tonality’s hierarchical pitch, dripped dissonance-- the shallow porcelain-tub swash of it all. I don’t vary my experiments in the ranges of increased use of the ambiguous chords, the less probable harmonic progressions, and the more unusual melodic and rhythmic inflections. Hurky understood this. Now? There are fashion shows happening in the supermarkets. Flotillas of bodice-wearing landscapers chain themselves to spigots for attention, wishing only to relay some information, such as the fact that the thread standard for garden hoses in the US and its territories is known as GHT or “garden hose thread” which has an outer diameter of 1.0625 inches and a pitch of 11.5. Listeners are not around. I envy them as one might an elephant blowing its nose. Such an enormous and unappealing wonder of sound.
            I cannot scrape together an audience. I depend on pity and chance. Eyes stay averted. Ears ring with scantily clad noise. “Look up,” I argue between a sneeze and an atom bomb. “Listen. There is something there I wish to show you.”