Wednesday, July 11, 2012

these children are so hard to raise good

Got this turkey licked, this cracked customer of a knotty-pine partner. Who does he think he isn’t? Not a charmer by a long haul. So be it. What this chunk of change will do for the chorus girls lining up to go batty. What this ragged heart won’t put up with. A sheen that don’t shine no more. Soda pop bottles and coffee mugs don’t get you far, as your agent gets ten percent of grief, just like always. Hooch to wrestle your nightmares away from you. A fugitive from a fireplace, patient and erudite, as alive as a head cold. A genuinely talented article crawled out from under a bottle only to hit it about as big as a boiled fish’s eye. Sappy and self-indulgent. Scotch and sympathy. Battling a dummy for a place on the stage. Making it or making it up. Just you and me. Novel enough for a ventriloquist, same new jokes. Playing it like Greta Garbo. Nerves of gin. The next booking’s in the fireplace, never a shill for attention, resigned out of self-respect. Bum cues. A locked trunk to hold your dreams. A place in Kansas City, hopping a train or into a taxi, licked at the source, run off for good just the same. Hearing nothings that are never sweet. A girl to save you from yourself, so sudden, suddenly, and a sandwich to keep you from being alone. A derelict’s laugh. A pace to never hold. A wiser guy than this. Broken glasses and a heart to match. Satisfied from the song of the same name. An old switcheroo, in the parlance of just about no time left. And what’s left is forcing smiles all around. And I’m left staring at grapefruit dangling from a tree. And the only one who’s not dumb around here is the dummy. 

 I’m scuffling nowadays, just a tamped puck of ground coffee bound to a chrome-and-brass aesthetic. Pressing close to windows, clutching at small bits of peace with unstable hands. Jellyfishing around in the wake of tugboat nightmares, I’m drowning in my own ambition, coughing up blood for air. Don’t distinguish my impudence from my indignant hasslings. The shallows of slights-and-barbs suffering belie a better way to swim: along with the tide's ripped keel. But gnawed bones of leftover change disinter my temper from the arid, windless grounds of bad luck. If the landlord wants to break in here he’s going to need a crowbar and an axe. My business is setting off burglar alarms and settling debts with ice picks. I leave the day-to-day activities of normal life to the mailmen and the knife sharpeners. For me it’s nothing but the unusually customary events of longing and indecision. I make some haste. I spill ashtray muck on linoleum. I rent trouble by the vat, with regimented lies, soy sauce packets, and a composite of warble flies, limestone, and pulverized stereo parts. There’s a coat in my closet with dead moths in all the pockets. I drink vanilla extract by the bottle. Fuck it. I’m joining the circus.

There’s a stark, lazy charge in the air. Something freed inside of its cage. Perhaps for the unloved. Perhaps a petal crushed by a strange hand. A life to get back to the living of. A clown with no recollection of being so. A chance disintegrated into a topple. A nameless thing with no memory, just like this rusted gold safety pin slipped through my lapel.  

The sum of remaining is squeaking by, kind of audible in a tuned-out way, and it figures, somewhat in the blue of being me, what matters still in the closed-down-television-repair-shop distance. Glass and filaments and nickel tubes scattered and smashed. The hills are dead with the noise of commercials. Getting it or not, what places mattering in the hands of miscreants and do-no-gooders is a complacent shrug from the masses, and it is a strained willingness to close our eyes to the lives of others that cheapens, waters down, and plunders our personal stock of expendable energy. Driving Buicks to a full moon by the sizzle of burning cigarettes, we step heavy, fart, and play the stereo too loud. What’s curtailing the marl of me from livening up the topsoil? It’s not a brave enough question.

All addressees have forwarded their souls to the next beer bar, the taste of ashtrays and curdled dreams still thick on their tongues. I’m not making myself out to be drearier than anybody else. I’m not halving sheetrock nightmares for a few paychecks at a time. Us, the question takers and absurd, we chew on tire and volcanic ash. Green’s not our gold. But there’s no we here. Not now. It’s just a rented hall with nowhere to sit, and I’m sleeping over smoking coals. Here, where flying’s for the cockroaches, I take my temperature with a bradawl and boil live rattlesnakes on the stove. There’s a stopping here that just goes and goes. Rest assured, not weary. That’s the casing of what my insides are turning out to be. And, go figure, God might be watching the rats as they drown, you know? Life turns out to be what you don’t make of it, in the space between where you’ve been, where you’re headed, and where you’ll never get to know. Gone away, finally to be sucker punched by barbiturates. Finally to be bandaged and less brave in the arms of paramedics. The kitchen floor is colder than you’d think.