Sunday, August 26, 2012

as the bus turns

            As the bus turns I find I am not writing it down. Something akin to, “The unimportance of this phone call is tremendous. We had a cabin, perhaps, somewhere in the mountains. The terrain bubbly with grief and joy. The fairness of it all, what happiness happened, it all jumps beyond me still. There it is if it is we who should shoulder a bench to sit on and watch the rain, the scent of which I can’t quite remember properly. Rock walls. Or was it logs? Just as all things could be cabined, here there goes another vanishing hold on what only live violets know-- or knew, as it were. My computer no longer knows what time it is. My head deals in rock salt and vinegar, peppermint, and what names will come for my firstborn. The weather is now under us.”  
            You can blame me for the construction of unknowns. I build them out of bastard parts. A sparse willingness curbs the bus, and we nod onward without moving. It isn’t daylight that strips me of the power to care. I don’t know what it is. A cause on loan from the bishop factory. Something cussed with a briny flavor. Something clarified in the butter of justice. A weeping that isn’t slight.
            A skim of wheels, brought into the world blighted and sizzling, sings Glory Be Thy Name, Tupperware. It is selfish to be flighty in stucco claims to infamy. We are all holders of our own spirit, vessels of suspect carapace. A cheek to turn. Over worn and grown thin. Here are my worst habits. Take them from me and drown them with the rats. Foreign cucumbers grow their own tongues, you know, and then they speak something almost like this: “V! Crack a LMNO for all the peas everywhere. Don’t gush, tubas! I am braver than a whisk. Egg me and I’ll scramble. Loot the weathervanes from all the rooftops. We can have nakedness while we can’t have peace. Star-rock sea dragons sleep in the sidewalk. I called! I swear it! Don’t mope through my wailing. I’ve got it almost all, and I would put it all almost everywhere. Equal equals we are in the rinse of streetlamp light. Make my water with dirt-flavored lemonade. I don’t grow like that anymore. See to it, then. See to it! Blasé!”
            A microbe picker stopped in on the way to Jerusalem and hitched a halo ride from a bell-tower watcher. He owned up to wondering aloud, “Is there nothing really left to misuse?” It briefly figured. Then it didn’t.
            What is love?
            So, this shorty pants guy comes into The Store. He’s bought off. I can tell. So, he’s sailed too far in his gaseous explorations of what was happening on his ceiling, or in it. He says to or with me, “It is pincers, man. Justification of a grand for a dollar’s worth. I’m up to it in shrill mistakes. I’m down for it all, anyway. Take my hat, please. Get it? Party pooping is the way. We all just walk along with it, or on it, or in it. I got this brother-in-law, hell, he deals in stamps and pork-and-beans logic. That’s a fucking shored milieu of crap, if you get me on one of my sunnier days. He’s a horse shooter, really. Puts it all out to pasture. Creeps most folks out. Shit. I stay close to cordoned off about that stuff. And here I am blabbing on about it. Shit. I get tired, and, well, the weather round here gets to me. The crust of the afternoon sinking in. The blown smoke of it all. I’m dusty with rearranging my own deeds, and deed-nots, really. Groggy and slow to rise, I get what’s cooking for the most. Take what’s what and fall right up the stairs with it. Shit. That’s a meddling that I’d rather go on without. And then I got me a nephew. Kid named Linus, for Christ’s sake. And he bowls you over with his schemes. Hatching stuff on a daily basis, that kid. Venus flytraps in his room and shit. He’s a nut, that one. Hoping the flying saucers lift him out into his true home out there in space, you know? That kind of shit. Well, I do what I can. Here’s another truth for you.”
             Slammed with crowds. Everyone gets up at some point. Everyone leaves. The driver’s reading yesterday’s paper. We are all coiling for one last bar-happy day. Passengers don’t get breaks. It’s all spilled together and running away. A music-box tilt of joy creaks through. We learn to stay awake by standing up sometimes.
              “The garter snakes are loose in a battle for your legs. Pressure’s off. The keys are snuck. Things are mostly what they seem. Coffee and sandwiches. Cold ham and warm pickles. It’s what it ain’t, just pools and swings, and holidays in Plymouth testing out a supersonic parachute.”
            She smiled at him and licked her lips, roving eyes concealed behind dark sunglasses, lizard-skin purse lazily strung over a shoulder, while tilting her head to the side and sticking out her chin.
            “I wouldn’t know.”
            “I know.”
            A twitchy scrunch to her zygomata, a tell of a sort, that gave credence to his belief that she was just in it for kicks, just for a light thrill and then it’d be done for good. She’d move on and away, not even a postcard between them again. And it was something he knew but couldn’t admit, or wouldn’t, if there were a difference. For now it was just holding onto what he could before it all went and slipped away on him. Life was just a stupid routine to mold yourself into. It was just a drag, something to be pulled along, and he’d had enough of futilely struggling against it. Instead he messed around with her hair and ran his hands through her clothes, tangling himself up in what he could of what still remained his to hold.
            (insert happy beginning here, along with the hint of a sadder end)
            Words lumped together, oatmeal on the breath, and it’s trying not to rain. Nobody believes in going outside anymore. It’s all beached. Stay in. Watch the weather work itself out. You’ve got your own solar system, and it’s over there, too far to get to know. Throw a tarp over it. Leave the rest to dreamy afternoons, and let the planets go their own way. Fast, staying tuned to scoop selfless helpings, turn it over and let the twine unravel all across the floor.
            On the stop, blur train travel into a broom-swept dust. Vacate the bus station bar where the dropouts lounge around and stare at strangers. Given to orders, and what we’ll never let on about. Just the sip that goes down sour, that quench that never is. Only a costly wish-you-were-here-or-there, and then it is a done’s last deal.
            “I remember you alright at the Fairmont Hotel. Your drinking of Scorpion Bowls was a legend.”
            “This cross, well, it just ain’t doing the job no more. Not like it used to could.”
            “We had none of it, and were having it all.”
            “My love, I leave it hanging from the window for all the world to see.”
            “It’s all dirty dishes to me.”
            The poof of gray above those pinball eyes staring through the bars of her living-room window as if she were in jail. The TV’s blaring behind her. A skuzzy lilt to her features. A roach-like ambivalence. A tender touch of woe escaping between the bars of her self-made jail. The children going by are unmistakably happier than any luck she’s ever known. She stares and stares as day folds into night. There is nothing else to do.
             The fog’s thick teeth in all this, gnawing on the world’s woodwork, hiding the degenerates and the bums who stalk the night with ragged ideals and a hankering for trouble. Increasingly on the dole, checking out all the cashiers sashaying through it with a few after-work drinks in their step, hanging their hat on a tree branch, getting decorous with their dreams and lost-cause ambition. It sparks a light from a not so steady retreat, and the heavy wet slops through everybody’s hair. 
            The sound of tires skimming over a wet spot in the road is bacon’s frying-pan sizzle. I am not writing this down. The bus loses its trolley poles. There is a collective groan from within. The driver swings open the clear plastic door that separates him from the passengers, puts on a yellow safety vest and thick gloves, and climbs down the front steps to go out and put the poles back on. There is nothing to do but wait. Behind us the other bus comes up, and then passes us, streaking by with a buzz and a whirr, rattling away on up ahead. Much clanging and clattering and banging around can be heard, as the driver pulls on heavy ropes attached to the poles, trying to realign the slots in the ends with the cords above. He seems a bit like a puppeteer, artfully toying with the slackened bight of rope in his hands, making the poles dance and swing back to the lines. Finally, the lights in the bus come back on and the engine springs back to life, and a slight sigh of relief comes whispering out of the passengers as the driver hops back on board. Motion comes again, and we are off. I write nothing.            
            There is no blunder that’s blurring what’s wrong with hellos. Batter down. It’ll prove little or insistent in the description of two human beings scurrying towards distance. All that not said, get loose or stay put.
            A little welt of euphoria swelling up in a carved-out nook in the back of your brain. “Tell the neighbors we’re rigging our house for a flying prize. I have acquired a book of knots, maybe.” Something of that nature. Or when the cage of your emotional makeup is no longer enough to contain the looks she’s giving. A punch to her eyes that swipes chicory notes from tame decisions. It yaps its own yelling. If you can imagine it then it won’t ever happen. Such is the stuff of negating positive effects in dream logic, or the vices of diversion, or unwilling hallucinatory madcaps of painting the dullest of pictures bright. It is contrary to every indication of real-time wakefulness to be drawn ineptly into the mushy confines of imaginings. At least that’s what the footsloggers are spelling out with their shore-leave spending.
            The morning’s rushed with blame. She takes her time with sugaring. She winks when it is necessary, softer and sipped out of coffee. Rising where it is not funneled to worse or better off things. She’d sweep a kiss to the stars and sponge dry a licked stamp if that’d matter to you. A certain crooked tilt to her closed mouth, her lips swim synchronized. The blowsy trees can’t give away her shape. Only the matters that matter form the frieze of her gestures. She’d hint, “A lanyard for your fishhooks,” but never put it aloud.
            “If we had kids.”                 
            “No. If.”
            “Then we’d pray for something. Then what? Love?”
            “Somewhere. Then. Maybe.”
            The spark and wheeze of hydraulics, the spinning chortle of thrust, and then there is the silence of stoplights. There is nothing so quiet as being on an idling electric bus. If nobody on the bus is making any noise, there is no sound, and the moment can be almost beatific in its purity.
            And then comes trouble? Maybe just a Great Curassow greeting newcomers into old haunts, divvying up the feed best it can. A sea dragon carved into a shedding eucalyptus trunk with a butcher knife. It is awful to be constantly aware of the presence of mosquitoes. Keep you up until morning’s first. Generic rights to triviality lie mortified in suspense for the duration of time-lapse lives.      
            Put a photograph of the moon in your back pocket. Keep a hydrangea in your buttonhole. Make flour go sooty with cocoa powder. Peel a tomato. Seek honor in the beaks of giant crows gliding close to the beach sand. Be hostile and happy. Love will smuggle itself beneath the doormat.