Saturday, November 24, 2012

homemade inklings

“When I was a child I thought as a child, and when I became a man I still thought as a child. I was very unhappy and lonely as a child. And the only way I thought that I could stop being lonely and unhappy was to become something like an artist who would be so creative and so beautiful that everybody would say wow. And I remember the loneliness of holding my pillow and thinking it’s Elizabeth Taylor or thinking it’s Leslie Caron. And not being able to tell anyone. And having to leave the room at school because you were so in love with Leslie Caron that you had to go to the bathroom and cry for a while. The artist has to be alone. And in the end you still end up with your pillow. It’s a long way home.” --Dennis Hopper    

(Prelude To Anathema)

the poet sits in the coffee shop with a pencil writing his name over and over on a sheet of blue-lined white paper spelling it in various ways to see if it works better as an anagram or something or if a difference gives matter to it therein or ergo he thinks it might spell-check itself or wrangle the contraption of his thoughts in a bashed direction maybe or was it to not be towed to wed an idea to sparse space jangled burned beyond doubt where or if the story had any vitality of its own the story he’d been telling himself he was putting onto the paper with the hapless disorganized letters of his name as he sits the poet does by the large plate-glass window at a table alone in the coffee shop without coffee the poet memorizes nothing now only seeks herons where the sun don’t shine and paints blue jays gray in and off coats of dawn come lately with a side of potatoes the poet sits and stares somewhat dazed and worries if maybe the world doesn’t need him and is in fact better off without him being around so it goes in the grainy blur of winding down hours and the stolid face of afternoon strains for less of tomorrow’s too much or even more or even maybe just nothing at all too


(Spurious Starts…)

            The pear waited on the most beautiful tangerine it ever saw. The tangerine was spoiled and it had a temper. When pushed to beautiful the tangerine would sing Tuesdays to the trees. The pear was in love. That matter was settled.
            On a seesaw sat a chubby child named Harl. Harl had been given a caramel and olive sucker. His mouth dripped an oily brown liquid onto the hard sand below him. Nobody was on the other seat of the seesaw. The sun smashed its graying shades through some pouty clouds. Harl sat there and sucked and drooled, and sucked and drooled.
            The landlord’s daughter roller-skated in the lobby of the building most afternoons. She rarely smiled while doing so, instead opting for a more taciturn and downtrodden appearance, saying things like, “Don’t marry my loose change to your racket,” when I passed her in the hall. “We are weeded, never wedded, and I won’t have my butter delivered, thank you.” The sound of her skates going around and around on the hardwood floor is not something I can imagine ever forgetting.

(A Dalton Of Harm, Chapterless) 

            Your bread was always less than buttered. Spackling up the walls of your heart, whispered out of outer garments, in the breadth of lengthy diatribes, tried and legitimately false, it radios a cyst to a pearl in the ears of hesitation’s SOS. So we saw these things out, inside, insulated, and our plate-glass gaze grew unsustainable. Logging the less transit savvy into the meritorious class undid the job, though, and we had to re-convince the To-Elsie loving among us of our previously substandard convictions. Flaxseed oil was spilled in the brewer’s yeast. We had our hands soiled by just a bit of it. Lumps of ennui gone the way of rotten oatmeal. I am shadowing bathroom stall dividers for now.
            Slurps of autumn nosedive for rake-scraped sidewalk. A top-to-middle whirl and a barge-slow wait. We ransacked petal pushers, those who borrowed trash bags from movers to store the plucked love-me-love-me-nots of others: something to carry the banner of wedding-bell courage to the plink of spitting alpaca. There? There’s plenty more where that there never came from. So just don’t act too natural and get along with yourself.
            A few haircuts later, after nine or so lapses in judgment, there comes a moment where all is freeway lights, where all is when-was-that, where all is cowboy hats and silverfish medallions on lapels. I’m not calling all obstacles. I’m going to Maine. I’m headed through deserts and champagne rivers and boarded-up bowling alleys. A carousel of criminals waiting for a standoff with the balloon men and the swiftest beard growers in Donutville. “Chop! Chop!” Sing the criminals. “We want claw feet and dewlap rucksacks. We are stable here going up and down without any help from mattress-tag cheats or number-two hurlers. Fuck the investors and the universities and the audience who’d rather be watching a Big Ten football scrimmage or a Taco Bell commercial. We drink cactus tea.”
            The mixed-media junkies were declaring peace on the click of cameras and digitally remastered acoustic guitar solos. The classic American concept of living took a dreamy beating, a semblance of cutting-room sensitivity, and goaded on privately with an exhibitionist’s zeal. Another side of the same side. A leery yes to a made-up no. Radicals never had it so good. Stills of partly dressed referees had the say-so and said it all.
            A final evolution of charisma for the rocking-chair bound. A carnivorous harp sponge for your thoughts. A dollop of good intentions for the rest. Only the “how” escapes unmarred. The asphalt of oblivion is potholed. A cooling spree is set upon, ankusing the opal-tinted mirage-inclined to rehearse weekend shopping tournaments. It is a poor-to-do champion who clings to the coattails of remembrance. A maybe is substituted for a hello, in the meantime, and a locker-room attendant whispers, “yes,” and, “no,” at once. All is happening as it shouldn’t.                          
            And then some advice offered from a beret salesman: “Don’t grease the pan of your good deeds with insecurity or disbelief. You’ve got the rights to a cardboard bicycle patent; use them. Kings get beheaded over less. Trust no one.”
            The canopy of pleases defers to brushed hair in the deeper dark of mirrors. Push where from when. Get behind an ahead. There are trains in the underbrush. The brandy’s getting cold. Bet the warm touch of sleeping in on falling asleep later than that. Notches above the frivolous, in a curt slap or a bored wish, it’ll all overcome a spoon’s rhythm on a tabletop. Tuba the rest.
            Fritz Lang told Henry Fonda to go fuck himself over breakfast. Fonda told him to go YOLO the fuck out of himself. It was a fucking bullshit movie anyway. His eyes went to Spain. Everyone started digging for China, all the way, all the way to China and back again. We are not underbrush, is what Fonda was thinking as he dug. Mr. Lang got rather shit-faced on oyster juice cocktails later that afternoon, and so was no good to anybody except himself. There was nothing left to do.
            Free clods of dirt were being offered by the Systematic Sisters of Discord. Frustration was spewed like car exhaust. Tubocurarine for the needy, by the bucketful. Handling without care. Those were some signs. There might have been others. Armadillos cooking in a wood oven. Octopus and sea urchin salad. Snacking on live jumiles. Popcorn lightly salted with mosquito eggs.  

(An Aside) 

DYLAN THOMAS-- Totally titular.             
DYLAN THOMAS-- Like saying, “My genitals are groovy.” Sort of.
EDITOR-- Yes.            
DYLAN THOMAS-- So you agree?
EDITOR-- I concur.
DYLAN THOMAS-- But you have sunglasses on. That seems, well…unfair, right?
EDITOR-- Apparently and absolutely.
DYLAN THOMAS-- So. Let’s see here. Well, a name is a title, right?
EDITOR-- Too many questions.
DYLAN THOMAS-- What? I mean, huh?
EDITOR-- You ask too many goddamn questions.
DYLAN THOMAS-- That may well be. But my name is Dylan Thomas! Dylan Thomas, I say!
EDITOR-- So it is. That’s nothing, really, if you think about it.
DYLAN THOMAS-- But I’m not thinking about it. I’m saying it. 
EDITOR-- Spraying it too. Let us not forget about going all gentle into…what was it again?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Oh, why don’t you go screw a pooch, or hump a hound, or shag a sheep or something.
EDITOR-- Something?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Oh. Okay. It’s the night. The fucking night. The good fucking night.
EDITOR-- No. That’s not it.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Yes it is. I am Dylan motherfucking Thomas.
EDITOR-- Yeah. I know. I get it. You know what I say to that? I say big fucking deal.
DYLAN THOMAS-- All I need is a title. I come to you asking for a title, and this is what I get? This irritating irrational rubbish?
EDITOR-- Wait a sec. Hey, are you raging against the dying of the light? Or is this just your craft and sullen art speaking?           
DYLAN THOMAS-- Yep. That’s good. Go ahead and rip on the poor poet. That’s very mature.
EDITOR-- My personality is like kryptonite to ironic attacks on my character. I take that as a compliment.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Dear lord. I don’t go in for all that folderol.
EDITOR-- Empty calories for thought.
DYLAN THOMAS-- And we invest in better window wipers after the rainy season has gone.
EDITOR-- There’s always another season up ahead though, right? To…what was it? Oh yeah, to broadly take a shower all-the-day-long in.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Suppose so.
EDITOR-- There you go. See? You didn’t need me after all. I’m otiose.
DYLAN THOMAS-- What? Where do I go? What the bloody handbasket are you talking about?
EDITOR-- Titles.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Oh. I mean…what?
EDITOR-- Suppose So. That’s a good solid title.
EDITOR-- Yes. You make a supposition. You go ahead and lead, or lure as it were, the reader into the beefy terrain.
EDITOR-- The muscle of your stance. The stance you are taking. The way you move through things: hips first.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Suppose So. Suppose So. Yes. I like it. It works. Suppose So.
EDITOR-- Told you.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Damn you are good. Damn good. A real titular professional. Suppose So. It’s wonderful. Out of this world. By Jove, I think we have a winner!
EDITOR-- Suppose So.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Uh huh. Right on. So much better than, “Riffling Through The Duffel Bag Of Discontent.”
EDITOR-- Yeah. That was bogus.
DYLAN THOMAS-- I…had...the time of my life…and I’ve never felt this way before.
EDITOR-- Never realized your vocal stylings were so primo.
DYLAN THOMAS-- I sing when I drink and drink makes me sing and I drink more than a lot so I sing more than most.
EDITOR-- You’re a sot? A dipso poet? Had no idea.
DYLAN THOMAS-- I am Dylan fucking Thomas!
EDITOR--Yes. You’ve mentioned this before.
DYLAN THOMAS-- My reputation’s lagging behind me I guess.
EDITOR-- Suppose So.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Hey. That’s my title now. Back off it, buddy.
EDITOR-- Sorry to inform you of this, but titles cannot be copyrighted. You can’t own that. It don’t belong to you. Plus, I get my ten percent, Shit For Brains, and that cozies up with a free usage fee.
DYLAN THOMAS-- A fee for free? A free fee?
EDITOR-- Shit stacks. See here, my lily-livered pal, the phrase “Suppose So” shall be used by this here guy any so time as he sees fit to use it at no monetary cost whatsoever to yours truly, and that therein is my “fee”. Get it?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Suppose so. Wow, it really sings itself to life, don’t it? Suppose So. It rises into the ether. Suppose So. It quivers. It cures the broken hearted. It saves the lovelorn. It kisses everything in sight!
EDITOR-- Right on man! Ooh…ah…I took my troubles down to Madam Rue.
EDITOR-- That gypsy with the gold-capped tooth. What are you, a flop with chicks?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Since well ere ’66. Oh, bloody shit-brown trades. Do I wake or sleep?
EDITOR-- Good question.
EDITOR-- You bet. Okay, listen. It goes like this: Hold your nose. Close your eyes. Take a drink.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Ah, the head-high comfort of a drink’s dream. Now there’s a title for you.
EDITOR-- No. That’s no good.
EDITOR--I’m the expert. Leave the titling up to me.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Holy smokes.
EDITOR-- Divine cigarettes, per chance?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Suppose so. Like inhaling the breath of Jesus.
EDITOR-- Wonder what that’d taste like?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Peppermint Dentyne.
EDITOR-- Always liked that old portmanteau of dental and hygiene.
DYLAN THOMAS-- So, shall we draw up a contract?
EDITOR-- Yes. But let’s give the contract a title first. Let me see here. Okay. Here we go. Let’s call it, “A Bus Driver Sings Out The Stops.”
DYLAN THOMAS-- Sounds familiar.
EDITOR-- Don’t know why. Hey, by the way, have you ever thought about your initials and their relation to the common term for delirium tremens?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Sounds familiar.
EDITOR-- It should be to you, Mr. Bibulous.
DYLAN THOMAS-- I prefer Tippler myself.
EDITOR-- How dare you impugn my titling abilities! I am a master of titling! My titling is world-renowned!
DYLAN THOMAS-- A thousand apologies, my good sir.
EDITOR-- Accepted. So, Mr. DT, just going to need your handcock right on this line here where my thumb is pointing.
DYLAN THOMAS-- That’s not the right phrase. It’s Hancock. John Hancock. And, by the way, don’t point with your thumb. Men have had their glasses broken over less. 
EDITOR-- Are you sure? What’s a handcock then?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Not sure I even want to think about the answer to that question.
EDITOR-- Oh, why don’t you go pour yourself another glass of whisky, why don’t you?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Finally the man speaks sense.
EDITOR-- Just sign here, okay?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Okay. Oh well. Here goes everything. Great is the man who holds dominion over another with a scribbled name.
EDITOR-- That sounds like something that you’d say.
DYLAN THOMAS-- It was. I mean…it is. Whatever. Stop bothering me.
EDITOR-- A bit ungrateful, are ye? And this after I offered you great succor with my wondrous and magnificent title.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Somebody’s boring me.
EDITOR-- Oh, why don’t you go drink 18 straight whiskies or something equally worthwhile?
DYLAN THOMAS-- Suppose I could.
EDITOR-- Suppose so.
DYLAN THOMAS-- Brilliant.


(There’s A Place In The Sidewalk Where I Wrote Her Name Next To Mine)

            The retired milliner was moaning:
            “My days they are numbered; my friends they are few. So much is wasted on so little. I’d trade all of my yesterdays for one more today with her. Bury me alive beneath coffee beans; and love, here is my hat.
            “The wind’s chill’s daggering all comers, and I ain’t taking any chances with trouble this time around. What I don’t remember’s telling on what I’m trying to forget. The earthquake-cracked wood steps where we used to sit together smoking against the cold have disappeared. I’m all out of mysteries. The newspaper’s gone to pot. There’s nothing left to say. Boo the water snakes as the rivers all dry up for good. There’s a little whisky in the coffee still.
            “My moments have all come and gone. The stay's gone from put. Pour it out. Dive into the swale. Touch up nothing. It’s all the pits and a sham too. Up until then or now it’ll have to never do.
            “I’ve got my tie on and my dictionary open. There’s nothing that’ll do. Cigarettes in the pillowcase. There’s something in the arc of the flight I never took that mistakes rue for awe. I take it all apart just to give it away. Unkind enough for now. It’s burrowing through. It’s clever and joked around. It’s a mad guess left terribly felled in the shadow of the moon. It’s rare and uneven and lucky too. It’s stopped at a yellow light. It’s passed on the right. And if it marries a care to a wish, then it’ll do, for now.
            “Trash the gullies. Dip sentient past a wish. Even in the there and then of it. I’m hanging from the window with a beer and a cigarette, sleeves rolled up and head in the devil’s hands. Bad news arriving from Tel Aviv. A spindly table leg left to hold up a few stray thoughts. I’m all moats without the castle. You’ve got to rise up to have a chance to fall. Over steak and eggs, all over the way I fell for her, all over, and again too. It matters, or it doesn’t, of course.
            “Gulp so you remember the pond where The Guppies grew wild into hooligans on their BMXs. I turned so happy into nothing. The honks of jammed buses. The drone of helicopters. The hood dents banged out of your dreams. Super K-Mart sprees late at night, in the worn blue paint of a ’72 Pontiac, in the yellow creep of a pickup leaking gas, in crushed Nerds and shattered Blow Pops, and in the smack of baseball-card gum. A smoky restitution of a soft spot on a high hill even later than late at night. The snaking roads, the dirt-bike courage of it all, and a smattering of stars that’ll never let us sleep. Wasted goodbyes and scotch rich on my breath. Just another copout to line up with the stalled lanes of traffic. And nobody can find the place where I do my living. Even the overflowing gutters aren’t enough. I slept through the war, and the peace is too quiet to take. Loneliness is my only highway.
            “Bad moods come and stay like dried bacon grease left in the pan. At least the toilet still flushes, and there’s still beer and hardboiled eggs in the fridge, for now. I praise the lord while taking a shit, giving thanks for this holy excrement I’ve been granted. Dangling from life’s edges is an art form I’ve been practicing for way too long. It suits and it doesn’t.              
            “The deranged cops spill Manischewitz all over the pavement. From above I hover and sit still and try not to notice. I am not William Faulkner. I am looking for an in to fall out of. I am horrible at the game of pool. I sit. I wait. There’s room for it, here. One-room walkup with spackled walls and a hot plate, sharing a bathroom with an entire floor of lunatics. Open the window. Listen to the sound of car tires on the street, car alarms, people pleading with stop signs, and not a single waterfall. Toss my dead cigarettes at pigeons. I always miss. It’s all ruins and debilitating bad luck. Just the way it stops and goes.
            “Just a hearse away from low. I cuss out the toaster. I spill my guts to the coffee maker. A dismantled way of seeing gets in my way. No work to accomplish. Nothing left to do. Just a minor adjustment in the fine-tuning of the world. Blander than ever, junked to gold. Just where everyone else wants me. Cordoned off and cut less than free. Only the dregs get what’s best. Only the clam-juice lees. And I’m left never being able to say what I most wanted to say.”

(“You Can’t Use A Bulldozer To Study Orchids”)
            drooping leaves drip rain
the swoosh of traffic on the wet macadam
           the crepitation of garage doors shutting
  headlights and the patter of footsteps over puddles
            duct-tape shoes
   snub-nosed fashion tips
              and trails of laundry detergent deaths 
                             the rain drizzles away
                         and the piano creeks
                                                and we all make supper from armadillo broth.
you almost had my attention.          it’s all over and dressed to go and stay away.
                          kindly the swoon of cars plunges and smatters around.
                                                                                                                                          the end spools by.
a toroidal grasp at holding onto severance gets smashed by the wayside.
a copasetic ripple in woodwork.
                                                  some chatoyancy
                                                                                                from the street lamps.


(Retired Milliner, Postscript)

             “What’re the tips you keep hauling in for the record just incase for the memories or just to show off in the despicable light of another less-than-happy hour to hang your head down in?
            “Get it crooked. I mistook my time. Down stuck cold in Buffalo at a listless train station. I am not what you’d call together. Not even close. My shoestrings are a tangle of misunderstood cares. My undershirt’s gone AWOL. I am not attracting the opposite gender at all.
            “Vanishing takes its cue from action’s lobs against the current condition of my beer-battered brain. I am not resorting to unfulfilled ambition here in the scattered happenstance of common occurrences. Pleading for a better way to behave. Tamed and beyond any curfew I’ve ever known. All the girls around here end up on fire escapes. I smoke less distressed in the shoeshine booth’s shadow. The lampposts all know my name. Everything stinks of burnt marshmallows. 
            “I’ve gone crazy so many times that I forget what it’s like to be sane, or sober too, for that matter. The squalor of my situation is not lost on me. Holding up traffic without even a Peabody to my name.  
            “She’s a satellite to my every thought. But her finger wears the ring of another. The room here’s only above. The makings of another garbage man. I still sleep in the sloop, through all sorts of weather, through a dizzy motel TV screen and a temerarious joke on everybody but me. The sky is no longer blue until further notice.
              “How I remember you. How I slam shut the door and burn all of my toast. How the ripped envelope of my life spills my guts into junk mail. How I’m not listening to the phone ring or the bath drain. How dreams splash other dreams with brushstrokes of black. I am all filled-in, and failure’s swabbed on the moutaintips and the fingertops. Forget it. Feeling’s for the birds.”