Monday, January 28, 2013

envelope licking blues

             I remember being very young, and what that meant, then, being as young as I was. And, after a fashion, I resolved myself to fighting my own battles instead of the battles of others. Unfortunately, I misunderstood myself, and thought I was telling myself to fight my own ballets. It’s strange to think how different things could have been.
            It was an overcast January day when I figured it was about time to stop talking to just myself, so I wandered out into the streets on the gray sidewalks under a sky that was almost describable as cobalt, but not quite. There wasn’t enough rain going on to soak you, just coat your clothes with a thin layer of damp. 
            I bought a clown nose at an antique shop which was run by a retired comedian. This wasn’t the best of times for me. I was beyond down and my luck was the color of steamed artichoke leaves. Nothing I did worked out, and I was sad all the time. It doesn’t matter. It could’ve been worse: I could’ve been a standup comedian.
            There’s champagne in my coffee. The stir of mixed emotional makeup drinks away the fanciest of subliminal tides. I do not know what difference a heart of palm would make. Disorientation is the price I keep paying for these humdrum dalliances. The most au courant way to not behave, idly, with the worst stomachache in the world. Rummaging through creosote and gravel terrain, I get what’s never coming. What’s really the matter is a rough-stuff tumble with bad guys. Amaretto will do until the mixers arrive, with somebody else’s wife. Socializing is for the sane and competent.  
            The tuba player is screaming clichés at robins. Tell him to shut it, I’d say. Tell him to nullify his triteness with cream and sugar. I won’t say it though. I will keep it to myself.
            Off to the land of dead cigarette butts, for what it is not. Crushed, and so telling it all like it is not, as well. I will stop answering my own questions. It’s been six days since I’ve fallen out of love.
            The scoundrels are flabbergasted at the ordeal of planning outrages against lamppost-tied couches on the sidewalk. A lamp herder dismisses them with a, “Curses,” over his breath. Their eyes are swept with bottle gazing. Bovine heat lamps stay true to their colors.
            In the time between (the chords nobody hears) I spoke the wheel of my thoughts with arrows. Lazy bazookas, halo-happy rejoinders quipped in an archaic fashion, chumpy hearts washed from candy-cane striped sleeves. I believe in polished ambition scrubbed with gutter water and boric acid. I am going to wade out to where they have gold carrots.
            And now, this: (“Some people just smell like pee-pee, dear.”)

            We had kids then, the kind that grew loopy and deranged through holy-colored meanness. Kids that flew with rattlesnake wings on their ankles; and grub instincts from below blew the roof off the tree house that the rotten-orange kings haunted daily, but never at night. The grayest sweatered things, they were. Only when we jackpotted the greenhouse did the redness fade, and then it was just the sky’s blush at being horrible to things like bones, boulders, clam shells and other useless rubble. Even now it’s okay to not remember their names.
            We had kids. There were good things to not say and bad things to mean. Sometimes it was okay to bat left handed on the wilderness’s screaming violin medicine. “Oh, but for now,” we’d say, “in the arms of keeping, it is all as it should not be and is as it should too.”
            Bored holes in the coconut trees. It was pleasure before first-place beginnings. It was down and up to the kids, to be somebody, if they could. Every thing that’s counted in the bowling alley at second or third look gets its name from comets that have come and gone and that won’t be back for a century or two. Top it off with a mortician’s graceful wisp of comb-over satisfaction. Play the radio and floss the moon’s teeth with a lariat. We can take it, but if not for the sake of the kids. Always the kids. There in the right light of leaving-- not accordion thieves, not your aunt’s disbelief anymore-- they mail hay to sackless potatoes. The kids make noise even when they’re quite quiet on the inside.
            A place to play; that’s all they want.
            A harangue came well past its due date. We played it coy and inveterate as we told the kids, “Right away, now. Let’s stick to being stuck--up or out. Get the way from a. Longer in the toe, but short enough in screams. The plaster’s worn. Right now’s later. O’s honeyed in clover. Butterscotch slathered calamari. Please do not touch the merchandise. Drift if need be, through youth that’s ruined by age. We, here, must always root for the away team.”
            It is a year now; one that comes before, not after. Now, this year is when it is now for now. Even the kids grow into it, and then, of course, out of it too. The circus music is not grand, and we are not safe with matches burnt out between our fingers, places where we wear watches anywhere but on the wrist. A voice box that only cusses. The kids ripped into the presents later on in that same year, which is this one and all the ones before. 
            I spoke to a lady outside the referee meeting who was wearing 7 layers of clothes and shivering. She showed me each layer, one by one. I told her about the kids. I also said, “We are drunk on fall leaves, right? That’s just it, right? Right?” I wasn’t asking a thing in return. She made herself a cup of dish soap from the juice of bruises and crumbled crisp lettuce. I closed my eyes and started in on the magic of thinking things like, ‘Kids. Kids. Mother’s asleep in the stadium beneath the floodlights. Kids. Be boats. We are all living in a shipyard gone to junk. Kids. Live on sugar for now. Kids. Kids. It is a year now. Another one. Here it is. Kids.’ When I opened my eyes the 7-layered woman was gone. All was opiate-smeared with diffused colors that nobody would ever dare to see.
            The kids are vacationing away the years. Pleased with nothing, the kids dig up the front yard. They want underground forts. They want hills of sod and soda taps. They will not be seen anymore. The year (this one or any other) is good to be bad to them. The kids. The kids. The kids we never had.

            …the weather of running temperatures in the freezing cold…

            “I don’t want to talk; I can’t talk; I don’t have to talk, to have to talk to talk to you.”
            “Gal, oh, gal.”
            “And get this: that guy? He takes the cake and smears it all over his own face, and he drives a Chevy for St. Christopher’s sake.”
            “Fuck it.”
            “You can say that once.”
            “I’m playing it dangerous from here on in. I’m not nice enough to be finishing last all the time.”
            “My father told me once, he said, ‘Son, don’t ever be one of those people who have to work on the weekends.’ I haven’t had a weekend off in 15 years. My father can go fuck himself.”

            The crawling wake of sun shunts crammed heights from the lowest of street corners. You are dangerous in ways that know no float nor hide to run for toss’s turn. An angry blind girl in ski boots is waving her cane around like a fencer’s epee up ahead of you. It is not all over, as far as the sidewalk’s concerned, but it’s close. There are no isosceles triangles left in your eyes. It is too late for good light. Your breath is sticky with a cottonmouth, sour-saliva tinge; and x-mas is a long way off. Don’t kid yourself. The man playing Santa in the drug store is just a lunatic with latex gloves and a red leather jacket, and too much time on his hands. Rest at the stoplight. Go ahead. The best cement in the world comes from China. Everyone knows that. And if you chew your food precisely 32 times per minute you will live well into your nineties. That grubby sweat-crusted hand you run through the grease of your unwashed hair is just another tell of your plight, the mercy of devils who might chase angels away on their bad days, but who don’t, who just sit there and ponder their past moves and hope nobody forgives anybody, ever, before they make their next. Then you start talking just hear something besides the drone of your lost ambition struggling quarter-heartedly in the gutter:  
            “I’m the general’s general generally speaking to the wide-open arms of hi or goodbye. And if you run into my ex-suitor on Taylor Street, please tell her I’ve not lost my way. That girl, she tells me the worst jokes in town. She’s like a credit card that’s no longer attached to my name-- a girl with tiny bronze scissors dangling from her ears, that one. And I know I’m deader than an x-mas tree in April to her, but the moon’s plucking a few violets out of the sky’s tarry muck for one more shot at places where yesterdays long to go. I am crowded with lonely stems.”