Sunday, February 17, 2013

caressing passes

(the picture taker)

“Why do people not like more of my things I post?” he said. She said, “Because the things you post are deranged. People like pictures of cats and babies and food, and links to more pictures of cats and babies and food, and snapshots of people they know showing off how much they don’t.” “But I post pictures of stupid things too,” he said. “Yes,” she said, “but your things are not for showing, not for others. Just for yourself. Nobody cares about the things you care about.” “But I don’t have a cat or a baby,” he said. “And my pictures are telling of something more than just pictures-- really, if you think about them.” “People don’t like to think,” she said. “People want to be entertained.” “I think I’m going to move to Mars,” he said. “Or maybe Istanbul, or down the street. Maybe I’ll find people there who are more decent to each other,” he said. “Or maybe not,” she said, “people are the same all over.
(the following of other events)

              The distributor is out to lunch, the fan belt needs a new owner, and there is no hood to speak of. Every level’s crooked. Wherever is lost. All the potholes are healing themselves with screamed Jehoshaphats three times a day. I don’t steal pencils from the blind. I do borrow a mannequin now and again, but never the stripped ones, only the at least partially clothed. Scanners react badly to good news, now, and my sheets are riddled with holes that stretch from dime-size to half-dollar overnight it seems. Being at large is for the birds. I’ve got my harpoon-machete. I’ve got my holy rabbit’s tail. I’ve got my cat’s foot and my brown-bag breath. Nobody bothers to check in on me. It’s nice.
            “That guy was driving a Cadillac flower car all over town back then. You know where that name comes from? Cadillac? Well, they took it from a French explorer who founded Detroit, and he borrowed the name from a commune in the south of France: Cadillac, Gironde. Henry Ford was kicked out of the company a year or so after it was founded, and the guys needed a new name, as they couldn’t go around calling themselves The Henry Ford Motor Company if Henry Ford was no longer with them, so, well, there you go. They even used the French guy’s coat of arms as their new company’s crest. But this guy, let’s call him Jasper, well, he’s got this flower car, but there aren’t any flowers in it, ever. Mostly he just keeps his belongings in the back there, all open to the elements, and cruises the hulking thing all over town, windows tinted, driving nice and slow and easy. Cruising. Now, Jasper’s got so much junk back there-- all sorts of crates and splintered furniture and used books and records and clothes, popcorn makers and door-less microwaves and what have you-- that he’s riding sort of back heavy, you know? You couldn’t miss him going by. We all got a real kick in the shins about it. Jasper going by. He was a sort of neighborhood hero to us.”          

            Just after I was done thinking that the platinum blondes around here all take the short way home and then run off with garden-hose salesmen, this girl named Lovely starts in on telling me about getting elbow drunk, and then she kicks me in the knee. Yep, just the endless numbing of the days growling by. So we sneak up above Clothesline Alley and drop some pennies on the miscreants below. The whites are out dripping in the high-noon sun.
            At some point I ask her, “Did you know that there are roughly three million lightning strikes each day on this planet?” She just nods softly and takes a nap on my shoulder. I go on: “All those nitrates, the clearing of dead trees and animals, those nutrients enriching the soil so as to make way for new growth, new life, another chance at breathing with the lungs of the earth: plankton bloom. We’re just passengers sightseeing for a bit, along for the ride for the fun of it. Protected from the destruction and/or complete annihilation of sun flares by our magnetism.” I might as well be talking to a red-throated bee-eater. The wind makes a pass at us, but I brush it away with a dangerous sweep of my hand. Nothing improves afterwards. All is brush fire smoke and bolide dust. We’re cozy in the crook of a fire escape, and nobody’s asking after our day jobs. Being prepared is for the sidewalk makers. Me? I look everywhere for nothing, and try not to let girls get the best, or worst of me. 
            How do the Valentine’s Day wishers get away with it? It must be the attack pigeons nesting in roosts of leisure above the pineapple stand. Even the moping raincoat merchants go for the cheats and pale harmonica players. We reach but never grab hold.

            Why do I keep falling love with girls named Claire? I don’t want to be in love. In love? Nope. Not no more. Not with some girl named Claire. Not for me.                            
              Maybe I’m not doing anything wrong, but I’m certainly not doing anything right. It’s ruined and left for alive, in a heart attack’s wake, and some guy named Hambone is whispering in the jukebox’s ear, and we’re drugged with compassion right along with the slowest bus lines in town, stuck behind a garbage truck of horrible music that’s blasting over construction noise and, well, everyone in this dead-end town needs the emptiness of their head examined. We’re all ready for all the bad things to come, just up ahead, where we’re all headed. A place in the dark with a bottle of decent scotch, that’s all I need, without the verse, without the harmony, without a woman telling me what it is I’m supposed to do. Don’t you go worrying about my time; I’ve wasted it all on away. There’s an ashtray in my vest pocket and a pool cue running down my spine. The doormen all forget my name. The girls all strangle themselves in the sodium yellow glow of lampposts. We are wishing what we remember to stay still and play mean for a bit. The bar top’s littered with torn, wet napkins and Ritz Cracker crumbs. Nobody gives a damn about your Joan Crawford smile and your Bogart teeth. People are mostly assholes who take pleasure in the misfortunes of others. And then there are those who are challenged to scream something like, “Fuck off gingerbread dick!” at any takers. I’m setting off the fire alarm and staying put. 
             One man’s robot is another’s fiancé. We all get what we don’t need. It’s a soused trombone player making amends with rowdy angels. It’s a hurricane of dirty clothes. It’s better off wrong. Diluted thunderclaps of courageous overtones in the meek of heart, and we’re left here-- god’s awful administrators-- with a go-to sense of entitled despair. Help comes from the strangest of corners, and the dust of us is all that’s left, for the most. 
            Some girl with violin hands is making the squares say their prayers. It’s never late enough in the morning for any of it. I am fit to be taken apart piece by cracked and ugly piece, rounded and curbed, lost in chants of racemation-- a bunched clubbing of the soul’s weakest sunken caisson. We who take nothing in stride and speak to televisions in our sleep. We who run the obstacle courses of oblivion just to pass the time. The armchair’s got a supporting role. There are no elements left to name. Music’s nothing but airport security officers whispering to drug-sniffing dogs on their break. It ain’t the Betty Ford Clinic, but it’ll do until we find classier crooks to check in with.
            I was feeling damn pleasant, sitting at a table by a large window with a glass of beer, watching the shadows crawl over old brick and wood and in the street. Nobody was around to bother my at the moment. Wes Montgomery was filtering in lightly over the sound of people at other tables clinking glasses and laughing and other sounds of general bereavement. A man in tight white pants was standing by the curb with both hands shoved into his back pockets, a good way to scratch one’s ass in public I guess. A cigarette was smoking away as it twitched up and down from his lips. He was ruining my peaceful landscape. I glanced over to the bar which ran along two sides of the room in a V shape. A well-lit plant was the showpiece of the joint. I’ve got to admit, it looked good up there behind the bar, like it was on a stage. I wanted it to be called May or Wilhelmina. It probably wasn’t though. It could have been just one of those things that goes through this world without ever having a name. Some guy sitting on a barstool had a most unfortunate case of accidental back-tucked-out shirt, with way too much of his bottom half showing for my taste. I told my eyes to mind some other business, and they went back to my beer. I drank it down fast. It was cold and strong and made my head feel full and clear again. I sat there and felt content for as long as possible. There was nothing else to do.