Friday, March 8, 2013

the blunt edges of being

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I woke up maladjusted to the world today. Suddenly, now, I don’t fit in. Can’t make it like the rest of them do. I’m here willfully on the outside of everything, drooling towards Saturday’s bliss-point crave, not a place for me in the whole sun-smeared world.

EUGENE V. DEBS: You? You’re just confusing your “writerly sensibilities” with the endless conjunctive clauses, dangling modifiers, and comma splices of your circumstances. Come on now. It’s time to reboot and shape things back to shipped instead of shopped.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I’m not suited for the frenzied pluck of the world around me. I’m ill with resistance. I’m ornery with fashion’s mold. Plus, I’m in the mood for fighting-- for or against, really.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Be a stereotype. Classify yourself and become a number alone. Go ahead. It’ll all be okay.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: My name’s written in the sky with chemtrails. You’ve got to live in the outer limits of things to be awarded this grace, this freer way of gazing.

EUGENE V. DEBS: No. Just contrails. Nothing more. Your name’s just a nine-digit farce, a generic statistic, a slogan on a cerulean business card in a bucket of other blue-toned business cards. We are micromanaged to make us fitter, smarter, and more productive. If it ain’t broke, it works, you know?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: The bobolinks will sing of me, proud and strong and…unproductive!


THOMAS JEFFERSON: And the difference is….!

EUGENE V. DEBS: Whatever you make of it, it would surely seem.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Well, I’ll take what’s behind doors one, two, and seven. I’ll take the over/under on it too. Just in case.

EUGENE V. DEBS: A bettor better bet best beholden be or in behooving blind both besmirched and brined be bested.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: The salty aftertaste of poorly placed “run-on” wagers. Those fly-by-night gambling debts adding up. Yep. That about always does you in. Me? I’m all for reconciled chance. The slips of grumpy versions of myself hobbling about most midmornings, placing bids at an auction of my better sides. Hell, everybody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Everyone knows my sorrow, my little missteps in the marbled haunches of things, my bricked free throws, the deliberate joy and unfounded fury of the whole damn plane crash of being me.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Excuse me while I sob and rend my garments for you. Pity this rich ogre, kind pusillanimous man.          

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Rive what you will about it, I am still cleared for takeoff-- always cleared by the semaphores of doubt, but with no means to go.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Oh, the places you won’t go.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I want brass bands playing my praises, instead of this bland elevator music disengaging my thoughts from accumulating on their own accord. I want to dodge golf balls being thwacked at me by middle management on the field of a sold-out stadium where the crowd roars, “Roar!” and chants, “Chant!” into the gilded glaze of afternoon sun. I want to be defeated.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Perhaps therein lies your dilemma. The desire to be dunked and dumped by those whom you’d otherwise play at holding hands with-- in the meddling of charm-and-bow posterity-- just to be crowned shopworn and decadent in a recalcitrant bend of the knees. You want to have something to rail against, and so you put yourself in situations where you will appear downtrodden, wronged, undeservingly brushed off or jailed away, just so you can attempt to make potatoes out of perfectly good vodka. It’s way too much effort spent at keeping up appearances, if you ask this father-of-a-bullet.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Who’s asking? Whose mask is this, the one I’ve come to wear so well?

EUGENE V. DEBS: Yours. And it is no longer a mask. It has come to be attached-- as if by some magical epidermal form of insecurity and wistfulness-- to your corporeal self like some carapace of cowering, self-delusional, capital-B Bullshit. Believe it. There is no “or not” when it comes down to it. Just believe it.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Keep it long, for the sake of my gut’s holy elasticity, at least.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Sued for time, we are here, but I’ll be as longwinded as a mutton pie will allow instead of kit-catting for a bargain.


EUGENE V. DEBS: No. Ahem…ahem…ahem.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Proceed without caution or heedless repulsion for the length of proceeding, I guess. The club door of our little band-- always being and always having been-- is jimmied. We are trick-card-counting and asunder with fake bills that we keep paying and paying, and the counterfeit shades of our days are welded with kind look-this-way disasters to the radio’s final wakeup call.  

EUGENE V. DEBS: The sort of day when you just don’t want to get out of the shower. The kind of afternoon when the rain won’t start or end. The missed extra point of it all. Damn. I should’ve went in for forgiveness long ago, but, hell, that was oh so long ago.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Alone is its own keeper. I’m replacing sadness with madness all the time. Substituting anger for grief. It does the job, on the surface, obsequiously objectified for the possum-like turds of the world.

EUGENE V. DEBS: I dare say!



THOMAS JEFFERSON: The smashed wine bottles on the grocery store floor, splintered glass and the pungent vinegary stink of it all. Roses wilted on the stem. I’m all for misunderstandings and the drawbacks of being too closely in touch. But, mum’s just another word you aren’t saying.

EUGENE V. DEBS: It takes two to know none. I guess we’re just convincing ourselves that life’s cheaper for most and less rich than it should be for us. But who’s leading these other lives? Who’s taking charge of what’s left to make of them? Perhaps it is all just paper drapes and a hotplate in a small, stark coldwater flat with a view of an alley lined with overflowing garbage cans. The rats are circling. Maybe I’m kidding both of us.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: And so now I live in the marginalia and errata of all I used to know. I crinkle under the probing talons of Tokyo jungle crows in my sleep. It is all most likely unnecessary to my survival, and for now I’m going by Et Alia, so don’t ship me any of your sentiments or regards, even by overnight express; I’ll refuse to sign for them.

EUGENE V. DEBS: I suppose you’ll be busy hauling around your ego for showing-off purposes only. I suppose.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Already I’m getting anxious for appeal, for acceptance in the broadest of possible ways, for approval from those who’d never care for mine, or would even mind if I ceased to exist.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Drop it. Your self-esteem is not interesting to anybody but you. Let’s talk breakthrough pain, deliberate vomiting, a tad bit of a pinch of persuasion that’ll put hair on your back and a trickle of blood in your throat. Let’s get down to what it is, really, that makes you so damn insufferable to those who have the mostly unfortunate experience of not being able to skirt your tangential path.     


EUGENE V. DEBS: Exactly. You’ve got the cadence of the thing on the tippler of your tongue.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: And the Tippler Of My Tongue says, “One more! For me, the bar, and for the universe.”

EUGENE V. DEBS: Does the rest of your diary entry go something like, “And then I got everybody to feel sorry for me, and it wasn’t so great, and then I hated it and myself, and decided that pity was the least-effective nondenominational form of currency going.”?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Nope. Don’t keep one. Diaries are for sissies. I’m locked from the inside, and the key belongs to the benthos, lost in the seagrass, nestled in the crook of a gargoyle fish’s dreams, in the circumstances of hadal depths that nobody’s ever quite known.   

EUGENE V. DEBS: Whatever.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: The clipped tone is more effective, buddy, when used as a modifier. Don’t just leave your brashness lonely there like a dropped penny. Don’t tut-tut me and expect to be rewarded for it, buddy.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Whatever. PS-- don’t “buddy” me, jerk. I’m just bystandering around here, you know?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Aye aye. Feelers set on stun, captain.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Okay, let’s boogie the hell around it all for the duration of these less-than-eventful events. 

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I’m cold thumbs and all feet for it. Have I told you about my invention? The automatic mute function that’d be built into a TV set. It would mute only and all the commercials without the push of a button.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Patent pending?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Mustering support, still. By the other way, what’re your swept-by-the-wayside ambitions?

EUGENE V. DEBS: Well, me? I just want a female Orson Welles impersonator to recite the captions from The Sinking Of The Lusitania to me while I drink sardine-jelly punch from a highball glass through a straw in the shade of a pecan tree.  
THOMAS JEFFERSON: I don’t think either of us have got an icicle’s chance in Hades, or Elbert Hubbard’s on that ocean liner, for that matter.

EUGENE V. DEBS: I will now sing something to you about some things that I’m not sure you’ll ever understand, or even care for, for “that matter”-- all winking and nudging aside. Ahem.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I’m mostly ears.

EUGENE V. DEBS: “In the spouted wash of unlimited calls, we hear the lives washed in the walls, and now’s the time to pray and paw, for we have got our minds, cooked or raw, in the scrimmage of it all, let’s jump and climb so we’ve got room to fall.”

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Crap. Where’s Al Jolson when you need him?

EUGENE V. DEBS: Pants-less. Standing in church. Bitching about the bird shit on the sidewalk. Unvested of all authority. Taking alms. Giving a piss. Testing the limitless berth of control.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I’d do a commercial for your soul, but it’d be erratic and self-centered, and I’d believe in it too much and too little. You’ve had the poorest means to achieve hard-hitting ends with the belly-fat richest of belt-loosening motivational speeches. Sing it, you meager pragmatist of the dunce’s score, you soft-wired rankler of the dim, you suddenly-last-Tuesday whiner. Your pajamas are your only uniform, and they are ill suited to your purposes.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Whatever.
THOMAS JEFFERSON: Achieve! Last! Buy more gadgets! Tell better jokes!

EUGENE V. DEBS: I love women. It’s their personalities I can’t stand.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: The satisfaction of being alive lessens as our jokes come to define us-- just these sarcastic bubbles we trap ourselves in, trying to showoff our stupid wittiness, the dexterity of our compromised abilities, a mush-headed distant relative of who we might’ve been had we decided to be something more than a teller of one-liners, a pusher of cheap laughs, a whore for the roar of the crowd.

EUGENE V. DEBS: I haven’t laughed or cried in 11 years. It’s bad for the complexion.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Yep. There it is. And to think, I’m the one who’s the lost wretch, the do-worser, the sleep-deprived harasser of my own consciousness, the fickle exhorter of extinct causes and cases of malevolent caring, the cynic’s cynic and the miler’s pace setter, the passé ruination of all that’s simple and inarticulate. This does it. I’m done being sensible. Let’s harvest shadows of the moon and fry up some spiders with snake oil for a snack.

EUGENE V. DEBS: Sounds like boasting, still. But hell, I’m in. The tease of noon’s hushed longing stuck in your throat as some mussed sunlight sneaks over and plays on your face with a faint tickle of nostalgia’s faded bloom. Room’s full, but we’re suckers for the matinee previews…

THOMAS JEFFERSON: And look, over there by the typewriter…there’s some blank paper and a mug steaming coffee, and therefore, well, you’ve still got a chance.

EUGENE V. DEBS: No. Not a chance in the hemisphere. But, it’s pleasant to think so, isn’t it?