Sunday, October 27, 2013

shedding dark

           “As a wise man once said under the signs of an imminent volcano eruption, ‘I choose hell. Hell is my natural habitat.’
            “So. Well. It seems, according to all signs around this joint, that I’ve got to start being successful. Maybe lose my derivatives in the process. But we’re drinking iced tea here. Figure that. It does. Figure. Believe me. Just started in, and now that hinge squeak of get-up-and-get-‘em rises like pulp to your lips, or mine, or, shit, anybody’s. Ditto the minting of bankrupt minds. Hug a cop. Root for the away team. Blow a mannequin. Go belly-down into the thin of it. Me? I’m purporting to snag a hold of what might as well be rightfully mine. And I’m coming for your children and your valuables. And I’m down wind of circumstances you’d never have the knack for understanding, even if you pleaded your scrawny, worthless, pansy-picking ass off for it. I’ll file that away, or you can, under Pending Travesties. It’s restitution, and it’s multiplying its way through subprime-loan and hedge-fund ravaged lands.
            “Of course I’m mended here. Of course I’m a smattering of cracked sealant and brittle bones run scapegoated to the wilderness. But who’s counting? Look. The pit, it’ll raise itself, and die to tell the tale. Pinched shut and sold out. Openings close, and you get tired. So, just give a shit about something besides that miserable nut-sac of a life you’ve been leading, okay? Believe you me, not one of you dick lickers here with your Brazilian rosewood veneers and your aluminum spines knows sweet Fanny Adams about what my whole here deviant situation is all about. There’s more philosophy in the toilet after I shit than any of you piss sippers could even fathom digesting in the first place. So, don’t ask for my ass on another day. By this time tomorrow I’ll be deep behind enemy lines, speculating T-notes well below any par you’ve ever known, always a skosh thirty-seconds of a point from the trenches of financial ruin. So put that in your stock quotes and smoke it while you pull those pants on two legs at a time, instead of playing grab ass with the rest of the jerkoffs in your soft-bellied, daycare cadre who eat crow for breakfast and suck from the tit of Goldman Sachs. Bring your lumber to the yard, kids.        
               “Success is coming. It’s getting to that bend that’s just beyond our tapering on Bond-Buying Stimulus Road. Remember, the pleasure’s not in the possession but in the pursuit, boys. Shyness doesn’t count. I get forthright and rude. It’s ordering and masking and cored to the mettle it takes to be just a pitch more than loud. Irate doesn’t slice to heal, but it curbs highlights of what might yet become a better character flaw than all the rest, a speculative draft of coffee futures doled out to paper-slip-wielding morons who can’t stomach the jiving around it takes to even take a glimpse towards the acme of high yielding returns. You IQ champions can diversify your portfolios until the cows moo the winning lottery numbers. I’ll let you in on a little secret, okay? Winning is everything.
            “By the way, none of this is rhetorical, dip shits. Get on board and howl fantods with me while we crush rudimentary cap-and-trade systems under our quid-pro-quo boots and blame the free market for our dalliances.
            “An attack backed on multiple fronts. Whimsy and deadlock and bored tempers that just won’t flare like they used to. Do not rain on my prescription pills, you sick son of a bitch. Do not walk this way. And, whatever the shit or Shylocked Shinola you come running back to, do not use my willpower as a dashboard reading for your special kind of flaunting. I flout that shit. Really. It gets up under my armpits and reeks and runs red-river-valleys of sweat down my sides. Look. I could shit in a paper bag, tell you it’s dessert, and you’d scarf it down like a Little Debbie Frosted Fudge Cake. It’s all a load of hokey b.s. to the milquetoast power of petering out, if you ask this thumb-biting bastard about it. Not that the price gouging that spells checks and balances for you would ever be in need of, well, support. Look. Debasement comes at a sliding-scale price, and I, for those who don’t know what they used to know was best for them, spend a pseudo-serendipitous time milking the bottom-feeder frenzy out of their dying-of-the-light raging. There’s no pie left in the sky, only luxury condos to sell to neo-yuppies, you know? And I’m not getting all fucking Paul Revere over it; but the yuppies, they’re coming none the less, and they’re taking over your neighborhoods, building coffee shops, brunching; and dining at chic pop-ups, raising your rent, and crowding up all the bars. And then somebody reads you The Ellis Act. And you, sir, are out on your whimpering woebegone ass. That’s a nutshell of it, in the most derelict ways of tonguing or toeing this sort of paid foraging. I am not at all fucking around here. And luck? Fuck luck. Luck be with or without you. I’m frozen peas and rubbed eyes and skunked, if you want to husk the veracious from the apocryphal. Well, shit. Go figure. It’s pajama time for the bedwetters, and I’m all out of diapers.
            “American Depositary Receipts, Real Estate Investment Trusts, tracking stocks, and foreign listings. It’s all broadly enough put, staked out and unclaimed for all the moons that’ve ever arced their way over Manhattan. I measure it all out in the gegenschein anyway. Not more than a dim touch of free-float, market-cap weighting. It takes one to never know one too, you know? I’m right, alright? Just need to get up on and over that. It’ll free up the deadweight in your skull to do better things with what’s passing as time here. There. It’s as done as a dealt and folded hand, and there sure aren’t many contestants left to challenge the Value Line Composite Index’s hold on sure things. So, maybe a little Rimbaud in the back pocket. A scrap of Dostoyevsky in the wallet. Some leaky faucet of Buckminster Fuller’s drip. Mickey Mouse in the medicine cabinet. The lumpy ticks of things that get by out there, in here, and clanking on all goddamn cylinders throughout the concrete swirl of it all is one happy fat chance to prey on the blisslessly ignorant, to scream, ‘Eureka!’ through the clogged arteries of rollicking arenas and neon-lit halls and the amplified balagan of the petty and the meek who’ll never for the life of them figure out how to grow a pair and sell high. Me? Well, my ‘too much’ is never enough. Automated quotations be damned. I’ll get on my own charming way to Hades, if you don’t mind. Thanks but thanks again, if you will. Shit, I spend enough time trying to figure out what class I should align my debts with, not to mention compostable bins of shame that need to get buried or chucked into the drink, and probably will now or never anyway, so, well, why the fucking cinderblocks should I bomb the message for the mule about it, you know? Fuck it. I’m gassed with deleted joy.
            “While I’ve got you nibbling at my scope here, I might as well make one Shop-Vac of a thing clear: fluted slats of daily trading values transcend whatever purpose one might impose on their highfalutin transcendence, Buckaroos. Borrow a lender’s beehive of chance in the continuative auction format of settled outcries, floor-bound in the industry of averages of course, and we’ll all dispense ritualized retreat at untested dosages, tossing scraps of our soul into the fray just to see how long we can float along without something so irksome as dignity or bonhomie to keep us buoyant. Unflappable belief in par values, negative equity capability, and reinvested dividends pave these streets with pyrite. Bountiful and scarce we flail along in the draff and glitz of this polished yet oil-leaking corporate machine. Who pushes the button? Who makes the bed? And who serves, and for whom is this slush fund supper served? Do any of you rinky-dink, sycophantic, credit-card wielding, cringe-riddled assholes even care? Shit. 
            “Look. It is never all the same. Barriers are reached and breached. The hills are made of briar-patched and honeyed wonder. Ladders of not-so-intrinsic value are walked under. Sometimes you hide in reinvested time. Sometimes you catch raindrops in your pocketbook. And sometimes, well, sometimes you ride all over town on empty, clinging to a rubbed-raw steering wheel in a rented Bentley, headed towards shiny new places that might only exist in a place just beyond where you’ve always been too scared to drive. Cash flow forecasting belts out a cash-is-king tune. The amplitude of liquidity undresses in the mirror. We hide beneath a blanket of trade-credit insecurity and pretense, turning ourselves into consignment shops of another’s design. A quaked moan of doing a little wrong to do a great right, of well-dressed constancies that expire before their fashions go out of style. Well, we can’t all dessert on worms. It’s microprocessing on the most claustrophobic of levels. It’s Dewey-Defeats-Truman hot air being ballooned and disenfranchised. It’s a coffle of nincompoop asses run amok, a costumed stunt of ever-lasting faith in the dollar’s worth. Hear that? It’s the motherfucking closing bell. And it tolls for all of us. I have come to warn you. But…I’m sick, and miffed and worn out of going on and on. Shit. There is no wilderness left, and it’s been many a fiscal year since this here margin-walking bastard, yours truly, has cried. I mean, really: we are but figments and figures of digitized wraiths floating ever closer to the fiduciary scoreboard of what’s always been our own demise. Hey, but maybe that’s just me.”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All these changing things (written for immediate television broadcast)

Part 1, Jack’s Letter

A riot in the gutters. A spirit in the bath. No more rules to follow. No more afternoons. The sun’s in the bucket. There’s no rain in the pail. No prayers for the day to last. Stacked and stuck, iron rusted to all hell. In-between tempers. The water’s no good for diving into. The whole ordeal’s left for the suckers and the saps. Under the spill. 

When I’m famous nobody will care.

The oldest news on the planet. It wrecks on the cabbage garden. It spots the deserting caretakers, the undercards, the waylaid and the ego bruised. Spurred off and not left. All the horses left to race only themselves. Fallen to the underbrush. Disdained in the moonlight. Caps on. Deliveries to the side. 

Who’s going to bring me barley and kale salad when I’m famous?
Who’ll sneak me out away from the crowd?
When I’m famous, who will buy my shoes?

Neat, or next to it, beside all dullness and points, lying smashed on the center divider of life’s avenue. Deserving or not, a lie’s courtesy clamped to a fire hydrant’s chain. A bow too low. Into the ruled-out once again, with fervor and lack. The warped planks of a dying piano’s last song. Set the bait. Trap what’s not left.

In order to do away with due process, in order to step up traffic stops, in order to scream, “I am not the phantom of any damn opera!” Met with no care at all corners, in the dangerous haven of love’s overture to dislike, on furious plains of farewell, in canned-mushroom awe, over the kindest of cruelest years, of liens and loans and overstocked baronial infatuation. It is well. It is never so good.


It’s so damn unlikely that the sway of us will do the job. I faked sleep for the remainder of the morning. Not even wishing to ponder the task of finding the bathroom light, I lay there, bound in the blankets, and I worried about everything.

No suit. No tie. No service.

You are going to have to deal with some hard things, some things that are difficult and upsetting. You are not as beloved as you think. Nobody spends their time pining over you. There are no letters in the mailbox. There’s only toilet paper in the trees. Wishes are bullshit. The world will not stop and wait for me. Stick. Move. Let life whiz right on by. That’s it. Get to it. The rain and the swallows and the prostitutes will not miss you.

Look. You are sensible enough to make sense. Look. Just look.

I’m having all of it. Cloudy or kicking up dust. Winter’s hand-me-downs on loan for another summer. The loudest of all cares wins nothing but a rotting stump of what it could never be. Hungrier, at last, then, as it were, stumbling became the norm.

I enjoy the way you comport yourself. You’ve got a winner-take-none personality. It suits the measly parts of you. It creates advantages in the woodwork of what being yourself takes. The faucet’s got a drip in it. Pharaoh’s blow smoke. It’s all a wash. All of it. Groping along by the wayside, stifled and moaning for moaning’s sake. It is not the weariness that behooves notice. It is ruled-out charm and copasetic wiggling. It is under-priced solidity, vicious whispering, and a holy tone to all conversations. Murderous eyes and a gloomy touch. The difference is not what a day makes. One just never knows what other people are going to dislike.  

(In the mood of someone missing at the table)

She vomited in the silence of redwoods. No cars were passing. Moss was all over things, like fallen trees and their stumps. I was feeling about as well as a wet dishrag. Things were not shaping up. The city seemed as far away and as unlikely as love. There were some assorted vultures doing some circling up above, near the tops of the ancient trees. Just every-other-day people, we were alone.

The hurt’s hard to handle. We are disfigured by it, internally. Wonderfully dull, we move on. And we leave the rest to the canaries who’ve never even heard of a coalmine. Driving’s for the daisies.

I need to not need anyone.

There were sirens then. There were tirades and telescopic fortunetellers. There were highly personal laughs in public, but never in private. There were some of some things and a lot of other things.     

I used The Force. I used The Force to bring her back to me. We kissed on board a spaceship. We kissed under the sea. I used The Force to force her back, and then I forced her on away.

Sitting here
with the curtains drawn a bit,
showing some street, a glitch of car, a hint of sidewalk,
a row of pigeons scoping out nothing,
skimpy tree branches bereft of leaves.
Salt on the windowsill.
Dust scrawled on my favorite shirt, floored.
The typewriter’s keys are obstacles to overcome
or be done with for good,
or worse.
Terrible times on the horizon’s murk.
I get a load of nothing.
Sitting here
in pajama bottoms and a dress shirt,
worriedly stomping and stalling through this.
Every other everywhere is not this here’s somewhere,
at least not quite yet.

There was no need to have an ending at first. But it became apparent at some dutifully put standard of derivation between time and lapses of it that one would need to occur: an ending. And so it was.

Call me anytime,


Monday, October 21, 2013

Anchors Anywhere But Away

Fat Man: How often are you afflicted with these dreams?

Thin Man: I am guilty of it most nights.

Fat Man: Who is being terrible to you?

Thin Man: Me.

Fat Man: That happens. As a boy often wonders whom he will turn out to be, and, “Not this,” he utters under a spell of growing up, or being grown up. The wind’s will? I think not.

Thin Man: Maybe the dust’s?

Fat Man: Or a copy of a copy of a copy of what the mind’s tarnished image will forsake. Or thoughts like stucco. Or retrieval at its finest worst.

Thin Man: I don’t want to be a party pooper. I don’t want to relate. I’m just a stereotype of a simulacrum of who I’ll never be. Craft. Craft. Craft. And then? And then I drop the whole charade and step off the train without any of my belongings.

Fat Man: Dream, dream, dream. Dream, dream, dream.

Thin Man: All I have to do.

Fat Man: You have to. That’s it, right? You must. There is no help for it.

Thin Man: A sip of your life for a ewer of mine; that must be it.

Fat Man: In constancy’s bliss you get lost, you shape and mold. You habituate yourself to doing what daily needs to get done. The mind prefers routine. The imagination even seeks the same. But perhaps it is dreaming’s spell that magistrates order, spoons nouns into verbs, and follows the past with tense seekers.

Thin Man: Or pitches tents in the fallow places of Oneirica.

Fat Man: Or that. Or not this. Or anything, perhaps, except expecting this.

Thin Man: Believe me you, it is internal checks without any outside balances. Effort dooms motivation’s factoring. I could tell you more about that frustration belying this whole mess, but it doesn’t matter in the moment’s momentary stride. I take because…well, because I take it.

Fat Man: You are everything that you are not. Accept exceptions to being exceptional. Note the ordinary drift of your prehensile dreaming. You are what you covet most, you know?

Thin Man: I do? Well, in the dreams I’m secure in what’s gone, or missing, or left ahead to find later.

Fat Man: That appears to be concomitant with this chatter.

Thin Man: Cool it. No. Wait. Cheese it.

Fat Man: So, this so-called “Man From Laramie” is paid off to be insolent all the while. I get it. Pray later; it’s all a wash. You get a choice to concentrate on things you’d like to concern yourself with.

Thin Man: It doesn’t feel like a choice to me anymore. I am not opting to have these dreams, too. So, there’s that. And, if you’d plan courses for inactions, I fall asleep not of my own freewill. Incantations be damned. I’m awful, but not sorry.

Fat Man: Clearly I am misreading the situation. You’re talking monster movies, not monsters.

Thin Man: Clearly.

Fat Man: So you do your worst dreaming in sunnier pastures, hot-to-trot times in squalid quarters, and all with the legerity of a mouse on the lam from the broom of a day job. That’s right. That’s wrong. That’s a picture of spoiled insolence gone fatty and obtuse.

Thin Man: Clearly.

Fat Man: Do you ever say to yourself, perhaps on a breezy evening filled with laundry and complaints, ‘I’ve forgotten how to spell names.’

Thin Man: In your dreams.

Fat Man: Mine? Yes. But we’re discussing things in a general pattern-less way, so…

Thin Man: I wasn’t built to last. And I come to life automatically, like a fire sprinkler. So, we were generally discussing our generality in the midst of all this tourism and terror, and other easily recognizable hullabaloo. So.

Fat Man: Yes. So. Well, well, well. It’ll be, perhaps, just the difference a day makes, before none and after all.

Thin Man: Sure. But tonal apostrophes and all, it’s still no soap. Tap. Tap. And then thwack, it’s all done. Lid’s nailed shut. Time’s nothing without money to spend it in. Barely hurrying. And then you say, “You’re going to be the life of me,” to a hassle-free, obeisance-bound duty. You curl up on the floor and drool on the bathroom tiles. Then you say, “Ahem,” to it all.

Fat Man: Listen to somebody else. Think it under. Race me to the beginning. The deluded narcoleptic shadows creep. Motions stop.

Thin Man: It’s all time gone by. That’s all any of it is-- just more stupid time gone by.

Fat Man: But wait. Something comes running into the October light. A stranded thing. A cranky maladjusted thing with no wheels. Something nobody hates or loves. Just wait until dark. Don’t let it get you down. It’ll be coming around for you, some day.

Thin Man: Hell if it won’t. My guts are being loaned out to coronary experts. Chisel and wail. That’s about all I do. In the reoccurrence of morning’s last light, a foster-child whimper goes unheard in the fall’s chill. I wake up to people on ladders screaming at each other in Chinese. I am reconciled to my way of life.

Fat Man: And the dreams still go on, correct?            

Thin Man: Right.

Fat Man: Changes?

Thin Man: The duration lasts and lasts. The repetition keeps me comfortable and a tad on edge. There was the latest, too, in which I found my arms wrapped around a beautiful girl in an iron diving suit. It was raining. I lost myself saying to her, “You dance like they wrote the music for you. Don’t worry. You’re not wearing a wedding dress. I won’t run you over with my tractor.”

Fat Man: And then?

Thin Man: Always, always an “and then.” That’s just it.

Fat Man: In a sense, but not out of one.

Thin Man: So I plopped down at the bar and stared at the martini glasses hanging upside down over the liquor bottles. I thought, ‘A place where the sun can’t ever find me.’ The light was bad, and the piano music was almost as bad as the light. In the rear of the place folks sat yapping over it, sickening the others at their table with brags and bad jokes. Nobody was paying me any attention, and this made me quite happy as I sat there stewing over consolation prizes of emptiness while running my finger slowly over the rim of my pint glass. I thought, ‘No noise is good noise.’

Fat Man: And upon waking?

Thin Man: It was, just then, you know? It just was. It was all in keeping with the sludge of existence-- mine, or whoever’s. If there’s still some need to keep score, to keep a record of any of this. 

Fat Man: We are just voices clinging to the walls, empty space revolving in a vacuum, and the picayune needs of our lassitude’s appetite are whetted with choice nibbles of luxury and washed down with the cool elixir of entitlement. Yearning is the loneliest profession.   

Thin Man: I’m only an amateur in such things. I dream better than most-- probably. There’s no real way to ever know.

Fat Man: Affording it, then, is the essence of the struggle. The typical frequency is lost in the chrome’s glare. You wake. You sleep. You forget the difference.

Thin Man: Or split it. Or just spilt.

Fat Man: But where? Where’s left to go?

Thin Man: I’m not so tough of a customer anymore. I sojourn with a dull, soft patter under bowers of rust, ensconced under those droopy canopies of moral significance and scruples of strain. The gesso of me is wearing thin. Don’t look. Look at me. Don’t. It’s all a gag.

Fat Man: What the heart so mistakes for remembrance. And these shattered lives that we lead. The dreams that afflict and bathe the wounds they’ve inflicted. There is no “hear” here, or there, or wherever that last dream leads.

Thin Man: So.

Fat Man: So.

Thin Man: One last thing, finally. Or one more. Let me tell you a story about my dreams to make yours easier. That’s about all this’ll come to. I am smoking presidential cigarettes in the lobby of a Muppet-themed hotel. Miss Piggy is offering her services at a sliding-scale price. Kermit’s on the lanai without his thoughts. Fozzie Bear is reading Shakespeare to the pigeons. Oscar’s on a couch with his arm around some girl-- a martini in one hand, and a Richard The Third doll in the other. Animal is passed out on the lobby’s hardwood floor. I say this out loud, directed at nobody, “I’m just passing the time. Letting time pass.” Big Bird’s flown the coop.

Fat Man: How do you come to know these things?

Thin Man: Internal inflation of my more dishonest parts and pieces.

Fat Man: Not rounded, but squared with sleep, aren’t we all?   

Thin Man: Multiply my nightmares by themselves and all you’ll get’s a plugged nickel in return to use at a vending machine of the collective unconscious. You know what I think? I don’t. Tell me.

Fat Man: Sure. Just give me a year to disperse my thoughts. I will run into you at some intersection, someday, perhaps when all the signals are flashing “WALK” and nobody’s walking.

Thin Man: Get a load of this guy.

Fat Man: Go!  

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Prison Of Language

            The aliens came for me last night. They were covered in peach-skin and crow feathers. Their eyes were the color of sunset.
            The aliens came for me, and they had other things on their minds than I. 'Finally,' I thought. What could I do?
            Things looked obtuse in the cafeteria light they emitted from their plaster chest plates.
            The aliens wore what they came in. Some were in shorts and not one of them were wearing socks. I thought spacesuits would’ve been appropriate. They told me, “Can’t we get a break here? Nobody sent us a dress code.”
            I was lying in my bed, imagining what life would be like without toes. I was innocent. All the lights were off. Not even a louse was stirring. Little could I have guessed, otherworldly appropriate arrangements were being made for me all the while.
            The aliens were wearing goat heads as masks at first, but removed them politely after a short moment of my staring. They laid the goat heads on the floor. I was glad they were not laid on my bed. 
            I asked them if the world they came from was as round as this one. The shortest one (some were as tall as my escritoire) told me, “Ha! Your world is not round. It is an oblate spheroid, dummy.”                  
            I hadn’t expected to be paralyzed with just looks. I’d thought at first, ‘Perhaps they will use ray guns to numb me up.’ I was sorely disappointed that they were without weapons of any sort. They had belts with no buckles. Their hair was like chewed beef jerky, except most of them were blonds.
            The aliens used their hands like wands. I spied one of them casting a spell on my toaster. I told him, “Hey, buddy boy. Why don’t you try your luck on my computer? It hasn’t worked in years.”
            He made a gesture that usually accompanies a laugh without laughing. He said, “I don’t know your language, you coprophagous dick. Get it?”
            “What the…?” I managed to exclaim/mutter before his look set my mouth to mute.
            I lay there before them, unable to move or speak. Strangely enough I wasn’t worried about my situation. I felt at peace, dashed with a slight tingle of euphoria even. They rummaged through my things. One of them cut his leg (they had two legs, just like us-- though theirs were hairless and thin as pencils) on a safety pin protruding from a jacket in my closet. He (I assumed they were all males; I’m not sure why) screamed out, “I am not human but I still need to be loved!” Then he slammed the closet door closed and began to softly cry. His tears were hot, and I could hear them singeing my carpet as they fell.
            The aliens came for me, and they didn’t make much noise or start a fuss over it. They moved gracefully in smooth arcs of compassion. I traced their motions with my eyes. All seemed well.
            The aliens came for me. They wanted to improve their spelling. I wanted to help them, but for some reason I did not. My fingers ached with carpal-tunnel nightmares.
            An alien, one who seemed brave and hardy, gave me use of my mouth again. I immediately wished he hadn’t.
            “Help us to be accurate in our communication, please.”
            “Not I. Not me. Not this here paralyzed sucker. That’s for sure.”
            “Our brains are silicone. Nobody’s taught us how to be compassionate.”
            “Join the fucking club.”
            “That’s it. All communication is quite pointless. We get it. We’re out of here.”
            “Good. Oh, and by the way, one more thing: could you fix my TV before you go? It only speaks when spoken to. I can’t stand it.”       
             They gathered around my bed. I noticed for the first time that there were five of them in all. They were wearing black lab coats. I gathered a bit of gall and told them, “Okay. Listen. I’ll give you some advice before you split.” They all bent over a tad at the waist in expectation. “Nauseous is properly used only to mean ‘causing nausea’ and it is incorrect to use it to mean ‘affected with nausea.’ When you feel sick to your stomach you feel nauseated. There, does that help?”
            They were all smiles, though their smiles were lizard smiles: mostly licks of their thin tongues over their thin lips.
            They left as quickly as they’d come, without a trace.
            My TV hasn’t been quite the same ever since.  


Thursday, October 10, 2013


            Most of my friends were the kind of kids who get called names and beaten up at recess. You, of all people, do not know at all what that’s like. The below-the-surface fury of this feckless struggle to ignore or run away from things. I am in constant fear of being waylaid. You, sir, certainly have no capacity to understand this. It is beyond your universe’s scope. Sorry, am I boring you? You fucking doofus. I could shit in the corner and tell you it’s a bowl of Frosted Flakes. I could slap you with a live fish. I do not like this visage that I am peering at here, cowboy. So get your fucking two-face self together and take it. Pull it together, Shemp. We ain’t got time for any misappropriating here. Got it? Shit. So, the customers come in, right? They’re always wrong, but we don’t let on. It’s stop time, and we are taking, taking, taking; and all they know is give. Put it wrong. But, pal old buddy, we’ve got bottled water for sale, right? We’ve got toothbrushes with the NDCs of narcotics. We’ve got sunglasses with tiny video cameras on the lens. We are trained to serve. It’s simple. It’s the wind’s geometry played out for sissies with fake tans to splurge on without a nod or a hope at ever knowing why. And they don’t. Care, that is. Why? I don’t know. I stopped asking those questions years ago. They just don’t. Strange. The manners of the told are rubbing off on us, huh? We used to be the ones doing the telling too, you know. That’s how it all started, this whole go-to-hell mindset, that in hindsight seems just unreasonable enough to have worked. There it is. And there, of course, it all is not. Fuck it. I’m sending in the funambulists.
             A warm, windless night comes around. A night that’s great for walking about idly with nowhere to go and nothing to do. A vagrant breeze in your head maybe, but that’s it. Mind readers be damned. Don’t get touchy now. Don’t get all abysmal about it. We’re copycats at best. And so you get to walking around, gazing in closed shop windows, shuffling on and down narrow alleys, crookedly strolling across streets against light traffic. As if this or any passing of the time is ever really easy, you go on, and maybe you squint through the streetlights’ sodium glow, and the flickering neon signs, and perhaps even a bit of moonlight struggling through from a starless opaquely tinted sky. A word of advice? No. I’m just another cohabitating pseudo-realist who just happens to believe in mushy foresight and shipshape disaster theory. You sympathize, right? There’s a lot to not understand about it. You get that, at least.
            Play the tambourine at a criminal’s funeral and dispense with the easily lost satisfaction of tears. I potty-mouth the whole affair. Remember the cadavers who never got dissected? No anatomy lessons learned. It wasn’t disgraceful though. Not at all. I still get the chills when I think back on the bad old days of suffering and defeat. We sulked around. We got traumatized. We were less nimble than we should’ve been, and more capitulating to the sorry demands of hulking grade-school beasts. We were weak and ineffectual poltroons, cowards of the most literal tail-between-the-legs scuffling. These are things you look at and probably say, “So what?” to. That is not my opinion.
            Me? Me? Well, I go pointing to foul territory, in a determined distress, while riding the bus, faking a cough into my fist, something about the angle of light daggering in through the high trapezoidal windows, the stingy ones you can open by pulling them sideways, horizontal, a challenge at times because they get stuck and it can take some serious grunt work to get the job done, something to be done while standing and not for the less brawny among us. I am wincing at people’s faces. There’s a rubbed raw hue to the persistence of vision. Colors are warped. The fabric of whatever seems like the nature of my current reality is shredded and threadbare. Some of the advertisements close to the ceiling are stretched, the elongated pictures and words pulled taut and thin, and somehow I feel like something will snap suddenly and nothing for me will ever be the same again. But nothing ends. There is no finality to any of it, and this fills me with dread and terror. The phrase, “I got treble in my mind,” flickers through my thoughts. I know something is wrong there. It’s close, but not right. I can’t figure out why. Something is wrong with me. The pinball game of my head is permanently tilted. A scream longs for a mouth. A small Chinese woman, whose feet are swinging high above the grip-tape covered floor, sits eating a lychee fruit on one of the facing seats at the front of the bus. Her smile is crooked, something skewed about it. I can’t bring myself to look at her with more than a general glance in her direction. I feel as if I am being expertly watched, and I don’t for some reason want to make any mistakes, though I don’t know what would constitute a mistake in this position that I’ve found myself in, whatever that position might be. You wouldn’t know, Charlie Cheese. You wouldn’t allow yourself to become lost in this sort of spellbinding and eerie situation. To ask yourself, “What’s put me here?” You see, it’s as if the world around me is appearing to whatever’s passing for my eyes at this moment to be some sort of drafty Phenakistoscopic vision, something playful and lost, and I can’t make this fluidity of botched movement stop, even for a second. I’m not looking for a fight. There are no giant oak trees to hide behind. My pockets are empty and out. Everything is just flowing, bright and dull, in exasperating shivers of kinematic sadness, a strobe-like flickering paired with torched remnants of stop-and-go animation, or perhaps things being continuously carved into wet cement that never dries. You’ll never comprehend what any of this is really like. You see, there is no me here.
            Whatever we don’t end up selling we’ll end up stowing away in the rafters of our desire. Got it? And think about it. All those stories we used to tell ourselves to keep up the farce of being contently ourselves. Then, well, you go to the office. And me? I go straight to hell. Now, get the fuck out of here before I really start launching into some theatrical tirade and “accidentally” punch the literal lunch money right out of you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Party Girl Who Hid My Shoe

I am not so deceitful in my serious habits. It was a brown September day, beforehand, and the night’s speckled frown had been sizing up the situation for quite a while. The party was moseying on to the next level. I had cauliflower in my teeth, and so had retreated to the bathroom in search for floss. With the lights off it seemed cooler, and more livable to be doing what I was doing. There were no ants on hand to witness the events. Perhaps I was a cricket anyway, for the time. It seemed likely.

Causes? They were out of my realm. I couldn’t influence a thing. My famous socks were showing a bit too much. I wanted slow trickling grounders to third and merchant-marine wholesalers on my doorstep. What I was getting was a room filled with floating gesticulations of un-showered weatherman. What I was getting was retaliation’s boom mic crushed to the carpet. A few horrible grinding thoughts escaped into the fuzzy blankness of the TV screen. I was suddenly okay.

“You’re nothing more than somebody else’s dream.”

Right near being good at nothing, in a role-playing disgust, I was in the midst of scrambling around for a cigarette. I thought, ‘Suddenly this is all not so smart.’ The mirror agreed with me. I said to it, “Concur, ass. Just concur already.” 

“Once is as close to never as you’ll ever get.”

And then there she was: 23 chromosomes and a bottle of cheap perfume. She marched decorously through the sludge of me. Swerved and somehow inclined to be alive with moss-and-gin breath. I took some steps, but they were just of the fungo sort. Sleepy legs. Slipper eyes. I couldn’t fathom why a doorknob might exist. I forgot doors could close. In the slap dancing I realized I couldn’t listen to music at all. I could be prepared and wink out in a fit of panic anyway. Shinier and funnier things were happening. I stowed a bit of regret in my armpit and ambled away.     

Somebody was giving a speech to some folks squashed together on the couch. “He’d stopped a few with his hard heart and all. It was the running from whatever it was he’d been artfully dodging that got him into trouble. There was a cat. There was a man with his feet up. Nobody moved when the cops splashed in like blue ruin and took control of the situation.”

To get away I smiled my way through and out to the street, a place where I knew a bus would be coming along soon.

While I was waiting for the bus I looked up and saw a plane scratch some smoke into the pale sky. The limits of being outside didn’t seem like much. ‘Surmountable,’ I thought. ‘This is just a hobby. Really. Really. Really. This is just of use, or it is chemical-- on the outside, that is.’ A Sikh man was smoking a cigar, toeing the curb slyly a few yards away. This Sikh man was holding a wilted daffodil in his left hand. It was just dangling there from his hand. There was no reason to smile, at him or anything.

I don’t want to die like Sherwood Anderson, choking on a toothpick after a party; or have my dead body transported in a rail car marked “Fresh Oysters” like Anton Chekhov. These were the things I was contemplating.    

“Have a drink with your executioner. You know, a little St. John’s Blessing for you. You are a member of the Drink Yourself To Sleep Club, correct? Well, there you stop, and there you take it. Just not so much that it keeps you up, okay?”

“The objective of this correlation with madness is two-timing what you know with what you won’t. Me? I keep death close by. Not like any enemy, mind you. But more like a half-eaten piece of toast, or the crumbs from a jelly donut smashed into the carpet. I know its odor, its casual graces by heart. I can tell its creep and sudden shiver. I listen to it rattle in the drainpipes, or when the refrigerator squeals. Night is run by death’s machines. I hold it close and hum.”

It was apparent to me that speaking out loud was no longer an option. There were so many stops that weren’t mine, and the bothersome aspects of sitting either facing a stranger or standing with my lower half in a stranger’s line of sight were becoming more than a bit too much for me to handle. I caved. I cowered. I licked my lips and made a dash for the sidewalk at a stop that was not my own. It was shower time in dirty town, and I was the mayor’s ugly cousin.

Some lousy things to do with air. I pushed my way through. Crowds that wouldn’t amass to a crowd. Leaves that forever fell. Slips were silver-laced. The gutter summoned the wounded to perish from the earth. The archangels perhaps sang, but not to me.

Foreboding mourning, as it were, I’d clipped my toenails recently, and to be sure of it I rubbed a dull thumb over them. They were behaving decently. Inventory: two socks, one shoe. This was bad. I should’ve been hobbling. Instead one of my socks was in worse shape than ever. Holes and damp. I needed help. I began to trod and heave my way back from where I’d came. I thought about how Mary Shelley kept P.B.’s heart, that for some reason didn’t burn in his funeral pyre, and she wrapped it in his poem Adonais, and buried it with their only son Percy in 1889. My toes hurt on the foot with no shoe.

On arrival in the kitchen I cornered a suspect. My eyes drew battle lines in the wainscoting. Soon I was alert with begging, and then I was just plain mean about it.

“Notice. Notice. Notice. Damn it. Notice. Will you?”
“Cruel? No. No. Wait. Cool. Real cool.”
“I do not want to feel the earth against my feet. I do not want to have wet socks to deal with tomorrow. I could get a splinter. I might be able to see all of this from outer space with a good enough telescope. Would that matter, or make any of this matter more? All there is is hate.”
“Chance it.”
“I’m telling.”
“I’m not.”
“Where, for the like of hats and glasses and all that is wilderness, is my…?” 
“I knew it!”

It turns out a party girl had taken my shoe. She had hid it in the kitchen. I told her that I do not like wet socks. I made up some things about purpose and the conniving nature of reality. She grit her teeth during the exchange. She gave my shoe back. I put it on over my wet sock. I was happier than I’d been for quite some time.

Now? It’s being frugal with allowing my personality to be rented out that keeps me well shod. And then, possibly, some happiness follows. But there are just different ways of knowing here, and one can never be sure, now can one?