Saturday, December 21, 2013

De Rigueur Gestation

“Wait. I’m dead? No way. I want a second opinion.”
“Hold it there, Poncho. Whoa. What’s crackling? Why so rankled?”
“Well, you see, I’d go ahead and have a nervous breakdown, but it’s just that I’m not quite sure how.”
“No need to get right to it or nothing. Everything the more, I’m growing older less gracefully all the time.”
“Fuck all this. I’m getting hitched. Jumping the g.d. broom. Tying that sanguine knot of matrimony and perpetual bliss.”
“Married? You? Shit. You’re not even strong enough to carry her over the threshold.” 
“No. No. Listen. Let’s pay attention to nothing. Let’s cuss at flowers. Let’s go bowling in the morning. We’ll be unstoppable.”
“Shit. We’ll just be us. That’s all.”
“Sure. Sure we will. Rattlers and bad habits and practice, practice, practice.”
“Morally dense.”
“If nothing. Or everything else. We could shape our lives like spoons or arrange them as if we were distinct types of coffee beans drying in the sun.”
“If I come home, when I come home, the kids will be all grown. And the dog? He’ll be needing my vacation hours. ‘Plowed’ is the word that will describe me best. The survey says, ‘Push more paper!’”
“Like pleading with a fire hydrant, ‘Like me back. Please. Please. Just like me back.’”
“Not as slick as you’d like to be, huh? Magnets on the souls of your shoes.”
“Something in the orange juice around here. It makes us all bootsy and bat-shit sane.”
“If I come home, when I come home.”
“Stop saying that. I do not think it means what you think it ought to mean.”
“If I were a carpenter. God. If I were.”
“Then there’s the computer in your heart that’ll never be just okay ever again. The flash is gone from the pan, Jack. There are just so many ways of choking a ‘yes’ into looking back.”
“Paltry, this showy crap. I’m constantly in the process of packing and unpacking my things. All these objects; so few places to put them.”
“Mark Twain was an asshole.”
“Sure. But he was his own boss. That beats the band, don’t it?”
“Depends what band. Big?”
“Compared to?”
“A toast basket.”
“Oh. Well. Then. Oh. Well.”
“Handwriting signifies everything. I am not about to dream worse scribbles, scratched persuasion, or fiddle with the broader strokes. I’m just the sans without the serif. The flowers of my time here are just wilted petals, and not even a bee around to like me. I am signing ‘Mud’ from here on in-and-out.”
“Under and in, Chico. Under and in.”
“Wait. I do believe I am no longer with us. Hear that? It’s Alas mimicking Alack. All close things have become far. And I cannot stand tears.”
“Be not of, but with. That’s no secret. That’s no way to tell the truth. That’s all the opinions you’re getting.”
“But right isn’t always correct. There’s left too, right? Gone’s staying. I mean to say I don’t mean to mean what I meant.”
“Says you.”
“Say you, say me, say it for never. Is that the way it shouldn’t be?”
“It depends on how this ends. There should be ease where there once was only fretting and nail biting.”
“Remove the excluded wish from the wash. Try worse. Chronicle your fall to fameless impecuniousness.”
“I will be wearing a T-shirt reading, ‘Fuck off.’”
“The occasion will suit it.”
“If I cannot beg any more pardons here, I’m never going on back home.”
“No. You’re asking the wrong questions. More like ‘Where?’ or “Man, how come?’”
“Eating worms. That’s all. Dining on a dirt sandwich. I leave this place with all of my opinions intact. And my teeth.”
“One last haircut for the road, the longest road, the one that never begins or ends.”
“And what about ‘If?’”
“Yes. And ‘If’ too. And all that. And less.”
“We are dreadful, but not too serious yet. That’s what keeps us wounded but never disabled. That’s what keeps us stuck.”
“What about the song?”
“The song? Well, ahem:

“the song, it ain’t so sad
and the road’s busted with blame
secured to the rind
hankering toward a slip’s sorry slide

“the song, it lends a cheat to law
and the head’s crammed with regret
spackled to the core
guessing away the night

“the song, it’s a mess of wrong
and the push is shoved with cruel
trucked to senility
lapsed with contention’s slap

“the song, it gets booked and bored
and flagstones break the news
aged to gangbusters
blonde in the dishwater light

“the song, it’s season tickets lost
and corks won’t ever pop again
shredded to a mask
swooning towards another hell

“the song, it’s parked cannonballs
and pests clue the soul’s style
crested to a gentle nadir
upset and hounded to life

“the song, it’s convicted late
and bargained badly for a tack’s shine
clued and cracked to a midlife’s worry
luckier less than a lost cat

“the song, it’s hummed to the curb
and crabby with delight’s steam
docked unsure and incongruous
whistling hot-and-cold running slime

“the song, it’s blushing in the moonlight
and ended to more’s clutch
posted and plump and scratched
fleeting in bowled-under times.”
“Got it?”
“Great enough, I guess.”
“Let’s split.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

River Of No Return

“The only thing you like better than scotch is sympathy.”


“And? And you are the most milquetoast creampuff of a sickly obsequious loser I’ve ever come across.”

“The world’s a mess. What can you do?”

“Nothing. That’s just it.”

“There’s no nuance left in my hot water. Just scalding and icy. That’s all the choices I’ve got.”


“And I’m sicker and tireder than most. And I don’t got the wheels to keep lugging around this stuff.”

“Take five. Or fifteen. Whatever you need.”

“I could use a haircut.”


“Empty rooms to explain away your days in. Lots of pop with no fizz. A scandal never made.”

“Sure. Sure it is.”

“Loot. That’s all we’ve got to do now.”

“That’s it. You’ve got it.”

“Read the labels on food packages. The ingredients are the best poetry we’ve got: polysaccharides, torula yeast, thiamin mononitrate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, yellow 6-lake dye, extractives of annatto, xanthan gum, sodium hexametaphosphate. It is the pure poetry of the pure products of America.”

“I am narrower in my shortcomings than in my low-brow likes. It’s getting to the point of pierce or be sunk around here. It is all junk food for thought.”

“More disarray in the boiler room of my skull than ever before. Walkers for the tanked. Crutches for the tipsy. We’re all unmatchable.”

“Grown down like this, and then more stumbling, and then we order takeout from the fishmongers. Just bushels of likes less likely to wimple our way out of trouble.”   
“Rippled? Or am I staunch in my favors?”

“Go against it. The coolest thing about aging is the process.”  

“But then, well, get this: I’m at the gas station filling up with my lady, and you know what I says to her? I says to her, ‘Could you read that mileage to me, beautiful?’ Then she comes on out of the Chrysler and she kisses me flat on the lips. I’m thinking, ‘Wow. I just haven’t felt this good since ’87.’”

“When you get it. Or when you need it?”

“The present shocks just as much as the future once did. Nothing is happening, here, now. Nothing. Therefore, everything.”

“That doesn’t completely not make sense to the concupiscent-lorn shards of who currently breaks at being me. I am determined to be a wayfarer of waffling dismay.”   

“That’d do a shill like you. By the way, what day is it? What’s the year? Who’s holding public office around here? Huh?”

“I don’t make a practice out of giving advice to strangers, but you really could use some counsel. And a shower or three.”

“Lose the sour-guy act. I’m not giving away party favors for the out crowd.”  

“We sometimes pay for the mistakes of others, right? Back shot by a no-good floozy. And all’s for not, and not’s for us all. So, goof off. Go ahead. It’s probably a more meaningful way to drudge your way through this dreck. The pomp’s gone from the circumstance. The glove’s got no hand. Cramped is the way. You know what? Sometimes I wish that someone were spying one; I think that it'd make me feel less lonely, somehow.”

“Perpetuating insolence with a twist of restraint. Don’t call a nurse. I would like to be deceived about my blood pressure. And my prospects for making it through another week of wakeup-work-eat-sleep logic. Besides, all the black cats I knows aren’t just crossing my path anymore; they’re hissing and attacking me.”

 “You’ve got a head like a boulder.”

“I’ve always been a Robert-Mitchum man, myself. I laze about and ogle women applying makeup in the rearview at stoplights. I am corrupt with innocence. These eyes whose scars are along…these eyes. Damn it. I’m so damn lost.”

“And now we’d like to return you to our regularly scheduled program.”

“By jingo, I’d never be that lucky.”

“But the Desiderata still comes in handy sometimes.”

“My noise. Your haste. It’s the mathematics of hooligans and scofflaws, the jury-rigging of latent psychotics with a taste for corporate takeovers and condo flipping. I want my beer colder than my women. Nothing ever works, in or out. Nothing. I might as well hang on for a few more weekends. I hear the beer bars will all be gone soon. People want crafted artisan cocktails and pork-belly preserves with duck-liver aioli instead of beer nuts.”      

“Let’s go yuppie hunting. One last time. We’ll go around ripping pink mustaches off of cars and egging the elite as they app-barhop on their smart phones.”

“It’s no use. We are just us. And them? They’re pretty much the rest of everything. Can’t stem the tide of a tsunami. Can’t block a mass stampede. We don’t have to cower. But really, what’s left to do?”

“Appease with an ostensive surrender. Placate with professed indifference. And our will? Just to be left alone to our own devices. That’s all. That’s it. Duffers are getting younger. We’re young duffers now. That’s all that’ll be left after their goddamn bubble bursts. Then we’ll look back and say, ‘What the fuck? Seriously, what the fuck? This place is in ruins, and for what? A few measly, greasy bucks?’ Fuck. It’s so sad. We’ll be left here for dead, attempting to tidy things up after this place’s been gutted. Desolation might suit us. Who knows?”

“I greet you at the end of an insignificant career, which yet must have had a long foreground in corrupt avarice and greed, for such a start.”

“Rub your eyes a bit. Look around. There is everything and everywhere. See?”

“Sure. Keep telling me that. Maybe the night's got no more magic left in it. But I’ve still got a few more mornings left in me, I do believe, to make nothing out of.” 

“That’s the stuff.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Stripper Named Christmas

We’d only been dating here and there for about a month or so, so it wasn’t like you’d call it horseshit or nothing. And what’s worse is human shit, really, if you really want to like know from my personalized experience. But we go about it all, and call bullshit when we should be saying that it’s a bunch of h.s. or c.s., like, you know, cow shit. But anyways. Fuck all that. People? People fucked up. That’s one thing for sure. Can’t emphasize that one enough. People’ll do all kinds of stupid shit, horse or cow or bull, but, you know, like, human’s still the worst. That’s all the for-sures in town, man. I do know some things, right? Any-fucking-how, I tell you, this lady’s been doused with a carafe of the brown liquor cure, and she’s ranting on like some begrudged and loopy and deranged crackhead-of-a-broken-tooth-spitter. And me? I gots to take it as it comes, you know. Like I’m the one who’s resting easy in all of it, just dipping my toes in for a test of the waters, you know. Like, you know, we’ve been dating what? A month? Fucking less than like 5 weekends? Something like that. Just here and there. Just chowing down on whatever pie’s dangling down for me. I’m in it just for a taste, you know? I got other things to like sate my appetite and all. Shit. But this lady’s on a damn chapel pew with a few more than a few in her gut, and so it’s I who has got to like rearrange my mettle to sidestep the bitch, with or without the appeal of the choir, or the pleading of all the fucking fifths in the world about it. Well, turns out she’s on that Leavenworth stuff. The whole 14 blocks knows, and then some. The howling is Muzak to my ears. And me? I ride elevators all the time. Ask any See You Next Tuesday around. And all the giantess man-whores along Larkin know the tune I’m scratching out in the ponderosas. I gots my two-toned ways of blending with the scenery, see? And this cranky lady’s gone blotto, and she’s leaping up on hoods of parked cars all along Ellis, shouting devil-knows-what at taxis and buses and whatever dregs of society’s passing on by at like 11 in the pm of a weekday. She’s high-pitching stuff like, “Shutshutshutshut the fuckfuckfuck up!” as she’s leaping on and off hoods and zigzagging her way through the street. She’s even giving fire hydrants a piece of it, like “You little fat fuck of a fuck! You ain’t shit without water! You just some out-of-work shortstop with no range! Fuck you!” Well, me, I gots my high hat on for the birds and the devil, whichever comes first, like chimneys for doves or minks in the cellar. All that avian and, like, rodent shit to clean up. Think about it. Shit. That’s about all I do. Shit. Like I says. People fucked up. That’s a good one to know about. But this tipsy chick’s blaring like a car alarm, and I’m the only one around to keep her toeing some sort of damn line, or at least make a grab-ass attempt at it. Now I’m wishing for a there instead of more heres. But that says it, really, like, don’t it? We all get afraid to let our devils leave ‘cause our angels maybe might get on up and leave us too. Lord on low knows hers were a goner that night. I grabbed her good and hard, tore her down from her makeshift soapbox of a busted Cadillac. I tell her, “So. Is this that whole ‘What’s-a-gal-to-fucking-do?’ crap?” She says to me, she says, “Not this again.” Then she rattles out a smoke from somewhere hiding away in her shedding stole that she’s like wrapped around her waist now, and she blares out, “This!” And she cold-motherfucking-cocks me. I’m batty with it. I go down like Tyson in Tokyo. I’m seriously fucking reeling along on Ellis there, drinking gutter water for dessert. She gets me good and solid on the jaw. It’s so fucked I can’t believe it. And this crazy bitch is off to the races. I can hear her fucking heels clicking all wild on the concrete like somebody’s gone and thrown a bunch of marbles to the sidewalk from four floors up. I’m just dazed and trying to hold steady. All my pastures are ruined with cow shit. But I remember then that I sort of pulled myself together there under a streetlight, which was glowing down on me in all sorts of bad shape. And my eyes seemed like they belonged to someone else’s head. I thought I’d return them if I could. Shit. They never did me no good at all. She was gone. Maybe for good. And I thought, ‘That’s good. That’s finally just good.’ So, I picked up all the pieces of being me and stumbled and labored my way into Jonell’s there on Jones. There wasn’t much of a crowd. Just a few drunks and some cheap whores with awful smiles and worse makeup. I sits myself down there at the end of that horseshoe bar there, and I order a whisky ginger from the too-happy Korean lady behind it. She’s fucking giddy with my order. So I drink it down and get another, and then, you know, another too. The juke's making its stupid sounds, all that thumping-bass garbage they put on it. I’m sitting there all woebegone and shit-faced, and I think, ‘This. This. This is all that is. Me here. She gone. Smoke’s lost from the engine, lady. I’m stalled and beat.’ But I didn’t have no lady to call mine. I didn’t have a damn thing except this this. Whatever this was or is or…shit, whatever the human shit, I don’t know. I’ve stepped in my share, sure, but who hasn’t? I drank down my drinks, one after the next, and started to not care about anything, even my own self. Then I gets to thinking things like this: ‘It ain’t what you got; it’s what you make.’ Nobody was bothering me just then for a while of it, so I kept right on with that stuff. Whisky-kissed. Troubled and undone. I’m all out of tune, you know? Is the something wrong what's wrong with me or with everybody else? I don't know. Raised on the weak stuff. It all gets to suit me. It really does. Just a tip’s stick and a jiving around move with all the wicked and the worried in the world. No more fire escapes. No more trash trucks to wake me up before the sun. No more girl to drive me to do horrible things. Shit. I’m all out of being done. Like some horse-shit sucker making the sound of my name, it proves me just enough guilty of being me to keep going on. Shit. The gun’s gone from the hips, fuckers. People all kinds of fucked up. I’m through.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Slightly Less Orange Than Vermilion

Scarlet, my dearest, it seems that I have fallen madly in love. Again. I know this timing is dreadful, but is not it always when it comes to such things? When it comes to such things.

You can’t possibly imagine how difficult it has become for me to rise from bed these mornings. The gelid sting of it all whips me into a composed dissolution, and so I lie bricked under heavy covers in wonder-less antipathy towards daylight and other mediocre tchotchkes in the clutter of being alive. On some days merely crossing the street seems like a Herculean labor. (You would say, “Heracles.” I know.) On yet others I am confined to this dour room in a state of nervous apathy spelled by quaking bouts of ferocious want. Please do not disown my kind just yet. We are all, after all, merely a bunch of sorry suckers stuck in these bodies. What can one do?

Scarlet, my lovely. Can you not still sing for me with that voice you own? The most wonderful pipe set in the known world, it is. If my druthers were but mine alone, that voice would ring out beyond the hills of my sadness for all the grape-green world to hear. Alas, this purporting gets one nowhere. I grow stale and shiver, dreaming of hot water and mischievous handmaids.

The crowds have come for me. I cannot shake them, or this emotive tug on my willpower. Laundry is war; nothing is fair.

Scarlet, my Chattanooga baby. Lest we fail to take into account the charity-case of my disappearance from broader circumstances-- us, who should be so fortunate, fortunately not to bevel our lives with such circumstantial stuff-- there, in the coddled bowsprit of a Tennessee blush, like face cards never held or folded, well-not-to-do or be, we are.

To what merrymaking does sturdy the functionality of rise-and-shine readiness to face another day of whimpers and high ceilings? To where? And who faces this reflection daily, too? Who? Well, let me not disregard the alarm from this disaster. And I would definitely enjoy to extrapolate on the condition of the sober pansies of the world in these meager and cushy times we find ourselves in the midst of; but that is but a work order for one more substantial and hardy than I. You do not nor ever have or could understand such matters, correct? If I were but only wrong. Another if. Yes. And we, as always, are just these fluttering, flimsy and fragile organisms who run on bacteria and sunlight; who shave and take in the paper and feed themselves and mope about their surroundings. Leading on that there might be more to us, we developed this ability to craft language, to sucker those around us into believing it too-- as if any of us who live only in a drop of eternity’s split second could matter at all. “Just passing through,” as you used to say, just like only you could.

Deepest Scarlet, all the colors of me are runny and blurred. Madly in love? Perhaps that is just a substitute for this dissolution I’m behaving through. My intrepidity has swam away in a riptide of fashion. To fall, to grandly just go, to reach a “there” in love’s throes and echoes. It is all madness. You must understand this etiolation brought on by the constant shift from fasting to gorging. Perhaps I will trademark it. Set up shop on the 14th floor of a decaying sandstone office building and sell my wares low and high, and lower and higher all the time. But, alack, I am not a carpenter either, and you are not my lady. Madness? I am shifty with it.

Scarlet. I am boring.

Through the window’s blinds I see slits of outside. I am wound loose, sashed, disposed to lugubrious tries. The shutters can’t keep me. The curtains are for other more heavyset dahlias-of-fancy to contemplate. Turn me in. I am not pleading. Through the opaque glass I am lost, eyeless in a thousand Gazas. Do not let on to the help. Disguises suit and betray what condolences I have left. Another thing’s coming. I am certain of it.

To train oneself in the business of disaster, corrosively or not, to a matte finish, and then, again, the imponderable chore of rising from bed each morning evolves into one long evasive morass. “What next?” I ask myself in the long shadows of another drizzly ominous afternoon. I lie there and inspect the ceiling, its cracks and peels ribbing out in absurd faces of bulbous eyes and racehorse brows. Cartoon bubbles of lurking skulls and guillotined smiles. Scarlet? You know me. I can never lie low enough.

Love’s mad vilipending intercedes, and I know my conscience cannot take what is proffered; but, again, I take and take without regard to sense’s hark or thrift’s lump-of-coal sadness. Scarlet, my Scarlet, lie low with me-- or lower still. We could roll and rock away all of this, together, in the company of each other’s arms. Do not envy the dash of what this moon-mad music portends. Just one more together, and then…splat goes the moth’s dreams against the wall.

Again. There it all goes. Society hushing all genius except those whose genius is making money. It gives the finger to the temperamental genius of the artist, for it produces no taxable income. Again. There I go too. With it to be mostly not with it. Without it, and, at last, to be without you too, my lurid Scarlet. Yes. I am broken. But were not I always?

As my feet grow colder I have taken to placing my socks on the heater. Pulling on those toasty cotton foot-covers is now my only pleasure. But it is a great one at that. And I do not think I would be still here yapping away about these things if it were not for it.

So. Blather, blather, blather. Scarlet, this was not done for you, or only for you. Not at all. I am not what I think. Blather. Blather.

I am not so true,

Oberon’s Jester


Sunday, December 8, 2013

a ‘66 dodge to Carolina

like cover crops
clover and winter rye 
a rare prairie
a distinct murmur’s mum
like right’s misstep
or wrong’s hard-won lease
a breeze it is
like suffering’s blight or
birmingham in the moonlight
put it off
we’ve got bad gaskets and worse excuses
the radiator’s leaking rum
put it on
the reason’s just an estimate
time’s just a swindle’s purr
a wounded vet’s moan
a move-over’s beef
a locked hurt
like licked pieces of jerky
like a robbed heart’s loan
meaner though
and with it
nuzzled to sleep through it
bottled and run out
pounding the dents out of our souls
nobody’s giving any of it
veiled to rope off the whole scene
copping to it
rules are extinct
we’ll get on fine without them
i am sure of it
a trail of smoke’s the only witness
and the hemi’s dreaming on the lam
cross-flowing through the double-rocked gist of us
tossing orange peels in the rearview’s glance
everything's planted
we’ll be tied to the stakes
in some dive bar somewhere
plugging up the holes of resistance
with just a few more for the road
i am sure of it

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Everyday Sightings #11 (flowers on the bus)

flowers on the bus.

I am built of rain showers
(there is dumbness here too, see?)
nothing’s number blatzed to a blah
you are built of chopsticks and beans
lilacs and snores and woodchips 
first. just let me,
I am built like this, here,
with this the worst (of it) in chilly
nosed to you over dinner’s pancakes
saved the night--
not you-- instead (we and us) run
bathing clothed
(cooler than you’d guess or know) into
what’s built of danger’s channel
(changed safer, but
you know?)
something doesn’t give
takes to roll under (doesn’t
it? rightly not chosen
there in when’s yet)
and all my’s yous
built lastly to fall
(the way of hickeys and snow)
just as the weep tears wreckage from sighs
(worlds deceased go,
way, and, dancing, mostly,
or you built like a show’s say:
tap shoes in one hand, cigarette (spelled)
in the other.
I am built of typeface and heys and
shivers and.
you must have the coldest feet in all of heaven ( . )

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Devil Is A Sissy (Act 2, Scene 2: Barroom)

“Why don’t you go ahead and call yourself a cab?”

“Okay. I’m a cab.”

“Holy Christ without a even a crutch. Come on. You’re better than that. Really.”

“No I’m not. I’m worse.”

“You want it straight?”

“No. Give it to me crooked.”

“Either way it’s this or not that or even maybe some other way too. And the greasy capitalists lie at the steps of The Grand Old Lady Of California, choking on their cigars and furnishing their otherwise empty souls with stock offerings. The Corinthian columns like bored sentinels guarding whatever’s left of all this nothing we’ve helped make this world into, the colossal colonnade surrounding the guts of the place, all that empty space, and that’s all we are anyway, any old fucking how.”

“Pour me a reason and I’ll spill out a few more whys and why-nots. That’s all I got stopping for me.”
“Don’t mention it. I’m acting out the scenes from somebody else’s life story today. Tomorrow? Tomorrow knows not or wherefore about it. Shit. I’m all done for, here at least.”

“This is me not mentioning it.”

“Going in for that reluctant taker act again, I see. Well, pop a boner over yourself and get on with it already, will you? I’m exhausted with waiting for the show not to go off.”

“Things we’re too dumb to know follow us to our graves, that and the morose silence of our deepest appetites, never whetted properly or given the distinction they deserve. My baby does the hokey pokey, but she don’t look back as often as she should. And, sure as hell’s ire steams out of the street grills, probable cause doesn’t care. Hell, you know what? God was trying to teach me a lesson, but I was too dumb to know. That’s about that.”   

“Don’t not mention it. I’m getting odd, singing your alibis to the trashcan: ‘He looked like Robert Mitchum, with a hobbled gait’s hitch tied to his stride and a nail dangling from his lip like a toothpick. He’d had a few too many cups of The Joyful Woman. Death was on his side.’  

“The devil’s in the big picture stuff too. I got my eye on the ramifications, the steps down and out and cracked in the worst of luck. Things wear out, you know. They get old and we move on to other things. Doesn’t stop you from wanting them worn-out things back, though. Hell, all the I’ll-have-anothers in the world don’t cut it. Not for this sad sack. I’m drawing up restructured clauses on cocktail napkins with a borrowed pen. Hell. I’ll have another.”

“Unsubstantiated claims. All of it.”

“Mind me. Go ahead. Mind away.”

“It’s all a gimmick of misunderstandings. Piss-stained marble tiles lining the pissoir in our least cherished thoughts.”

“Here comes the devil. All dressed in plaid. No mistakes made but for the right to make them makes clearer the ways not to, yes?”

“The devil’s a sissy. He takes way too many prisoners.”

“Perhaps we’ll never not come to some misunderstanding about the whole skedaddle.”

“To err is our affair.”

“Or, air out our affairs. Like some bona fide turkey licked and sobbing, knocked to the canvas by some unaware jerk. I always, always want something less. You?”

“Sure. Always a bit too ripe to not be picked, and still, not, ever in any-old never, picked.”

“Or picked last. Or worse.”

“Things we’re all too dumb to know.”

“Well, all I know is these here drinks are not going to just keep pouring themselves. We all need that great bartender in the sky sometimes, don’t we?”

“Sure. Sure. All He knows is that He doesn’t. And that, that my old bro, is all there is.”

“My spirit’s so light, but still nobody can lift the damn thing.”

“So we lift a glass, we raise our right hand and cuss before we swear. It’s all so easy to have, and so hard to know. It’s all we’ve got, given, or had. Lots and little of it is all we’ll swim around with before it’s easily lost.”

“By the way, by chance, are you a spy on the retreat from his classified inner struggles? You seem testy yet dour.”

“By the way, go fuck a tree trunk.”

“Oh, that explains it. I’m getting on the horn. I’m phoning this whole thing in.”

“Don’t worry. This is just the planning stages. Buy me one or another? The devil won’t care. Trust me. To smaller and better things to come.”

“Ok. To laugh. To sky’s a bit less blue. To wrong-of-way times and the crookedest boulevards in all of Hades. You, me, and the bottle makes…well, something out of something.”

“That’s about it, huh?”

“Away from the world. Away from it. And I’m calling the devil names. I’m ruining my own. Forget about it. I own this fucking place, from this lopsided stool in my head to the chipped paint in my eyebrows. Borrow another tomorrow and own whatever yesterday it suits you to make up. The policy on loose women here is vague at worst.”

“Tight men, though. You’ve got to admit.”

“Tying it on the tightest, as always. And it’s just another Monday morning in the universe. So fuck it. I’m not as mad as hell as I might let on.”

“None of us are…or is.”

“Would I were a worm to worm the worry away, but the worried worm still wins. The worry will always win.”

“In the middle there were us. Family gatherings be damned. We just wanted a little later last supper; that’s all and that’s none. So go be one with your childish teething, your coddled and muddled damnation of all that’s realer than below. I cannot stand tears, sir. And of this? Of this I will have pretty much none.”

“Pour it on thin. Lay it on slow. I get it. I don’t. There’s something less that I need, and it gets less and less all the time. Pour me another. Please? Help a low mucketymucker out. Please?”

“There ain’t enough pleases left in all the thin red hells to hide out in now. I bet you’re not on to something there, but I won’t bet much.”

“All not in. As you will. As I won’t. As my drinks are stirred with woe’s wreck. Appealing, though, isn’t it? All this trouble we find?”

“It’ll do until it finds us, I guess.”

“Firstly, I’ve got a habit of getting to them first. How about another? And another too?”

“Also’s just another alas. It’s all the difference’s same. Okay. Pour ‘em out. See? I’m gazing downward, not up.”

“That’ll do. That’ll don’t. That’ll really do, and that’ll really don’t.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Highlights From The 147,212 Stages Of Grief

12. Learning not to dislike people who say they are, “Sorry for your loss.”
232. Thinking, ‘I am not breathing for just me now. I’m breathing for two,’ while standing on a chair in a Chinese restaurant.
111. Nobody remembers.
67. The point has come when one realizes that, no, time won’t tell anymore.
889.  An older, rather dapper and doddering, hardscrabble and pleased-with-himself gentleman telling you: “Keep them dreams in your head, where they belong, kid. Wrong’s the reason. People don’t always behave as they ought to. Types like us get the worst news and spilt. So, just hoist up a few more of these here oilcans, because the telephone pole is reading me my rights, and time’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Listen. I’m going to relate something to you that’s not made up.”
55,411. Pass the gravy, please.
10,010. And into the room comes that ecstatic condition many once or often refer to as a flash of excruciating devastation, and there are no more once-in-a-whiles to have, and so the condition ceases at some point, perhaps when a light is extinguished or flickers.   
147,006. Not a cry, but a whimper, not for help, but for more whisky.
67. Not those big-time tears, but the Little-Leaguers, the ones that shed softly, light, to a bewildered blink. Thinking oneself a “big, insensitive bastard” who wells up so calmly and takes the heart’s ruffling as a mere sign of age. Not so true, as it turns out, anything one might come to amass to fend off the quaking spasms of gulped hurt.
747. We are not insects.
1,243. Simplicity does not reign. Even when doors are not held, they get opened again, and if there are gates to hold back this welling nobody’s in the habit of saying.
2,249. Listening to yourself say things to yourself, not sure if they’re aloud or not, such as: “I used to work for the Gopher Sign Company out of St. Paul, Minnesota. We had a good run. The signs sold themselves: Parking signs; No Parking signs. We produced our own scrap. We took cover when the cooks retired. On off days I’d collect ticket stubs with my birthday’s date on them. People would bring them to me from odd corners of the city-- rummagers, fledgling hat saleswomen, boycotters, label thieves, poncho hawkers, and blubber-fed postcard aficionados. I opened my mail only on odd-numbered days. Once in a while the night watchman would play the warped piano in the warehouse bathroom. It tinkled and jounced the atmosphere with a grainy death sentence. And sometimes, if things slowed more than normal at the factory station, I’d grow even less garrulous than normal, sink my chin down into my chest, rest my elbows on my desktop’s edge, and think about Ida Lupino singing One For My Baby in the movie Roadhouse. That job didn’t last long.”
19. Torn awake all the time, all through the night.
1,999. Movies and television get substituted for compassion and regret.
411. Numbers deleted from phones.
554. Numbers added to phones, again, and kept there until further notice.
140,535. Further notice.
133. Waking up drunk on the floor, in the fetal position, with arms wrapped around an urn filled with ashes at 3:47 in the afternoon.
609. Hanging signs, painting brushes, fooling around.
6,512. How does one get others to pay attention to what one is capable of doing? In the airy consolation of anonymity flies the do-nothing and the too-much-doing just the same. We reach and expand towards our limits; but the eyesore of your own regurgitation becomes all too common. We give up before we’ve even given ourselves a chance. It’s easier.
79,909. Partitions that do anything but separate.
15. Acceptance.
16. Disavowal.
140. Songs take themselves out to breakfast: “How far, my love? How much will take this space and go? Just then seems when you were right here making toast in my kitchen. My love, my love, where’d you go?”
565. You can’t use the phone.
11,007. The chatter of gulls in the early morning fog wakes you from the most profound and restless slumber. You’re woozy and stunned, but alert enough to grind coffee and grope for the kettle. And then there’s the bread, the toaster, the pad of butter. It all gets in the way. But you get through it, on the stilts of still damp dreams, and muddle your way into the bedroom again, where you plop down on a stool and stare out the window at whatever’s out there. The bleat and wail of car alarms quakes the stillness, and you reconvene with your dreary emotional state, saying howdy to this hiding place that has become your prison.  
990. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had champagne.”
141. These boots were made for anything but walking.
77,778. Your heart’s just a couple of panhandlers duking it out over the rights to a street corner by a freeway off ramp where everybody is getting off.
101. That door is locked for a reason.
100. Nothing depends on a fucking red wheelbarrow. Not a thing.
888. More singing, alone in a room with all the window shades pulled tight, the lights off, a martini in one hand, a bottle of vermouth in the other: “Do you remember things? The smell of things? The waft of your favorite pie? If the time won’t take, if the pie won’t bake, then we’ll have to be held in goodbye.”
41,410. Punctuation stops, i.e., “it won’t take and it won’t stay still it’s something that matters in the gist of being me in the tired happen of now that lends itself to a better way to rust or roam or never go less than away anyway that roughs up the lighter stuff in the time it doesn’t just take to be run out or over or between too now that this is just fact from figure and it doesn’t so the moon’s shape’s just a bowl of lettuce and we’re walking we’re always walking and all the sidewalks in the world just aren’t enough to hold any of it they never were so just be patient and kind because that’s all that matters you asshole you.”
999. Fumble!
1,666. Bedtime for doldrums. Go west, Spaghetti! Denver’s lost in lamplight again. The hospital aroma of it all. Neckties wrapped around a wrist, asleep, or drunker than the piano’s slant. Not without it. An ectomorphic wish delayed into an endomorphic hope. And then, also, with the moods that don’t stick: strange weather we’re not having.
10,011. There is no room.
707. Gently the sweep of crowded loss maroons not your craven doings. You weep in public sometimes. You scold the TV. Preaching transmogrifies to just shutting-the-fuck-up in suspect places filled with strangers who do not complain or try on the fit of your patience. A laugh. A moan. A teetering on the cusp of sticky memories that have no place to go. So you tell a companion: “When I first met Anna I’d just seen Bergman’s The Passion of Anna, and every time I’d see her I’d raise my voice, ‘The Passion!’ It was great. She hated it. Which made it quite something, in my book. And Bergman’s a real fucking badass, in my book, by the way. And our rented apartment in Paris had this unique musty lime scent to it that grew with the windows shut. At first it seemed to be choking us, invading the air of our lives with its stinky tendrils, and so we opened up all the windows to let it out. But over time we grew so familiar with it that we didn’t want to live without it. I still catch a whiff of it sometimes. It’s hard to describe. Something damp, gluey, shellac-ish-- a moldy citrus-like thing with a dollop of ginger and vinegar and wine-- refreshing and dank and pungent, like falling in and out of love.” 
140,002. And then, suddenly, this too: “And there are no letters in the mailbox, and there are no grapes upon the vine, and there are no chocolates in the boxes anymore, and there are no diamonds in the mine.”
808. Be that as it may, or may not be, we can take the huckleberry cake and give it away to rusty figures of fame. Even if there are no more anymores to have. Even if, or be that as it might not be. Even if.
47. Shaving in the broken glass of the mirror you smashed six-and-a-half years ago, thinking, ‘Just 6 more months to go.’
291. Unnecessary roughness. Beginning-less day. A flood threatens the circus.
1,977. Go for a walk. Read the headlines. Check your pulse. Look at a nice view. Sit on a bench in the shade and think about the old days: “The old-gym odor hung heavy in the late afternoon’s hush. The squeaks of sneakers gone. Bowed deliverance taking odd shapes in the arcing ceiling’s shadows-- all the kids home now, all the balls heaped in a rolling cage-- as the moon winked its way out the fugue of daytime sleep and into the spooling drift of bleak and tattered clouds. Big Gulps to quench that after-scrimmage thirst. To lie awake most of the night dreaming about that girl two grades ahead-- the one with the purple hair and all the safety pins clinging together her torn leather jacket-- in the throes of the restlessness of frenetic youth.”  
7,710. All out of stock on prayers, you whisper through your smoke-stained gloves, “I miss you so much.”
313. Broken light fixtures. Holes punched or baseball-batted or tennis-racketed into drywall. Cigarette burns in the carpet. Records snapped in half or cracked to smithereens. A nose that does nothing but bleed.
41. A pinch of blight sneezes its way through the backs of your knees. A splinter of rusty need never tweezed by remorse until now rises like peptic acid in your throat, until this hankering gush ebbs. There are a lot of places like away, like, “Nobody’s left to like the things I do.”
229. There are soggy Mormons moping in your dreary cereal, oyster pirates foraging for scraps of scavenged quiet, and in the rowdy crucifixion of forever-less-than-current events.
12,745(a). Jilted and haggard and habituated to the constant drain of it all.
12,745(d). There’s always something left, something wasted, ruined, abject in the lees of it all.       
6. Get over it. Don’t get over it. Don’t need to get over it. Never will get over it. Don’t want to get over it. Scared of not getting over it. Want to get over it. Need to get over it. I don’t need to get over it. I’m over it.
108. Here, there, now, then, when, for never and never.
11. The house always wins.