Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Certain Peculiar Certainty

Dearest Olive,

This patter I’ve caught myself in needs a way out. Charlie Chaplin knew it. It’s in the drop of poison you never get. He threaded it all night long through the slaughterhouse of his chagrin. Perhaps I’ll relate to you what happened last night. Apparently I believe that you will care.  

I wasn’t in the mood for getting-to-know-you chitchat. Inside the bar it was too crowded to sit, so I went outside and tried to mingle with the smokers. As recently as being a bit sloshed would allow, conversation wasn’t making itself available, and I knew it, as I was dribbling on about having a nap like it was early on in the evening in Spain or something. Who the hell knows why I say all things that I say? It’s just a tight place to be situated in. I noticed a little girl holding the string of a few balloons in a doorway. The doorway was in a little alley, one that reminded me of all those brick alleys in Lowell, or then again maybe it was just a rope to dangle a few bad memories from until their necks all snapped. I pulled a smoke from my vest pocket and handed it to a beautiful lady. I lit it for her. She smiled and told me to go to hell. That made me feel more than just a tad delighted; it was the best news I’d heard all day. I lit one for myself and stood there like a jerk, coolly inhaling and exhaling— something I’m quite accustom to looking dashing while doing. She was unimpressed. I admired her taste. “You’ve really got something going there, lady. Stick with it. You’ll really go places.” She called me an asshole and told me to leave her alone. I obliged.

Soon after I was strolling down Columbus, alone, deliriously contented with myself, and in an odd way, morose. There were folks gathered in smoking scrums outside of bars all the way down the wide boulevard as it cut its diagonal path through town. I snaked my way through them and kept going along until I came to the edge of Washington Square Park. It was nice out. It’d been raining all day, and the streets were slick with it still, as the night had cleared up and kicked the storm east. A sickle moon was slicing away at a few ambushed stars, and the streetlights were making up stories about pedestrians and dogs. I wanted a place to sit, and so sauntered on over to a bench on the south side of the park. Miraculously it was dry. I sat there and watched the trees and St. Peter and Paul’s all lit up across the way. I spotted a rat scurrying around in the hedges. It noticed me noticing it, and quickly darted up a tree. A certain train of thought rumbled its way through me, and I decided that all I really wanted in life was somebody to goof off with— or maybe goof around with too. It felt grand to finally have some purpose in my life.     

Hello again. My dreams are more vivid now.

I am not so mean anymore. I lean into things, like my nights and backdoors. Reason stands proper by my side, even when I am not able to need it. The windows see right through me, and I get tuckered out around noon, shortly after waking from an unendurably deep sleep. The cats in my building’s lobby scratch at my door. I never let them in, even when their petulant purring turns me into a sobbing wreck. I want hotter coffee, damn it. I want golf balls to throw at pigeons. Just a few things. Not so much to ask for, really.

In hopes of not reaching you, this letter’s not made of declarations or snide mischief. If it were to place itself—all these things and some other stuff too— in the grubby mitts of some bail bondsman, if it were to shabbily go where naught but jewelers and pie sellers were meant to go, well, then I guess I’d throw a few more colons in for the sake of unbound ideas or the sorted well-meaning jousts of towel-wringers and horseshoe loaners. By gut instinct I renounce the pecuniary joy that is brought to most people on paydays. There’s a light on in the parlor. I must attend to it.

Formerly I woke to realize that a moth had died on my cheek.

It was just table-setting to be engaged in, that worry in the parlor, and the light showed me less of it. Swallowing gasps of gulped air, I livened up to switches, to on-off clicks, to darker stretches for my roaming to go about in, or through at least. I need others to blame, but only have myself.

The velvet settee is being delivered unto the lord. The music’s too soft, and I’ve grown too old to hear it. Been up and out of here, too, in the rash haste of my sort of ways. Tilling at dawn’s ploughed rows of rising, and the matchwork is mismatched with me. And, also, who knows? I mean things and then I don’t. Balance is not always such a stable thing. A picked-apart room. Astonishing reasons for behaving just the same as always. Or can you find it in me, maybe? (And if you have to ask what “it” is, well, that’s mostly your fault.) What could’ve happened without you is not what the striptease theater barkers are going on about. That? That’s something you are most likely just finding out.

Last night I threw my topcoat up a sycamore. It hung there in the gnarled, leafless branches like a ghost between scaring bouts. It was mesmerizing. I left it there to do as it would. I’m through with it now, whether I like it or not, and it will not be returning to my closet. Perhaps I am envious of it, dangling there in the wind and the rain, holding on through spasms and quirks in the nature of things. It should think, ‘I wonder when the leaves will come back?’ It doesn’t. Instead it relies on the notes of late winter to toy with its meandering wonder. And if I never shall return? Only you’d ask such a blundering question. So, I leave the answer to you as well. The finding out is the easy part. Besides, fanatical attachments aside, I’m not such a bad guy once you start to know me. My topcoat has set sail for uncharted regions of foliage. I don’t mind the irreconcilable trust all of this must somehow involve. What is there left to mind anyhow?

Also, before I forget to mention it, this lady, the other day, she called me a “dorn forker” while I was riding the subway. I was standing, holding the metal grab rail, and she comes up next to me and calls me this name. Then she walked away, opened the door between cars, and fled the scene. I detected a defect in her pitch, something I trust that you’re surely aware of— acutely even. When I slow down my thoughts everything comes out differently. This women was a token of the dismal traces people defend of what their too fearful to believe is their former self. I hung on for the sake of holding on, as is my wont. Being interrupted is all that happens now. You can see that, can’t you?

I stand at my window and dream, outwardly, in your general direction. A passive shrug, and then I’m done. There are only hate letters left to compose, complacently as it were, in the catchall of any last silence I might break. I forget what your breath smells like.


Harold Hamgravy