Monday, July 28, 2014

Suicide Note #1,073

This time it’s not for real. I’ve yet to run into Louise Brooks in real life, but in black & white? All the time. The problem? It’s in the typewriter’s ribbon. I’m sure of it. The previous pages were held in check by a checkered future’s chances. This page, as it slings its way into existence, borrows little from those lachrymal and disparate diatribes. Something comforting? My mule’s gone to Moscow.   

Sodden compassion lacks dignity. I’ve been sore with more. Unless less were to become more. But it never seems to in the experience that’s been mine. But I have none that is otherwise. What cannot one do? Be humble and try to keep moving.

Strange memories on this nervous night in Los Angeles. Something comes tumbling, troubling from the streets. Mariachi music wafts up from a car stereo: a steady rhythm to fall into a trance to. I dry my socks in the open window, and some guy’s got the Eifel tower painted on his balcony wall. The buses make their noise and wheeze by on the street six flights down while a man in a white cowboy hat sells carne asada from a barbeque stand on the corner. A nun escapes from a rundown apartment complex and crosses herself at the light. The stifling drone of a helicopter’s whirling flight Dopplers back and forth in a smog-smeared sky. Nobody’s paying attention to the laws. A giant crane is stalled above a church like some lunatic god gone fishing. I lie back and stare at a palm tree that’s got nothing but wilted, white fronds to show for itself. The tall buildings gleam almost downright resplendent in the afternoon’s hazy sunshine, their windows like shiny scales of some ancient reptilian thing petrified for a brief eternity here where I just so happen to be doing my existing for the moment. I’ve got sunglasses on, a salmon shirt with silver buttons, green and yellow argyles, and a powder-blue suit jacket that smells like a girl I used to be in love with. My head’s all mush and strangled courage. I’ve got nothing to do but wander and get drunk; and that seems a suitable enough proposition for this here battered bunch of hurt. There’s no way in or out that I don’t got. There are no accordions left around these parts. The hat’s on the bed. The taxi lights have all gone out. A fly’s joined the party in through the window: another paying customer to witness my doom and disposal. Cussing out everything and handling nothing very well. There’s a detour sign in my heart. It reroutes my hopes and tells my love to take a left. I’m sure there are guts I’m in need of. I’m sure that I might not ever get the hell out of here. There’s violin music coming from the room next door. Two ladies who know what’s better left not done and then done again, I suspect. An airy moment to enjoy in this temporary abode between what’s gone and what’s on its way out.

I am not thwarted by inanition. There are more prevaricating forces at work than just some mild lassitude spelled by indifference. The choices I don’t make keep piling up, behind and ahead of me. I am hemmed in on all sides by stagnant gulfs between decisions.   

And so it is that I teeter back on my heels, reminisce, attempt to hold on to fuliginous memories that haunt me like some Murfreesboro barkeep with whom I am forever never settling up my tab. My mind steers steadier than you’d imagine, waylaid and rollicking over this rocky terrain.

I remember mother, aging as she was, bandy-legged (or was it bow?) delivering soup to the tenants, the one’s in need of caretaking—or perhaps they should be considered boarders—, all of whom were left less well than the drooling palaver of their situation should’ve conscripted them to. Radios scruffy and crackly with overuse, piping out dreams hot and cold for rapid consumption. “How’s that?” is the belated refrain that wanes sluggishly through the shrubs of all my tenses: presently just the past. To the patois of children go the lowly and crushed, and I am forever dour about the clemency of the surrounding troops.       

Fooled to the common errands, I root about for bunchgrass before the gardener arrives, stymied to concoct Maileresque advertisements for myself in this back-soaking humidity. I am lost. The butler moans irreverence from bad spaces in the universe. Crayons heal themselves, wrapper and all. I am snagged by some common Falstaff into blame’s verisimilitude. Nobody home? Well, I believe mother would have lurched, albeit steady and subdued, like some bibulous funambulist arching towards blurred pit stops on the way to hell—or gasping with a sudden fall’s terror, perhaps. But I’ve forsworn all hindsight peeks, at least until every notice has gone to further.

We are suckers for cloud coverage, spotty and transient as it can be. A teal, like baize, that swamps and lurks and spindles and then fades to a clumpy pewter. Surrounded. A glimpse or a wink’s twinge. Melted butter baked into pastry soaked golden by sharp javelins of sun. And it is I who tend towards scurrilousness as the crepuscular insects arise. Waiting. Shod softly to barefooted times. When the room wages war on bits and flecks of nostalgia locked holy and away in motes and beams of distraction, of television’s warm glow. We are dirt sprinkled and spread over the beveled, shiny, marble lid of a coffin. The spit of the world is mine to swallow. A slim share of sky. A rough-hewn burst of cloud bottom scudding through. A latticed groom over sleeker shapes, and the stalled company of being between spaces: ever longing for never.

Drapery’s thick folds hold illicit memories, ancient and arranged, pulled to rest, and at times reined in to gaze at restful moments.

Mother’s queries would trim the lard from the most brazen of the boarders. I (the “who” who is meddling in all dramatis personæ) attain reports nightly of what that business previously entailed. It is lapidary, it turns out, and its tides are the cheer of blame and turnstile humor. What mother held closer than breath was the cloying rant of her inheritors. “It’ll steam you some, son,” she’d chance in the rout of her possessions. A scuffle of dreamy buyers, a spill of droopy silver ringlets from a formerly regal head of yellow curls. Top light. I have forever been returned to sender.  
A keeling sigh palpitates from the room next door. The two ladies are ushering off their farewells, blighted with a balmy sort of pleasure that comes from balancing pleases on the edge of a razor. Soon the music dies down, as do they, and all context returns to its usual forms. I hereby absquatulate from the race of all things, abjure all sentiments and concordant instructions on what it is to be alive, to be a slight wince among those who cultivate food and raise animals just so they can consume them—  those who believe that they own things.

There are no rafters left in my drafty torment; only the crumbling sliding-dovetail joints of my ruination remain, along with some wind-lofted pages ripped from a King James Bible. I do not wish to lead any person to believe that I will just up and Bojangles my way away from these parts. There are ants between the tiles in wait of wayward crumbs. The windows haven’t been washed in 18 years. I’ve forgotten what rain sounds like. Mother would tell me to just be kind to myself, to go about half-flummoxed and a bit drunk, remembering the different names for flowers and insects, clumsily drafting and rearranging whatever’s sulking its way through me; and I’d take her cliff diving now, if I could. Maybe all the way to Dover. But I am all out of feeling like home. And I am just dashed against the rocks for all my trouble.Only a shredded tie and a torn panama left to take care of, to notice or appreciate. I’ll take it. I will. It is probably just another fall to be wrecked at the end of. For all matters at hand I am just a rattletrap scream barreling down the tracks on a clattery old steam locomotive forever headed through smoky tunnels of what it used to mean to be me. The hour’s grave. All the roads are closed. And for me? Nobody knows. And nobody knows.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of Nets And Webs

“You can have all your days. Just let me have the nights, and maybe the mornings too. Imagine, if you will, two colliding elliptical galaxies wrapped by a string of blue pearls. That could be me, or even, I dare say, you. Let’s make a list of things we’re scared to think about and then burn it. Take Vic Serf."

“What’s the matter with him?”

“He’s probably wishing he were back in Roanoke, in 1999, smelling the stink of bar rags and Rolls Royce aftershave. No. Further back in the pantheon of higher-ups, the runners of the show, and weak with it too. All the way? Surer than ‘83’s flip of the switch, the one that turned this whole god damn monster on.”

“Yeah. And he’s thinking, ‘Leave me alone. I’m working on my forearm shiver.’ Or something like that.”

“Wait. I mean, wait. No. Wait. What’s not the matter with me now? What next? What now?”

“Well, it does seem that another sucker-bait blonde’s got me on the hook. This time, or even next, or would that be all the times before?”

“Let me tell you.”


“I tell you what. I remember Siskel and Ebert on TV, sitting with a few seats between them in an otherwise empty movie theatre, screaming at each other, just like my parents.”


“And, about once a year I go down to LA, get a cheap hotel room in one of the seedier parts of town, the same hotel where Raymond Chandler spent a few dark nights contemplating suicide, and I drink gimlets and pound on my typewriter and smoke a carton or so of cigarettes, and think about Raymond Chandler a lot and I take myself out to dinner and I walk the streets and look at things: all that old neon and the faded movie palaces and glorious heights of art deco buildings and the longing and drag of skid row’s gloomy abodes. I stay about a week. And I’ve never got bed bugs from the trip. Not even once. And I haven’t jumped out of any of the hotel windows yet either.”  

“Well, for me, in my case, it’s starting to look, or at least seem to me, that I’ve been dawdling around in the same crumby rubric for too long now. And maybe? Maybe’s a really thin reed to hang your hopes on. You see, it’s been such a long, lean time since I’ve enjoyed sitting across a table from somebody and staring at plates of Chow Mein together. Hell and heck and all the mugginess between. Sing me a song of sourdough, up through the Klondike trail of ’98 or around the Pantages theatre circuit. And sure you can say stuff like, ‘A bunch of the boys were whooping it up, etcetera, etcetera.’ But that won’t cut it. Just another machine cranking out form letters. A remaining balance never to be spent. Something unlikely in the swarf of troubling metal splinters that keep spewing from the cut of my jib. Nothing burnished. Nothing remaining.”

“I’m hungry. Let’s make some coffee.”

“Sure. We can talk over it. It’ll add steam to our gestures.”

“Plagued by Technicolor dreams, and then waking up to history tossing its empties out the window. All of it pointless yet necessary. Shrugging off to more Modest Mussorgsky territories, in the lap of need’s want. To whom it shall never concern, express-written, told-on regards pass more bottles through the war-torn strife of up-yet-not-quite-at-‘em concerns.”

“Nary a worry, lady.”

“In the meantime, some sustenance. At last.”

“I was on a stroll just this afternoon, through a park. I benched myself on the lee side of a slight slope. I watched. The TV antennas planted on the rooftops like crossbows. A diving thing gone hidden to a swale, fields of lavender and bone-white palms rustling in adamant gusts, tennis balls crammed into the diamonds of a chain-link fence, a sign reading, ‘No dogs allowed on athletic fields.’”  

“What do you make of it?”

“Well, you see, our brains are not made to understand the concept of time. We want linear ways of looking at things: beginnings, ends, the stuff between. Time doesn’t work like this. It just is. The start is the finish, and all the stuff between too. In order to survive our brains had to adapt to see things in a way that would allow us to continue on with some type of order in the chaos, so as we could craft our own reality in a way that made sense to us, that helped us make sense of the world around us, the one we suddenly and constantly seem to find ourselves existing in, over and over. Just to acknowledge this is something incredible. To overcome all of our limited senses (which are limited for a reason, as we couldn’t survive without the streamlined way our brains let us experience things) and doubt about what’s really happening in this pale-blue-dot of a place, and somehow acknowledge that we’ve only got these limited brains constructed over millions of years by survival-of-the-fittest evolution just like the rest of our appendages and innards; and that they only allow us to have these thoughts and render us incapable of seeing the world and time as it really is: infinite. All we can do is use what we’ve got, and see things like we do. But, I don’t know, perhaps we should also keep it in the back of our little brains somewhere that what we experience is just a tiny piece of what really is, and accept that there is no way to break out of this hardwired way of experiencing things either. Maybe this is empowering in some small, strange way. Anyway, these are the sorts of thoughts that keep plopping into my head lately. You can’t prove any of it.”

“It’s like were going outside for a cigarette and saying, ‘Let’s go out and see the world.’ Conniving to convince ourselves that this it, that there’s a whole a lot more going on within us than we’re afraid to admit there really is.”

“Uh huh. And this, this is the place where I do my dwelling.”
“Where’s this this?”

“At the corner of Maligned and Confabulated, just past Remorse, close to Puttering Along, down the street from Apotheosis.”   

“And me here, left dripping with hackneyed nonsense and noiselessness. One eye glued shut. A hole punched in my tongue. Toe hair plucked. The Square and Compasses shaved into my head. A cracked-mirror of a guy.”     

“What happened to you?”

“I was at a Tupperware party last night, and, well, things sort of got out of hand.”


“No. Not really.”

“Forget it. I’m in desperate need of some Big League Chew. But the dugout’s empty. The bullpen’s been battered by the straw-hat-and-beer crowd. Nobody left to toe the slab. Nobody left to play fungo until the lights come on. Nothing’s as swell or as dandy as it once was, or used to be. I’d be sorry about it but I just don’t have the time.”

“You cannot space these things out properly, maybe, for sure, and that’s where you get into the kicks of the thing, the seamy transition from one who moseys to one on whom moseying is lost.”

“Complaining of which, I was out walking around on a Sunday night in the financial district, feeling completely miserable about myself and everything that was happening to me, the horrendous predicament that I found myself in, the whole deal, all of it, just a drag. The vacated buildings and desolate streets. The movement of birds like vowels flickering in some lost guttural tone. Something too-bright and unsettling about the whole thing. People sleeping on curbs, in storefront enclaves, lying tattered and bare as if crucified on the sidewalk. The cop cars slowed to watch me as they murmured past. I looked up a lot. I stared at the smallest things. I noticed the stuff that gets overlooked. There’s no way around or into it. I’m not fit for the sort of consumption that this world requires.”

“Not in this lifetime.”

“Getting behind. Losing. Getting lost. Being alone. Ruminating in odd landscapes of discontent. Attaining stillness without the rub of lassitude. A preemptive strike at the bored, blasé attitude towards life that this world requires of one who wishes to succeed in it.”

“Success is a load of shit-smeared feathers, right?”

“If you like.”

“I do. I mean, I don’t. Like. I guess. I mean…what?”

“That’s it. Go listen to yourself think. Go sit on the toilet and talk to yourself. Take a shower in the dark. Play the same record over and over until you hear it for the first time. I am making too much sense. I’ll stop before the price of derailment gets too cheap to bother about.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“I couldn’t tell you. The good leaked out of here long ago, and we’re all still running from one stage to the next, trying to remember what it was like to act like ourselves.”

“I could use a batting helmet. Being grandfathered into this shit is really a catalyst for dementia and fear—that horripilation and downright teeth-grinding toe-snapping sense that you are not at all what it is that you are, and that is exactly who you’ve always known yourself to be in the tiny subterranean nook of your unconscious that you always seem to be just a shy (or careless) whisper from weaseling your way out of, or would that be into?”

“I ain’t got the foggiest.”

“Yeah. Me too. Notions are for the flag flyers and the welders. Who are we to care about such stuff?”

“Well, we still could, right?”

“Hell, it’s too early. It’s always, always too damn early. And then, of course, it gets too late too soon; and then? And then it’s all gone, and you think, ‘Fuck. I never even got a chance to know any of it very well.’”

“And that’s the bullshit we abide by. The guns we stick to. The hole we are in.”

“Our only worth’s our net worth. Our only hope is to pay our way through our days.”

“I am going to sacrifice myself into an active volcano. Go out with some flare, some dramatic timing perhaps. The Good Samaritans in my head have gone native, and they’re restless as hell.”

“The drop edge of being you. It’s about time.”

“Time? Hell, what do I care about time? I don’t think it even exists.”

“Of course.”

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hic Habitat Felicitas

I have heard it said (never mind where and by whom) that seeing a three-legged dog on one’s first date bodes well for future chance of a romance. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, or just bunk. I have come to believe so, at least.
Carey Grant found my lost cat. He cradled it in his arms, cooed to it some, and brought it back to me, mewing (the cat, not Grant.)
I’ve retained the rights to my Grandfather’s WWII helmet. It took some serious nicks and dents, but is in decent shape.
The last shoeshine parlor in town has closed down. Nothing but tufted eyesores left, and the engagement of a tortured mind with the world, of course. Everything’s outside my wheelhouse now. I’m moseying around with a Stan Laurel fluster, and all my troubles just spill down my gullet at an alarming rate.
I remember you when you were smaller than a tear.
A hungry scent roaming in a whispery slip over slapdash tables set with undiscovered moods. It’s in headfirst. A wild right at just the wrong time. Just another circus girl, here, in a place where nothing goes.
The ballgame on in the background. The streetlights buzz and glimmer to orange-yellow life as dark encroaches. The salmon’s gone from the bricks, and nobody’s home. A hurtling past of screech-calm heat. Another by-the-way to contend with. Rolling out of bed in the afternoon to puke back into the glum-dreary mush of the world. News of my demise is highly fictionalized.  
I’ve got a clip-on personality. It goes with most moods. I got it on loan from a joiner named Bruce. There were scraped-out lobster shells to cozy up to right there on the street, piles of them, picked ragged by street people who never leave anything but the bones, and sometimes not even those. Crunched and mangled, everything bleached from spending too many hours on the hot sidewalk. Something ripe and sour about the whole ordeal. And that was before I met Jumbo. And that was also before I lost the art of knowing what to do with my free time. A rutted way to be moaning through it all. Underslept in some Nicaraguan hotel. In the window. Always in the damn window. Squashed here among the ruins and artifacts of a worried life. Other ways to go where most don’t. I’ve got a trade-in soul: a real bargain.    
This paunchy sauced son-of-a-bitch growls out some orders, and I go heel-over-kisser into the fray again. Yep. That about says and or almost does it. I haven’t made any scenes in years.
There is not a thing you have or have not ever in the space of all the years said or in the chasing after of done that’d make even a single louse of a difference in who or what you could’ve been, or not been.
Lastly, these are the financial difficulties of the emotions.
Adults who have wine collections, who favor certain types of delicacies, who worry about what color shoes they’ve got instead of how they’re going to pay the rent, who own nice cars they drive short distances to do ordinary things like get their pets washed or cut their hair or exercise. People who believe that they own things. Who wants to be a sucker like that?
I forget how it feels to feel things.
Days like these are rummy with dissonance, tussled costs, born-again losses, repaired samples of past coming back to piss all over what’s in season or out, and then there’s the piano dealers to have to face when the music gets bleak like this. I’ve got my own concerto of a toilet to compose for assholes to shit upon. What I don’t got are reasons; and I can’t ever, ever concentrate. Trying’s for the dead dogs. The music’s still here, but I’m afraid to listen to it, or even think about it. Mostly it’s church-bell stuff. Don’t worry. I’m not running off to dance with it or anything. I’ll leave that to the more open-to-suggestion sort. Me? I’m already starting to feel enchanted enough to stop drinking for a day or two—not a night though. Not in this lifetime.
My clothes are falling apart. So many stringy threads dangling, holes, patches like Band-Aids, white stuffing in ripped pocket linings. Socks gone thin at the toe and heel, limply hang on above shoes in much the same shape; and the shredded remains of a once regal button-up. Hell, I’ve even been wearing the bottoms of my trousers rolled for so long, and I’ve forgotten what walking on the beach at night does to you.
The buffalo roam no more.
When you’ve been sad and lonely for as long as I’ve been sad and lonely you forget what it’s like not to be sad and lonely. I don’t believe in better days to come. I don’t believe in anything but what’s left in this bottle of scotch.

I met this girl walking around Huntington Park one night. She wasn’t hustling along too fast. Just at a nice trot coming towards me. It was hard to tell her face in the dark, so I kept looking. She looked back, thinking I was eyeing her, which I was, though not maybe like she thought I was. Not an ogle at all. Anyway, she smiled, and I did some half-enamored gum-chewing gesture. I have no idea how it must’ve come off. I called her Joan Wayne in my head. She kept walking her way, and I kept to mine.

“You’ll have to excuse me. I’m a bit deaf in both ears.”
“I said, ‘Just booze? No mixers?’”
“Mixers are for yuppies and poetasters.”
“Huh. So…um…how’s your night going?”
“Horrible. I’m going around sweating like Charles Dickens in this damn heat. But I guess it could be worse. I could be working as a grocery clerk at 9:45 on a Sunday night.”
“You’re really going grey there on top, aren’t you?”
“You think that’s something? You should see my chest hair.”

And some out-of-work studio musician says, “We all are where we’re supposed to be, and we all get what we wish for. It’s just that we don’t know it yet. Put value in all of the things that you’re doing. All of them. Otherwise you’re just waiting for more waiting to pass.”

I need to be more of a contemplator these days. Instead I invent things to distract myself. I can still taste last night’s vermouth on the bile climbing the rungs of my throat. These louvered moments press the jelly beans out of my mornings. Land’s End. Day’s turf ground to rust. Stamped to a less bright sort of gum-chewing trespass. I’m penitent enough with it all as it is, and I always turn philosophical at this hour of daylight. Just don’t forget to close my eyes when I tumble over and die. 

In the roll between moments, anywhere’s somewhere, a place to push back, or in the permanent fixture of looking, in the standard rule of a stuttered growl. Not as chancy as a bad catch. Getting ripped off right of no left. And all the pawns are going hell. It’s a wink before you close my eyes when I’ve just drifted off to death. And thank you.
The softer they go, the easier they rise, sometimes. I guess it’s the walk-of-the-mill thoughts I’ve resumed having that’ve blurred formerly sturdy outlines of who it is who wears my shoes, dons my glasses, opens my mail, and ruins my suits. A collection of electricity and skin and scabs and bone and hair and empathy and neurons and blood and nausea and moods and curled pinky toes and lost sense and arteries and teeth and all this errata and etcetera too. The brazier’s warming up to toast my constitution some. You’ve seen one fireworks display, you’ve seen ‘em all. Eat flowers. Be afraid. Go ahead. The rest is over being underrated. All I know is what I don’t read in the papers. Yep. Wouldn’t you know it? Slipping the lariat over, still. Well, shit. I guess it’s back to Oologah, Oklahoma again. This light’s gone out.

My whole life is just contrivance and pose. Putting up with and being put up with, something marigold that goes. And the cheapest way to survive on memories is being lazy about the present. The sappy gulch of forgiveness gives up its ghosts and holy water, and somehow I keep playing along, dog paddling in it, maybe, in exchange for spring’s new clothes. No more reflection in what’s left to read on the surface. A slimmer warp of what time can’t tell bent into the long pious scars left in a room’s space that a laugh won’t hold. Just a weeping pepper tree to chop down and use for firewood in the heartless hearth of what I’m stashing away. Looser than always. Grooved and strutted and channeled and chipped to be always away. That’s what gives, and also what doesn’t.
Joan wasn’t just another hoyden without a place to call home. Not some pipedreaming broad stomping the floorboards with plenty of reasons to not be just where she was. No. Joan was a mélange of spray-blown spots and stamped return tickets and blighted sorrow that she kept hidden in her boots along with a picture of a dog named Ralph. She was the daylight that doesn’t last, peeking out from behind drawn curtains, slowly, with a hunch that life might be out there somewhere, among barbarous thieves and God’s chosen. There, shook with a tremble, Joan made winnowed prayers to an atavistic God who took no chances with salvation’s trouble; and Joan made off with penurious motives to Strumpet Hill, talking so courageously dull over the cackle of static grumbling in from some long place, perhaps above, in the classier rills of morning’s fading glow. It was a hold she didn’t have anymore. Didn’t want or need, too. The poorer sort remain that way, still, no matter what Joan did or didn’t. She’d pay the lord with land; get a view. Joan was prepared to be who she thought others saw her to be, even if that was just a dumb hoax perpetrated by her in some far country of, “…I am what I want others to want me to be.” Classier trades to ply, sure; but Joan wasn’t having any of it: “Remember me when I was who you loved, in the sensation of that threading through of light that only knows how to go. I’ve changed my name so many times. Call me Nadine, now. Call me Trish. Call me whatever you wish in that deceitful monotone of days leaving, tuckering out, and then furrowing into the runnels of loss. I am always who I am not.”