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.”