Sunday, January 31, 2010


I was in the supermarket,

pushing around a shopping cart,

minding whatever was left of my own business,

staring at the cereal boxes and squinting into the miserable brightness.

A little blonde-haired girl, with blue-green eyes too big for her

sidled up to me,

and told me that she wished it would start raining on me

wherever I went.

She said she was wishing as hard as she could wish.

I told her that I didn’t own an umbrella.

She said, “Good.”

I asked where her mother was.

She said, “None of your business.”

I asked how old she was.

She said, “Old enough.”

Witty kid.

I figured she wasn’t older than the digits of one hand could show.

I asked her name.

She happily pronounced, “Hadara,”

which in Hebrew means, “She who is adorned with beauty.”

And she was,

and would probably always be.

That explained her hatred for me.

Beauty always dislikes the things that oppose it:

the things that grunt and labor

through the meaninglessness and pushcarts of shit the world dumps on them,

those of us who don’t belong anywhere,

who would rather blackout than be a success.

That little girl,

who had a predilection for sticking her tongue out at me,

already knew what it was she was always going to abhor.

She saw it in my eyes—

the squinting blood-shot things that besmirched her very existence.

I wished her a good day and shoved off,

the bad wheel on my cart grumbling and squealing like a cat in a dryer.

Hadara spun away,

running timidly down the aisle after her calling mother.

I heard a shriek and some commotion.

She’d slipped on the slick floor and fell.

People gasped and ran to help her up,

to see if she were okay.

But I knew it was all an act,

and she didn’t shed one tear,

just let her mother swoop her up

and hold her up high like a trophy,

while she looked at me—

rather generously—

and gave me the worst hard-luck smile in the world.

It was the greatest gift

anyone has ever bestowed upon me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Cloying Augmentation of Reciprocals

BRAD PITT: Lock the back door of your soul. Keep out the bad guys.

T.S. ELIOT: No. I don’t think that’s what matters. If you’re indeed awake, and you know, if you’re among the Carpathians, well, that’s just something you’ve got to deal with. Rouse thyself, you know? Fight the good fight. Keep up the…

BRAD PITT: Bullshit. That’s nothing but flighty propaganda produced by a naïve sense of entitlement and righteousness.

T.S. ELIOT: Riiiii…chus, dude.

BRAD PITT: Fuck you. Ok. Now. If I go floundering off to war, and you know, I get myself all tangled up in some pretty serious-cum-life-threatening situation, you know, well, I’m at fault really, right? I’ve put myself in the so-called line of fire, and, you know, it’s not fair to blame something else, even if, you know, even if that something else is the state, and, you know, the state started this whole damn thing, you know.

T.S. ELIOT: I do? If I already know then why are you telling me?

BRAD PITT: Fuck. Seriously. Do you ever listen? Or just wait for your turn to speak?

T.S. ELIOT: I’m not sure. Anyway. What if you didn’t have a choice in this whole going-off-to-war scenario? What if the state that started the whole damn thing made you go? Are you at fault for being born in the state? You can’t control where it was you happened to have been born…you know.

BRAD PITT: That doesn’t matter. You’ve enjoyed the products of the state. You’ve reaped the benefits of citizenship. Your life was made what it is by the happenstance of you being born in the state.

T.S. ELIOT: So you owe them your life? That’s some real inconsiderate crapola.

BRAD PITT: That doesn’t matter.

T.S. ELIOT: You’re really fond of that phrase, aren’t you?

BRAD PITT: When Ceasar calls, you listen or you die.

T.S. ELIOT: But beware the Ides of March.

BRAD PITT: Okay. Now you’re just being silly.

T.S. ELIOT: True. But it gets me a long ways in this society.

BRAD PITT: Being funny?

T.S. ELIOT: Yeah. People appreciate a good joke.

BRAD PITT: That wasn’t really that funny, you know.

T.S. ELIOT: I do. But, you know what I’m saying. There is a high price our society will pay for good humor. A comedian is highly regarded. The kid who can make the other kids crack up on the playground. The guy in the back of the class being clever and witty. The charming dude who makes the girls laugh. People want to be entertained, to have a good time, and people love to laugh. Anyone who can make them laugh will be very rich.

BRAD PITT: That must be why you never have any cash.

T.S. ELIOT: Could be. I don’t know. When I was a kid I was pretty funny. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I’ll stage a comeback.

BRAD PITT: Like when you tried saying, “out of this world,” all the time, you know, trying to make other people start saying it too. Like it would catch on and become the next big thing. How’d that work out for you?

T.S. ELIOT: Ahem. No. Not like that. I bet you I could be funny if I wanted to. I’ve always admired Groucho Marx, you know that? Even had him and his brood over for dinner once. I could be entertaining, become the laugh of the party. Make them guffaw in the aisles.

BRAD PITT: Sometimes the things you say are just way too non-sequiturish for me.

T.S. ELIOT: That’s a matter of taste. The bile of my moods spills indigo. The courtroom of my headaches holds water like a cactus. There is no more room for us in forever. Crepes are shit.

BRAD PITT: Is this you trying to be funny? Because it ain’t going over too well, buddy.

T.S. ELIOT: Seriousness will not do.

BRAD PITT: Oh god. Not that again. Don’t start talking about carving from fresh marble. Please. I beg you. Be funny!

T.S. ELIOT: So, well, you see, there’s this guy, and, well, this here guy, well, um, he’s got this seeing-eye dog, and…wait…oh yeah, so, this guy, well he’s this blind guy, and he’s…no…so this guy here, well, he’s my uncle, my blind uncle, and he’s got this dog, you see, and…

BRAD PITT: Ah. You are FUCKING RUINING this joke!

T.S. ELIOT: Hey. Don’t get all CAPS on my ass. My funny bone hasn’t been exercised in a long time. It’s damn rusty.

BRAD PITT: On your ass? Funny bone? None of that makes any fucking sense. Come on man. Give it another go. I want to hear Mr. Seriousness-Will-Not-Do be funny. Just the thought of you trying to be funny is actually quite humorous.

T.S. ELIOT: Really? Maybe that’ll be my shtick. I’ll be this super-serious, straight-faced guy who tries to be funny, but isn’t, and in the process of trying to be funny, and failing at it, makes people laugh.

BRAD PITT: Sorry man. I think Andy Kaufman beat you to that a long time ago. But nice try. Just tell the fucking joke. I want to hear you do it correctly. I’ll be the judge of your funniness.

T.S. ELIOT: Who the fuck are you to judge me?

BRAD PITT: I am the world. I am the children. I am the one who makes a brighter day so…

T.S. ELIOT: Ok. Ok. Stop. I’ll tell the fucking joke.

BRAD PITT: Yippee!

T.S. ELIOT: The sun is its own music.


T.S. ELIOT: Sorry. Just warming up. Ok. So I’ve got this uncle who’s blind. And he’s got a seeing-eye dog that’s totally blind. They don’t go anywhere.

BRAD PITT: Ugh. That was terrible. You are really bad at this joke telling. Maybe you should try some physical comedy. Or just do imitations or something. Can you talk with an accent?

T.S. ELIOT: Well yousa sees, I a jus, well, isa like dis, jes?

BRAD PITT: Well, that rules that out. I guess maybe seriousness will have to do for you.

T.S. ELIOT: Wow. I feel bad. Real bad. There’s nothing left to do. I’m a lost cause.

BRAD PITT: We could argue politics.

T.S. ELIOT: Nah. I’m too tired. The piano of my dreams is out of tune. The hardware of my life is busted. I’m bored. I’m ill at ease. I’m discontented but too lethargic to do anything about it.

BRAD PITT: Why don’t you whine about it?

T.S. ELIOT: Sure. I could make a cup of coffee. I could ingest amphetamine tablets, preferably those of the high-dose XR variety, and I could sip on the lees of my thoughts six ways from Sunday, and I could talk until my brain goes on vacation, and I could placate my desires with false representations of myself, and I could will away my will power, and I could never sleep again. But who cares? I don’t. So why should anybody else?

BRAD PITT: Because, because, because, because…of all the blankety blank things he does.

T.S. ELIOT: Thanks for not swearing around me. I am very delicate when it comes to such matters.

BRAD PITT: Has anyone ever called you a bemoaner before? That’d be a good appellation for you. The Bemoaner. What a sobriquet.

T.S. ELIOT: Thou think I doth make plaints too many?

BRAD PITT: Thou dost plaint much my good sir, but tis too? In sooth, only He on highest can think it so.

T.S. ELIOT: Ah fuck. Fuck it. Really. Just fuck everybody. Every last sonofabitch alive. Fuck ‘em all!

BRAD PITT: Right on brother. We must fight against the dying of the light. Rage! Topple over daisies! Do not ever refrain! Well, except when maybe going kind of sort of gentle into that good old proverbial night. Then maybe add a dash of posey to your whimsical nature. Ahem. I mean, ahem.

T.S. ELIOT: That’s not a real sound that people make: ahem. I’ve never heard anyone do that. It’s like some kind of literary device or something. What the fuck is with that? Seriously. It’s fucking annoying.

BRAD PITT: You’re one pissed off guy right now, you know that?

T.S. ELIOT: That’s because you are pissing me off! And I’m not in the best of moods anyways….and the drugs are not helping…they’re like intensifying everything, and things seem like way more of a big deal then the should be, and I’m fucking TRIPPING FUCKING BALLS HERE FOR CHRISTSAKE!

BRAD PITT: Wow. Caps. It must be the psilocybin talking. I knew I shouldn’t have let you eat that whole omelet.

T.S. ELIOT: If I cannot dictate the means of my employment I will henceforth cease to work. Tie all compound words to the traintracks until they relent, until they give up their ghost and...

BRAD PITT: Train tracks is two words my friend.

T.S. ELIOT: Fuck!! The sound of the color of your voice has dozens of halos around it, and there is light in music, there is forgetting in my memories…I cannot make distinctions. I do not have to exist.

BRAD PITT: Ok. Calm down. Let us find a safe place to exist in.

T.S. ELIOT: La…la deed dah…la dee-motherfucking….DAH!

BRAD PITT: Get a grip my good man. We will make piecemeal of the stars.

T.S. ELIOT: Ah. I am melting into the environment. I am the landscape.

BRAD PITT: Yes. Yes. That is more like it.

T.S. ELIOT: I’ve stopped wondering about the way this all will unfold. Death is not the end.

BRAD PITT: At last. At long last. Just a way to stop worrying, to put a lid on the boiling pot of anxiety, to wreck the ruin of whatever you’ve got left of the memory of her eyes, to be left alone, to be smoothed out and well-rested and made capable of easiness.

T.S. ELIOT: This is not like anything.

BRAD PITT: The murmuring susurrations of vividly alive verdurous flora unpunctuated by any rhythm except the flowery flyways of masterfully artless alertness held in the comforting helping hands of a power higher than high could ever imagine.

T.S. ELIOT: Commas are for pussies.

BRAD PITT: Damn straight. Now we are finally getting somewhere. They’ll be pie in the sky when you…

T.S. ELIOT: There are atrocities in the light bulbs. A mistake in the grammar of lucidity leaves the forswearing to the laws of chance. I am the sandwich’s ham without the cheese. I am a lone letter in some abecedarian lovelorn diction without an alphabet to go home to. I am footsteps without ground. I am loose change. I am the scrunch between the tying skin of Siamese twins.

BRAD PITT: Not the end.

T.S. ELIOT: Not the end.

BRAD PITT & T.S. ELIOT: Death is not the end.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

a few things from "Rod Serling Was A Legs Man"


The wind is sighing sorrow
while I puke out my guts
into a flowerbed by the stairs.
Chunks of bile-colored vomit feed the marigolds.
I stoop there dazed,
wiping my mouth off on my sleeve
as the irises rise in kamikaze dashes of pale viridian.
Somehow I clatter and key my way
into the small stuffy room
where I live.
The guy next door bangs the walls;
I bang my head against them right back.
Sometimes when I get home,
after the bars toss me out with the empties,
I find my flask still has some whiskey left in it,
and I rejoice like a leper at an opera.
I revel in whatever it is that’s left in me
that wants to go on.
Every so often I punch my mattress until my knuckles bleed.
This is not an easy thing to accomplish;
try it sometime.
I’ll scream things
like, “No more Wednesdays! Kill the clocks! Slaughter the fucking mirrors!
I outrank everyone on this goddamn block!”
And I’ll end up on the floor,
born out of the common,
face white as a clown,
staring at grapefruit-knife blades of moonlight bending through the blinds,
wishing I had another bottle,
or another girl,
to make the pain go forgetting on away.
The night might be pretty damn tender,
for all I know
it might be a midget in a gorilla mask—
for all I know.
For all I’ve got
is this inept thirst for oblivion
that no amount of booze will slake.
But the only thing that matters
is just this last drop of whiskey,
and the promise of more
and to-morrow,
and of course,
to-morrow too.

The Repose of Horatio Alger Jr

Another January mists by in drifts of rain that spot windshields, and the guy outside my window is scared of the sound buses make, that squealing screech that wheedles and spits sparks, and he is screaming at the phone lines to stop their sizzling, which is like bacon frying, and maybe he’s right, maybe it’s all too loud, but the music in here is not rattling anything, it’s just slipping through the cracks of wakefulness, it’s just something to sing along with until the day changes its clothes and tries night on for size, just another January slipping away underneath the clawing huddle of fog, another Sunday trying to wish Monday away, another surprise of sun, and there’s that scraggily rat of a man outside my window, and he’s got his hands on his ears, and he’s shouting emphatically to any pigeon that’ll listen, but he doesn’t know their names, and I look out at him down there going through the rabid motions of his life, and I know that I am no different, in here, somewhat safe and somewhat warm, unable to type very well, hungry, listing towards loss, but there is nothing better than this way of stabbing through the weather, of mistaking turpentine for paint, of halting the march of boredom, of walking the wrong way to the sandwich shop on purpose, of believing in the triumph of insects and Bloody Marys, of hurtling wads of toilet paper at the television, of hiding and wanting to be found, another January spills by without even one twang of a slide guitar, another dumped ashtray of a day, and the man outside is gone, and you better believe that nobody in here is falling to pieces, not just like leaves at the door, of that you can be sure.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Drake's Equation

(N = R* x fp x ne x f l x fi x fc x L)

So I’m drunk;
and I’m headed into this bar I frequent;
and there’s this guy there
who’s pretty much always there—
it’s like he lives there—
and he’s outside screaming at this woman,
telling her, “I’ve got an artistic temperament, goddmanit!
I mean, for fuck’s sake. My sensibilities are fucking delicate, okay?
You fucking knuckleheaded squirrel!”
It was funny,
that phrase of his.
I liked it.
It reminded me of an old Humphrey Bogart movie.
He was really laying into her,
you know,
giving her the business;
and she was taking it too,
just smoking her cigarette unfazed,
like her face didn’t even know what an expression was.
That guy is always hanging out around there,
screaming at people like that.
It’s kind of unnerving sometimes,
and I often find myself wishing for his death.
But this time
I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
Maybe it was all the liquor running its way through me,
but I wanted him to keep it up.
Unfortunately, people rarely do
what you want them to,
and he relented and went back in the bar—
leaving the woman alone to smoke her cigarette.
She seemed not to have a care in the world;
and the moon was up there wrinkling its nose;
and the traffic skidded by;
and countries were ravaged by natural disasters;
and presidents slept;
and stars imploded;
and the sandwich shop across the street put up its closed sign
and turned out its green sparkling neon lights.
I went back into the bar to sit on a stool.
The guy was in there.
I heard him say to the bartender,
“You’ve got to get to the root of the thing.
It’s like no matter how many times you wipe your ass
it’s still going to go back to being dirty again.
You’ve got to take care of what’s making it dirty in the first place.”
It’s this kind of talk that makes me think of high windows
and razor blades and handfuls of sleeping pills.
I put down a twenty and told the bartender,
“That guy’s next one is on me.”
You can only save the world
one life at a time;
and sometimes,
even though it doesn’t make any sense,
you’ve got to start with your own.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the result of a bet made while drinking

GOD: Your details are exquisite. People talk about getting scientific about things like mornings, and, well, you know most other minutiae doesn’t really cut it.

NIETZSCHE: Mine cuts it?

GOD: It slices. It cleaves. It rends.

NIETZSCHE: Rends? No. Come on.

GOD: Well, I mean, you said you wanted fireworks, not a parade.

NIETZSCHE: But you have to admit, when I speak of such things, like pleats in pants or mechanical portraits in sadness and glory, there’s always much more to be said. Nothing is never enough.

GOD: The world is too much with…

NIETZSCHE: Shut the fuck up.

GOD: Well, well, well. Stop nipping me in the bud.

NIETZSCHE: Hey. I never nip, buddy. You know that about me. I’m like the sound rain makes on a trampoline.

GOD: That does sound like you.

NIETZSCHE: Another exquisite detail, huh?

GOD: Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But, like, there was something you were referring to earlier…

NIETZSCHE: I made a reference?

GOD: You fucking alluded to something, okay? Jesus…Um. It was something about luggage I think.

NIETZSCHE: All the hard-luck cases around here come and go without any luggage.

GOD: Yeah. What the fuck was going on there? I don’t grasp…I mean, I don’t quite comprehend…

NIETZSCHE: Oh come on. Grasping? Comprehending? Somebody needs to go take a gander at his O.E.D.

GOD: Yeah. Yeah. All that Latin etymological crap. Get over yourself.

NIETZSCHE: Can’t. I’m too appealing.

GOD: …

NIETZSCHE: So. Anyway. What the fuck I was saying was that people come and go, like women for example…

GOD: Yes. Women are people.

NIETZSCHE: And they come and go…talking of, well, the radio?

GOD: Or maybe there is a destitution there, a delinquent mishap with the mores of certain folks, certain types, loosely based on what one once might have thought of as reality.

NIETZSCHE: One could lie on one’s back. One could stare at the ceiling. One could paint the ceiling. But, well, you’d have to watch out for the drops.

GOD: So, I guess you should never forget about what is leftover. What remains after the carnival has left town: dust and wind, and maybe a few tigers in red weather too.

NIETZSCHE: And we go wimping about town. Craning our necks to see over crowds that have gathered to watch an execution in the street. Limpingly we trod onward. Always full-speed ahead. But getting ahead? There is always the threat of the possible to pull down what’s left of one’s spirits. I gargle tap water after I sneeze.

GOD: We have wants. We want to see. We see. We figure things out. Seeing becomes believing. We…comprehend, right?

NIETZSCHE: Nah. We sleep in and pull the blankets up over our heads.

GOD: Scrambling around takes the place of putting your foot to the pedal all the time. That’s what you mean.

NIETZSCHE: Don’t tell me my business. I have plenty of concerns concerning the much-more-than dual nature of thought. There are only so many ways to think before everything thought become unthunk once again.

GOD: That doesn’t matter. That does not matter at all. We champion dead things and soft left turns. We muster the mettle to spin dimes on Formica countertops. And then, from some dusty corner of the universe, in an errantly bent fold of Time, comes the voice of reason: Don’t give me no back-talk sucker!

NIETZSCHE: Sure. We all shake hands and listen intently. We smooth over things. We have crushes and mow lawns and cheat on our taxes. There is something more to living than taking out the garbage every Tuesday night, but none of us are certain of what that something is. But, I believe, if there is any hope it is in the picayune lice-like details that make up the substance of our lives. Put on a mask. Play make-believe with a fire hydrant. Throw a slab of uncooked bacon at a cop car. Have a piece of pie, but don’t eat it. There are only mistakes, and forgiveness is the basest currency of kind strangers. I plead the fifth.

GOD: Look at me! Look at me!

NIETZSCHE: Exactly. Striving to attain the attention of others is an attempt to preclude their intentions. It is uncaring. It is lonely. It is a mask to cover shyness.

GOD: Tell me something I don’t know. You and your damn details. Specifics aren’t always interesting, or meaningful for that matter. Let’s wait out the rain. Let’s take a coffee break. Let’s shimmy for a while and then shuffle away into the locker room of existence.

NIETZSCHE: Sounds like a plan.

GOD: Don’t push me…’cause I’m close to the edge….I’m trying not to…

NIETZSCHE: Shut the fuck up.


GALATEA: Do you think talk can be a form of worship?

PYGMALION: Verily. There can be a certain prodigious density to it. As if one’s destiny could be prognosticated from the dense mass of intertwined hullabaloo we call language. Talking. Telling. Relaying information, useless or not, in whatever mode, musical or abstract or even ineffable, is an ability…okay. Wait. Hold onto my horses here. So. Let us see. Yes. Story. We must have a story to relate. That is first. That goes without saying. Without saying. Ha. So, there you go. There we go. To say without saying. I’m not saying without words. Words are not necessary at all.

GALATEA: We can listen to them. We interpret them. We bring ourselves to them. In the end, aren’t we are all made of words?

PYGMALION: That is unimportant. In beginning there was the word. In the end? It won’t matter. The end will take care of that. The story will not go on. There will be no story. A story will never have existed. We can talk about evening vaguing into night, or shadows melting or dripping down alleyways, or we can open our eyes underwater and try to explain things, like boots splashing rain, like muggers up our sleeves, like a mohair toupee. Music doesn’t take up any space. Its density is too massive to comprehend. Some speak of black holes. Some hold up their natures to mirrors. We must be more specific. Something smells like band aids.

GALATEA: A specific then will have to do. How about the vague sea?

PYGMALION: The sea vagues. It is a bluesy vagues into troubled waters uncharted. Not much. See? We don’t need these things. They are otiose.

GALATEA: Words happen. We can feel them nicking the dulled indigo corners of our thoughts. We need them. We cannot be alive in quite the same way without them.

PYGMALION: Communication is for the birds.

GALATEA: So is love though. You must admit that.

PYGMALION: Of course. So is worship.

GALATEA: But birds cannot worship words. Song? Maybe. But not words.

PYGMALION: Yes. And we do worship words. I am not proposing that we do not. I was speaking of a certain density I believe.

GALATEA: I also do believe you were.

PYGMALION: And this dense mass of communication, this co-called “story” of things, is what I want to poke my tiny holes in.

GALATEA: Poke away.

PYGMALION: So, as we both know, there’s always the danger of becoming too domesticated in one’s adult life, of becoming droll and ordinary. I don’t completely trust people who fall into this sort of thing. Maybe it’s just the routine of boring repetition that keeps them sane. But is that a kind of sanity that should be strived for? I’d hate to think so. People just going through the motions, being the same, waiting for another day to be over, to go home, to eat dinner while watching TV or staring at a computer screen, to walk down the aisles of grocery stores, to go to bed feeling an odd sensation of false contentment, possibly happy…possibly. But what dies inside of one so that “happiness” can exist? Being alive? Could be. And we all dream of white picket fences and two car garages and perfectly manicured lawns and kids pattering around in the den on holidays, and the mailman makes his rounds, and the phone brings empty chatter, and the days go by, complacency rules, and suddenly…well, what is left of one? Words don’t make a difference. Everything is just one more thing to stave of thoughts of what it means to be alive. And, more to the point, to contemplate what it really is to be alive in this manufactured way, to have one’s brains stewed in a dull imprisoning pot of satisfaction. Still, a story must start to be told at some point. The words will come, even apropos of nothing.

GALATEA: So who tells the story?

PYGMALION: A simple soul filled with wind. A concocted nobody. One without much sense. One who does not matter.

GALATEA: So the story goes…?

PYGMALION: Ahem. Well, like this—


I was in this Cathedral praying, and I didn’t really know how to pray. I mean, I’d seen other people pray in like movies and stuff, but I’d never done any of it myself. My dad and mom were atheists. They told me God was dead. I was raised to hate churches. Which is kind of weird because I mostly like churches now. They aren’t too shabby of places to hang out. Anyway, I was sitting down on this pew in this cathedral, and it was real nice in there, like real peaceful, quiet, like you could hear your heartbeat even. There were all these candles burning up at the front and all along the walls. There were a few other people in there, but it was pretty dark, a lot of shadows going on in there, you know, kind of smearing up my looking. The roof was all arched, and the ceiling, it was really high up, like higher than the dome over the baseball stadium. Well, maybe not that high, but it was pretty damn high if you ask me. And also if you ask me it was a good bet better good-looking than that big old white dome where The Twins trot out and play ball. That thing is like all splattered with stains and is more like a thick ugly mayonnaise-colored ceiling, like more like a giant dirty circus tent flapping up there. Or like a huge white garbage bag maybe. But that ceiling at the cathedral, well it was a damn sight more pretty than some stupid dome at a baseball game, a lot more so. And I liked looking up at it. There was a nice way it had of making me feel. A whole lot of runny colors were like spreading out all over it, but in a nice way, a way that was like magnificent even. It made me feel like praying. I guess that’s why they put it there for. So I was sitting there on that wood pew, and there wasn’t anyone too near close to me, and so I was feeling quite alone, quite kind of, well, you know, just separated. Sort of out of the fold of things. It didn’t make me feel bad though. I sometimes get to feeling guilty when I go into churches. Not that I go into them that much anyways, but sometimes I do for whatever reason, like if I’m at a wedding or invited to a funeral or something like that. And most of the times it’s like I don’t really like it so much. I feel like maybe I don’t belong there. Like something awful might happen. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s got something to do with my mom and dad. My dad used to say that the only good Christian was a dead Christian. I guess that made Jesus a pretty good Christian. At least from what I’ve heard. Well, also in that cathedral they had all these paintings and statues and stuff of Jesus dying there on his cross. And of course, you know, his hands are all spread out and his legs are nailed together at the ankles and his face is like looking bad, like he’s going to start drooling blood out, and he’s got that scraggily beard and he looks like real skinny too, like his cheekbones are all poking out and stuff. I’d seen that kind of stuff now and again, on TV or whenever. But now it was like all starting to make some different kind of sense to me. And like I said the light in there was real odd. The windows in the side walls were all giant and long and curved at the top. And they were like all cloudy and colored dark, making the light coming in sort of trickle and fade and loop, and it was like the shadows that light was making were dripping and folding out all over things, and it was strange too because the walls were made of all these like really old gray bricks, like castle walls you see in movies about King Arthur, you know, with moats and all that stuff. I kept looking at the walls, and they were mostly pretty dark of course, except where the candles were, and there were those statues of Jesus on the walls too. But like I was saying, the light coming in through those windows was all loopy and dark and weird, and it made everything feel different in there, a lot different from how most places make you feel. I got to feeling good and spooked after a bit. I almost decided to get up and blow the joint. But I didn’t. I stayed put. I was getting to feel quite strange, but it wasn’t all bad. It was not something I was used to. Kind of like somebody was breathing some new good air into me, like I was being all inflated like a basketball or something. Then I started thinking about how afternoons go by. About how there isn’t really a space that they take up. They just go. And then they’re gone. And you don’t remember what it was that they were exactly. You know that they happened. You remember them. But they’re not really things that you can like put your finger on what it is they are. Like breathing I guess. Like music. Like air. Like when I have those dreams where there is that girl who is like no girl I’ve ever known but is a lot alike all of the girls I’ve ever liked all together. I mean she is a lot of the little things about all those girls all in one girl. Everything about her is like so comfortable and familiar and it’s like I don’t ever want to stop being around her, and everything is so soft and nice and warm about everything. And I never want to wake up when I have those dreams. In the cathedral I was thinking about all of this. I was sitting on the wood pew there, and was kind of hunched over, and had my hands together there on my lap, and my head was nodding forward, and then I thought, ‘Hey, I’m kind of like praying here.’ I mean, I felt like somebody who was praying. I mean, the way I looked sitting there like that. I started to think that I looked like somebody who was praying would look. It was real easy to do. I never knew it would be so easy. So I decided to start praying. And I didn’t really think about what I was doing. I just started praying for this girl, this girl in my dreams who I didn’t know at all, who wasn’t really a girl anyway. She was just a dream. She didn’t take up any space. Well, except in my head I guess. But who can measure that kind of space? So I was sitting there like that, bowing my head down real low, holding my hands real tight together, kind of rocking back and forth with my eyes closed. I thought about this girl. She wasn’t mean at all. She said real nice things to me. When she smiled it was slow and easy and warm, like turning the heater on you when you’re all shivering on a cold night, and it made all the creaking in me go away, like the kind of creaks I get like an old house at night, like when you’re all alone and all you do is worry and get scared. It wasn’t so bad, thinking about her like that. It seemed like I could see her name scratched into the wood of the pew in front of me, like there were all these whittled wood shavings all over, like somebody’d just done it with a pocket knife. But she didn’t even have a name. And I had my eyes closed. There isn’t a way I could tell about it that would make sense. I didn’t even really know what she looked like. In the dreams her face was always kind of cloudy, like a mush of millions of different paint splashes. But it felt like I’d known her forever, like she was some part of me I’d lost a long time ago, or maybe never even had in the first place, but was something I’d been looking for, without even really knowing it, for like my whole entire life. I sat there praying about her. I didn’t know how to pray, but I tried real hard. It seemed really important for some reason. I needed to pray for this girl who wasn’t even real. It was like I was wishing hard for something to come true, but didn’t really have too good of an idea of what that something was. And I wanted to find out what that something was real bad. Like in the worst way. Like I was real desperate and would do anything just to know. And I’d never felt that lost and also kind of found too at the same time. I know how that sounds. But that’s the way it was. It was like the best music ever, but better than that even. And it was all flowing through me, like I said, like being all blown up like an air mattress, but it was like I could never get full no matter how much I was filled. People sometimes talk about their having souls. I never knew what a soul was. I never really wondered. But when I was sitting there in that cathedral like that doing all that praying about that make-believe girl, well, I knew what it was to have a soul. And I knew I had one. It was something that you’d never really think about, but something you just kind of knew in your bones. And the ceiling was so high up there above me, and the walls with the old gray bricks and giant windows in them were all dark, and there were all those candles all over making their little lights, and all those pictures of Jesus, and the shadows were creeping all over the place and stretching out and going long, and I wasn’t thinking that much in the normal ways that I think, but was just sitting there doing all that praying. There wasn’t much else that mattered to me. Everything was just that. And I didn’t even think about God once. But, you know, for the first time ever I think he was thinking about me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ruins Of Rube Clemson (from Off Season For The Sleepless)

Let’s name our children after shortstops. They can have yellow hair if you want. Carefree attitudes? Sure. Why not? Let them eat bread and toast it too. A before must come first. You see, even though we are caught in these humble contradictions of gestation (infinite or not so infinite), you must admit that the difference between playing dead and arriving on time is not as subtle as you would think. So, let’s think in terms of patio furniture, or the possibility of a fireworks display. A few less items on the agenda would be suitable for the occasion. Find a new person to like. Let that person take the place of where all of your hungering was hanging out. If it is only a matter of moving from one thing to the next thing, well, then, so what? Sometimes second basemen have better mustaches than shortstops, like say Davey Lopes in comparison with Luis Aparacio. Not that the aptness of this suits people like us, but this is just something to say, like maybe other things one could say, like jersey or chert or batteries or shrift. Making sense isn’t always the most beneficial option. So the children could grow mustaches. It might be likely. If our children have to have names, well, then we are holding ourselves responsible for this naming, and shortstops aren’t as likely as second basemen to be alcoholics, but still, the mustache-thing might come into play. Let’s play it by ear. Boys or girls, or both. Whatever the lord decides to drop on us. I was born in a bar. You were born in a freight train’s caboose. We have names. Names are not obstacles. Names are reservations we make on other people’s lives. Let’s give a few out for a song. Let’s call ourselves Heracles and Luddy. Let’s move out to the country. We’ll live like paupers on crumb cakes and Old Gold cigarettes, and we’ll moonshine our own whisky. Get ourselves a few dogs and we’ll name them Paunch and Rump. Nothing sticks all the time like a name might stick sometimes if you let it. West is only one more direction to not go in. Let’s name our kids in the womb. Let’s make them real before they even know that they are. We can dream in unison, and maybe we’ll meet there—like on a log, in the water, artfully dodging things, in a game of Frogger. Second basemen are lost causes. Second basemen are the derelicts of the middle-infield milieu. I want to name a girl Pothole. I’d call her Pothole Polly. I want windy screams and silent thunder and breakfast served all night long. I want a kid with tattered clothes and a dirty face and scabby elbows and knees and a penchant for tree climbing. I mistake madness for generosity all the time. Let’s name the pigeons and the bees and the battered old men with no teeth who sit lonely by empty trays in lunchrooms of discontent. We should put training wheels on our fear. Maybe ride out to the ocean and just sit there watching all that water just being water. If we go with shortstops (which would be a good going if I were asked) then we could have a Rabbit (or a Maranville.) Maybe an Ozzie or a Tinker (but not a Chance) or a Sewell or a Peewee Reese or a Honus or an Arky or a Yount. Just something to boil your noodles in. In the meantime let’s just follow the bend in the sky, the cut of clouds, the crest of a sunset, the hamburger bun of tomorrow’s restless and always disappearing patty. Ploys are not enough. Let’s have us a whole mess of kids. Let’s litter the world with our progeny. Let’s go all in. Let’s fold. I’ve got a head full of movies, a pocketful of doing 99 years, a channel changer and a bucket of flowers filled with rainwater. Sleep will come. Sleep will heal. Sleep will remove and redo and put hinges on the doors of perception. If our children have children and they think about things like gusty and hassling and Paul Cézanne and amativeness and copper—well, then we have ourselves still. We have our names. We have shortstops who might not be so likely to have good mustaches. Children cannot be doctors, but they can be thieves. Let’s give our kids a handgrip of courage to hoist themselves up the tattered and wayward wall of life. There is a certain crimping that dawdles around—skirting if you will—the selvage of what we do with these lives we have, flanking our temerity while we exist inside these bodies that we lease with no option to buy. And then suddenly some guy pokes one up the middle, right through the wickets of the pitcher. Maybe it scrapes the mound, kicks up some dirt, and then comes shooting on through. Somebody’s going to dive. At least try to get some leather on it. And a hush will come, like 40,000 people holding their breath. Nobody will know what it means. Muddled are the ways of God. With the names of shortstops our children will make a name for themselves.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kanola Oyl (an aside from "Even Turnips Have Their Bad Days")

Sucking on this Everlasting Gobstopper of thought

Wishing I could spoon away the rain

While a deluge of wakefulness sops my ability to rest

Puddling cars water the sidewalks

Indifferent hoots like sudden foghorns that screech instead of moan

Openly omniscient about the not-knowing of things

My eyes like opaque clerestories

While all my nose does is blow

I skip bail and go right to the undying heart of misery

And then I yawn and fall back asleep

It is very unlike me to do such things

Seeing now your slow smile and hearing your faraway voice

Possibly plucking the acerola cherries from your eyes

I would not leave the roll toilet-paper-less

Or indulge in the mathematics of buttering toast

It is not this me that does such things

Perhaps a trouty specter has moved into the lake of my habits

Foreboding what spectacle of care I won’t chance a guess

Surely there will be people doing laundry

It is very unlikely that I will do such things

Tossed to the lonely shores of my shipwrecked dreams

For it’s just the devaluation of friendship that appears suddenly

Like an excess of superficiality masquerading as depth

Maybe at a stoplight

While you idle and breathe and stare at the bird shit on your windshield

And think about capital letters

It is very much me to be caught inside-out

Sleeveless and catnapping my way through the early morning

Deranged but drinking coffee

Throwing clothes hangers at the wall

And life’s just a popularity contest without votes

It is mostly not likely that I will change the channel of my regret

The stations here are just static and canned laughter

I wear out the tortured socks of my life to dance in the splendor of rain

Saturday, January 16, 2010

the way of all integers

all the friction here created
by multiplying these fractions
has left the top halves elated
with a bargain in reactions

when numbers stick and move and cross
when denominators French kiss
though their hearts are still filled with loss
for the old better halves they miss

some grow top-heavy and weary
toss out their cheating vinculum
to mixed-number vulgarity
where the parts won’t equal the sum

a reciprocal look’s nothing
but a common factor’s “whether”
with integrities of a fling
a “should” gets cancelled by pleasure

but if moonlight carves out a care
slides hurt into a solidus
then whatever’s left will still bear
night’s ratio without a fuss

something meaningful (for emily dickinson)

I’ve spent my life stuck in rooms like these—

stuck in thoughts like these—

spackling my brains on bored walls,

with the always ague stuck in my bones.

The chance of windows still survives

as nerves of tombs dwindle into livewires.

Leadless hours are there too of course,

and possible memory becomes

the now of when

on never sidewalks

towards which I tread.

As too, of course,

imagining despair becomes despairing—

like taking up space,

like superglue stuck to the eyelids,

like spokes of shrink-wrapped sunlight.

I’ve spent through my life at the mercy of this mercurial machine.

Nothing’s wretched.

Everything is complacent.

Glad ideas wrench the garbage disposal of my worries

and spark like shards of a wooden spoon splintering…

eyes unheard of things…

All that is not

(the pierce of a stunned heart as it icily defrosts)

is all that is lost.

Before a numb miracle

a minor ache sputters out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

utah phillips on the lanai

(reprinted with permission from the author, i.e. a much younger me)

I despise trends in society towards casualness

ways to be that tend towards the easy and least resistant

instead I flee towards the wilderness

or just some place like the Feather River Canyon

a place in my head

that isn’t all worn and decrepit and weary with time

but that is too

at the same time

something like that

I have a hard time with going along

fitting in with the nonsense and noise that most people call their lives

or that is the world to them

a place that is not a place at all

like joining the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in 1999

just an idea of something that is not even that anymore

I don’t always eat when I’m hungry

I drink even when I’m not dry

but songs are prayers in a way

that is not always apparent

to any of the parties involved

I smile at people walking by me on the sidewalk

sometimes they even smile back

time is a nowhere that

we are all


being led towards and away from

at once


not at all too

I have a hard time with sunshine

I often hate the wind

sneezing is as perennial as the grass

when the blooms are doomed

to fall and disappear from the start

there is everything and nothing to be done

what we have are degrees of things

not this

or that

just levels or ways of comprehending

that make idiots

out of the most fortunate among us

and a genius of the moon

Saturday, January 9, 2010

particularly this

It’s thought provoking. Always creating more “whys” to take the place of what might be missing from the whole scheme of things. And she would be careful to step on the parts of the floor that would make the least noise. Always walking around barefoot. Avoiding soft spots. Because. Well. That floor was somebody’s ceiling too. And she didn’t want to bother anybody with the substance of her own life. It does make one think. It doesn’t always inspire. But. But. But. It does do something. Something. Maybe. Like to the innards of what it means to live in a place. To be in a place. To occupy space with one’s body. With one’s life. Even her laughter became dulled. Muffled. Tame.

She was always on her guard. Somebody might be listening. The walls were thin. She could hear things. Small things. Bumps. Clacks. Wondrous stifled moans. Slidings or scrapings or the push of a cushion. Thoughts come and go. The radio changes stations. People stomp. Doors open. Refrigerators sigh. She would put on different outfits. She would look in the mirror and frown. Nothing. Everything. It was all the same. Sleep was just another thing to get through. Make it through. Even the light switches had their own secrets. Stepping softly. Chewing up meals with her mouth closed. Blowing spit bubbles while lying on the couch and looking out the window at the spindly bare branches of that tree out there that seemed like it was supplicating to the sky. To something. Playing the stereo on a very low volume. So low it might as well have not been playing at all. Talking to herself quietly.

The wind jabbed and hooked at the windows. A starkness overwhelmed her. Nothing was taking up any space here. Nothing moved. She was so still. Like she wasn’t there at all. Not this body. Not this person. Just a wash of shadows playing a few tricks on disinterested objects. A feather’s weight would be too much and not enough. Lying there. She was. It’s thinking without trying to. It is in the ideas that leak from the holes she’s punched in her dreams. Going lightly from here to there and back again.

There was something slightly crestfallen about her. A sense of desperation. A lousiness concealed beneath a swell veneer. She invited guys over to spend the night. They often called her an asshole at some point. It was strange to her. Being called an asshole. You meet some guy at a bar. You’re both drinking. The next thing you know you wake up in the middle of the night. Terror is all you’ve got in your head. And some strange body is lying in bed next to you. Being alone was an art form she was trying to perfect. So. She was an asshole. So what? Who cares? It makes the thoughts come. The churning of things in her head was not something she could control. They’d get tossed. They’d scramble and chase. There was no stopping it. Every new thought was a new obsession. She’d kick guys out at 4 am. She’d scream. She’d throw toasters at them. She’d wail and cry and bark like Hecuba going mad. Anything to be rid of this other body. This other thing. Anything to be alone. It was the only time that anything made sense to her. Alone. The world outside was just an illusion.

She washed her face with cold water. She threw hats at the ceiling fan. She rubbed her knuckles hard against her forehead when the headaches came. She blew out candles and lit them again. Thoughts were coffee beans being endlessly grinded to no avail. She thought about a butcher cutting up slabs of meat. The meat was rancid. Tiny worms were embedded in the withering gray flesh. The worms were getting sliced by the butcher’s cleaver. Their blood was green. It smeared all over the countertop. The butcher was not smiling too much. The pieces of meat were filling with the green blood. Expanding. Growing into bloated green-gray pus-filled sacs. They floated away like balloons. She wanted to pop them. To gawk at the slimy explosion.

The pipes in the walls groaned and wheezed. A cop siren burst like a piccolo pete from somewhere close by. A somewhere that was also too far away to imagine. Outside. Outside all of this craziness and mush that was her head. She was keeping things neat. There were no crumbs around. No dust. No grime. Everything was clean. Orderly. Nice. She had a way of making time go by.

The couch was too comfortable. Too soft and easy. And then she was lying on the hardwood floor. Supine. Her knees up in the air. Her eyes closed. She felt her moods like cobwebs spreading over her. Tickling her. Growing. Fleeing. It was all a distraction. Everything.

The lights were off. The sun had gone down. There was no reason to be alive. It was cold. Her toes were frozen stiff. She brushed a few strands of hair from her face. Plucked a few out of her mouth. She thought about god. There was nothing else to do. It was something to think about. It provoked thoughts. It made its own “whys” to replace the empty chatter that had become her life. It was just one more thing.

She arched her back. She put her palms to the floor. This was being alive? This was something. The dishes were not rattling. The mice were asleep.

She pretended she were in a field. The grass was golden and it was being carved up by a giant gleaming silver scythe. She ran. The golden grass was soft and it made her skin warm. She wanted to fall into it. To be lost in it. To let it envelop her. To take her in its arms and hold her there forever. It felt safe. The scythe was getting closer. Its long curved blade swept and chopped. She lay down and rolled and tumbled. It scared the thoughts away. She nestled. She floated on the air. The sound of the scythe came closer. It was a slow aching swoosh. A careful slip of sound. There was a distinct purpose to it. It made her flesh quake. She turned a somersault. The golden grass parted. The gilded stems brushed against her as she rolled away. Her life was this thing. It was all she had. She held onto it with every atom of her being.

A few papers rustled on a table. The bottom of her left foot started to itch. She opened her eyes. Dark was all there was. Something stirred in the kitchen. A creak happened. A Gliding. A Going. Back. Here. She clasped her hands together. She rearranged everything about the way her body was taking up space. A curl. A quick bent gasping. A clutching and then a sudden unclenching. Thoughts were a dime a million. Love was a universe to be never traveled beyond. Gladly. She smiled.

Nothing was never always what it was.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


High inspiration—secondary to being efficient and hardy and overall good for the length and breadth of being good to all and everyone who just ho-hum happens to be swinging on by or sleeping on the floor—is much and maximally great for the keeping of all lights on, no matter what happens—here, there, and overboard, so as not to seem wasted (this problem of energy and jumproping cables and dung beetles rolling away, in a straight line, despite all obstacles, with a heavy— i.e., roughly 50 times their body weight—load) is brought to the forefront of thought allatonce (now) as like, you know, it is while it is happening (of course…everyone knows that, right?) the best of what is left in the curdling of mercy and pity and brave forward thinking men and women all over this god(damn)land—yes. So, we have intestines. We have blisters and bleeding ulcers (famotidine is a histamine H2-receptor antagonist that inhibits stomach acid production, and is commonly sold under the trade name of Pepcid, which many lonely souls use to treat their stomach woes) and fallingouthair and grapes and (first of all) (lastly) violin solos. Campy razzmatazz is (going) on its way out. Still, you must admit, the microphone picks up strange things: flecks of spitty sprayings (like catnip for the delicate ear) and gurglings and mispronounced words and breathy sighs and clearings of the throat and songs and jokes and the movements of fingers. Lower than mischievous illusions—like dimmed bright lights (sometimes causing tears) in a stark room—tabs were being kept on hotdogbun purchases and (while diamondmining statistics were being gathered) breath was being bated and held. Clipping the clop off the top of a way to walk (while whaling the whole while without one wail) a trot was born bored with (or without) horns so as to ward off all want and give up a lot. Lowly aspirations—namely the wholeshootingmatch type—need to always go without saying (like the lesser of more than two selfish inhibitions lying in wait like a torch, like a hyena in heat, like a robot without arms) otherwise they’d go giving away the whole kitandcaboodle, and nobody does want that (except that high priest of outlandishness who waits in the corner of the room at a silent auction and simpers.) Whistles that don’t get their way become jealous as time goes on and haunt the halls of conceit with hardnosed resilience and the highest pitch that their music can make, or unmake. Enervation comes and goes like a garden hose. Blimps hover. There is nothing unexceptional about silver dollars, except that they are heavier than most dollars, which is not too mundane to be unexciting except in the most exceptional of circles, circles being things a wet wine glass might make on a tablecloth if turned upsidedown. The difference twixt differential equations (when it comes down to Hank and Lefty’s opining) is not really that important to the actually solving of both (or even one, if you really want to know about it) of the equations if you put in the effort and time (like you used to do) before the derivatives of dinner get around to being served. Missiles have all the staying power of presidents. Histories of whirling dust mites hang like flowers in the brushstrokes of the present (we’ve moved on to bungalows) tense. Damn all spellcheckers. To hell with paragraphs. Send all punctuation to Siberia. (The moods of never have their own spells to cast on spiders) We—wishing to remain anonymous at all costs—have here (and by this do declare our anonymity) gathered together (while galloping) all that is remaining of any and all integers ever divided or multiplied or stacked independently (with their hearts bleeding of course) on top of one another or in any way (shape or form is to be assumed) (of course) with or without each other or alone or just left by the side of the road to be (was hoped) forgotten about for the duration of this here so-called eternity. The numbers just won’t add up. Listen to the background noises (silently) for a while.

The Kid Without Fingers

Look there.

It’s the kid without fingers.

Look. Look. There he is.

The kid who can’t grab anything.

The kid with the stumps for hands.

The one who can’t wear a ring.

He’s going away.

They say he’ll be out on his rear.

No knuckles, can’t pray,

won’t be writing letters back here.

Look. Look right there. There he is. The fingerless kid.

The kid who'll never own gloves.

Look at him. Look.

He’ll never scratch an itch

or turn the pages of a book.

I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna look at that kid anymore.

It makes me sad. And besides

I’m getting sore

At the kid with no fingers.

He’s allowed to just sit

and without a wipe lingers

after taking a shit.

He can’t write his name,

and he ain’t got no shoes.

And it gives me the blues

when he picks his nose

with his toes.

Look at him.

Have a look but don’t stare.

That kid’s no good with scissors

But when it comes to knocking


Look. But don’t get too close.

That kid’s hands are like bricks.

He’s worse than all thumbs

and he can’t make a fist.

But when his punch comes

you’ll wish that he’d missed.

Don’t ask him to turn a doorknob,

Or squeeze lemonade.

But if there is somewhere to rob

he’s got it quite made.

The kid without fingers is running away.

Catch him. Tackle him.

He’s heading for the highway.

Take him down. Come on!

Don’t let that kid go astray.

Doesn’t he know on the roadside

a thumbless kid can’t hitch a ride?

But there he goes.

He’s going on through

That barbwire fence

Onto pastures new.

He’s going, going, gone.

He finally blew.

So don’t start to fidget,

And take one last look.

The kid with no digit

Has just found a hook.

Monday, January 4, 2010


“The main thing isn’t knowing whether you’re right or wrong. That really doesn’t matter…The main thing is to keep people from bothering you…The rest is eyewash…” Céline

I’s working at the hospital, and this guy comes in…you know, real suspect, real fidgety…kind of wiry and dirty…eyes red as V8 juice. And this guy he’s kinda…well, I can see he wants to speak to me about something, but he’s…well, maybe he’s nervous. Yeah. So he’s kind of just hemming and hawing, blinking a lot, and he’s inching his way over to me. But I’s busy doing whatever it is they’s paying me to be doing, and so I don’t have a whole lot of time to spend like pondering all the who-what-where-whys of the situation, you know? And so I just kinda keep him in sight a bit, in my peripheral, you know? Peeping at him. Make sure he’s not stealing shit or whatever…or, you know, I’s had people try to attack me before… throw shit at me…all kinds of shit…even a wallet once. Downright weird the shit people will chuck at you when theys all up and p.o.’d. But this guy, well, I can just sense he’s got something real serious like on his mind, and I don’t get the kind of vibe from him that he’s like gonna go all apeshit or whatever, and maybe… yeah, it just seems like maybe he might start a crying jag or something. Turn on the waterworks and spill…or whatever. I don’t know. I’s thinking about Cannonball Adderley for some reason. I remember that. And it doesn’t make sense but I got one of them songs of his stuck in my head, and I start like feeling bad…like real bad…like everything in the world’s just dead…gone…and I’s all alone…like real alone…more alone than I’d ever right felt before. I mean, shit, at least not like that. Not even like that. It was an old kind of sad. A sad that’s been around for a long, long time…that’s been like marinating since god said let there be light and isn’t ever going to go nowhere. And I want it gone. But it stays…well, and then, you know, it doesn’t too. I don’t know. It’s odd as hell. Can’t figure a way of telling it right…but, so, this guy, this fidgety guy who is like tiptoeing his way in my general direction…well, he’s got this quiet way of walking, like a cat, but not so cool as that. Nothing’s got style like a cat walking across a room. Come on. You know…but it’s a different way of walking than most folks got…very sneaky, like he’d be a good burglar. And then it is that he just kinda spring up on me…and then, you know, blam, he’s all up in my face…and his breath wasn’t tasty one bit…and I sees all his rotted teeth and his clothes is all torn and he’s like chewing his lip up something awful…and I’s inspectin’ all these scars and welts and shit all over his face…like crooked lines and red bumps and stuff. And it’s like his nose is all dripping this like fungusy green shit…ah, damn…it isn’t pretty. It’s bad. I don’t like it, but what could I do? You gotta look at people sometimes, especially when theys all right there in front of you all suddenly like that. So I try to pretend and be all normal, and he’s like looking around, like checking to make sure nobody’s too close…or something…like maybe he’s scared, like he’s being followed or something…anyway, like I said, my suspicions were like arised. So I’s being mighty careful there. Don’t want to go shaking up the soda bottle, you know. So I asks him real nice if I coulds help him with anything, and he kinda does this scared smile thing, and his eyebrows get all lifted up like a vampire or something…and he’s a pretty pale customer at that…and I sees too that one of his ears is like bit off on top, like something took a damn bite out of it, or chewed on it. I swear, it likely has teeth marks in it. I swear to Jehoshaphat. It’s sure disturbing to me, and I don’t feel sad just then, ‘cept maybe for him. Yeah, it was like I’s putting all that old sadness into him…like I hads me a hose and is washing him in all that sadness, but it’s not really taking. It’s like the water running off of him…and he just standing there eying me real suspicious like…and then he leans in closer, which I really didn’t care for, and he says…well, he says to me…he says, “Buddy, hey, um, just wanted to let you know, um, that there’s a dead body in the port-a-potty outside.” And I’s shocked to say the least, as I didn’t even know there’s such a port-a-potty outside the hospital…but there is, see, because they’s doing some construction out by the parking lot, and they had a few of them green shitters out there baking in the sun…and I know this now, but then? No. I don’t know it then. So I kinda looks real confused at this shifty customer standing there a little too close to me for my liking, and I’s like, “How’s that? What?” And, you know, it’s weird, but I don’t know what to say. And he’s like, “Just wanted to let you know about this dead body. It’s out there by the parking lot in a port-a-potty,” and I’m not sure what to do. I mean, we’s in a hospital after all, right? And this guy says…he’s all shaky and wriggling…and he says to me…he says, “Maybe you should call 911,” and I’m like, “Okay. Sure. That sounds like the right thing to do.” So I reach back for the phone, and I call up the emergency people…and I don’t knows right what to say at that moment. I’s kinda shocked to say the least. But I kinda hesitated some, and then I blurt out for lord know what reason…I say, “Um, well, I’m in the hospital here…and we’ve got a dead body here.” And that’s dumb. I know. But it just come out…and that shady stinkpot individual standing there all up way too close to me…well, he kinda grins…almost laughing, but trying not to. I can tell. And I kinda straighten out and hold the phone away and make signals at him to like shut it, you know? I’m trying to use the phone…and then I starts in to thinking about Pee-Wee Herman and that scene in his movie where he’s yelling at all the bikers and shushes them, and then he does that dance on the bar…oh well. I don’t why. Anyways…I get back on the horn, and I’m saying now…well, like, “There’s this body…I mean…this guy here is telling me there is this body. And it’s a dead body. And this guy here…well, he’s telling me that this dead body, as such…well, it is like currently residing in an un-permanent bathroom facility outside by the parking lot of this hospital…as such.” And the operator is like kind of baffled, you know? She doesn’t really know what to say, and she’s like, “You’re in a hospital sir? Where are you?” And she’s asking me all kinds of dumb questions that I don’t feels up to answering just then, as this shifty son of a gun is now like prancing around and making faces and being all goofy, and I don’t even know if I should believe him at all. So I goes and hangs up the damn phone. And the shady scarecrow guy kind of bolts out the door…and I decide I need to have myself a gander at the situation in the port-a-potty. So I go outside too, and I see the guy frolicking on up ahead…skipping and shit…looking real daffy…and I go after him…and I get to the port-a-potties…and theys all lined up next to each other…like port-a-potties always is…and the guy is like there, and he’s like pointing his skinny crooked little finger at one of them and holding his hand over his mouth like he’s gonna puke. But it’s just the smell I think that’s a making him gag, because when I went up I smells it too, and it’s something awful…something worse than most things I’s ever smelled in all my years up to then…and I’s gone smelling some bad stuff, let me tell you. But this smell’s like worse than civet smell…like rotting garbage and sewer stink and then some…and worse than burning hair…and even worse than the way most of them port-a-potties usual stink…especially roasting there in the hot sun all day. And it’s bad, bad, bad news. And I knows it too…and I’s standing there not really wanting to open the door, but wanting to at the same time, if you knows what I mean. So this little runt…this dirty rake of a bastard is just standing there now pretty damn close to the suspect port-a-potty. He’s holding his grimy shirt up to his nose, and covering his mouth, and looking really like he’s gonna be real sick. So I finally go on up…and I’s not sad at all anymore…but now I’s kinda scared…like I don’t wanna do something I know I’s gonna go ahead and do anyway. And I goes up to the door, and I kinda pull ginger-like at the handle…just with a few fingers. You know? Like not wanting to touch it really at all? And I lift up that little latch there, and the door comes open…and yes sir, there it is. The body’s all scrunched in there…all contorted like hanging over the toilet hole…and dead…real dead. I could tell just upon giving it a gaze once. Those miserable dead eyes is staring right at me…and the face is all scrunched up and pale…and this dead guy…he’s already in real bad shape before he went and croaked in the shitter there. I could tell that. But what a way to go. How real awful and all…dying in all that stink…all cramped up in there like that…and I feels all that sadness again. Of a sudden I’s now so sad about everything. And those eyes. It’s like they’s staring right through the whole of me…and I wants to shut them…but I don’t want to go close, you know? And the other guy, that scrawny shifty guy…well, he’s gone and ran off away. And it just so happens that I hear the ambulances coming…and so I guess my 911 call did go ahead and work anyway. So I goes ahead and shut the door back like it was. I don’t want to be there anymore…and I’s sad then…much more sad than I ever want to go on and be ever again. Not like that. It’s all wrapped up and tangled inside of me…and I want it to go. So I starts in running…and I run and I run and run…and it’s like I can’t get right far enough away…and that smell feels like it’s all sticking to my guts and all mashed up in my head…and the sadness is all clogging me up inside too…and I just keeps right on running…went a good long ways before I stopped and thought about what the hell I’s doing…and then I don’t want to think anymore…no more ever again…not one thought. And when I’s running I isn’t thinking. And the more I run the more the sadness goes…and also the more I forget about those dead eyes and that smell. But I gets tired. I isn’t in prime shape, you know. So I just stands there breathing all heavy…and I’s on a street corner…and I’s wishing I had a girl…and there’s this bar there, you see? This bar’s right on the corner there where I’s huffing and puffing away. And I don’t want to go back to my job…always hated that job anyway…and I don’t have no girl to call…and I now thinks I want to go get drunk…and so I goes into the bar…and I orders a beer and a whisky shot…and I sits there on that stool…and it’s real dark in there…and there’s nary a soul in the place…just the barkeep and me…and the barkeep, he tells me…he says, “Son, you look like you are in a bad way.” And I says, “Yes I am. You got it.” And he asks me if I’m okay…and I tells him, “I’m a long ways from okay. You just keep ‘em coming.” And he says some thing like, “Sure thing buddy.” And so I sits there like that for a long while, drinking until I’m good and drunk…and then, sooner than I knows, it becomes night…and people start filling up the place and playing the jukebox…and I don’t care about nothing…nothing at all…and the music’s good, and I’s drunk, and the neon beer signs is all coming on all around, and I don’t owe no man nothing, and don’t have no place I have to be…and I’s never felt that free and good before or since in the whole entire of my life.

Friday, January 1, 2010

the end of another decade

the pigeons had it right

they rooted like bored comedians on the phone lines

they shit on everything

the pigeons knew what love was

they had it all and gave it all up

they slept in the eaves of old buildings

they had their flight patterns and their whoring too

the pigeons had a few good nights

and a raft of bad mornings

the pigeons made up their dreams out of wind and a piece of sky

they had it easy

they had it made

they cooed like halfwits screwing in fetid air wells

but it wasn’t enough

and the pigeons knew it

it’d never be enough

so they gave up

without even a hat

and flew away