Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the infinite vs. the unknowable

The rain wasn’t helping things. The dugout steps were slippery enough where you could’ve slid on your spikes and blew out an ankle, or at least turned it some. Maybe your glove gets so it’s a bit waterlogged too, and so that could’ve been what the catcher’s saying out there, you know, when the ball slipped through and skittered away to the backstop. There’s, too, a record that not everybody’s going to know about, being that it don’t happen much, and that’s where the pitcher gets four Ks in one inning. Think old Cannonball Crane was the first, a way back in 1880 or something. It’s a strange rule that allows it. The catcher’s got to actually catch the ball after a strikeout for it to be official. If he drops it or lets the thing squib away behind him, well, then the batter can run on down to first and try to get there before the catcher finds that ball and fires it over to first before the batter gets there. There’s another thing though that makes this a bit less likely. There’s got to be less than two outs and first base can’t be already occupied. This, I guess, is because the catcher could drop the thing on purpose right there in front of him and then fire it to second, and maybe have a double play on his hands. Kind of like the infield fly rule. Catcher’s mostly hate 2-strike splitters for this reason, or any kind of junk pitch that might bounce or rattle around, or if they get crossed up. It might be a shit rule, but it makes for some excitement.

Anyways, the 4-strikeout inning is a record held by all kinds of people, but 5? That hasn’t happened in the Bigs, well, except for knuckling Joe Niekro who did it in Spring Training, so it doesn’t count. So, well, on the rainy days when the ump won’t call the thing off, well, you get to thinking, chewing sunflower seeds and staying dry in the home-half on the bench, maybe, with a strikeout guy on the bump, just maybe today’s the day for a fiver.

On this particular rainy day we were playing the Cubs, who most folks don’t recall were labeled the Chicago Orphans for the 1898 season because Cap Anson left ‘em high and dry after becoming the first in baseball history to amass 3,000 hits. We had a day game there at Wrigley, which, by the way, is all they used to have there, day games that is, up until the mid eighties when they finally went ahead and modernized and installed lights so they could play at night, and it was drizzly that day but not enough to get the game delayed. Guys were wiping their bats off on their unies between pitches. The outfield was a bit mushy, and you’d get some grass and mud caught up in your spikes out there. It wasn’t anything to go bellyaching about. You played through it and didn’t whine because the other guys were playing on the same field, you know? You think it’s maybe the roughest on the two guys in the squat though, because being a catcher’s already doing the grunt work, and you’ve got to slosh around behind the plate and try to catch a wet ball. The conditions were pretty damn okay for dropped third strikes, that’s for sure. You get to thinking though, how about it if the catcher keeps dropping those third strikes? And what if the guy keeps making it to first afterwards? How many strikeouts could a guy get in an inning? There’s really no limit to it, if you think about it. But there is, too, a limit, because the inning’s got to end at some point. It’s just impossible to really know when. It’s not like it could go on forever. The final out would have to be made at some point, even if it’s way on down the line. There must be a third out. Just like the game must end at some point. It can’t go on forever. There’s just no way to know for sure when that point is going to come. You could estimate about it, sure, but there’s really no way to know for certain when it’s going to happen.

So, anyways, I’m spitting out sunflower seeds on the bench, and I’m noodling about such things, you know, how things have to end. Nothing lasts forever. Just simple stuff that everybody knows. But it just occurred to me, well, what if an inning never ended? But isn’t it the nature of an inning to end? It has to. A game’s got nine of them to get through. It can’t just go on an on. So, also, there’s really no limit to the number of k’s a guy could have in an inning. My head didn’t like that though. There’s got to be an end point. Swimming around in eternity can get a bit iffy, you know? So, it’s like the Fresno Raisin Eaters of 1906: it doesn’t last. And then you go on wondering whatever happened to that record you used to own called Double Play! that had the wonderful risqué picture of the quite possibly topless blonde in the Hollywood Stars hat on the cover. My mind’s off wondering, to the races, and I’m likely mumbling to myself too. Dragging the infield of my thoughts, you know, and it’ll take a dinger to knock me out of my gooey trance, I kept stumbling over this apparent antinomy of endless k’s. To my mind it’s that whole if-there’s-a-barber-who-shaves-only-and-all-who-don’t-shave-themselves-then-who-shaves-the-barber thing, and I can’t dance my bean around to the paradox of its music.

Sure enough, though, by the time I’m pondering the bench pressing of these rather heavy things, the ump calls a guy out on a close play at the plate, and we’re headed back out to the rainy field for the bottom of the current inning. I grab my glove and start padding back out into the wet. It’s getting worse, the rain, and some of us are starting to think the game’s going to get called. But it’s only the third, and they like to get the game official most times if they can by giving it the old four-and-a-half, so we’re prepared to slosh through it. I’m out at short. There’s a lot of debris and mud holes out there. The seagulls are swarming a bit, maybe thrown off by the low attendance because of the inclement weather, and the day game’s atmosphere in general that just feels odd, especially when you’re out there on the not-so-well-groomed sienna, chucking away pebbles and fielding bad-hop grounders and basically just feeling lazy and worn and cold. The wind was doing little tornadoes here and there, picking up trash and dust in foul territory and in the outfield too, and it was fun to watch between batters or during huddles on the mound or when guy’s’d take their time between pitches.

My head goes from overflowing to empty pretty damn quick, and it was like that out there on the field, and I’d stopped thinking about the Eternal Inning for the time I was out there scratching doodles into the dirt with my cleats. Anyway, the Friendly Confines, in all of its brick and ivy glory, is getting soppy, and a lot of people have cleared out already, leaving a good amount of empty seats, as both teams we’re already mathematically eliminated, as they say, from post season at this point. The hush and steady murmur of the crowd’s a strange thing when the stadium’s kind of emptied out like that. It’s like you can hear individual shouts and distinct noises coming from the stands better. Sometimes I swear I catch little snatches of conversation going on out there. It’s strange. I don’t really know how to explain it right. It’s like the less people who are out there, well, sometimes it just seems louder for some reason. Like this one time at Fenway a few years back, when it was in the 14th inning and almost 2 in the morning, and cold and windy and awful out, and there were only a handful of diehard Sox fans left in the stands, I swear I could hear every word of a group of guys in the upper deck singing Neil Diamond’s Cherry Cherry. It’s those types of things that make me scratch my bean and yawn because there’s no good that’s going to come from noodling all the whys of it. Life’s just a messy blur of crazed stitches sewn haphazardly into Time’s jersey. It’s better just to yawn about it all sometimes.

Anyways, I’m out at short, getting kind of drenched out there too by this point, and it’s starting to get swampy around the bag at second, so I’m playing pretty far back, almost to the grass, to the third-base side of things in general. Sure, I was giving away a lot up the middle, but the guy on the hill for us was a real Jim Kaat, and so I wasn’t too worried, and besides, I’ve always moved well to my left and was never afraid to get some dirt on my uni. Our guy toeing the slab had pretty good stuff that day. He was pounding the zone pretty good and was working quick, so there really wasn’t a whole lot of downtime to contemplate the mysteries of the universe, at least not too profoundly. He had a good sinker, and it was really on that day, so you had to be on your toes for grounders, which I was, and couldn’t let myself get too distracted by hypothetical conundrums or a group of fans shouting all in unison: “What’s the matter with Keller? He’s a bum!” Carney Keller was on the hot corner and was getting quite an earful from some rowdy fans in the seats above our dugout. It made me laugh, hearing stuff like this, but I didn’t want to laugh about it and have Keller see me so I hid my face in my glove, pretending like I was coughing into it. It’s not that Keller would’ve cared, but still, you’ve got to show team unity and all that, and it wouldn’t’ve looked so swell if the fans were riding the third baseman and the shortstop’s laughing at it. The skip would’ve had me carrying luggage for that one for sure, and hell, I’d probably ended up in Kangaroo Court over it too.

So, I was keeping my game face on, you know, because I know how fragile people are when it comes down to it, even big-shot Major Leaguers like Carney Keller, and even if they don’t wear their frowns on the outside, well, I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, even if it’s just in fun. So, I was kind of keeping my full attention plate-wards, trying to keep my cleats from the muddier spots, and brushing my wet glove off on my pants so I wouldn’t have a gloveful of wet when I went to scoop up a grounder, or at least not as soaked of a glove. I’m a stickler for keeping to old habits, of which I’ve got a plenty, as most of us old ballplayers do, being such creatures of routine, always finding things that’ll keep us going through those consistent motions that make us successful over the course of a hundred and sixty two. It’s just a matter of finding a way to be good at something and then perfecting the art of doing that thing over and over until it’s really hard to do that thing any other way. This is especially true of ballplayers, you know us athletic sorts who’ve got to “go with the bones” without thinking at all about what we’re doing. It all has to be instinctual, something you learn to do from doing it so much that it becomes natural, like you’re teaching yourself new instincts, which I know sound like a bunch of hooey, you know, because instincts are supposed to be things you’re born with so how can you learn them, right? But it’s the way it is. At least I think so. Besides, the world we live in, you know, is changing so speedy, well, maybe our instincts for it have to be learned. Maybe after thousands of years we’ll be born with a whole new set of instincts that react to computers the same ways our ancestors reacted to, I don’t know, being attacked by saber-tooths. I don’t know. Anyway, all of this stuff makes us ballplayers a bit more susceptible to magical thinking and superstition. We had a leftfielder once who wouldn’t change his socks during a hitting streak. Luckily for us it only lasted 15 games, but let’s just say that during those weeks there weren’t many guys who wanted to get too close to his locker. We were all a bit thankful when he finally tossed those stinkers out, though we did appreciate the effort. Get good results. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and repeat until the results are always the same. A mantra, or at least the hope, for a ballplayer. This is probably why a lot of guys chew tobacco. Something about the constant rhythm of it, a steadying kind of thing, a constant motion. Me? Well, I’m partial to gum myself. But that day at Wrigley, you know, well, that’s a kind of gum I don’t really much care for, if truth be known, Wrigley’s that is. Just something thin and weak about it. Doesn’t go for long before you’ve got to shove another stick in there for flavor. I’m more of a Trident man myself. A stick of that stuff, peppermint’s tops to me, will get me through more innings than most middle relievers before it’s time for a change. But the stadium was named after the man, not the gum, so.

Any old way, I’m out there at short just biding time until what I think’s looking to be more and more like a rain-delay situation on the horizon. So, well, a lot of buzzing’s going on up in my dome, and I keep getting sidetracked by this question of the never-ending inning. But then a slow roller’s heading my way, and so I go a charging after it, as it just skips past the pitcher and is a bit easier for me to nab than Keller coming in from third. I get to it quick enough. The throw though is going to be a tough one, as I’m in an odd position there, and with the field being in anything but prime condition and the ball being at least somewhat slippery, well, there’s a lot there that can go wrong. I had sure hands and was good about getting in front of the ball. A real slick fielder for the most part, and I trusted my glove. I opt to not go with the barehand just for this reason, and I actually get a decent toss off to first, maybe not as much on it as I would’ve liked, but considering the circumstances, well, it should’ve been enough to get the guy, who wasn’t the fleetest of foot, as I remember it. That is if the throw had been on line. But it wasn’t. I pulled our first baseman Harlan off the bag. Give him credit though. He just about did the splits trying to get the out. I was pissed. I knew I should’ve had the guy. There’s just that part of you that’ll be critical over every little thing, and that was the part that was pissed. I had a bit more time than I’d figured. Should’ve got a more accurate throw off. But oh well, you know? What can you do. Just hobble back to your position and get ‘em next time. But then I start thinking, ‘How many more next times could there be? Could this keep happening over and over.’ I mean, well, because really in baseball there’s really no time limit to the game. Guys could keep getting on base. We could never get another out. This game could go on and on. But also, well, the game had to end. It had to. It boggled my head up pretty good. The uncertainty of it. Nothing was going to happen for sure. We’d all just have to wait and see, even though we knew it had to end, well, there was no way to know absolutely for sure. That didn’t sit well with me. I shook my head and doodled in the dirt with my cleats. All I wanted right then was a weak little popup, a can of corn to sit under, waiting for it to come down and plop into my glove with that reassuring sound, making me feel like everything was okay, that all of this would end, at some point, and we’d all move on, grow older, and get on with our lives. I don’t know why this made me feel good. It gave me hope. Maybe things are all pointless without an end to them? And maybe a person’s life is like that. Sort of like, what’s the meaning of all this if it just goes on and on? It’s got to stop. And with that thought in mind, well, that’s what makes it all worth it. The fact that there is an end out there, a finale, a time when all of this who that we’ve always known and always been will simply cease to be, and somehow that makes life seem more significant, like what we do matters more because one day we won’t ever be able to do it again.

Well, anyway, it made me feel pretty damn wonderful, and I stopped worrying about one long continuous inning that would just keep lasting and lasting eternally, and we got a guy looking, called out on strikes for the third out. Our catcher didn’t drop it, and the ump wound up and made a big theatrical deal about it, and we bounced from our positions and almost skipped back into the dugout where it was dry and warm, and where we knew we couldn’t stay for long, but for the while that we were there, well, we sat around and spit seeds and chewed gum and heckled the ump, shouting out things like, “You’re missing a great game, Blue!” And, well, in the short while that we were there we enjoyed it all as much as we could.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


This girl had powerful legs, man. It was like she was a shot put champion or something. But I liked the shade that the tree was making over there, where she was, and so I walked myself on over there. I was tired of being maybe’ed, singing I Am The Walrus striped in neon, sweating it out, and, of course, back in too. Won’t leave that out. Bad for the complexion. A claim at whatever cook’s-hat shit is being labeled all-joked-out when you’re really just kicking over bowling pins without a lane. She was hamming it up, literally, with those thunder thighs pumping in place, with the kind of energy that could blast a locomotive through a mountain of thick basalt. I’m sobering up by this point. It was what they call a sobering sight, I guess. I got all awful and pathetic, and nearly left my place-in-time noticing habits in the gutter there, but I swooped them up and didn’t lose them. Careered towards nothing-better-to-do, particularly there and then, I had a new-carpet stink to me, a pristine smell in my stride, and it was keeping my focus estranged, at least a little, from whatever it was that was really meow-lingering, for a spell, in motivating my motor over that-a-way where she was doing those air step-aerobics. I was punchy with something, that’s for sure. Fast enough, eventually, for grip or gripe, I was able to entertain almost all my thoughts at once, and this had never happened in quite this way before, at least that I could remember. It was easy. It’s like a she-was-just-seventeen sort of thing. The way she looked? Well, I guess I could’ve went ahead and compared it with something, but it was a no-can-do issue with my head all strung, bright and bulby, with ideas like stars, thousands there that I could gaze at and see all of, and all at the same time. Terpsichore moved through me as the gush of thoughts sang, “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go…” We all want to be rock stars, sing and live and die, all together now. Held in check, though, there I was being ambushed by my lunge towards this lower-body heifer in the style of Carnegie-Hall wannabes. Wonderbreading, as I was, there wasn’t a loaf left in me to pony up anything other than my whole cat-litter soul for all takers to take apart and never put back together ever again, at least not the way it was. It’s all unfair competition at a certain point. I broke for it. I booked past the shade trees and made my living up from pills and this guy keeps saying, “Potions. Potions for sale,” over and over. But he wasn’t just saying it to me. Mother Superior’d gone and jumped the gun. His frown was gone. I got over it. The deep-knee bending chick with shot-putting legs was glorious. She was like a god, or would that be goddess? Hey, Bungalow Bill, you know? Artemis of the concrete. There’s no name for things like that. More to the point would be to say that it’s neither the method of Spencerian or Palmer that matters, but more that there is a method there, and that method is, well, unquantifiable, and, of course, well, ineffable. That’s more to it. Not it. More to it, though. An enfilade of the senses, if you will. Or, hell, even if you won’t. A phalanx of scruffy types were perpetrating crimes against man-made devices, and there I go and get somehow suckered into mumbo-jumboing with the worst of them, ones let’s say who were clothed in the rattier and more flea-infested sort of rags that often times smell of cheesy rot and sun-baked wine. There’s this other guy who’s ranting, “Don’t gotta be so damn cute all the time. Take me back to the wild, to the wild-wild west, why do not cha?” I’m popping in here and there, but not scoping too much. Just Rita-Hayworthing in the mortar of the lord, daubing my jokes on serious walls, jiving around with a Ballet Mecanique clenched in my fist. The squatting-and-rising Lady of The Thick Legs had her eyes closed. I noticed this after sweeping some lint from my eyebrows. I could only get in a peripheral glance, but it was enough. A freshly cool ingot of surprise tumbled and then somehow rolled away from me, and I slid across the heated surface of oh-hell-here-goes-nothing and tried to make it all of heaven’s something. The sky wasn’t at all deeper than I could be, and the equations of star-hopping were not as far out-of-reach and unsolvable as they should’ve been. A pother of distraction emerged from a pendent tailpipe that was almost scraping the street as a pea-green Plymouth clanked and clattered by, and I rushed through fluttering intimacies that were almost the whipping crackle of flags in a great wind. It was too hot and too cold. This deep-knee-bending girl wasn’t giving her attention away for a thing. A surgeon’s concentration. A point she could just stare and stare at like an ice skater spinning. Attached a trifle to everything except herself. God was snoozing through this one. I heard things commuting from lips to ear: “The infinite consists of vowels alone.” Things were getting too easy for the likes of, well, a person like the one I was passing for being then. Badly, sacked when I could’ve been doing so much more, revolving around other lives, but instead just grouchy in the shade. The trapeze of my head was swinging, but back and forth wasn’t ringing the bell backwards like it should’ve been. I wasn’t in the mood to be embarrassed. Then the wind said, “White curtains hang like ghosts in the windows of that building asking if it’s tuesday yet when it won’t be any day now any time soon if weeks stack up and blow by it gets serious if the sun changes expressions over old victorian stick that’s almost worried to rhubarb and mussed cloudy if it sinks to lift if whatever gold doesn’t stay and the longest day of the year is on the wane please be my baby tonight.”

(insert your own punctuation)

money we all need to be alive


that and phones

what little remains


oh the tv too

we’ve had strokes over less

that’s lost

on everyone

food is consumed over and


headsmelt and there are wars to not

lose or win

but have

like a heart or a

wait a sec

what’s a bluff


whose now is this

to have


for brunches

of bottomless mournings


that too

til old grows young


murder is born

back to the fanciest

ordered to give

altering matters

of the earth’s surface


ousted or

piped down if they were killing


it’d not be trenches

but beaches with only sand

and no

water in any or


waste of



Monday, June 20, 2011

de novo

Man, that guy was just giving a Dirty Sanchez to the Mona Lisa. That’s fronting on a level that’s like way too specious to even begin to like go barking about, at least with the cred and essentials I’m given here, like this, well, you know. God’s playing hooky. Here’s a lopsided set of surroundings that replaces the usual. It’s like equating killing household bugs with homicide, or mass murder for that matter, and it’s things we don’t like thinking about, you know, tiny lives like that. They don’t mean anything to us. Just another squash mark on the wall, a spot of blood on the palm. Holy lord, fixtures in the environment look better, stiller I mean, when fanned with the so-called Winds Of Same. This guy, well he gets nervous, you see? Like without-an-appetite nervous, and this hankering comes along to do good; so this guy makes it his like whole bounty, at the current time, to, at least to all appearances, give something good back to the world he’d swiped so much from. Taking was getting to him. It cramped him, made him feel cornered and unsafe, and he’d get to guitaring with his mouth, almost motorboat-like, and, well, you just had to will it all away, really. It was like ecdysis or something-- only a shedding of layers of personality. And he’s the one carving bad words into glass panels with diamonds? Shit. Sure, something stinks, but it ain’t ruled straight. Even dance halls hold more secrets than....but that only fathers Not Much and Just Barely. Man, that guy? You hear me talking? Well, that guy, he does his best to do good unto others and all that smegma, but it doesn’t get him far enough. He can’t hold his cards so they face just him, you know? It’s holding out and it’s not. Badly aligned or mismanaged constellations of ideas. There’s no telling where he slept at night, or if he even did. Nobody was going to go decapitating him over it or anything, but it still kept this here hunk of crud up at night. Valium doesn’t always cut it. Sometimes you go around just dowsing your sorrows a bit instead of drowning them, spend too much time inside, waiting, trying to get good at doing nothing. Hell, there’ll always be more laundry to do and dishes to wash. We spend too much time between things. But, man, that guy was going at it all wrong, and I won’t be one to shut up about it. Get me stumping and, well, it’ll just never do. That’s all. I’ll barnstorm until the cows come home. It’s a no-win cause. Shit. Some people get pissed off at some small thing that gets done to them, and they stay that way their whole lives, and it’s really miserable, if you ask this chunk of change about it. All this do-gooder foppery is just causing a cathexis, and things build, all that holding inside or whatever you want to call it, well, it balloons, it fills the volcano of you until the top smokes, you know, steam headed, blowing your top, that sort of thing, and then it’s double-bogeying until the cows of your past line up of their own that-there volition to be slaughtered. That’s rough stuff. Don’t I know it. Bust me out of this here cage and I’ll just find another one to trap myself inside of. The real hurt of it, all this guy’s do-gooding that is, was that he was doing it all for his own satisfaction. And, well, go shit in a paint can and call it a fresh coat, that’s not really giving in a way that’s more self-less than selfish, is it? He’s really just looking out for bad old numero uno. That’s what his concern is, there, in that ordered scheme of events. In the end though, is doing good always better than doing, well, bad? I mean, you take a little something, you give something else, and maybe you end up richer for it…or, well, then maybe poorer too, in the end. That’s what gets pinned to your tail after so much “trying” and such. It’s like chopping an onion to get the waterworks going. I’m more likely to shoot myself in the toe if I’m aiming away from others, you know? Maybe that’s a mincing touch on a result-ended gather, but we’re cheap in our expenditures of timely frustration, more than sometimes. Very compact, this guy, in his themes. I could throw a dart with my eyes closed and snag at least a folded corner of the notepaper of his results, well, if he’d kept notes on things as such. Monumental? It’s pawnshopping. That’s the news from the front. He’s got pull though, and when there’s a strength, not that I’m that forgiving or anything, there seems to be more than an uplifting of personal gain at stake. Why can’t I get back to the ocean? Why can’t I get pulled away with the tide? It all stems from some boring self-defeating streak that wins over the humbler and more realistic aspects of your appearance. Doing this or that for appearances only. That’s a loser’s claim at pyrite. Well, well. There’s a little more than sidewalk etiquette involved here, and once in a paper moon you see some guy putting a cigarette out on the armrest of his wheelchair, and then maybe you think to yourself, ‘That couldn’t be me, could it?’ Willing it so, with a headful of cork, you get to paddling in the rapids of the life you’ve suddenly been dumped into living. This guy was never one to go in for something as treacherous as all that though. He could’ve knocked off early after littering the neighborhood with save-the-earth type fliers all afternoon, but this guy didn’t think “quit” should apply to him, or, more importantly, didn’t want it to seem as if he did. It was all about how he was perceived. That which should’ve mattered least in this particular instance came to be what mattered most. But I’m just a hack looking for attention. Who isn’t sometimes? So now, well, everywhere I go the dogs bark at me, and I can’t seem to get a good shave. My will’s shot full of holes. Nobody’ll ever go around making these days up to me. That guy wasn’t up to nothing but no good. And that’s all you need to know about that. The only reason that we’re alive, besides to breed and carry on our species, is to get along in a society, to be social, to be a part of others’ lives and have them be a part of ours. That’s the creek’s-dry meaning of life. If we were seagulls it’d be different, or ants. But we’re not. Like it or piss all over it, we’re humans. And being human we’ve got to find a way to exist with other humans as best we can. There’s really no other reason for us being alive. Those who tend to dwell in solitude are really just living for themselves, performing a sort of escape act from life, from what they should be doing as a social animal: existing and, in some way, communicating with, or to, others. Shit nuggets. What else is there? Well, well. And the world keeps turning. Days blacken to nights and light back to days again, over and over and then some, while we hobble around and mope in the junkyards of our past. It’s nothing. Forget it. Go out into the world and live.


we’ve got blue suede and high tides

and whisky to keep us warm

we’ve got hospital stays

and worries at bay

and hearts shaped like mules

the ocean’s a drop in the pail

of trashy good looks

and runaway heads or hearts on the lam

who could stand

just ground worm meat

and a fan-less tail

not sleepers like us

not for banana peels

not for cigarettes

we’ve got splashed eyes

and soda water

we’ve got harm to hot-wire

we’ve got shady sides of the street

a pigeon named dove

a smoker you love

and a bad time

that’s all good all around

when it’s getting later than it should

when crying laughs like it could

then we’ll paint trash cans

moon colors à la mode

while waiting

for mailboxes like also-rans

to give up

and just explode

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

higher tides

Jesse James: So it’s like everybody I know is there, and it’s lovely.

Hermann Hesse: Lovely?

Jesse James: Delightful.

Hermann Hesse: …

Jesse James: Surroundings of cocktails. Geared up for heading way up steep slopes, too. The road impossibly steep out the windshield.

Hermann Hesse: Who’s driving?

Jesse James: Not me. I’m in the backseat.

Hermann Hesse: That’s important. Everything and everyone is a symbol, something you’ve created for only you. Even people you’ve met once, you form a judgment about what they are to you. They can become a symbol of something deep within yourself that you’re struggling to understand or relate to, or let out. Think about it this way: the car is your life. Whoever is driving the car is controlling your life.

Jesse James: I don’t drive.

Hermann Hesse: See? The dream’s telling you something. You’re taking a backseat in the story of your life.

Jesse James: But I don’t even own a car.

Hermann Hesse: It doesn’t matter. It’s a collective-conscious thing.

Jesse James: I find myself walking through rooms of places I used to live, but they’re not really the same, the places that is, as they were when I lived there, but they are the same, kind of. There’s plaster dripping from the walls. Ceilings are caving in. Holes in the floor. Bare boards and exposed beams, termite-ridden rafters. And extra rooms that were never there with strange people in them. I’m always barefoot, watching out for nails, you know?

Hermann Hesse: Barefoot? That’s important.

Jesse James: It is?

Hermann Hesse: Yes. Definitely. The places you used to live symbolize parts of your life you aren’t dealing with well. Maybe it’s something resurfaced from a past you can’t quite erase or forget about, you can’t move on from or get over. Things are falling apart in these places. The past isn’t going anywhere; it’s just growing mold and waiting.

Jesse James: Shit. That sucks.

Hermann Hesse: Suck it does. But there’s hope for us in the letter-writing times we’ve left behind. There’s dashed courage lying around dead to applause, insulated from cheer, and we make choices and don’t even have to pray about it.

Jesse James: The poor cold days. Thieves behind us gathering wool and moss. That sounds like a drunkard’s plea in the wilderness to me.

Hermann Hesse: I’m dancing, from now on, until there’s something to dance about.

Jesse James: Sounds like an empty coffee pot left on the stove.

Hermann Hesse: If we’ve got time left for things like that.

Jesse James: Forgeries make themselves up out of the smell of just-struck matches.

Hermann Hesse: Strike anywhere. Just don’t strike on me.

Jesse James: The messages we get make the ones we don’t seem lost or indisposed by nonsense, which is the furthest from the truth you could get, really. Shark out what’s killing you, if the soup stinks of foul play. Don’t get yourself upset over nothing if it’s just something.

Hermann Hesse: And I’m here stuck with all of this hocus-pocus in the fuel lines.

Jesse James: If one of us grows deaf then one of us will be done listening.

Hermann Hesse: Talking is useless except as a metaphor. Tasting does the job better.

Jesse James: There are clowns and barbarians stealing my pillow right out from under my head. My eyes get stuck shut. I can’t wake up. I walk around in somebody else’s house while I’m asleep, and I know that I’m still asleep, but I just keep wandering around strange places, looking for what I know not, and the whole time just wishing I could wake up. But when I do wake up I only end up wishing I could’ve stayed asleep longer.

Hermann Hesse: A cold spell; or is it a snap?

Jesse James: It ain’t nothing but an x-y-z thing.

Hermann Hesse: Work at it, like water. We get so isolated in our spheres of habitual behaving. It’s hard to see outside of them. Take up the cello. Make a song out of your boringest days. It’s ideas of space and time that matter least when it comes to being you. Everybody shares whatever it is they’ve got.

Jesse James: Pinko bastard.

Hermann Hesse: Durations of what we call getting-through-the-day thoughts, roasting marshmallows in the same old fire, it makes horoscopes seem to sing, and we place bets on morning being there when we wake up. Shoemakers tell it like it is.

Jesse James: I hear that about them. I hear those things on the street; they go around. If a body should see a body when that body’s fast asleep. If another body sees a body sleeping. Well, I am descended from a long line of cave painters and pickup artists. It’s my blessing.

Hermann Hesse: Planes to catch and bills to pay. We get tied down, try to undo what we’ve done to get us that way, and what it means to you…?

Jesse James: Less and more each and every day. Sometimes it’s just trees, and they’re undressing, and we’ve got enough salad to last until dawn gets ornery with wind.

Hermann Hesse: Like sealing storms in a time capsule that you bury deep in your heart.

Jesse James: Sure. Maybe something like that.

Hermann Hesse: It goes with everything, this weather.

Jesse James: I wear reindeer-skin boots. It’s an adult thing to do, to be adult about it.

Hermann Hesse: Yes. We’re all about the same in our adult lives in the levels of our being grown up, no matter how old we get. It’s either young or old. Maybe a few ages we actually feel. That’s all we’ve got.

Jesse James: Stunned, I get chancy and three-headed monstered, sap-sticky, bungling through shifting landscapes, dreams that intertwine and go nowhere except around and around. In a loop, lapping myself. God’s not watching. I’m on my own. It’s not getting any safer or scarier, and I’m rarely nice in these dreams. In fact, I’m mean as hell to everyone.

Hermann Hesse: Nowhere to lean.

Jesse James: Through the thorns I lean, meanly.

Hermann Hesse: Oh, yes. That. That could help. Sure. But eat your moral vegetables too. Don’t kid yourself about the vitamin and mineral content of your soul.

Jesse James: Hardly does it.

Hermann Hesse: Keep dreaming.

Jesse James: No problem there. It’s not going to stop until…well, until something-something.

Hermann Hesse: Get a load of the airfares on this guy.

Jesse James: First class just won’t cut it anymore. I’m my own cheap tickets, bargaining away my good sense, at that. Cloudy? That says the least of what’s most…mostly, at least, gone.

Hermann Hesse: If there were, perhaps, a little kid in these dreams maybe I could be of some help.

Jesse James: Another something I’ve left behind?

Hermann Hesse: A famished thing. You think you can’t afford to feed it anymore.

Jesse James: One of these days. One of these days. I think I’ll get on back home, one of these days.

Hermann Hesse: Apparently that’s not a new thought to you.

Jesse James: It’s just making believe. I do it well. Bedtime for sweeter things than these. I catnap in the arms of strangers with a wild card up my sleeve. There are things that even dreams can never tell.

Hermann Hesse: Boyish and uneasy, never resting well, boiled in icy waters. That’s what you don’t tell yourself about it.

Jesse James: If it’s dangerous to be beside yourself with the broke stuff then I can’t manage the sumptuous also. Variation is calling long distance for a better deal. I’m tired. Tired of kidding myself and everybody else.

Hermann Hesse: Could’ve had you any day.

Jesse James: Yes. Out of kindness.

Hermann Hesse: I suppose.

Jesse James: Always late for something, running out of time, in these dreams. That’s another thing. There’s never enough time. I’m always packing, scrambling around to try and get things in order, and everything’s falling apart, and I can’t get any clothes to fit, and my oldest and best friends are leaving me behind, moving on, and I’m stuck with an expired plane ticket and a calculator watch whose giant neon-green display just blinks 999. Sometimes I’m on a bike, but it won’t ride over the gravel road, it’s so steep, and the wind’s so cold, and I keep thinking I can get a ride, you know? Hitchhike even. But it keeps not happening. And my legs won’t work. They get stuck, like in slo-mo, and I keep thinking that I’m late and there’s nothing I can do about it, and it feels like it’s the most important thing in the world that I’m missing out on, and there’s this awful feeling of being left out, left behind, being the one not picked for a kickball game at recess in grade school. I’m alone. Everything’s moved on except for me. And then I wake up and it’s way earlier than I want it to be. It’s not pleasant.

Hermann Hesse: The past doesn’t ever go anywhere, does it?

Jesse James: No. It just comes back to stub your toe when you’re trying to catch the last bus leaving to where you think you’ve always wanted to go, to be, to live out the rest of your life.

Hermann Hesse: Something like that, maybe. But in the meantime, well, get yourself some rest. Nobody’s cut out for this kind of self-torture. Let yourself sleep.

Jesse James: But…but, per chance to dream?

Hermann Hesse: No. Well. That’s not what I meant. Still, don’t treat it as the enemy. It’s too easy to defend yourself from your own attacks. Be patient with others. They’re not out to get you. And if they are? Well, that’s just selfishness, and why would you want to be involved in the accrual of yellow bile?

Jesse James: Maybe a better question is, “What is it that makes me the person who I happen to be?”

Hermann Hesse: It's infinite, no?

Jesse James: …clouds go shuffling by the moon while I count seagulls and monitor my pulse. I grow tired of others’ sock situations. While imbibing isotonic beverages the glow of a TV lights my room at night.

Hermann Hesse: But who are we to tell ourselves who we are? It’s just something, maybe, that we find out the more we get used to living the way we do, the more people who come to know us and whom we get to know, it all just figures out, even if it seems phony or trite or dismally normal. We somehow manage. And sometimes we even get to paint tropical scenes on coasters with toothbrushes. Dream of running water; wake up parched.

Jesse James: I’m being used improperly. Killing rattlesnakes doesn’t have to be my business, my only way out, the strangling of serpents. I get by, hang my weary head from the torture of my day job, and every night, from the great heights and distances of my dreams, I quit.

Hermann Hesse: You grow older and spend money and come to depend on necessity to get you from here to another here. We’ve inherited things like hiccups from our fishy ancestors, things that only get in the way of breezing through our normal existence.

Jesse James: As the sun goes around sprinkling diamonds over bashful clouds, well, we get sleepy and called out looking on strikes. A trembling in the leaves, or more like a shudder really, as the stiff fingers of a sharp wind ice through, stingy, crackling, and the lightning hasn’t happened yet but the birds are aware of something brisk and indefatigable, a hunter with too much prey so she stops aiming and just shoots in a fish-in-a-barrel way, hoping without much to hope against. There’s plenty of me left; I just don’t know what to do with it, where to put the stuff of my life, the who-I-am that drives the jonquil from the kiss.

Hermann Hesse: Driving. Driving. That’s more to the point than floriography could ever get.

Jesse James: Where we go, well, Jesus, ain’t nobody knows, right?

Hermann Hesse: Listen, the peacock doesn’t get along as well as the peahen, even though it looks pretty with its fanned tail of a thousand eyes. Being okay or better on the surface isn’t ipso facto the best way to survive. Maybe the fancy plumage that you go around showing off for others is really just a wimp’s hiding place.

Jesse James: The sky’s shiny platter forebodes necessity, and perhaps a chance at rain. I don’t look deep enough into things. I get distracted by the lacquered charm of the façade. And then what if I think, not just to myself, ‘The smell of cigarettes is better than smoking.’?

Hermann Hesse: Maybe drop the kids off at the cleaners and go bowling.

Jesse James: We sleep through our dreams most of time, don’t we?

Hermann Hesse: It does seem that way.

Jesse James: Pathetic, isn’t it?

Hermann Hesse: Don’t ask me. I don’t even work here. I’m just passing through on shore leave from Higher Up.

Jesse James: Figures.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

pulled plugs

So, here’s an odd one for you. This guy I know, well, he’s got trouble with his woman. I tried to tell him I don’t talk to people with tucked-in shirts, but he don’t listen, you know? He’s got his own agenda. Always going on about some slight or thing he thinks’s been done to him. Always the short end of the stick with this guy. Never a thing he can do about it, too. Nuts. I tell you. But what’re you going to do when low-to-medium level crushes enter into the arena? But this guy, it’s like he’s built with stitches. I could tell you some stories. Showmanship as pink as adobe walls at sunset. Nothing but a mood to relax in, or out of. With this guy it’s all a computer repair shop waiting to go out of business. Some people never grow out of being themselves. Maybe we’re all somebody else at some point, and then we keep being other people, and we get stuck and can never get back to being just us. Don’t know. Could be he’s just more comfortable with being downtrodden, and he’s sticking to it. A man can’t live on lettuce alone. It’s like when you hear this one song and it gets another song stuck in your head so you start singing the other song, the one that’s not the song you heard, and you can’t remember how this song got stuck in your head, which it is now, and so you start backtracking to see where it came from, and you can’t, you can’t remember. That’s like this guy’s dilemma. It’s not that he’s forgetful. He’s just desultory, jumping from one thing to the next. No concentration or staying power. It’s always off to something new with him. It makes you start to think that nothing matters, that he doesn’t take things serious enough. But that’s not it. He just can’t stay on one thing for long. He’s a stream that just flows and doesn’t know from whence it came. Long time I’ve known this guy. He’s swell. He’s a good egg. Strangeness becomes him. Everywhere we go, he and I, there’s light from above shining down, or below, up at us. It doesn’t matter. It does though when he’s around. I don’t know. There’s nothing fishy about it. He’s just got trouble with his woman. She does him wrong, you know? Sometimes that’s how it goes. Do all of our own personal problems seem that stupid to other people? Probably. Who’s pearly enough to slip by? That bastard’s not making any heads roll. Got to know when to quit, somehow. Leaked, fortunately, my way was the times he spent shackled to barstools, pouring enough whisky into his gut to make a seagull shit its feathers. I made the most of it, at least. Do your taxes and kick the rich to the gutter. It’s a matter of downing one thing to replace another more decrepit thing in your never-ending satchel of things. We’re talking volume, of course, and I don’t mean to make small the guy’s pattering two-step through the fields of deflated, hunkering-down men, but it’s just the opposite really, if you stop and cram about it, like the night before a Scantron test where you’ve got a decent chance of just guessing, or intuiting the answer anyway. But more’s the less for now, and I don’t want to get all pansy-driven with the whole thing. It’s mostly, like I said, a volume issue. That’s enough to get a hand-me-down opinion out of it, as far as I care to go with the matter. World’s enough of wrong without me adding to it. So, this guy, well, he gets to shopping around for a good time, and, well, he sometimes gets what he’s looking for, you know? Nothing official. Just weeping trails leading nowhere special. Had a lot to hang his hat on though, in those times that he acknowledged the need for it. He didn’t have the stomach for holding lies, and he made up most of what he needed with reservations a plenty, and then screaming, “I don’t need you. I don’t need you!” down narrow hallways when it’s too early to be late. The pitter of his hectoring was pattering most of what he didn’t need to say, cured of care, and he wasn’t pleased to be emasculated the way he was mostly all of the time by his Lady Of The Sour Waters, but the telephone booths of his dreams were all out of order or ripped from the wall, so really there wasn’t much left to go on chatting about unless you brought your tennis racket along for company. For a song he’d tie one on like a bandana over his face so he could rob the bank of what you thought you’d get to know or, well, not comprehend because your hands were too cold for that. He wasn’t bare or lacking in the conceptual mechanisms for restraint. It was more of a Larry-Curly-Moe thing, if you go in for smithereenish shit like that. I’ll tell you something about astronauts if you want, but it’ll never take the outer out of space, you know? Same thing. Phased in and out. Choppy and forgiving, too. So, this guy’s got his woman troubles. This guy, he’s a mess. He’s spilling his willpower all over the bar. Raided, a savage for whisky, clouding around, and he mistakes rainbows for jumpsuits, and then, just then, he jacks up the rent and pushes you out a window for a laugh. Don’t get me wrong, or right for that matter, he’s all hammers without nails, but still, you’ve got to keep a wary eye on his maneuvering. Field a grounder. Bunt a guy over. Vest-pocket your wimpy satisfaction. That’s what’ll keep you sure enough to find a current to drift away on. Well, this guy, he goes from zero to drunk in no time, and stays there for a long time. Had to get him outside. He’d eat cockroaches, that guy. Reprimand him about it? No. That wasn’t my job. They can’t train that shit into me. Gun me down with hindsight. It won’t matter. Time won’t tell. Let’s get on with it. Shit. So, let’s absorb a few blows here and marry the affair to the drift of it. God hurt us. Blessed we be with this Shinola. Very tempting, in this way, out of sorts, tempted out of it though, so, here goes, or doesn’t. We’ll see.

Something of a ballast, mostly made of cheap wine and hogwash, kept him righted. I can’t tell you a lot of things, but the few I’ve got are more pith than petering out, that you can be sure of. And this guy, he says things like, “It’s nothing but slag and dross. But enough of that scoriaceous crap. More water. More vegetables. Less sore throats. That’s all I’m asking. My song ain’t going to change much, so get used to it. Let’s fiddle around with the old deal, get a grip on stage presence and putting up a backside to it, and then maybe we’ll have that result of effort and manageable half-asses on our side. Been over and underdone on that front all too many times. Have at it with the rest. Skip me. I’m done and rumpled. Don’t want Monday to come around no more.” Yep. Says things like that all the time. And he gets himself deep into his thoughts, well, then we’ve got whisky-soaked nightmares to deal with, and it’s off with their hats, you know? He also says things like, “I look into the mirror. The thing I see? That thing? It’s not the me that everybody else sees. I can’t see myself like that. I see myself…differently.” He goes on like this pretty damn often. Well, often enough that I’d mention it. One night, maybe, let’s say, you find yourself parked next to him at the bar, and he’s spieling and sputtering, getting himself motioned and maudlin, qualifying the edges of what’s scared to see him like that, there, a pester to any ear close by. I bent mine. Got some bucketful of talk. So, there’s the woman who’s done him wrong. Of course there’s that. Plus, we’ve got conniptions cocktailing away inside him, burstful, and then he’s back on two legs, the barstool tipped and steady though, and shredded discounts to competitors if they can put up with this crazy-legged taunt. And I’m not a softy by any means, you know. But take the red eye out of my photos, please, you know? Well, that too. I could go on, and I would, but this guy, well, he’s burping off what’s left of his standoff, so there’s little to do but wait it out. Raise the bar or bow out. He’s gargling on about the deep-blue sea of his memories or something that’s more porcelain-tinged than that. Borrowed’s better for the most part. On with it, badly though at first, he goes. No help for that. Dressed to stay. Morninged through the days until the nights get the better of neon gone off spluttering sparked contagious blips of joy, or jumpy too, if you will, about what tomorrow’s going to get a glove on only to let dribble through the infield, maybe chalking the grass a bit. He was selling jokes for beers that night, and he’d bundled away quite a few gigglers for the occasion. By the time I got to him he was beer-groggy, sotted and sappy, and the only thing that’d do was more, there being no room for any other ambitions or aspiring to other ends than the ones he’d been greedily filling up on already. Out to lunch. Be back after dinner. That sort of a situation. Borrowed means. I got into the habit of referring to him as A Man Who Was Thursday, but that did little alleviate his paranoia of incognito recognition, or, this is just to say, being apprehended by clockwork ghosts, sometimes howling, “My car! My car! My cupcake for a cup of cake!” It suited him, this sort of thing. And on some once-in-a-while occasions he’d mimic vibrant green leaves scratched with lemon falling through daylight. Those were times that rubied to a shimmer, at least in the pick-of-the-litter way I’ve got of remembering them, that way. Clearly it’s not just a matter of bowing in or around the matter. He’d come at you with his eyes stunned, chewing ice, certain of something irascible scrabbling through to get you caught slightly on and off guard at once. And the charge’d gut you, empty you of pretenses and maybe pirate your purpose too. Duped? Somehow not at all. It’s a courtesy flush for the questioning of your nature. How it affects me, not you, you know? That third-place-finish sort of a thing. Let’s whip up a meal here and fix unlikely attention on stunted contraptions of a real true-blue mensch, a cause for a smile or at least a celebratory wink, something saying, “Here it goes. Here it goes.” It’s all refrangible around about now any new how. Test cases exempted, of course, tanking it for sure, maybe, if going off is leading steeply nowhere, well, then let’s partake in an old deal of rug slicing and wah watusiing the devil out of Noah Webster while we’re at it. Might as well. It’s peek-a-boo or piss-and-pooh, as far as I’ll let on about it. This guy though? He’ll get started in a fish tank and end up bowling you over for spare change. Grab a bucket of rain and start bailing, you know? So, he’s going on about his sorry state of To-Mother-Russia-With-Love shackled resentment, gushing glue-wayed and more than marble for a being’s time, honest-to-the-devil, warm as heaven, and punching back just to please himself. That about does it. Varnish me with peanut oil and play a vulture-bone flute. Sun-eyed, cloud-brained, milked and rerouted, and then he lays this one on me.

“Mosey on out to the cove’s last by-a-breath reaches, out there where the ocean’s swelling without pride, swollen with tears, more likely, like the way a stranger says goodbye, it models moods for the trees, that, of course, we all once wore, dripping with god’s perspiration, pouting with remorseful eyebrows. I am not a piano but she plays me just the same. Virtue, for me, has become passé. Supper’s forever late, and I’m storming kitchens, tying boredom’s twine to firewood that’s too wet to ever burn. I make it out as far as compassion will let me most nights, still. Nope. Not under the volcano yet. Not me. But maybe that dim echo down the staircase is a harbinger of doomed things yet to come for me. Passionate people? It’s something they speak of in movies, or there’s the possibility of love songs. Undertake the stance you never could stand, and all these days and nights go by again and again, and yet you’re still here, just like me, waiting it all out. Salvation’s so far from here when you wish you had another round while I just wish for one last beer. It’s all making that track-cleats-on-asphalt sound, and we haven’t come so far, really, have we? Bargain with me. Come on. I let on about it all all the time. Manage a way through it though. My make and model number are etched on a silver amulet some broad wears around her neck, and she’s my only true love. That’s what I think, at least. No business as unusual as this business. So, let’s accept the changing conception you might have of another person, give ground on a few less fronts. Saturn lies waiting for a ring, you better bet on it. Gosh or golly all over it, then scrub off the grease while the pain’s still bystandering. Hell, that’s what they all say. Like ruined rain, it’s the bordering of hostile reactions, the fiction of mangled third courses still scrounging around for appetizers. Left? Nothing that wasn’t already gone in the first place. Well, buckled into the passenger’s seat I go, dancing with shadows and vanishing swept into the gutter. Hell, it’s whisky weather. Let’s bundle up. I’m leading the back of the charge. Rusty with what my dreams never let on about, like some syrup-headed Bindle Stiff on the lam from comfort and ease. Lowly, but in charge of my personality at least. Caved in. That’s where it all begins. A taking off point, if you will. Or won’t. Never is easy enough to conjure up, and still they’ll be saying ‘was’ about me someday. It’s a matter of being early before it gets too late. So, the question in question here is one about splitting the spilt sand of indifference, taking mushy wet concrete matters into your hands, and here I go getting humble and mischievous at the same time, mulling, and then, well, I started off with the soft stuff and moved past some herded-cattle daymares, that’s where we’ll get our going to for now, and that’ll be forever, for now.

“We had eyes to catch the traces of where it all was going, but being blind to it was easier, so that’s what I was partaking in at the time. Had to keep her at a distance that was becoming more dangerous with each turn of the world. Bargaining was a holdout from simpler times when we’d ogle sunsets and trashcans and people trotting along all loaded-up with clothes from the Laundromat, tumbled and windswept expressions, a keening almost stirring the air; and it wasn’t trouble-- the sky declining invitations to host dark cloudbelly while we waited with clenched hands and pursed lips-- that moved through us, beset by ulcered misgivings, or whatever it might have been that, with problematic jumps from sheets to covers, we were consuming in chunks like raw bacon. I bet drink solves a few things now and then. It seems odd that it wouldn’t, at least twice in a while. But, hell, don’t let me get cranky and blow a gasket over it. There’s no surer way to tell good than by hustling the bad. I’m through with waiting things out; trying doesn’t get me nothing except dissatisfied, and leaves me only with more problems to boot.

“Poor at most things. That’s nothing. Forget about it. Being handy comes in good at a cost. Everything goes, and it goes so fast. Scott free, left like it mostly, and wandering into the scummiest of places, that’s as bad a chance as any I’ll take at being myself into the wee hours. Drained is not how I lurk, and if romance is lacking at home, well, give me a bible and a gun, and send me on my way. Long changed. Hopping down from castled heights. There we go, or I do, again, being amenable to the haddock weather of my whims, or hers, or the ones the barkeep keeps handing up to me from depths I’m sure I’ll sink to find once again, not as steady as this, or that, for that matter, either. God’s hooks, I’ve got a sandblasting nature tonight. I wasn’t always this way; but it’s like when the moon kicks up its heels, or something as so-so as mice rummaging through the floor-dropped scraps I’ve purposely left for them to munch on, or nibble, or whatever it is that they do with bits of cracker and cigar ash. Digesting is for Arabian fish; that’s what I used to always say. If now, maybe, it ain’t so? Well, I still say it, even if it ain’t so much now. I’m less cursed than cured though, if my lies check their veracity at the gates of Eden, so to misspeak. But I carry on nonethemore, sneaking front-and-back-ways through a confidential parlor door. Sure, I get a bit dippy at times, but who don’t?

“I was hard up for a livelihood, scumming about from bar to bar, damaged bads, though up and in also, and a whole lot of neverminding between the skull with just whisky and beer sloshing around in there. Meddling was getting me into the chaperone seat, so I stopped asking and answering, and then just co-opted some mettle to wait out of the whole bell and whistle of the thing, or so I hoped. A one-man think tank sprouting from a barstool. The ideas were dozened out for a dime though, and dusty light bulbs went on with their dim business, hanging from corroded wires, buzzing and swaying slightly. There’s freedom in chimelessness too. Sometimes it’s just hard to admit stuff like this. Necklaces get lopped off in the life of night. You wink and something sparkles there for a moment, then it’s gone and it never comes back. You find yourself staring in the mirror and wondering where this face came from. Lord, the thoughts that go and come. We weld ourselves together from discarded parts, and then this is somehow supposed to make us feel less small? But in here, well, I keep getting gollied around here, and so I drink away the days to forget the nights, and vice versa, you know? Pretty late or ugly soon, it turns out. Well, well. Ahem. And all the likes too. I’m all stuffing and mad-lib headed on these crazy-legged noons. Spray me down with a fire hose and call it an evening. Can’t stand so well, and walking? That’s in of the answer, and here I am left worrying all this worry away.

“She left me. I ran away. That’s the most of it. I kept a lid on my kettle for a time there, shucked my image as a bread-and-buttered loser, while thinking all along that that’s a good way to lose a toe. And the republic falls. And the mayor breaks wind. All over town we hear news about the Mashed Potato flailing back into style, but nobody pays attention to the right things. We’re all just humans here to help each other out, and not just when we find it convenient or when it suits us. Things got to be better than easy but worse than rough. So, go ahead; the sunshine’s not new enough; I can’t wash my eyes in it anymore. Bend me a paperclip; lend me your tears. Powerless, weak, and exhausted. Uncle. Too bad to be false. Uncle.

“Last night’s hero is tomorrow’s bum. Recoup a loss for the sake of one last chance to win. And that girl? Well, one thing about her was that she had the squiggliest hair I’d ever seen. Something chicken-scratched with a pencil. I’d about had it with being normal, so it was a go-figure situation. She was pray-telling and scotch-plastered by the time I got to her, waxing crescent, chummed and shut up, too, if you figure a wallop of guilt in there courtesy of a phone call she was probably not scared enough to make. Find a girl; settle down. That’s got the appeal of a candied walnut, or it should maybe somewhere up the line, if somebody besides god might be asking. My fault? Maple syrup farms are nice to visit, but…

“Try keeping time with the charm of swallow trackers on your trail. Gasoline behind us, thieves just up ahead. Smuggling bashes a few windows of indifference, but I’ve mottled my charisma more than occasionally, and it’s enough to know I’m bottled now, canned and babied to near death, and all here is calm and all is shitty, that’s all I got to make out of it, at most, if the way I see it is seeing it the way it’s seen but never known. She’d suss out a sty in midnight’s moonlit eye, you know the type. Bad for nothing. Cover your telescopes and your bird-watching binoculars; there ain’t a thing to see, boys. The opera’s closed up shop and left town. Now the trains’ve run out of time, and we’re left murdering instincts, hunting suicides until they confess to a crime they’re afraid to commit, battling axed deliverance with a bologna-slice smile. Yep, she gave away the mustard and kept the pickles and olives for the birds. For the birds. Just like love. Now? Well, there’s dancing to be done, and lonely times will never tell. So, buckle up. Hold onto your cats and masks. Goofing around is just around the cul-de-sac a few less times than we’ll never squarely know like this again. Felled just like this, again. And then I’m stooped over observing the lacquered wooden doors of churches, light headed and dizzy as always, day dreaming about sleep that’ll never come; and it’s the outlines of people you see walking towards you: sun-edged, wavy lined things that hold water and have squirmy hair shadows. Then, of course, it’s retreat time. Don’t hesitate or you’ll blow it. But the bustle in my head gets too loud for small talk. Mulishness will not do. Obstacle-coursing through muddled thoughts, differing spots here and there of clarity that don’t do a damn of good for any or all involved, though I must admit I’m like the rest when it comes to feigning action in the constant purgatory of the heart. How greenly didst thou putt, my dear? You know? Just end up confused, but, you know, not bored. That’s a loser-wins situation if you ask this trounced pushpin of a guy. Anyway, the barkeep keeps pushing more drinks across the boards.

“Estimating my time of arrival at 5:53 in the pea em, well, that wasn’t going to do Billy or Francine any of what I consider good. Even if you ask Kendall, well, Kendall, that’s a whole-a-neither-this-or-that story. It’s plausible I was late. That’s what not having a good timepiece will do to one’s ETA. Billy needs propanolol to take a leak in a public bathroom. So, this is coming from a guy who’s keeping much to himself. Just saying. He’s on the shy side. Not one to talk to strangers or bother with others’ problems unless he damn well is forced to. Every night he spills everything he owns on the kitchen floor and picks it up again. Can’t get a bead on that guy, Billy. Shit.

“So I’m supposed to be somewhere, properly, at a specified time, and it’s hard to knuckle out of this promise in what seemed to me to be an assuredly unpromising situation, what with all the hysteria and dramatics over Billy’s new cushy surroundings. It’s like, ‘Snap out of it,’ you know? This was quite the quotable line when we were kids. I get there when I get there. That’s plenty. I think so. It doesn’t matter. Everybody’s an idiot when they’re in love. The trees talk to you, tell you that they’re brainy. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in, well, that. It gets later and later. That’s all it does. Ever.”