Thursday, January 26, 2012

black & white rainbows

I like stories. I like people telling them to me. Ok. I’m going to go ahead and tell you something.

Second of all, it was raining. But, you know that. That’s what I’m talking about, really. There is no first of all, and the second part, well, you already know it. So. So what? Right? Slick, gray streets glistening under pools of sodium-yellow light, the sour soggy bleats of cabs, gutters rushing trash-laden streams downhill, slouch-hat weather all over. Rain and more rain for Etta, all day the day she died.

“Bought her plastic diamonds with my winnings from the track.”


(It’s clearer, just because.)

“Madam Howsler. The one who was so loud in the mornings.”

“Oh those wider eyes, those tears that’ll splash.”

(The right to remain in motion, distinct from other rights, assumes lawlessness prevails.)

“Let’s mince words with comforting thoughts of disasters.”

(A pear, a pit, a huckleberry for all your pennies.)

“Choices get fewer as they abound.”

So, here’s your story.

From building to building we go, by way of car. I go forth strapped to a chair with a seatbelt. There’s crummy food to eat, each other to belittle, lights to make. Honestly, we’ve got it made; it’s just that we don’t even suspect it.

A guy’s tailing me. He’s got his lights off. The car’s a worried Chevy, gray and clanky, and it’s puttering along a few blocks back. Its days of passing smog checks are over. He’s getting hung up in traffic, so I try to take it slow too; give the guy a chance to catch up and get it together. It works and doesn’t. It’s like talking on the phone to a stutterer. I’m glad he’s at a distance though. He’s being careful. I appreciate that. He’s brave, for a wimp.

The influencing factors of my situation were particularly placed off kilter, then things sort of swung in the genial direction of decent luck for me. That was later on, though. Much later on.

It’s not the drops that get to you, it’s the drips. I was drowning my sorrows with bad habits of a more melancholy disposition than you’d ever believe coming from a guy like me. Car tires slushing through the belabored tows of a morning stuffed with mud-marbled clouds and clumpy oatmeal cobalt sky, pouring coffee over it all, grumpy and stiff and too tired to yawn. I was yanking the duvet off the guano-stained mattress of my existence.

I was looking for something distinct about my suffering that might make it worthwhile. A curb to leap from, maybe, and the indifference of bystanders, people who spend their whole lives waiting for lights to change. Terrible things happen to those who wait, sometimes, and I wonder if I have any friends or just people who haven’t become my enemies yet.

“Clearly there is no way I’m going to be fooling all these people into believing that any of this really happened.”

“It’s going on right away, almost now, almost. Got it?”

“Plus, it’s easy to shake it all off. Instants get lost in the proverbial shuffle.”

“Only I am known to know what’s saying yes to you these days.”

“Curiously, it’s left-handedness that gets out of the way.”

“I am loaning you some darkness. Here, give it a shot.”

The rain stopped, and it smelled so clean. Everything was crisp and sharply focused. Details sprung from clouds and gravel just the same. A damselfly drowned in a gutter.

So, the next thing I know I’m crammed in the back of a Datsun with two chubby characters of a dour disposition, speeding along well above the posted speed limit on highway 99, heading north just past Fresno.

She lost the note I gave her, the one with directions to the Hole-In-Two Club’s secret rendezvous. “A cloud’s shoes for your thoughts, honey dear.” There. That’s all she had time to say. “Very nice to not see you, I’m sure.” Something like that; but nobody’s giving out any awards around here. Not just yet.

Case closed.

I am telling this story. It is entertaining. You believe in it, in me, in what I am telling. Look for clues. It is important.

(Hey You! Concentrate!)

The third part is boring. Everybody skips it. They don’t realize what is happening. Let’s move on.

There are no movies playing. The story shifts gears here. Excitement is just around the bend. Hang in there. It’ll be worth it.

The painters went across the street. They were all dressed in white.

I asked them, “Painters, why do you all dress in white?”

The painters painted. They didn’t hear me, or something.

“I am asking you a question, painters.” I said.

The painters painted.

The painters were painting a fence white.

I asked them, “Painters, why do you paint that fence.”

“The show must go on,” the painters responded.

“Does the fence have to be white?” I asked.

“Of course,” the painters said. “It is always a white fence.”

“Pickets?” I asked.

“Always with pickets,” said the painters.

I thought this was sad.

The carpenters came on a Tuesday. They had ice picks and hard hats. Nothing was necessary.

I told them, “This is no mistake. Weekdays are good in theory, but we all know how reliable theories can be.”

“Untested?” Asked the carpenters.

“Mighty,” said I.

It was no use. The carpenters went their merry way.

A part is a whole on its own, sometimes. Voices carry and drown out the splashing. Don’t skim the details.

“I am beginning to suspect that you have no motive, that you are just avoiding linear narrative for kicks, and that you are merely a troublemaker, a lazy hack with the limitations of a television.”


“Yeah, you. Buddy.”

“I plead noncompliance.”

So, as things unfold, in the meantime, while the commercials run, as supper interrupts, we buckle down, intent on originality at all costs. It is in the telling that all hope resides.

A story? Well, here you go:

The barman was gone. It was still early. I couldn’t find the barman anywhere. I said, “Keep!”

Nobody answered.

I poured myself a letter. I mailed myself a drink.

“Where, oh, where is my barman?” I asked the bar.

“Nobody, not even the bar, has such enormous hands,” said the bar.

I kept quiet for the remainder of my time at the bar.

Sketch artists were drawing straws.

“Who got the short one?” I asked.

“We all did!” Exclaimed the sketch artists.

Nobody dropped their drawers over it.

“Can we go now?” The sketch artists asked.

“You already are,” I said.

They were.

Appetizers continued to be served.

Intermission comes and goes. A long hello bakes a goodbye for dessert.

“Where is your beginning?”

“Towards the middle.”

“And the end is…?”


Look! The story is unfolding. Pay attention, or sell it to the government for the price of your independence.

The presidents were singing, “Glory is fleeting.”

It turned out to be the case.

I asked the presidents, “Where are your running mates?”

The presidents said, “They’ve got our names.”

Amends were made.

The jackhammers of debating jerks continued to disrupt the peace and quiet of the world.

The golfers were clubbing a wolf.

“Is it crying?” I queried.

The wolf moaned.

“Barely,” said the golfers. “Just about barely.”

A loaf of bread became worth more than gold. I bowed deeply towards a dense thicket of pine trees.

“Decorations?” I asked.

“We don’t need flashy…” the golfers began to say, but were interrupted by the sound of mimes.

These mimes were minding everybody else’s business. The mimes were in attack mode. Typos abounded.

“Our blood is becoming less bold,” said the mimes.

“I wish that I could wish,” I said.

“Don’t we all,” said the mimes. “Now. Be silent. We’re being memed to death. Don’t look. Tell.”

Birds suppered on late-arriving worms. A bee went into cardiac arrest while sniffing mildly at a marigold. Appetites were whetted.

The anarchists were dressed in browns and greens, except for their blue suede shoes.

I asked them, “Where are your army boots?”

“Bravery is coming back into fashion,” replied the anarchists. “Music tells more than sense could.”

“Fodder rich?” I asked.

“Glowing!” the anarchists exclaimed.

I watched them as they marched single-file towards the ocean.

Nobody argued about the cost of supervision.

“Lose the mustache, commander,” said the Checkout Clerk.

“Not in this weather,” I ventured.

A price scanner beeped.

I said, “Look! Listen.”

The line diminished and grew behind me.

A cocktail cheated on a napkin.

“We have prisms here,” roared the caregivers. “Not prisons.”

“So,” said I. “Not locked up, but refracting.”

“A medium-level light has gone dim,” said the caregivers.

Somebody shouted, “I will take my socks off and shout at the lord!”

I rolled up my sleeves.

“Whatever happened to all the lunatics?” asked Dracula.

“They are dangerously safe,” I replied. “Bloodthirsty?”

“No. Sucker-punched,” said Dracula.

“Keeping up appearance for the ladies, I see,” said I.

A Motorola phone died silently.

The end is almost finished. Just a moment. Meanwhile:

“Give me some of that Pentecostal rhythm, that old Pentecostal rhythm,” sung the sign spinners.

“If it were good enough for me,” I said.

“That’s not the ticket.” The sign spinners said. “Not out or in.”

Ahem. Moving on. Until next time. Lastly, for now, the guy in the Datsun says something to the effect of: “I am stalking courageously (unhip) regarding guerilla tactics (for ground use only) the insights (likely) of those least-known of appropriate actions (like time tables) in lieu of applejack dessert (an open book, this scheme) almost war (over) it besides who cares about spring this time of year (?) no (.) right is now (almost) to (gone with again) there to there it goes (like flowers close) to make reminders of (forget it) exteriored grief or (don’t be sad, my little darling) it’s inside of (it isn’t out) made up (by and bye) squeezed silly and spun (taken for a letter) grants (a) right left late (by way of a passing lane) got without another it (placed to never show) quits before (all of the) bands go home (badly) for good.”

…to be continued

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

medgar evers tinkered to chance

O’er their shins to dig back, so who wouldn’t? Here commandeering (hear’all) thee bestered criminals. Blames that work backlong or shirtless. Westered or lee entropic or you’s do-nothings. Vest, give it down, and this hack’s stance writes less ordered. Pleased we were luckpast and stowed pawning empty goryeyed. Glimmer &, chucked, we cough softer. Crime’s color burnt, crossways, empty(a to-be-seen) guilty’s knowing. U’s S’er-inding’s’ed in A, of course. Natural&only. Depart Chaucering. Lim e’er a cancan. Be bad. Poled pilgrims underdoing shats of ere years gone loonier than winy. Love’s my spoke soft’a’lee, this’a’that, hawkortalk, o’ed to pleases, also yesed for a close’s debate bout too’s morrow--still, repair. Rest a reason to lose light’s day. Nosoul’s a or m. U’s’A’d, believin’ all’s not ill. Boos howl more boos. Vats of it. Totaled & rowed & roar’t’s honeypie’d. Righty sirs. Left at it, gitted to prowl us for use, & we/us have at bullets, & backed by gov’s guns, gritty to sunbaked. Concrete’s’a mess. Busted. Vanish, to be, lurked after, the trailings of roses at deadpetal endings, thy’s selves. Pleading crass-loined, charged ex-temper(full) & igneous, lowered up, pincerbound, down as well. We’ve a few. That’s’a plenty. Me’d here, that’s’a like paperbagging gold, if they/you will. Glad or better to not comeclose to knowing. Stirred lest we shake awake to doorpoundingdowns. Mud’s slurring volumes, wellfed to ground, and kingly ‘tis lower-- foundout-- airy&dense. Coffee’d o’er ramparts & whatnot, too, alive as we were (you’d to slimy troughs) dotting thoughts, too, with an out to clank closed, by&by, done it to who, who’d to being done.

Oh, well, jim’s cricknecked, again crowed & against foremostly. Exclaimed o’er nobody’s where. Swapped smiles. & then, well we did, ‘tis a right-whistled pity, p’ing-oned, likely collides with a yet. Vanity’s a sure’s shame. Lower sour nottoswing charioted, ‘cause no’s no king. Passered to a bye’s badly mouthed good. My show’s just to place, coffinnails to fingertaps, casketed clean away. Buried body sans soul, lumps, originally memed, all in, as all’s jake, yet down’s a worry who worms about, & slips to chased hounds, them’s an all, or awe, we know? A hingesound and weallfallup.

Undone. Out’s blacker. Praying’s a hardly’s sought job. Together’ed or tethered, are we not? Lord. Lordy. Lord. I’m outta number-oneing ideas. Put the out in black, and we’re shiftering slightly slighted. No person is a gun’na care less I’m a tied loose-trained & hung for postcard’s pictures. A sighs loose begins to furl. Me? Some body to hurl dirt on, not once twined to joy’s country. Twelve miles to and from. No gas where’s all the yous can’t go, spilled blood’s oil’s concretedreams. For all the blacker jays of f’s okay. All thy wills, nearer hand’s never held, a rifle’s as just never’s well, be done for. We all here, compromised & expendable, who seek to upset tries of damn’s god for mississippi’s sake. See, this land’s a goner, sea-to-polished-dark, and we’ve lazed back uncounted, booted, sad-lashed bigbrowneyes for the morrows mends never made. To be, to be, to be, a-alright’s e already, okay’d beyond the great & the bad & the conquering bootsole of it all. People, they should’a listenup more. People. Blamed truant, pawned for a sigh, gush-- ing-or-out-- pro’d to every con sang in chains, trailed’trained’trippedover, yepped it’all back home-like, or named bound free-at-last, already. god’s hooks pry out’s business as staggering backshot halts-- driveway stains notwithstanding-- joint’ed luck gone for hemisphere’s of sorrow’s bleakest garden plot, dusted to ne’er turn away, rerunned to pardon’s tune, and we(themthat)gun fourscored to speak soft’s leeward gait, uncrowded cowards plea’bargain(again)against the rumpled brow(or)beaten nature-- weherewhofindtimetoforgivelestallwe’vegotturnswhisperedtoforgot.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

public service announcement #47 (abridged version)

male: Before meeting him, did you ever have trouble sleeping?

female: Yes. But not often. Just more like drifting off but never falling.

male: A slope. Yes. You’re headed downhill but…

female: There’s nothing, nothing there to…um, break my fall?

male: Slipping.

female: Or maybe gliding’s more like it.

male: What is it that keeps you gliding?

female: Well, you know, I was drawn to him at first-- well, this is kind of dumb-- but I liked the way he crossed his legs, how his socks showed a little. And it was delicate, almost like a balancing act, and his ankle kind of bobbing his brown oxford up and down softly. There was a certain way he had of leaning, reminiscent of James Dean, but not in the usual way, not in the glassy-eyed staring way of like coolly pressing the upper back to a wall while the legs shoot out at a sharp angle--something I call a reverse slouch. No. But it was similar, and it reeked of personality and style and a natural rhythm inherent in his internal combustion engine.

male: Shall I compare thee to an automobile?

female: Yeah. Ha. No. That’s just something I say sometimes. He had that certain charm that maybe an old Buick might have--a Cutlass. Ha. Or a maybe a Plymouth valiant. Just smooth but powerful, and graceful, you know? He had a certain something.

male: Je ne sais quoi?

female: Lightly. But no, I could put my finger on it. At least I thought I could then.

male: Then stranger realizations come, and then…

female: No. I’m confident I had him pegged early on. Souped-up sense of triumph, something dodgy in his willpower, a reluctance to admit the truth about his raison d'ĂȘtre. I shadowed him at first, you know that?

male: Just along for the ride.

female: Yep. And this got the proverbial foot in the door, for me. And he showed me this side of melancholy that he had, which I adored and hated at the same time. It was like having a crossword puzzle and no pen. You keep wanting to fill in the answers but you can’t.

male: Frustration at its subtlest.

female: Like spying on somebody who is totally uninteresting. It just bogs you down in this like morass of petty selfish habits, things you can’t swing your way out of. Back and forth, back and forth, and then it’s all the same and you can’t quit, like tics or something, things on the surface sinking in deeper until they’re part of you, until they take over and become all that you are. Then, well, you’re just…gliding along. Lah dee dah.

male: Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves.

female: Lost and confused in a windowless basement, more like it. Lick away, you say. Well, that’s a man’s lost voice custarding over what, you know, we’re not associated to, well-- Pavlovian, right?-- to talk about?

male: The mad dogs of summer, and everything that you know.

female: I know. Queen of the barbershop. But where’s the pool table? I ask these things. Maybe that’s part of what gets me into trouble. And dreams, well, they sometimes just don’t come.

male: Floored me. Seriously.

female: I’m not taking notes. I hope somebody here is. It’s part of this, right? This equation?

male: Got me.

female: Rusting in peace, I see. Okay. Fair enough. So, back to this whole sleep-deprived looniness. It’s my way of crapping out maybe, lucking on to letting go, this shuddering around in dream-melt, just right on the precipice of nodding off, always never quite there.

male: Getting behind yourself.

female: Never even, never quite able to pull on ahead of the pack. Mildly in arrears to my past. I get it. I don’t get it. I’m attempting to not try to make an effort. An ashtray inlaid with a moon’s slice of silver surrounded by KO’d spoons.

male: Give thy thoughts not tongue and they will taste only themselves.

female: Is fear my way of staying safe? Blasted Quaker-Oats mornings. Shoes stomping overhead. I’m mid-shift in the work of my days.

male: Tell me about how you two met again.

female: Oh me. Oh my. Oh motherfucking my. Okay. Well, I was ordering a hamburger at this great little place called Pearl’s Hamburgers on the lee side of Nob Hill. It’s small and gets crowded, so I usually get stuff to-go. After placing my order for a well-done Deluxe (that’s what they call the regular hamburger there, I guess to make it seem more enticing to the average hamburger eater) I saunter on over to a table (it was actually quite empty in there that night), and plop down with my crossword puzzle and a Cactus Cooler to do some waiting. At this point I think I made up a song in my head (I do this quite often, you know) about my love for this delicious citrus beverage, something like, “I’m dreaming of a Cactus Cooler, just like the ones that the Jr. High vending machine in the PE locker room used to dispense for a quarter.” This was sung to the tune of White Christmas, but with an extended run-on style of squeezing all those words in the melody. It made me smile, and as I did so I guess I looked up for a sec, and there’s this guy sitting there across from me (actually rather close, as, you know, it’s not a very large dining area in there) leaning the back of his head against the wall with one leg balancing on the other knee, foot bobbing up and down, and I notice he’s got tigers on his socks. Interesting, you know? And I guess my smile was still there when I glanced at him, and he’s absently staring at me at the same time, and, well, our eyes meet, and I guess he figures I’m smiling at him. So, well, he smiles back. Right? Right? You know?

male: Cute.

female: Fuck you. Seriously. I no kid. I say, fuck to you.

male: Ah. You? You forget it, kiddo.

female: Why are we entering into another one of these….situations?

male: We’re not. You no worry. Continue, my fair lady, free of clouds and what not.

female: Okay. Well, then. Okay. So I guess it’s too late to pull back my smile. I decide without thinking to just go with it. He says, “Hey Delilah. Where’s Samson?”

male: Wait. He knows your name?

female: Oh yeah. I forgot. They ask for your name when you place an order there so they can scream it out when it’s ready. I always want to lie and give a fake name but I mostly chicken out at the last minute. He must’ve overheard me ordering.

male: Creepy.

female: No. Not really. Like I said, it’s a small place, and there weren’t many folks in there. Just a bored couple sitting at a table munching on sweet potato fries, and the tiger-socks guy, and me.

male: Oh.

female: So, this isn’t like the most original thing to say on the planet, right? It’s like when people sing me that awful Tom Jones song. Like I haven’t been hearing this shit my whole life.

male: People really lack originality in their banter, I’ve found.

female: Yeah. So, maybe this is like just a way of getting a conversation going. Usually I’d just brush it off and respond with monosyllabic shoulder-hunch type stuff until he stopped talking to me, and then go back to intently filling in the squares of my crossword puzzle. But, this guy? With him? I don’t know. It was different. There was a certain (and I know how this is going to sound) magic emanating from him. A charisma. A spell cast on me. Ugh. Yeah. That’s not really….anyway. We get to talking somehow, not really sure what my response was--probably something witty, a nice dry retort.

male: Probably.

female: And so we’re chatting. We start chatting. We are in the midst of a chat. Connections are being made. He’s very amusing, it turns out.

male: A plus.

female: Oh, I don’t believe in them.

male: Minus, then.

female: Sure. Maybe we’re just jabbing at each other, mostly. Feeling out the terrain. Scouting out features, taking things in with a swooping gander here and there. He’s got a bony physique. One of those guys who would actually look good in a skinny tie and tapered mod-style suit, which he is not wearing. It’s just something that popped into my head as I was looking him over.

male: Will that be a purchase or a rental?

female: Both. Anyway. He’s just got on some brown Dickies and a white button-up, a green army-type jacket, and fingerless gloves.

male: Oh. A reader of paperbacks in cold weather.

female: Perhaps. Those gloves are cool though. I like them. It wasn’t a bad sign at all. In fact, everything about our interaction was tickling me. I was doing a lot of giggling.

male: The techniques of flirtation.

female: Well, it’s fashionable to behave in public. I don’t like causing a scene.

male: That reminds me of something you said about…

female: I know. I know. I never wanted to be one of those people who’s always like getting all stressed out about relationship stuff. It made me want to vomit, those types of things.

male: Yes. That’s about right where I left off.

female: Jesus. We act like teenagers still, for the most part, don’t we?

male: To the young go the wasted spoils. Trivial delights; trivial ends.

female: Oh holy shit. Come off it. We’re just capitalizing on what’s put right there in front us. It’s to everybody’s advantage, really. Stalking from close range. Gauging the particular energy scope of what’s fluctuating from giving to taking. Even my toaster gives me the creeps sometimes.

male: Pop goes the…

female: Ahem. Well then. So, I’m not floored or anything, but it’s nice, you know? Just conversing and stuff. It’s like how dogs sniff each other’s butts when they meet. You go along through with things because you’ve-- I don’t know-- just got this feeling about it. And, sure, yeah, maybe you’ll find out that what you thought you felt was bogus, or that you are; but it goes and goes, this kind of thing, and it’s not like you get to choose.

male: Sometimes it just finds you…chooses you.

female: I know, right? And then you’re done for. That’s it. Love gets its mitts on you, sticks a fork in, flips you over a few times, and then lunch is over. Time to move on.

male: Or wait for dinner.

female: Or you just kill your appetite, starve yourself, and flounder around in between things.

male: For today we make do, though, bite through the gristle and give it the best we can’t.

female: The spin on my world.

male: What?

female: Just like that. Splat! And there it all goes, everywhere, gushing, longing, gone and here too. It’s all a jumble, and you dive in, you leap for joy and suffering into a forever never after before any of it could ever try and make any sense.

male: What? I mean, what?

female: Nothing.

male: Are we talking x’s or o’s here?

female: Nothing. Just drifting again. We used to trace each other’s hands on the placemats in fancy restaurants.

male: Oh.

female: Yep. Oh. That’s right. That about does it. There’s nothing. There’s just too much, so there’s nothing. He’d run his fingers through his hair all the time. He’d yawn a lot when he’d leave me voicemails. I rarely ever knew what kind of thoughts he had swishing through that hell-bent head of his.

male: On what?

female: Don’t know. Just a concentrated effort, well, maybe to just stay put, to go nowhere. Like a butterfly trying to stay in one tiny spot in the air, hovering, making all this commotion just to remain still. Inertia’s a full-time job, I guess.

male: This is me gasping with delight.

female: His phone was always on silent.

male: Gasp. See? Gasp.

female: Uh huh. Yep. That figures. When your attention wanes you get silly, lopsided and indiscreet.

male: If there were a wish to wear for a wish’s hair…

female: Stop it. Seriously.

male: Okay. Seriously.

female: There was something…I don’t know, magical about him, or us…whatever. I don’t know.

male: Nobody does. You just go around trying things. Maybe you learn. Maybe you forget, too.

female: Floating maybe does more to describe it. Spun wonderfully. Gooey and sustained. We’re not so delicate, really. Been all over town and around more than a few blocks. But now I…I only want to get on back home again.

male: Look homeward, angel.

female: Can’t.

male: Don’t I know it.

female: Not again. Like golden fields roasted to a burnt sienna by sunset. You just keep gazing, even after it’s long gone.

male: Like whisky and maple syrup. Like air raid sirens on your birthday.

female: And I keep lashing out, in a lather, dressed to go, and fretting over that first step-- or like testing out the water with a toe, being too scared to dive in, to be immersed in whatever the world’s going to eddy my way. Sooner or later, well, I get cold just waiting.

male: But the water’s still an unknown, and that’s chillier in your thoughts than anything you’ve got. But it could be better, right?

female: He used to sing me that John Denver song. You know, the one about leaving on a jet plane. Except he’d sing it in a real deep, gravelly voice, like Cookie Monster doing a bad Howling Wolf impersonation. It always made me very happy when he did that. We’d just be lying there in bed, just lazing around, and he’d start singing it, and it’d be so nice, just lying there like that, happy and warm all over.

male: Then so…

female: Yeah. Then it goes on and spills into a, “than,” a, “rather,” a, “just because.” And you’re all alone, drifting, gliding, slipping on down or away, and nobody’s going to catch you when you…

male: Get too sappy.

female: Yep. That about does it. And I can’t ever seem to ever get that goddamn song out of my head.

male: She who forgets herself is blessed to repeat herself.

female: Words made of breath.

male: And breath of life?

female: Ah, fuck it. Alas and alack, and all that. Harrumph.

male: It makes the eyes go blank. It steals your tongue. It advertises itself in the trembling of a hand. It drinks itself to sleep.

female: It lands on the moon. Reflections of what you missed the most, shiny and slippery, drowned before you even dared to dive in.

male: Old enough to not be young enough to be insane and lost anymore.

female: Never. That’s the sort of b.s. that gets you in trouble with the law.

male: The Law!

female: Yep. The Law!

male: There’s no use! We’re insufferable. We’ve become those boring people whose lives we used to spit on.

female: But we can still dance, just as well as always, blustering with moon-swamped hearts, capering around in clown suits through craters of misunderstandings. But. But. But. We can, right?

male: Don’t know.

female: He blinked a lot. More than most. It felt so nice, the way he held my hand, like it was a flower he was afraid of crushing but didn’t want to let get away.

male: Stand still.

female: Okay.

male: Now, close your eyes.

female: Got it.

male: Reach your hands out. Stretch out those arms. Wiggle ‘em all over the place. Now, go limp with them. Just let them dangle there. Now, shake your torso all around like you’re having a seizure. That’s it. Good. Flap and flop away. Flap and flop away. Great. Shake it! Shake, shake, shake it! Great. Feel better?

female: Ha hahahahhahah baahhhhh!

male: See?

female: What?

male: You’re just a bunch of bones and muscle wrapped up in skin. It’s easy, this business of being alive.

female: But danger’s so alluring. Guarantees lack a certain charm. And it always comes down to a, “when.” You know? When things were like that, when you were my everything and I was your only girl, when we danced all night long, always a, “when” that’s so far from a, “now.”

male: Get drunk. You’ll be alright.

female: I will?

male: Sure.

female: A loudness that’s almost something lost to sound, we plunge ahead, onward towards what’s up and out and all over the upside-down miracles of who we are.

male: As you were. There. Good. Got it. Great.

female: Wow. Much better.

male: Same as it ever was.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

case sensitive

we talk around it all almost all the time. sure we had splinters. got them really, when they were there to get. i keep having to remind marvin that he’s not me. it’s useless. he’s unsure of his own personality. who does he want to be, really? me? well, go on ahead then. be my guest. i don’t let the botched crap of his whims get me all ensnared in a potpie lunch of take-it-or-take-it lunging. we’ll get through this bushmills inspired nightmare sooner or soon. some lunatic yammering, like, ‘you would.’ i will, sometimes, but mostly i don’t-- get it that is. what’s it to say something and go all over town with it, just the saying of it, and never get around to being anywhere, really? it’s bruised and unhealthy. well, you got me. marvin? he’s keeping it open-faced at least. i tell him to mind his own. he wants to mind mine too though. it’s a shit deal, the one we’re dealt here. the reality of faking it burps over what’s cranium bound in the first of all last places. well, boo-motherfucking-hoo, you know? marvin’s shitty with names. i tell him to stop using mine. sometimes it even works. go figure, huh? i say things like, ‘marvin, marvin, marvin. it’s not marv or vinny. it’s a secret nobody keeps. marvin, look here,’ and stuff and stuff like that too. but marvin’s so spastic really. it’s too little to ask. he calms down for you when he can, though, and i look the other way enough to show i care. marvin’s out of sorts. there’re times it’d take a penny to wish him down from where he’s not. you get bluer when the nights bless your sad sack of a soul with inky shit-stained how-don’t-you-doings. me? i’m cursed just the way i am. marvin’s given up chickening out for a month. it does him okay. it’s a way to go about breathing, just like any other. i’m keeping my drawers up and the window shades drawn. don’t ask me to go looking for an alibi. plenty of rest is not coming this way. sorest throat in the west, goddamn. lower than rising too late for lunch. is that me? i don’t know. six or two ways from laundering dirty thoughts, that does the worst of mostly good. we get concave about it, and this thing here, as sure as a bet against the long shot, gives better odds than i’m capable of passing over, for now. being flurried to incapable standards of giving the good old flex of the brain muscle to passersby, that gives all my goats away. for marvin it’s never the same thing. he goes twice around the block with everything. no debate about it. some people, well they just wanna go ahead and spill their guts to you about their personal problems, the story of their life, because maybe well they start in on believing you’re some kind of rump roast for their attention, and i span it most times, not like marvin does, but close, at least. we’ve got a nutshell to crack over it, fried about a rasher of bacon of it, tussled with the grit of it, yep. that’s a taker’s give if i’ve ever known such a thing. so i tell marvin, ‘stop faking it, man,’ or some crap as such, and he goes off kilter with it, and again, i’m the last guy who’ll ever stitch a lemon with barbwire, but this crass how-might-it-not-go questionnaire attitude’s getting no person any-old-where already. cop out of it already, you know? and then there are those reminders, those things i keep almost chanting, to nobody’s bad, like, ‘marvin, marvin, marvin, stop using my personality routine, ok?’ i practice at it, sure, but not so much that it matters. acting’s another schmo’s gig. we get too hung up, marvin and me, using each other as substitutes. my instincts are better. my memory’s classy. marvin’s got issues with the chicness of his own cool. he wears pajama bottoms to funerals. it’s stuff like this that’s going to take this here situation to the canary cage. i’d rather gargle motor oil than rewrite a copy of this guy’s shtick. let me be the last to tell you, it ain’t gonna do nothing but hinder you in the end. the cats are snoozing. i make the most of my car-alarm shrill indifference. blare with me, barely, and you’ll get some indecency stuck in your teeth, or pickle breath at the most. i’m not the forgiving type, but will dabble in it if i must here and there. claims are clamming up too low on the higher ground of being kicked over graveyards. hand me a hotdog with relish and i’ll button up about whatever it is for a few bun-lengths. gotta hand it to marvin though. he’s a real overachiever when it comes to angelic barstool poses. off and on the record, napkins have fewer uses over on this side of the rainbow. faring well? that’s not in my jurisdiction. i don’t know jack from squat about it. long’s the lord’s byways through these broken-down shivering strips of land. older crampings of shocked style crap out earlier, or we’ll get the baseboards’ opinion about the whole shaved onion of it. that’s certainly better than potatoing around watching marvin do bad imitations of somebody impersonating me. tender joy, i don’t get it, you know? watch the tv. let the years go by. we make ourselves into time-murdering slobs. it’s not most of a guess, a winged hostility gone rampant and plunged before it was ever flushed. under the hills and around the woods to some joker’s idea of a milked cow we go. the bottom of the world is plagued by weeds. and to top it all off? i’m rushed with more modern constructs of junk-mailed satisfaction than any sometimes-the-bear-eats-you well wishing. infernal machines of noisy reduction? shit. i mop up more distraction from the candy of marvin’s attention span than’d lure a whole busload of tykes from their tidy chambers of consumption. i tell marvin, ‘it’s me, not you.’ but he don’t listen as well as he should. a commonplace list of whatever goes over with the out crowd, that about does it for his depictions of what it means to be me. marvin’s lost though. nothing’ll get him found at this point. pull back the trigger. let the turtles sing. i’m not asking with an almost friendly grimace. greedy luck slumps backwards and stabs what’s tourniqueting the last lees of disappointed harmony peeking so longingly out from beneath the pink hues of formerly white undershirts. trained to be taught just enough to get by, marvin’s habitually peeling the layers of others off like skin in order to shape his own whims in the colors of stuff he’s mostly just too damn scared to dream of. me? i draw my own figures in sloggy boredom. call me cured of concealment. well, anyway, just call me. the full moon’s got a soup stain halo. that’s one thing. here’s another: we are creatures of our own creation. something maybe marvin thought of on one of those abysmal cold nights you get in mid-january when he couldn’t sleep, and, you know, that means he’s up stomping around bashing his head into the dollhouse again. i’m conversing with walls and ceilings myself most nights, so i know the goings of these ways. too hard to softly tell the plain sameness of differently aligned slogans, like dumbass number one or a dozen of ‘em; it’s all rutabagas to me. there certainly are things, though, that i don’t let on--or off--about to marvin, such as whose lips are less dangerous than a fortune teller’s assistant’s; and who’s frittering away this much on a day like this? somebody else. yep. gotta take it as it gets given out sometimes. especially on days when we’re all sipping from the same cup of piss, can’t hit for shit, and it’s breakup weather all over. shit. call off the cops and watch the diesel smoke out of my nose. marvin’s using my facial expressions to lure emus away from the metal fences, soft-boiled eggs be damned. it’s almost as terrible as being stuck in a room with a bunch of bad standup comedians--almost. there are certain things i can take only so much of, like people slurping soup, and then it’s blackjack-me-and-tie-me-to-the-railroad-tracks time. lord. i remember the dogs and how they woke me in the attic where i was spending my nights then, before marvin started in on his aping, if i remember anything at all those nights without hugs when the drain pipes rattled me to sleep. green and brown days are what we’re stuck with now, and it just so happens that we don’t aspire to be heaped with pannings. who would? maybe marvin, though i doubt it. he’s a sucker for attention. gets his lips puckered for any situation. always on call for that moment of concupiscent bliss, that marvin. and sometimes we get to ribbing the one-out-of-many king, the king of ice cream, in hopes of it’s-its for our prickliest thoughts. nobody pays to digest. it’s a fill’er-up attempt at magnanimity, if you’re asking this washed-out tammany hall dropout. shit. not even mr. tweed could’ve reeled in this balancing act of crusty-to-crumby botches and boots. strung up or out, it makes a songbird out of a cranky guyed mast. somewhere they’re singing in a pentatonic scale about mumbling us back to dust, and there are probably takers who’ll grab onto any bargain for a phony spree of shoplifted elation, liked to it about all you can, having it everybody else’s way, well, at least suckers are still being spanked to life by the bread losers there and here. got to figure in about fads of fashion, as v-neck sweaters are flying off the rack this time around, and, also, of course, my favorite brand of gum. we’re cracking. it’s inevitable. marvin’s getting more or less more alone all the time. hard-pressed, we take our time too, and the sun’s all glitter and gold and hunches of lost languages, and guildenstern lives through rosencrantz’s lost cheer and brain tossing, and heaven’s spying on us. but i tell marvin to get himself a new persona this time around. i tell him to stop gouging the right-of-ways that we’ve still got left. it’s tantamount to not giving a shit, that’s the way i put it. but nobody’s dashing enough to plummet my hopes of never becoming “one of those people” whom i keep swearing i’ll never turn out to be. so, as far as this dross with marvin goes, the graffiti’s in process. it’s all a done deal. we’ve been keeping the mayor employed long enough. i want to laugh at tourists again, go to bed early, get a bad haircut and brag about it, ride a roller coaster in the rain and vomit while upside down on the loop. marvin? marvin’s getting a crash course in abdominal pain, and then there’s the way he expectantly straddles a tipsy stretch of yawns with excitement. being gone is a pleasure we’ll cash in our chips for any new day, punch lines pulled, fingers uncrossed, lazy summer days swarming with throngs of winged insects and the oily mechanics in the trees’ geometry, something irked and chassised, something done with getting along well with others, a brandished plastic sword that’d be better suited to stirring a drink than slicing through this morass of junked luck. but the crux of the whole marvin situation, the begged opting we caress out of staying put, is that we’re here to deliver. but i’m bad at fair shares and mayonnaise soup’s not my thing and the bald eagles are all on rogaine and i’m famished after supper and bed’s a jukebox and home’s a trick without a treat and there’s a train getting smaller and smaller as it approaches, and marvin’s gone and lost his marbles, and his eyeballs are only fooling. the distortion of larger small talk gets in the way, sentenced to go like this. and, so as it all goes and goes, well, me? i just don’t get it. and, well, that’s really all there is to know.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

sermon on the dismount

This is what happens. You see, I’m standing at the ATM, urinal-like, you know? And the screen’s filling up with stuff about my transaction processing. I’m just kind of absently gawking at it. Not really reading the words, but looking at them, standing around, biding my time, swaying back and forth, trying to whistle too, waiting for my cash to be dispensed. And then the screen goes blank for a sec. No biggie, right? Yeah. But then, get this, the screen suddenly reads: “YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, BUDDY.” I’m like, wha…? You know? So, I like rub my eyes and then gander on back at the screen. It’s still there, the same thing. Well, you know, I’m thinking, ‘It’s sort of true sometimes. I can be a bit of an a-hole. But how the hell does this machine know that I’m an asshole?’ I mean, I haven’t even been standing there that long. Can it like sense my asshole-ness? Well, let me just say too, that it’s not all that I am; I’m not a complete asshole. That’d be different. The ATM could probably pick up on that right away. No prob. I could see that. But my asshole percentage has got to be--and I’m trying to be as honest as possible here--right around like 20 to 25 or so, on a bad day. Maybe it’s something about how I insert my card into its slot, or the way I’m super impatient and talking shit about the ATM as I wait for that twirling/blinking image of “PROCESSING” to go away. Not that I’m being like a big-time dick about it. It’s nothing over the top. Just the usual cussing and fucking around that goes on when dealing with inanimate things taking up my valuable time, you know? Nothing to write home about. So, I’m shocked, to say the least, and kind of just gaping at the screen, waiting for my eyes to unscramble and maybe realize that it’s just a mild hallucination brought on by sleep deprivation and a lousy diet. Plus, I’m prone to see odd things where most folks just see ordinary-type stuff. I once was convinced that the guy in those Gieco commercials was speaking to me through the TV. Also, I have many times tried to place a delivery order for Chinese food at a steak house. It seems there are certain things I just don’t understand in the way most people do. I’ve been told that I, “just don’t get it.” This may be true in some situations, but I get by okay; and, I’m not really that big of an asshole. Just a small-to-medium sized one, really. Ask anybody? But the screen doesn’t change. The letters are red and bold: “YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, BUDDY.” Buddy? I mean, that just about bowled me over. Was it trying to make me seem like even more of an asshole by being nice about it? Jesus, demoralized by an ATM. My life was in serious need of some reevaluation. I’m in shock, though, you know? And I start to sort of look around, checking to see if some joker’s hiding around the corner with an iPhone recording this whole scene, like some Candid-Camera/Punk’d nonsense. But that seemed iffy. I mean, it wouldn’t be that funny of a prank. And it seemed like way too much effort to go through just to “punk” me, somebody who is not famous at all; and anyway, there’s a boatload of better stuff they could’ve done, like making the machine talk back to me, cussing up a storm in a Stephen Hawking voice. That’d be somewhat entertaining at least. But this? I don’t know. It was just weird. Didn’t seem too entertaining to watch some ordinary doofus just kind of act a little bewildered at a message on the screen of an ATM. Not much of a payoff, really. So, well, I just sort of stood there and waited for the message to go away. But it kept not going away. And the damn ATM is not dispensing my cash. It’s not doing anything, not making a sound. Not one tiny ATM gear is turning in there. Nothing. I’m fucking floored. Like, what the fuck, you know? Just because I’m sort of a small-time a-hole sometimes, well, that shouldn’t preclude my ability to obtain some cash from a goddamn ATM, right? I’ve seen much bigger assholes than myself use ATMs with no problem. And, to top it off, of course, my fucking debit card is stuck in this righteous beast of an ATM, and it ain’t spitting it back out to me, so it seems, any time soon. So I’m standing there, cardless, cashless, unable to leave and pissed off; and this fucking ATM is blaring in all caps, big and red: “YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, BUDDY.” I was not having an enjoyable time. It was a cold night. I wasn’t dressed to be out in it for very long. I thought I’d just run a quick errand or two and head home, and so was just wearing like a thin sweater. So, I’m like shivering and performing the straight-jacket pose there in front of the ATM, shaking my head, and, well, kind of feeling at this point, well, embarrassed about the whole scene. I’m an asshole. Okay. So what? What business is it of some money-dispensing device to butt on into my affairs and try to make me feel bad about what a jerk I can be on occasion? And wasn’t this ATM behaving rather asshole-ish anyway, calling me names and making me wait a fucking eternity for my money? And yes, that’s right: my money. It was mine. I had a right to it, right? How’s that being an asshole? I’m like, “Give me my fucking money you goddamn dickhead computer.” It’s not like I was robbing the thing. You’re an asshole, buddy. Hell of a note, you know? Shit. And I’m freezing my ass off, standing there like a complete fucking moron, waiting for this like electric surge or technical glitch or whatever to be over with so I can like jet and get on with my fucking life. So, I notice there’s this phone number on the ATM that it says to call if you’re having any trouble with the machine. I get out my phone and dial it up. I mean, I think the machine calling me names while not giving me my money or my card back qualifies as trouble. It rings for a long time, and then goes to a recording. I’m like, oh shit, not this. This breaking-up voice is droning on about, “If you are having service issues with any of our network ATMs outside of your qualified service area, please hang up and dial 1-888-918-2400. If your call is concerning the restrictions placed on your balance, or if you feel you have reached this recording in error, please stay on the line and one of our agents will be on the line shortly to offer assistance.” It just kept repeating more of that same crap, and then the damn phone starts beeping at me and the line goes dead. Nice. Real nice. And this whole while the ATM’s blinking that same damn all caps message at me: “YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, BUDDY.” I’m like, “Oh, holy shit. This is so fucked up.” But there’s nothing I can do. And I’m in a rather desolate part of town, and it’s pretty late on a Monday night too, so it’s even more deserted than usual. And I’m just standing there getting more and more enraged. So, I go up to the damn machine really close and start screaming at it and pounding on the glass and stuff. I’m like, “You motherfucking piece of shit fucking cocksucker of a fucking machine, give me my fucking card back! Ah!” In other words, I suddenly realize, acting like a complete asshole--which, I also realize, makes the machine right about me, that I am an asshole. And it’s telling me about it nicely. The machine is just politely stating a fact. I’m the one making all the fuss. Shit. I don’t know. It just kind of struck me. And then there I was, like some idiot tilting a pinball machine, trying to get some mechanical device to do my bidding. What a schmuck. Shaking my fist at this lifeless wall of electric-lighted dots and dashes, freezing my balls off, infuriated over some petty inconvenience. What a sight. I started thinking, ‘Is it really worth it. Getting all bent out of shape over something as stupid as, well, when it comes down to it: money?’ There was a tree there in the sidewalk, maybe a poplar or a cottonwood, and for some reason I looked up at it. It caught my eye. It was deep into the depths of winter, and its branches were all gnarled and wiry and leafless, like it had all these disjointed knobby elbows jutting out all over the place. I got all contemplative, I guess. My mind went numb and bleary. As I gazed up through all those bare limbs, well, I noticed there was some sky up there, up above it all, and noticed--for the first time in like quite a decent while-- the stars up there too, set into the inky black like rhinestones or silver sequins coruscating away, free and each alone but not lonely, sewed into the hems of the universe. And you know what? It was fucking nice. It made everything seem okay. And the world was going on as it always had. It was we humans who had tricked ourselves into thinking that anything we did was going to make a difference. It was such an odd thing, being a human, alive in this way that I was. We were all just some sort of conduit, a set of perceptions for God to see the world with, because God wasn’t alive. God couldn’t see or touch or listen to the world he’d created. And he needed us, all of us who were alive, to see and hear through. Each of us was an incredibly tiny part of god, yet not one of us was insignificant. And we’d all do so much better if we’d just stop worrying all the time, and did our part to be kind and to enjoy this world we had this one time we were lucky enough to be given to go through living in. God wasn’t a single being, not in any such way as our minds could comprehend of it at least. It was more like a massive combination of all things, all life, every last atom, all the molecules and dimensions beyond our ability to grasp. We could be so much more than we think, if only we’d stop trying so hard to be something we’re not, going around, you know, trying to make the world adapt to us instead of seeing things as they are: infinite. Oh, and so all this romantic humanitarian shit’s like capsizing my head, and I’m getting a little dizzy and lightheaded, staring at that stupid tree and the piece-of-shit starry sky and stuff. I’m not so smart. The ATM beeped or blipped at me, and I spun around, snapped right out of my trance, and the screen’s blank, black, totally empty, and my card is being ejected out of the slot, and there’s my money too, just waiting for me to snatch it and be on my way, and I wanted so much to just hurry away, to be gone, anywhere else but there where it was cold and lost and as lonely as anything I’d ever known, and then I realized that I wasn’t sad at all, that I was joyous, filled with a glowing ember of faith, and I went to the machine and reached for my debit card, and it was warm in my palm, and the money was gritty and true and felt good crunching in my fingers as I folded it into my wallet, and I was thankful, I was so thankful, mercy was bestowed upon me, and I gave thanks, and dear lord, yes, I gave thanks, and I give thanks…