Thursday, June 28, 2012

sorrow is my only trashcan

            Mr. Bing’s is the kind of place you walk by and there’s only one guy in there. And it’s the bartender. And he’s shaving in the bar mirror. Some people claim to have had a good time there, once or twice. But me? Well, every time I’ve been there it’s been an absolutely miserable experience. Just glancing in there is usually enough to drop my spirits and scare up some vomit. But for some reason I keep going back. And they hate me there. That’s very clear. There should probably be a picture of me on the wall reading, “DO NOT-- WHATEVER YOU DO-- DO NOT SERVE THIS MAN!” There isn’t though. So, well, they keep serving me, probably to their own detriment. 
            I am not infallible when it comes to matters of technicality, at least in the supposition of hard drink. I take on a persona non grata, if only just a hint, only on the occasions where an out-of-my-hands attitude shovels my better half farther than below, and I’m not shifty about placing blame in scenarios where I am granted a lucky fistful of anything but common sense. So, well, you’ve got to take the good with the bad, I guess.                                    
            “Glad to be of service, shit for brains.” 
            “I don’t get even. I get mad.”
            “Ornery Neil Diamond fans can go take a shit in a lake, for all I care about it.”
            “Just another McDonald’s commercial. Take it or take it.”
            “Jesus. Somebody hit the eject button. I’m done.”

            I had something wonderful in my life, and now it’s gone, and I miss it. Is that so hard to understand? Everything hampers me. Roads kill the meek. Inheritance bucks and anchors more or less deadbeat with hard-to-master strums of luck. I’ve lived on Assassination Street for too long.
            Fountains of old age splash the Paris right out of me. I want discipline and rooting fans and jaunty cocktail waitresses. What do I get? Loveless old lace spiked with arsenic, just unlike the movies. 
            Pages and pages of phone numbers inked in the margins of kept library books. Dancing around loopholes. I am carried and sputtering. If love is something to fall in or out of, well, then it’s been corroded and bandied around without much solving going on. Clacks grandly, I say of it. I am indebted to the chase. The company I maintain. They are dropping bowling balls upstairs.
            Something good descends, or is on its way, or it mangles itself into rotini.
            “For the best, if a corner turns on itself.” 
            Tricky stuff, the things a burp struggles to say. Hard to be half of what was never whole, in sudden instances ranked as brutal. Sham sweepstakes results. Tracking codes gone for a spell. Instances of bioluminescence shallow in what’s gone and rounded on back. There’s a trailing mercantilism lobbying for less justice and more dough. I get botched in the midst of it, somehow. An instance of spontaneity spurned in hopes of something sooner, more direct, possibly tuned to sudden, immediate gratification-- or a farrier’s charming touch quickly whipped into shape. Boom time is upon us.
            Count, spell, sit in traffic, get out a calculator and tilt it towards the sun. Truth at times shuttles, slides, or defectively wields an aegis of counterproductive blather. There was some advice once that went something like, “Don’t get in the car with it. Lock all the doors from the outside. Desecrate its license plate with flowers.” And then you find out, on your own, that it’s difficult, dreamy, and rain won’t wash it away. And then you don’t find out anything. And then? Well, right about now it is stolen property. You can only keep your fingers crossed for so long. 
            “A cichlid for your thoughts.”
            “Good. A circus avoided. Out of the safety net. Born from fire to fire. I only inch along, and then there’s that just-married scrawl of shaving cream on the back window of a pickup, and so I flinch and I fumble my last giclĂ©e of hope into the bog of here-we-never-were.”
            “That’s more than not enough.”
            “Every ‘so’ is often found malingering with a wily ‘no.’”
            You test questions out. You merge the ping of aluminum with lightweight neural action potentials. You greet mourning street sweepers with toroidal fortitude and tightly coiled handkerchiefs. You giggle in horror. Observatories built in thin, clean air. Strange egg-shaped swirls. Red shifts of insignificant galaxies pull you away from somebody else’s etcetera. The amplitude of primordial fluctuations, hot gas filaments between clusters, the fraction of mass in visible matter, and all of us basking in the afterglow of the beginning of the universe.
            “For the observed magnitudes we expect to find no arcs over the entire sky as bright.”
            Not well heard.
            Refractions count for something. Seven identical Wolter-1 mirror modules, each containing 54 nested mirror shells. Hell, there must be some room for indecision. More room for heaven scouted on the outskirts of cluster IDCS J1426.5+3508, busy bending and twisting light in a strange blue arc, for now.
            There is something dreadful left here, pitting around in my stomach. I don’t know what to do with it. Where can it go? What’s to become of me? I could walk longer, invest more time in carving up my personality, or maybe join forces with a wedge of geese. There’s no telling what could happen. Things could get better. The universe could start contracting. Also, I could plead indifference. But nobody believes that. Nobody.
            Please stand clear of the closing doors.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

never drive a car when you’re dead

            When I first met Hurky he was doing balancing acts in the sunshine. One leg in the air held perpendicularly from his body, arms out like wings. He closed his eyes. There were stranger things. You get to wandering. You hear the oddest music. Hurky was playing the sarrusophone back then. It got so bad though, with the rust and with how pregnancy got to going around, that he had to give up all that hubbub. Improving the darkness with a chromelodeon. At it. Again. That fill’er-up sort, Hurky, he made inscriptions in telephone poles with a penknife. I allowed a certain painted flip-everybody-off attitude to prevail. A bound and cagey love. It described a hampering willfulness towards numbering letters. You had it, and he was having none of it. Hurky could explain it better, if he could, but he won’t so it’s up to me.
            “Do you have machines to sing you to sleep?”
            Over a while I asked only what questions I could. Poor habits of dreaming. Deeper pockets while the Fortified Sleep Machine roars. Opted in, to stay wherever put’s happening.
            You leave him on a street corner. He’s a barker, Hurky is. You get what you’re not supposed to be paying for. A swelling, long in the throat, gets what’s up and under his cover, and you go ballyhoo crazy with waiting. Short of it? Well, Hurky’s not making any enemies. And, composing around nightmares, there gets to be a dull aftertaste to the tang of it. Well and sturdy suit it though, still, and Hurky’s running with the law off to the side.
            Viable. I’m looking. Quiet.
            The machines are grunting, waking me every three hours. The television blinks alive. I am gamey with worry as a voice screeches, “Get out!” It is inside of me, ghostly, and I don’t dance with it. Plotting is what gives the voice its lush terror, maybe.
            “Hello, buddy. I’m not named.”
            “We are a right-away sort.”
            “You better not bet.”
            People are nowhere.
            Hurky gets to find out what’s feinting truth. Hangs a bottle from a string tied around his neck like a sign telling everybody he’s not asking for anything to change. The art-brut attention withers. I miss certain sliding steps of his cadence. I miss scents I can’t recall. The way shadows get to dancing. It’s all the slope of a peculiar cursive, and we derive ourselves from it. The windows fill with electricity.
            I almost hear a voice, and I almost listen: “I am not the person you thought you saw that night when I was gripping the table edge and gazing uncomfortably out the window. I am less strained, now. There it is. See? Attack a Moog. Go about it. For yourself, or anybody. Less far, though I am nearer when distant, ubiquity calls me by name. I am not clutching pieces of tattered Eisenhower jackets. I am open to old ideas. I am not this good at humming. You should know by now.”            
            There are other measures I could take. I could make a sandwich. I could dress in tweed. I could try to hail down a cab in a deserted parking lot at four in the morning. I am bow-legged in my appeals for help, which are mostly lost on hairy-eared individuals. It’s similar to when my dignity just up and left me. An abandoned stench hung on all my thoughts. I walked everywhere.
             A white-haired man in an all-black outfit walks by with his hands clasped behind his back. A thief of gloom, he carries the neighborhood’s sins on his shoulders. The syncopated clop of his shoes on the pavement has a backbeat that I wish to never lose.
            The delicate crush of foam. Angered out of grief. Stare in. Stare out. Nothing’s grabbing a hold. A ball-crumpled plastic Subway bag. Shattered neon bulbs cascading clunky twinkles of blare. Punched holes in plaster. I can’t have peace in the tumult of scratched lottery tickets, ATM receipts, Owl Clips, and portraits of James Montgomery Flagg pointing at me.      
            Something came into my life recently. It was a scrap of tinfoil. I nailed it to the wall. I’m not sure whether this was natural or an imposed stance due to the nature of rebellion. A nail in each corner, it flattened out against the eggshell paint.
            There was a sheen to it. A glittery spark. I packed my bags and left.
            I wasn’t sure, and am not still, what reflection I was expecting. A crinkled one? A silver-dollar flash with my face strained and cracked into it. A wrinkled disappearance into the slivers and folds of shiny abandon. Something real and lived-in. Cowboy boots on my doorstep? It was something at least partly as farfetched. 
            Well, let’s see. Here are some things. We are what the road has made us. A couple of wrecks. Conned out of a purpose. Settled in on the low side of a bluff. Gouged for nobody’s profit. We can wink at our future and call it a liar. I’ve got my clavichord. I’ve got my cloud chamber bowls and gourd tree. Spelling is singing. Threads loop from my buttonholes.
            Hurky doesn’t trust what he’s not doing. I watch him from above when I can. Sometimes a high room in a building. Who knows who’s knocking before leaving here? Not while the machines disinter the grayness from tosses that won’t turn. I place Hurky’s suspicion along with regional fire hazards in a fur-lined box. There are motors here. There are gears that won’t mesh. Volatility has lost its purpose. From up high Hurky doesn’t look busy or worried. He lurks on curbs, a relic, scarecrow of the streets with dandelion stems in his teeth, slightly less tattered than the stuff it takes to be more than a little less than alive. I’ve given up matching my socks.
            So, we churn. These machines run on nitroglycerin and hay. We boss around our blemishes. And these machines distract us from being awake. So, us? We marvel at our own speech. We take cuts. The florid wear and tear of speech gets us, and we attack each other out of reasonableness.              
            Down below a woman screams, “You are abomination! You…are…abomination!”
            “An.” I hear Hurky tell her, his voice a grain above forgiving. “You keep forgetting your determiners. Now, again.”
            “I can’t. I just… can’t.” She starts to softly cry.
            Hurky spins on his toes. Somewhere down there I imagine myself telling myself, “Oh lord. Not again with this stuff.”
            I’m done with this purring around. I close all of the windows.
            I’ve got my tinfoil. I’ve got my lambda calculus. I’ve got my obsidian scalpel and my bleeding-heart monitor. Bothering me is quite a proposition.
            Slumber’s closed for the season.
            When I last saw Hurky he was strung up like a discarded marionette from a power line. His shoes were up there too, laces tied together, dangling there just like him. He was so light. He held wind in his teeth now. You get to sob less when the machines do your dreaming for you. You come to invoke certain privileges, and you take your time picking out the perfect nectarine to take home with you from the produce stand. I stood under Hurky and looked up. I wouldn’t say I stared. No. I just gazed. I glanced without ogling. I’m sure nobody noticed. I can tell such things.
            The trees are wearing vests of ivy. A swirl and gasp of leaves eddying up and over the sidewalk. The machines are gone with drift, bruised back to stop-and-start technology. Trembles letter what hand-cranked passion spills down to us. Manufactured birdsong rolls behind my closed eyelids. Honked to a hypnagogic reverie. It’s fair. I’m alert in my passivity. I’m a gumball rotting in a glass sphere. Something drains down: the clatter of metal sheets, awful explosions of beeps void of tonality’s hierarchical pitch, dripped dissonance-- the shallow porcelain-tub swash of it all. I don’t vary my experiments in the ranges of increased use of the ambiguous chords, the less probable harmonic progressions, and the more unusual melodic and rhythmic inflections. Hurky understood this. Now? There are fashion shows happening in the supermarkets. Flotillas of bodice-wearing landscapers chain themselves to spigots for attention, wishing only to relay some information, such as the fact that the thread standard for garden hoses in the US and its territories is known as GHT or “garden hose thread” which has an outer diameter of 1.0625 inches and a pitch of 11.5. Listeners are not around. I envy them as one might an elephant blowing its nose. Such an enormous and unappealing wonder of sound.
            I cannot scrape together an audience. I depend on pity and chance. Eyes stay averted. Ears ring with scantily clad noise. “Look up,” I argue between a sneeze and an atom bomb. “Listen. There is something there I wish to show you.”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

it’s always last call somewhere in the world

            Gosh to all darns. I’m up for giving-- consequentially, that is. But these circles are not concentric. Not by a longer shot than a Harlem moon. Bo rigged it. Turned up the AC on us. The thicker-skinned among us had been mewling on about it. Insults were hurled to no effect, motley and crude. “Wave! Wave!” That was the taunt we were all touting. It did some bad. It did little good. A few parallel troopers handcuffed Bo to the microwave. He raved and almost ranted too. It was a squeaker. The lord was lifted up and then set back down in a China cabinet. Faking it. Faking it. More of that lunkheaded jacaranda-staring one-foot-to-the-other sway. “Get back up!” A scream to match the facts. It all got solved with a pool-ball slick answer. A slightly stirred shot of porcupine sweat went down hard and cruel. I opened my fist and swore off punching for good.
            A compass swung out its leg in an attempt at circumscription. The doctor of pi played havoc-- especially with the now sweat-drenched Bo. You’d get out too, while you could. Trust me. The doctor had his own number. Bo mumbled and maundered. “Tighter lips,” I told him. “Keep it to somebody else.”
            “Trumble!” That wasn’t a word. Somebody had yelled it. Perhaps nobody noticed.
            The price of nickels kept getting higher. A slot grew thin in the porkpie hat vending machine so as one couldn’t slip even their dreams through. Operations put the heart of things to mum. I talked and talked as a crane lifted a silver box up high towards treacherous roofs. I told the crane operator, “Your circumstances are boring.”
            We are thatched. We are curved through eternities of arc looking for corners. It’s been 11 hours and here we find ourselves in the same situation, meddling with the same logic, pressing PAUSE and REWIND at the same time. “Send all the spellcheckers to hell,” orders Bo. But being chained gives him a few measly ounces of authority. We’d do well to find a middle here, ellipse-wise. No coincidences left in the foci’s tank, you see, and we’re all getting a bit too eccentric for our own conic sections. I might send out a chord soon, just to see if it’s worth it to dream for a secant, or to maybe, in the long run, create a sector just for me. Proportions can go to hell, if only just for a moment, as far as I’m concerned.
            “Grave digger!” That’s Bo rattling his cuffs. “You might make tangents elope, but you’ll never, never find a circumcircle to match the polygons of my imagination.” I ignore him along with everybody else. He falls asleep, constantly irrational as always.
            Always just a little bit to say, in the glide, in the swig, in the hereafter lug of it. Behemoth tracings of the inner limits slip like graceful runnels between the colewort sweep and ribcage-envy of us. I spend time in the shade of grander notions than the sagitta-bound ones most of us dabble in, or at least I’d like others to think so. Perhaps it is just a Cassini oval to dwell content with, and even Bo knows we’re doubters first and applauders later. Oh gosh to the darnedest, when the company we keep starts to keep us it’s better to scrape sharply at the surface without questioning the mechanics of the innards. I’ll buy my own excavating tools from here on out, or in. You can’t break glass with a piece of paper. It’s a tricky stunt, and if it’s pulled off once then it’s gone for good.
             The fall is cheap this time around. I don’t remember what it’s like to go around. Or if I’m not in a hurry. Or if I’m rushed to the pound of drums. Or, well, this darn gets me gushing all the time, by gosh. Bo knows. We hound the operations that’ll make us tall. We shed lead like hopeful pencils. Born to be newer than this gosh, this darn, this waiting that’s to everybody else’s avail. Too many strategies for being nifty go unclaimed. I try the slick new measurements on. I swallow a tiny key that would’ve now saved somebody if it could. Not this now though. It’s some other now that sleeps beyond memory. Plus-- or minus-- I cannot go around undoing every short or long division that’s been done for us, to us, or against us. Shoot. It does less than oodles of good, and less than that too. A slit carved into a tangent of wind, we are only strange enough to be traced alive, blurred in the outlines of an unknown radius-- like this, like that, and, gosh darn, like everything else too. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

of human knickknacks

“You want to keep our love private, baby. You want to keep it to yourself.”  --The Crags

from chapter 7

            It was right around the time when cilantro started to taste like soap. I’d always loved cilantro. We’d had a wonderful thirty-plus year relationship, and now it had come to this. I was devastated. It was like losing an old boon companion because of creative differences, and I fell into a state of despair and despond. The taste I’d once cherished and courted had gone bitter and astringent on me. It was rough. There was nothing I could do about. My taste had irreparably been hampered, never to return.
            I couldn’t find time for things that used to seem important: mopping the floor, doing dishes, taking out the trash, watching TV. It all seemed a sham. What was worthwhile? I suddenly had no reasonable answer to that question.
            Humming became a hobby. My only one, really. There was no shared space to question. Dweebs of thoughts went and soiled my wristwatch, and this crane-necked willy-and/or-nilly perspective was something I kept daring to not come true. Varnishing the same old ideas, wobbling about with both hands clasped behind my back. Yes, or almost it, I wasn’t planning a routine.
            I borrowed some time from a parking attendant. He told me to pay him back in two-hour increments. There was electricity in his hair. I bowed semi-deep, brushed a stray hair from my sleeve, and made a promise I had no intention of ever keeping. Be that as it may or may not, I was solid in my dedication to the pursuit of falsehood. You see, out of doing very little, I emerge.
            Voracity tells one thing while a skidded destiny slyly holds its nose. I think back to a time-- not a simpler one at all-- when my wife would pick salad shrapnel from her teeth with the pointy end of a tiny umbrella she’d snatched from my tropical drink. The birds groan. In the backs of my knees a careful stinging ache starts. My medicine’s a steel mug of brandy that’s been boiled with nickels and flypaper. Don’t get me finished. Thinking back spills death like hooligans from a broke-down limousine. I’m just in time to be late.
            Cigarettes read lips. Olives soak up gasoline and tears. Worries and bland music kick college radio stations off the air. And as far as my ripped-at-the-knees pajamas go, that’s the same story. No class. No contender. Just a bag of dustless bones kicking out the lights.               
            I used to work for the Gopher Sign Company out of St. Paul, Minnesota. We had a good run. The signs sold themselves. Parking signs, No Parking signs. We produced our own scrap. We took cover when the cooks retired. On off days I’d collect ticket stubs with my birthday’s date on them. People would bring them to me from odd corners of the city-- rummagers, fledgling hat saleswomen, boycotters, label thieves, poncho hawkers, and blubber-fed postcard aficionados. I opened my mail only on odd-numbered days. Once in a while the night watchman would play the warped piano in the warehouse bathroom. It tinkled and jounced the atmosphere with a grainy death sentence. And sometimes, if things slowed more than normal at the factory station, I’d grow even less garrulous than normal, sink my chin down into my chest, rest my elbows on my desktop’s edge, and think about Ida Lupino singing One For My Baby in Roadhouse. That job didn’t last long.
from chapter 11

              Drinking coffee, reading the paper, selling things that nobody wants anymore. I’m moved by the sound of sirens. Ambulances of every nation have a unique sound, just like the mumbling of junk-shop owners and the bark of dogs. The array of deceit in my current residence amazes me: the stink of steamed cabbage curdled with thoughts of one wiping the ass with the cheap stuff again, wandering the deserted floors of an abandoned Woolworth. I don’t want it to come down to a pair of high heels dangling from a crooked chandelier. If looking down is necessary, well, here we go. The rusted torsos of a few tiny robots strewn among empty Raid cans and rust-speckled mousetraps; pumpkin seeds, cut hair, and granola; a legless Charlie Chaplin doll. It’s a risk just being yourself sometimes. And to think I started it all with nary a broom to my name. Outmoded and discarded things just bloom out here in the dust. I mean, you take some stock of your life at some point; you look around and see nothing except emptiness and clutter. I do my moaning through a copper bullhorn with a sun-bleached sticker on it in the shape of Porky Pig. Lucky though, ‘cause lord, that tuxedo-top-with-no-bottom look really gives me the heebies and/or jeebies, even just thinking about it. I don’t scream, “Curses!” anymore though.     
            Gizmos break down around here all the time, when they don’t show up that way at least. I crank them, shower them with oil and WD40, throw a few at the wall and see what does or doesn’t fall out, see what makes them rumble and row, tick and traipse, and who knows, maybe figure a way to bring some sort of a semblance of life back to them, or to me. There are stairs too, in the back, if it comes to it. I do what it takes. Squinty chops of motion, sometimes quick seizures of breakneck speed, or just hunches of twitch-and-jerk mobility. These damn toys ruin themselves, collapsing in defeat before they’ve given it a real go. I should take the useless ones and expel them to the funeral-pyre heap out back, and sometimes I do, but it’s hard to give up on them. I don’t want to be the one making the last call. Rusted bolts and tough stringy wires, heads with no top, stray arms and strange plastic parts with no semblance of anything even resembling…well, anything. So, I’m left with more and more useless things that won’t even go bump in the daytime.
            So many stacks of calendars gathering dust. Calendars of frogs, harlequin romance covers, scenes from Basic Instinct, anatomy charts, losing presidential candidates, Kentucky Derby runners-up, to name a few. The years are all long gone. I stare at a hundred Januarys, the boxes all X’d off, and wonder about the winters of my life: all that time spent huddled in corners next to heaters, worrying about soup and sandwiches, cowering under heavy blankets, craven and dismal in the dark, unable to imagine even crossing the street or shaking the hand of another person. Everything’s luck in this world, and it seems mine turns richer towards the worst of it. I grow slunk and lean towards the shadows.
            It is going on later than usual. It is past the rayed returns of dim beams, the beak-pocked boards in the rafters strung with webs and the gonfalons of defunct sports steams. A second coat of dust gathers. My head’s festooned with scars slashed long ago, like an old dead tire cracking and crumbling into small sun-baked bits. Russian knows my thoughts by heart. Officious mumbling gets me through it, though, and I keep my customers close enough to satisfied, for the most part. But hell, don’t get me finished-- when it comes to the bottom of the coffee pot. I’ve got restriction’s livid temper to deal with still, and right about never I ditto a sucker’s pluck and hurl my sentiments from the upstairs bathroom window. That’s my way in, or out, if you’d prefer to think of it that way. I do and don’t. And then there’s me, here, fuming about some general disturbances in the twist of my not-so-personal, so-so space. You’ve got to do something to keep yourself company. That’s about it. Somewhat-done crossword puzzles littering the carpet. Crumpled sacks filled with the torn yellow pages of formerly waterlogged magazines, their covers even still a bit glossy-- out of place in a place where nothing shines much. I’d pack my bags but they’d just fall apart before I even buckled them shut.
            In the morning, before the coffee’s ready, before my head catches up with the rest of me, Arnold comes in and starts pushing stuff around, toying and schmoozing with little tchotchkes he finds amusing. My eyes are too heavy to focus properly, and the best I can do is growl a meek, “Hey there, Arn.” It’s enough to keep him at bay. He knows not to approach me to hastily first thing after daylight. I’m a man of slow, cumbersome motions in the a.m.. Just leaning on the counter’s enough to kept my busy.
            The windows start to fill with light, a little, and I squint out towards a break in the clouds: a frowzy, piss-yellow scuttling on the horizon’s yawning mug that seems to be mocking me and my sluggish puddles of ambition. A sudden blunted dourness overcomes me, and I feel as if I won’t ever escape these walls of overloaded shelves. Arnold’s flicking the silver flags of two identical miniature    rocket ships with a finger of each hand, making them spin around and around while he whistles When Johnny Comes Marching Home. I try not to pay attention. Instead I listen to the coffeemaker sputter, wheeze, and eventually drip to life. My gaze is gauzy with sleep. There’s no telling how far I’ve strayed from the calm of rest. Very little comes easy to the flutter-singed mind of insomnia’s early-morning dementia. I find myself giving up and in a little more with the arrival of each new day. As one might expect, intruders, like Arnold, who scramble into my pre-coffee daze with their shambling theatrics, are not a welcome sight. I close my eyes and try to dream my way out of all this and all the way back home. It doesn’t work.
            Drizzling on about the commonplace, I make up for gained time. A real stickler for the uncanny relief of settling in. I’m cursed with petty annoyances wherever I go. It’s layman’s terms my memory’s coming to, in the tact of being considerate to what fortune holds aloft, gone or lost just the same, from what reality’s not very good at understanding. I don’t get to see myself from the curt perspectives that others take. Not that I’m one to get all sentimental over thrown-away things, but still, I’m not the sort who takes these things with a bashful shrug and moves on. My taste may change, but my will is still solid. Fuck salsa. I’m making a break for plain tortilla chips soaked in butter.
            There’s a guy I’ve nicknamed Pockets. He’s shifty with a wild stop-sign red crop of hair, and comes in here twice a week or so, but never too early to be a real hassle to me. But he’s here this morning, and starts paling around with Arnold. I hear Pockets mumble something about disregard for understatement. He’s off-the-charts rifle-happy while the radio plays Roy Orbison. Arnold shudders. I don’t blame him. Pockets can be quite a handful when he gets this way. Ostensibly I make to be ignoring them, but my eyes are watchful enough. Who knows when one of these homegrown bastards will turn to a filch. It’s better to play dumb. 
             Some folks come in searching for the holy grail. It’s like they’re saying, “Hello, Lady Darkness. Always welcome in my home.” They’d be better off dreaming up toilet paper slogans, if you ask me. They ride the swale between the tules of sleep and wakefulness, and they forget their hats on a bed. Buckboard moans and shakes under their stride. I am not giving in. I tell them to keep up with the bad fight, for the good of it, or whatever good it’s going to do any-old-one in this sheltered maroon-lost place we keep telling ourselves that we’re alive in. It’s Bunk. I know it. And I’m shoving off. It’s all I can do that’ll do. Better than mooching around with all of this forgetfulness. But I do. The nuns have all gone on attack. And I do.
            A crowd is scrounging around through the junk by noon. Sheila and Nellie, the Harmon twins-- who both do more than scratch at the surface of ugly-- are ranting and slandering around as usual. They’re both pushing fifty, and don’t like it. The rolls have gathered at their middles; their thighs shred tights like junk mail; faces like car wrecks; yellow hair shot to stringy split dry weeds; and there are more than a few boll weevils in their less-than-verdurous fields. I enjoy their conversations immensely.   
                  Sheila pipes up, “My son, he’s a miscreant. And, to top that, a weeper too. A real master of the old waterworks spiller. Yep. Can’t get him to handle much without a bawling jag coming over him, and then, well, forget it. It’s all done in. No way to get to him, through and in. It’s over. All the theatrics, sprinklers, and then some. I just let him go on. It’s all you can do. That kid. He’s a lost cause.
            “But you got to love your kid, right? Your own fleshy bloody thingy, and all that. It’s up to you to find a way to accept the shit licker into the folds of your life. But please, don’t think that it’s easy, especially if your own’s making up for lost time by smearing his milquetoast crap all over the sappiest parts of your personhood. Loopy as they come, I tell you. Wish for a muzzle. Maybe you get lucky. Well, at least it’s something to do in the drained thick of it.”
            Nellie isn’t talking, and there are scrunches her face gets into that it seems it’ll never recover from. She’s a real squinter. Hard to tell if she’s happy about anything or even ever content. A purple scowl boils on the thick painted grease of her crusty mug, and, hell, maybe it’s about time we all get better at deciphering our own moaning. Maybe I’m just the same, whining on about nothing much, nothing much at all. We’re all just as boring as being bored. When I get around to choking somebody, it’ll be with both hands.
from chapter 22           
            The crickets and the howls of coyotes scrawl tattered wrecks on the evening. I’m not lonely at all. My voice is deeper tonight, deeper than wild violets, and it threshes fallen leaves, and it cracks and falls, while I too am shallower in its depths. We all need a nice calm place to dream from. There, of course, is nothing to be done. There never is.

from chapter 5
             You ask yourself, “Where am I going to eat? Am I going to put socks on? What does a ringing phone sounds like?” But in the end it’s all just decorative, arrangements you’re making within the outside. I don’t regret the sinking I’ve done in (or out) the slouched course of my wandering. For the charge, the brunt of it at least, I go screaming Yiddish down the halls, again (or over and over), and then it’s a placated smile planted sullenly on my curt way of handling business. Sense doesn’t make me hard and gruff; it flows cussed and ribald, crooked to bend the stream better where something’s resisting more than a tad. But, hell, there I stop and go all self-absorbed and hollow. It’s better to just paint yourself behind the burning bush, I’ve found, and let others make distinctions for you. I’m done with chasing and being chased. Somebody cue the mood music, please. There’s no time like the present for hiding out and waiting for the future to arrive.

from chapter 9

            Stacks of CDs, most with cracked jewel cases and scratches cobwebbing out on their no-longer-shiny bottoms. I flip through them, wondering about why somebody’d bought them in the first place. Horrible titles and pictures: Little Handy And The DewBirds; Blithe Retreat; The TableTops “Platter Up”; Joe Nixon and The Blind Hunters; JizWeapon. It’s sad. All this wasted energy come to such a meager end, gathering dust now, never to be played or handled by expectant fingers again. Barney Koulfax and The Barroom Baritones. Gordie Takes Manhattan. It’s a fool’s hell disguised as Eden, and I don’t want to give in to it. I want this music to exist again, to rise to the rafters and fill this small room with everything it’s got. Somewhere in the dizzy realms of schmaltzy wonder lies a place for all this god-awful noise we make, this attempt to show the world that we are alive, real, and more than just another body taking up space and wasting air. I nab a CD from the pile at random: Louie Chalk’s Singing Flowers Back To Bloom. It’s still got the shrinkwrap on it. Never been opened. This makes me indescribably sad. I check it into the store’s CD player and hit PLAY.
            A slight maundering mixed with the pulse and throb of a rumbling bass, and then some scraps of guitar, flickering and distorted-- almost a squeal. A voice chimes in, discreet and saccharine, with a falsetto croon: “If I were a little petal, afloat upon the wind of your breath, then I’d give my heart a merry chance to wink and kiss and undress.” It’s horrendous. Worse than that. My whole body flinches. It’s like the world has suddenly gone off key, my brain’s out of tune, and the windows are rattling with the dire urge to escape. Everybody in the place has the look of surprised terror suddenly flash on their faces, and I lunge at the CD player to hit STOP. Silence ensues. Relief fills the room like cotton candy, and we all sigh through it.
             I used to know a guy named Presley. He’d wave at mirrors. Crowds never gathered, but he addressed them anyway. His hair was always slicked with pomade and smelled like vanilla. The way he walked was inimitable, like a cowboy drenched in kerosene doing the mambo. Red shirts and bandanas around the neck. He used to play his 33 LPs at 45. Little Sister at this rpm was amazing. We danced to it, pounding the floorboards with our sweet mediocrity. I enjoyed his company quite a bit.

from chapter 3

            Courtesy goes a bit longer of a way around these parts. I give it a go-- just easy-does-it, for the most of a while. I’ll get my share of jerks and bad-mouthers in here. It goes with the territory, and I put up with it, as far as my temper will allow. I let them have their blurts of frustration, and maybe take a bit more than I should, but it keeps up appearances around here, and that does me better in the long of it. I keep to monosyllables. Curtness goes a long way to keeping things easy. I dust myself of others, and the static cling of them keeps me honest and irritated.
            It’s like missing something you’ve never known. Sniveling over a ubiquitous riot that’s been quelled in your heart’s fondest corner-cleaning ways. A rutty pinch of light knifed blazing through troubled waters, momentarily, and then all’s calm and slow again. I can’t fuss over my own finger-pointing. Guessing glazes over and stultifies my finer points. I, somehow, get by without much gruff. Vulpine and a little less free with each passing night. It’s plenty.
from chapter 14
            A girl’s leaning against a lamppost, thumbing through a paper, dangling a cigarette from her lips as she goes. Her eye’s not there to be caught. It’s a slight wish of a thing, taking truck with fallen trees and gopher holes, and it plays itself straight ahead, burly and overreaching too, but I’m too sly for it. Maybe it is Beverly Sills, caught between an aria and a hangnail. I doubt it. I do my looking somewhere else. My eyes stretch skyward, as is their wont, and I catch nothing but a few wind-tugged bodies of flimsy clouds and long vast stretches of bowl-you-over blue taking more space than even emptiness could. The window’s smeared in places, chalky in others, and I gaze over the flinty ruins of old dirt paths no longer cut so distinct leading away from the road. I drag my eyes all over the place and get nowhere. This is always the decisive part of the day for me. There is a place that’ll turn one way or a hundred finite others. It plays havoc with my motivation, rues my milled volition, and steps brawny and curt on my dreams. There is nothing to do or be done. I have discovered only false tenses in today’s strips of hope. In the meantime, I cut my whisky with maple syrup.    
            There was an encoignure on the sidewalk. The sun was doing a number on the wood, baking it to a scarred velvety texture, a scaling rust-colored patch of scabby shreds. It was gutted: the drawers were gone, and some dead leaves had settled their way in the bottom. It no longer matters how much money it might’ve fetched. It’s resilience is for not. Love’s last trickle has dried up. The world erodes it and takes it back, slowly, into the caldron of undifferentiated mass: a place where destruction is creation, and the rules no longer apply.  

from chapter 87

            Jed counts the steps as he goes up the stairs, lumbering one by one, dazed and rocking some, hesitant too, and willfully sated with the journey. Like dead leaves swept up by a heavy gust of wind-- a crinkled sound that scrapes and rustles and lifts-- I hear him stepping his way towards where I am, tucked away in the attic room here, trying not to be bothered. It’s no use. His gangly gait is soon shuffling too close to keep going without me opening the door to let him in. There’s something princely about my undertakings, and I succumb and go to the door to unlatch it. There he is, face pawed at and pocked under a swash of black yarn-like whorls, chipped front teeth jutting out crookedly, and his aimless eyes slumped under droopy upper lids. Of course, he is invited in, and soon we’re kicking up our feet on various footrest substitutes and, while gandering around in feigned ambivalence, grinning at the unbearable, waiting our turn to speak.
              The clouds sneak on up over the hills. The chumps don’t even put up a fight. Touched restless. The sweet, bubbly thrill of her voice gone for good. And for me, now, it gets loneliest in the afternoon. The day shrinks away, dappled and dreary, from my wherewithal. The stuffy things that arrive, the crank and wheeled brunt of them knocking around in my skull, have the most staying power while the sun’s getting on past straight overhead. Can’t blink these exudations away as they roost to brood. I cut my coffee with snake oil. Time just goes and goes and goes.
from chapter 1

            A deeper voice, more rich, almost a baritone, drooling and raspy just a lick above the plunk of a warped piano. A wise way to limn the necessary from monotony; nothing like the rash spate of today’s culled deliverance. It wakes one from its noon slumber while the strangest thoughts chip and dart through my warped brain, like being attacked by a butterfly. A weighty stroke of another hour upon us, lazily strangling me, and the music’s boring holes in the bleakness with a softly lulled timbre. The teakettle is whistling. Yes. I still find time to pour some tea in.
            The days bury themselves in under-priced jewels. The light remains intact, skidding on the dirt-streaked window glass. The trees shave your uncle. The jasmine distills. We are just reflection of our own reflections. I keep thinking she’ll dive her way out here, here where all I do is miss her. Forenoons tarry with bounded reasonableness, lasting painfully enough. Once, the cartoons were all in a foreign language, and I just found myself staring at defunct neon signs, doing trivial things with my time, and pouring grape soda over salted ice. There is a rich valor in the roses here, a steep unhurried hinge of newness that swings easy in the straddle of the days-- the floating absurd days that flutter by, not really like petals falling at all. Not really. Carved apses of reality lapse and lurk like timid frowns. The sling of curves, the crop-hungry wilt of barren love, the optimal dose of languid spaces spread through drowsy-thick harbors, a creep that’ll clutch at whatever winds up around. I think of her more often than a lot. Yellow digs. The mustard fights. Potatoes peel themselves. The days here are just shattered glass from a one-way mirror without her. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

atmospheric refraction

            Hank started a forklift company down in Yulestown, right around the time construction had pretty much dried up. But people still remembered the sound of jackhammers. Other ways of things-- the stuffing knocked right out of you, too-- well, there are mailmen who keep their routes way past retirement age. It’s the part you don’t return, the one with the faded address and the postmark-smeared stamp. It’s a hampered whimpering, and you know what that’ll lead to; or if it don’t, well, we’ll pass it on to the next generation or two. Never fails. Sins of your father, and all them hawked lugies we pretend mean a dog’s breakfast of anything to…well, any chipped-paint sad-sack who wanders in. That’s more of it.      
            Don’t start to think I’ve been coddled or anything. The nerve I got comes hard earned. You check your name at the kitchen door around here, and we don’t spit in the coffee afterwards. Christ, folks get bent out of shape over the most picayune b.s., and I’m supposed to just lie back and put up with it, or so it seems to go. I’m lunching with bottlebrush. I’m lacking a certain charm. Barely, though, I fare well enough. People tell me I look like the type, at least.
            I’ve sat in bars in every state in the this goddamn country. I’ve got drunk all over America, puked in gutters and toilets from sea to shining sea. Every single dram of whisky, bourboned to lost shores, sometimes lonely enough, tossing all the golden doorknobs into the junk heap of the world along my way. Met my share of damn lonely souls. One thing about lonely people is they talk too much. Spouting off to anybody that pulls into a barstool close to their vicinity. They’ll lay it all out for you, whatever it is they’ve got-- usually not much more than the baling wire of some minor gripes and sores. Dour victims of circumstance. I’m wise to it, though, and I don’t bite off more than my gut’ll accept without a curt vomit. I am vile when pushed. I am sordid when need be. Here, the way I see it, the sky’s crammed with berry weather, and I’m just a goof swimming in the indigo blur of it all, for now. A spun sign reading, “You are here.” It’s just the sad thwack of forgiveness sneaking up on me, most mornings, and it’s basically putting a mite more than a red-cent of distance between me and the rest of it. Shit, just sitting around at bars making myself soggy and sad. Punching out the lights every night. Staying all closed up and rotting away inside. You light a cigarette. You take a swig of scotch with just a hairline of water in it. You make believe that you don’t exist. It’s all subtracting down, and there’s little left to do, so you just sit there watching the fans spin, gazing at the thicket of bottles behind the bar, making faces in the bar mirror, tipping back and forth on the stool. And you just sit there.           
            Well, Hank, you see, he was not quite what you’d call rolling in the dough around this time. But he was reliable. Hesitation may have hampered him a bit. I know what I know, like kin almost, because I’m privy to it, for reasons I won’t right now let on about. June won’t whisper to July about May, you know. It’s all a sloughy trudge towards bleakness.
            Husked time, retracing what’s gone from what’ll never be. Shimmering’s done for. Dimes luck out. I spread my wings and fall. Nobody wants what’s gift-wrapped for somebody else’s destiny.
            I don’t get teary over Hank’s departure from capital, from means and necessity. Beyond me, if you ask. Depart without spelling goodbye. That’s the tune we’ll all be singing soon, even if we weren’t then. Who knew that scrubbing dishes could leave you shaky and at a loss for your own personality? Oh well, paint me a red-rumped swallow and pull the fire alarm while you’re at it. Well, well. Just like spilled insulin smells like band-aids, for some inexplicable, brutally gorgeous reason I get deranged for mismatching my thoughts like this. Lies strained from the truth’s pulp. It froths up from the boil of it. I do as everyone else pleases. It’s like waiting for an artichoke to fart. So, me, I get my kicks the old fashion way: neat. My hold on what’s ended shut up and rolled is crammed with lent ideas, and the concrete trucks spin, and the mulberries sing their troubles to no end. Indifference sinks in at some point, I guess, and I pluck my words from dead branches of things I’m too weary to think of anymore. It’ll come up to, without being down or out, this clipped shudder that I’m the only true friend I’ve got.
            There’s this day that comes, and I’m sure that I’ve seen a Polaroid of a dog, but upon closer inspection it’s really just a hamburger. Some part of me must’ve just known, “Yep, here goes some rough stuff.” Something crawfished to the warbling crunch of my path: a wayward tug of distance and obsolescence, and nothing doing in the tides of where I’ve been. Gone and splat, I’m done in and out too.
            Somehow it was a thought of Hank that brought me to this sort of grand notion that this one here day wasn’t going to slip on away from me all that much as normal. I got to recapping our famed escapades in Bunyan Canyon. Hank and I gone apeshit out there, lo-and-beholding wormy daggers and gut-punched sissies. We had it made, but weren’t making it. As if anyone could tell anyway. Had it become treacherous maybe we could’ve staggered our way into a greasy diner and knocked off a few crickets of worry, but we had other noons and midnights to comprehend and take care of at the time, and so weren’t so quick to grow fond and fleecy with a bunch of grade-school hijinks-- which is what it all was to us at the time. The sun warped our sense of wrong. We cast thin shadows. We trod ground-liver terrain barefoot. We made frog tongue sandwiches and sipped gooseberry wine. It was leaner times than those I’d so far known. The terrain of our lives was scattered with lug nuts and acorns. Nobody even noticed we’d gone away.
            Hank got to feeling jilted. It was his capability in question, and he knew bristling from a welter. So he went crossing holdovers off his To-Not-Do list. It got too hot for pants, so he took to wearing swim trunks. Wanted to start a pie farm, or it was just a never-mind to hold back the flood of maybes, when he should’ve been concentrating on reconfiguring his lifestyle. He was unstable in the meantime. Got so bad, as he regressed into boredom, that he forgot his own phone number. Should’ve known what’d happen. Getting sharded and lumped over the orphaned evidence he couldn’t really have known was coming up, without much fanfare or interference from the greatest of great beyonds. Any legitimate claim of four-by-forty luck, something cupped but never ladled, would’ve spit unnoticed by. His head would nod. We’d go stag through the wilderness, and it wasn’t much for the fuss, really, the way things got welded into being.   
            Trouble’s skating pie-eyed with the past. I know luck welshes at times. I know stripped hope. Undiscoverable guesses curdling moonlight and all that. And there were days more broke than those coming, and we both knew that too. Ignored it and thrashed around in the thin of it. Eventually Hank got himself a ransacked way of looking at the present. It become a sort of stick-it-to-you sort of trouble that messed lightly with less-than-shiny dimes of doing. The leaves of us were so bright. I know. I know. But they were. “Stand short,” I told myself. “It’ll all be chainsawed to daylight in the short run.” I told Hank the exact opposite. You see, there was still use in hiding then. Now? Not an egg’s chance in a poach factory.
            The tenor of this place crawls into you; it cuts and scabs your experience of it. Breathing is scent and mood scurrying towards a lifted grace, a conniving pissed-away attitude that one might attribute to the stink of old cigarette butts in a tin can, or lye and ammonia slopped over mildew and wet bundles of linty dust. There’s no hurry in any of it. I’ve come to lean heavily on the slow rot and even slope of time passing, not with a whimper but with a squelched moan. Eventfulness has gone away, and here I stay, nudged towards longing with a lengthy swipe of the present. Motion stays put while I go on and on, and I call the storms of my life home.
            I am not gone. The forklifts of chance are masking what’s not hidden in the sealed crates of my history. Nothing’s shipped. Nothing’s hurled spitting at the drone of fans. My amends make themselves. Woody Guthrie’s singing all about me. It’s over. It’s over. Going under. Carried up to die, like a spiraled prayer. I count railroad ties in the dark. I mistake love for buried lust. The moon’s making faces at the cattle again. I am not so heroic. I am not juniper punch. Get the scuttling done. I’m not moving on just yet. Not, just, yet.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Irma’s last stand

            Farley thinks he can keep me happy. But Farley, he don’t know me as well as he should. Dignity is sorely lacking in him; that’s partly what it is. Terrible taste in music. So, there’s that too. Blunders to the surface, it all does anyway. Holy-smoking about it all, all the time, it’s more of a drag to be kept happy for me, most times. Glad about that, though. I’m moody by nature. He knows that, Farley does. Traps himself in a jar of it. Not too ripe to be soft around the edges, at least yet, though it is getting stuffy to be here.
            I don’t get what it’s like to be me anymore. The garbage trucks swing by in the evening, puffing and groaning. So much I don’t understand. So many things in this world are just beyond me. People who don’t listen. Shit, like being married to the wind. Only attention they’ve got is for their own fucking ballpark. Situations that involve only Them Truly, you know? That’s a person who doesn’t do a whole lot but instead just thinks about doing a whole lot. Oh holy shit, well, I wouldn’t trade a clubfoot for a march-of-dimes poster. Let me just put it that way. There’s a couple of skids left in these tires, and I mean to use them,
            On Saturday Farley left for the whole day. He doesn’t leave much behind when he goes. It’s tough money for me, when he sharks out for other less-brown pastures. The place gets a certain quality of stink to it, you know? Mops last about as long as a room-temp head of lettuce around here. It’s brawny of me to think I could mistake coolness for retreat. I don’t fare well in this sort of bandaging. Sometimes I wonder how I last, thinking pretty much every morning about how I can’t stand the person who I was the day before. The full moons, they come and go, and I lie to myself about the past, and, in keeping with what Farley’s hoping will last, write notes to myself in the squares of newspaper crossword puzzles and hang my dreams on the clotheslines.
             This particular Saturday in question, well, I was feeling mulish. The house seemed bigger than empty, and there were no cats around for miles. Questions kept coming to me about the way things kept disappearing. I ignored them though. It was stifling to be arranging the propellers of my thoughts for nobody but this here gal of the house. The vacuum cleaner made its noise. The perfume of being alive stunk less rosy than any place I’ve ever smelled the likes of. Bogged down but not out, I made my move.
            A machine-gun shake in the walls, and then a mirror crashes to the carpet. It’s been a long time since I cared a crab’s shit about politics. This was no different. I took it out of stride. I gulped small.              
            Farley comes home late, you see, and I’m baffled. I’m swinging a broom at hyphens and cardboard Cheshires, and there are no takers as far as that goes. When I see him standing there all clunkered and off task, I somehow get enough wind back in me to haul up some words: “When I left my heart back in St. Joe’s Woods there wasn’t much left of it to take. I got me some clunker out of New Rockford, and I’m just a blunder, a wet spot on the floor.” Farley just stands there. It’s stupid the way Farley thinks he can just stand there and make something happen. Nothing happens. I go back to swinging my broom.
            I’m not happy enough for Farley. Sunday proved that. We were supposed to scare up the neighbors to play Blue Sky Shits, but they were busy resisting arrest. All closed doors sound the same, I guess. And me? I’m not happy, according to Farley. So we go get us some bull testicles, freshly cut, and a jug of Blue Ruin, and we run a few yellow lights on the way. A cop car tails us home, but it doesn’t make a difference. It gets smaller and smaller in the rearview as we go. Farley screams out the window, “Black and white and red all over!” I love stupid jokes; it’s the bad ones I can’t take. I pay the fiddler and keep paying and paying.
            Farley’s on his rocker. “There just ain’t a teaspoon of dignity in you, is there? Goin’ round creating all this hubbub about everything. Shit. I know cream from coffee without being told to look.” He might be talking to a sapling or a misplaced piece of toast. His mug goes bland and out. A lopsided shimmer of a smirk flounders down to a gimcrack frown. He swivels his head, slaps his own cheek, and screams, “You’re really ticking me on!”
            Shushing is a weapon. I use it discriminately. This is one of those times I have to pick. I opt not to. You see, around these pieces the AA meetings are standing room only, and butterflies attack cats and small children. It’s just filling the cracks between necessity with the grout and spackle of who Farley thinks I’m turning out to be. And I do it as little as possible.                
            Farley loves when I sing about the automat days. “Oh, lord, lord. Take me to the automat, lord. Take me to the bowtie factory, lord. Let me speak my own name in vain. Let the ready-made suppers not go unclaimed. Oh, lord. Oh, lord. Take me down, down, down to the automat.” Farley smiles with a wilted joy, and tells me he finds his love in banknotes and voided checks. I’m not sure how to take this, or if it’s even there to be taken. I guess it’s just like how only boring people get bored; being happy is hardwired into you, and if it doesn’t take, well, then put on a good show and get it over with. Me? I’ll keep singing. My dustpan empties itself.
            Doubles, overflowing, these are years done. To what purpose? Got me. Marked approval, different in disappearance, you get hammered to be skilled, type-wise at least, a tidy dram of what's to come, and then it’s over. You don’t always notice what isn’t there. Shaky and tough as a hardened quirt. A game rigged for those who don’t touch. No more cobbles. No more diving Immelmann turns of thought. No more harkened bent shadows of home. No more to just put up with. Just going around looking for a good place to sit and watch the traffic go by from. The arrow’s pointing around near empty. And there’s blood on my shoes. I have my secrets. I have my escape, a place to hide this sickness that’s inside of me for a while.
            Farley, well he ain’t so bad to me. He can be a decent sort to have around. I send my misgivings to the rafters, air my nerve, and sky the holes in my drafty logic. Trust is something that comes and goes, not like being happy, or just happy enough. I believe in what’s washed itself into being happy. I believe this is who I want to be. There’s no place for us. No time. No place. The stations might change but we stay the same. The sky is splattered with an umber bloom, glyphs of sorrow packed and ushered, breves and cedillas of loss hooked in the guts of it like barbwire; and I keep to myself, still, training wheels and all. But one day I will roll on my own, unloosed and savage, and there is no telling what will be left to spare. A person only does what they are capable of. It’s just a matter of finding a way to be that person, the one who creeps up from the bottom of a jar that’s finally empty.
            “What are you…why are you looking at me like that for? Who…Wha…?”
            Only the jackdaws and the rivets, the flop of the crushed sofa and the dust-speckled slices of moonlight straddling the floorboards will know the treasure and finality of my escape.
            I am not happy. Thank God. So blessed am I to not have to be happy anymore. So blessed.