Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the grouchiest piano player on the west coast

            I’ve always said Miniature Golf. Some people say Put-Put or Mini Golf. But I’ve always called it Miniature. I don’t know why. Then there’s that derelict woman who wanders around Polk in high heels and miniskirts with rouge smeared all over her white face paint. Oily arch pigtails, a lazy eye, and a penchant for heliotrope. And the wind’s delivering the paper. Yes or no. There’s a choice. And it won’t make itself.   
            “Quaf! I cannot believe this! Quaffy quaff quaff.”
            “To shoo. Dearly. Dear. My. Oh.”
            “Well, wear a wristband then.”
            Was that dialogue? Who’s talking?
            There are problems probably happening right now. People probably having them. They are there, the problems are, to be either dealt with or deserted pretty much completely. It’s probable. That’s for sure.
            I am paying tribute to you, asshole.
            “Please use the proper punctuation when speaking or being spoken (do not insert preposition here).”
            Comma, dash, ampersand, ditto mark, exclamation point, ellipses, maybe a period or so, and then a passenger boards. Only at the last minute maybe the passenger, this passenger being used as an example of a passenger in this manipulation of a paradigm, maybe the so-called passenger is not really going to be going anywhere at all. Just maybe. Hyphen. Quotation mark. Apostrophe. Some guillemets. A pilcrow. PS- “The train’s at the station.”
            Values are reassigned at this point.
            “Come on, man. I’m a buddy. I’m older. I’m palling around with the likes of you. Man.”
            There we don’t go again.
            “Pesky. Grumpy. On the rocks. It’s teething, pangs of aging.”
            Wow. I am certainly decades gone on lightweight techniques of glassware options, let me not tell you. All about it, yet.
            We are estimating. Only.
            Casserole recipes notwithstanding. The noisy clucking of seagulls. “Grass fed?” “Only, no.” “Fat’s on and off about it.” “Call me a sucker then. Go ahead.”
            Stayed drunk most of the time.
            Zoos are closed. Getting streaky with umbrella luck. “Trust me, Alan Oppenheimer will be making my speeches for me.” 
            Walking everywhere-- in the movies, for certain. Deeper knee bends still getting us plowed with forgiveness. All’s dismissed.
            Fair game?
            “It was the leanest and meanest of times. It was easy dying. It polled well. We stuck around to be sick with it.”
            “Don’t go raining me out. Don’t get a bush-league terror raging in your pantry. Bluer skies than these, it will be, or it won’t.”
            San Francisco after midnight. It deems itself. If by match light. If by moth or mouse. A step up from taking a stand. To. The. Something something something. Commas not included. 
            “Capital letters are back in style.”
            Veer that away. Envy seeks other envy. Bound to old bindings. I am still, more so than office buildings and festival lights.
            “Listen. Somebody’s waltzing. Over here. Listen.”
            “Smells of burnt rubber overcome one in times like these.”
            Heartburn by the number.
            “You can’t be an alcoholic. You wear a tie.”
            People call it bathroom tissue now instead of toilet paper.
            I started karaokeing at a very young age.
            “Pictures! Pictures! Move it or make some sense!”
            Wiser guys than this-- well, what’ve we got here --, because or due to (while a hint of sautéed envy leaks through the potato-salad factory) benighted circumstances well within the means or disservice of control, will stay put short enough to be gaped at. A little more turns into a little less, only without the pretense.
            “Suppose I were to wear a where in my hair? It’s daffy. See?”
            Barn’s stormed. Let’s eat Fritos and be bad. Talk about our hangovers over the phone. Squash the moon back into the room with our thumbs. Since it’s chancy, so say it, it is not borrowed like time. It is a ruler’s length.
            Just a minute or two to glance outside through the window and dream into the street while the fingernail-clipping slice of moon tilts and wavers in an inky sky above the dilapidated brick buildings.  Our lives led in other Renos of badly parked cars. With the espresso cream clouds sputtering overhead, yep, we stole the evidence that beauty had been here, something like twenty thousand years before, and made short work of trophy cases with sledge hammers and spray paint. Too cerulean for weak eyes like these. Bend it around forty times, for starters, and then come speak at me about microphones and preproduction codes. I am forgone but not concluded to be out of style for as long as possible. Let the possums eat rats.
            “So, we’ve got meddlers to deal with. Well, sweep the bastards off the roof. We’ll make a musical loosely based on the lives of postal workers. I’d like to see the riflemen go without bullets for a week or two. That’d stamp out what’s left of them.”
            Putting on the skids.
            “Did, you, just, say, something?”
            Productivity comes in bunches. And, also, of note, to wit: “I know what it’s like to walk around with shorts on, while it is sunny out, while the wind’s just a mild breeze. The feel of it. The smell. The way trees bask in it and the girls all look like freshly washed and detailed corvettes, and the slim and shiny pluck of undecided directions gives away dockets for moving through life’s shushes and terror. The lists are made of lavender laughs and steam. Fan me into the worst fire’s got. I will celebrate more than necessary.”
            “Asian-carp hotdogs for sale! Goldfish jerky! Trout sausage! Ground salmon! Get your deep-fried minnow snack treats here!”             
             I’ve already left the building, Mr. Presley. Now it’s your turn. What, that? Oh, that’s the sound my mailman makes.
            Budding hack. I’ll burn my own rib eye, thank you. And would you put some goddamn quotes on? Seriously, it’s indecent.
            “A new lease on lesson-learning, I guess.”
            “Ah, now that’s better. Not so bad, huh? Gives you something to squirm around between, feel out your dimensions, extend to the barriers a bit.”
            The stuck clouds, the ones that weren’t moving, behind the fast flight of the lower ones as if they were part of the sky itself, just white scruffy patches on a blaring lapis lazuli canvas. I wanted to reach up and tear them off, send them fluttering back home to wherever it is that clouds come from. As usual, though, there was nothing to be done. I punched a newspaper instead.
            My bartender Steve Garvey didn’t say, “The city struggles to know you, deep down, as its banks of millionaires offer a surface clean, and you weep to the thrum and rattle of the cable car tracks.” But maybe he’d wanted to say it somewhere in his own personal deep-down, or to say anything except for the usual stuff he says, stuff like this: “Unlike most folks in here, I remember the exact moment in time when I completely lost my mind. It was a balmy October evening, and I was out walking around. I couldn’t remember why I was where I was, standing on the sidewalk and looking in the window of a nice restaurant, ogling all the people in there dining, having a good night out, and I thought, ‘I’ll never be one of them, ever.’ It seemed a very natural thing. I wasn’t suspicious of it at all. It was like, ‘Oh, well, there goes my mind,’ like it was supposed to happen, and it was almost a relief when it finally did, like I’d been waiting for it for so long and then finally, there it went. It didn’t worry me in the slightest. The streets were tar and macadam, long sleek things, black and steady. Car headlights came and went. A pigeon poked at a beer bottle. Nobody noticed me standing there in the middle of the nowhere that I’d suddenly become. And, for the first time in my life, I didn’t care.” Or maybe not. Maybe he’d just go on saying stuff like, “I just got tired of using comedy to make me feel good about myself.” Or, “My nostalgia is getting nostalgic for itself.” In the meantime I am drinking less than responsibly.      
            Pointing to foul territory, in a determined distress, while riding the bus, faking a cough into my fist, something about the angle of light daggering in through the high trapezoidal windows, the stingy ones you can open by pulling them sideways, horizontal, a challenge at times because they get stuck and it can take some serious grunt work to get the job done, something to be done while standing and not for the less brawny among us. I am wincing at people’s faces. There’s a rubbed raw hue to the persistence of vision. Colors are warped. The fabric of whatever seems like the nature of my current reality is shredded and threadbare. Some of the advertisements close to the ceiling are stretched, the elongated pictures and words pulled taut and thin, and somehow I feel like something will snap suddenly and nothing for me will ever be the same again. But nothing ends. There is no finality to any of it, and this fills me with dread and terror. The phrase, “I got treble in my mind,” flickers through my thoughts. I know something is wrong there. It’s close, but not right. I can’t figure out why. Something is wrong with me. The pinball game of my head is permanently tilted. A scream longs for a mouth. A small Chinese woman, whose feet are swinging high above the grip-tape floor, sits eating a lychee fruit on one of the facing seats at the front of the bus. Her smile is crooked, something skewed about it. I can’t bring myself to look at her with more than a general glance in her direction. I feel as if I am being expertly watched, and I don’t for some reason want to make any mistakes, though I don’t know what would constitute a mistake in this position that I’ve found myself in, whatever that position might be. What’s put me here? It’s as if the world around me is appearing to whatever’s passing for my eyes at this moment to be some sort of drafty Phenakistoscopic vision, something playful and lost, and I can’t make this fluidity of botched movement stop, even for a second. Everything is just flowing, bright and dull, in exasperating shivers of kinematic sadness, a strobe-like flickering paired with torched remnants of stop-and-go animation, or perhaps things being continuously carved into cement that never dries. There is no me here.
            “Refrain!” “I cannot.” “Do misuse the wisest particles of…” “Stop it!” “Yes, sir.”

            It was kindly just a row away from being apart, lurking wakeful, and interspersed dutifully along marched lines. Oh, and westward to wagons we go, again, here. Flubbed and regarded. Testing out a string of compositional theories. Gussy me up with optical illusions and starve the lions in my heart. Helicopters be damned, this was going to be a stripped down version of playing dumb. And I was just a drunk playing dumb for the crowd. But all I really wanted was to manage my way to the top of that tall building that was always in my distance, to get up there with that palm tree doling out some shade on the roof, and to just lie there and gaze into the clouds and at the palm tree, to just relax there, calm like that, for as long as I possibly could. I had flypaper wings from my grandmother’s medicine chest, and there was hope, just not for me. That palm tree was always too damn far away.
            God, we were restless then, floundering away in obscurity, needing a break from being ourselves.  
            We had a good go of it, though. Flipping off cops and all. (“If I am not mistaken, that was Wild Bill.”)
            (“Sure. And then we’ve got Shoeless Joe, in his own words.”) And the best of us are taking naps through the remainder of our lives.
            (“Tod Browning never said,”) San Francisco, it gets windy, sure. But sometimes, well, sometimes we push back, right?
            A banana for your thoughts. (“Who said that?” “That’s Thomas Jefferson, I do believe. Also…”) A cash donation for your dreams.
            Panama Joe pipes up, “Lon Chaney had the most graceful hands. You could recognize him just with a glimpse of those elegant fingers delivering a letter, or lighting a match. It wasn’t dancing, but it was close. He had his own makeup kit that he made out of an old toolbox which he used to create all of his one thousand faces, and both of his parents were deaf mutes. His last scene on film is of a girl gifting him a carton of cigarettes by the side of a train. He died of lung cancer a few months later.” Nobody is listening.
            A life lived in quotations marks, the soundtrack scored with apostrophes and odd glyphs like interrobangs and up tacks. It gets chalky and dismal. A sparse place chipped out of the heart with some buffoon’s sand-wedge obliviousness. An internal fan cranked to life, its sad racket all that’s left to hear.

            The soup kitchen was all out of napkins. Everything smelled of train smoke. Widows were all lined up on the sidewalk, gawking at the milk trucks and the horses. The sky was wedding dresses floating on a charcoal bed. Wendy lost her favorite gold coin through the sewer grates. Even Lionel wanted one last wish, and he’d use it to get one more look at his lovely Lessie James. A stray dog pissed on my last cigarette, which had fallen from my vest pocket and into a treewell.       
            He said, “I’ve loved so many room where I’ve lived, always something there, like something that blued the walls like sky. Something like that.”
            He said, “Blanks into the chamber and then checkered my head with ploughed courage, graciously at least.”
            He said, “The fresh chilly air felt so good to breathe. That’s just about when I started to cry.”
            He said, “You were nothing but a rain check waiting to get spent.”
            He said, “Feeling sorry for yourself is the best indoor sport around. Ask any bartender.”
            I don’t know if anybody else heard any of it. My internal wiring had gone rogue. There was no way to tell what was really happening from what my head was constructing in the peripheral margins of my consciousness. Ifs were shattered by measly thens.
            A recitation occurs, in a here’s possible there, if of-courses could frown, of course, then the tangle of it shapes iron and slag into a departing bloom, and he, unpunctuated in some other somewhere, says, “Abandon all hope (alcohol may intensify this effect) nobody here is neutral abiding in some marshy cemetery sockets leaking there’s a cost as always you know we’re just holding up the hallway walls we’re just panicked over waving hello have a right to way over estimate and the papers all tell it like it ain’t everybody here is joking we’re what fun makes us all instances all jumps unsecured to what makes us jump to root unnecessary behind the cloudswept groans very much orbiting what makes us sit alone all day the weight of phone calls the photos we never took or whatever’s burned up in the fire while the crab grass in my memories takes up the space you should’ve made tassel it to me with a shared smile as signals suck up the darkness because to wait is what it all is.”
            Other voices in the same room: “Dear sir, to be a failure at such a young age takes a real depraved sense of self-indulgent, egomaniacal rage. Under most of these conceptual banners we find envious jerks taking wayward swipes at the more successfully achieving ones out there in the charred fields of commerce. There is a certain fear attached to what makes one appear to be better than those outdoing one, as if the struggle to achieve is somehow more important than the achievement itself. Heckling the brightly risen meatheads who stand on stages reciting their stilted misgivings for a few laughs, the snide business of remaining in hock while others take the cake and smear it all over their faces, it leaves an ache anchored to the failure one snuggles up to and dreads with the same bated breath. Just as a class action lawsuit against jealousy would reward nothing except loneliness and despair with more grainy faux-confidence and fodder for bigheaded fantasies, nobody can compensate one for the loss of one’s mettle. Reality will be slingshot at the moon, and nothing will cast your shadow for you. Nothing. Pushing on, unheard, just a coulter for others’ plowshares, one writes one’s name in the fresh furrow’s dirt and moves on.”
            The green is shaved short, spotless, groomed to a neat trim, nary a divot to its name. A slender chance putts chrome-washed dreams towards the hole. We all go home less than hungry. The windmill’s cranky whine, the clink of a knight’s rusted armor, and swoosh of disappearing motion gone leafless in the lateness of the day.
            And now Boris will play his glockenspiel because Eleanor is now living with him. The crowd whose heads stick out from apartment windows overlooking the alley is no longer hushed. Cheering is back in style. Everybody throw your dirty laundry in the air. We are all kings here. We are all everything. Look. It is the accordion stretched taut, pulled apart until it rips, and we cause our own demise all the time. Everybody sing. Everybody. It is all so easy. Sing with me. Sing. With the dead dogs and the press and the hard-hatted and the root-beer tramps and the drywallers and the pickpockets and the cardboard collectors and the paperclip throwers and the barkers and the beat-up old cars starting and the breadlosers and the retired former lightweight champions of the world. Sing with the voices of marionettes, with box-top collectors, with the hungry and the bored and the lame and the tired. We are all here to be sung and to sing.                    
            Dear Patricia Plainsong,
            As the day rolls to a fold, and mother’s hanging the wash on the line, some foreboding leads me to ask, “Are you very sad these days after what the fire’s done?”
            This is not a question of arguing balls and strikes. It is luck’s handout. (Yes, you’d say, hand it to the scratchers of lottery tickets; they’ve got a mold to keep, and they keep it.) And this while folks like us sit here staring at Rorschach blurs in the trees, doing less than something, shuffling thoughts and stifling motivation for, well, escape. White socks and a forgiving temperament, we strain (yes, my dear, this includes me at last) to youthier flights of contemplation.  
            Famish the flies and we shall dive less deep into the wealth of our circumstances.
            Amplitudes deceive me, less than charmed on an engaging frequency, so I take truck with muskrat suppers, gorge on vole nuggets, elephant shrew stew, and rhinoceros steak. There are those eager for material gain who would have you believe I have taken an ill disposition, and that I am feckless in the defense of my daily strife. But what fires be put out but those started by the selfsame fools in the first? Though, well, I needn’t persuade you of any disquiet that may still smolder hot-coal bright in your heavy heart. For, as of late, the green grass of home is for all of us still a misstepped lunge clung to self-pity and withering endurance. Remember not to be always shaped by what shadows you. If mother taught us anything in the doomed cusp of her wilting willpower, it was this.
            Now the hours spread out instead of reeling in, and I pause happily at the interlude of calm’s shuttering, stumped and loping in place: a rare breed of insolence.
            Mother rolls her sleeves. The sunset dust settles. Somewhere somebody is frying eggs. But not for me. Consider my fingers crossed.  
            When was it that we knew how to hide our voices? Oh, but adults don’t speak to each other like this, and we go on acting like little children. As complainers we stay sturdy and corrupt, yes? Bashful as being stricken with laryngitis would make us, it isn’t ordinary to be singularly fascinated by worn, unlit neon bulbs. And yes, we are merely what our choices make us at times, and the chew and call of missing things erodes a somewhat already fabricated existence, yet we continue imagining our lives lived in other ways. In the past tense we were washed out without a worry to our name. Dreary bastards of chance, we ran past the king without any clothes. The crows didn’t want us then (not shiny enough), until early rising left us glowing towards what we should’ve guessed. Remember? It was song that went, “Make my bed only to wreck my dreams.” Something differs to the iffy lurk of lost loves still, perhaps? Would it were so.
            Beer in the afternoon. Scotch in the evening. Bourbon highballs all through the night. I am under-eating, as always, for the nights come upon me too quickly. Laminate the sky with me; I am jerry-rigged with defeat.
            The cathedral bells are tolling Luck Be A Lady. A careful gust of courage escapes me. Mother is uneven in her approach to roaches, and they seem to roam free for the most part. Somehow the breezes here do not soothe me anymore. I am too departed from the gentleness of kisses on the ear to be of any use to anyone. I do my praying on the toilet.    
            In the boxy sense of saying what’s on loop in my head until my number comes up, in that citadel of anxious decambering, shrieking in nightshirts, apprehended with a matronly sensitivity at last, I try on all the red dresses around and tiptoe past the fireplace. Do not regret the timeliness of my ways. Do not shave the recently deceased. Behave, if it is necessary. Mother is not curling her hair. The ante is forever upped. All is sapropel of memory, and we do whatever it is we must to chin-up our way to the finish line, and then past it, or over it, and then farther, and then farther still.
            Hank Mayberry Livingston III

Saturday, July 21, 2012

two-headed boy on the lam

              Has there been older elsewhere’s than these? If at one time opening new to some kinder mist of sap, sure, it does mean that we’ve been told the same. I’ve lived my life this long. I know certain things. It takes two to know one, sometimes. You hear the same song enough times and it’s all the same. The magic, if there ever were any, is gone. And the lord’s luck just ain’t enough. It just ain’t. You get full. You get a bellyful. You munch way past the point of satiation. A crumbly, x-mas-tree-snowy feeling that soaks you, I guess. A crisp and clear hold on the place where you’ve got to know you are to know where you’re going. Yes? It’s applicable. Trust me. Tap right to it and moreover’s the reason. Right on. Or wrong. Who gets most of it anyway? A daytime television special and a crick in your neck. That’s about all. The colors of daylight winding down, afterwards, and some closer fashion of breezing through with it until the night hits completely. No, it’s not a fly-me-to-the-moon serenade. Be aware that it’s crawling closer than a horse’s song. No turtles allowed. No in-other-words left to say. Not today. Not until the day goes on and slips away.
            No open bounding in the farthest fields of other’s decay. No round of curtain calls coming for midnight’s cheery bloom. Basketball scores and jousts of terror pinned to the heart that waits. Well, a mustering of lonely arias from the shipwrecked crags. Gob stopped and plain. Poorly in the middle of mirrored halls.
            Cheaper surroundings go futile. I am not mad. I am saner than it makes sense to be.
            A nyala strides by. The proceedings go as if they were never planned. Bands lead themselves. Openings are inevitable at all points along a scale that never slides. Bad thoughts go grandly through to places overt and lacquered slick with too much care, and France declares war on Prussia.
            Could you think ever of other thoughts than those you’ve always got? Always cutting away at yourself. A minor manner of keeping mum. Maris creaming one into the cheap seats. Everything’s won only one day to have to lose.
            Charged with the untold volts of lost-tooth memories. Bent to life and back again to live what’s left in a suitable cheap-suit existence. No pianos needed. No backup catcher taking up space on the bench. No cards left to play. It’s a boy. It’s never a balloon painted the color of mars. It’s never choosing what’s choicest in a dream-settled world. It puts ignoring in the bleachers and fans cocktails to sleep. There’s no death like ours, alone in parked cars, folding blank checks into paper airplanes, kissing the windows to steam. It’s always the fault of a faulty life being led through diurnal cycles of doomed regret. Good is not the way of steep climbs towards failure’s greatness, at least as far as assuming will allow.
            A green-and-blue colored pint glass of glitter and mud. A little less light for the stage. Hips slamming against the wall. Laundry’s in a heap by the unplugged record player on the floor. Why would stopping leave a go without a get to be back again? Open for nobody’s business. Closed for four seasons. Minded and hurried to be crowded in and left out. Always one keystroke away from a total disaster. The back roads of hindsight are deserted except for a hurrying retailer named Bud Hamm who is singing with all the windows down in his Datsun Bluebird, “Self-absorbed people. Selfish assholes. That’s all there is. That’s all I know. And there’s a seahorse on my bottle cap.”
            God is going broke over your smile. Cut down long before all of this. Orders walk the course. Gold soldiers get going. The squash prepares itself for a meal. Mash the merry out of me. Violet light soaks it in. Nothing to be got. Everything to be given. Air space crawling with flickering bits of chopped sequins. Better nights just behind you. There are no photographs left to marvel at. There are no more no-mores to steep in brightness. Undo the math. Erase the words. We are smaller than atoms compared to the sky-blue thoughts that have themselves for lunch.
            To be mustered with a snort. To be uttered with a slight sneeze. Galloping north by northern. Then a jab and a stutter step spit life into a manifold and jumpy way of behaving. A jar of bioluminescent jellyfish rap in unison, “Halfway to flying, we Vida-Blue blind, and the day makes stew of you, and shit, it’s a draped dream of drool. We got a deal that’s all bums. We got no thumbs. We light night and sleep away the day. There ain’t no bubbles in our gum, son. What, you got nowhere to run? Well, ho to the damn hum.” The hardest parts of floating degenerate into jumper cables and broken promises. The glamour of me sings fireflies their dreams.
            Pretending is dragged from garage to fire station, from emergency room to ice cream stand, from box office to swimming pool. I give no-thanks to the sighed gravel of shy, let-go contempt. You are not a yard sale or a hot-air balloon. Everything is peanut shells crushed on blacktop. Teardrops are nickels. Vultures are supper. And there is no had here to make-believe in. Not since we were left trailing spasms back to slight tickles. Numbers crunch. A wheel invents motion. Winds sell other winds. Pianos get serious.
            If there has been other has-beens on order from newfangled buffets and starchy suit-and-tie T-shirts and olive-oil-soaked moon goggles, if there were a way to shade a shadow, then there’d be plenty gone wherever where’s leaving to, if there were stopped moments to not think about too much.
            A mug shot of Clubber Lang duct-taped to the dashboard. Diamonds studding the steering wheel. Our hero is wearing neon green corduroys, an ocher velour vest over a white V-neck sweater, and black leather fingerless gloves. The windows are down. He is flooring it. He is resilient and insouciant. His hair is thick with pomade and his smile is made of glass. His avocation these days is speed, and there are no clamps on his temerity as he hauls off through the dismantled grunt of his existence, careening and gutterballing at red lights towards ends he can’t even imagine imagining. Squinting is his only business. Maps are bonfire material. “People who see me are people who see me.” A quirked have-at-it that bites the melody his thoughts make. Sensitivity scents the wind with motor-oil dreams. A garnish of pluck harmonizes with the guts he’s spilling all over the road, and it is not a weekend’s sensibilities that spur him on-- it is the dangerous appeal of fleeing, of putting some miles between who he was and what he’s finally getting around to becoming. He spits at cop cars and makes wishes on yellow lights.
            Posh gets its own back. The listeners become unhinged and leer more than you’d expect. For the best of it, this cure takes no medicine. Plurality back floats through dust motes and flower-replete heads and the love of Jesus and hardly soft-boiled desire and a hold that won’t take and telling that singularly whips the worst of you back into game shape. There’s nothing left to suck the poison back. We have at it with bike rides. We walk away from trails blazed by bees, setting fire to carrot gardens and fields of saffron. We are not shapes of letters or the way numbers sound. We are more than a dare and less than credits rolling. Forget the love of God for a second and roll around in autumn’s arms. Clothes disappear around here all the time. Aesop’s in the clink. We’ve got clocks that chime Jesus’ name over the tinny toy-piano plunk of Walk On By, and it’s a toe tap, almost a whirling dance to send you off to find your own way to the lord. We go and we do not. Making takes up most of what makes up time for now. Things born in cemeteries. Things lost on whoever’s around. Forget the armless two-stepping bastards who make their own darts, the ones they’ll never throw, and things nobody’s left to know, like worm dollars and hairnets for the bald. We lie in dugouts and chew sunflower seeds. Nobody knows never-hammered nails like this. To be echoless. To be the only proof of sound. Sewing backwards through stitched laughs. I open. I close. All the time. Flower me. It’s almost morning’s last light, and everybody’s out of cigarettes for good.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

a restructuring of fundamental doubt in eternity’s jiffy

GALILEO: Fell asleep to the sound of a fieldtrip going by.

INQUISITOR: The tiny voices of a hundred kids chattering and showing off.

GALILEO: The sidewalk’s crumpled though, in the dream, the one I got around to having, or was having, then, if time was something I could recall as having a structure to it, you know, in the logic of dreams. A starry messenger. A phosphorescent blob. The misty tint of rubble-strewn rings, moonlets and gaps and aggregates of icy particles and complex patterns of brightness.

INQUISITOR: Eight of one, four-less-than-a-dozen of another. A gravitational hold of jealousy and mired ruminating, and the exuviations of centuries being washed and swaddled by scavenger galaxies. I take what a red dwarf gives, Hertzsprung-Russell wise, and concentrate on the low-mass instincts you’re better off not preserving in the long run.

GALILEO: Sure could use a yardstick that measures wakefulness and doesn’t compromise patterned sloshes through airy dews. I got me a decent head for figures. Calculations, the gyroscope-tilt measured curve of space, proofs of objects bending dimensions. I cry and I pray. That’s about all I’m good for. Clocks here chop off their own hands.

INQUISITOR: I’m betting those times serious enough to consider would give you the shakes so bad that you’d never want to go back to sleep, ever.

GALILEO: To get outside of my own skin. To be free of this mangled, tortured body. The formerly easy comfort of kinematics and the weakened substance of materials. We are less than what God intended. My barred spiral soul gets shifted and set crooked.

INQUISITOR: Prisoners have their secret outs, their hidden destinies that only they can see through.

GALILEO: A wink without a nudge curries less favor than most spectral types would care to admit, though electron degeneracy still irks a cautious would-be planetary nebula into a circumstellar envelope of misgiving. Giants dance on the graves of mice. Untold familiarity wears its nucleosynthesis like an iron halo. A Portuguese furniture salesman goes for a dip in a hotel pool.

INQUISITOR: Tell it to me, patiently, stripped down, without any of that gruff esoteric mumbling. 

GALILEO: I fell asleep down by the river. I laid my head down in the lilacs. The lilting voices of slumber carried my weary head away. A float. A sumptuous gown of drowse.

INQUISITOR: Sure. Poppies and hushed glens and misty clings to harbored dreams and nests of gold and the powdered air of escape.

GALILEO: To equal spring’s only business. Any lunkhead’d know.

INQUISITOR: Okay. Spilled onto the highway. Leaked into the water supply. Chambered just far enough below it all, right?

GALILEO: Sort of like, “Your tears will fall to make love grow.”

INQUISITOR: Tell me more.

GALILEO: We push off to our own shores. The voices of little children, their pattering steps that dance by on the sidewalk. A cluttered mush to float around in.

INQUISITOR: Tell me less.

GALILEO: Merrier. May slips away. Deathbeds made. Hearts shimmying no more. It’s shadows after the limelight. It’s the feel of dirt, just dust fallen to the ground. Drink to swell thy head no more. Tolled-out bells. Faced with never facing. Church has let out for the season. Let the curiosities to the unknown.

INQUISITOR: The quiet challenges what?

GALILEO: What we dwell with ere the green-grass slap of lasting takes a shot at our faith.

INQUISITOR: Aha! Shrill it is, and the land pours sea, and the task of posterity’s grip is magnified in grueling jest by us takers.                 

GALILEO: And the amens never seem to come.

INQUISITOR: Heard that.

GALILEO: Deep enough in your cups to not be upbraided by a selfish clock for the wasting of your hours. 

INQUISITOR: Listening with a noticeable gawk/pout.

GALILEO: Heinzed to the point, as it were, or, perhaps, as it could/would/should be. 

INQUISITOR: And still he drifts off to oneiric escapades, pacified by a gaggle of tots strolling by, purred past care and into the realms of a, what, if not lofty lassitude.

GALILEO: It must be the colors and the kids…


GALILEO: If we’d be grounded to the land more, if my old friend Suicide Sam showed up for some afterparty dressed as a walrus, and if he doesn’t look back. 

INQUISITOR: On his one true love?

GALILEO: Just a face to face a face to face another face facing whatever it faces.

INQUISITOR: So, struggling backwards, I see, as evening falls towards night, the corrosive lap of breakers caressing shores lit with less than a gaze could ever do, or undo.

GALILEO: Ownership derails certain privileges often bestowed on the less crafty among us. Hearts shuck the stun from their own demise, you know, and buttons don’t sew themselves back on after a fall.

INQUISITOR: Grateful are we to our own cherished pratfalls. Again, there is a harmony threading through staying put, something that leaves a cacophony of useless melodies bent on escape.

GALILEO: It must be the colors and the…

INQUISITOR: That soft padding on the street outside. It wafts through open windows without all the hassle wind makes. It must be…

GALILEO: The sound of children playing. The certain crease and dip and flail of it. Pillow soft, gone, almost abstract enough to be real.

INQUISITOR: It must be…

GALILEO: If it keeps you alive.

INQUISITOR: Or just not bored to death. Never proving a thing.

GALILEO: Must be. 


Friday, July 13, 2012

Doc Holliday, Sauced

The clink of dishes being put away, coffee grinding, the scuffle of hooves, some stringy piss-yellow tattered clouds. 
          On the bookshelf: old wanted posters, a cravat bandage dangling brass safety pins, a few pieces of silver, three cigarettes, and a bullet-spent Colt Peace Maker.  
I am lifting
      certain habits from legendary drunks,
          gilded scraps of bouts I’m too scared to fight
with or against;
                               hove like this tackling coffee grounds into the straw; 
            spurred to dull; lazy under the wandering drone of flies.
My ceiling is a whore’s floor.
    Shit stews in all the crocks while I’m lassoed along by branded moods,
                 flunked into this,
     coughing up raspy laughs that never quite get rolling.
       Fuzz-dust clings to a woebegone Stetson,
a shine-less tin star in the sapphire light,
a train ticket back to Valdosta
                                                      just out of reach.   
    Joy exits out the front door’s mail slot.
                  My fleeing’s all done--
                      tails never to be tucked again,
                                                 guns all smoked out,
paint-smeared mirrors, and dirty socks bundled in a corner.
               Bash in my mush-mulled head to the squealing of horses,
and the heaving thrash of disorderly wagons, 
         and the crammed thudding of a thousand passenger pigeons flapping by,
shit-soaking the land and blacking out the sky.  
   It takes a lot to keep taking a look back:
Big Nose Kate and a dentist’s drill,
Johnny Ringo, Leadville and a drop of laudanum,
The Bella Union, Dodge City, Tombstone and the Earps.
It’s all a sham in the gone-by wind.
           Bravery’s lost its charm,
      and my draw’s gotten slower than waiting for water to boil.
  Chipped and marred, my best days
married to a bottle and a holstered dream.
                  Chumps like me tackle their own shadow in broad daylight
     sappy enough still
to still think they’ve got a few bullets left
   in the rusted-shut chamber of their waning days;
      pining for that warm, tufted, bristling smack of home;
        lying in bed barefoot,            
              dying for their boots back,
 just like me
             saying, “damn, this is funny,” to nobody but the cold, cold wind.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

TS Eliot waxes poetic over the T.G.I. Friday’s Happy Hour

             Recently I paid a more than pleasant visit to a local dining establishment happily named T.G.I. Friday’s. Basking in the afterglow of this enchanted experience, I do say henceforth there will be no more lying etherized on a table for this patient. Yes, I declare, T.G.I. Friday’s is truly a pleasure palace, a glass-clinking treat nonpareil, an anodyne for the wintering soul. Of Watermelon Mojitos and Pink Punk Cosmos I sing; such lush, harmonious Aeolian tunes were never sweeter. The lyre of Orpheus may have once charmed in similar fashion all who fell within its range, but I doubt any euphoria lifted spirits more than would a taste of the Warm Pretzels With Craft Beer-Cheese Dipping Sauce combination.    
            O’ mighty gods on high, I do believe I have found my objective correlative in the Jackberry Smash, and the Buffalo Wings sing such a prelude as to most certainly bestow upon one the right to smile. Do I dare to eat a chip from the Loaded Skillet Chip Nachos? And soon the question of a Pick-Three-For-All is dropped upon my plate. I must confess to indecision’s stall, though Chicken Fingers make it worth my while after all, and soon-- praised be these red-and-white-striped sapient sutlers of the Lord-- I am a stuffed man.   
            At the bar the investment bankers come and go, calling each other Bro.
            Brazen, the servers here, who cut quite a swath through the mêlée of tables, marking their territory with grandiose smiles and a cheery ebullience that perforce empties one of all worry over bottom-of-the-trouser rolling. Old age has no dominion here. The thrilling coruscation of the hurry-up-please-it’s-time décor paves the roads of melancholy with a snazzy gilt charm; with constant fluttering stimulations of the senses galore; with the grace of an eagle soaring in the summit of heaven. I take the air, I tell you with assurance, to better dimensions than any tobacco trance. The delightfully brash music tinkles and thrums from some mysterious place above as I sit for more than a few much-more-than-happy hours; and all the while the resilient yet fancy-free bartenders put on inimitable siteswap juggling displays with the liquor bottles. I even witnessed one of these daring young men ignite a shot glass into flames before an adventurous patron breathed out the fire and poured the magic elixir down his gullet. But I digress, dizzy from the enchanting aroma of Grilled Chicken Fusion Skewers. For indeed, I presume, there will be time to sample Strawberry Fields Salads and Jack Daniels Chicken & Shrimp; to dare to disturb the universe with the savory zest of the Kansas City BBQ Burger; to measure out my life in Diddy Ups, Horny Ritas, and Berri Açaí Sours.
            Let us go then, you and I, when the Happy-Hour lights blaze against the stained-glass sky; let us go, through certain red-white stripes, the splashy murals of hot-spot locales, Americana tchotchkes, and the appetite-whetting scent of Chedder & Bacon Potato Skins; let us go to a place where it’s always Friday…Oh, do not ask, “Ambitious? Energetic? Engaging?” Let us go and make our visit. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

these children are so hard to raise good

Got this turkey licked, this cracked customer of a knotty-pine partner. Who does he think he isn’t? Not a charmer by a long haul. So be it. What this chunk of change will do for the chorus girls lining up to go batty. What this ragged heart won’t put up with. A sheen that don’t shine no more. Soda pop bottles and coffee mugs don’t get you far, as your agent gets ten percent of grief, just like always. Hooch to wrestle your nightmares away from you. A fugitive from a fireplace, patient and erudite, as alive as a head cold. A genuinely talented article crawled out from under a bottle only to hit it about as big as a boiled fish’s eye. Sappy and self-indulgent. Scotch and sympathy. Battling a dummy for a place on the stage. Making it or making it up. Just you and me. Novel enough for a ventriloquist, same new jokes. Playing it like Greta Garbo. Nerves of gin. The next booking’s in the fireplace, never a shill for attention, resigned out of self-respect. Bum cues. A locked trunk to hold your dreams. A place in Kansas City, hopping a train or into a taxi, licked at the source, run off for good just the same. Hearing nothings that are never sweet. A girl to save you from yourself, so sudden, suddenly, and a sandwich to keep you from being alone. A derelict’s laugh. A pace to never hold. A wiser guy than this. Broken glasses and a heart to match. Satisfied from the song of the same name. An old switcheroo, in the parlance of just about no time left. And what’s left is forcing smiles all around. And I’m left staring at grapefruit dangling from a tree. And the only one who’s not dumb around here is the dummy. 

 I’m scuffling nowadays, just a tamped puck of ground coffee bound to a chrome-and-brass aesthetic. Pressing close to windows, clutching at small bits of peace with unstable hands. Jellyfishing around in the wake of tugboat nightmares, I’m drowning in my own ambition, coughing up blood for air. Don’t distinguish my impudence from my indignant hasslings. The shallows of slights-and-barbs suffering belie a better way to swim: along with the tide's ripped keel. But gnawed bones of leftover change disinter my temper from the arid, windless grounds of bad luck. If the landlord wants to break in here he’s going to need a crowbar and an axe. My business is setting off burglar alarms and settling debts with ice picks. I leave the day-to-day activities of normal life to the mailmen and the knife sharpeners. For me it’s nothing but the unusually customary events of longing and indecision. I make some haste. I spill ashtray muck on linoleum. I rent trouble by the vat, with regimented lies, soy sauce packets, and a composite of warble flies, limestone, and pulverized stereo parts. There’s a coat in my closet with dead moths in all the pockets. I drink vanilla extract by the bottle. Fuck it. I’m joining the circus.

There’s a stark, lazy charge in the air. Something freed inside of its cage. Perhaps for the unloved. Perhaps a petal crushed by a strange hand. A life to get back to the living of. A clown with no recollection of being so. A chance disintegrated into a topple. A nameless thing with no memory, just like this rusted gold safety pin slipped through my lapel.  

The sum of remaining is squeaking by, kind of audible in a tuned-out way, and it figures, somewhat in the blue of being me, what matters still in the closed-down-television-repair-shop distance. Glass and filaments and nickel tubes scattered and smashed. The hills are dead with the noise of commercials. Getting it or not, what places mattering in the hands of miscreants and do-no-gooders is a complacent shrug from the masses, and it is a strained willingness to close our eyes to the lives of others that cheapens, waters down, and plunders our personal stock of expendable energy. Driving Buicks to a full moon by the sizzle of burning cigarettes, we step heavy, fart, and play the stereo too loud. What’s curtailing the marl of me from livening up the topsoil? It’s not a brave enough question.

All addressees have forwarded their souls to the next beer bar, the taste of ashtrays and curdled dreams still thick on their tongues. I’m not making myself out to be drearier than anybody else. I’m not halving sheetrock nightmares for a few paychecks at a time. Us, the question takers and absurd, we chew on tire and volcanic ash. Green’s not our gold. But there’s no we here. Not now. It’s just a rented hall with nowhere to sit, and I’m sleeping over smoking coals. Here, where flying’s for the cockroaches, I take my temperature with a bradawl and boil live rattlesnakes on the stove. There’s a stopping here that just goes and goes. Rest assured, not weary. That’s the casing of what my insides are turning out to be. And, go figure, God might be watching the rats as they drown, you know? Life turns out to be what you don’t make of it, in the space between where you’ve been, where you’re headed, and where you’ll never get to know. Gone away, finally to be sucker punched by barbiturates. Finally to be bandaged and less brave in the arms of paramedics. The kitchen floor is colder than you’d think. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

the mother of all exile

            I lost my nerve last Wednesday. It was nobody’s fault. It just got up and snuck away while I wasn’t looking. It was a shame. I’d grown fond of my nerve. It was something I could depend on.
            I called the Bureau Of Lost Emotions to see if they had any leads, or if maybe they’d picked up my nerve and were holding it for me at the station. What station? I’m not sure if there even were such a thing. That’s why I was calling.
            “Hello, yes. Well, you see, I’ve…well. It seems my nerve, well, it’s been…um.”
            “You’ve lost it, haven’t you?”
            “Well, in a manner of speaking…”
            “Okay. Just stop that mumbled hesitating. It’s not getting us anywhere. So, what I’m going to need from you is your name and the first letter of your favorite beverage.”
            “How do you spell that? W, a, h? That right?”
            “Okay. So, Wah. What was that letter, the one for your go-to beverage?”
            “Got it. That’s a pretty common one. You better believe it. Yep. Get that one quite often. As you’d figure.”
            “I would?”
            “Of course. So…”
            “I don’t think you understand…”
            “Don’t tell me what I think! You’re the one going around all namby-pamby without any nerve, okay? Got that? Let’s not fuss over what I do or do not know or understand, because you, my dear Wah, do not understand jack about shit, okay?”            
            I hung up the phone. This wasn’t helping. The BLE was crossed off my list of numbers to call.
            I was practicing saying, “I love you,” in my room by myself. I was saying it to my Hare’s-Foot Fern, to my collection of Harvard Classics, to whatever was on the television, to my Bad Lieutenant poster, to creases in the wallpaper and thumbtacks. I said it over and over until it sounded just right, like I meant it. 
            It was a shame that at long last I still had no nerve to speak of. I missed it. I wanted it back dearly. I started humming that song from The Graduate, and then I started trying to sing it but couldn’t remember the words. I sung, “Where have you gone Emma Lazarus? The poet of exile has left and gone away. Oy oy vey.” Way too much dust was residing in my head’s inbox. Going outside seemed like the most edifying of options left to me.
            The dizziness came on with a touch of nausea and a dash of borborygmus. I heaved. I swayed and moaned. A car going by was blasting The Doors. I hate the fucking Doors. It was then that I noticed the No Parking sign bobbing back and forth by the curb. ‘That No Parking sign is going down,’ I thought. ‘And apparently, so am I.’
            I went down hard, meeting the concrete with a quick thud. The world must’ve been out of mercy, at least for me. I gave up. Soon all was black and easier to manage, and I was more comfortable.
             I woke up lying near the gutter. Luckily the gutter was dry. I counted my stars. All came up decent enough. As I gave a gander to my surroundings I noticed a woman on a bench near me in shorts and a t-shirt who was coating her arms and legs with what at first I thought to be suntan lotion. But upon further inspection I realized it was a bottle of hand sanitizer that she was squirting into her palms and slathering all over her skin. This made me want to pass back out into the blackness. But I couldn’t, so slowly and somewhat surely I got myself into a standing position. ‘No more dallying,’ I told myself. ‘Strictly sticking to business from here on out.’
            I started singing, “Strangle me. Do, dah, do. With your hands, strangle me, strangle me. Oh, dah, dum, duh.”  A few strangers walked by and stifled smiles. A cop patted a blind man’s dog on the head. The blind man told him to, “Quit that. And mind your own damn business, Officer Chump. That dog ain’t for petting.” The cop walked over to where I was doing my gawking.
            “Just who do we got here, huh? Buddy? What’s this guy over here up to?”
            “Just browsing.”
            “That right? Well, could you do your shopping around somewhere else? This ain’t no business opportunity. Go ahead, move on away.”
            I walked fifty paces to my left. I was very officious in my movements. There were no pigeons in my way. My strides were of the serious kind--no sags of wasted effort, no jumpy steps or mistimed clops of shoe. I was on my way.
            A commercial came on in my head: “Nifty SugarClumps will fill your bowl with delight. These Cuisinart-inspired rich flakes of snowy gooeyness do not go soggy or light, but instead stay crisp and hard throughout their float in any type of milk or milk-substitute liquid of your choice. Refuse the rest. Say hello to the best! Nifty SugarClumps! One scoop of white, two scoops of high-fructose-corn-syrup based near-grain/oatish/floury mash mixture, three scoops of delight! (this message has been brought to you by Nifty SugarClumps Inc&Ltd Corp)”
            After the commercial break was over, I decided to head to The Hottest Magazine Shop In The Planet! to see if my old friend July Tuesday was working. I’d been trying to get them to change the “In” on their sign to “On” for quite a while, and wanted to see how things were coming along.
            It turns out that The Hottest Magazine Shop In The Planet! was closed. I’d forgotten that it was a weekday. They were never open on weekdays. A Wurlitzer organ was playing Old Black Joe from inside of a sewing factory down the street. I didn’t feel much like singing along, so I got out of there.
            So many people. So much time. So little left to be lost.
            I went back home. I opened up a can of sardines, cutting my finger on the edge of the can’s peeled-back top. “This stinks!” I screamed. “This really, really stinks!”
            Something soon was rapping on my bathroom door, which I’d absently locked from the outside. I shivered. I winced. I let go a bellowing fart. Who had I trapped in there? And why? How? Whereto wended thou, my fair dignified one?
            Well, shit. My head is bending low.

            The End

Monday, July 2, 2012

the trumpet player of post and grant

            Sad to listen, the sound of credulity, it’s whining in reverse. The raw reality of fuel lines cracked, botched erasures of time that shouldn’t have left so soon, reconciled to very spiffy differences in corporeal claims to fame. Tacked on, traded for a rosin bag, barely marketable, run through with the shot of another fawning dirge sung bel canto while the reins of the whole contraption are yanked. 

            “I don’t want to leave the press guessing. They’ll fill in their own blanks. Nobody’ll get slugged over it or anything, but how about tossing a changeup in there every so often, huh?”
            “No. Would. Leave me alone, dip stick.”
            “If only shock could still awe.”
            “Sure. Sure.”

            Not to be undersold, mistaken, or have-at-it’d with aided assault, cussing at kids, it marks the marginal sacrificial hero from the timid explorer. Dumped into the market again, and it sails on, so as you could find a scrimmage of obscure values to delete from your point of view, and remitted sales figures dot the Big-Board classiness of composite indexed kindness all the while. Crude and eloquent. Eternity supplies its own demand. There are no wig shops in heaven.
            “Capitalize on the craning nature of crowds. If they think they’ll see it, they’ll show up.”
            “I’m busy writing captions for yet-to-be-drawn cartoons. I’m occupied with my own presence.”
            “Get it wrong. It’ll do you a planet of good.”
            “Battles, jump-ship grudges, crayon-nub scribbles on nylon, and then there are, of course, tiny victories of odor.”
             “Remember not when?”
            “Ceilings of grasshoppers. Walls of rosy-fulvous daylilies. Spinach leaves scattered on the floor.”
            “Something like that, about.”
            A soupy exchange, relish based, diffused the pressure of casual regret, and moving on became more so-so than ever possible. Suspension of disbelief hung filthy, like a brash layer of smog, in the hushed atmosphere of happenstance researchers. Truth lost its mettle. The pilot light went out.

            “In Japan they use tiny toothbrushes.”
            “Smaller means to a more precise ends.”
            It was then that something groomed better, lightly if at all, through the sallow patches.

            “I cannot tell but for your yellow eyes what light plays trapezoidal o’re the entrance arc’s tympanum. Let us not fold our ideas into laundry.”
            “Grilled deceit would be better. I see dull and grounded devils playing with the topsoil. Oh, and I underestimated the ways one might choose to tarry, if you believe in hostile tactics.”
            “Tell me something I don’t know.”
            “Fish don’t wear toupees.”
            In here-- where the air grows lurid with paint thinner, the particulate matter of grassland fires, methane, ammonia, rotting doll parts, radon, hope, and Tetrachloroethylene-- we find ourselves trying to sun in the shade of billboards.   

            “He was the oldest cowboy in the bar, and it was my job to make him talk. I wasn’t any good at it, lucky for me.”
            “Too blue to not.”
            “The Father/Son/Holy Ghost Blues.”
            “Why, yes. It was.”
            “Oh, oh, oh, like when you were so young. But you’re old now. You’re nothing except yesterday’s news today.”
            “Something’s not happening.”
            “Put a dime in the slot for a back massage, a recitation of Beowulf by John Lurie, and to return the dropsical wandering elephants to the circus, when it comes back to town.”
            “Could you spare one?”
            “A dime?”
            “No. An elephant.”
            With forked over chirping hard times arrived a bit tardy for the strawberry pickers, in the ovate setting of service sector employees, run angular towards an old beginning. Mercrutio, gentle and bitter, creased most brows, and, overweening and lacking intrepid honesty, he made off with the bride-to-never-now-be. A Xerox was made of all the action. A penalty marker was thrown. Champagne was used as a coolant in a tow truck. Venison was mashed into a pulp and then promptly liquefied with sea urchin roe and goat urine to make an apéritif entitled No Way Madam. There are always at least a few takers at every event. What’s the good spilling almond milk over a few tears? They’re charging an overage fee for good looks; but, thank bamboo mats and God, not good glances. Parfocal accounts seemed to make up for pareve dishes lacking in a certain dash of the enigmatic; a Stereobelt was spotted under glass in the foyer, where grumpy La Quebrada Cliff Divers chatted about their exclusion from the central ballroom; and a well-dressed goon sniffled over the dead lamprey he’d found in an ice bucket. Nobody caught a cold.

            “Chew on this, will you?”
            “You bet.”
            “This guy in an alpaca coat, well, he comes over to me-- and this is in the middle of pre-brunch, mind you-- and he tells me he’s trophy-wifing his cut-and-dry instincts, what’s led him, or so he says, to usurp the tad of fidelity left in the branch. The branch! It’s not that I care or mind so much more than a rat’s limp about his, what if not Miltonian effort to launch a tiddlywinks of a crumby cadre of gofers and lean-to salesmen into some sort of, what, mass conglomerate on the brink of, what, empire? This guy’s off his salt, and I’m, you know, supposed to, what, care about whatever scheming fad-bound idealism’s groping his pin-cushion soul at the moment? Fuck it. You know? I’m just trying to enjoy my ham and cracked pepper bagel with a side of marmalade. I just want to sip at my salted celery juice and dip artichoke hearts in lavender and trout infused mayonnaise. Leave me alone with my aioli-smothered-on-brioche salamander finger sandwich, you know? There’s more between post-breakfast and pre-brunch than is in all of his power-grab hectoring.”        
            “Oh, shit.”

            In April of 1981, the Geothermal Rock band Ned’s Symbiotic Love Life, flush with their first oyster-shell taste of success, found hosts most everywhere willing to let them play their singular style of “Scorched Earth Core” at parties and festivals and in small cramped garages. Terri Firma, their bratty and outspoken lead singer, screeched in Coptic Egyptian at the crowd and was in a constant state of flipping off pretty much everybody all the time. By June people had stopped caring, and the band broke up, and Terri became a cocktail waitress at Bambino’s Bare-It-All Palace, which is how I came to know her.
            She was about five foot one and had no hair, not even eyebrows. I remember she often dressed in men’s suits that were very baggy on her, and had a predilection for bright green or red suspenders, pink Vans, and tube socks, which she showed off by cutting her pants off at the calf. Edie Sedgwick’s influence on Terri’s makeup was hard to miss. She looked like a sleek, sexy cannonball from hell shot through the city’s sewer system and up through a swamp and into a thunderstorm. There was no way not to notice her, and at least in some small way wish she’d whisk by close enough to your table so that you could take a closer look, if not perhaps order a drink from this anomaly from another dimension. I was off the make at the time, so had considerable thoughts--while lugubriously draining Brandy Alexanders at a table by myself-- of somehow grabbing her attention and then, of course, getting her to fall in love with me. But everybody knows how that story ended. You see a ring on this finger?

            A baby was asleep in its highchair. The bulb light was blinding. A magician crossed his legs on a sofa. The reek of burnt lasagna followed wherever you went.

            “Do you eke out a living?”
            “Of course I do. Of course I do.”
            With cracked heads and broken hearts, we stave off success one failure at a time. Something to go on, to buy away the time, it gets choosy to be free. A drop-shipped racehorse named Roger to bilk the investors. A trumpet player instead of a police siren. Nobody’s nervous. We’re settling in for the whole deranged production. We’re sure of somebody else, just not ourselves. It gets sloppier and hazy as the overly shipshape gunners get locked out and named their poison without being clever or witty at all. With soft hats and lumberjack boots, with scratched 45s and hustled dreams, with off and off Wurlitzer fuzz, with dented cymbals and petal plucked roses, with neutron bombs, with soundless speed, with misspelled addresses and the tune of flagpoles clanked by the pulleys on their ropes in the wind. We are deemed just off the nick of time’s swan dive. The flop, the plain down of low, the vanishing daze of weaker longing than this. There we run to away. There we defend our attack. There we applecart what falls our way with backhands and shovel passes. With handiwork smiles and coal-burning guts, with personality disorders and moat-girded laughs. We get by and by, or over and on. We get eyebrow level but never even. We get done.

            “Too touchy.”
            “Young in the garden, old in the briar patch, middle-aged in the cornfield.”
            “Too sentimental.”
            “Vanishing, it gets lighter, and the crabby lust of the lamplight crushes moths with unrequited love. The same recitation of a different way to say your howdies to yard-sale faces and hi-fi distance.”
            “Too blatantly stuffy.”
            “I am tipped over at the trough, and I snooze through the afternoon’s murk, gurgling with the shot brakes of subtle aging.”
            “Awful-- a few gigabytes at a time--  shoddy, as-is stuff.”
            “Very unwell, SpaghettiO’d to shifting opinions and gassed triumph, we might as well mark the tombs with huckleberries and empty sherry bottles. We might as well do nothing, but I’m almost sure we won’t.”
            “Always something.”
            “Always. And the movies are just advertisements for other movies. You might say, ‘The sky musters up some dish-water yellow scudding clouds, and then promptly passes out.’ But you don’t. You never do.”
            “Look, Ma! No hands!”
            “I’m switching my brain to silent. Put me on a plane.”
            “My baby, she wrote me a letter. And all that kind of stuff, and also all those other types of things.”
            “All the hound dogs in the world ain’t nothin’ but hound dogs.”
            “Consider the record straightly set. Because? Well, hell, it’s parachute season again, and something tells me that there’ll be mothballs in the aardvark soup this time around.”
            “Consider it considered.”