Wednesday, January 30, 2013

sardines on sourdough

ANDRE BRETON- Be quiet. Leave me alone.


ANDRE BRETON- I’m trying to draw my breath. It seems to require a capital A-plus amount of concentration.

RONALD MCDONALD- That’s good for you?

ANDRE BRETON- Supposed to be.

RONALD MCDONALD- You crave attention, and therefore are never to be quenched in your struggle for more of it. “Look at me! Look! Look at me!” What a capital B bunch of bull. Pencil or pen?

ANDRE BRETON- Pencil. Graphite mechanical pencil. Drafting is my milieu these nights.

RONALD MCDONALD- Like a spoiled brat who beats his new pony because it doesn’t clean up its own shit.

ANDRE BRETON- In, deep. Hold it. Then, softly…slowly, back out. Ah. Relaxation comes with a sticker price of I-don’t-give-a-damn-what-the-hell-any-of-you-shit-heads-thinks.


ANDRE BRETON- Counting helps. Yes. The steps you’re scared to take. You can count them. You can name and remember them. They can become safe, just more recognizable objects for you to take stock of, organize, and stow away.

RONALD MCDONALD- All mine are of the lowercase variety. Gardens of them, without sorrow or joy though. Without Marvins. Merely gardens.

ANDRE BRETON- The things one does to dampen the noise of one’s own existence. What else matches our own self-defeats?

RONALD MCDONALD- Our sketches in graphite of our own breath?

ANDRE BRETON- Not likely. Like, “I write her letters from the most worried of places, even if she don’t love me anymore.”

RONALD MCDONALD- To get even in the oddest of ways. There’s challenge in those crap-outings of yours. A take that never gets rehearsed, and over-and-over is done too wrong and almost just right. Gather up your pity’s W-2 forms and fill out your soul’s tax returns with the imaginary lines connecting the stars of closer-than-you’d-think constellations. That breath you take might just be your own.

ANDRE BRETON- Swift strokes of deft precision. Inimitable lines of trust penciled in dreadnoughts of cheap chenille dreams. Nobody’s on first, but we’re all itching to swipe second anyway. A leno weave of staying put. I connect dots of purpose so I won’t have to behave awfully for company. My breath is not a circus tent. Not even. Not yet.

RONALD MCDONALD- Clean hands are a must. The gunk out from beneath the nails-- pliers-cut and emery-filed. Palms constantly wiped dry with a microfiber cloth. No smudges. No mistakes. All is as it should be.

ANDRE BRETON- Quiet. Please. I am attempting to draw here.

RONALD MCDONALD- As you were. But where?


RONALD MCDONALD- Passed out on too much past. Pssst! I get it. Yep. Pssssssssssst!


RONALD MCDONALD- No. No. No. Did I mention that I’m perfectly incapable of making somebody else’s decisions my own?


RONALD MCDONALD- Correct. Good. I could say something like, “Beeswax as usual.” But that’d be inconsiderate of your struggles. No. Instead it’s, “Draw, my dear. Draw.” That is what the cards say to the poker faced. 


RONALD MCDONALD- Two can play at that game…

ANDRE BRETON- So many ifs and onlys in this world. Take a picture of my breath for posterity.

RONALD MCDONALD- Okay. Now you’re really asking for it.

ANDRE BRETON- Better than just taking it. Better than milking toast for a living? I’d say. But I won’t.

RONALD MCDONALD- And between this and that and…? Well, we spend our time rollicking in the paragraphs of our lives. We indent the difference between it all. Skid marks on the underwear of the age. Our age. Any age. It’s all up to the last minute, and it’s all…bogus.

ANDRE BRETON- Shush it. Have I mentioned that I am trying to concentrate here? Drawing breath, you know? It ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.


ANDRE BRETON- Nectarines. No. Wait. Um…okay. Figurines.

RONALD MCDONALD- It’s better than hauling around deplorably upbeat habits like these. It’s better than playing nice on the surface.

ANDRE BRETON- That reminds me, what the hell are you doing in my drawing room? The high, ho-less, silver now that I’m pacing around in is becoming too crowded with valences of empty shapes, shades that’ll cower to shadows, and turnstile lifestyles. Get me a breath so I can sketch my consciousness on blue lined paper with it. A splash of grappa for your thoughts?

RONALD MCDONALD- And a dram of absinthe for my vital signs.

ANDRE BRETON- It’s sweeter, and concurrent with abysmal, wished-away rights. You cannot force me to stop. I will draw this breath. This breath I will draw. In my best pajama power suit, in my loafing gear and W-neck sweater, I digress with the best of ‘em.

RONALD MCDONALD- The neighbors sing on worse lawns than these. I am certain of it.

ANDRE BRETON- Bathed in neutrality for worse and even worse. It lets me cross my eyes instead of my fingers, frees me up to scrub tearstains from the upholstery while I whistle along with the refrigerator.

RONALD MCDONALD- For whom do you take me? A crane operator? A peanut grinder? A sieve-fisted finder?

ANDRE BRETON- I believe in corrupted tiny miracles, ones that define less about who we are, who we are taken for, and who we’ll never get around to becoming. It is in the spiffy gesturing of a soon-to-be-drowning woman that we might find the rigour and define ourselves as circle drawers instead of nose breathers caught at a vendue of our formerly least-prized possessions. “Look at me. I am accomplishing something. I am here. Look.” Or something like that, I guess.

RONALD MCDONALD- Treat me without respect. It’s alright. Everything is dancing with okay. Believe me. Or don’t. Keep drawing. This breath you draw might be your last.

ANDRE BRETON- Elusive puddling. A crossed-out word. Bated, borrowed, and…

RONALD MCDONALD- Oh, hell. Just some miserable thaumaturgy for the downtrodden, the weak of brawn and faint of heart. We cannot keep up this charade of borrowing moods like cups of sugar. Pound out some truth from this thing like it's the hood of a ’58 Packard, my friend. I will keep you up at night with my daydreams.    

ANDRE BRETON- The lingering motions I keep myself from making, the hushed doubt of trout fishing anywhere but in America. There are lines I have yet to consider, whims of a circular nature, bits of crumbled charcoal to wipe from the clean, clear, flat surface. Pristine backdrops lose their luster in the scribbling of my days. Do not look at me. I am hiding from greedy coroners. Do not give me away.

RONALD MCDONALD- Draw on, my unfortunate fellow. Your breath will not be taken lightly.


RONALD MCDONALD- Perfectly close enough.

Monday, January 28, 2013

envelope licking blues

             I remember being very young, and what that meant, then, being as young as I was. And, after a fashion, I resolved myself to fighting my own battles instead of the battles of others. Unfortunately, I misunderstood myself, and thought I was telling myself to fight my own ballets. It’s strange to think how different things could have been.
            It was an overcast January day when I figured it was about time to stop talking to just myself, so I wandered out into the streets on the gray sidewalks under a sky that was almost describable as cobalt, but not quite. There wasn’t enough rain going on to soak you, just coat your clothes with a thin layer of damp. 
            I bought a clown nose at an antique shop which was run by a retired comedian. This wasn’t the best of times for me. I was beyond down and my luck was the color of steamed artichoke leaves. Nothing I did worked out, and I was sad all the time. It doesn’t matter. It could’ve been worse: I could’ve been a standup comedian.
            There’s champagne in my coffee. The stir of mixed emotional makeup drinks away the fanciest of subliminal tides. I do not know what difference a heart of palm would make. Disorientation is the price I keep paying for these humdrum dalliances. The most au courant way to not behave, idly, with the worst stomachache in the world. Rummaging through creosote and gravel terrain, I get what’s never coming. What’s really the matter is a rough-stuff tumble with bad guys. Amaretto will do until the mixers arrive, with somebody else’s wife. Socializing is for the sane and competent.  
            The tuba player is screaming clichés at robins. Tell him to shut it, I’d say. Tell him to nullify his triteness with cream and sugar. I won’t say it though. I will keep it to myself.
            Off to the land of dead cigarette butts, for what it is not. Crushed, and so telling it all like it is not, as well. I will stop answering my own questions. It’s been six days since I’ve fallen out of love.
            The scoundrels are flabbergasted at the ordeal of planning outrages against lamppost-tied couches on the sidewalk. A lamp herder dismisses them with a, “Curses,” over his breath. Their eyes are swept with bottle gazing. Bovine heat lamps stay true to their colors.
            In the time between (the chords nobody hears) I spoke the wheel of my thoughts with arrows. Lazy bazookas, halo-happy rejoinders quipped in an archaic fashion, chumpy hearts washed from candy-cane striped sleeves. I believe in polished ambition scrubbed with gutter water and boric acid. I am going to wade out to where they have gold carrots.
            And now, this: (“Some people just smell like pee-pee, dear.”)

            We had kids then, the kind that grew loopy and deranged through holy-colored meanness. Kids that flew with rattlesnake wings on their ankles; and grub instincts from below blew the roof off the tree house that the rotten-orange kings haunted daily, but never at night. The grayest sweatered things, they were. Only when we jackpotted the greenhouse did the redness fade, and then it was just the sky’s blush at being horrible to things like bones, boulders, clam shells and other useless rubble. Even now it’s okay to not remember their names.
            We had kids. There were good things to not say and bad things to mean. Sometimes it was okay to bat left handed on the wilderness’s screaming violin medicine. “Oh, but for now,” we’d say, “in the arms of keeping, it is all as it should not be and is as it should too.”
            Bored holes in the coconut trees. It was pleasure before first-place beginnings. It was down and up to the kids, to be somebody, if they could. Every thing that’s counted in the bowling alley at second or third look gets its name from comets that have come and gone and that won’t be back for a century or two. Top it off with a mortician’s graceful wisp of comb-over satisfaction. Play the radio and floss the moon’s teeth with a lariat. We can take it, but if not for the sake of the kids. Always the kids. There in the right light of leaving-- not accordion thieves, not your aunt’s disbelief anymore-- they mail hay to sackless potatoes. The kids make noise even when they’re quite quiet on the inside.
            A place to play; that’s all they want.
            A harangue came well past its due date. We played it coy and inveterate as we told the kids, “Right away, now. Let’s stick to being stuck--up or out. Get the way from a. Longer in the toe, but short enough in screams. The plaster’s worn. Right now’s later. O’s honeyed in clover. Butterscotch slathered calamari. Please do not touch the merchandise. Drift if need be, through youth that’s ruined by age. We, here, must always root for the away team.”
            It is a year now; one that comes before, not after. Now, this year is when it is now for now. Even the kids grow into it, and then, of course, out of it too. The circus music is not grand, and we are not safe with matches burnt out between our fingers, places where we wear watches anywhere but on the wrist. A voice box that only cusses. The kids ripped into the presents later on in that same year, which is this one and all the ones before. 
            I spoke to a lady outside the referee meeting who was wearing 7 layers of clothes and shivering. She showed me each layer, one by one. I told her about the kids. I also said, “We are drunk on fall leaves, right? That’s just it, right? Right?” I wasn’t asking a thing in return. She made herself a cup of dish soap from the juice of bruises and crumbled crisp lettuce. I closed my eyes and started in on the magic of thinking things like, ‘Kids. Kids. Mother’s asleep in the stadium beneath the floodlights. Kids. Be boats. We are all living in a shipyard gone to junk. Kids. Live on sugar for now. Kids. Kids. It is a year now. Another one. Here it is. Kids.’ When I opened my eyes the 7-layered woman was gone. All was opiate-smeared with diffused colors that nobody would ever dare to see.
            The kids are vacationing away the years. Pleased with nothing, the kids dig up the front yard. They want underground forts. They want hills of sod and soda taps. They will not be seen anymore. The year (this one or any other) is good to be bad to them. The kids. The kids. The kids we never had.

            …the weather of running temperatures in the freezing cold…

            “I don’t want to talk; I can’t talk; I don’t have to talk, to have to talk to talk to you.”
            “Gal, oh, gal.”
            “And get this: that guy? He takes the cake and smears it all over his own face, and he drives a Chevy for St. Christopher’s sake.”
            “Fuck it.”
            “You can say that once.”
            “I’m playing it dangerous from here on in. I’m not nice enough to be finishing last all the time.”
            “My father told me once, he said, ‘Son, don’t ever be one of those people who have to work on the weekends.’ I haven’t had a weekend off in 15 years. My father can go fuck himself.”

            The crawling wake of sun shunts crammed heights from the lowest of street corners. You are dangerous in ways that know no float nor hide to run for toss’s turn. An angry blind girl in ski boots is waving her cane around like a fencer’s epee up ahead of you. It is not all over, as far as the sidewalk’s concerned, but it’s close. There are no isosceles triangles left in your eyes. It is too late for good light. Your breath is sticky with a cottonmouth, sour-saliva tinge; and x-mas is a long way off. Don’t kid yourself. The man playing Santa in the drug store is just a lunatic with latex gloves and a red leather jacket, and too much time on his hands. Rest at the stoplight. Go ahead. The best cement in the world comes from China. Everyone knows that. And if you chew your food precisely 32 times per minute you will live well into your nineties. That grubby sweat-crusted hand you run through the grease of your unwashed hair is just another tell of your plight, the mercy of devils who might chase angels away on their bad days, but who don’t, who just sit there and ponder their past moves and hope nobody forgives anybody, ever, before they make their next. Then you start talking just hear something besides the drone of your lost ambition struggling quarter-heartedly in the gutter:  
            “I’m the general’s general generally speaking to the wide-open arms of hi or goodbye. And if you run into my ex-suitor on Taylor Street, please tell her I’ve not lost my way. That girl, she tells me the worst jokes in town. She’s like a credit card that’s no longer attached to my name-- a girl with tiny bronze scissors dangling from her ears, that one. And I know I’m deader than an x-mas tree in April to her, but the moon’s plucking a few violets out of the sky’s tarry muck for one more shot at places where yesterdays long to go. I am crowded with lonely stems.”


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Distortion Of Celestial Scalene Shapes Into Prolate Spheroids By The Whims Of Circumstantial Tides or: How I learned To Stop Singing And Love Technological Fads

            Warren Peace was standing at a pelican’s length from the Time Wasting Device. It was hard for him to see where any of this was going, but his mind was set to the task, and that was all that mattered.
            “Oh. Are you famous?”
            It was a little Promethean fellow named Cutter. It wasn’t clear at all who Cutter was speaking to, or if perhaps Cutter was just speaking to himself. Warren answered anyhow.
            “Apparently not, if a highly astute individual such as yourself doesn’t know who I am.”           
            ‘Don’t you go on worrying about me,’ thought Warren. ‘I’ll be myself in no time.’ Then he said, “Botched!” He had no idea why he’d said it. But there was nothing he could do about it now. Life, for some reason, went on.
            Cutter said this: “I am not what you’d call a tulip-of-a-guy, you know?”
            Warren pretended to not be having a conversation with anybody at all. He stared a bit more penetratingly at the Time Wasting Device and shuffled his feet in the metal shavings on the floor. It was a sawdust effect these folks were going for, and, for now at least, it was working, or so Warren hoped.
            “Today is not your tomorrow just yet,” ventured Cutter. “Remember that the next time you have a not-so-incredible orgasm or when you’re dumping the trash.”
            “Yes. That’s right. That’s it. Got it now?”
            Warren was less confused than he’d ever been. He wanted pancakes with tiny specks of silver in them. The harm that it would cause seemed minimal to him. There were elephants at the beginning of the rainbow, and that was plenty of something, and then perhaps some more.
            “Mr. Peace? Hiya! Mars to Mr. Peace! Everybody home?”
            The gravy stain on the back of Warren’s shirt collar was in the shape of Venus de Milo. Cutter, of course, had failed to notice or note this. Instead he was sidetracked by such thoughts as, ‘Why in heaven’s sound are my hands so damnably cold?’
            A drop of lime soda was the pinnacle (or would that be acme?) of understanding justness. Or so it seemed to Warren Peace just at this evened-out odd moment. He genuflected, mildly, and said in the direction of the Time Wasting Device: 
            “I am substantial, and I can have good things and bad things, and being happy is not as rich as being sad. Oh, do not marry my current culvert of dissatisfaction to The Seesaw Girl.
            “I want a soundproof chamber for my soul. It doesn’t need noise, but maybe windows. Claws perhaps. But never gloves. Somewhere it might happen upon a fumble or a dropped nickel. Get it a new set of wheels. Give it a Scantron test about birds. The hours leak away, and it’s cold, and my soul’s got it too loud. Weeded with blind luck, if there were a garden at my disposal. For now, it rides the bus and coughs into a cold fist.”
            Cutter watched a flock of flying cockroaches wing and flutter, dive and pitch, crest and moan, and finally settle into the low distance of what was left of the sky’s expanse. It reminded him of diamonds being crushed by bulldozers on beach sand.
            “I am the régisseur of all things minimal!” (Mr. Peace said that.)
            Cutter: “You are not sure what considerations to take. You are not at peace, yet. So, keep breathing.
            “Do not oppugn any of what I have yet to say. Like this: The hills are dead with the touch of silence.”
            Warren Peace stood up, trotted quarter-heartedly to the Bill Paying Station, folded his hands over the Pay Nodule, thought about freezing to death, pretending that one leg was a few inches shorter than the other so as he’d have an excuse (if only in his mind) for being constantly teetering back and forth with faked shivers, cried, didn’t pray, and then paid his fine for not being resilient enough in connubial (not to mention concupiscent) matters. Then? Well, then he reached in his pants pocket and found a gum wrapper there, and he threw the before-mentioned gum wrapper on the floor where it joined the metal shavings. Warren thought about how nice it was to be rid of things, and he looked at the shiny foil of the wrapper there among all the silvery metal shavings, and he thought, ‘That’s nice. Real nice.’ He walked away from everything.
            Cutter watched all of this from a safe distance. The moon glowed turquoise. Cyanide was in all the 7-Up cans. The air grew chunky with Baby Ruths and Caramellos. A high Rubik’s Cube system funneled in from the northwest. Cutter grew antsy as it sprinkled Mountain Dew. Nobody was whistling.
            Cutter watched Warren Peace walk away, seeming to stumble a bit as if his equilibrium were greatly disturbed, as if he were feeling the actual rotation of the earth in his gut and couldn’t shake it, which perhaps (another perhaps) he really was feeling, that innards-twisting wrench and lunge of pull-pull antipodal struggle.
            Cutter grew sad. He began to sing:       
            “The old man’s asleep in his tiny booth of keys. He’s got eyebrows that look like they’re about to get up and shimmy away from his face while he snoozes on unaware. Take the mountains, go on and take them all away. Stand here. I’m all out of courage, for now. The coffee guy’s taking up sneezing as a hobby. Too blue to go. The grass grows yellow just like her hair. I’m not dressed for the artists to be taught to create. I’m not over what I want or under what I ain’t.”
            Cutter thought, ‘I’ve really got to stop singing all the time,’ but he knew that he wouldn’t.
            Cutter wrote this: “I am loafing through the pages of being me when I should be leafing so new to sap tree-like instead, but the iron’s hold is rust’s only bond, and I am out of STOPs for the red light’s dawn. Damn my sense of harmony and distance. I will watch others for signs of recognition-- a Dürer's Rhinoceros of hope, or perhaps just another perhaps, perhaps. Railroad. Buffalo. STOP. That is not all…”



Sunday, January 6, 2013

a mere stretch of words

           Any harebrained son-of-a-bitch knows that you can’t mix acid with cocaine. It’s a one-way ticket to Vegetable Town. Nobody knows the horror I see. Nobody knows the sorrow. That’s where Charles comes in. Drafty, out the backdoor, and he picks up a napkin, wipes his mouth, plops down in a lawn chair and yawns. It is best, one finds, to be subtle in the sorting of impersonal affairs, and Charles is funnier than most. Cigarettes that last for a few centuries. The taxi’s arriving close to eight. Get yourself the best of what’s waiting on the chiffonier for your taking, at least until the mice take over. Charles ain’t in charge of a damn thing.

            and when the sky was opened…
            New Year’s Eve at an old folk’s home with a three-piece band and tinsel and glitter on all the hats, a 78-year-old piano player, champagne sprayed on the ceiling fan, and I’m left staring at it all through a glass of beer. A powerful long spell of spilling my guts. Something to crush that car that’s alarm’s going off all hours. Never to keen on peaches. Nobody brings Diet Coke into my house and lives to tell about it. A talent for putting words into the mouths of others. She uses the tiniest spoons to scoop up pomegranate seeds. It is a lead that’s never followed. A watch forever being wound. Cram the hollow of the barest creek with suffering reeds. A night for a front porch, or sleep. Nothing else. A terrific way to not be shown the way, again. Blessed with courageous overtones, baby. It all starts with bad directions to nowhere, and then we get stiffed in the midst of a tantrum over spilled rum. It’s outrageous. If it could be. Nobody checks the tire pressure when all’s done and not said. Beer brained and bratty, the ruin of the shakes gets me enough exercise. A little dab behind the ears will do. Get old and get dead already. Shit. The window’s a louse, and we’re all lousy with looking. The noise the garbage disposal makes is too ordinary. We get hunted, and we get brave. The crummiest napkin holder in a little café. Empty bottles in the chandelier. A coincidence of partaking’s spell. Butter the cost with bland horror. It might make a believer out of truth, a hurt chased from a penny’s shine. We’d all do better just to seethe and moan under our breath. All dressed down with everywhere to go. Pawned substance and dining with a horse for the time being, but it’s all a shabby substitute for your consideration. A well-pressed personality to go along with what’s common. Permanently echoed in resentment’s shadow, it calls dibs on debilitating structures of faring a bit more than well. We get cries of hallelujah stirred in our coffee. We get tossed from rooftops. The tenement’s horror is cut from duller cloth than this. The price of justice loses its value in the parade of love, and we get miffed, and we grow stale. An infinity from cosmetics. And the record always skips on my favorite song. The gamblers have all retired to your white house. Check your girls at the curb. We all need IVs at this time of the night. The holes in my clothes show it all. Never sleeping at all. Candy will be the death of me. There’s nothing so cheap as a day on the barroom floor. We walk in the corrosive shadows of today’s lilt and spin. Don’t deadpan the ways we take to the cruel and the hard up. There’s a sipper on board for the remainder of the trail. Coolidge is on board for the duration of our departure. Take the thieves out to breakfast. We’ve all got worse things to do with our lives. The shipyard’s lullaby. The tin can’s last call. The goodbyes are all gone. We’ve made peace with the occasional bouts of fury. Run away to a January night with me, so home, home, home we’ll never be.

            Something was pounding on my door. I went over and opened it. My landlord was standing there, a little inflatable-soul guy with greasy sideburns and a bald shiny dome on top. His face was even more flushed than usual.
            “We’ve had complaints.”
            “Yes. It seems your neighbors are worried about these strange noises they hear at all hours coming form your place. And, frankly, there’s no call for the sort of language that…”
            “Language? What language? I speak a little Spanish and a tad of French, but…”
            “Ok. That’s enough. No need to crack wise about it.”
            “Is there supposed to be a point here that I’m missing?”
            “Listen, Dipshit. There’s no telling what kind of sins against all that’s holy you’ve got going on in there on a nightly basis...”
            “Yes. It’s quite a show. You should stop by one night. I think you’d like it.”
             “…But if you think I’m just going to sit idly by while you make a massacre of this building’s policies, well…”
            “Let me guess. I’ve got another thing coming.”
            He just stood there, bristling. I could smell raw egg yolk.
            “Well, yes. See here, sir. I have absolutely no idea what any of these complaints have to do with. I am hardly in my apartment at night, these days, or nights, as it were. Well, you see. I don’t make a peep most of the time, well except when I’m performing my --please excuse my coprolalia here, but-- my bathroom duties, as it were.”
            “Oh, Lord.”
            “Just…just keep it down, will you? I can’t…I…”
            He kept mumbling after that for a bit, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I closed my door. Things were immediately much better.
            I wanted out. But there was nowhere to go. I stayed in. I thought, ‘Yes. Charles on the back porch. A whole sea gaze of a sort to it. Sure. Why the heaven not?’           
            My stomach clutched. I thought about how the human ear can immediately distinguish between the different sound that hot water makes compared to cold. It got me less than nowhere. Time is that I got to be hungry for another meal, to go cheap and wine-dark into the murk and hustle of it. Time was, and then it is just standing or waiting to sit.
            Shapes had stopped making sense in 3-dimensional space. For me this wasn’t quite as disturbing as it should have been, and this, in itself, was disturbing. My psyche had jumped ship. In fact, all of my temporal relations with the events and material things around me had gone overboard. It was all flickering images of stickmen climbing stairs on the wooden railings, the shadows on the sidewalls’ paneling like a stalled movie projector cranking away. I thought a steamship was running the show. Everything seemed rigged, a plot against my thoughts, and my eyelids were flashing instead of blinking. There was a steady rapid shaking to my head that I couldn’t stop. My eyebrows were existing in outer space, and having a fine time of it without my face around to hold them back. The word “Geronimo” leapt from the roof. My cigarette was the only thing that made sense, though the crooked, gnarled fingers holding it up like a miniature javelin did not belong to me, and for some reason I was holding tight to the idea that they actually belonged to a clown dressed in a pinstripe suit who was clinging to the giant yellow umbrella that was the sky.
            Clouds were just unwound balls of string. The stickman was clattering his shifty way across the railings with long quick strides. I didn’t like it, but there was nothing to be done about it. My eyes wouldn’t adjust to anything. A flurry of images decked themselves out with cookie-cutter agility and bashed here and there around the circumference of my skull, and I just kept trying to stare at that damn cigarette that seemed light years away from me between the thin fingers of that bizarre clown, whom I could feel the presence of more than actually see.
            About a year later I inhaled a drag of the cigarette. The smoke took a few days to go down, and I exhaled sometime that summer, though it felt like fall, and for all I could figure it must’ve been at least a year later, and I started to wonder if my two friends who’d filled my head with this massive overdose of psychedelic mushrooms still lived in the house of which I was currently residing on the back porch. It had been so long since I’d seen them—years. Would there be somebody else living there now if I tried to go back inside? Had they changed the locks? Would they have any cookies?
             It wasn’t easy to make a decision about anything. More thoughts kept fleeing, and then a thousand more would get ushered on in with a few bats and oars and Adam and Eve on a log too. “Wreck ‘em,” I thought, or perhaps said. Then I concentrated my efforts on reading something I’d long been putting off reading, though long could’ve been nothing at all under these circumstances. Whatever way you put it, here or there it went: 
            Bobby Dylan’s rough draft of “Iphigenia in Aulis or: She Born Too Late and Soon, Son”
            She’s got an egg timer in her heart, screaming yes like she’s at the end of Ulysses. If the sky’s spanked with roses during an eclipse. There’s an egg timer, you see, where her heart should be. It ticks away the way she was. Nobody asks please. And so we’re left honey-less and all out of smell. Just jam with no toast. Just eggs fried in the shell. The cake’s taking strike three while she screams sad anniversaries for everyone. Flunked a course in courting fireflies, and there aren’t any mathematics left in the trees. She’s planning a coup of the bus lines. She’s cussing and sashaying in Vista Vision and snapping along to Conway Twitty. We hung the marionettes from a chandelier with their own strings. Questioning the bass from my voice, she bares girlish teeth and sweeps the covers to her side. Elvis sings The Ramones. We voilà our own cartoons in souped-up bubbles. We’ve got concrete lips that whistle Hogan’s Heroes. Just say stuff like, “Glad to not know you,” and, “Why you oughta examine your flies.” She dreams The Lawrence Welk Show to life as the creeps all gather outside the plate glass, because nobody dies counting railroad ties in the dark anymore. We are more commonplace than ever. Get the spatula from the bucket of frosting and spread good news all over the tiles. There’s no deft left in sentimental pleas. We believe that good wrenches the spit from pirates of privacy, self evidently. We walk halfway through the alphabet just to hail taxis in the wind and the rain. She sends me postcards from the torn edges of The Orient, never tracked or thumbed or rode lonely without. She writes notes on pages ripped from books of bees and glues them inside of Gideon bibles. A bit of slap’s in her dash, still. Oh, and the barometer of flush is fair in her footsteps. Pigeons wing and flutter away from it all like nicknames for marbles, out of the red-white-blue, catching buses and missing the point. We call each other lucky and bake sardine pie for lunch. We call each other home. I’m just a broken string on her guitar, a parachuted little green army man launched into the cobalt of her sky, a tiny turn still left in the squeal of her heels, the last crumbled cigarette in her vest pocket, a gray hair on her little toe. But she’s got an egg timer in her heart. And it ticks off what’s left of us until she lets it out. But she’s too tough for that, way too tough for that. Because, well, she’s got an egg timer in her heart. And it’s made of fluff and crumbs and copper medals and boxing gloves. She’s got an egg timer in her heart. And it’s good company for pancake chefs. She’s got an egg timer in her heart. And it is dazed and rainy and bowlegged and it dances away the moon. She’s got an egg timer in her heart. And it never sleeps. She’s got an egg timer in her heart. And it’s almost done singing, a little. While we sleep for ages. Just like us. An egg timer in her heart. Ticking and steady and true and alive. Blundering in the daylight. An egg timer in her heart. Almost like me. Almost, just like me.
            Sometimes you receive things. You don’t understand much. That about does it.

            “Dear Sirs,                                   
            “We are honored that you considered our publication worthy to receive your writing, we thank you for the opportunity to read your work, and we regret that we are unable to publish it at this time. Please consider the numerical reality: that for each issue, we are able to publish much less than one percent of the submissions we receive.

            “This email goes to a category of writers we will be inviting to resubmit, whether your submission was not accepted or even if it was withdrawn. Soon you will receive another email inviting you to submit different work for the next issue, so please watch for that. We wish you the very best of luck, we hope you will keep in touch, and we hope that we may continue to read each other.

            “Ever yours,
            “Editor In Residence of ****** Magazine”

             Dear Shit For Brains,

            I breathe in this way. I sigh like this. I open my eyes and take the temperature of loss. Shadows are great. I’m sure they fall all the time.
            Never Yours,
            Hanky Panky Mancini