Monday, April 29, 2013

Four Lost Poems Of Grace Paley

Pigeons From Hell

take a crack at thrashed stomp-outs
it carries distaste
it smacks of guano shovel-scraped off sidewalk
the power lines hold out for thicker laces
tied or shut in
we’d pull the curtains blacker
if it’d matter
and to any swell or bellyached mewl
in the tatters of extricated hours
to tope in the a.m. of generality
and it’s whistled less at most
color me night
grayed with invasive adjustments
more to clack or clunk over
until the eaves drip liquid gold
or the cotton queen lips her final chalice of rain
you will not shiver
or spare even a prayer for her sake
lower than down
far and crawling in collusion’s circles
before you can quite recall
what it means to not take to the air

I Was Only Middle-Aged

there’s refusing in it to ward off thoughtlessness of death
a clung-to world’s hold
beyond sway or smote or just
delivery smothered to takeout
dedicated to fake estates or parking-garage construction
lots of lots
evicted to empty and worse
like jagged scarred rocks ensconced in mossy dresses
isolation as rough as sooty skin
to bring a more grey-tinged misery
an ounce of cod liver oil
god-thanking in a turkey-feather headdress 
about or for me
the imminence of immanent jail bars
what will live or sigh darling to walk nicely with what will not be
laughed to cough to snarl backwards
my mother in the doorway
bowlegged and old and lovely
capitalism’s fermented compost pungent from smaller rooms
and her too with her 
less frequent worried preparations
made guessed of it all
of all longing
marigold-weather chairs
the anatomy of shadows
speaking music pitched to bleaker shadows
to yet another shadow’s historic sorrow
oppose and in favor of it all
of all pleasing and enemy-making
of all store-bought silence
the chutzpah it takes to not be vengeful
but instead to punch with calm
scream with quiet
and shoot with forgiveness
we are all better on than off
and in our resilient fragility
flowers the best mistakes
and perhaps nobody left to wonder
who left this shape in the hallway
or made these frail stalwart scratches 
in thin slices of papery oblivion

Another Futile Attempt At Art For Life’s Sake

there (if) “Coffee’s hot!” you’d say…beleaguered,
and here, now, life’s art imitating art’s life---of course.
when (then)
if you have it (humming along)
or crack the best closing:
“This,” up, “will,” to stand, “not,” or sit if lying down, “do!”
a dream’s virus dreamt to spread
(…and, at last, first, knowingly)
took down or given up, on or
off (too)
we pad cellars with the bodies of dead moths--
“Colder,” you’d not say.
Wherever whenever gets you to. It’s
chillier still.
Jesus and Maria, boys.
No expert forklift operators allowed on the premises,
(dig deeper ditches, then)
Take after the (not so) greats, if
can, because the board is never
low enough

#7 With Valor

the beings who jar us at every moment

moods of gusts blown brain-dead just lost like lips kiss-less must’ve been another goner gone foul

I was living so lucky in luck’s dead arms
I was holding back what flooded

stepped cloudy beneath the flames
usurious but screwed over too
not famous at all
screamed from closed windows
my name’s a rill cut in air
to not hear

for the time it takes for the time to pass

yes yes yes yes

it is every For who’s slept with a Done

a change that nothing is changing for
always clearer if
or of

sometimes I love the smell of cooked asphalt too
something Bronxy and rich in it
mothered telling of mothering sentiments of nowhere  
spied on a heap of what’s spaced out and capitally locked

we are within the arcade’s humming until the power’s off kilter and ratio-inspired for us who hunt doves with chaperoned lust and kill sunnier skies with tridents of ice 

until long walked
farther juts in the out of it
consumed by oneself
as if the boat’s cruel color were enough
to be waded out towards
or from

by always prancing back
in a lulled-like way
of a start to stop to be put back to bed

later than lunch-counter sadness
would tell of still births in the wee hours
to empty cups and used napkins
and everything dim and rank
sugar and salt and pepper riddled
and stained sub par
per orders from up top

as it were
just me and my newspaper-covered pride
Pavlovian as hell in my love
and not used to anything
at all

Thursday, April 25, 2013


            Here’s something:
            A man in a three-piece suit was parking his car: a faded-green sedan with silver coming out in spots where the paint had chipped. I wasn’t scared of him at all. The closeness of it, somehow, maybe the slant of windows, reflected branches, hubcaps, or illusions of differential space restrictions, stubbed my looking.
            “Space suits for two, please.”
            “Yes. We will have that arranged. Bring yourselves this way.”
            This thinking about talking was putting my mood elsewhere. I stopped it.
            The man in the three-piece was walking around his little green sedan. He looked content and bewildered. It was a good look. I wished that I’d had that look before, but I probably hadn’t. That was just as good, probably. I counted his steps as he went around the car, plodding up and down, from curb to street and back to curb and then along the sidewalk where there were dead leaves, of course. He looked in the back window, putting his hand to the glass and looking through it. The certain arch of his body seemed unusual to me. I didn’t like the way it seemed, to me, at the time. Seeming was my only out, at the time; you’ve got to know that about me, then, if you know anything.
            Rolled constrictions. Lighter weights. I go to all the trouble of looking, seeing these things, one in front, or behind, the other, like lips and then head and then pigeon and then mailbox and, of course, trouble. I go to all the trouble to see, and I get these things. These damn things.
            The sedan, green, faded, grimy windows, plump tires, dirt streaks on the hood, dangling parking pass from the rearview, a nice-sized trunk, headrests, the whole deal. A withering jumpstart to it all, I figured. I stopped thinking about the sedan. Then I couldn’t keep from it. The man had walked away. The man was gone, now, and all he’d left me was this damn sedan.
            I stared at a dent in the side door that looked, to me, like the face of Rip Torn. The sedan’s top was sun-scarred with V’s of rust. That, too, made me think about other things that I could possibly look at, making up some, maybe, perhaps for sure, it was a whittling of certain ideas I wouldn’t let myself have. It was complex, simple, and absolutely inchoate, or so it seemed, to me, at the time, possibly, to be, or not, or I didn’t let myself care.
            Distracted from objects by other objects, and then not, so much, really, at all, and then this:
            “Room for less.”
            “Blacker was the sky to me than licorice I couldn’t taste, to me.”
            “It was, so it happened, to be.”
            “Too much blinking without noticing what’s being seen, lost, there, here, or gone too.”
            “The sparrows are hanging themselves from the more sturdy branches.”
            “Like the salty glint of gypsum, it all shines, and shines, and then, somehow, for me, it does not.”           
            I stopped the gabbing in my skull, again. I tried to concentrate on something outside, nearer, more steady.
            The sedan no longer seemed green to me. It seemed bluer, a replica of blue, perhaps, or a miscreant off-violet, in a certain light, the fadedness of it, the sunlight’s slipping, slippery, soft to the look, seeing, as it was, leaves crumbled just over the curbstone, I was making connections, as it were, with nothing, by connecting everything. Sure, it was commercial-watching at its most burdensome, at best, letting most of it go, the things, the sedan’s color, the door’s dent, the three-piecer, the whole shebang of it, it was all just me making a pass at the weather, at most. A mailbox here. Dried dog shit there. Cigarette butts filling the sidewalk cracks. The true gunk of being.                
            By the way, here’s another thing:
            Well, it just so happens that I was eating Triscuits this morning when I had what Walt Whitman would refer to as a special revelation. I was sitting there at the table and picking crackers out of the box two and three at a time, breaking them in half, and then eating them. The salty taste on my tongue was pleasant as I chewed them, and the grainy texture felt good in my mouth as they broke up in there. I started staring at the box for some reason, reading all the words on it, just to do something, just to kind of pass the time I guess. I’d just woken up, and I was kind of lightheaded and still caught up a bit in sleep. Everything started coming to me in a fugue. Every new thing that came to me, or at me, kept building slightly on the last thing. I read: “BAKED WHOLE WHEAT CRACKERS” “Improved Wheat Taste!” “Not for nibblers!™” “NET WT 9½ OZ (269g)” “NABISCO®” My eyes just kept reading everything. It all seemed really important and intensely interesting. The top flap on the box had this little recycling symbol on it, the one with the arrows going around in a kind of triangle in the black circle, and it said on it: “Carton made from 100% recycled paperboard.” And under that in this really tiny print it read, “Minimum 35% post-consumer content.” I had no idea what this meant, but like I said before it all seemed extremely important.
            I noticed that on the tab that keeps the box closed after it’s been broken open for the first time it read, “To open slide finger under the flap and loosen gently,” and under that flap it read, “To close insert tab here.” I inserted the tab, and the box stayed closed. I was extremely pleased by this. Turning the box around I read the side of it where the nutrition facts and ingredients were listed. I wanted to find some significance in these things. It read, “No Cholesterol” “Low Saturated Fat (Contains 5g per serving)” “Good source of Dietary Fiber.” It also said on it that one serving size was seven crackers. I wondered who had come up with the number. Why not five? Or Ten? There was some deeper meaning there. Something spiritual. I read the ingredients: “Triscuit crackers are made by a unique process from whole wheat, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt.” It seemed odd to me that there was no, “and,” in there. I felt that it should have said, “and salt.” So again I pondered things. What was so unique about this cracker-making process? Were there actually people specially trained to make these crackers? Did they go to school? Did they have a license? And how the hell had they improved the whole-wheat taste? It seemed a mind-boggling mystery of infinite depths and immeasurable longitudes of thought.
            I turned the box of Triscuits over and looked at the bottom. It read in really tiny black print, “This package is sold by weight, not by volume. Packed as full as practicable by modern automatic equipment, it contains the full net weight indicated. If it does not appear full when opened, it is because contents have settled during shipping and handling.” For some reason I thought of all those bags of chips I’d opened over the course of my chip-eating life, and how there would be
a popping sound and sometimes only like five chips in there when you opened the bag. There was some esoteric kind of language being transmitted in all this. All these words, all of this language being used. I felt like I was deciphering some kind of code, some kind of hidden world of symbols and wonderful mysteries. Why else would the folks at Nabisco go through all the trouble of putting this stuff on the box? It didn’t make the crackers taste any better. It didn’t change my opinion of the crackers. I’ve always liked Triscuits; I probably always will. And even if they keep improving the whole-wheat taste, I’ll probably continue not to notice.
            After a few more crackers I gazed out the window at an empty lot across the street. In the lot there was a deserted mini-excavator with a large auger on the boom. I started thinking about Archimedes for some reason. I’d seen excavators with pincers and sheep’s foot compactor attachments and also with just the usual buckets, or sometimes with the hydraulic thumbs, but never just a small digger with an auger hooked on like that. I looked at it just sitting there for some time. Nobody else was around. So, like I said, I started thinking about good old Archimedes, about his greatest achievement—proving that a sphere has two thirds the volume and surface area of a cylinder. I’m not sure why. It just popped into my head. Just like that. I was standing there staring at this little CAT digger looking all abandoned in that empty lot, and I just started thinking these things, you know? And that started me thinking about others things like Pi, and then the siege of Syracuse, and then George Saunders, and then the Civil War, and then Axle Rose, and then China, and then Mao, and then mice, and then cats, and then Snoopy, and then that song Linus and Lucy, and then this piano teacher I had when I was ten who was really obese and smelled like lutefisk, and then lye, and then lyme disease, and then British sailors, and then Popeye, and then Robin Williams, and then the words “hirsute” and  “ursine” and “simian” and then I lost my train of thought and couldn’t keep building things like that in my mind anymore. I had a few more Triscuits. They tasted awful. I felt that I had discovered something worthwhile about life in general.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Non Sequiturs Without Rabbits

            Also, here’s an even more odd take on the whole deal:
            There were rubber-cement lovers in line to buy some, I don’t know, new system of withdrawal, a banked-on shyness, well, there’s the glassy glint of it, slunk awnings, horrible gutter water the color of Mars, and off, and on, there we go. I had to walk, so I did. It prepared me for shinier courts to say, “Easy now. How? How?” to the big-uppers of half-on sales. Art-show bystanders, plugs, a rabbit in the window, dead or alive, easy in the knees, leaves, groping, the usual and the unexpected there as well. Training-bra wearers down to no good, if at all, if any, and so I kept walking, plunk, stomp, turn, twist, and all that, towards the microphone some guy’s placed in a high place. It was to be seen. I got there, of course, and used it. I said stuff and it went out loud, booming, filled with purpose. I brought up eating and sleeping. I hacked apart what was telling, what wasn’t, what seemed like it should be. I trundled on. I messed around with boiled-pea lovers. I walked away. Litter, glass shards, leaves, the usual. I make my own resistance. Patter insists. I mosey on by, shoes, leaves, dirt, pant cuffs. I am not eating any cake.      
            Fatty ran up my tab for me, it seems. I’ve got more than work to cut out what’s in. I sit down. I prattle on a bit, and then I’m done with that, and it’s over, so. I always keep a bottle of absinthe on the shelf. I never count cars when it rains. I get by and then some. Sure, defeat stalks the afternoons too, but I find the less of it is more, for the most. Fatty couldn’t get me down, though, or hold what I didn’t have responsible for what the crows were behaving. Guns that’ll never draw. A frown is all that sticks. Jump the tide with it, I’m just pant cuffs, dirt, leaves, shards of glass. I’m just the half of it that nobody ever knows, never quite safe or dangerous enough. I once made Fatty cry: my claim to fame.
            In the past, brave enough, I look. Fatty’s gone. I’m on my own side, now. I use commas like shotguns. There aren’t faces, only laughers. A replica of scavengered love. Somebody send me a line; I am not as well liked as I think.
            There are only a few Oh-Wells left in me. My night’s glittering with strange exchanges. Look, it is all leaves, dirt, pant cuffs, shards of glass. I rank leftover from the rest. I almost register moonlight on my scale. I take rock-solid occupancy rates to better churches. Every task is unassigned. My promises are louder than car alarms. Get the hell out of love. It is closed for the season.
            More. Please.
            Left. Room’s dead. Life’s a gamble with some music on here and there. Going under and under everything. The opposite of problems. Straightening out that week-old cigarette you found in your pocket; that sort of doing okay. Something almost dying in the atmosphere around here. Like craving champagne. Somebody call, “Cut!” I’m done.
            Ventriloquising ideas. As it welts and stings. We have none of it all. We’ve got dead phones and sad hearts. We call old numbers and mumble through static. The hardly together and the keep it takes to keep you there. A meadow of rot and cold. A hand that’s too shaky to hold. We’ve got bills to never pay and places to keep heading to, over and under. Hell. We don’t even have the right pants on for the job.                         

            That time when it was to say, “Were you blonde, Suzie?” But it was never an asking arrangement. It was not for shallow places for the rain. It was not in television laughter. “Let me not tell you, about or for it.” Or, “If you let me.” Teeth that frown. Paddling dogs. A faucet out of drips. Shoulder, hip, moonbeam, bloody bathwater. A child’s room emptied. We had races, at times, in singing mode, a little stiff. Tatters, sea arms, clips torn too. And a belch. There will be time, if it is seven pm. If it is not Friday, yet, then we can be sinister.     
            A gem gone missing. The arm wrestling champion of Calexico has gone north for the evening. Eddie Pascal’s got his finger on his robot’s pulse, and we’re all playing for grabs and holds. In casual visor-wearing some attitudes drift and splurge on slightly worn attire. The garage is filled with firewood and tires.
             “You answered for it.”
             “Who’s asking?”
            This motioning of the pivot foot, this harkening before any after.
            We have time to cut the funding from your left ear to your right. We have time to cut, tonight. If you take yes for a question. If you make lies out of lies. We’ll stroll the scales from all the tunes and tackle what’s left of the room. If it is glory time in Hallelujah Town, if it is raining indoors, if the scoop of miss is gone from take then we’ll have what’s stayed and lost. 

            I cannot bear dreaming of you anymore. It is a stubborn burden of blotting, of teeth grinding at its meanest, and I will not sweat through another night of it, my dear.
            My dear,
            The munching away of my resilience is a conman’s threat. I do not reveal my innards so truly and easily, whether they be figurative ones or the real dead things of it. Can we not part like seas instead of hair? I mope more than you’d ever care to notice, still, and the windowsill is never dusted properly. Yesterday I ate a single grape before disposing of the dead snails, shells and all, in the garbage compactor.
            The young get lonely too.
            “I woke up; I got lonesome; and I needed someone.” The cry of the whole world.
             It is very sleepy in my hair, this time, you must know. My address, lost or buttered with fragments of hearing, bearing no slip of hand, held or let go, is running for away, now.
            Some things you should know: The wind here is lightly toasted. Only the seagulls have terrible names. And the flags ripple with love of country and the likes.
            Windows shut to most of it, under the rattling of the casement, I look, I divulge less, and the mockery of shut-ins does its worst to me too, if you must pry. I do not, pry that is, and this all you’ll get out of me about it.   

            Pant cuffs, dirt, sidewalk cracks. And I am breathing, two, three, two. And the count’s off. Open to bad times. Head in need of shape. Orphaned leaves lying, crackling, and I am sliced in for this, shards of glass, dirt in sidewalk cracks, pant cuffs. Walk. Walk. Keep moving. My eyes always diverted. Gum stains. Suspicion never leaves, not laughing, not otherwise, and back to the lettering I go, pant cuffs, dirt, shards of glass, yes, and then nobody’s looking. Me? I’m playing it dangerous, almost like always. Almost.

            All the ways a letter can end. Nobody reading. There are expressions of excitement all over.
            Start singing now. It’s a solo shot in the ninth when you’re down by eight. The light will fall down on you.
            “If it is? Friday? Yet?”
            “This all because of it, something wrong.”
            “Seven until thirty past it.”
            “Eyes that won’t wander enough. Mine. Yours. The clock, it never strikes.”
            “Good. Penelope. Good.”
            “I was not blonde, and now, but if I were, then.”
            “Hold me in your lazy arms and tell me that you’re mine. Or just hold me with your eyes. This is an order, asshole.”
            “Something is wrong, here.”

            The croaking voice, it smacks of counting. Past the avocado trees. Past the hours and the minutes we get, here. And then I put a “dear” in there so it all sails, so that it all becomes allegation and tactful tract handing. To put the drapes up, to drench it all in kerosene. The scent of lion ragout in the gusty lure of the shore.
            Nothing will come from this. No back. No forth.   
             The charred remains are only what they are: a place where nothing grows.

            “Suzie’s belly has grown more of late.”
            “She is accompanied by child.”
            “I do not think that is the correct phrase.”
            “Something here is wrong.”
            Clap. Shout. Somebody is ironing shirts in a dim lit corner of a shabby room. Clap. Go ahead. Cheer. And then remain silent for what will not ever come next, or after that too. Somebody has made an entrance. Clap. Cheer. It is okay. Everything is good.

            Walking. Pant cuffs. Rain. Leaves. Blonde. Shards. Glass. Dirt. Pant cuffs. Walking. Walking. I am, was. Footsteps. Leaves. Gone.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Made For HBO (take three)

            Narrator #4: He sits on a park bench. He reconciles being lively with being alive. He stares at girls walking by, at the way their t-shirts hug their sides above the hips, same hips which could be said to slide or slither rather than bounce or waddle. He sits and scares off birds with quick, abrupt gestures of his hands, like somebody throwing dice. The sun’s poking through some sleek blue-bottomed clouds, and he thinks about standing up and dancing in the sudden burst of it as if it were a spotlight. He doesn’t though. He sits. He crosses his legs at the ankles, shoves his hands deep in his coat pockets, and leans back. A car alarm chatters at the sleepy afternoon with a high-pitched whine, a robotic screech that hastens the calm from his thoughts. He thinks, “Everybody is going to die, and there’s nothing any of us can do about.” This thought pleases him immensely.
(scene change)

            Narrator #7: The wind was shelling the pink blossoms from all the street-side trees. Somehow the parked cars got away with murder while the sidewalk closed its eyes and pretended to be calling long distance, and in the meantime some of the least publicly known of the polio victims took a furlough day. Some kid named Doss catalogued the whole thing on the back of picture-less postcards. “Flunked in,” the Henny Youngman impersonator said. “We who live lavishly, and who do not grow our own food. We who depend on the services of others. Lousy. Lousy. These bucks I keep. Take my wages, please, don’t take my stage away. If you need me in the meantime, I’ll be in the gutter drinking cheap champagne with somebody else’s wife.”
            Narrator #111: There goes Misty.

(scene change…a hole grows in the upper left corner of the film stock until it burns away what’s left of the screen)

            Narrator #23: ‘I am hapless, not hopeless,’ she thinks as she sits on the park bench rearranging the pebbles in the dirt with her pink-and-white Adidas Cross Trainers. ‘There are no more homilies left to match my socks to.’ She then gets up and decides it is Low Time-- something which she calls the late afternoon, a time just a tad before vespers, when she gets overwhelmingly glum and etiolated. ‘A dying leafless stem of a girl,’ she thinks as she stands there wishing she could get herself to at least twirl around a few times, or even crack her neck or pull her socks up. But she is tired, and, she thinks, ‘Feverish?’ It is difficult to tell. She wishes their were somebody around to feel her forehead for her, to tell her, “There, there. Everything’s okay, Dear.” But there isn’t. She doesn’t know anybody in the park. She wonders if anybody else in the history of the planet, ‘has ever felt so all alone.’

(scene change…a room in a small apartment building)
             Lyle: This place is burning. I can smell it.
            Journey: You can smell no such thing, Dick.
            Lyle: Grease fire. It’s out of the cards. Use flour, right? No. Baking soda.
            Journey: Asshole. Asshole. There is nothing on fire around here. We’re just…
            Lyle: Lonely…
            Journey: Fuck that. Fuck all that shit. I’m camping happier than any of those wildflower jerks out there, let me tell you.
            Lyle: Okay.
            Journey: What?
            Lyle: I’m letting you tell me. Go right on ahead.
            Journey: You see this face I’m making? This is me seething. I am seething. See?
            Lyle: Sure. Sure. Hey, you absolutely pos-o that this place is not on fire, that we’re not all burning down here?
            Journey: Less than bright.
            Lyle: Me?
            Journey: No, tigers in the night. That’s all.
            Lyle: Oh. Don’t got it.
            Journey: You’re an idiot. A real unadulterated idiot.
            Lyle: I take that as a compliment.
            Journey: Spine by me.
            Lyle: Fine.

            Narrator #9: The whole building, quite suddenly, burns to the ground. Abstain and indulge, kids. Abstain and indulge.

(scene change, followed by another scene change)           
            Anonymous Narration: I remember being in love, that day, and drinking Hot Toddies at a table in the window of a high room overlooking all the cold-weather clouds scudding in over the bay. Harry Nilsson was playing in a corner, somewhere, softer than I’d yet known things could be. I squashed a spider that’d been crawling on the underside of the table with my thumb; I remember that. I also became acquainted with the casual effects of long-term non-commitment. Oprah Winfrey was not in my living room. I was safe.    

(no scene change, then a scene change, then, perhaps, another one)

            Stranger On The Bus #7: This guy’s irate. He’s all up in the face of this like concomitant woman, who is bereaved and beneath herself with grief moans and the likes, like a sprinkler factory, misters instead of a fireworks display, like the 5th of July, or something. She’s almost like rending her motherfucking garments and shit, you know? But I keep what’s left of my reserved and docile nature out of it. There aren’t too many battles left I’d choose to fight, you know? Name your antidote, and all that, and whatever Jesus said. But the irate guy’s making mutton cake out of pro-rated stops in Button-Down Town, and the whole damn thing stinks like something gamey, like baked armadillo or something. I don’t like it six bits. Pour me a reason to die; tell me butter disputes are coming back with the last surviving milkmen. It’s a bottleneck day-old special that’s anything but pricey, the way I was adjusting my guts about it then, or to it, I guess, if you go in for all that cock-a-doodling without any do. Wasn’t it last April-- shit, a year ago now-- that I phoned about gaining fame with interesting Compositions For A Flea Circus stuff? Well, who remembers much about any of that shit, now, now. Shit. Not now. Every last cut-rate bonehead who sits meek on the bus and tries not to wander his or her eyes. Shit. I’m just an At All, now. Now. Shit. But this irate Son Of A Gunderson is not beyond getting all groovy with others’ waxy waning. I’m eyeing this Griever Of Grief, this Stalled Moped of a chick, you know, just to make sure she’s getting by alright and all and everything. I’m completely irresponsible when it comes to such stuff. I catalogue it away for later. I make use of it, maybe. Shit. The weeks just swim by now, you know? Doing the backstroke and passing me up while I’m treading water, barely staying afloat in this choppy water, you know? And what the hell do I care about some irked guy’s shrieking? What’s it all got to do with me? Everything, you’d say. Shit. Everything has to do with everything. That’s all, right? But anyway, this pissed-off dude is getting all up in this moping chick’s grill, and she’s not really sweating it or nothing. It’s all a blur, sort of, the way I saw it then. I was checking the windows for a sign. But I was only getting the scrapes of shifty trees branches and the, like, nil satisfaction of buried smiles. That’s the usual, though, you know. Pass my gas and get the hell out. There’s not a reason to stick around longer than need be for sticking. That’s what they say…and what they don’t too. I am not a scoffer or a washed dish when it comes down to getting what need be got, but let’s be fantastic about it. Let’s get up and clean instead, okay? An interruption’s a curtain call sometimes. And I’m nestled in the bower of somebody else’s dreams for the bit part of it. Irate or not, he’s just some guy with a filter problem, and there ain’t a damn thing to be done about it in private or public, if you ask me. Shoot all the mistake makers in the front. Get the chest pounding over with. I’m done with it. Yes or no or maybe so. Fuck all this, and that too…and that too.

            Narrator #39,411: A parallel set of circumstances sets him apart. He is standing in line at the hotel bar, awaiting some sign of hope to arrive in the form of a pint glass. A jarring seller-beware attitude drifts and plumps pillows in his head. He is not completely in his mind and not quite out of it.  

            Guy In Hotel Bar: My ex-wife, she’s dating a gay midget now. Who the hell cares? I’m fed up with dealing. I cry reading the names written in the sidewalk and scream, “Albuquerque!” at strangers. Sinning doesn’t have to be ugly, you know? It’ll take two to know some more, and some more too. Let me get it from you crooked and partly stewed. It’s digesting’s ugly cousin, and I’m all out of sugar and spice. Nothing’s pleasant around these parts, or those, apparently. Here’s the gist of what’s crumbing up the works of me, lately. Suckered to all her punches, you know? A sucker for it all, as always, whatever way her scent’s chasing me around these days. Whatever’s getting me plastered with remembering. No more bickering for the shoulders of it for me. I’m hapless for the most part, and, well shit, there’s not a placard in the place that says less for what I just can’t wrap my inebriated soul around, for the most. Talented lack, or otherwise over-punched in the think-tank thin of it, I’m just rolling gutterballs down sleazy avenues, and I’m all-for-not foretold and bread-crumbed flails barking nonsense at the great ump in the sky. Shit, and now this Estelle woman’s carving my name into the drawing board of her life. I can’t make out what’s hungrier, or musked with some quite disciplined silence, some dealing, you know? Should’ve would if I could. Shoot. Aw. It’s a pleasing stem of pluck that gets me mashing and churlish, and in…shit…in decline as well. But there I go. There I go and go, you know? Pour me a ravaged way of seeing all this murder in my blood, in my set sights, in my untold hungers after lean privacy and public nuisances. Pour me more lost inhibitions. Pour me down the drain. Poor, poor me. I’m through.

(scene alters, some, and then continues in a sporting manner, and then dives into the mundane flatulence of existence)

             Man In The Stands #2: This guy’s got a strike zone the size of a breath mint. And I’m the sort, you know, you know, you know, who gets asked for directions everywhere he goes.
            Man In the Stands #3: To whom it never concerns, albeit plagued by moths camping out in suit pockets, this airy messenger decks out your somber worrying in plaid.
            Man In The Stands #2: Risk basking in a bad case of the post-game jitters. Think about it. A nervous man in a 4-dollar room. A thing about machines. There it’ll get you, and maybe the rest of us too. A tussle in foul territory; a fistfight in the nosebleed seats; a timorous batboy sleeping on the dugout steps. Me? I think I’ll just work on my pickoff move until I forget what it’s like to balk in the winning run.
            Man In The Stands #1: Let’s go, Dip Shits! Let’s go, Dip Shits!
            Man In The Stands #3: That’s more like it.
            Man In The Stands #2: More like it, or less not like it?
            Man In The Stands #1: It doesn’t matter. It’s all handclapping and hooting and four-wheeling it out of the park, and the places to play day games are shitty with crepuscular resistance. The lights can be blinding, you know? Let’s go, Fuck Heads!
            Man In The Stands #2: What he said.
            Man In The Stands #3: Take me out to the shit show. Take me out to the rain. Buy me some vodka and Raisinets. I don’t care if my IBS comes back.
            Man In The Stands #1: Pretty much.
            Man In The Stands #2: We’re stuck with these things that are always just what they are, and never even an iota more. Never. The chalk’s laid down crooked on the grass’s edge; it’s loopy and askew, and we’re here trying to stay fair for as long as we can, but the bunts are all lying soft in no-man’s land, and we’re scared to pick them up…just in case the wind changes its mind about these things. Nobody’s recruiting scabs yet, at least.
            Man In The Stands #1: And it sure doesn’t help that the guy toeing the slab, the soft-toss junker on the bump, is a felonious miscreant who wears flower-print yellow socks with his stirrups. Nobody bother me. I’m going for more over-priced cheap beer in plastic cups.
            Man In The Stands #3: The concession stand blues.
            Man In The Stands #2: Let’s not forget where all of this is going to end, and how.
            Man In The Stands #3: And how.
            Woman In Red Dress: Shut it, fellaheens. I’m trying to listen to the radio.
            Man In The Stands #2: Sorry. We’re not used to being in public. And the sunshine here is less than true.
            Man In The Stands #3: That’s what everybody said.
            Woman In Red Dress: Oh, Lord On Loan. What happened to the good old days, the Royal Rooters, The Cranks; Rube Waddell, Babe Adams, and Eddie Cicotte’s first curve? I want Veeck’s Chicago shorts and the Pirate’s yellow-striped hats from ‘77. No more arbitration and none of this inter-league garbage either. Give me purity or give rubella. I’m holding tight to my scorecard.
            Man In The Stands #1: Watered-down beer! Get your ten-dollar piss in a cup here!
            Man In The Stands #2: Finally. You’ve got no idea the sort of bullshit we’ve been putting up with and enduring since you left.
            Man In The Stands #3: The lady protests far and wide…and holy. 
            Woman In Red Dress: Ignore me. It’s easier for all involved.
            Man In The Stands #3: That sounds like a plan.
            Man In The Stands #1: Who’s on first?
            Everybody Else: Shut it.

(scene change: a rent party)

            Narrators #4 & #7: We’ve got plenty of girls, tall and slim, and they can do the Rumba til it’s too bad Jim.
            Narrator #70: Presenting, for your horrific pleasure, Scudder’s Dime Museum Has Gone To PT! Sold. And gone. But now, let me tell you this. You see, yes, for many years in the basement of the Playland Arcade (in Times Square! In New York City!) Hubert's Museum featured acts such as sword swallower Lady Estelene, Congo The Jungle Creep, a flea circus, a half-man half-woman, and magicians such as Earl “Presto” Johnson. This museum has been documented in photography by Diane Arbus, who sadly met her end all curled up and bleeding from the wrists in a bathtub. Later, in Times Square, mouse pitchman Tommy Laird opened a dime museum that featured Tisha Booty “The Human Pin Cushion”, and several magicians including Tommy Laird, Lou Lancaster, Criss Capehart, Dorothy Dietrich, Magician Dick Brooks, and well, some others. But now, there are no more carnival sideshows left to show; and now, no more phone booths. There are no more calls to make, collect; and we’ve swerved in our single-file lives long enough. The tip’s entering the Mounted Butterfly room, going by the men’s smoker, the powder room, the cigarette machine, the Coca-Cola machine, the candy machine, the apple pie machine. And look! There’s Mildred The Alligator Skin Girl, Larry Love The Human Canary, The World’s Tallest Cowboy, and a Russian midget called Andy Potato Chips. Come all. Come one. Come on! Let us go and tear the roof from the barn and call it a day. Somebody rescue my gin from the strongman, and get this poor sucker a straw. The blowoff ain’t worth my time, Eastern Standard or whatever you will. My snakes have all been un-charmed, and this here door stays locked for a reason. Worst of luck to you, all through the night.       

(scene change)
(scene change, the Chopin nocturnes playing)

            Anonymous Narration: I was propping up my head with the business end of a rifle when I heard something explode out in the hallway. I went outside to reconcile what I needed with what I was always getting, and see why what I wanted kept turning out to be nothing. It was not late enough to be nighttime. The racers were in the wires. My pajamas were ripped from the ankle to the knee on one leg. “The trouble. The trouble,” I said to myself, over and over. It was a way to keep myself moving out into the hall. When I got to the hall I stopped. I held what I could of my breath. Something decked me, and soon I was out cold. This is not the way to end what I’m telling. This is trouble. I get in; I get out. We all do. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dream A Little Less Than For Two

            My grandfather, he pointed to a place on the map, and my grandfather, he said, “I’ve been there, once when I was very young.” And the place he pointed to was New Orleans. My grandfather pointed to that place on the map, and he said, “I was hanging out of windows in my shirtsleeves. I was drunk. Oh, Lord. How I was drunk. How drunk I was.” My grandfather paced around the room in this place where we now lived. My grandfather stopped, and he said, “I found the dirtiest church in town. I walked in and sat there at a pew. I made up things that I believed in. I’m not sure if I even prayed. I twiddled my thumbs. I fell asleep, I think.”
            My grandfather, he pointed to a place on the map, and my grandfather, he said, “It was just before I went to war. I’d never even used a parachute before.” And the place he pointed to was New York City. My grandfather pointed to that place on the map, and he said, “Even the tartan boys weren’t making fun of anybody. It was all singing I’m Making Believe and buying a round for the bar. I remember the smell of matches. The way we all waltzed with brooms. Sawdust on the barroom floor. And, hell, all those pats on the back.” My grandfather scratched at the back of his neck and sighed with a raspy wheeze, “Most of those boys never made it back.”
            My grandfather, he pointed to a place not on any map. The sky, perhaps, opened a tad. With watery eyes and a congested heart, my grandfather told me, he said, “Son,” (he always called me son) “there aren’t any ways I know of to get back what you never thought’d ever be gone once it’s done being what you’ve always just had.” My grandfather coughed into the crook of his arm; he creased his brow’s pleats, working his rugose flesh like the bellows of an accordion; and my grandfather, he said, “Your grandmother swam in so many lakes. She swam so far; she swam so far out; hell, maybe even beyond the smallmouth grunts and the goldribbon soapfish; and she was never scared. But I am not a life raft. I am not holding together or on to any of it anymore.” My grandfather, he said, “Son, you go out and swim in those lakes that held your grandmother’s shape in them. Swim out so far that you don’t remember who you are or where you were before. Son, you will know from where you came by where you will go, and past even those place too; and Son, never worry…of course you will stay afloat.” My grandfather gazed where there was nowhere left to look, and he told me, “Son, remember, you are just a player piano in a small room in which there are only other player pianos who are all playing music for the other player pianos, all of whom can’t hear any music above the sound of their own. So. Hell. Smash all of the other pianos; sell ‘em for firewood. We are and have always been plenty with less.”
            It rained all day on the day my grandfather died. The scent of lavender and just-mowed grass imbued it all, and I said, “Bonjour to all that,” to all the places on the map.


Monday, April 8, 2013


            The last of the lamplighters were swearing like Little Willie Makepeace Thackeray in the musty confines of a dark bar, and the weekend wasn’t close enough away to consider, so I took out a four-by-two aluminum smile from my breast pocket and planted it on the dregs of my worn-raw hesitation. Unutterable, the things I got myself thinking, then, while I scratched pinwheels in the dirt with my shoes, while I hurled brand-new pennies at guppies in the murky fountain water, while I shaved with my pocket knife, and then used it to stir my aquavit-spiked coffee. Nobody was calling me Pal.
            A poof of order-- called ready by the made-for-novel moviemakers-- came out of being, in a harlot’s wink, and with the brush of lilac bloom on my shoulders I reached out for testier avenues of change, but only got less of the same.  
            The meth addicts take their dose in public, or were for the time, and it made the loonies and the Game-Over Sayers put more or less stock in the spreading of mayonnaise on white bread, which was less of what mattered to me. A run, a riffle through, and I am not jumping over any inconclusive dirt that’s been spooned to life by do-badders or worse. It got me silly in the gut and the thighs, and I mooned a row of mailbox-watchers who leapt from the their lawn chairs at the sight.
            Fatter faces, grim still though, and syrupy light mapled through scattered showers of leaves, and the sidewalk’s guts are the fading silver of a used Mazda. I thread my way through bumpy weed growth and stones balding with moss, and I don’t scratch any itches for almost a whole minute. That’s more of how I see it now, but then? Then it was just a task to be lost in, to be trampled by and over, burnt to be caught and let go, again, by the ones who saw it fitter to be less than eager with achieving lucky fits of growling at the cloud-hidden sun of it all. Then, I was tired.                 
            After spotting some boil-and-rash guys loitering beneath the overcast drip and slunk of fulgurite-lined eaves, I blended in beneath a stained-glass canopy’s bright shade and started singing to myself an old Daughters Of Lenin song that for some reason had just popped into my head: “Baby, you got the blues for me. Well, Baby, I got some news for you. It’s dressed and dragged and Heimliched all to hell. We’ve got nothing left to spell except ourselves. Yeah, yeah. Baby, and now I’ve got the blues for you too.” 
            Nobody heard my singing except a Lesser Blue-eared Starling perched on a nearby fire hydrant. I squatted before it, in a bid at what could possibly transform into genuflection at any moment. The starling quickly darted away into the watermelon mush of daylight. A tufted mewl echoed without much effect down and down the humped boulevard. I was not without compassion. I was not completely with it, though. An air of lilt-and-spin logic wafted from me that day; I’m sure of it. And so it was-- gushed with grainy blurs of smashed purple seeds below me as I trod-- that I came upon a man in a pigskin hat whom I would later learn to be one Hartford Butterthumbs, who was cooing and cawing at spiders on a park bench. He seemed of the stately sort, and so I approached him, though with some misgiving, and made a slow, steady haste for his acquaintance.
            “How later or soon, my decent sir? Bruno’s the name. How’s yours?”
            “Mine?” He somehow bristled his whole countenance while maintaining a completely calm and peaceful demeanor. “Who?”
            “There’s a there I know. Yes. Yes. Of course.”
            I circled him mildly. He didn’t move. His cooing did became a bit agitated, though his cawing remained evenly spaced and steady.
            After I’d circled him twice he bowed his head and spoke again: “I am wary of other’s awareness. I am not old enough for this.” He tapped his shoes to the tune of Gloomy Sunday on the concrete. There wasn’t much rhythm left there for me to guess at. I gave up. I lost interest. I headed towards the fountain I’d been hurling pennies in earlier. Dusk was hastily approaching.
            I took off my shirt, without unbuttoning it at all.
            I ran around the fountain as fast as my legs would allow.
            I felt as crumby as I can ever remember feeling, and stopped running, and then shouted as if on cue, “Reproach the goofiest tailors who make leather suits for orphans to wear at funerals. It’s Allergy City, Baby!” Then I got winded and bent over at the waist while putting my hands on my knees, and I huffed and puffed and then some.
            Soon I was strolling again. I meandered. I sauntered. I hoofed it and almost broke into a trot. I was almost contemplating the knell of some arbitrary bell ringing in the belfry of what I’d thought was an abandoned church when the man in the pigskin hat approached. I bowed. He did not.
            “No. Not. Nor.”
            I was just mumbling things, I do believe.
            “I have not been rude, as of yet, though our meeting was unannounced. So, here is my hand. Glad to know you.”
            I shook the hand he proffered.
            “Name’s Butterthumbs. Hartford. Harty Boy, if you will.”
            I nodded and probably mumbled some more. It is hard to know for sure what transpired on my end of the conversation. I am not sure why.
            “Luckily, as you might have guessed, I am here to linger and chat; to run up the tab of socializing’s face-saving gradual diminishment of personality’s best just-pressed suit. Let us not begin.”
            A few trees, I recall, shook with a cagey furor.
            “You are shitty with remonstrance and compassion’s wheeze, I take it? Good. That’s a blessed horror in itself. Over the course of shinier capitulations we can run these figures again. But bend both ears this way. I want to relate something to you, something you might as well consider some cruel advice from a familiar stranger such as I.”
            I don’t recall most of what he said. I was pretending I was in a bunker during peacetime, waiting out the humdrum and dull world outside, counting my canned-food cans, playing Taps on my oboe, sketching maps of the ocean floor on the cement walls with charcoal briquettes. I do remember the last of it though.  
            “Well, let me tell you: the wind was howling like Big Al Ginsberg, and the weather didn’t even know my name, and all the ranchers and retired or off-duty cops were over at Mikey Ironing Board Tyson’s wasting their spending money on slower pigeons and faster handshakes. I wasn’t there but I heard it all from the hostler’s kid, and he says that the old police chief finally screamed before the end, ‘Every dot’s coinciding with a dash, and all the marble’s turned to bland stone. We are only gambling here with what’s cannonballed our way by hit men and Ponzi schemers and drain-clogging experts and those who would have us believe that we are worthy of our own mistakes. I do not fall prey to such prissy tooth-pulling. My antiseptic presence is disgusting even to the surgeons and their nurses. Being loveable will not do. King Nine will never return-- a morose question mark with broken wings. Get me to a monastery bathroom and tip God the rest of what’s left. I’m through.’”
            He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet-size photo of Charles Ponzi, which he handed to me. Then he turned and ran very quickly away. I stood there for quite a while, staring at the sidewalk, wondering about the gum stains and the guano stains, and the pleated way it cracked here and there between the grooves. I decided that the wind and I were never going to be friends. 
            I know that’s not a very good story. But I did get a wallet-size photo of Charles Ponzi out of it, so that’s at least something.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

solicitations from the underground

Howard Cossell Was An Asshole

The world’s greatest agitator.
Prototypes changed for your last buck,
never parring a hole
on any given golf course
in your calmest nightmares.
down and rapt
with the wide, wide world
of the sound of sirens,
from whisper to bellow
to the microphone’s last brutal silence.
Stop smiling.
There is nothing macho
in the soup,

Another Valiant Attempt At Precision

            We’ve been under the gun, here, with scuttling, with reluctant passion, with slips collectively through oubliettes of low-and-wet tiny triumphs. Regarding the lowering age limit of recruitment to edacious borrowings, wound-wise or not, durable in the hurt for the loss of testamentary failings. Cessation comes, or just hurt built on borrowing’s loose sediment, lush with a crabby flippancy’s surrender; hurt rendered as complimentary as a hotel’s continental breakfast; hurt mushy and looming close overhead; hurt that digs in for the long and short of it; hurt that galls and kills batteries. There are peanuts scattered on the graves. There are no orders left to give. An adamant claim of obscurity goes unclaimed.        
            Bottoms up. Heads down. Do not pray too much while lying supine. Do not fall under the claimed spaces of deconstructed housing units. We’ve been fired at, here, by the honed morality of hunger strikers. At least we are less clever than we seem.
            We’re quieter now that the play-by-play man’s back. So, here we go again, for now:
            “You have waited for the Time Of Bloating to end. The waters were testier in the duration, while the waiting was prized, held in higher regard than sipping week-old flower water from a vase. Squeezed through narrow passages of thought, like a diuretic for the soul, you weakened and then you plowed brave past all fields of knowing. Continuing is perfected, if you’d like to not raise any dust with your meekness. There is a settling that will come and not pass. Be lively. Lead with the left.”

Excerpt From An Interview With Guggenheim Fellowship Applicant #3,137

Q- You mention prayer a lot, or the act of praying.

A- Yes. And I was raised by a couple of atheists, so in a sense praying was absurd: asking what you hold doesn’t exist to grant your wishes. So there’s tension there, a pulling away and a lean towards, if you will. But maybe that’s the real challenge of being human, putting your faith in something that you know is very likely to be nothing at all. It’s like talking to yourself and pretending somebody else is listening. Salvation comes; salvation goes, you know? It’s a broken system, and perhaps it doesn’t need to be fixed. Or maybe it’s just a language barrier that’s impossible to reconcile. I sing a lot while I’m strolling the sidewalks late at night. That’s as close as I get to chatting with God, I think. 

Q- God? Or a God.

A- Oh, I get it. He’s dead, right? Then all this theologizing and making Methuselah out of meatballs gets me dead wrong, or at least dead; and that’s Pascal’s wager there too, right? In there, tucked away like a lost tooth beneath another’s pillow. And, you know, Laundromats don’t get any mail. This stuff takes some figuring, and who’s got the time or the temper for it? Well, not always this son-of-a-bitch here...I guess.

Q-  Sure. But there’s a scent-following wisp in your writing, at least the early material, that probes less, shall we say luminous spheres of what it’s like to live on prayer alone.

A- I’d saying, “praying,” not, “prayer.” And nobody reads my early stuff anymore. Except perhaps used-bookstore derelicts and machine-shop boys with the greasiest smiles in Cow Town. I’m regarded as a sort of temperamental palmist in some of the grimier bookish circles around, and people drool over their future, the possible ways in which their lives might eventually be lived. There’s an element of Gong-Show theatrics to the whole thing, to the way we strut our stuff in the momentary uninhibited lapses we are allowed in this world, the one we’ve constructed for ourselves to live in, if you go in for all that Humanism God-Is-Dead stuff.

Q- Do you?

A- Go in for it? Sure. Sometimes. I have my moments. Suddenly I’ll be struck by a perfect dust-filled gold beam of sunlight falling across the carpet of that place where I do my living and abiding-- if there’s a difference-- and I’ll seize a specific structure of daylight to capitalize on, to make sense with to myself, to say, “There. There. Everything’s happening as it should, the only way it can. It’s all going to be okay, kid.” But I know that’s a lie, even though it’s not, really. But it’s a lie I’m telling myself which in the end I know is the truth; I just don’t want to believe it, so I pretend I’m lying to myself, even though I’m not…really.

Q- Like when it’s easier to, “just say it’s all lies. Everything’s a lie. Lie to me. Please. I don’t got time for anybody’s truth.” I think I might’ve butchered that. Sorry.   

A- Butchers do good work. They’re experts at slicing. Have you ever seen one of those guys trim a primal cut with a cleaver? I don’t think butchering something is a bad thing. But, anyway, I don’t remember most of what I write. Maybe that’s most of the reason why I write. To get all this junk on the inside out of me so I don’t have to deal with it anymore. Let somebody else deal with it and tell me what it all means. A cosmic joke, kind of. A stupid ruse for getting others to play with me, to pick me to be on their side for a recess game.

Q- I’m aware that you don’t proofread, if that’s correct?

A- Ha. Yes. More like, I never read.

Q- Is reading detrimental to your writing?

A- It’s more like I just get impatient with it, the writing. It’s a blindingly fast process, the one I go through, and my conscious mind is rarely involved. So, well, it’s more like I just want to get it all away from me, put it somewhere else where maybe there’s a place for it, because, hell, there’s no room in me for it anymore. But it’s not like giving birth or something. It’s more like having a horrible bout of food poisoning…all this vomit all over the place, and you don’t want to be the one who has to clean it all up afterwards. For me, well, reading just passes the time now. I hate thinking that time is something that has to be passed. I mean, really, what else do we have here other than time? That’s all we’ve got to live our lives in. Without it we’re nothing, we’re dead. No. I just try to buck up and get to it, again and again, push myself beyond any beyonds I’ve ever known, and then keep going.

Q- Like the Satchel Paige saying.

A- Not really. No. Not like that at all. I look back all the time; I just do it while I’m creeping ahead, in drive but without my foot on the gas, and maybe the rear-view’s crooked and misleading, and it gets streaked with dirt and smudged with fingerprints; but I’m moving. I keep moving.

Q- Do you ever worry that nobody will care? I mean, I remember when I was much younger…

A- You seem pretty damn young to me.

Q- Well, much older than I am now, but younger too. I remember coming across your sketches from Caressing Passes…

A- Oh. Shit. No. Not that garbage. Just meager soliciting. “Soliciting. Soliciting. Look at me, soliciting myself. There I go soliciting. Soliciting I go.” 

Q- Really? No. I mean, they meant a great deal to me at the time, especially the ones…I mean, like The Typer and The Picture Taker. That feeling of no matter what you do it won’t matter to anyone. That you’ll never be appreciated.

A- Self-indulgent, petulant crap.

Q- Ok. Well. Maybe…but at the time they really affected me. I saw myself as being so small, so insignificant, and it seemed that nothing I could do would possibly matter, and I wanted it to so bad, more than anything else: to matter. I know you hate discussing your own writing…but those sketches really had an impact on me, and I think they still do, to a lot of people, even in ways they’ve forgotten. 

A- Ghosts. Drifters. Gangs of paint rustlers. People who shop for windows instead of what’s in them. Ha. Those are the ones who’ve been…what, touched by these things? I guess. I don’t know. Used to be I couldn’t even get my friends to read my stuff. It’s not that they didn’t like it; they wouldn’t even read it. It’d just lie there fallow, untouched, rotting in the dry winds of indifference. But, well, I keep driving on ahead, whatever the route, and it’s in motion that I find what I need to breathe, to live. Mattering to others isn’t important. It’s all a bluff, a misleading signpost blazing on an undiscovered moon, and the places you end up…holy Christ, the places you end up at in this life. I’m in love with the clogged arteries of it all, the ways of getting here that ruined what came before, but left it a bit more soot-smeared and murky and deranged and eventful, and therefore made for a lovelier place to do our existing in. My life is out of my hands now. I go along with it wherever it leads.

Q- Damn. There are no questions left on my notepad. Sorry.

A- Good. I’m sick of all this yapping. Here. Have a drink with me. Let’s watch the pigeons shit from the eaves of that abandoned church for a while. It’s quite something.

Q- Sure. I’d like that very much.

Your Red House

Another trash day coming around,
until all the days are trash days
and you’ve only got a cracked blender and a radio with half its antennae snapped off.
You shave and call it a morning.
There are no doves in the soap bottle.
There are no mirrors left to shatter.
There are…
these things
and nothings.
A louder shape that you call your own misuses its meaning and falls flat,
A shrug on loan for the sake of raising levels of fun.
The water’s all on fire, here,
and there are no whims in the coal soot.
shout quieter
so I won’t hear what’s leveling the more accusatory seriousness
of pompomed salutations.
Making up odd ways to survive,
like just saying no to coffee
after the streetlights come on.
Point at a low window in a defunct rooming house,
and tell of where you once spent your days and nights,
the hard pillow that held your head’s dent
for its lifetime.
No more usage fee for this as-is buy;
a hastening of abandoned cheer
scampers like rats in the cellar,
giving away what’s been stored
and is now gone.
We are not always what we tell ourselves we always are,
at all.
go ahead,
laugh out loud--
what are we but what’s been done to us?