Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here Without The Wind

On Bottle Alley in Mulberry Bend. A playground in Poverty Cap around the corner from the Dens Of Death.

Some Gotham Court girls twirling by. A coal heaver smoking away his break. And Old Barney’s in Cat Alley again with his giant steel loop of keys.

Were it not for Some Five Points ruffians, nobody’d have their say back. Slaughter Street went to the geese after that, and we’d tell it to go to hell through the rickety stairs if we had our druthers. Nothing but dead rabbits and methane steaming from the grills.

And there’s Gopher Ron staring through a machine’s skeleton at another runny-nose afternoon.  
I wish I could drink the weather back to the way it was then. Murders and weddings and rocks. A log adrift in the shore’s tumult. Electricity gone. Burnt pancakes in the dark. No phones. No shoes. A race through gravel to a wheelwright’s grave. The break of waves into a heart’s shards. Desolate and around for the giving. A killing of cigarettes upon the sea’s worn eyes. A maul of sea foam.     

What she told was rife with wonderful things.

“You remind me of someone I used to dream about.” 

And then shuffling by, on some rainy gray afternoon, a sushi joint with a big-glasses chef in the window. We were tired with days and nights. I won bread from the chatelaine vendors. I’d been low-tailing it, chancing a, “maybe,” for most of what I couldn’t hold my tongue about. The iceman was getting the wrong idea—slowly, of course. But who wants to pick up after somebody else?

                Ask me nothing. The forefront of youth skips around Union Square, holding hands with aging. Up go the elevators, fast as bullets, and nobody cheers from the bomb shelters. We’ve got swindles in the palm trees, mules on planks, and the refuse of what we were hides plainer and plainer still, in the histrionics of a cop directing traffic, in dressing up what’s always been just down, or, really, in the salads of digression or the astronomical transit of whom we’ve lost along the way.

“Think of me while you are not. You are my scarecrow, my rangy scarecrow. You make me happy when crows fly away. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my scarecrow away.”
                Then there were slides across the slick floor in socks.

“Oh, the toast is on fire.”             

                You were pasting newspaper clippings of food on a cardboard redbrick background. We had the radio on to Talk. Reviews of butter sellers, chunks of staying the same, and then there was the kettle’s screech: a selective tone of wheezed ire. You’d slant your smile over to me. There were things, always, to not say. After I get up. After I don’t ever come home. After I move the car from one side of the street to the next. After all that, we can have bluer berries than any pancake’s ever seen. Jumper cables, roller skates, and a two-by-four in the trunk. We can sort it all out later.

                Four-ways in Five Points always flashing yellow. A click’s disarming moment, what we strolled through the mud to get. Shuttered and gone, painted over, sold at an auction to some nickel-pinching real estate investor. “Boy, that’s no trouble at all. We’ll just flip the damn thing and be out of here before they catch a whiff of us. That’s right. Make your mullah and get.”

                A meager light has gone out.

                “They won’t catch us. They’ll never know what they won’t let themselves see. And what’s to get? The after-draft of us scents heavy the morning’s mist with a piney lavender, some smoke-curled roasted-acorn aroma dripping with dew and meadow grass, and maybe some maple and crushed velvet. I do not own a sewing needle but the thread’s in a shoebox inside a suitcase—the one where I’ve carved my initials next to yours in the handle.

“Let’s pretend we’re on a tour of our house. You go first. Show me where you watch birds from.”

The jobs we had. The tax forms. The receipts from hotels and restaurants. Movie ticket stubs. Love notes on underwear packaging.

I’m grinding your favorite coffee again. It’s been so long since I’ve been to the beach. Tell the rain it is missed, especially its hands. 

The right-of-way on the roundabout of us was always vague and inchoate. Just starting to swerve a bit, to glance over the shoulder, to go blind with a momentary lapse in good judgment, and to see backwards and ahead at once. And for all our reckless faith we got snubbed by jaded ghosts who’d rather be scared than scare. Rooms Available. Hot tub. Free Cable. Continental Breakfast. “And all!” you’d exclaim.

And that was, and always will be, that.

Gertrude’s in the kitchen frying squirrel and spilling milk. I’ve got my lucky centipede bracelet on. Manny’s got a new tan, and Fabriano’s got his yak stole wrapped around him like a best friend. I’ve given up questioning the Readers of Rights around here. It doesn’t help the bandits get any better at hanging out of windows and leaping from rooftop to rooftop. “Be humble,” I tell them, and myself. “There are other years than just these to have and, maybe, to hold onto too. You just never can tell, now can you?”

Everyone goes on nodding and being only who they are. The wind stinks of blood sausage and raisins. I tell hints of bourbon from spots of rye. A sign in the yard: “Do not mow the top from my mornings.”

Perhaps I am still there.

Perhaps I never left.

Monday, January 13, 2014

In No Particular Order

What lies hidden in my scarry past, unbeknownst to even me.

She had five-dollar shoes and a wooden-nickel heart. Busting up on Broadway. Telling the telephone poles to go on back home. Tomorrow morning’s nothing but laundry and nooses. Today’s just another curtain call. Making lunch reservations for a party of one. Dips and bobs and hooks and weaves. There hung blossoming in the afternoon’s gush of playful shade were the warbling woodnotes, wilder than a trash truck’s boom-crunch, herky-jerky digesting. I couldn’t relate.

Invasive attitudes aside, the forces we’re sealing the deal with here are now less-than-ever more than just hassles and shake downs. Then, almost akin to the way a spruce branch bends just before snapping off, The Group stopped waiting in line with a whoosh and no thunderous applause until some further notice was given way later.       

Wearing my name, holstering my circumstances, and the tides don’t get to know what the moon won’t show, so loped off go the rabbit ears of black-and-white small screens, out of the rotation to god knows where. So she crawled on her belly towards the Buckingham Flats, where the rats tell the joyous from the sane. We had breakfast at four in the afternoon on a bronze-framed wall mirror that’d come crashing down in a hurricane. The renters were all singing the Tenant’s Rights Blues while we brushed the dreams off our clothes and ran luckier days through the spool of our lives’ projector. Born out of this, in a word or two, we escaped with mild concussions and some light bruises on our shins. Nothing but worldliness remained for us to have, so we took chances before the chance to give came closer. The creak of it all was less than nonsense. Dust was private enemy number one. Chairs were stolen from deserted Laundromats. My eyes were swollen with envy of causes more lost than ours. Even and out, the squashed template of my dissatisfaction served plenty of rule-of-ring-finger hors d’oeuvres. The family plot wouldn’t do for belchers like us; we’d always known this. And so the sky ruffled its gruesome sheets and plopped over to a bourbon-tinged holding pattern. We had fist fights with angels and ate sawdust.

Copious smiles? To us they weren’t abounding. To us? No. That’d be, what, for us? Gleaming wasn’t in the job description. Older wings than these would do, too, if you sort of might want to know about it. Let the hair fall where it may, the haircut doesn’t have to clean up after itself. Basically there are few bodies left that’ll impose these derivational motions upon other bodies.

There’s not a thing left for us to not do. Just another dead spider in the greasy yellow light. Cobweb dreams and a stringy threadbare heart. Losing’s just the day’s way. Diverting lost attention forward. To rollick back a bit, shallow with a Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance appeal. Glissandos of greed bopped skinnier through untended meadows to frisk bad moods for small change, shushed to say, “Chumps like them, they always spend what they don’t got.”

Grady worked at Spaceman’s Hall, down by the Sugar Mill & Spice Factory. Things were pretty leveled. Behind schedule. Daunting as ever. All tells aside, Grady had it going for him, behind the wheel of his Oldsmobile, or gunning for it— the stuntman in him grating his teeth for a shot at some ribald action— under pressure from the guzzlers and the tweekers to do nothing, to stay put and be less holy than even he’d like to be. A reunion was calling, and he crapped out later than expected. So, to put it rougher, the crude got spilled from the meek. A dicey we’re-all-moving-on-to-better-things temporary halt in momentum seized him, gripped him by his neck’s scruff and hauled him off to worse quarters than even a dour card like Grady’d ever known. Now, Grady was a wild kid, but not so as to push people around about it. Crisp and gloating, he’d shoulder-first plunge into the row, low ball the whole fray, and then split before the market value of courage plunged again, whispering, “I’ll be gone by halftime,” to anybody still close enough to hear. “I don’t worry about your stable brand of wishing. The hind’s in the sight’s make. Get rolled. Get laughed at. Get mushy. I’m longer in my teeth’s skin with it up to here.”

“Sometimes I feel like, to you, life is just a big inside joke that you don’t get.”

“Don’t go getting all Tony The Tiger about it. It ain’t so great, really.”

“A frumpy harrumph to you, madam. Wheels off. There go the pruned and the puny, off to peace, as usual. Let ‘em not have it, I guess. There.”

“I never let the garden get higher than the weeds. Yup. I’m that type.”

“Browner neckties for all my Mondays, and months and months of weary Tuesday mid-mornings too. Old-timey lackadaisical turns of mind. Yes. I get those too. I want to erase all traces of my present; it’s boring the life out of me. Crumby is what comes next. I know. But before that we get to eat angel eggs.”

“Where don’t I get my ideas? Everywhere they’re not.”

"Plates up! Forks out! Dinner’s just around the bend, here. Close your eyes. Give me your appetite.”

(In the reverse order of ascending one does not descend, but holds level and afloat, suspended still, fluting on with it, growing airy with lulled wonder.)

The air’s thin and chilly. Trees are bare. Roped up dogs scramble and sit, and drool and stare. Cops are useless, chatting meagerly in a sad café. The moon’s burned by a Sig Alert, snared by a 6-cloud pileup going down. Crops won’t take to the soil where motor oil’s made its bed. Cute’s just a four-letter-word. I’ve seen better men than Martel go down without a fight. Wished once I could’ve known less. The stars’ll do til the sun comes up again. And the whisky? That’s for all the rest of it.

I mostly wanna relate something that’s itching at my feet lately. It’s a thing you can’t scratch, no matter what. I’ve tried. It won’t relent. It just sneezes along there at my toes. Frustrating, like a cigarette that only makes you tingle more to have another. Barely topping out, here I go. Well, the honey of it is that I just can’t seem to rearrange my mind about it still. It’s lucky, and then it’s sweet, and then it’s poking around the backdoor some. And you’re stuck with it, still, and it’s worse than a puddle of wet horseshit. I tell you.

So, the surface of it is, well, the joke’s on nobody. There’ll be telling of it some more, sure. That’s a branding iron’s promise. But there’s not a payoff, really, ever, with such damn things. I could rest a bit more assured though if the twerp could lay it on a bit lighter, you know? Heaven’s gongs, I’m up later than most. Resting’s for the deceitful anyway. Play it once, Monty. Never’s the going rate on my never-made esteem. To bottom it all on, I get a phone call not from He Who Sayeth but from He Who Prayeth. Get it? I’m not made of titanium, you know? Of course, you do. Of course. And what’s left up to me to have or have not? A turn’s least drastic course of inaction, I guess. Run up or down. I’m the one who’s left thinner in the shade. This? This means peace. The way I see it is, well, so, the most of what you think you don’t got gets left to others to find out for you; and they see it in you, maybe, in testy moments, between sandwiches; and you get to let them fill in the blanks for you—all the space you’ve never dreamt was yours to have. Sometimes somebody’s got to point it out to you, especially when it’s right there in your nostril. I tend to get left somewhat ahead most of the time, with the huddled chance of being drunk with rosewater in what’s left of the sky’s moonless fury. Ribbons or no ribbons, I’m all gussied up with trying, and no Mr. Dancearoundit is going to hail on my circus. Forget the horses. We’re tying up the worst of them. Something to throw or just let drown. Lately, I’ve not been coming around, Johnny. So, write between the lines and race the telephone wires from pole to pole with your eyes. Nothing’s electric here. No sizzle. No shriek. Strung up by the gut’s rumble and tossed into a shallow stream of some stranger’s piss. The furniture man’s coming for my belongings. I just know it.

Ruffling through the cornstalks, a cussing wind’s growl takes more prisoners than culture might allow for under normal circumstances. Resting, a curtain’s gauzy fabric left to its own devices, something to get to know by feel, by lazy slips of hand and slides of dream.

Bad knees and a worse heart. The shape you’re never in. Miss Fortune’s run off loaded and rolling. She gave up everybody but herself.  Rifle’s hacksawed and stowed away dangerously in the trunk of a ’75 Chrysler Cordoba. She’s not making change. She’ staying bills. No more long love letters in the fall. With a head full of shrapnel, and a cocaine-drip throat she scurries out past the loblollies and skunks anybody out who’ll dare close enough. What she’s got she gets from old newspapers and tire-iron raids.

The months flutter by like moths. I am not harping on a thing. It’s delivery’s deadpan torture that gets me: a gargle without a rinse. Breakfast’s out of the question now. Answering’s for the dogs. It’s been a long time since I’ve waived these hands at anyone. It’s first call all the time, and I’m older for it, at least. The channels don’t change here; the remote’s bit the dust. My personal hygiene is on hold until a later date. Time is not essential to or for anything. Nobody’s singing for me. The dark’s my only light. Leave the table manners to the kids and the old folks. I’m not handling any of this anymore.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

And A Ring Made Out Of A Spoon

“I just can’t believe somebody like you’d like the company of somebody like me. There must be something god-awful wrong with you.”

 “Hey, leave the Groucho Marx jokes to me, will you?”

“I’m just a hangnail without you, Baby.”

“I tells you. You’re a lot to look at. Really, you are.”

"Pass the skunk, please, you stinking spotted weasel.”

"Somehow it’s not better, you, you, you-- like singing, sort of. The hog-nosed dreams of better den-aloners. Tasks not awaiting your completion, on to other dawns.”

“A little tad tiny bit of schadenfreude for you, there. You see, it’s not copious enough to be weaned from spinach dip like this. You’ve got to make the worst of it before better things just go popup and like appear right on up ahead. Besides, a comedian is only funny in public.”

“To know things is to not know things. I halved an apple for us. And don’t worry about serpents or anything like that. Really. I put things where they go. It’s habitual, really. Really.”

“I’m rapt by it all.”

“Wrapped up in it all, more like. So’s that’s the force, perforce, that jets, that books it, that scrams for the lie’s only truth. We’re just lounging around for meddling purposes only. The cause rends the garments from the naked will of try. But you already guessed at that, I’m sure.”

 “Oh, so here we don’t go again. Wearing a hole in the mat at death’s door. There must be other boulevards of discontent to ruin ourselves on.”

 “Capitulate. Go for it. I won’t hold either of us back, or forward, for all that, or for what matters, most or least. I need a fucking bib, damn it. What a way to be finishing up this here business of living. From four to two to three. Shit. I need more than any drink’ll do.”

 “From the glistening edges of survival, the ponderosas calling, the cheap-labor smiles, the curtain makers, the snouted and ill hung; and of note, too, the roustabout nature of all this kittening around the outskirts of reneged philosophies. Sense? Sense is not ours to make do with, or without. The rain’s running out of right, right out of time, lessening the dull impact of your brain, of your mettle’s charm and besotted charisma; and lastly, too—all apostrophes aside—the curvature of brand-name sadness o’er fields of copper-lit bullshit.”

“Why are we all such assholes?”

 “The eternally posed question. Perhaps some doing-unto-others stuff about it. We are who we project, not who we wish to be. And if it’s just a ho-hum distraction to keep ourselves fooled about what’s really ticking all sourly patched together in our little own personal upstairs. But, then again, I, like anybody else, have my moments.”     


 “Well, so that just spanks the gee whiz right out of me. So long Marianne. I’m off to the war. Be back later than supper’ll last.”

 “What’s it all for?”

 “Experience. Gravitas. The boners of circumstance. We check our flagrancy at the coat rack upon arrival. Nothing to get or be gotten by. The air’s washed with dead wishes. Let’s floor it. I’m pooped.”

“We’re all commercial addicts. Anyway you’ll never look at it. Disgust is ours alone by nature. And the shadows about these pieces aren’t as lugubrious as you’d think.”
“Pieces of shit-- we are, that is.”

“It’s cereal time in America. But us? We’re all getting soggier and soggier by the minute. Just a sour, rank odor wafting its way through the warped façade of getting up to face the day again, and again, and, yes, we should hope, many more agains—if we’re lucky.”

“Soldier on through it, compeer. I can see the ice cream written on the sky, and it is dripping down to us at more than a trickle. Let’s get it while it’s cold. Go ahead, lick. Don’t be so damn brave that you can’t supplicate yourself to something, something that is, of course, larger than any ‘you’ that you’d ever imagine.”

“Hit CAPS LOCK for me. I’m in the mood for being loud and bold—at least in appearances.”

“But still lazy in the direct action of actual accomplishment. Okay. I get it. I’m not wrong, and I’m not correct. I stand wronged and corrected, though. I really very much do.”

“Better than lying, still.”

 “So it’s so. But I’m really not that kind of gal. I do want to go in for all that jazzy schmoozing. I really do. There’s something livable about that sort of glamour and fakery: a tucked away joy, maybe, something that wraps presents for strangers and plays hooky from real life. I don’t know. I ain’t rightly what you’d call a disciple of gilded sorrow. My stupid haughtiness betrays me every time.”

 “You. You. You. It’s something that won’t twist so well on its own. A splash of it? Maybe. Or a dash-sized dollop. A wheelie done for nobody to notice. Ah, forget it. No blooms around these parts. Just gutter water and flesh wounds. Just me and these here banana trees. The shade give me what I need: a respite from wonder.”

 “A wisp of blind courage too, perhaps?”

 "There’s no telling, only saying.”

 “In too shallow. The take’s what gets you, in the middle, or around it.”
“Throw a paperclip at your partner; watch the world not go around. Huff and rampage. Get distressed over the most picayune of little things, or just enjoy the tiny nice ones that don’t come around nearly often enough when they do happen to dance on your shoulder’s chip. Being unhappy is not a team sport. Let’s moon a hummingbird. Drop a deuce in the garden and vamoose. This thinly wattled together world of ideas only dabbles wry coats of splendor with crannies and fissures of self-indulgent moans. I, myself, am a sty on the environment’s eye, forever wishing for more than I should ever want, or get.”

 "Passengers saying goodbye to the ships of their present, we ride softly in the dutiful light of the bronzy moon. Away. Away. But to dreamland? Nope. We’re better than that, then, right?”

 “You’d be a prima donna not to learn from your rights and wrongs. Just go have fun in the big, tiny, fat, thin circus of it all. Strive to be generous and kind in all strokes of happiness and health. Or just take the elevator. The stairs’ll still be there in the morning, you know? And you’ll be less light in the headlamps of what’s roving around for your soul’s capacity to make pie out of mashed murk and grated doom.”

“For? Or ‘in,’ as in ‘of’?”

“Blight. Nothing but blight as far as the eye won’t see. Caving-in esteem crumbled to bounty’s unnecessary necessity. Paw tentatively at the ruling structures of all these geopolitical landscapes all you’d like. The odd thing about your fecklessness will be your puissance to bow to it, to give in and up to whatever bickering it’s got itself caught up in for the night.”

“I’m a roving orbital satellite to all of your copycat fashion sense. So. Let’s call it a morning and stiff-arm some pedestrians while we ransack the honeycombed lives of the moderately well-to-do. Raze the condos. Make way for the raised fists of jubilant suckers out to outdo the do-gooders’ no-good sense of entitlement. Coyly holy, as it were, we are merely racketeers in the meager flash and hurry of DON’T WALK signs.”

“Lah is my only di-dah.”

“Recoup whatever difference it won’t make. Not that 'ever' is a place to travel beyond, sadly, as it were, in the janky washed-out rub spin-cycling time’s honey, slower than sweet, as it were— or were not.”

 “Laughing’s for the dogs. Or was that Gods? Either which of ways, we’ve got the equivalent of kindergarten diplomas and are hunkered down with beware’s bad taste. Drop it. Seriously. Drop it like it’s cold.”

“And if we lunge together, if we scrape the marble from the countertop, grease up our elbows and slide headfirst into bashful appetites, and what the crows don’t know the feathers will show. So, put up your dukes, Mr. Rogers et al., I’m punched free from the paper bag of luckier hardships than anybody’d guess. I am the ‘at’ to all of your ‘where.’”

“Double-handedly wrung from the clothesline, you’re dripping all the good stuff—the gooey and rich and wonderful stuff of somersaulting through bitter restraint’s pumping iron and rat-a-tat-tat.”

“So what? I’m warm blooded enough to get the chills. You’re the ship-jumper anyway.”

 “Tell all the others whom you hold in your arms that some one-day I’ll never come back for you. Down we go to an icy grave. Down. Down. Down to the deep’s deepest deep.”

“Shall we part then? Shall we shrivel down to size and retract all correspondence from the record?”



 “Guitars weren’t made for bastards like us. We’re too serious and we’re too silly too. The wind stinks with the gruel of self-satisfied plops in a penny-less well of who we never could face being, what we’ve always been without letting on about to the rest of the patricians with whom we ate carrots and flowers.”

“Practice and practice and practice. Love’s for the rat catchers and the right fielders. Hats on to it. That’s what you’ll never catch me saying. That’s not that, right?”


"Fuck you.”

 “Thank you. Finally. Some sense to make up with.”

 “Oh, oh, oh, uh-oh, oh, uh, um, um…oh?”

 “The fish don’t got eyes for it. The ocean won’t swim this way. Moon’s on the make. City lights grown dim. A hue never had. A mask’s cover. The ashes spill. The world’s tilt. I know nothing about any of it. Crown me with the craziest hair on the planet. I’m in love, fuckers. What’re you going do about it? Huh?”

“Nothing. Not a thing. Not one single ‘nope’ or harried carry away while my fingers crush what’s left of a little life I’ve known way too well. Up until now. Down about then. Yes. I mean, ‘What?’”

“That’s that.”

 “A wrap?”
“Something like it, sure. Something. Nothing will keep us from something. Pewter’s my only cover, like some paladin utensil groping for the stars but getting only soggy granola and rust. I’ll either give up or give up trying.”
“Kudos, ass munch. I’m tuba’d to remorse for you. Play sweeter things, shinier things with the squeamish notes of long’s got.”

“Shinier. Yes. Nothing here is bright enough.”
“Spoon me out of it. One. One. One, two, three, four. One. Spoons are for chumps like us. But it’s not up to us to care. Spoon away, motherfuckers. I’m not only done, I’m never finished.”