Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The process of unclenching a jaw so long clenched is tedious - an act which requires conscious thought. Straining to clench is a habit almost like smoking. Something done so often it is no longer a thing you do. It is something you are. I am a smoker. I am a clencher. It is like breathing....like thinking. I think; therefore, I am. I clench; therefore, I am. A person who clenches their jaw is akin to one who wears shoes that create blisters. They continue to wear their shoes because they were expensive or because they look good; because it's what they should do. They paid that much for their shoes; they should wear them. One clenches their jaw because it is what has always been. It is a constant in a world of change. It is familiar. It is what should be.
Once aware of the clenching, though, one wonders, "how long have I clenched my jaw? For how many years did I cause myself undue pain? How many headaches have I created that could have been avoided?" Once this clenching is known, it is abruptly stopped. Then one must constantly be reminded to NOT clench. Don't do that. Don't feel that. Don't bear down. Awareness is the first step in fixing a problem. You must be aware that you have one. The next step is to act in a positive way to fix the problem. But in fixing a clenched jaw, all one can do is hope to remember to stop. Hope to remember that release is so much better. Hope to be constantly aware that one never deserves that pain and one is only causing it herself.
Monday, December 28, 2009
They pull you this way and that.
Sometimes you are where you are because you felt it.
But often, emotions are never felt fully.
Names are placed on them.
They are stocked and shelved somewhere in the abyss of your brain.
And when called upon, they take over.
Tears well up. Your heart pounds. You shake.
Here is sadness.
You need him now.
But how is the same sadness felt at the loss of a beloved goldfish and at the loss of a child?
But still, "I am sad," you say.
Is it sadness you are feeling? There is no anger? No alarm? No disdain?
To place a name on an emotion is to take away any other feeling you might have.
Your emotion is immediately made lesser.
You are sad and nothing else.
Shakespeare knew words were useless when expressing emotion. He gave names to thousands of things, and yet, he knew they weren't enough. That night, on the balcony, where Romeo and Juliet fall in love, Juliet says simply,
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Friday, December 25, 2009
Staying up all night on Christmas Eve is a true testament to disillusionment. Christmas Eve was the one night that I couldn’t wait to be over as a kid. Perhaps other nights I was a bear to put to bed, but Christmas morning was the apex of joy, I can still remember lying in bed and shutting my eyes so hard, just hoping that I’d fall asleep faster and Christmas morning would be here even sooner.
Now on the sacred night of Christmas Eve I take off out of the house as soon as familial traditions cease to get stoned with my friends and forget about how special these days used to be.
The drugs are always just a lubricant to get to how we really feel, to get to just the tip of that feeling – then completely reject it consciously, from there things just kind of fall into place. Then the age old question, did I take drugs because I was numb or am I numb because I started taking drugs? It’s a bull shit question with no answer at all, really. Or at least a question that doesn’t god damn deserve one. Debating it would be a complete exercise in futility because whichever is the case I’m still here at square one. I’m still awake, on Christmas morning, unable to feel a god damn thing. I must be a real cold hearted bastard to feel like this on Christmas.
I just don’t feel like I used to. The years blow by whether we are capable of grasping a hold of each day or not. It just seems more appealing to let them all slip away, these days. Hazy nights and groggy mornings, despite those clinging hangovers, do just feel better. I don’t know what we’ve talked about on those late nights, but I know each word was deeply important. All this nonsense fills my head this bitter and icy Christmas morning. It fills my head up with rage and anger, confusion and pride. Perhaps I’m not as numb as I thought.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I remember in grad school I had this roommate named John. I'll say nothing in print about his character, but I will tell you of one of his habit's, possibly his most irksome to me. He would sneak into my room while I was gone. (I'm getting chills just thinking about it.) And he would touch my love. He would pick her up, play her with his awful dirty hands, knocking her all out of tune, and he would write songs, these godawful, drunk-prick-at-the-campfire ballads. "Hey dude, real quick: just check this song out," he'd say when I'd come home, catching him in the act. (Though, on the occasions that I didn't return home and he was afforded the opportunity to cover his tracks, he did as such, but his methods were mind-boggling, totally preposterous. You don't throw an orgy to cover up lipstick on your collar. You don't turn over my desk to put the pick back. I'd mention it in passing - as he passed me to "bum" something of mine in the refrigerator while I did the dishes - and he'd say: "I don't know, dude. You ask the cats?") But I'd listen to the songs. I don't know why - morbid curiosity? Admittedly, I still get "If You Were a Dude" stuck in my head, but for the most part his songs were some of the worst I'd ever heard; often I wondered how a grown man could be so out of touch with reality, so oblivious to everything. Yet he was. And that brings me to my point: so is this band, Primitive Bush.
When Marty asked me if I wanted to do a last-minute album review - "just a quick eight hundred worder" - before the Christmas issue went out, I said "sure" and figured I'd just stay at home some night and get paid to jam a record, drink a little tea, and kill that bottle of black label I bought myself to celebrate my son's first year alive on this terrible planet. "Great!" Marty said, "I'll drop the tape off later. You gonna be home?" Tape? As in cassette? Are you kids serious? If you wanna be retro, put it on wax. Cassettes were a digression in the evolutionary journey of sound, the stumble between analog and digital. However, I am a professional music listener and I do have the means to listen to a cassette tape - though I have almost zero understanding of how they work. So - you know - my girl left to go see The Blind Side or something, and I stayed home and got drunk with my son (he wasn't drinking, I promise that's just a dangling modifier) and jammed katebush, the debut album by Austin's Primitive Bush. As I put in the tape, I said to myself: If this band sucks then so does this album title; but if they rule then so does this album title.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing could've prepared me for what I heard when the tape came on. It was John, the ass I lived with back in Pittsburgh for almost three years, and some girl, some - I don't know? - girl. But it was John! It was sneak-into-my-room-and-molest-my-stuff John! Apparently he had met a girl, founded a band (possibly these first two could be switched, I'm not sure; I know I usually do my homework on this stuff, but I couldn't bring myself to this time, whatever) , named it Primitive Bush, (somehow) got a record deal and cut a ten song album since I'd last spoken with him about two years ago. Last I heard he was possibly doing time for possession. Had me fled and started a band? I flipped through the liner notes - John's unmistakable nasally baritone bellowing the opening track "Long-haired Alleycat" in the background -but found nothing. Really? Had John finally learned the simple art of discretion? Was this some kind of Chestertonian joke providence was playing on me? I was certain the idiot playing guitar and singing in a flat maudlin affectation was John, but I had no proof. Usually labels or bands give you these things we in the biz call "one sheets." The purpose of the one sheet is to provide useful information to the reviewer, DJ, label executive, etc., information such as the biography and the history of the band/artist, influences of the band/artist, current record sales, countries thus visited/rocked, plans for the immediate and distant future ( but not beyond the myopic vision of the fanbase), and sometimes interviews from zines are included, and the listener is given a peak at psyche of the band/artist. Primitive Bush had a one sheet. At least I got a one sheet. Whether or not anyone else who reviewed or promoted this album got a one sheet, I am not sure, for my one sheet was a custom one sheet. It was addressed directly to me, signed John Prince. It ran: "Told you."
Saturday, December 19, 2009
in the woods.
Hunting season, a foot or two, and rising still. Bright orange on white. A little brown and a little green peeking through.
A heart attack is how it happened, everything still and quiet.
I knew I would go this way, in the snow.
Grandson took his rifle, took himself, and they both lied on their backs
looking up, rosy cheeked, snow falling softly on their open eyes.
And what was the reason?
Do you really need a reason?
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
I've watched a lot of things not matter to a lot of people. There were ones who grew up, right before my eyes. And right before my eyes, I saw myself lying all the time. I needed a slap in the face. I always want a pat on the back.
I'd remember your hands up against the sky, pressing, try to hold up weight. You left so many things behind that day you didn't show. Where did you go that day? I waited in that one field near the factory forever. I watched the sun go down over the hills. I didn't bring a coat.
I'm so stupid sometimes. I'll keep you forever. If I get bored, I'll find other things to pull out and fuck up, but I will always spin you around in the living room and take the blind fold off your eyes and kiss you just the same.
I wish we would have run that time. Through the woods. In the cold. My own emptiness, and and the vastness of my heart in your lap, you only laughed. And I laughed too. You looked into the distance. We were so quiet then that it makes me want to cry. The wind stung our faces and our ears.
That night we took turns pushing hands over faces, into mouths, through hair, more places still. I can take almost anything. It was warm, with you. So I stayed. And now I can't find myself anymore.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
a guy from baltimore made them. it seems like it took him a long time. some of it is pretty funny, some of it's cool, i don't know. i just figured i'd post them here so people would see his work. it really made me feel good when he sent me the links. i don't know if i ever told him that...
it's all from the "two lectures" CD. check it out.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
And as quickly as this activist feeling peaks, this "nothing-can-stop-me" feeling, this longing-for-change feeling, the moment passes. My pulse slows, the anxiousness loosens and I reside, again, to the lull until there is another wave of mortality that slaps me in the face, wakes me up, and begs me to be anything more than I am. A suggestion inside myself to notice that something is not right; some direction to be better. An order given that I am not sure I will ever follow, lest it stop my beating heart.
Monday, December 7, 2009
"Oh my god! You guys will never believe what just happened at the bar!" a young woman says as she slams the door of her studio apartment shut and throws her purse and then herself onto the bed where two cats - one slender and all black; the other - some kind of Siamese breed - mostly white with a little grey on its chest - are asleep in yin-yang formation. They awake on impact and start crawling all over her and each other, purring and crying with rapt elation. "Frankie, it was perfect! I wish you guys could've been there to see it.
"It was so perfect! My song - 'Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man' - had just started playing on the iBox an like the moment it kicked in the door of the bar like flung open and in walked these two mean lookin' guys, dressed in black suits and wearing sunglasses (despite it being, like, midnight at the time). At first it looked like one of them was carrying this crazy, giant snake, but after looking a little harder, I could see that it was actually just a crazy, giant chain and the flashing hot lights of the bar were making it look like a writhing neon-blooded snake. He said something to Bull the Bouncer as they walked in and Bull the Bouncer stood up and said: 'Hey, what do you two think you're - '; but just then the chain guy did this quick like spinning-swinging move - and seriously, it looked like a firework had gone off in in the air between them with that metal chain whirling around and reflecting all the flashing lights of the bar - and then it wrapped around Bull's neck like three times and the guy jerked his arm toward himself and pulled Bull the Bouncer's stupefied, red face towards his own, like got real close and said, real viciously: 'Didn't I say "don't mind me?" ' Bull just stood there, grabbing at the chain that was asphyxiating him and gasping for air. The guy let the snake uncoil a little from around his wrist and just as Bull was backing away, starting to regain composure and breathe again, the chain guy cocked back and cracked him with his free hand. Ha! I remember Gene used to fall asleep standing up in the shower and I'd come in and he would be just standing there, swaying a little to each side, completely unconscious; and that's exactly how Bull the Bouncer looked (only not naked and hot, more like gross and sweaty and hairy), but just like that: standing on his feet, swaying a little to this way and a little that way, eyes closed, knocked out cold. 'Well, that was certainly demonstrative,' said the other guy - who was a little taller than the chain guy, and up until that moment had not said a single word, had not even moved except to light a cigarette - as he walked past Bull the Bouncer, saying 'pardon me, sir' and brushing up against Bull just enough to knock his massive body off-axis so that it fell with a huge crash that like jingled all the empty glasses and made amber ripples in the others. Which - I should add - was also perfectly timed to my song - the crash happening just as the verse kicks back in after the prog. medley.
"After that everyone was just kind of stunned, but the two mean lookin' guys seemed totally unaffected. They just - what's that, Sake? Oh, yes! that was one of the best parts actually: they were both terribly handsome, and pretty young, too. About my age, I'd say. Well, I'll tell you: they were both wearing sun glasses and black suits, like I said already, with white shirts and black ties and nice, shiny black shoes. The chain guy was pretty tall and he had short dark brown hair and a heavy five o'clock shadow; the other guy - the one who smoked and pronounced demonstrative correctly (which is rare!) - was a few inches taller than him and had a light brown mustache with slicked back light brown hair. He was the one who did most of the talking. I remember he was like standing in the middle of the bar with a cigarette in his mouth, he touched delicately at his hair, and said: 'Allow me to apologize for my friend, Mr. Haymaker. He might still be a little too sober to deal with the public.' Then, turning to Erika, the new girl they've got tending bar down there, he said: 'Miss, please get Mr. Haymaker a double Jack.' And as she was quickly acquiescing, he added: 'And a pack of ice for your bouncer.'
"The chain guy - Haymaker, I guess - was struggling to unwrap his chain from around Bull the Unconscious Bouncer's fat neck when Erika shakingly placed the glass of whiskey on the bar before him. Then he like nodded in gratitude to her and took the entire drink in one gulp and slammed the glass back down onto the bar just as the song ended. 'Feeling better?' the smoking guy asked him, but he didn't answer. He just yanked up the rest of his chain and kicked Bull hard in the ribs after Bull's unconscious body released - what I imagine was an involuntary - groan, or like a sigh of relief after the chain was removed.
"The smoking guy turned again to face his still-stunned audience and said: 'My friend and I are looking for someone; and we were told we'd find him in this shithole.' The chain guy hung his weapon on his shoulder and produced a silver cigarette case from his inside breast pocket; and, without interrupting his speech, without even looking back to see that the chain guy had put a cigarette to his mouth, the smoking guy - the taller of the men, I mean - flicked open a lighter - where it came from, I have no idea - and lit his friend's cigarette; and kept right on talking: 'So I'm going to ask this once - and only once - and if I get the right answer, my friend and I will walk right back out that front door and you'll never see us again. But if we don't get the answer we're looking for - and really, folks, all we're looking for is an honest answer, that's all. But if we don't get an honest answer my friend here is going to tie his little pet chain around these door handles and not one of you - I promise - not one of you lousy pieces of shit will get out of here alive.'
"I was so scared, Frankie! I seriously thought they were gonna rob and rape every one of us. But - if I can't tell my cats this, who can I tell? - I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretty excited by everything, too. The smoking guy just had this towering presence, ya know? It's one thing to control a party or something with dance moves or a nice outfit, but to control a dozen or so lives with just your words . . . That's something. And, yeah, the chain thing helped a lot. I mean, Bull is a huge guy - that's why he's called Bull. But even before the violence they had the entire room's attention. The violence was exactly what the smoking guy had called it: 'demonstrative.'
"I see that now. But at the time I didn't. At the time I did something very stupid: I got out my phone and started to call the cops. Intuitively, the smoking guy saw this or sensed it or something and walked up to me and grabbed my phone out of my hand and hung it up and handed it back to me and said, in a very calm and measured voice: 'Miss, you're very pretty. So pretty in fact, that if, by some miracle, you happen to survive the next five minutes I'd like to take you out some time. However, if you fucking try to call the pigs again, you will not - I swear to you on my grandmother's dead, blue eyes - live to see your sweet cats again.' No, Sake, I am not lying! He said that, I promise! Well, he must've seen the picture I have set as my background. What do you think I did, Frankie? I said I was sorry and he started to soften up a little, acted like maybe he wasn't going to definitely kill me; but the chain guy was like: 'Pretty Boy, what the fuck are you doing? Haven't your philandering ways gotten us into enough trouble already? Don't get distracted by the scent apple pie now; we've still got a rat to kill tonight.' 'You just mind your whiskey, Haymaker,' the smoking guy said over his shoulder, 'I'm taking care of a situation here.' 'I doubt that little Jewess knows where - ' 'She squealed for the pigs, Haymaker,' the smoking guy said, standing up and facing his friend. I'm not sure if Pretty Boy was like his pseudonym or if it was a popular invective Chain Guy used to belittle him. I didn't have much time to dwell on it at the moment as the next thing to come out of the chain guy's mouth was: 'Then fucking kill her and stop wasting my time.' I almost started crying when he said that, but the smoking guy seemed to ignore him - thank god - and went back to addressing the bar: 'My friend - though quite coarse and very rude - is right. I'm wasting his time and I'm wasting your time. So here's what we we would like to know, here's the million dollar question, the one that everything's riding on. Answer this question honestly and go home to your beds tonight. Tell us: Where is Ron Domino?' "
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I can feel this in the rest of the bones I have left.
I've wrung all of the old cloths dry, and yes, it is my fault.
I will see it Sunday in the Christmas lights on the houses
I will watch it fall down to the ground with the snow. And yes, It does have a sound.
Don't ever tell me again. Please keep all tiny and true noises behind your teeth.
I've fallen open, in the middle of many fields, I spun around in the woods,
trying to, trying to. Wearing dresses I thought you'd like, like a silly woman with
her man's heart lost, and her own entirely out of sight.
Your eyes were on me, and I felt you feeling nothing.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
"Well?" I said, giving him the bait I knew he wanted.
"Well what?" he feigned.
"You know what."
He took a drag, fished through the grey stream for a loose piece of tobacco, and said: "I got it."
"Ha! I knew it!" I couldn't believe it. Yes, I could. Why lie? I knew he would. I knew he couldn't resist that challenge. "I knew that's why you were standin' up here grinnin' like a retarded kid who just got a kiss from the school nurse, or something!"
"Marty," he said, grabbing my right arm and putting his head down in mirthful shame, "you - no offense - don't know shit."
"Then what do you mean: 'You got it.'?" I said, somewhat violently jerking my arm from his genial grip.
"Well . . . I'll give you the ending first, then I'll lay out the story for you. First of all," he stopped to ponder something only he could see hanging in front of his face, "or would it be 'Last of all?" He considered this for a few moments before I reminded him with a shove that he was telling me a story. Coming to he said: "Anyway, I got your tea."
"Yeah," I said, a little agitated, "You told me that on the phone."
"Yeah," he said, "but that's the ending. I told you I was gonna tell you the ending first. The ending is: 'I got your tea.' Now I'm gonna tell you the rest of the story, picking up where I left off, which is the beginning.
"So Elle didn't get out of work 'til like nine thirty, and Tommy was out doing whatever 'til like quarter past, so it was, like, one of those instances when too much shit needs done all at once, and instead of just setting out and doing it, I decided to put the kettle on and do some serious thinking about it first. Like, I knew I had to go get your tea from Tommy before you got here at - what time is it? - ten, but I also had to pick up Elle from work, but she said she wouldn't be done 'til like ten after nine or later possibly, and I needed to make it to the bank in time to get out money for the transaction. (You know ever since that dude tried to rob the ATM with a sledgehammer, my life has been seriously inconvenienced.) So, like I said, I just sat here 'til, like, ten after nine, watching Ren & Stimpy with the cats before realizing: 'Holy shit! I have a lot of shit to do!' Not only was I beyond, I was late. And there was no way I was gonna have the money to get your tea; I just plumb forgot to hit up the bank. Figured I could probably bum some money off Elle, but I've been figurin' on that a lot lately. She doesn't seem to mind, but it sure makes me feel like an asshole. So that's where your money's goin', pal: straight back to my wetnurse."
I broke his oration with a startled, repulsed look at "wetnurse."
"Ha! I get ya with that one? Sorry, brother. Anyway, I picked up Elle and bummed twenty bucks off of her and then broke the news that it was for tea and that we'd have to head out to Tommy's before we could do anything else. Did she want me to drop her at home while I went out there and then swing back around and pick her up on my way back into town? No, she didn't mind going out there. 'Well, are you sure? It's kinda weird. I mean, he's kinda weird.' That was fine, she dealt with weird people all day. 'Maybe a little racist, too.' 'Well, that's kinda fucked up,' she said. What did I mean by "a little racist?", she wanted to know. And she's right: tt's fucked up for sure. I agree completely. You know what it's like, Marty, when he goes on one of his tirades. It's like a huge, belligerent elephant in the room when we watch Steelers games. I confessed this all to her, too. Then, like, lowering her brow and kind of like glowering" - (this word was mispronounced, but I knew what he meant when he said "glow-ring") - "at me she said: 'Do you think it's cool to buy -' 'Hey, babe,' I said to her, kind of, like, putting my hand over her mouth, ya know? I said: 'No, I don't think it's cool necessarily, but it's kind of one of those weird, personal type things, ya know?' And people always get silent when I talk about this, but - well, first let me tell you this: I didn't even encounter racism - honest to god - until I moved to the city. Sure there were no black people back home to be racist against, or whatever, but when we saw them fumble a football or sell something on TV we never used The N Word, or anything like that. I told her all that at one point, too, I think. But she was right, and I told her that, too. I said: 'You know you're right. It's totally fucked up; and I vacillate so much on the issue. But I already told Marty I'd do this for him, so I gotta see it through. If that's a lame excuse, that's fine, I'll take it, but I gotta go.' She just turned in her seat to face the road rather than me, and said: 'Okay, I understand. I know the meaning of the word forbearance.' And then she looked back at me, kind of sideways, but with this little twinkle in her eye.'
"Dude, she did not say that."
"Yes she did, I swear to god!"
"Whatever, get on with your story. This better be leading up to something."
"Don't worry, my friend. You know it is."
He pulled out his pouch of tobacco and orated the next chapter while he rolled himself another cigarette. An ambulance sped past, its sirens blaring, just as he started to continue.
"What?" I shouted with freezing hands over my ears.
"What!" he shouted back with his red coarse tongue against the cigarette paper.
"I couldn't hear what you were saying with the ambulance going past," I said at a steadying volume after the siren had faded.
"Oh," he said, "you said: 'what' huh?"
"Well, I'll tell you what: fuckin' pigs, man. Fuckin' pigs on my ass constantly these days. I thought that was a pig scream at first. I was 'bout ready to jump in this house and run out the back door and up through the landslide. Ha ha!" He punched me in the arm; it still fucking hurts.
Not letting him see me even wince, I said: "Did you get pulled over again?"
He was pacing and smoking now . . .
"Say: 'Possessed of inebriated inspiration and dispossessed of all good will and judgement.' Type that dude! Seriously, just keep it. Fuck the fourth wall. Fuck final edits. New chapter."
"I just had this feeling the whole time we were at Tommy's, right? Like, I could just tell that existence was bored and wanted to fuck with me. 'The shadows of things enter our lives before they do.' I think maybe Capote said that. I'm not sure though. But that's what I mean, you know what I mean? I could tell something was coming. Sitting there, with Mollie drooling on my lap, staring at me vacantly, blinking, staring more, panting in short, snotty heaves, growling for my attention, and Elle at my side, nervously fingering one of the belt loops on my jeans and kicking her leg to some frantic cadence only she could hear, and Tommy in one of his light afternoon comas with a cigarette burning away in his limp fingers while the giant high definition television - 'mos def out' according to Tommy - flashed and blared Rock of Love season 3 with absolutely terrifying intervals of barely subliminal - in fact, downright fucking obvious - messaging via McDonald's and Target and SUV and cell phone commercials, I felt awkward as fuck. But not awkward enough to leave. Something was keeping me there. Not the tea either. Though, it probably did stimulate my already frayed apprehension, I will not - especially in hindsight - give much credit to the tea. Seriously, though, it's good shit, and doesn't 'noid you out. If anything it facilitated me divining what I did. But right after I had the premonition I had the realization: there's no getting around it. The hand is dealt. And yeah, that's how I think the universe works. Or at least that's how I see it as working. There's probably more up ahead, maybe millions of years worth, but my headlights only let me see so far ahead into the darkness. They're brighter than most, though. I'll swear that 'til my grave. I knew it was coming. I knew I had to leave at some point, and when I did I'd get pulled over by a pig. I couldn't see what would happen. That'd be like asking me to see leaves on a tree on top a mountain. I just see the green shape the leaves make. I can't see each leaf for itself. Such was this, ya know? I knew I'd get pulled over, but I had no idea how it would turn out. So I spent the last ten minutes we were at Tommy's exploring and digging around in the various nooks and orifices of my outfit and person, in search of the very best spot to conceal your bag of tea. I settled, finally, on this pocket here," - he opened his grey pea coat and removed the bag from the inside breast pocket - "And when the rear view mirror of my car suddenly lit up with red and blue flashes, I gotta say: I was a little worried.
"It wasn't easy leaving Tommy's either. And, I don't know, maybe I could've avoided it by hanging around for a little bit longer. He'd just gotten a peach blunt and really wanted to enjoy it with some other people. As nervous as I was about my premonition, I knew Elle didn't wanna hang around my gardener's all day, smoking peach blunts and tolerating racism disguised as politically incorrect sarcasm. You know what I mean?"
"Definitely. You're right: that shit is weird."
"Don't I know it. But as I was leaving he was like: 'Well, I got two, so at least take one and try it out,' and tossed a flesh-colored plastic tube across the room. I caught it and laughed, remarking that it looked like a cock, and Elle blushed and rolled her eyes."
"What a prude!" I had to interject. In his defense, I've seen those peach blunt tubes and they do look like male genitalia. Clearly a plastic one, a replica, but the resemblance is obvious. "But how would she know anyway, right?"
"Dude," he said, "she's seen one before. She told me she's had sexual -"
"I know, I know. You've told me this a millions times. I was just kidding anyway. What happened after you got pulled over? I'm still confused how this all adds up. How this has anything to do with how you 'got it' as you so eloquently put it."
"I'm gettin' to that, man. If you'd just let me tell my story, you'll see how it all adds up. Alright? Be patient, man. Anyway, for about a minute, while the pig was running my plate or something, I stared into my rear view mirror, transfixed by the flashing red and blue lights, with this clamorous fugue in my skull. The whole council was in an uproar! One voice was shouting: 'Gun it! You can outrun this pig if you take 'im by surprise! Trust me, you gotta better chance outrunnin' him than you do a shower full of hungry, soapy animals!' Another guy suggested I force Elle to stash it in her purse, and then if it's found there to plead total ignorance. But the most sensible voice of all, which at first seemed the craziest, wasn't really a voice at all. It was more like an echo, but an echo of an image. Like, this one time when I was pretty young, I was helping my mom can some homemade spaghetti sauce. I was rinsing out the Mason jars and handing them to her. I guess the jars were a little wet 'cause she was fumbling around with the lid on one of the jars she'd just filled and it slipped out of her hand. It was bad. You couldn't tell the blood from the spaghetti sauce. For weeks after that, I had this, like, video clip that played over and over again in my head, coming on sporadically, like when I'd close my eyes or something, of my mom looking down at her gashed-open toe, looking up at me, looking back down at her toe, then looking above me and screaming bloody unintentional matricide! It was like that. But the image this time was of that plastic cock floating in slow motion through the air with the heavy toms in that Strauss song from 2001 thundering away: the dawning of an epiphany. But I had to act quickly, casually, and the hardest part wouldn't be quickly and clandestinely concealing your bag of tea inside the plastic cock, but convincing Elle to deflower herself with it in order to preserve my own precious chastity."
"Oh. My. God."
"So when I say: 'I got it,' you - "
"Oh," I said, putting my hand up, "I get it."
with his mind occupying nothing.
The snow starts. Last evening it was there,
but you were not awake to look out the
You saw him, though, last year. Waiting.
You thought of your own lost ones,
always lost. It was never there.
You walk to the front door, forgetting your hat and mittens.
It's cold. You walk toward the man, and stop
at your side of the street.
"Hello young man."
"It took you a long time."
"Only a year."
"I did not."
That's right. You never forgot.
You held yourself at night and kept away.
Cause why would you ever want it blown open?
Cross winds occur nightly now, and the snow
tells you so.
You still don't know which way to go.
You see their smiles in your sleep
and try to dream of other things
but the warming keeps you paralyzed
there is nothing you can do,
you already let it go.
Next winter the man will be there, too. Waiting.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Rewind two years to a photo my me smiling blindly, still at that time unkempt and wild looking, no more than 2 feet away from the camera. A friend is there with me. We look happier than I've felt since all of these things turned to memories. What were we feeling that night? Why do both of our smiles show such absolute purity in this one brief moment, and why do I not have the ability to reconnect?
I'll never forget travelling across the country in a van communicating with a stranger whom I had kissed once at that point, and would not see again for a month. Never again have I so interested another human being. Never again have I both been so encapsulated, and felt so adored by another person.
What's changed? Was it the drugs? Am I ill? Is this what growing up's supposed to be? It feels more like growing backwards. Communication is not so easy as it was once. I think I was outgoing once. For the life of me, I can't remember why.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
He mostly stood and watched me; but he stood well and statuesque and, framed by the sun at its highest point, discoursed in a homely, but uniquely eloquent vernacular on his favorite topic: women. "To me it's all about the morning after," - looking up at two turkeybuzzards circling the pasture beyond the barn - "they gotta shine in the morning." He spoke of golden down, tawny hairs that cover them all over, like stretching fields of wheat that captivate and affront the sun's morning light with their brilliance. This, he said through azure exhales (in an excusable moment of ignorance to the malicious truth of the vast, spinning world around him), was the closest a grown man could get to the amazing agony he once felt as a young boy just discovering the "differences between her and me."
And just as he had picked up his sledge to get back to work, the new and shiny black truck of the old man's pulled up; something heated and static buzzing in the old man's aspect. "Why the hell ain't you limpin' then?" he asked me after the incident had been divulged. I looked down at my hands, tightly sheathed by my father's old, ever-shrinking, once-light-tan-now-dark-brown, suede work gloves, and saw that all but two fingers (both pinkies) poked through holes worn in them long before my palms were ever callused with labor; my toes throbbed with a secret pain. "Cuz both feet're sore and it won't do no good to favor one more'n the other." Staring down at the moribund purple pressing its ghastly face against the window of my left big toenail, the old man arrived at a decision: "Sammy, take the rest the day off'n go'won inta town and git that boy some goddamn work boots." The old man scribbled his name at the bottom of a check and handed it to him: "Take my truck if ya want, but git back here 'fore too long: Rita's cookin' venison fer supper."
Monday, November 16, 2009
Its fingernails are not so refined”
Said the sad-eyed lady in the train station
They seemed to be trying to say something more,
But it couldn’t be read.
She had learned how to lie, even through her eyes.
The autumn breeze almost takes me away some days
When all the leaves
Have left the trees
And their stark silhouettes,
Like un-stuffed scarecrows,
Ward off unwelcome visitors.
Like useless appendages,
The branches reach up to the heavens -
Calling for god to reign down his mercy.
To take pity on their lengthy, inert existence,
To take pity on this town.
Dear God, please bless
Those of us about to rest
The ones who sleep beneath the trees
Who, like their stark ancestors,
Have never had the chance to leave.
The sad eyed lady sat on her train
Meticulously manicuring her nails.
Alone she could not lie to herself,
Her eyes struggled to focus on her cuticles
She couldn’t remove the dirt beneath them.
She never would.
And it would stick with her, like a bad hangover,
Clinging desperately lost past it’s due.
And she would learn to live with it,
Care for it,
And nurture it,
In the dirt she would learn to plant a garden,
Sunday, November 15, 2009
everyone's a snapshot, a thumbnail grown in proportion. i never know where i am, just who i'm with. i've escaped having a home for long enough, it seems; it's time to settle myself but not to settle for any other reason.
i keep it all in my mind, each thought placed in a hazy folder, full of life and the death that i once played with.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Craig was looking for a quick place to wait for the strange spell of summer rain to subside when he decided to duck into a magazine shop that he passed on
Craig was still in college, he was visiting Olivia in the city during her internship. She was going to be a big shot photographer for the magazines and he was going to be an important writer for them. They were the perfect team in every sense. They each were so young and full of passion, it was boiling out of them. They were both young enough to still feel like they had purpose and they thought they could see it in each other. They were running through the streets of
Then they wouldn’t speak, they would sit opposite the other, intensely reading and looking at the photographs. It was as if they were studying. They read articles and articles and articles in complete silence, each maybe cracking a half smile, or exchanging the slightest of glances to subtly let the other know they had just liked a line they had read or really approved of a photograph they had seen. Occasionally the silence would be broken for Craig or Olivia to tell the other about an article they thought the other would like…but only if they thought the other would like it. Neither would break to share something they merely thought was interesting, for all the articles they read they thought were interesting, that’s why they read them, that was the beauty of magazines. Not only were they specialized already, but you didn’t need to waste your time reading something you didn’t like, you could just invest in what you wanted to. They knew each other well, and would share articles on what the thought the other liked. It was truly bliss. They sat effortlessly, indulging in what each loved and sharing the images and words they thought were most special. They didn’t need to fill the airspace with incessant conversation that would come up in time anyway and eventually fill the air stale until they would choke on it. In those days they could just sit in silence and indulge themselves in their passion, in the things that they each loved, and do it together. And it was perfect. The two of them stayed in there for hours, long after the rain stopped.
But that was a different lifetime ago, Craig thought. The thirty year old bachelor defined love much differently these days. But then again, perhaps that was Craig’s problem. These days Craig had a pretty set definition of what love was, he put it in his terms and he demanded them. But perhaps this was a result of Craig’s job, so it wasn’t completely his fault. Back then, Craig didn’t really define love, he didn’t have to, and it just kind of happened to him, it unraveled like a ball of yarn. It was defined through those moments, so in a sense, love became defined through hindsight. It was difficult to communicate in words; they saw it through gestures, in passing moments. Through the perfect silence at the table, exchanging the infrequent glance and indulging in a photograph. But they were young, and not blessed with hindsight. So instead of putting these moments in mason jars and appreciating them like fireflies, they let them pass each other by, tossing each perfect moment away in hopes of the next fleeting moment of bliss. They didn’t pin it down like a butterfly and marvel at its beauty, fully appreciate the elaborate symmetry and patterns on its back. Instead they were careless with their love, like all young people are. And eventually it fizzled and cracked and dried up.
Craig looked up from his magazine and noticed that the beautiful woman across from him had gone. As he looked towards the door, he saw she was on her out of the store and that it had stopped raining. Craig stood up, put his magazine back on the rack and went back outside to the cruel streets and back to work.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wiping the trickling beads of sweat with the back of an already moist hand, forced to gaze up there at that big thing losing itself. Unexplainably. And not without the reticulate sprawling across the swaddling blue of the city’s midday sky, falling apart. I didn’t know what to think at the gargantuan tree blatantly crumbling, dismantling in front of me. The synapses running across my wet brain were desperately searching all plausible outlets for some sort of reason. But could find none.
The hulking base of the tree, a seasoned oak of some sort, had split in perpendicular lines from the ground up. The hugest limb had fallen onto the sidewalk, blocked it entirely. It was Rick Leedy’s favorite branch. The dark bark on the ends had given way to the much lighter wood showing from the inside, like the white stuffing spilling out from a burst seam of a teddy bear. This tree was dying and I was watching not only the physical characteristics deteriorate, but could perceive its essence ebbing away, too. There were quiet sobs contained in the leaves’ rustling, directly in time with the slow cadence of death’s overtaking.
Soon I could take no more and turned to go inside. The low moan of the screen door. I was dripping with sweat, so I immediately made my way to the kitchen and ran some water over a sullied rag and generously dowsed my face with it, eyes closed in the minute rapture of the moment.
It didn’t seem that out of place, the tree’s inexplicable and unmitigated demise, not after the couple days that I had had, you know. I opened the refrigerator door, I was breathing loudly, and was met with a cloud of cool fog from inside. It dissipated around my hand as I reached in, opened a chilled beer with granules of ice careening down the sides. Plopped myself down on the orange itchy couch, stared at the green glass bottle. I was in
Mind blistering, feeling hotter than ever. Eyes darting from point to point, no focus no point of reference determined. I was standing in the longest line, getting chest rubbed down and dick jacked up by this young girl with eyes bigger than a squid’s. Prettier, too. She was chewing gum, just like you’d expect, rubbing in a circle with one hand, tugging vertically with the other. I could smell the citrus emulating from the gum, fake like a car air-freshener. The jelly she was rubbing into my pectorals made them this bright orange putrid color, like the itchy couch. She made occasional popping sounds with the gum, like spoons clicking, but didn’t speak. I didn’t speak, either. A lot of the other guys standing in the gigantic line, they were stammering away. Nervous, bashful, pompous, that and more. All sweaty. I got pissed off. Just shut up, you know? They all had girls, too. Pretty girls. Pretty like lined dolls in a tiny kid’s room. I twirled my head around ballerina style and saw that some of them had coaxed their girls into suckin’ them as we waited. I wasn’t going to try that, though the urge to have my beast buried in something warmer than this squid girl’s clammy hand was very hard to counter. Seeing all of that kind of made me sick; made me think I might have come to the wrong place. They had this blazing guitar music playing over the giant PA speakers, and normally I like blazing guitar music, you know, but not something like this slop. It was all squealy-noted and the drums had tons of reverb on them. Fuck that.
The orange bodypaint mixed with that music made my stomach start to bubble up. Felt a little queasy, so I gently suggested to my girl that I was coated enough.
“They will tell us when they want us to stop,” she said. “I gotta keep going till then.”
“I guess you gotta do what they tell you to do,” I said. I ran a hand across my lips to catch any spittle, then ran it through my hair. “I’m just startin’ to, uh, feel kinda not good.” She smiled up at me, chewing.
She was chewing, still rubbing, still jerking. Some time passed. I could tell she didn’t mind the silence, but I did. The bubbles were building. I wasn’t accustomed to these things, it was my first one. I didn’t know how it worked. So, being ignorant, because that’s what I was to these things, I faltered:
“What’s your name?”
She just stared, chewed, rubbed, jerked. Stopped all of them when she heard my question. Clicked her teeth like she clicked the gum.
“Desire.” Started all of them again.
“No, your real name.”
“Oh, one letter. I’m John,” I said. Shouldn’t have, though. Felt ashamed for the first time there, even though I wasn’t wearing any clothes.
“Is that your real name?” Sad smile.
“No,” I said, “But I guess you don’t use your real names for these things anyway. I gotta think of a new name.” She forced a chuckle faker than the tits on the girl blowing the guy behind me.
She stopped what she was doing. “They say you use your middle name, and the street name from where you grew up.” I tried to visualize it in my head.
“Ryan Coventry.” I showed her some teeth.
“Not bad,” she said. Her chest rubbing tempo increased. So did her jerking. Torso began to tighten up.
“Easy,” I said, “she’s not even out here, yet. I’m gonna blow up if you keep it up like that.” She chuckled again, but this time it was something else. I felt her drape herself in the blanket of humanity for the first time. She turned the color of a piece of uncooked chicken.
“That’s normally something that I would never criticize someone about. I’m just saying that you are really good at your job.” Her humanizing laugh had opened this iron gate to her real appearance. Big bug eyes, big blonde hair, big caked-on make up. Trashy. Not very far from straight ugly. I didn’t care. It had been a long time since a woman looked at me in that sultry way. It took what the little blood that remained in my head and flushed it from there completely. Her eyes bulged and dripped with some nectar that I found to be especially nourishing in the moment, igniting my usual proclivity for any attentive creature. Or it could have been the fact that I was being manually stimulated to an orgasm by her preening hand. I felt some sort of affinity for her, a primordial feeling I was really used to by now. Thought I was falling in love again. Going through the motions, at least. “Just be delicate,” I said.
The room was cavernous, looked like it was once used as an airplane hanger of some sort. There were yellow jibberish letters stenciled across a couple of the unkempt walls. Enormous lights mounted across the ceiling, looked like searchlights. Emitting loudly halogen fuzz and drenching the place in it. I hadn’t ever been anywhere where they made pictures before, but I had never imagined it was in places like this. I had a feeling it usually wasn’t. It was hard getting passed the smell of that jelly being rubbed into me, but once I did, there was a definite lingering odor of dust and mildew and fine sand wafting throughout the place. I thought about all of that being stuck in the tiny spaces between my teeth. Thought about all of the other oily bodies around me inside my own, sliding around, through my intestines, skating my bones. The contemplation caused a sputtering cough to churn in my stomach. Felt it bubbling up.
She broke my foray into revulsion: “Well, there’s gotta be something special about you, John, you’re number one. You know every guy here wants to be number one. How’d you pull something like that off, being an unknown and all?” I did not like that she had used my name.
“Unknown? I’m fuckin' known. Just not down here.”
“An amateur, I mean.” She was scared I was mad. Her eyes showed it. Her chewing slowed. Her ruby lips curled upward fearfully. She kissed the tip of it, let a thin strand of saliva hang off the head. My shoulders arched with the natural rapture. There I was. Being fluffed. There I fucking was. Number one in the
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I decided to write you a note
A story told in plain speech
Without too many words,
or big ones
That have too many syllables
It’s a story for the people;
I want its message to ring through the streets
To resonate in the hall,
Pollinate the ear drums
It’s a story by the people;
Chiseled from bone and steel
Dripping with sweat,
Coughing with black lungs,
Hiding its pride like a bruise
Birthed in the same dried up garden,
From the same prickly cactus
Same angry, trampled hole in the ground
Oh, our mother.
Is she not at the heart of all our great tragedies?
Harmonizing over them like a wailing Siren
She is blowing like the wind,
She is picking fruit off the tree,
She is changing the seasons,
She is dying the leaves.
She is moaning a cautionary tale –
She is arranging the oak leaves,
Forming constellations of our fates outside her cave
It tells of shattered glass
Of sea-foamed shores swallowing entire cities
Of bruised buildings collapsing at their heels
Toppling like a house of cards
Ill placed by the Master Magician
Of slithering serpents sneaking through gates
Tempting young virgins with ripe fruits
They tell of people becoming pansies for the picking
No longer fit to survive
No longer quick as the carpenter
We are lined up
To be pinned down
And there we rest
Like ill-fated butterflies
Our perfect patterns resorted to collecting dust and awkward glances
Pressed behind glass
Framed on the wall
Drowning in the waters
We swim against the current
Just to survive
Our scaly, limp bodies flailing wildly in the foaming rapids
But her call falls to deaf ears
As we shuffle along, dirtying our hands
Working for a clock that bends, but never breaks
Working for a man that grins, but has no face
For the wind has blown away her leaves
And the pattern is lost
That old hag never gave us anything but a spider web to get tangled in
A jar to get caught in
A river to drown in
Constantly wanting and needing the love, appreciation, and attention of the living.
Acting as if his treacherous and tragic past didn't lead to his insanity. Believing fake smiles, and facade relationships and scenes kept him sane.
The world is the way you see it after all.
He always believed he would never let himself be a victim again, no matter what it took.
Never realizing the deterioration of himself.
He was happy for a while. As much as he allowed himself to believe.
He got sick the day he realized it wasn't a life he planned on living. The day he realized it all wasn't real, and no matter how hard he fought, it was all fucked.
He tried to fight the sickness and put up with ridiculous and horrible behavior from others. Still believing in love and friendship.
It seemed every time he tried for the littlest bit of positivity, laughter, or fun; misery followed ten fold.
He knew he was miserable and sick, but he wasn't ready to give up.
He enjoyed the little things. The lack of television, the music, the stories, the feeling of being part of something so much bigger.
He put up with lies and worries unimaginable. And never understood how he was the only one to see it.
He held onto the faith. Deep down, it was this beautiful piece of art that just needed love and support and friendship. Things only he truly understood.
Something he will always believe, no matter what was done.
He kept getting sicker.
Laughing in his head how he became the logical, reasonable, responsible, mature one after so many years.
Still not given a chance by others. Still caged in this box, that no one would let him out of, or even take the time to glance in.
He changed, He wasn’t 19 anymore with an intense feeling to kill himself and that the world would be better off if he did so.
One winter week, when everything was positive, and he felt so loved by so many, the world came crashing.
It didn't end for weeks. Each week gave news of some other devastating tear at his heart and his belief in the world.
All of his hard work to never be who he used to be, all of his change and knowledge and love, simply didn't matter.
He became sicker.
No test or doctor or piles of medications could cure him.
So He ran.
He was reborn. He was himself, and didn't have to fake anything.
He could hurt and smile, and laugh and people loved him the same and he finally loved himself.
Hi realized life is much more than an elitist bunch of people and the belief that everyone is better than he ever would be.
The problem with running is that you eventually have to come back to where you ran from.
He got pulled back into hell. He was stronger, but not strong enough.
He has been bed ridden for a month now.
Feeling the murky sickness creep its way back through his veins, in his stomach, and covering his heart.
He doesn't understand the negativity, the loneliness, the pain, the silence, the judgment and the betrayal.
He can't move on here. He doesn’t even know if he wants to.
Through what he believed was misery, it was those little things that kept him well. It was the faith and belief, and the amazing amount of love he has always been able to share with the world. The one quality he has always had more than enough of.
He's friendly, nice and understanding. Empathetic. He doesn't judge. He's incapable of hate. He dies a little with each and every negative aspect of the world and human society.
So here he is again. Sick, deteriorating, Stuck.
Watching everyone acting as if he never existed.
Something needs done.
He wants to breathe again. To feel true laughter, happiness, and love. To get rid of all of the anxiety, pain and blackness.
He wants to get better, to not be sick anymore, to start over and be born again.
But how? Is this even possible? Or is it too late?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
He realized that college was just a task. It was something necessary to complete in order to function at the professional level. Not to say it’s necessary to get a college degree in order to function or be a part of society, but rather a necessity for him.
So there he sat, wanting to scream, “I’ve graduated world! I’m ready to conquer you!” Isn’t this what the teachers told us they were preparing everyone for from the first day we all started? Nick felt that all those teachers never really prepared him for this. Never prepared him for disappointment; for consolidation of student loans, for the economic collapse, for the industry he wanted to enter to be completely dying.
But there Nick sat, still having to face the world and all these situations, through no choice of his own. So perhaps, Nick thought, there is a lesson to be learned in this after all. You can try all you want, you can work hard and prepare properly and say your prayers and double knot your shoes and look both ways before you cross the street, but sometimes it just doesn’t fucking matter. Sometimes, you just get hit by an 18-wheeler going 70 miles per hour, regardless. However, instead of being gracious and wiping out an entire generation of jaded cynical self absorbed tweeters it seemed to paralyze everyone into a zombie-like state of post-graduate depression where everyone was wandering around some unoccupied space between hometowns and college towns, ingesting substances and drinking things that gradually numb the pain of getting mauled by an 18-wheeler that was completely out of their control. We all looked both ways, Nick thought, well…some of them did.
Nick blamed it on the 90s, being raised as part of the uber-optimistic Clinton era, the days when kids played sports and at the end of the game “everyone won”…the days that everyone displayed their 5th place ribbons proudly.
And then everyone became teenagers and would turn on the TV and see children getting BMW’s for the 16th birthdays from their parents and a hundred of their “closest” friends, dry humping like rabid farm animals all on the TV network’s dollar, ah yes…now this is what the real world is like! This is what the generation was bred to strive for. These were the rich, the powerful, the Gatsby’s, if you will. This is why, Nick thought, I went to college.
These dark and upsetting thoughts littered Nick’s brain like a car crash you want to turn away from but can’t on the news. He knew he wanted something better, but even in these lowly moments Nick knew he could deal with it. Jackie, however, couldn’t deal with the pressure anymore. He didn’t even know why Jackie’s name crossed his mind at this hour, especially given the status of things between them now, but he couldn’t help but feel moved and empathetic towards her. Reality had been slowly getting harder and harder for them all to deal with, but for Jackie, it was becoming a task difficult to wake up in the morning for. Her family was falling apart and her inability to get a job was all mounting into a rising tide that was becoming harder and harder to swim against. He tried shaking it out of his head, but Jackie stuck.
Nick observed the similarities between their situation, both longing for the same thing, both dealing with personal problems that were mounting to a unfathomable height, however the same post-graduate depression that ate away at Jackie day and night seemed to wash over Nick with a more tranquil, soothing numbness. He was angry and sad, sure, but the booze and drugs did make it go away. It seemed so logical.