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That guy, well, he’s really just living the life of Riley, ain’t he? Smog-suffering smug lunatic that he knows himself to be. What’s the rain sound like? Seems I’ve forgotten. In, of, and out of the tepid water too, in the sort of what’s-it-to-you scramble that fades five o’clock from the shadows. And sure, I’ve got my low-water marks. I’ve got my mechanical-bull theatrics. But hell, excuse me, because I’ve got feet to make for kids’ socks. If only he were “on the way” or any plainer strut of stuff that just never seems to stick any no how. Shit. There’s love in the ice machine. There’s an H-bomb in the fridge. To place blame’s for the window washers. That guy, he’s just right of left. This guy? Well, let’s just say he’s not a pepper by a long shot. He’s not fifty if he’s a day. Prompt? Fuck it. I make more money being drafty than a punitive-damaged father-fucker like that would ever perchance to dream. A slug to depend on. Well, there’s that, I guess. That guy, well, let’s say he maybe gets a bit pushy one day. He goes on a rampage that maybe just ain’t so swell at all. The weekend’s on-and-off, but the standup run’s got it on me though. Restless and unassured. Criteria that only stinks when it wants to. A notion’s run on gassed. That guy? He’s a real Fruit Roll-Up about it, and that’s an only’s if about it too. And you’ve got people going around saying, “I love you,” to each other, right out in public places. Shit. It’s enough to make you burn your undies in a pyre. Bad God. I’m not so awful as all that. Still. There’s got to be some breaks in the frame, if you get to getting on with it, and then, a-huh, I get a bawling lady sprouting up in the midst of all these canary-watching lurkers. It’s a bank heist of my most inoperable modes of being careful, and, well, what if not giving to all comers. Proposed to much? Well, ah, enough to turn a head. Is there a preacher in the house? Pour me a glass of willpower and I’ll dump it all over the clothes I can’t get myself to wear anymore. Pass the wimpy boasting on over here. I’ve got dibs on the love of a conjoined twin named Harly. Of course her sister Violet’s always around, and she don’t care for me much. Yep. Not so sweet on yours truly. It’s just another thing I’ll have to put up with. Sacrifices I keep getting around to making. And really not getting around to much else. And that guy, he knows the ballerina’s gone blind for me. He knows my steps before I make them. My particular sort of stomping is well known to most anyway. But, hell, there ain’t no greener grass over there, just concrete. That guy. That fucking guy. Again and over and again. Well, it figures. You see, these here peepers just see things a bit differently from most. I go on. I do. But then there’s that guy. He’s still no different. A slipping in want of a slurp. That’s not very much close to all. In cedars let fly my reputation. Not thwarted, like he’d have it. Something upended. Curiosity’s sneeze. Most of it left us all here replaced just when that guy gave it up that Big Hug Rita’d left town. There are motions in the awareness of some superficial events that just leave you downright flummoxed about the sensibilities of this pantomime we keep up. That guy? He might know on any of the lord’s days what was acting up in his conscience, or on it, or if we get to narrowing our distractions down to an easy dozen or so, well, then that guy’s got the most of what’s not circumstantial tucked away in his boots. Let nothing be, huh? That’s instinct for you. Before the after was all that was left, at least. Still, there’s a dram of mercy around someplace for the damned. Worried for scorn’s sake, and there rides another shallower sort of thinking. Sunnier days don’t just come around for conversation’s lack. A scale brought less than brushy to the show-off side of surety. Another tipped-off clumsy doll carousing the night’s lugubrious length, without or with sighs. Chaste as marble cake. A ramification of scowling around wilted and dim, justice omitted for a spell in the churning, rested in the governing lights cursed with putting up. Get it. Don’t. What’s the worth of it? The felled splendor of a nightmare’s wake? The years get rougher. A cease-fire or some Do Not Disturb sign bolted to what thoughts I’ve got use and no use for. And, yes, that guy’s too I suppose. Something beckoning a shit about it. But this guy? Me, I ain’t much disturbed at all. Adaptable? Nah. This guy, I’m just some worn-out Mardi Gras outfit. I’m the boring bunting strung out and dropped in buckets of dependability. I’m lunchroom fodder caught without a hint of desperation. And the onion and vinegar rank blowing over from that guy’s all that just so happens to remain to be fucking dealt with. Feeling unloved? Well, extinguish all the candles from here to Cow Hollow. I ain’t in the cake-making business.

The disarray’s in the booze again. A crush at the temples. To carry without a holster. Forced relaxation. Please, attempt this at home. Be on your worst behavior. Chicanery and all. Bring a five spot with you, Killer. A Job-like quality to it all. Heavy sop fled to other quarters. In a roundabout way still of the fading belief that the sun’ll be there in the morning.

Such a pretty mess. She looked like Eleanor Roosevelt and smelled of old drapes. I needed her around about as much as a giraffe needs strep. But as it got dusk we found ourselves swilling champagne from a high-heel shoe. The piano was playing itself, and the conversation was about as intelligent as a left tackle with a hangover.

“I just dump a bunch of whisky all over my problems. Hows about you?” “It’s something reiterated, ain’t it?” “Or?” “Or, I don’t got to get it.” “A bushel of impudence thrown at your doorstep, but it misses, and you aren’t what you aren’t.” “A slender cow named Josephine. A mock up of a robbery. Something like a dash. Something on and off. A too without any commonality, nothing to trace back to.” “Machine-gun silence.” “Whipped. Beat. Rubbed out.” “Not a pat on any back.” “The part that weeps.” “Better to be bad than worse than good.” “A romance for your troubles.” “Something to say, to have up your sleeve for an occasion that warrants it.” “867–5309.” “To the groundswell we go, happy cake makers all.” “Jesus James who robbed trains in heaven, he lived lightly to tell the tale.” “Go dunk your doughnuts in jungle juice.” “Just jejune aspirations over here, Patsy.” “More numbers on bathroom stall doors. And, of course, the wonderful euphony of the phrase, ‘Barreling down the boulevard.’ A starved cat of a thing mewling around sad cafes.” “All you are not.” “I don’t want to be remembered, not like this.” “The lawn is on fire.” “What’re the possibilities?” “Catch a porcine beast by the nose. If he squeals, slit his throat.” “Just curious, who’s the boss?” “Angela.” “Slap. Cackle. Shop.” “Twenty dollars buys whatever truth you’ve lost. In the worst of eons. In the even worse decades. In the money trees and in the graver institutions. Worry less. Wonder more.” “The dress clothes that you borrowed are growing threadbare with over wear.” “In the town where I was never born died a stay-home woman.” “Who are we when we speak of such stuff?” “Bedridden Hula-Hoopers. Flea-bitten debtors. Classicist boilers of rattlesnakes.” “The swim of it is that we’re here, now, and can’t be anywhere else, ever — or, maybe just yet.” “My voice proceeds without me.” “Pickle my lassitude. I want to stand up and be alone.” “Just forgiven. Just barely.” “Reconstitute. Shake gently. Stir. Get refreshed.” “I am a false believer. I own things. I get nothing done.” “There you don’t stop.”

In the pleased trees is where we swung before the late-night gals pissed all upon the parlor floor. Be not whiffy in stolen prowls. A net to catch your friendship in. A lightener for your bad moods. Color sleepier shades between the Corinthian columns of blight and hope. In a burst of shame speaks the rain to the soup bowl. Breathe and waste it. Over and yonder place the over-sexed marauders their axes of love. Kicked all ass where names don’t mean shit. As you were not. Pause. Erase. And then all good was not done. Heart buried. Head tattered. Everything matters when you’re swinging.

“Hi. I am not doing this for myself. You are aware. Okay. I pass. No more moves. The night’s not gentle. Not a bit. It’s creosote. It’s rough, mangled, scabby. I just passed GO. Where’s my cash? A thimble for your conniption fits. That’s all I get. Ketchup in the eye. I’m done with favors. Put out the bad silverware. I’m a chopsticks man from here on out.”

Then, as time countered, a whistle blew. Nobody needed a reason to celebrate. Of course, with bloody noses going around, it was breakup season, and I gave her a jar of cherries soaked in brandy, and she gave me the best hug in town. I kissed her out of there. I kissed her out of sight.

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