We have received permission for liftoff. Common standards bear the weight of readmission into the coyly kneaded dough of habitual entries. There will not be a lark on standby. A herd of nyalas stump for the undecided. A dissected papier-mâché fish lies on a sapphire-and-ruby-topped table. Sand is being churned into paper at all the mills. Nothing is overhead forever.
— (1) Try to be craved for in the substitute wishes of what are not ever coming around. (2) Again? Not once? (3) Tagged with mystery and moreover inept in cravings, as it were, as see-above types would mention, again. (4–7) Dropped pennies never picked up (8) Stacks untouched by smoke. (9) Sort of playful beyond a stir of a doubt. —
What’s been known to have been said without ever having been heard: “I love wasting time and doing nothing too much to stop and do something about it.”
Lesson #43: Ignoring the sterile confines of antiseptic spaces, and instead opting to set off metal detectors, one must once in a while survive solely on penguin steaks and rashly mashed zucchini.(Trust me, it’s a piece of steak, the ease of this like dropping of tomatoes into ketchup. A proverbial breeze, Saline.)
Peachy but not so keen begat a line of order that split chaos into pulverized plums. The Alsatians were amassing. Sayings were botched. The word “rad” was used to describe chemical weapons. Drug takers were left to the devices of automatic computing systems and unplugged extension cords. Nobody who was anybody was ratted out by somebody.
(all championship knife fights have been put on hold for the duration of irregularities of promotional material in the regularly scheduled program)
Needy, greedy and incessantly cruel, I stalked off in the meadow grass in an attempt to lure incarcerated lovers out of birdhouse cells, and then screamed, “Who can I fall in love with forever in this world?” And then I put another dime in the jukebox. A voice trebled, “That, above-average sir, is out of this world.” Then nothing happened.
I am not a manure-glazed wheelbarrow to haul around. Leave the muck of rain’s revenge scarred in tackling far-from-home-on-the-range-or-roaming-buffalo matters. Averse to calm’s headless heart, I will sing something like, “The worst picture of me taken ever, a Polaroid of me with a Panama hat in hand, lies in a drawer in the bedside table where it most likely stays the same while the rest of me rots.” Shuttling forthwith and back to complications, I should know what everybody else does about me, but I do not.
To opt for better conditions in which to shout safe epithets from, or (unnumbered) get rate quotes on lumber, is of the utmost import when glaring in a concave mirror. A guy named Frank Muggs is steaming my mail open while I ruin another 1920s-themed self portrait. Let the semi-operational counters of domestic foreign-sponsored catering forfeit proper dietary restrictions, at least. And then some dance numbers with lawnmowers on display, or taxis with diamond-studded steering wheels. The telephone has decomposed into a tiny computing device. We are alert and just move on, dangerous and potato-sacked, using Hutier tactics to get back behind it all.
An old timer was stooped at the piano, getting hammered on Jewish coffee, making what’d been stolen from him long ago his again:
“Back when Shoeless Joe was just a Pelican in New Orleans. We were all balancing (or at least acting as if we were) back then. Nineteen and ten. That right? The lights were graying. The best team ever to play on The Bayou. Most folks knew it even then that Shoeless Joe was destined for brighter lights than the ones at Pelican Park. They tried to sway him to stay, knowing he was a tad on the superstitious side, and a loner who distrusted most of the proper confines of society. Something about him was always unhooked, at odds with the world around him. Some of us were real adept at abating his fears, abetting him to keep his wares just right where they were, so as to keep that big old dangerous corrupt world out there from harming him, as it should’ve been easy to convince him it would. Though, somehow, in that Triassic era of discontentment and tomorrow’s bounding promise, well, it just didn’t work. We lost Shoeless Joe to the world, and soon, well, the world would go ahead and take him in and spit him right back out with the Black Sox just nine long years later. Those years saw a lot for all of us. And in Seventeen, you know, God hurt us, we ran headlong and righteously into The Great War. Bad bones and all, you see, this barroom sucker went toad-over-stool to get as far as hell from the whole shebang. But Shoeless Joe. Where’d he go? Don’t rightly know.
“There’d be a few more myths around it then. Things some plucky shyster dreamt up over burnt toast one late morning. You know, like that he was working in a liquor store or something. He was, though. But it was his store, you see. He owned it. And, hell, it was more of a General Store type place anyways. Dry goods, shaving supplies, lumps of coal. Oh, well, he went off and barnstormed around for a bit after that damn finicky Kenesaw banned all them eight guys from his league. Played on a bunch of bush league teams, taking the bus from small town to small town, impressing everybody with his glove and batting average for a year or so and then moving on. America’s a big place. You can get lost in it if you’re not careful. Find your heart on your wrist one night in a coldwater flat. Rust ringed around the tub, where you’re lying half submerged in brown-tinged water, the other half gone already to a bottle of bootleg hooch, the tap’s drip the only thing keeping you from dunking that head under for good. It gets hard. Yep. I know it too. But, well, somehow the light from a taxi beaming in the window saves you, and then maybe a cat crawls in and whines at you for no reason. Also, maybe you feel ashamed of hard water, the music it doesn’t make. No. No. That’s not it at all. It’s…well, I don’t know. It’s something though.
“I am not a user of good silverware. I wait until garbage day to do my bidding. I do not trust violins at all.
“Everybody here trusts rats and canaries. I think it’s the colors that do it.
“There! I spotted an owl. Finally I can go home.
“Nobody hates you when you’re up and in. But I’m just a boring old man, and nobody’s listening.”
An insurance adjuster, conspicuous, and harder to spell too, bossing around the mill runners who come crumbling down from pricey cars to sell used office fish tanks and leashes for squirrels. Leaner chunks, a court order to call back the nicest ways to name kids, second-of-alls chambered for a dog race or two while the exhausted bait-and-switch burglars lock the suicide doors to their hearts. It was time to have the worst and best of lobster broth while bibbed with quiet furor. A scoffing went along without saying much except, “She wasn’t as small-town as a girl from a Journey song, but she’d do. But I do not, ever, digress.”
A Franz Liszt impersonator was robbing the bows from union boys. There were conflagrations and upstart allies who pretended that swiped cards did the trick, when placed properly and in the correct fashion in the swiper, or you could just insert the chip, but that, somehow, seemed a tad too personal. Everyone at some point began to swoon with Hungarian rhapsody. It was mentionable in the papers, but that’s about all. No pianos remained in the warehouse after the fire.
Villains slept it off, measly, under the shrouded hangdog shapes of away. Torn-mattress laziness swamped through, and a few daisy miners flew above the freeways on an Afghan rug. A stoker spoke through a cupped hand to his mistress’s brother: “I had a dream I was lying in a sanatorium built into the slope of a giant beach. I was in love with a lady named Christ. It wasn’t terrible at all.”
We are seen oft in aptly wry episodes, darker near internal temps of hidden cool, so cropped and picked under, well for the ways to see other people, and it is a you that is everywhere. A marvelous, violent paradise. Paradoxical, a man of all symbols, confusion’s clowning. Forced control, away from freedom, technology’s flux easy to access, utilitarian, rigidly antiseptic, void of all abstract imagination. Enamored at the till of directing a wild, lunatic fringe of letter writers to understand intrusions of judgment. Products place themselves, harrumphing, “Big deal,” while smoking meek conformist cigarettes, while controversy sings The Ballets Russes in the gutter, while laptops chirp and bleat the blues. We clip curt corners, raunchy and acceptable, and younger age cashes out, lukewarm cool, a composite of phony just stakes forever ringing without phones.
(This is not a test) 1. Life’s prayed away from stamens for petals, in a flush and bloom of moonlight? 2. Answered already. 3. Given the place that blames nobody, if shying away from scrap-iron fumes, detailed receipts for insurance purposes only, or subspecies of rodents, there will be another fill-in-the-blank to be true or false about in essay form. 4. Pass. 5. Erasable ink and permanent pencil acceptable, to what certain point?
Those who only use products not tested on humans gathered in the gyroscope’s pitch-roll-and-yaw attitude to discuss the whereabouts of new frontiers: places where Clark Gable is not. Thinner mustaches; thicker eyebrows. An impresario of self-impressions, a régisseur of a faulty reality. Gregory Peck’s bicycle. The king of peasant town, down on Rainy Avenue, feeding salt and vinegar chips to the pigeons, he told them all what wasn’t what:
“Rain in headlights glinting opalescent, the gears of night caught red-handed. Man, getting all tangled up with this girl I used to know sort of real well. Touring bouts of insomnia placing blame on a supposedly sure thing that just never gets around to happening. Right of ways gone wrong, you know. Love me, love me not, love me a little, and then it’s, ‘Well you see I’ve just gone off to love somebody else.’ Right about not time to please the court, wearing Methodist bells to a choir practice, all set on being around for a bit, or not at all, maybe. Like this girl I used to see a fiscal year or so ago. She was a real cold fish, you know. Had to put her in the oven to get her hot. Well, you know, things get bad and then they get worse. But then there’s that 14–1 horse picking up the pace around the bend, and you’ve got Girly Dan circled on your racing form and the moon in your back pocket. It’s a paycheck waiting to happen. Oh, but then, you know, it peters out just before the finish line. Girly Dan’s got a gimp leg, it turns out, and he’s bucking, and then he gets tripped up by some upstart gelding 3-year-old never-been-to-the-derby who goes by Pancho’s Saddlebags. Man. And you’re left wiping your ass with some pages you tore out of a Sears Roebuck catalogue. You see, there’s nothing in my stocking this year except a cold, and the tree’s hung with barbwire and bologna canes. I’m more inclined to believe in less-than-better things to come, and there ain’t a smile left in these shoes. So, go on and run off with that insurance adjuster, baby. There’s less to me than you could ever imagine. Stay up all night listening to Le Sacre Du Printemps and The Cannonball Addereley Sextet, waiting for the rain to letup, planning a takeover of the bus lines. This weather brings out the boots in us. Ah, man, well, I’m always just one bad joke away from being alone. There are hot-air balloons in The Guggenheim. Nobody’s getting out of class early. And the nights are all crumbled crackers, and the movie shows have all gone dark. And, well, you know, being in public gets to be a drag, so you knuckle down and steel yourself for happier days up ahead. Guess I should’ve shooed that fly away to St. Petersburg, you know, but, hell, I guess it’s here to stay. It snores the rain to sleep. It pummels the newspaper-sleeping-bagged unlucky lying fitful on park benches. It crushes bones and breaks aluminum cans. A hobo necktie, a veer towards uptown, a range and a pull that’ll do for a dangerous subway ride. Ah, man, a delicate and angular way to go insane. Well, times were when I had me a girl too. And I’d take my girl out to all the top-of the-line dining establishments, you know: El Farolito, Taqueria Cancun, Little Henry’s. Man, I’d get her chips and extra salsa and everything, you know. I wasn’t cheap about it. Then I’d buy her a transfer and take her out for a little sightseeing on the 14-Mission, show her where all the pigeons sleep on the eaves of the Old Mint. We’d catch a drink at a high-class joint, you know. Somewhere like Jonell’s or Sutter Station or Jack’s on 7th Street. Nothing but the classiest cocktails and company. Sometimes we’d get to strolling out down Market, taking in the sights. You know, we’d dance around the fine upstanding individuals lying on the sidewalk and huddling in the doorways. ‘Hey, buddy. Got a smoke?’ You know the type. And we were generous about it, you know. I’d hand out Lucky Strikes and American Spirits, for Christ’s sake. The good stuff. And, you know, it’d start getting later, and we’d somehow find ourselves back at my place. Hell, I don’t know how these things happen, you know. Um, so, well, soon it’s well-you-know-it’s-getting-rather-late time, and well-I’ve-got-to-get-up-in-the-morning, and pretty soon it’s the-hell-with-you-I-want-to-see-other-people. Yep. Well, you know what, baby? Why don’t you just open up your eyes then. Other people? They’re everywhere. You know how it goes after that. Yeah. All the cussing and rending of garments — mine. And then the lamp goes crashing into the wall, and the TV’s decapitated, and the walls get a mural of spaghetti sauce splashed on ’em like a Jackson Pollock. Yep. The door slams. She’s gone off. You know, off to marry that insurance-claim adjuster at last. Taking the long ride to Reno in a piece-of-shit Cadillac with a headlight out and a terrible gasket and a leak in the gas tank and no windshield wipers to speak of. Keeping up appearances for imperfect strangers. Well, you know what? Let her. Who needs her, right? Shit. Throw a rock and hit another one just like her. A dime-a-hundred, dames like that. They’ve all got chrome-tinted umbrellas and dreams made out of smashed rhubarb pies, if you ask me about it. But who’s asking?”
Those who weren’t listening asked all the wrong questions. A stable gut-punched sensibility overcame the scarier of them. People pounded on the wood planks beneath the gallows and got wasted on helium punch. Bugs were reported in the swaying of trees. And, in the dark, somebody was dancing slow.
Comments, criticisms, compliments, or complaints: a difference of a hug’s silence, a kiss’s drool of poison, a mistake in the recommendations of affable court reporters, where the sidewalk starts, a smear of ashes on a 2nd-class cabin’s lozenge-shaped window, clouds gone vermilion and gray, a million to a billion at the touch of a screen, the bulldozers crush whatever chance is left after that, and the banana trees only go where coffee grows, and there’s burgundy in them hills, and the fungus attacks the plant life, and the bees are murdered by insecticide, and suicide comes back into style among abstract art thieves, and the longest light in town changes its colors for the night, and my sentiments have been air-balled into the seats for the remainder of the evening. For the duration, I will be imbibing gentian-violet-and-gasoline cocktails in the shade of a Coca-Cola billboard if anyone wishes to find me, and if I sneeze please text me that I am blessed.