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“I’ve always been an admirer of your physique.”

“Whiter-knuckled than a nervous wreck at the wheel. That’s what gets me from Hangover to Cure. ”

“Yes. The wailing misery of cats, I believe. Pretty vacant and almost empty. Worlds of weariness. A discounted life left to its own devices. Every stumble’s bum.”

“No illicit run on nuances here, I see.”

“Reverse is its own pull, not forward’s polarity.”

“Of course. But the years trail from your coattails nonetheless, tax you with unforgiving umlauts of worthless drudgery, crop dull and steady in that unnoticed way you jab and stagger through them.”

“It’s like a young girl asking, ‘How old do you have to be to be in love?’”

“The answer’s at least forty. In my less-than-humble opinion.”

“And she asks, ‘Would you please read for me please?’”

“Me? Hummed all the ding right of all things. I’ve been reading for myself since I was at least forty.”

“Sure. And if you want to speak of skull-heavy reverberations, ahem: before the first football helmet was developed, Edgar Allan Poe III (grandnephew of the famous writer) developed a small leather nose protector which, however, was found to severely interfere with vision and breathing and to come off too easily.”

“I did not know that. Another proctologist’s lullaby for thought, I suppose.”

“Things you should’ve considered, but didn’t because, well, there are always so many damn things to consider. To wit: Christopher Reeve was the best Clark Kent.”

“I am all out of opinions, and facts are sputtering to an untimely end. Open up and say nothing. We’re all out of this apart.”

“It’s bleak.”

“No. It’s bleak’s harbinger: fat-headed nonsense being used as grandstanding ideals. It’s always stupidest before the fall.”

“My dreams are absent from the fray, at least. Some untouched valley where I can go moan alone. That’s all anybody needs.”

“Kissed windless through keyholes on clipped wings. We are of the mildest sort of dire.”

“You could say that.”

“I will. I did. I…am.”

“So, as of right this, ahem, now, as we’re considering it, I am making a list of people who have been in my kitchen.”

“Have you included a chain-smoking nervous theoretical physicist who loved martinis and loose women and ancient Hindu poetry?”

“Ah, yes. A slugged-around guy who’s always carefully ‘tickling the dragon’s tail’ for results. You got it. Or you don’t, right?”

“And then uranium is enriched for all the wrong rights. Yes becomes your only maybe, and the megatons begat chains of distance, things to never go beyond, words meant as worlds never to be mended.”

“Can it. I’m open to spaces.”

“And all the lilacs in Ohio are without you on these days that the rain turns into spoiled wine.”

“Read the cue cards. Cry between the parentheses. Take your time getting old. It’ll all hold down whatever’s up with your most autumnal moments. Memories form welts warm on the wet hand-holding gibberish relished coy on the mind’s gearshift.”

“Huh?”

“Just a painted-over portrait of a churchgoer who happened to one day just go bad. Not that I put money on such things. I’m just overarching. Or would that be overweening?”

“Pride’s porridge.”

“Falling in love at a train station.”

“A transcontinental meeting. A rooming-house feeling surmounted in the duress of the direst of situations. Post prefab circumstances at play as we hammer the floorboards with paper nails so no one hears us under the shouting we’re too scared to do out loud.”

“Seems partially approved, all this thousandth-timing, all this bigshot talk.”

“Dumped, again. Artfully inept. A broken elevator that’ll never do as just stairs.”

“When I was passing through a town out west, once, I sat parked in my car, shut off the engine but left the radio on. A Johnny Rodriguez song was playing: something about, ‘Don’t pass me by,’ or something. It was a great old country song, sort of sad but twangy enough to not be melancholy at all. I let it take over my thoughts, become who I was, just a sad sack existing in a world of fog and drudgery. I wished I were in a smoke-filled pool hall, sitting at the bar with a beer in one hand and an empty shot glass in front of me. I wanted to be somebody else and myself at the same time. Everything was just memories mixed with drinks. Only passing through. Just a line not used, a hard swallow and a burp. Nobody watching. Nobody to care. Just let me sit there and drown. I guess.”

“‘If you can see this you probably won’t let on that you do.’ That sort of thing, right?”

“A halo around your neck that people pretend doesn’t exist.”

“Love’s attaché case.”

“Oh, and, yes, and dimple soft the moon’s ripples banded orange-blue-yellow through stuffed yams of cloud as the night sinks its talons into what’s ample and there for the taking. God, we’re such morons to never look around and all over as much as possible. Any start that does anything but.”

“But we’ve still got time?”

“Nothing but.”

“When you get to that point in your life when you’re looking back at things more than you’re looking forward to things.”

“A fresher drink, an angel dancing over the tip of your tongue. Hell, let’s go right into the hillbilly numbers.”

“Less than holy moments.”

“The rough, remote echo of hammers in a high-rise under construction, street noise notwithstanding, the hauling-away of it all is tangible on this brisk chilly day of low sun and clear skies. The kind of day you get a nosebleed on for no reason. And you get caught between paces in a head-on with a fellow pedestrian, narrowly avoiding a collision as you crane your neck back to the situation at hand. When the wind’s blowing bleach and the concrete’s unassailable. Just as the sentinel building-top gargoyles and the intaglios and carved-relief seals on stairway entrances see fit. A runnel. A rut. The mud you’re stuck spinning your wheels in. Holes to be trapped down. Heavens away from any hope’s dashed haven. Still, brought forth and a tad triumphant, with less zeal than you’d suppose, as the conch-shell blasts of arc welding disturbs no peace but your own. Crawl lengthwise through occupied spaces. React composed and plum with the edges of scrappiness.”

“Of all the gin around, you’re the only one I’ll consider misbehaving with.”

“Yes. Because, ahem, ‘Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail, in good spirits.’ Right?”

“Same here. And I’m left wondering why I can’t be a ‘cool guy.’”

“Dressed to dredge up a consistent perspective. Recall it all and be irrational.”

“Eyes that can never see beyond sight.”

“Rivers instead of roads, maybe, and the cans always do.”

“I have trouble with electricity. Is this common? What’s the frequency? Are these dreams inside of reality? Why do my clocks never work?”

“Questions are only more choices not to make. We only exist because of other people. We are nothing by ourselves.”

“A snitched tell of swept hallways kept musty and crammed with memories. Echoes in the echo chamber. Noise that can only come from music’s profane existence. A preamble to a life’s end.”

“There are multitudes in the microscopic circumspection of doubts and destinies. Creeping into the acts of logic, we muster uncanny formulas in sentient shapes all the time.”

“It’s really all that’s left to do.”

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