cheap investments in a heart’s pocket’s foldedtiny letter there smuggled through a manner’s custom, she and I were having dinner too, and the miscalculations of joy spindled happenstancingly leftover from months ago, or was it years too? might’ve been, lord knows. indispensable rubbish. and the fireworks are like drunkgirls screaming in the sky, but they only ticklingly light fog different colors like flavors of cotton candy. the pier was dropdead empty that night afterwards, of course, after the crowd had lingered no more. just like them. while the closedpostoffice way she had of dashing off a letter — in record time — was not lost in the strife of a day’s works. Until there was no more she to be with, no more we, just me.
a train made a trainsound.
poorness was overwhelming. never enough cash. just eking out a living, or a dying really. wasn’t it? living this way. they said hand to mouth, right? finger to lips. a shush. a secret of sunkships. something of the sort. something to do with not saving. no rainy days. no funds being raised. just a few bucks to see a movie once a week, or have a meal that didn’t consist of hot water, cheap noodles, and a flavor packet. roomtemp water. that’s the way she liked it. leave it out overnight. what’s undernight? beneath those dark skies it was when she came alive. though not dark in that way at all, not like ominous or something. it was prickled with starlight. and fiveyearlightbulbs. a scrimmage of wit between the walls. to pay a little later every month. to put off. to chip away at enervation with sturdy blocks of hoppedup willpower. loonier tunes to go berserk to in the lamplight. a basketcase for the moon to look after.
he walked. the street was humped and crumbly. he thought of lava not all the way cooled. the sidewalk was ribbed with tiny flowers and some scraggy weeds jutting here and there from cracks. fauna. flora. a beatup couch with rippedtorn cushions. Rip Torn. The Man Who Fell To Earth. Norman Mailer for some reason. a fist fight maybe? perhaps? whatever makes the most sense. commonmanning his way down the avenue. down the boulevard, barreling, fist first. cementflop of shoes. a mediumplanetsize-creature with an appetite for humans, digesting loudly, all these people walking and the murmur of it all. like that guy with three names said who went in for the felo-do-se, went ahead and hung himself in the basement for his wife to find him there. tongue out? erection? that’s what they say. hell of a way to take one’s self out. had longish hair and good looks too. tragic sort of tragedy. could make up stories to fill the void in people’s lives.
a corner where the streets meet. intersect. stop signs. he was standing there. he was thinking — gotta shit, gotta shit, gotta shit, gotta take me a dump…why is it take? shouldn’t it be give? Carlin. stuff. all that stuff. where’s my stuff? oh lord, lord, i gotta takes me a shit. gosh damn. god darn. fuck, fuck, fuck. oh lord it’s a comin, now or never…Elvis…it’s now or never, be mine tonight. gotta love that. Graceland. All those TV sets. died on the crapper. oh shit. oh shit. gotta take me a shit. give a shit to the sewer system really. a few more blocks. Homeward bound. I wish I was. I wish I were. Forgot about the subjunctive mood mr. simon. Going home. Going home to take a dump. ah. push out a good one. think lightheadedly about baseball boxscores and Tide detergent advertisements and the way some people’s voices sound when they whisper and also the tonsured heads of NBAers. cagers. loopy to say the least. making up ditties. singing aloud. out loud. humming. listening to the toilet run, the refrigerator whine, the mice scramble in the walls, a cat’s sadmeowing, the toilet paper tearing in strands unevenly on the spool while i onehandedly tug at its thin sheets. i gotta take me a dump. can’t wait. can’t wait to take me a good oldfashioned shit.
he walks in the crosswalk, saved by the magic of its white lines. to cross. to carry one too. across the street. on the street. at street level. no. above.
vitamins. vitamins. multivitamins. oneaday. under the sun. vitamin d. good for lotsa stuff. calcium absorption. need to get out there into the world. gotta get some of that sunshine on the skin. soak up the rays. not too much. just enough for the RDA. maybe not even so much. who gets to say how much is enough? we’re all the same but different too in all many such of kinds of ways. similarly just enough different to be told apart. eat well. thrive. run a marathon once in while. take the stairs. cardiovascular healthwise, get the heart pumping. but not too much. just enough. fiber to make it all come out nice and smooth. no bumps in the dumps. pushups to violin music. making good time.
up the curb. he settles and balances with his toes on the curbedge. up and down. lifting himself. feels good in the calves. a balancing act. don’t go tipping over and into the street. get hit by a bus. that’ll be the end of you. that’ll be it. a last goodbye. no more you to be you. no there to be there. oakland? somewhere that is nowhere? that lady who told hemingway to concentrate. something of the sort. always something of the sort. rolling hills. something majestic. freeways between crushed with cars going going going but never gone.
a mailman goes by. a mail carrier. a postal worker. a female deliverer of stamped envelopes with papers inside. mostly junk. advertisements for magazine subscriptions and credit cards. mail bags. visors to keep the sun out of their eyes. good walking shoes. striped blue socks. a lithe way of going about their work. their daily doings. mostly back and forth and up and down. fitting things into mailslots. avoiding dogs. giving directions. striding purposefully. no leisurestrolling. looks of intent. directness. confidence. wherewithal.
check my head for signs of life.
the cupboards are bare.
he walks. he saunters. he gallops at times. he struts in his perambulations. he swings his arms. arms that dangle are better than arms that strangle. good one. safety first. maybe. possibly. perhaps. could be. a parallelparking car screeching like a door that needs some WD40 on the hinges. wheels turned all the way. backing up. going forward. again and again. never quite close enough. turn the tires towards the curb.
how much of my life have I spent staring at a TV screen, watching TV shows, commercials?
this old brain is tired tired tired tired…she couldn’t be beat when it came to marveling. quite a marveler she was. could marvel better than anyone. sometimes she’d marvel at a slice of bread, before it was toasted of course, just the bread, lying there on the plate, and she there marveling at it…the situational prurience of dreams wears off slow, wake up with unfinished business, trying to connect threads of things, to attach them, when ya gotta, to your life. The crumbling parapets of dreamland, a fantasy burnished and then banished, things lost, topheavy and down. Pitterpatter whatsamatter? Gleegolden. If the nape is left exposed, he will teeth it with bites a plenty. Happysnacking. Courting partners in crime. Lose the Agamemnon look (if it doesn’t suit the occasion) less I bare all or bar you from future pleasurings.
He steps away from the corner. The intersection is behind him. The sidewalk is leafless there. A stray thought to catch like a butterfly, though harder, more difficult to say, just then, with hands behind his back, like a professor would do while strolling through a park in the late afternoon, probably wearing a v-neck sweater, a cravat, an elbowpatched sportcoat, a white beard, monocles, patent leather shoes, white socks, loose-fitting slacks, fall colors. What would I say? I am confused by underwear ads. Smiling. Juxtaposition. Weariness too. Those things add up. Where’d my good times all go? A flutter. A twist in the air. More like jasmine, but gardenia coming through too, just a whiff of scent. People shutting car doors, standing up from a crouch, pushing beepbuttons on their keys like candlelight exploding, and just standing there, not really looking at anything. The devil cares. He may care. My attitude is flourishing with achievement. Getting it right. Walking on by. Dionne Warwick. Walking. Peripatetic like Aristotle, like he would if he still could. Who’s to say whose who is going to live longer? Me or this grasshopper on the windowsill? Could squash it like a…bug. The bug it is. Then I’d know. For sure.
A cat. A stray. Feral? In search of home? Lost like anything else is. Ammo for a longoveranddone war. An airconditioner coming to life. Must’ve had an icecreamsandwich of a time. Listing still. On through. Assuredly it ends at some point. Patontheback. Godinthetrees. Have that wellwisher shot. An incipient roar like a hodoscope would make if it could. You’re my dream. Now, there are those things ericaceous too. Those dreams. Lovely as they are. Like saying rhododendron outloud, aloud. Ban all ailurophobes from the neighborhood for a while. Purring will come to vanquish all. Let it come. Let everything be drowned in moans. You’re a dream’s dream. Lookingglasslike, or selflessly selfish. Wandering it alone. Together. Left of winging it and right of an elephant stampede. By the goodgrace of the hood of that car. Another wandering eye to meet mine. Excoriating, these pants. Or is it chafing? I’ve been chafed! Great God! Holy Moly! Shit! Jesus! Make amends. Tie shoes tighter. Keep the sink clean. Get better at shaving.
Windows. Plate glass? Plates of glass, for sure. Creeping in and out of shape. My reflection’s in vain. Gawking at myself. My own gawkiness never ceases to amaze me.
a cure for laziness. a substitute for boredom. a retrousse nose staring right back at you from the mirror of your diminishing returns, and then it’s less than that too. a broom sweeps, but does a sweep broom? never always. like codeine. just a taste of a trickle of what’s possible with opiates, but not enough to make it worthwhile. break it apart. separate the chaff from the grain. alcohol it down. water it up. whatever it takes. boil out the impurities. on the rocks. off the rocker. outside in. a stranger’s sweatpants in the dryer. always favored a roman nose, me myself. put the movies on. just as swell. might’a been goodly.
he hops. it’s not a skip. it’s a hop. a tweak of the heels. a walker’s gamble. a toe’s wink. a prance. effeminate? better that nobody saw. he hopes after the hop that nobody saw. nobody’d seen.
a honk. maybe a treble? lord knows. it’s beyond me. like a bird’s chirp. a siren’s not the same. a car alarm. the hijacking of my ears with disembodied shrillness. sweat gathering sweetly in folds of skin. bellysweat. armpitsweat. crotchsweat. asscracksweat. earsweat. toesweat. screeching rubber. a peel. outside things are allowed to be louder than inside. eating can keep you alive and it can kill you. spelling isn’t like that, in most instances.
okay so there he goes walking by a few shops and he doesn’t stop at all just keeps walking spying things in the windows and in the street too thinking about…bacon, Nestorian reasons behind decisions, solecisms in thoughts, thinking ideas through without regard to reality, peppercorns, trumping ills with wonder, gesturing while talking to one’s self, bacon, ropeswings of regret, cut-rate mullings of trying over and over to try, gas lights coming on, bacon, whirlpools in hot tubs, somatology, a poultice for melancholy, bacon, the smell of owl feathers, obsequies for those still living, odalisques for the dead, k-zones, likely reasons for the Cambrain explosion, insensitivities in the mind to certain others, lookouts, bacon, mishaps of cats, and bacon sizzling with a tintinnabulation all its own.
— Yasho! You come here this instant! Bad Yasho!
it’s somebody yelling. it’s a streetscreamer type. i know the type. people who’ve got to be loud at all times, even when it’s not allowed. mother wouldn’t allow it. father would beat ‘cha for it. gotta use that indoor voice. get your bell rung. get even with the knuckles. if judas go a huntin’. if judas go a huntin’ he go a huntin’ for you. judas is gone fishing. gone to the pond in my head. the world of swirls and whorls. piefaced I am hobbling round. a squat lean. a murderous mush of moon. a fan of silence. it’s somebody who yells. who is shushed many times. who controls climates. it is something of insidious intent, but not ulterior. misshapen thoughts, gotta quit ’em. umbilically tied to troubling things. it’s somebody criticizing a dog’s behavior.
It mingles with other street noise.
— Yasho! Be a good boy. Come here. Come on boy.
There is the smell of dog crap.
— Good boy Yasho. I knew you could do it.
he looks into skies of salmon ribbed with puddles of azure-tinted clouds. televisions light windows with a comforting glow in a building rising above like a mild-mannered R2D2. a few spindly trees spaced apart, what? 15 feet? 20? not many leaves yet. babies. the first hues of life coloring their tips and the bark still rather soft. soft cell. tainted love. sometimes i feel i’ve got to dance. just gotta dance. take my tapdanceshoes and that’s not nearly all. get out damn song. out damn song. out. out of my head. talkingheads. there. psycho killer, the get-that-song-stuck-in-my-head-out-of-my-head song. better. there. there. there. imtenseandnervousandicantrelax. make my life seem more important to me. that’s what music does. feel better about yourself in thirteen easy steps. like teaching a course in the names of rivers to help lonely crosswordpuzzlers. cruciverbalists, they say. waters that rise in my head. pigeons rooting in my hair. what can a guy do? where’s my money? where’s my girl? where’s my anthropology degree with a minor in the semantic oddities surrounding old-world Baltic metaphors? there’s a little kid dressed in a little-kid suit and tie. that’s more like it. hey there little guy. should i muss his hair? would that be considered inappropriate? just a simple gesture. kindness. nothing like that these days. people have been saying these days forever. everybody whose ever grown old. the past. it wasn’t so great, was it? elvis had sex and drugs and rocknroll too. that’s something. at least i’m not a human fly.
he walks along. he walks around.
— do not haunt me, says the clerk.
— fat chance, says the ghost.
an example of irony? no. pleasure in forgiveness. more likely. inept struggles towards chants and pantings and also raving like headhunters would be after some inside information. schmoozing with cockroaches.
oh of all things to be mad about. things in my pockets. things weighing me down. i hate things weighing me down. things in my pockets. keys poking me. wallet bulging. it makes me angry. wanna travel around lightly. wanna be free to move around. things weighing me down. things in my pockets. hate carrying things. having things in tow like shopping bags or suitcases. can something be so good that it’s bad? a terribly wonderful thing. a gorgeous hideousness. a guilty pain that’s also an innocent pleasure.
he walks. if i had an idea machine. that’s all i need. an idea machine. how much would one of them cost? and what would it look like? maybe like a space heater but with more holes in the front. maybe with a longer cord. ideas would come slithering out. or maybe they’d come out like coins out of a slot machine. all at once? or a few at a time. and what if it broke. who’d fix the damn thing. the damn idea machine. maybe not such a good idea afterall.
a lamppost made a lamppostsound.
he walked. riveted. it’s just a way of being. giving more than ample attention to. riveting. eyes riveted. a rivet. a metal bolt or pin. riveting. grabbing at your sights. hooked. stuck on looking. riveted to this way of existing. a certain order to things that was randomly organized into acceptable shapes, almost like steps to climb, rungs, a copious obsession with curved edges to surround things, to make things bounce. resistant to change yet always changing. trying not to notice everything, think about everything, unfiltered, guessing, never at rest.
salmon skies. salmon skies. nothing but salmon skies up ahead do I see.
feeling rather penurious. don’t wanna wanna wanna spend my money. no. no. no. no. ain’t no spendthrift. just going down the road feeling badbadbad, but not broke…at least.
he walks. it is motion at its most plumcherriest. it is not a hohum way of moving. it is a lunging mangled stroll, lowdivingly collective. he walks. the cement is gumspoltched and pebbled and graybleached and kind of linedwithworry. fire hydrants squat with rustchains and intagliolettered with longago names and their littlestumparms. if a fire hydrant had a face would it ever smile? and what would make it smile? and why would it want to smile? the cars boomcrush and yelphonk their way along. a man nods. hi. howdy. sadeyes. little homespun winkedaway cares. howyado? a collection of sighs and reverberations. things turning brown. cracks in the crown of things. sanfrancisco is just an oldindian with a borkenoldcane stumbling across saltwaterdreams of rustedinternationalorangegates and gentrifiedheights. and me? i don’t even own a cowboy hat. i can’t sell insurance for a living. the road drifts me away. people to meet. people to meet. to meet. my face. mistaking crayons for colors. laundromat odors. owlcolored eyes. patchedup feelings that still get tangled too. if i were a drifter i’d drift less in my thoughts and more in my…body…or maybe just stand around admiring trellises, bougainvillea, drooping purpleflower racemes on curled vines of wisteria, thinking about waistcoats or overcoats or topcoats or raincoats or paint. more or less. mas o menos. this or that. with or without? paper of plastic? hard-boiled mystery or crime drama? let’s see. people who say “that” when they should be saying “who” or “whom” should not have jobs that pay them to speak. among other things. i’m just saying.
traducements to my character notwithstanding it would most likely behoove me to dilldally or mariobrother my way out of the chambers of my head for a spell and possibly breathe in some fesher air now and later too for there are labors to attend to with maybe a digduglike diligence drumming through the tunnels of cures and comeonoverheres and those more honorable professionals too like maybe heartattacks for comedic effect or mistakes in curiosities coatofarms there is an aroundthecorner fascination with comingsoon events like if a worm gets all chopped up iceberglettucelike but wigglingly grows still headless always without much to separate the body from the what would it be maybe just one slippery oleaginous writhing mess of bloodguts still you can’t discount the price of experimentation not at an office party even because we’ve had wars started over less just a wink or a nod or a sly pussyfart in the face of doom we are just waiting to go extinct like everything else and the rest is celluloid and razzmatazz and forgettable instances of admiration mixed with pity deracinating its way to a hyphenated endtime where every last detail of cameracaughtlife is distilled and trickledowned to its funniest moments in a hunch’s dash in a tootsieroll’s squashing in a verdigris daze of binary foliage in a gecko’s squawk of lizardjoy in calvincoolidge airconditioning in retrospect that’s where the sharpest tacks lie like something in a movie it’s all like something in a movie it’s crucial to know scenechangemoments of ovoid scratches in the filmstock or when the wind gets its way again if I lost more hair to it too then well I’m getting somewhere via nowherefast there comes a rumble trashrucking its way lost blasted why don’t people say blasted anymore dang blasted idiot or something just drooling there thumbuphisass kind of thing lumbering along missing somebody maybe too there’s that blasted dog again tinycurlsofwhite and a pinkhangingtongue always panting around circling why doesn’t somebody say beware of god when he means to say beware of dog somehow not as brave if it were interpreted in a certain fashion so you get used to seeing and saying the same things all the time those haveanicedays and thanks and howsitgoing things and the look of your homepage on the computer screen and the ringtone of your phone and the way names show up on the face and light up and blink and the clothes you habitually adorn again and again and the days turnover without any apples and the moon does its dishes in the overcast clouds and there is mud in the gears and sticking is not a problem just peons and monks among betterknown animals as I make the best of a pardonme existence clunking around with spare parts for sale here and there among flowerless roses scratching descriptions of things happening into the wetcement floors of time.
he walks. i wouldn’t mind having a little tad of whatchacall cognitive distance from the situation arising here or dissonance too well because i not only am rationalizing but a mostly rational human being and a good all around human being as far as being human is concerned and getting away from something one finds uncomfortable boring and or restricting is not merely justification of going down the road feeling bad but a more mindful solution to a overclued misstep like faultfinding just to get the getoverit part outoftheway looking shoeward now a bit stable a bit stumbley a tad trippedup a mottled fringe of the trail a nesting instinct gonetopot a little unselfcentered at least if not childish this wanting to be liked all the time this spendy need for others to like me just being juveniledelinquent about it mostly.
he walks. he misses a beat. not my heart. no. no. no. not me. he walks. flops of feet. swatting shoes. pounding the pavement. making tracks. hoofing it. ambulating. traversing the cement terrain with a worriedhead of worrysap. wallowing in trashtruckteary noons. riding high on horseprayers.
he walks. he walked.
i was driving through Vermont and all the trees were drunk with redyelloworange leaves. this was once. it was a time in my life. it was then. now it is not then. but then i was in Vermont and i stayed with these people who had a piano. it was one of those old clunker upright pianos. the woman played Chopin on it every night after dinner. sometimes she got drunk and we all had one hell of a time. she had advice that was never friendly but always helpful. plucking tiny diamonds from sand on tarpaper. you’ve got to be patient. you need a nice bright light overhead. dewslick mornings walking over flowered copses and over flat stones that’d make good skippingstones over riverwater rippling in ctenoid hemispheres outward and then dissapearing in flatness. a measly price for a pyrrhic victory while sprinting a fool’s errand in timesbeforetime. not knowing what one never knows is even there to know, like not having answers because one is unaware of the questions, not even having an idea that there is an idea, it happens all the time in the course of a life of thought. all I know is that I’ll never know whatever it is that is an unknown-unknown to me. history stuck in the chains of time, the fetters of clenched action, never to be undone, like thy will. maybe. sort of. kind of. could be. a lump in my throat like that. just like that. a rush of air. of breath. of drunken treelimbs heavy with soddenleaved dreams. will not want not. a wasting away of the ineluctable modality of being me, like a striving in mirthless realms of sweaty adipose. a merchant to spy my thoughts always buyinglow and sellinglow too. bought for a song. or a joke.
— look away. we’ve only got some discomfiture and a nine iron left.
that bandylegged broad boasting uphill.
— if I had a yacht. she said.
if she had a yoke. but the brandingiron doesn’t fit. more room. a decent space between ideas. lookaway. still. you’ve got to be careful and cheerful too. concomitant sighs. messes of memories looking for company. a lessening of ideals. these? these are the things we are coming to?
now there is a slight variation in modality. a switch can be thrown. fit in. be normal. behave. get a real job. move on up. let old acquaintances be forgotten. bellyflop into whatever’s left. later there’s a grandiose movement of a dropped pencil skidding over bilegreen tile.
— the dickshrinking sea.
— the water’s warm. get in. get in while the water’s warm.
— how is who to say who’s who?
— losing it.
he walks. radios play. a poodle shakes itself wet. a bison falls asleep in a bowling alley. a reminder of being alive. like music. like a karaoke machine playing randomly by itself all alone on a beach. tempers that cool with the sun. an incomparable whistle. predisposed to prodigious talents sheltered like a bedwetter in the swaddlingbands of trainsmoke. projecting. vomiting. taking out the trash. pretend to be a doughnut.
— plus one plus one plus one plus one…
— the world as is: infinitely drab.
— as it were.
he walked. fruitflies fathered other fruitflies. a muscle moved. reactions were timed. galaxies collided with other galxies. a moldy weapon of humanity bowed its hungering head. walking. walking. i am walking here. here? not there? here. there. somewhere. a gridiron shape spumes on the horizon. a hulkgreen kind of blue. space times time equals operatic comedy. a neoplagiaristic gaff in the seams of things, it seems. sweating through a sweater. onestepatatime. overandover. like memories stained with mildew. moldy rememberings. halftipped. swearing. unallowed. like wetaftershowerears. pulverized meadows of loss in the land of plenty. a vaccumcleaner for the soul. lift. lift. decline. unplugged and guiltyashell. jailed with a stuffednose. snotty. an abandoned shoe lies sidewalkbound alone to fit its way into the world as it sees fit.
— man, you’re turning happyhour into sadhour.
he walked. tenses shifted.
— bored with the blooms of spring?
— summer me then.
— yesterday it seems I hung my head. could this be a sign of something irreducible?
— be content with and among the things of this world.
he walks. dreamt last night of tabletopgirls driving round in minivans, hanging out of suicidedoors, surrendering all mighthavebeens, stealing cat’s names. anemones forsake me. not who needs, but who cares. that’s all. and this mustering of courage too. these phonecalls from Nebraska. who’s calling me from Nebraska? is it from a church in Lincoln? maybe a basement where they’ve got cots for transients to sleep on. maybe bunkbeds. a clappingsound. a rearended sound. making parts out of wholes again. or holes. a pinch of menelaus’s missing mixed with a dash of civility, a splash of regret, and a spoonful of revenge. that’s about just right. brighter than most days around here, without a growing unobserved darkness, without a curse of moonlight or a highfive or a swallowingsound. let’s straighten out the withholdings. here. born to do taxes and die. sing me back home, or at least towards a place that seems so. dreamt of shoeless evenings. dogs barking with blinders on. bells crashing through windshields. wearing a drafty disguise while whistling down the sunshinestate parkway doubleclutching the wholewideway straightaway along. a graceless pleasure of sinkingteeth and chippedpaintscars. the caffeine wears off. an unendurable tiredness. but one that won’t sleep in. keeps me guessing as I go. airplanemotorsounds. just want to lie supine on my bed for a bit. just wanna hangaround a parkinglot all night. just wanna guess people’s weight alldaylong. coopedup is no way to live. hit the road kid. hit the road and get away while you still can.
— born on the wrong side of the world.
— not this again.
— a plump statement in the thicket of things.
— metered doses of joy come prepackaged with inhibitions all their own.
— and the st. batholomew’s day massacre didn’t wipe out the huguenots for good, did it?
— no. but it gave ’em a good pounding. a good slap on the wrist.
— death comes and goes?
— it treads evenly twixt the powers that be with pussyfooting tiptoes.
— lightly it walks on padded soles. but they got a street named after ’em. don’t they?
— oldest street in the territories, they say.
he walks. we walks on by. cloudloops of shreddedlettersmoke entwine and clutter tickertape trails of grayicing on the plumblue above. his lips are kissing the wind. screamed paris in your sleep with that same kisser. in an earthquake mood, with a winduptoy smile. a man without a movie camera. there goes nothing. here goes everything. another tactic bereft of tact in this tacky world of thumbprint skies and ruritanian dreams, of hulahoop cares and gurneyed peace, of dayless years, of comfortable dullness, of bytes, of limpid screens, of harddrives, of landlords, of gunshy pets and naturalstates of confusion. a tape recorder left on with no sound to record. dirtywords are jumping off the scalenetriangle ramp of my thoughts, which are themselves barely kept afloat on an unsteady umiak of despair. keep it up. say christ like a dirtyword. keep moving. laugh in the face of…whatever come what may. god’s just a hobo taking a transubstantial journey through darkness by the light of a silverymoon while a symphony of car alarms blares electricscreams allthroughthenight.
bilking the cops out of their badges. the faces of clowns corrugated with phony frowns. the smell of tar bubbling in a streetside vat. tarring the roof of an old building. reminds me of The LaBreaTarpits. Being a kid. Those things. Associations of a scent. The difference between a like and a love. Just a matter of taste. Tonguetip type things. The gradual accumulation of the prerequisite selfworth required to tie one to another one. The bones of Pleistocene creatures preserved for millions of years. Saber-toothed skulls. There are more adventurous ones among us who take chances every day with things like speaking to strangers, or smiling, or staring in the mirror for too long. I’ll give you something to cry about. Punches never thrown, but also never pulled. Prorated happiness. Blurs of mood. There is nothing suitable about this situation. It tarries. The wind shifts. A lutulent muck of the mind. Possibly some bad anchovies. A kissmedeadly attitude about what it is that one finds attractive or utterly repellent will do for now. A girl with a chiffon purse, with black ringlets tied back and bangs just above the eyebrows, deepblue eyes, worried thinlipped mouth, in one hand ballpointpen, in the other she coils a rolledup newspaper, performing tinyskips, gazing at a churchsteeple, ballsofthefeetswaying on the streetcorner, ears pierced with miniaturesteelbarbells, countenance somewhat ajar and agape, lolling, not lost, notinahurryatall. The flicker and tick of a lightchange. The magic of crosswalks. Cars lined up like a firing squad at the red. Brooms spreading tar on a rooftop in the hotsun. A glistening. A mild engineroar. Trafficky conditions. A backup. A pileup. The bending of rose stems in the wind. An eager bum with no shoes scampering across the street as if it were filled with hot coals, hooting and screeching, lifting up his torn pantlegs too, impishly grinning the whole while, but pissedoff as all hell too. Dont’ say bum nomore. Say vagrant. Say homeless. Say beggarman. Say personofthestreet. Say downonhisluck. Say needy. Say housingchallenged. Say panhandler. Say sparechanger. Say tentliver. Say something nice. Do something nicer. The breadlines grow a little every day, like hair. Shave it off they say. Get rid of it. A part of you that keeps going and going and not going away, until it does, and then you miss it, and want it back, but it’s too late, like a badhaircut or going bald. Nothing to be done. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s…Cinderella? One day my blanketyblank will come. Something like that. How do flies stand this heat? They seem to love it. Diligo estus. Not like me and my coldweather clothes. Gelu servo mihi bonus vexillum. I came. I saw. I went home hungry. All I got was this lousy tshirt. The fog the window makesup gives me grief a plenty. And they used to call Pacific terrific. Now it’s just ordinary and lousy and treelined and plaqued and partially preserved in the soot of its redbrick glory. We get hotdogs there and Sinatra’s long gone away the way of tophats and VCRs. A dimeadozen is less than a penny each. Pinch them…I guess. Put ’em in a vase or paint ’em black with a Sharpie. I see a reddoorandiwantitpainted…red. Damn pigeons shitting allovertheplace. Columbidae. An ornitholigist’s trickortreat. Is it a columbine? No. Something similar. Same root word. Perhaps a flower. Yes. Aguilegia. Of course. A magpie with its burst of purple wings and tentacles shriveling to the rear. On the wings of a magpie. Mirrorgazing. Seeing always what it sees. Itself. Alone. Something different and detached from all other things. But still just another thing allthesame. Itchy eyes. Postnasaldrip. A bit of a tickle in the throat. Must be a high pollencount round these parts rightaboutnow. Sneezesneezecough. Ah. A small fart. Everyone loves the scent of their own farts, right? They must. Their own unique odor. It’s a condition of being alive. Godblessyou. Gesundheit. The smell of salubriousness. Onefootinfrontoftheother. Looseascanbe. The windows glint. Paint scratched off the liquor store sign, which seems to droop a little, with a few bulbs popped and a worn lightning bolt rustyfaded elbowing between the orangeandwhite letters. Henry’s LiqourMart. Open ’til midnight. Wonder if that’s still true? Dust on the windows. Doesn’t seem to be open at all anymore. Closed sign hung crooked in the window. Holefilled banners draped among the emptyshelves. Not much to see. Lights off. Nobody home. Nothing to see here. Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving on. Don’t get all hemmedin by events. Runared and runamok and leapingaroundtheblock again. Knocking blocks off and knocking socks off. I will lift thee up to a standstill and run wine like ribbons through your hair. Hello kind sir. My name? Well, if you must know, it is Publius Vergilius Maro. I am a nonspanishspeaking puertorican who only talks in oldenglish riddles making excuses for the French. Glad I could be of service. Facilis descensus Averni. Good heavens. Let’s get a bandwagon and never hop on it. Hoopla. No more extrinsic finality for me. No way. No how. Look inward. Or at least take a glimpse. What makes ya’ tick? A lofty ambition of vague dread? That’s all? Ah. That ain’t shit. Get it together dumbfuck. Take out a loan of courage if need be. It’s all teleological these days. Well, that and ballbearings. And simcards. An end result we are all heading towards, though what that end is changes all the time. Fixedrate worlds of ideas hanging grapelike from the fans of our collective dismissive shrug. Party is always a verb to me. Walking solves all problems. Walk. Keep at it. Walk. Keep on walking. Away. Towards. It makes not difference. Just walk. Just don’t it.
Lockup the barber. No trial. No jury. Straight to the cell. Lock the barber away. I am just a little hair. Just a little strand of hair lying alone on the floor. Clipped here. A hair’s breadth away from the dustpan. This badbaircut barber ain’t gonna last for long in this town. This hairbrained numbskull. This allthumbs madman. Lock him up. Upupupupup. Lock him away for good and throw the fucking key away. I am just a little piece of hair lying all alone on the floor. On the floor. Until the dustpan comes along and sweeps me away.
Another song to keep me young. Another way to not have to thinkthinkthinkthinkthink. Another worldaway and aworldapart. Drumming to the same drummer. Strumming the same old song on a different banjo. In a samedaydifferentshit sort of mood. Plus a reciprocal or two. And Richard The Lionheart is merely an epithet. And his English wasn’t so good too. Don’t get me stopped. Ah. Damn light. Always missing the lights. Always standing around on streetcorners. Trying to look natural. To make a comfortable pose. To lean and stare knowingly. To have that look in my eyes like it hurts to see things. Inspecting cracks in the sidewalk. Making up clues to the meaning of things. Blockchain for the soul. Flashes of dark. Less than meets the ear. The fortuitous crossing of paths. Good old serendipity. Coincidences of conscious. Water still boils when it gets hot enough. It’s all matchsticks breaking in the night. It’s all tasseography and herbal remedies and flypaper these days. Can’t get a good deal on soap no more. No. Not no more. Pass the hat. Handle the pan. Change a spare. In my spare time, maybe. Sister, can you afflict me a poem? A fatnickel? Puce gloves would be something. If I just had me some pucecolored gloves. That’d be something. But now all I’ve got is just this fairlybadnothing, which is not all I am, but it’ll do for the timebeing. Boil water? No problemo. Just you watch me. Like frying an egg on the hotpavement.
— A sibilant sound.
— A trophy for nonbelievers.
— Sure. And I’m surely a neophyte at being alive.
— But get this. Less is less.
— More is less.
— No. You see, good apples sometimes have worms.
— Worms have good taste.
— Bad worms?
— Or just indigestion.
— I don’t know. That’s all I know.
he walks. a shadow of barebeams like a catafalque bleeds spackled onto the sidewalk’s mealy creases. your lessthanaverage joseph. your betterbelieveitornot mary. a swingandamiss kind of afternoon. move on. after matins. a leavening on the greenpipes of your soul not like mildew at all but more like moss, though it has a different association in the mind like a small helping of hurt. better get your goat and milk it before the last lees of sunlight go trickling on away with your onetruelove. into the thickets of milkwhite thighs go once more the joyous boys. Iamaloverandhavenotfoundmythingtolove, so says mr Anderson in his peasoupy way. airmailing laughingsadness into the stands once more. jonathon doe rides again in the doughy dews of doeeyed wonder. in front of the bankofamerica ATMs stands the securityguard dudedup in bombaysapphireblue, shopping his eyes around, spangled with bands of lemonlight, disposed to a vigilant and peaceful demeanor. swaying his hips slowly. carefully keeping his peepers peeled for any wrongdoings. sunglassed gaze. hands steady at his sides. nodding politely at passersby. he’s giving those two girls directions. huh. those girls with a map all unfurled before them, above them, held highup in the air. not too bad. i wouldn’t mind giving them some directions. tell ’em where to go. know a few places. maybe know them like in the bible. who really knows anybody else anyway? who even knows themselves? looking around. feeling things out. a spray of pebbles scattered across the pouredconcreteribbon walkway, across the crosslying strainrelief grooves, across the surface my feet trod upon. a fluctuation in the temperature of being me. ah mama. it’s alright. i’m only crying. couldafooledme. the sunshine spills. the trees flutter. artemis rises fom the dead. a portly DH bunts for a basehit. friedflesh withers on a leftover KFC wing in a dumpster. estivating crickets win in the end. i am only the ash of gunpowder cigarettes falling on a crumpled sheet of tinfoil. wishyoumuchhope in the morning. in the morning. tomorrowmorning and forever more. giving myself away. with an ego the size of alaska. fouling off the worst of it. flailing in the mudstuff of the human condition we are forever at odds with the elements of being ourselves.
— I’m tired of living in the suburbs of my life.
— Like how Elvis got towards the end.
— Things tending to wend unexcitingly onwards.
— And on and on. The differences twixt the days slimming down to none. I am here. I am alive. But, so what?
— It’s more or less the bloom wearing off youth, the dust gathering, a shallow mist of miserable sameness. I am the way I am. I breathe in this way. I breathe out too. Take these pills, drive on the right side of the road, be proud of your country, visit the dentist twice a year, get a good vacuum cleaner, one with a lot of suction and thrusting capabilities, a Dyson, sans cord, try not to die by asphyxiation in the garage one lonely wednesday evening, don’t worry about the government.
— Opinions and folderol and some kindling of philosophy thrown on the fire. But it doesn’t stay lit for long. The morning paper comes and goes. The television shows roll on. Clap. Wash your hands. Be humble. Don’t get caught masturbating. Say your prayers as much as you can. Don’t get caught up trying too hard. Everything’s a swindle.
— Things don’t matter.
— You don’t matter.
— Check your balls for lumps. Floss after meals. Suck down as much sugar as you can, preferably in the cheap form of high fructose corn syrup. have a few drinks on the house, but the rest will be put on your tab…
— Which will grow and grow until it becomes something laughable, an absurd irreconcilable number that might as well exist in another universe, and you’re left feeling jailed a thousand time zones away from home. Your front lawn sprouts weeds. The lawnmower of your ambition plows its way through splashes of pale viridian, and then stalls, and it starts to feel good, this doing nothing, this nowhere feeling that chases away the crabgrass of needless wanting.
— A rest stop on what could very well be the treacherous mountain pass of life. A port-a-potty of the imagination. We are little crumbs of regret being spoonfed into domesticated mouths.
— Yet sometimes we laugh in our sleep.
— But nobody is around to hear. Nobody cares.
— Put the moves on the calendar. Take those old records off the shelf. Stop gathering toenail clippings like souvenirs of a life well lived. Make something happen. Anything.
— Get yourself some money and just leave. Drive until you run yourself free. Keep the moon dreaming through on the backseat. Light a cigarette on the sunbaked street.
— There’s nothing to it.
— And that’s something.
he walks. the shopwindows rattle as windgusts stammer at them. a dog shits in a treewell. the owner sniffs, gets down on his hams, picks up the fetid dropping with a plastic bag, expertly, almost scientifically, like a anthropologist exhuming a small bone from a digsite. there is an emptiness in his eyes. a donothing look. an absent blankness. my heartisnotmyown. my heart. my heart is stringless. do with it as you must. as you may. caveat emptor. look but you can’t touch. so faraway yet soclose. me and mine. let’s boogie on down to electric avenue.
he walks. he bumbles. he heaves. he clops along. he strides importantly, and then elegantly, and finally fans out into a delicate strain of frowsy impatience, wrecked nerves, a hardtolookat mien. he glides. he misses the mark. he flatout fails to look uncaring, not selfconscious at all, and instead appears strained and uptight and worried. he walks. a fluttering of pigeon wings. a smashed apple gone brown and soft. cigarette butts gathered singlefile between squares of sidewalk. a child holdinghands with a grownup. feldspar cruising through the earth on cruisecontrol. a significant chance to change sides, to fight for the other guys, or forever hold your wind. peepee town, peepee town, how I want to go to a hoedown, in peepee town. a man stares at a flyer taped to a store window. clearance sale. everything must go. exclamation point. well put. buy high. sell low. ideas about ecumenical penurious concerns notwithstanding. holding water. giving up the ghost. from the cradle to the grave. the lowest form of volition. a velleity at least. something to wishaway. then there’s always the bartenders in the end left to throw me out on my keister, or, if I’m away from home with no place to sleep, my valise. just gotta hold this here revolver steady. adjust these weary bleary eyes to the target in question. a blackandwhite sight to hold my being here in the now presently at a loss for silence. the soundtrack to the movie of my life picks up with birdsong and foghorns and playlists. a recently deceased way of turning up one’s nose. a roman one at that. the laughtrack to the story of my life shatters windshields and wineglasses. a ripple of cloudspume scratched into the sky’s bright skin. a pat on the head. a troubled look. a mistake in the ribs of fashion hemmed with yesterday’s sobs. bovine perspiration wetting an undershirt. bundled up in the shrouds of happiness, incomplete and filledtothebrim. incongitable things happening every day. a behemoth rockandcement trashcan knocked on its side by a circusstrongman type. the constant comings and going of pedestrians. the oldmen walking with handsheldtogether behind their backs. a few strayfolk who aren’t in the mood for obeying traffic signals weave behind the clusterings of moving vehicles. the shorn dyingviolet of crepuscularsky. every person their own unique universe. a gelatinous mob held together by thoughts and coffeecups and wristwatches and butterknives of imprecise unsuremotion. to become unstuck. the miraculous stink of freewill. and the lonely beatcop scratches his crotch while adjusting his looks to one of the more menacing variety. silkstockingclouds running away with the day. finding myself lost.
threatlessly idling. a marzipan smile. headlocks of rummagedhope. the street is scrambled with spits of darkening light, the first dim subtleties of brakeandheadlights, broken, the streetlights flickering on with sodiumyellow hunches, the shapes of things behind litwindows, glares obscuring mottled specks of motion.
he walks. graymississippis of another yernfed yesterday. motion gives a little. he traces his course like a shipbuilder would. he accounts for the odd spaces of being between things. a yawn gives way to a throattickle. his hands slide and twist flunky through his birdnest hair. the roomfilling trumpet somehow with an outdoors mewling voice. no wilderness here except maybe a few alleys to escape down where the grandsweep of windowlight is not so elegant or touching as it could be. maybe a razor. a razor for my thoughts. to butcher them. doesn’t have to be pejorative. butchers do good work. slicing. unionized. bloody white smocks. you really butchered that. could be a compliment. nice job. really got your work cut out for you. there. there. there. it’s nice to be smiling even if nobody sees it. the buses smear the air. sound and stink and potholed hiccups. lo and behold. fires on the sidewalk. old Chinese women burning incense, burning old newspaper in tin cans. smoke and ash. praise be those who let themselves be loved. courageous in its puissant attempts, its battling scorn and sworn mettlesome lack of ability to find what it most cares to seek. creeping plague of strays scratching under the lamps. no more lamplighters. they’ve all revisited the dirt in the ground. the evenkeeled temper of their ways. electricity wins out in the end. all promethean efforts for not. to give fire to every manwomanandchild. to be always thinking a few days ahead. to boldy go where no infinitive has been split before. walk. walk. one foot up. swing. the other foot down. scuffling along, scraping cement with the soles of my shoes. quit dragging your feet kid. pick it up. step to it. hop to it. get a move on it. light a fire under it. snapsnap. come on. it’ll be the death of you. getting left behind. lost in a capacious department store with ceilings higher than the sky. where’d mommy go? where are you mommy dearest? where’d you run off to without me. without me. clothes racks everywhere, but not a one to hold her shape. people’s bottomhalves. where can i go that will not be here? mommy’s done gone and run off without me along for the ride. a temple but not for worship. a place to buy and be bought out. a look that just keeps going and going without nowhere to go. a jangling of keys. a sigh that won’t end. all boxed up and ready to go. where’s my candy cigarette? where’s my handlebar mustache? there. there. there. a pat on the head. a mussing of hair. palms of sweat and the rough redlined stuff of calluses. i am here in a nowhere that is all the whole world and heaven and hell and god and the devil too. pluto’s realm is fraught with circumstances beyond control. dis is enchanted with wild heaving and misfiring ebullience and playground sand and fiery heads prevailing and knuckled pinches of salt of a day’s labor. hades left to its own devices. a titanomachy in my soul. lose what’s left of it, ah, why don’tcha? brother, brother, o brother, whence hath thee kept thy dime? from me. from me. from me.
he walks. he is not in his kitchen.
— it’s just like a promise. a pumice stone for the rough edges of my being.
— well. well. well. will you look at that. will you?
— yes. i will. i wish i were well enough to see it.
— i see enough for the both of us.
— hold up that candle.
— hold it closer still.
— come closer…
— or don’t come at all.
he walks. sit around. play. get a fistful of oddsandends. grab my mercy by the shoulders. shake it up. crack its back. i am jostling for position on the racetrack of my crippled yearning. shortly water will fill the street. longingly i will watch it all drain away downhill. downthehill. away. gone. all gone. wished it all away. a shortstep from complete if not total disaster. i come from a long line of drunks and circus clowns. i come from a peripatetic people. walk the earth. wander. get interested in things. think. roll over in your sleep. carry a knife in your boot and a blackjack in your bedroll. smoke by the side of a fire. doomed to be always on the go. diasporic to the bitter end. inclined to be spread all over the earth. the sugar of the earth. a mountain of mashed hopes. forward. forward. shine that flashlight bright. we will hold the hills in check and we’ll check the valleys for signs of death and we’ll hold back fear with a dam of gorillaglued beachglass. the river bends but it never breaks. my motelroom soul is shirking its duty to change the channel of my hesitation.
he walked and walks and will walk and has a walking instinct for it something that he can just do without trying or thinking at all about it he can walk all around the world even if it curves and dips and his course is beelined and swerving too he walks on and over and by and into and out of and where the ever goes in when if no pleads with a why only to lose out to a maybe in time.
— sometimes one might come to stagger ever so close to the edge of the ledge of the rim of the thing if one is so disposed to think of these things in the way one often wished one could not think of them anymore.
— i am not a piano.
— play me.
— i am not unlike fingers all the time.
— play you.
— it is not impossible to…
— in vain?
— reach out your hand.
— frolic. skylark. invent water.
— i am a passenger pigeon just passing through, just killing time, just a figment of god’s imagination, as we all are, really.
he walks. methodical. plottinglike. carefully cheery. in a trance. i get tired of almosting it. want to have it for a bit. at least. little chinese kids in the windows waving and smiling sunhappy with eyes like shinynew marbles. laundry hanging in the kitchen behind them. good to have these small things. a tad of joy to sprinkle on the daytoday toast. glading. twistered and lowingly jumpingthegun kind of. twiney. a ball of twine for your thoughts. give or take. a temple for your prayers to die in. let out the rope and let me down easy once again. let me rest and arrest my suspicions rightly. feels so goddamn lonely going down the road sometimes this way unleashed on the world on a windswept whim. keep ’em guessing and feelin’ fooled, ‘dem old fools. most inept of the whole tinpanalley topoftheworld crew had it coming. gradually grapes swelled and became overblown with inordinate perks of pride. those things are a given, right? am i just unreasonably reasoning my way out of reason? clappinghands and lipbiting with the moodings of halfleftgone and morticians pick apart the rest. i decry with my bigold eye. gold of sun? gold of skydyings. leaves drooping to drop. underseas holes in the wall to look out of with pickled faces. a window at belt level. an apartment half-a-floor below ground. a hermit who lives like a fish in a tank all alone. blowing bubbles with his little life. letting things pile up. watching feet walk by through the bars on his windows. i walk on by. screams of conscience relieve me of my duty to. my duty from? freedom for? duty free? something with wings as it flutters through the feathers of something hoping for something else.
there goes that girl again. there she goes. down the hill when i’m going up. figures. across the street too. too far away to smile at. to make smalltalk with. to make wistful eyes at. convictions of personality notwithstanding, notforthcoming, notatall. things that tend to go thataway. brimmed. heavied. lurky. so there she goes. gone. that’s better for the boring sort to be. crowded. not really withit. but just maybe she’d be up for some gynotikolobomassophilia. but me? i’m only a sad sack of a gynopiper wiling away his day in clouderpuffs of penciled bloomshadow.