I guess it’s right to forget the wolves that encircle every bit of warmth,
to raise a glass and boldly cheer amidst the swirling jazz of youth.
It’s right to dismiss from memory all the nights sitting on the side of the street,
watching the lamplit crowds like frenzied(more) salmon spawning upstream.
Let’s let bygones be bygones, let’s have a drink and laugh and eat.
Let’s forget that life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on-
And after the party, after you leave my home, after I wash myself clean:
We will all sit with our individual lonelinesses spinning like broken records
while the orchestra plays a vivid pointillism, twelve tones eating each other
And the sound brings back feelings of the Oroborus, and the wolves, and-
Let’s let bygones be bygones.
Let’s have a drink and laugh and eat. (less)
Then there's Dennis. Dennis is about forty, but looks sixty; He's always red-faced and bears an uncanny resemblance to Robinson Crusoe. You can hear him coming up the block from a mile away, lolling his head left to and fro in blissful alcoholic reverie, loose change jingling against the(more) walls of a blackened coffee cup. Immediately after panhandling the necessary eight dollars for a bottle of Pale Dry port wine, he rolls down the street with fervent vigor like a man chasing a mirage in the desert. Dennis throws his change into my hand. His fingernails are like eagle talons, he drops nickels everywhere. An hour later and he's silent against the city recycling bin, not even drunk, just steady. With glossy eyes, he dreams against the assured glances of yuppies, businessmen, and young people. The sadness is palpable, and from it there is no escape. (less)
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time harassing anthills and breaking things (what fun it was to control chaotic worlds), but what really drew me in was the allure of fire. It got bad enough that my mother would sit me down at least twice a(more) week to lecture me on my delinquency: "You're going to burn the house down!" she'd say. She repeated the phrase like a broken record and so her face and those words turned into a complete caricature.
See, I wasn't a stupid kid. I knew how to light matches, paper, sticks, leaves, and tree bark. I knew how to put them out, and I was never unsafe about it; I was never going to "burn the house down". I had great respect for fire and would spend many hours of my pre-teen years studying its voracity. I was spellbound by the way a flame would hungrily lick the air, lapping violently against wood, causing it to bleed sap and wither into the earth. I would stare into the heart, the burning essence of the fire, with admiration and understanding, my heart at one with its wild yearning.
Our universe is consumptive from the ground up; Life feeds on life. When a real, personal part of me died a couple months ago, I was shambling around drunk with a cigarette and no lighter. An angel gave me one and said, "Never lose your fire, man." Where did it go? I went to the shore and made a fire out of driftwood. Sat there thinking: To love is to eat, everything's hungry, everyone's fucking, everyone's buying what someone else is selling, I'm always here sitting, waiting, wishing, watching the fire, my innards cold and wet, not feeling it, spinning like a broken record. (less)
i would've written something very vague and between the lines about some fleeting recollection of how her hand (but which her? it's a good thing poetry can be lazy) felt in mine -- safe and shy in my jacket pocket, or those split-second specks of treachery swimming in soft(more) irises, or how those same spiteful eyes once looked at me lovingly and with irrational admiration, and how those rare moments still make me second guess things: i pick apart my insides, examining my entrails for a clue written somewhere in her flesh like a davinci blueprint (since i've devoured her like all the others), and blah, blah, blah...
i'm too serious.
i read today that once you do something out of the ordinary, even ordinary things start to look a lot different. "don't let appearances fool you," the guy in the book warns our protagonist. "there's only one reality."
sometimes a look is just a look.
i'm too serious.
what the hell is "the reckoning" anyway?
it sounds like a hypothetical situation where a bunch of hillbillies would all be agreeing with each other about something.
with each ticking and talking another piece falls up into the air, flying in search of a new dawn. floating, waiting, dying.
i didn't notice as it was happening -- it came quite naturally to sell this and trash that till there was nothing. then the emptiness sunk(more) in. then there were the nights floating along the streets stalking something with the key to the cellar in which all the doll's mangled pieces were kept. there were the nights where the lamps lit happy faces evilly; the nights staring into blind abandon. there was the beautiful guitar made of mahogany which fetched fifty dollars for some temporary fixes and a night in the run down shack where we would all sleep six people to a room, and when that ran out there was the halfway house down the next vile tributary.
they say once you've killed a man, you never forget it.
there's really no way to unsee anything truly evil, and it's impossible to come to terms with it or wash it out. you see its face everywhere. in your beloved, in your wildest dreams, and even in the kindest of gestures there is always a bloody, sodding stain that never gets clean.
the jackal visits me at all hours of the day and as he's gnawing the flesh right off my bones, he laughs and reminds me that the sun sets in the west
so i walk east. walking, walking, always walking. humming a futile hymn and aching for just another hour's worth of light, if only to make proper camp in lush gardens with just the trees who talk wisely of nice things. fatigue sets in and it's only a nap and i sink into the soil and rise up into the atmosphere to begin again.
just around the bend, the gravel leads to a strange house, crooked on the side of a hill, wherein a woman lays in wait of death. i find her every morning out on the second story deck with a cup of something hot and the steam rising out of(more) it like a distress beacon, glistening in golden light, and for a moment escaping from her mouth after a long drink. the wind blows down from the canyon and her thoughts are exhaled to me, not so much seen as felt as a fellow bearer of everything burdensome and human. the wind carries with it the strange, out of tune melody borne from the metal and stone chimes hung from another nearby house, whose duty is to gather all the heavy air and bring it to our ears like a lapdog.
occasionally i'll see the same woman in someplace wholly mundane like the post office or the general store, buying this and that, filling up the Durango only after careful consideration of both premium and regular unleaded. we've never said a word to each other although i'm certain she is aware of my existence and can also taste my love, frustrations, and neuroses in the air as something palpable. every morning, it's just the two of us staring something both finite and infinite in its hollow eye, wholly brave and accepting of all God's creation. other people may very well be awake in that magic hour, but i am certain that we are the only ones alive.
if, by chance, we ever meet, (she's probably pushing 60, and i'm 24), i know we'll talk about the weather or something else merely local and necessary, maybe even sharing a quick observation of the light on the mountain - but we both know. (less)
like a humble servant, i sat there nodding and undressing colleen smith, director of the sales department. with crisp and unwavering interview eyes, she went on and on about profit margins while i unbuttoned her MBA and groped around her sagging childhood. in one hand, i held her soft(more) grassy dreams buried in green gables and in the other hand, a pregnant and swollen teat being sucked dry by the weight of her prestigious new office.
"by the next quarter we'll have expanded into new york and california," she said. "these are lucrative times, and we'd be happy to have you aboard."
"doesn't it get tiring?" i asked.
"i'm not sure what you're referring to"
"smelling like chanel no. 5 and pretending not to have bodily functions?"
"you'd say that."
"i'm not really sure what you're getting at, but i don't appreciate it."
"you're ridiculous." i laid back a little in the leather chair.
"why did you meet with me today, mr. brubeck?"
"to get a little taste of the high life, i suppose. i lied about everything on my resume. i load trucks for a moving company and i've never set foot in a college institution."
"i think this interview is over."
a couple days later, Laurenzo and i got a call for a big moving job at 322 gloucester, a nice condo near the water. we were moving two tons worth of mahogany armoirs down a steep flight of stairs for some pompous, balding asshole. when we were about done, lo and behold, it was colleen smith pulling up in her black Mercedes.
"looks like you've been working hard," she said.
that night, she and I laid on empty hardwood floors looking up at the eggshell ceiling thinking that we weren't really that different after all.
it's at that moment when you've reached almost three days of sobriety after a two month bender and you find yourself sitting in a little room with the birds chirping outside and the pipes under the floorboards leaking through the carpet, when you've tossed and turned all night masturbating(more) and chewing your nicotine gum and listening to sad folk songs that you realize it's all a bunch of bullshit and what does it matter if you haven't slept all night? you'll go outside and indulge in the morning air because you've been a vampire for too damn long -- you walk anywhere, because everywhere is not inside that room, or inside that head of yours telling you the eyes in the mirror are dead, that you're somehow different from the human race or destined to loneliness, and it's still winter but for fuck's sake today's the day that it all melts because the sun is shining like kaleidoscopic bleach to wash away the lack, neediness, and wanting, it's cascading through the negative bank account balances and odd jobs, it's finding its way into the morning cups of tea of all the people you've wronged, and it's at that moment that you're walking back from your stroll and feeling good about your new life that there's a check from the government, some kind of return credit for a hundred dollars or so, and the liquor store is right next to that little room, and that little head of yours starts thinking it's time to celebrate so you buy a pack of cigarettes and maybe two wines because you've been good. then you go back three days in time and all those revelations mean nothing because you're stumbling around, there's always a siren on the rocks -- the laundry never gets done. (less)
the radio said it was a nice day for a white wedding. we sped along the interstate in her little grey sedan, her right hand on mine. as the twilight came, it felt like a last meal more than anything else. we would not be seeing each other again.(more)
"it's like a hot air balloon ride," she said.
"i know what you mean." we rode along the highway in silence for a bit. both of her hands were on the wheel. too nervous to touch, too nervous to say anything, we passed through the northern coast of washington and watched the ocean melt in liquid bronze.
"i'm happy we met" she finally said. i looked at her and i could tell that she understood. we pulled up at a ma and pa shop, went in, and got two heinekens. back in the car, with the front doors open we sat and watched the waves and ate boiled eggs with cayenne.
"they're good," i said.
"my dad's farm. there's nothing like fresh eggs."
"cayenne is really good for you, too."
"for circulation, your metabolism, everything." i finished my egg and took a sip of the lukewarm beer. it was getting dark. there was nothing more to eat or drink and there was nothing and everything else to do.
a week later, we were sending each other poetry. two months later, and she was with someone else. a naval officer. five months after that and i was on the opposite coast recalling the way the sun made her blonde hair look like a crown of garden flowers. a couple days ago she called late at night, my wife picked up and i pretended not to know who was on the other line.
james carefully examined the smooth bed of stones near the shore of the lake before finding a nice flat one. he skipped it over the surface of the water, watching with pleasure as it bounced three or four times.
"nice," i said.
(more) "you gotta forget about that chick, man. she's only bad news."
"you don't get it"
"what, like you're gonna waltz in there when she's at the altar and your eyes catch from across the chapel and she forgets he's got everything?"
"it's not like that. she's missing something-"
"don't be ridiculous."
i took a drag from my cigarette and skipped a stone of my own. the scenario was almost too delicious: a couple of guys looking straight ahead into miles of water and cracking eggs of wisdom from the corners of their mouths. we joked about this and that until we heard the girls coming around the trees where the shore bent inwards. they looked marvelous in the setting sun.
we built a fire out of driftwood and sat on a log watching the flames. what the others were thinking, i had no idea. james couldn't have been happy with his girlfriend. i saw the way his eyes became blank when she talked about whether a fern or ficus would be more fitting for their living room. despite the velvety touch of karen's little fingers in my palm, i too was blank. we watched the gnarled wood slowly feed the flames as they licked the air and it seemed as if we were burning too.
soon, she would be somewhere in suburban connecticut and the way she would turn to me, with the contents of her heart sizzling on the stove, and ask "do you want them soft or crispy?" would be just another memory to write about. (less)
february sure is cold. "only a couple more months of winter, ayy," this guy's saying. i nod and we talk about the weather for a couple minutes before meditating on our separate sorrows. "one beer, two beers, three beers four, find myself a girl, hope she's not a whore."(more) i'm humming this type of song to myself in a cockney accent. anything to kill time. alone at a bar, seeing a friend, enveloped by cunt, hungry, tired. what is this enemy called TIME, really? five beers now. kill the body and time will cease. kill time and waste away.
even indoors, my toes are numb and the clock on the wall is tick tick ticking. there is a mirror in the bathroom, a mirror in the hall, two in the bedroom. there is one next to me buried in my neck like a tiny fleck of sand, yawning like a lioness after dinnertime. an impressive kill - the meat is followed by moving pictures of summer on a beach: a child under a fahrenheit sun, burning with the pure joy of stomping sandcastles and diving the shore for imaginary treasure. i brush the hair off my chest because it tickles. an hour later, the post-coital time warp comes to an end and my feet are numbed again by the frozen pavement.
i think now and again of the child in heat, bathed in sun and splashing around foolishly. i think of somewhere hot where it was only ever spring, summer, fall, and spring.