My ignorance is amazing. I could fill this page, a book, a shelf, this room, this house with all I do not know. My ignorance is enormous. Isn't it astounding how it fits so neatly in such a tiny brain wedged inside this swollen head.
With a flick of my Bic, your butt and the grasslands are disposable, like diapers, batteries, paper plates and Dixie cups, like paper napkins, tampons, newspapers and butter tubs. We are cameras and cell phones. I thought to call you. I have your number, but I lost your name in a Christmas card. Disposable: trees, wrapping paper and dead rappers. Tupac. I never listened to his music, anyway. Like vinyl records, we are albums. LP. We are gas. With a flick of a Bic, we are disposable. Old maps, postcards, we are a dozen dried up roses. We are daylilies and plastic razors. We are sandwich bags.
When Jesus Christ came upon the Earth, you killed Him. The son of your own God. And only after He was dead did you worship Him and start killing those who would not. -- Tecumseh
Fire, cancer, home invasions, politicians on mad horses--yellow gods. Humdingers. Have you ever seen the rain? Blue on blue. Daffodils. Daisies. Dodder. Gadzooks! Win the lottery. Never clean house. Perfect figure. Perfect health. One day you must have learned cursive. Q like two. S like a backwards treble clef. Now, insert kazoo and blow. Just as I am.
I've never been to Nebraska. I've never built a bomb. I've never swam the Atlantic or drank a rabbit's blood. There's a lot I haven't done. I've never jumped off a roof. I've never kissed a pig or slept with Winnie the Pooh or learned the Watusi. I've never worn a fez or taj or wrapped myself in silk. I've never bathed a camel or eaten a poison mushroom. I've never met Willie Nelson or felt the urge to tango. I've never liked pea soup. I've never been to Iraq or walked along the equator. I've never run off with the circus or camped in the Petrified Forest. I've never joined the ACLU, nor have I ever needed a shiv. I've never been to a powwow or seen 'possums having sex. I've never visited New Jersey or written a poem that ends with Z.
I wish I could end this Nagging dread, send this Soul-sucking apathy packing, Pick up a pen, and piss Inspired words across the page. Retched poetry is a sloppy kiss, Aversion therapy, dying bliss. There must be something Inspirational, something good Out there waiting for me, but Nothing comes to mind.
Saltwater taffy days end in September. Part-time carnies pack up their wits, wheels, and stuffed tabby cats, and the clowns stow their smiles, while nervous teens trade rollercoaster screams and fireworks for study hall, chalk dust, and twelve days of Christmas.
Diesel fuel, dust-tinged phlegm, barbecue at 10 a.m., seed corn, cows, green John Deere, pig crap and rabbit fur delight the red-naped cropper. Another showstopper, each brand-new blue ribbon is good enough reason to cock-crow victory and dance rockabilly.
I have always loved The Lady of Orange, the aunt whose only continuity (other than the ever-present tangerine tint on her lips and nails) is her inconsistency.
As unpredictable and effective as Death's whim, her moods-- raucous, raunchy, tender, somber, playful, and vile-- shift and strike unannounced.
Husbands and lovers, grudges and favors, wives' tales and truths-- she collects and discards with equal abandon.
Like a nomad (claiming gypsy blood), fleeing landlords and boredom, she uproots her small clan to move from house to house-- and sometimes back again.
She fabricates creepy tales of witches, vampires, demons and ghosts-- not to terrify family or friends, but to bluff reality's intimidations.
Years ago, as a teenager in her domain, I was liberated-- free to smoke or drink and even rendevous with lovers, often men of her acquaintance.
More recently, during a dark moment's reverie, she asked me if I blamed her for my problems. Surprised, I answered quite honestly--no. I still wonder why she claimed the guilt. I have always loved The Lady of Orange.
The morning dust releases what lies ahead. The tide turns in a flow of black on white. Lies, all lies. The morning news rests upon her breast exposing what they won. Half-truths lie in the east. No Red or Blue envisioned an America where everyone awakes intent on what lies behind, what lies before, what lies within. The warning sky lies in her eyes. Morning is too long. Not that it matters. Sorted and bagged, I am the root. Temptation wears a crimson cape. The morning news is black and white, but there's red all over.
Long before the end of summer, she was told to read before posting requests and announcements. That was before a gypsy's love song cast its spell. Now, a letter a day is her addiction, and she finds herself alone, as morbid as they come, assembling the pineapple with black ink. She composes her chapbook: signings, symbols, codes-- much like those dead Christian gnostics. Chop. Chop. Deep thinking is a depression, a hole, an emotional well, but there must be 20 times 20 ways to keep from falling in love with fantasy. Medieval, the way she chants for your love. The forty-plus crowd ignore her nonsense; they miss her graduations, her wedding, her haiku: I hate you/idiots. In the beginning, there are insanities and kindred spirits: Life, Love, Death and Suicide. Life, Death and Lost Love woo her with midnight whispers. Teen nature--now, this is not odd. Lured by contests and awards, the woman-child doesn't know she should avoid the spider's web and social commentary from the over-30 crowd whose hormones have withered. Really rotten rhyme and silver dreams adorn her. She seeks sisters and sonnets, only sonnets, straight from the heart. No one needs tell her: submissions wanted. She's a swan. Lake be damned. She braves the ocean, and symbolic rhyming poets like Hannah and Dan show her the light. Brigades of little fish join her in the quilting circle. When at last it's time for change, she says goodbye to best friends, to true love, to war against the well-versed ladies. She discovers it does not matter what inspires you. She won't write: Why do I love you? You, only you, Zeitgeist.
Their hands are like marshmallows, white and pudgy. Sticky-sweet, they catch in her throat, then melt into snakes and wrap themselves around her heart. Jesus Christ never visited the Vatican. His hands are hard and dark. A wine-stained kiss brings cold comfort. "Open your ears, and I shall speak to you." The screaming light of eternity rages behind his eyes. "You are dead, but don't know it." Mother Agnes trampled the sheep asleep in their pens. Tomorrow, her bloody footprints will still lead back to a yesterday that never was. The lambs' song is bleak.
Twangs and hoots give way to whistles that dissolve into grunts and whispers. Backstage at the Whiskey a Go-Go, the young man mutters, growls and then whines through the music. "It sounds too slick, somehow. She's too sure of her next whiskey bar!"
Bonnie's babe is plump with ashy hair. It whines as the wrong mother feeds, smoothes back his son's light curls and whispers, "I'm sorry."
Used to be when someone whined too much, she called him on it (and the one beer, or two wines, or half a dozen whiskey sours), but she can't think anymore.
At Twilight Manor, she feeds her grandfather one last bite of ham puree, then wipes a bit of green gelatin from his whiskered chin. "So, do you think the problem lies with the man or the whiskey?"
The old man blinks his rhuemy eyes, shrugs his slight shoulders and coughs. His voice, once clear and strong, now wheezes and whines. "In England men of letters drink wine...."
Night tastes like chocolate pudding. Spoon after spoon, I swallow. The aroma burns my eyes like Tito burned my heart one cold winter back in Michigan. Flavorless, long nights pile up, uneaten, while morning waits, untouched, and PopTarts dream of warmth. A caballo dado no se le mira el colmillo. The keen flashlight of understanding doesn't run without batteries-- Santa took those along with the milk. Hush now. Don't tell Agnes. Her future holds enough sad stories. Green, the stars scream of madness, while fairy godmothers lie under our beds awaiting orders to give needed infusions. Giggling, sharp needles dance in old hands. Too bad the dish ran away with the spoon.
Give me booze, for I am sick of soft drinks and die of thirst. If I had only the brews and spirits of the tavern, rum, cognac, gin, vodka and applejack, bock beer and tequila, schnapps, whiskey, mescal and malt liquor, kvass and sake, and fine and not-so-fine wines, which to these bars draw untold lushes with a common need, not told, not known, and I could smell their odor, and their chemistry absorbed by strange osmosis through my flesh, driving the demons and feeding the angels, oh, if it were so, I could be a part of the rounds, caught up in the wild and crazy world, and be mixer of their varied combinations. But these punks, who invade our clubs, bold as the dealer who runs the hood, and often using the drug he makes, don't love the brew they suck; they don't know it. All they love is gangsta games. The old men studied magic in suds, and fortunes in an empty mug, and omnipotence in a broken bottle, preferring things to tags, for these were men; these were drinkers of the drinking world, and, wherever their bleary eyes fell, they met the bootprints of the same. Our eyes are not strangers to the fermented fruit, are not strangers to the goblet and to the keg. The hair of the dog says, "No!" and growls. For we use it selfishly; we gargle unreligiously, and pickled, seek its power, not its pardon. So they push us away, yield only what our whining tongue is due; but the sweet wealth of sex and song, the best of the gods' grapes are withheld; and in the midst of shots and barmaids, we tipplers and tosspots of the beer garden, shut out to drink ginger ale and lemonade, turn pale and die.
Sleepless within the stronghold of night glow, I spot its head poke up behind my weary bedmate. Darling is dutiful, well-worn, but smug, with a soft throttle made to squeeze, too wanton for marriage and too wary for whoredom, but perceptive without gold ring or red carpet. And its button eye shines briefly, as if to say Watch. And each flicker honors her movement. And each new position is an eye opener. The long-lived companion, the queer, patched thing held head-scissored, wedged in the southland, this fellow traveler--strange, fuzzy thingamabob-- is eyewitness to this night's desolation.
Made in China, the upset vase, in disgrace, hides its fragile face and its sorrow from cut glass eggs that will not hatch in nests of wire and pewter fish with ruby eyes that cannot swim in tattered lace.
Yesterday, a hundred billion years ago, patterns started there, Amiga. Contemplation seems self-indulgent. We're caught up in a rush. Parasites, a series of false selves, color our behavior. We're caught in patterns. In open spaces, we find ourselves calling resistance achievement. Fear is the impulse to deny patterns. Caught in confusion, in this circular spinning, the ancients are family.
Critics won't die from explication, though the burden of their explicating is to arrest what others stargazed and recognize the pizzeria is the Promised Land. Past the unkennelled gastropod whose earthly remains encourage turf wars between beggars, through the soup kitchen of the lollygagging ritualist, around the vocational school of the hidden water cooler-- unacknowledged and unwanted by all but headstrong stigmatists who thrive between waterworks and scuttlebutt, here, now and forever-- in this condensation of complete single-mindedness (costing not less than everlastingness) illusion and allusion suffice; all mankind's thimblerigs suffice when bits of bone and flakes of stone decoupage can be crafted into regal knockoffs to be studied by freaks and fools; fine art and the Rorschach test are one.
Forget the rules. We're out of soap. The electric razor is on the fritz. Disaster blooms upon your chin and blisters my tender throat. Still, my blood runs hot. Hide yourself between my breasts. Punch the puritan quilt to the floor. Our bodies form a demented cross against the cold Capricorn sun, and passion hijacks the morn.
Reaching back to heaven, I caught a liar's moon. (Who said there are never enough words?) I dug deep, hung tight, and I played until midlife, midwife, middle of nowhere, something died. I changed my mind, changed myself, changed myself again. I didn't stay. I didn't listen. I didn't know dreams end in radio station madness where libidinal bodies beat the drums. With every vibration, she's calling me. Failures and footsteps at my back, I cannot stop. I cannot stop, nor can she. So, we run. We run. Whorehouse-smart, I'm not buddy-buddy, just very, very tired.
He thought of his wife, then looked at his watch. In his glass, amber whiskey, smooth as water, whispered to be whirled.
Up to him, the woman whirled-- nothing like his wife. With moist red lips, she whispered, "Would you like to watch the moon rise on the water? Bring the whiskey."
He thought perhaps her name was Whiskey. Cascades of red-gold hair glittered as she whirled away towards the water. No, this wild one was not his wife. He glanced at his watch. "Still time," he whispered.
"See the moon," she whispered near his ear. Her breath was whiskey- sweet. He wanted to watch her red lips, but she whirled away again. No, not like his wife who was afraid of water.
The swollen moon floated on the water. Gentle waves whispered, "She's not your wife." He drained the last amber drops of whiskey from the bottle, then cast it away. It whirled end over end. The woman turned to watch.
The bottle splashed. He looked at his watch, then at the water. His mind whirled. The woman whispered, "We need more whiskey." He wished she was his wife.
"Forget your wife," she whispered. "We can share whiskey kisses by the water." His senses whirled, and he did not look at his watch.
In Retro-Sixties style, tourists spread their picnic beneath the Day-Glo sign: Please do not feed the bear. Chanting "Make love not war," they toss Twinkies, popcorn and morsels of Moon Pie into the cave's dark mouth 'til, with a roar and a flash of fangs and 4-inch claws, the grizzled beast appears. The stunned visitors gasp, raise clenched fists and cry, "Foul!" while bear shreds their baskets, kicks dirt on their blankets and marks the spot with piss.
One hectic, summer afternoon, I make my way to Frosty Boy, buy myself a chocolate malt, then drive fast to the edge of town where Oakwood Cemetery sprawls on the hill near Raisin River.
I park the car on gravel lane to roam closer to the natives: chiseled stones--both smooth and battered, bronze stars and flags staked in the ground near urns of flowers, and eerie mausoleums with padlocked gates.
Muffled cheering from Island Park across the creek--a baseball game, I suppose--and the "crack crack crack" that echoes from the shooting range located three miles down the road vie with hidden squirrels' chatter.
At last my straw draws only air, so I pause near granite angel and ask her if perhaps she knows why other occupants and I chose our resting places to lie upon this hill of sprawling oaks.
I watch the hardness of her jaw, coarse curves polished by elements and time, and it does not appear to move at all. But then, a light in her left eye, I think I see-- a tiny flicker in response.