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12 September 2010

Star Bargaining

Before I met you I wrote the entire story of our lives on the back of my hand so that when inevitable humility arose and and I hid my face from you, you'd see the long-reaching fingers of my pact, the future I memorized, and you'd forgive my stumblings and mumblings. You can still make out most of the whispers and kisses transcribed astride vein, tendon and bone. If you're interested love, look carefully at thumb's base to meta- this moment.

Tonight we're mounting a lopsided battle between wine glass and sidewalk and using my car for shell-shelter. We don't talk about the stars...sigh of relief. Mobs of stellar ruffians I say. Tyrants of light and time who force me to narrow my universe through a keyhole's view that cannot be shared. Stars are the province of the waking, the living and the needing. We dwell in the long gone, the sleeping, the having had. Cosmic rays must bend and obey our curvature, our ninety degree shift from life lived front and back to life seen left and right. Our anachronistic abandon is the new astronomy.

Light above meets light across from midnight drivers, halogen scalpels that probe our grounded spacecraft and anger our cigarette smoke force fields. You don't shy away from me when it happens and the smallness of your chivalry catches in my throat. I push in two directions, words up and out and love down and in.

"Can you be my navigator?" Just as predicted, my hands find my face. The poor stars...despite all of my abuses they still want to help, and their light lets you see my backhanded prophecy of your time with me. The words unravel and stretch out in a line from our joined hands through the fog of days to the book you will write for me when I pass into the end of things and follow the line back again to our ten sleeping fingers on the curb.

Now I understand the lack of galactic awe. What alluring mystery can these photonic memories of gases long gone really hold for a pair of travelers like us? We whose ageless wisdom led us to leave the stars behind for tears and lips and the deep cackling of entities who've touched the ends of the universe in divinatory hands. What teachers we are, what sphinxes, what builders of pyramids and charioteers of the gods!

Avarice has always eluded me. Let them have the stars. We will make new ones.

06 September 2010

Bad Slogans #1

The thing: A blue rinse in a fur coat does an Aikido roll out of a NYC cab, somehow dragging an ottoman-sized suitcase on wheels with her, which she sets in the street behind the cab while she climbs back in to retrieve her patent leather, absurdly floppy purse. While otherwise engaged, she does not notice a black sedan pulling curbside behind her taxi. The sedan driver does not see her rolling suitcase, or simply lacks depth perception, and gets a tad too close. The bumper taps it with the precise amount of force needed to send it slowly falling on its side. She lifts her head and her eyes are horrible. Her scream is wretched and she's rolling out of the cab spitting profane fire.

"Oh my fuck shit oh you asshole you asshole! No my oh God!"

Everyone stops and gathers as she runs to the suitcase on the ground and opens the main compartment. A tiny poodle, a butterscotch ball, pops out, and we can all see the supertitle in the sky:

AFFIXING SOPHISTICATION HAS ALL THE MAKINGS OF DISASTER.

02 September 2010

Pronoun Confusion = Alexithymia's Demise

WORK

He walks into the bathroom amidst an awkward toothbrushing and two urinals. Squeaky sneakers. Eyes that can't be seen behind fluorescent reflections on glasses. Stubble. A backpack. Toothpaste on the lips. The chin. The shirt. Mirrored glances. Slurping. Slurping.

He brought a cup of coffee! He brought a cup of coffee pigeon-foot-power-lined on top of porcelain, and other little horrors.

The brushing stops. The glances stop. The sipping doesn't stop.

It's best if this is put into the box marked "Love Stories". It helps push out that sigh of relief.

PLAY

She's sitting on cement steps, not looking for the front tooth that got lost somewhere along the way. About a third of her life is laying and lying out on the curb, sunning itself and/or slowly being bartered down and broken off and away by people like you and me.

"Do these speakers work?"

"Yah."

"Then why are you getting rid of them?"

Questions are jackhammering the already uneven sidewalk while she plays pick up sticks with frozen strands of hair on her sleeve. The scene reeks of thievery disguised as the extermination of a blight.

The hens come harumphing down the street and everyone scatters like feed. Their greedy mitts and blue rinses are the final arbiters of her tomorrow.

01 September 2010

At Sea

Earlier this week I had a visitation from someone most of us would consider “on the fringe of society”, a misleading expression for me since I always envision a flapper dress or fun bathroom area rug. This person was not swinging pearls, nor was he feeling “Zestfully clean”.

I won’t condescend and call him a lost soul, but akin to a Lovecraftian protagonist who has brushed up against the violent crags of madness and despair that mar our surfaces and betray the presence of a slumbering strangeness underneath the skin of the earth…or something like that.

He came to me through my job, which usually involves encountering young people at interesting and often exciting points in their lives. It also entails encountering the derailed and disoriented, who have taken to wondering if it may be possible to allay regret with a philter of absurd hope.

Survival dictates inurement. Steeling oneself in the face of irrationality and subtle instability is not so hard once you install a colossal emotional strainer to filter the worst of it. But the tiny bits, the grains of a person always sneak past, and in my case I aid and abet. I’ve a habit of fiddling with chinks in my armor until they multiply.

I refuse to get into the specifics of his life. It would be reprehensible to use it to evoke pity or humor or reflection. His storied past was not the threat. Listening to him rant and expound upon the things he’s seen and the alien lands he’s inhabited was the same as pressing my ear to a shell to hear the roaring echo of a far-flung oceanic realm. What struck the chords of fright were the small moments, and the realization that something is still living and hungry inside of the conch.

It was the very end of our meeting. In respiratory terms, the moment I stopped holding my breath and let my guard down. He was gathering his things, backpacks and notebooks, but stopped to give me his “business card”; one section of a sheet of paper with his contact information and the title “Artist Extraordinaire” printed on it in 9 neat rectangles.

He tried to tidily tear one for me, but the paper wouldn’t cooperate. I looked down and watched the jagged line obliterate Times New Roman. And keep going. And cut his hand clean off. And open up the entire room. And close the space between us. And make me leap backwards into a lie about another appointment and yes I am so sorry but I really have to go. And I wish you good luck. And I hope you find what you are looking for. And I wish I wasn’t a liar.

It’s a harsh alchemy that transmutes mundane into agony into benign inhumanity.