fiction, prosetry

Fear and a Spirit of Hateful Accommodation

Yes, all those things are lovely, but it’s boring when all is said and done at the end of the day eventually in the final analysis after all—indecision can be a like standing in the middle of field of lilacs and sometimes we simply say too much. Speaking of lilacs and sometimes, I don’t do well on the fly, too little meaning caught in too many words, with “do” and “fly” being the operatives here, deep down undercover with fake mustaches and mirrored aviators for obfuscation. We all know “well” well enough, or so I tell myself, to hold the sentence together with minimal disambiguation. The sentence—life, with no possibility of parole, unless you’ve got a little imagination. We all step away sometimes, needing to, receding to or from or for with grimy presumptions of stiff finality all around, creeping up the walls like rot till they seem darker than the corners and we can’t remember how or why we serve the question, but we do. Insistent on the peculiar merits of placement, I seem predisposed to point to the energy and the process like it’s blame I’m placing, not credit, clinging to rhizomatic enthusiasms rooted in contexts so specific and references so obscure that the truth can’t go unnoticed. The truth. What is this appetite for absolutes? Strip that away, and what—the positive qualities of illusion suggesting that the walls and corners aren’t in fact closing in, that they simply have spirit? Having seen it done and having done it, I strain to model myself on something definitive, over and over, ever and ever, ever stepping away to return all over, mumbling mawkish mantras like Destroy, and piece it back together but this time with gold at the seams. Kintsugi, yes? and how appealing, no, how improving, with an orange-juicer twist drop of idealism plus the pulp. Each answer is formed of countless questions, as variegated as the languages with which we pose them, so thus I ask: Do we spill because we break or does our spilling do the breaking because we get too full?

Everything has to go somewhere (that’s definitive-infinitive); there’s action in the outpouring, but I could see it working either way, or both, finding a comfortably uncertain trajectory regardless, whether of containment or release, a course, of course, if you will, running roughly from vulnerability to repair and so on, with voice, agency, embodiment, and destruction all packed in and cozy snuggled between. And so on, and back again. Till it breaks again and I’m back here on the fly again, going nowhere till it feels too right to not be the wrong words for a story.

I had a rough day, she said, barely holding back tears and looking smaller and more defeated than she’d ever permitted herself to look. A hug and kiss were proffered as preludes to a word or two of unconvincing edification as I, draped in coat and bags, walked out the door and down the hallway to the elevator and another hallway to the parking garage so I could warm up the cold little car with rust spots on the hood and drive cautiously through heavy nighttime snow already covering the highway despite evening weeknight traffic to a hotel way out west of the city where there was a meeting of the old white minds that I had to endure the following day. The following day arrived and I woke up from an uncomfortable half-sleep with the outlines of a migraine that would gradually color itself complete as I tried to take notes and look like I gave a shit in a windowless conference room thick with recirculated air and coffee breath, wanting only the essentials of sleep, hydration, and a proper breakfast. The rest—freedom, love, pain—would have to wait.

 


Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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fiction

End Of a Story

Another time—yes, there was another time, but only one other time, and that not really—I saw her acting out some obscurely tragic final scene, rushing from room to room in a space not entirely unlike that flat but cross-sectioned like a stage, lamenting and gesticulating. The melodrama, the motion, the volume—oh the things I’d say if I could wake up, I thought. Like Sorry, just forget it, forget it all.

What if, when it came right down to it, I spoke less breathlessly but with the same fight, in a manner more contrasted to my hurried thinking, trying less adamantly to push it all out before it’s gone? Less, more, less—that’s how it always goes and all I can think to do is paint, I told my friend the next morning in order to have something to say, but there are only three or four colors at my disposal, looking at the walls and the one frosty window in our “living” room, but meaning something else entirely. Please look away. Who can even begin to imagine such passion tailored to their person, so perfectly trimmed and fitted, and such trouble speaking when each word reeks of fantasy. But it never comes down to it. It just goes and goes and that’s it. Or that’s that, depending how your crow flies.

The sun rose over ancient Crete in my boyhood imagination and I learned as if looking in from the outside that paradise is a construct of color and sound. That, of course, was well before I learned the first thing about crawling out from under the weight of my intentions, but I did know the myth of the Theseus and the minotaur. It was love that helped him get back out. Do you have any idea what I push through every day just to be here? To whom do these thoughts indeed belong? I’d ask her that, if I had another chance, and tell her I didn’t ask for this—none of us did. We were just born into a world arranged by madmen and madwomen and expected to find a way in and through some private-public unicursal when in fact the journey, the real challenge and struggle, is to find a way out. My friend is out of his mind, but he conforms—and he lives just fine right there in his center so he doesn’t know it, doesn’t have to. I am out of mine, completely, imagining anyone can hear me when I’m alone out here on the fringes because it’s the only time I can hear myself.

Goodbye, Ariadne, till the next time I need some literary device upon which to hang my isolation. You guys go right on without me.

 


These are the closing paragraphs of a story I won’t post here or anywhere in its entirety because I hope to publish it elsewhere, so there. Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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prosetry

Every Mirror Holds Different News For Me

For a good twenty-five minutes she some young unknown sits in a blue Camaro parked with the engine running on the street in front of my house putting on makeup in the sun visor mirror while I contemplate the tree leaves and the idiosyncrasies of conversational American diction—they are changing color, the leaves, imperceptibly, as if each night deep in the middle under dark and cover yesterday’s foliage is replaced by today’s, fickle as interests and grammar. It’s the second time this has happened, this curbside dolling by this same someone on the way to someplace from somewhere else, once on a Saturday night, now on a Sunday morning, the only immediate difference being that I am no longer consumed by the small problems of sanity as I try to imagine what possessed her and for whose benefit these last-minute preparations are made.

Eventually she drives off—“in a small town everything is quickly over” yet some of us like to wrestle with incidental eternity as if it’s the converse though I usually wear Vans to front on the fact that I’m a poor hustler because I don’t know why, don’t know why there must be such fear in me, such small town awareness, here, made up, then gone, the intoxicating thrill of necromancy wafting superfluous like bad analogies and perfume on careless breezes before the maddening ice cream truck jingle monotony of ease, comfort, and simplicity snuff out these little conquests of attention. Let’s start this story over. Welcome to the city, to the refuge and the pulpit, where whatever gets rid of the terror will get rid of the wonder as well and, well, it’s fair field and no favour to suggest we here are tethered to the past by knowledge like anywhere else though the future grows up through cracks in the concrete like imagination and young women in blue Camaros who stop on side streets to put their faces on. But that’s just so much distraction. Where did you go, normalcy, and what will you be wearing when you read this, I wonder, superficialities of attitude and style subverting any comprehension of why honesty full and brutal is so hard to imagine out on the town without rejection while a life of sufficiently partitioned duplicity is well within reach. Yes, let’s start this story over, this time without the constraints of contradiction, each part and every to its fullest free and ready to embrace the impermanence of some great singularity.

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prosetry

Sleeplessness and Unexpected Music

It’s far too early in the evening to say here accept this and good morning, let’s be hopefully oblivious to whatever may lie ahead, maybe, maybe no, not by night. What you do is for yourself, so no worries, though, maybe. We’re all in our heads anyway, curators of our own realities—or so I’ve heard and at times repeated. I am making my anyway down the still sun-sizzled sidewalk carrying fear in a ragged black duffle to the pawn shop on the other side of the overpass to swap it for the awful, uncertain of the deal I’ll get. Are you afraid of dying? a billboard asks in terms so uncertain I swear it’s trying to sell me something dark and pointless and cliché like tears in the rain but the sun is still up and the sky is clear though our humanity’s tearing at the seams, overstuffed with what divides. The forecast called for an 80% chance of fate, and the rest of life will precipitate from the choices we make, or so I mumble under my breath, feeling ashamedly hyperbolic. Sometimes I have eggs for breakfast, though, and I’m much more matter of fact. Sometimes the shadows cast by spells from the trees outside make me think about how thinking about you as I lay right there beside you in bed the night before left an aroma on me that the simple sometimes not so simple plunge of sleep did not wash off, a residue which in the fresh fleshy light of morning has condensed into a thin film over my entire being that if I were a scientist I might cheerfully analyze and classify. If I were a shaman or a healer and this duffle contained strength, grace, and dignity, on the other hand, I could write to you and create a small space for us, a universe within a universe, a small space of space where the sense of time is utterly independent and we are merely supporting characters summoning essences to mix up in our rituals. Rise, fall, rise, fall, rise—and on and on and on and around till death marked the final up or the final down. Such would be the tempo and tenor of us, the trajectory of our necessary indifference to “them.” We’re still who and what we are, though, thankfully, retracing faint dusty dried up traces of what were once slippery existentialisms like soapy bathtub bottoms for collecting shower thoughts, thoughts to turn to pictures, pictures to turn to stories, always to turn to stories. A right turn, and then a quick left, just past the corner store, I’ll see you there, maybe, maybe no.

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life, poetry, prosetry

my wisdom is as neglected as chaos is

You can’t even think straight. Cleanly, that is. It’s straight enough, but so coarse and asperous I must put it in the shell of another—hence this “you” and its rhetorical undressing. You, tell me something funny. Ok, well, earlier there was pure despondence, that utter undesire for the substances of your life as you stood surrounded by linear narratives like sweaty shiny dudes at the gymnasion in tank tops for bearing tribal arm band bullshit tattoos doing bicep curls in incidental unison, their grimaces of exertion gaping back at them and that’s when irony got its hooks in deep around the vainly lathered notion of so little being left to the imagination when in fact the ancient Greeks were the ones who trained naked. Has our sense of the aesthete changed so much, or merely the gods in whose honor we do compete.

Our stories shape us and we shape our stories, you cried, as if in objection or acceptance—‘twas difficult to tell; it all depends on the angle and the context. The commercial break reminds in no uncertain terms that this particular loneliness has been brought to us by double caffeine coffee pods and home security systems but says nothing not a thing at all about extremism. Oh the places I’ve been, and left, reaching out from fate, trying to remember the crumbling Olympia of people within.

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prosetry

Put Your Heart in the Hands of a Cynic

You’re a marvelous being, he says to her, eyes squinting for a better view behind the smudgy rose-colored lenses of his spectacles, common sense folded neatly on the white linen tablecloth beside the sweating half-empty/full water carafe as he reclines in a slight wicker chair on a warm, impressionistic day outside the café he’s only just imagined could be the setting of a turning point in a life story called I Missed the Good Stuff.

Possibility isn’t just enough, it’s all.

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prosetry

Scenescence

My dad was sick and we were trying to get the house ready and a cow got stuck in a tree and we thought we might have to put it down before it died up there and our only help was a young man like a young woman with whom I once worked who couldn’t be counted on for shit and the house seemed SoCal, the land of now.

I said, to no one in particular, that this was like “jumping from the pot of absurdity to the fire of the ridiculous” and the young man turned to me like I’d caught his cheek with a fish hook and pulled hard so I said one day you’ll read that book and it’ll change your life and threw him back into his babbling brook.

My dad didn’t make it because none of us do, but we did manage to get that cow down once the world turned back over to ordinary believable neological sensicality and, everafter, we made our truth of the whole thing simply by telling it, each and every time he came back to the house to see me. Remember when… And he’d pour me another, a look of deep, melancholic tenderness spread evenly across his kind face, and tinged with a sorrowful pity of which I was always sure he was never aware.

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