Archive for March, 2011

My Neighbor Asked Me a Question

My neighbor asked me a question several weeks ago. He descended delicately down the hill from his front yard toward where I was standing in mine.

I looked up and he started: “Is it legal to lock children outside?”

I purposefully did not hide the look of surprise on my face, but he was stubborn in maintaining a calm and serious stare as if he had just asked how my cancer treatments were going.

I thought about dogs, wondering if he was talking about dogs, and I said, “I suppose it’s legal to leave your dogs outside as long as they’re not disturbing the peace.”

He turned and started walking back up the hill, and I heard him mutter, “No, I was talking about locking the kids outside.”

These several weeks, I have been watching his back yard for his kids, and I have not seen them locked out back there. I had not devised a plan of what to do if I did see them. For sure, it was a delicate matter. It occurred to me that I had not seen his kids at all during these several weeks. That was disturbing to think about, and it was quite sad.

My friend, Brian, adopted a dog from some hillbillies far south of town. (He called them hillbillies. I did not know that the term was still in use.) He had wanted a new companion since his Golden died a few months ago. A friend of his told him about these hillbillies. It seems that they did not know about fixing their dogs or perhaps didn’t have enough money. They had dogs here and dogs everywhere, scrounging along in almost every place you could imagine on the land around their country tenement. During times when they (the hillbillies) were too poor, they would shoot some of the dogs because they couldn’t afford to feed them. Much of the time, they simply shot the puppies soon after they arrived.

Brian thought that saving at least one of these dogs would be a wonderful way to adopt a shelter dog, one that would therefore be saved from sure death. Brian’s friend arranged the adoption for him.

Brian went down to the tenement on a Tuesday. It was 10 a.m. when he got there. He had to get out of his truck slowly and carefully with his hands partly up from his sides because the man of the tenement was walking toward Brian’s truck holding a can of Budweiser in one hand and a shotgun in the other. Brian told the man that he was there for the dog and he was careful not to say another word.

The man loosened the chain on the pole and Brian brought the dog home. I met the dog yesterday. He was the most beautiful creature with black silky fur and a wonderful golden brown swimming around his eyes and snout and marking his legs and paws perfectly. The gratitude in his eyes caused that emotion when you literally feel your heart warm, and I was grateful too. The dog was skinny like a coyote, but Brian was working on that.

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Sitting Gripped and Frozen on Red Vinyl

She sat there watching the darkness blur and taint her. Uncle Tommy had been there, but he had left, and her husband had walked out in fear. Why did Uncle Tommy leave?

She heard her name, Theresa, rapidly being repeated, almost to a shouting level in intervening instances. She was called upon to give the eleven men assurance that she was conscious, not destroyed. Her mind felt words crawling to proclaim bright living, but her mouth was frozen and felt paralyzed. Her mind was desperate and locked away in a large inferno.

Fourteen cheap chairs with red vinyl backs and seats and light aluminum legs and frames, two of them empty. The fluorescent shop lights were shut down. The only light was seeping from dinky tin fixtures with 60-watt bulbs, hanging not far below the high, industrial ceiling. The fixtures caused unusual brightness and shadow on the faces of the eleven men, to the point that there were no faces but amoebas of shapes of cheeks, foreheads, tips of noses and tops of ears, with enormous hollow holes in eye sockets, all of them pointed toward her, waiting for her affirmation, waiting to find that she had not had too much, too many of Uncle Tommy’s pills.

She was sure it was wet brain, but she was no scientist. Later, she knew her soul was trashed. Later, one man told her that after hearing her talk, he was sure that she did not have wet brain, and she spoke to herself, asking herself why they would call it wet brain if it were caused by pills rather than alcohol.

The men were nuts. They continued to repeat her name in the worst chorus of melding liquid sands blaring like French Horns at the beginning of a hunt. She could not make even a slight sound. She wanted to be alone. She wanted to be locked up forever. Maybe Uncle Tommy had medicine for this. She did not have hope, but she continued to wait patiently, dreaming of a day when she might be able to speak again.

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Gold Trails Away from Wasteland

Slowly marching up,
so far into soft gold trails.
We, relieved, home safe.
You cannot trail with anchors.
Stay in your Wasteland, sour souls.


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The Mars Volta This Moment Here

Double dagger now,
off-beat causing tingling nerves.
Burning spirit flows.
In hot fires, life is polished.
Bright riffs spark revolutions.


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Hall Monitor in Sunshine

Staring without tears,
intent, sinking under love.
Sunshine blinks mercy.
Your walk round, impeccable,
immeasurable sweetness.


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Russian Music for My Heart

Sing-song, chip, splendid
town street, a black tall top hat.
Perfect gray, fifties
black top, ornate curly wood
then dance stops loud, anger starts.


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Lucky Man, Quiet Man

You see him spill crushed parts
in shiny, slick gutters.
You pick them up and place them
gently on his chimney.
You light the fires with old, dark maples
warming his soul tenderly.
You call forth the blue angel within
to fling capes to protect his heart.
You send pillows of fluffy gold good
to cushion all of his falls.
and the only reason you do
is because you are a good human being.

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Another Difficult Day – Four More Pieces

Adaptability would allow me to live.
I’m frozen with guys who grow hair long.
They sing all day into the shells of the creations of man.
All of it is a river,
heading for dark silver soccer fields
with decades of dead players.
My fortress is gone too.

(Moderately Fast, With Anxiety)
Sometimes it lies on me
like a large woman on a bus bench.
There is the sledgehammer to my temple.
Blinking tractor lights.
Trash trucks squeal
as if they are bringing personal defilement.
And even our most alluring inspector
cannot touch my heart.
There is a certain feel
that the car will hit the curb.
I will melt away.

(Like a Light Dance)
Can you hear the bombs in the driveling sewer pipes?
Nothing outside is copacetic for the violence
of rapid death.
A vacant walk puffs here and there.
And you and I,
for the only delectation of the day,
laugh at the depth of my sickness.

My assignment is a commodity of happy.
I can feel all of you laughing.
Before any of the channels in my brain
begin to spark with dispatch of this rebellion,
I find I can lie just as well as all of you.
I had forgotten for a long while,
but now my trumpets with crooked faces
are blaring happiness.


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Smart as Hell Revisited

Time goes by in a way that fools me and then it is not gone. It’s right in my fucking driveway.

Lately I have had a fatalistic feeling of being able to do nothing but wrong. People give me feedback that supports this evaluation. It is odd.

If I told you that I watch every step before my foot goes down, the exaggeration would not be too thick. This would be marvelous risk prevention if it worked. When I watch my steps today, it does not save me from stepping in the bad yesterday. The good I step in today might well be bad tomorrow. This brings on a full Alice-in-Wonderland feel. When time or learning do not matter, I become this massive, chaotic balloon with no chance of ever coming back to society, perhaps not flying into the sun but more flying so badly as to be permanently lost.

They tell me lately that I allow my emotions to wipe out the rational reactions to situations and events. It’s true that I am Read the rest of this entry »

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Lost in the River on the Interstate Highway

Eric drove the car on a barge of errands. His presence was not required, but there were red puffy clouds roaming through the house talking about a spring storm that might not miss the city and might just smash the front of his home into nothingness.

Earlier, Tommy told him that it is silly how our wives sometimes think that being married means being attached to each other as we go through all the strings of minor inconveniences that poke holes in the beauty of our days. Tommy explained that as we get older, we lose more and more of our independence until we no longer know who we are, which is okay because we need a loving partner who helps us get juiced on the major ups and helps us swim upstream against the travesties.

When Julie asked Eric if he wanted to go along on the burdensome list of errands, she knowing that of course he didn’t want to go along, he immediately consented to going along. As they circled the city as if spiraling down the drain of the dreaded lifelessness of duties, which are never much beneficial, Eric realized that whatever solitary activity which he had so richly planned was in the end the true nothingness compared to merely being present in the silent car that was circling the city.

On one of the errands, far away on the northern end of the city, practically in Iowa, he was able to see Julie do an immensely caring and compassionate thing for another human being who was hurting, and the emptiness of the errands started swimming with that floating stream of light purple waves that only come when fulfilling one’s purpose, those waves that seem to be singly responsible for keeping us alive.

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