Lives interrupted

Even now, in deep July, the air feels like autumn, the sky is the color of muddied aluminum. But it is still deep July and the windows are whirring and the fans are open and the house has a chill that nearly beckons fire. The place is like a white beach, almost pastoral in nature even though the yard is made of rock; and the motor cars, their white buds of headlight cracking the fog, stream by within inches of the fencing.

The phone rang and then rang again and then yet again, and I had to repeat to someone what they did not know.

“I’m sorry Carlos, he passed away in January.”

The real purpose of his call suddenly fades away and is replaced with sterile condolences.

The house is quiet again save for the rushing hum of the motor cars and someone somewhere is rhythmically shoveling stones.

The mist wanders around the bends of the moors like a drunken snake. The lonely heart of magic creeps in and makes me still. The dead room is empty.

Outside on the streets a little girl with brain cancer falls off her bike and skins her stick-like legs. There is a muted wail spilling from her open mouth, for the poison medicine rendered her voice box inoperable. She hobbles home. The bike is left in the middle of the street, abandoned due to pain, like her pa’s credit card I found in my wet lawn.

Lives interrupted all around. Distractions of disorder. And you never know what’s in there, when you are only looking out there.

The Tomatoes of OZ

The doorbell rang at dusk

The old woman came bearing fruit

She held three tomatoes in tired hands

One was the size of a golf ball

The other two she cradled like testicles

They came from her very own garden and she beamed with pride

I had to accept the gift, for it would be rude not to

But inside my tired mind:

“Old hag, have you not heard my decree in the dead of night?

For I loathe your foul tomatoes.”

My hand shook as I reached out to take charge of the vile fruit

The skin was orange-red and smooth

There was the tousled cap of dark green on the large one

I wanted to vomit on her canvas shoes

But I feigned delight instead

And closed the door

As the sunset roared

The Wicked Witch of the West was cackling

The fireballs delivered

And I stowed them upon the counter of cold granite

And they looked up at me

The brainless one

The heartless one

The scared one

And I looked down at them

I, the most powerful wizard was crackling with power

And I denied them gifts of love and grace

I reached for the switch and snuffed out the light

“Suffer for a while in silence and darkness,” I boomed with evil

My large onion-shaped head on fire …

And I returned later

Drunk with tiredness

Longing for my cuddle cobra

The Dorothys now rolling about and chanting a high-pitched menace

“There’s no place like salad, there’s no place like salad, there’s no place like salad …”

I quickly reached for the glinting kitchen hatchet and hoisted it high in the air and yelled out with a heart full of psychosis

“Fukison smash!!”

I stopped just short of the kill

I caught my breath

I was moist with sweat and I whispered over them

“There will be no salad. There will be no sandwich. There will be no salt and pepper. Your lives will end tonight at the bottom of a barrel.”

I scooped them up and they cried

I punched the pedal of the trash can with a socked foot

The lid flipped open and I dropped them in

There was a thud, thud, thud

And then all was peace and darkness

A real quiet, country dark

The frogs croaking gladness in the grasses near the pond.

The Lone Belly

this angel skull of Harlem don’t sing or sink like the wind. it’s laundry day in Manitowoc, the MAT is down by the old Navy ship resting in it’s watery grave and the sky and the rain is so damn gray and sad as I hoist canvas bag over shoulder like some old-time dirty clothes beatnik hobo with wrinkled clothes and wrinkled charms. cigarette smoke burns the eyes at the frantic cross walk, the digital intersection and all those mod bods in the cars have dingy faces glued to smart ass phones. you got to watch the itch they have in their eyes or they will just run you down. you got to be defensive at all times, a defensive posture and mind that is. no one pays attention except me. some lady comes up to the cross walk with some kid and she gets mean when smoke trails into her face then swirls around her balding child with the bad cough. she talks about asthma or some other respiratory illness and berates me for fogging up the public spaces. she says something about going off by myself to suck poison. maybe over there, she points, a lone picnic table beneath a low branch of a big old pine tree. sit there and suck on that thing is what she says. I answered with a big ol’ I was Here first … and she huffed and the light changed and I stepped out into the street and nearly got hit by a car but they slammed on their brakes at the very last last last second and I did not die but instead went to the lone picnic table like that mothering broad said and sat there by myself and watched the dumb world be all mindless and beautiful even so and I just stayed there for a very long time and in the very background I could hear the crashing of the lake waves against the not too distant shore and it made my belly feel real lonely and then it was made worse when the bell tower of some ornate stone church a couple of blocks away started tolling away too and the lonely belly feeling started to feel even lonelier and then it was the dropping sun cracking through the clouds that added to the whole mix of lonely sadness, an Americana downtown’s brick and glass in sunwash light now. that gutty loneliness sweeping me up and getting me all choked up. it was all too lonely to sit still and think about it. I moved on, my bleached canvas laundry tote slung over my shoulder, into a rainbow all wet and smelling like gasoline as a magpie ate paint chips. this was just a part of the day.

Choke on your lunch

It was a rainy day, the sky was gray, the traffic was wet as it zipped by the Cafe Sanchos on Brickle Street.

“I hope you choke on your lunch.”

“Why would you say something like that?”

“Because you’re a mean person who doesn’t deserve to live.”

“That’s harsh.”

“I’m a realist and a cynic.”

“I’ve noticed … do you mind if I take one of your slices of lemon for my water?”

“I do. Get your own damn lemons.”

She snapped her fingers at the waiter as if he were some kind of farm animal.

“Yes, mam?”

“I would like you to bring me some sliced lemons, but please be certain there are no seeds. I hate the seeds. They get into the water, float to the bottom and clog up my straw …. or worse yet, go down my throat and cause me to choke. Can you do that? No seeds.”

I watched as the waiter rolled his eyes inside his brain and cursed her out.

“That wasn’t very nice of you,” I said to her as I nibbled on a cracker.

“What?”

She acted so damn surprised.

“You were a real bitch to that waiter.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You were rude about the lemons.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. He’s a waiter. That’s his job. He’s paid to serve me. He doesn’t deserve to be treated nicely.”

“I think you should apologize.”

“I will do no such thing.”

That was when the waiter came by and roughly plopped down a plate of lemon slices before her. She held glasses to her face and looked at them.

“Oh hold on now,” she began to point out to him. “I’m sure I made it perfectly clear that there were to be no seeds in these lemon slices, and there, plain as day, I see a seed.”

I held a hand over my face.

The waiter feigned a smile and all along I knew he just wanted to throttle her.

“My mistake mam, I must have missed one.”

“Well, don’t expect a tip,” she snapped.

The waiter snatched the plate away and walked back toward the kitchen.

“See, he’s pissed off now. He’ll probably spit in our food, well, your food at least.”

“They can’t do that. It’s against the law.”

“Who’s going to stop him?”

She shifted uncomfortably.

“Why can’t you just drink your water the way it is?”

“I can taste the fish in it and I don’t like that.”

“No you can’t.”

“Yes, I can!”

The waiter returned with a fresh plate of lemon slices and set them before her.

“Your lemon slices, mam. No seeds. I double checked myself.”

She bent her face over the plate and looked at it carefully.

“Looks OK,” she said. “Is our food almost ready?”

“It will be out shortly,” the waiter said, and he bowed his head a bit and trotted off.

“See, you did it again.”

“Did what?”

“You were rude.”

“You’re hallucinating.”

I took a deep breath and said what I wanted to say the whole time.

“I’m afraid this will be the last time we will be coming to Sancho’s.”

She half-smiled and looked at me.

“What are you talking about. This is our place. We come here all the time … although some times I wonder why.”

“I don’t want to see you anymore.”

Her thoughts stopped dead in their tracks.

“What? Why?”

“Well, to be perfectly honest with you, you’re just a mean person and I really don’t like you.”

“How could you say something like that to me … you bastard!”

She threw her cloth napkin onto to the table top and began to cry, dabbing at her eyes with her knuckle points.

“How can I say something like that? Because it’s true, honey. You’re just plain mean and I’ll be damned if I want to spend the rest of my life with someone like you. Now, can I have the ring back?”

She sneered at me.

“You want your ring!? Fine! Go chase after it.”

She yanked the ring off her finger, stood up and tossed it high over the hedge that wrapped around the covered patio. It went into the traffic somewhere on the other side.

“What the hell did you do that for!?” I yelled. “Do you have any idea how much I paid for that thing!? What a waste of money!”

“Is that all you care about!?” she snapped.

“Well, right about now, yes!”

I looked around and realized there were other patrons staring at us. I was embarrassed.

“I’m leaving. Goodbye forever.” I said to her.

“But, what about our food? Aren’t you going to eat? Can’t we talk about this?”

“No. It’s over. I’m going to look for the ring. Good luck with your life.”

I got up and walked away just as the waiter emerged from beyond with a tray of food. It was our food. It smelled of urine.

Dreams of a Haunted House

It was a very dark place. I had little light. The light was ash cut through by a streak from maybe the moon outside. Was I wearing white sheets splattered in the blood of memories? There was someone in front of me, I do not know. They were leading the way. Some foreign ass there in the dark. We climbed some stairs. There was a room off to my left, the door was open and I knew I shouldn’t look in – but I did. I did look. I tried to laugh the fear away and be bold like barbecue sauce. The room was dark, mostly, but there was a faint glow and something swirling like smoke. A pale pillar, an object, a form … a form in the shape of a human – then a moaning and groaning. It was a calling to the room, an invite to the other side. And it was like a little Texas, flat and barren and scary, a place of heart-sucking bogs and dry tears of the lonely and left behind. I laughed off the fear and wanted to attack it like it was no big deal … but the stranger in front of me pulled me along and away to some bruised emerald yard down back on the other side and there were people milling about, paper lanterns of red beating above their heads. Stiff corpses full of life and liquor and then Jonah Hill passing me the peace pipe and saying “all right, all right, we’ll just get a little high,” and moving his fingers like a mad scientist. Julia Roberts was all turned off by that and disappeared down a hidden staircase and into a vapor and into a hell around the corner. Jonah blew smoke in my face and laughed and I moved away to a Fat Albert city block and a small cafe of red brick and big windows and inside there was me Pa on a doctor’s table, legless and sad about soup. He just wanted a decent bowl of soup and some decent legs to walk on. He gave up on shit life. He gave up on God and all that healing and salvation shit the visiting ministers kept rambling on about. Yeah. that’s it. That’s the ticket.

And now I sip detox tea from a mug inscribed with … Life’s a bitch. Then you die. 

 

Munchy Wunching a Fried Cow

… and the dirty people walked dirty dogs around the dirty parking lot at the gas cafe in the great and looming Southwest. I watched from a window while sipping Coke and munchy wunching a fried cow and stuck-together French fries. It was a cheeseburger plopped in a green plastic basket lined with a greasy white paper. The waitress was a mean Mexican chick sick with poverty and her feigned smile cracked as she looked out the large window at the great expanse all dusted white from a spring snow. The mountains were cold and evergreen, the long and yawning fields golden and sprinkled with God salt. She walked away and I looked at the rotating pie case near my table. I didn’t know if they were fake or real. Was it plastic whipped topping and cement meringue? Some of the plastic lids were half off; letting in air and the smell of gasoline. It was unappetizing and so I did not order any pie. It was just a roadside pee house, a place where the zooming lunatics shook off the road rage for a bit and annoyed the damaged clerkies. Ah, the savage and scarred clerkies, cloaked in the ugly vests of their corporate pimp. They had long hair and long faces. Victims of a system – this so fucked up system. How could they possibly be happy? And so I just looked out the window long and hard. I scraped my eyes across the asphalt and up to the world Above The Road. Aliens like spinning planets of pearls hid in the cracks of the rocky mesas and cast spells with bulbous eyes. The sky was big and baby-blanket blue and dotted with cream puff clouds, some stretched out like vanilla taffy, some strands hanging down like wet oodles of noodles in a bruised candy shoppe of colonized Mars.

And for all the damage there was in the world, there was hope and comfort in the eyes of the Heaven Dixie girl. And when I was on the roaring interstate Four-Zero I could have just kept going all the way to her very own front yard and the apple trees where Adam and his gal pal Eve used to play, and there she was waiting, the girl with the Sonic Ocean Water eyes, her face pressed against the bedroom window wet with rain, her legs crossed in a closet before a roaring fire and her all sending smoke signals of groovy love that circled the planet and ended up on me. I alone beside her. I alone, her running through my soul like some blood river. And there is peace in this war because of her. And there is food in this hunger. And there is sleep in this restless turning. And if you build a bigger word than love, that is where you will find us.

Light Night

she is like the light

the blue light, that crops life

into some picture perfect kiss and heart

wandering I go,

clouds and echoes

they pour down and talk about love

in every sun-drenched step

she smiles

and says it’s all right

and even when I look out into loneliness

as the sun drops and the stars spit

she breathes and wanders

in her own head

in my own heart

the dying of the light

I catch her like a kite

loose and torn

my shoulder against the frame of night

cold, gray, sun blessed

love blessed

a Dixie pout in Heaven

the road worn and all that

and it’s human on human

it’s beauty unknown

exploding like some summer blush

a street, a lane, a river that boils

I hand her a flower

broken but beautiful

in my gray night

where I troll and dream

love light just written in a book

this heart arcing, exploding

some stranger’s tears running down

across the space between us

and I can taste her

across a world

across a distance

and I hold her in the space

the division runs asunder

yet I know her

completely, dreamy, love like the sun

love some magic burn

tattooed like fire and light

a kiss, to melt my mountains …

 

 

 

 

The Swimming Window

And there were orange baptized bullets lodged in a wall of sea salt adobe and skull,

a hard skull of architecture burned and bandaged

the sun was far too bright as I dug them out with the tip of a knife

and I was suddenly cursing the violence of Southwest sweat and artificial love

and street corner Kool-Aid chillin’ like angels’ blood

the cherry, raspberry red brew that made a sore throat feel even more sore

when one is a rattled child on a planet with obscene purpose

and why do I do anything but idle and wail

if it just turns out to be nonsensical dreams anymore?

 

And now the late afternoon sun that pours through a front window in the house

is all stained with wandering soul and a life vanished

Everything is different due to the dead

There is mad swimming in Heaven

and I still wake up … and I still buy bread

I walk over the land and pick up stones

they live in a pool of millions

yet straddle the whore world all alone

and the days are starting to feel like desert tin

hard, hot and shining

illuminating muscle

capsizing the eyes

spawning breathless, reckless wandering and wonder …

 

Vapor Day

Life trembles of light on Youthful Street, the bloody memory lane

where the sun slips through and hits everything just right

to where it makes your guts roll like an ocean

on the black and white steps of the old front porch

the old and gone sitting there in summer shorts, smiling for the camera

a click, a vapor, a ghost -

some girl made of dough

stands in a crooked, cracked driveway

she’s twirling an umbrella into kaleidoscopic oblivion

the air aches of a warm freshness

a cyclical slip of Mother Nature’s tongue

into the mouth of holy guts and wonder

rain beckons at the wall

the clouds now white as ice

heartbeats live in the air left behind

I close closet doors and lock them in

invisible stepfalls rattle another restless night

the heart beats like a drum from the distance

and the jungle animals wonder …

is it love or is it shadow play?

 

Angel on an Elevator

So now, beauty is strewn across the sky

Like sunsets bleed all the red of a beating heart

She talks to me on wires

With angel breath

and a calm that never stalls

Hot night Appalachia calls

her name is my favorite

and even in the cold, I clutch her close, ghostly and warm

billions of kisses in the world

and the only one I want is hers

and hers alone

I see her in every star that calls

I feel her in every step I take

the angel from a place

I don’t even know

sheds tears with me through satellites

every moment before her

led me to her

like the rain in the rainforest

it was always meant to be there …