“Just look at him. Standing under that same fucking lamp post like nothing’s going on.”
Steam like Spirits eschewed from the hood of Dick’s rusty-not rustic- 1985 Mustang. Ice, melted to slush in the off-warmth of the day, nestled into the bosom of the street-curb, solidifying in the chilled night air. John strained his eyes trying to make out the kid. The lamp was flickering as they approached, but died when they killed the engine.
“Can’t get him into the light, can we?” Asked Dick, fooling with the heater. “I like to look at their faces.”
“It’s all the same shit to me.”
The kid leaned on the lamp post, lit up a cigarette, and tapped his knees together. Beyond that, it was hard to make out his face. Had the light not gone out, and the only light been the distant lamps reflecting off of green dumpsters and the side panel of a grey impala, they would have been able to make out his face, contracted and wrinkled in the cold, wind-whipped and sun-blasted (leaving an irregular, patchy tan like a Pinto whose Maaco paint job had seen one too many years), with a pair of eyes painted a dark brown melancholy; a visage carved from out of adolescence, which looked much like James Dean…post mortem.
“Turn on the radio won’t ya, Dick.”
“Speakers blown out.”
“When’d that happen?”
“Dunno. No since in figuring on when.”
“Not like it matters much.” John mumbled in exasperated tones, stretching his arms back, interlacing each finger, cracking every bone, smiling in satisfaction, his eyes squinting in the pleasure of a good stretch. But it would have mattered, had he turned on the radio, which was set to some phony radio-vangelist who would have said thirty minutes of bullshit, rapping around a single line that would have saved John’s soul. Still, “Probably best to keep quiet.” He thought. “Whaddaya make of this kid, anyway?”
“Just stands in the dark, waiting for cars to come by.”
“Standing,” he breathed, “…waiting.” Waiting just as they waited. Breathing just as they breathed. Though the kid, alone, would occasionally respond to a slowing Jetta playing techno music, and perform and intricate performance with his and the driver’s hands. “It’s too damn hot in here.”
“You know what Joe says?”
Dick didn’t give a fuck what Joe said. But he gave John an appeasing, “What does Joe say?” as he tapped his fingers slowly on the dashboard; tadadadum…tadadadum…
“Says the kid ain’t got no folks. Whaddaya make of a sonnovabitch kid ain’t got no folks?”
“They’re all sad stories.”
John and Dick watched the kid from the comfort of their steaming ‘stang. They smoked cigarettes and wiped the grit from the corners of their red eyes, though they were red for different reasons. Dick was allergic to cigarette smoke, and his eyes would burn and water every time that he took a puff. John had insomnia, and got about five hours of sleep a week. It was easier after a drink and a smoke, but he was dyspeptic, and the drink would irritate his bowels, so he only drank in private. This was a problem, because he felt like a drunk, drinking alone.
“Did you bring the camera?” John asked.
“I got the camera. In the trunk.
“Well that’s not gonna help us much is it?
“Seat folds back.”
“You gotta think sometimes, Dick.”
“I’ll hold your cigarette.”
“Forget it. It’s almost burnt down anyway. How am I supposed to move around back here with all this shit on the seat? No wonder this car smells like wet socks.”
Dick’s mind was elsewhere. Like machine with a primary function, he maintained locked on what he was programmed to do. Blood, like oil, flowed through his veins to fuel the engine of his heart, which ignited a system made to do one thing without conscience; one thing without repercussion; one thing guided by nothing but his own stock coding to survive, thrive, enterprise, and be the last one standing—standing on a pile of obsolete predecessors.
“Here’s the fuckin’ thing.”
“Just step into the light you little shit. Just step into the light…”
The eye is such a complex organ that scientists have yet to develop a comparable device to mimic the capabilities of the original organ. The beauty and intricacy of the retina, the pupil and the iris—the versatility of a lens that can focus in a deep field and a shallow field, in crisp, vibrant color. No physical human capability—no individual talent—can replicate the delicate precision of the eye. All human kind has to attempt to replicate the ocular miracle is a camera–(a lens and a mirror that must be manipulated by hand) that strange device-that fascinated John since he was a child.
John used to photograph beetles that he found under piles of fence posts that his father always intended to put up. Rollie-pollies and pincher bugs were a favorite subject. He made a pinhole camera out of a Pringles can, black electrical tape, and oven paper. His jaw would slump as he stared through the spy-hole, observing the inverted, black and white, blurry version of the world in front of him. In order to see through the pin-hole camera, however, he needed light. So he would take a jar, gather the bugs from the shaded mud under the fence-posts, and transplant the bugs to a sunnier spot; to a slab of concrete in the front yard. On this slab, John used to lay out the six or seven bugs he caught, get out his camera, and excitedly stare at their movements, save for the ones that died along the way.
He would stare longer at the dead dung beetles and pincher bugs, in awe of the stillness that he had yet to achieve, not understanding the finality of their stillness; not understanding the pain of suffocation or the confusion of entrapment, the blinding burning eruption of light forced upon nocturnal sensors magnified by the concave glass jar; magnified by time; time lost, time illuminated, breathless, daunting, foreboding, diminishing…
The kid felt heavy in his converse as his thirst demanded that he find something to drink. His throat was like a an introverted cactus. As he swallowed, the needles would scrape against the soft skin of his esophagus, and no descending liquid he could provide could soothe the gashes created by those needles. So he gave in, walked from his parched desert of darkness, and stepped into the light.
“What now, John?”
“check his pockets.”
“Kids pockets are empty.”
“Check his jacket lining?”
“The thing’s got guts all over it.”
“I said do it!”
“Here… Whaddaya make of this orphan now? Ain’t got no hair on his chin. Scrawny arms, smells like the back seat of your car. D’ya think he was figurin’ on getting’ plugged today?
“You think he saw our car?”
“There’s nothing in the jacket.”
“What if he saw our car? Knew we were here? Was just waiting for us to come over? Do you think he recognized us?”
“I don’t recognize us.”
“Don’t any of them recognize us?”
“Little bastard’s got at least three G’s sewn into these pants.”
“How many people have we done now?”
“Split it half?”
“It’s getting light out.”
“Kid’s got three G’s and still don’t shower.”
“Put him in the trunk.”
“Hehe…Kid smells like piss.”
“Put him in the goddamn trunk.”
“Do you even know what he did?”
“I don’t give a shit what he did. Stop laughing.”
“S-sorry. But I just ain’t killed a kid before. It’s just funny to me.”
“I’ll pop the trunk. Get it together.”
“Never killed a kid. Never really pulled the trigger. You know, Dick? Come to think of it, I always just sort of watched. You’re apprentice you know? If you really think about it. This shit ain’t my fault, if you really think about it? It’s all you isn’t it…It’s all you… I ain’t done shit. Just along for the ride………Kids, ya know. Goddamn kid. Stay home! MAKE MONEY! Could’ve had something. Punk little orphan bastard sonnovabitch… Goddamnit you’re a stupid kid…Stupid fucking kid, John.
In Santa Fe, the sun sets over those
Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Beautiful Blood Red
Beyond Blood Red
Clouds like the tails of palominos.
Under the sun
and those clouds
I strummed steel strings
strung along a birch body;
curved like a woman
it sang for a woman.
And I sang, mon cour
And I sang, baby doll…
She was everything this young man needed
and I would be there for her
as long as she was there for me
…as long as she was there for me.
My guitar gently wept before I knew I would have to.
In Santa Fe the sun sets over those mountains
The newly cristened, Sangre de Corazon, mountains,
dyed each night in the blood of the love of my heart
which had loved and had lost love and was love lost…
And in Santa Fe I wept on a sun soaked dashboard;
I held my breath and felt a pulse paranormal;
I took a pen to my jugular to write of life.
I slept in relentless dreams of you
I slept in relentless dreams of you
I slept in relentless dreams of you
relentless recurrent resurging restricting…
I slept in a picture of my hand on the small of your back
while your breath whispered warmth in a wandering ear.
When the waves whipped my face on a brisk weekday morning, and my fiance’s bed welcomed me a warm, posturpedic heaven, I realized that I would never be able to completely leave Ventura. When I sang Lovin’ is What I Got around Luke’s campfire surrounded by friends, some of whom sang along, followed by bitching about Oh Captain! My Captain! Lindsey, that’s when I knew that the city between the beach and the hill where I almost failed out of high school, would always be my home.
In Santa Fe, the winter gets cold, the summers are hot, and mice like to run around in my dorm room. But I juggle as much as I can and the cafeteria food – the hand-made desserts and the cooked to order crepes – almost always put a smile on my face. Still, every night I lie in my bed, usually talking to that sweet woman who said she would stay with me forever, and I just want the semester to end. When Mike calls, or Kelsey, or Luke or Dwight or Derrick or Evan or Mom, I get a sense of what I left behind. I get a sense of those palm trees that you can never get out of sight, and the sunsets over the ocean that blead into the tide like a bittersweet suicide.
I am as anxious as modern conspirists awaiting the arrival of the thirteenth bak’tun on the Mayan Calendar. I want to go home, but am I still me? Are they still them? Is the place that I love still the place that I love? Will main street still run down to the ocean? I know it is not likely for that to change, but will it still invite me from the sand to the street in the same Southern Californian way?
I left home to become a man
Not knowing just what it would take.
And I’ve done everything that I can,
Everything in order to make
A life for myself from the chances I have
Been given by people I love.
But the sand in my toes, and my face gone unshaved
Is all that I now can dream of.
Subtle, Sweet San Buena Ventura.
I sing symphonies of sorrow for you.
Subtle Sweet San Buena Ventura.
Sing your sweet song for me too.
With a buzz and a bust I must bus home.
Windy Wendy went wearily wobbling.
Wobble windy and wear all white.
White Wendy wipes wet water.
Water so wet. Wet water wet.
Wendy weeps and sleeps in a city steep.
A way to air the airables again and again.
Again aghast a ghost a goon.
Airily the airy air, is heir to heirs of eerie air.
All together Avery.
Avery a voracious adventurer.
Bit busy to bust open the bust.
Bury the bust and bustle of bust.
Bustle of bust buying busty-busted busts.
Buzz, beep, boing, bonkers.
Billy bounces off the banister.
Andertholic Neanderthal. Under all is in-aliable.
Against the adjunct age of angst.
Angst is against all afflictions.
Afflictions that age with addictions.
Annie is aged with addiction.
Again again again again.
A gain again against all gains.
All gains are gained away in a way.
A way is a way if a way is a way.
Amber ain’t at all ahead in her head.
Busted again. Buster gets the bust.
Buster’s bust is busted.
Broken busted bust of buster?
But Billy clubs barely busted her.
Billy clubbed Buster and busted her.
Idolatry is ideally idol.
I don’t idolize idols.
I dulled out idols of eyeballs.
Eyeballs see idols and idle.
Ida has idle wide eyeballs.
Mustard is musty.
Musty mustard must be.
Must be musty mustard.
Make me my mustiest mustard.
Manny makes mustier mustard.
Busy bastard burying bags of bananas.
Bonkers bastard, but bought a bag of bananas.
Believe it. But bananas are bonkers bastards.
Burying bananas…so bonkers.
Bob – the old bonkers bastard – gone bananas.
Hell in a hand basket.
Handheld basket of hell.
Held hands in a hand basket.
Hands held in a basket in hell.
Helen, had handy hands held hard round a basket in hell.
I don’t know why this city sleeps.
Courageous as a kumquat if kumquats are courageous.
Would you could you will you won’t you? Won’t you don’t you
Will you won’t? If a lion is alien, his stance so ostentatious,
Would he call us Friends F-R-I-E-N-D. friend E-N-D friend, round two.
Around you too many two’s are too you, to you and I-
Dol I, doe-eye, do I? I do. Not you.
Suffice to say the ice decays. The ice decays suffice the si-
Zed, Zero, Zen Zune, Zroom Neurooom Boom.
Take a stance askance romance.
Romance the dance and take the chance.
One wife, one woman whoa wowowow, what?
Can Palin play if Clinton lays? Palin pays McCain:
McCain McCan McTrust in-McSperience.
Decay today the ice decays suffice the ice today decays.
And shorten and shorten and shorten and shrink.
Raise hands, give a hand, no hands giving a hand in Hanoi, handkerchief chief.
IV oh me, we need IV.
McCain died in office today, and a wolf-killing neo-con took hold of the reigns.
A giant alliant allied to the giant. We die we lie today we die. Today we die if today we lie, oh aye-di-daye-di-daye-di-daye-di-daye-di-daye-di-daye. We die if today. We die, we die, we die, we die we die we die. When we die we know they lie they lie to die and die.
and when the wind is when we win who wins when wind is when we win and “the answer my friend is blowing in the wind.
And if the polls are told to stroll,
Surround the ostentatious droll.
Southern drawl is drawn in all.
In all we see the southern drawl.
All in all is all we are. all we are is all in all we all know all are all. in all if all in all is all. in all. Altogether all in all. All my love is lost in all; is lost in Medicare and all. In Medicare and Medicate and medicine and Mediwar and Medimight and medical and get the medic soldier.
Selling souls to save stop save the selling of souls stop stepping up soul selling for salesmen stop salesmen sell souls for soles stop the souls of soles are sold in Saipan stop stop stop stop S-T-O-P
My country ‘tis of thee sweet land of thee and ’tis.
My country, right or wrong.
Stein, how so? Stein how? So so
Stein. So stein so. So what, Stein?
How quick ma makes money.
Melancholy ma. Melancholy Money Ma
Ma quick marry Money.
POW-MIA Stein, where P-O-W M-I-A?
She is so quick so she so quick.
So quick POW-MIA Marry merrily modern merry.
Silence to serendipity.
Silently slip serendipitously
down the stairwell.
How is Stein so how is Stein so How is Stein so so
No longer singing serendipity.
So no longer singing quick.
So no longer singing.
So no longer so no so so so sssssssss.
Flair up and up end up in flair. End up in flair
And flare indubitably and indubitably.
Indubitably dutiful to Stein so dutifully indubitable.
Indubitably Stein. In so as so Stein, how so?
What did they say in courtroom three-o-two
When one man’s life had been subjected to
A systematic slaughter in the clink
Where cuffs like couplets tore through his cufflinks
And turned one strong black man into chattel?
I watched through the door, heard his chains rattle
Beats from a song sung by qunta quinte
But he did not scream ‘gives us free’ that day.
And I saw in his muscles the power
Restrained, confined hour on hour
While a ‘justice system’ cried first degree-
The melody of an all white jury.
The record that I read was disfigured.
“convicted.,,” I heard “Hang the nigger.”
The cold familiar wind-
Uncertain of all.
Clouds driven from the northeast-
They enter the new world naked.
All along the road, sluggish
Dazed spring approaches.
Beyond, the waste.
Brown patches with dried weeds.
Standing water lifeless in appearance.
Purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy,
The cold, unfamiliar wind
Driven from the northeast,
Scattering all save the mottled clouds.
Dazed Spring, Lifeless Spring –
Contagious under the surge of the blue mottled clouds.
Mr. Price kept looking at the little scrap of binder paper with the curious note on it.
It will be a good day, Mr. Price
When he woke up that morning, his jet-black hair in a net, and his monogrammed silk pajamas shining in the sunlight through the Biltmore window, he was, in fact, in a good mood. “But who the fuck put this note in my shoe?” He scratched his head, yawned wide, and was abruptly interrupted by a knock on the door.
Christ-all-fucking-mighty, he thought. “Come in.” He said. A fat old nurse in a flower-print dress with a nametag that said Eliza stepped through the door pushing a cart full of spray bottles with green liquids, clean white linens, and gray-blotched washcloths.
“Good day, Mister Price.” Mr. Price grunted a response as he took his brown wallet from the bedside table and stuffed the piece of paper behind a picture of a young girl where his ID should be. She was a beautiful brunette girl, almost eight years old, and she was sitting on the ledge of a water fountain. A smile played across her lips, but her eyes were as intense as her father’s.
Love you, Daddy.
“That’s a lovely ring, Mister Price. Are you married?” Eliza was getting a set of towels and washcloths from her cart for the bathroom when she had noticed the ring on his finger as he set his wallet on the table and cracked his knuckles one by one like little chestnuts.
“No. Not any more.” He went to the window and looked out onto the world. The sun shone too bright for his half-woken eyes, so he shut the blinds. With the sleeve of his shirt, he polished the ring on his finger. Normally, his lips would be pressed tight together, his thick brow furrowed, and the crows feet beneath his eyes would be like rivers of shadow that flowed into the lake of his blackened eye. But when he polished his ring, his mouth hung just a little bit slack-jawed, and the furrowed brown became one deep in concentration. After the ring shined to his satisfaction, he began to get dressed.
“Listen, did anybody come into my room earlier this morning, or last night?” He asked.
“I’m not sure Mister Price.” She walked into the bathroom as she spoke. “Will you be staying with us another night?”
“No. Have my bags sent down.”
“You will not need them, Mister Price.” Said Eliza. Mr. Price almost missed it. His shirt was halfway over his head and his pajama shorts hung round his ankles. Through his shirt, he felt the ring on his finger, twisting it with his thumb and middle finger.
“It will be a good day, Mister Price.” That was it. He walked to the bathroom.
“What’s going on here?”
“Is there a problem, Mister Price?” asked the nurse as she pulled back the shower curtain to scrub the tub.
“Yes. Yes, in fact, there is a big problem. I did not ask for anybody to come into my room last night.” Mr. Price was inches from Eliza, but she kept going about her business.
“Please, relax. That would make things so much easier for us?”
“Who is us?”
Dee-dee-da-da, dee-dee-da-da, dee-dee-dum-dum-dee
Mister Price looked at the name that flashed across the screen of his cell phone, then opened it and shut it abruptly, the sound of plastic clapping against plastic echoing in the bathroom.
“It’s going to be such a nice day.” Said Eliza as she made her way toward the bed. “You’ve come as far as you need to go.” She threw the sheets and blankets off of the bed and began replacing the sheets with fresh linens. “The bed will be fresh for you tonight, we guarantee that.”
“Get it through your fat ugly head, Woman. I’m not staying another night!”
“Today is to nice of a day to go running, Mister Price.”
Mr. Price pressed Eliza’s hand against the bed as she folded the sheet over, and he looked her straight in the eyes. “Where would I run?”
“There’s no place to run around here Mister Price.” She pulled her hands away and continued bustling about the room.. “It’s always too cold. Too much traffic.”
Dee-dee-da-da, dee-dee-da-da, dee-dee-dum-dum-dee
“Jesus Fucking God All mighty!” muttered Mr. Price.
“Don’t abandon him too, Mister Price.”
Dee-dee-da-da, dee-dee-da-da, dee-dee-dum-dum-dee
Mr. Price turned off his phone and ran out the door, over to the elevator, stopped suddenly, and ran back to the bathroom, grabbing his comb from the black toiletry bag on the counter. He combed his hair as he ran back down the hall.
“It will be a good day, Mister Price.” Eliza said as soft as ever.
“Bring my bags down.” He shouted from the hall.
“You will not need them, Mister Price.”
“Fuck off.” He said, as he ran to the elevator, combing his hair, his pressed white shirt untucked, his belt undone, his pants unbuttoned. Impatiently, he pressed the DOWN button over and over and over again until finally, a small bing announced the arrival of his departure.
The door opened, greeting him with the quizzical stares of a beautiful woman and a little girl, about eight years old, with brown pigtails. His heart jumped through his chest and he stood, unable to enter the elevator.
I love you daddy
“I’m sorry, I left something in my room.” Said Mr. Price.
“We’ll wait for you.” Said the woman.
“You don’t need anything from back there.” Said the little girl as she stepped out from the elevator and took his hand. He was powerless against the force of her little grip pulling him in. The door closed, and he looked at the ceiling, remembering his appearance. He tucked his shirt in, and, though he was much taller than either of them, he felt two inches tall.
IT WILL BE A GOOD DAY MR. PRICE
DEE-DEE-DA-DA, DEE-DEE-DA-DA, DEE-DEE-DUM-DUM-DEE
i love you daddy
The little girl let go of his hand and he reached into his pocket. She nuzzled her head into her mother’s side as she tussled her hair, smiling down at her.
DEE-DEE-DA-DA, DEE-DEE-DA-DA, DEE-DEE-DUM-DUM-DEE
Again, Mr. Price cut off the phone call.
“Avoiding someone?” asked the woman. Mr. Price pretended not to hear the comment. He watched the lit-up numbers as they went down, floor by floor. He felt the little girl’s hand on his own, and looked down to see her holding his hand up to her mother.
“Look, Mommy. His ring is just like Daddy’s.” The woman nodded, and then looked at Mr. Price.
“Married?” she asked. Mr. Price pulled back his hand and stuck it in his pockets.
“It’s just an old good luck charm.”
“Does it work?” asked the little girl?
“No.” The elevator stopped and an involuntary groan escaped Mr. Price as perspiration speckled his forehead. The woman and her daughter stood silently, smiling, content. Mr. Price took his hand from his pocket and again twisted the ring on his finger. He pressed the emergency button repeatedly.
“It’s okay to be scared,” said the little girl. “But you don’t have to be.” Her mother picked her up with a little bit of a groan and straightened her dress. “It seems like you’ve already let go of so much, you might as well just set yourself free.” Said the woman. Mr. Price kept staring at the elevator door. “I just want out of here.” He moaned.
“She’s pretty, Mommy.” Mr. Price turned to see that the little girl was looking through his wallet at the picture of his daughter. The scrap of paper fell to the floor.
It will be a good day Mr. Price
The woman took the picture from the wallet and ripped it to little pieces. “You will not need this, Mr. Price.”
“What the fuck is your problem?” said Mr. Price as he lunged at the woman, grabbing at her blouse. She did not move, and he could get no control over her. He struggled and grappled with her while her daughter just smiled. She again grabbed his hand and pulled him away. Mr. Price collapsed on the floor of the elevator, and looked up to his reflection. He saw the tears streaking his face, and the tufts of hair sticking up. He wept and pleaded, “Get me out of here.”
“Don’t cry, Mister. It’s such a good day.” Said the little girl, who had begun bouncing up and down, making the elevator shake. DEE-DEE-DA-DA…the girl took the phone from him, and turned it off. Mr. Price whispered, “You’re just like my daughter.”
“You will not need her anymore.” Said the little girl. Then the lights in the elevator went out, and the little chamber was filled with the sound of a child’s laughter, and a Man’s tears.
my lovers lips liberate my loose-leafed philosophy on life
Her skin is as
white as milk is as
supple as virgin soil
in a raped country.
These verbal pyrotechnics, these
paranoid rumblings of rhetoric exacerbate
the view through my
Once I loved like a man gone mad.
Gone crazed with passion
fueled by the incessant tom-tom
of my internal jungle,
beating it’s beats to a fiery tempo,
consuming all within it’s wake.
Once I loved like the lion and the leopard.
Once I was loved like a black widow.
Once I was transformed into a man.
And more than twice I have had my heart broken
broken into one-thousand tiny ants –
slaves to the queen
and providers for the nest.
Once I loved what I held and loathed what I saw.
This jungle beast was the detriment of my existence.
This jungle beast bore the seed of my loin
and cast it upon the rocks
to show that I had no power
over her will.
This jungle beast was chaotic.
This jungle beast lives and breathes.
But this jungle beast feasts of my lust no longer.
Back into the eye
of the mind
of my heart.
I repress the memory of my adventure
and explore the mystery of your terrain.
I think of all you are
that the beast was not –
aside from that wild fire.
Yes, we lust all the same,
but lust driven by love is a stronger passion
a brighter flame
a more incessant tom-tom than that which drove my beating heart to pieces.