Beguiled Serpentine Days
Some pains are worth ignoring, the foreboding ones especially, the ones that bit long ago and present themselves neatly and conveniently and positioned poetically. The dead pain between your legs and back and gut and groin, that only says hello to remind you of what you do, until doing is no longer fun, it says, hello, it’s time you stopped feeling. It’s worth ignoring because there is nothing that could be done, because those Sundays made you crave something that tasted pure and of nothing.
7th day mornings were always a fight. The sun comes no matter what but the wee eyed dreams of the night need fixing before it’s worth seeing, and nightmares require flirtation timed in days not hours. Church ended any possible salvation from those. St Pats had enough stone and masonry to keep my mind busy enough, though, having a small bladder and frequent water fountain trips made the dry homilies fade away into the brief moment of happiness of saying peace be with you to total strangers. Of course, there were those times when behavior demanded an exile to the hall rectory basement. It was darker down there than bad dreams and equally relegated to the mind’s little cracks that only eye sand can fill. Inevitably, anywhere I was, the masses end with the safe boredom of the brick and painted vaulted arches. The day of rest was now over.
Breakfast went around year round something like this; Fresh eggs (Theresa had to fetch them) – mostly snot sunny side up, frozen orange juice concentrate with a gag pulp of course, powdered milk out of a box, either or both of frozen bacon or Jones’s breakfast sausage pan fried in their own crude death drippings, and white bread toast made from 6 month old sometimes moldy bread that had been bought 5 for 1. Sometimes one or two would go down cruising, sometimes none. The real problem with breakfast was not the food, it was the looming doom of dad the master blaster. Yeah, he was the big cuddly bear strong guy and the short maniacal Napoleon strapped on top, all wrapped into a 140 lb 5’-2” stone of so much mean and heart that the Grinch was like, 7 sizes what? Theresa and I would try to slink away from the table while dad was talking to grandma and grandpa on the phone. Mom would say, “Your father wants you to help him after breakfast”. By help, she meant a kick blocking, hand ducking, tool dodging, crying, hiding, daydreaming, languishing, anguishing, 7yr old, forced captive labor, beating flunky of a kid. It was always learning hard and escaping for fun. There is nothing I can’t tackle today thanks to it. Someone once told me I’m a renaissance man. Yes, bought and paid for in now fiat emotions of that golden kid.
As far as work was concerned, Sundays all mixed in the same. Dad usually worked a 2nd job on Saturday so that was for our rest. Otherwise, the weekends just bled and bled. Work could be anybody’s guess, double 30 yd dump trailers of bulkhead wood to be cut, fork lifts needing repairs dropped off in our driveway, concrete pavement to be demolished by hand, rabbits and ducks to be slaughtered, .5 acre gardens to be tilled, ham radios to be built, all hand cutting for the wood burning stove (if I was a lazy summer, it was my snow job to work it out), tool runner, handy helper, but mostly there to do what I was told. I learned.
Sunday dinners and Sunday nights had good things, always. My mom was never a great cook but she sure knew how to make dinner. Oh, except for the occasional casserole or liver ideas the 70’s induced. We’d watch Quincy, Little house on the Prairie, The Waltons, the Wonderful World of Disney, PBS Telethons of the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton. They seemed better with popcorn which is still my favorite. We had family time too. Monopoly and Life were good. Poker was fun until my dad fleeced me out of my possessions with the lesson that the house’s business was to cheat. I guess I could go on and on about the bad and the good. Looking back, I’d say good, more, a warm feeling that you feel inside. Not like that other feeling, when as a child you get up late and crave something to taste and you stand in your doorway gnawing the finish, gnawing the fire board, gnawing that white chrysotile center right to the black metallic face, gnawing it from your highest to the floor, bending the back out to gnaw some more, bending it back each night to hide the missing core, gnawing square feet worth of fibers and grit, gnawing it raw and loving every bit, gnawing out the last hours of every Sunday consuming that white asbestos, swallowing it down, letting its crystal fibers embed, embed in the lower intestine. For decades, it nested, prodding the cells until they broke free of their shells and tried to be what they are not. The doctor looks at you and says, “I’ve never seen such an MRI form in a body, it is horrifyingly amazing. It is all connected and shaped like Pterois”.
But this is not what I expected. What am I going to tell her?
“Better Tell her she will meet them all next Sunday”
“and If you are smart, hold onto that string”
It's a hard thing to remember and the one part that came as a surprise to me, you can feel and smell it till your seat digs itself into a fractured and melted remnant of airplane oblivion. Yes, there's the recognizable pieces of the arm rest buttons and the intact oxygen masks that somehow didn't get put on and a couple of uncracked iPhones (some poor wife gets to find out her cratered husband was fucking a 24 yr old) but yes, it all ends up like a MOAB went off in the side streets of Valley stream. Everything is burning, oh, except for that beautiful baby girl lying in the middle of it. Her name was Kristen Michelle. She was sleeping in that illegal basement apartment. Her crib was right by the wall. The rescue teams were sobbing like crazy when they pulled her out without a scratch on her. She had a red string in her grasp with the loop on her little finger, which got me thinking back to our beginning.
Nothing is really impossible to me. My imagination gets hold and the unlikely suddenly becomes real. I'm not talking nightmares and brief moments of clarity. I'm talking about engine #2's mount bolt on the left wing. Sometimes they are lazy when the torque wrench is on the bench, sometimes the last mechanic dropped it and now it's reading 40 ftlbs shy, and sometimes the bolt's been completely sheared for 20 flights and locktight is holding the head in. Sure as air currents and vibrations can shit metal, one by one the bolts shear, stuck on there looking pretty, aircraft shiny but holy fucked fatigued. So when I'm looking out the window and I see that 450mph shimmy, I'm not surprised at all. Some of the frequent flyers up front, you know, the dicks that have a stripper and housewife for every 100,000 miles flown in each state, they know the jig is up too. I saw him praying. Everybody else thinks it's turbulence. I kinda feel sorry for them.
As Tesla taught us, harmonic vibration can shake your balls off if you wack em just right. Well, not far after take off, maybe 5,000 feet, that engine's nuts started coming and rocking. I think the pilot was finally starting to listen to my mind. This ain't no happy ending baby. The cabin started to sound like a baptist funeral pre-crying over the engine that was about to make a name for itself crashing into the clock tower at Central. Damn, I really needed that cup of green tea. The flight attendants clock out early with these things. Here I was, calm as that little boy over there who was cutting up so bad at the gate and taxiing, his mom wrapped a scarf around the belt buckle. His name was Michael. She wasn't so calm. The two of us locked eyes when the engine moon shot and cow pulled the wing for some hot shlitz. I raised my eyebrows and smiled at him. He reached to his mother and hugged her while smiling back at me. That's when I remembered the red string. I'd been carrying it around for forty six years. The love of my life gave it to me, or more like she found it for us. The rest of the flight was a perfect physics lesson. You know, terminal velocity, God's name screaming, 1/2mv^2, milk turning gurgling, flash point of jet fuel, 11B heart attacking out early, and me and Michael sitting pretty.
I guess it's time then. That string in my pocket wasn't literal. It just meant something for the living which I hadn't planned on being that day. I tied it in a tiny loop and bow and gave it to Michael. He smiled again and said I owe you.
Michael died too.
We laugh about it all the time. I thought thinking and imagining the improbable was my shit. That kid knows he is lifetimes ahead of me.
Mao, Stalin, Hitler
Being an eternal optimist and believing that humanity is filled with good, I want to know what evil is. I've lived mania and depression and the brutal phychosis that both can bring. This is certainly a darkness that many humans suffer, but insanity, even the permanent kind does not cause evil. In the throes of it I've met beautiful souls in the back reaches of their minds where light shines like nowhere else. So what is it? I suspect evil is much the same as good and lies with choice, compulsion, and ultimately in action. The only way to know it, is to know those who thought it and chose not to be true.
Our Beast dreams in the day
I met a man on the line today
the kind you’d never thought could be.
He was humming the sound of steel wheels and gnashed sand on the side of his head listening to a train about five miles away. His eyes were looking left-eared down the track back a ways from me. I noticed the left hand at first, coal and sulphur hardened, with nails scratching the cold hammered polished rail surface. His right hand was pulling out a twentieth pandrol clip like he was picking at a baby cotter pin. The wind caught his thin, palid hair, pushing it back as if humanity whisked and screamed from it. I crept closer.
There was a smell of formaldehyde and furnace cracked limestone rising from his ash and sinew skin, if you can call it that. He was lying bare except for a parchment waistband that had lava colored glyphs on it.
Then I noticed the right leg, resting over the other track and pressed up against the contact rail. There’s no way anything can do that. “Hey man, do you need help?” Only the fingers in his right hand were moving. I was close enough now to see him yank out another clip, snapped out flinging with a pry bar lever grip. My mind flushed up and quit trying to understand what was happening. I shuffle stepped on the ties and stood over him. I reached for his arm and grabbed with both hands around his wrist.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt like this before. I mean, grab the prongs on a plug half way in the outlet and 120v AC is just about enough to push an amp past your heart but 750V DC can smoke it inside out. It can also knock your nerves back through your ass on the ground. Not him though, he was pulling on the next pin.
I landed outside of the tracks in a soft bed of ballast. My senses didn’t care about anything anymore. It was like forgetting to sleep for days and not knowing what your own soul tastes like.
The man got up and walked over me. He was dead all right, looking down, wishing he hadn’t lost a fight a million years ago. “This train is fine, we’ll get the next one”. I saw it pass, slow and endless. Each passenger looked, flickering, by him and through him as if we weren’t there. In the last window of the last car an old woman saw me. She had her fingernail between the gap of her front teeth. Her eyes had all the matter I had never known.
As soon as it passed, the man had gone back to the rail, laid flat and started working out the bolts on the splice.
When my brain stopped cooking, I got to thinking, this is where the ordinary becomes something I can no longer do. Lifting myself up was the hardest part, a bit crawling, mostly pain, and all the vibration of a carillon hit by a solar flare sword of flame.
It could have been minutes to move a couple feet. The bolts and the fishplate were gone. He was scoring the splice weld with his nails, throwing sparks and screeches around it. I picked up an old sledge lying on the ground next to him. I swung it with everything I had, squarely at his back. It sounded like a lightning bolt that shattered a metal pole right next to me. It was just as bright. Now I couldn’t see or hear anything. I was feeling around for him and grabbed as tight as I could when he stood up straight as a pipe. This might have been my best chance to stop him. I ratcheted in my arms, skip jumped both feet on the 3rd rail, pulled back as hard as I could and prayed we both burned right there on the spot. We didn’t. It was like his ankles were welded to the track and suddenly cracked from the heat and force that was created. We both flew back and landed ten foot off at the bottom of a drainage swale. When I woke up, my head was in the mud. The left side of my face was seared and black, the eye was a boiled egg. All parts of my arms and chest that had been touching him were a Lycra/fat carbonized glass snake skin. My jeans were burning in like embers of steel wool chaps on bone and muscle. My shoes and feet were gone, charred and dead entirely. The only remnants of the man was a burned inverted image branded on me anywhere my clothes hadn’t been. I could feel a rolling hum getting closer again.
This next one came on the same 68 mph as the last, 643 lives, 210 dead, and the rest forever injured. The dogs found my body the next night, in the ditch with a hungry raccoon, not far from a pinch bar, sledge, chisel, and gas grinder.
The man? He was always lost
but I wish he could have stayed unmet.
A morning’s wisp of ranch air
a sullen reprieve to night’s whisk and gin
steel sleeping in with skin and bone
but where am I going then?
Perhaps to death
in that barren hole in the head
My eyeslids remind me once, then
unknowable times again
lock the bolt
safe or not
like sanbiki no saru…
Wake up, they whispered
as a shock to the back of the neck
uprooting my tongue
from the dust clay dawn
I saw them through crust and haze
and wondered where my mind is?
Pick up the rifle they said
you’ll see us both
for maybe a second more
and that’s it
a slide click
too tired to breathe, witless
enough to squeeze
the fortune goes off
to find another
and for us
we are dumb shot
by each other
There’s a saying about luck, “The good or bad of it is nothing but the same”. Newton knew it, maybe he was a Taoist too. Me? I’m a first timer. I don’t know those laws and that was good enough to cheer about, which made a fine welcome beer to Encinal Texas. It smelled of spent steer horns and rusty pump jacks but there was something else in this place. Buddy, his son-in-law Brandon, his grandson Brandon G, and the long line of ranchers going back 200 years to the Spanish land grants, were kind enough to extend their welcome to me and my friends. His ranch hand vaqueros, criadas, and especially the ninera who took care of his daughter’s son while she was away on a mommy spa weekend in Laredo, reminded me of my own mother-in-law. They are the real grit of what was once Mexico. I could see them in Buddy’s eyes and face. He was humble like his stature and an uncountable multiple of his 5,500 acres of a man. Of course, that’s the history of it but I was bunking in the brand new Lecho Del Rio house with granite, AC, a 30 point buck and a mountain lion staring down at me. This isn’t the hard way for sure. It did make sense though, those pump jacks have been replaced by massive mud/oil/water separators and 10,000HP fracking pumps. The steer horns now bow and stand with Blackbuck horns, Giraffes and even the rare elusive south Texan Moose (that’s one of those top drive, Jack Daniels swigging, funnin New Yorkers kind of joke). It turn’s out, this place wasn’t for blood thirsty, gun toting Neanderthals. As far as conservation goes, I learned it is more like the Ark.
The first night out in Brandon’s pickup felt like riding on the roof of a college bus through the bush. The top frame swivel seats, long shaft controls, beer cooler, TX/NY sarcastic banter, and the open whiskey bottle shuffle, must have made the hogs and Javelinas laugh themselves to sleep. My cousin John, the south Texan spider eye spotting expert that he is, directed Brandon right into a sunken grass soft spot of bentonite. His top drive pickup is half a functioning 4WD so we got to make use of my clean boots and drunk ass shoveling skills. Where I’m from, dirt is sand, but this stuff gets wet like honey and corn meal, tastes like asbestos, and sticks on till hell dries it out. Pablo and Hector arrived after a few more swigs and failed attempts to “get your knees in it”. Brandon G’s 4x4 Sierra had no problem with us. Judging by the way the chains flew on, these guys could have pulled a Pleurocoelus, alive, right out of the Eagle’s Ford Shale. They were laughing, I am thinking with us, but I don’t speak Spanish so I’ll assume not. They went back smiling and let us be on our way drinking and riding to a 3:10 am mule kick end. We didn’t even see animals in our sleep.
The next morning was 5:30 am. I decided to have a try in a blind, which Brandon had suggested. He must have wrongly thought I was a practiced at this because he left me there by myself sitting with a headache and his .308 bolt action Remington 700 rifle to watch the deer go by. They all seemed small. I found out later, the doe were the ones I was supposed to shoot. Towards the end of the morning I saw six Javelina walk out onto the path. This would be the first time I ever killed an animal with a gun. Most people can’t reconcile killing, even vegans forget the billions of creatures they compete with to sow their innocuous soy and rice. I’ll say this, if you’ve done it up close for food or mercy or necessity, you know what it means. I fired at the one that was closest to me and it went down right away. The rest of them scattered except one that was limping and circling towards the brush. I assumed it was hit pretty bad by a fragment but I couldn’t tell. By the time I figured to chamber another round, it was out of sight, squealing. I’ve heard that cry before, only twice in my life. Once, when I was 8 and trying to uproot a nest of mice with a pitchfork, I nicked one, like a freak accident, and it cried the both of us to silence. The second time was a year later when my dad and I were killing / butchering our rabbits. “Humane harvesting” at the time was to knock them out with a club or break their necks. I wasn’t strong or coordinated enough to do it. My dad missed one and the poor rabbit made us feel like George Milton if he had botched it. As far as that Javelina was concerned, it went silent before I could climb down and walk into the brush and I never found its body. Maybe the birds would point it out in a couple of days. It was time to head back to the ranch.
We shot trap for the rest of the day. Apparently, I can only hit targets on the ground. Looking back, the ranchers are probably saying I was sand bagging it. The night hunt saw a bit more action than the night before. John was using the AR-15. We must have seen 20 hogs and Javelina. Robert our business associate who grew up in the area said, “I think the safest place for those animals is right in John’s scope”. We were laughing at him so hard it was shaking the truck and making it even harder. He did get one of those skunk pigs but I say it died of fright or maybe choked on the dust his bullets were kicking up. We got back late and in no better state than the night before. The thing I remember most about it was the cold, dry air. I packed one sweatshirt that gave out during both the 85° days and the 35° nights.
The next morning I was the only one of us outsiders that got up early. Brandon G and his friend Steve drove me out to the same blind I was at the day before. It was cold but I was so tired the frost seemed like a blanket. After a couple of minutes, two 6 and 8 point buck came out of the bushes about 500 yards away, they walked a straight line right in front of me and down about the same distance away. They were walking as if they knew I couldn’t shoot them. It was 20 minutes in time and a moment, I knew, few people will have. Then I dosed off but not till after everything was ready, ear plugs, a chambered round, and the slide window open.
When my mind woke up to me, I was looking down the scope and pulling the trigger. One deer was facing me and the other was walking behind it. I didn’t hear or feel the gun. I remember seeing the one in the back stumble around in front and the other deer on the ground slightly kicking its legs. Then the one in front fell down right in line, motionless. I looked again and the smaller deer in back was still kicking. I climbed down with my rifle and walked out to them. By then, neither one was breathing. I stood over them scratching my head. I shot one through the neck and the bullet hit the other deer across its body through its heart and out the other side of its chest. A minute later, Brandon G and Steve pulled up with the pickup. They were coming to pick me up to head back to the ranch for breakfast. We were leaving to catch a flight out of Corpus Cristi at 4:00pm. “You got two huh”… “did you move one here?” no. “The second one came here with the other one on the ground?” no. “You shot one and the other one didn’t run away?” no. I shot them with the same bullet. “What? Have you ever hunted before?” no. “Well dang, now we’re scratching our heads too”.
Yeah, odd, but never the way I expect it to be.
And that’s where I’m left
with lucky and its fucked inversion
No, not remorse or guilt
nor lack of both
I am blessed and I am fallen
a fortune far worse
With the 100 billion ships that were grounded
I’ve held it close to my skin
I’ve put it down and raised it up
I’ve been its king and slave
I’ve wasted nothing and everything for it
with no struggle and no success
It is always there, everywhere
calling, taunting, seducing,
all being around me
without ugliness, only singularity
and perfect uniqueness
But sometimes I wish it wasn’t
my soul is speckled...
Gin and Tonic
At some point in my life, I realized that all alcohols have an affinity for me. That may not be quite telling enough, and forgive me if this offends you romantics out there, but there isn’t an alcohol in existence that doesn’t absolutely love me. Now, immediately, we are all thinking about the communicable disorders between hundreds of thousands of cans, bottles, glasses, cups, hoses, funnels, IV’s, dermal absorption (yes, soak your nut sack in it if you like), ice tunnels, etc. Ethyl alcohol’s evils spread across all means and methods directly to our brains and organs and can give us whatever it has. This is somebody else’s problem. I’m like the man on the 12 step stair that wasn’t there, even again today and that is irresistible to alcohol. Its not that I haven’t been abused by it here or there, waking up, wishing and learning a bit of what I know.
The taste is all that matters
To taste and be tasted in the highest of spirits
A Bombay Sapphire and tonic please
Yes, I’ll have her.
A 3-way in my room
I left the house today for a trip to the city to commission a special work of art. It’s an odd thing when fortune blesses you, buying the metaphorical becomes that much easier. Because of who I am, the Madame insisted to oversee it herself. At first, I didn’t comprehend the depths she was looking for. I’ve spent months finding and presenting what she asked of me. She wanted tangible things, each of every three:
Scarfs, soap, perfume, a pair of their favorite underwear, a locket of hair (vacuum sealed for her alone to open of course), a stolen piece of the most worn jewelry, their favorite poem from me, a picture of the back of their neck, a picture of them looking into my eyes, a screenshot of the funniest thing they ever said to me, a list of all their passwords with annotated meaning, their phone records (yes conversations especially the deleted ones)(Hey, I thank my fortune and the NSA), a recording of them being scared to death as I jump out at them, a recording of them snoring and farting, a recording of their fake and real laughs, a recording of them comforting and loving my sons and one yelling at them, their favorite fresh fruit (I’m picking that up today), a drop of their tears (I had to cause so much needless pain for that), a recording of their breath while I was holding them, the one picture they keep hidden in a box or drawer or behind the dresser behind the cracked wallboard, their favorite shoe….HA! for every fucking venue, a print of their hand and a picture of what it looks like slapped across my face, their favorite chocolate but for some reason 12 of each, a pair of their most comfortable nighttime attire which I said was me, she laughed “nice try”, the little trinket they keep of their kids, the perfect Benjamin Moore paint chip match for their eyes, the word they call me most when they are making love and fucking, the word they call me most when I have hurt them or made them cry, their favorite flower, their favorite tree, their favorite scent by season, a picture of their nail marks on my chest, and finally some of their chewed gum which I always take half when I need it or all of it if they want to spit it out.
So was it a banana, an apple, and a pear??? Fuck it, they won’t know.
When I got to the gallery, the Madame was waiting for me. She said the room was ready. Wait, here’s the fruit. “Yes, those are my favorite and thank you for lunch”.
I was so afraid to open the door. The Madame held my hand and walked me in. There they were, three perfect wax figures, my first, my second, and last. I started to cry. You have captured everything that I know of them. How is that possible? “Yes”, she said, “Because they have no souls, and nothing for you to have beyond this room. I will leave you with them for as long as you need to decide.” I looked at her, smiled, and said thank you. She smiled back, oddly…
I stood there for a moment and drew upon myself to get as close as I could to each. There was nothing that I left unexposed. I could see all of the tangible items in each of them. Even the scents were tiny lines in the skin and the recording’s vibrations were buried in their faces. What did the Madame mean?
Then I noticed it, she had made a mistake, right there on the inside of her lip. They must have used it to finely shave the sides of the teeth, and from the looks of it, spaced a bit too far. A tiny thread, and barely a string at all, was waxed over red. I don’t think anybody, except me, in all of eternity would notice that.
But just to be safe,
I should grab it and run.
I’m late for my hygienist
This is not a meme
Do not repost it. There is no self absorbed mental masturbation high included.
You can’t lip, loop, or chain the words with clichés and banal imagery. It is humanity; politics, religion, sex, violence, love, 7.8 billion versions of our human DNA fu^k. It’s genius and insanity, originating in the probabilistic mechanics of a single mind, exploding thought, creating, and obliterating our matter for us. If you are alive now, while it is written, you might never see it. If you do, it is probably too clear and prescient for obverse understanding; a child’s story for adult haughtiness, a brainwashed cartoon strip of innocence, or any five cent word dissertation.
A poet once admonished, “good writing is liked and well read, written and meant for their head”.
I wouldn’t know, never finished a single book, not even Dr. Suess for my kids. I doze skipped them from Ned to the Nook.
The best writing always matters, like force couples and aeffect, down to the last human in our social, PC, zombie, AI, media apocalypse.
It always matters
at least for one
You are my call
I love the sheen from you
like an iridescent smear across
my soul. It glows from chest to face
and arms and legs and all that makes my body
feel for manhood. It lasts awhile past each time
we've pressed upon me but dims like mercury
flowing to within, a silver bright warm
dripping fleck for each cell inside the
walls of every vein and artery
I feel the whitest light
wholly shinning in
me, shining out
of me, until I
meet with you