In The Attic At Dawn

August 27, 2010

This is where we live:
Rubbing exposed gaunt ribs on the floor
giving ourselves to cigarettes and drink
watching the tide roll away from us.

There is evil in the world and we can feel it,
I think, as I flick away a spider and
seethe in my worsted wool.
But what I know of evil is mostly
itchy wool and spiders.
And what I’ve seen of evil is mostly
negligence and weak stomachs.
Spinalectomies. Unbalanced idiots
in need of a mother or a father
or a shower, not a babysitter.

Elsewhere there are flames, death,
the dusty dead. Here there are
unlit candles, repressed memories,
boxes of nothing that nobody wants–
but whose loss rips holes in
young mouths.

And what a bare floor we are on.
So many lines, cracks and boards,
aging scuffed wood.
All this disappears in my thought
and rearranges in my hope.
Such functional garbage, such
virile decay.
It creaks and moans at my thought,
it fidgets and whispers in my hope.

What beautiful sounds!
Gasoline explodes. Ridges
in a rubber tube stick
to the ridges in the road
and the night purrs with slick confusion
and the morning gasps its first breath.

And nothing works and we are treated
to such beautiful sounds.
The city awakes as I end my day.
What a lullaby! The wheeze of old activity
returning to its grooves, like rain
in dry river-beds. Such cozy beds.
They rumble and shake the foundations
but fit like tongues and never seem to age or change.
How long has it been since I have heard these groans,
these shrill rhythmic cries at the dying of night?

Each day begins with a funeral–
a wake, really.
A celebration of our lost life
and the dispersal of what’s left:
our waste that is us. Our husks.
The body-shell returning whence it came.
Who would trade this for silence, for crickets?
I wallow in it like a dumb pig this morning.

And quite suddenly sleep comes on
like an unheeded chaperone.
But I want to stay, my child mumbles.
I can make it, she offers,
voice falling.
I have found a battle in this.
It is personal and exists in so few places
that few can find it to win.
But we fight,
more from confusion than valor.
What’s next, the battle hymn.
What now, the march.
Yes but no, the waltz.
And ah, but ah, yes–
sleep has found me.

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Untitled

August 26, 2010

I dreamed I saw my
brother talking to himself
I dreamed I saw Chicago
from a twisting bridge above the sea
I dreamed your amber purple badlands
and a dusty gravel lot
filled with semi-trucks
circled like wagons against a wall of fire
too close to the mountains of up-kicked dust–
were the last things I saw
before I just gave up.

I dreamed of a buck-toothed minstrel
who controlled the world’s machines
I dreamed I saw the congressman spike his own Ovaltine
and the drummer boy science-ing his keys
and the loud man standing next to me
on Elmwood where the second rounds are free
but you pay for things with hope and dignity
and I saw you there, too,
yelling at me for rhyming words.

Please buy this light of mine
and wear it all the time
and share it with your generations
so that I might meet them
Please take these flowers I stole
and pin them to your clothes
and share them with brave people
I’ll never see
‘Cause in the end this job is
all about me

I dreamed of proud men on aging bikes
who became something else as they rode
I dreamed of shepherd-warriors
defined by what they stole
I dreamed dark impressions
made by bluish glares and yells
I dreamed efficiency was called
the straightest path to hell
I dreamed a lot
that will never come to pass
I slept a lot
and I forgot
to say many things I meant

The Golden Good

August 22, 2010

13 August 2010
Exit 40-ish, NYS Thruway, east-bound.

I fucking love McDonald’s.
I love how there are 65
people that I can see
milling around the counter,
knocking into each other
they’re so full of nothing
to do, and it still takes
the cashier two minutes to
say, “Can I help you?” because
she, like I, is so rapt or
bored with this awesome spectacle
of wasted life and time.

I love how my two
cheeseburgers and small fries
take 30 seconds to come up,
because another thing I
love about Mcdonald’s is
how uniform the burgers
and fries are. My meal
tastes exactly the way it
did when I ate it
while waiting for a haircut
in the Latham Circle Mall,
200 miles away,
over five years ago.

I love how the food here
reminds me of times in
my life that were (by the
debatable logic of memory)
better than my life is
now. I love how happy
the meal is. I love how
sad I will be in a half
hour. I love how I’m
not even done with my
second cheeseburger and I
already have heartburn.

I love the way the
fries make the car
smell, and that in two
days when I go back
into the car to grab
something, it will still
smell that way, and I’ll
go, “Oh yeah…”

I love how the fries
taste like everything. The fries
taste like the fries. The
fries taste like the straw
wrappers. The fries taste like
the plastic tables in the
sit-down corral. They taste
like the inside of my
mouth did before I even
ordered. They taste like I
imagine the middle finger of
the teenage cashier girl does.
They taste like McDonald’s
and everything in it, even me.

I love how inappropriately air-
conditioned it is in McDonald’s.
Like how the temperature hovers
around 40 degrees at the
doorway, then slides up to
an almost unnecessarily comfortable
70 at the counter, and then
back down to a bone-chilling
square of floor space that
invariably appears as the only
reasonable place to stand and
wait for a burger.

I love how little everyone cares. I love how little
eye contact everyone makes. I
love how frustrated I never
am in McDonald’s. I love
that McDonald’s is so
nakedly temporary. I love that
they don’t apologize for it.
It’s as though they are
challenging the bourgeoisie
snobs who hate McDonald’s
with their conscious
knowledge that McDonald’s is
not an institution designed
to remain and/or grow with
the community, and that in
five years or five days if
the numbers don’t work–
or even if they do but there
are too many bitchy post-adolescent
shift managers making
demands about benefits–
corporate will call the
motor pool, they’ll back a
semi up to the loading
doors, grab the fryers, mail
the checks and GHOST.
When you think of McDonald’s,
think of Ladybird Obama in
an argument with a well-dressed
lawyer who never responds
except to remind her
that she is going to die.

Or don’t. No, think of
the burgers. (I told you:
45 minutes later and I’m an
unfocused pile of miserable.)
Think of the fries.
Think of the naps you’ll
take afterwards.
Think of the farmers you
aren’t supporting. Think of
the toys. Think of how difficult
it is to reconcile the food with
any other experience you are
capable of having. Think of
the future. Think of the
parents and kids and the kids
with kids that are
supported and represented by
McDonald’s. Think of the buns.
Think of the ball pit. Think
of the marketing genius,
the successful organism,
the feast. Think of the ease.
Think of the simplicity.
Think of the memories,
the golden good.

Note From My Moleskine #14

August 31, 2009

18 August 2009
Owl’s Head, ME

The headlights stream across
a cul-de-sac lawn
Jack’s just sittin’ there
He’s got no clothes on
He’s got blood on his hands
and fur in his teeth and
a big Buck knife sheath strapped
to his left arm and about
three hours to catch the bus
to Fort Drum.

Jack’s father rolls up, steps
out of a car dressed like
a cop.
“That your blood,” he says.
Jack says no. Dad says,
“Well, we’ll see what we can
do about that before you go.”

The river moans.
My headlights cut down everything
I see.
Jack flies out to defend me
from himself. His father
pretends to protect me from
himself.
The river moans.
There is nothing left for me to cut down.

Note From My Moleskine #13

August 31, 2009

17 August 2009
Owl’s Head, ME

The woman’s floppy, stupid-
looking hat accentuates her
oldliness
as she death-kites
clomping from tidepool to
tidepool,
searching through her
Gilliganism for a memory of
a kite that doesn’t kill
anything.
unsuccessfully.
She saws her kite
back and forth
gaining speed as the kite-
teeth slash and wail
at items and people worth
hundreds of points at a
glancing blow
She has already crushed the
high score, her initials burned
into the sky next to an
exponentially rising score and
above those of the former
champ, “DP 4 LF.”
Blood flows into the sea
in velvet rivers, makes a
pink foamy brine around her ankles.
She cannot believe how easy
it is to kill with this kite.
She swoops it down and to
the left and cuts the legs
off an entire Boys and Girls’
Club barbecue. 12,500 points.
She swings it up through
the cloud of ponytails and
hot dog buns and debrains
King Tut, two giraffes, and
a team of ox-drivers.
8 million points. A hundred
people die just looking at
her. 400,000 points.
“I have never once enjoyed
DP,” she thinks. “It always
seemed so gay to me.”
Her wrinkled fingers twirl the
kite-strings, which leave
purple, painful channels
pressed into her skin
like an evil child’s geometry
homework.

Note From My Moleskine #12

August 31, 2009

7 August 2009
Saratoga Springs, NY

8 males with graying beards
dressed like boys in high school
slappin’ each other and talking from
the bottom of their throats
pantomime masturbating, and
drinkin’ in the hot.
Dudes. Dude-in’ it. Fuckin’
each other’s girlfriends
and holdin’ on to a youth
that wasn’t nothin’ to hold
onto when they had it.
Makin’ bets on the present
with their kids’ money.
Going home to sleep it off
on mom’s couch. Sayin’ “I
love you, mom,” and meaning
it. Their girls are home
with kids or with the other
girls. Or workin’ shit jobs
waiting for one of the
dudes she doesn’t even
know she’s waiting for to
come in and flirt over cigarettes
and change, doesn’t even know
what’s coming for her, but
wouldn’t really care if she
did. The dudes. Out in the
hot. Smokin’ butts and talkin’
’bout their father’s boats, their
grandmothers’ money. Doin’ nothin’
but scraping and weighing others
down, makin’ them hard and soft
at the same time, like a
train-hopper with a trust fund.
They’re in the sun, they’re
with the dudes. They
haul washing machines and build
roads and loaf and feed you.
It’s summer, baby, not a care
in the world. They mow your
mom’s lawn, say “hey ladies” to
strangers, they shy away from
bets on their futures with their
parents’ money. They ain’t tough, but
they ain’t nothin’. They’re the dudes,
man. Some of ’em are rich in
the others’ eyes, some of them live
better, got better girls, better boats,
better game, better throwing arms,
and they always have, since the
dudes began at age six or
sixteen in a parking lot or
at a barbecue.
But they don’t care about any
of that shit; they’ve got the
sun and the boat and your
girlfriend’s hot sister and Budweisers
and the lake and the
other dudes and good, hard jobs
or a good, long couch and a
big TV and
they take no shit that they’re
aware of and they say “fags”
a lot and get drunk enough
to forget the heavy shame and
shyness that grew up with them
from the fathers they swore never
to be but couldn’t help becoming
and they’re here, out in the
sun with the dudes and the
beers and they earn their
keep, such as it is.

Note From My Moleskine #11

August 31, 2009

6 August 2009
Latham, NY

No, sit,
stay.
The horses will be there to drag
your earnings into the smoke-veiled
ether tomorrow,
or any other time you seek
to give in to chance.
There is something here–
amongst the buoys, the Stewart’s
nightcrawler cups, the choking
water chestnuts–
that you will miss if you don’t
stop to give it time to
splice again.
See the barge across the river
motionless, collecting mussels,
baring its rope-stays to the
sun, dressed in the
municipal yellow that excites you.
Listen to the spin-cast reel
expel its line from behind
the fisher’s sun-brella.
Smell the sweet rotting water,
full of things naturally going
back to the way they were,
tinged with the town dump,
full of earth-farts and blue
flames.
Feel the hard stone of
god-knows-what-this-was
on your skinny ass-bones.
Look! Kayakers. You are jealous.
You plan to emulate.
See what you have learned
by putting the cart before
the horse?
You have learned your own jealousy.
Jealousy can be good if you
eat it like breakfast,
and turn its energy into
a part of you.
It is only when you seek
to digest others with your
envy that it becomes a sin.
The jealousy is not theirs,
it is yours.
Envy is not an enzyme:
It is food, and yours,
but if digested properly
and paired with the heart’s
aperitif, becomes quite
catalytic.