What do they call them things, son? I ain’t never seen one before. All wheels and dials and blinking lights. Is that a weapon or a Halloween decoration? Time machine or pinball machine? I know it cost too much money, whatever it is. Even if it whistles and shits gold, you paid too much. That’s such an ugly contraption, I done lost my appetite. You gone and hurt my feelings.
I didn’t ask you to show it to me – you out here parading it around and expect folks not to ask questions? Shit. Now, you don’t gotta be offended, son. Yeah, I reckon I’m old, but that thing looks like a computer fucked a tricycle while a rollercoaster watched, you feel me? I don’t know if its supposed to whiten my teeth or take me to Venus.
Now, you just hold on a second. Yeah, I’m razzing ya. You gotta respect your elders. I respected mine. Now, I’m old and you gotta listen to me. Yup. Sure ‘nough ain’t fair. You too young to know it, but fair is a fairy tale, boy. Ain’t never gonna happen. No way. No how. That’s for retards and people who make movies.
I ain’t playing some kind of game with you. I’m asking you a serious question. The world has changed – ain’t an old man got a right to keep up with the times? I got me a cellular phone. It ain’t one of the computer game ones like y’all kids got. Just makes my calls. But I got one. I sure as hell don’t know what that thing is, though. I don’t think I want one, anyway.
Actually, don’t tell me. I might want it and I don’t want to want it. You feel me? You manipulatin’ my emotions and shit as it is. Bringing out the envy. Curiosity. Both them things come straight from the devil. You know it and I know it. Don’t tell me. Just move on down the line.
Oh, now you want to tell me? Of course you do, son. I remember what it was like when I was an ignorant piece of disrespectful trash, too. Wasn’t that long ago. Now you take your space flotsam and git. I mean it. I ain’t afraid to take this cane to the side of your fat head.
Yeah, flip me off. I get it. You too fast. You too on the ball. You’re covered in too much shit you bought at the mall. I ain’t even curious anymore. I’m gonna talk to your momma, tell her you been parading around this place all high on yourself and shoving your magic skateboard microwave in everybody’s faces. And I for one don’t appreciate it.
Now, let me hold it for just a second. Come back here. Son! Just a second. I promise. Well, fuck you, too. I hope your electric surfboard dvd player there explodes and you lose a leg. I won’t be shedding no tears for yo' fool ass. Son?
Son? Come back …
#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...
Hilarious read. Loved the voice, and put a smile on my face to start the day. Keep it up!ReplyDelete
What Gry said. Plus - you can feel the emotional wave throughout the piece, the swelling crests and falling troughs. The poetry that sneaks in to tantalize. Never stop!Delete
Ha! Loved it.Delete
LOL... you are WAY too young to be getting this so right! Love the MaderRap... and the whole thing.Delete
I love how you capture that rage we all have at the endless gadgetry.Delete
The Great Plains danced
when the meteor fell.
Residents of the Border States said
the clouds blistered with purple fire
when space iron kissed Detroit.
Rogue travelers claim
strange things grow
in the Rust Belt Crater,
beyond the fence line
that keeps us safe.
What striking imagery. Love the use of language to portray such vast visuals.Delete
You create such fascinating pictures.Delete
I agree. Super visual. Really makes an impact.Delete
Sci Fi poetry, well-written, for the win!Delete
I love it! Awesome!Delete
I’d like to tell you all something confidentially. I’m not interested in what TV shows you watch. I don’t care what improvements you’re making to your house. In fact, they piss me off because I work twice as hard as you and can’t afford a house to improve upon. Same with your vacations and new cars.ReplyDelete
I don’t care what you had for lunch and I sure as shit don’t want to see a picture of it. I don’t care about you much if you’re an asshole. That’s a big one right there. That’s important. If you’re a dick, we don’t even need to communicate. I got better things to do.
I’m DEFINITELY not interested in your sex life. And I don’t want to become interested. Savvy? I can hardly move already for the gravity.
Please don’t bitch to me about your wife. I’m gonna tell her. Cause that’s a piece of shit thing to do unless you know someone real well. You don’t know me, and I ain’t about to know you.
I know you got high school stories. We all got high school stories. And I like them if they’re good. But yours aren’t. Yours give me narrative blue balls. No one gives a shit about your essays and math frustrations. You want to tell me about the time you almost lit yourself on fire while huffing? Pull up a chair, friend.
I don’t want to know how your stories end. Especially if they end all nice and sappy. I want to hear the dark, mean shit you pretend you don’t think about. I’m a safe place. I’m pretty open-minded. Providing that you’re not a scumbag, let ‘em rip. I’m used to people dropping heavy shit on me. It’s been happening my whole life.
Probably because I don’t want to talk about the weather, ya maroon.
And yeah, that was just for Rich. That’s selfish of me. Writing for a dead man. I liked Rich, though.
The lies of my childhood have come to roost in strange places. I don’t want my kids to have blinders on, so I teach them how to see through your bullshit and propaganda. They’ll probably revolt and join the Young Republicans.
I don’t know where this is going, but that’s the fucking POINT. Figuring it out. Weaving your way through it. Our conversation might have some awkward places, but ain’t nobody getting anything out of the story about how you waited to get your oil changed for an hour and a half (THEY PROMISED 45 MINUTES!!!).
And don’t worry. I’m almost finished. I don’t want to see the you that you constructed. That seems futile. I want to pull back the layers until you bleed.
Wonderful stream of conciousness (is that what it's still called?). The vitrol, the acid, the pain of putting up with people who are so complacent in their lives tht they don't look anywhere else. LOVE it.Delete
Just ignore my facebook account...
This line, among the many I loved: "Yours give me narrative blue balls."Delete
Ah, the angst... Rich would be proud. And it makes me think... there are so many shallow stories, so many deep stories. How are we to determine the difference? Well-written as always.Delete
yeah amazing the amount of drivel in small talkDelete
"There is no age of accountability as such in the scriptures. It's generally accepted as being about 12 to 14 years of age, though. Why do you ask, my dear?"ReplyDelete
"I am curious, as I have come to know a young lady who holds herself accountable for her actions. Possibly too much so. I wondered at what age the Church would do the same, for the laws of the land seem to follow doctrine in matters such as these."
"I quite see your point. Has she done something the law might take exception to?"
"Not yet, I think. Though she may not be far from it if she gets frightened enough."
"I am intrigued to say the least. Do I get to meet this young lady?"
"Probably sooner than you might expect."
Woah. Tip of the iceberg. I want to know more.Delete
Yep, this got my curiosity going... and I can imagine a thousand endings.Delete
The meeting began as I expected. Awkwardly. And with something akin to pain, though perhaps only because whatever it was jangling my nervous system made me wince like I’d closed a dresser drawer on my fingers.
I never expected such a meeting, but here I was, sitting in a suburban Starbucks, not really hearing the bustle and hubbub clattering and whirring around me. I was more listening to the voices in my head. Mine and what I remembered of hers.
“Hello, Jason,” I heard. It sounded just like Alison. Then this somewhat familiar looking woman walked from behind my chair into my daydream-narrowed field of vision and I knew the voice I thought I heard was actually the real thing.
“You’ve changed,” she said.
“Well, hello to you, too,” I said. She was always one to knock you back a bit, never letting you get too close, even in friendly conversation. I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to be one of those.
“No, I can see it in your eyes,” Alison said.
“Perhaps,” I replied.
“You’ve aged, too.”
“No, I’ve gotten old. Oh, and I can see you’ve changed, as well.” Touché.
Alison brought her hands to her hair, which had become wiry and gray, then to her hips, which she shimmied in exaggerated defense of an unspoken observation from me.
Inevitably, her resurfacing into my humdrum life was never a good thing. Not that it didn’t make the world a little more exciting. As I said, I always kept those old memories. But Alison usually only surfaced to make me feel badly, which I guess made her feel better for a spell by comparison.
“I got you a coffee,” I said, pushing the cardboard cup next to mine toward her. “I'm not sure how you take it these days, so I left it black. But it’s still hot as hell.”
“Oh, thanks. I’ll be right back,” she said. And once again she lit off for something to temper and sweeten her here and now.
Alison was right, though. I’d changed in my old age. I was thicker around the middle, had an extra chin, silver hair with a sunroof and wasn't so ostensibly cocksure as I had been when last we met.
Now that I looked at her, though, I saw her changes more clearly. She looked shorter. I wasn’t sure if that was age or the illusion created by her widened hips and the weight she’d put on elsewhere. I’m sure my old 5’10” must’ve looked about 5’3” by now. I also noticed how her clothes looked baggy on her, too.
“Okay, now where’d we leave off?” Alison said as she woke me from another reverie with the squeak of her chair and the wobble of the little table.
“We hadn’t yet. Nothing to leave off from. First, how are you?” I always worried about her, even when she cold-cocked, cock-blocked and outright shocked me over the years.
“Oh, I guess the same as always. Fucking miserable,” she said. There was a tone of defeat in her voice I’d not heard before. “What about you?”
“Probably the same, only with some physical ailments you earn along with your Social Security benefits. Perhaps some day you’ll earn your own.”
“Oh, I hope so. Though I’ve got more than I can handle now.”
Even if I tried hard as I might, I couldn’t help but allow my feelings for her to ask, “What do you mean? Are you all right? Oh, I’m sorry. None of my damn business.”
“No, no. It’s okay. A lump here and a bump there and if they cut ‘em out and start the chemo in time, you get most of you your health and hair back. Only neither of them as shiny as they were before.”
“Alison, I’m sorry. Are you doing okay now?”
“That’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about. I’m looking to leave a legacy for when I go, whenever that is. Something that my kids and whoever else wants to can read and learn about life and the roads some of us take, I’ve taken, to all ultimately get to the same place,” she said as she rolled the coffee cup between her hands as if trying to warm them.
“And you want me to…”
“Write it? Yeah, if you wouldn’t mind. I’ve started it but it sounds like whining to my damn therapist. And you’ve always had that way with words. So, maybe, I thought I could ask if you’d…”
“Aw, I don’t know. I’ve never done any memoir or anything close to that, except for obits I wrote in my early days,” I said.
“I’ll bet you were really good at them, too,” Alison said, as I saw her eyes brighten for the first time tonight. Or was it in twenty years?
I was, but this was not the assignment I ever wanted either. I knew this was going to be the ultimate obituary for someone I once cared for. And she knew it.
“Let’s slow down a minute and talk about this, Alison.”
“I don’t know if I have a minute, Jason. I get the latest results back Friday.”
“So what are you telling me? You believe your cancer’s back?” I said, leaning forward and tilting the table her way with a bump.
“Basically, yes. I know how my body works. And I know it doesn’t feel… Oh, let’s say doesn’t feel right.” she said.
“Jesus Christ. Sure. You know I’d do most anything if you asked me to help. Do you want me to come to your place, or what?” I said, my voice getting a little louder than it probably should. Even in a semi-crowded Starbucks.
“No! I don’t want you coming over to my place. And I'd appreciate it if you didn't call, either. Here,” she said, and pulled two USB drives from her bag, as well as some pages ripped out of a spiral bound notebook. She pushed the pile across the table to me.
“Pretty confident, I see. You figured I’d never say no, even after all those times you used me as your sounding board, your chew toy, the target for your anger at everyone else,” I said, because it had to be said.
“No. I was hoping, because hope’s all I might have left. And because I trust you. You never told anyone about any of the things I told you, even though we’d have those blowups. Now I want you to,” she said.
That was true. Even after she’d knocked me down so many times like one of those blowup clowns with the sand in their bottoms, I’d pop back up when she’d call. I had the sleepless nights, the choked-down guilt and anger to prove it.
She admitted to being a cheat long ago. But I’d come to realize she was a recidivist thief, too. Time and again, she stole my heart. But what else should I expect, always leaving it hanging out there for her? She’d give it back to me only to steal it again, each time returning it more busted than the last. I guess she was a vandal, too. And I was her abettor.
“Okay, I’ll do my best,” I said. And now I was aiding as well as abetting.
“Thank you, Jason. Thank you, my friend, my dear Jason,” Alison said, all the brightness leaving her eyes as she reached across the table and touched my cheek. Even after rolling her cup, her hand felt so cold. And then she was gone.
I began listening to her recordings that night. A lot of the stories she’d told me or intimated years ago. Nothing about her shocked me anymore. I made some notes and went to bed but didn’t sleep very well. Not for the two weeks thereafter, as I worked on Alison’s memoir.
One night, as I was typing away, the phone rang and it was Alison’s number on the screen.
“Allie! I’m glad you called. I’ve been working away here and have a few…”
“Hi. Jason? This is Tony, Alison’s son. Mom died this afternoon. Pancreatic cancer. She went fast and in the end we were all there and there was no pain. She just drifted away.”
“Oh, my God! No. This… I… I’m so sorry, Tony. I have no words,” I choked out.
“Thank you. One of the last things she said while she was still with it was to make sure I called you when she was gone and say thank you for all you’ve done for her and what you’re doing now. Whatever that is,” Tony said, a little puzzlement in his voice.
“Just something she asked me to do for her. I guess maybe she won’t need it,” I said, mostly to myself. I didn't know what to do with her story now.
“There’s one more thing,” Tony said.
“She wanted me to tell you she loved you.”
The next day I handed Tony the best obit I’d ever written. I left out the hurt, but left in the true. And I cried for three days and three months and now three years since then.
Each time I listen her voice again.
The repetition of three at the end and "And once again she lit off for something to temper and sweeten her here and now." are golden, but this whole piece is, for me. I love it.Delete
This is so sweet, and so raw. I agree, the threes are powerful, but so is the whole story.Delete
Really so lovely. Yet you never pull punches. You remind us how difficult loving anybody can be.Delete
There are evenings of gold in autumn, where the light plays King Midas. The blue in the sky is painted by the chill air. In the distance, a cabin spews smoke from its chimney.ReplyDelete
If you were closer, you might peer through the window, from the road, and see a man moving about in an odd fashion. He walks, then stops and bends down, then walks again. You think he is carrying something, but why does he stoop?
If you were closer still, say on the porch, you would see that he bends over to pat a dog, a rambunctious dog, on the head.
If you listened carefully, you might hear him say, “I won’t be long. Just a couple of days.” He is packing a suitcase, a smallish one.
If you stood in the room with him, you would see he has packed three pairs of jeans, four flannel shirts all predominantly red, and white underwear and socks.
You might ask him where he is going, but before you could, he’d tell the dog in oh so soft a voice, “I’m going to visit Uncle Mark. He’s not doing well. I need to say goodbye.”
You would see the dog lie down in front of the stove, with a look of confusion on her face. She knows and does not like the word “goodbye.” But she does like the name “Mark,” because he used to throw the tennis ball for her.
You would see first one eye close as she considered this conundrum, and then the other, and if you listened very closely, you would at last hear her light snore.
You would look at the man, and you would see he does not wipe away the tear that falls slowly from his left eye. He sniffles unashamedly.
You would see him close the suitcase quietly. You would see him set it by the door. You would see him lie down not on the couch, but on the floor next to the dog. He places his hand on the dog. She adjusts herself so he might rub her belly. He closes his eyes, and his snores, not so quiet, eventually come, too.
The sun goes down, lighting gold trees against dark blue clouds. The first star to come out is Venus, goddess of love. The second is red Mars, god of war.
The man dreams, but no matter how close you might get, you would never see what he sees in those dreams. You can only see him smile, and toss and turn.
In the morning, you would see fresh snow has fallen. The fire has gone out. The dog is pressed against the man, sharing her warmth with his.
A beam of light cuts through the trees, through the window, and falls on the man’s face. He awakes and untangles himself from the dog.
He leaves a note for the friend who will watch over her in his absence. He checks the battery on his cellphone. He kisses the dog on the forehead. She stirs but does not awake.
You would see him carry the bag to his pickup, go back inside to make sure the bowls were filled with food and water, and then leave, locking the door.
He puts the key under the mat for his neighbor. You would see him get in the pickup, start the stubborn engine, and turn to the window, where the dog stares out at him.
And you would wonder what it is that makes a man leave one love to say goodbye to another and whether the sun will be as gold tonight, wherever he is going. You would wonder, who would tell the dog if he never makes it home at all.
You would be glad you cannot see into one man’s heart, through the reds and golds of pain, through the black and white of a history known only to two.
You would turn and walk home, where your own fire waits for you, and you would wonder why you never had a dog, and why you never loved at all. And you would notice that the sky is gray.
Wow. This is beautiful and sad and lovely, my friend. And the form/structure/voice work perfectly.Delete
Another short poem for today, outside of my usual style. Still, #AmWritingReplyDelete
Resting, absent from sound,
the sea floor treasures build
their colonies of barnacles.
Oysters worry at strange collections
creating pearls from the thrift store
of humanity’s demise.
Pale, grey sharks
under ascendant hurricanes.
The thrift store of humanity's demise. Man, that's a dope line. Wish I'd written it. ;)Delete
yep, that line is gold, and so is what precedes it: "Oysters worry at strange collections..." I think one of the things I love about short poetry is that like good flash fiction, it forces the reader to become a collaborator. You did that with this.Delete
OMG do you have a collection somewhere? I could read your stuff all day long. Elegant, graceful... wow! You remind me why I love language so much.Delete
Thank you so much, all of you, for the kind words - brightened up my day! Teresa - I sent you a facebook message - I have a private FB group where you can browse much of my writing.Delete
In case he’d been followed, Forty-four looked right and left before disappearing inside the door. Once again, they’d had to change locations. Once again, he blamed that on Forty-two, chatting up the waitresses. But Forty-four could always trust this place. A few times he’d escaped from his official duties and enjoyed a draft and part of a basketball game here.
“Evening, Earl,” he called to the barman, noting with some satisfaction that he was the first to arrive.
The barman nodded, already at work procuring the beverages. “The usual, Mr. President?”
“Now, you know you don’t have to keep calling me that.”
“Yes, sir, but you know I always will.”
As he took a seat at the big table in the back, he decided to give Earl twice the usual payment. Not only was he closing his whole business down for the night to cater to them, but good men who could keep a secret in this town were worth their weight in gold. If anyone cottoned to what they were doing, not only would the Council be driven deeper underground, but the current occupant of the Oval would waste no time splashing the fact of their existence all over the media, with his fool jibber-jabber about “Deep States” and “enemies of the people.”
Earl brought Forty-four’s beer, set the tall, frosty glass on a bar mat. “Any new usuals I should know about this evening?”
Forty-four ticked off the orders on his fingers. “Two Diet Coke and rum, one iced tea”—he was about to give Forty-one’s and Thirty-nine’s orders before he stopped himself, feeling a hint of sadness that they were too infirm to make the trip, that their time on this planet was growing shorter. “And we’ll be having a special guest, but I’m not sure what she’ll be drinking.”
Earl grinned. “I know just about everyone in this town, Mr. President. You tell me who and I’ll tell you what.”
“Notorious in a black robe,” was all he said, and Earl laughed.
“Oh, my lord. Last time she was in she schooled me on red wines and made me order a case of California red. Might have a bottle or two left.”
Soon the others began trickling in. Madam Secretary, whom they’d christened “Forty-three and a half,” looked more relaxed than he’d seen her in years. After some brief chitchat, Earl made himself scarce and they got the others on the line and settled down to business.
“First of all, thank you for your time, and to those present, thank you for coming out in this weather. Especially you, Justice. I know I speak for...well, most of us when I say I don’t want any harm befalling you.”
“Here, here.” Madam Secretary hoisted her glass, her husband following her lead.
“No need to worry about me,” the deceptively small but iron-tough woman said. She flicked her stiletto-sharp eyes toward Forty-three. “You, on the other hand...”
Forty-three gave one of those humble Texas-boy shrugs that made so many, including Forty-four’s own wife, overlook his history. That made quite the picture, him handing Michelle a piece of candy on national television during McCain’s funeral. “I know y’all want to take me to the woodshed for whipping up the undecideds for the Court nomination, but I hope I made up for it by getting Fox News to stop airing those ridiculous rallies.”
“And we’re grateful for that, at least,” Madam Secretary said.
Forty-four frowned into his beer. He’d had a long talk with Michelle about picking his battles post-presidency, and certainly it stood to reason that those on the other side of the aisle were doing the same. He preferred those battles where they were all standing together. Like the one they regretfully had to address again tonight.
“Now. As you’re undoubtedly aware, our last attempt to restore order in the Oval has failed. Apparently Mr. Putin feels his work is done and has focused his attentions elsewhere. That’s why I’ve asked the good justice to join us this evening. Not in her official capacity, of course.” He eyed each member of the Council in turn to gauge their discretion, and he felt reassured. Even by Forty-three.
The justice sat up straighter. “I have the evidence you need.”
“Please let it be a blue dress,” Forty-two muttered, and his wife speared him with an elbow.
“It is airtight,” the justice said. “And it is damning. You are not to ask how I procured it. Let’s just say that not only does our newest member not hold his liquor as well as I do, but he becomes quite talkative. About many, many sensitive subjects.”
Forty-three grinned. “You drank him under the table and he spilled his guts?”
“In vino veritas,” was all she said. Then she stood, took one last sip of her wine, and started for the door.
“Wait,” Forty-four said. “You have security?”
The diminutive justice laughed. “I have an army of women. And a black belt. I’m good.”
Man, I'm enjoying these. This is my favorite so far. :)Delete
I love 'em, too. And RBG is one I'd never underestimate!Delete
These are GREAT! Keep 'em up!Delete