It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I’m playing guitar and writing songs now and just made a SoundCloud page here: https://soundcloud.com/user-762931519-691171853.
Check it out if you’re into that kind of thing.
It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I’m playing guitar and writing songs now and just made a SoundCloud page here: https://soundcloud.com/user-762931519-691171853.
Check it out if you’re into that kind of thing.
I was out tonight, and she was thirsty,
Her man right there, she came,
And offered me…a smoke so hot…
I said ”no thanks, I’ll not.”
I don’t engage in horn the fool–cuckold, that fool–that fool.
I don’t engage in horn the fool, let time set that fool free.
I was out tonight, and she was thirsty,
Her man right there, she came,
And offered me…a smoke so hot…
I said “no thanks, I’ll not,”
I don’t engage in horn the fool–cuckold, that fool–that fool.
I don’t engage in horn the fool, let time set that fool free.
This was not nice, you know,
No slice, you know, of pie.
But she stepped off, to stay,
Now all I say, is “k.”
The building I’m in looks just like the city outside. It’s a library but it’s full of people, stone, glass, and metal, and the shelves are heighted and arranged just like the structures off the street.
This is my sandbox. I’m trying out a new self, and I want to keep the experiment contained, focused for now.
There is an architect named Rich Shepherd my age who looks just like me in the same city. I’ve always had a visual way of interacting and an appreciation for space. Good find.
“Hello, Maggie,” I said to the the curly-haired, ginger, early-forties librarian behind the counter.
“Sih-r,” she broke during that single syllable like: sih-she took off her glasses and dipped her chin while keeping eye contact-r. Her shoulders jerked up and down a bit, along with her hips. This one’s sensitive, potentially attracted, and/or neurologically defective. Any case, she’s a find!
“First, I like your scarf—it looks breathable. Second, I’m an architect and I can’t help but be inspired by this place as such—or you.” I smile.
She dries up instantly—it’s obvious.
“Just saying.” I walk on to fiction.
There, I see a girl. I say she’s a girl because she looks about twenty. I’m twenty-seven at the time.
She’s reading Cat’s Cradle, which I don’t like at all—too “why did he write this,” for me. But I understand the need to taste overrated stink in order to recognize it, and that’s where she is at. She’s cracking up laughing.
“I’m reading The Da Vinci Code. So exhilarating.” I wasn’t, and it sucked; I just took a cynical, sixty-forty chance.
“Fuck off, bitch.” She says, never taking her eyes off the page.
“I’m an architect, you know…”
She’s not listening.
On to self-help; desperation can’t hurt.
There she is—reading Dr. Phil, around forty-six years old, no ring on her finger, once attractive but rendered underwhelming by excessive empathy. I’m gittin’ laid tonight!
“I love him. I love the suspense element of his show: ‘what you nied to do is…more Dr. Phil after words from our sponsors…Welch’s grape juice is now fortified with chia seed <lip smack>…what’s right for you!’ that bitterness of minor abandonment warms my heart and sweetens the inevitable sweetness every time.”
“You’re a sardonic dickhead. Dr. Phil is a genius. Why are your pants stuffed? Why are you wearing sunglasses? Why are you wearing a fake torso that makes you look forty pounds heavier than you are? Seriously, who does all that at the same time?”
Time to get a dog.
I think there’s a special place in hell, if it exists, for plagiarists, and I hope it involves incessant fountain pens up the ass and spitting-up of indelible black ink that tastes and feels like cheap vodka.
After what seemed like no time I made it to the whistle-whetting spot, which can be conditionally modified that way depending on my intentions. My intention was to continue rhapsodizing upon the rhapsodies around and within me and there were likely to be some unmistakably living sources of music to reinforce the roll I was on at the Cantina, so I yessed while outside the door the notion that the Cantina was consistent with abstracting cadences and songs—which I was especially inclined to abstract now—and moving in space and moving above thought accordingly. I can think about it now because I really felt it and really drank it and really became it then—felt and drank and became the music abstracted, became the field capturing all the piping-hot, underappreciated delight around and within me.
Buttressed of course by my bright-green, orange-laced shoes I swagger-shuffled into the Cantina like FOOSH-FOOSH-SHICKA-NOW-HOOSH—THICKA-HOW and all eyes converged on me.
I was not that handsome, I was not that tall, I was not popping an obvious erection, I did not have a sweat-stain resembling a urine-stain on my pants; I was just the only one FOOSH-FOOSH-SHICKA-NOW-HOOSH—THICKA-HOWing and so the other patrons did not know how to respond—a single note of confusion was all I picked up for a moment. There was a band, and that propped up my momentum; their leader blasted his trumpet as if it was the world’s only recourse.
I stopped playing sounds mentally to allow for the trumpet solo, to be here, now, for the enlightened man’s contribution: he knew what he was doing, and my gratitude couldn’t wait. I danced all the time, though, “In the land of Mars…” I slithered up and down for the solo’s benefit and benefit it did because everyone started dancing along—electrified by my influence sure but ultimately by potential energy going active, kinetic, as it should when the context conduces; the context conduced so the moment arose and potential went actual and that’s how “should happen” became “did happen.”
I got a fez-tip from the enlightened hornist probably for catalyzing what he’d envisioned or at least progress toward what he envisioned when staring himself down in the green room, staring down those eyes, that face; the prayer “let me come to the fore tonight,” was answered with more than a little help from me. I’d helped him reach in and channel what was most deeply there—perhaps his make-up; perhaps his buried, primordial, metaphysical character; perhaps the pinnacle of his then-current self.
As I leisurely danced and jived my way to the bar, the other animates participating in this inner-jubilee went about their business rhythmically, like DOW-DOW-DINKA-DOW-DOW–DINKA-DOW, DOW-DOW-DINKA-DOW-DOW–DINKA-DOW…and whenever they failed to inspire me I could inspire myself and them with rotations of my bright-green, orange-laced sneakers on the hot, sandy, red bridge in the hot, starry night: my FOOSH-FOOSH-TICKA-NOW-DOW–TICKA-WOW harmonized beautifully with the organic percussion ensemble gifted to me by presence of mind, awareness of here and now. The beauty of here and now had never been clearer to me now that it was tied to this beautiful fucking music and beautiful fucking dancing and the beautiful fucking colors and the beautiful fucking heat and the beautiful dancing cosmoxen I’m so lucky to share a lifetime with—their dusty, starry-white, starry-orange coats will forever light up my brain, my life—and I didn’t need anything except to be free, by myself, and among the music of the world and the responses of my body and other bodies therein—more music and more harmonizing, rhythmic motion made for, by, and of the beauties of here and now. Even the voice that distinctly cried “nice shoes, FOCK-in’ idiot,” said it in a way I have to admit made a pleasing contribution to the symphony-choir-ensemble of the ecosystem.
I did not want to reach the Cantina by the time I got there; however I knew it could only build on the theme that was developing as long as I could keep some block-headed, rhythmically-inclined, starry-white, starry-orange, star-dusty, hot-glowing cosmoxen in my mind’s eye and the timpanis and the maracas and “nice shoes, FOCK-in’ idiot” in my mind’s ear. The road had been very kind to me; the road helped me start building a life that is now indelible, and it helped me realize that there’s nothing like the beauty of here-and-now sweetened by sensory candy like bright-green shoes with orange laces and rhythmically-inclined, starry-white, starry-orange, star-dusty, hot-glowing cosmoxen which I must say again I am so -ucking lucky to know!
Far as I knew she just stood, her wild eyes watching me shroud myself in dust and leave her purview.
I would head to the Cantina. I would have to walk a while, walk a distance, and that was all right by me. My satisfied, warmed “ahhs” would follow some welcome work.
It was hot and starry when I walked across the red rock bridge one quarter mile in. Played connect the stars much of the time I walked, but that was always. For now freedom was the same. There was just the fact of difference with no upshot I could feel.
On my way, there were many so many faces and murmurs that it felt familiar. There were many cosmoxen, which are oxen crossbred with stars, carrying burdens, swaying their blocky heads, dipping their chins, swooping up each side in time so that when I saw it I thought DOWDOWDINKA, DOWDOWDINKA, DOWDOWDINKA…
The timpani comes in and then the maracas, and I can’t stop making music out of all I see and hear. There’s a party, an organic dance party—street performers ; pedestrians; bystanders fall in line—happening and the stars are out and it’s hot and it’s 2256 and damn I’m lucky to be alive and damn I’m lucky to be free and damn I’m lucky to be treated to this lighted, musical delight of delights.
The cantina could wait, so the music did not have to.
Please read this aloud in whatever accent you deem appropriate.
Soh I was ouht with some friends, see, and they tried to get me to drink some putrid shite wine titled “Ohhhhhld Faht.” And naturally I said “sorry, fohlks, but I’m partial to Cohrnflower Labyrinth wine. Don’t you just love the name? Problem with Ohhhhhld Faht is that it simultaneously reminds me of The Great Gohhhhhtsby, you know, Old Spohhhhhrt, and that well-wrought stohhhhry about the jizzy fahhhhht Ricky took in his unwashed mouth.”
My friends, and I had been trying for this sooohhhh long, finally offered dick-in-dick, all of them. I don’t know if it was the Cohhhhhhnflower Labyrinth or the Old Spohhhht reference or the Ricky’s Dead, Time for a Shop reference but either way he-yes I thought I was on my way to that pantwrenching prohspect of dick-in-dick yes.
So then I said “yehhhhs, I’ll go off and pry myself ready for you bucks with my mini jaws of life. Be back in a flash!”
Got back to the table, stretched just right, and they were gone, sadly, must have had other engagements. I still have yet to collect on those offers. I call all the time about it, leave messages, all that yes and still I’m waiting and still I’m sipping my Cohhhhhhrnflower Labyrinth, drunk on it and visions of platonic dick-in-dick yes. I’ll let you all know!
It’s fun, being in love and on a boat. I was, a long time ago. That was when I knew a woman who was happy to be in love and on a boat. Now I do not, and I do not know where I will find another, but I know where it is most likely to happen.
By the sea there is a boat on which I have been and seen women in love with men. I cannot be sure that the women on the boat who do not appear to be in love or who are in love but unhappy would be happy if on a boat and in love, and so I will horn a man or I will steal his woman without horning him on this boat if she looks happy and in love and I would like to be with her.
I am on the boat and we are in the water. I am approaching a man and a woman who appear to be in love with each other and happy. I would like to be with this woman but she is currently with this man and so I will separate them or wreck their home.
“Quite a view, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” says the woman I would like to be with.
“Yes, it is. Rick Shaw.”
“Rick Shaw? But we’re already on a boat!”
She laughs and I can see that Rick Shaw feels threatened but does not want to project that emotion. We shake hands and the woman looks at me with attraction.
It is now dinner time and I have been with Mr. Shaw and the woman for several hours. The woman continues to ask me questions as Mr. Shaw continues to buy me drinks.
“So you said you are from the port city?”
“Yes. I used to be a fisherman but now I am retired.”
“You look fit. I would not have guessed you were old enough to be retired.”
“That’s still my name. So, Mr. Coyle, are you married?”
I imagine Mr. Shaw did not feel good by this point.
“No. I have several children but I have never been married.”
“We do not have any children because Richard is sterile and I do not enjoy having intercourse with him and I do not want to marry him. I am glad you are here.”
The moon bowed like a fishing line if you could remember its trajectory. I watched it all night and didn’t do much else. No one was around. Good. No noise. Good. It took a lot to surround myself with nothing but nature those days. It took a lot to get away at all. But there I was, where I wanted to be. Now that I was there I didn’t have to think about where I was, or where to go. If you’re doing what you want to do and you’re where you want to be, there’s not much room for anxiety about such things.
I jumped. I had no choice in the matter.
“What are you doing?”
“I would rather be alone.”
“I would rather be sitting where you’re sitting than standing where I’m standing.”
I stood and turned around.
He was a short man, about five-seven. I am a tall man, about six-four. He was thin. I am not.
I sat back down and I do not know what he did next.
Drip drip drip drip thip thip thip thip drip drip drip drip thip thip thip thip…
“Sounds like my faucet in disrepair,” you say?
Try hearing that all day, every day. Try hearing and feeling drip drip drip drip thip thip thip thip on top and inside your head all the time and then try such flippant comparison again. Every fucking time there’s the sound, there’s the sensation, the two make the phenomenon—drip drip drip drip thip thip thip thip means wetting of the same 1-inch radius, the same pi-inches-squared area, followed by geometrically different but equirhythmic radiations all day long.
I won’t talk—I won’t—and that’s why the dripping and thipping won’t stop, why a bit of my scalp is bare, why little, cracked bowls are wetted in the same time, time after time.
I thought this method of torture was bygone, but it’s 2013 already and still
I’m getting dripped and thipped insane by this routine, these habits, by myself. All the play I have now is with letters. No longer do I play with sounds, spoken words. No one would or will play like I want to.
This, here, my jungle gym, my wooden castle like the one distant daddy brought and built one Christmas—brought and built by daddy, played with ad nauseam, until that consistency became drip drip drip drip thip thip thip thip.
Though I’m aware of what’s happening and my body and the rest of me are free to go, I continue furiously and only semiapologetically; what separates this from my boyhood playground?
I suppose that since I am still that boy at heart I need to play, and since now I won’t play with my body like I used to, I must play with letters.
But can I reengage my muscles, my bones, my connective tissues, my organs? My soul is healthy, engaged. My letters come from my body, so my body is engaged. That’s right. This is everything I need.
Dishwasher-bound glasses crashed chinkily. It wasn’t a wine bar—it was a coffee shop, The Drippery. I was sitting alone by the half-octagonal window outside which the city awaited me, or would have awaited me if I were that type of guy or it that type of city. The city was doing, that city of people and their projects. About seven cyclists rode by self-righteously in competitive gear, stopping traffic, prompting HOONs, BEEPS and, of course, as this is The City and its people are so important, bird flippage and a dissonant chorus of fuck-yous interspersed with at least one “this isn’t fuckin’ Westchester!” The hot-dog man brazenly pitched his stand at 9 AM and hid his lower face behind a newspaper as he scouted for incredibly eager business. Business men, like my father, talked their way to work cellularly or otherwise.
Inside the dark-wood-paneled-and-floored, red-brick-faced affair, typists typed—soul-patched guy, eyes crimped behind heavy frames; hemp-hatted, moon-faced co-ed girl versus a daunting cup of plain oatmeal, the latter was clearly winning; guy who resembled the lecturer who made me fall in love with philosophy, the cupid of discourse I might say if I were desperate enough to quip. There was a sexy, exotic-looking mocha-skinned lady behind the counter that day. I’d never seen her. I took a shot.
How to go about this, I wondered? Was it different? No—that’s racist. Just be natural. Just go. Just do. Just man up.
So I went up to the counter and ordered another coffee.
“Hey, I’ll take my regular.” I thought that was funny.
“This is my first day. What are you having?” She said, deadpan.
Ouch! Strike one, or was she playing? I called ball one—I pitched too high (low?) and she didn’t swing.
“I’ll have a medium Costa Rican and a formal introduction, pretty lady.” Nailed it!
“Okay, one Costa Rican coming up and then you should leave.”
I’m not a ten. All things considered I’m probably an eight-and-a-half. They say a confident male seven can bag an unconfident female ten. What does that say about a confident male eight-and-a-half and a confident female nine-and-a-half? Any case, I was undeterred and, frankly, falling in love with every further bit of data I gathered about this precious beauty—every bit of evidence suggesting towering self-respect and –esteem; restraint and skepticism in matters of love; oh-so-endearing and oh-so-deadpan coyness; and, of course, the sight of her made me gaga.
“You’re right—I have to go to work. But I’ll be gentlemanly calling again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and so on. You’re a gem, lady, and now that I’ve discovered you I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to coax you out of your native mine. Have yourself a good first day.”
She overfilled my coffee cup. Nailed it!
I’m an old, rickety man, and that means I know more than you do.
Don’t mistake: I’m not just old. I used to be a banker, and I used to be sinewy and tall and make everyone either desirous or jealous.
Now, why does that qualify me to tell you all what’s what?
My younger self–an exceptional combination of earning potential, earning actuality, and manliness–had a window into everyone: their reflexive vulnerability. Yes they shook. Yes they stared. Yes they stuttered. And yes, I managed them all, managed their fears, managed their stuttered, tentative compliments with “Oh, I’m not that great,” or “Oh, everyone has the same potential,” or “Oh, stop,” or “Oh, your forehead-to-lower-face ratio is looking good today.”
Problem now: I set out to teach you how to manage your insecurities, but now I realize I’ve never had any of my own and I’ve always played on others’ fears of social slippage when talking them out of their pathetic states.
I sincerely wish you a good night.
Tuck stopped. The hills rolled with no end in sight before and behind him. He’d been moving twelve hours and now the sun was about down. He didn’t care. He’d wittingly gone a path he couldn’t replicate and tried his best to ignore the sun all the way. He struggled to forget the date. How old am I? I know but no matter. To be free was to be lost now.
He was unfettered, scrapped by the foreman–the formidable foreman who always stopped for who? what? where? when? why? how?–hours ago. The only thing was: what now? Immediately, that is. He was tired, but restless. His brain buzzed bzz bzz like the caricature of a dying television and his body promised “I’ll give out shortly!” in its ineffable ways. He naturally sat down Indian style in a trough between two crests and fished for an apple. Even a timeless man acts like he wants to live.
No apples left. Jerky–dried, salted umami–did fine.
First reading lesson at age four, out on the creaking-eeking porch: couldn’t make sense of the symbols on the page but he saw their beauty and wanted to know the rest. Grandpa lowly rumbled as he moved his finger across the page. “The fox, f-o-x, jumped over the fence.” said it, sung it, tapped it with gravity. He picked it up quickly and deeply, and respected it because he respected beauty and he respected grandpa. Ma and pa were proud. Grandpa was so proud of and confident in the boy he fantasized about beating the hell out of him for it. He reckoned Tuck would take it at first like a child, ow ah stop, and then like a stone, a silent, stoic stone who knew what happened was right and reasonable. The boy was ready for a real education, having mastered letters. But the old man never really thrashed him. Ma and pa wouldn’t have sanctioned it.
Grandpa respected people insofar as they could handle the vicissitudes, the abuses of life. Must have been that frequent ah shit, that “Ohp, no corn this year; weather didn’t allow,” that kept him on the balls of his ass, his life. A lifetime of manual labor had rendered the elder’s hands raw at first and then rugged. Love, loss, and onward was just callous following abrasion. Hardening by abuse—life’s flames looming, swarming, testing, burning the fat, moving on—was tried-and-true; he suspected his son’s tender approach, flame retarding in his view, would foment nothing to write home about. Nonetheless, he respected his son and daughter-in-law for going through life and resumed a semblance of the parenting they’d started. He knew Tuck would encounter abuse organically but, sensing the boy’s precocity, grandpa yearned to share what he knew without delay so they could be men together; he didn’t have much time left, he thought, and he wanted to know this man. Restraint here, holding those hands back, would be the last iteration of grandpa’s method.
Dried, dead, nourishing flesh reminded Tuck that at seven death called when the farm’s failure was imminent; accustomed to multi-day fasts, he knew too well the processes wasting him now. Grandpa told him “Don’t waste this and don’t forget this.” Tuck reluctantly internalized the old man’s old sentiment. His next meal was his best up to then. It was like that.
Still dully hungry, Tuck wrapped the leftovers in the tattered cloth grandpa had left for him and put it away. Seated still, he straightened his back and closed his eyes. The aural buzz, the bodily crying, softened and then stopped, along with his hunger.
He went on, stuffed with wisdom and just enough just-fine jerky.
I had oh boy did I wholly and utterly and sensually have that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth white chocolate and oh did it so wholly hit every spot I needed and wanted it to hit at that time! Oh, boy, did it make my heart knock at my sternum! But my tastes have changed: now I don’t need anything, and I want something less processed, something not quite as sweet, something that doesn’t melt too quickly. If it melts in your mouth and it’s sweet, it’s too easy to eat and will make you fat, soft, lethargic. Otherwise, you’re forced to find the goodness, derive, discern the goodness from a natural mess of true impressions. You’ll naturally come to appreciate even bitterness and rigidity—your sensation of bitterness will give way to richness, depth, complexity; your sense of crunchiness should need no transformation. Instead of calling it bitter, the refined palate calls it chocolaty, and instead of calling it rigid or hard, the refined palate calls it al dente all’inizio, nutriente e dopo. Just authentically chocolaty—no positive or negative connotation there, and so it is with people. No name is inherently positive or negative in connotation; no person is inherently positive or negative. The best you can be is honest in action at every possible moment, and the best chocolate is 85+% chocolaty.
Boner Brook said this:
“I have a ragin’ hard on.”
I said: “No shit, Brook.”
The lonely cloud is
Incomparable in size but
Equal to your face.
Is that how it happens? Are we born this way–hypersensitive, hypervigilant, hyperverbal, hypercerebral? Are we all that way? No, that’s not how it goes.
So when and how is a writer cobirthed out of the vajeens of his/her brain and body? Pay attention to that pair: brain and body. Learn the language of your eyes, their eyes, your ears, their ears, your neurons, and their neurons. The writer remembers and adds perspective, unity. The writer takes fragments, tacks them to other fragments, and makes new lives. Life is manifold; the writer knows this and shows as many folds as he/she wants, thank you.
When and how does the writer assert itself? I had to take charge somehow, and I took to the pen and then the keyboard without doubt. Without doubt is the only way to write, and skeptically is the only way to edit.
Once you get past fear, what’s in your way? If you’ve browsed here, you can at least dictate to a machine, and you at least have the software that allows you to do that.
I may suck, but I write because it’s right for me, and because sometimes my life just isn’t enough.
The 10:47 train out of Rowayton huzzed past yuppie towns and small cities, sleepy and otherwise, in the crisp morning. On it was a sparsely bearded, comfortably caffeinated Wilson—hands clasped; feet curled under the seat; torso bent forward, nature calling from the front; the idyllic Redhead’s faintly fragrant hair, oh to have that again the idea of having that again made him boing, to have the olfactions—by his memory a flowery musk kissed by brine and a whiff of leather—again oh yes oh that boinged the man’s boinger like the bright jangles of the conductor’s keys. Anxiety waxed—Mullaly’s last performance, that double-orchiectomizing and admittedly incisive performance the eclipser. With the keys, the leather seat, the hissing and clicking of the train’s brakes, the boing, he stayed happy like twenty-five years ago when he knew Nana and Poppy’s warm, orange-tiled, wooden-panel-walled sunroom—furnished with a swiveling, orange leather chair, the inspirer of a unique and recurrent olfactory dream; the room welcomed the whish-whoosh of the dishwasher through wall-spanning inner windows and, from outside, a salty breeze bearing news of just-washed linens—he was elated like when he knew, in real time, these combined with the whole impression made by Nana’s shuffling gait, Poppy’s colorful library—seat of his passion, his favorite the bible—and their shiny metallic slot machine with red, blue, and green trim, revolving cherries and fez-clad monkeys playing chest-mounted bass drums, and on one side a lever that could prompt a pleasing chih-ih-ing and award coins whether the monkeys aligned or not.
“Welcome to One-hundred-and-twenty-fifth Street. Next stop: Grand Central.”
Wilson thought about getting off here to shorten his walk to the drop, but decided downtown would be better for now and, anyway, to get there nine hours early would be foolery. Still holding his water, he suffered another ten minutes en route.
TRAIN STOPPED, DOORS PNEUMATICALLY OPENED
“This is our last stop. Thank you for choosing Metro North!”
Wilson got off the train, pissed in the nearest restroom and took in the beauties of the station since he had the time. There were blondes, brunettes, and redheads; there was marble, iron, and brass; there were clocks and stores, booths and whores; people relating—playing games; a young German shepherd yawning, head jerking up and down a bit at the end, tips of his ears touching as his paws lightly clipped and clapped along the marble floor; everything a moving picture, combinations of moving pictures everywhere—entering and exiting, some passing along. Everything was coming, going, bygone. Nothing requited Wilson’s attention.
He finally left the station, and found himself fretting; strangely, it was around his marriage. He was worried that perhaps he wouldn’t be the one to end it, or that it would never end because neither he nor Molly would find a better alternative. He kept thinking about that bird-in-hand expression–did it apply to him? Was it better to hang his hat now since he seemed to have something of a guarantee in Molly, or should he take his chances on middle-aged-divorcee status? There was nothing horrible about the match, he thought; it had become tepid where it was once fiery, that’s all. He still respected her on some personal level, and had to concede she looked least reproachable for being tens of pounds heavy. Familiarity, though, had begotten the death of constant ardor, but sometimes he could still see the girl he couldn’t stay soft around—the girl frustratingly fine, insofar as she said no to his advances. She hadn’t said yes in years, and not for too few trials; he just kept insufficiently aware of changes in her preferences, and didn’t know how to recover that awareness—where to start looking; he could ask, true, but he learned in his younger years that verbal interview was not, at least then, the way to win her wetness; it always seemed up to luck. So aimless his thinking went for a while as he dazedly walked up, down and across the city; his net path just had to be northeast.
“Are you Jimbo?” Asked a smoky voice somewhere in the sixties on the east side of Lexington.
“No.” Wilson said plainly.
“You look and walk like Jimbo. Come here a minute. I want to tell you a story.”
The voice belonged to a disheveled but subtly handsome older man, probably fifty-something, but by appearance sixty-something. The street has a way of accelerating lives. He had shaggy grey hair about fourteen inches long; thick, black eyebrows; a respectably full but tobacco-stained beard, and respectably straight but tobacco-stained teeth. Wilson followed him through the alleyway and they stopped at a concrete landing five, eight-inch-high-steps-up from the ground.
The man successfully put his blackened hand out for Wilson to shake.
“I’m Feeyohder. I like to tell what I know. Here’s something. There was a man, overwhelmed by the sad stagnation of his life. He did things, sure, but got nowhere. He worked in an office; some would call him a suit. He lived in Connecticut.”
“One day, he realized that the easiest way to change things was to radically change himself. Know what I mean?”
“Not specifically, but yes.
“So, what he did was…I always have trouble getting this part out when I’m hungry…”
Wilson thought for a minute. Normally, he’d have just walked away, but this Feeyohder had him compelled. Maybe this investment would prove worthwhile.
“Okay. Here’s twenty.”
“Not what I meant, boy! Let’s have a meal.”
They stopped at a café and sat down.
They silently sat for about ten minutes, waiting for the food to arrive. Wilson studied Feeyohder’s face furtively; he was envious of all the man’s structural features, but at the same time couldn’t resent him for it. There was no eye contact during this time, during which Feeyohder seemed out-of-body.
“Here’s your egg sandwich, handsome! And here’s your oatmeal, sir.”
They ate for a bit, and then the older man continued.
“So, he had to change himself to move forward. No hobbies, no special skills, not a fuckin chance of making a unique, significant, lasting impression on paper. He could write, though, not so well at first but he wrote and wrote and wrote and read and read and read and he found moments. And assembled them best he could and submitted them.”
“What did he write about?”
“He had flashbacks to his childhood—mostly pleasant, vivid flashbacks. He became addicted to these visions and smells and sounds and associations, and thought that the more he wrote, the more he’d remember. It didn’t work that way. Once he ran out of childhood memories and combinations thereof, he presumed his creativity dried up. So he sat in his office, depressed again, doing nothing, until finally he got fired.”
“What happened next?”
“I’m so sorry.”
“That’s what people say.”
“That guy is dead, I’m in his body. My only regret is that I should have quit first, and then started writing—living—in earnest. This life is an artist’s dream. I see a lot. I do a lot. Any timidity I have about approaching people is offset by the chance we’ll change each other. Just the other day, I tried the same thing that worked on you with some pastel-wearing, bellied gentleman and his response impressed me much.”
“What did he say?”
“All I remember is impressing upon him and then being impressed upon; the words were only a small part of a great whole, ineffably great.”
“Can I see some of your writing?”
“We’re writing a story and storing our memoirs. What’s precious about this writing is we can’t fully appreciate its reach; I can’t know how it ramifies you, and you then the world, but I’m sure it does, and you do! The only thusness is that there is no eternal thusness; everything’s coming and going, becoming something new all the time.”
“And how does that make you feel?”
Wilson couldn’t reply.
“Good; you keep thinking. You can pick up the check next time, friend, but not here. Our money isn’t accepted here. They appreciate our work.”
“Could you write your thesis down for me?”
“I did. You’re on the level, and I know what that looks like. Thank you for everything; you can’t know how much you’ve done for me. So long, Jimbo!”
“But what have I done for y…”
Feeyohder walked out and stormed jollily uptown.
Excerpted from the same novella as “His Pragm’ic Way.” Mullally is the thinker in that piece.
“Check it: so I took dis crack ho out to Ruby Tuesday, spent twelve dollas on her ass unda da supposition I was gonna get something–or at least something-something–in return. Bitch ain’t done a mothafuckin cocksuckin thang to date. So I called her up to collect. I said “Listen, cunt: I ain’t gonna be just throwin a Hamilton and Two Washingtons in to da motha fuckin wind, so to speak. You gonna make good on da terms of our agreement. Either you’re gonna pay me, if you can’t pay me your pimp’s gonna pay me, if your pimp can’t pay me i’mma bust caps and then yo momma gonna pay me, if your momma can’t pay me, and you can’t find an alternative means of recompensing me, then have fun sucking my dick, bitch! Damn. That’s fourteen percent of my wealth you took from me! That ain’t nothin to sneeze at! That ain’t nothin to jerk off at! That’s big fuckin bucks to me! What has this world come to? The immorality is rampant, and it’s disgusting. When you can’t trust a ho, then, man, this world’s just gone to shit.
I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I can’t buy booze no more, I can’t buy ganj no more, I can’t buy rock no more…I can’t buy blowjobs no more. All my life’s pleasures is gone because this crack ho felt entitled to my money–the sweat of my fuckin brow. I work hard. I bust my ass. And it’s come to nothing…except if you’ve derived some pedagogical value from my story–if I’ve channeled some wisdom your way. Then, my life ain’t so bad and I’ll live on. Things ain’t so bad.
Thanks for listening. Moral of the story: if you’re gonna be dealing with a crack ho, if you’re gonna be transacting something with a crack ho, then make sure you get your end first, cuz they ain’t to be trusted. All right–take it easy!”
I’m not a john. I went on a bad date with a lady two years ago, partook in a heated e-exchange the next day because of some miscommunications, apologized, and ended up spending twelve dollars that subsequently got repaid on a not-so-bad second date. I made this in reasonable anticipation of default; wrote a sketch of the final product during my accounting lecture. What can I say? I’m expressive.
I’ve been struggling at this, and I think I’ve got it now, my Mrs.
Flowers flatly fell to the ground that night, that night when that light, that hot garage light lit our love. That night when the wind washed the trees, swept the leaves, and cooled July to our comfort–we both remarked on it that night, remember?
You remember, don’t you? Promises abandoned but no harm just laughs, nervous, socially agreeable laughs. We laughed about how we always said we’d stop promising but kept on with it, how we kept wasting time, to translate. Seeds budded, falling flat. Falling flat but looking alive, promising, because we, you and I, were alive, promising.
But we’ve stayed together, and all that promise is gone. Now all we have are our fat, our regrets, our hopes of life beyond life, and each other.
On a very cold day even for the mountains—as I begrudgingly but meditatively thithed and threw, thithed and threw the three-foot-high snow from my desired path with my sharp steel shovel—a leopard attacked me from the back and turned me to face him.
I named him Boyoh and when I made eyes with him I knew I was in love. That meant, probably, that I was a little more isolated than I should have been. Any case, it must have been meant to be since Boyoh relented and settled with me, beneath the surface, aiding my survival and life forever.
My name is Victor. I’m thirty-seven years old and have a balding, curly ponytail and a .5-inch gap between my front teeth. I like to wear a red, pleather jacket; tight, pleather pants; faux-Italian-leather boots; a gold chain and a sweat-stained wifebeater under the black, gold-paisley-printed, always-tucked-in-as-tightly-as-possible button down I purchased at Caldor in the summer of 1991. I drive a 1984 Pontiac Grand Prix and only use ribbed condoms. I moonlight as a bookie and daylight as a projector operator at my local adult theater.
I have a fiver.
“Yes, yes,” he thought as he watched a cube’s lifetime: ship to island to touch. “Fieldy is in for…oh I’d better not jinx what he’s in for by extroverting the details…how I’d love to just…but no, ‘spill the beans spoil the mash, spoiled the mash? Brace for a bash!’ grandmie thought, methinks. I wonder where she went toward the end she used to be such a lucid Lulu and then became a Lucy Screwsy to the word. Always wise, make no mistake. Ah, she learned me broad: I know my Shakespeare—I know she’s sluiced, by me or otherwise, what’s past is prologue and what’s past is sluicing and lying, foisting, denying; Dickens—some just want more, the mischievous, vagrant, and parasitic; my folk the mean golden, the fed, actu’lized; albeit, I think, grandmie died unforgink, on that one as, yes, she could have just dropped me, in soci’ty, n’ spared me some time, some purchasing dime, some ungood nonrhyme; my sincere soul mate: that Scotty, A. Smith, who saw plowman and sower as one and the same, that it’s always pro-me me to tend to mine own, ‘less best for me isn’t just, which case also I must, mind in-less-out prime! Wilson* b’ damned! To the Emersons, the Jameses I’m indebted for moral holidays ‘llowed to glide o’er, the top of a lake with frictionless co’er. In-less-out is for what to vie, so if it taunts I’ll FOIST, DENY; the pragm’ic way will ne’er relent; for pleasure-hunts I’ll ne’er repent! What comes—ensues—is it in short; I’ll invoke, always, its support.”
* This is excerpted from a novella I’m writing. The thinker suspects Wilson, Fieldy, and everyone else to be screwing his wife.
The day I forget the subjectively proclaimed tragedies I’ve suffered is the day I lose my impetus, my fire, my soul. The day I forget the passions associated with those tragedies, those events that were inconvenient and upsetting in their own time, is the day I lose this, this ever-giving gift, the blood of passion that bleeds, bleeds, bleeds from pen, fingers, mouth, body, onto paper, digital substitutes, into the air, onto, into or in other relation with sweet-smelling, straight-talking, fine things that think the same of me and bleed similarly.
The day I lose the sometimes infuriating, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes comical, sometimes contemptible, sometimes emotionally vacuous memory of myself as a boy, a lovestruck once-future, then-present, and now-past cuckold, and the similarly volatile memory of the then-wicked, then-selfish, then-confused, then-irresistible, then-in-my-mind-deified girl who made it so, is the day I lose the perspective I’m so proud of today, the day I lose the attachment to and love of me I now possess and rely upon, and it is the day I lose the ability to make do with only that, to anchor my state of mind by the weight of that alone.
I can take on anything, ANYTHING, as long as my passion bleeds for or against it, whatever the case should be. I have my failures, my sufferings, my detractors, my supporters, my lovers, my acquaintances, my friends, my family, my training, my mentors, and the random but unmistakably human, living, feeling, learning eyes and ears and brains I meet anywhere to thank for how I burn today and for how I’m positioned and poised and ready for the next poppage of passion accumulated that will no doubt occur, the next shedding of an underdeveloped self that will no doubt occur.
I love life. I love failure. I love the small tastes of success I’ve had and, at least as much, I love the reminders that they’re fleeting, that I must continue to succeed, to try, and I must live and fall in and out of love and suffer in order to keep moving toward better passion, more complete self-love, more complete love of all, and of someone in particular.
I love; thereby and therefore I burn. I fuck; thereby and therefore I burn. I touch; thereby and therefore I burn. I hurt; thereby and therefore I burn. I write; thereby and therefore I burn. I read; thereby and therefore I burn. I learn; thereby and therefore I burn. I converse; thereby and therefore I burn. I connect; thereby and therefore I burn. I run; thereby and therefore I burn. I lift; thereby and therefore I burn. I see; thereby and therefore I burn.
I know I am because I burn, and I know I burn because of this and other outpourings of stuff one can only call scintillating interactions of humanity and experience. I can’t imagine better points to know or better chains of conditionality to make them so.
When I burn, and only then, I am the pinnacle of my current self, the pinnacle of my example of humanity.
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Cocoa Beef occurred to me when I needed her. Tripping. I was alone. I saw those pancake tits when I had no hope. Imagine it.
“It doesn’t go by its name.” A laugh cracked. Wall of sound.
Cocoa Beef Drapes she wanted to go by at first. She yearned to have beef curtains. She ate sumptuously. Got that glucose up, got that insulin up, got that cellular formation around that chest, and got those 1930s tits. Pointy pancakes. They were pointy, for pancakes. What she wanted for in beef drapes she had in 1930s titties. Yes, she had tits; she had those vaguely feminine, sore-nipped-fourteen-year-old-boy milk sacks thrice-magnified.
She came and went and when she came, no ejaculation. She wasn’t pre-op or post-op; never had the operation, never wanted to. Just couldn’t sprinkle, shotgun, or jetstream jizz. She never got hard. Beef Drapes had the one focus. She was a Christian Scientist. So, disease: chronic, flaccid penis; regimen: staunch prayer. Church Sunday through Saturday. Went to church as Victor. I don’t get it either.
She did succeed in convincing Kyle Crowley, a trash-stached, Nebraska-based cucky. She mentioned the beef drapes. She was horny. She said “I want you to pierce my wet, churned and crimped tapestry. But first, I wanna grind it on that Selleck.”
It happened. Cocoa Beef hardened. Cocoa Beef Jerky was born.