The Salsa Cowboy

Here I sit at the keyboard with my coffee cup filled with some Costa Rican brew and my head like IHOP scrambled eggs, wet and unnaturally yellow on a warm white plate that smells like bleach. And my thoughts struggle with one another, colliding planets not knowing which way to spin. Ugh. I hate it when I don’t flow. Too much on the mind and it doesn’t matter, I know. Calm down. Baby. A laundry list of tasks to get done that knocks me down and so I don’t even want to get up. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmation. Life too much. Presses down too hard. I can’t breathe.

Now catching my breath in a booth by the window at some adobe café in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Slow peace and more coffee, cigarette smoke swirls dissected by wobbling ceiling fan blades in the dry heat. Blue ghosts, brown rocks, straw needles on the horizon. I can feel the dirt of the desert in my teeth, the grit, the small pebbles, the heat of it, the gold hidden in there. Taking off stratospheric. Sitting there in this quiet booth with the big window looking out at past lives rumbling through DeadLand holy Hollywood miles down gone. Mind revving now.

I turn the other way, and there’s that woman doing crossword puzzles in the booth on the other side of the tiled floor the color of a mass shooting circus. She stares intently through her glasses, moves her hand slowly as she carefully fills in the squares with letters. She shifts her lips as she thinks. Moves her nose as if something stinks. An answer suddenly comes to her mind, and she begins to scribble: DOGMA. I think her name begins with a J or something like that. She’s hotter than Georgia asphalt in July. But she doesn’t think she is. Man, too beautiful for words. I wonder if she might want to run out to the little white wedding chapel in the desert I know, hook up. Like, forever hook up. The waitress brings her breakfast plate and I call over.

“Hey honey. What you got there to eat for your breakfast?”

She looks over me like I super disturbed her.

“Eggs in a basket,” she says. “With country fried potatoes… And a London fog to sip on.”

“Whooo eee,” I say like a hip cowboy in Kerouac brown chinos. “You from down over?”

“Down over where?”

“Down over there in the South… The other side of the country, baby.”

“I’m from Tennessee.”

“Tennessee!? They got salsa in Tennessee?”

“Yeah. We have salsa. Now if…”

“Don’t mind if I do,” I said, and I was already walking over to her all cool in my crisp white T-shirt and bronze muscles and those brown chinos and eel skin cowboy boots the color of dead blue. I slid into the other side of the booth and just looked into her Sonic Ocean Water blue eyes, and I said, “Is your name Salsa?”

“No.”

“Well, it should be.”

“Really? And why’s that?”

I leaned across the table and looked at her like I was a man dream and I said, “Because you are hot and spicy.”

She motorboated her lips, a scoffing scoff, a laugh. It was a put down. A rejection. I guess she didn’t dig my line.

“If you don’t mind, my breakfast is getting cold.”

“All right, all right,” I said, and I slid out of the booth and stood tall on the floor trying to flex some pecs even though I was a bit soft, and I have small areolas. “You have yourself a nice day, darling.” And I pulled my personal business card out of my wallet, and I handed it to her. “I’m a traveling salesman by day, but an expert on the ways of the female body by night. I’m staying at the Atomic Oasis Motor Lodge if you’re interested.”

She looked the card over as she chewed her food. “You’re a Bible salesman?”

“That’s right.”

“And you’re trying to pick me up with horribly offensive, demeaning, and lame conversation?”

“Right again. I’ve got no shame. I’m just out here on the great American road trying to make a living… And living to the fullest. I figure, why the hell not? Life is too short. Isn’t that what they say?”

“I’m not interested,” she said, and she handed the card back, pushed her plate away, and got up and started walking toward the cashier counter.


“Hold on little lady from Tennessee,” I called after her, fishing some cash out of my wallet. “Let me get that for you as a way to make up for my… Uncouth behavior, I guess you could say.”

“Be my guest,” she eagerly answered, and she opened a pathway to the counter.

I paid her tab and then looked at her looking at me.

“Good luck with selling your Bibles,” she said with a forced smile. “And thanks for the breakfast.”

She walked out the door, that great Tennessee ass all packed tight in those zodiac leggings she was wearing. I wanted to crack her open right down the middle like a juicy Georgia peach.

“Mmm, mmm, mmm. That’s downright sinful there,” I said to myself, aloud to the world though, and the cashier lady heard me.

“Why don’t you leave all these poor women alone,” she said. “It’s harassment.”

I leaned on the glass counter case that sadly displayed cheap Native American souvenirs probably put together in China, and we’re still standing on the throats of the Originals, and I just looked at her there in her pink uniform with the white collar and cuffs and she looked as if she could be a picture on a poster of an old-time diner waitress holding one of those bulbous coffee jugs that sits on a hot plate when she isn’t carrying it around pouring the coffee into chipped white cups.

“You’re just jealous,” I said. “Because I don’t do it with you.”

She scoffed. “Because I’m old, right?”

“And ugly.”

She winced with emotional hurt at that remark. “Did God teach you them manners?”

“No, mam. I learned them all on my own.”

“Why are you selling Bibles of all things? Makes no sense with the way you carry on.”

I kind of retreated within myself and couldn’t really come up with a good answer except, “I’m really off the rails, mam. I lack direction, purpose, procedure. I lack love in my life.”

“It’s no wonder with the way you carry on with all these poor girls. Like I said before.”

I straightened myself right and I asked her to pull the little Native American drum out of the display case because I wanted to buy it and go beat at it in the desert and think about the world and my bent place in it. She set it up on the counter and I looked at it. It was a little drum, real colorful and with feathers stuck to it, maybe about the size of a cat sitting upright on its hind legs, and it had a round, white rubber skin stretched across the top of it, the part you beat on, and then there was this little red mallet that came with it that you used to do the beating. I looked on the underside of it and sure enough, it said: MADE IN CHINA.

“This world don’t make no sense,” I said to her, and I asked for my bill, and I paid it and walked outside into the blinding forest of sun upon sun, so it seemed because it was so god damn bright and hot like Heaven itself. I started walking toward a big purple mountain in the smoky distance, my eel skin cowboy boots the color of dead blue kicking up the dust of the desert like magical golden mist, and I just kept on walking until I melted into one of those vibrating heat mirages you might see flowing off hot asphalt in another dream and time and I was dead gone.

Carnival Visions for the Unforgiven

His eyes stained this town
on a sunny autumn day
like leaves dropping from his eyes
crunchy, veiny tears that smelled of winter bliss
and so,
he took a taxi to the world’s greatest fair,
and as the visions of this town
bounced before his wet eyes
the wicked witch kiss
of life’s black door
swung open and hit him with cold flesh
and he decided to clean up his life
so he rolled down the windows and tossed out
all the needles and all the armor around his heart
and then closed the cold of this day off forever
and watched the headlights of the cab
dance all over the gravel parking lot at the fair
and when he got out he heard the faint happy screams
of all the riders in the night
hanging on to electric arms bedazzled —
the smell of hot dogs and funnel cakes stuck to the sky
the happy laughter of all the beings in love
whiplashed through the air and the funhouse —
was everyone a ghost?
as they stared through him,
walked through him like a doorway
smiled at the reflection in his own eyes
giggling girls swiping wands loaded with whispers
across their unadult visions
and old content men
grasping the shoulders of their worn-out wives
and still they smiled to be together
they had each other to go home with
and the ghost had but a dim lightbulb glow left in his
memory…
where was his daughter in this clamoring pool of life?
why wasn’t she clutching his fingers and laughing
a little girl loving so completely
and he rubbed his bones through the digits on his
hand
and they were raw and void of feeling
as he stepped into the house of mirrors
merely to turn away from his grotesque reflection
as a little boy pushed him into the glass
to make him disappear gallantly
like a horse trick tucked away in dust
and he squeezed himself into a tiny cage with a rabbit
a big, white rabbit with a charm around its neck
and he said to the rabbit
make all my dreams come true
and the ghost was on the midway
kissing the love of his life.


How Our Axis Quakes (First Part)

It was torture of the magnetic kind. It was as if something was straining to rip his heart right out of his body. He could feel the bloody vibrations when he put his weathered hand to his chest. He rose out of the bed like a vampire from a coffin and sat on the edge. He moaned a sleepy moan. The man had tried to nap but he was much too restless. An old box fan whirred, stirring the warm air. He finally stood and he was a large and disheveled man. He was pale-skinned and white and wooly, somewhat resembling a Tibetan yeti.

He yawned and stretched his arms out high over his head and he could nearly touch the ceiling. He shuffled through the house and toward the front door. He yanked it open and stepped outside wearing only a white t-shirt and his underwear. It didn’t matter. He was miles away. It was too hot, though — hotter than normal — and he shielded his sensitive golden eyes from the light with a big, veiny, and speckled hand.

Ed Blackrose longed for the sun to drop out of the sky so the swarm of stars could return like they did most nights. That’s when he would sit out on the old wooden porch beneath the dim light and just rock back and forth. He found it harder and harder to think straight now. The old man had lost any peace of mind he ever had — years ago — because of all that went wrong; a past defiled, a future derailed. Then he retreated to the desert, despite the desolate heat, and he’s been there ever since.

The house he called home was small, but the land around him was big — a flat, dry land with a chain of dirty brown mountains wrapping its arms around. There was one lone road that ran straight and long. He could barely see it, but he knew it was there. There was never very much traffic. Sometimes people would get lost, or their cars would break down and they would hike up along his long, dirt drive and knock on the old door. What guts they had, he thought. What nerve. There was once a couple of hoodlums from the city who had arrived and asked him for something to eat. He made them thin ham sandwiches with cheese and iced tea to drink but kept his old eyes on them the whole time in case they tried to steal anything.

“How can you live like this?” one of them asked as he ate.

“What do you mean?” the old man wondered.

“I mean… So far away from everything. Why do you do it? How do you do it? Don’t you like life?”

“I don’t care for people much. I like my privacy,” the old man said. “And I like life just fine, mostly. I just don’t want to be disturbed as I live out my last days.”

“You should put out a no trespassing sign then,” the other suggested.

“I did,” Ed grunted. “Someone trespassed and stole it.”

One of them laughed and the old man glared at him.

“You find that funny?”

He nervously fidgeted with his glass. “I thought you meant it to be funny.”

“I didn’t,” Ed answered.

The old man didn’t drive anymore. He didn’t like to drive anymore. His sole reliance for getting things from the outside world was his one and only friend — Lewis Waters. It was usually on Tuesdays that Lewis would come rumbling up the dusty drive in his beat-up red pickup truck to deliver to Ed his food, prescriptions, a newspaper or two, his mail from the PO box, and whatever else he had requested.

It was the second Tuesday in a deep hot July and Lewis was sitting at the table in Ed’s house wiping his brow and chugging down a big glass of iced tea. Lewis was a small man compared to the other, opposite in disposition as well. He was deeply tanned, almost to the point of looking burnt. His mostly bald head was nearly always covered with a cap, and below that was a face that looked like an old, yet happy apple.

Lewis watched Ed as he methodically went through the grocery sacks and put everything away in the exact same spots he always did.

Lewis cleared his throat.

“Hey Ed?”

He didn’t turn around. “Yeah.”

“What are you going to do if one day I’m not able to do for you what I do now?”

Ed turned sharply. “What do you mean? Are you bailing on me?”

Lewis took a long, hard drink. Then he wiped at his mouth with his arm.

“No. Nothing like that.”

“Well, what the hell do you mean then?”

“I mean… What if something happens to me?”

“Like what?”

“What if I died?”

Ed laughed and sat down at the table with him.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be long gone before you will be. That I am sure of.”

“But how can you be so sure? We’re nearly the same age.”

“I just know. I had a dream about it. A premonition, I suppose,” Ed answered.

Lewis looked concerned. “I could die in a wreck on the way back home today.”

Ed slapped at the air with his big hand. “No, you won’t. It isn’t supposed to work out like that. Come with me.”

They got up and Lewis followed the old man to the bedroom in the back corner of the house.

“See that?”

“It’s your messy bed.”

“Right it is. And that’s where you’ll find me one day — dead as a yanked daisy.”

“Come on, Ed. I don’t want to hear this.”

“It’s true. I felt it. I have a special sense for things like that.”

Lewis sighed. “I still think it wouldn’t hurt for you to have someone else to help you with things around here. Maybe you should look at dating someone. I think it would be good for you if you had a wife.”

Ed frowned. “I’ve already had a wife,” he said, and pushed past Lewis and went to sit in front of the television.

Lewis followed him. “Ed?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Things are fine just the way they are. If circumstances change, they change. So be it. I’m too old to be making any sort of plans for a future that might not even ever exist. That would just be another god damn letdown.” 

Lewis went to sit down on the other end of the couch.

“Hey Ed?”

“What is it now?”

“I was wondering if you might want to come to church this Sunday. I can pick you up and we’ll just go sit and listen. And I was thinking maybe after we could go get something to eat. It will be on me.”

Ed chuckled and turned his attention from the television to Lewis.

“Sounds like you’re asking me out on a date. You haven’t turned queer on me, have you?”

“Oh, come on, Ed. I just thought it would do you some good to get out of the house and be around other people.”

Ed looked straight ahead and grew serious. “You know how I feel about that. I don’t like people, and as far as church is concerned, well, I’ve prayed in vain one too many times. God’s no friend of mine.”

Lewis rubbed his hands together, nodded his head in defeat, and stood up.

“All right. I can tell it will do no good to convince you otherwise. It never has. I’ll just see myself out then. But Ed, if you change your mind send word, will you?”

“I won’t change my mind. Goodbye, Lewis.”


It was on nights when the moon was full, and the stars were heavily dilated that Ed Blackrose would walk the property with a pistol by his side. He didn’t fully understand why it was that on nights of a full moon his mind and body grew so much more restless than usual. He walked and walked and walked — all the way to the high point of the property far behind the house. It was a scraggly ridge of loose rock and dirt and when he struggled up to the top he would just stand and look out and he felt like he was the only man on Earth — and he really wished he was. He would howl sometimes too, and the coyotes would answer back in communal yelps from a distance. He would look up at the other planets, the other hells perhaps, and he tried to reach out for them but of course the distance was far too great.

At times he felt something just shy of peace up there on the ridge. Other times there was a great, dark weight on him, and it was in these times that he would press the barrel of the pistol to his head and make a gun blast noise with his mouth. Then Ed would feel sick, and he would bring the pistol down and then carefully maneuver his big old frame into a sitting position in the dirt. And then he would just stay like that, and he would cry, and he would curse, and he would talk to himself, for hours, sometimes until the sun began to birth itself from a canal in space, and that’s when he would struggle to get to his feet and crawl back down the ridge, and disappear into the house to make coffee. Then he would lie down on the couch, watch television, and then drift off to sleep for two or three hours.   

The phone rarely rang and so when it did, it startled him nearly into a heart attack.

“Damn it! Hello!”

“Ed, it’s Lewis.”

“I know it’s you. You scared the hell out of me. I nearly pissed myself. What do you want, Lewis?”

“You sound sour.”

“I am sour.”

“I know I shouldn’t ask, but I was wondering if you maybe changed your mind about Sunday?”

“No.”

“Look, Ed. There’s a woman at my church, a very nice lady. Her name is Sontag.”

“Sontag?” Ed wondered aloud. That sounds made up. I think you should investigate that, Lewis.”

“It’s not made up, Ed. She’s a real sweet gal.”

“Lewis. I’m not going on a date. You know how I feel about that. Don’t even think about fixing something up.”

“No, no. It’s nothing like that. It’s more like, well, I’m courting her, Ed.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that, Lewis.”

“Look, she’s offered to cook a nice Sunday dinner for after church and I just happened to mention that you and I might have plans and she insisted that I invite you along.”

Ed paused for a long time.

“Ed? Hello? Are you there?”

“You know how I feel about Sunday dinners with strangers, Lewis. Count me out.”

“Oh, come on. Just this once and I’ll never ask again.”

“You can be quite irritating at times, you know that Lewis? And that reminds me, don’t forget to pick up my nervous pills before you come over Tuesday.”

Ed slammed the phone down and rolled over on the couch.

Sunday morning came and Ed got up early. He pulled his best clothes from the closet and laid them out on the bed. He had grudgingly decided to accept Lewis’ invitation to church and dinner with his lady friend after all, but his guts rumbled with a nervous ache.

He showered for a long time. The cool water felt good to him as it ran down his tired body. He scrubbed at his thick beard with soap; lathered up the white hair on his chest, arms, and legs, and then rinsed it all off. He turned off the water, grabbed for a towel and dried himself off. He looked at himself in the mirror — deeply. That was something he rarely did for he was afraid of his own reflection. He was shocked at how haggard he had become over the years.

Ed combed his hair neatly in place and creamed it back a bit. He brushed his teeth, rinsed, and spit. He looked at himself again.

“That’s the best you’re going to get,” he said to himself.

He shook out his dark dress pants and slipped them on. He took the white dress shirt and worked himself into it, buttoned it, and tucked it into his pants. He worked a black belt through the loops of the pants and synched it tight. He forced his big feet into a pair of shiny, black cowboy boots and brushed the dust off with his fingers. He stood tall and tried to reposition himself. Everything felt snug on him, and he was uncomfortable. He was already beginning to sweat again and so he went to the kitchen and poured himself a tall glass of iced tea. He drank it down, grabbed his suit coat, and sat out on the front porch to wait for Lewis.

The old truck rumbled along the highway. Johnny Cash was playing on the radio. It was a 19-mile drive from Ed’s house to the town of Wallston — a dusty, strange desert burg of about 9,000 people. Ed stared out the window as the world rushed by. He hadn’t said much most of the way. Lewis sensed his uneasiness.

“I’m glad you decided to come. It will be great, you’ll see,” Lewis said, smiling and gripping the wheel.

“I’m sure it will be the highlight of my life,” Ed said, and then he reached into the inside pocket of his suit coat and pulled out a tall can of beer and cracked it open.

Lewis shot him a quick glance. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Ed snapped back. “I’m having a beer.”

“Ed, you can’t drink in a moving vehicle. Would you just please throw it out the window?”

“Not until I finish it.”

Ed tipped the can back and drained it completely with deep gulps. He rolled down the window and threw the can out. “There. I’m done.”

Lewis scolded him. “I can’t believe you’re drinking a beer right before church.”

“I’m sure He won’t mind,” Ed answered with a slight chuckle. “I do believe He or whoever or whatever enjoyed his wine.”

“Please, Ed. This day is very important to me. I want to make a good impression with my Sontag. Could you just at least try to act decently.”

Ed grew defensive. “Decently? There’s nothing decent about the world anymore, Lewis. I think all this churchy preachy talk and your gal pal are screwing with your head. Don’t talk to me about decency. I mind my own business, I never bother anyone, I don’t rob banks. I don’t hurt anyone. Maybe you should just take me back home.”

“No. We’re not going back now. I just don’t think you should be drinking beer before church and meeting my friend for the first time. I think I have a valid point, Ed.”

Ed mocked him. “A valid point. Geez, you sure have changed.”

“But unfortunately, Ed, you have not,” Lewis snapped back.

TO BE CONTINUED


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The Escape Artist

Oxidized eyes and diamond fireflies doing the rotating Merry-Go-Roundabout above in the sky, under hot sun ozone hole as I’m mining in desert Minehead up the breach highway linear West near the Hondo – I’m hitting into dirt wall with pounds and pounds of frustration while the rattlesnakes and the antelope watch, cocking their different heads in wonder, sniffing the air with nose and tongue, searching for an unwound rag doll named Sheena in this desert Mars land of bar.

There’s a tattered zip line over a deep gulley to get across when the mad, mad water rushes in from the West – but this place be bone dry today and yesterday and probably has been for a long, long time by the looks of the bleached skeletons down in there playing bad hands of poker with weathered cards set to reel off at any second with the slightest breeze. This is Deadland and I am deep in it, shins and thighs scratched to hell by the muscled, thorny bitch plants that thrive here, the ones that dine on salt and spit and kick at you with tentacles of nails.

It’s Christmas day and it’s still too damn hot. I’m hiding from St. Nick because I know he’s going to beat me with a pillow sack full of fresh beehives. The family of strangers back in the village is all too damn hypnotic, admiring those dumb faces as they hold up the shiny new toaster as if it were a mirror – you’re burnt bread baby, I can smell it from here. How can you live in such a fucking catacomb Mrs. Nannette Hourglass? How can your soul stand to be so bound? I for one cannot take it and let out of there like a hurricane playing a harp, a roughshod whisper, phantom skin squeezing through the door, starting the car, driving away, away, away.

Sure, I think about my bad case of anti-social and radical behavior as I ride alone on the Rose Highway smoking sheepskin cigarettes and listening to defunct, angry music. Sure I feel the rocking horse guilt well up inside and think I might puke it all out over the steering wheel, but this mind muscle can be hallucinatory, can trick you into believing that what you are doing is right when in fact could be wrong, but most likely is correct anyways, baby – listen to your soul, not the fucking TV – for Christmas is meant to be spent alone, alone in the dry hot, hot whorehouse, alone to recall the dead ones that used to give you gifts; gifts now broken, now tattered, the ruined parts sent back to China or Bangladesh where they are piled in heaps right next to the used and worn bodies that made them in the first place – stockpiles of corporate shit and the starving enslaved with those melted, plastic fingers scratching at the emergency exit just to get out, out, out.  Smile and sell for hell.

The sausages are boiling in the pan over the small fire I have built here. The smell is fine. The stomach is growling. I look at my scratched pocket watch – they are all probably sitting down right now for the big feast and the blah, blah, blah, hah, hah, hah, chit chat shit of waggish talk whilst imaginary butcher knives twist in the spine of who sits across. It’s all pretend love and love until the polite goodbyes and then the door slams and the backstabbing blurp, blurp comes rolling off those twisted tongues. I wanted no part of that; I wanted crisp sausages, quiet, fire and Christmas cheer – toasting the rocks, the gravel, the wayward scorps – it was lonely as hell either way.

There is the aftertaste of chagrin in my mouth and guts – oh, how I long for guilt-free freedom, how I long to never return to the same space twice, how I long to taste every road, every directional arrow, every point on the map, every carriage, every castle, every loch, every green garden ever grown, every ocean, every river, every trickle of light in some small English cottage – but I am far linear west poking at ash with the metamorphic girl sitting across from me now dressed in lava rock – it is the shimmering sheen of some prehistoric volcanic sacrifice in hallucination – the wild makeup and hair; the savage, spitty pout; the long, velvet legs leading to Heaven’s flesh; the eyes bursting like honey bombs set ablaze by a sharp, silver Zippo.

Flick, burn, inhale –

“Merry Christmas,” I say to her anyway.

She fades away, but I can still smell her – like roses and spray paint.


I thought I saw that dude Arafat scrambling around in rocks and brush, but the longer I stare the more I realize that nothing is real. It’s all a memory bank baby. We were all here many moons ago, rag-tagged in the back of some trashed out Euro sedan, barfing out the remnants of mad ragers all over the freshly polished desert floor, the groaning, the twisting and uneasy sleep – everything always comes back around again no matter how hard we try to avoid it. Memories are deposited, the pains and joys withdrawn – it’s like black-and-white Poland to me, wandering in rags, sleeping in parks, losing muscle just to hustle.

888 West End posh and some baby hot, hot lady in bed-ready red is sipping my best brandy like it’s water as she sits on my couch looking at all the shit I have on the walls. Does she even know she’s just a mannequin who happens to know how to breathe?

“So, it’s New Year’s Eve, and here we are.”

That’s what I say to her.

Her glassy eyes look up at me as if I were some loon.   

“Do you like chainsaws?” she asks. “I’m afraid of chainsaws.”

She holds out her glass for more brandy.

“You know, this shit is pretty expensive.”

I pour her more of the brandy and walk out onto the veranda. She doesn’t get off the couch. She just sits there sipping my expensive brandy and staring off into space like some bucket of chicken in need of a warm towel. How can I tell her to get the hell out of here, but still be polite about it? Am I really that boring? Is it me? Has it always been me?

I turn just in time to see her putting on her coat and walking toward the door.

“Wait – it’s not midnight yet.”

She smiles, puts a chick cigarette between the frosted lips.

“So, what? “You are boring me; you always bore me.”

That’s what she said to me in that thick Euro accent.

“But wait, we could take a drive in my car. It’s fast. We can go wherever you want.”

She stopped at the door.

“All right, but you let me drive.”

She was a maniac behind the wheel, but I said nothing. I even removed my seat belt when she went faster, faster, faster.

“Are you afraid I will wreck your car, or worse, get you killed.”

I just let go and flew with her. She accelerated. Faster. Faster. She went faster still until we were out of the city and in the luscious throes of country dark.

“Are you afraid yet?”

She shut it down in some lonely void.

“It’s 12:01. I’m going home now.”

She got out of the car and walked away, disappeared into the dark woods, forever gone.

I poked at the ashes with a stick on Christmas day. The sun was still bright, and I was still alone. Would it ever be safe to go back? Why go back? Why keep going back? This life should not be a revolving door – push in once and go through, push in again and keep going through, push, push, push, until the end is beautiful enough to stay, the day she falls in with a first airport kiss that sends rockets to space.

Darkness Cries a Winter

Darkness cries a winter’s tongue, cold as ice amongst my remnants as I am digging it at the shore, cold water blue slapping indigo hate marks against all the stone faces staring out all bewildered and dumb. I arc across the region of big love, a sparkler of flight, all fucking ignited and in love with some red, bloody brick.

Heartbeats bounce off the asunder, like maniac puppets digging for lust, with wooden fingers, deep down in the wet grass of northern summer… There are factory explosions and deep, buttered potatoes at the dinner table, the clock strikes 17, and butter is brain, all rearranged, and the black spots are merely gravy in the grave…

I stare at cream wall, heart attack in pocket all jazzed up and ready to go, glow, blow, across thy universe of the intrepid, broken bones and skin all up in there and wandering, prayer hands all busted before the juke joint bourbon night all sprayed across the land, GOD using EARTH as urinal trans cornucopia, that shattered, blissful kiss left wheezing in green tenement bungalow on fire to the gods of love, the tick tock broken boned Merry-Go-Round little rumpus kiss on the MIDWAY, all mad swirling and twirling and shoving face forward into red menu on white — some alabaster, indigo babe…

Cigarette Sally in a coffin, riding to the grave and I’m sucking mango at midnight and thinking of mad LA, that Hollywood bomb all across thy morning window of thread and dread, a refrigerator in my living room, a tender turnpike of her spit, all splayed across the cement laundry room, deep down in the sun, waiting for the machine to click and be done, the tall forest is calling with green trumpets and guns. I am in red suit now, bleeding dead Russia, a shoebox for a soul, dead maniac Bricker Brack, an antique store, small town Misery, Missouri — apple-scented schools, time lost in a fist, a kiss, a memory all blonde and on fire, tears come for the Mum, all dead and locked away, like a fire sprayed, life knocked out like that, makes me sad and all fighting the willows for the fire hot love that still burns all cold sky and clouds, winter’s tender beating, slapping my heart to thy dirty street, roll in the wind dearest madman, roll down the world ‘till all is beautiful again and bones do not twist, break, and sway.

Giant in Skin

There’s this long line of darkness on the other side of day

I stand there listening to the starless sky flow like Styx

There’s that smooth dome of light pollution

Pulsing like an orange Creamsicle

Never sleeping, always dripping

Like childhood summer sun

And all above it, that starless sky

Humming in rhythm,

And a stone-cold moon pushed deep into the inky mallow

And the shore rises, swallows it for a moment, then a motor crunching the road

And I am loved, but alone

This upside-down man in an upside-down world being turned upside down and torn inside out

The guts sometimes, plucked out and stomped on

The thread that sews it back up wearing thin

This giant in a suit of skin too small

Roaring like the mad city

Then a bizarro boiling undone like a meadow

Under the dome

Simply walking with the crickets and that hand cast in sapphire

Some giant I am, in skin too small

The City of Babble On

The dark sunglasses can’t hide the crippled heart clinging to life beneath the threads of this wrinkled $400 shirt—baby blue and too heavy on my frame. It’s uncomfortable, just like my entire existence.

“Don’t you think?”

The desk clerk ignores my audible thought and smiles his forced, stranger danger smile, hands me the key card and says: “Welcome back to wherever you are. Enjoy your stay.”

There is cinnamon-scented opulence all around me as I wander through the thickening crowd of patchouli- and rose-flavored people, stiffly clutching my black bag with clothes, pills, bottles and raining valentines, all around the circus show roars and no one even notices that I am alive—in any way—as I sneak past, up the golden shaft and down the hallway that has no end.

After some rest and staring out the high window at heartbreak, I was in some Buddhist thrift shop in some town I didn’t know, like a place in a dream, that couldn’t possibly exist. Some long-haired hipster had a beat-up blue Subaru out back and said he wanted to give me some peyote with some nice juicy mescaline in it. He pulled out this big branch from the back of his beat-up blue Subaru and held it out in front of me in a gesture of giving.

I looked it over and it looked nothing like peyote, but rather testicle-sized coconuts or kola nuts. I plucked one off and ate it and it wasn’t long before I was feeling something weird, dreaming within a dream, tripping within a dream, and I wandered the Buddhist thrift store full of incense and the remnants of people’s damaged lives—once things they just couldn’t live without, now thrown out. I saw some glossy chick on the other end of the shoppe in a fuzzy pink outfit from the 60s. I was trying to make my way like through an unwanted nightmare, but there were all these silver turnstiles, turnstiles, turnstiles—in my way—like walking in cement, the lurching longing left unsatisfied by being dream crippled.

And then I became outside and into the light of night, what was, some birthday candle bomb walking on the perimeter of broken heart, broken glass, it was the expanse of my ticker, caved in, tripping along some bronze sidewalk looking up at the great towers of glass and steel, watching the jumpers float down all whimsical and contorted and then the splish-splash like big, meaty raindrops upon the hard world so far below. I had to step over some puddles and then the sirens and the gasps filled the air like some big juicy ocean of panic room noise. I had to look away for I could not stomach the twisted sickness of it all, like great Universe God just tossing worn dolls into a dust-covered toy chest destined to be tucked away in some shadowy, ghostly attic in Rotterdam or Amsterdam or the Hoover Dam. Damn man.

I saw inside glass, and I pushed my way through the rollercoaster dance bar like Aquaman. There were plenty of dancing vibrations in hot, hot dresses and well-groomed animals slobbering over them, eager to mount. I finally found a place around the bend, right beneath a giant, neon fizzle stick cascading anti-gravity toward the dirty Heaven hood just slightly above the rush and roar of the modern carnival warfare. I ordered $17 shots and played solitaire with the shimmering eyes of all the well-crafted ones flowing around me… hearts, hearts, hearts need diamonds, diamonds, diamonds… I asked a cocktail attendant if I could get a Super Bird… I had to shout it to her because the place was roaring:

“Can I get a Super Bird!?”

“A super what?”

“Never mind glory devotchka, I’ll just get room service.”

She looked at me like I was some kind of Fellini film-watching freak and walked off shaking her head, shaking her glass body, shaking her heroin-filled heart and guts.

I saw someone’s wedding ring glistening atop a pink urinal cake in the men’s room of the bar, I thought of all that love pissed on as I looked up and stared at the star-spangled jangled ceiling; some drunk dudes came in and asked me if I wanted to fight, I told them to “zip it” as I zipped it, flushed, threw my pink-stained soul into one of the punks, he fell, I walked out, back into the fuzzy bar, five more $17 dollar shots and then upstairs to my suite for a good puke, some food and sitting down to write about it.

Hollywood ordered some vision, but mine was all but a blur, tapping pen on pad, 3 a.m. fury vs. valium walk, then took play chalk from my bag and I started writing on the walls–something I had always wanted to do—IN BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. LIPSTICK RED, MANIAC RED, SUNSET HEART RED:

Love her madly, love her madly, love her madly, love her like nothing else matters, love her like tomorrow may never come, love her like a bomb without war, love her until all is said and done. I am outside myself, my head is over there, my torso hanging from the ceiling, my legs are buried in the walls, there is real country dark and the sounds of water slapping shore on the tip of Emerald Land, curled up lonely in my gray Navy coat, tossing thoughts and memories to the sea, the yellow flowers a perfect contrast against the steely water as they float like a baby. I’m listening for the dead heart girl to call back, tell me about it all, the history, the afterlife, and she spits a salt-tainted kiss, cold, makes me shake and bake. I walked into the mirror and saw the world behind me, the beautiful people greased over by the ugly ones, Sunday peacocks stuffing dynamite beneath the thrones of twisted and vicious kings.

“How does that explosion taste? Want another and another and another. It’s what we do best ya know.”

“So why do you spend money to kill, when you could spend money to heal?”

“We are heartless, greedy maniacs with no proper sense of moral direction. Don’t ya know?”

“I don’t much care for your brand of life,” and I walked across the whole of the ocean, to Bath, to take a bath and get bent to it at Public House numero uno with salty dudes and fish ‘n’ chip chicks covered in lavender tattoos and smiles like perfect summer night. I sat for a while, watching and listening, tacked to the wall like a famous dandelion, and when I was done with peaceful crucifixion, I dropped off, dropped out.

When I get back to my hovel on Titshire, I see the small stack of Christmas cards left unopened for three years. I flip through the lopes, toss aside, toss aside, toss aside; for whatever they have to say in there means nothing now, it would be all different now, it would be the opposite, panting hearts now thrown into reverse, damaging the love engine, black smoke, fire, explosion, wandering aimlessly with a concussion and no arms, sunlight reversed, magnified hurt, her skirt still in the closet, some alabaster girl with curtains on her eyes—the place still smells of the lies, lies, lies… close the closet door and the memories squeak, go sit at my favorite table, the one by the window with a view, the sound of loneliness, emptiness is kaboom and pain. And then it’s the rain coming in, the dark, beautiful clouds, like slate-gray cotton candy with muscle, now crying hard over the town and the city, washing away the needless words, dousing the flame in all those lost hearts wandering the wayward paths of some heaven’s pinprick on spinning Earth. All the doors close in one final and infinite swap.