Born on the Fourth of the Flies

In a pink and salty green desert town in one of the new states, adobe Spanish churches thrust their steeples heavenward, the tips vaporously scraping against the cold blue veil and its cotton-ball clouds glued there like a childhood art project about life.

Down one of the hot, dry, and murderous streets named Olive, a man sits in a flat white house with a carport watching a movie about the Vietnam War. The police are across the way in the gutter drawing a chalk outline around a bent and defeated body.

A woman suddenly steps out of the shadows and into the room where the man is watching the movie and rudely wants to know, “What are we going to have for supper then…? Since you’re being so moody and antisocial.”

He pauses the war movie, sighs, and says to her without looking at her, “It’s called dinner.”

“Not where I come from.”

“Then go back to where you came from,” he snaps, and starts the movie again.

“I think we should go to the family cookout. It’s the 4th of July. Don’t you want to celebrate our wonderful country?”

Annoyed, he thrusts a thumb into the pause button on the remote. “It’s called a fry out.”

“What?” she mockingly laughs. “A fry out? You’re not frying anything. That’s just stupid.” She waits for a reaction.

“What the hell are you going to celebrate?” he wants to know.

“Um, America… The greatest country on the planet – our freedom, our liberty, our justice for all, our way of life that God has blessed us with.”

He scoffs, laughs for a moment. “I don’t want to be around people,” he says. “Especially those people.”

“My family!?”

“Yes. They’re annoying and fake.” He restarts the movie, and a jungle is carpet bombed in a blaze of orange overflowing balls of burning fire and light.

“Could you at least turn that crap off while I’m trying to talk to you!” she yells, hands on hips. There’s gunfire spewing from a dark green helicopter. Then the screen suddenly goes dark. “Thank you,” she says. “And my family is wonderful. They’re wonderful people.”

“They hate me.”

“Of course, they do. You’re a loser, and they don’t like losers.”

The man gets up out of his chair, goes to the large picture window, and pulls the curtain aside. “Did you see that someone else has been killed?”

She goes to the dining room table and rummages through her overstuffed purse looking for her car keys. “It’s no wonder, considering the neighborhood you force us to live in because of your inability to succeed in this world. When are you going to get a real job so that we can live somewhere better? That house next to my parents is still for sale. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if we could buy it?”

“There’s a dead guy lying in the street,” the man reminds her.

She scoffs. “I don’t care. It’s probably just another one of those damn immigrants that come here to strain the system, commit crimes, and steal our jobs… A job you should have!” She makes her way to the door. “This is America, not Mexico.”

“You’re leaving?” he asks her.

“I’m going to my parents’ house. We’ll celebrate our freedom without you.”


When the movie is over, the man removes the videotape from the VCR and replaces it in its box. He walks out of the house and locks the door. Across the street, a black body bag is being loaded into a white van. A cop turns to look at him. The man turns away and starts to walk. It’s late afternoon.

As he makes his way through the neighborhood of sad houses and old trees, people are in the street cheerfully hopping around exploding firecrackers, waving sparklers in the air, and sending bottle rockets into the sky. Someone has a round grill set out in their driveway. A man wearing a tee-shirt with the words BBQ, Beer, and Freedom emblazoned on the front is flipping burgers in a cloud of smoke. “Hey mister, you want a burger?” he asks the man clutching the videotape box.

“No thank you. I have to get to the video store.”

“Well, surely you have time for some delicious Freedom fries?”

“No thanks. I must be on my way.”

The man flipping the burgers is immediately offended. “Seriously? Don’t you want to celebrate America?”

“Not really.”

“Huh? Are you some kind of socialist asshole?”

“I think you mean communist.”

“What? It’s the same damn thing.”

“Actually… Never mind. I need to get to the video store before they close.”

“Do whatever the hell you want, traitor. I’m going to have myself a delicious burger and enjoy my freedom! Whoooo yeah! America!”


The man stood in line at Silver Screen video. The place was annoyingly crowded. When it finally came to his turn at the counter, the man set the videotape down and looked at the clerk. “I would like to return this video, and… Would you have any movies about the French Revolution?”

The clerk looked at him, puzzled and smacking gum. “The French Revolution?”

“Yes.”

The clerk scratched at his head and looked around the busy store. “Uh. I don’t think so… But hey, what about Days of Thunder? We just got it in.”

“Days of Thunder?”

“Hell yeah,” the clerk said. “It’s got Tom Cruise in it and there’s race cars and hot chicks and all kinds of cool shit. It’s really good, and a true celebration of the American spirit.”

“I don’t think so,” the man said.

“Why not?” the clerk wanted to know, hurt and suspicious. “You don’t believe in the spirit of America?”

“Not really.”

“Then get the hell out of my store and don’t come back!” the clerk yelled, and he pointed his big finger toward the door.

“What? Why?”

“Because you don’t believe in the spirit of America and that’s bullshit, man! Only true Americans are allowed to rent videos here. Now get out!”


When the man got back home, he walked across the street and looked at the asphalt. The chalk outline of the body was still fresh. There were splotches of blood within the lines. The cops were all gone. Everyone was gone. The street was hot and empty. He glanced across the way at the crappy house he lived in.

He unlocked the front door and went inside. It smelled musty. An air conditioner achingly whirred. He walked around the dark house, went into all the rooms. The place was a mess. Unopened boxes and piles of clothes and paper littered nearly every horizontal space. He went to the kitchen and began to work on cleaning up the mound of stinky, dirty dishes in the sink. Halfway through he stopped. He suddenly became seriously depressed about the state of his life and the world he lived in. It came on like a bolt of lightning and froze his bones and mind.

He made his way to the living room chair he called home within his home. He sat down in the silence and pointed the remote at the boxy TV. The screen filled with a snowy static. He tried to change the channel but every single one, all 57 of them, were the same – snowy static, and that low fuzzy buzz that went with it.

The man just sat there for a long time, falling into a catatonic daze, broken only by a sudden and frantic knock. His heart was pounding when he jumped up and went to the door. He pulled it open and there was a tall man with white hair dressed in a suit and a top hat, all resembling the American flag.

“Yes. Can I help you?”

The tall man with the white hair and dressed like the American flag spread his arms out in front of him in an imitation of fanfare, a gesture of ta-da. “It’s me!” the patriotic man exclaimed. “I’m Sam. Uncle Sam!”

“I thought you were just a made-up creature,” the man straightforwardly said. “Like Christopher Columbus.”

“Well, that’s just foolish,” Uncle Sam said. “I’m real!”

“What do you want?”

“Well, a little birdy told me you were being pretty glum about the 4th of July. I’ve come to cheer you up and help you realize what a wonderful day it is.”

“Don’t waste your time. It’s my least favorite holiday.”

Uncle Sam sighed in quick defeat, and then stepped inside the house without an invite. He took off his hat and held it in a headlock as he slowly studied the messy home. “You need a housekeeper,” he said. He moved closer to the man, looked around to make sure they were definitely alone, and then spoke to him in a secret whisper. “I’ve got a gal I can recommend. Don’t say anything to anybody… She’s kind of under the radar if you get my drift. See, she’s from Guatemala, but does a hell of a job for me. A hell of a job. And she’s cheap. Do you mind if I sit down?”

“No. You can take my wife’s chair. She probably won’t be back… Ever.”

The two sat there, quiet, and just thinking about life, dust dancing in the toasted beams of end-of-day light now fingering its way in through a slit in the curtains. They could hear fireworks popping outside in the neighborhood. Dogs were barking. Children were screaming with joy. Police sirens wailed in the distance.

 The man glanced over at Uncle Sam. “I think your beard is scary,” he said.

Uncle Sam returned the glance and humbly smiled and nodded his head. “I know. I was made to be scary.”

END

Things to do in Denver when you’re hip and super fresh

And what I mean by that is…
The mercury red was dripping through the lights of the
downtown bars – it was blood running through
rainbows
and icy chalices clinking with the rhythm of this night
beat,
the smoke curled its fist and whirled on out into the
streets –
we were looking for things to do in Denver
and we were most definitely hip and super fresh.
The sky was dark, wet and gray
the rain was coming down in spittles,
and the cold beacons burst forth from the skyline
towers
and we breathed exponentially as we shook with cold
outside the place
where the band was playing hard and loud
and the women were drugged up tight,
they were all looking for a fight
erotic clashes in unfamiliar bedrooms
searching for the light switch
in some unfamiliar hall…
and we wandered, Soledad the sailor and I,
into the billiards parlor on the corner
where all Christmas shopping
was kicked to the curb
and mean looking men
were grasping sticks and swearing and swilling beer

So we caught two seats at the bar
and were lost in the noise
when something caught our attention
a brooding and bulbous man with wispy hair, atop a head shaped like a golden pear

He was clutching a magnet and a metal clam
reciting poetry all nonsense
something Spanish and insanely divine
about Albuquerque and nutty Nob Hill
and the love he held for well-groomed dolls
and it was a whacked-out scene
and we wondered, Soledad and I,
if we had shot ourselves up
with some mad horror show voodoo
and simply had forgotten…
but it was all real
as the man shed his black leather jacket
and made his way confidently
to the smoky stage, under scattered lights
and stood before a crowd who ignored him,
and so he tapped the mic with a hint of nervous fear
and began to speak…
“and what I mean by that is …”
and it went on and on from there,
like someone had plugged him in a bit too long,
his fiber optic cables all juiced up
and so the incessant talk came on like a flood
about the place he loved
and the games he dug
and the restless nights that drove him to kill…

So Soledad and I just sat there at the bar
sipping our Parrot Bay rums
watching the stitched up 5-minute idol
rant and rave
and his tsunami of words
followed us out the door and down the streets
and we rejuvenated our mission
to find things to do in Denver when you’re hip — and super fresh
Soledad wanted to climb a tower,
I wanted to find an all-night bakery
when from out of a crack in the buildings came a flash,
because we were hip,
we were super fresh
and we had become immaculate icons
of this new human race,
we could no longer afford to walk,
we had to run…

We had hoped to have some orange apples fall from
the sky
but all we met up with were detour signs
it went suddenly backward to Halloween
and we thought Denver was playing a trick on us
but we liked it anyway
so we tripped it to some mad cathedral
on this eerie hill in the middle of town
it was this great spire
of grass and rock and trees and torn down fences
and from this vagrant, fragrant vantage point
we could see a million trillion lights
all bubbling up from the floor of this town
and for a second we didn’t feel lonely
we felt hip and super fresh
as we found things to do in Denver
and then something somewhere
suddenly came with a burst of singing
and it was like some mad hipster
had broken free from his cell
and was bellowing forth
every ache he had ever felt…

So we stayed on that hill
not really talking,
but rather dreaming of what our lives would be like —
tomorrow
and we were afraid of the sorrow that might come
but then we realized we couldn’t worry about that
because somehow, some way,
life works itself out
and whether or not we would be strung up with
diamonds
or drown in the yellow dust
we were here right now in Denver
and damn we were hip and super fresh.


Albuquerque French Fries

The mountains in Albuquerque are to the east. In most places I’ve lived, they were to the west. I always found that to be a bit strange, but maybe it’s not. But I was on the east side of Albuquerque, close to the mountains, when I was suddenly struck with an insatiable desire for French fries.

I stopped at some chain diner place and ordered not one, but two baskets of French fries and something to drink, a Coke maybe, I can’t remember, it being such an odd and weird time in this life.

I was in Albuquerque for no particular reason. I had been in some cheap corporate place of lodging the night before. I just remember staring out over the lights of the city; there had been a lot of blue, not amber so much, as I had expected — blue, desert lights — and I was hungry for action as I smoked cigarettes and drank bottled beer.

It was a mighty funny feeling not really knowing why I was in Albuquerque at that particular time. I just wanted to get away from the doldrums of it all, back in some place suspiciously called HOME, but not really being home at all, but even so, there had been no action to be found after all. It was just a bunch of lazy driving through another American charade parade. Honking and Howitzers, springboard diving into hard cement, cold dreams, loneliness… the constant… loneliness… strumming the walls of white-walled malls, walking among the living dolls swinging handled bags of Chinese crap as they smiled those fake plastic smiles to the point the heavy makeup nearly cracked and fell to the ground — and me, up and down escalators, elevators, in and out of parking spaces from another dimension, and there was the smell and the sun and all the Native American motif fizzing like digging it science-fiction sabers… And then a bookstore, where I could breathe, meld into words and covers, fondling spines as I walked the rows among the ink bleeders and readers, wives with glasses, wives with hair pulled back into a tight tail, with the kind of head that you could palm like a tender melon as she let loose in your very own lap — the luxury of Saturn’s dew and doom—  loving it, living it, bent to it, stardust whispers scraping across the firmament like the cloud-studded smile of a stranger now wiping at her mouth with a scratchy, white motel towel, high-heeled remnants of lipstick-stained cigarette butts in some cheap amber ashtray on the bedside table, the one right next to the three-quarter drained bottle of voodoo juice purchased at some Nob Hill poison joint.

And I ate those French fries slow and alone, looking out the bug greasy window at the traffic all piled up and trying desperately to move. All them peoples frantically working away their lives just to live for a couple days a week, a couple weeks a year — “you’re all fucking slaves to the system” I said to the fries and then I knew the batty waitress was going to call the cops on me, so I left her a nice big, fat tip and told her “I was never here, you didn’t see nothing,” and then I ran out the door and I started to drive again.

I rattled around Q-Town, aimlessly, again, searching for meaning, searching for enlightenment so often talked about — where was it? I ended up near the Sunport. I just parked somewhere under the sun and just watched planes come and go, people come and go, everyone in such a damn hurry to get to nowhere, in such a hurry to just wait, to be strip searched, to be violated in a windowless room. It was hot, I rolled down the windows, I sucked on oil cans of Australian limeade, that’s Australian for lemonade, good drink, and I wondered, what’s Australian for Albuquerque? There were no super fresh and hip boomerangs or two-step your dead snakes lumbering along Indian School Road… And that’s where I almost bought a condominium, townhouse maybe, but it made me think too much of childhood and milk and that made me sad. I suppose, childhood’s end right out there tip-toeing on the double yellow line as mad dashers come whizzing by that do not mention your soul in those radio prayers bleeping forth from plush dash… Awe, money man and your senseless soul, look at the trees once in a while, get out of this neon cave and get lost for once in your fucking digitized life, smoke a little sky, eat a little dirt, breathe in the sun and let the sunflowers puke forth. Man, you are becoming machine. You are being eaten alive by throngs of numbers, nonsense, nocturnal Novocain in the batty cave.

774 Central Refreshment House — more juice required. Cocoa Puffs and milk and Milky Way wayward hanging out by the sea of Sandia. Drunk on 233 Insomnia Street with some invisible chick named Glory, Glory Hollywood Boom Boom in a blue dress and tattooed bed sheets all covered in shiny pistols and white daisies. She wonders why I sit there, on the edge of the bed, shirtless, my back curved like a bell jar, staring out the window, the widow ghost traces my scars with cold fingertips, like a map of downtown Boston, they run down and all around, some mad parade of direction all haywire, I have some seizure via Heaven’s reach, she tries to calm me with something on fire, it’s getting yellow outside, there is maybe crying inside, but not out here, not where shit is real and man be cold, and the record needle digs into the vinyl and Native American mystic music comes pouring out like I was liquid in some wigwam in the parking lot of the neon green Gallup pharmacy where the witch doctors freeze you up before you take that freedom walk, that vision quest that leaves your eyes white and wide as you kick at dead America with the toe of your most trusted boot and simply look away.


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Shimmer Machine

Shimmering Lake Michigan – Wisconsin / A. Aldous Cinder

The shimmering quake of sky light pushes tender needles through the bones and stomach nerves on a sunny day in Central Time Land there by the small sea of bloodied turquoise — no sand, no pails, no twisted ankles, just twisted eyes with bottles of wine tears soaking the pockets of my outdated plaid, flannel shirt.

And I sit and lay still for peace by the shore, then looking behind and up at the small rowboats stacked like bodies at the rim of the bend in the earth. No sailors to sail, no fisherman to fish, no princely addicts to drown in the sun-bleached water so cold and choking… But it’s real peace on a Sunday afternoon of solitude on planet Broke Down Burial Ground, the brown-skinned mummies stirring in the dirt below bellowing about their wild days long ago under the same sun, a hot, yellow white puncture wound throbbing in the mad, blissful sky.

I exhale the soul and shivers down deep inside, think about the miles I climbed, rattling guns shouting from the treetops some place far away. It’s all about diligence and smacking down the suffering on Sea Street by the sea, hopped up on lamp post light, back propped against, head bowed, dark raincoat swatting back the wet chill of England as a precarious carriage rolls by… Where did I leave that damn time machine?

Wander to the Public House for some light of day and wicked sips and ash flicks and bawdy talk with raucous strangers from another planet who keep flipping out about my modern-day garb and the necklaces of Atlantic shells strung about my thick neck and they keep asking me over and over and over again… “Where do you come from? Why, I’ve never heard of that place.”

It’s the tick tock time and time again and I am back on the shore by the Wooldridge Sea throwing bricks at invisible people who keep trampling across my checkered picnic blanket and knocking over my tea and rum and gun. The ribs ache and I do not want the day to end despite the fact the mummies have me in the sights of their bows — high up in the canopy of green doily — a 1952 living room chair made of trees — “Do not get dark, please,” is something like what I say, digging into some pharmaceutical picnic basket, biting in, swallowing down, feeling something illegal scraping at my ribcage, the alarm clock goes wild and I smash it with a hammer then feel bad as I look at the mangled face and I just let the thing die right there in the grass, right in front of me and time stops simply because I was a brute. Standing, thinking, looking out at the shimmer of the sea, thinking and thinking some more, this mind always running so mechanical… “What about this? What about that?

It’s a long way back to the machine, I tenderly bemoan the hike, but what better way to be on a Sunday in the English countryside of American voodoo land? Gather some things, but I do not want to look away from the sedative sky and its hammock light. Sigh, then step, then step again, and then I am away, yet turning to look back, turning for another dose of real heart, real place, feeling the guts turn tidal wave as I reluctantly walk back to the lands of the unreal reality. I do not like it, as I turn the key, and these chains do not do me justice, this being tethered does not suit me, I want to be away, always, shimmering on some lonesome road, all destinations unknown, all destinations surprise and magic.  


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Bong Clerk

I went to the record store on the bad side of town just to check things out. The traffic all mad, crazy, and lazy, some Subaru bimbo ‘bout slayed my ride as she swerved in and out of her lane while talky walking on her celly phone, probably ‘bout shoes and shopping and all that brainless shit so ravenously absorbed by this collective sponge of idiocy.

I pushed my ride through my ol’ stomping grounds… “Yeah, I used to live there, there and there…” the city now bulging at the seams with all these newbies and they roar in here like some California ocean with their big rides and their big money, pissin’ up in another strip mall, another ShitMart, another layer of asphalt, another dull dollhouse of cement and glass where the blockheads can play “office” and get high on Africanized bees.

I pulled into the oily, worn parking lot; it was littered with litter.

I felt a Rikki Tikki Tavi ghost ship cut through my spleen as I walked across the lot and into the shoppe. The place smelled of incense and painted wood and old linoleum and lingering clouds of grass. I noticed they were rearranging the place. The shelves where all the DVDs once lived were now cleared and big signs talked about the place adding a book section in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS… And I thought to myself, BOOKS, finally, a grand idea.

As I lingered about the place whilst the man clerkie who digs the new Taco Bell Doritos taco shell tacos sorted through the goods I was pawning, I couldn’t help but overhear:

“NO, NOT LIKE THIS! IT HAS TO BE LIKE THIS!”

And there was the manager cheeka all yelling at the girl clerkie because she wasn’t arranging the display of bongs correctly.

And she was being a real dog about it too, being all huff and puff and HR Puff N Stuff in the poor girl clerkie’s face. And I felt bad for her when the girl clerkie came around behind the counter in her tightly woven ink on skin. I could tell she was mumbly wumbling nasties under her breath about her uptight bitch boss.  She was all nervous and stressed, probably being a new clerkie and all and she didn’t need this shit from the stuffed sausage cougar with bosoms falling out her top about tidying up big bongs on a glass shelf. She was just trying to make it in her little world in the big world that crunches her down every day because she doesn’t get paid nearly enough to make it these days. And I could see like this mad nuclear bomb all going off in her head and her bourbon brown eyes all turning green and I knew any minute she was going to vagina punch her, but in the end she had to hold it in, because that just wouldn’t be right, vagina punching her boss on her third day in the shoppe and even though I would of liked to seen it, seen that lady grab that hole and fall to the floor — in some kind of agony — it didn’t happen whilst I was there — despair, for the girl clerkie who had to swallow a nuclear bomb just to keep some lousy job that will just kill her in the end anyway.

I took my money from the pawn, and I took my leave and went out into the oily, electric world. The traffic was bulging like an unfortunate ski weekend sausage fest — the kind where you drift off alone. It was hot outside. The sun this big blaring white eye all boiling and roiling and cooking us to pieces down here on Earth. I turned the AC on as I drove back to the other side of town and the place where I stayed at with the old man and his crooked bones. I sailed the long, hot lanes of traffic, across the flatlands, up and over the hills, to the hot, hot hideaway where I endlessly breathe alone.


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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.

The Last Cutting of the Season

A house on Oakley Street burned to the ground early this morning. They say no one was inside the home at the time of the fire – 1 a.m.

“Well, that’s kind of suspicious,” I thought aloud to myself while crawling by in my car.

The house was bursting with blackness. The garage door was melted and curled. Black and sooty streaks lurched out of broken window openings and sang mad songs to the sun-drenched day. The place was surrounded by yellow caution tape. A big ol’ fire truck idled with a rabid purr in the street and men in uniforms sternly addressed the scene.

They said the blaze began in the garage… How? What was the point of ignition and who pulled the trigger?

1 a.m. and no one was home.

Sounds a bit fishy to me.

Maybe I should watch the news because there was a cameraman and a reporter on scene giving us all the ugly details… With a laugh, a glossy smile, a pocketful of poison for the mind.

Could it have been a case of someone out to get some insurance money? Maybe someone lost a job and the bills started piling up. And there it goes – worry turns to frustration and frustration turns to a desperate act.

It’s even more suspicious to me because the house is fairly new. Probably not more than three years old and so I think to myself, logically, that a new house like that shouldn’t have any bad wiring or an old furnace set to blow its guts. No… Everything should be just right, like peach pie… But yet, a fire.

And so it goes, and I don’t know the whole story yet because obviously not enough time has flown by. But as I sit here kind of thinking about it and worrying about the safety of my home, I wonder about their lives now. Did they go and lodge in a hotel? Do they have any fun family to stay with and hang out with and have a good time with? Are they together? Are they crying? Are they a huddled and shivering mash of ash-covered lumpkins weeping beneath the boughs of some old stone bridge?

God… It must be stressful. Yes, the world has unsheathed its sword of stress once again and wielded it against some fine family of pure innocence. But how pure? How innocent, really?

I guess I can’t really say. I suppose I will have to wait for the dumbheads on the TV news to lie about it.

But then again, I never watch the news. I can’t stomach it anymore. And the presentation is just so horrible. A suit and tie are just a suit and tie. Hair grease must make the man. Her face drips with Crayola makeup. Those anchors look so polished and honest and perfectly flawless, so people believe them like they were heavenly News God and follow along with the flock all the way to the edge and off the White Cliffs of Common Sense Grounded in True Morality.

I’ll stick with what I know — getting my info from the dynamic duo at Neighborhood Watch News, right next door. To protect their identity, I’ll call them Hansel and Gretel. Just imagine Hansel and Gretel as ancient beings: Gray, slightly bent, meddlesome, snoopish, nosy, opinionated, and not so full of youthful vinegar anymore.

I was out in my front yard executing the last cutting of the season when Gretel strolled over holding a steaming cup of Sanka and that’s when she dropped the scoop on the house fire.

“I came outside at 1 a.m. and the whole sky was just full of smoke,” she reported. “You should go by and take a look at it. Yeah, it’s pretty bad.”

“I already was.”

“You were there?” she asked with a hint of suspicion.

“I was. And what were you doing up at 1 a.m.?” I questioned her with the same measure of suspicion.

She looked at me and scoffed. “I’m an old woman. I had to use the bathroom… And then I smelled something funny.”

“I bet you did.”

Just then, Hansel yelled out from the front porch.

“Do we still have any of those fresh strawberries in the refrigerator!?”

Gretel sighed and snapped her head in his direction.

“Well, why don’t you go look for yourself then!? You do know where the refrigerator is? Don’t ya?”

She turned back to me with an exasperated look on her face.

“I swear… That man! Sometimes I could just slit his throat!”

I agreed with her of course because, frankly, Hansel can sometimes be a pain in the ass.

“Maybe you should,” I said to her.

There was a brief silence and then we both suddenly laughed.

“I suppose after 48 years of marriage I can put up with his old ass for a while longer,” Gretel said, feigning joy.

I stared at the grass because I was beginning to get bored. It was a shiny green color on the verge of going dull.

“I never see your wife. Why?” Gretel asked.

My eyes knocked back and forth in my head and then slowed upon the red tips of her wooden shoes. I was really high in Colorado. I looked up at her and sort of smiled.

“Because I don’t have one. I’ve already been married — five times. I guess it’s not for me.”

“Five times!? That’s terrible. How can you treat the sanctity of marriage with such a throw-away attitude?” she steamed.

“A few minutes ago, you were ready to slit your husband’s throat,” I replied.

“Well… I would never really do it. I just like to think about it,” she said, closing her eyes and pretending to pray.

“Neither one of us is a saint, Gretel. I don’t bathe in holy water and neither do you,” I said.

She looked up at the periwinkle sky — the clouds collapsed there like sleepy children, or in America, like children gunned down at school — right before summer break. How cowardly you truly are, man with gun. Burn in everlasting hell and then some.

“It’s supposed to rain some more,” she said, and she walked off without saying goodbye and disappeared beyond her front door.

I went back to clipping the edges of my small lawn. It was warm, but I could feel the breath of impending autumn on the back of my neck. The street was fairly quiet save for a few trailing screams of fun and joy bursting forth from the mouths of neighborhood kids down the way. They were wearing candied bullet-proof vests while riding their bikes. A big airplane moaned as it crawled across the sky above me. I watched it until it disappeared. I looked at the clock strapped to my wrist.

“Must be the 11:30 from Denver,” I said aloud to myself.

And where was I?

I was alone, on my knees in the lawn, and everything felt the same except that everything in the entire world was vastly different. When I finished my work, I cleaned up my tools and put them in the garage. I pushed a white plastic button and watched as the automatic door slowly went down and sealed me off from the madness of the world. I went inside the quiet house, locked all the doors, and boiled some corn to have with my lunch alone.