Shards of grass, comatose glass, liquified emotions in a cage of all the rage baked and sliced and handed by. Replicants rest by water drip. Sleeping with window veils pulled wide, the city outside, aglow in its ambers and blues, the steaming hues, the pink bruises, the cottonmouth blooms, the glistening tombs.
Azio turns his head to see. The sleepers are holding him down. A witch arrives in a gong gown, right through the wall she comes, like a whisper in satin. She numbs the air with her voice: “The dreams you’ll need, the dreams you’ll feed…”
There’s leftover coconut cake in the refrigerator. Azio looks at it as it sits on a plate in the overbearing light. He grabs a carton of melk, pours a glass, thinks about shapely ass. He grinds on the coconut with his teeth. It feels good to him. A plate and glass clink. The refrigerator blinks, then says goodnight.
He lies back down, the symphonic band plays in his head. The bed sucks him in like quicksand, the sand man has a noose, “Sleep, forever sleep,” he too whispers with sinister intent. It’s during the night the beings really crawl out from inside his oversized mind to take a bite.
And he remembers riding the snake through High Dallas. The things man has made, he wonders. Or was it men at all? He likes to think not. The machine swayed as it moved on its elliptical course around the city. The people there swayed with it. He recalls the frightened eyes, the dead eyes, the dumb eyes. All the eyes full of lies. He remembers the moving mouths, the lazy legs, the twitching hands, the Easter eggs from outer space.
See, the egg is a symbol of life, Azio thinks in his cyberpunk bed suit. He turns to look at the invisible her. “Why don’t you ever want me?” he confesses. She’s 100 billion miles away, running through a green meadow together, hand-in-hand, with a perfect robot. The insomnia devils stab at him with red pitchforks now. They torture him with these scenarios of lust on a ship. A buttered orgy ensues.
Alabaster eggplants frolic in a purple haze. Munchkins drop acid and watch Wizard of Oz repeatedly until one jumps out a window. Wood gnomes with shotguns play patriots on the streets of D.C. The world looks at them and laughs. Sharpie abusers make cardboard signs declaring freedom and love. Love? Love runs rampantly abused. There is no such thing as a pair of dice. Las Vegas doldrums, sadness in a sea of glitter and gold. The tin man walks against the tide, his metal hide, the mental ride, rising, like Calypso. He feels sick to his stomach and vomits nails. He’s so visual yet so invisible. All those magnetic eyes stuck to the rides, plowing the sleigh bells, the conch shells, halls of injustice carpeted in velvet and blood. The soul ship arrives, to take us on a ride, to the other side.
His heart is dwindling, his skin is splitting, magic means nothing. He has a heroin sandwich for lunch on the 32nd floor. The room is quiet except for the soft whirr of an invisible A/C unit. He steps out onto the veranda, looks over the edge, the city roars, there’s wild boars, mandible monsters pound the pavement, the invisible man falls… No one even sees the crash. It’s all madness walking over and clockwork cuckoo skins. The fountains spray jest, the endless hallways cradle the wild, the wind, the sin, the ever-flowing gin. There’s sonic bathhouses and orbital areolas, Italian soda kisses that send some to Kingdom Come.
Flight patterns are all nonsense now, like sauerkraut rainbows, mint gravy, acidic donuts, laundry detergent made by skunks. The wires are so loose, obtuse, full of fruit juice. Here we go. The whore canals swell in their suits of lies, another tried and died, another tear-filled sky, standing on the deck of the wet city, the rain finally flies to wash away all the deliberate unlove.
And now there are men who think they are animals, and they pay to live in a glass cube at the zoo…
When one gazed into the room, his eyes were like little red lights… Little traffic lights they were, in that bloom of darkness. But when he stepped out of that darkness some, his eyes then turned green, as if fireflies were bouncing around inside his head and peering out the eye holes. And when he finally came full into the light, he would blink madly, and his eyes took on a golden glow. It’s because he’s an animal. It’s because he’s a human animal, a man who lives in a cage at the zoo. The sign outside his enclosure reads: The Zodiac Salamander. He’s an amphibious being with fire for feelings.
Cat food chaos envelops the world, the morning, the night, the knights of the trapezoid table. Maximum fluoride, ambient chloride, synthetic metropolis, a glimpse from the cage. He sees the eyes stare back at him, the monkey grins, the Karen chagrins, the popcorn tossers and word salad snipers. The girl cracks the skin of a banana, takes one lonely bite, throws what remains at him to see if he’ll play chimp. Gimp. Shrimp. A wholly cocktail to turn him different colors. The sky is a blue sheet of frosting, the clouds twisted puffs of cream, he lives in a dream, a chocolate fountain by his bed, a loaded gun to take off his head.
The purple bus steams as it waits, passengers fidget in the queue, he watches as it pulls away toward a desert moon, a wandering bride swallows a monsoon. He’s satiated where he stays, the curtains of his command center are frayed…
“Why can’t I be just like everyone else?” he asked himself as he stood before a circular mirror inside the Gilligan hut that stood inside the larger enclosure. “Because I don’t want to be like everyone else,” he answered his own question. “I’m not merely a man, I’m a man who’s an animal… I’m animalistic. I am extreme. See how my eyes glow?”
The Zodiac Salamander got on a black telephone attached to one wall of the hut and pressed some square numbers. “Hello, central operations? It’s the human animal again. Say, when am I going to get some hot prey to mount? Isn’t it mating season yet? Can someone bring me the menu?”
He paused as someone on the other end of the line spoke.
“Uh huh. Right. I understand. Not too many willing participants? Now I don’t understand… Uh, huh. Right. Society frowns upon human breeding experiments at a zoo facility?”
Again, he paused as someone on the other end of the line spoke.
“Well, surely you can find some wandering aimless babe looking for a good time. My hanging fruit is ripe and full and I’m about to blow a packet of seed. So, when you do, let me know. Thanks.” He set the receiver back upon its cradle. “Damn society and all its correctness despite all its ill repute. This societal schism is giving me mental illness.”
The zoo wasn’t a big city zoo in a well-known place. It was a small zoo out on the edge of a brutal southwestern town on the fringes of the mad desert. The animal animals were limited to the usual small-town zoo fare plus various creatures that were native to the region. The Zodiac Salamander was neighbor to foxes, coyotes, a black bear, bison, devil snakes, lizards, icky spiders, evil goats, a long-horn steer, brooding vultures, and a passionate mountain lion.
After watching the movie Taxi Driver—his favorite—for the 919th time, the Zodiac Salamander stepped out from his hut and into the open air of the enclosure. He liked taking time to look up at space before he went down for the night. The jagged universe tossed back its grand array of colors and shapes and the milk of the Milky Way spilled and ran down across the faces of all the stars and other celestial objects.
It was just then that a small, gray man came into view beneath the light of the moon. The Zodiac Salamander sniffed the air. “Cliff? Is that you, Cliff? Cliff old boy?”
The man stepped forward to reveal his true self. “It’s me. How are you tonight?”
He sighed a painful sigh. “I’m lonely, Cliff. They’re not bringing me any women to mount. I have needs, Cliff. I have animalistic urges.”
“I suppose they haven’t found a proper mate yet,” Cliff answered. He scratched at his head. “These things take time, but I’ll see what I can do.”
“You’re a good egg, Cliff, and my favorite zookeeper.”
Cliff looked up at the stars. “Do you ever consider the sheer vastness of space?” he asked.
The Zodiac Salamander followed his track up to the heavens. “All the time.”
“Yet we toil with such meaningless wonders here on Earth. For instance,” Cliff pointed out to him. “My greatest worry is not being left alone or the fate of my everlasting soul… It’s will I be able to afford the rent or be able to buy enough food or keep the lights on. Isn’t that just such a terrible way for a man to have to be?”
The Zodiac Salamander nodded his head in agreement. “That’s why I’ve chosen to live how I live. My only true concerns are of a deep and primitive nature. I let the world out there worry itself to death. I mean, what can I do it about it. My hands are tied.”
Cliff tapped at his fuzzy gray head. “It can make a man go insane. We weren’t meant to live like this, yet here we are, living like this.”
“Sounds like you need to mount some female prey, Cliff. You’re wound tighter than a toy top.”
Cliff laughed at that suggestion. “I’m afraid my mounting days are over.”
The Zodiac Salamander frowned at the thought of the same thing happening to himself one day.
“Well,” Cliff said. “I need to finish my rounds. Unless I do myself in, I’ll be back at the crack of dawn’s early light to hose you down.”
What am I anymore? Some days I feel like a rock, other days I feel like a cloud full of rain. At times the heartbeat hurts, and I just want to go to space and be all alone. Then the clock chimes a certain time like a line in the sand, and all I want is to be turned up against her. I think she’s missing because I can’t find her anymore. I thought maybe I left her in the closet with the light turned on and a plate of food, but when I went to look, the light was off, and she wasn’t there. The plate was empty, though.
Maybe she took off to Florida like she always talked about. She wanted to live in Orlando so she could be near the dwarves. I never understood why I was never good enough for her. I suppose in the end it really doesn’t matter that much. She took off without me. Everyone takes off without me.
Somehow, I ended up on a jet plane headed west and I was wandering around the airport in Las Vegas. I had one suitcase. I got a cab and had the driver take me to The Cosmopolitan. I wanted to be up in the cosmos, the 37th floor, so I could soar to the stars and dive down into an infinity pool to find infinity.
The Goldilocks were all dressed in red and champagne and everyone was so good at making noise. Las Vegas is such a noisy place and that’s why they build the hotels so tall so the people who are afraid of the noise can find some solace up in the clouds, the flip threat atmosphere climb is always a good one.
I wandered around in Caesar’s Palace, but I never met the emperor. I bought beer after beer from a vending machine doctor. Mimes in white with pointy hats and red mouths smiled so strangely whenever I came near. I was surprised there were so many kids running around. I thought this was a playground for adults. Matters of life just don’t matter anymore.
I was lying in bed and looking out the big window at the sparkly darkness when someone came pounding on the door. My heart went psycho in my chest, and I had to clutch my own breast to make it settle. I put on one of the big white fluffy bathrobes they give you and went to the door. I noticed all the hair had fallen out of my legs, and now it was falling out of my chest and my arms, too. No one was there. It was all in my crazy head again.
I’m always falling in one way or another and I just don’t understand. I can’t keep up the pace that life demands of us. I just want to sit down for five fucking minutes. But the machine doesn’t let me. The machine always runs—29 hours a day, 13 days a week, 904 weeks a year. Time is all nonsense now, like purple wine in a gravity-free cathedral. Jesus and his sex dolls are just spinning aimlessly. Space is space and space is seemingly infinite but where exactly is this infinite space? Maybe it’s all in my head.
I stepped out onto the veranda and watched the city glow and explode and ignite and withdraw and scream and cry and finally never say goodbye. I saw a helicopter float atop the dome-like glow of the city. I watched it land on top of a building. It was a high square building with a gigantic H on it. H for hospital. H for hang in there. H for hallelujah. H for help.
I walked into the gilded sterile box and climbed aboard an elevator for the ninth floor. It released me onto a shimmering corridor with countless doors. I walked along and looked in the rooms there. I saw sad people, I saw lonely people, I saw people visiting with loved ones and they were only now just loved ones because death was near. I found a room that was empty, and I climbed up into the bed. I played with the controls. I switched on the TV. I waited for a visitor, but no one ever came. Before I fell asleep, I thought about what might happen to me the next day. It’s all I had because everything else was void and gone. I finally closed my eyes and went to space. There I found her on one of Saturn’s 145 moons. She was beautiful, beyond beyond.
Every day is merely a little rock in a big sea see this philosophy came to me from a glance through a window a curtained kitchen window with the tang of street lights burrowing through woooooo and the ride takes off … don’t paddle swim to the nearest point that is your heart all these paths we twist and turn for patriotic bliss a stranger’s kiss lemon drops on the moon pea-shooting gypsies feeling for a fresh, new vein gypsies flying to California seeking a mad hideaway beneath the pulse of it all the pulse of the freeways the pulse of the helicopters hovering above you in the sky naked and quaking the jewels get the spotlight and suddenly the curtains close and the wind sways your hurt so elegantly … The piano walked softly from beyond the pillars of salt there was someone standing on the edge and the notes were begging him to hold on for just one more day for just one more little rock in a big sea … and he hoped to send her roses through the mail or in a pail which he would set at her feet and forever carpet every step she would take with honor and love with compassion for her dreams with a hard, warm place to rest her head every night and he would shatter every glass slipper for none would fit her so well as my kiss on her brow my kiss on her teardrop which he would swallow as his own … forevermore. And he sits on the little rock in the big sea everyday crushing glass slippers in his fingers and damning the size of this majestic sea.
I felt the breath of God in Santee by the shores of Lake Marion the spiders like aliens weaving webs the size of quilts white and silk tapestries of insect thread jungle creatures with big, black eyes and I looked to the sky overcast and clouds a boiling the wind blew through the treetops knocking the leftover rains from their leaves the brush as thick as terminal cancer in the lungs and the lonely breeze whispered help me please as I walked on down the road
And the green was everywhere the breath of God cooling my veins and I strain to find meaning in every pulse I strain to find meaning in my mind my dreams my sleep my pain my rage love
And the deepest green was still everywhere the chalky tracks of the dirt road looked like baby powder on the tires of my burnt-out ride and I ran I ran up the road into the tunnel of trees the verdant canopy of angels God’s leafy cherubism cradling the path of my life and I ran down the road back into the sun breathing hard And spitting blood and I preached to the stones the sky the trees the weeds the birds love
And it felt fine beneath the cloaked sun the fireball veiled in churning clouds it felt good for a change to be amongst the rural world the rural South the old man rocking on his front porch just breathing in the vapors of heavy vegetation and peace
I rolled with the marbles toward home ice chips in the eyes, the work of romantic elves destiny forever on the dash, beyond the cracked windshield.
The chariots rode into town blaring trumpets and waving spider webs like white, cotton kites and the soldier watched the cheering crowd all smiling with blood on their teeth and scriptures dripping from their curled fists and the soldier felt as empty as wind when he jumped off the back and made his way through the blistering crowd their eyes vacant, their hearts rattling with ice everyone was like a bee sting clawing and banded amber jewels wearing spears and hammocks on their backs in which to swing above a lazy flower before the dark stones fall from the sky and Jesus is riding a missile spreading handfuls of love dust across the widening gap of mankind and he plants the point of the missile right into the dirt lot of the Cactus Gin a splintering roadhouse joint on a desert road a long, spindly caramel kiss warmed and running across the bourbon asphalt the mellow yellow of factories glows like a foggy harbor veiled in red velvet and the broken bulbs of the Cactus Gin marquee still flash, the craggy edges are crusted black the little heartbeat light flickers like a sick Christmas tree and inside… floating malnutrition backward evolution noise pollution
And the son of God ordered a whiskey and smiled at the people he created as they danced and fought and loved, cried and laughed and ached… to the slow grind of a melancholy jukebox and he brought with him an angel one with a rhombus head and stunted wings and the angel was singing the grief of all she suffered on her leash and a weepy guitar began to groan in the corner Jesus was singing a song about peace and love and the congregation began to throw beer bottles at him and Jesus spoke into the mic… “Oh great. Here we go again.” But he took the blows with harmony, nibbled the glass between his teeth as he sang weaving tanglewood hopes through the vibrating cave.
And the madness began to settle as he curled before the window the soldier was home but shaking he was upset about the killing he had done his wife a dozen miles away on sleepers the children were slaves the plays were robbing their minds of any moral foundation the madness had spun out of control to the point of consensual acceptance like morphine in your I-V the slow drip of horror shows gone real and fishing down by the river was no longer notated in the wired almanac as simply two boys and a bucket of worms a shingle thatched roof crowning a famous whitewashed bait and tackle shop glows in the background like a slice of warm care or apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top cinnamon showgirls lifting their skirts and squirting you with a city sweet… that’s life with those eyes, what is this undecipherable want?
There is order There is disorder There are purgative drugs And there are clouds to sleep on
It was a day that was easy to dance to It had a beat and a really good rhythm with the angel ship standing there like she was some great gift slipped directly from God’s palms and she didn’t even begin to sing she just stood there a microcosm a star a California thread beating down my doors with her eyes and a long highway lust stretched as taut as the yellow line from which she had just begun the long-toed tip toe with valleys of grain whipping by her temples fast as light and she waved goodbye to her scar tissue as it flew out the window and died in the past for now all she had before her was the whitest milk and the blackest nights snuggling a cold mattress reeling in the chill of it all as does he
My chorus ran through the checkpoint my liver was aching something fierce on that Arizona wideband that Calypso horizon swimming like a fish across the rusty pinnacles sprinkled with salt and I dreamt of snuffing it and devil tattoos calling to me from the other side and I begged for the lush of some green island adventure with vodka and bright vegetables canopies on wheels and jalopies with no steel a theater show for the man on his homemade bed peering out a broken window watching all the wealth rain down on him and he was indeed the meek and all he wanted anymore was to inherit the Earth she being queen sun and he being king moon and he would lay out carpets of stars for her so she could step over the puddles of empty space ever so elegantly and precious like a newborn baby kept clean and pure behind a bell jar of kaleidoscopic glass
He stepped on the white, feathery scorpion and it played the tune of a harp when it squealed and he wondered if he were in Heaven rolling snake eyes and sin across green velvet lawns sprinkled by the belch of a crisp hose he pondered fame he pondered glitter he pondered perfection and the price you pay for not living what you feel when all is a cool, light, tapping reverberation and your soul feels as empty as some wicker basket beside a raging river run dry think of the music inside you think of what smells good think of letting go and feeling for once with that wrecked soul
He was playing a baby grand cigar crunched between his teeth the whole of NYC bouncing around in his eyes and he looked around at the clean carpet and all his plush interior and he felt as dirty as a slaughtered lamb he was too cold to think and too hot to cool down with ice he was wrapped up in all the fornication society was performing in front of him and he climbed out the window and started to fly like some great bird startled free from a bush all around the world he soared like a rollercoaster of flesh and all he saw was her standing there with her small feet planted firmly on the long, yellow line
He dropped the porcelain figure on the highway it was crushed by large wheels and scattered amongst the tacky asphalt and cryptic road kill so he knew now it would be a mad journey to hell and back with an English girl and an American man and he rolled her on the dandelions in some London park and they ate squares of cool, orange Jell-O making glasses out of them and seeing the world through a wobbly, blood-stained sepia glaze the antiqued film made them sentimental the statues and cobblestone had a look like one would find on Mars not the planet, but the god’s personal person and he pulled out a slide and the world was indeed an orange hue and the English girl and the American man never wanted to leave London in the summertime
And he steered his teary-eyed red rabbit near Joseph City, Arizona gunning it hard toward Gallup and the museum of green pharmaceuticals but the meditation gave him a vision
Like a small film painted on the cold, white wall of a motel room and this particular film taught him about writing letters and the waste of getting wasted because he knew the angel would return in one form or another and she’d be happily holding out a plastic platter filled with jars of glass eyes swimming like fireflies
Castaways, in some bruised Irish sky.
Aaron Echoes August
An online journal of fiction, essays, and social commentary.