Friday, November 25, 2011

Pieces

There are pieces of me all over the world.
All over the country in different places
with different people. The different people
hold these pieces. Some have cherished them,
some have thrown them away. Some don't
know what to do with them, some take them
out and hold them for a little while and put
them away. Some pieces are large, some pieces
are quite small. Some pieces are incredibly
tiny, and it seems at times that pieces of my
heart, my body, my mind, my soul add up
to being more than that which is me, that which
still breathes, and talks.

That makes new friends and leaves more
pieces and doesn't try to catch them as they
fall, but lets them fall like leaves or pine cones
or lets them fly like seed pods and hope that they
land some place safely. And of the me that I am,
and of these pieces which I can no longer claim
in three cites now, I am present. In so many lives
they wonder where I am, where I've gone, why it
seems so appropriate only to see me in passing,
to say hi or just pass on by. As if I still lived there,
as if I were always there among them, my friends,
and what a joy when someone on some day is
carrying a piece of me and they embrace me
and they try to find where exactly the piece they
have came from, and put it back where it belongs
so I can feel it again before letting them take it
back to go on their merry way with yet another
little piece that's all theirs, so that now they may
have two.

And when I come home I am alone again, my
remaining pieces safe, and I can't count how many
there are, and I can't count how many have been
lost, broken, stolen, or given away. But I can
count these people who I call my friends and lovers,
who I still love who are spread out in so many places
who must feel some change int he air pressure
when I come back, who perhaps reach out to touch
me and hope that i have not left yet again.

I am not selfish with myself, and I give my pieces away
freely, but how nice it would be I wonder to have all
of these pieces in one place, not all mine but that belong
to someone else who can count them all, who knows where
all of them belong. Someone, who keeps them all
together, big and small in a cupboard like a glass menagerie
of fragments that all fit together just right, and some how
add up to make another me, a better me, a sweeter me.
And how nice if I could hold their pieces, some one who's
been there the whole time, who knows that their pieces
are safe with me.

And some times, when we come together,
all our places where our missing parts belong fit together
just right, or all of my people in all of my places come to
see me all at one time and put me back together piece by
piece just to see what I would look like.

But you live the life that there is to be lived.
You let more pieces fall away, and perhaps if you think
of it, you can take a picture, or write your name on
a wall that says "I was here once, and a piece of me will
never leave."

The Waiting Game

You've been playing the waiting
game for a very long time. You've lost
track of the hours, the days, the months
and the years that you've been alone,
on your own. Be it a small apartment,
or a rather large house. You see the
happy couples, you see the unhappy
couples, but you see two people
together doing their best to preserve
whatever it is that they refer to as 'love'
and you are so envious of that word
which they say to each other when
no one is listening.

You've developed a habit of occupying the
time you would have spent with another.
You've taken up hobbies,
You've started a career.
You've taken up jogging perhaps,
and weight training maybe, if age permits.

You've taken up painting landscapes on sunday,
or fixing old model trains- and then a song comes
on, and it stops you in your tracks.
You look around-
you and see how empty your house is, the tiny
amount of space taken up by the dog or the cat,
the one place at the table, and the song's sweetness
hits you in the gut, or in the chest, and you feel that
sweetness rise up to your throat as if it were making you sick
and you hasten to change the station, or get away from
the sound, or listen, and let it run its course, let
the sweetness sicken you, and bawl silently
spewing tears. You whine the way a stalled engine
tries to start, and then, you return to you're activities
or go off to work.

Perhaps you think of the lost
opportunities, perhaps you
try to call a friend and they're
busy, perhaps you wonder
how much time you've got
left to play the waiting game,
to play the wanting card, you
think, "lonely hearts are better
than broken ones" and then you
remember.

Perhaps it was
only once that you knew it, that
you knew the wait was over,
and suddenly, without warning,
you have the most beautiful
face, you have the most soulful
and seductive voice,
and you move light as air as if
everything around you
was set to the beating of your heart,
and you say 'a lonely heart
is better than a broken one,' and
a winner never quits
simply because they've been left
standing at the altar.

You remember a second, an
instant when the clouds parted
and you were allowed to walk
outside; and the sweet was
sweet and the bitter was bitter
and there was no in between,
and you return to your hobby,
or to your dog and you remember
that the loneliness will be forgotten
again, as it had been in the
past, and you remember the time
you spent waiting before, and
you think not of the loneliness,
but of the accomplishments made in
solitude. Even if they were modest,
or hard for other people to
believe. And you remember those
days when being alone meant
listening to the leaves fall from the
trees, seeing your reflection in
a pane of window-glass
in front of a department
store, and it pleased you
to see that figure of yourself, solitary
and free standing approach a
door where some one else was
waiting to let you come inside.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To One so Familiar

The sun is warmer on far away shores
The summer has gone, and with it the days
Where free and happy, I longed to implore
why thoughts of love had long passed me away

But something has waked, which long was at rest
Which I lost long ago, mourned for too long
a heart beating 'neath a lover's kind breast
now turned to stone, I no longer belong

Now when I dream, as I had long ago
No longer alone with fear do I dwell
Where once all was dark, there now is a glow
from a light I once sought, but know not well.

Her name, and her face, could she be the one?
For whom my heart fights, but knows not if it's won?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Was it all a Dream?

Was it all a dream?
The air, the hills,
The cats and shadows,
The sun rising over the
stones-

The mountain, that same
proud and saintly
mountain, kissing the clouds-

The City on the Hill?
The Quiet City, the large castle,
the small castle,
The Basilica, the pigeons, the bells?

The paved hill and the seminary,
the crook in the road,
the happy faces, the simple life
the humble repast?

The ancient sleeping city
The train, the coolness of the
window pane on my temple.

The echo of strange foreign
voices, the certainty of my
only three phrases,

the book, made dog-eared by my
sweating palm.

The panic, the confusion
The acceptance, the peace
The pretty girls, the ugly men.

Was it all just a dream?
Was I there?
Did I see it?

Books, diagrams,
pictures.

A house with every sound.
A name for every face.

When did I see my old,
and new best friends?

Were they there?
Was I with them?
Did I fall asleep?

Or am I dreaming still?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Dream to Dream

It's fine to dream the kind of dream,
that's happy at the end,
or the other type that's straight ahead,
and goes on without a bend.

But if to dream a dream so good,
with action's never had,
to force the clouds of
somber sleep apart to show
the bad;

No ending will there ever be,
to satisfy the means,
all will end in torpor,
with boredom in between.

To dream a dream so good
is hard, your path is not
so easy, and rest will never
come in this,
there's no waking
for the weary.

But if you dream, and dare to fail,
and fall and fall again,
the only one's who earn
their dreams,
are the ones,
who rise again.

The Daffodils

Who will weep for them
when once winter comes again?

Who cries for their passing
before first snow has fallen?

Mourns, the garden's lack of gaeity
made so tangible
by their sweet buttery petals,
those silly yellow flowers.

The tall and proud,
they do.

They sulk for the entire season,
heads bowed,
petals cast off in reverence

patiently awaiting them
and the ever returning Spring.

Tender, so

tender is the key,
tender is the bloom,
tender the fruit,
and it's flesh,
and it's root
and the earth
and the air that touches the leaves.

tender like dust bunnies
tender like cloud

tip toeing tenderling

tender elfling,
a tender clouding,
tender melting
tender drifting
tender spender

spinning tender no more than she
needs,

let tender be
let tender be tender to be
let tender be tender to me,

not left alone to be tender let,
not held in thoughts too long,
lest tender forgets.

tender is eyes, and smiling corners
of mouth,

smiling warm skin so-

tender

tears will never touch a face so-

tender

eyes will want a face so-

tender

a nose for a home in a place so-

tender

bashful, graceful, tender one

looking, not watching

so tender your eye may not catch what she sees

tender like sandbox

tender like me.

Pay Day at Vector Marketing

Preface:



Several years ago, I believe it was 2003, I had the idea to write a screenplay about a young 20 something year old 'man' who gets a job working for CUTCO selling knives. The whole premise of the story was that he was something of an arrogant nere do well who always attributed his failures and shortcomings to other people instead of taking any accountability himself. What he finds working for CUTCO, is that for some reason, he is found to be extremely appealing to married middle aged house wives and that there is a direct correlation between the nature of various 'services' rendered for the matron of the house hold, and how much of the product they actually purchase. He moves quickly up the ladder to become the top selling sales rep in his district and is the featured guest at a conference held in Branson, MO for up and coming employees sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Foundation, which is where the story begins and ends.



I put this notion away in the back of my mind reserved for the index of story/screenplay/novel ideas for a long time until I recently got a call asking if I wanted to come in for an interview. I needed more money, and jumped at the chance. The strange thing is, is that the notion didn't come back to me when I got the call, or even when I went in for the interview. It came in the middle of a meeting on how to sell the products. There was something in the delivery of my boss who was giving the break down on how to make sales that began to echo that imaginary character in the aborted story I had begun so long ago. But it wasn't until yesterday, that I really thought about taking the enterprise seriously,and get down to actually writing something like what I had in mind 7 years ago.



Chapter __: Payday



I had spent a good portion of the day working on various things in my apartment until about 3:45 when I decided to go down to the Vector office (the egg central for Knoxville CUTCO) and pick up my paycheck. I was feeling a little hungry, and juggled the notion of grabbing a quick lunch with the ten bucks I had left from selling some music the day before, but I opted for business over pleasure, and proceeded to the office first. When I got there, the first thing I saw upon entering the floor where the office was, was a young man, around 19, wearing a black baseball cap, a baggy white tee shirt and jeans, sitting in an office chair with a binder, a laptop, a cell phone, and a cell phone charger who appeared to be under siege by a legion of loose office paper surrounding his chair, preventing him from getting up. "This is an omen I thought" as I began making my way closer to the Vector office. At the very end of the hall, there is something of a vestibule, a passage to the stair cases that go down the side of the back of the building where Victoria, a rather heavy set by pretty and affable black girl was sitting. She waved to me with a smile, and I wove back enthusiastically grinning widely, then entered the office. Just as I expected, the waiting room was dotted with a couple of college students sitting in chairs vacantly while the pale din of the secretaries voices pickering over the phone lines to various naive strangers was mingling with the sound of Star 93.1 and the most offensive pop music one could imagine. I began listening to the lyrics in spite of myself, the lyrics were more suggestive than what I was used to, and I assumed that the man in the song was telling a girl at a club how large his penis was, but I digress. A few seconds upon entering the office, Jessica a tall redheaded somewhat nerdy but confident and attractive young woman appeared from the hallway leading to the meeting room, and informed me that Chad would be with me in a minute for my 'pay check meeting'. "Paycheck meeting?" I said, "I thought we just came in to pick it up." "No, you have to do a progress report with Chad first. He'll be out in a minute. You can phone in some calls while you wait." Here we go I thought. "Well, I don't have any leads right now, I just need to enter my orders into the system." "OK, let me get my laptop she said." I was growing increasingly annoyed that they succeeded yet again in roping me into hanging out in the office for yet another undetermined period of time. Jessica appeared with her computer and turned it on. We sat, waiting for it boot up which turned out to be a bit of an ordeal in and of itself.



I ceased paying attention, but was amused that she was feigning annoyance at the slowness of her computer's boot-up time to put me at ease. I was letting the lyrics of who ever it was just drift into and out of my head while I stared critically at the primitive 3D font that spelled out Vector Marketing Corporation on small the vinyl banner meant to break up the horrifying blankness of the dull office wall. I began musing on the font, all its cheesy kitshcy aspects, and then suddenly it dawned on me. This is 2010! This is it! The future! But not the future of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, or any of the serious fiction writers, not even close! This was the future of Terry Gilliam, Douglas Addams, and Mike Judge. So much like the present, because really it was. I looked at the white techo fetish looking boom box and thought how this one designed object in the room is the only thing that would give away the fact that this is indeed the future. Not the Vector banner, not the girls typing and talking into a dull hum of soothing noise, just that one boom box. This could have easily been 1997, and in some ways, it seemed to me that it still was. The strange mustyness of the hallway, the music, it was all so familiar, so contemporary in a retroactive type way. I imagined going through a time warp right then and there sitting in that bloody chair, and watching as the boom box changed designs over the year until it was 100 year into the future and it didn't even look like a boom box anymore, yet whatever it was was still sitting on that same bloody shelf next to a bloody standing lamp.



"There we go, finally!" Jessica exclaimed. I chuckled at her desktop and told her I liked it. A sleepy wizard with a sleepy dog cat dragon looking thing wearing a wizard hat asleep at his feet. I'll spare you the details of the tedium involved in documenting my sales because it was just that. What really irritateded me though, was that Chad came into the room, and told me that there was an error with my address in the system. "Oh for the love of god!" I thought. "I've already been here 20 minutes, and I'm no closer to getting paid than I was last week." He told me how much my check would be for though "Sixty Bucks" he said directly. I must have looked surprised and disappointed because he asked me if that was more or less than I thought it would be. Then he explained that it was only for the first 4 appointments and I felt a little better. I then followed him into the meeting room at his request and looked around for a place to sit, opting instead to just meander over to the shelf where the 40 year old CUTCO demo knives were kept. The handles looked like reconfigured bowling ball material to mimic wood grain. But the High Carbon Surgical stainless steel was just as sharp, just as shiny as it was in 1970. The handle was the same design too. Dual-lock ambidextrous to maximize natural hand strength. I imagined that same future forward time warp was happening in the waiting room taking over the rest of the office, and those same knives on a different shelf every few years, in the same brochure configuration, just a sharp, just as shiny as they were in 1970, as they were today.



"Spence, Come in here for a minute" Chad said. "Okay, so how we doin?" He asked with something of a look between desperation, desire and appeasement on his face. It was a strange pleading look, but not an unfamiliar one either. "Fine I said." He gives me deference in a strange kind of way, something in his expression says that he wants my approval. He has it. I like Chad, he's a good guy, a confident guy, a bro kinda guy, a bit like me. We talk a bit, go over my references, and the entire intimidating cross examining process which is a little more intimidating than the prospect of being gummed by a curious infant, not nearly as bad as being interrogated by a suspicious shift manager. I had a few errors that didn't match up with the system. But I got nothing to hide. It's just hard to retroactively fill out a form documenting the people you talked to in the past week or so about knives.



It's just to remind you that behind every beaurocratic corner in this place, is a little trap, a little pop up goblin gotcha moment. I'm pretty clever about it, and I'm a decent actor, so it goes smoothly. It goes back to what I was saying about being gummed by an infant. All the people here are younger than me I suspect. At least there's definitely no one here over 30, or probably 28 for that matter. I kept wanting to equate the experience to a scene from the 'Tria'l, or some kind of Kafkaesque short story, but it's not really like that. It's too banal, too comfy. There's nothing really threatening about it. I'm here to get a check, and these people are all here to make sure it happens, to make sure that other people get checks too. I can't call it dystopian, or perverse, that would be self indulgent and disingenuous. It's just-the contemporary corporate designed future of 2010. Cutco's had this on lock down since the '50's. I could easily know all these people from High School. We could just as easily still BE in high school doing some kind of long form endless civics or econ experiment/project. Not as threatening as the Yale experiment because we're getting paid, but just as nefarious because it just keeps going and no one is there to stop the madness and inform us that we can get back to our normal lives. Victoria came into the room, looking a bit preturbed and asked me when this was going to be over to which I replied, to some self satisfaction, "It's never over."



After my meeting with Chad, I was cornered by Jessica yet again. 'She's perfect for this job.' This is the girl I would have had a crush on in 8th grade. Just barely in my league. That's probably why Chad chose her for the Job. She's too good to be 'the girl next door', that's gross. She's just perfect. I don't want to say no to her. I just want her to keep talking to me in that self imposed naive inflection of which she must be grossly aware. Everyone's 8th grade crush, I thought. "Have you done your phone reference meeting yet she said?" "No." "Do I have to?" She's unphased by the kurtness of my retort. "Yeah. Can you come in tomorrow, or later on tonight?" She says. "Well, can I just do it right now?" I ask, not wanting to come back unless I absolutely had to. "Yeah sure." she said "It only takes about 10 minutes. Hold on I'll be right back." I sat back down, eager to be close to leaving. A shaggy headed 20 something came in wearing shorts a dirty tee shirt and an obviously not yet fulfilled sense of self satisfaction. I felt relieved to see someone came in who vaguely resembled a hipster. He unplugged the boom box right away, and I was thankful (again) for the oppressive silence that suddenly occurred. He looked at me and said, "I like that" "What these?" I said. "Yeah, I don't think I've seen them that long before." Too bad he's a he I thought briefly. "Thanks." I tried to say something witty, but nothing came out. I guess he might as well have been a she at that moment. Jessica came back, leaning slightly into the waiting room, chest first. "Okay, Spencer. Come here." I got up promptly and followed her to the outside hallway. "Okay. Here's what you're going to do. Go the long way down the hall, and go out the right side exit. Stephanie's in her car. It'll be the second one on the left in the lot. You'll just do the training in the car with her." 'How strange' I thought, 'but oddly appropriate.' So, I made my way again down the hall, accompanied by a strange sense of liberation.



'This is Kafkaesque', I thought, 'but not at all, at the same time. It's a kind of Bizzarro world of lurking gruesome horror and surreality, because I'm getting paid for all this inconvenience instead of punished.' I passed the young man in the hat and shirt by the entry to the hallway again, he didn't appear to have moved at all. I attributed it to the army of paper scattered about his feet. I walked down the stairs, self aware. I let fantasy take over. Or tried to. I looked around like a camera. Like I had a camera with me. Blinking for the jump cuts. Panning, moving with a swagger closer to the parking lot and my exit. I winced in the sun and heat, soaked in the humidity, move with confidence to the appointed area.



I only saw one car on the left side of the parking lot though. And there was surely enough, a person in it. All I could make out of it though, was that the door was slightly ajar, and a tan colored somewhat effeminate hand was emerging from it. It didn't seem like it could be her car though. I couldn't imagine a woman that well dressed and composed, genteel in that East Tennessee manner, driving a white sedan that appeared to be so pedestrian. I pressed on, not knowing who was behind it. As I approached, I tried to keep out of the occupant's line of sight and get a glimpse of the face. 'Now it begins, I thought'. This is a very surreal feeling here in this parking lot. I would have liked to have had an out of body experience at that point, follow myself across the lot, and then come back to first person as I approached this ugly weird car and its ugly weird driver. This is something else. Not Kafka, not Lynch, but close. It's something of the self imposed parking lot paranoia I imposed on myself in Eau Claire. If you're REALLY looking for the sinister thing behind the dumpster though, you have to be totally out of control to experience it. I thought about the anecdote in an essay about surrealism that I was reading about Alberto Giaccommetti and Andre Breton walking around a flea market where Giaccommetti found the spoon he needed to model his sculpture after. How perfect and impersonal it's design was, how Breton reflected on his discovery later as a manifestation of his subconscious mind leading him first to meet Breton, then the decision to go to the flea market, and ultimately to that spoon, and then later for Breton to write, and me to read 80 years later, in this, the year of our lord Two Thousand and Ten. This might be something of the same thing. I might see something terrifying in this parking lot yet, but not today. Right now, I'm getting "A Training Session" in Stephanie's car-if I can find it.



I walked the whole way around the building and, then back in on the same side, scanning every car except my own. I jaunted back up the stairs, passed poor seiged black hat, and saw poor black Victoria sitting in the same chair at the end of the hallway. I walked back into the office, and saw Jessica immediately, then I approached. "I didn't see her out there." I said. "here, let me go get Chad." who conveniently appeared from around the corner, right on cue. "He said he couldn't find her." Said Jessica. Another mini catastrophe. So the three of us went back to his office again. "She went to go to her car to charge her phone." He informed me. He dialed the number. No answer. We could all here her dispassionately cordial voice coming through the speaker phone appologizing for her absence. 'Well looks like I'm stuck again.' I thought. But I wasn't gonna go back and sit in the waiting room again, and they knew that, so Jessica led me out of the office and down the stairs. I was so enamoured by the whole situation, that I grinned widely and began chuckling silently inspite of myself. I was on. Switch to camera two, follow them down. We passed Victoria who saw how bemused I was. I imagine she thought the two us were going to go do something naughty together. 'Why else would he be smiling like that?' As we approached the landing, Stephanie appeared from around the corner, and there was relief!



"We were just looking for you!" I said.



"Yeah" Jessica chimed in finishing my statement "He needs to do the cold-call training."



"I told you to send anyone that needed me down to my car she said."



"I went" I replied, but I didn't see you.



"Well, I took off about five minutes ago and came back.



"That solves everything!" I said. "That's about when I went to look for you."



"Well, here" she said, and handed me a couple wrinkled forms one of which had "Jeff Gamboa's Magical 1997 Approach" in a primitive Helvetica type-face printed across the top of it. We stood in the hall and role played. She read to me, I responded, and that was it. "Well that was painless I said." "Yeah, it's not that bad she replied." I suddenly remembered I was hungry in a wave of churning desire. "Well I think I'm gonna go get some lunch now." Stephanie looked at me in that focused, vacant, inquisitive manner and with an apparent air of authority responded "Lunch? It's closer to Dinner time now."



grumble.



So, I began making my way out of the office for the last time that day, relieved that I had yard work to do that was keeping me from going on the Nashville trip the next day. I passed the guy in the cap, and the papers, and the desperation he did not yet know, and said I said "good luck!" Then I got in my car, crossed the parking lot off to Charro's with my last 10 bucks, totally unaware that a stranger was going to pick up the tab for my Burrito dinner.

Three Good Deeds

Francis woke up. There was a woman in a black coat and ared scarf with dirty blonde hair tied back into a sloppy bun standing over him,looking at his eyes.

"Hey!" she said. "Parlez-vous Francais?" Francis, shook his head. "No. Do you speak English?"he asked in a sleepy desperate voice. "Yes, she said. What's yourname?" "Francis". "Are you hungry Francis?" He had been in Paris for only 3days. He had no money. He had not eaten since a businessluncheon on his first day, before the tryouts, and even then he had not eatenmuch because he didn't want to play on a full stomach. "Francis, I own a restaurant. I'm going there now. Would you like something to eat?" He looked at her, vacantly,quizzically. He had stopped askingstrangers for help. He had beensleeping in the metro, which is where he was now. He had started out, just walking around. Taking advantage of the fact that hewas in Paris to see the sights. Of course, since he had no money, he could not go into the Louvre to see the MonaLisa (the most famous European painting in the world). He could, however, see the I.M. Pei pyramid. He could stand outside ofthe museum, he could walk around it. He was dressed nicely, so no one would suspect that his situation was sodesperate. People gave him moneyat first. Tourists. He kept an eye out for American and English tourists, and pretended to be a tourist as well, on account of the factthat he was dressed nicely and spoke English really quite well. If he had his druthers, he wouldprobably have been an English teacher instead of a football player. It's more pragmatic. But he was good. He was a very good footballer. He was better at football than he wasat speaking English. So when theopportunity presented itself, when a French agent approached him on thefootball field, and asked him how he would feel about coming to Paris to trainfor an opportunity to play football for France, the pragmatic thing, of course,was to take it.

Before he knew where he was,exactly, he was turning a corner into a dry dim alley with a strange woman in ablack coat, and dirty blond hair in a sloppy bun wearing a red scarf wearingblue jeans and sneakers. Shestopped abruptly, and unlocked a clean metal door, and then they wentinside. "Here." She said. And offered him a day oldcroissant. "What would you like toeat? We don't open for anotherhour, I have time to make us both some breakfast." She was a very, very pretty young woman. She had light freckles, but clearsmooth pale skin and soft grey and blue eyes. Not piercing. There was something very natural about her. Sort of primitive in a vaguely gaelic way. She had rather broad shoulders, aslightly more than ample bosom. She wore her clothes to show off her figure discreetly and it was veryhard not to look at her. "I don'tknow. I don't know what you canmake." He said. "Name something." He thought for a minute. "Belgian Waffles" he said. Before he could even reply that he wasjust testing her, she immediately got to work making the batter. "What else Francis? What else would you like to eat?" "Bacon, AND Sausage." He replied with a big toothysmile. "Would you like somethingto drink while you wait? Orangejuice with Champagne perhaps?" Francis was at this moment incredibly delighted. It had finally sunken in. He had been saved. "Oh that would be wonderful. I've never had something like thatbefore." Without a word, shegrabbed a very tall glass with a wide mouth and poured it half of the way fullwith orange juice, and filled it up the rest of the way with champagne so thatit almost spilled off of the top. "Here you are." Shesaid. Some of the juice hadsloshed out of the top and onto her delicate freckled hand. "Thank you very much miss. I'm sorry, I still don't know yourname." "Juliette" she repliedturning around back into the kitchen. "Juliette. Like Romeo andJuliette." He looked up at a clockon the wall. It was still veryearly. 6:35 in the morning. Why don't you go out to the dining roomwhile I finish our breakfast she said. I don't want to reveal any of my secrets to a stranger." She said, turning around flirtatiouslywith a sharp glean in her soft eyes and a coquettish smile creeping across herface. "Ofcourse! Do you have a phone I may use?" he asked. "Yes, there's one behind the cashier stand in thefront. Just dial.

He pushed open the doors, of the kitchen and looked for thephone, taking everything in as he did. It was obviously, a very nice restaurant. He had not ever been in a restaurant as nice as this one inall of his 20 years. Whatluck. He thought. Yesterday, I was homeless, starving, cold,alone in a strange place. Broughtdeceptively to a foreign land where he knew no one. Where he had no prospects. Not even any money. In a place like this, he was as good as dead. He dialed his father's work phone. It rang, and rang, and rang. And rang and rang. And rang and rang. And rangsome more. He got tired of holdingthe phone and put it down on the counter. He listened as it continued to ring. He hung it up after a while, and decided to just try laterin the day when he knew he would be at work. When he heard footsteps from the kitchen coming into thedining area, he hung up the phone. "May I help you with anything?" "No, just take a seat she said." They began eating their food together, sitting across from oneanother. "Thank you very muchJuliette." "Not at all!" she saidlooking up. "I don't normally dothis kind of thing, but you look like a man with a story" she said finallylooking into his eyes for the first time. "Tell me what brought you to Paris?" Francis felt safe for the first time since he had beenapproached by the football agent that found him. Ever since he first spoke to the man, he felt like he wasclimbing up a very tall ladder and watching the ground get farther and fartheraway from his feet until he could no longer see it. Until all he could see below him was large fields of colorsand clouds in an airplane leaving his country and his home. Even when he got to Paris, when helanded, he felt as if he were standing on the edge of a very tall platformlooking down onto the top of the sky right below heaven. He didn't dare look up. He couldn't look up until he knew itwas safe. He felt as if thestreets of Paris were really just made of glass, and that the dirty greysidewalk and the dirty grey sky were really one and the same. Then he jumped. He was a forward. He played as well as he possibly couldhave under the circumstances. Desperatelyhe played football. He ran, he kicked, he grunted, and yet still the fear was there, the vertigo did notsubside. It was there constantlybehind his brow like a great wall. The only time he felt nearly relieved was when he was out of breath, kneeling,feeling the sweat pour down his body and cover him as it did when he was athome. This was the first time hecould sweat since he met the man, and it was a wonderful feeling. He breathed heavily, panting, gaininghis breath, but struggling to keep his heart resuming it's acceleratedpace. He had jumped. He had maintained his posture. He had seen the Olympics on the T.V.and had seen the high divers. Hehad also seen sky divers. And thisis how he felt. Somewhere betweenthe two. A sky diver without aparachute, twisting, and spinning gracefully in the open air. Turning, flipping, like a fish in spacetrying to fly. But falling feelslike flying if you can do it for long enough. "I came here to play football." "I come from a village in Ghana you would not have heardof. I was playing one day in amatch against a team that you would not have heard of in Johannesberg where theAfrican national games are held. Atime out was called, and my coach called me over to the sidelines. He had a very severe expression on hisface. I thought I may have fouledsome one. I was playing veryaggressively that day. He beganwalking when I came to the edge of the field and he motioned for me to followhim. I was afraid to follow himtoo closely. This was a veryimportant game for my club. If wewon, we would get a prize, and perhaps a larger sponsor. He brought me to the first row andthere were two men standing there. White men. Europeans, notAfrikaaners. They were not dressedparticularly well, but it was obvious that they had money. I've never spoken to a rich white manface to face, so I was very nervous. I did want them to think I was some dumb brutish footballer. My coach introduced them. The first man he introduced wasolder. 'Francis'. He said to me." Francis paused for a moment and lookeddown before continuing. "'Francis. This man is a football scout fromParis.' The man interrupted my coach before he was done speaking to introducehimself. His name was Guillaume LaCroix. He told me to just callhim Gil. He told me that he hadbeen watching me in particular during the game. He said that he liked my aggressions. That my style was strong, andgraceful. He told me, he wanted totake me to Paris to play for the club which he represented. He said, he wanted to tell me now,because he wanted to see how I would play after having been told this. Then I was dismissed. And, that's how I got here. He paid for the ticket, for thehotel. Everything. After my tryout, he told me and theother players I was playing with to wait in the lobby of the stadium. After four hours waiting there, we weretold by security that we had to leave. We tried to protest, but-they told us they would call the police if wedid not leave. We tried, politely,to explain that we were waiting for our agent. We were told to leave again and the police werecalled." Juliette, who had stoppedeating, did not look up the entire time he had told his story. Then she, slowly, resumed, looking upsheepishly for a moment as she chewed her waffles. "I want to help you Francis. I can tell you are a good person, and that you came herwith-good intentions and that you were-misled by an evil person. I am very sorry to hear about yourstory. But, now, you're getting a break." Francis got the feeling again. Too much hope. He fought to choke it back. Too much hope is scary. When we finish, I want you to go tothis address." She beganscribbling onto a napkin. "This ismy father's address. He owns therestaurant, and is a very big football fan. He will help you find a job."



2.

When Francis arrived at the house, he was greeted at thedoor by a tall man who appeared to be in quite good shape for a fellow of hisage, with short white hair cut like that of a young man. "You must be Francis. Juliette told me you would becoming. The name's Harold. Harold Dumas. Please come inside." The house was very nice. Francis felt the urge upon being in such a nice place to clean himself. Before he could ask, the man said. "There's a shower upstairs you mayuse. Please be my guest."

The shower looked like it must have been veryexpensive. It was surprisinglylarge and had shower-heads dispersed all over the walls, all pointing to thecenter. The door was a single paneof large glass with a small chrome handle that had a finger grip underneath itand magnets that held it closed. The bathroom itself was also quite large. It seemed more like just another room in the house. The tiles were a rustic style terracotta that he had never seen before. Francis was so relieved to be able to bathe himself. He was surprised that Juliette couldnot smell him (but perhaps she could, and was only being polite). When he got out of the shower, henoticed that the bathroom door was open. He was a bit surprised, because he distinctly remembered closingit. He walked over to the door toclose it again, when he noticed in the mirror that he could see into the otherroom, and that Harold was on the phone. He turned around when he saw that the man noticed him. Francis went to close the door smilingas he did so, but Harold grabbed the other side of the knob gently, smilinglooking into his eyes. "I'm sorry,we're not in the habit of closing doors around here Francis. I should have told you." "I'm sorry sir. That was quite rude of me." "It's all right my boy" the man said,continuing to grip the knob coercing Francis to let go of it. Once he did so, Harold opened the dooreven wider, and then stood between it and Francis, in a way as if it stillpromised some kind of defense, even though they were now both standing out inthe open. "How do you like Paris,so far?" Harold said. "It's nice sir" Francis said lookingdown at the ground. "Nice it is,indeed. But one needs money to getaround. Juliette told me when shefound you that you had none at all. Is that right?" "Yes sir." "Not even enough to buy any foodwith. Am I right?" "Yes." "You know Francis, a boy like you could get into a lot oftrouble in a city like this. Thepolice would not know your background, the people would be afraid of you, ordismiss you as another immigrant. You know we have a lot of Nigerians here in Paris now. You might find yourself caught up insome trouble, especially without a job and a proper command of thelanguage." Francis was feeling nowquite uneasy. "I know sir, I amvery glad that I have an opportunity. That you are-willing to give me one. So that I may-make some money-and go back-" "Home? Yes?" said Harold smiling. "Yes, I suppose you could. Although, airline tickets to Ghanaare-quite expensive. You wouldhave to save up for a long time, even if you had a good job." Francis was beginning to feel verynervous. All he wanted to do wasto get dressed. To put on someclothes and discuss employment, but something about Harold's stance made itseem impossible to move past him. "Francis. Is something thematter?" said Harold suddenly looking confused. "You have such a pretty face, it doesn't ennoble you to lookworried my boy. Here." "Harold then took Francis's hand thatwas holding his towel and gently pried his fingers off of it's two ends thatwere holding it over his waist. The towel, as if it were his only friend in the world that had suddenlydecided to betray him, slipped first from around the top of his pubicarea. He reached with his otherhand to grab it and prevent himself from being exposed, but Harold then grabbedhim quickly around the wrist and let the towel, gaining speed fall to thefloor, gently unwrapping itself from around his firm round black behind. Francis was trying not to shake, andlike a rabbit caught in a snare, really had no idea what to do. Harold then slowly released his handsand let them fall to Francis's sides. His stomach and chest were heaving shallowly, he tried to keep astraight face. He had absolutelyno idea what he should do. Withoutsaying a thing, Harold reached over starting to touch his still wettedshoulder, then moved his hand down the side of his arm and to the small of hisback, then he reached around him and began massaging is naked buttocks. Francis just stood there. Harold smiled at him and said. "You are a very beautiful boyFrancis. Does that feel good? I can feel, how wet you are. Your ass is very fit. Very firm, but yielding. Do you mind that I'm doing this?" Francis just kind of moved his headaround from side to side slightly, and continued to let Harold, his generoushost, move his right hand to the front of his groin and cup it." "Now, you're quite good with English Isee, so I suppose you know a little expression they use in America, yes? To have someone by the balls?" Harold said this, knowing full wellthat Francis would not reply. "Look down at my hand boy. Where is it?" Noreply. "TELL me, where my handis." Harold said clutching himtightly but only for a minute." "Your hand is on my testicles sir." Francis said stammering in a high voice. "I'm holding you by your testiclesFrancis that's right. Do you knowwhy I might want to do something like that? Because I want something. I want something from you, and I want to make sure that youunderstand that and that you want to co-operate, because as it stands rightnow, you have no where to go where anyone will believe you, let aloneunderstand what you're saying, or even really care for that matter." "What do you want?" Francis said, not quite broken downyet. "I want you, Francis, to goto my bed room, and go into my bedside table and get the bottle of cocoa butterout of it. You'll know it when yousee it." Francis did as he wastold, and walked naked into the other man's room in a state of shock toretrieve the cocoa butter. Haroldfollowed him. Francis could seenothing of how well decorated and modern Harold's hallway was, only the hallwayitself. He walked down thehallway, past the open windows, and went to Harold's bedside table to producethe cocoa butter. Harold followedhim. When they had both enteredthe room, Harold closed the door behind them and continued to giveinstructions. "Put that in yourhands, the cocoa butter, and rub your penis with it Francis." Francis did as he was told, trying hisbest to enjoy it which really was the only thing he could do at the time. "No!" Yelled Harold. "You aren't trying hard enough. Rub that your penis and become aroused, or I will shoot you." "I'm trying." Wimpered Francis. "Give it to me." Harold said. "Give that to me and come over here and unzip my trousersnow please." Francis did as he wastold like a boy obeying his father. "Good, good Francis." Harold then produced a 9mm from under some magazines on the bedsidetable. "Now, I think you know what I want you to do."

When Harold was satisfied, he told Francis to get onto thebed and assume the doggystyle position the way a woman would, and instructedhim that he should point his toes together and stick his rear end as high intothe air as he could. Harold tookthe cocoa butter in one hand and began massaging his buttocks with it. You know, when I was your age, I was inthe foreign service in Ghana. Doyou like that I told you that just now?" "Yes sir." "No you don't! You hate it, now tell me that you hatethat I was in the foreign service in Ghana!" He did, again, as he was told. "I'm going to penetrate your' rectum with my erect penisFrancis. Do you like that I'vejust told you that?" "No! I don't!" "Harold slapped the back of his head with a well oiled palmso hard that the shock of it made Francis cry a little bitch gettingraped. "You do like what I told younow, because you will enjoy it and so will I. Now you might know better how to approach a woman in thefuture. Thank me for the lessonboy, this is only one of three good deeds I have done for you today!" "Thank you, for teaching me..." "How to fuck!" Harold produced a muscle relaxing creamfrom one of his discarded pants pockets and began rubbing it against Francis'sanus until he could fit two finger into it completely. "I'm teaching you how to fuck Francis. You'll want to know how to be good atit, I promise." Harold then beganeasing himself into the young man's black behind, shallowly at first, and thenwith great speed that made Francis scream out loud. He screamed and kept crying as the older man was fucking himfrom the rear. "I don't mind thatyou scream, it reminds me of a woman. I like fucking women too you know. You may bite the pillow too if you wish." Harold's view of Francis's naked back was spectacular. It gave him a great surge of power tobe having sex with a fit, young football player. His muscles were rippling, his ribcage was heaving. Harold reached around him to grab histesticles and then pulled out and shot several hot arcs of semen so far acrosshis back that it got onto his neatly cropped hair cut. He looked down, and saw that there wastraces of blood in the mucosal leftovers clinging to his penis. Bathwater, sweat and blood mixedtogether between Francis's thighs. The ordeal was over, and now his stomach and lower bowels were in greatpain, yet somehow, his anus was not. Harold then gave him more instruction. Alright now Francis. Go into the second drawer of my bed side table and take the money out ofit. That's yours, and if you do agood job again, you'll get more. You were a very good boy today. Why don't you go and get some fresh clothes from the closet. I'll have the help wash your oldones. Harold went to the closet,and produced a fresh new football jersey, and a pair of artificially fadedtight fitting blue jeans and some under wear. He look to see if he could find a pair that were darkcolored, but all he saw was white. He must have a thing for white underwear, he thought before his senseshad returned to him. "Now, here'sa list of things I want you to get from the grocery. Do that, take them to this address, then report backhere. Will you do that?" "Yes sir." Francis said.



3.

Francis, took a cab to the closest grocery store. He Purchased the items on the list and took the cab to the address written on the note. When they arrived, he was, for some reason shocked to seethat it was the same restaurant he had left earlier that morning. It was now 8:30, and the morning rushwas in full swing. Bank tellers, lawyers, teachers. People of allshapes sizes and varieties coming and going into and out of therestaurant. Sitting, eatingtalking, reading their papers. Completely oblivious to the tall, muscled, black stranger in their midstwearing artificially faded jeans and a mock football jersey. Like a moth to a light bulb heapproached the counter where a familiar woman turned to greet him and acceptthe items that he had brought. And then she spoke.

"Did you speak with my father." "Yes." Francis replied without hesitation. "What did hesay?" "He said-" Francis held backevery urge in his body to leap over the counter in the now crowdedrestaurant. He fought the urge toyell and scream and curse and spit in her face. He fought the urge to over power her and ravish her the wayhe had been that morning. And sheknew it. The way she stood, the wayshe looked at him, the way she pushed her chest out at him, and let that coysmile begin to creep it's way across her face again let him know. He had been completely and utterlydefeated. "He said. He could find me some work. And that I should be grateful." "And aren't you grateful Francis? That you come to a strange foreignplace, betrayed by a strange man and your own good nature, and upon being stranded, find a friendly stranger willing to take time out of his day and reach out to you? Feed you, clothe you, bathe you- employ you? Not many people would do that in a place like this. You're very lucky." Francis could barely understand what she was saying. The sound of her voice was fading into the din of the restaurant. Hec ouldn't let himself focus on what she was saying, or even what she looked likeat that moment. He had started falling far before he had come here. He was falling from a high place and had finally landed. Had finally touched down. Not in a warm deep pool, not in a dream. With nothing but marble,and wine glasses to break his fall, he knew now that he could relax again. The uncertainty was dispelled. Reality was assuming its dominance yet again. He thought about the mostreasonable thing to do at this moment. To call his father and affirm to a familiar voice that had lived in his head his whole life that he knew where he was, what was going on, and what hewas going to do tomorrow. So he asked her. "May I use yourphone?" She cocked her head genuinely confused and replied "I don't think so. We're very busy right now and I can't afford to do you anymore favors. We fed you, clothed you, and found work for you Francis. We've done three good deeds for you today. I think that's more than enough.

The Geometer

When Hamsa Berlios awoke this morning, not much had changed. He had taken the precaution of putting a fresh box of chalk on his night stand, so that he could feel the giddiness of being able to use it liberally, and spare himself the frightening prospect of having to go outside and purchase more. Hamsa had figured out how to get out of bed comfortably over the past week or so- finally. Nothing is so geometric as getting out of bed. You don't even need to see a rectangle to feel the horror of your body being oriented in such a way- contorted as if following the contours of a box, but only partially the way round. He turned at an obtuse angle, to face a giddily threatening orientation of rhomboids that he had managed to construct out of his dresser and a broken end table he had found in the alley. This was the most pleasing orientation to wake up to so far. Soon he would grow bored of it, and have to hew something more like an isosceles triangle, or a comely pentagram. If anyone had made asymmetry a way of life, it was poor old Hamsa.
He followed the chalk outlines to the bathroom. The only rectangular objects that he had left unmolested were the top of the toilet, and the sink. He had removed the mirror and the medicine cabinet very, very carefully and installed a nice oval one instead, to trace the contour of his slightly roundish face. That was a dangerous rectangle, a very, very bad one, an awful rectangle that mocked his face- that tried to trap him in its sharp corners- that swung open at him to show him what? MORE rectangles? Empty like his head may have been if he weren't an educated man. What a dreadful, cruel, mocking object, the medicine cabinet; but to strike it would do no good either. It would just shatter and cut him, and then claim the floor! But he had managed some how. It was a great feat, the greatest to confront that thing, to feel ALL of its edges as cold as they could be. But thankfully the ordeal was all over with. He could look at himself safely, and confidently 'That's good, that's really good!' He would say to himself and smile without opening his mouth to see his teeth. How fortunate that there are at least two rectangles that I can cope with, that I can use, he would think to himself. All of the doorways had been altered with bits of scrap wood, or cardboard to make them appear ovular, like him. He had filled the corners of the room with sawdust, or dry concrete, or even salt, to round them out. It hadn't helped very much, so the piles in the corners kept building up, engulfing the feet of the furniture as well. He could scarcely bring himself to read anything, to concentrate that much on something so tyrannically rectangular was beyond his ability, like reading the phone book all the way through would be for a 'normal' person. He had virtually given up on reading, until one day when he found something written on a crumpled piece of paper.
It had been so long since he'd read anything, his eyes wept for lack of letters and his brain atrophied and became sentimental, self-defeatist. He carefully tore the edges off of the paper before letting himself read the words, which even then he accomplished with more than moderate pain. He called its writer, the Encyclopedian:



Before I knew I could talk,
I heard.

Hidden dialects, lost phrases, and angry letters
Soiled, tarnished, unbreathing.

Before I knew my voice,
I spoke.
Proofs, postulates and dead end theories
Railing against nature afraid the flowers would be right.

Echoes of winter yielding to the
Tendrils of an ever invading Spring

Which invarialbly lead back to
Summer’s silent hills, cast in shades of grey,
Shades of the setting sun.

In fabulous gradients,
fading from view

Like a Red paper napkin.


It hadn't crossed his mind in a long time what it was like to see objects such as signs, and screens, and tables, to be in restaurants. Going to a cafe was as foreign a notion as going to the moon! And a date? One might as well try and seduce a giant cock-roach! The only love he had left in his life was for all things ovular. Not necessarily because they were shaped like him, but because as far as he traversed their surfaces, he could never find an edge. Nothing sharp. They appeared to be the exact opposite of rectangles, yet they could still function in their stead. He had taken time to learn how to orient his body against parallelograms. He practiced a kind of body work which he often improvised if he felt his mind try to assemble rectangles where there were none. This is when he used the chalk he now was fondling to offset lines of extrapolation connecting corners had neglected to soften. He would boldly confront his logic like a defiant child to a friendly uncle capable of shocking cruelty and violence. If his life were to remain true and balanced, he had to offset all geometric logic. Triangles were a bad sign, but tolerable, like boa constrictors. He could occupy space, yes share space with them, but how rare they seemed to him to be in the world of men, appearing in natural arrangements.

The poem had inspired him to record all things NON rectangular. He still needed to see objects as they were, not as just shapes. That was simply an unfortunate bi-product of his condition. It doesn't really occur to a person how many rectangles they actually see in a single day, until you start to notice them, the same can be said of germs, and insects, and microbes I suppose. It sort of sets up on you one day, after getting on your nerves, the feeling of something hanging over your head, and a tickling sensation in your nose, your ears ring, your pupils dilate, it's really an awful feeling, not the MOST horrific of course, but bad enough, like bumping a bruise, or biting the inside of your cheek, or a static shock from an assertive door knob, over and over again. It was the first angle that sent the shock, quick, like a prick, but not oppressive. It was the entire arrangement all edges, sharp, perfect, un-collapsible, untouchable. What a primitive urge to flee from them he felt, what dread welled in his heart saved solely for that ubiquitous shape- The Rectangle.
It were as if the whole summation of the world of man and all the horrors he has wrought, and all the denial of his horrors and destructive appetites could be encapsulated simply in a pragmatic design so basic to comfortable life. An abomination, a form aborted by God, resurrected by man to do the devil's work, to let him come and go freely at leisure in plain sight, in signs, upon screens, against walls as shadows with no comfort in their coolness. A cutting board, a butcher's blade. A great stone for pressing a body. That is all they came down to for him. A great shape for pressing a body, for crushing a man's soft ovular form, that can then be washed clean and conveniently put back in it's proper place.

How do you feel about that?

Please don't tell her I said this,
but I really think she's cool

Please don't tell her I think so,
but I really think she's keen.

Please don't tell her I'd like
to see, the worst drawing that
she's ever done.

But if you tell her one thing,
tell her I liked that song.

And if you tell her two things-
tell her I don't like thongs.

And if there is a third thing,
that she just might not know-

Tell her I don't like falling,
or taking it slow.

So if you'll tell her something,
that I might really dread,

just say these last words
that I've written...

why are you stuck in my head???

In a Pachinko Parlour Parking Lot

Hiro sat in a Pachinko parlour parking lot in the sun drenched remnants of his town. He had remembered sitting in that parking lot before as a child in the back seat of his mother's car while she picked up the laundry before they moved into their house. Even then, he remembered sitting in the parking lot after his 8th birthday party. He remembered sitting in that parking lot in High School, smoking cigarettes and drinking, listening to Tupac and wondering what "Weed" was. Now, he sat here helping to dispense food rations and water bottles to survivors at mid-day. The colors of the pachinko machines were already well faded by the time he had seen them. The parlor had been there since the 1970's. Bu there was an arcade inside as well, which always seemed more appealing- but his mother always made him play a few games too many with this grandfather, an old WWII vet. Being forced to play, he always thought, against his will- yet it seemed to give his grandfather true joy, which even then, was not much incentive. He was so Japanese, Hiro's grandfather. As Japanese as one could get. Flat sun pocked face, small nose, thin lips, strong voice and hard wrinkled hands. Shirts always tucked into his high water Khaki pants. He was strong and loud. But too much for Hiro. Hiro, had been raised to distance himself from his Japanese heritage. By television, by music, by their humiliating loss in WWII accented by the war time atrocities of men like his Grandfather, also named Hiro who had participated in the Batan Death March, which his grandfather had indeed done. Hiro had grown up, very confused about Japan and it's place in the world. Japan, it seemed to him had been nothing more than what he had seen in the Pachinko parlour as a child. Bright lights on the outside, a well oiled machine but prone to breaking down, and producing strange odours. Not as clean as everyone perhaps thought, and a little bit- too friendly. Japan seemed like a place that had existed a long time ago with Samurai and Castles like Europe. The Japan he knew was all gray skies and boredom, a small town far from where anything really exciting happened. He remembered Japan feeling like those old Pachinko machines with the faded colors, and the crudely drawn illustrations of monkey's and salarymen who's faded colours stuck out more than their jovial features juxtaposed against sexy, doe eyed femme fatales. It was a Japan that appealed to him as a child, yet which he rejected strongly now. And it was all he knew of Japan and his connection to it. But what did he replace it with? Rap music. Black American music. He thought about being a rap star, about being a Black American. He wondered what the ghetto was like, what was so bad about it. He felt a connection to that music and those people yet he had no knowledge of them outside of their music and their poetry. Perhaps, the ghetto looks something like this. Devastation all around you. The remnants of lives shuffling around calling the names of missing loved ones, picking up trash that used to keep sakes, moving shovels of debris. Perhaps the ghetto had a young man like himself sitting in a parking lot in whatever the equivalent of a Pachinko parlor would be in harlem or south central, handing out boxes of poptarts and bottles of water. Hiro was lucky to survive the Tsunami, and over the past several days- had learned unknowingly what it meant to be a Japanese person. The realization gradually started creeping up on him, and crested in a great wave. Looking around him, he saw the devastation of the Tsunami, and wondered why the Pachinko Parlour was spared. He wandered around inside of it, manouvering around boxes and looking at those old, well used Pachinko Machines and their faded colors, and the unused arcade games with their bright colors and smiling giddy mascots, and he felt his heart rise for a moment at the sight of their familiarity, and he let it. He did not supress his childish glee at seeing them as he once would have done, because he knew when he turned around, he would see nothing but devastation. Nothing left of his town to make his heart rise in anyway. He stood bemusedly, and fondled the knobs of the machine, and pretended to close his eyes and be cordially forced to play 20 minutes of Pachinko with grandpa. He didn't wish those days to come back, nor did he grow too sentimental at the thought. But he knew that after the war, his grandfather had to help rebuild Japan, as he had helped destroy on it's behalf. He knew that he had the same eyes, but his face was a little rounder, his cheek bones a little less dramatic. He knew, that now he understood something about being Japanese the way his grandfather had understood it. It was a place that existed long ago in the hearts and minds of those long dead samurai and peasants. It was a place that had been destroyed, and that he had no choice but to help rebuild. He could relate to that experience.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Tome in the Age of Blind Writers

Who writes symphonies to mourn the closing of American factories?
How can a string quartet articulate the dreadful sound of an Abrams tank crushing 20,000 confiscated Michael Jackson tapes?
Or the mind numbing silence of an office building without power?

It takes more than flowery prose to describe the temporarily infuriating sense of immobility which accompies the loss of a cell phone, or the empty detachment one feels at seeing a video of a journalist being beheaded by militants on a stranger's ipod, peeking over their shoulder in a chicago subway.

We, the auteurs of airwave pollution, sonic outlaws, and n'ere do well wunderkinde of the present are the music makers, and the dreamers of the dreams of this world, and we have taken it upon ourselves to be the nameless organizers of modern noise: modem screeches, chat bubbles, ringtones, lingering in parking garages banging other people's cars, hooting cautiously and clapping our hands. Banging space bars with anticpation in bedrooms. Aural masterbators, digital savants, charlatans with flashes of brilliance. Ignorant composers, yet poets all.

I'll take a moment to nod my head to the sorrows of your true minds and sing a tome in my head for this age of blind writers, because we breath an air that is filled more with sonic debris than oxygen, swimming in a static sea of crossed signal pathways, rich in harmonics guiding the lost through the wasteland of the Now.

Pipers at the gates of dawn,
of dusk,
of mid day,
or endless evening,
and reluctant morning,

playing a music that can only promise a future of the same.

We are the music makers, and the dreamers of the memes.
A sea of faces, without a name.

The Fire of Sighs

The affection held for us,
by those we have scorned
never goes softly from
their hearts.

We hasten to distance
our selves from the
desperation of their care,
from the agency of
their desire.

We hasten to plant
ourselves in places
where they can not find us
where we can despise
them openly among

friends.

The unkind words,
spoken of us in our
absence would fall
on deaf ears should
we hear them.

because our senses have
been dulled as our passions
burn themselves away,
consumed in a fire of sighs.

sxckvjh

Rain water room new method

me though squat ethos retain water

wait stand more methods new rooms

retail chain me to more drops in links

lining square quadrants in rails fir

even lux is a change in link to flux

undulating under wet wood

meaning is emergency calls

and dispatches to rooms where

meaning falls in meaningful

square routes round edges

stop.

jhc,

A lean drying time tied to tally rand

to robin's egg and blue shore

shell pink phosphor where camphor

colored wine remissions continue to

follow through to, too, two, who?

The Mountain by Day

The peaks and folds emerge
unsheathed in broken shafts of
dusty sun-light.

He Stalked the mountain for years
like a beast of prey, visiting it at all
times of the day and night.

His enthusiasm was expressed
in a recorded remake.

'have a good look at this saintly mountain!
What elan, what imperious thirst for the sun,
and what melancholy when all this
heaviness returns in evening..."

These blocks were once fire.
There is still fire within them.

Shadow and Daylight seem to retreat,
shuddering in fear of them.
When large clouds are passing, you
see their shadows trembling
on the rocks as if scalded,
and swallowed by fire.

From a distance, all is calm.
Her foot hills an ocean bathed in light
cast from her peaks where the dark
shadows of those passing clouds are
dispersed and burned away.

untitled Haiku no. 1

Musing on a song,

I try to fight back the tears,

the pine weeps instead.

peace through austerity

In what future will they muse on these
collapsing new structures as the aztecs
did in wonder and proclaim that surely
teotihuacan was built by giants,
by titans damned for their vanity
whose voices and hands can still be felt
in the land that once entrapped them.

What inscription will they find
in empty telephone wires,
and discarded children's toys
and empty graveyards.
If printed word survives,
inscribed upon our temples
of industry and science,
let them be these-

Steel promises strength
and a better future
concrete promises
harmony, and security
glass promises clarity,
enlightenment, and
boundless horizons.

All in harmonious balance,
promise to bring peace
and refuge to the world.

Where I Stand

Paul gauguin, one of my favorite painters,

once said to intimate friend on the eve

of his last departure for the south pacific,

"I stand at the edge of the abyss...

yet I do not fall in."

These words stick to your soul

like napalm when you see the world

that he painted for the folks back home.



He painted them a world of

half naked serene and more

primitive people

living in a magical

time before the advent of taxes,

crime, and the plague.



He painted them landscapes of reds and blues

and violets, and in its people, he

saw the land reflected in their

eyes trained; on one another

pouring the tahitian sun light

azure crystal blue sky onto

their soft thighs, and exposed

chests.



He saw himself there as well

hunched in the background.



Sitting below the canopy

with another set of eyes.

Not soft and brown,

but cold and steely blue,

with hair like fire.

A predatory intruder

not native to this world.

Though he sits with them

and minds his business,

the natives should know

to flee from him

or bury him in the forest.



On the edge of the abyss

is where I've found myself

as well, but it is not into 

paradise into which I've

been cast; but a world I've

seen every day of my life

since birth, but only the lightest of shades.


I've stood at the edge my

whole life, being told, and daring not to

look back and see what

may be lurking there in

plain sight at the edge of the

side walk.



But the 'others' can see it,

and they have warned me

not to come too close

for fear of losing myself

along with my innocence, should I fall in,

should I be pushed forward,

pulled back, or stumble carelessly.



Now that I have turned,

I've found that this something

black, not a hole. There

is no light to it's rim but there is light

coming from within.

She is the queen of all

colors. She swallows my shadow,

and gapes wider and wider,

until my feet have touched

its surface.



I stand at the edge of the

abyss, yet I do not fall in.

The ocean will not claim

my bones on this middle passenger's voyage.

Should I perish, I will be buried

in the land of my birth;

be it midwest, south east,

or outer space.



When I scrutinize it's depth

it's hard to tell how deep it

is, and it seems at times,

as if it has a surface,

a matte surface struggling to

catch light, but failing for

trying and trying too hard.



I stand at the edge of

black and I put a foot onto

it, and I leave it there, and

I feel at once as if another life

is beginning within me, or perhaps resuming.

An easy swagger,

and a feeling that the sun-kissed

ground is hot, and the dark

black circle is cool,

as long as I keep cool, I can stand

there as long as I like,

and my friends and relatives will

see me to their horror not suspended

above it, upon that horrible mark.

Blackness.

That desolate, vacuum of a surface.

Black.

black like the night

black like a horsefly bite

black like the cough syrup drop

black like tar,

black like iron,

black like a man who lives

surrounded by it, but not within it,

only above it.



Black is deep and wide and sees

nothing of the sun,

there are no children here.

As I stand and look down

into the abyss onto which i stand,

I see it's surface is not a uniform

a cold monolith. It undulates

Sweet and sour, hot, breath

being gasped, creeping up my legs,

snapping at my pockets with

claws and whispers

of a thousand years of humiliation

sadness, and murder.

I stand off

the edge above the darkness

and it's inhabitants see me

as their own as long as I keep

my cool, and don't let the light

shine too brightly within me.

The White light, given to me at birth,

to keep me planted firmly on

the ground outside of the darkness.



I never look away, I never seek

a thing from that cavern.

The citizens of the cave know

where all things lie, and they see

the light outside blinding

and terrifying and they see

themselves cast their shadows

against the wall as if it's all they

have, and is all that they are,

and I struggle to see mine among

them. And they laugh at me

and say "Brother, light does not

have a shadow. The blessed walk

as the blessed walk and not as

the damned can dance."



You're in the wrong place,

and you'd better be thankful

that you're a big man and that someone

misses you.



And so I emerge, to concerned

faces who trace my image

for tarnished broken thoughts,

they scan my face for

unknown sorrows, and unrequited anger.



And they ask me plainly, where

I have been, and what I have done

in their absence; and my reply to them comes

with out a pause, or a sigh of relief.



I have stood at the edge of the

Abyss, yet I do not fall in.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Refugees from Utopia

Two wrongs don't make a right, but christians aren't perfect, they're just forgiven. Negroes don't even know that they live on the biggest continent on the earth, don't even know there are Negroes across the ocean. Chinese negroes, Japanese negroes, french negroes, english negroes, african negroes, brazilian negroes, mexican negroes, dutch negroes, negroes everywhere! Given the whole bloody world, it's been given to the negroes. Give them your mind! Give them your soul! Give them a piece.

Establish Slavery!
Abolish Slavery!
GIve them jobs or 40 acres of land and a mule!
Give them Jobs!
Give them lynch mobs, give them drugs!
Give them our daughters!
Give them our DNA!
Give them the white house!
Give them my job!
Give them my guilt!

I'm a negro now too I've learned, and it's interesting. Not all the way quite, but we're working on it. Me and my negro me. Me and my negro mind. The negro mind sees things differently my. 'x' saw it, she called it out, caught it before I did. Caught it sneaking in and shot it sexier looks than she shot me. My negro mind sees things differently and fills me in on them.

There's a moment, I realize now, when familiar things and places cease being a source of comfort. Through the lens of the other mind, the negro mind, they appear threatening and off limits or ambivalent and spitefully gay like something you know you'll never be able to own even if you've made enough to buy it 10 times over. The Other mind can SEE evil manifested in the common world of the everyday. Normally you can only see it's shadow, cool, distant.

I like Robert Motherwell. I'm black like that. Not like Langston, not like Dizzy, or Goldy, or Spike Lee. I'm black like dried paint, like a robert Motherwell, like a Spanish National anthem, like a fallen matador, like a 1975 Dodge Camero, like a friend in gallery, like spots on a cow. Like a shadow in a Kafka short story during broad daylight cast by a little girl who just wants to be a shadow, not the residue of something more tangible and threatening. Just free to come and go as it pleases, to blend in with darkness and be in harmony with light. I am black like that and I will make great art from that which I am.

I am black like Robert Ryman is white and projected onto a field of textured wall.

I am black like Robert Rauschenberg is white spilled all over a secret language of discarded objects that emerge like manhattan's lower east side when you descend upon it from a blanket of clouds.

I am black like Japser Johns is gray mottled on stenciled letters, and woodblocks.

I am black, not like Robert Motherwell is white, but like a Robert Motherwell is black.

I am not black like the Invisible Man is black, but I am invisible like the invisible man is unseen. I am invisible not like a ghost is dead, but like a ghost can see other dancing shadows and living spirits around him that pass unseen, cool, distant, and ignorable. I'm not dead. I'm alive, like a white man is alive, like a white man is alive, and like black man has a living body, and so I am gray. And I enjoy being gray in my mind, black in my body and invisible to the rest of the world like white light waves pass through water- the way black smothers white, and light casts away shadow. I exist as both world's, as a negation in a nether world.

Neither black and white, nor black, nor white, nor other, except for sometimes when I play and think now as Other. With no outward representation in society or mass media, there is no context into which we can be placed and standardized against. We're guilty by nature, both oppressed and oppressor, the perfect American formula. Criminal and Victim. We exist as illusions, reminders of a white multi-cultural dream still walking the earth like phantoms in places like the midwest. Our cultural dialogue was summarized at Jonestown. A brief impossible utopia suddenly and senselessly destroyed. So many of our would be mentors and friends perished there, torn from their mothers white and black and injected with red cyanide watching their rainbow colored playmates fall before them in blue shorts and red shirts vomiting and screaming as white men with long shaggy hair and sky blue shorts watched them twist and squirm in the dust like stranded earthworms. And so we live as refugees from Utopia, but we will never disappear altogether. Simply continue to fade in and out. To reappear and disappear like a song carried on a cool breeze, passing. Staying momentarily in our own private worlds. No population can claim us, we are an aborted race, a remnant of a lingering nightmare that was too real to be forgotten, as hard as they try. A perpetual reminder, bourn like a scarlet letter that redemption is possible, even if it is no longer coveted. In the mean time, for us, transcendence from earthly identification, suffering and desire is the only option. But I digress. As I was saying before...

Current Events

I don't listen to the news as much as I used to. I hear it. I know things are going on. A crazy man that looks like an old pale wallet wearing a tacky window dressing is slaughtering his own people like a prison warden putting down a riot. A little girl is missing not too far from where I sit. I bought two books recently, one looked like a copy of the bible with the golden silhouette of a naked woman on it, the other had a picture of Sartre and Camus. The absurdity of my own existence has become more presient to me as well. The past 20 months have been something else. I began living in a triangle between two states. I've begun drawing buildings and composing music out of triangles as well, I've learned about renaissance geometry, virtual architecture, and the virtues of cruelty in youth- against my better judgement. I've learned that we've been in a war for 10 years, but you wouldn't know it. There are cities being torn apart like bodies by cancer, but not here. At least not where you can see them.

Oh sure, the ghettos still fester, perhaps finally the 'negro problem' we've inherited will finally become simply a black scab from a festering wound that can be picked and flicked off with a friendly thumb nail. I wrote a story in protest about a young black man being raped by an old french man. It disturbs me to see hip male 20 somethings enjoying this kind of topic rather than leaving the room or shooting me dirty looks, but I guess I'm out numbered so what else do you do but keep reading?

That was a true story, about that young black man. So is this. I keep telling myself to write a journal. To keep a document so I don't forget all the crazy shit that's gone down, but Sartre would say 'keep having adventures, chronicles me damned!'. All the fun, all the despair, all the hard work, and blood, and tears, and loud noises. I've been through three cars, three places of residency. Everything seems to be about the number three. Three cities, three girls, three's company, Ad Triangulum.

I know there's a war going on, and I'm not in it.

I know the Marines will be back soon. My friend Mike came back to kill a man. A friend of mine, a friend of his, a friend of my father. There's that number three again. Another friend went back, because he didn't see enough action. Maybe he'll come back to kill someone too; another gay black professor, or a japanese feminist art historian. Maybe me, who knows. I don't know. I say that a lot too. I don't know. I'm not big on descriptions these days. My favorite method of writing is on my cellphone. I've written several poems, even started a novel on it. It's quite a machine, I won't get rid of it because it's got some of my finest work on it, but I'd due for an upgrade, so what do you do other than get a new cell phone?

I'm no longer in a depression as I used to be, but now we're all in a depression all the same. But you wouldn't know it from where I'm sitting. Where are all the soup lines? I'm happier than I've been in a long time, and I don't owe it to a career, or a woman, or fame or recognition. I owe it to bending my body into uncomfortable positions, and hacking dead tree branches off of a douglas fir with a hatchet. I'm getting bored of the sound of my own music, but I'm too lazy to make more. Not lazy.

I don't know.

I'm busy as ever. Busier. There's a war going on and people are dying. There are coup d'etat's spreading all over the middle east like dominoes against a man that looks like an old catcher's mit in a salmon colored window treatment. There's a war, and a famine, and a disaster. I scare people without trying simply because they look in my eyes- they give me authority, they call me sir without even noticing, but they won't give me a job. I guess I have to do that myself.

I rather enjoy my genteel poverty and my romantic friends. I could do with out Byron, but Percy and Mary Shelley would be good company.

There's a war going on still, and I'm not fighting the bad guys on either side, I'm just waiting for the veterans to come back and start raising hell like they should on a weekend. I ask myself where all the ass holes are at the bars. They're all over seas learning how to be bigger assholes, learning how to kill gay black college professors, or straight bi-racial college graduates who have noticed the lack of protest and sincerity in casual sex. I guess I should be thankful. That's been what I've been telling myself now for months.

I should be grateful for the war, grateful for fascism, grateful for something to wage a crusade against, grateful for being next in line to be bestowed the honor of marxist-revisionist-experimental composer and abstract painter who's tall, dark, handsome and frequently able to make people laugh. I like my glasses too, and the girls like my hair short, but there's a war going on and I'm not fighting it.

The hipsters are starting to disappear, being replaced by test tube babies in tight pants, not because they have hepatitis or took too many drugs, but because their fathers didn't make them play sports. They didn't make them do anything except take out the trash or fill out a college application because they THINK that's what a boy his age should be doing right about now. That's what I think America really is. Just the end result of everyone doing what they think they're supposed to do. It's not evil, though the army does evil things. It's simply the end result of a history of cast off foreigners all trying to be someone else, all trying to be something better, something more inherently moral, and it's okay if millions die for that private luxury. They were sacrificed, and sacrifice and murder are as different as sacrifice and suicide. Their lives were not taken in vain. It's a just a country full of people whose whole history has been defined by people doing what they think they're supposed to.

There's a war going on.

I heard a voice on the radio today. It was in English. A translator speaking over a voice in japanese. It said that the japanese are not the type to wage a coup d'etat. They'll just sit around quietly and wait to die.

My 1st ex-girlfriend of 2007 said to me in 2008, in the wake of a disastrous relationship with a predatory lesbian, that we lived in an age in which nothing was happening. I knew THAT was bullshit, and I couldn't believe that SHE of all people would say something so asinine and obtuse. But then again, she thought that Nietchze was 27 when he had that picture taken. You know the one I'm talking about. We were only weeks away from a having either a black or female president (there was no way the republicans were going to clean up the mess when a negro or a woman could do it instead). Weeks away from an global economic meltdown, devastating earthquakes in Chile and Haiti. Personal technology was spinning circles around us. 'Big Brother' had come out into the open and could chat with u online. Nothing is happening? At least acknowledge the fact that we haven't spoken to each other in almost a year, that your coveted triste with an older woman has fallen apart only months behind you, the wreckage still visible in you living room and disheveled appearance. I didn't say anything about the war, or Obama or Hillary, or secret prisons, or a communist president, or a fascist corporate state, or even a fricking iPhone, I just agreed with her politely hoping that if I made a pass she wouldn't tear my lungs out. No coup d'etat on the balcony this afternoon, no exercise of superior physical force or passion waged against my former oppressor right in front of me. I guess I'll just listen to my roomate's ipod on the bus and avoid conjouring memories that never took place to pass the time, ho hum. I did the polite thing and just sat on the other end of the deck and kept my hands to myself and it occured to me that she might never be happy again, at least as happy as she HAD been when I knew her best.

But I digress, there's still a war going on.

Now japan is on the verge of the worst nuclear disaster since 3 mile Island (nothing tops Chernobyl), the earthquake there has rocked the earths rotation slightly out of alignment. A couple more of these little global tectonic hiccups, and we very well could do a 180 from pole to pole by next year. Hurricane season, like the holidays, will be here before you know it. I'm waiting to hear that Amsterdam has been hit by a flood, that Naples as been bifurcated by a massive earthquake, that a coffeee shop in Seattle is buried in volcanic ash, that the galapagos island chain has begun hovering above the ocean, and that the 'illegal aliens' have crossed back over the border and returned to the Mayan temples with trucks full of big digital atomic clocks stolen from Children's museums. I'm waiting to see a stock broker in a teflon armani suit open fire on his daughter's montessori class with an AK-47 and finish the survivors with a tomahawk. I'm waiting to get laid again, I'm waiting for grandma to go to a nursing home, I'm waiting to lose 10 lbs, I'm waiting for my student loan deferments to run out, I'm waiting to get on a plane to Italy and show off some schematic diagrams of sonified architecture that I'm currently waiting to finish. I'm waiting to see a ghost in this house. Maybe I'm the ghost. Maybe I just sat politely and died in my sleep at some point last month and I can't remember. Maybe that's why I've learned to be Invisible.

Perhaps, now I'll stop seeing people as the realization becomes less of a dream and more of a reality. Maybe I am too nice. But I don't think so. I think I'm right on point. A little tardy, out right late most of the time, but always ahead of the curve, or at least able to see where it's turning. I don't know. I just like to say that to seem humble.

I DO know.

I DO know that everything will be okay,
I DO know that I'll get laid soon.

I DON'T know if I'll grow my dreads back out,

but I DO know, that it won't be long before I'm standing on an elevated platform before a crowd of people speaking again, living in the moment the only way I've figured out how to do it. It's a comfortable feeling, very familiar. It may be on a stage, it may be at a podium. I might have a loudspeaker, I might have a laser pointer. It may be in Perugia, or Assisi, Rome, Chicago, Mexico City, my own back yard. It might be because I'm Invisible. But, it'll happen. It's happened before, just like the tide that destroyed Sendai rolled back, only to come back stronger.

I identify with that wave, and Invisible strength of water. But end of the world or not, I'm gaining speed and heading toward land. To hell with the end of the world, I don't have time to wait for that. Besides, when all is said and done. I know it's going to be alright, I just don't know for how long.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Uncertain Terrain

Where do we meet you and I?
We've come from the same world,
lands apart.

Separated by causeways,
rivers, hills, and used
car dealerships.

Tethered together by vines
of Kudzoo. A plant so
ubiquitous and so foreign
to the land we admit to share,
but so seldom dare
to embrace
in the eyes of our
Northern cousins.

Where is The South
in the world?
On the globe it's
north of the equator.
mild, Serene,
sweet, sour,
soft, hardly perfect.

It's just right
in the middle.

But the twang
is the sound of
Motion-sick mountain drives
and stern silent glares
if you don't mind
your manners.

It doesn't matter that
we stopped using the
N-word.
That George Wallace
Repented.
That grand-paw cried with
company in the living room
because it's too
hard to change.

We have skyscrapers,
malls, museums.
We have everything we need
for geeks, gooks, krauts,
japs, frogs, towel-heads,
and Afro-Americans.

We can feed and clothe and
house our own and
our visitors too.

There hasn't been a lynch
mob in ages, and mama
loves her new black
baby!

So what does it take to
Love OUR home?
The land of color?

Corn flower blue,
Big Orange,
the Crimson Tide,
where folks like things
Chicken Fried?

The land of Blue Grass,
Golden-rod and indigo.

Yellow bellies,
red clay,
red necks,
blacks, whites
and browns?

Where August is as long
as the drawl and about
twice as thick in
The Smokies,
the French Broad,
and on the Delta.

Where hearts are open,
and minds are too.
Where mouths take pride
in what hands can do.

What does it take to Love
this land?
This people called 'trash'.

Why is it okay only to
hate her?

The big and broad,
skinny and long,
missing toothed,
big footed
bare back blue eyed blonde?

With her frail features,
warm heart, and pale hands,
she consumes the shame and agency
of all who wash up on
her newly swept door step.

She answers the door
in a night shirt after
it's far too late for visitors.
And we come inside,
and try to claim her.

To wash the indelible stains
out of her linens. We
try to claim her first in our
hearts when we are alone
staring at a ceiling fan on a
hot night with no AC,
plagued by mosquitoes
and a mysterious itch.

We want to claim her first
before Scottish, Irish, German,
Anglo, or Cherokee Indian.

Are we too just as foreign
to this land and just as despicable
as this vine that binds us to her?

It's a hard thing to acknowledge
that this place now is what is,
and is all that it is.
It will never change, it will
never go quietly from our hearts
and leave us in peace in this
'better' place in which we have
found each other,
to be neighbors yet again.

Yet here we are, voluntary refugees
from home in a better place
with culture.

Where you don't have to say grace
before dinner,
or go to Church on Sunday.

But for all this, we still
share the mark of our lesser race
in the freckles and moles that
are upon our face.

We come from a shamed,
Un-visible place.
And we will never call it by its name…

not even once.