REPORT A PROBLEM
It is cold in here this morning. Quite a contrast from the Eighty degrees of yesterday. I am faced with a number of things to do today. I am not sure why I should be confused, faced with a number of things to do, but I am. These things come in different forms. Some of them are more definite, demanding even. Others are amorphous, like call your daughter. They need to be placed in some kind of order. Some possibly need to be just avoided. Maybe I need to declare this a busy day; take my phone off the hook.
My son lies on the couch watching TV. I ask if he wants some eggs but he declines. I suggest that we are in a similar place in our lives, not knowing where to go. He says he knows where he wants to go, but he cannot. He is angry at the world and he is angry at me. We have been having problems, my son and I, and neither of us understands what they are about. The things that cause our arguments seem small in retrospect; the differences seem unimportant; yet something large and very important lies between us.
Iíve been watching my youngest son. He is tortured. I can see the wings of the thing slowly flapping as it gnaws into him. It is time for the boy to go and become his own man, and this is a hard time for these things to happen. All around me I see the evidence of failed launchings. There are few jobs, and they pay so little, and it costs so much to live that many of our children cannot launch at all. So they stay home and struggle with themselves, and with their parents, and they donít know why.
I look out into the trees this morning, but my friend Matthew is not there. I had hoped he might be. I was looking for a spark of something, some wisdom or guidance, but my glance shot through the trees uninterrupted only to snap back sharply to me. Today, I have to guide myself. It will have to be some other day, some other dream where I go out to that grove of trees to read what he wrote, if I am meant to read it at all. Perhaps I was only meant to see that he was writing it.
She suggests to me that the natural purpose of men is to conquer women, a succession of women, and that once each woman is conquered, the man must move on to conquer another woman or woman substitute. She is happy with this story. It explains certain events to her. It isnít helpful to me. It is like trying to fit the wrong Tupperware lid on the box and I finally give up. It looked right at first, but I couldnít get the edges down, and it kept popping off. I was left going back to look for a zip-lock bag.
It is my grandsonís birthday. I donít know where he is or how old he is. Fifteen? I think I have pictures from the last time I saw him. It may have been the day we spent at the lake with his father. Or it may have been the night he spent with me. It was not so long ago maybe because I was living in my apartment. We made a candle for his mother and he said it had been the best evening he had ever had. That shook me up a little because we really hadnít done anything.
The old trunk on the lawn was massive and free. Once it had been fabric covered, and much of it still was. It was made of a tongue-and-groove wood, possibly fir, and would have been a find as a box alone, except I already had three large wooden boxes. It would have been a find as a pile of wood, but I didnít yet have a workshop ready to receive piles of wood such as this. I was going to have to let the box go. It was going to be someone elseís find. I wondered what it would become.
I visited an old friend yesterday; the cherry tree on the hill. Iím guessing it is close to 250 feet tall now. I hadnít seen it for four years, and it is dying now. Lightening has taken out a second of the four trunks and bugs have gotten into its heart. Years ago, when I lived here and lightening took off the first of the four trunks, I cut it off and sealed it and the tree survived for another decade. There is a lot of good wood in that tree, but I think Iím going to leave it be.
I donít know where Iím at with 100 words this month. I know the beginning of the month lock-out is still on, but I think I am close. I know I didnít write yesterday, but many days Iíve been writing two entries, so I may be only two, maybe three entries short at the most, given that this is the ninth of the month. Itís a little harder to keep up when they donít open the batches at the beginning of the month, but it can be done. I wonder how many of us have done our The-Batches-Arenít-Open-Entry by now.
The driveway sealer men showed up this morning for an hour. They swarmed over the driveway with shovels, blowers and so on while Junior and I cleared our cars. Then they left for another job while my driveway dried. I asked if they were going to wash the driveway. They said no, that they had a sealer that bonded with the oil. Maybe they planned to seal my driveway with used motor oil. I donít know. Iím not sure Iím ready for home ownership. There are many days I have felt this. I am easily overwhelmed. I am easily frightened.
I didnít get to writing yesterday, but yesterday was bad. It started out fast, got bad quickly, and by the time I got myself together it was time to go to bed. I started Lithium yesterday, something I have been avoiding for forty years. I am on a light dose now, but will be on nearly a gram a day by next week. I seem to be ok this morning. The voices are there, but they are much quieter. They are like the voices of many women: I can hear them, but I cannot make out what they are saying.
Something passes over me, like a large bird passing over the face of the moon. I pause for a breath, and it is gone. I listen to a door closing somewhere in the house. Michael Jr. is in the house with me this morning. I had a flat tire last night, apparently left home with it, changing it in the lights of the Meijer parking lot, wondering when I will cave and apply for a job there. They hire everyone. They hire the handicapped. They hire the voiceless, the old, the lame, and the incredibly ugly. They will hire me.
I noticed there was fresh-cut grass strewn over the driveway. ad Junior mowed the lawn? I went inside. "Hey Dad!" He bounced up the stairs. "Thanks for mowing the yard."
"Hey, Do you have that forty bucks yet?"
"I've only got 30 of it. I had to use ten for gas."
"It took ten dollars gas to mow the yard?"
"And I need twenty for Ty's car for gas."
"You need twenty out of the forty or out of the thirty?"
"Out of the thirty."
"So you have ten for me?"
"If you want it."
Do you have a fax now? No, I donít. They have taken my drug order and now they tell me they want a fax of the prescription. I donít even have a printer in this room. The phone is off charging somewhere else. The best I can do at this moment is save the damn page and print it out later and call them or something and see if they really need me to fax the prescription again or if this is meant for What? It is obviously meant for me. It just would have been nice to know sooner.
at the Hamtramack poetry slam suggested
that the shortest poem in the English Language was,
I resent the implication
while recognizing the truth.
I feel the frustration,
the limitation of living inside a single head,
of performing behind a mask,
seeing life through these worn wooden
slits of eyes,
leaning to break out,
to infect like a virus
to break free from a thousand hardened skulls
like flowering points of light.
One perspective says
that every atom in our body
once belonged to a star
and will some day return.
says the star returns
My needs are dark
with the screeching of night,
the poisoned adrenaline ;
scorching your life;
an X-rated hologram
The drive to get it right.
I don't care about your agenda
your neighborhood scene
you can shoot me
I'll never bleed.
If there's a rhyme I'll get it wrong
any meter I'll smash
I'm a violent, rabid
I don't care what you think
who whines, who sees
I'll do whatever
For my religion, my creed
I'm the master,
The magnificent obsession:
The Poetry Man
Today is my birthday. It is supposed to be a special day. Culturally we see it that way and imbue ourselves with special powers and protections. Actually, I did fairly well most of today. I was without hot water and the kids split early, so I had the house to myself until the new tank showed up. I waited until about an hour after the plumber installed the tank, about 3 PM, to finally take a shower, but I heard water running. Checking, I found he had unaccountably re-set the softener to charge at 3 PM instead of 3 AM.
Today I take my son to engage in a ritual of manhood and discovery. He will come home a different person. Iíll prepare him with a good breakfast and drive him to the place, delivering him to the woman waiting at the front with a smile and a slap on the back. Iíll pay the fare while he goes in sober and a little scared. Iíll take a book and wait for him. He will come out smiling weakly on wobbly legs with his hair and clothes askew. But then a root canal takes a little bit out of you.
The broken steeple has been slowly sliding toward the sidewalk for nearly a month since the storm pulled it off the tower and dumped it on the church roof. It has gotten to the edge now, the weight of the forward mass actually bending the gutter where it meets. I watch it as I walk by, and I feel it is watching back, measuring the distance for the final leap as if it were meant for me. I can see the way the wind will catch it for the final flip. I always walk the opposite side of that street.
The bees were working double shifts. They had found an excellent living space for winter, but the forecasts were for an early freeze. They had to man up and get ready sooner than expected. Every bee who could contribute was called into duty to make the new home ready in time. They were doing well. How were they to know that the juggling would spray the poison in on them? For some reason the poison was weak, and the jugglingís aim was bad, so not many of them were killed, perhaps a quarter, but what were they to do now?
I am still sick to my stomach from the Lithium poisoning. The Lithium was supposed to be medicine but it turned out to be poison for me. This is the third time a medicine that has been prescribed to help me has tried to kill me. The last one was exotic, using a necrotic skin rash. The Lithium was very straightforward. It was like stepping into the ring with a WFW heavyweight from day one, and by the time they pulled me out of the ring I could barely breathe and I felt every muscle in my body was bruised.
My glasses were on crooked and were smudged. It was as if I had been in a fight or had slept in them, possibly both. I had a sense I needed to leave, and that was what I did, giving up on trying to understand why I might be leaving or whether it was appropriate. There was something about the house itself that was wrong it seemed. There, I said it. Right or wrong, I have spit it out to look at. It is clear that there are more things in life than Lithium that are trying to poison me.
I could just watch the charts and see whether I have made a mistake or not, and live my life according to the charts, but it is not that simple. The charts tell me whether I am moving into rougher waters or not. They tell me if I am encountering more stressful situations and if I am having more trouble handling these situations. They do not tell me that a decision or action I have made is necessarily wrong; only that is it is difficult for me, and that it comes at a cost. The charts are deceptive that way.
The dog is howling again, and I am wondering if I should change rooms, not so much to avoid the dog, as there is little I can do to avoid the howling other than to adopt the dog and to care for it, because I think that is why the dog howls. It is ignored and mistreated. The people who have it are too stoned to care for it, well one of them. The other doesnít want the dog either, but gives it basic care because the first of the two is really too stoned to care for an animal.
I was thinking about changing rooms, a change of venue, a change in perspective and even in subject. I have gone so far with this as to take small voice recorders with me as I walk or drive and dictate pieces to myself. So far, I have not moved. I am parked in my chair equidistant from my stereo speakers. No, I have not made the leap to surround sound. Does this mean I am old? I am not sure. Music is complicated these days. I donít use a turntable anymore, but many younger audio freaks are into vinyl now.
Two bookcases remain in this room. No, I have not changed rooms yet. These are more aptly considered display cases than bookcases because they are so large. They are nearly eighteen inches deep and some of the shelves are twenty inches high. They are like the rest of the house: large. Part of my thinking in buying this house was to give my children a place to keep their things, and a place to go themselves in time of need, yet I am not sure I am up to the size of this house. It may be bigger than I.
I was talking to Elizabeth last night. I was having a very difficult night. It was just last week they tried to kill me with the Lithium, and I am still recovering. She suggested I go out onto my deck and absorb some of the evening. She loves my deck. I did not want to go. What she does not realize is that I do not love my deck. Somehow it just reminds me of the little deck I had on my apartment, and the times I sat there, or the candles I burned there, and it makes me cry.
I am proud of my deck here. I built it when I lived here before. It is 16x16, with rounded edges. Itís lifted between eight and fourteen feet off the ground and is shoved right into the trees. It is like walking out of the house and into the treetops. There are birds back there you never see anywhere else. I set it on 6x6 posts instead of the normal 4x4, because I felt they were more aesthetically correct, and then added knee bracing like I had seen on the old wooden railroad bridges I played under as a boy.
The couch in this room is a dark gray leather. I brought it from the apartment. It is one of the pieces of furniture I bought for the apartment, and at $800, itís possibly the most expensive piece I bought for the apartment, not counting audio equipment. It hasnít seen much use since coming here, but then, considering the abuse it took at the apartment, it certainly earned a rest. It fits in well in the space I found for it here. All it needs is a painting on the wall, and I know where to get one of those.
The rug, well, the rug has a story, perhaps more than 100 words. I bought it on Grand River in Brighton and took it to Almonte, Canada to an apartment I had leased there with a woman who was unable to show up for the relationship that we had planned. I subsequently late one night brought the rug back to my apartment in Brighton, along with a few other things, leaving many more things, including possibly my sanity. The rug was sitting in my living room a year later on my birthday when she again had promised to show up.
You would think the rug would have more emotional symbolism than it does, but it doesnít. It has a tricky pattern that really doesnít go anywhere. It is a useful size and shape for covering up things on an existing carpet or for shielding high-traffic areas. It does have stiff edges that want to curl and refuse to lie down even after all this time. It has a strange propensity to try to slip away once put down. But itís not one of those things you have to turn your brain off to look at so you donít come apart.
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