We are engaging the two-star set-up menu. This menu contains three items. There is a small titter from the back of the
classroom. The instructor pauses. He is aware that his instructional equipment
is antiquated, that he is teaching no one anything they do not already
know. He is aware that every student in
this fourth-grade class already has bio-implants with capabilities far
exceeding anything the school’s computers can do, and every one of them know
more about how to use them than he does.
Most of them who care to have already hacked his personal files. He is aware.
He hears the clink of the cutlery on the heavy stone wear in
the kitchen. It is followed by a
scraping sound, the tines of the fork sliding across the plate surface. He hears the chair being drawn back across
tiles and the plate scraped into the trash and slid heavily into the stainless
steel sink. He wonders over the years
how many plates will slide over the bottom of that sink and bounce off it. It will of course not wear out. Some bored owner will replace the sink long
before it wears out. It will die of fashion.
He hears the clink of the cutlery on the heavy stone ware in
the kitchen. He thinks about the word
cutlery. Cut-ler-ee. He thinks of a knife slipping through a side
of beef on a butcher’s slab.
Cutler-ee. He thinks of his
Korean students who do not know what the word means, nor how to pronounce it,
even though many of them are better at English than his American college
students. Englishee. He thinks of swords and those his son has in
the armory upstairs. He thinks of his
father and things he makes of steel, copper, wood and brass.
Daniel comes down and asks me something. I rearrange the words in my mind and put them
in context and interpret for him. “You want to know if I will drive you to work
today or tomorrow.”
“Yes,” he says. He
has some kind of speech disorder that has not been diagnosed for some
reason. I wonder about this. Is it because Language is my business or I am
fussy? No. The things he says do not make sense. Is he speaking a dialect of English that I am
just not familiar with? Maybe. I need to pay more attention.
Daniel comes down and asks if I will drive him to work this
weekend. Of course I will. Almost everyone I mention this to will
protest that he is taking advantage of me.
I do not understand. He is my
grandson. It is a beautiful day for a
drive. I am not busy. He does not do this very often. There is a very good chance that when he
calls his boss it will be too late and she will not have work for him
anyway. He will be gone again in a few
months and I will miss him.
Out of somewhere I catch a stray odor of coffee, fresh
coffee. I want some. I want to get up and make a pot of
coffee. Coffee with real cream. But I have already had coffee today. More coffee will only complicate my
life. It is already complicated
enough. I think of the stray odor. It was more of coffee beans, freshly
ground. Has that puff of coffee molecule
been floating around my house since I made coffee this morning? Lurking near my chair to tempt me? Wait, what’s that? I smell pancakes. Fresh pancakes with butter and maple syrup.
My eldest daughter is in tears. She is leaving the state, moving to
Florida. She is packing while she
manages a throw-away garage sale. She is
in flight. Running. She openly admits it. She thanks me for understanding, for not
criticizing her for leaving this way because for god’s sake if anyone seems to
need her now it would be me. We all need
to embrace a new future sometimes I tell her.
I remember my own flight from Canada some six years before. I am thinking now I did not run far enough. I did not really go anywhere.
You have a message. It
is going ding ding ding against the dusty bell pan of your skull. She is not showing up. There is no metaphor
in this lifetime in which she shows up.
Envision a new life for yourself and get on with it. Heap everything into a pile into the back
yard, pour kerosene onto it and light it.
Tell yourself whatever you need to tell yourself. Use your daughter as a fine example and put
on a new pair of running shoes and start running. Take only what you can carry. Here the well is poison.
Yes it is a fine thing
to resolve to envision and to embrace a new future, but it is a more difficult
thing to actually do it. It is daunting when
you know your greatest enemy is your own mind which will not always support
you, which like a bad leg will crumple beneath you without notice, which like a
badly trained horse will suddenly bolt in the wrong direction, which like a
mixed metaphor will cloud your mind and confuse you with multiple images so
that you are unable to properly focus on the one that is important.
I have got Daniel’s cold now. It has taken about a week for it to pull me
down. Over that week he has gotten much
worse. I think his version is worse than
mine which surprises me since he seems so much younger and stronger. Perhaps it is the smoking compromising his
respiratory system, although it seemed to me that when I smoked it killed the
colds and they waited around for the periods when I was trying to quit smoking
to drag me down. It was always when I
was not smoking and exercising regularly that I got sick.
Daniel’s father showed up to visit last night. I was almost sorry I made him come. He was clearly being torn between three
different lives, and none of them was going to show him any mercy. My son had grown up to become me. It makes me wonder if my father ever looks at
me and feels any empathy. The whole
father son thing is a difficult journey no matter how you take it. I don’t think I know any fathers who are “naturals”
at it. Even TV dads are learning to be
bad as the script writers become better.
David called. He invited me to join him for dinner in Ann
Arbor. Daniel’s father was a no-show
again, so I invited him along. He was
reluctant at first, on the pc with his girlfriend, talking head to talking
head, “hello grandpa.” I talk him into
it by telling him David was in the movie “Revenge of the Nerds.” Turns out this is one of his favorite
movies. What I don’t tell him is that
David was an extra for the crowd scene at the end. I let David sort that out when we get to the restaurant. Details, Grandpa.
Well yes, it’s there, acting itself out around the edges of
my mind, the mortality play. It stumbles
along the curbs there, where the road crumbles and the grass is not
trimmed. I do not let it occupy main
stage very often. I am familiar with the
plot. I know the lines by heart. I have seen all the alternative endings, and
I know in my old-man way that the real ending, the one you actually get, is
always the one you never expected. For
me this is a nearly brutal thought, since I was expecting peace at the least.
It seems appropriate, given that the assured end is the one
I have not anticipated that I should anticipate as many ends as possible. I should write 100 deaths. However I am reminded of my series, “100
suicides” which was when I learned I had regular readers and that some of them
took me more literally than…well, I was notified by a number of people that my
series was disturbing. So I don’t think
I finished the 100 suicides series. I am
not sure how far I would get with the 100 deaths series. Maybe there are no longer readers.
This was to have been my day off except that it is not a day
off because I have work to do. Well, it
just occurs to me that you are never actually given a day off; you do actually
have to take them.
So how does this
scribbling take place when your mind is a blank? Does this mean you have grown stupid with old
age? Does your desire to sleep all day
coincide with a general physical and mental decline that gently lowers you
into a low heap of compost to be raked out over a grave plot?
Well yes there are the leaves. There are always the leaves, the cough cacophony
of leaves heaving across the landscape in a swirl of scattered colors. Every year that I have known, I have known
the leaves and the snow and yet I have not known every year and all these years
that have come and gone and some have come without leaves. There are some that will come again without
leaves and many more that will come again without my sense of these
leaves. Is that what I will miss
most? The sudden rush of wind through
My son sits on the couch.
Is he wearing khakis? He is, isn’t
he? He is leaning forward now. The grandson takes the piano bench. Well that is how people tend to arrange
themselves in here, when they come into this room. I can predict the arrangements they will fall
into in any given room depending on where the first person sits and the order
of entry into that room. There are rules
to follow. I must have been here first,
in the recliner facing the window. I
spend a lot of time here, just like my father in that.
My son sits on the couch.
Is he wearing khakis? He is, isn’t
he? He is leaning forward now. The grandson takes the piano bench. My son is talking to him urgently about his “grounding.” What does he know about grounding my
grandson complains. He has never
grounded anyone. He is trying to come in
here one day every three months and be the dad.
All he does is get in the way when you have to be the real dad the rest
of the time. I have to be careful
here. The situation is not optimum for
I don’t have to go
to the store today. I could make it another
day without picking up that prescription and those garbage bags. There is even a fair chance that Daniel may
wheedle a trip into town out of me when he gets home. I know he wants to go to the bank and to get
some new shoes. Well he wants many
things as we all do and it is wanting that drives us all I suppose. Perhaps we do not need to check our pulse to
see if we are alive, but only whether we still want.
nose between the blue eyes
long dive without hurry
while a tiny
over the house
pot bubbling and
house rots around you
Cannot get ANY
of this shit into a nursing home
Fuck the eye
of a needle
There is clarity
somewhere outside of all of
pushing and shoving
all over me
Oh a place
where eyes look and do not see.
As he stared
down into that
flurry picking out pieces of
ham and wet
the boy was still sleeping
or if he had
out sometime during
while he was napping
he had been
boy of course.
A school bus
grunts by in close formation
house rots around you.
I laugh at
the asshole with his airplane.
never get that thing into a
It will be
towed from the parking lot.
shoots through my
a bright red handkerchief.
I can hear
the constant drone of some
house rots around you as you
Yes, it is
the season for tree burning and
They are all
I have seen
Know the way
the red bleeds into the
comes down the stairs
I am what,
already nine hours into
but for him
they are waiting at the door.
Out the door
And is gone
for a long time
eye of a needle
I follow in
back to make arrangements
I am working
tonight but he has a ride.
He gets my
wallet and we split my money.
I have seen
goes back up the stairs
As the boy
House with a
The call is
from New York
And I am
It is my
There is no
My eyes are
closed and I am thinking
should be here to watch
I am not
sure, but that the memory
Of him being
drawn out the door
pheromones and sunlight
eye of some needle.
I return the
New York call.
to give me a quote
It is still judgment
time in the morning
This time I spend
waiting for a verdict
How am I
today? How will the day go?
It does look
like a lovely day out there
But it is
One of those
days when my mind seems to slide
rather than fastening on them
But I have
been sleeping a lot lately
MJ may be
He was sleeping
in the family room when
I went to
he would be
home with Tom last night, but he would
be working now too
I think MJ
left Tyler yesterday. He started thinking, do I want to be "here"
five years from now.
to his thinking by packing his things and setting them in the street. Sometimes
a partner can polarize your thinking at a key time. I think she actually wants
to keep him. But he is waking up and going through some changes and she has
chosen to fight it. And they are changes that could benefit her. Things like
better job and career thinking. It is causing her to hang on tighter to the
status quo. She is scared.
get a sense of being attached to the children as I watch them moving in and out
of my life
As if they
were pieces of me sent out into that flux and stream.
I feel oddly
Connected and re-connected
As if I am "out there" in a dozen
different manifestations sometimes
And it is exhausting
Just holding onto the strands
It had never occurred to me that it would be
the first time holding tommy and they poked him with a needle
And I yelled
I was so startled
sunlight I feel
of the sun
shirt and the
on their face
And neck and
of delight and pain
I am there
That bead of
leaf pulsing on a tree
to the limbs
listening to myself on the radio
enchanted by the time delay echo
of my own
Each one feels
a bit different.
I will fix a
and dart my stay.
each lead to two or more
rapidly expand into
a thousand possible days
only one of which I can climb into
if any at
Knees buckle at the weight of a thousand
trying to carry them all at once
and not drop a one.
Rather you choose
To thread a
needle at a time.
To do only
To not wait
camel train of a thousand
Mj is moving
about what he is leaving
is pain in that for him
So he is
strong and is becoming father
To Daniel I see
and he has the energy for this
And the time
And the two
of them fall together easily.
much synchronicity in this if I let it happen.
much to be concerned about if I were to
to be concerned, but what I see so far
All seems to
accrue to the good.