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One year ago today I joined 100Words, and that's no April's fool. I was unable to begin contributing until May, which turned out to be a good thing. I needed a month to mentally prepare myself for the task, to take a few test runs and to rediscover my writer's voice. Today, after a punishing winter, milder weather prevails: March didn't necessarily come in like a lion, but it mercifully went out like a lamb; over the weekend the peepers burst forth in chorus triumphant; and in mimicry of monkeys, fisher cats screeched alive again, defending their long-sought, hard-won turf.
As we ease into spring, there is a gradual return of flora (daffodils are popping up, as are the never-say-die crocuses) along with some fauna that has hitherto been unknown to these parts. Last evening an enormous wild turkey appeared in the yard, greedily eating the seeds I spread for the ground birds, and was unfazed when I pulled into the driveway. Ol' Tom enjoyed his meal so much he brought along the wife and kids — this morning, a family of five were chowing down, in between chaotic attempts to chase each other away. Dysfunction junction in the turkey world.
Sometimes reminders of David are comforting, forgiving minutiae that soothes and replenishes. Other times, like tonight, it reopens a dully aching wound, quietly malignant, brimming with impossible want. In searching through some boxes I came across a few of his shirts, awash even still with the earthy, sensual smell of him, like a long inhale from the nape of his neck or his majestically thick hair or the soles of his feet, and the anguishing storm ensues. It would make him most unhappy to know that I'm downing ginger brandy and bivouacking behind my self-medicated eyelids to wait it out.
Did everyone enjoy my Pity Party yesterday? I know how to throw ‘em, replete with plenty o' booze that left me hangin' this morning, deservedly so. And now my wallow in "O Woe Is Me" selfishness has resulted in a weather downturn – awoke this morning to an inch of frozen sleet covering everything, an unshovelable mass of immobile wet. The forecast reveals this evening will unleash yet another blanket of ice, more of a mess that can't be easily dealt with. It is April coming in like a lion. I hope the peepers and the angry turkey family are okay.
Feeling like having breakfast for dinner, I headed straight for Denny's, knowing exactly what I would get – highly processed, barely edible food unimaginatively served by an overly chummy waitress who would call me "hon." The comfort of mediocrity. At the booth next to mine were two gentlemen in their sixties, obviously a couple, whispering secretively, giggling gamely. They were adorable. When I finished my meal and was about to leave, I went over to them and asked, "How long have you been together?" They both furiously glared at me, and one responded with queeny precision, "None of your fucking business!"
"Lookit here!" I ejaculated. "In ‘Country Life' magazine. Lemme' find it… here! This kitchen… lookit this kitchen. Lookit those cabinets… and a breakfast nook! Would ya' just lookit?!" Seamus slapped the pages out of my hands. "Right, Bitch! Now YOU 'lookit,' the view outside that kitchen's window… a white picket fence! That's what you're in love with, Bitch! That fuckin' white picket fence! Take off those rose-colored glasses and see things right!" I meekly protested. "All I see is that breakfast nook…" Seamus' backhand caught my jaw, and blood sprayed onto the bedroom carpet, across the pages of ‘Country Life.'
An unexpected road trip in March found me inside the alleged last room within 50 miles, at a Motel 6. The bed's purpose appeared more punitive than restful, and I vowed to sleep atop its coverlet, fully clothed. Further examination of my quarters revealed a small stain of drying brown blood on the floor of the lightning white bathroom. I complained to the management, and it was promptly scoured down. But the heebie-jeebies was now a part of the evening's language, and I found myself in my car at a rest stop, shivering in the back seat, praying for sleep.
Road Trip 2
I was nodding off into fitful slumber when a sharp rap on the car's window realigned me with a frightened start. An older gentleman with a boston terrier named Muggy asked if I wouldn't be more comfortable in the spare bed of his Winnebago. He seemed sane and I was bleary with exhaustion, so I followed him into his warm and inviting "Home on Wheels." He and his dog locked themselves within the rear compartment of the vehicle, and I slipped under the sheets of the cot near the door. Muggy barked me awake six hours later.
Road Trip 3
I try to commit at least one random act of kindness a week, if possible, not because I'm a saintly person, but because it's the right thing to do. I saw my random acts repaid tenfold that night, by Muggy's master, a sixtyish stranger in a gas-guzzling Winnebago whose name I never did get, but who nevertheless sheltered me within a warm and relatively safe environment, and fed me a hearty breakfast the next morning. He refused my money and threatened feeling insulted when I persisted. I watched them drive away, and felt reinvested in humanity's goodness.
Today I saw a photograph of an 11 year old Iraqi boy, newly orphaned, badly burned and missing both arms, and my stomach roiled, my shame at being an American deepening, as if I am an accessory to the act. I hate the war, but I support the troops, and I want them to come home safely. My eardrums have been perforated many times over the years due to ear infections, and I recall the doctor telling my mother to look on the bright side, I will never be drafted into the military, and the memory of it oddly stings.
Brain damage. Short circuits. When did I develop a stutter? It manifests itself when asked the innocuous "how are you?" If nothing else I always had my voice. In speech. In song. It never seemed to fail me. Now it hesitates. Now it flutters. Now it goes gimp. I was never physically sexy, but my voice, always. My voice, my expression, my validation. It is how and why I met David. Now it's quietly, secretively, leaving me. Now awkwardly falling short. Now disqualifying me. Never superb, but always reliable. No more. My future uncertain. Robbed of David. Robbed of Me.
In my dream, we sat silently in front of a long table as malleable stalks of unidentified cruciferous plants were laid out before us. We would take up the haulm and weave salvers, to be placed under the reverential chins of the faithful during the sacrament of Holy Communion.
The body of Christ. Amen.
Ingesting the Holy Spirit. Wondering aloud, I carelessly ventured, "Do you suppose this is what inspired Jeffrey Dahmer? I mean, maybe he just got it all mixed up inside his head…" I was immediately, irrevocably, banished from the table.
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…
The room's calculated quiet was shattering, and, although it must have come from within, it bore little resemblance to the person I imagined inside my head. Whored up as it was, it looked like it had been decorated by an angry drag queen on a hit of acid. When had I become that person? What line had I traversed, what scar scorching secret had I disrupted, that could possibly explain this atrocity? This room's stealthy stillness seemed predatory, like a cobra poised to strike, suddenly, in one invisibly quick movement, without the preamble or the notion of an anticipatory hiss.
At a very young age Micah began hearing and translating people's personalities as music. Composing and performing these "musical portraits" earned Micah his livelihood as an adult. Some of the portraits were melodic, sweeping symphonies; others were in the form of jazz fusion, intelligent, distilled, complex; still others were oddly dissonant, playful, disturbing. His final composition was comprised of swift, screeching violins, inelegant and pernicious, dilated eighth notes at a teeth chattering pitch. The piece was entitled "Self Portrait." It was found, written in longhand, along side his lifeless body – Micah had forcibly driven large, sharp spikes through his eardrums.
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking
has been for many years my favorite poem. Although silent readings are always acceptable (internalizing is important with poetry), this is a poem that should DEFINITELY be read aloud, carefully enunciated, giving full weight to each vowel and consonant, allowing the words to extend and macerate in your mouth. Phrases like
, lingering lustily on the
on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake
, and experience the "ng" stopping in your throat, crisply pronouncing the "k" sounds, sibilantly crooning the "s"-es.
…you husky-nois'd sea…
…sick and sorrowful…
"I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips
And gently turn'd over upon me
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone
And plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart
And reach'd till you felt my beard
And reach'd till you held my feet."
In the previous stanza the speaker invites his partner to
"Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat…"
Who but Walt Whitman could so eloquently, so beautifully, with such elegance and wonder, describe a blow job?
…a kelson of… creation is love…"
When my date Chris Isaak asked me what one wears to a séance, I responded that I always wore a tux to these soirees, but added that since our host(ess) was the megalomaniacal Jesse Helms, no one would pay any attention to Chris' attire. This turned out to be only partially true. That night Jesse greeted us at the door in a long caftan, sporting a large bejeweled turban on his head. He would be the medium, he announced, who would be channeling the souls of the departed that evening, and then he began flirting with a blushing, embarrassed Chris.
The attendees at Jesse's séance included Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan, dressed — in matching scarlet sequined gowns — as their outrageous alter egos, Lady Urethra and Plethora Gland. Pat Robertson, attempting to jump on the Falwell/Buchanan bandwagon, adopted the drag name of ‘Muff O'Plenty,' but looked as if he just left a Monty Python sketch; he wore a frumpy house dress, a silly wig and even sillier hat. Donald Rumsfeld was attired to emulate either Annie Oakley or Dale Evans, I never knew which. Tuxedo-clad Laura Schlessinger looked positively virile in comparison.
Then Jesse announced dramatically, "The séance commenceth!"
We sat in a circle, hands clasped, the room illuminated by candlelight, as Jesse explained spookily, "We shall call upon the souls of the departed to join us tonight with the help of my spirit control, the late rice magnate, Uncle Ben." He took several deep breaths, swiftly fell into trance, and then began speaking in shameless Uncle Remus tones. I was about to put a stop to this outrage when Jerry Falwell cried out, "
" Following his gaze, we all saw an amorphous cloud beginning to take human shape on the opposite side of the room.
My date Chris Isaak looked like he was about to have an aneurysm. The diaphanous cloud on the other side of the room gradually took the shape of a smallish figure which I first took to be a woman. But as it solidified it was clearly the spirit of a short, pudgy man. Jesse's spirit control Uncle Ben spoke to it. "Speak, Suh, an' identify yo'self!" The phantom stepped forward out of the shadows. "Christ!" it exclaimed in a vaguely familiar, high-pitched twang. "I need a fucking drink!" And the ghost of Truman Capote floated towards the bar.
The spirit of Truman Capote glided towards the table and peered at our little group. He looked derisively at Pat Buchanan and Jerry Falwell, sneering, "Who are you two supposed to be? The Bronte sisters?" The pair bristled but said nothing. He then drifted towards my date Chris Isaak, whose sweaty palms indicated he was about to faint. "My my! Sugar, you're quite a dumplin'! Let's get a look at what you're packing!" Capote disappeared under the table, reemerging a moment later, apparently interested no more. "And Helms! Girlfriend, you look two hundred!" And then poof! He was gone.
While I attempted to calm down my date Chris Isaak, the rest of the group queried the now-revived Jesse why Truman Capote's spirit had left so abruptly. "Because the little faggot dissed me while I was in trance," Jesse hissed through his teeth. "Uncle Ben takes good care of
little lady!" Lady, perhaps — little, never.
Since Chris' color had more or less returned to his face, we repaired to leave. As we headed out into the night, Chris — holding my hand with a grip that was bone crunching — pleaded, "Can we
sleep with the light on tonight?!"
The husband of the young couple who recently moved in across the street is a landscaper, and to advertise his art he has built a lovely terraced flower garden at the bottom of the driveway. Unfortunately, unable to leave well enough alone, he added grotesque statuary to his otherwise pleasant creation, including a Mary on the Half Shell, a plastic deer, and a gnome seemingly regurgitated from hell's bowels. Last night some wag placed a blonde wig on the gnome and attired it in a flowery muumuu, replete with falsies.
I have no idea who would do such a thing.
"Are you sure he's gay?" I asked my formerly prim Mom, now transmogrifying into a Yente for queers by proposing a blind date for me with a guy named Dwayne. She leaned towards me with conspiratorial delight. "He's 45, just relocated from Wisconsin, he's never been married, doesn't have a girlfriend, and he's a pianist. You do the math." "How do YOU know all this?" I asked, suspicious. "Please," she responded with a disdainful wave. "Your Aunty Alice and I have had our eyes on him for you for weeks now. He's having dinner with us on Friday. You're cooking."
Dinner with Dwayne was little short of a disaster. My Mom wanted me to cook the meal to illustrate I was capable, and even tried to cinch the deal by telling Dwayne I iron my own clothes (thereby marking me as a "catch"), but he evidently found me dull and unattractive to the extreme. Although he was polite and respectful to my Mom, he would respond to my comments with silence and a vacant stare. I wasn't upset by his rejection – God knows, I'm used to it, and he was a pretentious fuckbag – but my Mom took it really hard.
In my dream I noticed a small, teardrop-shaped spot on my index finger that moved when I rubbed it, and quickly realized it was a flea that was just beneath the translucent layer of skin. I excavated the parasite with a safety pin, only to notice a small cluster of fleas ensconced within another finger. Painfully employing the safety pin once more I routed them out, to find other teardrop spots across my palms. Obeying a thought, I confronted myself in the mirror and slowly opened my shirt. My chest contained thousands of spots in a blur of shivering motion.
The newest additions to our backyard menagerie that come to feed on the bird seed are a friendly pair of mallards. The drake is beautiful, with a shining blue-green head and a tight white collar separating its black neck from its vivid burnt umber breast. In contrast, the hen, plainer in browns and greys, is a study in camouflage – she huddles down onto the ground, amidst the dead grass and leaves, and is indistinguishable from mother earth. The male stands as an attentive look-out, nibbling periodically, while the female gorges herself, leading us to believe she is most likely
I am being laid off at the end of May. As of today, I officially no longer have a title nor a position within The Company. My employers will siphon off what vital juices I still possess and then release me into the world of the unemployed. I've known this change was coming for quite some time, but I was not prepared for the absolute annihilation of my work identity and the consequent feeling of emptiness. Today I was moved from my office suite with a forest view to a 6-by-6 cubicle within the secreted bowels of the warehouse. Damn.
Some celebrities are worthy of their fame, having earned it with a great deal of hard work and talent. Others achieve more tenuous renown for their sense of style or for their physical beauty. Take, for instance, Henry Rollins. This guy is only mediocre as a musician, and even less proficient as a stand-up comedian; but, oh me oh my, he is one generous slab of eye candy. I would just love to have breakfast off his butt every morning while he lip reads "Highlights"; I'd enjoy licking down every tatt on his buff body until they were spanking clean.
I think my soon to be ex-employers are trying to kill me to save on the severance package I'll receive. Today the nozzle of the sprinkler system which hung over my innocent, unwitting head decided to liberate itself from its shackled existence; it dropped twelve feet, conking me soundly on the noggin and sending cataracts of blood spraying in all directions. With much commotion and drama, I was hustled by ambulance to the ER and took twenty stitches in my scalp. Apparently rumor has it that, despondent over my impending loss of employment, I attempted suicide at my desk. Sheesh!
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