Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Hold Up: A Border Saga Part VII

Over the next week Gomez worked harder than Mason had anticipated. He took a load off of the aging man’s knees and allowed Mason to spend less time worrying about how fast the apples got off the truck and were replaced in the bins. He felt guilty going on the patrols with the other guys but he was able to stay alert longer as he was getting better sleep. He felt that as long as one illegal was helping to stop many illegals then it might be okay to keep Gomez around longer than he had originally wanted.

Besides, Gomez was very religious with going to the Catholic Church several times during the week, sometimes more than once a day. He was courteous to anyone who spoke to him and he knew enough about the food they were selling to help anyone that needed the help. Mason felt that Gomez was worth the seven an hour but he wished he would have started lower.

***

Gomez sat in the front pew facing the crucifix. He was watching the woman to his left out of the sides of his eyes casting long looks at her. She seemed not to notice for her head was bowed in prayer. After a minute or two she looked up and saw Gomez watching her. She quickly gathered her things and loped out the door.

Gomez silently looked around. No one. He rose and walked to the door on the right, he checked down the hall both ways, again no one. He noiselessly lumbered down the hall and checked inside each door. He couldn’t find what he was looking for.

Then on the other end of the hall he heard the door open, sunlight as bright as an angel flooded the hall and Gomez slipped into the room he had open and he hid behind a stack of bibles. There were so many bibles in this room, they were still in the plastic except for one column that was about halfway depleted.

Gomez scanned the room. What he was looking for wasn’t in here either.

***

Father Thompson stood in the doorway a moment, he tried to let his eyes adjust to the darker hallway but he compulsively looked back at the area behind the church to see if anyone was watching him. He didn’t see anyone so he walked into the building.

He walked down the hall to his office past where Gomez was hiding. When he got there he shut the door, a bit harder than he’d intended but he had a phone call to make. He pulled the blinds apart and checked the yard, then he sat down and began to dial that old familiar number.

***

When Gomez heard the door slam, he rose and walked to the hall. Staying close to the wall he mangled a walking motion to the door at the end.

Outside was brighter than he expected. After his eyes adjusted he spied what he thought he was looking for. Two wooden doors leading underground. They were locked. He kneeled and with his knife that Mr. Mason gave back to him he picked the lock. He swung open one of the doors and went down the steps, five steps down he turned and shut the door. It was too dark to make anything out so he turned and cracked the door enough to see, there was a flashlight hanging from a nail, he grabbed it and shut the door again. At the bottom of the steps he swept the flashlight from right to left and then he saw exactly what he was looking for.

***

Father Thompson left his office, he leaned against his shut door.

Son of a bitch.

He prayed to himself. Father let this end, let them come, I need this.

He walked to the door leading outside, he wanted to check on the basement again. Soon enough this would all be over. If Maxell will send the trucks, it will all be over.

He shielded his eyes against the sun. His heart stopped and started when he saw the lock on the ground, he picked it up. Scratches. Father Thompson rushed back to his office, he unlocked his desk and removed a loaded glock. He had been through too much already to take this chance.

When outside he grabbed the door handle. He breathed slowly through his nose and opened the door.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Hold Up: A Border Saga Part VI

Gomez looked straight ahead, he focused on not shaking.

The man held steady and he was focusing on not shaking.

“What’s your name?”

Gomez looked at him quizzically. He wanted to take the things out of his pocket and just leave. His scratches started to itch with no quarter. He noticed how quiet it got.

They looked at each other in the quiet until the A/C unit kicked on, two seconds later the man’s wife peaked into the door. She wasn’t surprised so much as scared for her husband.

“What’s your name?” the man asked again and again he was met with silence.

“Que . . esta . . . nombre?” the man’s wife asked in broken Spanish.

Gomez looked at her and quietly he creaked out “Gomez”.

The husband looked at her quickly and keeping an eye on the Mexican. “Ask him what he wants.”

“I don’t know how to say that. He probably just wants food or somewhere to work.”

The man motioned to the Mexican’s pocket, “What you got in there?”

Gomez nodded toward his pocket and looked at the man, he nodded, Gomez slowly reached to his left pocket with one hand and pulled out to potato, he dropped it on the floor, then he got out the Piñon nuts from one pocket and then the other. They scattered on the floor like shells from a gun.

“See, he just wanted something to eat.” the woman said.

The man looked at Gomez and saw his shirt was tucked in, “Lift up your pants’ legs.” he said. Then he did that and motioned for Gomez to the same.

“Mason. . .” The woman began to step forward, but he motioned for her to stay where she was.

Gomez reservedly bent down and lifted his right leg, he removed a long knife and tossed it on the floor, then he lifted his left leg and tossed another knife on the floor, it was shorter than the other and had an odd bottle opener cut into the blade.

Mason lowered the gun and he stepped forward to kick the knives away, he motioned for Gomez to come with him. As they walked to the back office he spoke to his wife, “Honey, can you pick that stuff up? Just wash it and. . . Put it in a bag.” She nodded.

Mason sat down and motioned for Gomez to do the same, the seats were comfortable, especially to Gomez who had been walking for nearly three hours.

“Thirsty?” Mason asked. He walked over to the mini-fridge and removed a bottle of water. Gomez drank a long greedy, needy gulp and then wiped his mouth, “Thank you.”

“So you speak English?”

Gomez nodded and said, “Little” he squished his fingers together to drive home the point.

Mason got out a piece of paper and a pen. “I want you to write your name and where you’re from.” He made motions as he told Gomez to do this. “Do you want to work?” Gomez nodded. “If you’ll start today, I’ll give you food, a place to stay and seven bucks an hour. Does that sound fair?”

Gomez was following everything the man said, one thing he had learned as a child was to never reveal everything you know at once. He perked up at ‘seven bucks’ and he acted a little confused, when the man stopped talking he smiled and nodded, “Yes, Señor.”

They smiled at each other, Mason because he knew he would turn this man over to the authorities and Gomez because he knew that he now had a foot in the door of this town. They shook hands. Both with firm grips. The handshake lasted a little longer than either had anticipated.


Friday, May 25, 2007

The Hold Up: A Border Saga Part V

The morning cracked slowly over Holden. There were no people mulling over the farmer’s market and no one minding it. A dusty, tired man was creaking his bones in a slow walking motion that was supposed to take him to this town but he didn’t know that yet. When he came to the abandoned farmer’s market he did a quick look up and down the street, he tried picking the lock with no luck.

He walked around the building and found a concrete block, he carried it back to the locked door. He hoisted the block above his head with both hands and swung down. The lock scratched but didn’t break, he repeatedly hit the lock until it broke, about seven swings. He tossed the block aside and opened the door.

When he walked in the market he was happily surprised to find it air-conditioned. Many markets just killed the air at night and hoped that the desert air would keep the place cold enough to keep the fruits and vegetables from dry-rotting. He breathed deep and took in all of the intoxicating scents that intermingled ’til they all conglomerated into one long memory. There are few things that will put your mind in a tilt-a-whirl like the scents of the past.

He walked toward the Piñon nuts and ate a handful, then he stuffed a couple of handfuls into his pockets, he walked toward the red potatoes and grabbed a red apple on the way, he stuffed a potato into his left pocket.

***

A dusty pickup truck rolled toward the farmer’s market.

Behind the wheel sat a clean-shaven man in his mid-fifties, in the passenger seat sat his wife, her silver hair pulled back into a pony-tail, you could tell she had been beautiful in her youth.

She looked over at her husband and smiled exactly how you’d imagine her to smile. Knowingly, lovingly, the most trusting eyes that crinkled around the ends. They’d been through everything you’d never know.

The truck bustled into its usual spot and they both got out of the truck, he saw the busted lock first.

“Get back in the truck.” he said. She obeyed.

He grabbed a shotgun from under the truck seat and walked back to the door. She watched the precarious situation. Then he disappeared into the door.

***

“Stop right there.” the man said loudly in no uncertain terms as he cocked the gun. Gomez dropped the homemade salsa from his hands. It shattered and salsa splashed onto his shoes and jeans.

The potato in his pocket suddenly became heavier than god. He turned slowly and in the curious darkness he was staring a ten-gauge shotgun down the barrel. There was no god here.

“Put your damn hands up.”


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Hold Up: A Border Saga Part IV

Gomez was a statue. His feet in concrete.

Twenty feet away a child was crying, its mother doing her level best to console it, a man answering questions in Spanish was speaking in a homely accent. It may have been put on, but Gomez was so nervous that he didn’t pay attention to the inflection in the man’s voice.

Two minutes ago he was dead sure that he was about to be found, now he was silently thanking the Virgin Mary, Jesus and God in that order. The headlights still stared straight ahead, unblinking and unfeeling, but the spotlights were showing the humanity behind them by bathing the trio of Mexicans and the duo of Agents. Gomez was sweating but he was coasting down from an adrenaline rush.

***

Mason called to the young man, “What ya got?”

“One man, one woman and a child.” he answered.

Shit. Mason thought. “Anything on them?”

“I don’t know yet.”

Shit.


When the agents and the men had hustled the immigrants up the hill they sat them down with blankets and water, then they called it in.

“HQ, we have three, repeat, three, one man, one woman, and one child, repeat, one man, one woman, and one child. Over.”

The radio crackled back. “Copy, number sixteen. Bring them in. Over.”

“Copy that, over.”

Mason and the other men watched the illegals carefully. There were no drugs found on their person, no reason to believe they were trying to do anything except restart their lives. Yet, on the border, everyone is suspect. There are no limits to the desperation of someone trying to provide for their family. For all the Minute Men knew, these people had thirty condoms full of cocaine in this kid’s stomach and were just posing as a family.

The border agents opened up the back of their truck and put the family in. “Thanks Mr. Mason, we’ll process these people and they’ll be back in Mexico by Thursday at least.”

“Just doing our part.” Mason replied, “Y’all take care.”

The agents nodded at the Minute Men and got into the truck.

“Well, let’s call that a night.” Mason said to everyone. It was about 4:00 in the morning. All night and the haul was three people, one man, one woman, and a crying child. Everyone measures success differently and by the usual scale this was a hell of a night.

Goodnights and goodbyes were passed around. Then everyone got into their trucks and Broncos and SUVs, all the engines started in a vague concurrence and all the headlights flickered in the same manner. The night’s silence was polluted by the roar of the convey going home.

***

Gomez stayed where he was until the last wind carried off the last motor. Then he checked the hill as his eyes had adjusted to the light. He kneeled, stood up warily and he was off. There was work to do.


Monday, May 21, 2007

The Hold Up: A Border Saga Part III

Gomez started as several pairs of headlights came on but quickly returned to his taciturn rapport with the natural camouflage around him. There were no anchors to his nervousness but to move would’ve taken a fire. He was deathly still as the spotlights played their game of tag amidst the headlights stoicism. He matched the headlights and held steady, if anything could have gotten him to move it wouldn’t have been the itch developing in his eyes and down his sides and back.

Gomez gave no movement to the sound of a diesel engine working up the hill then halting. The voices weren’t carrying right now, so all Gomez could hear in the straining stillness was a man guffawing.

He lay in that position another fifteen minutes before he looked in the direction of where the voices came from, three flashlights and a spotlight moved down into the flatland, he instinctively jerked his eyes away from them. It was a remnant of his childhood, kid’s logic: “if I can’t see them, then they can’t see me”. There was no time to waste and not much that could be done in that moment. Gomez slightly checked his feet to see if they were covered but tattered New Balances jutted out in muted tones. He was moving quickly to get them under some moss or something that would keep them well hidden from the prying flashlights of the American’s.

He slipped and kicked a bush, it shook slightly.

***

The four men made their way to the end of the hill.

“Alright, Mr. Mason, you and Mr. Ben wait here with the spotlight.” the younger border agent said this with a little apprehension. He hadn’t been on a call with the Minute Men before and wasn’t sure if they were as hands-on as the news reports were saying.

Mason stopped and looked at Ben, he turned his eyes to the young man who was eyeing them despite the headlights and spotlights. Mason nodded.

The young man walked into the flatland and had to navigate his way around the scrub brushes. After several minutes he got to the well lighted area where the person or people were supposed to be. He looked around, squatted, got up, walked around the area in ten foot circles with his partner.

***

The Minute Men looked on from the top of the hill unwaveringly albeit nervously and hoped that the illegals hadn’t given the slip. It seemed impossible considering how lit up the place was.

After two circles one of the border agents gave a call to the other and he ducked down into what looked like a hole, they both scuttled about without too much struggle. The Minute Men gave a whoop and high-fived each other.

At the bottom of the hill Mason and Ben looked on eagerly and got ready to make a run to help the border agents if the drug smugglers tried to put up any struggle. Mason fingered his 9mm pistol.

At the top of the hill one of the Minute Men removed his .308 with a scope and lay down in the dirt like he had been trained to do so many years ago. He leveled his scope on the agents. They were moving quickly but not so that he couldn’t keep his sights.

He aimed at their hands until they hoisted a man up off of his knees.


Friday, May 18, 2007

The Hold Up: A Border Saga Part II

Gomez was mostly running. He watched for holes and for lights, if there were any floodlights sweeping the low area he was crossing then he would have to duck fast and hide well to keep from being detected. He heard a coyote’s call cut short as the crack of a bullet carrying over the hills sounded in his ears. He looked skyward and the sliver of a waning moon grinned back at him. Then a light as bright as god swept the brush thirty feet from where he was, he dropped like both his knees blew out at the same time.

He slid under a scrub brush the best he could. And waited as several spotlights lit up and played in sweeps across the field. He could hear the faintest snippets of conversation being carried by the wind. He stayed deathly still

One minute went by. His eyes itched.

Two minutes. . .

Three. . .

Four. . .

***

At the fifth minute one of the spotlights caught someone trying to move to a better hiding spot. They kept going like they hadn’t seen him but several cell-phones were produced on the top of the hill and the border patrol was called by an older Vietnam Vet named Mason.

“Hey Chuck, we’ve got what looks like two here. Rough looking, might be drug smugglers. You should send someone down, give me just a minute and I’ll give you the coordinates.” Mason checked the GPS in his Bronco. “Hey, you know Holden. . . Yeah, five miles directly south of it. . . Yeah, as the crow flies. . . We took 81. . . Don’t worry we’ll keep it lit up ‘til your boys get here, hold on.” he turned to the other men. “Go ahead and turn on the headlights. Alright, we’ll wait. How’s Jane and the kids?” He listened for a minute then he spit and laughed. “That’s one smart girl. . . Yep. . . Ha ha. . . Yep you take care too Chuck. . . Alright.”

Mason shut the phone. “They’ll be here in about ten minutes.” he said to no one in particular.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Hold Up: A Border Saga. Part I

Part one of a series I'll be working on.

Holden, New Mexico is the kind of place where hell wisps up in dust clouds and heaven bears down with the sun. Everyone sweats into their shirts and complains until they go into an air conditioned store, then they complain to the cashier about how hot it is who always agrees. The whole town is like a pretty downtown area so you can’t justify driving to the places in town unless you’re too old to walk, most people just park their cars in front of the grocery store and make small talk about when their town would get a Wal-Mart.

Everything seemed to revolve around church, it wasn’t all that bad except there were three churches in the town and even though everyone worked together and went to school together, the churches were like tribes. When push comes to shove, you stick with your own.

This was the mindset that permeated who you associated with, for example: a Babtist wouldn’t exactly dance with a Morman, though a nod to reassure the existence of both would suffice. But the cardinal sin was to not go to church, that was an easy to identify someone always delivered with a whisper.

This wasn’t all there was to be said about the people of Holden. Many things had certainly improved even in the last ten years. The internet had come to town, someone even had a hybrid car. But it was seen as a red herring because no one had forgotten the windmills that lumbered twenty miles north. Excitement over something new was always reserved anyway, which played into the churches’ hands and gave them a chance to promote “old time religion“. In fact, to check out how many people were strident believers in “old time religion” one only had to check out the churches’ website. But we’ll keep that quiet.

Holden played oblivious to illegal immigration though it was close enough to the border to be affected in every way. To travel out of town into the really rural areas you’d find gardeners who hired Mexican Men when their land became too much to take care of. You’d see warehouses where undocumented workers were stacking crates and driving forklifts. There might be a loaded down truck with hay piled five feet up and there would be a foot pop out and slide back in quickly.

At night there were no minute men here. There might be a coyote calling and if the moon was full enough you might see a father and a mother clutching two scared children as they made the border run. But more often than not, it would just a father and sometimes his son or his brother. The children stayed in Mexico.



Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Restoring America

Front page of USA Today for May 15, 2007 describes a microcosm of what I talk about below. There are so many refugees from Iraq spilling into the surrounding region that no American should be surprised at countries refusing shelter.

Anyway, we are doing the same thing to the Mexicans, refusing shelter(or at least attempting to), they’re experiencing a terrible amount of distress as well. One has only to look at the election riots of 2006 when conservative Felipe Calderon was elected by a narrow margin. There is a genuine socialist movement in South America right now led by Fidel-idolizer Hugo Chavez and he is succeeding by getting people to rise to his bait. The movement will go northward and will hit Mexico, so what will happen? A fucking lot more Mexican illegals will be hopping that border fence. 11 million will be nothing, there’s something terrible brewing south of the border and the rampant corruption and poverty is the cause of it all.

I’ve heard from several Mexican immigrants that they come here to work, that there’s too much shit to deal with trying to support your family there. We ought to know that the gangs running things right now on the border, Tijuana has become a smuggler’s haven and the riff-raff is spilling into L.A. We can send the National Guard down there but they’re going to have the same job as they would in Iraq (I guess it’s a good thing they’re getting practice, huh?). They’d be policing people that don’t want to be policed and are going to make everything as difficult as possible until they leave. Now, this doesn’t mean that the president should shy away from sending the National Guard down there, but they won’t be doing any good stopping people who want to work from coming here, all that is doing is setting up future smugglers, who because they couldn’t get into the U.S. will turn to the gangs that are paying to get their drugs here.

If the U.S. hadn’t gone into Iraq then a viable solution would be to send troops into Mexico with the cooperation of their president (although it seems that if we hadn’t gone into Iraq then we might still assume that we don‘t need anyone‘s help), once there we could start to build Mexico up, this would be a good training ground for what needs to be done in Africa but China may have already beat us there. If the presence of American troops are seen to be building something out of nothing (which is what Americans do, or did, best), then our standing with Mexico and Mexicans, not to mention the world, would be greater than what it is. This would be a great help in taking the fire out of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro‘s anti-American message. On another tangent, lifting our ineffective trade embargo on Cuba would be a help.

We are supposedly the greatest country in the world, a tall order to live up to, but things that seem rather simple to us, such as fighting genocide in Darfur, helping with the rebuilding effort in countries ravaged by the tsunami (which I might add, we did give the most money, but this makes sense considering our lifestyles), assisting with the removal of landmines in countries still haunted by the cold war, helping to reduce crime in Mexico (I don’t know if you heard, but they’ve hired Giuliani’s team), distributing condoms in Africa as well as proper medical stations to help reduce the AIDS epidemic, trying to relieve the suffering of North Koreans, offering to take in refugees from N.K. so China doesn’t have to bear the full brunt of it etc. etc. The list could stretch into infinity, all these things that make sense from a basic humanitarian viewpoint, that we could be doing, most of which we aren’t and if we are, we aren’t making enough of an impression to change anything. There simply needs to be an American presence helping the oppressed, not everyone can sail into the arms of the Statue of Liberty, people will die in ways that could be easily prevented if ideologues, corporations, politicians, statesmen, ambassadors, religious leaders, CEOs, presidents, prime ministers, gods and devils would check their ego at the door of life.

Why shouldn’t America lead the way? If you want something done you should do it yourself. If we can extricate ourselves from Iraq and still keep a visible presence there ready to defend the country from invasions and genocides, and yes a navy presence ready to leash Iran if they break any rules that we should establish while working cooperatively with them, Syria and Saudi Arabia to stop the quicksand that is Iraq from swallowing the whole middle-east. We should be there, simply put, because if something disrupted the world‘s oil supply then the Great Depression would seem desirable. The Muslims’ view of us is as distorted as our view of them, we don’t need to be an occupying force. That is hurting us more than losing what the president describes as “A battle in the War on Terror” (I will not go into the absurdity of the phrase or the supposed war, if you’ve gotten this far then you know what I mean.). America’s military should be seen as the tail of a scorpion, ready and full of venom. But America’s citizens should be seen as what they are, good people who are, despite everything, willing to help.

The American image does matter and the American image can easily be repaired if we do exactly what we are good at. Being good. This means supporting candidates who aren’t funded by oil and pharmaceutical industry, this means leaving the comfort of what you know and getting out into the world, you can change minds one at a time. But mostly it means that we can’t be cynical, cynicism has destroyed our spirit, we love irony too much and sarcasm has become a second language. We have to believe, in the face of everything, that goodness can prevail.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Raining

It’s all ended in a crash.
And keeping silent, still the fast pad the halls,
Then a clipping sound buzzes near your ears,
Then a field sprouts up near your home.
Horses come and go where the rain falls in patches
And rocks leap up to take the windshields and hooves.
Then W. H. Holden caps off the last rounds,
And clay hills lined with holes are his victims now.
Then a stream pops up,
Then a stream dries out.
A basin worth nothing to those who needed it.

A wind blows toward where we stand,
We lean into it and close our eyes.
Then steam arises on the horizon.
The steam looks a smoke, t h e r e ’ s f I r e
Not a time when we needed that stream more.
But feet make flight to a patch of rain.
Then soaked, in search of a patch of sunlight.
There are no fires, there is no smoke.
Three is more than enough and just right,
Three matches and my lamp is done,
But it’s raining, there’s no way to find our footprints now.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Essay on The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

A rather long essay I wrote for a college class, I'd be interested in your thoughts on it. Especially if you are a college professor or English major.

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”
Prufrock wants to die. But he is afraid of it.
Stifled by the ladies coming and going through the room he seems to occupy and they do not speak of him. They are talking of Michelangelo, the man who painted the Sistine Chapel despite the fumes and bits of paint plopping onto his face and into his eyes, the ladies are not speaking of his most magnificent creation David, they are speaking of Michelangelo himself. Just the man whose muscles and mind melded to work out these images from stone and from colored liquids that pile up around the painter waiting to be used. Prufrock watches them feeling like a “patient etherized on the table” presumably in the cruelest month: April.
Old Prufrock mutters in the streets like a mad man, yes, he should have been etherized and taken to sawdust restaurants that hold people arguing insidiously over the overwhelming question “’What is it?’”. No, no, there’s no answer to be found in just asking the question, we must visit to understand that which is but a mystery to us.
Oiy, there stands the witness and he is present but unnoticed by the women who came into his life and left, but instead of having his name in their mouth, they talk of one Michelangelo. He must not have left enough of an impression on them and he bothers up down smoke-rubbed windowpanes, he questions, he frets, and his hair grows thin (like mine). But unlike me, J. falls back into his familiar soot, not daring to be yellow long enough to lap and lick at the evening’s shadowy corners. Oiy, comforted by the October evening settling down to sleep around houses, Prufrock nestles in his uncomforting bed that feels so much like a patients table and cannot sleep until etherized, so once he goes over the day and makes a hundred different visions (dreams) and revisions (what-I-should-have-saids). Lo, Prufrock is but a child, his hair hasn’t yet to thin, he only knows of an unreachable destination that he should become as a man. Those women cannot stop talking of Michelangelo. This hurts him. Why shouldn’t women he doesn’t know speak of him so favorably? But J. cannot understand that the women are just speaking of M. he takes no time to listen to what they say about the man. So insecure is J. that he acknowledges words but not credence nor a cadence to them. He knows fully that people are speaking, he takes the time to make assumptions and juxtapose details that he makes up. This is why women come and women go. Talking, talking of Michelangelo.

Oh Shiloh, there is time to wonder about wondering “’Do I dare? And ‘Do I dare?’”. There is time to wonder “’Do I dare? And ‘Do I dare?’”. Time to turn and descend a stair in the midst of ascending it and bother about that bald spot growing (as mine is) and bother about your dress and attire ‘til you stand in the midst of satire, and you brought this upon yourself. Yes Alfred’s legs and arms grow thin they should be the extravagancies that are pinned down and asserted to a wall or a floor like a child plays with a bug. The child disturbs the bug’s universe for a minute that feels like a lifetime. If only, if only(!) I had not taken the path based on assumptions of resistance. If only there were time that went backward so I could return to the moment when I first made a step toward the Lost Highway and shout at my-past-self, (turn back!), there are no inches or feet, no meters or centimeters, the only measure of self is the coffee spoons that don’t take height into account, those coffee spoons shout at lengths of lengths of lives we lived. Oh Shiloh, I’ve known all about all the voices that die with a fall (like Kurt Vonnegut), oh, even the supermen are vulnerable, but what of the Alfreds all distracted and head movements toward music in a room that is so much further along than God. No, I do not assume, I presume.
Now the writer takes a pause, he rests, and takes into account that he may be writing gi-ber-esh. But sometimes the reason means more than the rhyme.
Lace bracelets the arms he has known, lace that turns fine brown in the face of lamplight darned out of the damp, darkness and we shudder at the thought. The thought we see through the cloud of perfume and undress, lo, I digress. A shawl ensconced those arms that decorate his bed, his ether, living in the etherized stupor that prevents him from presuming. But sign Alfred up, “’How should’” he “’Begin’”???

Never again shall he return to the soot, not anymore, Alfred may only look into the skies for the smoke escaping from the form of chimneys (nay the pipes). In Alfred’s world, men in shirt-sleeves lean from the form of a building’s skeleton. And they smoke pipes that smite the hope of returning home to roost in the old familiar soot.
My god, “I should have been a pair of ragged claws/scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” But J. has no trouble in this department, he scuttles across the floors of sawdusty, oyster-cloven, cheap hotels. And his hair grows thin (like mine).

Now we descend onto an afternoon’s evening sleeping so peacefully as to be smothered by long fingers. Sell me a story, for I am weary, let me rest, lest I malinger. And the time of day excretes and lives and sleeps ‘tween the space that J. and his love leave in the wake of their stretched bodices. And here is where I do not speak of teas and cakes and ices. For that is too easy a rhyme that doesn’t rhyme, and what’s more it has no reason to exist in this black and white drivel of vomit that you and I will pretend has a meaning and a structure. So let us forget that last sentence ever existed and soon after an exorcism of weeping and fasting, weeping and praying, then Alfred’s balding head (like mine) will return to the fore and a son-of-a-bitch-of-a-scream lets us know that his grotesque countenance is being brought out on a platter. A fitting end to a non-prophet, a fitting end we should all think, because if we do not all think the same then we will not be able to be J. Alfred Prufrock for all his bothersome complaints. We have not seen what he has seen, we have not. The eternal footman threatens to put out Alfred’s greatness and snickers (giggles?) at the thought of scaring this man, ever so slightly bald (not like me for I am growing bald). But in hell at the face of Cerberus, J. was afraid, and in short so too, will you be. Not even Dante has prepared the mind for the fording of the River Styx and this is when the eternal footman snickers (or guffaws?).

Now at the face of death J. comes to a painful realization that he and all like him would have been wise to take the worthwhile path that lies beyond the forests populated with shadows of marmalade and tea. No not that unfathomable mess. This man is looking back at his porcelain laden life and he ponders if “it would have been worthwhile” to dance naked, to shout at mountains, to do cartwheels down a hill in Central Park and if not cartwheels at least roll in the direction of the earth somewhere near Strawberry Field.s. And now he is envious of a new talking point, Lazarus, returned from the dead. Not Jesus, he has no need to be adored anymore. Not in the face of death, anyway prophets can say exactly what they meant and then in the comfort of comfort those that listened to the prophet will not understand what he meant, not at all. And he whispers this to them in their infernal sleep, (goddamn I) “Should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all./That is not it, at all.”.
Now J. goes back to his original point(after disowning his porcelain life), that being: WOULD IT HAVE BEEN WORTHWHILE!?!? He flings this screamt question at dooryards and sprinkled sheets. Sprinkled with what(?): with “the novels, the teacups and the skirts that trail across the floor”, maybe all of this, but sooooo much more.
It is impossible for Alfred Prufrock to say exactly what he means. There are no sentences, words, combinations of letters and syllables to come together to make the soliloquy that he imagines in vague shapes that float about in his head. Laugh if you must but he wishes to cast his nerves onto a screen from a magic lantern, he should have stolen the eternal footman’s, that would have stifled his snicker (or chuckle?). The River Styx cast in eternal dark, Cerberus would have to wait for his eyes to adjust to the dark as cats assail him with their slivered eyes shuddering in the comfort of the eve’. Hell should have given Cerberus an eye-patch so that at least one of his eyes would be ready for the theft of the magic lantern. There should have been enough pirates in all of Hades to tell them that. But J. doesn’t do that, he didn’t mean the Eternal Footman’s lantern, not at all, that is not what he meant at all.
Break off from death, that is too easy a subject to write upon, to shovel the metaphors and similes into a mass grave that you are writing about literally, but the words you use are figurative.

To be, no J. is not to be. He is not a rapscallion poacher like you and not a heroic introvert like. But we are not these things, we are Ophelia, or the King, unsheathe thy naked weapon and back thee. J. is NOT the eternal prince, the most famous to have ever gone to war, to war onward! Prufrock is no Prince Hamlet! He might scrape by as an attendant, a jester, a favorite son, a prodigal one. No Alfred is but the fool. Only of use, meticulous, sometimes he runs obtuse, but most definitely ridiculous. Every which way but loose which is when he rolls his trousers, only if loose is old.
Then presumably bald and withered and finitely loosing his nerve, he rolls his trousers, they trap dirt and sawdust and mites and allergens, that he collects while scuttling, much slower, on the floors where he lives, no, resides, no, rests, no, where he still questions his daring while staring into a peach.
Do I dare to consume the fuzz and skin that encompass all that is fluorescent in eating a peach. Scream, yell, whisper, gallow, fight, make love, angry, happy, not-angry, not-happy, in tune, tuned out all on the shores where mermaids sing “each to each”. But the list is for the young and J. cannot fathom the mermaids singing to him. He rides seaward, no he just bears witness to the mermaids not concerned with an old presumably bald man, who rolls his trousers and collects the crystals that make up the beach.
My god J. can only think of his calloused outer shell as he watches myths riding out with the surf. His whitened hair. A part in it. Now wait just a minute, when the waves break they reveal the black. A crushing darkness.
Crashing, crashing.
Into the ever deepening dark.
Where chambers full of red and brown sea-weed women who will not sing to the white-haired, ocean-parted Michelangelo(not), Lazarus(not), Hamlet(not).
They will not sing to those they don’t imagine, such as it is, Prufrock turns into a pair of ragged claws without a body, and he scuttles across the silent seas. As he scuttles he keeps an ear for the sound of women singing, so that he might catch what they sing when they are not talking.
But the sound of talking will wake him and as a result us, for we the barnacles attaching to his ragged form are looking for a secret that he could never know. And then, we drown.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Leaving Tranquility

Lasting.
Pear-shaped apples in the spring.
Not a day too soon, or so I thought.

But no. Non-contendre, I plead that at least.
When the winter can still be protected against with fleece.
Still the winter inside lasts longer than all the years,
All the friends, all the cheers, and curses, and damns, and all the friends.

And first to go one loses their friends.
We are all fair-weather,
In one way or another,
We can’t be bothered,
We can’t be stoned,
We can’t be talked,
Nor be dethroned.
We can’t stand on two feet,
We won’t stand on one,
But assuredly we know we could,
So long as we mustn’t prove it.
And of course we can’t prove it.

Bored. Bored. Bored.
That is the platter we carry our horse-heads on.
We should be plastered, we should be mounted.

***

Safely, there aren’t many things between you and I.
Unsafely. . .
There’s nothing between you and I.

Not a sliver of trash, glass, parades, charades.

Nothing I care to enter or exit
From or toward. To and fro.

***

My god, peoples’ ideas are becoming overwhelming,
They stretch across paths like spider webs
But like silk are too strong and not strong enough at the same time.

There are so damn many paths.
So many that turn out to be like tributaries,
And flow,
Flow,
Flow,
Into larger paths,
And again,
And again,
Until a soft pattering of feet rustling fallen leaves,
Turns into a stomp to rival the running of the bulls.

We.
Don’t.
Need.
Crowds.

That’s what I say anyway.
That’s what I said.
Now I’m saying this, and that, then this again.
‘Til every turn I make becomes a new forest,
Full to the brim of paths not worth taking, yet intangible to imagine.
At least until I take them, then I know what I knew.
And what I know becomes this from that,
Except it was always this.

Then we realize that human nature was always thus,
Even in the face of this.
It seems so different now, from what it was,
What it seemed to be,
What we deemed it to be,
Where we spread our will and overfilled.
And stained the bloodstream and all it’s tributaries.

And now we all run on the same blood,
Inbred beyond all differences.

There is no future for the sake of the future,
If you consider the future a trillion years from yesterday,
If you do so then your long term goals must seem unrealistic.
At least to others, but reiterated:
There are no need for crowds,
For they are the vestals that drive our collective group think.
Then destroy thought.

***

Hell, the important people are at it again.
Hell, we are at it again.
I guess it makes no marks where I carve into the tree.
Whether your name faces you or me,
Or somewhere that we don’t look, can’t see?

Interesting, that I made a sand castle for you,
For you were the waves, the tide.
And everything I did came crashing down around me.
Then you took it back, piece by piece and grain by grain.
I don’t even know if I tried again.
I just don’t know.

Would I, should I?
Will what you want.
Then take it back again,
There aren’t any piano keys
Or damned boards sticking with splinters.
There is only you, then me, but you first as it always should be.

Left me in a Mexican town,
Where everything’s cheap,
And I drink tequila all day,
But I’m missing something(someone).

***

With apologies to A. Rae,
My unforgivable trespasses, I wish I could take back.

***

Lust in the eve, when shoulders each take a bumping leave.
My apologies aren’t good, they don’t make up for the things I’ve said.
I’ve said terrible things.
Sentences that make me wish I were dead.

Then when I do lie still, I’m glad I’m not.
And I’m glad that I’ve no time to rot
For sleep rests, a fickle thing,
A trifle in the morn.
When awake you rest and dream of sleep,
And in sleep you rest and dream.

***

Fever.
Creeping every time I shred a word,
Shivering in each second of the world.
Fever.
Got me sweating in the cold night’s grip,
Maybe it’s just the fleeting hipster quip.

But lightning bolts shoot down my street.
I cannot walk.
The angel-headed hipster has my teeth.
I cannot talk.
I threw my skepticism into the sea.
I cannot balk.
But I make you a place to sit beside me.
We’re not like them all.

We’re not like them at all.
You and I are not like each other,
And then again we are.

When naivety dances to bird song flourishes,
Then rhythm makes for the anthem.

When we’ve no need to speak of each other,
Then of you I will not speak.

When you think I pen in jest at you,
I pen at no one in particular.

***

And everyone who thinks that their name ought to title this ramble,
Shall be proven wrong. And that is none but the truth.
So many could’ve claimed a title,
But none tip-toed around the coconut tree.
And shaken was the husk,
We smacked the tops against a rock,
And tranquility was within.

But we’re leaving tranquility behind,
From the fields of lone trees,
And the lightning stricken mask,
Where dirt was lucky enough to turn to sand,
And we left a broken trail.

We leave tranquility
For the husks of campgrounds,
Where natives loved and fought.

We leave tranquility
For the springs borne of waterfalls,
And risk life to scale its face.

We left the tranquil
So they may meditate,
On things we dare not ponder.
We leave the places in which we were seated,
So no roots root us to the ground.

We take tranquility where our seeds are sowed
To leave it, for we have many miles to go,
And dusk is approaching faster than we think,
We have many miles, no places to sink.
We still risk all, with seeds to sow,
For there are many footsteps left and so many miles yet.
Rest now. And leave what you know behind.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Arctic End

Well, come now. You and I
In the thistle-blown forest
Where the bashful animals take peeks from grasses.
And the trees keep a shade perfect for blankets,
And I
Spread the blanket.

We sat, we kissed, we made love.
I loved you, that was all.

Now I’ve called on you many times
Only to be ignored
As if a slam wasn’t enough, you had to barricade the door.

I’ve no time to knock or to ring the doorbell.
I must leave now, the clock is beating a quarter ‘til four.
I kissed my hand and blew you the kiss through the window.
I shouldn’t have had an obligation,
But you seemed so demur.

I halved a life with you when we met,
Then halved that, then that, ‘til I had more halves of you than me.
We shared something, might as well have been our lives.
And we sat, we kissed, we made love.
The closest thing to you is my passion.
And passion can’t satisfy, if it could there would be no need.
I loved you, you loved me.
We loved each other so much that the word meant nothing and only actions spoke.
I loved you, you loved me.

Well, were we gonna have six then?/ Well okay, we’ll have two.

I would have been alright if/ only it weren’t for you.

But there are some things that will only thrive in/ a run down old zoo.


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mirrors

Sorry for there not being any breaks or stanzas,
but this only made sense to me when it was read in a fast block.


Sadly you kept breaking your back
Back when talking fast still meant something
Something for the summer speed freaks
Freaking out the tinsel haired and tinsel eyed
Tiers that stood high above the soot of life.
Oh come on they weren’t that high,
Some will never know how young others can be.
If you’re borne to be young, then is that a blessing?
I should like to think so because then I am blessed
I’ve baptized myself in the tears of the young
And the tears, that’s rips, in the reality.
Oh, a white room, so sterile
‘til the new savior painted it
shades of red bursting full color
Then casting his cloak he killed whatever you wanted.
The kings of cool grew up because that’s what they do
Not before love and lust they gave and couldn’t take back
We took it thinking of forever while living in the moment.
What a moment, a white hot flash of a moment
Trapped in time, no, time became trapped in it
Trapped in those exacting series of minutes
That became known as the moment,
They bent time, they bent minds
Those were the new assassinations
The new riots, the real moments of uncertainty
Nothing if not real, emblazoned on hearts and wallets
Then reality crashed our ships
We remembered why we didn’t like some people
And at the same time they remembered why they didn’t like us
A high is only coasting without a low.
Then in spite of the red we saw a new red,
Wanted it, wanted the blood of our countrymen enemies
Casting the first stone was not shamed, we were ready for it.
Or so we thought, now blame is ready to go round, on the house.
Let me get you a round, a healthy dose’ll do ya.
A healthy dose might even kill you, so I guess in moderation?
Laughing at the word was the same as laughing at the extinct
I suppose the meaningless never ceases to entertain
And that is what gives it meaning,
But in one moment, shining bright white heat,
Meaningful banter replaced reality shows,
Music replaced the machine sounds in our minds.
Care wasn’t fooled because it ran rampant,
We were fooled because it ran rampant,
Now, back in its turtle shell, we can only look at each other.