Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Freeways and Highways.

I design things from old wash cloths,
from cars on freeways.
The clouds spin solidly through space.
Being polite is the way to being polite.
This is not the part of being polite that annoys me,
the part of leaving me out is the thing that annoys me.
Writers are a lot like readers, and they cleanse
themselves of words-from shopping, to making clothes,
to playing video games, and playing outdoors.

I throw a tennis ball on the freeway,
and the tennis ball comes back to me-
people are a little too polite to me,
and dance in their reverie.
I like to think for myself.
I like the words that threaten other words.

This is the art of being polite, of molding things
out of paper-of paper mache,
and rhythm and rhymes.
He said he is not angry, but he is angry.
He said he is not ashamed, but he is ashamed.
There are ghosts in your words,
and we speak like ghosts and hosts.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Dance of Demons.


The book glowed in the bookstore window. It was actually a pawn shop, and sold books along with everything else-furniture; lamps; jewelry; and old toys. Sarah Whittier stood with her face pressed to the glass. She was looking at a glass figurine of a rocking horse, next to the window. It was silver and had diamonds for eyes, but she didn’t think they were real diamonds, nobody would put real diamonds in a glass horse. It was very beautiful. She also saw a porcelain ballerina. She went inside. No one was around. She went up to the ballerina, and touched it. It was smooth as glass. She shook her head, and bit her lip. The porcelain rocking horse cost twenty-five dollars; she had twenty dollars on her, for buying Christmas presents. She wanted the glass figurine. She couldn't stop thinking about it.
"May I help you?" a pleasant voice asked.
She turned to look at an elderly woman standing in the middle of the shop. She wore a flowered dress. Her hair was long and gray. She looked like a picture in a book, one of those Fairy Godmothers. She smiled. "I was about to leave," she mumbled at the floor.
"Why don't you stay awhile?" she asked. "See what you can see." Her face was very pleasant. Sarah's mother died from tuberculosis last month. She was still mourning. She wore a black washcloth over her face at dinner, she didn't know why, it made her feel better. She thought.
"I wish I could," she said.
"Your grandmother died recently, didn't she?" the woman asked her.
She stopped cold. She stared at the woman. "How did you know that?" she whispered.
"Your eyes," she explained. "Your eyes told me."
She didn't offer any other information, other information about what was going on behind those gray-green eyes that stared straight at Sarah's soul. She shivered. She wasn't cold. She went out into the night.
It was bedtime, she was in her bed, thinking about the glass figurine. Her thoughts succumbed her. She could think of little else. She smiled. Her hair was brushed, and shone, and the light from the hallway nightlight lit up the room. It was very bright.
"Mother?" she said the next morning.
"Yes, dear?" she asked.
"What do you know about glass figurines?"
She laughed cheerfully. "Not much, I'm afraid. Some of them are very old. Some of them have just been made, but they are crafted with loving care."
"Oh." Sarah wasn't sure she understood the answer. She looked around the kitchen. It was nice and cozy. She wanted to take a nap, but her mother was making breakfast, and she wanted to go exploring.

“I want something to do.”
Jack Crenshaw was eleven-years-old at the time. He turned and scowled at his mother. She was ironing, near the stove. It was winter, and it was very cold, and the wind howled and shook the windows of the old house. He shivered. Hits boots quaked.
“Are you cold, dear?” she asked. “Here, have a biscuit.” She handed him a biscuit, and he wandered away, down the drafty hallway, to the bedroom, chewing it slowly. It got earlier in the winter in Alaska. Earlier, and colder. It was going to snow. The forecast predicted it.
He sighed and bit his lip. The hallway made him afraid. He didn’t want to walk down it. He wanted to stay in the nice, warm kitchen with his mother. He shook his head. Some people had told him the old place was haunted. He never believed it. He didn’t believe in much, nowadays, except for school and Mrs. Sharpton and going to the bathroom and lunch, and the collie-he was out back, sniffing the yard. He giggled. She loved to sniff the ground-he wasn't sure what was under the snow in Alaska, but it was probably something nice. Once, she found an old baseball cap.
He went into the bedroom, dropped onto the bed, and put his head in his hands.
Sometime during the night, something moaned from the attic upstairs.
The wind cried and moaned, a sad, lonely sound.
* * *
“What are you doing here, Jack?” the succubus glared at him with glowing, wild eyes. Red as the sands of Mars, red as an apple.
“How did you know my name?” he asked nervously. He was looking for a way out. He shouldn’t have come for the book-the book could fall off the face of the earth, for all he cared.
“I know everything.” The succubus laughed.
“I’d…heard you escaped from the book.”
“I didn’t escape. I was released. We succubus are slaves of our trade. The trade of evilness, of darkness.”
“Who let you out?”
She moved closer, towards him. His mind screamed inside of him. There weren’t any thoughts. Just a shallow, cold pool. “You did!” she rasped, her voice like moving October wind.
He threw his hands up and covered his eyes with his face. He swallowed hard, and the darkness overtook him, and he couldn’t remember. Anything.
* * *
The darkness swirled around him-Jack Crenshaw was in a cemetery on Halloween night. It was dark. He clutched a flashlight in his hand, and he looked around him, and swallowed hard. Tears came out of his eyes, and he couldn’t see two feet in front of him-he thought he could, but the seeing was tough, and he wanted to scream, to run away, but he couldn’t. He had to find the ghost of Lenore. It was a stupid thought, but the thought stuck in his mind, and he couldn’t make it go away. It was the stupid story. The stupid story drove him out here, in the middle of the night, in his blue pants soaked with water, and his white shirt, and his hair was wet, too, like he’d just taken a shower, but nobody was here except him, and he could feel the eyes on the back of his neck-
The whisper of wind was beside him and he screamed and he clutched at his heart, his heart thumped loudly in his chest and he couldn’t think of what to do. He had left his cell phone-where? Something bulged in his back pocket.
The raw pain of breath was in his throat. He clawed at his throat, trying to reach in the back of his throat to get it out, but he couldn’t. His eyes smarted. His nose was running. He thought he had a cold, but he wasn’t sure. He ran through the forest, tripping and falling over roots, his wind in his hair. It was cold. Everything about the night was cold, and he was feeling down, down in the dumps. He’d had the dream, the dream about the weird creature who looked human.
“Get out of my crypt!”
“I’m not in your crypt! This is just a stupid old house!”
Jack Crenshaw had the dream again-the dream of floating in space.
It wasn’t space, really, it was more like floating in nothing, and the nothing was his life. The nothingness shook him up and he awoke, panting and sweating, his face turned towards the pavement, and the flashing lights made his head spin. He blinked once. Twice. His eyes adjusted to the sudden change in brightness, and another face was in front of him, and sweat poured from his forehead. “Hi,” he croaked out, and the face smiled down at him-at first, he thought it was the face of Death, and Death had come to take him. He realized it was a man, and the man was a police officer. How could he have thought Death was a police officer? It was almost laughable. He shook his head and his vision cleared, and he could see again, and the outline of the police officer was closer to him, asking if he was all right. Jack wanted to say, “No, he wasn’t all right, his head ached and his butt ached and his face was cold from being on the pavement, and he wanted something nice and hot down his throat, he wanted to eat, but he couldn‘t quite get the words out.
The police officer’s name was Drew Arlens. “What are you doing here?” he asked him.
Jack looked around him stupidly. His mind was deaf and dumb. Nothing around him except darkness and the flashing lights of the police cars, and the moon, bright and full, and his wet jeans-he was not a happy camper.
A voice whispered in the darkness-the swirling darkness, calling his name, or maybe they were calling another Jack, from another time and place, from some place far away. It was dim in his mind. It was dim, and he was seeing, and he looked around and he blinked once, twice, and the darkness was still there-he couldn’t see anything, except himself, and himself was not awake.
This was no ballpark.
There wasn’t anything here.
He woke. A nurse’s face floated in front of him and he jerked and nearly knocked over the food tray in her hand. “Get out!” he rasped. His entire body shook. “Who the hell are you?”
“My name is Jenkins,” she chirped, smiling down at him with a wide smile. Her teeth was like gigantic slabs of white bread. “Jenkins, Amanda.” She laughed heartily. “More like, Amanda Jenkins-Jenkins being my last name. I’m married.” She tossed her blonde hair, the lipstick was bright red.
“I don’t care. May I have some water?”
“Why, aren’t you a polite young man!” she exclaimed. She scurried out of the room, and a doctor showed up.
“Well,” he chirped. “It looks like you had another spell.”
“Another spell? What do you mean?”
“You had a stroke, young man-well, your status is leukemia, it says on your charts.”
He propped his elbow up on the large hospital pillow and stared at him with bulging eyes. “What do you mean, leukemia? I’m perfectly normal-perfectly healthy.” He sputtered out the words.
“We ran some tests while you were asleep-”
“While I was asleep? What kind of hospital is this? I didn’t give you any consent to do that!”
“You didn’t have to. Your wife did.” His voice clipped out the words, one by one, like stones falling in a pool of cold water. Water always reflected the sky-life was a lot like that, a reflection of one thing turned into something else.
“I’m not married.”
The doctor glanced at his hand. “I can see your ring is gone, but a police officer found it at the scene. He was kind enough to bring it in for you.”
“Oh. Thanks. I guess.”
“What do you remember?”
“Nothing. Not really.”
“What do you mean, nothing?”
“I don’t remember anything about myself. I don’t even know why I’m here. Nothing hurts.” He frowned. He was confused about something, just something, not really anything, or maybe he was and he didn’t see it, couldn’t see the plain thing in front of his face, the something that made up his life and-the last of the thoughts flitted from his mind, and he couldn’t think. He was dumb again. That was the last thought he’d had before she spoke again.
“You broke your arm and your collar bone. You almost died. Your stomach was practically in knots, not to mention the leukemia. You’re lucky to be alive.”
His eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, lucky? I don’t remember my own name.”
“Your name is Jack Crenshaw.”
Something jarred his thoughts-something in the back of his mind. A stirring, final note. His mouth twisted in a grimace. It wasn’t even a smile.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Still Life, lyrics.

Still Life.

This is my spirit.
This is the way I’m going to show,
All of these fields of flowers, to the water
This is what I hold in the midnight sky,
And these tears I shed I want to cry.
The words I pour from my pages,
And cry these tears,
And we’ve been gone for all these years.
My life is at a stand-still, and still you’ve gone,
All these messages I am alone.
I stand on the mountain and look into my grave,
I’ve been out of the picture for a long while it seems.
You thought you could mess with me, and turn
Me into what I am-
Now I’m cold and I’m broken and I can barely stand.
You think I’m a liar I saw you bleed on the page.
You don’t know anything about the forces of rage.
This is my spirit this is my war cry,
Like the wind and the rain and the shelters we deny.
My heart is on a page.
I am homeless and broken and I cry your name,
The sky is above us, and we are here to receive,
These tears are our sorrows and on the pages it bleeds.

The Real Misery, lyrics

The Real Misery, lyrics

Don’t judge me about what I can be,
The rhythm of my life is not a matrimony-
You think you know everything,
But you don’t know me,
All you give me is misery.

You take my heart and squeeze, squeeze it,
You think you are my rock, but I’d rather freeze it.
You talked to me in school, but you didn’t know my name,
All you gave me was years of pain.

You told me you loved me, but you never knew,
About what I was going through.
You thought I was a leader, but you never know,
Why these years of being down, are yours to fix now.

Don’t judge me about what I can be,
The rhythm of my life is not in harmony-
It’s all your fault, we can’t do anything about it,
We don’t have enough tools in the world to fix it.

Who I Am, story.

It worried me. I was Death, and Death wasn’t supposed to feel pain-Death was above pain. Above hatred. Above mankind. A fallen angel, like.

My name was Death, and I am the bringer of Death.

I found the cloak in the middle of the road late one night, and it was so dark I couldn’t see three feet in front of me. I had just stopped at a coffee house two blocks from the rock quarry, and my mind spewed hatred in every direction, in all directions I couldn’t see. I thought to myself: “You almost got hit by a truck.”

The inner demon inside me almost laughed out loud, and as painful as it was, I had to stop at a hospital. It worried me, the pain in my right shoulder was very sharp, and I laughed loudly again, because I was getting hungry. I had bags of money back at my hotel room, for they were left behind by unsuspecting victims, somebody I didn’t know. I didn’t know anyone, now, no one would befriend Death.

* * *

It was the void that disturbed me, in the sullness and the darkness, that void that called to me in a song-that I was by myself, that I was blessed with the death of a song. I was the song. The car accident changed me in a way that was both temperamental and hard to transcribe, indeed, on the back door of a song, my life was dramatically changed. I became the singer, and the sinner was estranged, and the heart of my life was broken, unfeeling, like the wings of an angel. I thought about death and dying and everything in between and the miracle of being alive, of being temporary insane, since I could see what I could see at that very instant the car struck me, ahead of me, sort of to the right-almost as if I wanted it to strike me down, dead. My mind felt a sharp, intense pain, a hatred that defined me, and the wholeness of hatred was what refused to succumb me to the succubus that was my life. The succubus of the self, the innermost hatred of being dead, then being flesh, and an escape from death.

I walked from the car accident without a scratch-except there was a small one on my right arm, a jagged, scratch that went almost up to my elbow. I thought bitterly of jumping off the jagged rocks into the highway below, that there wasn’t anything worth living for. My daughter, Gloria, was dead, had died from tuberculosis when she was three, and the mortician said she’d hadn’t suffered. It wasn’t very important, this small transgression, the part of me that was the great unknown, being devoid of life, the unknowing of the self, the temper of the self that was within me. I was not a guardian. I was not a god. I simply co-existed, floating through time and space, thinking about my own death, and then there were three bright lights and I woke and a man stared down at me, bug-eyed and looking placated.

“What are you doing here?” he screeched down at me. “You’re going on the highway too fast, you were going to break your neck!”

I tried to talk, to speak to this angel that was my life, my shining star, the glimmer of hope in the distance. It was night, and the darkness was around me, through me, in me, swirling and swirling forever in a void. I was the void. I couldn’t remember anything about my life.

The med shielded my driver’s license from me. “What are you doing here?” he screeched once again.

“I’m death,” I answered, and laughed, and he looked down at me and narrowed his eyes, and I thought he was probably insane. He probably thought the same about me.

“Can’t you get up?” he asked me. “All you got is a scratch-an old one, from the looks of it.”

“It’s an old scratch,” I agreed. “I was hunting two weeks ago, in Braum Park.”

“Good,” he replied. “Why don’t you get up?”

I scrambled to my feet, and looked left and to the right of me, and the police swarmed around me and started jotting things down. I insisted I couldn’t remember my name.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mixed-Up World.

All these drugs don’t got me mixed in with this feeling
I’m living on a dream I’m reeling
in the scene this is the miracle
I’ve been waiting for you’re my angel

you drop-kick me out the door,
I loved you with my all, my heart was beating for you,
my love is a rhythm and it beats true.

I look out the door and you’re standing
in the rain, my love burns like
fire and I swear I’m going insane, I‘m going insane.

No one is looking out for me, I’m here on my own, my heart thrums like a meadow, and locks in the pain.
Don’t tell me you need me, don’t tell
me goodbye, my heart is on fire, I don’t ask you why.

You’re a world’s away
from my heart, and it was all my fault,
I let you down, let you down, let you down…
no one can dry these tears away.
I’m gone again, but your love will stay.

Friday, December 17, 2010

reflection of quiet.

My advice is this: stay on the outside, looking in-
don't forget to think about the past.
Look about the words that are inside of books,
and try to shelter us, when we speak about dinosaurs,
and Egyptology, and find ghosts in old buildings.

They think they are sensitive. They don't know anything
about words, and how they are spread on pages-
they don't know anything about geniuses, what they think
and why, because they can't think, they can't bleed
like open flowers-

some things are left unsaid, and the nastiness, the badness
that is inside most people has been quieted, and the old man
who is my teacher has risen from the ground, from the distant
grave, the silent that is his name-

The Out of Water Metaphor.

The surgeon who saved my life walks inside a subway,
not the subway that sells subs, but the subway in New
York, a train that takes him from one station to
the next. Not one place to the next, one station,
these are the nouns that reside outside of nouns,
words hidden inside one another-

the hospital on the end of the street rises like
a sleepy animal at night, and the windows stare
at me like eyes.
I walk every day past it, look this way and that,
trying to find shelter out of the storm,
the crying and howling of being a nurse.
My surgeon saved me first, when I was two,
and my love saved me second-not the love of a man,
but the love of my calico cat, my one red slipper,
and my pink umbrella, which I carry during a storm.

I think about my surgeon, and his family-his family in
Pakistan, Canada, Tokyo, the place that is bright with
lights and the Chinese who bid on jobs back in China.
There are places with bright lights, but I have to walk
by the hospital, the old hospital that sleeps and bleeds
a bed of worms,
and I think of my surgeon, and what he eats for breakfast,
and what he might do after that-
the words come, and my mouth opens and shuts like a fish
out of water.


The fruit sits on the table-my boyfriend, the guitar,
sits on the chair at the other end of the table-
his eyes are like steel pools of cold, blackness.

He thinks to himself he is not gone for good,
that he is not a radio, a star, a piece of fruit-
the fruit that is on the table, in the middle of himself.

He is not myself. He is not a hole inside myself.
He is the world, and the world is growing large-
large inside my belly, that feeds another world.

He sits in the green chair, all by himself, and molds
tomorrow out of clay-clay that melts between my fingers-
and sings out a world.

My heart is in my hands. In between dreams, thoughts are
things, and everyone is ecstatic about the fruit of trees.
People mold, and life continues-but not for disease.

For people with disease, life ends, bitterly, and it is the
end of all worlds-the worlds that spin between time and space,
and the stories we make real.