Wednesday/Thursday, April 3-4, 2019

You know, sometimes things just don’t work out. Like you put a band-aid on your finger and it just slips right off, say when you’re slipping your finger in your ear or reaching for a pinecone to throw at your neighbor’s car out front. The days sort of have a way of malingering along and there’s nothing really to do but keep on living them. And when you’ve got yourself a girlfriend or boyfriend or maybe you’re in love with your cat, there slowly comes a time when she or he or it farts while you’re in the other room and you wonder aloud what that noise was…

        “It wasn’t me!” they speak from across the room. You think nothing of it because you’d never heard that noise before. After a few moments, they have to admit that it was them. In fact, they farted. Broke wind. Etc. With a short temper, you are enthralled by the new opportunity to lie about things, personal things. You keep a silent vendetta against your significant other to get back at them for lying about farting while you were in the other room.
        On its face, this sounds ridiculous. That’s because it is. But it’s also a subconscious way of dealing with raw emotions. You bury that fact down into your own intestines, slowly waiting for the day, the second, the minute, the hour, when you will strike.

        “Baby, come on! Open up! I gotta use the bathroom?”

        “What’s that?” you respond while clipping your toenails and straightening your chest, ball and nut hair.

        “I really gotta use the toilet, baby! I mean, I really gotta shit!”

        Okay, you say to yourself in the mirror. This toilet humor is getting kinda lame. Maybe you should lay off it for a while. Get back to being the more mature version of yourself.

        “Babe, what’s for dinner?” you ask, flushing the toilet when there was nothing in it to begin with.

        “OPEN THIS GODDAMN DOOR!”

        “All right, all right. Just a second.”

        I thought about fights when considering a topic for this week’s issue of my bird brain stew that is always on the burner, always just a few moments away from boiling. That’s a metaphor for getting into a fight. You’ll figure it out.



lilacs

he reached into a countervailing premise and found himself
dumbfounded
he drank fifteen beers in 24 hours
and was able to wipe himself with lilacs, on his face, hands, arm pits and other areas where the mosquitoes had left marks on him

he was a little bit shy and
always, almost always a little bit
timid

he read in a book somewhere that lilacs cured
ailments, certain ones like poison ivy, roast beef sandwiches
and testicular cancer
he rode out into the plains on a horse and in the mane
of the mangy bitch, he left
a purple lilac
that sagged
with the passing of
time

“do lilacs grow in the spring in
Maine?” he wondered

“you dumb mother fucker!” the horse
whined, “you’ll kill us
all!”

with a purple lilac in its beard, the horse whinnied
away with the sunlight and the sensitive gentleman
riding
throughout the town on a stolen police horse
realized
that an assault and battery charge
wouldn’t look too good on his
personal
record

“have at thee!” he cried up at the sun, when really it was a police baton that came crashing down on his skull

“it’s really sad,” one of the passers-by spoke
in Korean, “lots of sick people around
here, lots of drug addicts and nobody’s help-
ing them to fight their
addictions…”

the cops charged the man with three counts of
burglary
and a resisting arrest charge
the man, sick in his mind, constantly fighting
himself

would never
make
bail.


***



there are undertones of

scars

in a prevailing sense of

sadness

all across the

world.


A MAN AMONG GHOSTS

Jack was a man among ghosts. He rode the subway each day to and from work and his wife stayed at home cooking, cleaning, writing in her diary. She made pasta. Spaghetti. Linguine. Clam sauce. Red sauce. Vermilion, sometimes. She also cooked cabbage, cucumbers (she liked them cooked), asparagus, tomatoes (she liked them cooked as well), mushrooms, baked potatoes and cauliflower. Strange as that may be in this day and age, she never ate any of the food. Whenever Jack went to bed to rest up for the job the next day, Marie, Jack’s wife, went outside in the backyard to barf up everything she’d cooked all day long. Jack was none the wiser.

        Until one day he came down for a midnight snack. It was a Sunday night going into Monday and Jack had gotten plenty of rest after snoozing and sitting on his ass all weekend. Typically, he would be depressed or shell shocked or traumatized from the week’s work so much that he would rarely leave his bedroom all weekend. The good food, though, that Marie had cooked all weekend. That had make him feel much better and it kept up his strength. It kept up his pecker too but he didn’t tell Marie about that.

        When Jack came down for his midnight snack, he was thinking about some of the good food he could eat. Marie had made vanilla pudding and she’d also made raspberry pie. That Marie! She was one helluva cook. She baked, minced, diced, overprepared and washed every single dish to the point where you could see your own reflection in the ivory glint of twilight in those dishes’ eyes. Wait. Dishes don’t have eyes. EECK. ACKK. UCKK.

        “Marie, honey,” Jack said as he entered the kitchen and noticed the light was on, “how about a little of that raspberry pie?”

        The middle of the table in the kitchen, with the green tablecloth, uglier than Sunday mass, was sprawled out across the floor. Marie was lying atop the ugly green tablecloth, kicking her legs and convulsing.

        “My god! Marie, what’s the matter!” Jack screamed, nearly covering his mouth. “What the hell happened down here?”

        Marie was shoving all the food into her mouth, vociferously, cantankerously, greedily. She had the vanilla pudding on her chest and chin and she was snatching big clumps of the raspberry pie, which was also on the floor beside her. She took the pie, smashed her other hand into the bowl of pudding, and then took both of her hands, shoveling all of the dessert into her piehole.

        “Oh, daddy!” she bellowed, nearly mumbling, beside herself with a frenzied joy. “I just love dessert! I just love dessert at midnight!” Marie was too enraged and manic to understand that she wasn’t supposed to be seen like that. The sugar was driving her nuts, batty. She kicked her legs, still, as Jack came over to her, he was wildeyed and nearly in shock. That same old feeling came over him and instead of carrying on at the mouth, he didn’t say anything. Merely he got on the floor and joined his wife in the jamboree.

        Jack reached for some of the pie. Marie hissed like a rattlesnake. He pulled his hand back. Then he smacked her a good one, right across the cheek.

        Marie stopped shaking and immediately she looked around the room like a woman who had just been at war with herself for the last 85 days, straight. Just as suddenly as she’d come to realize what she was doing, she began to sob. Uncontrollably. She raised herself up and put her face into her palms. The tears streamed, hot and wet, down her dirty apron that was blue and had tears along the sides.

        “Oh, daddy!” she whined.

        Jack consoled his wife with his left hand. With his right, he reached for the pie. Inching forward, he threw the pie into his wife’s face.

        “Here!” he said. “Have the whole thing!”

        Marie grabbed her husband’s wrists and she couldn’t help laughing. And crying. At the same time.

        “Oh, Jesus,” she was able to say, “you must think I’m demented.”

        “No, honey,” Jack replied, “I just think you’ve had a little too much to eat.”

        “By the way,” he said, lurching for the vanilla, “how’s the pudding?”

        In the morning, after Marie and Jack had steamy hot sex in the shower, it was decided that Marie would go to therapy for her food addiction. And Jack was going to quit his job. He’d go on unemployment for the time being. He was thinking of switching careers.

        “Maybe we could sell some of your pies?” he suggested to his wife who by then was slowly falling asleep. She was in a pair of dark brown panties and a white bra that was also torn and shoddy and needed to be replaced, badly. Jack waited for his wife to say something as she drifted off into sleep.

        Marie farted, loudly. Then she turned over to face the moonlight from the window by the bed, coming in and shining into her husband’s face who was also bloated and for whatever reason, still wide awake.


not really living

I guess it’s like fighting yourself

        this

    urge

                to

create

the line wavers forward and you reach for it, incessantly
as all the echoes of some bad memories keep on kicking at your brains
and you just need to look in the mirror, you need to take a walk down to the beach, even if the faces will and can eat you alive
they’re always expecting something of you

a smile, a kiss, a kind
word

you can’t get too far from them, but sometimes
you want to, sometimes
you do that
anyway

“what if you were the last person on earth and there was one other person … what would you
do?”

“I’d tell that person ‘good luck’, and then I’d
get away
from them as quickly as possible”

and that’s usually the beginning to some kind of miscommunication that will soon lead to
a fight

and it doesn’t matter how beautiful
she looked
when you first met
her, she could show up behind you
in a makeup mirror and look ugly, just plain abhorrent
and you won’t know why

or you’ll be riding away from her
after she changes her mind over and over again
and you just wanna get back to doing the thing
that makes you happy, the one thing
you need to do for
yourself

and she will put on a look of chagrin
trembling lips
and despair—you’ll ride away thinking, “damnit, she’s being
such a brat”

and the tears come later
when she’s half upright in bed, saying things
much too fast for you to understand where her logic begins and ends, and you’ll be thinking, what the hell?

ten minutes ago I was amazing for doing the dishes
and now, I don’t listen to her, I can’t say anything
right
and all weekend long, the back and forth of her mind
had lit a fuse that waited each night until finally
it blew

and you separate for the night, which almost feels like
a vacation

and in the morning, some eight or nine hours after
the fight, you’re making two cups of coffee, not one
and when you go back to your own space
and come back after a few minutes to the kitchen
counter, you see that she’s taken that coffee
you made for her and when you make your way
back into that room, the one that’s getting a little
too
familiar, she’s lying there
waiting for you with her arms outstretched

and you wilt and melt and cave
wondering why you’d ever had that fight
where had it come from, anyway?
that miscommunication of holding back
it all leads
again
to that
kiss on
the
cheek, you apologize
and say something stupid like, “it looks
sunny out today”

and she says, “really?”

and you say, as carefully as
you can, “yes

really.”


stuttering

he had problems with stuttering and speech when he was
about six years old, the other kids from class went on
to torture
him about

                it

he let it go but it riled him in his off moments
like when he was on the bus he looked out the window
and felt spoiled, unsound and different—he didn’t fit

                in

it left holes inside of his heart but he learned to
look the other way

and later on, when he got into fifth grade, the kids
were more mendacious and unruly
it got even worse in middle school, the lisp accompanied his problems with speaking and at home he’d smack his own mouth and teeth, pulling at them, yanking one out even
bloodcurdling self-loathing at the age of 13, it lingered
this sense of incapableness, this lack of self-respect

in class, that’s when it was the worst—he stuttered to handouts, homework assignments, book reports
and the pledge of allegiance, he felt embarrassed to come to school each day and the laughter that came with it
was always directed
at him and they were ruthless, coat throat like Somali pirates, he was known all throughout school as the stutterer

until one day
out on the playground
a little girl was chasing a dragonfly
and her shirt got caught in a fence
and when the bell rang for the end of recess
he saw her out there through the window, he had unknowingly become sensitive to the least bit of
distress

he abruptly rose from his desk in the middle of
a lesson and he went out to help her, climbing through the window, getting himself a detention after school

and that was where the bullies were the worst,
there were three of them and they wore jean jackets
and their pants sagged
and they wore hats in school when they weren’t supposed to
and they chewed gum and left it under their desks
and in that after school detention, he was in there on the receiving end of their taunts when the teacher had got up to leave the room to go make a call to her dying aunt or maybe she was having a cigarette in the bathroom…

“hey, idiot,” they beckoned, “watcha in here for? you too stupid for school? you can’t talk right? nobody’s helpin’ ‘ya at home?”

all at once, the three boys threw crumpled up pieces of paper at him
and his humiliation, just then
had reached a breaking point—
he got up, shoving his desk aside
and lunged at one of the punks, grabbing him by the collar
and taking a swing, “HEY!” one of them shouted, “BILLY!” the other one screamed

the kid took each punk, grabbing at their collars, ripping their shirts, not saying anything, just calmly fighting them one at a time as they covered their faces, he struck each of them in their jaws, with finesse

when the teacher got back, he was wiping the floor
with them, the punks
and the teacher couldn’t believe her eyes
“what on Earth is going ON IN HERE!”

“n-n-n-n-nothing,” he said, “t-t-t-they were j-j-just h-h-help-
ing me w-w-w-with m-m-my m-m-math
homework”

the stutterer
was
her son, “oh, Eddie, you’re gonna
get me
fired!”

“M-m-m-mom, I-I-I’m, s-s-sorry…”

“I know you are,” she said, “Eddie, I know
you
are.”


***


eternal sadness in a waking

dream

where elves hold tridents

and pasta machines and vodka

form a new currency

and nobody gets hit

with the shock of eternal death

because

everybody is eternally dreaming,

always awake, never dying

before the flood

when the great big feast

of spaghetti and vodka

begins.


in the morning

up late to get it all finished but I’m writing to myself

        and she’s lying in the bedroom in her black lace pajamas

and I can hear rumbling up and down the steps, this spiral staircase that leads up to the third floor

        after getting up to make some coffee, stretching—feeling last night’s hangover resting upon me

        I catch the glimpse of a woman in a black bikini, she sees me in through the window of the second floor and I am shirtless, hair ragged and needs to be washed

       she goes back up to the third floor and in a few moments, she’s back down the staircase, this time a pair of jean shorts is covering her bare ass which was actually a very nice

        ass

and just as I’m typing these words, my girlfriend comes into
the room, expectantly
where I am
once again typing to these walls and my own reflection, sitting in an orange chair, I get up—quickly
embracing her

and I ask her what’s on her face and she tells me it’s
water
and after asking her how she feels, she responds
and I pull back her black lace pajamas and she’s not wearing any underwear

“I know what that means!” and she laughs as I become stupid
and childish
       repeating a romantic gesture that’s not transpired
       for
       about
       a week

and she laughs some more as I repeat myself, “how do you
feel?” “baby, you just
asked me
that”

she pulls away, looking into my eyes, “what’s wrong
with
you?”

        it’s too late to hide it, that little mistake in not really listening to the best of my ability, so I admit that I’d been writing and that I was in the middle of my head and mind, somehow

       distant

and she understands, gladly coz she’s a writer too
or something of the sort, gets paid for her blog posts on WeChat
while I continually write to nobody at all

“did you hear those people?” “yes! they were so loud, up and down, up and down!”

“uh huh”

“well, I guess I’ll go get my coffee now…”

“is it a family?” she asks, moving back into the kitchen, “I don’t know,” I respond
and then a kid is walking down the steps in front of
       the window

“yep,” I say, “that looks like a kid…” and then I see the woman’s legs coming down the staircase

        and I’m waiting to see a face on the body that is now
       covered
in what looks like a cotton quilt
and she’s locking eyes with me, nervously and with some inquisitiveness of the strange, new man who is standing
bare chested
       in the kitchen
       why the hell is he staring at me?
       she wonders

“that was awkward,” I say to my girlfriend, “we kinda just
stared

        at each other”

“why didn’t you say hello?”

“because, fuck her,” I tell my girlfriend
       she laughs
       “she was too loud, anyway”

“baby…” she’s laughing some more as I get back into

        my cave to scratch myself
       while avoiding the fight
against everything,
       the fight against
life, the fight against living it—in the best way
       that I know

how

typing these meaningless words
in the morning
with a black cup of coffee streaming into
my gut
to replace the chicken and beer of

        last night’s feast
where a cockroach flew across my skull
       and I was surrounded by Koreans and Vietnamese
and Chinese restaurants, listening to my girlfriend talking about her slight boredom with Asia

and I did my best to avoid an altercation with her
       about it

“listen,” I began, “that’s just the way
       sometimes
that life

just
       is.”



***


he fought against his

demons

and realized

they were

Teddybears—

fuck ‘em.