LXX


A smattering of indecisive chatter rings out from the bell tower one fine Winter evening, drowning out the silence normally reserved for a night of much less consequence. For you see, tonight marks the eighth installment of the emperor’s “Don’t Take Anything from My Collection of Gold-Plated Leaves” series. Subjects from across the land have been gathered at the pavilion for a briefing on the various forms of gold-plated leaves and the splendor that’s possible in this world–if they have faith in the system.

Installment nine, entitled: “Making Your Own Damn Collection” will center on inspiring the masses to develop worthwhile hobbies–worthwhile to them, at least–that will allow them to feel an affinity with their supreme and charismatic ruler.

LXIX


Bungled briefings mar the otherwise immaculate symposium on the births of movements–good and bad–that shape the fabric of humanity, whether we like it or not. The keynote speakers are all on point, but they suffer from the lack of proper introductions, each one needing to compensate for the audience’s initial waning interest. Some choose to spout florid rhetoric to achieve a more instant rapport, those people persons who view human connection as the pinnacle of existence. The others would rather not be bothered to amend their speeches, and dive headfirst into the material. The emcee was chosen by lottery, the first–and likely only–time that such a choice will be left to the gods.

LXVIII


When faced with an eternity of waiting in line at the grand auto parts pavilion, any sane person must conclude that a good book is a valuable commodity in the fight against boredom. Any text will provide images to limit the onslaught of entropy, detailing an almost limitless number of wonders within its pages, marked by one of many distinct voices. One faced with the proposition of reading a new book may ultimately crumble under the breadth of choices; who among us can choose between the history of debit cards and recent case studies in Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Even more difficult is the choice between Jane Eyre and a manual concerning the erroneous consumption of toothpaste. You may approach the choice by enlisting the aid of an avid reader–pick their brain and hope they have suggestions based upon what they know about you. Ultimately, you just met them in this line, and they won’t make a better choice for you than you would after sufficient exploration of a public library. It’s too bad you’re stuck waiting here, and all you have in your clutches is a trifold pamphlet describing the acquisition and treatment of genital warts.

LXVII


Build up a styrofoam stereotype, the kind that brings opulence to the tiny African schoolchild who just got a new pair of shoes yesterday and chooses to tread lightly for the good of the footwear.

LXVI


The orange contraband is burning holes in our collective pockets; we’ll need to stop our traveling and find inconspicuous places to drop it all. A hospital, chiropractor’s office, traveling circus or really any other healthcare establishment would cover our asses sufficiently. Once free of the encumbrance, we’ll need to choose where to go next for the good of the outfit. Of course, splitting up will be necessary, likely into seven or eight groups. Going down our separate routes, we should think about formulating our distinct fight songs and coats of arms–at least working ideas of them–so we may stave off insanity on our long journeys and be prepared for a quick upstart upon our arrivals. We may seem uninvited to these new places, so we must remind ourselves that familiarity breeds contempt, pledging to never get too comfortable, even though many of us will likely spend the remainders of our lives in these environments. Sleep with one eye open–both, if possible. You should already have received a dossier informing you of this and several other urgent matters critical to your survival. Heed these words and always remember your place among the all-time leaders and inspirations for change–and sometimes jubilant dancing, if the mood strikes.

LXV


A light bulb on one of our 50-foot ceilings burnt out, and only 40-foot ladders are readily available. Why we didn’t invest in a 50-foot ladder from the start still eludes me, but you know how things can end up going. We’re going to have to make a special order; I wouldn’t be surprised to see it taking at least a week to get here, since it’s a custom job. We’re actually ordering a 51-foot ladder, so it won’t be too much of a stretch to get up there. That extra foot will be very valuable indeed, which is why it will take so long to construct. They’ll have to make a new template that’s a foot longer, costing us an extra 40% over the MSRP. But it will all be absolutely worth it. In the meantime, we’ll have to rely solely on the 38 other bulbs up there to light our exhibit on the folly of string cheese.

LXIV


The lights are switching on and off at an astonishing rate, giving the more sensitive among us a difficult time of it, sending them running and tumbling in all directions. Some don’t have the off switch it takes to stop flailing after sufficient exposure┬áto such an infernal stimulus, and meet their untimely deaths. Right before passing, they enter a trance where they see every color imaginable, forming a pattern that’s tiled with images of themselves throughout their lives. Most of them are nostalgic, though some present challenges to keep them busy, were they to continue on with their lives, allowing them to feel a bit less urgent before their final moment eclipses them.

LXIII


The following text will constitute post number 900 since Wharved’s inception just over 6 years ago. I’m very proud of this number! While it’s not quite 1,000, it’s still a whopper, and serves as a boon to my self-confidence as a poet and writer of absurdity. Now that I have this little intro out of the way, please enjoy something completely different.

———-

O: “Skipping right through to the meat of the matter, all I can see is a gaggle of swans just floating and honking while we’re trying to enjoy a leisurely lunch and put all of our animosity behind us once and for all. Can’t Mother Nature take the hint that we don’t need comic relief at this point in time?”

V: “Swans don’t form a gaggle, they form a bevy. I’m not quite sure how I know that, must have been one of those things I picked up along the way, definitely before I ever met you. Now, I appreciate your willingness to bury the hatchet with me, but there are still several things that need to be put out in the open before we can reach any kind of closure.”

O: “I have nothing to hide from you–you know about all the skeletons in my closet. That’s one of the benefits of being a blabbermouth, I blurt out my deepest, darkest secrets without any real encouragement at all.”

V: “I’m still on the fence about that particular trait of yours. There have been plenty of moments I wish you’d never initiated with me, and I could have lived without knowing some of the stuff you’ve blathered on about. I mean, why should I care about your crippling fear of snowmen? We live in southern California, you’re going to be just fine, even if you still haven’t fully unpacked why the phobia developed in the first place.”

O: “Snowpeople. They don’t have to be male to scare the living shit out of me, though Frosty definitely takes the cake. I remember a childhood in Wisconsin, where the Winters were WINTERS, none of this namby pamby temperate climate nonsense. But I must have blocked the specific memories that planted the fear in my psyche. I still don’t know how something as inane as a person made of snow could frighten anybody so much, but I’m sure my therapist and I will figure it out before too long.”

V: “You and your therapist have much bigger fish to fry than that, which leads me to your intolerance for dog walkers. Surely you understand that they’re just normal people who need to earn a living, and not the dog-fetishizing monsters you make them out to be. Are you ever going to get a dog, anyway? This hatred may never actually impact your life directly; I doubt you even care enough about dogs to do anything about a real live dognapping psychopath. I’m sure there’s at least one running around out there, which isn’t good for your mental health. Nothing would please me more than to inform you that you’re getting all worked up over nothing, but I’m a very bad liar.”

O: “You know, I’ve made a lot of progress on the dog walker front. You’re absolutely correct about me never owning one of those slobbery beasts, I can’t stand their constant need for attention and complete dependence on their owners. In fact, I’m starting to think that I don’t give a rat’s ass if a conniving dog walker kidnaps one of their clients and has a field day doing whatever perverted thing they so choose. We live in a free country after all, and those dog owners knew what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to pay a total stranger to enter their home. Anyway, don’t pretend that you’re any better than me–you have your share of laughable weaknesses that I wasn’t going to bring up, but since you insist on bringing up my foibles, I don’t feel the need to restrain myself anymore. How about I start with your need to have correct change for every purchase you make? You can’t just use a debit card like a sane person? You’d rather have a pocket of bills and coins at all times? Talk about obsession.”

V: “Yeah yeah, whatever. Don’t come crying to me when your bank account is compromised by someone who stole your debit card information and took an impromptu trip to Cancun.”

O: “That’s what fraud protection is for, dummy. Whatever, I know we’re just avoiding the inevitable here. Why don’t we just air our real grievances–here and now–like adults?”

V: “That’s the most sensible thing you’ve said since we got here. Hey! Swans! Shut the hell up for a minute! Jesus, they really are starting to annoy me.”

O: “Oh, so now they’re too much for you. I suppose you’ll want to move to a swan-less location now.”

V: “Well, when we’re done eating our sandwiches. I want those damn birds to envy our meals.”

O: “Yeah, that makes sense.”

LXII


Great geezers of Geneva! There are entirely too many apes on my side of the bed today. Normally there aren’t any at all, but today there are six. What gives? I didn’t leave the bedroom window open overnight… I suppose someone could have snuck in and planted them here as a prank, but that just seems needlessly difficult and dangerous for something that’ll only get a small rise out of me. I mean, I love apes of all shapes and sizes–I’ve always been a bit of an ape whisperer. But now that I think about it, maybe the true prank was leaving that many apes in my place without leaving so much as a morsel of ape food behind. As much as I like apes, I still don’t know what they eat, or how much of it. And jeez, there are at least four different kinds of apes here. I’m sure they all have their own distinct diets; what a headache. I’m going to head on down to the pet store to get some recommendations. Who knows, they might have some Ape Chow in the back for me. You know what, I’m going to reach out to an ape researcher and have these beasts properly cared for in habitats that address their various needs, rather than fuss over caring for them by myself, like I’m sure the prankster wants me to do. Now, to maneuver to the bathroom without being mangled to death is my very first goal for this morning. No… sudden… movements…

LXI


A connected few have concocted a scheme more devious than the maddest of hatters’, chopped up and distributed amongst said cronies for entertainment purposes, mostly. Now, a scheme divided by itself is only as powerful as the people who hold the individual parts, and in this case the wealthy, aloof upper crust have no reason to fear a crumbling shambles of a diabolical plan, which goes as follows:

The eldest scheme-holders will each make distinct bird calls while the younger ones in the group practice sewing custom garments from natural silk. As both activities unfold, a specially-selected participant (who up until this point has been sitting in his study, contemplating the life of the average laborer) will shake up a dozen ketchup bottles to the point of bursting, one at a time. 

This combination of inconspicuous actions may seem utterly useless to the untrained eye, but if executed properly, they will reveal the true nature of stock market volatility, even going so far as to allow an accurate prediction of index performance for as many as eight years. This all just goes to prove that the rich will continue to amass fortunes while throwing commoners off the scent with eccentric rituals.

LX


The whole time I stood in front of the window display, I was enamored with the cheap light show, no more than one color at a time, with outstanding timing for the color switching. In particular, I saw red go to green and back to red, then to white! Once more to red, back to green, then red, then white again! I thought this pattern would persist, but I would never see the lights take that sequence again. Trust me, I stood out there for three hours and fifteen minutes.

Later on, while chatting with the light engineer, I learned that the pattern would come back once every four hours, to repeat once then go back into hibernation, as it were. Charmed by this explanation, I offered to buy him a coffee drink of his choice from the cafe on campus. He countered with a flat refusal on the grounds of disliking coffee drinks of all kinds, so I offered to buy him a drink of whatever suited his fancy. The consummate smart ass, he requested an egg white daiquiri, but only one prepared by the queen of France. We’ve been the best of friends ever since.

LIX


Well wouldn’t you know it, after all those wasted hours of worrying and hand-wringing, all it took was a swift kick in the ass to send me flying in a straight line to my unobstructed future–as the crow flies.

I’ve learned that there are good piles and bad piles. I used to think they were all just piles; neutral, inoffensive. However, as piles grow, the accumulation of material magnifies the essence of the majority of its contents, leading to a hideous nine-headed monster or a raving sycophant yes-man. Perhaps it’ll grow into a doting mother of four or a casino mogul with a taste for alien flesh. At the end of the day, none of these outcomes will be reached without piles, those very building blocks of civilization; one thing on top of another on top of another, and so on and so forth until everything is either above or below everything else.

LVIII


No matter your regression or the registration period, you have to get in your application by the first of this month (or you’ll forever regret your procrastination). Our multi-disciplinary graduate program offers everything: cow shaving, stalactite throwing, fear mongering, baby observation, traffic law avoidance, teleprompter reading and monkey imitation, along with several dozen other units designed to reinforce a well-rounded outlook on our contemporary society. Application fee: $475.