XCIX

T: “I’m sick and tired of this situation, constantly running around and spitting out rhetoric at every person I see, able-bodied or otherwise. Who knows, if they can’t perform daring feats on a high wire, that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to recruit that kind of talent.”

R: “What the hell are you yammering about? Tightrope walking?”

T: “Yes, tightrope walking. Some consider it to be vastly more important than the entire field of biology, you know.”

R: “Are you referring to the French family of wire walkers?”

T: “Well, they’re definitely included, but they’re certainly not the only ones who find the art of high-octane balancing to be more important than life itself. Believe me, there are a lot of them out there.”

R: “If by ‘a lot’ you mean a couple of dozen, then I’m sure you’re correct. Don’t go making this into a whole thing just to show how much you like tightrope walking–no, scratch that, spectating while others walk the tightrope.”

T: “A ‘whole thing’, you say?”

R: “Yes, hijacking the conversation to give you the upper hand, or what you think happens to be the upper hand, when in actuality you’re just yammering about something that probably came up in a dream, and you can’t tell the difference between dreaming and waking anymore. I mean, I haven’t seen you running around in years.”

T: “Maybe this did come to me in a dream. So what? Surely you’re not discounting the importance of dreams and their power to influence the waking world. I don’t have any examples of this, but I instinctively know that some of the best minds of all time made serious breakthroughs after having dreams and applying them to their lives.”

R: “Yeah, that’s how the periodic table was developed by Mendeleev. I happen to know that you’re not one of the best minds of all time, sorry to day. Just stick to your day job.”

T: “What an original witticism. Can you at least admit that you’re not much of a genius either? All you can seem to do is knock me down when I try to explore new scenarios.”

R: “Yeah, stupid scenarios.”

XCVIII

Cheech Marin’s “Born in East L.A.” Blares over the PA system, and the nuns—usually solemn, devout in their convent habits—bust moves across the cloisters, moving more freely than they’d ever thought was possible, all thanks to the new, improved, younger (more liberal) mother superior. Once known as a lover of music festivals, head shops and all things countercultural, a sobering incident left her placing her faith in something devoid of the frivolity she’d known and loved for decades. After a particularly draining assorted red wine bender in the dead of winter (mostly fueled by cabs and zins), she awoke to find herself facedown in the snow, left there by an even drunker person with no residual conscience. There wasn’t a bright light in the trees, just a tingling down the spine and a voice that rang clearly in her left ear, “give up the booze and drugs and shit and I’ll give you a higher calling, girl”. The only way she could conceive of going cold turkey was through the cloth. She figured God was pretty cool anyway, swearing while giving her directions, so why not just give it the old college try?

XCVII

Made to nobody’s specifications: one pair of britches
sewn by the CFO of a Fortune 500 company
while journeying through the Kalahari via camel
and drinking nothing but orzo for an entire weekend.

There is no price set for this garment,
The maker creates pieces during celebratory times
and gauges interest for them at animal charity galas.

Nobody at the Save the Moose Fund
could fit into these particular trousers, but
The Nerds for Birds Guild will have 435 guests
at their next function, and so many of them
have the skinny sandpiper legs this officer had in mind
during that trek under the maddening desert sun.

XCVI

Jarvis the penguin can fly
like a condor in his dreams—
though he’s never seen one—
and can’t separate that fantasy
from waking life, never once having
felt the heat of the Mojave.
His vaunted perspective
Is ludicrous to all the others
since his partner in crime
was eaten by a sea lion
going about its business
on an otherwise rather forgettable
St. Patrick’s Day.

XCV

Take an iguana and toss it at a tree
to see if it sticks.
If it manages to dig in its claws
and clamber up to the canopy,
much fortune will come to us in the future.

If it digs in its claws
and holds that position,
we will need to further ponder our next move.

If it misses the trunk with its claws
and sustains an injury, we then know
that our future will be full of failure
from which we must recover
before we lose our confidence.

If it misses the tree altogether
and lands on the shadowy ground,
that is the surest sign of them all;
we must make our decisions for ourselves
and forget the superstition
that made us throw the poor iguana
in the first place.

XCIV

Can you blame me for proceeding with caution? I see no alternative at this time, though might I recommend the steak frites? A lovely dish on Wednesdays—though not so much on Thursdays—that I highly recommend pairing with a Napoleon Complex (gin and vermouth with a splash of Beaujolais). You’ll sometimes miss the intricacies generally held within what would be considered a thoroughly metropolitan cocktail, but why should that worry you at all? Aren’t you one of those kids at heart who’ll eat half a hot dog out of the garbage can? Don’t deny it, I can see it in your eyes. Don’t worry, I’ll never direct any malice toward the average dumpster diver, even if I can’t figure out the motivation.

XCIII

Inside a silver suit of sun rays
perches a cardinal, lean and bright.
Nobody’s busted the window just yet;
there’s plenty of cold air to stream in
once the brick falls into place.
Dent the floorboard where it lands,
but you don’t even bother to pay, ya punk kid.
What do I gotta do here, huh? I can tell
you don’t know the value of great American currency.
This younger generation with their lack of attention spans…