Fun Things

The more senior members of the corn-fed trophy mounting union (local 1776) always manage to find opportunities to regale their greener counterparts with talk of a simpler time–when common salmonella held a place in all of our hearts and opinion-dominated politics held sway in the public arena.

The information age was still in its infancy and the shady web traffickers used all their powers of persuasion to convince the good ol’ god-fearing people that doom was just around the corner for all non-believers (when a quick search would reveal that the sedentary nature of these chosen-by-default disciples was actually the exact behavior leading us all to armageddon).

The billionaire false prophets for social normativity laughed all the way to the bank, just the way they always had (and always would, assuming the government they’d purchased would continue to carry out their various people-crushing biddings). Nobody with enough influence could get the gears of social justice turning, due to their lack of tenure as stock market manipulators and robber barons; the folks who figured they could inspire a positive change in discourse were all too late to the party.

Or that would be the narrative that Joe and Stu want to perpetuate at social gatherings (sock hops, ball games, charity galas, what have you), usually after a beer or two. I wish they would talk about fun things instead.

Crotch

Precisely between pages 182 and 183
of a battered, overused
elementary school Spanish textbook
on the neighborhood Indianapolis Goodwill’s
hardcover books shelf, you’ll find
a perfectly-preserved eyelash
wedged in the crotch of the binding,

once attached to the heavy eyelid
of Jacob Stern, a third grader
with no real foreign language aptitude,
any sense of which would have been lost
while sitting in the back row of Spanish class
during Sr. Cerasoli’s Wednesday morning lecture
extolling the virtues of ser and estar,
a class period that felt
like it could last forever, though
certainly not in infamy (until old Jake
dropped his eyelash and roped us
into this entire absurd narrative).

Figuring It Out

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Well, another day, another dollar. Aren’t I just the greatest thing that ever existed? The peak of existence, I tells ya. Yeah, see. I’m just so great… well, maybe. Or maybe I’m just full of shit.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Well, don’t you know it, a woman with a stroller is getting on the bus. Is this going to fuck up my routine, my rhythm? What the hell, she’s taking forever!

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

But her face is strained, she looks tired. The kid isn’t really paying attention to anything that’s happening, and this poor lady is just trying to figure out how to get to her destination without completely losing it.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

This mother is doing everything she can! Look at her, taking the bus on her own with a big-ass stroller that’s taking up way more space than she would care to take up in the first place.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I make brief eye contact with her and we exchange knowing glances, even though I know absolutely nothing (first-hand) about being a mother or providing for a family. Even being a woman, for that matter.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I get a look at the kid in the stroller, their eyes darting around to see the new sights, soaking them in like a sponge. Inquisitive. Colors everywhere. Information streaming in that may never leave.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

We lock eyes. I grin from ear to ear. He/she/they smile back, and keep the eye contact going. I have to look away after a couple seconds, for fear of other people noticing this interaction with a small child.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I think that this person could be a leader, a future president. I don’t want to spoil their innocence by selfishly avoiding their gaze. Their innocence can only stretch so far in the face of cynicism. I put my hand in the air and wave.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I look at the time, and it turns out that I’m going to make it to work without delay anyway. All that worrying, all the hand-wringing for things that were ultimately out of my control.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Where is this kid going, anyway? What are they going to want to do with their life? They obviously have a mom who wants the best for them. These are all things that probably won’t be reckoned with for some years (hopefully, if ever).

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Was I like that bright-eyed kid on the bus when my mom was taking me to work with her on my days off from school? Hopping on the blue line and talking about the little things we noticed on the platform and in the tunnel? Were there older people on the train making that same kind of eye contact with me? Did they avoid my gaze after a couple of seconds?

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Here’s my stop. One last glance at the mother and child is enough to charge me up for work, to give me that one last pause before I have to deal with the deluge of humans who may or may not know what’s good for them. But hey, we’re all figuring it out in our own time.

Levity

Levity slices through to the heart of an artichoke much more effectively than any knife.

That’s at least what my uncle Gilfroy told me one time over whiskey sours. I couldn’t partake with him, seeing as I was just a wee lad at the time, but he certainly enjoyed at least a handful of those particular beverages that afternoon. I couldn’t be sure if he was yanking my chain or just drunk enough to start seeing metaphors as literal occurrences. He had a funny way of abandoning our family’s sensibilities from time to time (usually with the aid of drink), and we still haven’t pieced together whether or not we should have ever been taking him seriously.

I for one enjoyed his antics, all the way up until his disappearance.

Now, the grey-hairs in my family clan have all unequivocally declared that he died at sea promptly after concocting a hair-brained scheme to sail around the world. I think they were just coming up with a convenient excuse to bookend his misunderstood life and wrap it up neatly with a cute little (morbid) bow. Personally, I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s alive and well, coming up with different vegetable-related remarks every time he meets a new person he likes.

Microcosm

Belt the roast torpedo chicken espresso trepidation
between undertow scripture merriment
before tomorrow feels golf handler syndrome takers.

Upon victory garden memory quickeners
preside bacon cheerleaders,
content to scythe some grain,
unwind a bird line into chocolate cave platypuses.

Tom was a simple boy, never ventured too far away from his home because he figured home was a microcosm of the greater world, any unexplored tracts reserved for other people of existence, their place separate from his, and he was just fine with that.

Mingle amongst ribbon galoshes,
puddle champagne reed pushers beyond any barley crop–
unbeknownst to Gertrude,
widow’s fingers
trace forks and spoons
along the monument to any fallen porcupine quill,
infinitesimally uncomfortable through shadows and mean chickadees.

———-

Originally posted to WHARVED on 1/7/12,
entitled #81 (first numbered series)

Service Station – 21:58GMT

What’s that? Oh, just a trainsquatting parallel service station ruminating forethoughts of rubbish, only to behold what everybody thought they’d lost oh so long ago. It varies, but the general longing is for innocence and chocolate ice cream. Tomorrow becomes yesterday, and fantasy splits from memory. You put on your corduroy pants and striped shirt, fling the door open and view the world anew, film life from your cold eyes. You skip down the street, greeting every pigeon and squirrel you see, unaware of the bewildered gawkers insinuating what you must be: a madman, a mentally challenged individual or somebody with a zest for life like nothing they’ve seen from someone your age–however old you happen to be. If you could read their thoughts, wouldn’t you obviously prefer the last one? Obviously. As you go to look for an ice cream truck in the middle of January, you feel lighter than you can ever remember. You click your heels and start whistling. The ice cream truck is an impossibility, and you know that in the back of your head, but you prefer to ignore your nagging mind and imagine the rarity and spectacular deliciousness that would come from an off-season waffle cone. Then you wake up and the process begins all over again, in earnest.

What time is it? Am I getting older?
I really wish I could use my arms.

Belgians – 10:28GMT

What in the hell? I don’t know where all these Belgians came from. I know somebody dared somebody else at some point, but it’s possible we’ll never know for sure. Am I perturbed by that? I suppose, perhaps a little. But I won’t grow as a person if I spend all my time wondering whether or not a bunch of infernal Belgians belong in this picture. They have a right, like any other ethnic group, to be included in this narrative, and even serve a prominent role! But they won’t. See, this piece doesn’t incorporate a single Belgian. No people, chocolate, beer, or even waffles from that place.

So you can understand my mortification surrounding the inclusion of these here Belgians. I’m so ruffled that I haven’t even bothered to count them. Did they get here on a tour bus? I just saw them milling around on the corner with no real idea of where they are or how they got there. Is this some sort of elaborate prank? I’d go up and talk to one, but then I’d open up the floodgates for every Belgian in the tri-city area! This is tragic. I wonder if they speak English. All Europeans do, don’t they? Is that racist? Culturist? Maybe they’re not even Belgian, hell.

Where does the ceiling start?
How long has it been now?
I really wish I could use my arms.