Journeyman centenarian, your
squadron of sheep hurlers
begged you to curdle off the cliff
while dangling circumlindrically–
as though in a play.
No such luck.
Life is a raised platform,
gawking peanut gallery
all around, over-adorned yaps
toward a permanent problem.
The plight of the talented
is wasted on the non-observant.
So here’s what’s going to happen now. There sits a person to my left whom I believe is comparing their outward appearance and behavior to me at this moment, I’m not sure why. It’s quite possible that I have heinously misdiagnosed the situation, and this individual doesn’t give a second shit–let alone a first–about it. Honestly, I still haven’t even looked over at them, which I’m assuming they would interpret as strange.
If I were more swept up
by those weird social ticks
displayed on a regular basis
by our average arena-dwellers,
I may have already regarded this person
in some shape or form, but I flat out
just don’t care an ounce.
Now what does that make me? Am I some kind of hypocrite, expecting people to be attracted to my persona/aura and then rejecting them as soon as the convenience and luster of their adoration wears off? Jeez, that sounds pretty brutal. I’m just going to work off of the assumption that these folks are a little needier than the average bear, and they’re working out their emotional stuff on perfect strangers.
After all, those random
Jake and Jackie Terwilligers out there
are the ultimate barometers of who we are
in a social context, no?
Let’s take a look at the specials, shall we? Ah yes, the infamous Reuben Dip! Once heralded as Middle America’s foremost club dance from 1963, a clever chef has converted it into an open-faced sandwich comprised of corned beef, Swiss, kraut——you bloody well know what comes on a Reuben. The kraut does have a tough time sticking around, which means that the Swiss is really pulling double time to blanket all of its unruly counterparts for the purposes of a successful thousand island dip (and, of course, more than just one dip, because what kind of sandwich would that be, falling apart after just one dip!?). All of this just goes to prove that you really can’t have an idea too grand to be transposed from the clear blue sky, as long as you believe in the work you’re doing. Once upon a time I——of all people——caught myself poo-pooing the idea of representing a pinto bean omelette cooking on the planks of a cruise ship’s bow as it headed to the Galapagos for some tortoise observation (nothing more, nothing less), and for what? A tedious bit of self—censorship for no purpose other than suppression of a creative pang? No thank you, Mr. Governor (if that is your real name). So I wrote it all out, the fateful egg mix congealing to form a canary semicircle of legume-y goodness and taking on life’s subtler philosophical quandaries with a bit of a sense of humor. I called it Hull of Beans, and it was universally panned.
Old Thomas Circuitberry had quite the affinity with our carriage lady and wouldn’t stop to pose for minor photography—no matter the monetary reward. The two of them made a habit of heading to the Metropolitan and drinking kool-aid all the way there, unbeknownst to their poor stomachs until it was too late—every single time.
All hell broke loose on a fairly regular basis—on at least 16 separate occasions. I kid you not; those two were so enamored with one another that a romantic tradition greatly overpowered sugar shock (and even the occasional split stomach).
We would observe this behavior and fail to ever remark upon it, satisfied to assume that their brand of love was unique, not to be tampered with for fear of unleashing the stores of karma they’d built up with every passing road trip.
This story is peculiar from a bystander’s point of view, as you undoubtedly noticed, o benevolent keepers of human specimens. Give me a margarita and leave me alone, would ya?
I took a day to spell my name,
Begot four kids and cooked a goose,
Remarked upon the crooked ways
Of law-enforcement officers,
Caught a stray cat, made it tame,
Released it into calmer seas,
Observed its boldest swimming stroke
Until after about an hour
It lost its life and floated out
To open water, past the boats;
Became a snack for orca young.
I started feeling rather bad,
But after all, I saved that cat!
Perhaps the water didn’t work
For its land-dwelling tendencies
Requiring motion-ceasing rest
A back float just can’t satisfy.
The tide went out, and so the cat
Kept drifting to the deep abyss
Until a mighty albatross
Came gliding by on limber wings
And signaled to its family
That maybe furry mammals can
Adapt to open ocean climes.
But after a few seconds’ look,
The sea bird found it was deceived
And called off all its flighted kin.
It beat its wings and gained some height,
Resumed its path across the sky,
Alone—alone as usual—
And traveling to unknown space.
I managed to observe all this
A hundred miles away on land
With super strong binoculars.
I started to convince myself
That maybe I had sinned against
The animal kingdom that day,
A realm of which I am a part.
But I reminded myself then
That my value on this earth
Is not that of those lesser drones
And packed up my binoculars,
Chucked them off the roof
With all my worldly strength
And laughed a hearty laugh.
Am I a lesser specimen than you, o intimidating scoundrels of hostage-holding expertise? Am I to go down as a pawn in the pyramid scheme you’ve perpetrated since the beginning of human literacy? Just put me out of my misery!
I really wish I could use my arms.
We come upon a young man torn between what he perceives of “the other” and that omniscient narrator of life who’s commonly referred to as Reality, the amalgamation of infinite facets colliding into an image of total clarity, the entire spectrum condensing itself into a single voice and vision suitable to whichever moment or viewpoint happens to summon it for selfish purposes. Our hero simply needs more time before he may contemplate the oneness of totality, the complete integration of energy and matter that, on the surface, fragments into a myriad of complex differences but ultimately bleeds into homogeneity across the board, across the cosmos. Our hero will learn all this in the next unit of his “Philosophy of Everything” course, assuming he does all the readings and attends every lecture (which has a very low chance of actually occurring, rendering his education on the topic woefully incomplete).
This particular person will–in 98.3% of all observable realities–stubbornly quit his pursuit of higher education and become a beekeeper, so he may develop an immunity to their stings.
Mindfully traversing Michigan Avenue on a Monday afternoon means encountering a dizzying array of points along the human spectrum, details your average commuter may ignore or just miss altogether as they continue along their quest for a life worth living easier–easier than what, I’ll never know.
An elderly lady relegated to a wheelchair wears a sour puss as she munches on a processed snack still halfway-ensconced in its wrapper. Two feet away in a stroller that places him at the same eye level sits a toddler, working away at an orange wedge that has likely been primed and prepped by his mother, though I wasn’t present when the handoff took place. For the moment, she’s standing several yards away with a selfie stick, capturing an image of the frivolity she’d once taken for granted that now slowly slips from her clutches.
An unopened sleeve of saltines rests its weary crumbs against a street lamp whose daily duty has yet to be fulfilled, two very unlikely partners on a sidewalk where beggars apparently can be choosers.