Youse

The caddie to-do wasn’t ever much more
than an anglerfishworth of gender trappings;
our souls’ faint inner-shirkings
beg to interrupt the rat race formula
so conveniently laid out for us.

Failure is a foregone conclusion
when you stack the chips a certain way.
Of course, we all must stray
from our internal clocks

for the convenience of our plutocratic overlords.
Demean yourself so you can put food on the table,
then you’ll be the richest of us all, I tells ya.

Then maybe one day you can afford
to take a ride on the merry-go-round
of solid gold. Only one ride though,
are you crazy? We’re not running a charity here.

Or perhaps it would be easier to imagine that we are,
if that’ll help you sleep at night. Anything
to shut youse up for a couple hours, you’re exhausting.
Now go play with the TV in the other room for a while,
and try not to get electrocuted like last time.

Big Whoop

A man named Garvey sedated me once, though the whole outcome could have been avoided. We’d begun feuding the week prior, a trivial dispute over the price of corn muffin mix. Stupid, right? Well, this Garvey feller sure didn’t think so. And it just so happened that his friendly neighborhood drug dealer unloaded a ton of vicodin on him that week, so he was bound to sedate me whether or not we disagreed on anything. I may live to regret having anything to do with that man, but life is a rich tapestry that deserves its fair share of intrigue.

His sister, Nancy, had her own agenda when it came to handling the G-Man. Having lived with him a majority of her life, she’d developed an ingenious coping mechanism for dealing with his ridiculous foibles. Any time he began ranting about the military industrial complex, the go-to strategy would be to bring up the time he’d run into Steve Harvey while jogging on the riverfront–near the Wrigley Building. That would immediately stop his conspiratorial theorizing and send him spiraling through all five stages of the celebrity run-in phenomenon. Turns out Garvey is this joker’s last name. First name: Steve.

Originally, Nancy had only been prepared to shift her brother’s mania away from excessive government spending, but she eventually developed a secondary strategy out of necessity. After letting Steve go on about the Garvey/Harvey thing for a couple minutes, she’s gotten quite skilled at channeling his enthusiasm into a creative jag. Now–since Garvey prefers to make ink drawings, Nancy has set up a corner in her apartment designed solely for her brother to zen out after he gets a little too worked up about the 10-second exchange that he and Steve Harvey’d had. The passion lends itself to the page as he jots up a storm. He doesn’t want to burden himself with any extra material possessions, so he leaves all his creations at Nancy’s place. Nancy has turned a tidy profit from his efforts, since Steve-o gets worked up quite often. It’s reached the point where Nancy could take a year-long hiatus from waitressing and not feel pinched for a minute of it.

So yeah, I let Garvey sedate me. Big whoop. I was hoping he’d feel bad about it and draw me a nice picture that could finance a backpacking trip through the Black Forest.

With a Vengeance

I thundered through the threshold,
enthralled by many a porcupine diary–

when will we ever learn the true everlasting
Constantinople cantaloupe constitution?
I reckon never, though many local geniuses
think there’s a global phenomenon unfolding
with a vengeance.

I can only postulate,
though the post-latte high
seems to have stalled for a moment,
just briefly enough to incriminate
the most experimental of dancers
both near and far.

We’re still left baffled
by Hemingway’s cat collection,
but a learned individual once told me
that the more toes a feline has, the closer to
ultimate self-actualization
the beholder becomes.

Shotgun or no shotgun,
there’s quite a bit of cortex
to bandy about all willy nilly
if you’re willing to lose a day or two
to the unbending, unaltered
chimpanzee rhetoric machine.
Oh lord, I’ve lost
too many days
to count.

Stopgap

Chernicia and her loyal band of
roving youth choir administrators
saw no choice
other than to take up stopgap freelance work.

Due to a general malaise
and rapidly-growing apprehension
toward patronizing or participating in
the performing arts (the anti-exceptionalist
herd mentality showed absolutely no signs of
dissipation as professionals of all stripes
traversed the barren corporate landscape
(a hell to be wished upon no soul)), all hope
seemed lost on the fearful.

Interest in the once-alluring
middle and high school competitive circuit
had been waning steadily for a generation or so,
to the point where even the most stalwart
paper-shuffling masochists out there
had to admit they were licked.

In this devastating climate, Chernicia figured
that some places out there
must
still need to enlist the services
of highly-competent youth choir administrators.

They took an oath in front of the children,
for Christ’s sake!
They vowed, on bended knee,
to make themselves
available for freelance filing (and HR concerns)
at the drop of a hat, whenever duty may come calling.

So just like that, they picked up and left–
no matter what their guts happened to be
telling them (the group’s average duodenum
could paint you the idyllic picture
where they’d carved out a sort of haven
in this life of more uncertainty than trust).

Many tearful (and gut-wrenching) goodbyes
after they developed the steely resolve
to give up their past selves
(for the children, dammit),
the brave and intrepid band set out
on their first assignment: Gurnee, Illinois.

They never did look back.
And to this very day,
rental cars and hotel rooms
still serve as their only refuge
from the vast desert of abandoned office complexes.

Gregory Poke

A tortoise–let’s call it Gregory Poke–
peeps its head out from inside its shell
in an effort to feel alive,
truly alive, for the first time in weeks
(maybe months).

Gregory doesn’t quite know what to do next.
There are no predators to be seen
for hundreds of yards in every direction. Wait,
there are no predators here. How many times
does Greg have to remind itself of that?

And will it ever get over the affliction
of constantly referring to itself
in the third person? The answer may never arrive,
as this writer can only use 100 words. Howev–

Far-Fetched

Stern army fandanglers initiate the bizarrest of letterbox rituals as a way to compensate for their minimal internal squawking about where in the hell to buy a caramel macchiato during a Thursday afternoon rush hour—it’s definitely the most congested freeway seen around these parts in quite some time, the rubbernecks all out in force and jamming up the left lane to catch glimpses of a minor fender bender where the only detail of note would be the involvement of a clown car. Fortunately, no actual clowns happened to be in or, indeed, even around said automobile, or traffic would surely would be at a complete standstill.

The question remains: why is there a clownless clown car on the road? A rational observer would surmise that it’s headed to the shop, getting an oil change or tire rotation, or perhaps being treated to the periodic hand car wash and wax (one of Flopsy® the Clown’s numerous contract stipulations). Suffice it to say that none of these scenarios would benefit from the presence of a real live clown, unless some sort of clowning industry discount were to apply to these local auto-maintenance establishments, which seems utterly far-fetched (yet plausible if our society only knew who pulled the strings).

Never gonna get that got damn macchiato…

(#373)

We are the TOXIC Group:

Tastemakers
Obligating
Xylophones
Into
Conversation

Our meetings typically consist of 30 seconds of clever xylophone-related banter followed by 48 minutes of unbroken claptrappery (occasionally punctuated by a sneeze or self-important cough that reminds folks in the group of their own flimsy mortality). The list of covered topics is indeed long and tedious; an indeterminate amount of talking points is covered multiple–sometimes numerous–times, with very little ceremony.

The talking points typically meander around with little consequence, and our staffers have learned to endure them long enough to get to the meat of the meeting: attempting to reach a quorum on where to go for pizza afterwards. There’s been a glut of new “artisanal” pizza joints in the area, not to mention the existing restaurants who need gimmicks to keep up.

Gino’s Northeast: an old school pizzeria with a hint of sports bar (now with 25% more sass back)
Donnie’s Bunker: war hero’s spot with authentic Vietnam War memorabilia
Skip’s Dugout: retired baseball star’s spot with authentic ’60s and ’70s memorabilia
Gugliotti’s: Sicilian-themed ristorante
Chunkster’s: Most Toppings Around!®
Steggo’s Dino-mite Pizza: self-explanatory
Jeffrey’s Tamborine: adults-only gaming and entertainment-related eatery (wine allowed in the ball pit)

This particular installment of the TOXIC Group (#373) eventually ended with a near-unanimous selection of kofta kebab, since there’s only one local option for that cuisine and we were rapidly running out of time. For the record, a good portion of the group rallied for the adult play place, but Susie’s new around these parts, and we want her to stick around for a month or two before we test her patience with a drunken happy hour.