Immense Scrutiny: Oh, Okay

What the hell do we even write about anymore?

Why does every single new idea
have this immense scrutiny attached to it–
this, the next in my sequence of work
after this whole COVID- dilemma kicked off.

How would one go about this treacherous task
that I would argue nobody wants to undertake?

Well, the first impression of the situation
would be that you should just get started.

But there are so many previously-made characters
just waiting for me to observe their every move
on the silver screen!!

Nobody calls it the silver screen anymore, hon.

Aw, shut up. You never let me wax aquarium.
I mean antiquarian. Same thing.

It’s obviously a completely different thing.
One involves some weird combination of wax and water,
the other is old timey shit.

Well, I meant the old shit, duh.
Anyway, I can’t wait to just dig into
another drama or comedy
or whatever shit they’re shoveling these days
over at the old network of flix.
And now that I’m standing here
thinking about it,
I can’t stand just being here
without reasonable computer access.

What do you mean,
we’re literally on a computer screen.
We could just walk two inches to the right
and bump into a browser window with let’s see…
oh, not the porn one.
But it looks like that Stephen Hawking movie
was the last thing of repute in his history.

Oh, how was that?

Yeah, not bad. Pretty damn stylized,
but what do you expect from a movie
that’s supposed to undertake the monumental task
of depicting the 20th Century’s most prominent
cosmological luminary
while addressing his ALS?

They covered his whole life?

Nah, just a scrapbook of mostly decent memories
up until the point where his older kids are teenagers
and running around in some Buckingham Palace bullshit.

Oh, okay.

Not Uncommon

Jemblatrons squeeze through the tetrahedra
as though mall cops have some kind of a stake
in all of this.
It’s not uncommon
to see such a prairie-headed analogy
encompassing the flight of the larcenous
concord penguin, be the bird yella or gold,
kite-running or otherwise.
Whether or not we align ourselves
to this illustrious ancient practice
has little to do with our blood sugar content,
though many shallow-ended participants
profess prediabetic plight.

All of a Sudden

He’s resurrected!
it’s truly a marigold.
But you know what?
It’s this very kind of
garden-variety entendre
that I’ve been meaning to avoid here,
amongst all the sordid
ne’er-do-well activity
that seems to define our times
all of a sudden.

Wasn’t integrity of character
ever something to strive toward?
Maybe not in this system of
checks [cashed] and balances [slashed].

Though perhaps I’m as guilty
as any other layabout milquetoast out there,
lounging around the house
sipping my pink lemonade martinis
(my live-in mixologist’s proprietary recipe)
and grousing like one of my commoner counterparts.

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.

Another Question

Considering how rampant–and frequent–they are elsewhere throughout the universe, I know you’re not really surprised that the chance for any number of phantasmagoric happenstances to play out at this pediatric-leaning syndrome symposium would remain slim to none (as one might say when pressed), right? As we usually observe, the only guarantee at one of these gatherings would be that at least one poor soul is coming away with a scraped knee (left or right is another question).

Hey, haven’t you been here just as long as I have?! I’m having a hard time getting over the bald complacency responsible for such a critical misinterpretation of our most sacred pemmican rulebook! It’s been nigh on six years since that last grand gesture in semantics peppered our idealized fields of vision, and I won’t have this unqualified jabber jockey over here just go on and on about 21st Century-specific chesterfield modulation practices (his favorite spotlight-stealing topic) more than once per full moon, no matter how persuasive he happens to be when the stars come alignin’.

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)