Oct 28, 2006

The chickens moved around, leaving prints in the dust where they scurried. A dog slunk by behind him in the barn. A cow looked at him wall-eyed. A school bus drove by on the highway. He ignored them or maybe he saw them sort of out of the side of an eye. Looked at them so you couldn't know he was looking.


The falling away has now been published @ Thieves Jargon.

Oct 24, 2006

A room

This used to be a really fine place.
Yeah?
I said.
You know, it used to have class. Before these new people came in. There were like a lot of heads.
Heads?
I said.
Like mounted deer heads and buffalo and bear and boar.
Oh,
I said.
Yeah these new people just let the place go. They're Indian.



The plumbing was exposed, water pipes running on the inside of the ceiling sweating beads and curling the white paint on the edge of the wall. The TV was bolted to the dresser and the remote control was chained to the side table on the side of the bed.

I turned it on. Turned it on to CNN and muted it to watch the weather report about the storm that had blown throw yesterday and today left a vacuum of cold clear skies frozen up in blue.

The bedspread was purple. Not that it was always purple, but it was then. The pattern of flowers was faded into a milky coffee brown against the background of purple.

I called. The phone had a red light mounted on it's face like a single siren, or a reindeer nose. The phone had a paper face plate with the number for the desk, and for me, and for emergencies, and for pizza. I was calling you. I left a message. I said I was fine.

There was a mirror behind me. I could see the reflection of the mirror in the reflection of the television. Not my face though, just the mirror. I wondered if you'd call. I didn't turn the TV sound up but flipped through. There was a commercial of a car driving up the side of a mountain that I had seen before. An old movie showed soldiers landing on a beach. A man stood in a spot light in a night club. A man stood at a podium in congress. A woman stood on a street holding a microphone.

I wondered what was on TV when this place had class. I had a book but I didn't read it. I opened it but then put it down open on the bed. The cover was coming off.

I wondered if you'd call. If you called you would ask how I was doing and I would say fine.

There were two pictures on the wall: one an icon of a pregnant Virgin Mary and one a painted picture of tumble weeds. The shower water ran warm but brown. Warm though. You would ask how I was and I would say I was warm.

Oct 19, 2006

In a fog field

You could lose something in a fog like this, I thought. Like your feet, I thought. You could lose your feet in a fog like this.

I was in the middle of the fog field, from the waist up. The fog was glowing, a little yellow from the park lights and little green from the grass. The fog was a field over a field, growing like wheat or wet sheep or cloud grass. I could see my hand in front of my face, but I couldn't see my feet.

A dude was sitting on the side of a turned-over shopping cart on the side of the field. He had a white shirt on top of his head and the arms were hanging low like ears. The fog ended where he was sitting. It stopped and there he was sitting on a red cart and wearing a white shirt on his head.

I looked at the fog and I looked at him. He looked at the moon (yellow) and at the ground (black).

Oct 18, 2006

Well God's green hair is where I slept last

cultivated valley

Well I dined last night with scarface Don
on tilapia fish cakes and fried black swan
razor weed onion and peacock squirrel
and I dreamed all night about a beautiful girl
well I'm lost
well I'm lost
well I'm lost at the bottom of the world.
      - Tom Waits, w. a few new songs.
A great gulf fixed
part two

White. All white, off white and slightly yellow. Liquid.

In the all white liquid a particle popped. He heard it. Pop. Something separated and a piece of the yellow white field, a cream-colored piece, broke itself loose from the field and went up, drifting top-ward. It moved slowly through the slog, rising until it came up to the top edge, letting free a bubble and then resting there.

He watched. Another one went. The loosed pieces gathered along the top of the off white in a line, a layer of color more off white than the color below. The line thickened. The one white separated, while he watched, into two.

The cream rises, he heard heard a grandfather say, his grandfather or some other old man. Separating. He watched.

When Detective Bitty sat up he was in his chair, leaning back and snoring. He was sweating and all the liquid had come out of his body and was sponging up in his shirt collar and below his arms and between his back and the chair. His put two fingers in behind his collar, sliding them around between his tie knot and the front of his neck.

The picture in the frame on the wall had slipped, leaving the wall showing through the top quarter of the frame. The frame framing nothing there. The picture, a picture of a house in the woods, was one quarter blocked behind the bottom matting.

He sat up and pulled his feet off his desk, knocking free a sheaf of papers piled in a manilla folder. The folder opened sideways, opening up over the edge of the desk and a few pages slid out, falling like leaves onto the floor.

Oct 11, 2006

A great gulf fixed
part one

The bishop shot himself in the morning.

It was after morning mass, the sparsely attended mid-week morning mass in the middle of the long green season of ordinary time. He was wearing a green stole embroidered in gold over his shoulders and when they found him the right side had turned a weird purple color with the bishop's blood.

He didn't die right away. At first, Bp. Paul Thomas stood in the garden. The weeds were growing up around St. Francis. The branch on the tree next to the garden wall was too heavy and the bark was pulling off the wood.

He slipped out after the service, not waiting for the few old ladies and young women with children to file out into the daylight and kiss his ring. He slipped out while the last mass bell was still humming some and the people said, "thanks be to God."

He put his left hand on top of his bald head. A fat bird standing on the garden wall turned around and looked at him.

He pulled the gun from his robes and put it between his eyes, between where the left lens and the right lens of his glasses met at his nose. He put his thumb to the trigger and he shot himself.

He didn't die right away. He couldn't hear anything after the noise of the gun and he looked at the sky.

The bird flew away. The sky was quiet.

Oct 9, 2006

Zakat

I was waiting for them to speak, to preach, but they were silent.

Two of them stood on the corner on the intersection of a street named after a Confederate General and a street named after an Anti-Integration Mayor. They'd taken over the bus stop, turning it into two shelves of boxes of fruit. There was a row of boxes on the ground and a row on the bench seat and each box had a bunch of bananas, apples and oranges.

The two Nation Ministers stood there in black suits and bow ties and didn't really say anything.

They gave a bag to a lady in a car. She had a kid in the back seat who smiled. They gave a box to a man walking down the street towards the historic black college. They didn't say anything. A cop drove by and they didn't give him any fruit and he didn't look.

Behind them a shirtless man jumped rope.

The taller minister seemed to be walking in circles, smiling and crossing his arms. A lot of people passed. He didn't try to say anything and they all looked away like the way you teach children not to stare at cripples. A crack head walked up like he was walking up to the tall man, walked up like he was going to challenge him or something or ask for something, but then he walked away.

The shorter minister would work through the traffic at the red lights. He would walk between the cars, not saying anything and not even looking in the windows and sometimes, after maybe a sign I couldn't see, he would stop and pass the fruit.

Another man walked up to the tall minister and the minister gave him a box. When do you meet, the man said and he didn't ask where. The minister said 7, but no one can be later than 7:30, and he laughed.

Oct 4, 2006

Jingle Jesus
I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did.'
-KV


Donny squatted by the railroad tracks out back in the rain. He thought, this is it.

This is it,
he thought and it started to rain. The sky was blank and white and it started to rain with the water streaking down the sky and dripped with hair down his eyes. He sat on the edge of a tie, where the tar was coming up black between the lines of saturated grains. The tie stuck over the edge of the railroad bed hump, poked out between where the grasses grew gray and he sat there thinking everything was over.

He wasn't coming from the train or going to it. The tracks was just sort of there, crossing his path like a cat that could have been black but couldn't be seen because it was dark. He didn't know what this meant, this railroad and this rain, this white sky and gray ground and colorless water. He decided it was bad and this was it.

This is the end, Donny said, and he sat down. He rocked back and forth and he moaned out indistinct sounds smeared together. He plucked a seed head off a stem of grass and held it between his fingers. He held it between his fingers, the first and the second and then the first and the thumb. The head fell apart, separating into seeds and falling apart.

It seemed like he should say something. He tried to think of something to say, but all he could remember was a song (hey diddle do wop diddle, hey hey diddle do dum, hey do hey do, kingdom come) and he wasn't sure he had it right. He wasn't sure where that was from.

He started to scream. He threw himself back, laying down on the tracks with his head banging on the rail.

Doo wop diddle. Diddle do do wop diddle pop lollipop do. He was pretty sure that was an advertisement from a couple of years ago. For gum maybe. What a jingle to think of.

The rain cut it out. The rain stopped falling and everything went quiet with the rain and he stopped.

He laughed. He pulled away. It wasn't serious. It hurt though. Shut up, he said and he stopped laughing and stood up.

He crossed the railroad over the tie where the tar was leaking out in lines. He went over the rails and off the other end of the tie and down the road bed hump. He passed through a ditch of leaky brown water and up to the alley where it started off between gas meters and an empty dog house.

Diddle do, Donny said, Jesus, diddle wop do.

Oct 3, 2006

That looks like an awfully real gun

last week our picture window produced a half-word
heavy and hollow, hit by a brown bird
we stood and watched her gape like a rattlesnake
and pant and labour over every intake

I said a sort of prayer for some sort of rare grace
then thought I ought to take her to a higher place
said: "dog nor vulture nor cat shall toy with you
and though you die, bird, you will have a fine view"

- Joanna Newsom, Ys.