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I'm waiting for some jaded and blue-lipped deity to contact me and say this all has a purpose. I still have an ever thinning hope that there is a forgotten power hibernating in the clouds, in the mountain hearts or in the molten of the earth, I don't care where it-he-she comes from. I'm hoping for something nameless and many colored that couldn't give a shit about churches or morals. I'm hoping there is something out there that will kill us before we kill ourselves. I would rather die in a fiery meteor shower than of some foul human poison.
She stared in the mirror. A marshmallow studded with two despondent marbles faced her in the glass. Let the daily molding of the face commence she thought as Beethoven's Fifth played at low decibels in her skull. She nipped cheeks into the spongy stuff and pressed down the great pillows under the little blackish spheres. She prodded a chin into existence, smoothed a browbone. She pinched out a nose and crimped shapeless lips for sardonic smiles. After polishing pats and a dust of blush she stepped back to review her handiwork. Impeccable and utterly convincing. One might almost say life-like.
The personification of a pomegranate.
She lounges plump and crimson under her dried out seven peaked crown with dusty fibers. She is proud of her late term pregnancy, her ability to birth even after her skin has gone leathery. Despite her age her children will all come out fat little rubies. No Down's syndrome darlings here. The clean, white placenta keeps them fresh and healthy, each one firmly holding to little foxholes in the fruit flesh. She will deliver cesarean, naturally, though it is not likely that any amount of skillful stitching will return her to her post partum state.
Death of a Red-Lipped Lover
Part The First:
It was her fault, really. She said she would die if he left. He did and she had no choice but to follow through. At first she didn't believe him. When he told her it was over she thought he was merely testing her faith. So she pouted (lips that loved to be kissed). But when she saw his downcast eyes and resolute hands a panic quickened in her spine. The scene that followed was pitiful, really. There was much groveling, clutching and scraping of the delicate knees. And the tears! Uncounted!
Death of a Red-Lipped Lover
Part The Second:
He anticipated a swell of pity and sorrow for her, even personal regret at his own decision but the current situation spawned revulsion alone. She clung to his lapels, trousers—anything— her hair wild, cream slip twisted. After shaking a screaming hand from his wrist he lifted her and placed her on the divan. Sobbing, she clawed for a sweet reminder, capturing his scent, his image. As he shut the door for the last time she melted off the chocolate velvet in a dead faint, dissolving in the flood of salty nectar.
Death of a Red-Lipped Lover
Part The Third:
When the coroners arrived at the elegant city flat they saw a tragically romantic scene. The statuesque form of a woman draped half on a divan, half on a sodden floor. Her skin marble, her lips (that loved to be kissed) a passionate red. Cause of death: Heart Failure. It is the typical culprit of an unexplained and sudden expiration. But one's heart always fails when one dies. Should some vital organ perish first, the heart naturally follows suit. So the coroners were correct, technically. His love died and her heart followed.
He looked anxiously at the clock and was delighted to find the positions of the hands. He raced to his mussed bed and scooped a varnished mahogany box from underneath. The box was four feet long and a foot deep. He opened the heavy lid and his hazel eyes lit manically. Inside were thousands of tiny blocks, a word carved into each with small, tidy print. His face glowed joy as the wood blocks ran under his flying hands, jumping into beautiful formations. The hands of the clock spun and the blocks shaped and dissipated again and again
I fell in love with a man on a laminated emerald poster. "Great Irish Writers" it reads. His picture sits at the bottom. His countenance is pensive, a little sad but through the graininess and sepia a twitch of a smile can be perceived. His longish dark hair brushed into his face by a now dead wind: the unkempt look of a preoccupied artist. His eyes do not meet the camera. When my head is bent away from diction and synecdoche that photograph face crawls out of the paper and those poetic eyes meet mine…Ah…the things he writes for me…
Flimsy on the outside, the little book, skinny, floppy, only four inches tall but it packs steel, platinum and orange-juice napalm. The words are trains that don't stop and only gain momentum on the harsh, gorgeous tracks. The blank pages just under the front cover and under the back (white in other books) are red red red. Like the scarlet scarf on the lamp and the paint on the walls and the blood and the photo of the Fiat and the Lovers in the Red Sky over a sleeping city and the scars inside and the book. Scarlet, scarlet. Scar.
Mrs. Pumpkin Eater was not kept well. The floor of her shell was getting a bit squishy and everything had gone a shade of vermillion. She knew that fucking bastard was out there "keeping" other women every which way. So she started scraping and baking. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, sugar and cloves drifted out the windows like sweet poison. Peter, the fucking bastard, lapped up the bait like a dog. She presented him with a pie that glowed like her cheeks. Once he glutted himself on her prison she stabbed him in the back with a carving knife.
He wanted to get away so he painted it into RED and a horse baring flowers in a human hand and the innocent eyed woman with the round breasts and the two arms but there are two people and they are one. This is where he was taken away by the brush into life and the little yellow slice of moon over the low rooftops and the solitary dove who looks on so happy, blending with the background just like everything else except her white skirt on her long body bending like a reed so gentle under his feminine face.
Mrs. Pumpkin Eater was not kept well.
The floor of her shell was getting a bit squishy and everything had gone a shade of vermillion. She knew that fucking bastard was out there "keeping" other women every which way. So she started scraping and baking. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, sugar and cloves drifted out the windows like sweet poison. Peter, the fucking bastard, lapped up the bait like a dog. She presented him with a pie that glowed like her cheeks. Once he glutted himself on her prison she stabbed him in the back with a carving knife.
"Can't you see? Are you blind? The world is meaningless! Your job is insignificant! Your car, your possessions, your sweat shop clothes are insignificant! Your existence is insignificant! Once we are gone from this earth, nothing will change because of it! We are dust! We are less than dust! All our running around will never do anything, never amount to anything…"
He broke off mid sentence to see if anyone was listening. A few people glanced his way, a kid snickered. Everyone else just kept on with their business.
"Hey man," someone said, "bitching won't give your life meaning either."
The immediate sky shines blue but not far off it fades to the dinge of smog. The plant blood is murky and turns the grass adulterated green. Unhappy vineyards slump on the other side of the highway. Great bird-like hulks stab the horizon and dominate every space in between. Mechanical and rusty at the bolts, they engage in a systematic and synchronized rape of the ground. The smooth mining of black gold. The highway winds on through the blotchy land and the sky grows darker, dirtier until the mountains give up their fight for visibility and melt into the brown.
"Fuck you" my cat's eyes say as I take the plump lizard away from her. Its miniscule heart flutters against my palm.
"That was a gift for you and you are throwing it away," she glares. After persuading its white belly off my hand and under an unused canoe with a light finger I go back inside. Isis has lodged herself under the rug in search of my present. She comes out with rumpled fur, irate. She looks at me with searching eyes and mews.
"Meddlesome," she calls me and then rubs against my leg, a nonchalant gesture of forgiveness.
I saw the human body move in ways I never thought possible. This skinny, wiry, hair free man and this skinny, wiry, hair free woman seem able to isolate each visible muscle in their bodies and move it to their biddings. They slithered on the dim floor, greased by vegetable oil, twitching and squirming like pale worms. They were lifted by caged necks to the ceiling, their upper and lower bodies gyrating to completely separate rhythms. Once their soles touched the floor and they were bathed in saturated red light, they began to dance in motions slow, controlled and elegant.
After walking around a half hour in the pouring and very uncharacteristic L.A. rain the donut shop seems a glowing paradise. A sad figure of a woman crouches, sleeping, in one of the dirty orange booths. Behind the counter a small Vietnamese man looks tired. The shelves are near empty of their sugary goods, it being 1 am. At a request he reaches in for a glazed old fashioned. One remains looking lonely and hard. His tongs hover and he stands up and goes to the kitchen and returns with a more chipper twin, the fresh icing not yet set.
City rain and rural rain are black and white. Even suburban rain is worlds from the rain that drops on skyscrapers. Rain falling on country grass and the clear pavement of suburbia is cleansing and fresh. It soaks through until things sparkle. In the city the rain is greasy. The water dislodges all the filth accumulated in corners. The piss and litter and soot. It runs to the backed up storm drains. City rain stands and grows thick with rainbow ribbons of oil. It sits slick on the skin and leaves a film: the only rain that makes one dirty.
It was anyone's guess as to why my cousin's neighbor across the street had a neatly bisected car in his driveway. Apparently it was not a rarity. When I visited in the summer it was a blue car up to the passenger seat and perched on cinder blocks. The back half was not to be seen. He who cut cars stood outside in a wife beater talking to friends in low riders with rattling bass. Now, in November, I peek out the window and he is in much the same position but wearing a massive quilted jacket sans wife beater.
"Why don't you go play with the dog?!" Aunt Paula screamed from the kitchen, her command closely followed by: "Shit!" and a suspiciously turkey-ish sounding thud. It was the third request to entertain the overgrown rat and the overgrown rat had resorted to dropping rocks at everyone's feet in lieu of the ignored toys. So we stood on the frigid porch and I kicked the slimy rubber toy god knows how many times, each time hoping the overgrown rat would spring too close in that sprightly way of hers and put her head in the direct path of my boot.
Cramped in the back seat of the Volvo X-Country I decided to get subversive. The air was close with the smell of new car and the perfume of three different ladies (mine included). I cracked the window a fraction. I detected a twitch of my grandfather's eyes from the rearview mirror. Wait two minutes. The window slid down a few millimeters more.
This continued until the window was two inches down and my grandfather's grip of control slipping. "Ahh, that's enough," he grunted and the window snapped back up from a push of the omnipotent driver's side button.
You know what? I am not opposed to genocide.
Cue for a gasp.
If someone gathered up all the Evangelists and gassed them, I would smile. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those hardcore atheists in favor of crucifying every Christian. It is just the cultish offshoots that need to be exterminated. They only pollute our country with their stupidity. As far as I know, Jesus didn't preach ignorance. Intelligent design is regression! We have learned so much in the past century and still some piggish morons have decided it is their place to deem it all false.
The sparrows filt-flit flitted onto the fence three by three. Judging by their narrow breasts they must be new in the neighborhood. The local veterans are fat balls of feathers, spoiled by all the forgotten toasted nuts. I put the burnt hazelnuts out for them and they pick with their tiny beaks while their tiny feet dance on the frosty wood. The grass isn't so much green as mint ice and the faces of those rare morning people are obscured by the white puffs of breath. The sparrows alight on the cold breeze, dipping and slipping in their delicate ways.
I like to imagine San Francisco in the mid 50s. North Beach to be specific. There would be inspiration on the daily fog and on the breeze that blew it away. There would be Allen Ginsberg reading the beginnings of "Howl" in a smoky room and oh! the air would be positively charged with poetic genius. Kerouac and Cassady would slip through and all the other creative vagabonds. They would say things about the sparkle of S.F. and how it is an island in America, a miniature Mediterranean. I wonder and hope … would they still say the same today?
A public high school is a fragrant place. It would put the dirtiest S.F. ally to shame. There are the bathrooms with their perpetual scent of shit and cheap weed. There is the multi-use room that reeks of every inedible and overpriced food product they shove at us and the belches that such food products induce. Then there is the odorous G-wing which is permeated by the perfume of unwashed jockstrap wafting from the mat room. Go ahead, save your olfactory system and inhale through your mouth. Experience the tasty sensation of biting off a chunk of the condensed stink.
I knew exactly how to compare Margaret Atwood and Homer. The problem was some bony fingered thing snatched up all my words and all I could think about was how good an espresso would taste. So I sat there with that over achiever bitch in me kicking my brain and striking the inside of my scull with her bony fists.
"Write, you fucking idiot! It is the only thing you're good for!" She hollered. Shut up, I thought at her and wrote a lame sentence about tone. "
"Fucking failure!" She hissed and pinched off some grey matter to spite me.
What did she think, that pretty little girl, when he had her lie on a couch, loosely draped, and feign sweet sleep? Perch in a cane chair, an English Geisha? Pose as a Dane with a fur hat? Stand in velvet, a violin under her chin? Lean against a wall, pouting, in a historically incorrect toga? What did she think of the bulky, black camera and the quiet man behind it? What thoughts of the bare footed girl? And what of Mr. Dodgson's thoughts? Mr. Carroll's? Alice Liddell was his storybook sweetheart but Miss Xie Kitchin was his photogenic nymph.
I'm on to my back. I know it is plotting to kill me at this very moment. Right now it is in the process of building up a lactic acid militia. The ranks are forming in great tumorous lumps under my skin. The mastermind is somewhere around my left shoulder. He has already sent the troops to camps on either side of my spine, my neck and the right shoulder. He is waiting for the perfect time to mobilize. Then he will order the lumpy troops to my brain where they will eat it alive. That is my back's plan.
Well, ‘tis the season and no one is going to let you forget it. It's time to be blasted with grating, sappy versions of Christmas carols until your ears bleed a festive red. It's time to buy, buy, buy, my darlings. Because Baby Jesus knows that if you don't help the economy you aren't getting in the good Christian spirit. It's time to kill a tree and dress it in glass globes, though it was pretty to begin with. Then it is off to another landfill with the other holiday trappings.
Eh, what the hell… we all love it anyway.
A crow protests the cold on a telephone pole. The sand grows pale, the ocean like lead and the seagulls come reeling inland, screaming their arrival. Dead leaves scrape and dash across the pavement and the sky grows dim. Curtains fly out of open windows and strain soft claws to the street like woven birds of prey. It is one of those days when gravemoss flushes and the sky is ready to break. It will rain mercury beads and we will all splash in quicksilver puddles. The dizzy atmosphere will sing and a chrome Venus will crawl from the sea.
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