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In an effort to eliminate the increasingly dangerous population of Flying Fire Snakes, the leader of Sangeria, Prime One, ordered citizens to arm themselves with blooza guns. As a result, in less than a lunar cycle, the number of FFS's was greatly diminished , yet also, alas, the number of young Sangerians. For truth be told, a blooza gun is not only a formidable weapon but an enjoyable one, for despite the destruction it wrecks upon the hunted, it also causes the user to experience a powerful orgasm when scoring a hit. And little Sangerians are easier targets than FFS's.
He saw her in the drug store near the prescription counter. Her hair had streaks of gray, and her figure was fuller, though it had not assumed the matronly quality of middle age. He heard she had been divorced three times since they had dated 30 years ago. Also: two children, a serious illness, a litany of unhappiness. But now she looked wonderful. Just older, wiser. He suddenly remembered those balmy nights of love and sex, rushing to him with an exhilarating immediacy. And so he had to turn away, walk out the door, and drive home to his wife.
After 51 years of having 3 sisters, he discovered he still had 3 sisters, all of whom perplexed him to such a degree that despite his love for them he was content to endure – no, enjoy, even savor long stretches of silence from their respective farflung abodes, giving him, unfortunately, a sense a guilt, even shame, yet also freeing him, for whatever the period of non-communication might be, from the stress of those dynamics that, according to them, ruined their lives, smothered their vibrant and creative personalities, and kept them from being the remarkable women that, in fact, they were.
The lumbermen had been in the woods for several weeks. They cut down all the wild cherry, read oak, and hickory trees they could find, leaving the tops lying at the edge of the woods, obscene in their mutilations. The lumbermen made no effort to clean up their brush. They were indifferent, not only to life but also to the esthetics of nature, such as standing at a distance and looking at a grove of trees and seeing the clean lines of trunks stretching to the canopy. They saw only in potential trailerloads of racked logs, awaiting the veneer saw.
I stopped at Bill's grave today. The flowers from the viewing and the funeral that had been heaped on the mound were gone. A small lily stood forlornly in the bare earth. It must have been planted during Easter weekend. It was cold and windy, with shards of snow and sleet slinging from the west. The sadness of the day was as palpable as the cold. Even though it was April, the weather was January. I sat in the car and thought of him down there in the darkness. In the distance a crow called, but there was no reply.
A good friend calls and tells me about the bear he has killed. 300 pounds, a four-year old boar nearly seven feet tall. The tracking, the shooting, the dragging, the field dressing, every detail is touched and touched again. Even the endgame of steaks prepared to avoid the wild taste, marinades special sauces, on and on. I listen, mainly as a buddy, but care so little I could hang up. It's not the kill, it's the hunt, he tells me finally. But it will be a rug in his rec room and exotic meat for unwitting guests. But not me.
Since the clocks changed and we sprung forward I lost an hour so made up for it by sleeping an extra three, finally getting up at noon but missed "The Sports Reporters" so did a half hour of meditation, skipped lunch, then pissed around outside, carrying in some wood because there was none in the basement and then tried to watch the Pirates and Cubs but they were rained out so read a couple chapters of the latest Elmore Leonard and then went back outside to charge the lawn tractor battery but somehow I managed to fuck it up completely
Almost 7 on an April evening. The air filled with spring, and the green soccer field alive with children running forever nowhere. The scent of a possible rainshower sliding out of the south, yet also quite a decent sunset making its slow way to the horizon. Troubles not forgotten, just on hold and a host of desires in the heart: to save this moment and stop the slow parade of seconds and photons; to make more of nothing; to be brave and kind and ceaselessly moral; and above all to savor the cries of mortal joy that usually go unheard.
I rose and fought the darkness and then threw a solid left hook into self pity to salvage the hour. Outside, I raked rotten apples from under the red delicious tree until I had a wheelbarrow load full of dead brown hearts. The sun swept above Kinton's Knob, awakening wasps and yellow jackets from a false death. I refused to think about tomorrow, but the worry stone still seemed to jump in my pocket a few times. Finally, I found that inch in time I wanted. In the sweet sunshine I learned one good thing: the power to be still.
The essence is that the heart is fragile as a paper lamp. You learn its light can crash to darkness so easily. You discover this only after, never before, the fist. You spend your whole life as a bull or a thoughtless god, and then one moment the blood of days has nowhere to go. The walls cave in. The raging fingers smash the light. Later, recovered or rebuilt, you wait for another fist to crush the paper that's you: the Chinese lantern of your existence. But in time you realize only the light matters. Not the fist or pain.
The beautiful poetess. Lovely as a dream. She stands at the lectern in a room where perhaps 20 people sit quietly and listen to her. She is 45 or 50, the years and wisdom apparent on her face, making her that much more desirable. Forget the words. Some of us want only to put our lips to her white breasts and kiss the vanilla-scented skin and then make love to her in a sun porch of a beach house with the salt-tanged wind coming off the ocean and the ancient sea moans urging us on. That is all we want.
I saw a red-winged blackbird today on a fence post and heard him snickering at me as I went by. At the feeder there were a variety of smaller birds, some that I couldn't identify, though I did clearly spot some finches and field swallows. It was actually warm, the temperature probably close to 75, the mildest day of the year so far. Bees looped about the yard, looking for nest spots. In the fields my father-in-law and brother-in-law plowed and planted. The yard has suddenly turned green, and it will probably need mowed within a week. So it goes.
So all these poems that aren't getting written have become silent. And the ones that were written haven't been sent out to be summarily rejected by some fucking snob editor who doesn't know diddlysquat about feeling but everything about the nuances of meter and how to create a metaphor that sits up and yells: "Look how goddamn clever and cute I am." But then it dies because it's a haircut that looks great for a day or two but then one day you get up, look in the mirror, and realize you look like shit and can't write worth shit.
In "Rio Bravo" I like the way the Duke keeps giving that stupid empty look at Angie Dickinson when she's doing everything to win him over except giving head in the middle of the dusty street, but he just doesn't seem to get it because all he wants to do is go back to the jail and check up on Walter Brennan or give a pep talk to the alcoholic Dean Martin or look at cute little Ricky Nelson and say, "Hello, Colorado." And the whole time old Angie is so hot for the Duke that her brain is frazzled.
The thing about being a vegetarian is that everybody treats you like some damn alien, especially around here where meat is king and grease is a lifestyle. Sometimes I want to say screw it and eat massive amounts of hamburger or pork sausage or maybe prime rib or a good sloppy joe or maybe a filet mignon or chicken breasts marinated in JD or a dozen tacos dripping oil and cheese or even a lousy sandwich of stale white bread and bologna and yellow mustard. What's weird is that even when I wasn't a vegetarian I didn't eat much meat.
A lot of birds now are coming to the feeder I put up a few weeks ago. Of course it's spring, so they're around anyway, but lately it seems as if there are many more than have ever been here. I counted about a dozen species, though I've never been very good at identifying birds unless they stand out like goldfinches or cardinals – anything with a primary color. To be honest I don't really care if I can't identify that many – they're all beautiful as far as I'm concerned. They just make the old homestead a lot more pleasant place.
Went to the Historical Society banquet last night to speak about Bill, who was President of the Society. It's been about a month since he passed away. I wasn't particularly thrilled about going, but I did mainly because of my love for him. It was a lousy meal with some sort of crumb-covered desert-dry chicken. A baked potato and overboiled carrots. I ate the potato. I didn't tell anyone I was a vegetarian or make a fuss. Screw it. I spoke, praised Bill, and essentially told the fuckers in a nice way that their rinkydink organization owed everything to him.
My 84-year-old aunt lay dead and remarkably ugly in her coffin yesterday. She had been on dialysis for six years and it sucked the sap out of her. She had been a good-looking woman at one time. I went out of no great love but out of duty. I didn't know her that well, and she never liked me that because of some political positions I had as a young man that bucked the hardcore Republican line she always took. Oh well, my dad didn't like her that well either. He used to hide in the bathroom when she visited.
Basically a rainy damn weekend. Saturday night Joyce and I went to the Ornish dinner in Johnstown. All the people that either are currently in the program or have graduated from the Windber program were invited. The Ornish extended community, I think it's called. Anyway, we were among the youngest people there. A lot of old geezers, but they could dance well, I'll say that much for them. Fancy ballroom kind of stuff that's pretty intimidating to someone like me with two left feet. After the vegetarian meal – which was just okay, we had a happy little singalong. Christ almighty!
Another rainy day. Didn't feel very industrious so I just stayed inside, watched basketball, did some yoga, and meditated. Very exciting, but peaceful. For a while Joyce and I tossed around some ideas from the new kitchen we're planning – we went to a designer last week and are basically going over the various plans. I just want it to be over so we have more cabinets and all our stuff can be put away. Stuff, that's the damn problem with this family. We have too much stuff. Junk. Clutter. Simplify, Thoreau said, but it ain't gonna happen with us. Ever.
Blah…That's basically it. The zen of blah. I am possessed by inertia. Not really depressed, just got the slows and the so whats and anything else that keeps me from getting up and doing anything that's not only constructive but also takes a lick of brainpower. Speaking of brains – I took two on-line IQ tests a few days ago and scored a 103 and a 150. So what the fuck does that tell you about me? I haven't a clue, and the smart me doesn't either. Maybe instead of having an evil twin I just have a really smart one.
I hate stupid Word so much, especially when the fucking scraggly green lines appear and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the construction. And it's not as if I don't know – Christ I've been an English teacher for 28 goddamn years. So what if I swear a lot? Anyway, since I'm a Mac person and have always liked the Apple WP program, it's hard to get used to others, though I've been trying for years. When this Mac goes I'll probably get a PC though it will be a dark day as far as I'm concerned. But that's progress, I guess.
The most recent issue of The American Poetry Review had Jane Hirshfield on the cover. My, is she gorgeous! Plus she looks just like a poetess should: dark, sultry, intense, ethereal – the whole package. She's a terrific poet too. Hard to describe her work – elusive and direct at the same time. She's just about my age, too. I've never heard her read, but I'm going to make it a point to try to become more familiar with her work. It would be wonderful if she would come to Pittsburgh to give a reading sometime. Or perhaps Penn State or Bucknell
A few iron words. The anger rushing into the face. The wisdom of silence suddenly is no longer an option. Th ebb and flow of proximity washes up the jetsam that's always floating offshore. This ship has really sunk. The passengers are either dead or trapped below decks. Some are screaming but some sit quietly and watch the death waters slowly fill the staterooms. Some pass without knowing why. Others are glad to embrace oblivion and end the torment of this long cruise. Others scream and storm and refuse to shut their eyes. They have no choice but to protest.
Useless women. Not to be sexist, and I'm not, but it seems everywhere around here I see angry-faced young women and their children. I know that a lot of them don't work – they just fuck their selfish mean-spirited husbands, waddle around for 9 months, and then pop out another burden to the state. They have no hope for themselves – only diapers and demanding husbands and slow-witted children and whatever entertainment they can find for the moment. Oprah, soaps, the Lifetime Channel, perhaps Porn, or worse, NASCAR fucking racing. Jesus, what a life! But that's what they have chosen for themselves.
I'm tired of the wind. It blows all the time anymore, and it makes me stupid. I guess it's a natural part of spring. But I've had enough. Right now on the radio I hear someone playing a cut from Abbey Road. Who actually has the good taste to do that? Surprising in this kingdom of dullards, of which I am the king dullard. My, but I'm a hopeful bastard today! I don't know what's gotten into me today, I just feel rather inconsequential. However, it's important to have days like this, especially when you're full of yourself, like me!
Nick's first soccer game today. He scored two goals and really played well. Took a tumble and bruised his tailbone but he's okay. A small thing but right in the middle of the game some fucking woman walked right in front of Joyce and me sitting there quite peacefully in our chairs and stood right in front of us. I got pissed, huffed, moaned, and almost said something rude, but then I began to get fascinated by the very obliviousness of this woman to what she was doing. It was really sort of remarkable in a strange sort of way.
Thunderstorms and downed tress nearby and all sorts of chaos but not really here. Lucked out. Joyce and I went to Altoona, visited the library, went to Lowes, then pissed around at the new WalMart. Wonderful wonderful, as Larry used to say. A lot of people buying stuff or things to put their stuff in. Reminds me of that Carlin routine. He had it exactly right. A lot of useless stuff nobody really needs but we all have to have it for some totally foolish reason that probably a sociologist could understand but not me. Nor do I want to.
Woke up, did some yoga, exercised, then made a vegetarian stew that everybody actually sort of liked when we had it for dinner. Fancy that. It was rainy and windy again so I didn't do that much except go to Bedford to the bank where I talked to a fellow I know whose brother was just killed. I had taught the brother. Pretty complicated. A murder suicide sort of thing, but the man insists it was a double murder. I tend to agree with him for some reason. I wish the cops would solve it. It happened two miles away.
The last day of April. This is my last entry for 100 words. I think I'll skip a month. Later today Nick and I will go to the foot doctor. Nick to have his ingrown toenail removal checked – me to have a nail removed or something. I have all sorts of problems with my toes as far as the nails go. It's a genetic thing, I hear. Oh well. There's a variety of other things I should do but really can't find the energy. I'll miss yoga and the Ornish group session and also the workout at the fitness center.
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