Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pigeons Under a Bridge

It’s getting dark and the ground is wet

Someone has splattered yellow paint across the buildings

The whine of a squeaky wheel

Sounds more like rats than birds

Pigeons in the underbelly of the overpass

Violent flutters and pecks

They are all attacking one

He jumps and flaps as they push in closer

Trying to stay on the rail

What is it about him?

Why doesn’t he fight back?

Or just fly away?

You could ask the same of any of us

I threw a rock to make them take flight

But it did nothing to break the attack

As I looked for another rock on the ground

It occurred to me

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Recycled Pilot

I'm not even paying attention. It doesn't matter. What could this amount to besides maybe a headache? I see everything that's in front of me moving around. Those scary eyes. The talking. The resets. I can see those lips moving and pausing. I can't help but think that I'll be having sex with her tonight. This isn't what I came here for. The producers are surprised, up in a little room with their spit-coffee and reflections bouncing off glass and then back again off of their shiny heads. A confrontation somehow turned into an outdated experiment. Some people say a lie is a lie is a lie. Whatever it takes not to listen. That would pull the plug on the whole deal. I'm not in charge. I have to answer to my boss. He whispers a foreign language that my brain translates into simple urges. Keeping in mind everything that's in front of me, moving around. The resistance causes less dizziness if you stay as close to the center as possible. Not wanting to cause a scene amongst the absence of extras, I wear expression #57, with tone #2 and body language #19. It's having the expected effect. Audio is fading in as an interesting man begins to speak to me, the right half of a whole. He says he's rewritten the bible twice, speaking mostly in rhymes. He won’t stop talking and the booming voice in my earpiece is threatening to reveal itself.

We lose audio and a hush falls over the studio audience as the little blonde girl and the lanky white kid exit the scene, walking down the street, like they did last week.     

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Screen Grabs: Barton Fink

The Slider

My fingers feel thick, cartoonish

the room keeps fluctuating its proportions in a sparatic rhythm

my fingers feel wire thin, sketchy 

later I would learn this was similar to a K-hole

but I was only child and it would happen

the entire world was a grain of sand in my palm

only to become Jupiter's surface that I couldn't scrape


I yelled out but when help came I couldn't explain

things settle for the moment making me foolish

but it was real, it was scarier than the scary movies

later I would learn it was similar to a K-hole

It's been years but I still remember

sometimes there's a hint and I think I will be Mickey Mousing it

it leaves me and the proportions remain constant

(As often as things may jump when in my peripheral or worse, I pay close attention to the lines, for when they shift is when I will once again be powerless and the slider will determine my worth amongst the rest)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Black Girl

At Penn the big board told me that the next train to Lindenhurst wouldn't arrive for nearly an hour. I popped another one and looked for a spot on the ground that hadn't been freshly mopped. I allowed myself to not look at the passer's faces, now and then unable to not look. I scorned the happy couples of sixes and sevens. I stared at the battered shoes that I'd been wearing for over two years. Their grip had been worn down to uselessness. Time slid rapidly and when I noticed the crowd moving like an impolite wave, I realized that my train was arriving.

Finding a nice little corner towards the back, I sat and shuffled through my I-Pod, searching for the songs I knew would do the most damage to me; the ones that would allow me to embrace my depression and cultivate it to an entirely more dangerous level. Two proud stockbroker types sat behind me; laughing and over-talking with red freshly shaven faces. I immediately moved to find another seat, only to discover that there weren't many options. When I looked back I could see an unapologetic Arab man sitting in my original place, his dark eyes barely edging over the heads of the three elderly old ladies in front of him. The old ladies must have been sisters. A kind black woman (who I eventually began to suspect was a man) moved her shopping bags and let me sit in the three seats that were directly across from her.

Two cops, one young and crew-cutted and tall, the other old and pit-skinned and teensy, stood at the doors adjusting their Glocks and talking about what I assumed were foolish perps. They were just killing time until their shift ended, before returning home to watch Cops or maybe the Shield. The kind black man-or-woman noticed my glaring and appeared puzzled. When the overhead lights would flicker, I prayed for them to stay off. Begged for the darkness to stay forever and lightly rock me into the depths of a Martian mountain. They always snapped back on and eventually I found myself staring into the closest one, as if pledging my worship for my personal florescent sun-god. The world around me was deconstructed and the purest portion of the light was all I could register. This state didn't last as the shifting of Glocks tickled my attention. I occupied myself by watching a plastic cup rolling on the ground, adhering to its invisible semi-circles.

Stop after stop, and still nothing to gauge the time. The wet grey ugliness of Long Island's sad towns passed without a soul on the streets. Those Zombie-movie parking lots and playgrounds: the future and past site of some horrible incident. Slowly the numbers thinned out and I switched to the opposite seat that the kind black probably-man had left behind. I opened my pill case and tapped out another during one of the dark spells. Halfway through the process the lights re-illuminated and one of the cops, the tall military looking one, watched as I popped it in the traditional pill-popper swift palm to the mouth style. I stared into his eyes until he looked away, already preparing to laugh at his senior’s redundant babblings.

This is when I encountered the existence of the left side of the train, the side to which I was blind before my second relocation. A large bald man's bloated head peaked from beyond the rows of empty seats and I could tell from the look on his face that his wife was passed-out on his shoulder, even though I couldn't see her. There was a frazzly haired woman that looked like a cartoon mouse reading Mac Addict, with spurts of absolute joy that would reveal her enormous front teeth. I couldn't imagine what that magazine held that could make her smile so hard.

Then I saw her, the inspiration for this story. She was wearing jeans with stenciled skeletons and had a purse with Jack the Pumpkin King on it. Her hat had little bells hanging from a thin crossing chain that made me wonder how loud they jingled when she walked. Her skin was the color of lightly milked coffee. A little bushel of black hair floated under the hat's line. Her leg bobbed to whatever she was listening to on her ancient cassette Walkman. I envied her for still rocking a cassette player, even though it was probably not by choice. Her bobbing leg was coming extremely close to the top of an empty bottle of Captain Morgan's Dark that someone had left standing underneath her seat along with an almost empty two-liter of Coke. I waited and watched, desperate to see the bottle fall and begin to carve out its own semi-circles so I could bet my soul on where it would end up. So I could condemn myself to an ideal. I could get cancer from a coin flip or die in a fire because someone's jacket liner was not the color I had guessed. This is how I spent much of my life, wagering pieces of myself on seemingly pointless occurrences. For a very long time that's all I did, I waited for the bottle to fall.

Suddenly, I noticed her mouth moving, forming words. She stopped her cassette. Taking off my headphones I said, "What?"

She repeated, "Is that a birthmark?"


She smiled, "On your hand."

"Oh, no it's a stamp from a club."

I immediately regretted saying "club", having never enjoyed myself at any place that was referred to as a club. Furthermore, having never found much in terms of redeeming qualities in those who frequented "clubs".

"You went to a club tonight?"

"No, well it was a bar, but they served cake upstairs. You wouldn't even know the bar existed, upstairs was all people on their laptops drinking coffee. It was…strange."

"Yeah, there's lot's of places like that in New York."

I said, "I know."

That could have been it, but she persisted, "What are you listening to?"

The bald man with the drowsy wife smirked the way people do when they witness train-flirting. I shot him my mind-your-own-business look that did nothing to break his attention. I would have to ignore him and continue in what people would consider pleasant conversation. For some reason I wasn't bothered. I seemed to interest her and somehow that made me forget, or at least allowed me shelf my self-induced grief. She wanted to know what I was listening to, so I told her, slightly worried she wouldn't like what I liked.

"Do you know the Red Hot Chili Peppers?"

She briefly kicked her head to the side and replied, "Of course."

"Well this string quartet covered a lot of their hits. That's what I'm listening to."

"Really? That's cool. Did they do, the City of Angels, from Californication?"

"You mean Under the Bridge and that's not on Californication. Yeah, it's the first song. Do you want to hear it?"

Her smile widened and she scooted further towards me. It seemed as if she hadn't spoken to a stranger in a very long time. I handed her my headphones and found the track, still holding my I-pod so the cord linked us across the aisle. I didn't know what to do while she listened, and I didn't want to make her feel like she had to give it back to me, so I just stared ahead and avoided contact with the fat voyeur who was still watching us, imagining his own version. Her eyes were closed and she began softly singing the words, straining to hit the notes while remaining around a whisper. I watched her mouth move and found myself right where I was, sitting on the train across from an interesting young girl. Sometimes she would open her eyes and smile at me, saying things like, "I was wondering how they were going to do that part" as the song progressed. She smiled like kids smile. Her leg once again began to bob and she finally kicked over the empty bottle of rum without noticing.  My wager held no weight, no longer valid. The bottle swung one way or the other, out of sight.

I didn't care where it ended up. 

Kindergarden Imlpant

That sneaking suspicion that nothing has changed

new haircut and the shirt that makes me sweat

sleepy Basinger offers me pet names and winks

then there is that song flashing that on this, again

only a martyr now, it rebounds me to another night

my fireside whiskey partner and her real fake eyes

lavender spaghetti strapped impossibility, wasting

she and me, we act our parts as a different play plays on

inside she's already mine, primed to be displaced

we share cigarettes I don't want, secondhand yellow kisses

silly as it is, that and this is what taxis me to here and there

like absurd notions only backed by the Green party

words, this style, seeded at blue table #2 in Mrs G's class

little Melissa Earing, that smile, the beginning and end of me