inside a person another one

this life in parallel there’s always been, inside a person another one, what do others do, deny it i guess, or maybe it’s not there, for them it’s not there, and i see it all before me what will never come but what has happened, what is happening, inside a person another one, it’s been there all along, and it keeps growing, keeps expanding, so many layers, painstakingly detailed scenes, every time some spark strikes, the line of tinder crackles, the fuse is lit, i can’t put it out, i could never put it out, there are ways to try, and i know some other ways i’ve seen others try, each one ends the same way, we all know how it does, yes, we do, and do you know how when you’ve done things so often, day in and day out, and then one day you do something a little different and it throws you off, it pushes you off onto another track, but not enough to shift you into the parallel life, no, not that far, just enough to make you stop for a minute and think about it all, about that other life and where it’s going, the people in it, the way they’ve come into being, likely so different than how they are in this life, the way you act, the way they act, whatever happens, and what if the two converged even for a day or just an hour, what then, what then for the person inside the person, the two people now, who looms larger, a dried-out husk of aloofness wraps around the hot soldering iron trapped inside, look out, fire hazard, i smell smoke, i’ve seen the others burn themselves up, i know how it all ends, it’s near halfway and i see the hazy shapes down below resting on the sea floor, so many split halves, so many discarded broken parts, a graveyard of misshapen lives.

yes, wednesday night is movie night

When you watch a film it’s full of so many intense moments and none of them are real because life is not really made of those moments. It’s full of different ones, many blanking moments between a handful of sparking others that brighten and never wane in your mind, only in your heart. And it’s not the moon. It is ever the sinking sun. On the rocks, the desert floor, the pink and orange and blue, like that trip so many years ago. A film is a distillation of all these things, it is a prickly intensity of which we are not so used to in our daily lives, at least not in later years. In youth life can be like a film, though we lack the perspective required to appreciate it. And I imagine the people who make the sorts of films I have been watching make them because they want to see their lives like a film when they are young, but with the perspective that allows them to see it for what it was.

Tonight I was excited to go walk in the warm night air, even though it is October and it should not be so warm. The crickets yet fiddle and when I touch the inside this night it does not feel so tender. And yet when I talk to someone about his plans to leave this place, even though he’s been around awhile, he’s still a decade behind my next curve in the road. So maybe you can grasp the urgency I feel snaking around me. And if you can grasp it perhaps you could do me the favor of wrenching it off me so I can breathe lighter and freer.

Everything is profound in the late hour. It bears down upon you with a ferocity daylight would never allow. You start thinking about the beginnings of endings and the ending of beginnings and the brutal flatness of middles. You think about contours on a map and start seeing your life through a cartographer’s squinted eye, with those squiggly lines circling around you and they’re all the places you’ve been, the walks you’ve chosen to take, the daily ribbons of flayed flesh stripped from your shrunken sides.

This is not to say…anything, really. When I start typing nothing is ever as it seems. Words touch other words like hot wires and who am I to pull them apart. This hovers before me like a psychiatric tinderbox into which to dump the fantastic and the absurd and what torn shreds are left of the real. The box is metal to minimize the explosive risk? Not that any match will strike and catch this fire.

There is never a conclusion to reach and that appears to be the point. Which is fine, I guess. But can a person reverse evolve? I think I’m becoming a mollusk. Or a bioluminescent dinoflagellate. Foxfire! That’s it. I want to be foxfire. I want to be the green glow you see hovering in your woodpile as you gaze out upon it one evening through the icy windowpane.

over time, a mask is recognized

Foxtrot’s tractor beam halos the sidewalk slug trails. We linger in limbo near the antique fan house. It is night. There is no reason to dispute this is the time when I feel safest. Moving in shadow, yellow light spilling across the floor. Motives murky. Fiddle and banjo sound like always during this brief time. In Rhinoceros Eyes the props speak to Chep. He’s not happy about it, mind you. But what can he do. He’s an idiot savant, after all. Or is he. Maybe if you look hard enough at any one single thing, it will begin speaking to you. Dim light, that’s what I’m about. Except when reading. of course. I like a bright light on the page, but dim light everywhere else around. Smoking oil lamps and waning firelight.

The antique fan house intrigues me. They are everywhere. So many fans, none of them moving. It’s pleasantly absurd. I like walking around late night and there is some light in the houses but you don’t see anyone. God, if you saw just one person it would wreck it all. Maybe. I take the corner to the alley and wouldn’t you know it those dogs are out on the deck. We disturb a man and his cigarette, the dogs caterwauling across the way. The city’s branding iron on your eardrums. There is no quiet.

There are others skulking with their dogs. There always are. Skulk, skulk, skulk. We slither down the sidewalks, following the faint slug trails, glistering in the sodium glow of street lamps. Chep has trouble talking. He is awkward and what has built up in his mind is another world not fitting right with this one he’s operating in. It doesn’t matter what those props tell him. Maybe it’s all just a bad dream. Sometimes it is. Sometimes you wake up relieved. And not just when you’re aging, the days running off like lost sheep on the edge of fading summer pasture. I mean when you’ve seen the bottom of the haunted well in your dream life and lived to wake the next day. Morning looks so good then, like a doctored photograph.

It’s happening again. A man in a smiling bag. New shoes. Ha-ha…it’s all still there. The repetitive inputs of our lives, be they intentional or not. You can’t rip out hard wire. But you can open the window and let in the night air. You can do that. And what does air do but move through you. It moves through you like the shadows of night and does no harm. Not like a person. Not like a talking prop. But like the song playing down the credits. And the yellow light all around. And the glass in your hand. Like that. It moves through you like that and there’s nothing like it in the world.

why does this channel play such a peculiar strain of white noise

Your shoulders bend forward to keep out the world. I see it. What is the point. Why do we insist on throwing ourselves out into the fray. Retreat! Climb onto this liferaft I have constructed from a few termite-riddled planks bound together with the discarded hairs from your head. It’s all different but the same. Longing and self-denial: our life’s work, the unrequitable nectar from which we feed, desperate fools that we are. I can’t bear to look.

Today I took Farley to Spiderweb City. I heard a Black-billed Cuckoo, a bird I identify with. Common but secretive? Rumored to predict rain? Maybe not. I came home, ran around inside the house with my paint bucket, sweating, the futility of it all welling up inside, allegro. Mainlining futility, hoping someday for the pure uncut junk that blows your mind.

Later: party time. An invitation not refused. Perhaps the strangest party I have yet attended in a lifetime of suffering strange parties. Now here I sit, a party of one. Freebasing dictionaries and dreaming of foreign scents. The window is open to let in the rare cool night air. The city crickets patch together their ragged symphony. I am restless with the other music, but not drowning out the crickets. The stage is set for insomnia. Cue white noise…aaand, ACTION.

Observer versus participant in the steel cage match of life. Who wins. I wish I knew. Not that it would matter. I can’t change now. I feel like a bad character actor playing myself when I go out in public. The superficial bumbler. Kafka talks about being alone and how it restores himself to himself. How he comes alive when alone. The noise in his head quiets. He says, “Being alone has a power over me that never fails. My interior dissolves […] and is ready to release what lies deeper.” When two people are together in aloneness it is a curious thing. In some ways it is liberating. I think it may be the best we can hope for, but I still can’t see how it ends.

So we are afloat on this rotten raft held together by your hair. And I reach to pull your shoulders back but they no longer move. Like my spine they are stuck out of place. It’s dark now and the sea grows rough. I know the morning will come, but what does that even mean. At what point did the day really end. Some weeks stretch like taffy. Others make Friday the pin on this grenade and you’re stretching your long thin arm to it all week but it’s always out of reach until all of a sudden you’re yanking the pin out and it all blows up in your face. Or it’s a dud. Either way you lose another seven days. The box of grenades is not bottomless.

The rain is falling now, again. Like the cuckoo sang it would. Rain crow, rain crow, sing us a shower. This bird is killed by pesticides; this bird collides with TV towers, with tall buildings that house banks and corporate overlords. Let us all share the blame for killing a bird that sings when it is about to rain. For there are few sounds so soothing as gently falling rain.

when you don’t leave the house

I watched Faces again tonight. It’s been at least a decade, maybe longer, since I last watched it. Cassavetes crushes me every time, maybe more the older I get and the more I’ve seen and felt. When I think about the movies I like, the art I am drawn to, the music I connect with, the books I fall in love with, I see that they all share a common thread: their creators do not shy away from an honest portrayal of life as a human being. They do not judge; they simply show life for what it is. We humans are messy, we screw up a lot, we’re vulnerable, we’re fallible, and sometimes we never learn from our mistakes. There is a beautiful ugliness that hangs about us…it could go either way what you see, depending on our moods, depending on so much beyond our control. And when you talk about things like trust and expectations…well, then that is where it really gets complicated. People don’t bargain so easy with those, and with good reason. We can build and destroy these over and over, throughout a life of trying not to be alone for a little too long, carrying resilience with us, the one weapon we hope to always hold close to our hearts.

see you when your troubles get like mine

Small tragedies and minor victories twist around your idle fingers like woody vines. You trade witticisms like barbed wire slipped underneath your tongue. A single scent scatters a part of the brain already always a bit on edge. But at arm’s length, you don’t ever find the visceral. You won’t ever find it there. So push away the veil of ions, then, and you will see the rush of blood. Warm air on skin, brushing off a touch that never came. Color in cheeks, déjà vu and try to ignore imagination prone to wanton escapades. Think and wish, then, and think again. Fall into the ordinary, fall into it open and true, with wild grit in your gut.

in the morning or the late afternoon or in the midnight hour

When sleep still clouds your eyes, and the day has not yet dawned upon you. When dreams still stuff your head from ear to ear, and sleep still lies in reach. When there’s still a chance the day belongs to you. When you haven’t yet sat down for hours and when your mouth can form words and electricity showers the air with invisible sparks. There is a single moment, plucked from so many others, where you feel it, that which you grew up without but saw in others instead, from afar. Then later, sifting through a pile of the day’s written words, stacked up in your electronic woodlot, a certain desperation grows again. Even later still, the banjo duels with the fiddle across the orange light seeping into the wooden floorboards. The country in the city, within these four walls, shut up in the stale air, but breathing life. The night’s sleepy eyes begin to shut, and in between each drowsy blink, I think of you and you and everyone.

perched on the precipice of the week

Thursday night once again I come drink from your dirty trough. I am like a moth dancing with the flame, my paper thin wings licked by fire’s cleansing fangs. The filmstrip of my life rattles on, a string of vague faces in scenes etched on celluloid. I stumble along behind, stretching out an arm or leg here and there, just trying to stay in the field of view. And in the shadows the fiddle plays high and lonesome, keeping perfect time to the insanity of it all.

wearing my badger suit

Sleep evades as manic passion envelops. Meanwhile they’re closing in. They want what they don’t have and I don’t want most of what I’ve got. But I’m still angry and afraid. It’s in the late night hours that we confront the truths that daylight scatters to the dark corners. It’s when the needle hits the vinyl past midnight that you start to wonder what’s really going on. Drinking this American Water and feeling okay, but in a different uncontrolled kind of way. Maybe side two holds the answers? Maybe not. Maybe there are no answers.

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