My neighbor's stoop has a welcome mat that faces the wrong way and is covered in stains, like someone dropped a coffee while fumbling for housekeys. Her apartment has a permanent miasma of weedsmoke outside it.
When she is awake, which is apparently not often, 70s rock musi(more)c blasts into our common stairwell. Other times, it is silent as an empty church and I picture her asleep with a mask on her eyes, sleeping in weed-smoky gloom, drowsy daylight filtering through the Union Jack that serves as a bedroom curtain.
I do my best not to make any noise as I come and go. Any sounds are dangerous as my neighbor is not averse to yelling out her window at the drop of a hat: "Fuck you, I work shift work, you don't know what it's like, keep the noise down, it sounds like pigs going to market the way you gallop up and down the stairs," etc. But I carry my bike up and down the steps, so occasionally I thump the wall with the handlebars.
My front door doesn't latch properly because this whole apartment building is sinking into the ground, the foundation compromised by the flood plain. Consequently, I have to use two hands to open my door: one to rattle the knob and align the jamb with the frame so that the deadbolt will retreat when I turn the key with the other hand. This is a noisy procedure. The door thumps hollowly as I haul on it to find the "sweet spot" where it will allow itself to be unlocked. My brass key is bent from its exertions. I swear loudly during this procedure.
I am also clumsy, and often drop groceries, cans of soup smashing all the way down the stairwell, melons breaking open... (less)
I never thought that at this age I would get this sick.
I watch as my muscles waste away from inactivity. I watch my face become older than it's years.
I watch other women my age jog passe(more)d with their firm buttocks and shiny hair. I was suppose to be her.
I look down at my gimp of a walk - and feel sorry for myself again.
This is me? This is what I am? A gimp!
I hear teenage girls giggle as they pass me on their bikes. Their laughter is directed at me. I see them look at me out of the corner of their eye and watch them as they pass, giggling and whispering. I gimp on!
I can barely make it home - my legs so weak and my pain is biting and burning. I have to do this - I can't take another day of being inside and watching documentaries of people hiking, exploring and... living.
What can I do?
Why keep struggling just to suffer through a day? What would be the meaning of it? I will continue to deteriorate - soon won't be able to give a statement of clarity. Trapped in a confused mind and pain!
My family having to pay my bills - my husband longing for what I can't give - people explain to my unperceptive mind new ideas - my mouth agape and eyes glazed. Can't follow conversations.
Go ahead young girls - laugh at the cripple. Adolescent boys - scream out your windows at the goofy walking woman. Go ahead! Be impatient with me world!
I have people who love me. They need me. They love my smile. There is nobody that can fill the void if I disappeared.
The pilot, clad in a gray jumpsuit with iron crosses at the collar, brought the spinning saucer to a dead stop at an altitude of 2000 meters. The co-pilot spoke into his mask their intentions to ground control. "Jahwol" came the squawking reply.
The craft hung amid the clouds with (more)the menace of something about to be hurled with tremendous force. Its spinning increased and blue sparks flared from the hull.
On the ground, a lone spotter swept the sky with his binoculars, suddenly discerning the blur of motion and light. His mouth fell open as he watched the odd shape plunge straight down and then shoot at a right angle across the landscape of farmer' fields.
Abruptly, the blur came to a standstill by the side of an old oak, hovering just a few feet above the ground. At the sight of the German cross painted on the hull, the spotter nearly dropped his binoculars. He furiously scribbled into his notebook, then fled at once in the direction of the pub down the road to use the telephone.
The pilot turned dial after dial on the console, keeping one eye on the view screen, while the copilot peered through the gunsight. Their target was the private home of a scientist who had fled Germany and assumed a new identity in England. His research had been directly responsible for the construction of the craft they now flew. The mission planners had determined that justice demanded he be killed with it.
The copilot spoke. "Ich bin fertig." I am ready. The pilot clenched his jaw at the sight of the farmhouse projected on screen. One shot would obliterate it. Then he discerned a shape bobbing hurriedly past the front wall. It was a girl, perhaps three, running with a balloon.
An old war movie was playing on tv, with the highly focussed sergeant explaining the significance of the new rifles the recruits were clutching to their chests.
"Look it over. Touch it, feel the weight of it. In three week's time you should be more intimately familiar wit(more)h your M-1 than any other thing in your life, including your girl."
He walked slowly, his eyes boring into each man as if into stone.
"Proper use of this rifle will insure that seventy-eight percent of you will return from your tour unharmed. That figure being the statistical probability of survival for an infantryman in this theater."
I turned the volume down and looked at Pop who was sitting in his favorite chair with the new reader's digest on his lap. I couldn't quite see his eyes behind his thick lenses, but the way his chin was sinking into his neck, I thought he might be dozing.
"Yeah?" He said, wide awake.
"We're you a good marksmen in the Army?"
He shifted in his chair. "I wasn't a sharpshooter or nothing, but I did alright."
"You guys had the M-16, right?"
"That's right. And a bigger piece of shit has never been foisted on the unsuspecting the way they dumped that gun on us."
I had heard him say this before. The early M-16s were notorious for being fussy to maintain, and had to be kept spotlesslessly clean or else they jammed.
"Your gun ever freeze up in a firefight?" I liked hearing his stories.
"Oh, I don't remember, son, probably. It must have, I think, but you don't remember those kind of things for too long. All you're trying to do is cover your ass and not get shot, and when you can, didi mao."
Do you protect your heart like a child with an egg? Holding it ever so carefully, keeping it safe from
You're terrified you'll get slimy shards all over your fingers, sticking to everything.
(more) Maybe you jumped too high or ran too fast and accidentally crushed it. Maybe somebody else snatched it from your hands and tossed it at the sky. Perhaps you nurtured it for years, out of harm's way
so that nothing could ever happen to it...
Until you noticed it starting to stink.
We all have these little egg hearts we don't know what to do with. So fragile, so volatile.
Don't you realize they are a dime a dozen?
We birds are meant to be free and can hatch as many eggs as we want.
Go ahead - make an omelet this morning!(less)
"How innocent do I look?" I reach over the counter and grab a shooter glass. I fill it 'ith pilsner and toss it at my face. One chug.
(more) "...t'ought so," he mumbles, neck bent over the bar.
"What d'ya mean?" I drum my fingertips on the cracked wood top.
He turns opposite me and grabs 'is deep tea cup of rum 'ith pink flowers painted on. He heaves himself off the rickety bar stool and ducks down int'a tattered leather booth.
Some night. Barmin Jim is out rushin' the under-agers around, telling 'em t' get the hell out of 'is bar again. They only got so many costumes. How don't he notice?
Jim lets m'in every night. He don't care t' notice that I'm a tad young t' be kickin' round this here bar. Old fuck doesn't know what's good for 'im. I usually bring in some more drinkers 'nd he likes that.(less)
"I couldn't believe I won such a prestigious award!" My boss told me as I was running a towel over almost blinding gold statue. I didn't have the heart to tell him, so I let him gloat. It took him 2 t.v appearances, 4 radio shows, and countless memes(more) until finally, 3 months later a shy fan in a coffee shop whispered to him... "you need to read it again". "What?" he actually responded, "read what again?" He went home that night and stared at his awards, and right there, glowing in the middle, was the completely fake mustard colored statue, that read "Congratulations on being a true zero."
Tell me, are you the only one here? I follow you around with my pearly white eyes and they shine at you and you know. You know everything in the room. Eyes in your hands and on your head and in your ass, watching it all.
(more) I can't watch you. You titter, tatter around and crawl all over everything with crumbs spilling out your mouth.
I tilt my head one way, scrunch up my plain face, look back and you're gone.
But you still see me.
I lift my legs 'nd hug them to my knees. I grab at some tissue paper boxed up on the left of my desk, flecks of dust flying through the air.
"Hello!" I say aloud, to no one at all.
Tell me, are you the only one here aside from me?(less)
I hate writing. It never does what I want it to do. Right now, I'm listening to a Bowie cover of Lou Reed's "Waiting for the man." It's not bad for a cover, though it lacks the menace of Reed's version. I have never waited for the man. I have waited for the pharmacist,(more) however, and I suspect that is far more frustrating, because pharmacists answer to nobody.
The meet ups have been unattended so far. The counter indicates that I have three people scheduled to attend, including me. If they don't, I'm going to email them and politely ask them what might bring them out of the house and to the coffee shop on Monday nights.
The Violent Femmes. Why can't I just get one fuck? I always thought these guys sounded nasty, too cool and too raw. Add it up.
So: writing... Always difficult and intermittently rewarding. A guy across from me is taking careful notes. He is flipping through a paperback he just purchased, the ribbon length receipt unfurling on the coffee table . Zydeco is playing. Foot stomping music with harmonica, fiddles. The title of a slim volume nestled in his binder is No Sign of The Island. I looked, it doesn't have an ISBN, so it's from a teeny tiny press, a chapbook. I wonder if he is a poet. The pieces I can see are short lines on the page, occupying maybe fifteen percent of the paper's total surface.
His laptop has a sticker on it, Bloof Books. I look it up and find out that it is a blog/ezine devoted to poetry. I am not a poet. I value clarity over lyricism. He has thick hair and thick glasses. He's copying something by hand from the thick new book into his notes. (less)
I could have a bonfire with most of the things I own and never miss them again.
But the problem with trying to clean house is the process itself: emptying the shelves and drawers and looking at belongings one by one, remembering how you acquired them or wh(more)o gave them to you and not being able to throw them away. Because for some reason material items have come to mean love, connection, life's meaning.
Our gifts are associated with the people who handed them to us. Our books are our lovers. Our televisions both our company and moorings.
On the West Coast of B.C. we lead a charmed life compared to the rest of the continent. No snowstorms, no tornadoes, no hurricanes, no oil in our soil begging for painful extraction. But we have one common spectre: that of the Earthquake. For as long as anyone alive can remember, the 'Big One' has threatened. The painful subduction of the Cascadia fault, shifting layers of Earth grinding like teeth, smothering layers of rock rolling past each other. Explosive pressure building unbeknownst to people on the surface world, with our oblivion. We think of bills, children, dreams, and worries and not the rebelling rock underfoot.
It gets painful and impossible to ever be free from your possessions. So it is better to have the clean sweep of a house fire or natural disaster so you can walk away clean...so you are free, laid bare, and you can see what your life really means as you face
the future barefaced and emptyhanded.
We are on shaky ground. I consider how it would be better to lose everything by choice before the time comes to lose it through 'an act of God.'(less)
My given name is Holt Arness Watson Kirk Sadler. But you can call me "Marshall". My father had a fondness for the old tv western "Gunsmoke" and that's where the Arness comes from. The rest, except for Sadler, were seemingly pulled from out of a hat when my mother, in her semi-sedated(more) state, responded a little to freely to the attending nurse's question as to what the little boy's name was going to be. On the birth certificate, my entire name takes up a full row and half of another.
I admit, my monogram is pretty cool: HAWKS. Or at least, I thought so until about the age of twelve, when suddenly the extended set of initials felt too brash and I thought might draw a certain kind of unwanted attention from the tougher, meaner kids with less exuberantly formed names. For a while, I was strictly Marshall Sadler, with just the two letters, M.S., written on the covers of my notebooks and other possessions I thought worth marking. This subdued relationship with my initials lasted through high school and college. But, in adulthood I've embraced the full set of letters again, and I even own a genuine Stetson that I paid $300.00 for with a three inch high "HAWKS" branded on the front. I only put it on for parties, though, since it's annoying to have to explain what it means, and everybody asks.
I should really get a pillow case,
you can pretty much tell my life from my pillow.
you can see which side I like to sleep on,
you can tell I have a cat based on the scratches on the side. You can see its age from its stitch(more)es,
how many time have I woken up to see fluff coming out
I would never know.
You can also see my occupation.
some nights I just come home and dont even bother wiping the blood off my face
or the mud on my hair,
I just wanna sleep and thats what my pillow is for.
theres even that one stain im not even sure how it got there,
is it droll or coffee stain,
i wouldn't know.
na, im not gonna get a pillow case,
sure it will make it pretty but my pillow has character...(less)