She walked into my office like a florist walking into a biology lab, one of those university labs that look like overgrown grade school art rooms, with smocks scattered everywhere, stains on the tables that weren’t ever coming out, and unpleasant odors snaking through the air, though in the lab those smells would be formaldehyde rather than fingerpaints or modelling clay, and she wrinkled her nose just like a florist would in that environment, and right there and then I fell hopelessly in love with my fifth grade art teacher, who was probably dead by now or at least post-menopausal.
(Inspiration today from the Bulwer-Lytton Contest.)
Every morning when I was growing up, Mom made bacon and fried eggs for breakfast, basting the eggs in the bacon grease, and when you cut into them the yolks would spread like sunlight across your plate, or sometimes she’d scramble them with soft cheese, and we had toast dripping with butter, and coffee with heavy cream, and often she’d make the same meal for dinner, and when we were done she’d hand Dad his cigarettes, and it wasn’t until his first heart attack twenty years later that I realized she was trying to kill him and offered my help.
I dreamed a better world was possible, and I refuse to wake up, which is just trading dreams. These are no windmills, I’m mad enough tilt at true giants–daring as the mosquitoes who brave my hand, and as little noticed. But at least they get a meal out of it. Ah, Sancho, my faithful, deluded Sancho! I don’t believe he’s ever read a book, and yet he thinks he knows how the world goes. But which of us carries the bruises of experience? If the world’s a game hound, which of us does it worry like a caught hare?
I hate the Fourth of July–not for what it represents, but for how it’s celebrated. I love professional fireworks, but the personal explosives detonated by children and inebriated adults frighten me. Why not just give them all guns?
This year, my wife, my daughter and I went to a friend’s house for ice cream and a view of the city fireworks display. On the way out, we drove past a park where young men fired roman candles into pine trees. When we returned late that night, smoke drifted over the streets and our neighborhood smelled like a war zone.
If it were possible to die I might someday, but I’ve never done and can’t imagine it. Received wisdom says it’s like sleeping, but how would anybody know? Besides, I do even that alertly, aware of my position in the bed, and my wife’s, and the dog against my leg. As I amble through dreams I’m already wording my journal entries about the Spanish inquisitors, Scottish mentors and unknown lovers I meet.
I think I’ll become like oatgrass. I’ll be without a self, without awareness, but I still will be. Or maybe I’ll finally finish that Celtic rock throwing game.
The music in my soul sulks and won’t come out. I’m distantly related to both folk singer Burl Ives and composer Charles Ives, but I’m as melodic as a marigold, and I don’t mean the Nirvana song. My father taught himself to play guitar, banjo and fiddle; my childhood violin teacher urged me to quit my lessons. I’ve created intricate and moving symphonies in my dreams, works with complex harmonies, daring instrumentation and layered rhythms. In the waking world, I can just manage to pluck a hesitant tune from the piano (no chords) and sing in several keys at once.
I was clearing the yard of branches and rocks when I found a dead squirrel under the honeysuckle. His paws were curled like a child’s in sleep, and his hide sparkled with blue and green flies. I covered my hands in gloves and plastic bags, then picked him up by the tail. He was light and stiff, like a model built out of fabric and wire. I dropped the carcass in a trashbag which I tied in a tight knot, then disposed of it in the outdoor garbage can. Death can be beautiful, I thought. But then, I hate squirrels.
It’s not the corruption of rulers that makes me despair, but the apathy of those ruled. Torture prisoners, destroy the planet, just don’t make us look. I understand philosophers who decide wisdom means retiring from the world to tend your garden. People are mean and stupid (I include myself), and the less you have to do with them, the happier you can be.
But in this bitterness which is increasingly my element, now and then the plain miracle of existence crashes down on me. Moments I can’t describe without mystical goo, when a stray dog scratching fleas justifies the universe.
You know how sometimes you take more interest in someone you’ve known casually, and you find excuses to talk to her (let’s say), and you chat with her longer when you do, and she thinks “this guy likes me too much” and even though she’s still polite she’s less talkative now and not so happy to see you, and you don’t want to look pathetic or make her uncomfortable so you cross her off your daydream list and stop bothering her, and then you’re sad for the rest of your empty, meaningless life? Sending out your poetry is like that.
(See http://www.100words.net/front.cfm )