The Perils of Being a Secret Secret Agent

•March 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

 

In a previous blog, I stated that as a child all I wanted to be was a rich secret agent. I dug a little deeper on that and realized I had pretty much fashioned my life, the best I could, to that end. I was undercover in many ways. Hidden in plain sight. Moving through life quietly and unnoticed for the most part. Painlessly introducing my own propaganda into the stream of life. Masquerading to infiltrate the places I thought I didn’t belong. Leaving out essential facts to further or obscure my purpose. But it wasn’t all devious and malicious. Not at all. Though in the long run, what served me well as a child and a young man also became its own undoing at this late-ish stage in my life. I’ve become a faulty mash-up of Philip Roth and John Grisham novels…

 

When I was a kid, I was looking for role models. My father was so old and ,though he had a rough compassion, he was tired and ready for a long rest. Mom was an overprotective mess. Either hardly an role model for a six year old. There were the superheroes in the comic books, and a young man could hope to be irradiated by an accident or spider or world war properly mutating into something superhuman. Even to my new sense of reason that seemed a miniscule probability. Okay, then, what is out there? Policeman, fireman, …hmmm. There was a movie I saw where a priest goes to Africa and gets in all sorts of adventures, including saving a beautiful woman from quicksand. My priestly direction was derailed when I realized that priests couldn’t hang around with girls. I was already hardwired at six for the all out pussy hunt my life was to become. Priest wouldn’t do.

 

In DuQuoin, Illinois at this time, the one and only movie theatre put on Wednesday matinees for the kids of the town. It only cost 50 cents for a double feature that lasted all afternoon. Moms got a respite from motherhood. Kids (I didn’t know a single one that didn’t show up on Wednesday) got to be parent free in a dark room. The movies were either creature features or secret agent flicks. Well, I already identified with being an outsider like the screen monsters, but I could get to be an insider if I was a secret agent, no?

 

Okay, I can see this now, but let’s take a look at the secret agent paradigm. Secret agents are, in no particular order:

  1. well versed in many subjects

  2. multi-lingual

  3. world travellers

  4. suave

  5. courageous

  6. dogged in their determination to complete their mission

  7. irresistible to the opposite sex and always get the girl(s) in the end

  8. physically commanding (which I assure you I was not)

  9. self assured

  10. chameleon-like

  11. secretive

  12. guarded

  13. quiet

  14. successful in saving the world

  15. epicures

  16. dangerous

  17. foolhardy

I am sure there are more attributes. Add some if you can. But, look! All of these things are humanly possible. No spiders or accidents or world wars needed. Only hard work and study and practice. Some of the attributes are excellent to have in real life. Others not so much. They are good for real secret agents, but not real people. This has become apparent.

 

The double feature that hooked me was “Dr. No” and “Goldfinger”. Emerging from the water and subsequently shedding a wet suit to reveal a perfectly fitting tuxedo…holy shit. Sean Connery became my new god. He glided through the scenery. He wooed the girls in an instant. He played golf. Drove fast cars. Carried around ingots of gold. He was fearless. There were other secret agents in movies as well. Successful at espionage and love. Derek Flint and Matt Helm. So enticing. I wanted the things they had. I wanted to be a secret agent. The secret agent had no apron strings. He gathered info and acted upon it. He drank and ate exotic stuff in exotic places. He could be anywhere and everywhere. He was at the center of the action most times and, when he wasn’t, he moved there. He pushed himself to do the hard things. He had grace under pressure. Things that seemed impossible to achieve were done. In loss, he sought revenge. In victory, he sought a break from secret agentry.

 

(I’m writing stream of consciousness here. Illumination comes at its own pace. I’m going to keep on this theme although others would weave in at out at different times.)

 

In being a secret agent, I could escape the over protective mother. I could observe and take note of happenings around me. I could develop myself into an athlete, scholar, a bon vivant, a chameleon. I saw all the possibilities ahead and was ready to leave the mundane behind. Here’s some visuals to illuminate the reward of being a secret agent that sealed the deal.

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Get my drift here?

 

I’m sure I didn’t actively choose to be a secret agent but I am sure what I saw on screen was the kind of life I would like. And what do we do when we see something we want, we emulate the actions to achieve the object of our desires. Thus I started eating my food the “Continental” fashion, knife in right hand fork in left, cutting and transferring food without the meaningless changing of utensils from right to left. This got me a spanking or three. I still practiced it while my parents weren’t looking. At school, I applied myself to become as smart as I could. I practiced memorizing, trained my brain. Questioned the matters at hand. Note to the world, do not question religion to a nun. Just sayin’.

 

My world was school and nothing else because my mother wouldn’t let me out of her sight. For good reason. When I was cut loose, I was mad with exuberance and usually came home wounded. By the 5th grade I learned how lying might help me to escape her clutches. Example: I told her I was meeting up with some friends at school. I was really going to Rousch Park to play football with Pete Weber and Karen Wertz and Lisa Somebody. Tackle with girls. Touching girls. Mom wouldn’t have took the truth well. After some rousing tackles and whatnot, I walked home (wasn’t allowed to ride a bike then) with a knot on my forehead planted there by Karen’s foot in our football game. I told Mom I hit my head on the monkey bars. I was delighted at my foray.

 

I trained myself to ride a bike. Pleaded for swimming lessons. I needed skills to be a secret agent. What if I lacked a skill when one was needed? I would be in deep shit. At the whim of a criminal mastermind.

 

I was always in love. Or what I thought was love. There was the girl in kindergarten that liked the Dave Clark Five. Robin Lenzini in grades 1-3. The guide at Disneyland who taught me how to wink. Olga Melis, Shirley Lopez, Debbie Lamb. I could name them all I’m sure. I wanted to kiss them, woo them. They all had a beauty I desired.

 

I started to pay attention to my apparel. By 7th grade, I’d wear no jeans and t-shirts to school. I loved being neat and tidy. French was offered, so I took it. A foreign language was music to my ears. I listened to classical music. I used my determination to excel in whatever was put in front. School was easy. Building blocks stair stepping to the big world outside.

 

I only sputtered in P.E. My little body was frail and weak. I had been sick a lot until I was 12 and I was small for my age. A further confinement. Even so I applied myself. I played sports that didn’t need physical prowess. Tennis. Golf. (Good god, could I find some MacGregor clubs and a Penfold 5 ball like 007’s?) There were exceptions. Wrestling and boxing. I loved them. They pitted a person against another. Raw and basic. There was much planning in these. Observing the enemy, seizing opportunity, exploiting weaknesses. Secret agent stuff. And these sports were handicapped by weight class. My determination added about 20 pounds to my official weigh-in. I laughed when in battle. Such fun. But I never joined a team because of my mother’s fear I would be hurt.

 

So, I was book smart, wily, witty. I loved to hear a woman’s laugh and learned how to get that sound. But the woman herself was out of reach. What could be missing? The were no rewards for my hard work. No attention or affection. No bevy of beauties. I was totally resistible. Friendship yes, but no passion. High school was filled by unrequited love and unsolicited love from my end. Everyone seemed unattainable. I had no confidence and my physical being was lacking that leonine grace of a secret agent.

 

My parents died and I was left without a guide, behind foreign borders. They will disavow all knowledge of you and your mission.

 

I was admitted to UC Berkeley on a Chemical Engineering scholarship. I went to the UC Theatre to see another double feature that would change my life. “Rocky” and “Pumping Iron”. Ahhh, the light went on. It was time to train as physically hard as I had done mentally. Hapkido, Tai quan do, bodybuilding. As an aside, Sean Connery was a body builder in Scotland as a young man. I chiseled the egghead into a panther. I got a girlfriend by 19. She called me a tiger or Woody Allen in Sylvester Stallone’s body. I had sex and companionship. She laughed when I told her I had wanted to be a secret agent. I convinced myself such a childish thing was best left as a joke. But it hid within me. I wanted it more.

 

I would chat up other women. Go out on dates. Tell Margaret, my girlfriend, the college equivalent of “I’m working late at the office.” I lusted for more experiences, lusted after more flesh. Not maliciously. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I was hungry for the knowledge of intimacy, the acceptance of another. But where was Derek Flint’s bevy of women? I rarely succeeded in seduction but became better practiced at it. There were always real women who knew I was a spy, who knew my credentials were false. The unattainable is what I wanted. A test of my mettle.

 

I went into the Peace Corps after college. The PC has introductory program that weeds out candidates that would find living in a foreign country difficult. Sixteen of us candidates were flown to DC and transferred to an empty resort in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. In the hotel in DC, I slipped into secret agent. At the bar, I ordered a Pernod and water in French to the French bartender to impress the woman candidate that sat next to me. I had never had Pernod. It tasted like licorice. Who knew? Secret agents and, now, me.

 

The program was more of a week long test. Like reality TV before there was reality TV. We were put into uncomfortable situations and pressured into impossible decisions. I slipped into secret agent. Sublimate feelings until the mission is accomplished. At the end when four had been culled by the process, I knew I should have been one to stay home. I was going to Swaziland in a few weeks and wondered if my determination would last for my entire tour of duty.

 

I took full advantage of my new world, new body, new friends. Women in a strange place so far away from home seemed to need some comfort. I could be what they wanted. I would shape myself to their needs. In return, I would find that momentary identity of more than a spy in their arms. There were opportunities to know what had been denied before. I opened myself to new experiences, leaving judgement behind. I slept with a married woman whose husband first approved. He tried to find another partner but couldn’t. We all stayed friends. I had affairs. I fell in love with Dee. When she left for a month to visit her boyfriend back in the states, I took up with Vickie. I eventually had to choose between the two the night I left country. I chose to spend the night with Dee but was felt horrible that I left Vickie behind. Is this what secret agents felt? Shame, remorse…

 

I came home early as my inability to cope with the situation of being in a foreign country for two years proved stronger than completing the mission. I was beaten. Maybe Margaret would have me back. No, she wouldn’t.

 

I was good at telling people what they wanted to hear. I made up a mythology about myself. Some things were outright lies. Some lies were just easier than unfolding the whole truth to a stranger. Then lies to strangers became lies to friends, became lies to lovers. Repeated lies until they seemed truths. An essence of reality distilled from the facts, but literal untruths. I represented myself as bold and fearless as I cowered at home. I was wounded by life and had no nurse or place to call my own.

 

I married my first wife to somehow attain the hipness that she embodied. The second to become a social animal. I loved them both. I was a good husband to both, but I still had a hidden, unspoken self. I conformed to expectations. Toed the line. I lusted and this new confinement chafed me. I still wanted that secret agent’s life, but I thought I had left it behind me. I thought I had retired.

 

It wasn’t until recently that the wheels started to come off of my Aston-Martin. I met a real woman. We had an incredible chemistry. She was all that I had wanted. No secret agent. She asked about me, not the agent. She was confused by the spy in me, but asked me questions which led me to question myself.

 

I was in the middle of my polyamorous experiment, last chance for a bevy. I failed at it, thank god. This woman saw through the facade I had made for myself and looked for me. I looked for myself.

 

But the guarded secret agent had already sabotaged the relationship. I withheld important information about myself. I betrayed her trust at the very instant of our beginning by my lack of transparency. The mythology has been shattered. The perils of being a secret agent is that love dies before it really blossoms, whether coated in gold or shot or buried in rubble.

This is more what being a secret agent feels like:

 

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 (This is just a fragment of it all, I suppose. More to come when I can face it.)

 

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I, monster

•October 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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“Little Johnny is so shy” my mother would apologize for me. I wasn’t shy at all. Shy was a convenient word for my mother. I’m not sure she could understand anti-social as a concept. Shy conveyed a sweet disposition. Shy was not “incapable of fathoming human emotion” nor “inhibited by lack of social graces” nor “afraid of misinterpreting what has been said by others” nor “liable to blow a gasket at anytime.”

 

When my mother proclaimed me as shy, anger and embarrassment would fill me up. The gall of her to make me seem deficient. If I’d had the courage or the language or the urge to be beaten I would have raged and stomped and revealed myself. I only had tears.

 

They were tears of frustration for sure, but also tears of having secrets, and the unveiling of them. Fears of being found how I truly was inside.

 

Because I hid. I hid the truth of me. It confused me, the chasm between the inner and the outer me. And if I was confused and unable to put it into words, how could my parents understand? My secret life and secret thoughts remained so.

 

Up in our attic. I was self exiled. I sat amid the cobwebs and plastic monsters and the antique singer sewing machine. I traced pictures of dinosaurs onto waxed paper from the kitchen. I fumbled through the pages of the Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines that I had begged my parents to by for me. Half in fear and disgust and half in fascination, I learned of the origins and powers and failings of each of the monsters. I identified with the creatures and not the celluloid heroes that destroyed them. This time before videotape or dvd’s, the magazines were access to this incredible comfortable world between saturday afternoons when the movies in the magazines would play on the television. My kind were these creatures, malformed and maligned.

 

It was inevitable for me, at the end of the movie when the monster was vanquished and all had returned to normalcy, to feel sad and somehow cheated that the monster was gone. The heroes were smug for the most part, glorying in their victory.

 

I cried tears over King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. Tears falling into the Black Lagoon. My heart sank not like the edelweiss flung upon the lake, but like the blond German girl flung by a newly born Frankenstein’s monster. I felt the panicked horror of the witch flailing on the gallows or writhing in the flames of the Inquisition. Identified with the stop motion leviathans woken from their maritime slumbers by atomic blasts. The deformed genius, deep in the bowels of the Parisian sewers, horrifying the one he loves and incapable of leaving her in her menial surface world. The bell ringer was mute like me and despised.

 

I am these monsters. My thoughts are not the one’s I am told to have. I am emptied when the giant octopus is electrified. I do not cheer the heroes nor pity the human victims. I am the misunderstood behemoth, whose size and clumsiness wreak havoc and leaves a path of destruction. My very breathing burns through walls and flesh. I cannot grasp the world I have into which I have awakened. There is no communication between me and my peers. I speak a dialect of Venusian they are not acquainted with.

 

No, I am not shy.

 

I am the monster in their midst. And I hide my monstrousness, knowing full well the consequences of revealing it.

 

I masquerade as a good boy. My disguise is well designed. I fit in. I obey and comply to others wishes. My transgressions are small and human scaled. I do not share the truth though. I hide in plain sight, this monster in a boys body. It is a lie to protect me from fire and electrocution and atomic bombs.

 

It is a lonely path we monsters walk, but we are poison and disease and destruction. Our very presence causes ripples in the magnetosphere. The things we hold dear we could easily crush. We are not incapable of love, far from it. We seek it. It nurtures us. But, as in everything, we cannot have it for long as our monstrousness gets in the way. As we bare our hearts and souls, we become open to attack and disappointment.

 

Unfortunately, disguises worn long enough become part of one’s flesh and , in time, there is no difference between the disguise and the monster within. And the disguise hides the monster even from the monster. Histories become blurred and secrets are forgotten. We monsters forget that we are not human and that humans rarely have the compassion to allow us our lagoons and crevasses and sewers and high towers.

 

Sometimes the humans want to change us, to make us like them. Case in point watch “The Creature Walks among Us.” False hope for monsters. To become human. There’s not enough fairy dust in the world to change us.

 

We do not understand the rules or the boundaries. We do not know when the monster should end and the human begin. So we hide. We are sly and cunning. But we are not shy.

A funeral

•October 14, 2012 • 1 Comment

As I sat on the hard chair in the front row at my father’s funeral, I was already mad at my mother. I

knew she would die soon. I knew she had all but given up. She hadn’t the courage or the ambition or the will to keep on living. She sat slump-shouldered in her chair next to me. She was exhausted. The last 6 months had been hell for her. Her husband of thirty years disappeared in an instant leaving her with a drooling husk of the man he once was and with two teenaged boys. Her anchor in this world was gone and had drug her under with its departure.

 

Her sunken eyes didn’t see the casket. They couldn’t raise themselves that far. I could see that she was gone now, that she had given up. And soon her body would give up as well. And I was mad about that. I was mad that she had already quit.

 

I was thirteen years old, in my sunday best, seeing my mother dying slowly, each breath draining more life from her and me trying to detach emotionally from all of it.

 

My brother stared empty eyed. He was seventeen and wanting to be elsewhere.

 

My father’s illness and death had been hard on all of us. Not surprising but instantly devastating. I had left for school as he was in the backyard burning garbage in the big 55 gallon drum in the corner. This was a weekly thing he and the neighbors did before we were all worried about air pollution and the carcinogenic effects of burning plastic. It was late spring in the Sacramento valley. The weather was clear and you could see both the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada from the schoolbus window when it crested the railroad overpass. Weather so clear you could burn your garbage in the backyard and no one would care.

 

I was not thinking of illness or death as the bus crested the overpass that day. I was probably thinking of Anne Medeiros or Tina Orr or Karin Case or Karen Dubay. Or maybe all of them or more. I was a top student, speed reading at over 1100 words a minute. Daydreaming during algebra. Discovering oil pastels in art class as I drew Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid , guns blazing, running toward their doom. I wasn’t thinking that my life would change that day. Or any other day. I spent my day as always. Oblivious to real life, worried about somehow fitting into the world around me.

 

I knew something was wrong when my Aunt Edna was waiting in the parking lot at school after the final bell had rung. She knew where to pick me up even though I was just waiting for the bus to make it’s way back over the overpass to my old life. She told me that my father was in the hospital,. He had a heart attack and maybe a stroke. They didn’t know yet. They had taken him to the Veteran’s hospital in Martinez, about ninety miles away. She was going to take me to a movie and I was going to stay with her and Uncle Willie until they knew more about my dad’s condition. The movie was “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea” with Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre. A Disney movie. It was a good movie to escape from life, the old life that was to be no more. I bet she even bought me my favorite candy for me at the movie as well. I don’t remember that though. There was no way any of it would keep me from thinking about my dad.

 

Had I kissed him good-bye that morning, his unshaven cheek bristling on my lips? I doubt it as I was too old for that. Had I even said goodbye? And if I did, had he even heard me with his hearing becoming worse and worse with age? I didn’t know any of it. The real question of what would happen next consumed me more. My imagination took flight with the wings of a vulture. Flapping a dirge through the air.

 

I didn’t think that death would take as long and be as boring and drawn out as it was. If indeed one experience one’s life flashing in front of their eyes when dying then my father could savor each of his 76 years to the fullest over the next few months.

 

I was not to see him again until the end of summer. The Veteran’s Hospital had a rule that one had to be 16 to visit patients in the wards upstairs. So, even though we visited my father every day, my brother driving the 90 miles each way, I was confined to the hospital waiting area or the canteen for the six or so hours that my mother and brother would sit with my dad.

 

I read and drew and found a new passion for World War II aircraft. I shifted over the plans and cutaways and specifications of each prototype and model and version of each plane. Fighters were my favorite. The best was the split tailed devil, the P-38 Lightning, an American design, fast and powerful and oddly shaped relative to most of its contemporaries. The Ju-87 Stuka was another. It was thick and slow but used with deadly force by the Luftwaffe. As a dive bomber in a near vertical dive, the Stuka would engage an air driven siren making the sound that we always associate with dive bombers now. It terrified its intended targets in the Blitzkreig. Each plane was a marvel of intimidation. And there was model making to be done when I got home. Meticulous painting, and research between the planes of the past and the plane of my life. My first model making experience was a set commemorating the Battle of Britain, a Stuka and a Hawker Hurricane at 1:72nd scale. The hurricane was slow and clumsy but proved to be the workhorse of the RAF.

 

My life that summer consisted of getting up and into the car, traveling to my couch at the hospital where I would sit for up to six hours, buying an airplane model and constructing it when I got back home. There were no girls, no fun, no breaking from the daily routine. It was as if the funeral pall had already been laid upon my house.

 

After having a pacemaker inserted in his chest, I learned my father was unresponsive. Nearly comatose. And he was surrounded by the veterans of other wars, wounded and destroyed in as many ways as one could count. Viet Nam was still blazing in its domino effect. That war collateral damage to American boys and men filled the hospital. Once and a while, an inmate/victim/patient would roll his wheelchair up to me as I waited on my couch in the sunfilled lobby of the hospital and begin a conversation. Their voices and advice led me to hate war. Through their eyes, war was a meaningless endeavor, filled with disgust , futility and loss. I learned some people never recover from their wounds, their illness.

 

My mother knew nothing of my talks in the lobby in Martinez. She would have certainly stopped them somehow, trying to protect my quickly disappearing childhood. It was too late for that. My childhood was already on a trajectory that would skip a good chunk of what was considered normal. There was nothing she could do. I was going to have a broken childhood no matter what. It had in fact been broken long ago by the hardwiring in my head. My way of thinking had always set me apart from the normal kids. Later in life I found I had Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. I feel this apartness is more complex and elegant than how the syndrome is described.

 

The joyless routine was broken nearing the end of summer when the doctor’s decided maybe it was best to bring my father home. That maybe he would respond to familiar surroundings. We readied the house to accommodate his wheel chair. He was brought by a large ambulance. For the next two weeks, we tried to take care of him. He sat, all day with an open mouth and vacant eyes. We put him in front of the TV, I read to him, we carried him to bed and changed his man sized diapers when he soiled himself. It was too much for a woman and her two teenaged sons to deal with, that kind of nursing.

 

After two harrowing weeks, my mother took my father to a nursing home not far from the house. We could visit him as often as we liked and he would be taken care of by the competent nursing staff.

 

There is a side story to this. When my father’s mother was 93 he had to commit her to a nursing home. He swore he would never be put into one himself. On our visits, I could understand how he felt that way. The room smelled of piss and mildew though looking spotless. That would be the smell of slow death. Most of the patients were clueless and gone from this world. It seemed they had all checked out from life. Resigned themselves to that smell.

 

A month after he entered the nursing home, he died. I was sure he had woken just enough to know where he was and had let himself or willed himself to die. His death was at the beginning of my new school year and nearly coincided with his birthday. Although he might have been in a better place, we were left in an ambiguous place, a place of loss. My mother kept a stiff upper lip, but was shaken to the core. She was frightened and lost.

 

We all filed into the funeral director’s office to make the arrangements. More than 20 years ago, my parents had bought 4 plots in a cemetery in Chicago, where they lived at the time. We would fly back there with his body and have the funeral there with his brother and all of my mother’s family. They had all been helped by my father from time to time and all respected him as a good man. The funeral director made all of the arrangements and the veteran’s administration paid for the flights.

 

It would be my first airplane flight. In fact, it would be each of our first airplane flights, even my father. An early morning flight from Sacramento’s new airport to Chicago’s massive O’Hare. Upon takeoff, there was a rumble and a shutter that smoothed out as soon as the plane had left the ground. I was so excited almost enough to forget the real thrust of our trip, to bury my father. I was aloft just like those pilots in the Lightnings and Stukas and Hurricanes.

 

The world passing underneath us was a marvel, mountains and plains and freeways etched through each. It was a living map below us. Over St. Louis, The co-pilot came back into the cabin. He knelt about halfway from bow to stern and pulled up the carpet and a small piece of flooring. He said nothing but went back to the cockpit. After a few minutes the captain came on the loudspeakers explaining that we had blown the tires on one side of the plane and would have to make an emergency landing when we reached Chicago. We were instructed on how to put our heads between our legs and how to exit the plane in any number of violent outcomes.

 

I was strangely fascinated by the possibility of maybe not surviving the flight. That we would join my father in death. It seemed poetic.

 

As the plane touched down the shudder was violent. I raised my head to look out the window, but the shaking blurred the outside. I put my head back down. The was some shrieks and cries from the other passengers, but not from my family. After what seemed to be 15 minutes of diminishing shaking, the plane came to a stop at a far end of a runway. The pilot welcomed us to Chicago and a loud cheer of relief was yelled by all the passengers. We had survived. And after a slow taxi to the terminal, our Aunt Rosie and Uncle Johnny welcomed us at the gate.

 

We all gathered the night before at the funeral parlor that was hosting my father’s funeral. Evryone was quite subdued except for my Uncle Joe who wanted to talk or rather yell about the baseball game that had happened earlier that day. He was always obnoxious, but I really wanted to punch him in the nose for his disrespect to my mom and my family. I didn’t cry and was unsure of what I was supposed to say and feel and do. I mostly sat and ate whatever was brought by the aunts and uncles.

 

Afterward, we went back to Uncle Johnny’s place. My brother and I were staying in the basement where he had a drumset that I pounded on and a real jukebox that he had smuggled out of the factory he worked in piece by piece over a period of ten years. Or so he said.

 

I slept hard for the first time in about two months. The next morning my Uncle Johnny told me I had snored like a P-38. How did he know? I’m sure my brother loved bunking with me that night.

 

Dressed and to the funeral and that hard seat in the front row. It was then I looked at my mother and knew. I knew she would die soon. That this would be replayed. This sitting in the front row. This missing. This anger. I sat quietly, not crying. Wanting to be anywhere else.

 

 

snippets of grass

•July 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Before you start reading, this is not a riff on Walt Whitman. Heaven forbid I have the audacity for that. No, these are tiny stories about grass and me. The real grass. The monocotyledon that covers lawns and parks. The stuff that cows and sheep eat. The wonderful greenness that we of America coddle and nurture and torture. The color of my favorite color.

Tall grass and flying kites.

My father was old. 63 when I was born. So that by the time I was brimming with newly ambulatory energy, he was even older. All the activities of father’s and sons were limited by his arthritic hands and his already heart attacked heart. None of us, mother included, knew of this latter fact until the VA hospital years later made the pronouncement that he had already suffered quite a few heart attacks before the mother of all of them laid him mute and distant. And eventually dead.

So there would be no football go out for a pass or climbing Mount Everest or racing bicycles down the street. I am six and my father is approaching his eighth decade. The summer is hot and buzzing with cicadas and locusts and honey bees. But a stiff breeze is blowing and the State Fairgrounds are just a mile or two outside of town proper. My family packs up a picnic and our carefully constructed kites of stiff wood and delicate paper. We’ve ripped muslin from worn sheets or pillowcases into thin strips and tied the strips, like an emergency descent from the upper floor, for tails. The tail to my older brother’s kite is even and tidy. Mine is a balls out mess of uneven knots and anxious hopes.

My father parks the 1958 Impala at the top of a large grass covered hill. The grass is knee deep in places for me. The wind is causing the grass to wave like the golden fields of grain we sing about in first grade.

My father is old but smart. The boys will supply the running energy as he holds the kites until the perfect release moment to send them aloft and ever higher.

Being new at the kite game, I run and twirl in joy. Joy of holding flight in my hand, of being on the ground and airborne as well. The twirling is a problem though. The kite string wraps around my legs. The stiff wind pulls the kite and the string, so that the string begins to cut into the soft flesh behind my knees. My exhilaration is cut short by searing pain. Tiny streams of blood trickle down my legs as I scream six year old screams.

My father’s pocket knife solves the problem and frees me from the vicious string. The fallen string is red and the knee high grass is flecked with blood as well. The kite has crashed what seems to be a mile away. This has put a premature end to our kiting trip to the fairgrounds. My brother whines in disappointment as I continue to sob.

At home, my bandaged legs were put to bed. I slept the pain away. In the morning, I woke to an insane itching all over my legs. Pulling the covers back showed huge pink bumps all the way to my knees. I feverishly scratched. My brother was doing the same.

My mother pronounces “Chiggers.” Denizens of the knee high midwest grass. She produces a bottle of clear nail polish and paints each of the bumps with the deliciously ether scented lacquer. I find out later in life this treatment actually smothers the “chiggers” still buried in your flesh. It is hard to not pull and tug at the flakes of dried nail polish that is slowly asphyxiating the living creature inside our living legs.

Mowing green and making green

By the time I was eleven, my 50 cents a week allowance was no longer cutting it. I wanted more than the every other week Charlie Brown book. I had a five gallon aquarium with fish to feed and replace. I wanted to start saving for my chopper. I had a penchant for model airplanes. There had to be a better way.

That summer, I took it upon myself to push out our spring green Lawnboy and visit houses in our neighborhood asking for good honest work. The work was waiting for me and at three dollars per yard and four yards per week my income had changed astronomically.

Furthermore, the work was perfect for my curious, nearly autistic mind. I could mow in straight lines, concentric paths, criss crossing to eventually show the gingham nature of golf courses. The grass smelled sweet and green and when cut left my white vinyl tennis shoes stained with a bright springness. The mower drowned out the rest of the world. I existed in a tiny bubble of what was in front of the mower, the sound of the mower and the smell of the mower’s engine and its work.

Most yards were peaceful and without complication except for Kim’s house over on Layton. I say it was Kim’s house because I don’t remember her parents’ names. Kim was five years older than me and was the kind of creature that was an object of every man’s pure desire during the summers of unrequited love. She was tall and thin with bone straight hair parted in the middle showing a high intelligent forehead. Her front yard was like any other, geometric, simple, a breeze to mow. Simple repetition got the job done.

Her backyard was another story. It was full of artistically placed trees and a marvelous free formed pool lined with rough hewn rock. The mowing of the backyard was a creative process. How could I weave a mowed geometry with so many curves and obstacles in my way? It took dozens of times to perfect a path for the mower to travel. Once I had devised such a path, I was happy as was Kim’s mother. She would tip me a dollar for the extra effort. I would leave Kim’s yard for the last of the day because sometimes her mother let me douse myself cool by diving in. That was when Kim wasn’t there.

Kim was the untouchable, unattainable. She was the embodiment of early seventies beauty. Susan Dey on “The Partridge Family” writ ethereal. As I got older and the summer got hotter, she would emerge from the house to plant herself on one of the lounge chairs I would have to move to make my perfect mowing path. As I would be emptying the last bag of grass clippings, I would try to avert my eyes from the sun hitting her flat belly or the sweat between her breasts or her intelligent high forehead. I was usually unsuccessful. I was also unsuccessful in trying to rid myself of the sight of her during the rest of the restless hot day.

It wasn’t until I was thirteen did I know what the resolution of my stiffened cock would be. How to release the tension built up by Kim, nearly naked, dappled by the sunlight and the artistically placed trees, the scents of mown grass and pool chlorine and coconut oil.

Older, taller girls

Alvie and I played a lot of Frisbee in our spare time. After school we would throw the Frisbee across McCloud Drive where he lived. Sometimes we would throw hard and straight. Other throws would go through the open windows of our friends’ cars who deemed to slow enough to allow it. We would time our throws to pass through a passing bus’s wake which would send the Frisbee into an erratic flight in the turbulence. These throws were the hardest to catch. We would catch the Frisbee between our legs or like matadors courting disaster, behind our heads at eye level.

Alvie was my best friend of those times. He was the star pitcher of the baseball team, long and lean and blond. Always smiling. His ERA was 0.87 due to his uncanny curveball and an incredible infield. His family was from Alabama and took me in as a second son from time to time when my parents had died. After spending a day or two eating dinner or throwing the Frisbee or lifting and toting rocks for the rock garden, I would slowly affect a Southern accent. Not purposely but quite naturally being part of a Southern family.

Alvie was a night janitor for work and, sometime, I would accompany him on the job. He would drive from place to place, the trunk of his 1970 Cougar filled with vacuums and bright smelling cleaning supplies. As I vacuumed, he would clean the hard surfaces or the toilets or vice versa. We were a team. I was part of a team. Family. Alvie got paid for the work. I didn’t. I made my money mowing lawns on Saturday and Sunday mornings while he played baseball.

On Friday and Saturday nights, Alvie and I would cruise downtown in his 1970 Cougar which was blond gold with a white vinyl top. It was a better cruising car than my 1963 Pontiac which because of its size made a much better drive in car. Panoramic windows and all. We surmised the chicks would be more taken by the sporty Cougar. We would drive for hours, one way up J Street, right turn on 15th, one way down L, right turn on 5th .Then, back to J. Over and over with nearly everyone else in Sacramento. Seeing and being seen. Sometimes we would see our classmates. Sometimes we would meet someone new. Well, just once we met someone new.

The Girls were driving a blond 1970 Cougar without a white vinyl top. They were laughing and dark. In the stop and go of cruising, caught their eyes and they caught ours, bound by the common car. After a few rounds of cat and mouse, we asked them if they were busy tomorrow and would they like to meet at the park to play Frisbee. Or they asked us. We were beside ourselves with joy. We actually got a date with strangers. For Frisbee. At our park. Cruising was alive and well.

Our park was Ancil Hoffman Park. It was named after some old white dude. Lost in antiquity I suppose. As you made the deep descent into the park, the golf course was on your right and a huge open field to your left. The open field, numerous acres, was perfect for all out Frisbee. How far, how high, how fast, how hard could you throw the Frisbee. That open field was perfect for those experiments. And for meeting the Girls.

Alvie and I arrived early, excited and anxious. Playing barefoot on the vast expanse of mowed grass and clover. We wanted to be limber and impressive when the Girls came. I’m sure we doubted they would be there at all. Hope being hope, we played on.

Alvie spied the twin Cougar pulling into the parking lot first. We trotted over barefoot, me already stung by a stepped on bee, but ignoring it.

As the Girls emerged from the car, we noticed something. They were tall. Each taller than both of us. They were lithe and limber and tall. We also learned they were in college. That one was the sister of the tallest man in our high school’s basketball league. He was so tall his mouth could never close due to the force of gravity on his jaw. The tall sister was beautiful and could keep her mouth closed when she wanted to. But we talked and played Frisbee. They were pleasant and unassuming and not disappointed at all. These taller, older Girls.

We had fun and ate submarine sandwiches at the Sub Shop. Mine was a pizza steak sub. I only remember this because that was my usual order. My only order.

In the end, we all knew this was a one time thing. Even as sweet as we were, Alvie and I were too young and too short. I suppose.

Long walks in the park

By the time I was thirteen I had come to a crossroads. I had been saving my lawn mowing money for a chopper. Some remnant of my white-trashness and watching “Easy Rider” when I was nine had propelled me on this trajectory. I had even drawn my chopper and tacked it over my bed. Spring green metal flake with orange metal flake flames along the gas tank and the oil reservoir. But this trajectory seemed father and farther away with each passing year. I was not the hard ass that needed to steer a chopper. And my friends from middle class families couldn’t fathom me on a chopper.

They played golf. Whole families. Kids were left at the course all day to play over and over if they wanted to for six dollars. Outside and healthy and playing a game.

I had watched golf on television for years. “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” was a favorite. Two famous golfers would compete against each other on a golf course in some exotic locale like Hawaii or Miami or Palm Springs. They were tanned and joking and the following crowd was strangely quiet and courteous. Courtesy was big for me. Rules of conduct.

As I watched golf on television, my mother would tell me that it was a game only rich people could play. I told her I wanted to be rich. I told her I better be prepared to be rich. Know the rules of conduct. The same as the time I began to eat my food “the Continental Way” holding my fork upside down in my left hand while cutting with my right. This was after seeing 007 learn this in “From Russia with Love.” I was slapped for misbehaving at the table for this. I protested saying I wanted to be a rich secret agent. There were rules of conduct.

At thirteen, I looked in the mirror and asked myself are you really gonna buy a chopper? Really? Honestly, the answer was always going to be no. And now what was I to do with my several hundred dollars of would be could be chopper money? It was the perfect amount to buy golf clubs.

Begging and pleading with my mother to let me try to play this rich man’s sport, bringing up examples of my aunt and uncle who played, my friends who played, none of who could be considered “rich” by any standards. She acquiesced and took me to the sporting goods section of White Front or CBSS on Arden. I bought clubs with the name of my favorite golfer engraved, Arnold Palmer. Half my name, half the middle name of my father and brother. A tiny red, green, white umbrella the logo. The grips smelling of brand new car tires. That smell would soak into my hands playing a round of golf. As would the smell of sun and fresh mown grass.

Of course, I was horrible at first, having never developed eye-hand coordination. But by force of will, I played on. My first nine holes was with my Aunt Edna at a par three golf course. I scored 120 something instead of the par 27. Infuriated at failure, I put my head down and studied the golf magazines for the secrets of a good golf swing. This wrist flat. This arm straight. Pivot on the spine. Swing as hard as you can. This last bit was more a dare from my friends than good advice. Comic relief.

I would not really learn to play well, not know the rules of conduct, until I had stopped for fourteen years to pick up the game again at the age of thirty-five. A slow fluid swing. Patience. Set up and execution of the visuals planted in my head. Beautiful arcs of flight like the top of a woman’s thigh. More shots from the short grass.

A nice long walk in the park.

The slow emergence of lightning bugs

“I’m having a stroke!” my wife lamented.

“How the hell would you know that?”

We were sitting having a cocktail, watching television, in the twilight of Kansas City’s beginning of summer.

“I keep getting flashes of light in the corners of my eye. I must be going crazy.”

I see the old familiar joy when I peer through the window to the outside.

“C’mon with me” I tell her leading her outside. I spread my arms like a proud conductor. My hands slowly rise along with the tiny flashing lights coming from the grass. Illuminated Lazari arising from their daylight green graves of grass.

“Lightning Bugs! Fireflies! It’s summer!”

She has never seen these before, her being from the west coast.

“Thank god, I’m not having a stroke” as she walks back inside.

I sit outside watching the lights rise higher and higher. I remember how easy it is to catch them as they rise. I grab one. Just to see if I can.This time not putting it in a jar to die, no matter what kind of grass or how much grass you put in the jar as well.

The experts really haven’t an idea of the diet or the secret lives of lightning bugs.

Irresponsibility of tenants

“The tenants say they’ve let the grass grow too long” she says. “And the neighbors have been complaining.”

“I fucking left them a lawn mower. They were the ones who are supposed to take care of it” I say.

“And the rental is your deal. I didn’t want anything to do with it.”

“I’ve got to go to work’” she says. “Can you just go over and look at it?”

She knows once I see it I’m going to have to fix it. That’s what I do and she knows it. Spike takes care of it. Makes it happen.

“Holy fuckin’ Christ! Fine, but this is the first and last time.”

I drive over. The tenants aren’t home. They’re both graduate students. Her in seminary for the Universalist Church and him in computer something. Late August in Missouri is hot and muggy. The front yard is a weedy eyesore. But the backyard is amazing. In a bad way.

The grass is about two feet high, already flowered and going to seed. There are no less than 47 funnel webs in the grass. Those spiders are big. And 47 is when I was too frustrated to keep counting. There was no way I could even get the lawn mower into that grass. Heat and rain make luscious grass. This was luscious grass. I whispered expletives to myself for the next three hours.

I have to buy a weed whacker and fuel and oil it. Try to fathom how I’m going to attack this mini jungle. I remember the discomfort of chiggers and spider bites and imagine a hundred other kinds of varmints that could call this luscious grass home. I prepare for the worse. “How hard can it be?” was my wife’s mantra when things were going to be worse than imagined. This was going to be worse than I imagined.

Four tanks of gasoline and innumerable beer filled breaks and a couple “now I gotta rethread that monofilament”s and I was done and sopped with my own sweat and covered in seed and chaff and spiderwebs.

I drive home and shower. When my wife comes home I tell her the next time I have to do that I’m charging the tenants or her the one hundred dollars an hour I make tattooing.

She convinces the tenants to hire a gardening service.

My appreciation and lack of it

I’m standing on the corner of Carlson and State. There are two corners of Carlson and State. I own this one. I’m talking to a neighbor. He’s wanting to talk about lawns and lawn care. I tell him I have a gardener whose name is John something. John, toned and tanned, always wears tiny cut-offs and a bare midriff t-shirt. Always smiling and laughing John.

My neighbor continues to talk fertilizers and such. My mind wanders to the day the old German Nazi neighbors lauded me for hiring a white gardener instead of “some Mexican.” I say Nazi because they hung a Nazi flag once in a window that faced their Jewish neighbor’s house in my neighborhood. There is also an old Neighborhood covenant clause forbidding an owner sell their house to a Jew. I want to tell them John is as gay as his dick is long, but I really don’t want a dialogue with them. When I tell John about this interaction, he laughs and says he should go over and embarrass them by saying something really gay in his sashaying, queenly way. I leave that up to him.

My other neighbor continues to prattle about lawns. I know I don’t care to talk about this. I am afraid that I’ve become normal and average. I wanted to be a rich secret agent.

The Ballad of Goldstar

•June 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Moon River.

 

For most people it brings visions of Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or Perry Como’s TV show.

 

Moon River” is a song composed by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini (music) in 1961, for whom it won that year’s Academy Award for Best Original Song.[1] It was originally sung in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Audrey Hepburn,[1] although it has been covered by many other artists. The song also won the 1962 Grammy Award for Record of the Year.[2]- straight out of Wikipedia

 

For me, it’s a whole different deal. It reminds me of my horse, Goldstar. Now, before y’all start in about how he wasn’t a real horse and all, just read this damn note. Real is real. Yeah, he was plastic and springs and metal tubing and wood pegs that kept me from falling off. Those are all real things, solid. As real as a breath on a cold window. A real friend and, sometimes my only friend. Sometimes he was all I could take. And sometimes my mind was too heavy for him to carry. He always had the same expression. I don’t know if it was joy or exhaustion or dismay or disinterest. He was the only horse I knew.

 

Goldstar was my brother Tony’s horse first. He grew out of riding pretty quick I guess. I don’t know if Goldstar had waited alone in the basement between Tony’s riding and my riding. My guess is as soon as Tony hopped off of Goldstar I hopped right on. I always wanted to do everything my older brother did. I was small, really small and my mother was overly protective. To tell you the truth, I was always falling down. Usually from the top of a set of stairs to the bottom of a set of stairs. She had good reason to be worried in my pre-helmet, pre-kneepad, pre-boy-in-the-bubble world. To my defense, I see it as just an artifact of my sheer enthusiasm to dive headfirst into life. Yeah, that…

 

Goldstar was always in my basement, whether it was 2425 24th Street in Cicero or 20 North Walnut in DuQuoin. He was there, waiting for me. His coat was shiny and fawn colored and his muscles and tendons taut. His wide eyes always looking forward. On his saddle, on its front fender, sat a gold star on either side. I named him. I named everything without a name in those days. Plastic horses, plastic guns, ants, rocks, breath on a cold window.

 

Goldstar was my comfort. His constancy was a balm. Whether by nature or nurture, I had problems dealing with people. Later I found out I am at the more functional end of autistic Asperger’s Syndrome as they define it now. They, whoever they are, really didn’t define shit back then as long as you weren’t shitting yourself or stabbing your deskbound neighbor in school. I did my schoolwork well and who really cared if I sat in the corner of the schoolyard reading instead of playing dodgeball. At home, I would sit in the window of the dark warm attic, surrounded by the boxed mysteries of my parents, watching the other neighborhood kids play in their backyards and mine. Mysteries down in those yards as well. Moving, yelling, laughing mysteries. Sand in their pockets and marbles and feelings.

 

When it got too warm in the attic or I grew too troubled trying to decipher the mysteries, I would descend the stairs, trying desperately not to fall again. Trying quietly not to disturb my sensitive mother. My father at his job bar-tending or tending a laundromat or a car wash. I making sure a solid foot was on each step before proceeding to the next. Feeling the siren song of gravity pulling at my heavy mind. Fighting gravity with due diligence, past the landing of the floor we lived on. The floor where most of their lives, my family’s lives, were spent when inside. I preferred the attic or the basement. Their lives sandwiched by my life. I descended to the cool, moist basement. No matter what the weather. Cool, and moist. Moon River. Goldstar was there, waiting. Beyond the toy boxes, sporting goods, tool benches, somewhere between the coal bin and the octopus-armed furnace. In the dark he waited uncomplaining. With his same expression.

 

My heart was glad to see him still there. As I approached, always from the left side like I learned from the cowboy movies, I petted his stiff mane and whispered “I love you” in his left ear. He quietly stood, patient as always, for me to get into the saddle. As I sat high upon him, another whisper in his left ear “Let’s go!” And I rocked. Goldstar’s springs squealed and squeaked. A comfortable trot at times of peace. A staccato twanging began when my heavy mind was too full. When I rocked aggressively. Trying to sift the sand in their pockets, their feelings in their pockets. And I would start to sing as the sifting began. Moon River.

 

I don’t know where I learned the song. Perry Como on the TV, Andy Williams on the TV, Lawrence Welk on the TV. Brylcreemed or bouffanted singers, pristine white singers with clear Broadway voices. The only singers I knew. But the song sung to me and I sung right back to it. Goldstar loved that song.

 

Moon river wider than a mile

I’m crossing you in style someday

You dream maker, you heartbreaker

Wherever you’re going I’m going your way

 

Two drifters off to see the world

There’s such a lot of world to see

We’re after the same rainbow’s end

Waiting ’round the bend

My huckleberry friend, moon river and me

 

(Moon river, wider than a mile)

(I’m crossin’ you in style some day)

Oh dream maker, you heart breaker

Where ever you’re going, I’m going your way

 

Two drifters off to see the world

There’s such a lot of world to see

We’re after the same rainbow’s end,

Waiting ’round the bend

My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me

 

(Moon river, moon river)

 

I knew all the words. And rocking and singing and sometimes crying, the words came out. Bittersweet. I didn’t know that word. I love that word now. That word is my friend. But then, it was a word too big for my heavy mind. And the rocking sifted. With the help of Moon River. My blanket in the dark basement. The rocking, the singing, the crying and the sifting.

 

I would rock until the crying and the sifting was done. I would rock beyond that. I would sing until my throat was sore and my mind was light. Until everything but the song was done. I would ask Goldstar if he wanted to ride some more. If he did, I would sing Moon River to him and we slowed to a gentle meandering pace. Following the meandering Moon River. Following to the rainbow’s end. We rode on the moon, through Shangri-La, the badlands, and sweet meadows. We chatted sometimes about where we wanted to go. And we went there as well. Goldstar was tireless at these times. When he needed to, we stopped and he drank out of the river. Moon River. He always brought me back home. When we got home and I got down from the saddle, I would pet his stiff mane. Goldstar would whisper in my ear, my left ear, “I love you” and “You’ll be okay” and “Come back tomorrow if you’d like.” I would like that.

 

I rode Goldstar until my parents told me I was too big for his springs. I was too old for such a toy. Goldstar was too old to carry me any further. I don’t remember the day they gave Goldstar away. I may have been at school. That way my parents avoided the drama of the crying boy. Boys my age shouldn’t cry. Cry like I am crying right now. My friend, my comfort was gone. That part of the basement was empty. I was too old for horses. We’d always have Moon River. Goldstar and I .

 

Years and decades pass. Burying the loss of a friend in the life you live. Fun and sadness and desire and fulfillment. Booze and food and learning and forgetting. Dangerous pastimes and numbing television. Anything to avoid Moon River. Sex Pistols drown out Moon River in their anger. Coke and pot and booze make a wall. Beautiful petit mort sex steers you clear of the stairs to the basement. A lucky full life is an opiate. Still humming Moon River in the back of my mind.

 

Then one day you tell your honey pie maker, your huckleberry friend, the dream. The dream you had after you met her. You tell her about the hill and the horse and watching the comet pass. And the comet is her. And you smile at her glow, her bright tail, her beautiful arc in the sky. You tell her you missed the metaphor. That comets come and go. She sees you like breath on a cold window. And she tells you that the horse is your power, among other important stuff. And you think “My horse is Goldstar.” And you have to tell the story.

 

Goldstar I will sing you the song and I’ll sing it loud so that you can hear it where you are. I’d like to come back and ride you tomorrow if you don’t mind.

 

Moon River.

The mountain

•June 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Here I sit

On top of our mountain,

Our cinder cone of fate and circumstance.

I’m watching the sun go down, alone.

A slight chill, even now in this June night.

This place, this mountain.

I call it “ours” because

It’s a new place for me.

One I’ve only been to in your company.

Ours is a concept that I had

Become accustomed to,

And, now, I am sure ours

Has become a fantasy,

A fleeting fancy of my mind.

I call it ours because, a month or two ago,

We watched the same sun set,

Though we were between covers on the grass,

Me rubbing you to climax

As the world passed by

Only feet and foot traffic away.

Your muted cries and wetness

Enveloped and surrounded me.

And now, unblanketed, silent and dry,

I sit.

I am a landmine exploded,

Shrapnel flung far and wide,

Destroying us.

My cavalier sexuality is the force

That has driven our intimacy apart.

My crude male force scooping up filth

And imparting it upon your beauty.

I sit and watch the sun set.

Now a hollow rosy light.

I remember how hard you fought

The difficulties that I was.

The  obstacles that I have constructed

Are now the mountain.

And this once ours mountain is

A place I will forbid myself,

For it is no longer mine

And its dreams are unavailable to me.

for you…

•June 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The curtain draws back,

And, before I begin the performance,

In recognition to my audiences,

I bow with reverence and fevered joy.

I dedicate this dance to you,

Sweet hippy cowgirl whore.

I dedicate this dance, though

It’s relatively vertical

To those we dance together.

I may or may not point my toes

And pirouette to follow the fall

Of a courageous lone spring leaf

Impatient to free itself from

Its tree paradigm,

As I am impatient to free us

From our inhumane paradigms.

I may or may not grand jetee

Over curb and asphalt

To avoid

The gurgling guttural gout

Of northwest rain.

I will skip and prowl,

Feet striking the pavement

in rhythm with the sounds  of our little city,

Pausing and pounding with the chaotic citizenry,

Dreaded and shaved and coiffed in hirsute arabesques.

I shall march alongside

Their dirty feet and shiny Stacy Adams’s.

The well washed stage

Backdropped  by greener

and greener greenery.

I will leap in joy and frisson

For the possibilities of us.

I will waltz with my candied corn bead,

My lens of intent.

That intent, a partner,

In tighter and tighter spirals,

Narrowing the dance

And intensifying it,

Fanning the flame of my fevered joy.

I dedicate this dance to you,

Sweet pussied bitch of mine.

I will slither along street and alley.

I will line dance with the rats

And the mad men and the mad women.

I will rhumba with the harried

Lawyers and doctors and podiatrists.

I will tango, rolling along,

With pedalers and peddlers alike.

I will don my boots to Texas two-step

With stooped old women who wander each market

To feel part of the pulse surrounding them.

I will twist with babes in strollers.

I will bump with bakers and cooks.

I will Apache dance with you,

My sweet dripping pie maker.

I dedicate this dance to you.