At the noodle shop, Shenyang, China, November 2011
Filthy words played into the air; A jangle of sex, the flush Of belly laughter. Tensions that encircled and slowly fell, then rose, fell then rose; each bump of breath, each spume of slang, each spiked phrase and dangle of kink, the syllables traced with veins that turned red as the skin of an old leaf turning, spinning, turning in the indifferent wind.
Thai beer sipped overlooking a spoiled river. That strange notion I have traveled, that I have been somewhere now, that I have seen the world a tiny bit. That I can tell stories featuring exotic words that will draw wide eyes as if I had visited the moon. Scarves, key rings, post cards for sale if I but turn my head or go a few feet. The call of tuk tuk drivers looking for fares. Other tourists with leather skin and silk shirts drinking cocktails and munching fried shrimp nearby. Their air of many stamps in a passport polluting the air near their sun-fried heads. Durian, mangoes, dragon fruit offered along the street leading back to the hostel where Buddha lounges on the stone wall. A mural that stretches rather too large and too long for my camera to obediently capture. Cats everywhere as I return to the green-walled room with the hard bed and the single sheet. Lizards and monks go about their business. The city bus rolls on by. A mini water garden dedicated to the local gods and I stop to watch the water flow over and over. Spiders judge me, wonder when I will pass on by. Backpackers speak of heading on to India as they march past me still staring transfixed at water bubbling slightly over dark stones.
note– written last month or so. The three pictures are all from Bangkok, Thailand.
I want someone to tell me the truth. That judgment that I should give up and turn back from this road. That the sky holds no wonders or joys for my consumption, that grace will not better me into some sort of badly mended maniacally grinning human pot of perfect clay. That the wind does not know my name, that the birds get eaten by stray cats indifferent to hope and struggle. That nothing good will arrive like a warm pie from the oven of the heavens. Tell me the truth so I can rest. So I can stop hoping. Goddamn it, hope cut me into a thousand pieces. And I have nothing remaining but a bitter cup of dust to sustain me now.
note– written last year or maybe this year. All the days seem the same day anymore.
Soon that fence will crumble and let me walk into that land of wheat and whale clouds where I can pretend how free I am. My lips form patient words for the silly dying of weeds and dreams and illusions that make my eyes fill with salt. Gratitude that I know I’ll never get to walk there and I’ll never have to be brave and never have to be honest. Because I have words that will get lost in those whale clouds that sink below the blunt little hills. Such a relief that I kept them inside where no one has to make polite faces over the ordinary agony expressed.
note– found this tucked away, as you do. It was one of several versions.
Something about mist and time and pumpkins in a patch. Something about children and candy and costumes. Something about the turning of the old year into the new. Something about snow and angels and trees dressed up in decorations not yet broken or lost. Something about love and apple cider and chilly nights. Something about beauty and peace and how fast time is. Something about hope and death and leaves recycled. Something already said many times in dull ways that we look forward to like a handful of candy corn still left from last Halloween.
note: I wrote this for the monthly poetry contest last year or the year before that. Time seems oddly fluid anymore.
I’m supposed to be a poet, I said. Well, be one, she replied. Be one. Rip the flesh away, use a figurative spoon, everyone has figurative spoons, use one, and walk around in your ridiculous bones. What sort of advice is that? It’s my advice, she said. What does it mean? It means eat a lot of grapes. Are you sure?
If you can’t glean meaning from a moldy bit of advice, then yes, it means to eat grapes. You can’t eat grapes if you’re dressed only in your bones. Sure you can, she said. You can mash those grapes against your ribs, smear them on your cranium, tuck them into your eye cavities and pretend you have eyes. I find I am out of whimsy these days. I know, she said. Maybe you should try being a poet. I hear that helps.
October. Halloween. We’re approaching my favorite holiday. My pumpkins were eaten alive by bugs. It’s cold here.
And I will be mingling with other humans this weekend. Dread is my main emotion, frankly. I have pretty much turned into cat lady practically sealed inside a dwelling with her stacks of TV Guides from the 80’s. Remember those???
You could read, ahead, what was gonna be on TV! Do the crossword puzzle. I don’t know, it’s been a while. Remember magazines? Ah! The only reason I actually go to a doctor is to sit and read Sunset or Reader’s Digest. What are they wearing in Aspen for the 2002 Fall season? Laughter really is the best medicine. So why am I here when I can cure whatever’s wrong with my heart rate by just laughing at it?? I’d save myself getting weighed, then having to wait for whatever pills big Pharma…Anyhoo!
Oh, cat lady attempted joke. Then distracted by TV Guide nostalgia. Then dad jokes about magazines in general. I am so woke.
Dread in dealing with others.
I will have to do small talk, maybe. If I talk to anyone. I might not. But I am manning a booth. [Womanning?] I’m selling, I’m a salesperson for a few hours this Caturday.
I don’t have a cat, I should not make cat jokes.
I haven’t even seen any cats about, we used to have them all over. There used to be cats that lived with us. I remember a cat of ours that got trapped by the hammock. That was one mad cat once we got it cut out of the strings.
Another cat from way back adopted my mother at a sale barn where she was buying pigs. It brought my mother her kittens. People were glaring at her cause this calico kitty was VERY LOUD AND INSISTENT that my mother was its goddess and reason for being. Alice lived with us for many a year, the best mouser ever. She lived outside. I don’t remember if she got spayed, she probably did. Our animals did not go about having loads of babies when I was little or when I got older.
Spay and neuter. I worked in animal shelters. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR GODDAMN PETS. PSA over.
Well, as this post will get maybe just me ticking it as a ‘like’, thank you for reading.
I think I am actually ready for this coming event hawking my wares to the truly indifferent public. I looked up how to get there—it’s just a street over from where I was last year, so that’s good and nice and good. Same exit and everything. Score! My anxiety level will creep high and higher yet as the week winds down. But it will be over by next Monday and then the anticipation and dread of the Mountain Home reading.
I will be in Nampa, Idaho this weekend!!! Road trip!
I will be shilling my books and some art, and then reading a flash fiction piece on Sunday about a naughty computer program called the Fish Whisperer. Naughty in the PG sense, not X. Sorry.
The Death Rattle Writer’s Festival starts this Friday, runs through Sunday. Okay. Bye!