Monthly Archives: January 2014

Telescope

The waves stopped crashing, or at least the sound
didn’t make it all the way to the screen
door anymore, and the silence was a
deep layer of black at the bottom of
the Pacific, the most absolute form
of fog, and the beach was drowned, and the bluffs
crumbled and were never seen again, and
the surface and the sky and all manner
of moisture coalesced into one long
humid moment, bereft of focal points
beyond itself, outside of time, the stars
casting amateur reflections on the
plastic telescope we’d used to capture
Venus earlier after the sun died.

John Kelley’s Wake

Back in the main room of the pub they were playing “Auld Triangle” on the speakers — The Pogues version, as if there were any other. It was sundown, and in the distance you could just make out a halo around the crown of the Prudential Center. Spires of frosted orange sunlight shone through the bay windows at the far end of the bar, the silhouettes of panes framing all the faces that turned out to say farewell. I wasn’t in much of a mood for talking — Irish funerals also make for massive social events — but looking out at the crowd that had gathered at the bar, it was nice to see the diversity of lives that John had touched over his however-many years.

Before the sun had set, it had been one of those beautifully grey New England days that bugged my knee, so I’d been using my da’s old shillelagh as a crutch to help me walk. A few folks tried to offer me their stools to get me off my feet but I ignored them, not wanting to deal with all the small-talk conversation that would surely come along with it. The more funerals you find yourself at, the less inclined you are to go through that same dance every time:

“What’s good, brotha?”

“Ah, ya know, hangin’ in there. How ya been?”

“Good, good, yeah. Besides, you know.”

“Yeah.”

“Fuckin’ shame, y’know?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I think he woulda liked this though. It’s a nice way to honor him.”

And so on ’til you puke. “No, he wouldn’t fuckin’ like it,” I always wanted to say, “‘Cause he’d still be fuckin’ dead, and having the corpse of the recently deceased prance around the funeral would really do a number on his loved ones, don’t you think?”

But instead the conversation shifts to some nostalgia, as if you and who you’re talking to have any kind of bond worth catching up on, besides being spat out on the Earth by your mams in or around the same zip code. Of course, it’d be rude to say, “I don’t care where you’re living now, I haven’t seen old-so-and-so, and I don’t care that she’s fat but since you asked I think it’s pretty fuckin’ rude of you to say so won’t you kindly piss off so I can grab another drink and drown the pain.”

It would take me at least another dozen pints until I got that honest.

What’s Cooking? I Smell A Rat!

So, if you’re on Facebook, you might be seeing a story going around about an abandoned cruise ship that’s drifting around the Atlantic. Only it’s not completely abandoned…it’s allegedly filled with diseased, cannibal rats.

Now, killjoys are responding to this with some Smithsonian article pooh-poohing the existence of the cannibal rats. Some of us don’t care. In fact, some of us are TOTALLY THRILLED about the very idea that such a pleasure ship might exist. To that end, a Facebook Fan Page has been created for what we are calling the Rat Boat. And at least one of us thinks that Disney/Pixar should GET ON THIS and make a musical animated extravaganza. I am offering my services to write the lyrics for this. Here is what I’m thinking for the BIG OPENING NUMBER:

RAT 1:
We live upon this ghostly ship
Adrift on the high seas.
No pesky human beings on board –
We do what we please!

RAT 2:
The problem with no people, though,
Is that we’re short on grub.
We’re scroungers with nothing to scrounge:
Therein lies the rub.

RAT 3:
No bread, no cheese, no bits of fruit.
We’d eat that if we could.
And so our ratty shipmates
Start looking pretty good.

CHORUS:
What’s cooking? I smell a rat!
So have a seat! Let’s chew the fat!
Just don’t wonder: “Who was that?”
What’s in this dish? I smell a rat!

You can thank me later, Bob Iger.

Massage Table

Apparently I am not able to
relax, even in allotted timespans,
even in dedicated spaces with
paid hands pressed against my stress-balled places,
even in the most serene locations,
inspiration being even more of
a burden when allowed complete domain,
total reign over my conscious thinking
processes, mind cleared of other nonsense
but flooded with plot devices and short
character studies, scene outlines and long
procrastinated fictional inner
discussions, and with nothing else to do,
I work until the relaxing time’s through.

A New Year A New You

As I get older, I just more prefer to beat defeatism
to the punch by simply not making the resolution
to begin with; come mid-January, there’s no guilt.
“Fat clothes” remain me-sized. There is nothing
a shade smaller to aspire to nor despair over.
There is no need to reset the alarm clock. It rings
when it always has and I awake to peeping
daylight through the blinds. No pre-dawn Zumba
or activity more rigorous than making coffee, not tea,
to wash down all those tasty, tasty carbohydrates.

N64

The “N” standing not for “Nintendo,” but
“nostalgia machine,” a once fun gaming
system now relegated to the cold
task of recreating epic battles
from childhood memories, a sounding board
for discovering how accomplished your
friends were in their younger days, long before
you ever met, long before you set new
and more abstract goals, life being harder
to quantify than the safe danger of
progressing through the toughest 64-
bit levels, setting high scores, finishing
the game by beating, not being beaten,
surviving, not dying, not a real end.

The Parking Space Saver Vigilante

The narrow city streets were choked off even thinner by the slick, craggy piles of snow browning at the edges, and he stalked along each cowpath like a jungle cat in heat. The streetlights shined down halos on each haphazard parking job that lined the one-way road, and he had trained his eyes to catch the absence of luster from an automobile carcass. And sure enough, he saw a vacant space amongst the parallels. A ten-foot-long box of dugout powder that revealed the slush-streaked pavement underneath. And in the middle of the space sat a wobbling chair with chipping white paint that exposed the weathered wood beneath it.

His eyes hadn’t always been so astute, of course. There was a time when he accepted such strange winter furnishings. But that age of innocence had long been ripped away, ever since that fateful evening when his father had used his mother’s antique rocking chair, the one that had been built by her grandfather as a gift when she was born, to mark his own shoveled-out space while he went off to gamble at the pub. The vigilante was eight years old then, and he had been at the neighbors’ house at the time while mother attended night class at the community college. By the time that father had returned from the bar, he had forgotten about the rocking chair waiting in his space, and he accidentally backed into it with his car. For the most part, the chair remained intact, but the wood had been irreparably warped by the extreme colds of the evening, cracking the grain. It was utterly ruined.

Mother was furious when she came home. She and father spent all night screaming at each other while the young not-yet-vigilante tried to sleep in the next room.

“I busted my god damn ass shoveling out that spot, and I deserve to use it!” father shouted. And mother screamed back “There’s not even any snow left on the ground! You can’t just save your spot indefinitely! And why the hell would you use an antique, handmade rocking chair?!”

It was then that the boy became the vigilante, for he understood that mother and father would have stayed together, if not for that parking space saver. He blamed that folksy practice on his shattered childhood, and committed himself to the cause: as long as he lived, no shoveled parking space would be saved by a furniture marker. He knew that it was too late for him to save his own youth, but he refused to allow that same pain to befall any others.

And so he slinked forward on the balls of his feet, circling around his wood-chair prey, waiting for the moment to strike. When the coast was clear, and all other cars and pedestrians had passed, he lunged forward and ripped the tattered furniture from its asphalt resting place. He gripped its back with both hands, and with a bellowing cry from deep within his gut, he whipped the chair into the nearest snowbank. He watched with satisfaction as its four legs sank into the sleet pile, as little chunks of ice were disturbed from their slumber and fell like boulders from the mount, exploding when they hit the pavement.

The wintery shrapnel littered the previously vacant space, twinkling underneath the streetlights, and the vigilante knew that justice had been served.