I finally got the guts to do the thing I’d been beating myself up over for years. I moved to a different city. Doesn’t sound so awe-inducing or even relevant, does it? Well, for a man like me, it was. I had been living in the same culture-void suburbia for my entire life. And I was an alcoholic. I thought moving to a new city would help me.
Moving to a new city has proven completely futile and unconstructive in my case. I am the same person.
The person does not change with the city. The person stays the same and changes on its own, regardless of environment or social structure. These are all things that serve purposes equivalent to urination or ejaculation. I have no more faith in my own evolution than I did when I was back in the suburbs, guzzling six twenty-four ounces of Lone Star on my lunch break. It’s not something to be worried about. It’s something that happens. Today, we call my behavior a problem, but it’s no problem at all.
So where does the answer lie for those of us lost in the fray? It’s a difficult question to answer and from what I’ve gathered, it all comes with the days declining down upon you.
You see, I’ve chosen to let the world dictate what happens to me. It’s the same thing that happens when the wind blows s dandelion blooms away from its stem. It does so in a way that cannot be determined. Maybe it’s the wind, or a child plucking from the grass and blowing the cotton-white pieces away only to watch them sail in the wind and land somewhere unknown. I’d love to watch a child do that.
Raleigh entered the beach house unknown. He was alone and he suspected the owners were gone for the winter, having left the house abandoned and vulnerable (as he felt), to the open air and the curiosities of a man like him, though a man like him was atypical, he felt.
But they, the owners, would have never thought of a man like Raleigh.
Once he entered, he went straight to the liquor cabinet, found nothing and went to the dresser drawer in the master bedroom. He opened up the first drawer. A few pairs of women’s underwear, worn out and thinning. A package of pantie hose. A vibrator. He wondered why a woman, or a couple like this, would need a vibrator. Maybe it hadn’t been used or disowned and thrown out in years. But how could he account for a couple like this. He knew nothing about them.
Raleigh sat at the dining room table alone, looking down at the shining wood reflection of the rest of the table before him, wondering at the happenings of past dinner parties at the table, those of the like he would never know. He imagined the conversations had at the table, what things had been said about the patron’s children or their stock trades or retirement plans.
He decided to get a glass down from the cupboard and fill it with water, return to his seat at the head of the empty dining room table and sip at the glass as though it was scotch or brandy. He pretended it was good and that others were with him, invited guests to a party thrown by the owners of the house.
His thoughts were interrupted by other thoughts of his friends, playing wildly on the beach, talking about things he knew nothing of, or cared to. They were the “other ones.” This is what he referred them to in his mind. He liked to think of his friends as enemies, like their intentions were to spray-paint obscenities on the surface of his outer self.
But now he was in his solitary beach house alone and he had nothing to do but think and pretend that he was someone else. He pretended he lived there, though he knew he didn’t. He pretend that his friends weren’t a half-mile down the beach drinking beers around a fire, smoking weed and talking about things he could never have imagined talking about when he was ten years old, or now, as an adult searching for anything resembling identity.
I blew on the pages of Ingeborg Bachmann – The Barking.
Then I turned to the left and blew on the closed cover of Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy.
It did nothing.
The pages of Bachmann at least shuffled a bit,
those microscopic pages of a college anthology text-book,
carried out in the sunlight, so proud
at the heft of them in your bag.
Or it in your arms, so paternal.
One-tenth of you will be mine one day.
I blew on Charles Simic’s Walking the Black Cat,
and though I’d only read a few poems,
a slight dust came off the book when I blew,
a soft something of dust to say hello.
A soft something that may not matter.
I’d say hello to Anne Sexton but she would think this all too easy,
and quite a bit tired. Or she’d laugh and laugh and laugh.
Oh, that would be just the best; Anne Sexton laughing in
her front yard, those videos we’ve seen online, those remnants -
layer residual -
stop. be smart now
i saw a note being dragged by the wind and ran up to it, stomped it into place and took it inside with me.
what a place to be,
the burning diction
in the back of your
mind, the placement
of everything so
elevated as far as
it can go – it pushes
against you like stone.
and then you see that
the cat needs to be
let in and pet, and
maybe a walk to refrigerator
as you fumble once too
many times on the keyboard.
it’s time for a break, it says.
I thought that tonight would be different and realized that we embrace that idea and fall back on it, when a lot of the time, it’s not far from fantasy. I bought some new clothes today and a few books. That seems worth mentioning now. The day was different in that way, if that way could be considered a difference. One of the lines of lyric in a song I’ve been listening to lately is, “What a difference a little difference can make.”
the same new day…..
When I was walking through the small mall today, it wasn’t so bad, and I hadn’t even taken anything. It was a bit relaxing, people getting free massages, and everyone either exchanging unwanted Christmas gifts or buying even more with the gift cards they received, so happy to be getting what they want. I felt glad they were getting what they wanted. Fake snow should have been filtered through the air in the bright mall. My mother gave me a gift card this year and I went to buy clothes. I ended up with a pair of pants and two shirts. Worth mentioning. But I got what I wanted and I was okay with that.
A stranger man would have more to say, I think. I’m only looking for the tiny things that don’t seem to matter and which put us in that place accordingly. Maybe if I found a hill and walked up it alone, the clouds dark and the air chilled, I would be a stranger person. If only that happened right now! Or if a fight started between me and woman over something so vague that it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. Let’s not mention too much today, and only let the small differences dictate everything. A small difference crashes into you sometimes, when you’re not expecting. Some people don’t seem to feel it and keep going with their day.
I let the small differences, the unnoticables, the things flying like snow through the invisible air crash into to me. Or maybe I just have no defense for them. I let them wrap up my body until either I or someone else unties the bow, roughs the sails, beats it out of me or yells at me to listen; that woman screaming at me in my room, if I’m lucky.
The final round in which I die. I have been waiting on the bell for years of my life and now it rings like a seizure in the dark. I step up to the center of the light and keep my eyes straight ahead, though I see nothing. I see none of what will kill me. I see none of what lives to bring my end. I can only stare straight into the black pool.
the final round in which i die.
i’ve been waiting on the bell for years.
now it rings like a seizure in the dark.
i step up to the center of light and
keep my eyes straight ahead, though i see nothing.
i see none of what will kill me.
i see none of what lives to bring my end.
i only stare into the black pool.
At my mom’s house during the Christmas holiday, I read the paper. She gets the paper delivered and the only time I read a physical, black and white paper is when I visit her. I read the local column about the “no refusal” weekend – visions of cops pulling people out of their cars and requiring a blood test of them. No warrant needed. I was good the entire week, sleeping on friends couches after too many drinks. If it wasn’t Christmas, and maybe if I hadn’t read the local column, I would have found my way home. But if it wasn’t Christmas, I probably wouldn’t have been drinking so much. Christmas always brings bottles of wine, nice whiskey with ice and beer.
I stopped taking my anti-depressants during the Christmas holiday. I didn’t want to mix the two. It seems to have worked out just fine. I guess I should start taking them again now that we’re back to normality and routine and feeling lost while watching the clock go by in its listless way. The seconds draw themselves as tiny marathons. Drafts of moments set up to dissuade you from real-time, the kind with no measure, no rapture. The doctor would say that I’m not supposed to skip my medication but I’ve never put much stock into what doctors say unless the test comes back positive for the flu or strep throat.
As an adult, Christmas is a ticking clock now too. The only time I felt like it was Christmas was on a visit to see some good friends and their four-year-old daughter. Her hopes were so high on this Christmas Eve and going to sleep meant something else to her on that night. I can’t remember when going to sleep was so comforting. Staring at the ceiling is protocol now, and turning from side to side wondering about the thousands of things that could be, will be, might be. Christmas is a sure thing, I suppose, but only as sure as the mail, the appointments to the doctor or the daily news.
during the nights before christmas,
i wonder if it will be as similar
as last year and the year before.
it loses itself in your thirties.
if you have children, it’s defferent.
that knowing of ingrorance that somehow
creates magic in the mind of young
ones, so enchanted during the season.
ornaments skirting around the
room, those young ones, their eyes
so wild with every wrapped box.
- a tree
so the seasons go and go and go
and then they become this and i,
an old child, have forgotten how
to be merry and not so formal.
on the edge
of back and
forth with you -
she says i fall
hope and herpes -
if you can think
i’m somewhere in the
middle of something
it may be just
of what i want
out of life but
it seems to have
startled itself as
things can do.
swinging top sided
back and forth
the beasts so far
the flowers so close
the broom waiting for
me to clean the front porch -
a feeling that will feel
far from here