The fashion director gives the nod and we broach the catwalk. We step out under the lights. Life is a moral fashion show, and God is watching us under the hot, bright lights. And the crowds raise an eyebrow and make notes as we strike virtuous poses and swing around in virtuous motions. Things happen. We stumble. Curtain rods fall on our heads. But we keep walking. Step here, step there. Trying not to mimic what the other models are doing. Trying to do it how we want to do it. But we all have 2 legs and a desire for dark chocolate. We all vomit and starve ourselves before the show. We nod to one another, conscientious of what we are supposed to be conscientious of. We're well informed, misinformed, then re-informed of everything we were misinformed of. We don't know what's true. We puke. We change suits and walk back out, with practiced strides, immune to the lights. All we see are Pharisees. Where is the fashion director? Where is the judge of this show?
I’ve been too human for my own good.
With a tendency to squander and destroy.
I was going “that way,” Now it’s “this way or die.”
Oh, this thing in my eye? That’s a railroad tie.
I’ve been trying to get it out.
(I haven’t slept well in months).
It doesn’t matter where the elevator takes us.
It doesn’t matter if the election is rigged.
(Money is only valuable because of guns.
Weapons sustain the value of money.
Export - Import Extrovert - Introvert
It’s not an astrological situation of any kind.
It’s organized violence - the threat of pain.
“What is this worth! Maggot!”
“I don’t know! I don’t know! Please!”
“We didn’t hear you! What is this worth!”
“A dollar! Oh God, a dollar! Please, that is worth a dollar!”)
It was the tail end of a global recession and I was overeating. It was at the bottom of hitting bottom and I was having trouble sleeping. The weather sucked worse that TV sitcoms and I was sick of the gray and the rain. I see people crossing paths and I question their love for each other. I see couples dwelling in their houses and I wonder how their love dynamics work. It was the beginning of the recovery and I was increasing my water intake. I was crossing things off of my to-do list and thinking about my future. It was the start of something special and strangers were walking around me unbuttoning their coats. There was a star ascending the stairs, and I was there staring at the stars.
Marge is in her hammock sipping tea, slowly drifting into sleep. Fe'tid the spider is slowly descending to the street. G-pa the Raccoon is shuffling through the alley, sniffing for some meat. He’s been shot with pellets, clipped by a Chevy Malibu, and struck by lightning, so don’t even begin to bitch and complain about the toils of your daily burden. Marge is sound asleep now, unaware of the buzzing bees around the garden post. She is lightly snoring, dreaming about being on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. She has no paddles and is worried about how she is going to get her mortgage paid if nobody finds her. In her dream she has no imperfections. Her skin is silky smooth, like corporate fabric. She awakens to the sound of children laughing.
Walking through the park with criminals in our midst. Strolling along the path with our memories still intact. I am a post-liberal scholar, trying on different thoughts. There are liars in my midst. I have all this knowledge but with nothing to dump it on. My power-tools are well designed but I have nothing to contort. My heart is broke. There are lovers in my midst. I rest my legs on a bench. My shoulders are tired from building walls. I’m looking for a power-outlet but all I find are covered receptacles. There are no electricians in my midst. There are people passing to and fro. I wave at a friendly dog. My legs feel better so I resume my walk. I merge into the pathway traffic and disappear among the crowds. I am somewhere in my midst.
Our actions reciprocate. Every outward thing we do flutters back like a boomerang and conks us in the head. Watch as I stumble around dizzy. I’ll be alright. And as I regain my balance I wonder: Are there any honest freewheelers out there anymore? Any righteous firefighters? Because my heart is on fire and I’m descending into the kerosene. I’m one inch from sin, 2 feet from doom. My faith is on the verge of compromise; but watch me as I will never curse the Lord. The way I see it: I planted the trees, I must rake the leaves. Authorities surround me like chess pieces. Watch me. I’ll succumb to them eventually. We all do.
What could I do? I was surrounded by troubled artists and house-poor scholars. I was sinking in melting tar on the collapsing streets. I was running from ill-tempered tax men. I was hiding from the parents of the youth I corrupted. I don’t want to be a troubled artist. I don’t want to be a prudish father. I don’t want to be the sold-out dolt who says, “that’s just the way this fallen world works.” Some people think the funniest things are important, while the really important things are funny! What can I do to change them? Their prudish fathers endorse their senseless logic. Their calculators are tapping loudly. They have evidence for all their selfish ideologies. What could I do? I can’t save them all. It makes me dizzy when I try to answer all their phone calls. I’m not technologically up-to-date. I lack the networks to accomplish the task
Nobody was listening when the tale began, but all ears were on the sharp-tongued stranger when he mentioned the apocalypse. Everyone set their drinks down when he mention the rising tide of powerlessness that was rushing through their little leisure-suit worlds. And how he pointed out that it is “all connected.” From the rising price of oil, to the falling value of the dollar, to the growing stupidity of children. It was a profound and wonderfully complex force that we kept feeding and feeding with our unmitigated selfishness. It was a beast with jagged teeth, and we crammed its mouth with heaping spoonfuls of self-centeredness. And now we were as selfish as a people could get. And now we had no more selfishness to feed. And now the beast has a taste for blood. And now our time is almost done. “What do we do?” asked a person on the brink.
It all started as a mistake, really. All of it. A casual mistake, involving strange people along the freeway. The prairie winds blew. The road signs twinkled and there was that exit that they should have taken. So now they are lost in a land of personalized license plates and amusement parks. The sun beats down on them and they try to shift into a higher gear. Their baggage is well secured, though, so there’s that. One must always have secure baggage in this amusement park world. What started as a wedding wish ended as a facial twitch. But I’ll tell you all about that if we get more time. Right now I am too busy being a good passenger; One arms length away from the steering wheel, one dream away from reality, one car door away from death and rapid pavement.
She was a real lanky winner, a first grade teacher. Her words were sizzling butter, and their little minds were popcorn kernels on the verge of exploding. Each lecture was a sermon, each student was a miracle of God. They raised their hands and she would point. They spoke, she redirected. It was a symphony of shared experiences. Yeah, there were trouble-makers and rabble-rousers, but they disappeared like ghosts in snow. There were ideas and clever drawings made from crayon. There were silly jokes and fancy objects at the show and tell. Sizzling butter flooded their ambiance. Miracle children floated on their fancy objects, passing lonely, angry ghosts trapped in snow.
"The rules are here to serve us," I pleaded with the officer from the higher guard of traffic lore. I pointed at what I interpreted as evidence and said, "look at the rusted locks!" He just shrugged and pointed to the sign, of which I was in clear violation of. I walked away, muttering "that's ridiculous." But I knew that a day was coming when the parking officer would get his. When love blows in and re-orients all our intentions, there will be no parking tickets. When God's hyper angels march through our towns and rip our parking signs from their concrete feet. When God's ambitious angels jam all our anal-retentive, revenue generating oppression poles into the smiling faces on the bullshit billboards, when God's prophets come over the hill laughing and singing their authentic songs, then we'll see who is pointing at the signs, and the nature of the signs they are pointing to.
I was in a dangerous space, stuck in a contracting crevice. I was being crushed by the consequences of my past actions. I was drowning in the results of some highly destructive behaviors. But you came to me with your life jacket and tow-rope, and now we’re standing on the hill staring at the skyline of our city. Now we’re making plans for a more productive, fulfilling future. We’re making vows to save money, to eat healthy, and to sleep on a regular basis. You nod your head. I clap my hands. The deal is sealed in spiritual concrete and cosmically valid. We won’t under-sleep. We won’t over eat. We’ll buy things with cash and put our credit cards in canisters surrounded by fire and electric fences. There are not too many mornings left, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give them to ungrateful credit card executives, or to anxious restauranteurs.
When she walked through the garden, she was looking closely at the flowers. She was seeing faces in the textures of the flower pedals. Forcing images, if you will, upon nature. It was a bit pretentious, but it all worked for her. She stepped and stooped, then stepped to the next. "There, that looks like a civil war soldier longing for home," she says, then steps and stoops. "This here looks like a school master angry about the falling rain. " Step and stoop. "This one looks like a police man with a mustache observing the conduct of the pedestrians." She strolled through the garden casting her images wherever she wanted to. She respected no boundary between her mind and the tangibility of nature. She walked as an authority. Tall and strong, with a dress that made the garden keepers envious, as it drew everyone's attention away from the flowers.
Start at the dot, end at the parking lot. Follow your map to the spot. Bring your hat and binoculars. Two sisters eat sandwiches on a park bench while birds fly over their heads, flying far out, somewhere into the far reaches of their context. The park bench is all theirs. No room for anybody else. The first sister is an ambitious woman, with a career goal. The second is a pathologically driven thing with a dream of being in total control of her destiny. Their aunt was an alcoholic, but that doesn’t ever come up in conversation. They talk of prospects and potential lovers. They talk of objectives. They talk about what they call “a woman’s limitations” in their warped view of the world. I don’t know why they talk in the park. They could just as easily meet in a restaurant or a bar. I guess it is more nostalgic to meet outside, surrounded by wind and leaves, cars and streets, birds and context. A sisterly, conversational ambiance.
So I was wiping the sweat off my face reflecting on our victory. Once you get the lead, once you get ahead, then you can REALLY take some chances. You can really lay it out there and take your shots. As it happened, things started off tough. I was the perpetual-second-place-guy. Nothing happened as planned. Nothing happened the way it was supposed to. Expectations were meaningless. All I had was "nothing to lose," and I used it. There was nobody to let down. The bridge collapsed at the worst time, but it was the right time. Vulnerabilities grow and merge and flow from the earth to the brain to the soul, until the inertia of instability is too great to stop, then BOOM! Broken bridges. Take your shots while you are ahead, because you can fall behind for a long, long time. So people adjust and adapt, though. And once I get ahead, I’m really going to take some shots.