Sunday, January 11, 2009
For years I have not been awake.
Dazed, sick, and tortured
I watch hope pass,
Seated peacefully and alone on a subway car.
“Is it bread and water,
or caffeine and nicotine,
that is as essential as breath,
for I cannot recall?”
Step follows step, follows step, as we continue on
Past a man sleeping (dreaming?) on a park bench
Before passing grandiloquent marble staircases
That wind to formal dining rooms,
Full of men in pressed white shirts, loosed at the collar,
Gorging and laughing disregardfully.
“Is that it?”
She questions back.
“Nay!” I cry, “For certainly it cannot be.”
Monday, September 15, 2008
As I watch, languid, meandering smoke swirls
Drift and float easily from a cigarette
To the ceiling. Taking forms of new worlds,
Shifting in cycles I can't discern yet.
I watch the ceaseless mouths around the room,
But no sounds reach the most minuscule bones
Of the inner ear. In time I resume
Studying the smoky, translucent stones.
At last, when all is lost, patterns emerge,
A word to know, a shape to recognize!
Some divination with power to purge
Has removed all dread, giving to me eyes
To stand atop eternity's tall slope,
And find masked and lonely but one word; hope.
As heavy, mud caked boots fall a twig snaps,
Then another, another, another,
In rapid succession; running faster. Perhaps
Being pursued. Perhaps not. Seeking other
Means of escape boots leave ground, trying flight.
Attempt was in vain. With force body falls,
Knapsack opens spilling contents. A light
Ahead in distance! Somewhere a voice calls!
Worldly goods abandoned, hope to run for!
Newly lightened load gives way to new speed.
Light draws near, spilling from open door,
Approaching assurance of being freed!
Through door into light, a place for rested head,
Comfort in warmth of blankets on your bed.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Though only twice in his life had Collier Frazier ever ridden in an airplane he had never felt the slightest apprehension, and certainly not fear, over that from of travel. It had nothing to do with statistics or the actual safety of flying; it had largely to do with the fact that Collier found death by plane crash to be a fairly romantic way to die. At times he had even been envious of it. It seemed easy to him, with little room for finger pointing, or little room for fingers to be pointed at him at least. He liked that.
It was raining heavily outside the plane that Collier was currently traveling in, making it the third flight of his life, and Collier thought when the light on the tip of the wing blinked on it made the orb of rain it illuminated look like layers of sheet music written in glass.
“Metropolis to colder metropolis, wasteland to wasteland!” he remarked aloud, though audible to no one save himself, and then smirked a little at how pretentious he found himself at times.
When the plane landed he tried to call her from a pay phone. No answer.
“Figures,” Collier remarked to the man waiting behind him so he too could make a hopeless phone call. The man just smiled confusedly and shrugged as Collier hung up the phone, standing in front of it with his eyes closed for a moment before walking slowly to the curb. Sitting on the curb he smoked two cigarettes, Collier had a terrible habit of always smoking his cigarettes two at a time, and drank a Coca-Cola before flagging down a cab.
He fell asleep in the cab and was only half awake as he stepped out into an ocean of hats, and briefcases, and neckties peeking out of tightly buttoned overcoats, marching this way and that way, and back again. Feeling out of place he fished his only necktie, the square-end knit kind, out of his bag and loosely tied a four-in-hand around his unbuttoned collar. He didn’t know why the hell he’d even bothered. With his unshaven face, ripped blue jeans, and tattered patched up bag slung over his shoulder he felt (and looked) more like a hobo than a businessman. Of course, he was more of a hobo than a businessman.
Collier smoke two cigarettes, just for good measure, before falling in line behind a particularly wide brimmed fedora; which he followed for several blocks before it turned into the lobby of an office building. Fortunately, as it walked in a more reasonable fedora came out the other side of the revolving door, so Collier picked up its trail.
Most of the afternoon passed this way, with Collier making a little game by deciding not to follow uncovered heads, until at last one turned into a bar and rather than look for a trilby or a pork pie (by now he was in a bit hipper part of town) he decided to follow him in.
“Two bourbons.” he said to the stocky, balding man behind the bar.
“Expecting company?” the barkeep asked with a smile.
“No.” retorted Collier flatly, “But, I need to use your phone.”
The bartender solemnly set two bourbons and a rotary phone on the bar. He had learned his lesson about smiling. Collier set the phone in his lap and tried dialing her number again, still no answer.
“Figures,” he said, turning to face the bartender, whose back was turned. He took his time with the bourbons, slowly smoking two cigarettes in between, and spent longer than it should have taken deliberating before deciding against ordering two more. He left a healthy tip, as a semi-apology for being so short previously, and walked out. By the time he left it was raining steadily outside, and getting too late for hats to pass consistently, so Collier sat on the stoop of the bar and smoked two cigarettes. As he sat he thought it strange that there was but one lonely pigeon slowly strutting from curb to curb. And, not only was the lonely pigeon crossing the street, it was using the crosswalk, and Collier thought the bird looked rather like a little man. As he was imagining the bird in a little suit and hat the pigeon stopped to drink from a filthy puddle that was beginning to form; nearly forcing Collier to abandon the personification, but he thought he better continue. If only for the sake of metaphor. When the little bird/man had walked out of sight Collier made a quick dash, or the closest he ever came to a “quick dash”, for the subway station across the street. With no destination in mind, and an embarrassing lack of the knowledge he’d once had of those ceaseless trains, he settled on the route he could never forget; though, it was doubtful she still lived in that apartment by now, he reasoned.
The train ride was longer than he remembered, and he wished he’d slept on the way; but, he hadn’t. He didn’t look up from his shoes once on the train, but he’d never miss that stop. As the neighborhood peeked into view over the top of the station stairs Collier could already tell it hadn’t changed, and he wasn’t sure if that was comforting or sickening. The streets were empty save an old man with the most hobbling and unsteady gait Collier had ever seen who was crossing the street towards him. Halfway across the man froze, head forwards, arms and shoulders awkwardly back, and feet wide set, seemingly in pain. Collier thought to help the pitiful fellow, but as the ancient countenance changed from one of unending sadness to one of sorrowful determination he refrained. After what seemed like several minutes, and felt like several hours, the old man forced his feet to take first one then several more hobbling and unsteady steps. And, as he stepped onto Collier’s curb Collier knew with certainty it was the most triumphant thing he’d ever witnessed.
Inspired Collier willed his own feet to move and began counting down the blocks to her apartment as he walked. With only two left he stopped to smoke, but only one cigarette remained in his pack, so he tossed it in the gutter. He was unsure of exactly what he was doing, but his feet continued to fall, one in front of the other, until he was surprised to see that his right hand was ringing the bell.
“Hello, Collier,” she said, masterfully hiding her astonishment as she answered the door.
“Hello,” he replied, determined not to let her show less emotion than himself.
“How are you?”
“I’ve been worse.”
“I know,” she snapped, then gasped as if trying to retrieve the words she’d let slip far too quickly and accusingly for either of their liking, and added, “But, everything will be alright.”
“Don’t talk that way. You know that God is good.”
“Collier, where there’s life there’s hope. Help is on the way."
She rapidly searched the corners of her mind for more impersonal clichés, but she was fresh out. And, Collier Frazier would never be out of maybes.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
As matter of factly as "your boots are brown," was her tone when she said it. It was, after all, a simple matter of fact. She hated him. And though, her voice had not the slightest hint of animosity in it the firmness of her declaration proved it to him sincere.
He knew she meant it, but perplexed as he was could only mutter a half-hearted "Really?"
"Do you want to leave?"
"That's not necessary. I'm rather enjoying this cup of coffee. And, you did go through such trouble to make it."
Herman Weaver was paralyzed in his wicker chair, save his right arm which from time to time robotically raised his mug to his lips. He couldn't understand. They had been friends (or rather, in light of recent events, acquaintances.) and neighbors for going on five years, and he certainly didn't hate her. In fact, they'd been seeing each other with increasing frequency as of late, and once Herman had even considered the possibility of their romantic involvement. But, only once; very early in the morning.
"Why?" exhaled Herman from his trance, breaking the silence like a vase accidentally dropped from a left hand while a right hand was dusting beneath.
"Oh, I don't know Herman. It's nothing really. To be quite honest I think I've always hated you."
Herman nodded as if in agreement. Her nonchalance clouded his thoughts like a fever, and he remembered hearing once that American women were the cruelest in the world. But, he brushed that thought quickly away; this had to be different.
"Are you sure you want to stay?"
"But, of course. I so very much appreciate you inviting me over."
Herman just nodded again. With his lips now slightly parted and his brow furrowed he had the countenance of a man trying most diligently to remember all that he was supposed to remember, and simultaneously forget all that he was supposed to forget. For the remainder of their meeting Herman uttered not a word. Though, she seemed not to mind, or even notice, and occasionally made casual comments aloud, but mostly to herself.
"I do think your window boxes look lovely, petunias were a beautiful choice," or, "This coffee really is delicious."
Herman never moved. His expression remained, his legs were uncrossed on the floor beneath the small, white table, and his eyes were locked straight ahead. He was not looking at the wall, but through it, and through the next one to tiny letters on a far away page that he could almost read, but not quite. He didn't know how long it had been since he had spoken, but it mattered little to him. It mattered little if she ever left. As far as Herman was concerned she could just stay all day making mildly observant remarks.
She finished her coffee and after a socially acceptable amount of time for an afternoon visit had passed she smiled at Herman, thanked him again for inviting her into his home, and let herself out. Herman, ever the gentleman, would normally have felt tremendous guilt over not walking a lady to the door. But, right then he simply didn't feel at all.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Upon the fall, then, should the blame for all transgressions be laid?
Driving thorns deeper still
Into our sides.
Grace and Hope, bound,
Now march bravely,
Hand in hand,
To the gallows.
Like Mammon we propose a false Heaven.
May we blind our own eyes,
Cut out our own tongues.
Never to see or sing again.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Or, is it not?
Single, sunrise, setting,
Soft, steady, startling,
Raindrops on a vacant styrofoam cup?
Silent, smooth, sliding,
Loose change undetected,
Through a hip pocket hole,
Out a pant leg?
On occasion, inexplicably,