Stop me if you heard this one about the amateur plumber and the lesbian?
The excommunicated priest, the guilty butler? The police chief’s
daughter? My therapist?
The drug store is up, the jokes are $1.25, the store: open… it always
has been – it always will be;
the bluster of king’s trumpet flatulently detailing neon prided
promises - the candle mom said would be in the window…
Open for business eternity –
automatic entrance, night shift incompetence, a june flu shot, a deck
of cards, diet soda, black stockings, condoms and beef jerky, the
the neon spills bad jokes sloppily on the glitter-faced sidewalk,
cutting it with shadows
reflecting sad stories in muddied puddles
of them whom have not won, their hope trailing their fate, eternally,
until the checkered flag surrender of giving up.
of those who have slept in their shoes, or cried in their sleep or woke
unawares of where, and not sure when… but positive of why – now
stumbling to the shadow of duane or reade or desperate or dawn, with
expired prescriptions forged insurance phony checks and false hope,
only the red illuminated promise of chance, of better – the symptom
snuffed by the cure. Their cure, behind the bullet proof glass, behind
the Bangladeshi judgment, behind and under the shame that slams into
the backs of your eyes that beg to be hidden… but just slide the
crumpled paper under the glass, through the tray… submit.
no other customers, but wait…
On the wrong side of morning again
this teetering daybreak rhythm of nowhere to go…
pounding the impossibility of sleep into the cobbled street, wishing
for not this…
but the sign continues –
a static hum of – of buzz
at closer it roars a howl of staying up late and open,
and often and always
grinning -‘24 HOURS’ mightily – with teeth of a dessert ghost.
Arrogance glowing through your cold tired sweat.
A delicate mirage, offering palmtree release from desert swelter, the
relief of need, hunger of safety, the maybe – now – will – be different
– out of reach potential - patented or generic
The neon assurance of –
‘if you can’t make it now’…
‘we’ll always be here’…
the neon vow pushing its way through traffic’s fog - ‘24’ hours – will
be enough time…
rattling declarations of we’re open always and
eternally, daring the skin laid aching on your bone of accepting the
odds on perpetualality - bared naked its intentions on the downtrodden
surrenders of forever and alwees.
‘we are here’ –
not quite 30 minutes…
in giant hundred point red neon font swagger and signing merrily…
barely noticing sun’s honest dutiful struggle above steel horizons, or
why I haven’t/can’t slept/sleep/dream or not smiling or how time has
forced/squeezed Monday into Tuesday, funneling and distorting this;
this into a long dumb moment that won’t fade or relent, only the weak
kneed need, strapped to you like a bomb, ticking off the seconds till...
the signature, another, another, then a bag big enough to swallow the
city whole for a container no bigger than my thumb…
I ignore the robotic insincere niceties
‘we deliver now’
‘have a good evening’
I circumstantially stagger past,
to my first day of plumbing class…
I’ve retained the police chief’s badge and a summons, why any need for
a priest or these jokes?
Just find the butler, to clean the lesbian, solve this thing, so I
But first I’d like to:
thank my skeleton,
for hoisting this flesh and emotional drool,
and to all the animals, whom I rudely borrowed from –
their molecules – and their holy shrieking lives
to rearrange their cells, to suit me, to make able this holiday…
to build a body of purpose,
to strengthen the lengths and to iron the creases and to make possible
the semblance of normalcy that won’t offend…
the bandaid holds back the blood and the deodorant holds back the smell
and the comb reassures that I’m clean and shaved and not mad and
aching, and the clothes and the expressions, clichés timed correctly
will fool, you, loosely, into missing the absolute horror of me that
the neon has lifted into this day, affording me more misery, just less
noticeably… hidden in pharmaceutical rearrangement. wearing and staring
at the correct shoes.
holding this pretense, designing postures, timing laughs… thinking of
detailed expressions of the weather, the score, the stock, the scandal,
to memorize the things, the importance of the their world, that you can
now bare, but never be apart of. wishing the collective would come
counterfeiting smiles… that’ll decompose with the slightest doubt, but
propped by the warm red glow, the oversized bag… the 24 hour promise,
reassured to know that neon never closes or sets,
not like sun or static tele-sets.
so I have all day, any of which the 24 hours, to buy this stamp on my
way out, tearing the bag..
A stamp, a post card and a recycled joke, for you,
about a place, you’ll never be…
Just need to borrow a few more molecules,
to fashion pasty spit
to wet the lick of this stamp, to stick -
to find a mail box…
And drop the postcard through the slot…
A shiny scene on front… the fake lacquered sheen of a picture of a
painting’s reproduction of a bridge – a bridge to elsewhere – a journey
over this- place you can never be
Sign my name
Open the slot, drop the card…
Wish you were open…
Wish you were in.
Wish you were here’
Let me sell you a stutter, a stammer.
My own of course,
An embarrassing hesitation, caught between the syllables
Silent and hanging like gravity without the acrobat
Or like the flutter of a bat without wings
and other things
a cat can catch
Like feline leukemia or a tongue
Jammed in the throat
Waiting to be allowed
Let me sell you my hiccups
Or better yet; the closed-eyed loaded inhale sniffle before the sneeze
A great big gusher of a sneeze
Like the silence stuffed between machine gun fire
The rapid staccato softness-
Buy these quiet seconds,
I urge you-
A Small price, but big return
Sell them back to women from Wisconsin
Double what you paid
While you’re at it, buy a hyphen, a semicolon
A floating period
A comma doing a back flip
Conjunctions and misplaced articles
Procure the “uhs” and “ums” of an awful orator
Stand in the cold locations of an unarticulated pulse
Quiet nervous pauses
Bitter in their isolation
Can we trade?
Can I buy back the light as it leaves my face?
Can I have all the bad phrases?
Spilled from sloppy drunk mouths
Delivered back to me in manila envelopes, post marked from Albuquerque
Can we barter back the small spots
Spoken between the whispers and the wants?
Let me sell you the da da da da da damn dead words\
That fell silent and stunned on this page
I’ll only charge what I paid
There will be no mark up
No scalp to speak
Just your pride and a ham sandwich
I can cut you a very good deal on this sickness.
Give me your loose change and an old photograph.
Give me a secret, one badly translated
from your Grandma’s Italian. I assure you,
this is a very good sickness, highest quality, totally organic. First,
three days without energy, listless as a dried
log lobbed into the sea. Second, timelessness mixed with
general feelings of worthlessness and unease. Then,
when your hacking cough predicts the coming of blood or lung
all lovers and good friends will leave. They will leave
and on the morning your energy returns you will
reach out from your sickbed and find Auster’s Ghosts.
A little woozy from hardly waking, you read fifty pages
before you realize you’re a ghost too. Your color
is Tan and you’ve been paid to watch Blue
watching Black. You try to leave the room
but you have to send a report to Van Gogh
who is Purple. He rides through the city on a horse
and looks like You and wants to talk to you
about a city of glass. Yes, I can cut you a very good deal
on this sickness, but the detective will charge you
an arm and a life. You’ll have to negotiate those terms
with an old man’s rusty fishing knife. I happen to have
a few of those too, one’s even got some flecks
of dried blood from a famous mook, a real nobody.