09:57am 17/04/2023
The Masqued Man

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Scintillas of Aspersionary Acoustics  
04:04pm 16/04/2023
The Masqued Man

A venerable window of stained glass, the colors prismatic and yet unifed, an assertion of irresolution and it's beauty.  I had a dream about my mother that I'd paddled up from and proceded to neglect with dry yearning and wet leftovers.

"Didn't you talk to anyone?"

"There was that one guy who talk to me."

"Yeah?  What'd he say?"

"Yes, well... I didn't like his tenor."

Superimposition. Big words every morning, little words spelling out desire. The peregrinations of lust, the menace of posterity. Or is that just me?

"What are you afraid of," she asked.  Too little, too late, but it bore consideration. "You know, everything in this dream is you."

Tara suggested microdosing but Ryan's friend declined, citing "some minds [are] better off not being free" and that stuck with me, struck a nerve.  Excessive desire requires containment.  Drinks.  Draaaannnks.  A flood of desolate proportions.  Desperate? Jesus, does my voice really sound like that? You want a better story?  Who wouldn't?  Thus the stained glass.  Imagine it returning into sand...

"For a ransom?" Her face salted with tears.

"What, you want me to give away my sadness for free?"

"I would hope you would."

Overhead the little white clouds must think so, in their powdery flights aloft, impervious to observable facts and subsumed with contentment.  Where, do you suppose they be rushing away off to, to the mountain, to the sea, to the question that cannot be asked?  Vaya con Dios.

Such a merciful God. Our God, hail, hailing clouds full of mercy to reign down upon us.  I'll take an uber, it's the better of the authoritarian appetizers and/or apertifs on display.

"How much were these tickets?"

"I just hope you're having a good time."

"Oh.  Oh. I am.  Belive me."

"Why should I?"

Because I am in a constant process of reconciling contradictions.  I went to high school in Vermont did I ever tell you that?  Why, what is it you fear? I dodged that question by announcing that he was going to make a trip to Red Herring Books, "anyone wanna tag along?" The adventure always starts with an invitation to make a journey.  I suppose you think that I'm going to be the first to die?

"God cries out to be saved.  We go to save Him.  That's what space travel is all about."

"Did I tell you, Ana, that my new favorite constellation is Scorpio?"

"You're a sucker."

"In your dreams."

By no means other that visceral subjective personal bias I have arrived at the opinion that this window predicts the future.  The inconstant, unpredictable, and often uncertain future, like the house that was always on fire in Synedoche, NY.  I couldn't tell you what my mother wore that day, but I remember she smiled.  With an innate knowledge without no wisdom.

"Did you hear that?"


"Nothing, keep going."

"You don't have to ask me twice."

And so we find ourselves at another one of the most definitive of acts. If non-definitive acts can be wisdom, transitive property, I am Socrates. Wisdom is expansive and multidimensional; it doesn’t fit inside this yearning to be as the cloud, as the light through the window.  It is the cloud and the light, and the cloud's shadow.  Leave the desolation and find yourself awake, alone, searching, thirsty.

"What is it you do," I asked Ryan's friend. 

"Civil engineering."

"Isn't, doesn't, but how do you account for free will?"

"That comes later."

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Right Before the Efflorescence  
01:06pm 10/03/2023
The Masqued Man

The sleeping body is unperterbed, untouched.

We keep

skidding into Fridays

reasonably engaged

as an excuse to not address fundamental flaws:

daily bread's lack,

sap, mud, unpleasant smells of transition.

Sing that old song:

Guy gets girl, crowd gets entertained,

it's a lunatic who can't shut up.

What promise 's a touch of your hand

feel the blood rush, see

maybe I don't blush, but sigh

holding memory like a path up a mountain

the alkaline night sky all rough with stars

why dedicate yourself to the unsafe when you can

ascend a tomorrow full of yesterdays?

soft as a nest

when it's March

I renew my subscription to patience

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Quondam obloquy  
08:52am 25/02/2023
The Masqued Man

The moon and Jupiter to the west and
 Venus there, so close you can drink her out of your hand.
I don't understand why we get mad at things that we don't even care about?  What was it about the essence of triviality which makes it so vital towards a comprehension of the truth? At the shelter they only rescue mutts.

I have been reading too much news lately; perhaps I should read more fiction next week.
Fiction causes friction. In any case, this is an excellent opportunity: you are free to do whatever seems right. Such moths as one finds in Panama.  An airport lounge listening to the clinks of other glasses
Is that a man singing or a woman?  In 2023 who cares?

Tik Tok is essentially hypnosis. The stump in the yard makes me nauseous. Danielle's hair is turning gray.  Gerald had an apartment off campus, whence I heard I immediately loved it.  The pomegranates are in season, the only color left.
What fruit have we left, what color have we wrought into the world?

Quick as sand and thrice as slippery. This before the paralysis of turning 22. Mint pedigree in the city of language.  What was I so mad about?  What was that dark secret bottled up?  A low volume buzz.  Workmen are repairing the boarded-up window.  The carrots in the crisper drawer are moldy. Perhaps I've made the wrong choice.  Perhaps I've done what I wanted instead of what God needed.
But why did he make me in his image if not for such purposes as these?

"It's time," his wife said. Thus sayeth his wife. She stood beside him holding our two suitcases. "We're ready."  Down down down.  Et amas en flammes. For a long time he watched the lightbulb hum. One of those whisky hangovers that makes you question your life choices for a year. Why does it feel bad?  Does it matter what anything feels?  Do feelings matter?

The song ends on a long low note.  The store was out of eggs. Lewis took off his hoodie and turned around slowly. Smiling cheerful, with a carefully sustained intelligent broken down antirationalism. At night the sprinklers burst. The invisible world within has, at best, a mossy accuracy.

Pastor says that sacrifice is an ancient act, carried out in many cultures. His sky project, in the red. The Winters Tale is Apollo. The wax and the gold of hermeneutics. Perhaps death is full of despair. Death does not concern us, declaimed Epicurius.  Outside the wind whips around its lonesome sorrows.

This is not my life. There's a voice, whispering, this is not right. Deceptive immitations of the same thing.  And then, owing no one nothing, as Virginia Woolf said, "you deserve a spring." Let us ascend towards a shared experience. With the other items with which I stuff my pockets on my way out the door.
I needn't reach for my mask anymore

He looked us over again politely and led them out. Not an act without self-interest, whereas here, champion of the slinks, Gerald arranges the new arrivals into groups.  The pomegranates taste of folly. They walked quickly through the lobby and disappeared from sight behind the glass door marked one way.

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Peon Strings  
02:03am 16/01/2023
The Masqued Man

While showing us his Friday Night Playlist this week over at Sid's sister's apartment we started discussing the best possible "DJ Name" for our friend Jose and I remember the conversation occurred just as Mari was leaving and Jose was really leaning hard into something vaguely pallidromatic like DeJay Jade or deejejose but I'd already had two whole gummies so I was catching fly suggestions out past left field.

"How about Lead Pipe Octopus?" I suggested helpfully, scanning through the Youtube results on the TV for the right clip of David Gilmour Live at Pompeii "or Maudlin Emperor?"

Sidney's sister, who was polishing off the leftover nachos, licked her fingers with a quiet determination and squeaked "I like dj jose."

"Yeah me too — that was just an example. There was already a dj jose when I was in Riverside," bemoand Jose. "He sucked balls."

"While spinning records?" I asked. "Some double act!"

Jose twiddled his pencil and stared out the window at the early streaked marks of an acid trip of a skimpy January sunset.  "I keep coming back to DJ Reconocer." His spanish accent sounded a bit like it was spoken through a mouth full of chocolate.

Potential DJ names swirled around my brain like overlapping airport announcements, I was gnawing at the word 'suspect' like an itchy tongue.  "What about DJ Spectroscopy?  Or Spectroscootter?  Spectrosc-otter.  Centrafugal Farce? Centrifungal.  Centri-Fun-Guy?"

Sidney's sister got up to go the fridge and, thinking aloud, piped in with "how about DJLectremo? Like electric emo?"

Jose made a face.  Later I realized it was his shut up and leave me alone you fucking losers face, but at the time I misdiagnosed it as writers block and suggested maybe he be DJ No-Name for the gig.  Or maybe Dee Jay-Cognito. 

The face did not go away but I must have.  I woke up on Sidney's couch Thursday morning at about 4 AM and found my way in the dark to the bathroom.  My hair had plastered itself hard to starboard, my eyes looked suckered back into the deep strip mines of my eye sockets, I tried smiling, to see what that would do, but I just looked like I'd heard a bad joke. 

At 4:45AM, when I head out to work I walk the half mile to catch the bus on the quiet streets biting with cold, but I've found that after about a quarter mile the bite loses it's teeth and anyway I had my earbuds to help carry my mind away from chilly reality. 

There was a old lady on the bus in a thick bubblewrap hoodie who spilled a whole pocket full of coins onto the aisle and I gathered it all up and gave it back to her.  "Have a blessed day," she thanked me, as I examined the sticky something now adhered to my index finger and thumb.  I hadn't heard 'have a blessed day' used in years. Time telescopes.

 The time drags. The drudgery of another day in the cubicle, another painfully long day, the indignity of the conference room, the phone, ringing, ringing, incessant, endless, until breaktime, which is timed to the second, and the insipid banter that eats away at that break, inexorably exchanged with coworkers who no longer count as friends because I got a promotion and they didn't, so I listen as I chewy the papery pre-packed lunch while everyone gets to listen to Celinda talk about nothing her kids and her loathsome spouse, and then Divorced Dave gives you parenting tips that he got from his court-appointed case worker, and then after lunch, Drama Dave comes into my cubicle and crouches down low, looking around two or three times before anouncing, in a speedwalking whisper, "they're going to fire me."
How long can you ignore a comment like that and pretend to be working, but your obvious inability to making flipping through work-windows only makes the your non-response all the more obtrusive? I can make it about 24 seconds, unfortunately, and cave: "Says who?" I ask, initiating the Drama Dave equivalent of  Russian Roulette.
 "Says everyone.  I can feel it." His feral eyes pop for a moment of pure trapped cow panic, a look I will later question because maybe it's glee.
"Why are you getting fired, Dave?"
"Why?  Why?  What have you heard?"
 After work I took the bus back but only so far as the 7Eleven where I picked up a six-pack and a family sized bag of Tostitos and a tin of jalapeno bean curd dip and I rented a documentary about redemption and regret within the 2015 German immigration influx, then walked up the hill the rest of the way home.  I started a text to Mari but didn't hit send.  Where is the right GIF?  I turned up the thermostat to 60°, felt compelled to put on some water for tea, and took a little bite of medicine.  One remembers other Januarys in which home gave more than this modest reprieve from the cold.  It's been a frugal winter, none of us really wants to pay more than our normal allotment for the electric bill so we've been living in the past, so to speak, our house transformed by the cold into a kind of Dickensian creaky hovel. 
When the tea is ready I steady it against the rented DVD and curl up like a cat in the chair reclining out of the irregular octagon of light cased by the west window. My stiff hands tinge at the warmth of the mug. I got about as far into the documentary to recognize regret.  One presumes that redemption came about later on —it put mee to sleep, so — I suppose it did.

The three of us went to the club in Jose's Nissan, the two-door that only opens on one side, and we first drove through Jack in the Crack for a soda and some fries. The limpid sunlight dampening avenues of malt grime. The club smelled of disinfectant and patchouli. "I'll go get the equipment," Jose says, and I lurch over to the back bar where they keep a stocked bookshelf, some Cormac McCarthy and John Sandford.
I'll see you tonite," texts Mari. Does this warrant a response?  "Sweet."  I say, because, I don't say; that's so sweet of her to think of me, and to remind me that she is thinking of me because she's going to see me tonight.  One thinks sad regretful thoughts about lost loves who might've been saved had we had texting, and then one remembers loves lost because we do.  Jose sets up his equipment.  The crowd has yet to trickle in.
    Greasy Jack behind the bar sees Sidney's sister sideeyeing the taplist and says
"the beers' free if you're really, really pretty," slides me a neat scotch, "but otherwise they cost five bucks." He pours a soda for himself and takes a sip. She blushes, points, "is that like Blue Moon?"
    "No, but the Pyramid Hef is, and the Campfire Stout is a super easy imbibe, not too overly sweet."  She smiles and asks mewlingly for the Pyramid, and "is there a like happy hour snack like menu?".  Suddenly all at once there are pulsing beats and thumping bass laser-braining from the walls.  When we all orient ourselves accordingly, it's in the direction of Jose, aka DJ Betternaut, who has started his set, and is obviously oblivious to reading the discordant mood evicted by the room, I can see the sweat beading across the raw pinkish wrinkles of his forehead from across the room.

 It's a strange art form, DJing. You have to mix your crowd's needs with the songs you want to play. You have to gauge the temperature, determine what they are willing to bear vs what they will tolerate, and balance that against what you're playing now, what's the leed-in's key signature, what transitional gradient, how long can you spin it before the bass drops, before you've lost them.  You are an artist. A creator. You don't just spin records; you design decorations for a shared stake of time. But you need the right tools. I went over to him, back behind the laptop and he lowered a headphone and leaned in.
    "Came in kinda hot and disco-trance bothered, doncha think Joey?"
    Jose looks around the club.  "It's mostly college kids. Nothing much older than twenty-eight here tonight."
    I smile and slap his back reassuringly.  The sound system is really important for a friendship between guys.  So, too is music itself.

 "🍬 🍭 🤩 "texts Mari.  What do you say to that?
"Has he started??  What's the music like????"

Mainstream rock country hiphop pop blues tangodancehall reggae skabilly wavemetal grungecore alterna-synthpunk, how to play this?  Honest?  Then she'll know how much I know about music.  Snide?  Then she'll think music isn't important to me.

 I stand up by the door and note the crowd, their clothes, their physiques, the postured caring about looking like you don't care about how you look, the subtlety inherit within the permissable bends in the reed-field of consensus. They look like I looked five years ago. The scrubby boys all wear hats (it is January), the sylphlike girls all wedged into sports tights and boots, or jeans I guess. I'll catch myself staring when I start questioning my generalizations, but the girls do look so much more posessed of themselves alert gazelles in the same simpering savannah as the Miller-Lite-swizzling lions, males. There are more women than men, not surprisingly; Greasy Jack has always had better talent for attracting females than he does males, and, it's early yet on a Friday night no less.  This is the safe starter-bar for a lot of these girls on a weekend.

 The music transitions in an eery prog-rock rip-off with samples from some old flapper movie scene from the twenties.  I actually laugh out loud, it's so fucking wrong for right now.  And I feel my hip ping at the incoming text from Sidney herself:

 "Can you pick me up at the office? My car won't start." She's uptown just getting off work, I already know, and her car wouldn't start last night either, when she tried to drive home, I saw, on her twitch.

Jose took it pretty rough that he would have to stop spinning (in order to give me a ride).
    "Sorry, ladies," he taps the mic for added emphasis, "my friend is having car trouble. Can next up take over?"
    One girl raises her hand straight up and emits a little cunning chirp as she jumps up and runs around the laptop to give Jose a hug and click a few buttons.  Jose says, from three directions at once,"guys this here is Alyssa. Let's give it up she is going to handle the next hour. I have been The DJ Betternaut. Peace! then this tune comes on that is like chill and chirupy and absolutely 180° capital R Right for this scene and everyone starts clunking their necks in exactly the same groove all across the room in perfect syncronous alignment and Jose has in half a mosquito's breath has pounced his way up to the door, yanking Sidney's sister on the way from where she was waiting for her to-do box, and I could see her lips mouth 'ah fuck it' as we made our abrupt leave of the place, back to the parking lot and the Nissan through the one working door of the two-door and Sidney's sister whines as we wheel it outta there, "should either of you really be driving?" with a vocal fry that would impress even Zooey Deschanel but we don't hear her as we are already hey hey erecting our congratulatory spire for Jose on his innaugural disk jockeying success.
    "That was one outstanding out, I gotta say— having your own backup lined up."

Jose laughs with relief and adrenaline, "it's always good to have a backup. You gotta have a backup. You never know what'll happen."

Even for a January evening its nippy, a chill breeze whistling across the freeway and down the pock-lit sidewalks. When Jose gets there he points out to us that that the engine light has come on, again, so while leave to retrieve Sidney, Jose and Sidney's sister stay and pop the hood to investigate the culprit and wait.

I sign in at the front desk and wait for them to waive me through after checking my credential.  The elevator shines like a brand new laudromat quarter, and the hallway lights don't even buzz or hum.  Sidney's desk is still third row back on the right and I can see from the glow of her computer monitors that she's not yet ready to be ready.

"Ready?" I ask.  I can hear myself, my own voice, and I sound like I'm twelve again, back when you had to call a girl to ask her out, and she knew it, and she wasn't going to suggest it or even answer the phone herself so you dialled her number and ended up having to speak to her Dad and ask if it was okay if Ashleigh came on the line.  "Did you get my texts."

"On our way," Sidney taps the screen and reads aloud from the phone by her right hand, while style typing with her left, and also finishing her coffee and calling GHS and reparting and pinning her hair and putting on her overcoat and shuffling a few files into a folder and a few folders into a shoulder bag and then she restarts the computer and she's ready to go. "Onward!" she orates theatrically, "for the arts!"  I tell her Jose and her sister are out in the car and she's already a reflection in the elevator before she understands what she's heard.  "If Jose is in the car then whose inaugural DJ set are we going to see?"
    "You missed it."
    "Fuck me.  Are we still
—do we still need to go?"

"I have to meet Mari.  I think Jose is going to stay awhile.  He seems — the music was ... decent."

 "That bad, huh?"
    "You didn't miss much.  There wasn't much..." to miss.  She skipped from the elevator and out through the double doors and the 400 meters to the edge of the No Parking curb where Jose had it plonked with his head in the hood and Sidney's sister revving up and back on the gas like a snoring Dominic Toretto.

She gave Jose a big hug, longer than necessary.  I slunk into the back with the other mice and the hood slammed shut and we were off again.  But not more than three miles later he pulled off along the verge, popped the hood and leapt out without explanation.  We heard him laugh to himself as he stood up there half in the headlights.
    "Accidentally left my phone in there on the engine block," he said, "I couldn't believe it was right there where I left it."  We all agreed that he was a lucky S.O.B.


Mari wasn't there yet so even though she hadn't spokne with me all week I had a second Scotch and called her. I asked her, "did I do something wrong, hey?" then I told her "tell me, please, tell me what I did wrong. "Mari tched her tongue and took a deep breath. She said "I don't know what you're talking about."
 "Don't you?"
No! Why would I? Nothing has happened. Again."
Nothing.  Again."
I asked her, "are you jostling me?"
Jostling?  You mean Joshing?  Or Jostling? What is this to you— a rehearsal for Gilbert & Sullivan?   You get you some strange you do man.  I finally got you to myself this week and what did you do?"

What? I didn't say.  I didn't have to. Even through the phone I could see her hot breath filling the night as she spews "you took me over to your ex-girlfriend's  house to listen to her boyfriend scheme over his DJ name, then you ate two gummies and started twirling words around like an absolute mindless idiot."
"But you cancelled dinner."
    "I? Yeah.  Okay. Yes, I cancelled dinner because you obviously did not want to go. Mister mopey mask. Because how does that make me look?"

I had the idea of a car entering the unlit onramp of an inevitable neverending mountain highway.  Downshift.  Downshift.  Downshift.  You hope there's not going to be a storm and you pray you don't get stuck behind a truck.  That metaphor got away from me there.  I sit here in the chair reclining away from the irregular rhombus of what little weekend sunlight we get this time of year and I feel gratitude that the winter is short.  Spring too.  I wish they were longer, but that's not true, I don't, one appreciates mother nature's posturing, her ever-changing face a kind of tragic arc in which, all these years later she can still be found caring about looking like she doesn't care about how she looks, inexhaustibly.  It makes one tired to ponder it.  Just one of the many wobbly firmaments uponwhich we rest.

I text Jose, "I still think DJ Herbert Fine and the Finite Herb would have packed that place."

When I awaken from my nap I find two he's texted back, "Thanks for coming" and "coming over for Bengals Bills tonight? There's brauts."

"Bring it on," I texted, and went off in search of my coat and shoes.

I can hear electric lights talking
but they ain't talking to me

-Dr Dog

music: Drinkee- Sofi Tukker
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Ornery Pontification (the birthday)  
01:52pm 11/08/2022
The Masqued Man
I like the double meaning behind August. I've been feeling august today. This blogger is of an august temperment. Why?  Well

It's my birthday!!

Did you know that two out of my three siblings have birthdays in August? It's kind of nice. Generally I feel that the celebration of birthdays is a kind of philistinism but I do, in spite of it all, like that my Dad gets a little picture of me that pops up on his phone on this day every year.  Whether or not he chooses to call (or figures out how to call) that's his business.

So, yes, I'm pushing forty, yes that telescopes time vertiginously.  It's alright though.  I had lukewarm coffee and stale corn nuts for breakfast.
It's alright.  Work sent Paul home early so I could stay and clean out the shitter for him and I'm not even mad; he asked with those big puppy dog eyes and that guy is a total Chad. I get it.  We all get older if we're lucky.  So what if I'm not doing my best possible work, and so what if I'm living in this town that ain't Chicago and so what if my practical social circle is almost entirely comprised of kids who know me through a job that I find plebian and unimportant and unfulfilling and embarassing . There's still time left before it's over. And Im making the rent payments.

here, for my birthday, have a story.  No, have a few:

My husband and I lost ho-ur old car right during the pandemic.  It was alive, but bear'ly, and then it was strugglin', and then it was gone. May she rest in peace.  But we weren't going anywhere because, like the say the pandemic, so we said we said we don't need but the one car now we're not even going to the Wal-Mart hardly once-ta-day so we did that but n-ow, n-ow's I say we've got everything back open and this money burning a hole in ho-ur pocket I says to my husband I said honey let's just buy a new one so tha's what we did.  Brand new car.

Story the Second:

Spiru wore the shirt his mother gave him.  African silk. A reminder of a much warmer place, like in a dream, little crescents of heat overlapping in profound swells of increasing torture.  Here at the office from his seat in the cash office below the air vent he felt the steady brace of cold airconditioned bliss hit him square on the head and felt, of course, his heart-rate drop down below sixty.
Spiru thought, "Who am I?" and didn't mean the assets management analyst making just less than current market mean of comparable salary, nor did it mean the son his mother does not worry about.  He thought, if only he had a companion: "if only I had a companion," he thought, "some sort of female presence to enlighten and enliven" his days.  But how to go about such an endeavor?  TInder was a bust.  It always felt to him, despites its obvious popular appeal and social expediency, like a faux pas within the grand scheme of etiquette. Other men knew how to dance, his previous attemps to "cut a rug" had been marred by personal disaster.
"Your call has been forwarded to an automated voice messaging system." Spiru had checked out so he walked out of work.  Only later did he even realize he did it.  There were nine people at the bus stop counting him and he thought "how did I get here?" and didn't mean a man recounting his last 15 minutes once he was in the bar and had glanced at the taps and ordered a beer and sipped it and safe!, he meant out of work, it was only 4:30 after all, but he couldn't have standed it there any longer.  The man next to him at the bar sat in a perpetual shadow, Spiru thought, a fact, that was instantly proven wrong as two beautiful lithe co-ed blondes came out of the ladies room and he lit up like a marquee.  They moved as one and smiled propulsively.  Spiru thought, boy had it been a while since anything that wasn't a string of digits had illuminated reality the way their smiles twinkled.  "How do you do it?" he asked the slightly older half-in-shadow man who replied, "Hm?" adding, disinterestedly, "that's an interesting shirt."  Spiru wore the shirt his mother had given him.  African silk.  A reminder that he was not living his life to it's utmost potential.  "How do you do it?" he enquired staccattoedly.  The man belched out an enchantingly baritone gu-faw laugh and confided conspiratorily "You've gotta have a goal. To pick a direction. Once you have that everything," the girls snapped a selfie and discussed hashtags and he chuckled and turned, adding, "also, just between you and me, I realized that the reason they always smell so good is because they regularly bathe.  With soap."  Turned away now, "Good luck kid," and Spiru was looking at himself in the mirror behind the modestly stocked sparsely-bottled bar thinking, "who am I?" and did not mean the one the boss rated highly in his bi-annual evalutation and when asked again had to say "who?" adding "oh that guy, of course, yeah yeah great- Eric give me that, one sec, lovely."  He meant what was he, what was this call being forwarded to an automated messaging system.  Why was he so satisfied with his little dream world so much of the time?  What new does he have to add to the world?" and also there was a girl there and her back was turned but what a impressively arch of back she has if only she would turn and it occured to him to talk to her as the old man had recomended.  Yes.  Spiru was getting up to talk to her.  Spiru wore the shirt his mother gave him.  African Silk. The reminder that a gentleman is always a gentleman to a proper lady and what was he going to say? How about "buy you a drink" that's the kind of things other guys say all of the time.

Third Story:

From the ferry, after sundown, I looked at the city twinkling and saw promise and magic.  He had a drink, a beer, there next to me, and he saw in those same lights only homelessness and drug addition and despair. I never knew that then.  It was only once it was over that I could see that really we were living in his story.

Fourth Floor:

My cousin's staying on the couch.  It's been 3 weeks.  My parsimonious uncle Herbert often advised me when I was staying on his couch that "a couple weeks is fine but more than a month and we'd best be discussing either rent or at least a plan for evacuation" so I figured that asking my cousin for help sweeping the floor wouldn't be too far out of line. What I learned was, if you want something done right you'd better do it yourself.

I feel tired.  I can remember all the things I used to do, but I just feel tired.
"Are'y tired just thinking about it?"
"Ha.  Yeah.  That too."

Seventh Story:

God missed the early flight and bought one of those grey neck pillows that promise to make necks feel better than ever. It's doubtful. God's neck pain is like Shroedinger's cat. Navigating the crumbly middle-skies, appraising earth’s sludgy surfaces and orifices, God fell asleep.

That’s how I explain what happened on Tuesday.

Eighth Flights:

This is a story about insignificance.  A story we won’t tell for years. About the wind and rain.  Of course it was raining.  She was raised after the rain.  Or was it razed every time?  The disinterested light wasn’t interested and why didn't you check to see if something was inside of it first? I was raised to follow footsteps.

"Hahaha! Get it? His jumper cables were his tie, so the bouncer yelled 'Better not let me hear you jump anyone or start anything!' "

"A dream and we were driving through these mountains mountains with their toupees of snow, and your Dad turned into his dad right before my eyes and I couldn't stop the car or pull over."

Odin sacrificing his eye to see Ragnarok.  The term sugar daddy was invented in San Francisco. Could a quantum retrocausality do it?

What kind of an idiot signs himself up for summer school anyway?

My last will and testament will be a real banger, y’know?

Many people saw it as either: “a truth or a lie” But the deeper conversation orbits perspective, she continued, "capital P. It’s about asking: “Whose perspectives are dominant? Whose are reliable? Whose are suppressed?”’

A none other than a poem, to grow on:

The words:

A thin nothing

bertween her place
how to -do it- don't know
-trigger the whole in some poetic happening
or patiently visit
Graciously her french throat Decraux
Delicate by comparison to her chin

Nothing conscious
Ash dotted the place
Although I know what that means
feeling buttoned up, harnessed
the world stable in home
possible patiently promise

A poem with them:

A thin nothing
between her place and
feeling buttoned up, harnessed
how to -do it- don't know
-trigger the whole in some poetic happening
or patiently await
A thin nothing promising
Gracious, her french throat
Delicate, compare! her chin
Nothing conscious
A thin dotted place
Between the world stable
In a possible home promising
A thin nothing. Don’t know.
-trigger the whole in some poetic happening
or patiently feeling buttoned up
harnessed, gracefully
Delicate by comparison to
A thin nothing.
    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
Neibelheimian Exhile While His Third Eye Brims with Tears for Ever-Imminent Pulverization  
09:54pm 20/07/2022
The Masqued Man


to front a peak at heart, mecca
this growing mysterious ache,
less pervasive in countour than
they board directly, carpetbags in tow
and backwater remarks snarl 'cross nice paisley upholstered
seats up ancient levels of maritime down
the coming the going, a hidden hull
going groan, a sphynxian iron roar
fades at full speed
rusting morn unto eve

the flare expected of getting lost
alights casual consensual confusion
funtional ignorance corkscrews across the dysfunctional chasm
light his self-loving retentive abstractions
hives where she blindly knelt
and her voice never heard before bed
going groan, the headboard directed diversion,
the coming the going sure yet
flaws they up and
boarded directly bound down
towns in the south, deli murals
sink bottom gods
took they up and boarded in the dark landing

'morrow to face
as if truth just below a fold in perception would alight with the dawn
too hyper thoughts too sleep not even the imams could foresee
"not the truth"
in the concise hours
across the starved confines of this
cathexis us


the omnisphere of light
its staying power
spouting lessons, really.
The betterment of better men.
Did Picasso see footsteps
slicken mostly mud?
Was his story bought for pennies?
It's staying power
that's my faith
but evacuation, that, too, we want done.
I feel tired.
We do that.

Baths must be hot against the skin, the ears
barsoap from the farmers market
she signs herself clean everywhere, across every
slickened orifice, muddy. You start.

When truth-telling became a resource
community [was] sacrificed.
Truth. Come back
the omnipresence of light
in darkness
its staying power
spouting perspectives, really
slick like a senator she continued,
asking "are perspectives repressed?"
The footsteps we rise to meet,
that's ours, you start.
We saw, she learned,
I did it again anyway.

Its staying power, that's mine.


we met the perimeter
parts of the plumbing fade, the high
corporation burst, a ratty little lightning
wrests the attic and all
our studded wrongs were suddenly made right.

via smoke
pounds dissolve
dark spices sponge across the
plucked and pronged
coarse cured once living ribrack.

Beer stitched, fired-up He is pink
and voluptuous
an article in the Times
about a scientist's unpublished pulp paper
on x-ray vision unsheathing fossilized secrets
"Now thrice dead," he said roaring laughter
familiar and fleeting as the melody
of eternal maneuvering curations.
History, a sandy pillar of dust
His heat hums

And lo, we are afraid, but
"healing" he says as eucatastrophically as possible
while white voltage sands our feet to glass
our bones bake and the marrow opens
to a new perspective, abstract
O god your fire irradiates us
but first
how about a million years of marination?
music: Lyra- Goon
    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
Mad Walls We'd So Carefully Mapped Precisely as if Asking for Change  
07:01pm 15/07/2022
The Masqued Man
Some cold night! Wow!
and us, first on the watery realm—
rich ashwood 'gainst a current as
we battle on boards shaved from
mad walls we'd so carefully mapped

precisely, as if asking for change. Listen
to the rush of the coming scenery

Instantly a mist. A mysterious atmosphere —
I told him so, but mister
the ruckus was his vintage ride— we rise
"from here on up the skies taste just like hope"
most strictly just ether of course but copious
the flow, blasting, man

life —what reckless throttling isthmus or else what holy
bounce our role-models flushed straight down to the feels
— blows from a horn
standing next to the amp of pure darkness deafening
the test of the affected knick-knack inaction.
Light-headed ghosts, career-sitting as we say,
weighted by a meteoric scale —
what they'd give to know courage fused to completion
sightless— imagine maneuvering woe with caution
like anchorites in a pool of mornings
don't rush pal the deal is ready. Bright hope is astringent

you caught me! Perusing clothes to vacation
to a landscape's shaved neck —where breathes the young child
cobwebbed by dawn, "but it's desire" she said.
—the vast chasm an exemplifying gate of tensions
mere steps from the limits of space
a scene, terrifying— it isn't exactly across we go
but to the present— mouths repaired full up with ephemeral
old truth, my daughter, touching my hand
with all the right words, on all-fours
come on with
she says
    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
Labatt Blue Chill of a Costa Mesa Summer's Night  
11:07pm 30/06/2022
The Masqued Man

The pasted offerings operate through a conveyance
subservient and revelatory this season. This
uproar over the suave little ice which was our meal.
The rest was imposing. Dually required by unimagined templates
we come to the krill reckoning, woodfire, a reception
frequent change is violence, like Keynes, munificent
services both malnutrient and eucatastrophic
with irregular evils blossomed

I will have to stay at the Saint
the oatroot red, see the patient flowering in glory.
but actually building edentulous acculation with fragility is a hedge
in mankind, keen to have his behinds broadened by inquiry
the endless differentiation, reinvention, is a kind of wordy endless ethic
without worth, the backyard lurches, the state loosens.
This ephemerality is jaundiced by a jeremiad of senescence.
The victorious hammock. Are you recording?
    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
12:34pm 30/05/2022
The Masqued Man

It’s spring in Oklahoma, and in my new T-Shirt the cold makes me shrivel.  The cold is death. Fuck, it's only five thirty. There's that ominous haze on the horizon that one wants to attribute to astigmatism but I suspect it's just the dust settling in this cold windy stew over this greatflat rolling earth.

There’s rumors of a party so we’re riding around in the SAAB, Frank and I, the top down, the heat on, listening to Little Anthony & the Imperials, across that vast country filled  with desire and hope.  He’s driving so I occupy my fingers dusting the dashboard.  The eye caresses the newly planted corn like fingers through hair.

This here SAAB he just spent the morning on, inside, outside, can't fault a man for a hobby.  After greasing the engine he had lunch then drove into town with the pickup to get the summer tires from Steve, setting up a little plinth to mount the plywood ramp and rolling the tires down out the back of the pickup truck one by one. Moving awful slow. His Dad, Frank Sr, watching like an Edwardian Ghost from the breakfast nook as he puts his tie and boots on to go out, like every Thursday, to the Legion, imaging an erection while gaping at Pam's taut flat ass behind the bar.  Once the tires were on and the day was waning right away I showed up, convenient enough for the purposes of this story, since a coworker I don't like dropped me off because Frank's place is on his way and my place ain't, and Frank suggested we try out the tires and I suggested we find the party and Frank suggested we get some wieners first and since tomorrow's payday I told him he's buying and we set up.  Not exactly Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Many times on these roads I am remembering what it is to start anew, there's just so much fucking land, possibility.  Sometimes I look at it like Christ it's just empty, but then you get driving and realize just how weightedly full it all is, non-linear, everything happening all at once in all directions.  The kid who counts out our change for the hot dogs was a little high, his starter beard struggling with the acne for purchase on his red face.  We pass the new trailer park, and the razed lot where the newer trailers will go next, and the water tower and it's like leaving home again the first time all over. Now here we take off on his horizontal rocket, the wheels spinning around, the dashed lines slipping under the hood, "beautiful, man" said Frank, and I nod, or think about nodding, because he's damn right.  This winter, which seems to me to have lasted about three years, was full of long hairy months of driving around on worried roads and neither sleeping nor dreaming just terrified in a million little ways, the minutiae of which exhausts a body and soul wanting for nothing more than to see the sun again, and yet here we are and there is green again, real green, and after so much death, life.  We head west with the cold wind at our backs and I think about Frank, how we'd hung out in the driveway after Mrs. Straus' funeral and shared a 40 and some cigarettes, feeling like I was seventeen again, which would have made Frank feel, what? My age?

We pass a church.  There are fibres of the wood in the steeple, wellmeaning Norse crochets in the basement. What's it called when a thing is representative of itself?  Ontology?  That's what I think about old churches.  Everybody came together to build a big place where they could come together to talk about the importance of coming together.  It's like those statues of Buddha where he's sitting and smiling contentedly, that's all of Buddhism right there.  Behind the church is a ruddy parking lot, empty, save a big van, undoubtedly to take the men's choir to Stillwater for the regional mishmosh.

We pass a vast field thirsting for trees across the road from an old homestead where a shirtless man sits on his porch, one foot up on the railing, looking like he might spring for another tattoo, and a haggard woman, all joints, strides purposefully out the door with a bucket of water to pour out for the geraniums.  He watches her.  She watches the flowers.  We drive past into the gathering night.  It's harder to be an eccentric here than some places so those who do really go at it hard.   The country drifts past in impressionistic flashes where time refuses to exist. Dust and grass and navy blue sky and baking heat and an unbroken scorch of horizon where the sun falls away and Frank takes a wide country turn to the north and I watch the dark irrigated soil seeming to thrum with promise, or secrets, or maybe I should just rub my eyes.  The side-eye remittance of nutrient rich surreality.   Sediment sounds like sentiment. It must be good soil. Stuff grows when you water it. Crops, just one more flyaway hit here like jets to New York or LA, or evangelism, prairie wildfires, tornados, methamphetamine, fracking.

Frank asks “Ya catch the Mets game yesterday?” I shake my head. Frank continues “S‘not the game like how I remember” and I think, he does this, substitute nostalgia for plot.  It is easier.  Maybe I should too.  Turn around and grow up.  Trade in this libido for a beer gut and cowardice. Then again, Frank hasn't done that, he's just got a foot in that door, a glimmer in his eye. I ask

“Don’t you ever feel like you’re getting too old for this?”

“You’re only as old as the woman you feel.”

“That’s incredibly- ”

“Accurate. Yeah.”

Frank tells me a round and round anecdote about how his work stole some time from him and how he worked his way up the mucous-filled nasal cavity of beaurocracy to find himself remuneration and I listened without needing to add much, it wasn't the kind of story that invited much audience participation.  The mind wanders.  I remember Mrs. Straus, who died in September.  Inside her house was a big wooden table with a sprawling collection of dainty used Kleenex tissues. Striped wallpaper over a green wainscoting.  Her son flew in from Florida and shook our hands, looking greasy.  His mouth amassed with a shantytown of too many teeth.  He asked us where the Walmart was and we told him, he drove his rental car out there while Frank and I and two other former students helped clear out her things, one room at a time, and for the day's work he paid us each forty bucks cash that'd he'd got from the Walmart ATM and then locked the door and took off to the motel and Frank and I went and had steaks and beer and he's been a great friend to me here since I drifted back.  Great conversations filled with both light and shade. Although I’m a loner by nature I’ve learned that on my own I’m in bad company. 

The wind whipping noisily in our ears I take out my phone and copy down the colors of the songs on the car radio as we pass through a couple little two-three block townships, deep red, orange red, lustre purple, sapphire orange, enamel white.  Mood wallpaper of sound for feathery places.  Later we enter the outlet seediness that flourishes with so much idiocy.  Strip malls that stripped bare good fields to build and are now stripped of business at this late hour. What does late capitalism even mean? I ask Frank where he's going. "Just staying between the lines.  I thought you knew." So I direct him towards Graham's house since that's the point I best remember but we stop at a liquor store first for a coupla snifters and some Seagrams, in case there are girls there, which is, after all, the general idea driving the whole endeavor.

The dark has deepened, spilling out to the horizon now.  Decent people are home lying in bed in with woodhewn nightstands matted by good intentions and soft silences and we are crossing the Queen’s River Bridge, one wonders in moments such as this if any animals are out, courting, hunting, a-Maying.  Where is the Thermal Nightingale accountability?  However many of them are there and whither, so many we can never know.  Hiding out in an unknown night reality blanketed by the first twinkly stars and the first billowing breaths of summer blowing the future into the past.

It's actually getting colder. Where even is this place?  We swing through a wide country turn off the county highway onto a rocky road within spitting distance of the river that slowly gives way to two deeply packed grooves in the earth that eventually just peters into a pair of battered tracks of dead grass that slithers off ahead into a bunch of trees hiden from the view of the now fairly distant county road and I'm sure we're close and Frank comments that if he'd known we'd be doing bump this to the bump SAAB then he would bump have bump waited until later next week to swap out the bump tires, and then we've found it!  You can see it way off, from the cars coalescing, the halogen halo hovering down by the crick.  A kind of pandering light, that, it seems to me anyway, is a blight upon the night.  But we park and hop out, enthralled by the sound of the music coming through the trees, and I recognize her beat-up Hyundai there next to a few pickup trucks, can't believe it's really there, and feel ready for a drink to help steady me, slip down through a thin trail that's slunk through the woods toward the sound, Frank using his phone as a flashlight.

In amongst the oaks is a roofed-in concrete slab where people are dancing and drinking.  One is less tentative about the social repercussions of frolic when one is in the woods, in diffuse light, and with drink. The first person we recognize is Ole’ Train Wreck Patterson, an eccentric anecdotalist with an interesting mind beneath that thatch of redbrown hair thrusting out of his scalp, who had told me years ago that Crazy Horse had a cousin named Touch the Clouds, the kind of factoid that sticks in your teeth a long time, awaiting digestion, like the fact that the Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889, anyway, sitting there in a wicker chair, his one good eye staring right past us as he cajoles Frank with a few words of which, I'll be honest, I can't hear, the music thumping, and Frank has his ear right up next to Train Wreck's mouth when I walk off a few minutes later. 

Searching. There's the Carstons and Vern Webb and his son, and daughter in law.  A guy with a crew-cut who I recognize from Facebook-stalking my sister's hot friend Sheila who must be her co-worker, because he was in multiple pictures of the company Fun Run and, man, that guy is ripped. There's Graham, from whom I'd heard about this event, and I stop to say hello.  Turns out we're all nominally here as part of a ten-year anniversary party for Graham's younger brother Gerald. There's Matt's sister, looking out of it, I wave.  Matt was this guy my age with a great big heart and a real short fuse who died aged 23 by gunshot, although, I think, technically it was not the shot that did it, but the resultant puncture of his heart by bullet what killed him. Semantics.  Darwin would have a bit to say about kids doing dumb stuff who die young.  I say nothing and walk on.  Let’s pretend the world is spun round in rational long-term thought instead of so much spooked emotion.  Frank finds me and we fill clear yellow plastic cups from the keg and end up talking with Cliff Nussbaum about the hog farm, "from a business standpoint it's a more than a break even thing" he says and it only livens up from there into a litany of knee, back, and shoulder surgeries so I wander off again, if anyone asks, to take a leak, but mainly anxious to see her.   Ansty.

Down by the crick there's a scattering of junk and I find a screen turned askew on it's side in the mud, like the mysterious machine from Finnish mythology, which no one really knew what it did but it was thought that it brought wealth and prosperity to whomever owned it.  The Kalevala was to Finish mythology what Garry Marshall’s Valentine’s Day was to Hollywood, a Who's-Who with strained plausibility.  I spent a winter in college immersed in the library's mythology shelf because it was easier than facing the mire that was my life, and something about ancient men's dreams being translated by Time into her mother tongue of dust unto obsolescence was immensely satisfying.  Existentialism is a trip, man.  I kick the screen a bit with my toe and hear a voice I recognize from behind me ask

"Whatcha got there cowboy?”

She wears a tight tube top over a long flowing dress patterned in leaves of white and pink and blue, smiling that wide as a freight train smile. 

"Still just looking," I say.

"Haven't you found what you want yet?”

"It's not all about want.”

She says "Not by my watch.   I am because I want.”

"I guess that's better than wanting because you are. Involuntarily. Because I-”

“I want,” she says as she leans in for a kiss.  Why argue with that? Hard enough for two self absorbed people trying to get wet.  I gave up the metaphysics of true love when I made my first alimony payment.  Sometimes the universe slaps everything you thought you knew in the face and other times a beautiful woman takes your hand and pulls you out of the lonely muddy garbage strewn darkness and onto the dance floor. Frank, giddily animated by the surprise of seeing us emerge into the warm light together walks right up to say hello and give her a hug.

The music is loud.  Our dancing begets other dancers and soon the slab is full of tapping toes and twirling girls.  She talks while I spin her around.  I can tell because her lips are moving but I can't hear any of it.  I twirl her in close and squeeze her to me.

"Don't you think so," she looks at me expectant of my reply.

I said “you’re always saying something.  How is it you ever listen?”

She say, “WHAT?”

Her eyes swallow the rest of the night.  I vaguely recall watching birds swoop around over the crick, and an impromptu game of the newlywed game where we partner up because they need a third couple and of the other twosomes I quickly survey standing around in the wings we appeared to be the least lukewarm on the prospect and at one point they ask me "what’s the one thing that most drives your partner up a wall."

I say, never being able to pick just one thing.  Seems to me the wind picked up at some point and lots of people left.   The world is full of crooked pleasantries and held tongues.

I don't remember Jay Talbot showing up, but this is how I met Jay Talbot.  She knew him.  Frank knew him.  Everyone knew him but I didn't know him so I started up a drunken conversation and learned that we had a lot in common except that I have some scruples of dignity.  What else is measured in scruples?  That Ass Hat hit me square in the face and afterwards, much, much later when I got that brown tangy liver taste of blood out of my mouth, and the throbbing in my temples subdues a little I realize, suddenly, that I need to leave.  Just as suddenly as we had needed to get there and talk to her, right now, time to go.  I feel myself fading.

There are only four cars left when Frank gets back behind the wheel.  She says "are you sure you'll be alright," and I mutter something and she smiles and says she'll follow along behind, just in case.  I'm ready to crash out but I don't,  there is still more night coming, repeating, but less of it now than before, one can imagine the crescendo of cymbals that accompanies the oncoming dawn, like an Explosions in the Sky song.  Maybe that’s where they got the name from.  Soon it will be Sunday and I remember that I volunteered to read at church.  The Saturday yearning to get laid a kind of dark mirror to Sunday’s pursuit of religion fervor.  Frank starts chuckling and asks "why'd you say that to Talbott?"

"Say what?"

But he wouldn't tell me. He just laughed weaving out of the weeds and out of another weekend, back out onto the highway, the SAAB's headlights dissolving into nothingness in the dark just within grasp of the road.  It's cold in just this new T-Shirt. I tuck my arms in and let the small thoughts of her linger like the last of the night's stars.  Sometimes when you feel lost or all alone you can give yourself a hug. That's what I do.  Looking out and up as we cruise through a chilly windy spring night, something immeasurably distant, like the reliability of the stars, is reassuring.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
J's Story  
09:11pm 28/04/2022
The Masqued Man

We make our selves according to the ideas we have of our possibilities.”

  • V.S. Naipaul

He said 'we are what we lack' ... this guy...”

Gord Downie

And then you wonder why I have no identity?”

- Zac de la Rocha

You're finding a bit here unequal to the task of tribute, but then again he wasn't exactly worthy of one, no offense. It's said we all become stories in the end, it's that or oblivion. So who was my main man of mirth made melancholy? What can we say? People liked him, can't say that about just anyone. Big guy, didn't fit in his unwashed clothes. That fat fuzzy play-dough face like a third-tier muppet. Unique. But that does not a story make. Thing is, I wasn't there. I only remember the kid he was, I was witness to the first act of the story, twelve years. I never knew the man he was for the last twenty. Man-child, should probably say. So what justification do I have to mention any of it? Because he was my friend, and I want to know why he blossomed into a poison thorn instead of a fruitful flower.

The thing is I didn't see it happen. I was there when it started, yes, but even then his life could have gone in any direction. I didn't see the crucial element. It's been suggested that this passing feels sadder than it might otherwise because of that thwarted potential. So maybe I saw all that there was to see. Playing on the swings in kindergarten. Oh to be the playground pigeon watching us pass in the park. Later, when he introduced me to Donkey Kong, he and his flabby hands and goofy laugh, it's that laugh and smile that I'll choose to remember, a happy goofy little boy. We rode bikes, took turns as cops and robbers in those empty apartments full of other people's things gathering dust, we stayed up late telling tales by flashlight of the ghost of the girl upstairs.

He wasn't a big fan of barriers. I guess that was probably his undoing. Hatred, I mean, not hatred of barriers. Although hatred of barriers is still hatred, after all, still a tainted emotion. And I can speculate that he was drawn to the easy fix of vitriol, just as he was drawn to the short thrill of childish pranks.. He was big into bating losing arguments. Why did he do this? He was being a dick to see if you were in on it. Most of us weren't in on it, or if we were at first, we weren't by the thirtieth time, and what this led to was lots of practice cussing people out. It was his kind of social experiment, but it was also him being a dick. He didn't like barriers. So once you'd tell him to stop, he wouldn't ever want to.

Like a bird each day began with music. Crackling bass with fuzzy guitar, loud and proud, a big breathless electric inevitable. I wonder, listening to my staid funereal Weekend Edition in the car while pondering Scott Simon's perennial love for the Cubbies, if this was the difference, where our paths diverged, balanced on teeter-totter of preferred accompaniment. I doubt it. He liked to sing, and we thought it lazy when sadness swelled screaming in every song, in a style he'd parroted from shlocky acts, all spleen and screed... He had a tendency to wallow. He was a big baby, but he was dedicated to that at least. Giving voice to his own constellated poetry of sadness.

Was it this that led to the drugs that scoured him, thwarted musical ambition, an artist's yen for the intoxicated outlet? One is curious how the dark annunciation commenced for him, as it does for anyone, how it all starts rolling downhill. Was it swiping his older brother's cigarettes, or did it stream from the trickle of pain meds they gave him following the attack? A prescription issue passed unto pathology? I think about it now, putting on my black tie, to try to figure out if there was something there that I missed.

He struggled through the middle grades because he didn't take anything seriously, and in this there's nothing exceptional, but he was one a kind, and as the speakers my age today who knew him then will attest, he was one of a kind After all, not just anyone can progressively get someone so incensed, so angry, over weeks and weeks and months, that they will attack you in broad daylight, with a baseball bat to the head, for multiple blows.

J was in the hospital, I remember knowing that. I saw them wheel him away. I saw the blood, and later the scars on his shaved head. There was a lot about this that was weird. The way he just took the blows, didn't flinch or cover out. Didn't pass out although he was bleeding. It was weird to see his assailant so fired up, he was usually such an up-tight guy, but strange to see him bulging with rage, teeth bared, taking full swings. He was trying to kill him. It didn't seem real. Time froze, we froze. Another weird thing is that when I remember this incident, I was standing right there when it happened after all, hundreds of us were, I remember their roles reversed. It seems to me, even though I know that the memory is flawed, that my friend J was the one swinging the bat. That it was all his fault, and the rumors were that it was his fault, that's not misremembered, they say that he'd been baiting the guy with slurs under his breath for month. How did none of us hear it, I don't know. Like a lot of preventable sleights, it went unseen until it exploded.

When he came back to school it was with a unreformedly triumphant drunken swagger. His bald head was stitched together in such a way that seemed to lend a piccaso-esque wrongness to his face. His eyes were dark and narrow. If the whole world was unfair it was worthy of being blurred out, this much was clear. Not just anybody can look a haggard forty at their high school graduation.

One decides that primarily he was frightened, that he was hurt and scared. So the question is, why did he stay in that place so long, or allow those emotions it to fester into anger and despondency, recrimination, blame. Was it really too hard to rise above it? One wonders at his innermost wishes and dreams. I like to imagine him successfully living the double life of both anarchist dad and disciplined rock god. It's been commented upon that all he should have cared about was family, that they could have provided him with a center, but this seems to miss the point. He was insanely far from center. He was scuzzy. I was ashamed to admit that I, too fell into this thought trap and judged this book by it's cover alone, assuming that if he wanted help he'd help himself, but now it's too late. And I don't know what any of it amounted to. A hill of beans? I don't know what that means, do you? They say you only lose what you hold dear. What we lost was a man who long ago, as a boy, when the world still lied spread out like a bewildering and stupendous dream, became afraid that he was unequal to meet it and decided to go in the opposite direction, and stayed that course for far far too long. A choice that any of us could have made, and may yet make. We couldn't have changed his mind, once you'd suggest that he'd stop, he'd never do it. Guess he showed us.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
06:50pm 10/04/2022
The Masqued Man

People lose things all the time! Keys, wallet, phone, that word — what was it, jobs, health insurance, minds, youth, conventional attractiveness, civility, tact.

We arrive and awkwardly appraise the arrogant aesthetics. Arrangements imply the abhorrence of chaos.

Heavy doors with inlaid halberds guard their leatherbound analects. Each quarterly dividend a sermon.

The well-suited servant stirred pepitas and cranberries into the salad. A wall of grand accomplishment accompanied her assurity of self.

It was the best bath I've ever had. Outside a stand of solemn maples fidget like strangers in a bank queue.

But bureaucratic strivings belie the belief that lives like ours are beautiful. Despite liberal dispensation of ebullient encomiums, we remain straggly of soul.

A vibrantly indigent potluck of short fuses and arrested opinions. Whose streets were poorly lit, whose music fills us through the anxious hours.

Note the chip in the windshield. It whispers a want of surety, probably. Foreclosure is imminent.

People lose time all the time! Thanks Candy Crush. There it is, time, streaming, out the hulu in the wall! Code Blue, this fall on CBS.

Yet for all the firmness of your kind inducements I would not behave any different. Differently?

On behalf of the doctor the nurse pronounced it some kind of blood deficiency, insufficiency, everyone dies. We have to.

Act now for the Final Hours of Extra Savings. After all the cure for mourning is motion.

Despite a pensive and intricately nihilistic disregard for tenderness I woke up next to my friend on the sofa and did not remember having had sex. Next stop, a frenzied stall, to binge in the ripening warmth of memories, Christ they're on the cusp of re-manifestation. Time is in limited supply. She may have been the strong silent type, but she was just passing through.

People find themselves in all sorts of things; danger, trouble, a mess. But also families, clubs, conventions, church council, systems, the grip of social forces, a zeitgeist, hermeneutic loops, forearms deep in a sudsy quotidian epiphany.

A little while after the weather report the little girl asks “why is Fox so angry?” and sure enough, men sweatily bulging out of expensive ties spout their vague little daggars of schadenfreud and there is little in the way of palatable explanation to a six-year old.

There are those who revel in angry exhortations, like farts or masturbation. In my considered opinion there's only so far that splatterpaintedirritation will get you before you turn into whiteness, nothingness, no thoughts, no thing so much as a backwards facing testament to the real world lying ahead. Where does it come from? I don't know. Loss, fear, sadness. She thinks about this over snacktime grapes and cheezits. Chews and nods to her own private funky beat. It's so easy to go with the flow, why doncha? You might like it. Although you may just as well subvert expectations short term and survey the insurmountable benefits of cherishing change through non-conformity. Bask into the light and run yourself the risk of wonder.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
10:20pm 31/03/2022
The Masqued Man
On the wayward road out to the point there is a broad bridge that crosses the estuary.  A giant bird stands on a weather-worn wooden beam staring out across the mud and the muck.  Breathe in.  The ocean air has a complex scent. Intricate.


As kids, or, shall I say, young adults, a six hour drive may once have been an impromptu affair, my sister once drove for three days straight to see a boy across the country, but we're nearing forty now so it takes preparation. We pack apple slices and make a big deal about potty breaks.  We easily tire of the tinny radio and our glaring devices.  We play that road trip game where you have to sing songs with lyrics in the second person as if the singer had intended to address themself in the mirror:  “Can't take my Eyes off of You”  “You make me feel like a natural woman” “If I ain't Got You”
The road to the point is curious because it's just desert in the absolute most primitive sense. A jornada. A lost road.  There are no other cars, until one appears right next to you instantly and overtakes you going 100 miles per hour and vanishes into the shimmering sands, but we don't measure velocity in these units here, the signs are all in KM.  So that's what those little lesser numbers are for on the speedometer.  The road veers into the sand for miles and then some hills arrive and one suspects that one has veered far from the map, away from the sea entirely, but suddenly there it is, a great blue ocean, rising in a high arc somehow tremulous above the land, above the horizon, if that's even possible. 
We stayed at a cousin's house there, a second mortgage affair of theirs. Having planned the route meticulously knowing we wouldn't have wifi or sat-nav out of the country, we turned confidently left off the main road, took two turns and were immediately lost.  Luckily some of us retained from scouts a good sense of cardinal direction and waypoints. The development had grown organically between the city and the estuary, which had been cordoned from development by a preserve.  Within the expatriate housing some semblances of organic organization was devised and we were there by sundown.
Expecting a flimsy box we were immediately impressed with the sturdy dignity of the place. We marveled at polished wood and stone staircase, the hand-hewn old growth rafters, her generously stocked pantry, the oven-mitts in the drawer.  The whole house was filled with the kind of cozy familiar appurtenances of home that caused one to puzzle at our cursory relations to our own everyday things. The cousin's only request was that we water the plants and make time during out stay to go to the contemporary art museum, if we could.
The first night we cooked veggie burgers on the grill and felt like it was the fourth of July, serving Mexican corn on the cob on the two white wooden tables in the garden. It got cool quickly in the sea breeze – but the sky was a breathtakingly impossibly beautiful lingering slideshow so we sat and bundled and took lots of pictures and felt peaceful, both young and old feeling both older and younger, respectively and simultaneously, and some of us had more to drink than we needed, talking and laughing.


Some towering tongue-tied truth has been sedulously gripping me like a secret to the heart these past few weeks or months, more or less.  I can just barely intuit what it is when I'm dreaming but in this big buxom bed I couldn't sleep.  The tequila has served to help alleviate some of the worser worry.  But repressing thoughts throughout the late winter months had begun disrupting my other refuge, work, and with the anomie of anxiety facing down on me I decided that I should quiet the noise in my mind and write some things down.  So I got up to journal.
My secrets used to be buried just beneath boundaries of ego, always on the brink of bursting and tied up beneath too many knots to escape, but lately they seem to reside elsewhere and make themselves known in mysterious ways, and at least with writing I can still exert some semblance of control over their release.  It's a task I like best early in the morning.  There's fewer chances of being observed, no one pausing to wonder why your breathing changes when you get into a good flow of words and ride it.  No one piecing together the puzzle that is your eyes flashing with recognition of some exciting emotional whatever.
As whispers of the coming sunrise made their glistening kisses upon the shrubbery outside the cousin's study window we all woke up.  For the first morning we cooked pancakes and eggs with bacon and freshly squeezed orange juice. Cooking on a strange stove is anxiety-inducing, because one does not know where to put one's hands and every little mess becomes a problem that needs to be solved right away.  Once the kids had eaten it was as if a veil was lifted from their eyes and the sea became visible and they bolted out the door in various states of undress racing to see who could put a toe into the ocean to first test it's temperature before any of the others.  We stayed where we were and had coffee and wiped the counters and reminisced in the way that is acceptable, looking forwards as an excuse for looking back.
“Remember when we went to that restaurant?”
“I must have erased it”
“I remember.  I wore that green dress.  Remember that green dress?”
“How could I forget?”
“We should go to that restaurant tomorrow.”
We left to join the others by locking up, a needless extravagance on a semi-private beach, and removing our rubber sandals to caress our toes in the warm mid-morning sands of the path between the dunes, then lumbering down to where the breakers were churning out one after another and the sounds of familiar of beach play could be heard over the wind and the waves once again. 
What does contentment mean, anyway?  It comes from the Latin, doesn't it?  To hold it all together.
On the second day we hired a charter out to see whales.  This required everyone wake up very very early and schlump into the car.  Just past the point there is a large harbor and soon we were aboard the ship, a big 90 footer with two large pontoons beneath us and a swaying man with an eye patch and a sleeveless Def Leppard shirt under his neon orange windbreaker topping off our watered-down drinks in bright brisk the morning air and announcing a sighting, they rose as if from a dream, lumberous and snoring.
“How deep are we?” 
“Ninety-three feet”


In the town there are shops with chinese trinkets and superglued-shell picture frames, magnets and hats, discount cigars and shot glasses.  I found a bookshop with a book about books, and was looking at pictures of celebrities bookshelves when they sent a kid to find me who said “come eat.” I enjoy looking at other people's bookshelves because they can be as revealing as maps, or those roadsigns like the kind on MASH, 1500 miles to San Francisco, 750 miles to Tokyo, only the directions are all intellectual.
In the town there is cheap food and drink. At 1:30 in the afternoon I found my friends seated at the bar wearing wet rubbery grins and that kind of smug anticipation that comes from putting twenty bucks worth of songs on the jukebox.  Around them were mountains of plates, bowls, half-eaten, and many glasses and bottles.  Their laughter was toxic and leaden.  When the right song came on they danced and she grabbed me.  One could open oneself to the promise of this encounter but it wasn't right.  She was like dancing with a sack of grain. Underwater.  She backed me into a corner as if it wasn't broad daylight and suggested we do things that are best described without talking about.  I suggested, that maybe I'd better double back and take another look at those sandals I liked one more time.  There was a mist of rum about her as she floated off. 
I herded the kids together and took them back to our pad for the rest of the day.  You see, it's lent, so I've been sober.  But if you squint hard enough and you can feel the Saturday tequila bleeding from the cab that brought the rest of the party back into the astringent arms of a lily white dawn. A big sterile moon still up in the sky, probably humming a little song to herself.  I left them on the couch to wake as they were ready.


A note was left announcing that I could be found in town and would be back shortly.  What I didn't say was that I would be going to church.  It's nearing Easter, I feel the pull.   There's a cathedral in the town by the boardwalk, a heap of heavy straight stones that inside was impervious to weather.  The narthex was dark and smelling of incense and disinfectant, but there was an old old woman just inside the door, her face flickering in candlelight, illuminated in prayer.  But prayers in a different language.  This may not matter to God, but to a monoglot like it's it's incantory and strange, familiar enough if only by it's shape within the contours of the Mass.  Mass is Mass, and I still retain a muslce memory of the motions necessary to participate in the process.  I dipped a finger in the font there at the door, and contemplated the notion of  holy water as I slipped silently into a seat in the very back in time to hear the sermon.  Listening to it was like looking at yourself in a photograph from your youth and remembering who took the picture and what they were wearing.  The man three pews forward had his greased hair clasped back with pins.  A little girl and her sister, or mother, wore cobalt blue that reminded me of a tablecloth.  The saints on the walls and pillars looked past us, as if we were hummingbirds wings to them, and I had the sensation of seeing the congregants and myself all as if in a scene from a movie, as extras, the main action elsewhere.  In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.  Outside the sun flared trumpets of heat and light to remind us that it was at 11AM, and the seagulls sang contrapuntals with the church bells, and the sidewalk was decorated with a row of seated ragwearers with outstretched hands, patiently and faithfully entrusting us to have deeply embraced the notion of Christian charity.


One thing I do is stride ponderously up and down the beach looking for sea-shells.  The last morning this was what I rose before dawn to do.  It is not a rational activity, but I do it whenever I am staying by a beach, just as when I am in the mountains I go out of my way in a dedicated search for small coloured stones to line the pocket.  On the beach, one keeps a keen eye out for a kind of stunning pearlescence, which is often pointless because frequently those “rare” shiny finds lose all their lustre later when they dry out.  Still, I trod on,eyes peeled, indulging in a habitual quest, mayhaps a rite of passage. 
Habits are like flies.
I heard a sound on the beach and jumped, it was just an outboard motor heading out.  A few minutes later another, then another still. FIshing time.
I remember the old religion in moments such as this, feeling a presence, hearing a sound on the beach and I remember the old mystic truth, that an inner voice is merely one in a loud cacophany of spirits inhabiting everywhere, and sometimes places out far away you can hear the others the best.  Lonely spirits.  Howling djinns. We tell ourselves that modernity has distanced us from them but really we're not that far away.  Turn off your wifi, your bluetooth, your notifications.  Sleep out under the stars and you'll feel fragile fingers of light from each distant star touch you faintly through the unfathomable reaches to say hi, hey, to tell you their sadness and their truth.

Walking out along the delta of the estuary at receding tide one marvels at the wet blue earth.  I always find myself wondering how far out it will go before it stops, just as, hours later, I find myself wondering how high the tide this time will climb.  The earth breaths it's restless exhalations, then drinks in again and drowns.  Tiny rivulets no bigger than a toenail, tiny mud volcanos the size of a pinky.  I see the cascading patterns in the sand, up and down, up and down, and think of those broad mountain ranges in Nevada with valleys in between, the same thing as this but on a geologic timescale.  The shells are curious remainders, their colours undoubtedly imbued from whatever chemical was most at hand while being calcified.  In a way, you could say that they are nothing more than fishy smelling colorful little pieces of shit, and you wouldn't be all wrong.  The land the sea don't seem to be equal partners in a dance at the beach.  The sea is winning, it always does. Little ragged weeds and blotchy corpses cling to the rocks for a while until they are eventually reclaimed, back into the earth's bloodstream, a pulse of waves.
Back in time for breakfast, coffee, with no one specifically waiting for me but everyone happy to see me.  Our big blended vacation family.  I lay my treasures on the table and the kids marvel at them and then soon forget, distracted by shiner objects still.


Heading home, in the rearview mirror, our teeth all look whiter and brighter, but its just our suntanned skins providing added contrast.  The giant bird is still there on his beam.  Watching, waiting. I wave. We'll all be back at work on Monday and they won't have even noticed we've been gone.
    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
Grand Silences  
07:42pm 10/03/2022
The Masqued Man

The thing was, if we knew each other it was probably based on what dorm we lived in. It wasn't exactly a time for depth in relationships, there were other concerns. What were we going to do, who were we going to be, what was that assignment and when was it due? We knew each other by our majors, or by the color of backpack we wore. We knew each other by what classes we shared, where we sat. Sure, we were making connections, but everything there was encouraging connections. Connect the dots between these historical causations, connect these chemicals, connect this author's themes, connect these numerals, once that fall I stopped worrying about where I was stepping and looked up at the exact moment that a girl was looking up and we looked into each other's eyes and she fell in love with me. This, by way of example, okay? It happened. I was bashful and eager and was less the exception than the rule. Were we making connections that were there to be made or connections that were destined to happen? Could you really know anyone if you didn't even know yourself? One guy I knew only as "Batman" and I even met his parents, but that's a different story.

I recall a guy named Tony, a particularly fine physical specimen in his senior year of college. He wasn't a friend, we never confided nor ever really hung out together, outside of work that is.  Part of that was temperamental, part age.  He was three years my senior, and at 18, as I was, one is vigilantly attuned to the minutiae of social hierarchy as affected by experience, which is like a vast playing field where you can't even fathom the end zones, and you've just milliseconds ago been nauseatingly thrust from the bench.  Age-wise Tony had a leg up, and psychologically speaking he was driven— or maybe it was the other way around, maybe he was a driven individual because he had a leg up age-wise, as I said, we weren't close —I recall his work ethic right up there in the short list of attributes to which I could to ascribe him, he was handsome, kind of a jerk, and I seem to recall multiple people alluding to his reputation as a bit of a man about campus, however, the guy was mostly a mystery to me. How he ended up with Heather I'll never know.

Paul, Business, lived in the dorms about a mile separated from the main campus, behind where I lived, in a block of one-room off-campus private apartments.  Freshman year, having spent a morning alone, again, avoiding the painful realization that I was either going to have to get a job or drop out of school (or ignore the bursar indefinitely, by hiding behind a tree? Not likely, in this  bare winter weather) I was surprised and relieved when Paul called and asked if I wanted to go out for lunch.  I said I did.  He asked if I wanted a ride or wanted to meet him there.  Peaking out of the lone window I could see scattered midmorning snowflakes falling like ash, a salted garbage truck with a big green shamrock wired to the grill slowing to stop at the light.  "A ride would be nice." He was downstairs in 5 minutes. Paul drove his brother's Camaro with both reverence and panache.  He had failed to repair the strip of molding on the door but had souped up the stereo system and made a big show out of selecting the right CD for this particular journey out of the dashboard binder, selecting a primitively sharpied:  Meatloaf/Van Halen/Bon Jovi MIXXXX.  The hot-dog place he wanted to go to was only like 3 minutes away, so we sat and idled in there for a minute to let the song finish then went inside and wiped the snow from our boots, Paul marching right up to the counter to order while I gawped at the menu, "You ready?" he asked, adding "my treat."
"In that case then yes, I'm ready."

"Paul," I broached, "I think I need a get a job."
"You should get one. It'll be good for you.  Lot of work though, being a student and holding down employment."
"Do you think, maybe, you could get me a job at the camera shop?"
He wiped his wiry whiskers thoughtfully.  "No."
"Oh.  Why not?"
Our order number was called out so I got up and got it, four large chilli dogs with fries and drinks on a big red plastic tray.
"Well, for one thing, what do you know about cameras?"
Now it was my turn to strike a thinking pose.  "Not much."
"Exactly.  And add to that, we're not really hiring right now.  It's kind of a small shop."
"I see."
"Tell you what though, my buddy Stewart is always looking for guys to work.  I'll give you his number."

So that was how I got a job at the fertilizer plant, which was where I met Tony.  First day on the job, he said, "put these bags over here, and put these bags over there, and when the pallet is full call one of us over to move it until you're trained on the forklift?  Get it?  Got it?  Good bye." He wasn't exactly friendly.  In fact, I'm not sure he ever spoke to me there again after that.  He spoke at me, which is not the same thing.  I might as well have been a piece of gum on the sidewalk to him.  He worked harder than the rest of us though, this much was clear to even me, who showed up to work my 3 mornings a week often late, and if I could afford it, hungover and dragging.  It was clear to the boss too, who put him in charge of the swing shift, which meant a pay raise, and you can bet that went to his head.  We were never really on the same level, Tony and I.

I worked full time all summer and was feeling pretty good about myself all things considered come fall when my buddy Gary, Education, and I had signed up for the same Dramatic Arts elective, along with Gary's girlfriend Kary, Music, and, it turned out, much to my surprise that first day of class, Tony. We were all sophomores, and so it came as no surprise when our production of Romeo and Juliet cast Tony, the senior, as Romeo. Gary, much to his delight was announced as Mercutio, and Kary was cast as Juliet, angering almost everyone.

What's the big deal?” Kary asked.

The big deal? The Big Deal?” Gary's voice quavered. I checked to see if he was being ironic but I detected only sincere irritation.

It's not like this was my choice.” It was a cool early November evening, and the streetlights came on as we walked across the Quad.

Gary was not to be diffused so easily. “Have you seen him? Don't answer that. Doesn't matter. You're going to see him. A lot of him.” I was carrying my girlfriend's bag because earlier that afternoon we had parted ways and she didn't want to carry it all the way over to her Statistics class and her car was too far away so I took a peep inside and found a Didion paperback called White Album while we came into the student lounge and crashed on a pair of couches.

It's just a part,” Kary said.

It's not just a part” he was gesticulating with his hands now. Working himself up with his arms and raising his voice, although no one was looking, yet “it's not just a play. It's Romeo and freaking Juliet!”

I decided that Didion held nothing of interest for me and got up to go get a snack. Deciding what you like and what you don't like is not difficult. I decided on pretzels, but also a tiny bag of mixed nuts because I felt a sudden craving for peanuts and justified to myself the purchase with the admonishment that if I didn't eat them all right now I could store the remainder easily in my pants pocket and eat them later and be grateful to myself for the foresight.

When I returned to the couch they were still hot on about the casting announcement. “I think,” I added, skittishly, “that congratulations are in order, Kary. Juliet is a much-coveted part. I hope you break a leg, as they say.”

Stay out of it.” Gary jabbed, but this time I could tell that his intent was purely sarcastic. He was just scared. But it turned out that there was nothing to be worried about- Tony and Kary got on about as well as cats and dogs, or, should I say, Capulets and Montagues.

Learn your damn lines, is all.” Tony said one rehearsal and Kary, I could see, about slapped him in the face. He brushed his withered pompador out of his face and prompted her again, “there lies more peril in thine eye than twenty of their words; look thou!”

I would for the world you were not here,” she replied, full ready to give him a black eye.

The thing about a school production was that it was generally terrible, but hanging out with the rest of the cast was that once-in-a-lifetime kind of fun, and Tony and Kary really did, each in their own way, give it their all, despite their personal animosity. Gary's roommate Mark, Economics, started dating Hazel, Mass Communications, who played Juliet's nurse, and that's how we came to know Heather, Hospitality, maybe?, Hazel's twin sister. But that was all later on. In the green room before each of our three performances Tony had established a warm-up routine and subjected the rest of us to (because he was lead) involving turning the portable stereo on full blast and blaring Mamma Mia by the A*Teens and Tony Christie's (Is This is the Way to) Amarillo. I could hear his urine splashing merrily into the toilet we were all supposed to share, “Tony, I uh, I have my CDs with me, could we listen to something else.”

No.” I had to hold Gary back from comitting what probably would have been a justifiable homocide.  Tony did his own makeup. The rest of us guys had the girls do it for us. I would have been mad at his outright dismissal o us had it seemed like a fight worth having, but it didn't. We were all nervous, Tony especcially. For different reasons than I, obviously. Even knowing that I had very little of consequence to do didn't help me, Tony, I figured was best left to his own devices, all those lines. Something about friends and strangers wandering into a crowded room and sitting in the dark to obsessively observe what we had spent five weeks cobbling together. My girlfriend brought flowers but could not stay for the after party, at which Tony made a loud show of shushing everybody by clinking a glass with a fork and proceeding to give a short heartfelt speech about “shaking the yolk of inauspicious stars” by ending his Senior year with this as his high note “so thank you, all of you!” Kary chose that moment to loudly open both double doors and storm out.

There is actually not much more story to tell about Tony. That winter Gary cautiously extended to me the invitation to move in with he and Mark starting Junior year, with three of us we could afford to all get off campus and get some more space in a house. We were pretty much hanging out all the time by then, anyway. Some night's Hazel and Heather would come by. They weren't identical twins, but they were both pleasantly attractive, in both their features and their personalities. Button noses and contagious laughs. It was fun to be around them. Hazel could best anyone at dirty-joke telling, and Heather was everyone's best friend instantly, one of those people who just instantly engender trust. I was drinking lots though, so I'm wanting for actual anecdotes to prove this. What I have is photographic evidence. Here we all are before the after-party, still in our costumes. Here's a blurry one of me and Gary in the dining hall smiling. Here's Paul's older brother's druggie friend Jacob (a kind of omnipresent non-entity) smoking out on the curb while holding an almost-empty bottle of Jack. Here's all of us one night outside Paul's place in the snow, Mark's looking away, his mouth open, arm raised as if to make a point, his eyes half closed, talking to someone, and Batman's hand groping Mona's breast. Here's two of Kary and Gary kissing and pretending to fight. Here we are in the kitchen floor, wrestling? Here I am in the big red chair with Heather on my right looking innocently flirtatious and Kary on my left, making a show of lasciviousness, I am red-faced and have my arms around both of them. We look young. None of us had any idea what would happen next. What happened next was winter break.

While I was home the plants in my small room's lone window had all almost died (almost all died?).
They say that singing to your plants can help them grow,” said Anne D, Psychology, one of Kary's two roommates, whom I'd invited over under the pretext of utilizing her skills as a psych major to discuss the breakup with my girlfriend. She earnestly inspected the brown brittle leaves while humming a sweet little song while I earnestly imagined what color underwear she had on under the jeans, a kind of restlessness. The effect of being newly single was curious, I felt perpetually like hopping one leg at a time instead of walking, for instance. It was both exciting to not know who you were going to talk to on the phone at the end of the day, and also kind of sad and terrifying. What was I doing? I had placed my hands on her shoulders.

What are you doing?” Anne D asked, and I apologized but she was too keen to get out of them to hear anything much I had to say after that. I tried going out with Maureen, from Geology 102, but that blew up shortly before The Valentine's Dance, for which I had served on the committee so I still had to go and serve (non-alcoholic) drinks. Luckily Paul, who was DJing, loaned me his flask so I spiked my single serving cans of off-brand Sprite with sippy tinctures of vodka all night.

When the news came out that spring that Tony and Heather were dating, at first I could not believe it. It was so improbable. Like learning that your pre-teen niece is dating Conor MacGregor. I couldn't check with Tony because Paul's buddy Stewart had suggested I leave the fertilizer plant with him.  So I had done. It was unsubstantiated until Hazel confirmed it when I saw her one day during finals, walking distractedly out of the library. Since she and Mark had broken up I hadn't seen her, so I waved hello and hustled over to join her, then heard myself groaning at the exertion. “Yes,” she said, I studied her face for a sign, of what I was not certain, “it's true.” Her gaze dwelt for a moment on the middle distance, like a trauma victim, but then she wiped some imaginary sleep from her eyes and smiled reassuringly. “Is this year done yet or what?”

Or what.” I answered.

Have you picked your major yet?”

I had not, and it turned out I didn't have to, because the gig that Stewart got me hooked up with quickly went full time and I followed it out of state and so I missed fall registration, or I forgot about the deadline, or at least that was the story back then. Gary and Mark were pissed, since they'd already put a down-payment on the house we were all to share, but I didn't want to to go back, and when they stopped speaking to me it was just that much easier not to. It was Kary who kept in touch and told me that Tony and Heather were engaged.

I thought about it all today because I saw on Kary's friendbook feed that they are having a twenty-year anniversary party next month. Jesus Christ. It was almost twenty years ago, for a few years now, and before that it all had just happened a few months ago. Time is subjective. I still can't believe they got together, and I can't understand what she saw in the guy. But they have two kids and, thinking back it, in a way, it's brave, if one must put a positivist slant to the whole affair. (Are we still calling bravery a good thing, post me-too? Post Putin?  Post post-history?)  What I mean is, choosing anything when you're eighteen, nineteen, twenty, to me, now, trapped here, seems preposterous, but the more I sit and stew over it I can't decide if it's the deciding that's preposterous or the being eighteen/nineteen/twenty years old.

There's a very magic time when, if you are lucky, you will be faced with divine uncertainty, and if there's one common trope inherent to the response to this scenario, facing the endless expanse of possibilities and freedom, it is to wither, to shrink to safety. My God, it's daunting out there under the sun, best cling to this rock and it's shade.  Marriage.  Career.  Get thee from this glare.  I spent hours wallowing and winnowed by the grand silences of solitude in my little room, sometimes not even staring out the lone window trying to figure out which way to go, what to do, who I was, how to be, and Tony, that big handsome talented hardworking asshole met a nice girl and got married and that's what he's been up to ever since. I'm sure that a big part of him making it this far is that she has kept him on the straight and narrow, but maybe I was too harsh on the guy, maybe I didn't see it, the capacity that is. Then again, we weren't ever really friends.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
February Should Be Abolished  
03:58pm 13/02/2022
The Masqued Man

Mirrors should be abolished in February.
Something about everything about me just looks wrong.
Maybe it's the light, or the lack of it because my feet
and legs are so pale. Maybe it's the colder weather that
seems to accelerate my beard growth. Maybe it's
the long dark nights that make me want to get
seconds on cookies and ice cream while binging Netflix
for longer and longer period of time leading to
my gut striking out on it's own and claiming independence.
No one wants to hear any of this, so I write it here

Writing should be abolished in February
and that kind of hum that you hear midafternoon
in your 30 minutes, give or take, of direct sun-
light, that can be the resonant meaning of withheld words
unwritten, unspoken,
struck, a poet's universe
destabilized by the grammar of silence and
the syntax of the unheard- you could
see it
in empty rooms- because if the alternative is
I've been writing in spades in stops and starts
which is crap for quality and forethought
for naught then... then... then my Dad's nurse called
to say that they needed more help and suddenly-
I know it means nothing to you but- I needed to decide

Decisions should be abolished in February
and memory with it. Someone much smarter
than me defined apocalypse as what happens when
order and hierarchy open up to their opposites, to
contradiction, so, by deciding to go help my Dad is this …
it? The end? I remember how my story started, the real one,
the inflection of her voice, the terrible curve of her breast,
my own silence thundering in my ears
as loud as the jet engine. In-flight movies should have
been abolished instead of drinks.  I remember we watched
a show about a brave man saving the day and the world
never knew anything about either the thwarted disasters
each week, nor our hero, and yet somehow their
not knowing was dramatic impetus enough to keep it up
and keep us watching all winter.

February should be abolished this February.
Remember that clip show episode of Community
where all the flashbacks had been made up? February
should be hypothetical like that. Borges often
pictured paradise as a vast library but I harbor a hope
heaven is dive bar that I can crawl into
after a day in which the last of these fucking stories finishes
itself, the words spring to the page and buoy an architecture of awe
all by mid-morning and get my fair daily apportionment of California
direct sunlight and I am just topping off a fancy drink, like a daiquiri,
and it's always just a few quiet minutes before the happy hour rush
and I don't need to get a haircut, and I don't need to lose
about 30 lbs., and I'm texting directions to a woman
who loves me just the way I am so that I can pressure myself to
change and
sabotage that love like a cancer or my Dad,
- when the plane lands- looking sickly and reddened
saying “you look terrible.” Later I'll decide to write this down.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
Ev entua ly (Sidereal) [Lumens]  
01:19pm 10/02/2022
The Masqued Man

yr beaten and burnt
bones orgasming grafiti
fragments, fire, text, sense
-ational mind games a
broach baring this ache
falling from the finished sidereally
sea sheathed in
suprasensual skin she
names a sensitive library staircase stretched
out over auroral existence and
I'm so
Constantly becoming
teeth, flesh, spine —
less tautology than sunpouring
in patient
broad phenomena
perfuming the barriers of language
coolly please real heart,
don't be a bland coat because I will
watch in the closed store windows
Sunday clothed and
constantly casting
shadows built for sex
screaming shapes and
my soul a lonely pillar of song
exclusively passing
trash kisses
riding the bliss of uncertainty
yr pupils help, I suspect
the beaten halves shame a heavy
pity mossed with
rushing, unglued,
unattended I pretended to flesh
out our felt brain
twisting off
any pure grain thought
convulsing, somehow
whoknows wherever
 elsewheres and otherwheres
otheryous and us
music: wherever I Go- Mark Knopfler (feat. Ruth Moody)
    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
03:43pm 27/01/2022
The Masqued Man
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

  • Martin Buber

what we will become waits in us like an ache.”

  • Lucille Clifton

No one knows the way”

  • Tony Scalzo

Feeling like it's time to get out.  I'm ready. I'm through with it. I'm gone. Zip. Where am I going? A room, the church, that tall hotel, a city, the country — I'm going to unhouse, head out, relocate, ramble on, kick the can on down the road, out of here, out of town, outta dodge, like some wandering western outlaw bandit, with 5G wifi and a twitter handle.

It is time to take a breather. Time to give this place some space. Time to coast. Time to take a break, shove off for a bit. Get some fresh air, a change of scene, a change of pace. Time to get going. Time to shake things up. Sow my wild oats. How about an Odyssey, an upheaval? Move on, move out, move on up. Disappear. It feels like I'm ready to pop this cocoon and metamorphose. Gonna beat it, gonna break out, gunna bust, bunna burst and bloom, better run, it's best if I was on my way, good and gone, spreading out, time to go.

I'm yearning for a fresh start, a new lease, a new beginning. It's time to wipe the slate, go back to the drawing board, tabula rasa, square one, a clean sweep. Ready to reboot, reshoot, reload, and restart. It's time to teach this old dog some new tricks.

They say consistency is a spiritual virtue, but maybe they didn't mean sticking with the world of ritual but consistently beginning again? Plus, why stay in a place you don't want to be when you could be happier and do more good elsewhere? I'll admit, it's a loose jointed argument. Not everything fits together, however not making much sense does not mean that I haven't thought it through. I have thought it through. I just haven't been able to come to any other conclusions. Another benefit of distance is hindsight. Maybe I'll see it once I'm gone. One thinks of the pigs, the one living in a glorified hayfield, untedded, who upon suddenly recognizing the piggishness of hiw ways yearns for more material stability and runs squealing to the other, in a mortar-less log cabin, which doesn't hold up to code, thus sending them all oinking along to the third in his ripe brick bourgeois bungalow. Let's huffenpuff and blow those fuckers pork loins until they get it right, sayeth the wolf.

There's a tiny hole in my heart, I feel like I could stopper it with my thumb.
It must be where I'm centered, where you lay me down on the turntable (or, kids, the CD Player) in order to spin me around. But I'm ready to patch the scratches and lay a new groove. Perhaps my hopeful optimism here is evidence-defying. As I said, I'm not thinking it all so much as weighing the feel of the thought. It feels like it's time to move. Let's see where this feeling takes us.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
06:02pm 22/01/2022
The Masqued Man

Uneasily eloquent, it's also

all so forgettable

like a forty-eighth climax, who's counting?

Let's drop a penny in the fountain, watch the bright

staid face wetten and diminish

as an old party photo might, night image

from this distance

our skin, tanned from such surfeits of summer sun,

still smells young, tones

brought out by some nicely whipped aerobic nothings

I remember,

while we hula through these ringlets

of time, I ran after

her and woke up alone beside

an unread (by me) dog-eared library discard of Exile's Return by Cowley.

Man, why can't I just let it go?

Here we are back in the light of a late winter afternoon.

We use lots of words to describe light but do we

ever consider light's feelings?

If the light in this room had a skin

it would need a strong creamy moisturizer.

If the light outside had a fear

it would be a specific twenties flavor of shame and embarrassment

Justice is the obsolescence of smug, w/

school officials on the nightly news who

offer their thoughts on what absences mean, or dareIsay, give face to

the 'voice of absence.'

Be careful, coach said, of drinking more than 12 oz. of coffee,

it will parch you, and alcohol

will warm your blood making it easier to freeze

to death, they managed to chide me about good posture

irreticent administrators, coming home to dirty

dishes in the busted rusted Buick while blasting classic

rock, swells of courage never coming

back, who was it who said

a group of millennials is called a Debt?

Fat plaid wounds plunging into financial thistles.

Austin was never going to work out

for us, luxury rent doesn't grow on

trees chopped and pulped into modern dance and creative writing degrees

I had a photo of her pirouettes in the snow

I wrote a story about the backward guy who remembered his memories of the future

like when you signed up for that student loan

coming down the brick stairs a guy waved me over welcomingly

because he recognized me as my father's son

so back in my car I thought to text Dad and later still

had an interrupted dream

of those untroubled years before I was around

how my father's mustache persisted throughout the late seventies and

all of the eighties.

So far what have we?

The shaggy carpet lining of the universe, rust-red-stained

limestone towers beneath which we smoked cigarettes

and glistening existence a miasma of chaos,

velvet cupcakes, round, friendly fractals

candles burnt at both their ends.

Here we are at the part with the questions

What is a curse? A curse is only an idea.

"Like a vow?" she asked, before she had to leave

a painting on the wall that seems to suggest ownership by a cat lover

I'm here alone, with your stuff

Yours, yours, yours, not ours, I address my letters

inappropriately so it would feel weird to use your name in its entirety.

another unsettled desire, it's true

lately everything is worse, you weren't wrong, or aren't

making it up, it's been a hard winter, exacerbated by the collusion with

your inability to receive love /

my ability to offer

here, I hear you, through radio silence though still going

whole months strong like this in which I used to get wasted,

now wasting time

on President's Day rebates coming in crimson colored boxes.

Where we will keep the relics of our paradise years?

Sourdough golden

oldie Gods, those low

vibrations in your bones, that is your self. The band

wailed long enough that time, depression, stopped, a truly mythic set

and Aphrodite's green-eyes and powder-blue t-shirt,

standing next to you in the supermarket searching

for Shamrock brand Half & Half and new experiences

before freedom ends,

it's ironic that the Greek idea of Sisyphus' divine punishment

describes the typical American's 9-5.

She dreams of a vacuum cleaner that's not broken

Is that or love too much to ask?

What even is love, anyway? Because,

we've been together for a while now and mostly want to be

alone. Don't like listening to talk. I like being asleep

beside you in bed, can we do better or

Is that it? I suppose life sucks

less when showing love

especially when compared to my crunching away at this

solipsistic tirade, the fake contumacious cadence I'd once perfected

like walking in an antiques shop

boil away our hectic lamentations in sweat

and here are are at the part with no safeguards,

most nights I end up down

near the river, something so satisfying in being held

by the water. In many small inconsequential ways

I have fallen into choices that resonate,

a very pleasant low rise life, it turns out that this is true

of most people floating with-

out assurances. How deep

(is the water)? We have no idea.

river rudders and the solid shivering boatlaunch banks of concrete

Hedge your bets, pull your punches, risk little, nothing

wrong with that, in fact there's a lot right in

choosing to follow a life along the well-worn path

family, school, career, why take responsibility for

the madness that is

freedom? It is, as I have pointed out, uneasy

and also forgettable

like all of these things, where'd you get all these things

clothes, books, lamps, picture of the

guy we called brick, what was his real name?

it would feel weird to know or use, now

that here we are, alone,

with your stuff

I never called you but I could.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
09:24am 18/01/2022
The Masqued Man

The gaul of this weather, so sharp.”

In the winter, the mind wanders because the body cannot.”

What's your point in saying this? Are you trying to rub it in?”

I am deleting enticements to travel from my email.”

Yes, stay, says the email server, stay here, with us.”

Not what I meant.”

I know. I tease. Winter is this dizzying tear-sparkled vortex of grief, for me, as you know.”

You speak vaguely, I'd applaud but the sound would be muted by all of this snow.”

Life is so short.”

There's a sacredness to life's shortness. There's a kind of ruefully byzantine meaninglessness that comes from thinking about how I've spent my time so far. I don't have a good enough narrative to encapsulate, and instead of inventing one, all I want to do is travel, get away, I know that story well enough already, it practically tells itself. You look out the window, feeling like you are at a standstill, and stuff goes by.”

We may only be grains of sand in a vast eternal desert but Christ if I'm going to give it all up without first sliding in her DMs.”


She Ameliorates.”

You should point out your redeeming qualities.”

Sure, I'm good looking, and funny. Very very thin-skinned, socially vulnerable, and rigorously irresolute.”

To her. I know you already.”

She seems happier not knowing I'm interested. Plus, I'm enjoying her locus of langour.”

Nice little alliteration you've concocted there.”

Should I write it down?”

I would, but my afflatus is flacid”

Sounds like a medical problem. What's the difference between illusive and elusive?”

One inhabits the margins. Why?”

I'm looking for a word.”

What'd you lose it?”

I never had it.”

Did you try retracing your steps?”

I want a word that will stop her in her tracks.”

Like, break her ankle?”

Like stop her breath.”

With a word? In 2022? I'm not sure what type of bite that worn tooth will bear?”

I think, perhaps your house is full of ghosts.”

No, that's my roommate coming home. Hold on let me close the door.”

Is that a metaphor?”

I don't want him coming in here and trying to show you his gun.”

Do you ever have that feeling that everything you say feels important and everything anyone else says feels stupid, inconsequential?”

You might want to bring that one up with your shrink.”

Because I alternate between that but also when I'm about to speak I'm like frozen in terror that my words won't be liked and so I'm silent, but then I'm afraid I won't be noticed because I'm silent.”

I made a list of all the stuff I need from the pharmacy. Not really though because I stopped when I filled the page.”

So you're going out?”

No, I can't.”


As Sam Evian said 'in America, we cut our drugs and hope for payday'.”

All of history is just one long form of desire.”

Is that like when they say 'our economy is strong' it's just another way of saying 'the rich get richer.,'?”

Or time is nothing but a wet glissade.”

History is a rolling barrel over a waterfall.”

Stargazing is storytelling.”

Did you see that Cracked video where he points out how the Browncoats from Firefly/Serenity were actually the bad guys?”

I feel I must expostulate.”

He had a very convincing argument.”

Negative Five Star Review, on principal.”

What'd you do today?”

I was on campus.”

Any news?”

Everyone was looking at their phones.”

That's what people do now. Which, if you ask me is an improvement over when the whole place smelled like Axe Body Spray and Rohypnol.”

Amelia wore her hair in a bun, and that white frilly jacket.”

I remember the one.”

Regret is a slope.”

That's why I reneg on all my commitments.”

What was it that the Trojans saw in Helen, some kind of allure?”

The birds sang when she walked by, like in a Disney movie.”

The hero's journey takes sacrifice, right? Concessions?”

The only equation worth any salt is dissolution.”

How do you do it?”

I have an inflated sense of personal destiny”

Well, I'm going to message her. Wish me luck.”

Be prepared for rejection. Be careful what you wish for. I was starving once, too, but mine hungers expand now that I am fed. And wear protection. Every accident can lead to parturition.”

I almost wish you hadn't said anything.”

Then forget I said anything.”

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
Achaemenid Millions  
10:38pm 08/01/2022
The Masqued Man

The Achaemenid Billion

The New Year makes such a hubub about getting here, “oh the traffic, the weather,” and then rushes right in as if he owns the place.  The streets, wet. The lights, dim. My feelings, well, my god they feel hurt.  I want to draw in with the short days, curl up and weep, though I am conditioned against it. How are you?

Is asking too little, too late? A new year: think of it as he first chance we've had. Think of it as a story, only, I was hoping that this year you could tell the story, the story of my life, and this time make it make sense?

After finding a book in a box it occurs to me that I’ve been here for eighteen months and haven't got anything tangible to show for it.  My boxes only came out of storage mid-October, filled to bursting with drafts and notes, books and correspondence, a few pictures.  I spent a series of long afternoons unpacking and sorting into the new (used) file cabinet that I bought at the thrift store after reading an article in the Times about how millenials don't know anything about file cabinets and I finally finished today, a full three shelves, A-F, G-L, and M-Z devoted to completions, and a further two to salvageable drafts and notes and the rest bound for the bin atop the bags of rumpled wrappings and a few fruitcake crumbles.  Then, there at the bottom of the last box, Momigliano.

“You can leave. You can go without me you know.”

It's five-thirty by my watch and my watch is right. These moments are best handled smoothly and delicately. “What?”

She marches over and stands braced in the doorframe, her cold hands the color of fish innards, her posture indicating a center a gravity vasillating precipitously out of my orbit. Her stare does it's best Oscar-nominated hostage situation close-up and then she stomps back to her room saying “you are absolutely fucking contemptible.”


“Abs... o-fucking.... lutely ….. con... tempt.... ible!”

In November of 2014 I met a girl, Kelly, (friend, reader, beware the relationship that starts nearest the holidays) we went out twice, went to each other's year-end holiday parties at work, texted through Christmas Day and on New Years she came back to my place, it was this whole party that I had, and we danced around the living room and drank champagne and at midnight we went up to the roof dizzy and watched fireworks at the count of 10 and then held each other, shivering as the firmament of stars swelled back into view behind the explosive smoke and feeling flummoxed, flawed and final we realized that we were unable to continue because that was the end of it, there was no burden or obligation to continue, and to have done so would have been a ludicrous folly, we hugged in the stairwell, watching our breath clouds dissipate, and I got her an Uber home.

Why am I telling you this?

Because it doesn't usually work this smoothly. We don't know that we don't know when it's curtains, and the marking of a new year can serve to help us break from the mold and be truer to ourselves, or, lacking that, our relationships. Throughout the gelid, isolating month of January I often think, with an involuntary tear, of friends far away, even and especially those just a few miles proximate.

How do we even know these people?”

She is trying to figure out how well to dress. I peer around the corner and see her in the bra and panties, applying deodorant, make-up. Given the right light or pheromonic cocktail, on a kind of mammalian level, everyone’s body is beautiful, but also, on a much baser more bacterial level, everyone’s body is also disgusting.

Ed is my friend Paul's brother, from work, and his wife Susan we met at the thing this spring.”

Silence. I am already dressed, perusing the year's best photographs in the National Geographic. I savor a thoughtful silence like she craves thoughtless noise.

What thing?”

I try to remember the name. I know we had this exact conversation yesterday but to point that out would be asking for trouble.

Momigliano's thesis regarded the ancient Greeks and their failure to engage with their neighbors linguistically. Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Coptic, they not only did not bother to learn, happy to maintain their prejudice for Greek culture, but they often relied on false or erroneous understandings that led to thwarted military or political ambitions which would have been easily remedied.

I understand, a little too well.  Our neighbor, for most of this year, has felt the need to set off commercial grade fireworks, in a suburban residential area, long after midnight, and days proximate to major holidays, thus superceding any of our or our dogs needs for sleep.  After a day to simmer my tension I went out on for a little investigation on Monday, and, if my interlocutor is the honest-man I take him for, it turns out whomever is setting off the illegal fireworks is doing so from a vacant lot behind the (no longer) suspected neighbor's property.  When I asked what the deal is he says that that guy says that he's shooting them at the “drones that follow him” and apparently the “CIA sent them.”  Hard to rationalize with a man such as this.

It gives one pause.

I'm tired, something about the shorter days makes me introspective, and when I am introspective on long dark nights I get sleepy. What is this even about? There's this darkness that resides behind my warm eyes and I can sense the cold soil wanting to wrap itself around me.  Do you ever stop and consider how little time we have left? What do we have to show for ourselves, for our time here? The transition was a little too smooth from young virile promise to calloused hands seized within the grip of poverty.  I can't help but speculate that noble works have been wrenched from me by a daily churn for bread, and when quick stomachs empty and old backs ache, and we tire, those monumental thoughts as Sissman said, are the “great august canvases, now locked away.” Having spent so much time rushing toward life only to find ourselves rushing away from it what can we do?  This corporate age rotates on a news cycle and there isn't any time to reflect, to feel, to respond.  There's just time enough to fear, and then move on to the New Thing. We haven't evolved for this, this big empty life leading steadily, one CAPTCHA at a time, to a big empty afterlife.

I checked the clock on the dash, 7:25.  She hopped down the steps in her heels and got in the passenger side. ‘Oh . . . shit,’ she said, and then she hopped back over to the doorway and disappeared again.

When I first moved in, and before that even, when I'd come to visit, I’d set up in the sun-room, with a beer or a soda to watch the evenings fall. A small, sunny-room with an old wooden desk, just eyeing the shadows out there to the east and the fiery oranges turning to purples in the west. In the summer you can hear the traffic sounds but it's never busy, even when it builds for the rush, I'd revel in royal respite, and if she was still at work I'd wait until she'd arrive, hair frizzled from the ride, wheezing slightly from the walk up from the corner. Sometimes if there was still enough light, and it wasn't rainy, and she wasn't too tired, we'd walk together to the park, holding hands.  There we could rehearse our bird watching for that trip to the lake we've been talking about forever, delight in the debonair dogs, I would talk about growing up on the farm, playing in a vast country. She liked to hear about me when I was small. On days where she was too tired, or it was rainy, or it was dark I'd hear her jangle the keys, hang up her purse clutched tightly under one arm, and on Fridays, set down the bottle which she'd gripped by the neck from the corner store, still wrapped tightly in its striped plastic bag.

I have to be careful.  Lately I find she'll shout something I can't hear so I ask 'what?' in my normal voice, demonstrating my disdain for loud meaningless noises, and she repeats the same thing in the exact same tone and at the exact same volume making it equally as impossible to understand as the first time. When she starts to talk to me and I'm not in the same room I find it best to get up, no matter what I am doing, and go to her, rather than expect her to bring her query to me. This changes the medium, but I still have to be careful, because my snarky responses to her innocuous questions betray a deep and derisive disdain, often painting me more antipathic than I intend to present myself.  One should always react to the words, not the tone, with the words, and not with a tone.

“Did you check the address?”

“Yes.” A technically correct but functionally useless response because she's not asking me if I know where we are going she's telling me she's nervous that it's taking so long to get there and we'll be late, and judged. It's 8:45 and we are slowly wending up and down a neighborhood across town with which neither of us have any familiarity in the daylight, let alone in the pitch dark.

“And you're sure it's this street?” When I find the house, and I'm sure it is the house, it must be, all the lights are off, street parking is readily available, “I thought you said it was a big party,” she quavers, so I offer to get out and check.

There on the dark door I hold up my phone to illuminate a hand-writ apology :


Unlike their Greek forebears, turn the history books forward a few pages and the Romans had learned to not only read but think in Greek, and they used this knowledge to both advance Hellenistic conquest and consolidate Italy. Momigliano says that they also took time to learn about Parthians, Jews, and Celts, conquering the latter two and maintaining detente with the former.

Climbing the stairs at home at about 10, I untucked my linen shirt, feeling sweaty from the car ride, and, I confess, I flushed, watching the nice way her curves ascended the steps, her still- damp hair already starting to flatten out, her arms, coming out of the jacket, mmm. Sometimes it is a strange liberating relief to be home. Another day's bitter ending betrayed by lasciviousness. Happy New Year.

Today she stuck her head in while I was knee deep in paper-sorting.

“Hello,” she said, “what's all this?”

“Just detritus. I'm sorting things.” I stood up and took the trash out. She was still there when I came back, she had her gym clothes on, her mouth slightly open, mulling.

“Are you going to leave it like this?”

“No, I'm just puttering. I'll get it all up.”

“You should open a window in here.”

“I did, but it was too cold. You can open it, if you'd like.”

She high-stepped around me to permit in a bit of fresh air, but realizing it was cold she closed the window again and that's when she picked up the last box and leafed through the sheafs.  One could ignore this, permit it, object. I, instead, inquired, “anything good?”

“I’m not really allowed an opinion, am I?” she said.

“Of course you are.”

Allowed, okay, but my opinion’s worthless.”

“I never said that.”

“No. You're right. You didn't But you don't listen to what I say.”

“You don't tell me anything about them. What do you think of my stories?”

“Honestly?” she smirked, “I think they're all lousy.”   We both laughed. She reached into the box and found the Momigliano there in the bottom.

Thing is, there's a reference in there to the Achaemenid Empire, no footnote though, so I had to look it up. Turns out the Achaemenid was around for several hundred years, at least as long as the United States, and it encompassed a populace of some thirty million people, and I'd never heard of it. If those Achaemenid millions can go forgotten...

I got up and went to the kitchen to wash my hands, getting all the dust out from under my nails.  Then I got us some drinks and we sat together in the sun-room, me in the chair, and she on my lap.  The sun didn't ever really come out today, but we watched it set beneath the heavy clouds anyway, just kind of dawdling in the atrium of this new year while it decides whether or not to invite us in.

I clasped my hands around her waist. “ You smell nice,” I said.

    Bust a Nut - - Flag - Link
Morn Shakespeare  
08:09pm 21/12/2021
The Masqued Man

“But at last the quiet water of the night shall rise,
And our skin shall see far away, as it does under water.”

-Robert Bly

Woke up Horny. This is normal. Just another phantasmal dream waxing brightly into late autumnal light and the kind of bite to the air that proves without a doubt that winter is no longer just a concept but in fact as imminent as another day, which it, now, is. Quick. Get dressed. You're running out of time to craft the kind of life you always hoped you’d live.

There are things you hear, like the sing-song screech of the brake lines on a garbage truck, then the throaty rumble when it really comes around to your bite of the block. The pluck of a guitar just barely in tune. The roar of a crowd from outside a church or a stadium, or a theatre. I miss crowds. There's a thin flying insect in the window screen. Lost, lost. A pedal steel droning oriental style over the hi-fi. You can consider your options for minutes, hours, days, or years, but you're not getting any younger.

Woke up Horny. This is the animal way. Plants with thin sharp pointed leaves prepare for the oncoming tsunami of global warming with an entirely unadvantageous adaptation. What are you going to do, there in the south-facing window, prick and stab climate change to death? We want the impermanent to be permanent, the bread not to perish in the plastic wrapper, the earth never to spoil, the seas never to boil. All words reduced to primal vowels, with the lights off, all proportions manifest a kind of fricative ecstasy. The Good Life is a constructed house of cards, cards made of thick waxed paper and blown away at the slightest blow, a neighbor come to the door to ask if the kids can come out and play. Sashay.

Woke up Horny. This is natural. One of the many forces and forms, rippling appelations of energy and matter, the sting and the welt. My hands are folded together, the clock ticks on the wall, the thermometer takes the temperature of the room inertly, the dog bounces and wines, it's snow, falling. Willa Cather refused to write prefaces to her books. Wordsworth wandered the wetmoorlands because, as eerie as exile is, it is offset by return, or at least the possibility of a return. See what he meant was “everything we consume infiltrates our psyche.” Precarious, sanity. Name six brands of Australian barbecue sauce and win a prize behind door number three. With historical imagination replaced by digital textual exegesis, we stare off into the murdered middle distance and receive messages, U Up? and other subtle discourses and philosophical scrutinies. Don't be rash.

She had two bucks and I had a five so we bought two tall boys at the Seven Eleven and a got the boy to slip me a packet of Camel Blue to split out in the Bronco. Don't smoke in the car, cept when it's cold, 's the rule, with all our stuff that didn't get lost in that friggn storage unit sitting in garbage bags under the dome in the back. The fingers of dawn meddling in on the moody night's domain around the tan room in the tan house in a tan town where we hunker. Woke up horny but this is not unusual in the slightest. In fact, I'll do it again tomorrow. Fuck.

Geographical sensitivity is interwoven into our DNA, spatial awareness ain't sophistication, it's colloquialism.

Woke up horny. The old bird powering up with his head to take a peek out of the nest, swooping swiftly swish swoosh swash through the valley still dewkissed and garish. How hard his beak, how weak the worm, later. Old Paul Simon's Slip Sliding Away as a cosmological constant. Thumb through this thronged whiporwhill life long enough and you'll see the lush scenes of jungles foliage up meltiulous, drawn in recurring recumbant hand by our jesting animator/creator and just as quickly you'll find that you have missed just about everything. Animated creator (did he just use foliage as a verb?  It's foliate, right?)

Those thousand old women placating in mirth and marveling at the shapes that life takes, lives take: "have you seen where I put my-- nevermind" whose contemporaries pass away. In the aftermath of their demise, we summon up memories not just to give shape to their lives, but also to better understand our own. The moments that take prominence in our memories are those that are linked to our self-concept, our ur-story.  Hungering for her company. Pining and smiling. Do I ever cross your mind? A very specific and hoary daydream regarding the heft of her breastbone naggingly forgotten. I thought of her arms, her nose, it was, truth be told, unconventional.  Tastes are fickle like that, like desire, like my sense of humor, not for everyone. An evolutionary safegaurd. Not it!

Woke up horny. This is sanctioned. Like the king's mirror, Canaan's own sea, the Sasu of Yhw enclave, the Empire of Doubt. Regarding the raw news in the paper Dad said, the sun comes up and the sun goes down. He found a shady grove free from the skies pregnant with possibilities and went away there. Waking up horny in this little ill-gotten umiverse is a kind of confirmation. Here in the season of sulpherine quiet, the real deep drink life begs at the fringes of its retinue. There's a blue cave beneath the sea of pain that encircles some distant moon, with methane dripping off the stalagmites, and ungainly alien creatures lurching around, their nervous systems entirely wrapped around their digestive tracts, no skin, and their fumbling brutality is a kind of Hidalgan shrugging, what? You expected the lords zeal? Eat up, it's cold and our Lord is generous, tell us a nostalgic story.

Woke up horny.  This is it.  My suspicion is that I am not myself, that I am the small voice of a tall man who is the fullest possible consciousness remaining calm and silent while I rage and charge through my feelings and life. Show tranquil compassion to those I have wronged or by whom I have been wronged , and hope you will stand tall still when I am gone.

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