Beelzebubstomp

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My dreams are usually gone as soon as I wake up, but from last night’s selection, I was able to salvage this line.

To die in the city
Never ending
As a river of garbage.

It was supposedly from a David Bowie song, but after doing a Google search, I found out no such David Bowie line exists. I don’t remember anything else about the dream, but the line seems almost poetic. Almost. I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt a great line of poetry. But I did once dream a great poem. Unfortunately, it’s contents were gone when I woke up in the morning, but I did remember the ornate, stream-of-consciousness style it was written in, which turned out to be a big influence on some of my future works. Like this poem I wrote in 2009, first published in A cappella Zoo, and also in their Best Of anthology. It can also be found in my prize-winning (don’t ask what prize or by whom) poetry collection Hallucinogenic Dragonfly Intermezzo, available here.

Beelzebubstomp

In rosedusk, when the sky is littered with crows; when all the world’s mad and mulish brutalities abound and you’ve scrapheaped hope and your soul’s hiding somewhere in the cracks of your sofa; if your mirror makes rank complaints about the face in it, and you feel like every crumpled lottery ticket in the world, hang your name on a cliché. It’s not a question of whichwhat or rightwrong, whywhere or whether the rightbrain seizes what the lefthand knows. The elephant will never shuffle out of the room for you, and wounded is the color of its languor. For this unspooling, precisely not improbable lie, which is life, it’s a question of posies and perpetual changelings. Blueruin and a borrowed dialect, the drowsy rings of Lethe. It’s not a question of whether or why the ghosts grieve in trees of the evening. The cruel ornaments of spring; bells, halls, mills, hells, lovers frisking up the peachblue cobblestones of Montmartre. Occidental neopreacher’s goatfooted rooftopspeeches warmed with the bluidtinged fruitwine of hate. Nightornoonday, spirits in graveyards coalesce, polliwogs girdlehurtle. Is that a merely man or mostly a noun? It’s not a question answerable by the mouth of any cyberterranean quasidemocracy, or that which sells off its own superficial “ideals” as if they were a bundle of flameretardant socks. Simply certainly yes certainly quite yes commonly understood, the wherefores and the ways the world suffers under the weight of the same old unrealities. Down at the heel and up against the wall, over the hill and under the gun. The lusty living things, lovethighs and paltryprinces, meager matter whirling chaotic. It’s not the answer, but the question eternal: when your nightdreams lose their dances, will the djinns still sing for you?

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Hangovers, Sheriff’s Work Days & Life as a Movie Extra

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After feeling ill for two and a half days, I am finally beginning to sweat. I almost feel human. This is the second illness I’ve had in a little over two weeks, and both were preceded by a massive, skullcrushing hangover. It’s true. It’s been scientifically proven. The older you get, the worse the hangovers get. I remember when I was 20, in Tallahassee, and I got arrested for having a fake ID. I did three sheriff’s workdays in a row one weekend, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and stayed out drinking every night before until 3 a.m. I got 9 total hours of sleep that weekend, and it barely made a difference. I had all the energy I’d ever need to walk along the hot, punishing highway all day with my poker, stabbing trash and filling up the bag. Yup. I did that. It was a group of us, and there was a guy, a frumpy old man of about 60, who would load us up in his truck and drop us on the side of the highway. Then he’d drive a couple miles ahead, park under some tree and wait for us to arrive. When we got there, he’d let us take a break in the shade and would talk to us about pyramids. He thought they were created by aliens. He had all kinds of outlandish theories, and would stand there in front of us, his feet astride, a lock of silver hair in his eyes, armpits moist with sweat, body wriggling like a Bobohizan shaman as he’d spout, and prate, and totter off. We pretended everything he said was perfectly credible and reasonable, and kept feigning curiosity, egging him on with questions and counterpoints and counterpoints to our counterpoints. Anything to keep the conversation going so we wouldn’t have to go back out on that bleak highway with our pokers.

I should start getting ready for my background acting gig tonight. I always bring something to read or do because as an extra, there’s always a lot of downtime. In fact, it’s almost all downtime. You sit there in your costume drinking bad coffee out of a Styrofoam cup, nibbling at flabby, misshapen rolls, reading, writing, drawing, talking to other background actors. They’re mostly Germans, but I’ve also worked with Americans, Scandinavians, Ukrainians, Tibetans, Jamaicans, so forth. It’s usually a really diverse crowd, and everyone’s always, almost without exception, very kind and friendly, humble. I guess you have to be humble being an extra,

“A man should know his own
measure
In great things and small alike” ~ Juvenal

sitting in there in your ill-fitting monkeysuit, doing it for minimum wage.

Still, I like it.

It’s much better than poking trash all day on some endless Florida highway. And I don’t ever want to be 20 again. I don’t care how bad the hangovers get.

Fashion Plate

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Last night, at the costume fitting for my role in a German film as spectator at a concert in the year 1992, they dressed me up in the most absurd trappings. I’m not even calling them clothes. The jeans were off-brand, loose about the waist, skintight around the hips and flared and baggy everywhere else. The shoes were hobnailed and stiff as canoes. The shirt and sweater and jacket looked like something conceived in the bowels of some dim-lit, dirt-floored Cambodian sweatshop.

“Feast your eyes! Glut your soul on my accursed ugliness!” ~ The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

And then I was sent up to hair and makeup where they gave me a middle-part, plastered my bangs to my temples like Shemp from The Three Stooges, and superglued this hard, bristly mustache to my lip that made smiling impossible. Now, I’ve had mustaches before. I had this fake one for a movie I did a couple years ago. And this real one in 2012. But nothing compares in atrociousness to the thing they adorned me with last night, not to mention the get-up. Never have I looked in a mirror with so much caution. “Are you sure I’m not playing a pervert of the Otis Toole variety?” I wanted to ask. Well, we’ll find out Friday night. Hopefully they don’t arrest me on the set. I would.

Human Prop Blues

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Monday afternoon, the curtains thrown open.
Crows clinging to bare autumn branches.
Golden pinches of fog floating filthily
in the thickening air.
And as sit here in my flat fighting off
the remnants of a two-day hangover
with a warm glass of apple cider vinegar,
the room circles with shadows.
Footsteps of my upstairs neighbors tread the floors.
Juvenal’s voice echoes
in glittering rings through the centuries,
whirls around my head.
Monday afternoon, and soon I will cart my unemployed
ass to Studio Babelsberg to get costumed
for a role in a German film.
Background acting. Human Prop Blues.
Minimum wage and the pneumatic
sofa beds
of Juan Ponce de León.
I get out of my chair and stretch in the center
of the room,
feel the prick
of an Africanized killer bee in my back,
remember how I was once young.
Now my life is plastic. “(Gort!) Klaatu barada nikto.”
~ The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
I move through the shadows,
pull the curtains shut.
The darkness deepens.
A mandolin burns. Monte Hale está muerto.
The poetic power of a tortoiseshell.

Ale, Pork Scratchings and Juvenal

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Erica had given me £10 and directions to a bar I could go to while she rang church bells for an hour. The bar was just off Brick Lane in London, and when I got there I ordered a large ale and a package of pork scratchings. The bar was crowded, but I managed to get a table at the front. I sat down, got out the copy of Juvenal’s The Sixteen Satires I’d just bought at a second-hand bookstore and started to read. I was kind of reading. Mostly I was drinking my ale and eating my pork scratchings and eavesdropping on the three Americans sitting at the table to my left. The bar was loud, so I could only hear dribs and drabs of what they were saying, usually something accompanied by the term ‘like’ or ‘Oh my God,’ or ‘No way.’ They were two young women and a young man and I suspected they were grad students, and that their parents were paying their way to be in London. They started talking about Family Guy, and then some other TV show, getting into all the details of a certain episode. What ever happened to real life? I thought. Must everyone live through their TV screens and iPhones? Facebook was the next subject brought up. Feeds, unfriending people, sharing, all that. I closed my ears to them and went back to my book, still only kind of reading. I was mostly thinking about a machine that needs to be invented. A Rube Goldberg-style chute that a man slides into and every twenty feet or so he’d fall in a room where he’d be drugged and clubbed and brainwashed by public opinion, current events, social media, sitcoms with laugh tracks, gossip pages, political rhetoric, Hollywood movies with guns and violence and crass Harvey Weinstein gross-out humor, and so on, and so forth. It would only take about a half hour to make it through all the rooms and chutes, but the drugging and clubbing and brainwashing would be so thorough, it would be as though he’d spent several years in it. And everyone would turn out just like the people to my left.

Yes, the idea seems pretty goofy now, but as I sat there drinking my ale and munching my pork scratchings it felt like I was onto something. I guess the main point is that people nowadays seem so far-removed from the earth, and nature, and so contaminated by mass communication that they’re not even themselves anymore. They never even had a chance to be. And yet they talk about authenticity – so many of them do – as if they have it, when really they’re just like every other Justin, Zach & Sally, cogs in some big promotional money wheel, spinning round and round, crushing every earthworm and flower that springs up in front of it.

“Posterity can add
No more, or worse, to our ways.” ~ Juvenal

Later, after I’d finished my beer and got another, a fat white bar cat with a brown spot on its back crept across the floor and jumped up on the chair on the other side of my table. I reached across and started stroking its coat. Then one of the girls from the table to my left came over to pet it, and we started talking. She was from Boston and her friends were from New York. I said I was from Florida and the other girl laughed and said she felt sorry for me. Then she told me about all the Applebee’s that were in my state that transformed into nightclubs afterhours. They’d been talking about it among themselves earlier, and then I started talking about some of the craziness that goes on in Florida.

I said: “If you read a newspaper article about a life insurance salesman on meth grocery shopping in nothing but lime green tube socks, you know it happened in Florida.”

They all laughed and soon we were talking about the sad state of things in the US, and I started realizing I kind of liked them all. I didn’t want that. It was too easy. It was much better seething about them, hating them, shoving them through my imaginary Rube Goldberg Contraption. Luckily, before I could get to know them too well, Erica showed up and we headed out. I blew the cat a kiss goodbye.

Travel: My Berlin to London Story

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It wasn’t that I was being particularly nosey. The petite young woman in front of me in the security checkpoint line was holding her iPhone right up to her face, and I had a clear shot over her shoulder. The text jumped out at me. She was reading a long block of blue text she’d just gotten from someone who was telling her how he was toxic to himself, and there was talk of therapy and self-help books and so forth. And then came the accusations. Trust had been broken. She’d stabbed him in the back. She was a wretched, terrible, depraved human being and Karma – it would get her. I stood there reading, thinking about how cute and innocent she looked compared to what the text was asserting. And then she got called to the other checkpoint and I threw my stuff on the conveyer belt and went on through.

I sat down in the boarding area and faced the tarmac. Standing in front of me just to my left were two middle-aged American businessmen, both with cropped hairdos and scientifically manicured goatees, talking about investments and global strategy, using terms like ‘bang for your buck,’ and ‘paradigm shift,’ and ‘drinking the Kool-aid,’ and ‘come to Jesus moment.’ Their conversation had a very sane and reasonable tone. They were talking about what they knew about, what they felt a womb-like comfort with, what titillated the will and fed the bone marrow and intestines: money. There was a raw power and elemental force in the thing. Standing there with their loafers flat on the floor, their soft white hands fluttering about, the subject never wavering. “As if,” I said to myself, “they’re going to start talking about tulips or Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (pictured above).”

It was now time to board.

I got in front of the line, got checked through and made it to my row before anyone else. I threw my backpack in the overhead. I sat down in the middle seat, put my seatbelt on and opened Sherwood Anderson’s The Egg and Other Stories, wondering who’d be squeezed in around me. I didn’t want to look up to see whoever it was approaching. They might read the dread or disappointment of seeing them in my features. Or vice versa. No, best to keep your head buried in Mister Anderson, I thought.

Sometimes he pounded his fists on the table in the chop suey joint. A string of oaths flowed from his lips. Sometimes tears came into his eyes.

 “How ya doin, man?”

It was an American in his fifties with glasses and long blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. I said hello and he eased into the aisle seat next to me. Then I thought about his greeting. It seemed rather casual considering that he had no idea if I even spoke English. Well, I thought, we are going to London, and we are flying British Airways, and all the attendants on the plane are speaking English. He’s probably just reveling in the fact that now, after having spent too long on German soil wrestling with the German language and feeling inferior because of it, he’s in a place where English once again reigns supreme. It means he too reigns supreme.

Someone behind us was saying something to someone about buying vodka tonics and my co-traveler spoke up. “I’ll take one,” he said. He then lifted his little leather case on his lap and began fumbling through it. I thought again about his greeting. He’d addressed me as man. Is that not very American? I know a German whose English is poor, but he always uses the catch-phrase ‘Hey maaaaan,” which he said he learned from some American servicemen living in Berlin before the wall came down. Man. I think the word actually puts a wall up, implying unspoken societal norms and expectations, especially when two men who don’t know each other well use it on each other.

In my twenties, I lived for a while in a small apartment with a friend from high school who’d recently become a cop. Let’s call him Frank. Frank had a flattop and a mustache, like most cops. And he loved the word man. Not only did he use it as a form of address quite often, the items he’d purchase always seemed to have the word man in them. He had an Ironman watch. He ate Hungry-man frozen TV dinners and Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce and had an assortment of Craftsman tools. And if he didn’t love the band Manfred Mann, he should’ve. Frank was a good-hearted fellow, but if you ask me, he was too hung up on proving he was a man. Was it because he was homosexual, latent or otherwise? I liked to think so, even if it wasn’t true. He was more interesting that way. It made him somehow better.

All the seats on the plane seemed to be occupied except for the window seat to my left, so I undid my seatbelt and told the American next to me I was going to move into it and stretch out a little.

“Go for it,” he said. “You’re not offending me.”

The plane took off, ascending out of misty Berlin, through the clouds and up into the clear and sunny skies. Then we leveled out, the seat belt sign came off, and every once in a while I’d glance over at my co-traveler to see what he was up to. At first, he was looking at some photographs of himself and a woman and a little girl. Then he slipped the photographs back into the manila envelope he’d got them out of, and a laptop was produced. He opened it, called up a document with words on it, and a bar graph in the middle, and began looking it over. It made me wonder what he did for a living. He seems like kind of a free-spirit, I thought. An arrogant free-spirit. He’s probably self-made, owns his own business. Probably a successful one. Something in IT. I wonder how long he’s been in Europe. I wonder where he’s from. I’m going to guess Florida. The long blond ponytail, the casual arrogance – that’s Florida. Probably South Florida. I went back to Sherwood.

To get it in some way down, something felt.
A man was too much in a cage – in some way trapped.
A man got himself trapped. All this business of making a living.

Mark – I found out later my co-traveler’s name was Mark – spoke up when the flight attendant rolled up with her drink cart.

“Is this stuff free?” he asked, kind of rudely.
“Only the water’s free.”
“I’ll take a water,” he said.

He pulled down his tray table, put his laptop away and produced a book. The title of it was Red Army Faction Blues. He began reading, sipping his water. About five minutes later, he’d finished the cup, and got tired of reading. He put the cup and the book on the seat between us, lifted his tray table and dozed off. Bastard. I could never sleep on planes. Well, I wasn’t tired anyway. I continued with Sherwood.

A little while later, we flew over the English Channel, then started into our descent and Mark woke up. He picked up Red Army Faction Blues and put it on his lap.

“Where you from?” he asked.

I told him Florida. He was from Florida too, as I’d suspected. Hollywood, Florida. Born and raised. But he’d been living in Berlin with his wife, a German, since 2006, and was now going back to visit one brother in Colorado and the other in San Antonio.

“Do you miss the States?” I asked him.

He said he did. He said Americans were much more friendly than Germans. “You can talk to them just like we’re talking now. It’s easier. Plus I miss the backyard barbecues and the Mexican food.” We then started telling each other our backstories, though I never asked him what he did for a living. Mostly I talked, and pretty soon we were flying over the city of London. I got my iPod out my pocket, looked out the window and took this photo of the Thames.

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I didn’t miss the States.

No, that’s not true. I sometimes did. I missed the Florida beaches, the Keys. I missed the Mexican food. I missed the comfort of familiar surroundings and familiar people. People I knew through and through. My people. I did miss them. But in another way, they’d gone so deep in my soul – all the pain they’d brought me, their laughter and love – they were never very far away. They were what I was made of and there was no escaping them.

But all these miles away – here, there was something else. A feeling of newness still. Something undeveloped or waiting to be born or found out.

I looked out the window as the plane came down into busy Heathrow Airport and the wheels touched the ground. What am I even doing here? I asked myself. This isn’t real. Not the beautiful young British woman waiting with her mother for me in arrivals. Not my four-year-old son back in Berlin, nothing. None of this is real. I should be doing what I’ve always done. I should be 4,400 miles from here in an oily little shop in a mad little Florida town renting out construction equipment. Shouldn’t I? Wasn’t it always supposed to be like that for me?

I consulted Sherwood Anderson and his story For What?

What was the use? He had wanted to say something he’d never be able to say. “I’m a shipping clerk in a lousy warehouse and I’ll always be just that, nothing else.” It was a child’s rage in a grown man. He picked up the canvas on which he had been at work all day and threw it far out into the stream.

London Town

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It’s 8 a.m. and I am in a little room in a little house in a little village called Laleham that’s just outside London. I am here visiting Erica, who’s about ten feet from me still sleeping in bed, and the rest of the house is silent. Erica’s parents live here too, and they are also sleeping. I haven’t had my coffee yet. I don’t know why I’ve tried to write before I’ve had my coffee, but I can’t sleep anymore.

The room that I am in – Erica’s bedroom – looks a lot like I imagine it did when she was 12 years old. There is a doll house on the dresser behind me, and a pile of stuffed animals on the floor. There is a piggy bank on the bookshelf to my left along with lots of other doodads a 12-year-old might possess. The wine rack and her books, however, tell a different story. I’m seeing all kinds of dry historical tomes, and Dickens, Dumas, Dante, Hugo, Orwell. I even see a copy of my novel, Fortuna Berlin. Let it be known we first got together after she read my book. The book didn’t scare her away, in other words. Which is strange because I thought if the book didn’t accomplish anything else, it would at least succeed in scaring women away.

I have a good story to tell about my flight over here. I was composing it in my head while it was happening, but to tell it properly would take more time than I have right now. It’ll probably have to wait till I get back on Wednesday. In the meantime, my battery’s beginning to die, people are beginning to stir and I need to get some coffee in me. I’m feeling as glum as the London weather right now.

“This melancholy London – I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.” ~ W.B. Yeats

A Trip to the Berlin Gemäldegalerie

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After several days of rain and gloom, the sun was finally out so I decided to walk there. It took about an hour. On the way, I noticed several felled trees and downed branches. Apparently, hurricane-force winds passed through Berlin last week but somehow I missed it, probably because my flat is in the back of my building and faces a large greenspace and parking lot surrounded by several other buildings that protect the area from high winds. I just thought it was a windy day. I didn’t find out until the next day that the storm, called Xavier, killed seven people, eighteen flamingos at the Berlin Zoo, and grounded flights, and knocked out service on scores of train and subway lines. Like I say, I was oblivious, most likely lying in bed reading Virgil’s Aeneid and listening to Vivaldi’s Concertos for Bassoon.

It was about 4 p.m. when I got to the museum, which meant I had two hours before closing to peruse their vast slew of 13th-18th century European paintings. As it turned out, two hours wasn’t enough. Three would’ve been perfect. But I can always go back. I have a yearly pass to all the big museums in Berlin that’s good till December. Unfortunately I’ve hardly even used it.

So, after showing my pass and walking down the steps into the main dim-lit hall of the gallery, a feeling of warmth and ecstasy arose in me. I hadn’t been in the Gemäldegalerie for several years and now I was back again mingling in the same space as the lofty and intoxicating spirits of the grand Old Masters. I walked down the long dark hall and into a well-lighted wing with paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Here I found works by Aert van der Neer, and Peter Paul Rubens, and Frans Hals, and best of all Rembrandt. Rembrandt never lets down. He’s my favorite of all the Old Masters, and it was easy to see why as I stood in front of his Joseph Accused by Potipher’s Wife.

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Or The Preacher John the Baptist.

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Or this self-portrait of the young genius.

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But sometimes I wonder how much more we get out of seeing paintings like these in a museum than we do through our own investigations in a book or on the internet. Is there really that much of a difference between the real thing live and a blown-up image, or is it just some misguided habit of thinking or romanticism that makes us think so? Maybe it’s just that I haven’t done enough painting or paint-study to distinguish the important and nuanced differences. But I can’t help questioning. I also question those hordes of people who are always telling me how much better it is to listen to an album on vinyl than on CD or via YouTube. Personally, I like the convenience of being able to change tracks quickly without having to get out of my position of comfort, and I don’t feel the need to touch the cover or sleeve or album with my fingertips for the listening experience to be enhanced, as some have argued to be the case.

As I write this, I’m listening to J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Lute on YouTube, and am trying to imagine it being played on a record in the corner of the room. Maybe it would lend a special something to the ambience and feeling in the room, but I guess I’m too hung up on practicalities and the cheap and easy way.

So be it.

At 5:45 p.m., an announcement came on the speaker that the museum would be closing very shortly. The time had flown by. I looked over the Dürers I’d been looking over for a few more minutes, wondering if the etheral bluish-green backgrounds in his portrait paintings (see above) were an influence on Van Gogh. And then I left, promising myself I’d be back very soon.

The sky was a deep majestic blue and the temp cool and delicious when I got outside, but I didn’t feel like walking all the way back to Neukölln. Standing in a museum for two hours straight while musing sucks something out of you. I walked to Potsdamer Platz and caught the bus. I was the last one on. In fact, I almost missed it. I had to knock on the door just after the driver closed it. Luckily, he wasn’t like the driver in my German Punctuality poem. He let me on and as I walked past him I groped my pockets as though I were looking for a ticket. I wasn’t. I knew there was nothing in my pockets and he probably did too, but he didn’t say anything. I walked down the aisle, and just before I sat down the bus started moving. It was pretty empty. It felt good to be coasting along.

Poem & Sketch – Hochzeit, or First Night in Germany

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This poem was first published in Siren (Feb 2015).

Hochzeit, or First Night in Germany

I.

Red sunset,
late September in Cologne,
and the flowery trees on the clear edge of the rocks
decorate the air,
as in a Japanese painting.
An amber raven stands on a piling in the river, observing.

II.

Out of mulch and clover,
goat’s blood, trailing violet nightshade,
pearl moss,
snake’s venom,
the blossoming apple tree,
a dream once ripened and took form:

of Lorelei and the Rhinenymphs,
of Parsifal,
of Paracelsus the Occultist,
of Nietzsche burning candles
in a small room in Tautenburg;

those ever-divine,
incomprehensible aberrations
designed to drive
the salamander out of the brush
and into the ravening fire.

III.

Bone-pale
moonlight, and the vast, primordial Rhine
gropes along,
babbling softly
antiquity’s dark secrets,
its back glittering like a thousand dragon’s scales.

IV.

A white, visionary bird
sails through the thickening nightsky,
the soft thrash of its wings becoming echoes
caught in glass-mosaic,
magic horns
cradled by shadows;

a little alleyway
behind the Cathedral
where a wedding takes place: your own,
your bride,
Germania.

The street-band playing Pachelbel’s Canon
bonds you forever,
while in the damp breath
of some dark, thundering forest
an old thorn tree
with a heart carved in it,
carries in its arms the severed skulls and dry bones
of those you left behind.

V.

Late September
in Cologne,
and a ladybug is paralyzed
in the wet stench
of poisonous mushrooms.

Night drags its clubfoot into the dawn.

Staying out Late, Hangovers, Social Media & Etc.

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I don’t know why I did it. Nothing good ever comes out of staying out past 2 a.m. Yesterday was a complete waste, though I did try to write. I got several paragraphs down actually, but it was no good. The tank was totally empty and I had to destroy them.

Today I’m feeling better, but still a bit torn and frayed about the edges. Nevertheless, I’ll try to get something down here.

So, Monday night, I met a short blond from Dallas who was telling my friend T. and me she’s been in Berlin since August and will soon be leaving for some other European destination. She’s planning on staying in Europe for several months, and is able to do so because her job is very well paying and allows her to work remotely. She’s an analyst for a porn website, she was saying. What she does is look at pictures of porn all day to determine what can go on the website, and what’s too shocking or depraved to make the cut. The sense I got was that she loved the money she was making, but was ashamed of the means, although not so ashamed that she planned on changing professions. I asked her how it made her feel looking what she looked at all day. She said she’s grown numb to it. I asked if it’s changed the way she thinks about sex. ‘Oh definitely,’ she said. Then I started wondering what a job like that would do to me. It certainly wouldn’t elevate my spirit. But I’ve had lots of jobs that didn’t do that, and I’ve also made money doing things I wasn’t necessarily proud of, so I couldn’t judge. What I instead thought about was how often we do things in numbness or without even realizing the effect they’re having on our spirits. Take the social media sites (& by social media I mean Twitter, Instagram & esp. Facebook). Every time I go in one and stay for a while, I come out feeling worse than when I went in. I can’t be the only one. In fact, I suspect most people are affected the same way, but don’t even realize it because they’re too busy to pause for a moment and gauge what it’s done to them. Someone should invent a contraption, something like a mood ring or liquid crystal thermometer, that measures the fluctuations of the spirit so we know better how things and people make us feel.

Social media is porn for the dead-bored masochist in us all.
It’s porn and we don’t even get an orgasm out of the deal.
It’s porn because it’s numbed us, in a certain sense, from our feelings.
It’s porn and we’re the ones being exploited, but don’t know it because 2 billion others are in the same fix and we’re all wearing clothes.

“At times the world sees straight, but many times the world goes astray.” ~ Horace

Anyway, I didn’t mean for this post to end up as a social media rant, but since that’s the way it went, I’ll let it stand. I don’t have much else to say today other than to repeat: nothing good ever comes out of staying out past 2 a.m. Don’t do it. Go home early instead and buff the quarter panels of your Nissan Altima or eat land snails or listen to the lute works of Sylvius Leopold Weiss. The 2-day hangover is never worth it.