Birthdays at some point are like tolling of the church bells. The first one’s peel off in joyful celebration. The one’s nearing the end become more doleful reminding one that time grows ever shorter. The gatherings at such occasions become ever smaller and less attended. Until one day, one finds one’s self alone in the company of ghosts. Shadows and shades of milestones long past both joyful. And all too often full of lament. Empty spaces at the table where one would have expected seeing all those same old familiar faces now excused. The pall of silence one creates within a crowded room of strangers with the simplest of one’s thoughts. Musings of what once had transpired and all those things that one hoped for that just didn’t work out. So much for that cup of melancholy! All one is left with is a hunger inside. That incorrigible taste of things that are still fresh to the tongue. The flash in the minds eye of a fragrance or a face. The look and emotion that still remains afresh in a sidelong glance. No one at this empty table is allowed to leave broken hearted. That is the sort of impermissible random occurrence that all can ill afford. No longer tolerate. Take heart in that which has come before and wish for another better day. A day when the Sun shines anew as it has long been remembered to have many times done so long ago. For what does one have but these solitary moments to share over a lifetime? How beautiful and bounteous they are.
When I was nearing my graduation from high school, it was impossible to imagine living another forty-seven years. A late ‘boomer’ in residence from childhood from the staged fright of the atomic era. Now, as a prepare to return to the halls of my alma mater for the second time since then I wonder how much in me has changed. The pair of loving parents have gone on to eternity. The friends I once knew there are gone being even dimmer memories. The confidence come of the backing of my family had disappeared. The personal sense of assurance in my talents and my failings bolstered by an oversupply of experience. Here I sit contemplating what emotions will be reawakened? The randomness of brief incidents flashing in my minds eye. Brief visions from varied porticoes of classrooms and parking lots. Trudges through wintry blizzard prone days in slush and snow to and fro along the major thoroughfares. The err of inappropriate wardrobe to fit in that first day as a freshman. The beginnings of my art career in being recruited to paint a wall sized banner on the occasion of my states sesquicentennial.
Now those same halls painted garish blue and cream white and choking off any possible post tense sentimentality. Walked again like the condemned to witness how small and insignificant an upbringing can be. Only the spark of some inner imagination able to paint glowing imagery on what must have been a droll period of youth indeed? How cosmopolitan and staid I have become indeed? To peer into this stony mirror and return back to my center and judge it so harshly? Good times. Bad times? Times that reflect the personal decisions unconsciously made the collection of which constitute this final eventuality. Stamped out along with all the rest of my generation into a recognizable cliche. Sure! Yet, somehow different? Something elusive. That something suggesting that one one muffin in the pan would not be cooked to that expected perfection to match the rest. An outcast who can no longer find a convenient mentality to cast boulders and stones upon anyone. All bipeds treading upon two slowly withering limbs sooner of later achieving that pathetic equality of ancient in mortal years. What mighty works have I made to wither this world into more despair that it already withstands? Someone burnished by the obsession of purpose. That dirty little fear denied. There may not be one?
Valentine’s Day. A window to peer through. Who indeed celebrates it? Cupid, even hobos having heart shaped red boxes full of candy to spare. Bright sun upon the disuse of snow. Melting stopping you in your tracks. Long pursed lip pause along the fractious social inattention. Some have shopping rags. Some have deeper closets. And some are on the bum within their own long overused underwear! And yet, still others still, are contemplating a much freer life! People watch normal. Normality whatever that is? As abnormality goes, too Left or too Right. Something at the apex, or within the lowest dimension of a crevice. People liberally in surround as inexplicable as the fact of one’s own existence. Why? No qualms about cameras, static or drone mounted. Yet flash those human eyes in an unwarranted manner in an untoward direction and then catch the hoopla! Iconic visage topics undergone in tomb borne possibilities of inane explanations shunning these modern times. What a dialogue! Held in silence within one’s self. About the many demeanor’s passing by one on their way to uncertain futures. Perhaps a machine producing same existing just out of sight? Is this responsible for the singularity of the greater illusion? How do you put this mental Swan Song in print? Tchaikovsky? These animals padding back and forth behind this glass before one. Whatever the incongruities! The attempt is genuine and faithful and even being well-intentioned.
Concert time of decadent works of longstanding presupposed art. The same old prudish characters hobbling in. Some approaching on their last legs. Dear sweethearts all! All and all, faithful to the glories of the past. And determined to be as best as able in consort with the fade afflicting them. What remains within the ancient shells of these still young? Resisting that fate with whatever remains lurking within unsung and still young? Resisting what meager fate that has inevitably descended from above to rest upon the inevitable. How many will be absented from this gathering next Spring? Music that Maurice Ravel could appreciate. Sweet, delicate to the ear. Bringing forth the best tones of the instruments. Someone’s perfume overpowering but not reaching the level of annoyance. But yet, not far off the mark. Gothic old lady chic. “What the fuck is chic any ways?“, as the latest popular movie had said. A forest of hopes. All strangers, some transfixed by this performer. Some by their own God almighty. The imagined remnant of the grand salon of the Belle Epoque. Hanging on collections of fast paced notes drifting into imminent oblivion. If not cheerfully so. Pleasure and happy thoughts. Items no longer in fashion. A separation from audience to performer, not unlike from left hand to right hand. The level of respect maintaining silence in the hall growing troubling like a dumb cane. Some traditions, all ‘black‘, lodging loud protest in constant discontent from their own persistent surround of this enclave of whiteness. Something that they call in their own self-conjured sense rightful consternation. Something by the fact of their own moral lack to right of evidencing same. The slow creep of death announced so over dramatically by Liszt. Dance of Death like some Hollywood big budget vehicle summoned from a half a century past.
There she sat restless upon the surf bounding roughly by. Once a fine ship. An Indiaman. A once fine hulk, now with sinews de-masted and sails de-breasted by a foul wind off Madagascar. A squall by not some not underwhelming sense of mistaken reckoning. The fore deck in shambles and her hull breached. The three sat high up upon the amphitheater of piled stones that now served as her quay. Barely a spit of sand that her master had found by the grace of God before wind and sea and coral rock could have any further way with her. God and the Devil only, who could now tell if her stout oaken keel had succumbed to having its back broken grinding across same? The trio now shivering with impotent rage and trepidation at the slim prospects that the curse of unexpected bad weather had left them that now lay ahead.
A search of another craft far inland deposed a curious collection of ten disassociated items. Some as mundane as a raggedy doll and an old corroded brass plate watch and fob. The most disturbing find being a living thing whose shape held to no known convention strictly identifiable as a recognized species on this earth. A milky colored greenish cast to what appeared to be an uneasy combination of mushroom and asparagus. Something that lay there the similarity of lungs heaving lost in the conundrum of what for it might have been serving as same. Where it had come from was suggested by the broken frame of something disk-like and fractured. Silver metal of a sort that suggested no terrestrial equivalent. The occupant of same offering the most disturbing element of their immediate collection laying at the end of items so much more common to their sensibilities.
The lounge room of the apartment across the hall was full as he stood before the open closet doors in the bedroom. They seemed oblivious of his presence as he stared into the limbo of his own disconcerted thoughts. To his shock and surprise she stood beside him. Barbara. Her entrance as much a mystery as the fact of the appearance of her person. Only for an moment and then she left. Leaving her discontent to mingle with his disappointment to leave an inky film about the room of regret. Now he felt that eyes were prying at him studying his demeanor at her loss. Though unbearable to his sea of raging emotions within he kept up the fiction of remaining inert and unmoved. The sorrow filling him up so rapidly that it felt in a short span of time that it would overcome his neck and burst forth through every portal above. Still he carried on perusing the emptiness of the cubicle before him as if looking for his coat.
The top of the stairs just outside the apartment revealed that this location had been more appropriately a public venue held within what might have been architecturally intended as a hotel or meeting center. He collapsed down into sitting crouched upon the upper steps. Refraining from a swirling sense of spiritual vertigo that sought to whisper to him that he might consider hopping quickly into final flight over the railing just behind him. A just solution in so many ways to cure the guilt and stupidity of his former deeds. Why was he such an empty useless vessel of vacuous circumstantial emotions that like some rare vintage was never really shared? Why had he not shared his heart with her so long ago past when she had given him the opportunity? Was he such a perennial spoilt child that he could not help but further embarrassing the both of them by carrying on for days after in pressing a quest that had clearly demonstrated no intention on following up upon?
He swayed back and forth as the feelings seemed to build to suggest that he had indeed been in love with her. Even if he had not been in love with her enough to through all caution to the wind! The railing behind him waited with the promise of its flying lessons leading quickly to a final view and true oblivion. The presence of another interloper unexpectedly casting a shadow over him from behind. A man! A man dressed in suit and tie appropriate of some formal description of public trust spoke out gently to him as if he might need assistance. The official station suggested by his voice and his manner stopping all thoughts of unbearable loss and that ready antidote of immediate self-destruction. He put on a mask of complacence all the while knowing that his current performance was instrumental to his keeping his freedom. After a few moments interchange he felt that he had rounded the bend in some way. And the man walked off leaving what was for him a chilling promise of an imminent return. Gone for the moment this house genie had set his heart to beating at a furious pace. Escape was all he could think of as he tripped down the stairs as casually as his legs would allow.
To his horror he realized that he had not found his coat back int he closet of the suite now far above. Dare he return he thought to himself, the intercession of that official stranger would most assuredly preclude its use. He had no wish to become an inmate of some hospital! If indeed this is what this space that he had lost mental sight of had truly been all along from the start? He padded back down the main hallway imagining the cold Winter wind outside and what he would do without any appropriate covering containing wallet, cards, money and keys. The trail back led to a fork where the inference of an escalator peeked out to the one side and a low stair suggested further to the left. The notion that only the risk of returning the way he had just came into whatever was now waiting for him might be the only solution. How he hated this society for so easily casting him as a murderer in mentally alleging that he was so ready to frivolously take his own life. Who were these people that demanded entry to his thoughts and felt empowered to redirect the intentions of his should when he felt that he had reach that point that he had had enough? How terrible after all was this empty pursuit of finding that lost trail of one’s long lost fleeting love.
Dusk is the time for melancholy when everything before you is so beautiful. Falling and empty of substance. When possibility is fleeting any all hope for the future becomes bereft. Symbols and events and faces pass by without evidence of ever being so. The linkage of all those former memories defaulting to incomprehensibility amorphously incidental and brief. Another day passes into reckless recriminations. Of what might have once been possible. But now is irrecoverable beneath the rapidly spreading tide of endless night.
Wrestling with the border guard who took liberties with my eyeglasses. Taking his tit for tat. The battle for each in clever words and a over the shoulder flip while my mother looked on. I was not Douglas Fairbanks but I took his cue.
A struggle in my bed and reach for my gun but it is suddenly too heavy to employ. I wake up and drop it back down. A lady salesman appears and shows me a pellet gun and a small revolver. A Daisy. The two remarkably like what I had in childhood. The younger generation hates me. Hates my generation and wishes it would die. As I wished for my own father to pass on sometimes. All for the mortal crime of being out of step with the way things tend to change. And daring to become ancient in spite.
“And God took away the power of speech and thus all humanity was confounded.”
The state took your balls. They leave you no options. A woman of today is not complete without a man to order around . Very publicly so. No more room for being male. Picking up the check perhaps? Daily life from one crisis to the next. Long train carriages leading one boxcar to the next all a foregone conclusion. Only one’s demeanor shifting.
The cold air format the gray world outside should have frozen the empty heat within. It merely challenged those supposedly within its reach to recall it. An artist’s life struggling constantly like fish just taken fresh from the water. That shrug of an explanatory smile. A fearless display of the plunge out of earthly existence. Mystery posed by a pair of over ample hips. A portal? One absurd assumption posed after another. Life cannot be that bad! Aggression barely clothed in the thinnest apparition of humor. A coffeehouse. A lifeboat.
Escape through a wooded glen. Pile of old weapons of war. Everywhere the shade of rust of what was. Supposedly was? Small arms and machine guns. Everywhere! MG42’s, a memory minefield foregone. Conclusions waiting patiently just behind the treeline.
There was a certain restlessness in his demeanor. Something beyond the collusion of opposites. Of the imminence of joyful times and simple relaxation. And constant disappointment. As if he stood before his own closet trying on old items from his wardrobe. Seeing if they still fit? The scheduling for the operation was on this coming Monday. The best part of the day and Sunday to work out or discover whatever enjoyment was left. Whether his usual routine would continue? Continue or not.
Death A. Head. The surface only skimmed. Raked. Above the tender surface below. Of, “who I am.” Of who I was. Or whom I had become. Life, purloined thoughts. Interposed with maybe? Maybe not. Maybe not my own. Trivia, Trivial. Vitality to be sapped. Childhood destroyed. Old, old like the odd fellows. Their bar close up. Up upon the ceiling. The phone falling apart and rendered un-fixable. My lady friend far ahead long gone. A head. Time to write the will. The world gone gray made sick . Turned afoul. Destroyed. Humanity. Godhood gone.
What would have been like to be in the arms of someone who loved you. Again? What! As if it had ever happened? Old memories buried in each other on a pile. A pyre. Locked in place and no longer available. But you’re here. Still? Aren’t ya! That’s it. Walking around like a ghost without a clue of what brought you to this haunt. What kind of love is that. Smelling the stains. Laying on an old broken down mattress. Pretending that you know something. Like something, someone knows you. Who is kidding who. Who has? Yourself. A thought after thought after thought after thought. Echo. Two mirrors! Someone’s truth lies between. Is it you. Your’s? You want her talk. Talk, talk, talk. You wanted them all to talk. Safe to talk. They did! Then they did! And it was all about something. Anything!Nothing. But not you! You couldn’t understand that. Not you. That you didn’t enter into the equation. You never did. Never! You were a ghost. A ghost of a dream. A ghost in a dream! Your dream. Never! Never, never, never. Neverland. You were a child tucked into pajamas. Not a man. No! Never. Sucking your thumb. Sucking their tits. Sucking and fucking. Fuck off! You might have felt their passing fury. Felt a tremble through their body. That tremble. Trembling? For a moment. For an instant? Never. But you were not available. Never were. That was you sin. The sin of self. You alone. The key that wouldn’t open any door. You were locked out. Out in the cold. Cold. Dead cold. Like dead. And so why? Why ask the questions. “Where’s my money?” Why ask. Why! You know the answer. Don’t you? You do! Now. Now is not the time. The time. No longer the time to ask.