Paranoid Canal Street traffic. Lower East Side Holland Tunnel mistake. Exits and roundabouts that don’t make sense as I’ve found my way drunken, stumbling through Chinatown and the one textile square that is Little Italy. Horns honk and voices buzz and fizzle and carbonate. We have grown to normalize trauma so that when someone gets mugged in front of us, we will freeze up and step aside. And then maybe at last minute trip the bastard and make him fall and eat cement.
Venetian canals that must be so empty in these strange times in our lives. I want to go back on the boat and drink champagne this time, and really capture what it’s like to be a buoy on that water. I want to go and stay. Hear the bells ringing from St. Mark’s Square before it all goes underwater. Some Assassin’s Creed Atlantis game where who knows where the heck we’ll be in 300 years.
Ear canal, cochlea, Human Phys diagram. Extra credit, A-, non-exempt final. High school, honors student, science wing – A bird taking flight. I taste the protein bars I used to pack back when I did not have a lunch, but no 8th period. Those were nice, strange, interesting days. The protein bars grew tiresome and would often sit in my bag, smushed in their wrappers, saving my appetite for when I got home. This chocolate covered protein bars were chalky, chewy, and always seemed to taste the same no matter the flavor. Synthesized plant protein – with whey of course because whey is the destroyer of all things. Somebody call the Romulans.
Little curled embrace, womb-like in the way the blankets cradle my warm body. Heartbeats eagerly. Strawberry red cheeks, Peppermint Pattie. Cartoon comic strip, voices overlaying each other. I do not understand the joke, nor have the patience to read. If all is forgiven, why do I still feel remorse when I wake up in the morning?
Scottish funeral on a grassy knoll. Sips (and gulps) of whiskey all around. Drone tones abound, as bagpipes play to send off the man that once meant so much to everyone. I think we should live in worlds where skirts can look good on a man, and embrace the moments and times where he is encouraged to “show a little leg”. The morning dew of the grass has soaked through my shoe and has thoroughly saturated my socks. My toes are cold, frigid – uncomfortable. I find my buzzed mind drifting to clothes dryers, and fireplaces in winter where it’s the warmest. I think about times before modern medicine and where someone might find that little piece of paper I crumpled up, in my handwritten admission of the fact that yes, I do have a crush on you. I can taste the barrels where this whiskey was aged. I suck on my tongue to absorb all possible flavor, but also because I’m nervous and and its cold and I don’t know what else to do to increase my own body heat. I look out upon misty mountains and here a bird cry out; It is in awe at its own freedom and location, privilege. He could’ve cracked his egg opened anywhere, but it was here, in these mountains where he was born. Here there are no noisy honkings of car horns, the mountains are not piles of garbage, the ground is not pavement, but sweet, moist earth where worms are plenty. Nostrils clear from the whiskey and mountain air. The bagpipes play and rip through my soul. I find myself sitting down, then succumbing to my back, arms spread in Eagle-like fashion and formation. And my eyes are bleary and now my back and bottom are soaked. But I don’t care anymore. Leave me like this, in mourning, blissed defeat. Carve down deep the outline of my body. Bury me here too. I won’t make it down the mountain. Cannot summon the strength or will. I will toss in turn in bed forever, knowing that open ends like this exist. The melody line hovers over my third eye and coaxes out a bolt of lightning made from a tesseract. I just want to know what it means to feel this way, and if this is a low or a high. And if I will ever feel any other way again. I don’t care, but they say that I got to.
There is something majestic and royal about a large, grandiose ship leaving port, casting off thick mooring rope, to trek onwards to a new destination. The horn bellows in salutation, thanks, and auf wiedersehen. Folks wave hands, blankets, teddy bears, tissues, handkerchiefs to no one and everyone. It is an exertion of excitable energy. It is a testament to the inventions of humankind; Combustion engines and steel construction. Elegance and terror and strength. You’re living in it now. The spray of salt water comes up from the ocean deep with a little naval baptism. You are blessed and now one with the water, all your land sins forgiven. You are new. Your soul blessed and renewed, to start a new life on the this months long voyage on this vessel. The halls still smell of fresh, white paint and the newness of a classroom on the first day of school; Like you are the first student to have ever entered it, no one else has been here before you. Hotel rooms too; The illusion that no one has come before you; You are the first, everything has been untouched, just kept pristine by magic and good intentions. As the dock and shoreline get closer and closer, a slow-motion zooming out of the world you once knew, before long, your only line of vision is the place where the sea meets this sky; This one, holy horizontal line. We are stuck in an infinite loop, we are stuck in an infinite loop, we are stuck in an infinite loop, we are stuck in an infinite loop – And suddenly your mind begins to become the water, and suddenly you are staying up later and waking up earlier until you no longer know what time it is, and no that clock can’t be right. And then you’re pacing in your claustrophobic cabin, afraid to eat, afraid to talk to anybody for fear you’ll be eaten. And that’s why, when you finally make your exit down the gangway, you drop to the ground and kiss the dirty earth of New York and say a prayer to God incarnate in the Statue of Liberty herself, that you’re blessed because you made it, and if you had to have gone just one more day, you’re not sure if you would’ve made it.
Circular, diamond-studded watch face ticks away minutes, then hours – really seconds that become longer periods of time. It all adds up. We’ve found some way that makes sense to organize and catalog something we call Time. Water sundial, passing of Sun and Moon and Stars. Moving at a mathematically predictable pace. Had to figure it out from the ground up. It’s not my strong-suit, so I’m not sure if I ever could have done it. That’s why it’s all mysterious magical science to me. Some believe in Alien intervention, but I’m not too sure. Doesn’t that shadow the capacity for the human spirit and intelligence? Why should we not believe that we landed on the Moon, built the pyramids, and discovered astrology? It is too easy, and perhaps a cop-out to resign ourselves to “outside intelligence”.
Eyes wandering behind newspaper top, the lift above and scan the casino floor. Something fun and dark. Sunglasses lowered to the middle bridge of the nose, eyes casting downward enhancing the suspicion, the mystery. Drop-top convertible screeches to a halt. Valet hops out and reluctantly hands the keys, having to part with such a beautiful vehicle, the best he’s driven all day. Disagreements as my eyes unfocus. Surveillance cameras watching. Blue raspberry Spiderman popsicle from the ice cream truck. Springboard with the chin tuck at the pool. Slurpee arguments, toeing the line, testing the waters. This watch is not waterproof. Who possibly wears their FitBits so far up the arm like you’re technically supposed to? Fuck the phone, fuck notifications. I don’t want to watch it anymore, check it anymore. Frog in throat, hard to swallow, anxiety in slow-motion. “Watching The Wheels” – John Lennon. Documentaries that are still fresh in the mind hours after watching. “Bird On The Wire” – Leonard Cohen. Some days I just want to close my eyes and be ignorant to the whole thing; Not watch at all. Guardtower. Watchtower. Jimi Hendrix. Guitar reminding us that everything is not okay after all. There is trouble. There is trouble in the water.
“Sunflower, bullshit. I want everything beautiful to burn.”
Tiny yellow pedals point outward like triangular rays of sunshine. The face of the blackened middle, smiling to the sky, turning to drink up sun, sleeps in the darkness. Maybe it tilts, just a little. I recall singing a school song, rather a song at school, for a spring concert, at Lacordaire about a sunflower. The whole thing is on VHS somewhere. I might’ve had a dress too that I wore with a sunflower on it. Might’ve been navy blue with black and white checks. Some song and dance routine where we move toward the rhythm and sing songs about how God is the sun and we are just all sunflowers turning toward Him. My mom really liked the song. It was in the sweaty gymnasium, which also doubled as an auditorium. There was a stage in it and everything – bigger than Good Shepard for sure. I still remember that gym, that was technically in the high school. There might’ve been cookies and fruit punch afterwards. A combination that never makes sense outside the context of being a kid. When Hawaiian Punch and Juicy Juice ruled. Capri Sun and Sssips and here I just going on and on about juice. Hi-C! So many flavors, so much cardboard and aluminum and high fructose corn syrup. Plastic straws attached. Parents really put up with a lot of our bullshit, huh? So much commitment, so many activities; Birthday invitations and playdates. It’s a lot. I realize that now. But when you’re a kid, you don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no context because there’s nothing to base it off of, there’s no experience. You’re so fresh and new in the world and everything is just happening to you all at once. Aging is annoying. Just when some things stay the same, other things are always changing. Like my eyesight. I haven’t seen a legit sunflower in awhile. Pictures, of course. I think my great-grandma had a singing sunflower that may she got from my mom when she used to sell Avon. They always had strange electronic things in the early aughts. But this sunflower had a face in the middle and when you pressed a button it would sing you are my sunshine. And she got a real kick out that. And that was all it did. That was the gag. And I guess when she was feeling blue and no one else was around, she’d hit that button and laugh out loud because that was the kind of person she was. Back before she got dementia, back before she had to have her car keys taken away, back before she had to walk around with a name tag that also had on it her address and who to call if she was lost. Back before nursing homes in Kenilworth that we dreaded to go to on a Saturday. It was a lot. I get that now. My dad always made us go though, despite it all. And I think that was the right thing to do.