Something has to boil down. This chaos theory suspension anti-melting pot can’t solve a thing. Coping mechanisms are not sufficient. Climbing debt’s false mountain, making you feel like a conquering hero if you beat the minimum payment. Eschewing the latest/greatest. Fighting pretense, right along with their impetus toward really pricey cars. Shadowy activist and drunken sailor, all rolled into one.
I want some faith in the transcendent--if not beamed through stained glass, then at least whatever my seventy year-old wine-addled Humanities professor was on about when talking about Kandinsky. I’ve had 13 years for the lesson to sink in, and still it hasn’t. Linked snippets and meta-readings and reader response and This Sex Which Is Not One and all the rest of the questioning haven’t produced much of an alternative to that which they challenged. Sitting down to a meal with friends would be more satisfying than a breaking-down analysis anyday.
Sleeved and sheathed, miles apart on purpose: that’s what people are in this metrope-olis. All the real fun is heat-sealed in plastic, like an Otter Pop, personality painted on, with the insides frozen and artificially sweet. This is what happens when your ex- fucks off in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. Everything's sectioned off in tic-tac-toe cardboard divider neatness.
Maybe all the sixteenth-inch-long hairs on my face are connected: one seventy-foot dark cebaceousness threaded through the eyelets of my pores. Oozing dead skin, dark and rotting. Pushing out my core, thrown out in jagged toenails and stringy arm hair, waxen ear leavings and blood boogers. All possibilities overtaken, having reached the outside bit by necrotic bit. Isolated and baffled as to what’s next; even the normal biological stuff doesn’t seem to make sense. You may exhale pure mountain air, but it freezes after leaving your mouth, shattering on the ground. Trying to communicate? Someone might have to thaw out your words.
Saw someone puking directly onto the railbed this morning. That was new. Pretty matter-of-factly, too--no noise except the wet splatting. Two separate volleys. Later, I saw someone with Spock eyebrows. Not in costume or anything, just a man with angled, pointy, plucked brows.
I'm looking at a mouse assay the railbed stew: dead batteries and empty Smirnoff miniatures. An actual five dollar bill. The bright lights come within two minutes, ending the platform fashion show of the half-awake. Work awaits.
Topside, water pits and lashes everything. Eyes sting, desiring warmth in the form of smoke. Out of sync with the rain, with the random steps of umbrella-wielding subway traipsers. Chemical scents from new construction will be my big postwork reward tonight, along with an early winter darkness that will only get worse for months on end.
Hoes and edgers and chop the ice into fouled peppermint bark. Crickcracking boots make their way over the scale model of Antarctica. The foul steam of others' glares and railbed urine are traded for a humid, clammy, walk under a relentless Dracula moon.
Clink. Clinkclink. Crash clink. The sound of browsed bottles tells me the night shift has begun. There aren't any paid newspaper boxes around here. Turn one on the side, then upside down again, and once more on the other side, you have the quarters. Like that old labyrinth game but without the control knobs. A couple of blocks over, where the rent is three times as high, they have newspaper boxes. There are cultural resellers, too. Diving for the over-read and -listened, when daylight hits they'll have a decent spread of the Lovin' Spoonful, Art Garfunkel, and recipe books. Papa was a rolling stone, too. Chattahoochee economy. Slate-relief paper gems. Flung vinyl, hotly warped. Precycling, no blue bin needed. Everything's free, donations accepted. You see these cookie cutters, miss?
So, yearn for the cheap seats and the random encounters (hey Mr. Fireman, want a beer?) and the disposable anonymity and all that. Be aggressive and go for provoked reactions and push and prod and ping off the next bumper--triple the points if you insult who you're with. Deny yourself the sunshine during a beautiful Summer weekend. Whee.
lub-dup. lub-dup. lub-dup. lub-dup.
Swishing sound of tires on a rain-coated street. The would-be white noise of a window A/C unit. Low motoring of a three-point turn that takes a full six minutes. The chirping of birds too house-proud to fly away from all this.
Energy-sapping train ride ahead. Attendant smells, squeals, marketing assaults, panhandling ranging from the polished to the amateur to the Star Search-level. Accordion playing, bone-snapping breakdancing. Buy some pencils, erasers, candy, generic batteries and souls. Glance sidelong at those alive and not. Corpselike bags of blood craving Hungry-Man dinners, fishsticks and Pabst. Briefcased printouts of job board listings.
Navigate maze. Collect shiny object. Repeat.
Blinders on, goals in mind. Tiny victories/attention-span fillers/sunsets missed.
Scuttle skitter moveabout spitspot.
Cross your T's, Sign your Names, Those I's you'll dot.
Frozen outside, sheltered in artificial heat.
Phantom bones broken, tunneled fingers snap.
Swiss cheesed calcium. Crunch that cartilage. Melt yourself. Pureed person molded daily in forms of others' design.
Like Gregor Samsa and the roach, I awake to find that
My bathroom is a Starbucks
There is a capuccino machine where the toilet was.
Instead of half cappuccino shots and
half double decaf half mochaNothing,
It serves up peach facial scrub
Folks slinging zen at me, lovelife regrets poking noses Kilroy-like.
Jealousy and other bugaboos of the passive pick pick pick.