He hoists the hem of her skirt way up, like he does them sails when he’s anchored and angling;
Earnest is still on the hook for that swordfish, size of a canoe, but it will never be the same, she ain’t coming back, after the first time he lost her. You’ll recall the way he mentioned her wingspan, like he was breaking the spirit of an angel, not so much to hitch a ride to heaven as for a way to break out of hell.
He claims he isn’t tired, but he feels exhausted, won’t sleep because he might never wake up again,
and heads back to a place the beer is kept cold, served by the youngest daughter of an old man, living to brag on the conquests Earnest hauled to shore and passed around for free to keep his audience from starving.
The boys encourage him, sacrificing UNICEF school supplies to pitch in for his paper and pencils. “Say what happened, Cap.” They nudge.
He lets the boys pour saltwater over his refusals to let go, over his reeling wounded hands, worn out and torn like leather weather beaten gloves, barely able to hold them donated pencils, he apologizes, but they won’t take no for an answer.
When Earnest is good and ready he writes a letter; says he doesn’t blame his partner for the loss even though the wrong line was cut so that Earnest had nothing to show for it. He could tell his partner felt awful sorry and that was good enough for him, that he’d done all he could and it could happen to anybody under an unforgiving sun, where a feel for the water, doesn’t equal trust.
She yanks the hem of her skirt down, and her face reminds Earnest of where she’s been for the last twenty years. Not with him.
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your saints. They are survival shanties about missed harpoons and why whales only sing their blues among the nonchalance of drifters. . .
Row Your Boat
Maybe next one’s gonna deal me a hangman and get me the hell outta this…
* * *
Third time’s a charm. Seeker in the ether.
One of the argonauts. The
wildcard suspended from a
hawser; a drunken
the ferryman. And wait…
There’s a song churning on
Seen a man slightly dark for the work he done and the brim of his hat and his beard. Turbulent eyes glowed golden-green and amber-honey chestnut and then still got called hazel.
Kind of carmelized sugar girls go ga-ga for,
tumble into hungry and drown.
He brewed stormy until he smiled and light broke through his ominous cover of clouds.
“He used to be the Captain
he works the ferry now.” Reported a newspaper man.
“He’s still the Captain, but
he’s works the ferry for
now.” Said a crewman.
“He smelled of constant whiskey intake. Sweated it. Hurt for it.” Witnessed a barmaid.
He sang, “I will be an organ donor for the wind
and so forever breathe into you–” Reminisced a connoisseur…
Body and soul is an ark set to drift…
and I am the captain of my soul set to row…
O’ Captain! My Captain!
(the captain is dead on the deck)
for the ferryman
and reward him for the show
that guiding light
through black and the fog
the rudder hung up on bog
The casting nets and
this- a shelled Venus
so polished well
comforted into bead strung noose
Hoist with Necklace Ahoy!
Then Necklace Away!
flesh into sails
pushing forward the voyage…
“He’s a minstrel at heart.” Chimed a poet, “With high seas to embellish his story.
A tyrant’s command– when to swab or swoon and then he would have us weep.
Led over his tales of woe–
How we go, some little worried mothers.
And he he will play us all Home Sweet Home–
dancing on the Devil’s grave.”
So a soothsayer said, “Taking one– to know one.”
“How I died in his arms.” The poet lamented.
“Life boat to death shuttle–
There is a message in the bottle.” Sang the Argonaut disguised as a ferryman.
He took a swig of whiskey and belched. “Bring in the dancing girl and have you met my wife?”
“You in me now. Part of my DNA. Is that a website?” Screamed Hope.
There was this loneliness and this reaching out and this imagination and art became reckless when it showed off and admitted it’s voyeur and theft and it opened to be misinterpreted or reinterpreted and basically co-opted for communion. Is anybody out there? I love you. All to be rejected, at the expense of my chemicals, I love you.
Venus says when she tried on-line dating, she got sent so many dick picks, it was like their frankfurters would stretch from sea to shining sea—several times.
Each relished a woman with an appetite for dirt bike hotdogs
and truly wished to be the one
She felt their vulnerability but regarded their casual exhibition as impersonal
and wondered, so just what’s in these wieners?
and took a quick look
at this “paste-like and batter-like poultry product”
by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sive or similar device under high pressure.
And to her surprise
his haiku about how coots sound the same fighting as they do fucking.
by “advanced meat recovery machinery” separates the edibles from the inedibles without smashing the bone.
less than 10 percent water
and Corn syrup,
A common meat preservative
antimicrobial, capable of killing
stocks (a stockade)
(a want) ad
classifying his search for a bi-valve to tie his ball-gag
boiling water with parts of the carcass.
Found in chowder and instant hand warmers.
To help keep meat-based products pink.
He voyeurs back to back
episodes of the Gadget Girls, those money savvy tarts, showcasing
vibrating modern conveniences to fangirls who give good
Side effects, including dizziness, gastrointestinal issues, headaches and, if consumed in large quantities, kidney stones.
A filler or thickening agent.
Brewers also often use it in beer.
Uncontrollable bouts of laughter.
Resistance to his own measure
and mean streaks…
An increased risk of cancer.
Frequently found in fertilizers.
An increased shelf life…
he doesn’t want to end up like his father, a master of wood
Paid by some Hopi or Chinook to erect
a totem pole.
Irish-Catholic. Not a drop of American Indian
but at the EXPO
where his father’s booth proudly displayed his polished
mahogany Jesus bust
with a detached centerpiece of hands folded in prayer,
a Chief, no less, approached him
and praised him
for being a true visionary.
They discussed wood grain and how to coax the spirits from the rings.
His father had additionally provided a small demo of his skill at a wood block where he informatively described his blades and planes and proceeded to whittle a whistle in the shape of a dove and when he lifted his lips to blow through the hollow tail, a sweet perfect note in ‘C’ sang out the beak.
His father designed and built the alter at their church and donated his oak banisters and handrails to senior centers and nursing homes and taught how to build his benches, picnic tables and bunkbeds to a Boy Scouts of America troop.
Made his actual living on elaborate personalized coffins
King Tut woulda been so lucky to have been buried in a sarcophagus carved by his father.
He didn’t want to be like his mother who was a master glass blower.
A mistress of the crystal ball. Literally providing instruments of hocus pocus up and down the west coast.
Mostly middle-aged women sporting her witch-balls (intended to ward off and or capture dark spirits) in their whimsical tea gardens,
several shingle-hanging psychics paying top dollar for table-top oracles elevated by silver-plated tripods.
Wand knobs, divination pendulums, and ritual chalices sold like hotcakes.
However, his mother raked in the most cash for her rearview mirror car ornaments, glass chillums, and elaborate water bongs.
He says he wants to be the cocktails they serve on trains…
And the Trip Advisor requests a review which will garner points that look like stars and add up to a badge.
Danny Boy says, “I was truly moved by her, when she said to me, ‘Heck yeah, I’m a functioning illiterate Doc Fancy Suit. What Makes YOU think I wanna learn how to feel the way you do? I’m not gonna read those books! Them teachers think I can’t read, but I can read. I been reading as long as I can remember, but I’m not telling any of them teachers at school I can do it. If they know I can read, they’ll make me read their books.”
Dickey Boy asks, “Well, so you encountered an actual resistance to facts and information, huh Danny Boy? So then what do you do? How do you teach?”
Danny Boy says, “Dickey Boy, that’s an excellent question and I’m glad you asked me about it; because I want to impress upon you, and I do not mean this in any kind of sentimental way, you know, like how one is supposed to feign humility, but you see… it really was this young woman who was teaching me and not the other way around.”
Dickey Boy nods and he says, “Uh, huh. Uh, huh. Okay and so how do you feel about parents or teachers who say to their children and students, ‘Stop reading those comic books…’?”
Danny Boy says, “Well Dickey Boy, if a boy wants to read a Playboy Magazine he should read what interests him, that’s what I’d tell them. Because any boy who hasn’t read a Playboy Magazine isn’t in the world yet. Even MIT offers a course on Porn.”
Dickey Boy laughs. “Heh, heh… I guess that’s true!”
Danny Boy says, “It’s true. It’s true, Dickey Boy. Mind you, Heff’s daughter took over the business after he croaked and the only thing left, are the articles! But the concept remains the same.”
Dickey Boy asks, “Are you saying a boy’s interest in porn can lead him to rocket science?”
Danny Boy says, “Well, the professor at MIT has taken a scientific approach to porn and happens to be a woman with a lotta healthy recommendations to female directors, which can be pretty confusing to a male teen, at least at first, but what’s more, we need to not give books to kids that tell them how to be like us. We should give them books to read that reflect who they are so we can help them become them, not us.”
Dickey Boy asks, “Does that mean writing one bad short story is better than reading one well written novel?”
Danny Boy says, “Well Dickey Boy, not really, but there is a kernel of truth at least to what you are suggesting.”
Dickey Boy asks, “I mean do you think of reading as an idle activity in comparison to, oh say taking a walk? That the physical experience of being in the world is more beneficial than reading about taking a walk?”
Danny Boy says, “Well yes and no Dickey Boy. It’s our memories that set us apart from the other animals. It’s our memories that make our animal unique. And we capture those memories in books. But of course, the physical experience of life is going to inform those books and this is where we discover our shared humanity. That’s why I’m saying this student taught me more than I taught her. She made me a better listener. And she wasn’t wrong. She knew who was telling her to be more white. Who had the money. She wanted the money; she just didn’t want the bullshit that came with it.”
Dickey Boy nods. “What was the bullshit Danny Boy, that came with it?”
Danny Boy says, “In those books nobody believed a black girl would grow up to be a doctor. It’s like how sometimes on airplanes when a passenger is having a medical problem and the white stewardess asks if there is a doctor on board and a proficient black doctor steps forward, but then the stewardess looks her up and down and hesitates. Literally this passenger’s life is on the line and the stewardess asks for her credentials, only then to reject her for the white man who says he too is a doctor, but without asking to see his credentials.”
Dickey Boy nods. “Wow. Yeah. I see what you mean Danny Boy. I wouldn’t want to read those books either and I have been!”
Danny Boy laughs. “Well there you are.”
Dickey Boy chuckles. “Indeed. Indeed.” He says and he turns to the Elephant Man and asks, “So, what do you think about all of this?”
Elephant Man says, “Well, it’s true people laugh when I tell them I talk to the elephants and they talk to me and we have a true connection.”
Dickey Boy and Danny Boy laugh.
Elephant Man smiles like a shy but curious little boy. He says, “They are a little mysterious the way they scatter and hide their bones all around the jungle. They have a real sense of death. And they are an extremely private group.”
Dickey Boy says, “Wait, you mean they told you that the elephant graveyard isn’t real?”
Elephant Man says, “That’s right Dickey Boy. They are mums the word on why they do what they do, scattering and hiding the bones, but the elephant graveyard is a fantasy.”
Dickey Boy says, “That’s amazing. You have a real way with them.”
Elephant Man says, “Well, that’s because I am an elephant.”
Dickey Boy and Danny Boy laugh.
Danny Boy leans over to pat Elephant Man’s knee. He says, “You know what? I believe you.”
Elephant Man smiles like a shy but curious little boy. He says, “Do you want to know what the dumbest of the big animals is?”
Dickey Boy says, “Sure do.”
Elephant Man says, “The Rhino. He’s so transparent, you know, you can see his mind ticking… before he impulsively charges a bush. For no reason at all he just goes off and attacks a bush! And then he’ll actually throw himself onto his back like he’s having a tizzy fit. A rhino boxes his own shadow and loses every time.”
Dickey Boy and Danny Boy laugh.
Dickey Boy says, “Well maybe the rhinos are harboring deep feelings against the Chinese. Maybe it’s post traumatic stress because after all, the Chinese have been hunting them and sawing off their horns to grind them into what has been proven as false ‘medicine’ and so maybe the rhino species is energetically messed up now because of that long brutal history.”
Elephant Man appears pensive. He says, “That’s deep. I never would have thought of that. Maybe you’re right Dickey Boy.”
Danny Boy says to Dickey Boy, “I believe it. And who says we can’t use television to teach the children? When my daughter was six years old she got bored with Sesame Street. She knew when it became condescending to her. She knew when she could out smart them and she made her own choice to move on.”
Dickey Boy says, “Well Danny Boy, I’m not going to argue with you there!”
Danny Boy and Dickey Boy share a laugh and Elephant Man smiles like a shy and curious little boy.
Danny Boy says, “You know that rhino-Chinese analogy is pretty much how my student explained Woody Allen to me. She said Woody is a thief. She said don’t trust that mutha fuckin’ Jew ‘cuz he be like all them Jews. He jus’ gonna rob ya’ll and make ’you pay one way or ‘nother to watch him screw his adopted daughter.'”
Dickey Boy gasps. “Wow! I never thought of the movie biz as so all about Holly-Woodies before. Your student had a point, didn’t she?”
Danny Boy nods. “I couldn’t argue. I wouldn’t argue. There was nothing to argue.”
Elephant Man nods. “Maybe rhinos aren’t dumb. I never considered the body language as anything other than unproductive rage. But it’s a signal to us. Perhaps it’s their recorded memory. Maybe they role model this to condition and steel and submit themselves for what the future holds.”
Danny Boy says, “I believe you’re on to something there, Elephant Man.”
Dickey Boy says to Danny Boy, “Which isn’t to say there is no hope?”
Danny Boy says, “Oh, no… of course there is hope. Yes there is hope. My student who didn’t want to read the books, went to college to become a nurse, and then she ended up a doctor. People say to me, you must be so proud and gratified because she wouldn’t have done that if she hadn’t met me, but that’s not true. She did that work by herself. She did that for herself. And she taught me how she could and would do it. But me? As a white man? I didn’t have to sacrifice a thing. I just had to listen and then I got to write a book about her and I got on television for it. She gave me that. But only she could walk in her shoes.”
Argo always hid under his hats and hoodies in plain sight and he invented pseudonyms for his creative projects, he confided, because he couldn’t handle the anxiety that fame always brought him. Then he’d pass out (distribute) all of his published literary magazine poems and self-promoted band cd’s for free and say it was never about the money. And when he invited people to his shows, he’d keep them waiting, while he got too drunk to perform at all well, but drunk enough to think he had.
Sunk by DNA, he blamed, he believed himself to be a ghost that was cursed to watch his widow mourn,
often triggered his wife into a fit of cuss words that intimately described his failure to take out the trash,
so that eventually Argo only begged that she’d keep his cremated remains clean, if not his actual memory.
He wanted to bend the metal of a long saw to make it sing and found himself listening to men who could draw on such serrated blades to weep, with envy.
He could neither quite howl or croon like the dogs he emulated;
but he felt time was still worth (being wasted)
even as it was running out on him,
if he looked back at all the near misses and close calls as divine luck,
equivocating it with dumb luck, like that made him smarter than everyone else.
When Argo learned he could make his rhythm sticks sound like oinking pigs it felt like the impossible day where pigs could actually fly, and even though he was busting to let others know of his ability to bring home the bacon, he refused to point out how Pink Floyd had already been there done that, and waited to hear from anyone who had truly listened…
He didn’t expect feedback. He waited to be discovered.
Although he bragged that there were a few backstage whores who asked for his John Hancock, they ultimately made him feel sorry for them, so he refused to give them the time of day.
His songs use to be filled with elbow rests and white knuckling and not enough Jack to tune out Cracklin’ Rosie which he swore made his ears bleed; and he’d sit there bleeding in his window seat, not wanting.
He felt full of holes and sensitive to any comments; every comment made about the condition of his clothes, or the way he carried moths around with him, proving to His self he was the flame if not the utilitarian wool that attracted them.
He had a wife that told him how he keeps an extra set of hands close to his mouth; and what he calls tusks are really just the arms he pulled off a baby-doll. He liked that about his wife, the way she cussed at him in private so he could sing about her in public and he told everybody they don’t have to respect how she takes her glasses off so she never looks at them directly, they just needed to accept it.
When a stewardess asked him if he’d like a pillow, he stopped jiggling his knee under the seat-tray. He ordered another jigger, no ice, and told her, he can’t sleep up in the air, or most nights, and that sometimes he thinks he can fly like a car lighter left in a parking lot, sparking on oil and paper and pigeons; something always sets him off and then he changes the subject. Maybe he’d write a song about her if she told him her name. . .
even though he could barely look her in the eye.
He confided to a stewardess, how people either saw him as a shipwreck or a monster, some giant octopus masking and camouflaging, while he hunted, appearing suddenly to spill his ink and wrap around the hull.
He lamented how they never did consider that he might actually be the ocean itself, all the sneaker waves and riptides, the whirlpools and tsunamis, swallowing the shore, and joining with fresh water rivers that inherently take the paths of least resistance by filling up every crevice and flowing on.
There were only ever a few sirens that got to him, he admitted, but he’d never remember them in the morning.
He peeked up to glimpse her reaction from behind the drink cart and the stewardess quickly pointed out all of the emergency exits.
As she applied her brand new lipstick, it dawned on her that it was the same shade as hotdogs. . .
This made her frown which didn’t help the appearance of her mouth.
Her father named her Purity, but her mother never liked it, she finally confessed to her like it’d been pent up and pending on her bucket-list. So when Purity was old enough to know the truth and several years after the divorce, her mother said she had wanted to name her Susan, you know, after the the Lazy-Susan her grandparents kept on their dining-nook table, that spun circles of sweet pickle relish, cold butter and mustard within reach. Her mother said, “But your father wouldn’t let me. He had too many horror stories from the pickle factory.”
Her father explained that he had wanted to name her Chipko when he found out about the tree-huggers and how “Chip” for short felt like a chip off the old block, but her mother drew the line. “You are your father’s daughter.” He told her, “And you’re braver than your brother. When he was a toddler he’d crawl on his hands and knees backwards down the stairs, but you just held the rail and took ’em in stride.”
At about age nine her father had given them a basic self-defense lesson. He said, Fight to win. Don’t be afraid to pick up a two-by-fourand bollocks to honor. You wanna maim and run like hell. He then proceeded to show Purity the vulnerable points that would incapacitate a larger foe. The heel of the palm for instance, with a quick straight jab under the nose would theoretically shove the attacker’s delicate bone into the brain. A key between the knuckles, held flat inside the fist for grip, and a thunk to the larynx was another effective method. He said to take that one to heart being it was a tip for a latch-key kid. After a series of mock sparring bouts with an emphasis on sustained eye contact and accompanying poker-face, Purity’s father instructed them to come at him. They pretended to be bad guys and took turns failing to resist their headlocks.
Purity’s brother said, “Papa never did let us win.” He said, “We’d jab, he’d grab. And Lock. We’d stab, he’d grab. And Lock. We’d be bad, he’d grab. And Lock. We’d be mad, he’d grab. And Lock.”
Purity’s father’s move was literally called the Prison Cell Block.
She found herself busting into the pop ‘n lock as her brother’s cheeks flushed with red determination to free himself from his father’s grip and her father said, “Stop that and pay attention, Purity. These are battle tactics, not tap dance lessons.”
“um… I was using my arms, Pop. Not my feet.” Purity clarified.
Occasionally Purity and her brother would watch their father do sit-ups with a twenty-five pound weight on his chest. After his reps, he’d face them, suck in and tighten his abdomen and say, “Go ahead. Punch me as hard as you can in the gut.”
Her father said, “You see, culling is the instinct for basic symmetry, which is not the foundation, but the evolutionary cornerstone of all animal attraction. . .”
He said, “And that’s why you can Never truly trust hotdogs.”
“Bigmouth Strikes Again” written by Morrissey, Johnny Marr
WMG (on behalf of Warner Strategic Marketing UK); PEDL, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, UMPG Publishing, Warner Chappell, LatinAutor – UMPG, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., LatinAutor, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, UMPI, CMRRA, and 11 Music Rights Societies