Neville, Wilma and Charlie – Albert

Charlie stooped down to pick up a multi-colored pencil. Just then a bullet flew over his head. Right where his head would have been. A man stared at him holding the gun. He still pointed it at Charlie who simply looked up.

-Can I help you?

-You stole my Wilma!

-Your Wilma? What the hell is a Wilma?

-My wife!

-You must have me mistaken for someone else…

-No, you’re the guy.

-What’s his name?

-Who?

-The guy who stole your wife.

-I don’t know, but I know you’re it.

-How do you know that I stole your wife if you don’t even know his name? What if my name was Ron, but the guy who stole your wife’s name was Stan?

-I saw you coming out of that building.

-That’s my building.

-224 sound familiar?

-I’m 222.

-Do you know Esther?

-Esther?

-224.

-Mrs. Williams?

-Yes. That’s my sister. She seen you.

-Seen me?

-Yes. Seen you. She seen you going in and out of the apartment with my wife.

-How? From where?

-The laundry room.

-How do you know your wife and I hadn’t perhaps come to the same point in the same hallway at the same time and entered the two doors at the same time. They are right next to each other, and it looked like we entered the same room from the laundry room which is a good ways away down the hall, I might add.

-She said it was you.

-Were we in my apartment or Esther’s?

-Yours.

-Didn’t she go back and find your wife?
-She was gone. She was in your apartment with you.

-I see.

-Well, I guess you better shoot me, because that’s some pretty heavy evidence.

-I’m not going to shoot you, the gun just went off.

-Well, you almost shot me.

-I just wanted to scare you. I don’t want to go to jail.

-You don’t think there’s a charge against waving a gun in someone’s face even if you’re not planning on shooting them?

-I guess so, but I didn’t care.

-Because I’m cheating with your wife.

-Right.

-Well, why would you think she’s cheating on you?

-She doesn’t like me anymore.

-That doesn’t mean she’s cheating on you.

-I’m soft.

-Soft?

-Yeah, soft, weak, filled with fear, afraid I’m going to lose her, obsessed. Stupid, stupid!

-Don’t take it so hard. So, you’re soft. Everybody goes limp now and then. We can’t all be superman all the time and as for your relationship, maybe she chose you because she was having a fight with a mythical mother in the distant past or a father who hated her or something and realized that she got into a relationship with you because she was afraid of turkey or something.

-She ain’t afraid of turkey.

-I didn’t say that. What I mean is, what if she loves you, but she doesn’t love you the same way anymore, but she still loves you and you guys just need to figure out how you love each other as you both keep changing in this world. I’m sure you’re not a total shlep. I’m sure you’ve got some good qualities or she wouldn’t have married you in the first place, but I have to tell you, you’re blowing it with this gun bit and all.

-I’m sorry.

-It’s okay. Sheez! Will you at least put the thing in your pocket or something.

-Sure.

-Okay. Good. Well, now, have we got it established that I didn’t cheat with your wife?

-Yes.

-Good. Well, then. I’ve got to go. I could call the police, but I won’t because I can see that you have had a setback into insanity and I’ve had a few of those myself, not quite like you, but I’ve had them and I won’t call the police.

-Thanks.

-Well, I’ve got to go.

-Wait.

-What?

-What’s this?

-What? What?

-This picture.

-What is that. Give me that. Jeez, porn.

-Not porn. That’s you.

-Let me see.

-That’s me?  Are you sure.

-Positive.

-But he has red hair, reddish brown hair and my hair is black, dark brown.

-Same cut.

-But you can’t see half his face and that is definitely not my nose. A button. See?
-Close enough.

-I thought we’d established….

-Look, you talk a lot. I can respect that. But I know what I know and I know that you slept with my wife.

-But I thought you said…

-Forget what I said. That was to shut you up. Get the fear out of you. Now you got to pay.

-You are going to shoot me.

-Probably.
-Great.

Pause

-Oh well. Okay, I might as well fess up. I did it. I don’t know you’re wife’s name but if that’s her in that picture then I certainly must have enjoyed it. I think I’ll always remember our night together, the way that she weaved and bobbed for me and then insisted I take her laying down from behind…

-Wilma. I told you. Wilma.

-Then she said that she couldn’t stand it anymore and then I really let her have it…

-Fear…

-Fear. You’re filled with fear. Everything you do is filled with fear. From the way you hold that gun to the way you stand there looking at me right now. Fear. Fear fear fear fear fear. You’re filled with fear. I’ve never met your wife. Definitely never fucked her if I never met her, although I’ve heard such things have been attempted.

-You never met my wife…with your clothes on…

-You can’t learn can you? You don’t get it. I didn’t fuck your wife!

-Then who is that in that picture?

-Some guy fucking your wife.

-You!

-Who looks like me!

-Who is you!

-Who looks like me.

-Who is you.

(removes gun from pocket)

-Oh, so now you’re going to really do it aren’t you?

-I don’t know. You look like him.

-I’m not him.

-Esther saw you. Wilma was gone after.

-She wasn’t anywhere near me. She may have been near my apartment, but she’s never been in it.

-Charlie!

(Charlie turns)

-Charlie?

-Neville, what are you doing here?

-What are you doing here? And why are you calling this guy Charlie?

-Because he’s Charlie. God, Charlie, I missed you.

(She snuggles close into him)

-Excuse me!

-What!

-Who are you!

-Oh, God, Charlie, what?

-Wilma!

-Oh, God, Neville. I forgot for a second.

-Forgot what?

-God, I’m so sorry. I just forgot.

-But we’ve been married five years!

-I know.

-And why did you lie to me!

-I’m not lying to you! I’ve never seen this woman in my life except for in that picture.

-Charlie, just tell him.

-My name’s not Charlie!

-Charles.

-That either.

-Chuck?

-No.

-Oh, Neville…it’s you.

-You’re drunk!

-I was at Esther’s. How was that Charles?

-Great. I guess I’m Charlie after all. Good enough. I’ve got to go.

-Wait. I’m not going to shoot you. It wouldn’t be right and I don’t want to go to jail. But if I ever see you around her again I will do it and next time I won’t be kidding around.

-Great. Awesome. Groovy. I’ve got to go.

-Just a warning to you.

-Bye, Charlie.

-Bye, bye, “Wilma.” Bye “Neville.”

-Remember the warning.

-Roger that.

Charlie exits.

-So, Nev. We going to go home and make love?

-I don’t know. I don’t feel it anymore. You make me weak. I don’t feel strong. I feel full of…fear. Fear. That’s it. I am full of fear. I can’t do anything anymore.

-Why?

-I don’t know why. I don’t trust you or myself or something. I don’t trust that you love me anymore and maybe I’m seeing too much into things and you’re drunk and you’re not usually drunk and that guy and why did you just melt into him like that…

-I don’t know. I just did.

-That’s what I mean. You just did. You just did. And I’m weaker for it and fearful and cold and, I gotta go. C’mon.

-Okay, but I can’t go yet. You go. I’ve got to get my stuff at Esther’s. I’ll be right there. Make me a bath, okay?

-Alright. Okay. Be quick. I gotta go. I’m sick of this. Sick of this fear.

-Just go and make me the bath and it will be alright.

-Alright. Fear. Fear. All this fear.

Neville walks away. Wilma walks into the building when Charlie meets her.

-Christ, what a bastard. Almost killed me.

-Just kiss me and get me upstairs. We only got a few minutes this time.

-This is getting ridiculous.

-I know. But what are you going to do?

Advertisements
Published in: on May 19, 2016 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Only You Are Invisible (3.)

There is another reason that I have nobody and pretty much nothing except my thoughts and my poems. The real world does not seem real to me. All I pretty much see when I go outside is pavement and curbs and strip malls and gas prices and supermarkets and ugliness. This is the world in which I live and am asked to thrive. This is the world that asks me to be a part and to keep a smile on my face. How is this supposed to work? I live in such an ugly world. People too are ugly and don’t trust each other. Everybody is segregated, the young from the old, the ethnicities from one another, class differentiation everywhere. It feels as though I must batter down these walls by force somehow if I am to simply find someone to talk to. I don’t have the energy or the will. So I stay to myself. My only substantial relationship is with Maggie and we rarely talk anymore. Our sporadic almost accidental conversations are ghosts of conversations already passed. They are no longer memorable. They are streams of thought which pressed us further and further to the edge and away from one another until finally we split and the river continued, non-remembered dialogues turned into sickly colored streams of emotion, mostly of pain, but fueled by love at least. Not that love is present anymore. Love was betrayed long ago, but the force for caring about these streams of memory is love, love gone, but love that once was, and still, in some way, exerting a powerful force. Backward looking hope is what it is, as though you could turn back time, suffer through the dialogues forgotten over and over in your head, colorless streams, the paltry remnants of real dialogues. You can peel nothing away. All history is forever and unchangeable, but the invisible me does not know this. The invisible me hopes for the unattainable because anything seems possible in the world of the void in which we are placed at consciousness. An open slate from the beginning and through to the end, thoughts unreal. How fact when swirling inside the mind of the past that lives within my present mind? World within world within world.

And it is that complex. Still, people that I do bump into accidentally in this world expect to know me by asking about my place in this world. They consider the world in which they also walk to be the real world and I cannot even begin to understand how to explain to them that this world is the least important of the worlds there are to inhabit. So conversation always goes directly to the world least important, but most obvious, which is that of my state of being within it: I work at a sandwich shop. I live alone. I have no relationship. I am forty-six years old, much too old to start anew. And that’s where the conversations usually end. It’s pretty cut and dry as to what I am all about and it is usually enough to cut the conversation short. It always works this way. If only I could stress the inner world to them then perhaps they could understand, but everybody knows that to discuss the inner world as though it is of true importance is a ruse to cover up the meagerness of ones real real world. No children. No hope of children or love. Unhappiness because of the failure in this world. This is inferred through my sorry stats and I do not usually have the energy to go into a long treatise on the nature of things as they really are, to map out for them the psychological and spiritual landscape of me. It usually consists also of explaining how I got to my sorry state and this is considered complaining and nobody likes a complainer. It’s just that they would never believe me if I told them. I am invisible and it takes a good amount of my energy to function in a world where this is the case. I am not blind as they are to the fact. This makes all the difference. I guess this is what it means to be blind. You must be blind to your invisible state of being if you are to function as though you were not invisible. All of this in explanation would take much too long, would sound like complaining and wouldn’t be understood anyway. Even this explanation sounds like an excuse, but can I help the way that I was made, to believe that I am a spiritual being on a human journey? If this is true, and I always believed that it was, I must live with the consequence of the belief. As a spiritual being I have no real form. My outer form, one which I cannot see, holds little consequence in the grand scheme of things. Thus my weakness. Thus my failure in the world. If one looks at me they don’t see me. they just see the outer me. So much more than that. How does one carry on a conversation?

It would be so easy to simply stop the dialogue. I am not talking suicide. This is not in my nature. What would be the point? If I devised a quick stop to the way that I was made I would have nothing left. I would be a shell. I would fall down and not know how to get back up. The turning back from the inward trajectory is a long, long road. It is hazy and there is nothing to push you forward. Inward is the only way. Ever inward where words can meet you along the way. You gather them and put them in poems and you have a tangible essence for others to know, but like I said, there is no market for poetry. Only a select few want to follow you on your path and even if they did you wouldn’t have real communion. It might give you a feeling of existing, but you wouldn’t know. There would be no communication back to you, just you into them, the invisible world concocted into tangibility so that you can know that you are at least alive. I think therefore I am sort of thing. And then it would be gone. If they finished the poem they would know a little about me, but I would never know anything about them. They are fellow grand canyons in which the birds of thought also flit and flit and flit about. There is the spotted robin. There the blue jay. Interesting. Close the book. All of the aloners alone still. All the invisibles invisible still, for nobody believes in the unseen, or if they do believe, do not know how to know it. Feel only. Words to describe the feelings, clouds gray and ever-stretching, billow upon billow upon billow. No easy slots for categorization. No place for us to meet, for meteors never meet meteors. Thoughts, always on the move, cannot envelop completely, not nearly as well as a simple hunger pain or sexual itch. Better to bolster the real world. Prepare a world for fellow units to be bolstered, sharers of genes and noses. Success is in creating families and this is set in place by God. No thought required. Introduce thought into this plan and it will fall away, fetter away. An animal is a million times smarter than a thinking man. We are all animals. Here is another way of looking at the blindness question. We must be blind to the flitting thought of the inner world if we are to get down to real business. We must be blind, but how do I change the way that I am? How do I stop the need to be a poet? Truth is, I can’t. I must be a poet to the end or else I will disappear altogether. I must piece myself together with these images as though they are of what I truly consist. Perhaps I could one day be proud of the vessel like the successful of the world are. Success is truly built on the straightness of noses, the clarity of eyes, the flow of hair and the choice of dress. But I cannot strive for this which many critics would call shallow but I call animal blindness, survival technique, the only way to success in the world. Why would creation make a man like me so one sided?

I went back to work. I was feeling down when I got there. I was tired. Another day. It is my world, my real world so I feel I must come back to it if I am to keep credibility as a real human being. I went to work and made hundreds more sandwiches. There was a little drama among the managers. There was a little backstabbing among the employees. This is what passes as life, the interaction between beings, but nothing happened that could be said to matter. Nobody got closer to revealing truths about who they really are. Conversations were all concerned about the outer world. Getting more in the way of love and bolstering of physical self. Get big. That is what the job is really all about. People come in and eat our fat laden sandwiches and get big. They literally fill a hole. Of course they are also filling their souls. The holy act of digestion, a rite repeated daily. The holiest of holies. There is no escape from the depths of unconscious need. The need is so great that it would envelope us all if it could be given outer form. But it can’t. This is what Thoreau meant when he said men live lives of quiet desperation. The need is just too big to even give form in words. We are mute as we want what we don’t know that we need. The flow with Maggie was strong, and sad because strong, ever present it seems, for we never forget or stop wanting love. The memory of it after its loss sustains and tortures us at the same time.
Life is not a song, not really, although it has been compared to one. It is a monotone, one long line of different movements, but long and one and forever. Nothing ever breaks out. Break out of what? We are captured by our skulls and try to expand through other people and other things. We wish to infuse our inner world with an immaculate gas that will raise our cheeks and brighten our eyes. Then our bodies get in the way. Fall apart. Or other things happen. We lose faith. There is just too much meanness. We see it. Notice it for a first time. Then a second. After awhile we begin to believe it is our basic condition and we are ashamed of ourselves because we thought we weren’t animals and then we knew we were. This type of thought is illegal. It is the type of thought that will get you banished from the presence of normal society. What we are supposed to do is glean the essence, suck the juice from that which is before us. If we cannot see the good, then we are to look harder until we find, take it in, then move forward until we find a big stash of goodness and rightness, take that too, and if there is a lot there, make camp with it, be sustained by it, like bees in an especially fragrant field. But we must seek and this is the law.

Maggie has run off with Mike. She finally found her guy. Mike works in the medical field and it took him a long time to work the relationship into something sexual because he is as much a foreigner to intimacy as I used to be before I met Maggie. Now he is on a nightly foray into the worlds that I had known and I can’t hate him for it. I pushed Maggie away. I. As if there were an I. This thing, this space that I feel breathing, this dull unpolished orb seeking glean that could not allow me to keep Maggie inside with me. Two invisibles are better than one, but I could not trust myself anymore, this ever present need to go further. It left me weak when the real world did call, another bright light and I would seek escape and I would have done it again to Maggie, would have left her again, felt restless, left her alone. But this ever inward trek has left me nowhere. I can feel now enough to trust that it is singling me out by eliminating that which would take my attention away from it. It is the ultimate selfishness really, this inward journey, a prize never given, a prize praised early in life with titles like spirituality and mysticism, but a shabby prize in reality, for to collect it you must be completely and utterly alone. I don’t want it anymore. I want to give up my career. I made the wrong choice, to step from world to world and then write about what I saw. This big mirror that I try and hold up to my face, a face that I could not read even if I saw it, a face that others can read at the first second of contact. It hasn’t paid off. They said that it would pay off. It hasn’t. They never gave you the numbers. All of the great poets were successful. Every one in the book and the book was very thick. So many successes. I would be one of them. My thoughts would be remembered long after I was gone and this was much greater than any day to day existence I may have had while here on this feeble planet. History would remember me. I would have actually have had a face, a quite memorable one, and the face wouldn’t have been the face, but the depths of thought and spirit roiling, sailing, living, flying free beneath that face. My face would become a symbol for truth, a fine previously unveiled truth lithely exposed through my talent which was the base matter of Me. Was I really so insecure? I think so for I have held on to this dream my entire life. It makes me feel like a child now. The superhero that I thought I would become was never recognized as the dream of a child. Upon a man it lays clumsily like a suit too small. And here I stand, walking day to day in this suit. The comic was hastily and unprofessionally drawn. The audience had better things to do.

Published in: on June 5, 2013 at 5:39 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Only You Are Invisible (2.)

But it wasn’t always like this. By no means. This is the end result, although I am “only” forty-six, at a set point during a whole lifetime of encountered dreamworlds. It’s true what they say about youth. It keeps you insulated. Youth and dreams go hand in hand and until about the age of maybe even 40 you live in a dreamworld bubble of protection called “potential.” Maybe potential…nah. A ruse. This whole line of thought. Potential is just another way of saying that you think that hope, much better than despair, is still kicking inside of you. But if you don’t do something about it, do something tangibly about it, conservatively even, take the hit, be a nerd, do the time, relinquish the reins to others, bow down…that’s it. Bow down. Always hated doing it and yet here I am, standing day to day on the line, liked but not a success by any means except on a very, very pared down scale. Reality is the death line on a hospital heart monitoring machine. I know that sounds bleak, but it is true. It tells of the fact of the story of our most basic fear. Death or Death Without Meaning. Might as well just jump right to it. Death. Many people say that they are not afraid of death, but that is because they are insulated by youth. Those afraid of death aren’t really afraid of death as much as they are afraid of the slow nothingness that turns you away from life. They are afraid of the living death that comes from having “failed” to stand up in life, point to death and say “meh.” It’s all for looks. If you couldn’t even thrive in life, if you failed financially, then it’s obvious that you couldn’t even put up a good fight and your fellow biological creatures are somewhat disgusted with you. You failed to provide a good example of strength while alive to give the idea of death for them a good twitch on the nose. You were a symbolic failure. You made it seem for them like death could really get its claws into us poor mortals and drag us down slow and if it could do it to you, than egad, why couldn’t it do it to them? We are all supposed to keep a stiff upper lip about the whole prospect of life and death. We are supposed to be strong, to ever propagate the species, and gain wealth so that we may ever soar over the world, strong and brave and free. Of course, one day, our wings will weary and we will sail downward to our required final perch, but only to be raised back up again by a higher power which took note of how we maneuvered this life and, because proud of us, lift us right on back up again. We are to never stop soaring but for only a moment. That’s how we are supposed to live and if we don’t then we are a bad example, a scary fact that must be ignored. We bring bad hoojoo to the air around the heads of everyone around us, and what we find is that this has the actual ability to make of us who fail to inspire quite literally alone. People peel off one by one as lost realization of potential becomes more and more apparent.

If you look into the literature you will see that on a social level all this talk about death is a major faux pas. But if you look into the literature, the psychological, literary and philosophical literature, it is all over the place. There are obviously two distinct ways to go about thinking of the world, the electric, dynamic and hopeful and the flat. The talk about death is of the flat world, like I said, the line on the heart monitor, the meaning of the line on the screen. To even talk about it you risk losing the hearer forever. It’s that strong a subject. But as you get older you can’t really even talk about the weather anymore either. You can’t talk at all with adults about anything. We all become too smart. We’ve all heard all the lines, wrapped our minds around all the tricks others can pull since everybody is vying for power in some way. Speech just seems like complaining, even to yourself. The decay of your social status, the loss of your potential, poisons the holy everyday air of immortality belief that must be held sacred by all who still hold breath. To open your mouth is to release seemingly harmless tidbits about life, but each tidbit has a corner of mold which disgusts, the beginnings of a rip. Age equals smarts. We avoid decay both spiritual and physical like the plague. You see it in the pop culture. Everybody must be beautiful, but if you look at the movie star magazines you can see how even the most beautiful of the beautiful are somewhat faded in some aspects. The middle aged have targets on them so you feel sorry for them. They too are on the continuum. Even they. And behind them are the young, the absolutely flawless, a new champ given their own try to show the world that death does not really have to take hold. That’s why we have children because there is no way that death is lurking around there, but even there, even there… even I once was a child.

It is grim, but something that must be addressed, gotten out of the way to continue. Of course I don’t think about death all of the time, but if there is a story to be told death must be allowed into the room, given a wave at least. It doesn’t need to be invited to the table. Who would invite death to the table? But it must be given a nod so that its last laugh is not too uproarious, perhaps only a chuckle. And there is a story to be told here. Of course the only good story to be told is a love story, but a love story is really only a good love story after the love is gone. This is a sad truth. Otherwise you lack plot. I hope nothing more than to be totally wrong about this. We have all lost love in our lives. Love is the promise of not being alone on that road to death. There is a great belief that love can override death. It is the only thing that can. But stories must come from things that happened in the past and things such as love do not remain intact forever. That is why it is a story, because it is no longer there and the story-teller wants to remember when it was. It feels good to remember when there was hope against death, and to remember love is one of the best ways. You could think about death all of the time, I guess, but it wouldn’t really make a difference in your life. It would hinder your life actually. You would be a Gloomy Gus. So it is true that you must fight against the negative pull of the thought of death. Fool yourself if you must, but first you must doff your cap and then you can go about the business of flaunting life in the face of death until it is your time and you don’t mind because you have lived.

The time before work is pretty uneventful for me. I do a lot of reading since I am a literary type. Sometimes I go see movies. My brother and sister live in town, but they don’t really like me, not really, and I am getting to the age where I’m pretty sure that I’ve taken on all the attributes of that crazy uncle that your friend had when you were a kid, the one who died or actually went crazy. I guess they think I’m close to that since I have absolutely nothing and nobody anymore. So they stay away. That death thing again. But I’m not close to going crazy. I still write my poems, every day usually. Some pretty good stuff, but there is no market for poetry and it’s hard to explain it to them. They just don’t understand why I don’t just try and do something else. Because it is my career, I try to tell them, but they don’t get it. It’s like they are staring into the mouth of the abyss and the abyss is me. At least I have my college degree to give them some sense that perhaps I am not crazy. At least that holds back total pity from their non-understanding eyes. Maybe that’s why they let me be and don’t dig in too hard. They’re letting me be a failed poet even though they believe it is a lie and that I am lazy and the baby and I’ve gone into all that. I puttered around the studio for awhile. Listened to the neighbors make love, made some ham and eggs and then walked down to the coffee house and tapped on my computer and read NYTimes.com. I then went back to my studio and slept. I woke up and wrote a poem about the fuzziness of the sound of the silence that is sometimes thought. It made me feel pretty good to do that and it is a major theme, the sound of intangibles, the feel of esoterica, the look of the invisible. I guess I always sought a challenge. But like I said. I am invisible. I really am, and I have to devise a way of seeing and understanding myself if I am to have a sense of who I am in the world. Maybe other people can just go about their days as though they too are not invisible, but I don’t see how they can do it. It seems that everybody should be spending their days concentrating on such things, but apparently they are not. They are too busy. Are they busy forgetting? This seems to be the standard interpretation of the malaise of the modern person, that they are busy forgetting who they are so as to make a living and thrive in this world. Striving after blindness in a way, but it sounds very negative and I can’t see how blindness and forgetting yourself is the same thing. How can you forget yourself? You are there all the time even though you can’t see yourself. If you forgot yourself you would simply be unconscious and that’s not what I want. I want the opposite. I want sight that leads to a higher awareness of life. I would want to forget my pain and I would want to be blind to the interruptions that would cause me to have less a sense of higher life, but to consider forgetting oneself and blindness the same thing… I’ll have to think about that.

I wrote another poem about a blind cat. Why I chose a cat I don’t know, although I do remember once coming upon a blind stray in a junkyard. I walked into the yard and maybe seven cats scattered at the sight of me including this one, a mangy tomcat who sensed me, but didn’t quite know where to run or how fast. I could have easily caught him. I had such an overwhelming sense of pity for him. I didn’t know how he could survive. I didn’t know how life could be so unfair. But he apparently could and it apparently can be. If you don’t doff the hat to death then you keep it as a dangerous stranger instead of what it is, a major part of life, maybe even a tool of God, although you hate to think that your own demise could be the way that God wanted it. Such a thought hurts the immortality fantasy, makes us feel that life is cruel. Rosy turns to bleak for a moment and then must be returned to rosy, but as you age people become aware of the fantasy and stay to themselves more. They don’t want any more guff in the direction that death is not also for us. Such things as blind stray cats bring these things back to us. Everything comes back to us. We are perpetually pushing the same story away from ourselves. It is mostly unacknowledged. I think Freud called it repression. So, yes, a good chunk of our day is used on repression. It’s real. It’s scientific. I wish I could make my family understand that there is a world like this out there, in there really, but they would never believe it. They’ve got their God tool and their fantasies and their bulwarks against defeat. If they need to defeat negativity they will do what others do, blame others, me included, the government, liberals, the economy, sin. My brother and sister bought into the whole Jesus thing even though they were raised Christian by a real Christian. Nobody told them that the Christ of this new age of Christianity is a lie, that Christ was co-opted by conservatives to further their political (economic) well-being. It’s sad, but the bridge cannot be crossed. We are now a nation of true believers. We just haven’t begun killing each other outright yet, although we are doing our best to kill each other with un-Christian rules. Take food from babies, abandon the old, but do not touch the billionaires’ money. They never acknowledge that the richest among us own, I hear, 95 percent of all the wealth in the country. Instead, they see a shining example of worthy people on to whom God’s light was purposefully shone. If only they could be so blessed. A racket. They will never see the racket. More death. More death. Little tinges of it that aggravate me and keep me from joining them. In two hours I go back to work. Work staves off death by keeping me alive. I just have to work on having a more positive attitude, but I’m not sure how to do that when I see death maneuvering ever closer to my family and my country. I do the equivalent of shaking my head to get the bad thoughts out. Don’t be a Gloomy Gus. Don’t call wolf. Get a real job. But I’m paralyzed in the headlights. Don’t they see how going against love kills? I stand on the side of love even at the expense of having love, of having anything, really. I just must not lose hope and I must also seriously consider finding a better way to survive, even while understanding that I am invisible. I must go through the world blind to the fact that I am invisible. I must make believe that I can see me and I am good and strong and free.

Published in: on May 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Only You Are Invisible

I give up. It’s true. I have been running around trying to figure out life for some 46 years now and I’ve come to the conclusion of what my problem is: I’m invisible. You are too. Imagine it. Really think about it. You have the ability to look at people and have a general idea about their states of well-being. You can almost figure them out at first sight. Perhaps their eyes are sad or they’re old or they’re young and sprightly. Whatever it is you can get a general sense of who they are just by looking at them. You can’t know everything of course, but you needn’t really give them much more thought than a glance provides to prescribe a host of possible cures. Fat? Exercise. Poor? Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But you yourself? You look out and what do you see? Everyone but yourself. In a roomful of people, you are the invisible person in the room. You. And there is nothing that you can do about it. Yet they are invisible to themselves too. We walk around invisible yet act as though we are not simply because we can be seen by others. But what clues are we given about the most important person to us in the room? Nothing, memories of what we have thought ourselves to be, something that changes every single minute it seems.

I suppose that you then have to guess about who and what you are, but your theories are as vast as the world’s seas. Now that I see this way I am free to let me be me. Hell, I might be a Unicorn-like beast to the world. Thoughts are definitely flitty. They fly. Vroom. Whisk. Go by me like a meteor. What was that thought? What did it have to do with me? Should I grab it by the tail, squint my eyes and pretend that this thought is what I look like to others? Anything goes. A lot of people say they don’t care what other people think about them. What they are saying is that they have accepted that they are invisible to themselves. The thoughts and feelings are strong enough inside of them that they never question their ability to be surrogate to the them they cannot see. They rely on the million-winged thing inside of themselves as though it is who they are on the outside too. This is a leap of pure faith, but it seems to pay dividends. People who do not question reality can charge through the world as though they are the stronger more positive thoughts that they carry within them day to day. Us questioners, which is a good many of us, are left with the images and the stubbornness of the thoughts which we believe must be connected to something else which must be connected to something else… The more that we educate ourselves, the more that we see how intertwined the world is. We want to be fair, moral, right. We don’t want to accept the flitty world as who we are for fear that if everybody acted this way then the world would be chaos. Guess what? The world is chaos, but figuring out how others can act without a sense of morality and justice is just another vast plain which we float into and away from knowing ourselves through pure faith. We think into spheres of thought that take us higher and higher, lower and lower, out and around until we have to accept a spiritual view of who we are. All because we can’t see ourselves, can’t take a cue from our expressions as to which way we should go.

I guess I’ve been a bit of a stone-face lately. I gather this because of my thoughts, which have been anything but hopeful lately. I have been going into myself deep, trying to find the bottom, in a way. I thought that I had it the other day. I was lying in bed looking up at the bunkbed above me, the top of which I use as a desk, envisioning emptiness (a spiritual state) without considering it that. I had simply come to the place where I had lost all faith in the flitty world inside of my head to bring me to a conclusive answer as to who I am. It would go on forever, I surmised. I could follow threads of thought until the end of time, but without a sense of the whole, enough to fill my very limbs, I would never be able to gather sustenance from the world of thought. I often think about what it is that I need to know, that I’ve forgotten and have to go back and relearn to get somewhere that I was years ago. That ever turning wheel, like a hamster wheel, that gets you absolutely nowhere, is like a false promise by everybody who has ever tried to teach me in my lifetime. Remember this, they say, and let it sink into you and you will rise until your soul will be level with your eyes and you will be able to look out proud as though you could actually see what you look like in a crowded room, as though you could not only see everybody else, but you could see yourself. And it wouldn’t be through ego either, which is a false sense of yourself to make up for the fact that you are invisible. It would be true. You would know that you are what you are supposed to be by the reactions of others around you and there wouldn’t be any danger of falling or being whisked away into the “truth” of another thought that you must first address in order to be “true.” I guess being true is what it is all about. You don’t want to be false, but that is what being lost in the whirlwind of thought and resultant emotion portrays to others. So often the idiots win. You find that you envy the idiots, the ones who never listened to those who told you things about the world that sounded true and that you therefore wanted to integrate into your being so that you could be true.

It all gets pretty complicated, I guess. Back to reality. In the few minutes it’s taken to think these thoughts, abbreviated in my mind, of course, I’ve made sixteen sandwiches. Six of them have been Porky Porkins. Four of them have been the Garden of Eden. Two of them were Royal Cluckers with cheese, three The Mountain and one Ruben’s Reuben. Mario is to the left of me, 19, Diane to the right, 18. My boss is Sheila, 28. She’s nice. Three more on the line include Adolpho (cutting), Roberto (condiments) and then the assistant manager, Dave, 23, putting the order over to the new girl, pretty, about 20, charging people their money and giving them their cups. Oh yeah, Natalie, in her fifties and from Australia, is taking the orders behind me, punching them into the computer where they show up on my computer screen. Her husband is an American trucker and she prefers Australia.

I went to college. I’m pretty much the cautionary tale that everybody’s father tells them not to be when they say they want to become a musician or artist or, God forbid, poet, like I told my father. He ranted and raved, slung his jowels this way and that, but there was nothing I could do about it. School had been telling me that being a member of the literary class was one of the finest things that you could do with your time here on earth. I spent my late teen years with my poetry books and notebook sitting under trees in parks, my station wagon parked in the parking lot, looking up into the limbs, through the trees at the passing clouds and wondering, hoping, dreaming and believing that if I could just translate it into words that I would be accepted and loved by others with the same belief in the value of the loftier of thoughts. Of course I learned over time that it was all tied to concepts such as soul and spirit. This sealed it for me. There was another world up there. Out there? In there? Hmm. Where was this other world? The questions, I admit, inhabit me today, although this new wrinkle about our being invisible because we can’t see ourselves is interesting. I guess it may be the closest I’ve ever gotten to being able to be the dream promised me by the teachers and the mystics over the years. Or maybe I just think so. I figure this too shall pass. I’ll forget that I’m invisible eventually and go back to hour after hour of looking up at my bunkbed/desk wondering what the hell it’s all about. But if I can’t see myself or have mock faith in myself like others can, as though they actually can see themselves, then I can’t be all bad. I’m flying blind. Somehow this feels good. Blind is somehow good. I know that I don’t know who I am to those around me who ultimately dictate the kind of life that I am to have in the “outer” world. I won’t have to pull thoughts out of those unremembered lessons “learned” to present my best “face” so as to advance. Where is there to advance to? What happens to the faces that I present? General belief is that if it is a smile then you are doing okay in the world. So you try to smile as much as possible around here. Laughter is good. But what am I doing here? Why am I making sandwiches at the Sandwich King at forty-six years of age?

Very good question. It seizes all urges to make my cheeks tense in a positive manner so as to be relieved that at least I am not ugly. Non-smiles make one ugly and unpopular. I know this even though I can’t see my smile. I’m not stupid. But I can’t smile all the time and in the times I am not smiling I go so far down? Up? Around? Through? the world that…

“Put mayo on that one, dear,” Natalie is next to me now. I’m the lead. The best there is around here. When we first opened, the place was brand new and I wanted to be a dishwasher. They told me that I would be better on the sandwich line. I got a promotion right away. I learned that little Mexican men would always be destined to be the official dishwashers at the King, but I did it anyway before this precedent was set. If there were any dirty dishes I would wash them which put me inside of a halo for the bosses. At one point they wanted me to join them, but I never fancied myself a lifer in the sandwich game and said no. It felt good though that they approved of me, that I did not have to prove myself, that I wanted to wash dishes in the first place so taking what they perceived as the extra step played in my favor. It feels good when your bosses actually like you. I’m a good worker. Simply put, that’s the way it is. I’m a team leader, although not officially. It’s just my age. I don’t get caught up in the webs of adolescent drama during the eight hours I’m on the job each day like others. You got the lazies, the haters, the aloof, the innocent, the “biding their time” people, the quiet grateful Mexicans. You’ve got the guy who is good at cooking the sides of beef and says he owns eight houses which he plans to sell soon. Too much time in the upkeep.
“Just the one or both?” I ask, for clarification.
“Just the first.”
“A clucker with Mayo,” I say clearly. They use mustard on the Clucker, a special sauce and people dig it, but now and then you’ll get the mayo people a little upset.

Could Natalie see me? Obviously, she could see me. She squeezed my bicep, the one I damaged by trying to hold up a house once. Long story, not worth going into. I sometimes forget whether people can see me if I can’t see myself. Of course, they can see me. They can’t see themselves, that’s all. Each of us alone are the invisible ones. Everybody other than we ourselves are as visible as day. I’m doing it again. Trying to hold on to something that I thought that I learned in order to end thought once and for all. It just takes up way too much of my time. Do I regret that I went into the sensitivity to all thought game? You bet. Regret it with all of my being. Regret that I had a mother who believed that I “am a spiritual being on a human journey.” I was a good student and a good kid. Moral as hell. Very important to be moral if you are to make a difference in the world. Never thought of joining the dark side. Always honed my metaphorical moral light saber skills throughout my life for the day when I would slice away evil forever and ever amen. I’m still waiting for that day. In the meantime, everybody else has families, money and true laughter. They go home to nice abodes whose lights I contemplate as I drive home each night at eleven o’clock. I imagine them in only one way: happy. Their living rooms are warm. Their children curl up into their laps. The couples smile at each other and coo and the next day they do their routines warm with the knowledge that this loving scene would once again be played out behind their solid doors and glowing windows once again and then again and then again. Forever.

Yet I find it difficult to trade it all in. Of course my logic is askew. I have avoided corporate responsibility my entire life so that I could be alone with my esoteric meanderings of mind in search of the true other place in the spiritual realm. If I had done what my father had suggested, and their had been a lot of suggestions: advertising, publishing, writing (as if I hadn’t written enough poems to last several people several lifetimes), business (in general. Do Something!), I would be happy right now, especially now that the charm is just about worn off. To be Thoreau now would classify me as a bum. To be Emerson I would have to play a much more complicated game, one that I didn’t have the social skills (the invisible overcoming inclination of faking it) to accomplish. Everything other than what I have done, contemplated, seemed like a waste of my talent and my talent itself was not even a talent. It was more a proclivity, a willingness to bend into the silence to capture a flitting dream, one of beauty, but one that I found as I aged loses its luster as my body loses its luster until I am just another ugly middle aged man with no kids and very little hope of “making it.” Obviously, I should have put myself into a monastery at a very young age so as to have had a framework that was respected for what I was trying to do with my inner world, the only world that I had come to respect. But I didn’t. I ended up at the Sandwich King.

I can feel it. It’s here now. The dark place. It’s back. Concentrate. Concentrate. Sandwich after sandwich. Pile it on. More, more. Pile it higher. Cost the King a few extra pennies, but just pile it on. Keep them coming back. Save the company by giving the people a filling sandwich, not like most of the others who stayed close to the company guidelines and made sandwiches that I would not buy twice. More meat, more lettuce. More sauce. A better sandwich. More. Once again, filling up the world with the stuff of the world as though recognition that the world existed in plenty would remind me that I was not invisible and at the mercy of the thoughts in my head which had, as of late especially, been pressing down on me. What tool for good was I when I was scattered in a million directions? Only the focused made a difference in the world. Those of us who entertained thoughts were too spread out to make much of a difference. Who cares if we wanted to be right so that the right thing could be done instead of the expedient which often led to chaos and disaster when played out on a grand scale. Look at the world. Wars, famine, cheating, lying for gain. An honest perusal of the inner world would provide the world with an honest answer that would guide it into a place where that spiritual world promised by my mother would then be able to step forward and all would be well. That was my job, to push the world a little closer to that other world where it would then be able to simply step into place, into Holy place, I guess, and, like I said, all would be well. But then I would look around me and realize that it was all taking place inside of me. It was imprisoned inside of me rather. Not even the actuality, but the thought of a better world. I could tell that nothing I actually did mattered. The sandwiches mattered. I would have to get through that to get to the other. I would have to make the best damned sandwich in the world for a little of the dream imprisoned inside to be released into the world. If I spoke all would be lost. If I wrote it would not be read (nothing of mine has ever been published except in a college literary review). All was pretty much lost to the whirlwind inside which, I imagined, may have been guessed at by others through my eyes at times or my silence among different circles than work. Nobody told me how hard it would actually be to be heard when your choice of “career” was to be heard.

I made another 200 sandwiches before I left. I first took off my apron. Semi-filthy. Stunk of food. I made my way out the back door. Nobody ever said goodbye. It was like we had relegated ourselves to being automatons. When the machines took over they would simply be switched off too. Entrance was the same way. You simply showed up on the line and you had to guess that they remembered who you were. A new pair of hands to pass a sandwich to. I made my way to the parking lot, into my car, which I won’t tell you about, and on to the road. Through ten, fifteen lights, never counted, into my studio apartment on the outskirts of town and into my bed and slept. I woke up and went to my coffee house where I read the paper and wrote into the computer that was still working after all these years after my father bought it for me. He’s been dead seven years now. Had it upgraded recently and lost roughly 200 poems. I stamped my foot in anger and hurt my heel and am still smarting from it. I have an extra heel pad for work, but it doesn’t totally alleviate the pain. Inner pain translates into outer pain. Pain is a network. The last poem I wrote there was a guy who looked like the lead singer of the Killers with his family at the next booth. I had to look twice and wasn’t sure if it was him or not. If it was I prided myself on being seen, as though that would make it so that I could actually see myself, that I existed in some way that was remarkable, but then I sifted back down into myself, into that soft twilight, that hazy gray of me and searched for thoughts that would explain everything that was and everything that would be, how I might get out of this thing alive, perhaps find love (ten years gone) and be “somebody” again, before the true lessons of my life took away the true mover of who I was, my younger, more naïve self. I guess back then I didn’t think too much about such things as being invisible to myself. I thought a lot, erratically, crazily, poetically, mystically, but self-identity and the back side of the track were not as pronounced. I guess I fear that as I decline the mysterious within me will decline also, that everything before was a result of my youth and not real truth, as though it was blood of nerve and brain that was the real commander of philosophy and spirit and therefore “God” would just one day fade away, or was perhaps already gone, just a joke of naivete.

At the coffee house, a truly suburban affair that would generally not host a rock star, but perhaps has, I saw a woman holding a toddler to her chest as though it were a bumper on a car, a group of old ladies who apparently meet every once in awhile, the manager in street clothes, a red golf shirt and golf cap, apparently on the links that day and just coming in to see how things were going, the regular help. A most unremarkable display that you are relegated to seeing day after day because you don’t live in New York or Boston or Paris or London or anywhere else that is remarkable. Because it is somewhat nice, although somewhat commercial, you wonder about the levels of success of the people. Then you tire of it. You want to write. You don’t. I don’t. I am the you of which I speak, but it is nice to consider myself a you. Makes me feel like I am there. Reminds me that I can be seen when I can’t, at least not by myself. I may represent an alien with three snouts to these people, but I wouldn’t know it, because nobody really looks at you. This is good I guess. I’m not an alien. Perhaps I look successful to others. I dress alright, white pants, cream really, although there are oil stains on the left pant leg.

What they can’t see is that I have absolutely nobody anymore. You can sometimes gauge a person’s aloneness just by looking at them and the people who work here have probably gauged me as pretty much alone, but you can fool everybody else, make them believe that you are substantial in some way. My computer helps, I guess. I look at the New York Times a lot. Write poems. I try not to look too hard at the news anymore, because it seems as though the country has abandoned its moral base in favor of making more money. After the Republicans took over Christianity it all just sort of went to hell. Now Christians believe in all sorts of non-Christian things like starving children in their own country, killing children of other countries, lying to put more and more money into the pockets of their employers who own just about 95 percent of the country already. Dishonesty is the name of the game anymore and it’s easy if you’re rich. You can get all sorts of “think tanks” to come up with scientific surveys that say that people prefer to be destitute and in the street as long as the richest one percent do not have to dip down into fifties of billions instead of the sixties of billions. It’s easy to fool us now. We are an easily fooled people. I thank Jesus for all of this, rather, his “followers” who aren’t really his followers, but paid public relations men posing as his followers. The real Jesus said “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.” The new Jesus drives a benz. I try not to think about this. I try to push it away, but it’s hard.

I once wanted to write fiction, but found that I had no plots in my life. I know that people want plots in their fiction because they are also like me with no plots in their lives. Where would people get plots? All people do every day is arrange their day so as to avoid plots. Having no plot means having no drama and nobody wants drama, nobody wants plots, so they open books to get the excitement, the plots, that they don’t want in their real lives. So I used to sit there and try to imagine plots, or drama, that I could give to people so that they would read my work, buy my book, and I wouldn’t have to make sandwiches. But I always end up going back to my poetry which doesn’t require plots. The reader of poetry has come to terms with the fact that they have no plots in their lives and are willing to ruminate on what they do have, namely, existence. Good or bad, they have existence. To understand that existence is the one thing that they feel that they can do as they go about their days, their jobs, through the lives of their loved ones. Once you realize that you will most likely have very little real plots in your own life you can relax and consider what you do have which is the moment, now, expanding outward from inside for its base is inside of you. It starts the moment you open your eyes and realize that you are invisible, if you ever realize it, and then attempt to live life anyway. The world within is you and feelings that come from the images and thoughts make up your day so you have to make the best of it. You have to arrange things, make sure that things don’t get out of control. Those without plots live as I do, a totally insular existence. We feed on what we have and take sustenance from where it may come which is often spirituality, study, rumination through artistic endeavor. But there is no set rule as to what we are exactly doing. What are we doing? We are born alone and we die alone. In the middle we dance with the things within our minds.

A woman walked in and sat down at a table about three tables down. She was eating alone. She didn’t look at me, but she was old enough to do so. I went to the library to get a movie the other day and as I walked to the movie section I had to pass the internet section where people get free internet use. The oddest thing was taking place, every single person on the net was a middle aged man just like me. All were poor. You assume that when you use the internet at the library. I walked faster realizing that I was just another one of those poor middle aged men, no longer able to attract a woman and love, relegated to use the free library services. When I got into the movie room there were more of those men, all middle aged just like me, one reeking of alcohol. Of course, he would be. Why not? But he looked somewhat respectable as though the alcohol hadn’t wrecked his life, as though he fancied himself a poet just like I did me. The sameness of it all. The sameness of me. The woman never spoke to me and after awhile I went home and slept and the next day I was back at work making sandwiches, trying to stretch my face to smile and even laugh, but the laughter was becoming harder to conjure. Being invisible, alone and middle aged was becoming too hard to deny. Something would have to be done. But what was there to do anymore? Standing there I realized that it had been two months since Maggie had called. She always called even if it was to just chastise me for not being a success and having a no can do attitude about life which wasn’t really that, but rather a yes can poetize attitude that nobody could understand. I’m sure I have written as many poems as Wordsworth and he wasn’t considered a troubled failure like I am by those who know, knew me. It’s not really fair. I did my time in college studying a subject that the teachers claimed was the highest calling and yet when I got out I was told that I was a failure as a human being while the partiers who never contemplated a higher thought in their lives rose in the ranks of success simply because they chose their college major according to how much money it would provide them. Who cares that they would end up bilking their own fellow Americans. They were successful doing it and success was all that mattered ultimately. Monetary success. The other kinds were jokes and cover for basic infirmities of mind, heart and soul. I was a child who cared, a teen who cared, an adult who cared, but without monetary success all was a ruse. Now I am simply an un-ambitious lazy person who makes sandwiches at forty-six because he was actually quite “off” his whole life just as everybody suspected. He was going to fly high, was shooting for the stars, but in reality, he was just a dreamer, a bad kind, not even the romantic kind really. The lazy kind. The wrong kind. Had I been able to…which brings us to complaining.

Everything is seen as a complaint. That’s how Maggie sees me too. I try to explain my lack of will to strive for the dollar, to make active plans to bank off my poetry, to try at least. It all seems like business to me. Business is okay, I guess. I would love to be able to thrive in business, but I can’t. I can’t muster the will to do it. I have no passion for it. So a lot of my time is spent contemplating ways to succeed in my own entrepreneurial endeavors, but once it comes time to put the “plans” into action I don’t want to move. I simply don’t care. I then write a poem or ten and feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do. This is outrageous in this day and age. But this is what all of the great poets ever did. They simply wrote and wrote and wrote. They sat under trees. They walked in the woods. They lived in their garrets. They thought and they wrote and they observed until they were one day recognized as actually having been doing something during all these times. But for every poet recognized there are a hundred thousand left unrecognized. What if the recognized ones had not been recognized? Would their work, which would have been the same work had they not been recognized, been any less great? This bothers me a lot. How do I know that what I do isn’t much more important than anything I could be doing in the realm of business? If I move off on a different course my unrecognized poems would perhaps not be written and although I may forever be unrecognized their merit would remain – unseen, silent and hidden away never to be seen again. But what if they are deserving of the same praise as those who had been recognized? If a tree falls in a forest…

So I try not to talk about my work. Nobody I know really thinks of me as a poet. When asked what I do I tell them that I work at the Sandwich King. Their eyes light up. Oh? They say, as though it were a proud thing to be working at the Sandwich King. They have to stifle a lot of negative thinking to keep their eyes bright and alive as they talk to me. It is instant non-credibility as a human being and I accept it, smile a little bit. Then I tell them that I also write poems. Of course, that’s wonderful. My point is that even I myself explain what I do first in the realm of business. Only then would my other interest be revealed, a pithy little hobby that most likely I took up because that is what you must do to make up for being such an unsuccessful person. You get used to things. It’s sad, but you do. Melancholy becomes just another emotion. It is the ending of pride.

At work that day there are a lot of customers. I’m good at what I do. I make a good sandwich. A good beefy concoction. I don’t skimp. It helps business. My heel hurt of course and I wondered about Maggie. She said she was going to have cheap sex with a friend if he didn’t want her for any other reason. I accepted it as I was supposed to do. I don’t know why she calls me. We had love many years before and held on to it for a long time even as we broke up and I went on to other relationships. I don’t know what she was doing while I was doing what I was doing. I figured we were broken up, but she was the only one of them that ever truly loved me and I couldn’t get over that. After awhile I gave up on the whole game and all I had left was the love that Maggie still held for me, but by this time I was too ashamed to go back. I was also afraid that I would hurt her again. Youth. When you get to a certain age you realize how stupid you really were, but then it is too late. You’ve made your bed as they say. Two months later I tried not to think of the bed that I made for her. Where Maggie was is simply a big sad hole now. Her disappearance represents our true split. I am now truly alone. My brother and sister don’t love me, well, if they love me they don’t really have much time to show it because they are off on their own middle class America raise the children fantasies. Poor Peter. It is in the margins of every communication I have with them. Poor Peter. The youngest who was so foolish. Of course he would fail. He was the baby. The baby is always supposed to fail. It is expected. I couldn’t disappoint. I think us babies fail because we are usually the dreamers of the family. All the important stuff is taken up by the elder children. They must learn to be responsible. The baby has a lot of help so spends more time in the dreamworld. He never really leaves. The poor baby who must play and play and play. Poor baby. Last born, most likely first to die. Sad. Sad. Sad. Sad. Sad.

I never bought into this, of course. Dreamworlds are praised by our educators by insisting on our studying art and literature and music. It’s all dreamworld and the babies are usually pretty good at it because of their practice being the baby. Freedom. This leads to higher aspirations, spiritual aspirations even, but don’t ask us to put a car together. Don’t ask us to figure out adult responsibility stuff. It’s not that we can’t do this. We can when we grow up, but the elder children will never believe it. Adulthood to elder grown up children for the baby is worthy of a chuckle only. A baby will always be the baby especially if he or she chooses a dreamworld profession like I did. Profession. The dreamworld doesn’t have professions. It has states of existence only, a fact that the others can’t then won’t understand. The baby is the baby. I’m the baby.

So I’m the baby and it shows. I’m forty-six and I make sandwiches at the Sandwich King. This is a good baby career. I wrapped up my shift at the Baby King, the oldest baby at the King, and made my way home. Through the lights again. Cold outside again at night, eleven-fifteen. Back to the old studio apartment that I can just barely afford and hit the bed hard. I dream almost as soon as I hit the pillow. My unconscious state has been like this lately. I seem to dream even when I am awake. I saw a movie on my day off, one I got from the library, where someone asked someone else in what language did they dream. This was odd for me because it never occurred to me that there were words in my dreams. I don’t remember the dream or the words, but I was aware for the first time that there were words in my dreams. Odd. My dreams have been very literate lately. Sometimes it is almost as if I am writing in my dreams. Words being formed as though I were writing a poem or even a book. Where do these stories come from? It makes no sense that I should dream people I have never met into situations I have never encountered. It makes me wonder about the nature of novels. These novelists write all these words and sometimes the sentences are put together so well and with such insight that it seems they are watching the words instead of thinking them. It seems like dictation. Perhaps it is. I can write in my dreams with a complete absence of conscious thought. So Shakespeare possibly just dictated his plays out of some powerful literary dreamforce in his own head. And he was called Shakespeare. The great Shakespeare. He could have been chomping walnuts, really getting into them while his other hand magically penned Hamlet. This seems to be true to me concerning the nature of great literature. There is a little brain inside of the brain of the named person’s brain that is really doing the writing and maybe it has to do with magnesium levels in the blood or lack of zinc or whatever. Life is life and it will pour forth from where it pours forth and just don’t get in its way if you want it to arrive. But you don’t believe in this because you are taught to believe that magic doesn’t exist. But it may just well exist. Maybe.

Which brings me to the idea that I think we should all go through life as though blind. I told this theory to a person I know. (I don’t know very many people anymore because relationships are decided on first tics anymore and they are plenty and deep and adults cannot talk to one another because they are too smart and feel pain too easily, but that’s another story.) I told this person that we should go through the world blind after he told me about a philosophy of someone he knew. Psychological theories are interesting to me, but it seems to me that you can’t keep them in your head, so you must go through the world blind. I wasn’t sure what this meant. I hate when I say something and then assume that I know what I mean by it after I say it. It may actually take years to come to a true understanding of something you proclaim. We are so wise when we are young, but when we get old we realize that we didn’t really understand. We could see the principle laid out before us, but it wasn’t truly within us. Only time can let certain truth infiltrate you. You only know what you know when you are ready to know it. Maybe this is what living blind is about. Forget about what you think that you know and live what you have at the moment. Use the thoughts that have infiltrated you. Let them be enough. Don’t try to fill your head up with knowledge that there is no way to access until it accesses you. Go blind. Even with this attempt at explanation I feel as though I don’t know what I mean by living blind. Keep things out. Don’t get caught up inside thoughts because there will always be another thought and then another and then another. In the meantime, breathe… Or something like that, I suppose. I really don’t know what I mean, but I feel what I mean and that means it is trying to enter me. Some higher truth is trying to invade me and this is what I want. Actually, this is what I have always lived for, to open myself up to these truths. In a way I threw away my life to keep myself open to this process. I went to the worlds of these truths and studied the words that at times symbolized them and gathered them up like a farmer gathers his crops. But truths don’t open up for you until they want to. In the meantime you should do what you should do. I should have married and had children. I believe these truths would open up and inhabit me not a moment sooner anyway. But I didn’t look at it this way. I had to be ready. In the meantime I wrote all the truths down. Poem after poem after poem. Gathered them close and sat with them. Not unlike a mother hen sitting on her eggs. Incubating dreamworlds.

(coming…part 2)

Published in: on April 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

But a Glimmer in the Eye

Under Alex’s skin was the dullness again. The sound came from outside. Kids playing their tunes probably, little nothing sounds unaware of themselves that ruled anyway. He went to the window. Not kids, he realized, but the neighbors, people he didn’t like because he didn’t know them and they didn’t know him. By now, after seeing one another for two years, no one cared to bridge this gap.
He closed the window. There was that man who always walked his dog, talking to a woman with blue veins on her temple, a talker, her, one who spoke of things like friends and who gave little notices via her eyes about real meanings that had no importance whatsoever in the world of thought, of ideas, the things that Alex prided himself as having embraced like a lover. He had closed the window so as not to hear the tinny music that the lady always carried with her when she walked. The man never walked, but stood and watched his dog. He was old, too. There was no way to know about them, except that he was not a talker and she was. Did he put up with her as Alex had put up with her briefly before closing the window and going back to his computer? He had 134 Facebook friends. Yet nobody ever called.
He remembered the laughter of the woman. Over the many years laughter seems to lose its luster. It seemed fake to Alex, too loud, too loud to be real, for very few things caused so much laughter to occur unless the person wanted laughter to occur. You could not have real laughter through mere want, he knew. He looked at the happy people on Facebook, hoping that they were not as happy as they seemed. He hadn’t posted in several months and had considered getting off, but his computer was too old now and it wouldn’t let him. He was a slave to Facebook and friends who didn’t write to him, formerly good friends, friends that mattered. All avoided him and his only solace was in thinking that they avoided everybody else, too, that they were philosophically against Facebook so were off doing something else. They probably hoped the same thing concerning him, if they remembered him at all.
Alex had recently quit reading the newspaper in hope of gaining a little bit of solace. He had taken up reading again, novels: J.M. Coetzee, David Mitchell, Russell Banks, only the best of modern writers. He was going to inject the best of thought into his overly worked brain from now on. Everything else had somehow failed him. He had been like those Indians whose sole purpose is to make sure the sun goes from East to West every day. By reading the news he was a watchdog. Nothing too horrible could happen if he was on the job. In the end, he realized, this was a false notion. He had written letters to editors and politicians and had never gotten a response. He had protested the Iraq war. They killed anyway. Everybody does everything anyway, he realized. He had zero impact upon the world by fretting over it. Besides, now that he had let the world go, there would be more of a chance that it would hasten its own destruction and he would be forced to move on, to Argentina or Ecuador or the southern tip of Spain. The nuclear bombs probably wouldn’t go off in these places.
Alex could no longer hear the tinny music of the woman who laughed like she didn’t want to. Janie Frieberg was doing lunch with her sister and she was really excited. He couldn’t put Facebook away just yet. He kept going back to it. Janie was the only girl he had ever dated who remained his friend afterward. She seemed so dull to Alex, viewing her life on Facebook, so much so that he wondered what he had ever seen in her. When she left him, she had been talking about spirituality and politics and religion and sex. When she walked she would sometimes twirl. She was bright-eyed and ambitious, but when she saw him it always seemed like she was looking around him, like she was looking to see if there was something better than Alex. This eventually led to the inevitable breakup. One knows when one is not loved.
Now Janie was married to a man named Styrong. Alex couldn’t place the nationality of that name. Perhaps he was Asian or Scandinavian. It would have fit Janie to go after an international type. She was a romantic. That’s why they originally clicked. She went by Janie Frieberg Styrong on Facebook, proud of herself and her marriage. She was a regular gal now, wasn’t straying that far, was capable of being married and having kids while keeping her individuality which was always very important for she and Alex way back when. She looked better now than she did then, but Alex figured that was just because he still missed her. He loved her then and he loved her still, but now he had to face, everyday, that it was an illusion, that their relationship was a brittle husk at best while it was going on and now was a visible memory anytime he went to the computer. She was making vegetarian tacos for the kids. She got a new shawl that was wonderful. Does anybody else care that meat is murder?
Everybody on Facebook had become a caricature of who they really were, but that was all that he had of them anymore. He had no way of going back to them. He was a failure in this world, living on food stamps, nursing a painful tooth badly in need of a root canal, working at a job that had no interest in his Bachelors in English Literature with an emphasis in Poetry. Poetry. It had failed him. The words had not been enough. The world didn’t want them. After awhile the bitterness seeped into him like the rot into his tooth. More than once he cursed the gods of poetry, those same gods that he saw in the eyes of Janie, that he heard in the music of her voice. He knew what mattered and he was forced to question himself and his choices. Had he majored in poetry because he was lazy? Was he a failure in the world because the inner world really was not as important as the outer world? Had that been a lie? Why did the guys who never bothered going to school do better than he did in the minute intricacies of life? They all got married. All had children. All made upwards of 50 to 100,000 dollars per year. Alex realized that it was willful ignorance and lack of introspection that had saved them. They had not tried to trace the intricacies of God’s grand design and the universe rewarded them for it, like a bunch of Adams before the original thought.
Alex went down the row: Stan Villon, now a professor in South Carolina. Stan was a friend during his post-college days in Chicago. A guy who reminded Alex of Gandhi, Stan had been a student at the University of Chicago. Of course he would now be a professor. Alex sat with these University of Chicago students in old houses while snow fell outside, drinking coffee while reading to each other. They were equals there. Nobody cared that Alex had graduated from a small state school in California of little significance. He sat and listened mostly, always somewhat in awe of the intelligence of his fellows. They liked his poetry, but he always wondered whether he could ever be an intellectual peer to them. They had been vetted by the system and they could take that with them anywhere they went. He had gotten into college easily, for all that had been needed was a C average in high school. Everybody got into his school.
He had watched as these diverse human satellites in the world of the University of Chicago pulled in close just briefly and then veered away into their proper orbits. These orbits were distinctly different from his. Their orbits allowed them to be paid for subtle thought simply because they had also been practical. Many had been groomed. Now he felt that he had simply been allowed to view the subject matter. Nobody ever had any intention, he felt, of letting him also thrive by concentrating on the barely visible truths, pulling them up further and revealing them for the good of all man-kind. He thought of going back to school, a graduate school where he could study philosophy and psychology and poetry and fiction and write essays and treatises and be listened to. Perhaps that was what was needed, to be allowed to be one of the vetted ones, to push it forward, get the title behind his name and just go to work, get paid, get a family, a home, a life. But the brain was dulled by now, at 38, too dulled to forget the pain that he had experienced holding on to a dream made of vespers and silence. He had come to know the realm of poetry, but by this time, the sadness of getting there had chased him away. Half of him no longer respected something that could keep someone from having a family through its virtual insistence upon poverty in order to stay true. This rebellion pushed him back to Facebook. He scrolled down.
A slew of faces, some of them from his time attempting to solidify a weekly poetry reading that fell through. Once again, the real world trumped the inner world. He found that there was petty competition even in the realm of high spirituality. Life always seemed a balance between the animal and the spiritual and the animal always won. God Sex ruled, of course, perhaps because of the spirituality involved on some deeper level, but with it always came the baser power structures, the evil little victories, the savoring of the defeat of others. Once again, the poetic ideal was corrupted by two little things called hope and belief. There was Roger Milens and Fay Disiwala. They were good poets and went on to be in a theater company. He never really knew what they did with the rest of their lives, but they drove nice cars, had mates, were nice people, but aloof. Everybody was aloof. Poetry was about intimacy with others. You could play it, but Alex found that few wanted to live it. God Fun was really the key here. Fun was the ideal once people got together. The urge to laugh became a sort of religion. Perhaps if people couldn’t laugh after every sentence then everybody would have to cry. Everybody would just break down and cry. As people age, the idea of tears became the enemy. No matter what everybody was doing, no matter what a group believed in, the idea of fun always reigned supreme. It was the same on Facebook. Everybody was putting on their perfect face. In the meantime, nobody communicated anymore. Nobody cared anymore. They had all virtually laughed themselves to death.
Brent Helow, Slim Fawaskawa, a Japanese dude who was really funny. Another one Alex didn’t really know. Slim was one of those guys who was in and out. He had an invisible wall around his head, a perpetually smiling head, a mouth of perpetual wit and glee, but a wall nonetheless. He was just another who came out and then went back in where Alex could not go. The death of intimacy, Alex thought. Facebook was becoming a symbol to him of the death of ever being able to connect on a true level with somebody ever again. All of his friends were on it. Every friend that was listed he now knew did not want to know him anymore. It would have been better had he not initiated contact at all. They would have been better off left in the warmer clouds of memory. If left there, there would have been a hope of contact once again, real contact, and it would have held surprise and the memory of the more authentic moments of the past, the true laughter that had simply had to stop. Alex understood having to move on, but he couldn’t quite understand coming back in such an impersonal way. All reunions had been wasted. He would never have a reason to really see these people ever again. They were Facebook friends after all.
Julie Lowe, a model and actress, a stranger; Giselle Luidi, an intellectual from college who laughed like a hyena but behind her glasses possessed one of the finest noses he had ever seen. She was a beauty that didn’t know it who became a business-type, he thought, wasn’t sure, stocks and bonds. Smart girl. He had re-united with her without a word, a simple acceptance of the other’s existence, an acknowledgement that the one is happy that the other is not dead. They had once found themselves alone together for four hours, and talked about everything from politics to the Miami Dolphins. There had even been a chance at love, but it fizzled. Both held back. Both had a feeling about the other, that it just wasn’t that way. They were right. A hello without a hello was in order. Strike Giselle. Tom Julienne, Ty Uflado, a true laugher, a big smile, outdoorsy, probably not at the computer that much. Alex envied him. Jim Lowry, Hillel Lowenberg, Gail Stormer, the list went on and on. All happy. All knowledgeable of him, always would be, none of whom really cared. He hadn’t gotten a personal message by any of them in over eight months.
Alex closed the lid of the computer. Perhaps he could go to the library and use one of their computers to cancel Facebook. He would do it soon, but there was always a waiting list at the library. Outside he heard more laughter. He went to the window and a couple of middle-aged women had joined the dog watching, radio-listening group, whiling away the hours with innocent banter. The middle-aged ladies were loud. They were big lunged laughers who found everything funny and yet had nothing at all to really say. This was the way of the world. People as they aged had gone back to the placid non-thinking of who they really were after all of the bravado of having to be the hero to insure themselves food for their gullets in their old age. At a certain point the hero is let go and the simple, gurgling stream is taken back into their hearts and minds; simplicity and laughter and mere feeling of presence without any impulse to dream forward a finer existence, a more poetic existence, one that magically transforms others while transforming oneself. The idea of a spiritual utopia had been replaced with a toaster and cream cheese reality.
Alex watched the group talk below him for a little while and then went over to the dresser and opened his book. He had picked up, once again, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. After only a moment he closed it and picked up a pen and a small personal journal. In it he wrote:

Ever long the day
Not knowing then
That I would never know
Having sought solace
Where solace dare not dwell
I roam still ever inward
All the people gone
A few old faces
Remembering me –
A flicker
Before all – we fly

#

Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 11:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,