Sunday, January 29, 2006

wish you were here

The chair creaks, and a cringe appears on my previously expressionless face. My hand rests on the cool steel of a Derringer sitting atop my plain wooden desk. My finger tenses on the trigger. I'm gonna get that sonofabitch if it's the last thing I do.

With each creak of the chair, another cascade of memories is triggered. I stare at the wall straight ahead. Memories. Like scenes cut from a film and left on the editing room floor. Grainy. Overdeveloped. Lagan. I followed that bastard from New York to London only to lose him in Harrods. Ladies wear - should have known. From London, it was a short hop to Greece only to be given the slip at a sixtieth birthday party held for shipping magnate, Spiridon Stefanos. Then, from Greece to Turkey only to run into a dozen dead ends.

The chair creaks. My trigger finger tenses. Always one step behind. But I'll get that sonofabitch. One way or another, I'll get him. I'll follow him to the ends of the earth if I have to. Finger tensing, mind racing, I pay almost no mind to the light footsteps in the hall. The clicking of heels. Wait for it. The knock. One can spend an entire lifetime waiting – and I know I can wait another few seconds.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


The pills sit in the pit of your nauseous stomach where they're attacked by acid, where they crumble and dissolve as part of a very natural digestive process. You'll use them, what's in them, every part of them. Your body soaks them up, and your eyes close as you wait for that comfortable numbness. It comes - it always does. In your journal you scribble the time lapsed since ingestion: thirty-one minutes. This is the last rational thing you will write today. Air rushes through the trees, roaring in your ears. You try to scream, but can't get past the inhale. Fade.

Hours drag and your mind is stretched taut nearly to the point of snapping. Like a thread of bubblegum twirled on the finger of a teenage girl, pulled too long, pulled too thin. She sat in front of you in high school. Scenes cut from a film, and left on the editing room floor. Grainy. Overdeveloped. Her mind rejecting selected teachings, her body rejecting recommended posture, she's slumped over her desk with the tip of her index finger twirling madly, wrapped in rubbery pink glucose. The strand snaps, and she is surprised to find herself with gum on her chin and no knowledge of the last few seconds. Thirteen years ago today.

It's hot and then cold, and as the blue of evening fades to the black of night you busy yourself with trying to think of a new way to describe the moon. Give up. Scratch your back on the trunk of a tree - that's what they're there for. Feet tingle, and you're surprised to find yourself stamping in a circle, thrashing through the lower branches. Or whatever they are. Scribble these notes in your journal. In case you forget. Don't lose your pen.

Hours drag and your mind is stretched taut nearly to the point of snapping. Like the elastic band of a sling, its shot wrapped in leather, gripped between fingertips. Cut to sudden visions of a time past when this shot - this smoothed rock - was part of something bigger. Cut to sudden visions of a time future when this shot - this smoothed rock - fulfils its destiny. Fingers tremble. A breaking point is reached. This shot will never meet its mark. A cat's eyes glowing in the darkness. Green. More rods than cones and all that. But when she blinks, she is gone - a real vanishing act.

Skin crawls, and you're too weary to investigate the reason. It may be insects - the undergrowth is full of them. It may be your imagination - or what's left of it. Or it may be that some part of you has seen the end of you. How it happens. Why it happens. When. Fingers dig into loose soil. Hours drag and your mind is stretched taut nearly to the point of snapping. How thin can this silvery strand get? How thin before it fails to capture the yellowy glimmer of the moon? How much longer before there is no room left for the morning dew to gather in pools of blue-white crystal in the creases of this consciousness?

An answer is given as the moon sets and the sun begins to rise. The circle of it all. Cycles. The mind is infinite and may be stretched so. As there was no beginning, there is also no end. Minds chewed up and twirled on the fingers of Those Greater may be stretched so forever. But you - you'll come down. The warmth of the high replaced by the cold of reality. You'll take this scene and give it a name. Scribble it in your journal. In case you forget. You're not a druggie, but a researcher. You're not a freak, but an adventurer. You're not a burnout, but a connoisseur.

Monday draws near, and with it, work. A return to normalcy. Or banality. But you'll handle it, comfortable in the knowledge that you have seen something greater than the great grey sea of cubicles. A singular moment when all times - past, present, and future - were braided together and stretched taut nearly to the point of snapping. And the great relax: three strands undone, unwound, loosened. A slow walk from the woods in the morning sun. Your shoes wet with dew. Syrupy moonlight in your hair.

Monday, January 9, 2006

hermit crabs

all these things

In due course, our time will lapse, and when death comes to collect, all the world will be left with are the faint memories of us and all these things. They'll see us in the faces of the living, but won't make a connexion deeper than that nagging feeling of familiarity. "I know him," they'll say with absolute certainty, but will be unable to pluck the name of the dead from their psychic lockbox, and line it up with a living, breathing face. From life we are born, and to life we will return, each carrying the souls of all those who came before us. A million molecules finding new homes. Like hermit crabs in the sea. A strange juxtaposition of living and dead, the whole of which the mind of one or the other can not possibly comprehend on its own - and I don't think I'm making myself very clear.


"I don't think I'm making myself very clear," he says, "so allow me to be a little more explicit: she does not photograph very well."

"That's absurd! Whatever do you mean? She's beautiful!"

"I'm not denying she's beautiful," he replies, "but I'm saying the camera has trouble capturing that beauty. What is so clear in life, and so easily seen by the eye, is not so easily seen by the eye of a machine. The camera is missing something. The camera is unable to grasp a vital part of her."

"Well, maybe it's something with the focus. Adjust the aperture. We'll try a different set-up with the lights-"

"There's no use," he says. "No amount of fussing with lights and focus is going to make this machine read her. We may as well send her home. This machine is simply unable to know her. Unable to know her in the way we do now, or in the way I think I may have in another place or time. I can't put my finger on it, but-"

"We could try adjust the levels of-"

"Just send her home."


A ride in the back seat of a car, pressed into soft leather, gliding beneath the glittering lights of a busy downtown.

"I'll get out here," she tells the driver.

Stepping out of the car, straightening her skirt, she makes her way through the door of one of her favourite watering holes, and sits down on her stool at the bar. She crosses her legs in a way that optimizes their perfection, and has the attention of the bartender in a matter of seconds.

"Tom Collins," she says. "Slice of orange."


He drifts off to sleep, and as he does so, memories of the day - of shoots, of lights, of film - give way to memories of another kind. Memories not quite belonging to himself, but not quite belonging to anyone other than himself, either.

Hand gripping the softness of a clean, white terrycloth towel. The polishing of a glass. Eye on the bottle. Nothing but the best for this lady. Fingers expertly grip, and fluidly flick open the cap. Crystal contents poured into a shaker with lemon, sugar, and ice. A slow trickle into the glass. Top with soda.

"Slice of orange," she says.

A smile is his reply.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

real good time

who's the third man?

It takes years to answer the question. A decade, even. Or, to be completely accurate, a full twelve years. Who's the third man? It takes a lot of waiting to answer the question. Waiting for the shift. Waiting for the collapse. Waiting for the man to cease being a boy. The elders wait.

"He'll tire himself out," they say.

"How long can one hold onto such romantic notions?" one asks.

"Until he turns thirty," declares another. "At thirty it's no longer fashionable to be angry. No longer in vogue to have unfocused passion. And certainly one should no longer be chasing dreams at thirty-"

"Of course not!" shouts an elder from the corner. "The dreams should already be reality by such an age."

"He'll tire himself out," they say. "There will be the sudden shift to adulthood. The inevitable collapse. And only then will we discover the identity of the third man."

The third man. No centre, no direction. Always at the peripheral, always a satellite figure. Never a true part of any whole. Formless, shapeless, roaming, lost, he will tire himself out and ultimately be spun free.

The elders will not be happy when they are proven right.

for a good time call

He'll take that collapse and give it a name, naming it after all the people he used to be. It'll be scrawled on brick walls everywhere with Sharpie markers, with Bic pens in bathroom stalls, and sprayed with paint on the sides of subway cars. He'll scrawl the name as an admission that he has absolutely nothing to say, that he is truly devoid of any creativity, and that all he has is but a single word to repeatedly scribble.

And even this can not last. Time wears, and the weather comes, wearing away any evidence of his existence, until all that is left is a dried up Bic and an empty, crumpled spray can lying in an alley. Years later, the Sharpie will be used to mark boxes as he prepares for a move out of downtown into the suburbs, where dreams are trapped in the analog recordings of Dylan's voice, and reflected back off of the foil tacked to Warhol's walls. Everything will be as it should be.

found poetry

Flash to scenes cut from a popular American sitcom where everyone dresses just right, and sits around discussing the best alternative to hardwood flooring. There are bottles of wine open, complicated hors d'oeuvres served by the hostess, and a healthy dash of sexual innuendo. Music plays, and his ears perk up as someone asks: "Are lyrics poetry?"

"No," he's quick to say. But as he does so,his ears quickly capture three lines from the song on the stereo, and his mind is changed. "Not always," he adds.


It's quiet now
And what it brings
Is everything

-M. Stipe

Tuesday, January 3, 2006


A magpie squawks:
One more!
One more!