We had our pleasures too, of course. If music be the food of love, we feasted, feasted, gorged. Electric Guitar. Phallic fetish of our century. Crude talk of the folk. Jargon, slang, “hip-talk,” double negatives and all, amplified, distorted, turned in upon itself. Crossroad blues of dark origins bleached, and branded “Rock n’ Roll.”
Louder than airplanes, louder than opinions, louder than traffic. Cacophonous prayers of Limeys, Negroes, long-haired freaks summoned young gods who lived among us briefly, brashly. Pop salvation, “instant karma” for the young.
Guitar said, “Fuck you, big man.”
Guitar said, “Shake for me.”
Guitar said, “Listen.”
Guitar said, “Walk away.”
Guitar said, “Who are you.”
Guitar said, “Lick me.”
Guitar said, “Do it.”
And whatever it was, we did, the young, for a while at least, when we heard Guitar (ubiquitous: how could we not?), knew its patois like a second tongue upon our cocks and cunts and in our throats.
It was our lyre.
But Power would have none of it.
They taught us to read books that our disease might wither. Pain management. Nobody wants to be depressed. So, if you look at all sides you’ll have that many angles. Persistence decides these things. Agitprop. Hypnosis. Look at that man there long enough, he’ll fade away.
But imagine something terrible. Then what’ll you do? And then what are you talking about. And then what you were dreaming. That girl in the hall turned on by photographs, celebrity fanzine stuff, not nightmares, not visions of stick-men, great white spermy aliens like eye-less sharks.
“Doctor, careful, forceps…”
What histories will she deliver, what dead man pulled from her gray – takes awhile to download; some of the women are quite – when he comes home the children; when she admonishes the lamp. Supper time . Consummate . We sop the blood with cake…
It ends with alarm. The television listens. It’s about seven.
Simple: you just don’t go. Have your mother write a note. Or your wife.
“Not here. Not this time,” or better yet, “I just can’t relax anymore.”
And upon the scene arrived the fire brigade. “Do you have any idea how he fell in to that well?”
Life without consequence.
Like in Kindergarten. Ms. Mulhollander dissected a Praying Mantis…belly full of indigestible, iridescent wings…
“Children, say ‘thorax.’ Say, ‘abdomen.’”
It was dead already or she wouldn’t have cut it.
“Killing a Praying Mantis is illegal. They help mankind.”
Did we really want our teacher to do time?
After school we Scorched brown ants under a glass.
“We have unleashed the power of the Sun upon Japan.”
Nauseating stench. The lucky ones worked — dismantling a beetle.
Arbeit Macht Frei.
“An ant can carry 500 times its own weight.”
Something like that. For the good of the colony.
“Their lives suck. There, get that one. “
Surely we’ll be punished. Official reprimand signed by Ms. Mulhollander herself, copied, filed among our permanent records.
I remember love notes folded in pieces, place marks for anthologies of Great and Famous Men. So many I lost count. Poems, essays, stories, notes. Words relating courage to believe in — even after what was written — worlds outside this room, if you would simply close the door on fetal life; bowls of plums; harsh angles misunderstood by outside, outside gulped by in; believability in tatters, awaiting yet another Fall.
Why, only yesterday we mumbled whatever about how young they were when we last met, and all that pap about time flying, raging against incorrigible truth (“his daughter done him wrong” etc.).
Crying won’t solve anything. You have to face…
“There, there,” pat on the back. “Now, now.”
But once it’s reached the point of Free Delivery; of Future enfolded within Past; of marking time with cigarettes; of wanton soup; Fajitas; chrysaloid petals tucked dry without wings…you must –
– and again reality delimited real estate chunks of earth and ash, cluttered with apparatus.
And again the matter of self.
“I can’t face my reflection without thinking ‘no, no, it can’t be…’”
Has Time been cruel, or did we expect too much?
Sipping cups of Yesterday to dregs of Winter.
“Fix me rum-and-chocolate, I’ll be good as new…”
Our just desserts: to be aware of it all, to watch it happen, to be helpless, human.
“I’m not particularly afraid of myself, though I have been labeled dangerous…”
We’re unhappy. We’ll die. We’ll be forgotten.
“The liquid me, the meat.”
Turning heads of old men in the park, fucking lovers senseless as we wandered in and out of Time.
“I’m human. I have every right to be forgiven…”
Don’t go there now. Why speak of it?
“It’s easy, like riding a bicycle…”
No hands, imbalanced, credulous, unfocused. Children of faith.
“Simple, see? You just let go…”