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tearing the rag off the bush again
Pacifica Point PDF E-mail

I haven't been this awake in a month, I feel the renewal coming, the Rastaman says "I-and-I," I don't mean the same thing, the filled-up part turns on—never more clear how the placement of the clouds eroticized the liquid in my eyes, remember those eyes, remember those cumulous.

The one I'm saying this to, an echo of his critiques what I say, an inexact echo mocks what I think about.  I'm going too fast, it's the espresso-Excedrin-combination, it’s Hopper and Pitt, those nosey-ass bastards--why do they keep hanging around, don't they have enough of whatever there is to get? And does he know which one he resembles in the monologue in his head? Could he express that? Everything he can’t bring himself to say is disconcerting to me. “Disconcerting? Disconcerting?” Sweet shit of life, what kind of language? He can kiss both of my bagels if he won't speak up--I don't know it as well from his way around, his cock-eyed way around, and the fucking wonder is, the saving thing of it is, when I was alone at Pacifica Point I noticed the carob smell, I felt the mute shore, something defining itself, standing at the Russian Bakery window, it took me back to a kind of focal point--the glass shore, carob, of all the fruit dangling in my mind, or was it wax-leaf privet, sticky white yolk flowering, the shimmed-up wooden tub, privet shading and sprinkling a few chairs, a memory he would catch himself in, the hot plant core secreting wildly, the insect mouth coming for it, the winged body resting inside the wet curve.

That small white table, they always talked at a small table, there’s no explanation, there’s nine explanations, everything a few minutes completely unguarded, that, and what he called "balance," it made no sense at all to him, thinking of it in the privet secreting small table moment, nothing that mattered went by them, they were porous.

But what I used to do, the way I came back, it was another table. That January after I quit The Italian Serpent Pasta Company,  I used to find a bench with a table up at Pacifica Point crowded with torrey pine and eucalyptus, maybe the last tree I will praise, not the fir or the torrey, I get nothing anymore from evergreens, they keep at it too long, they give the illusion, but the eucalyptus throws down its leaves and fruit, it gets rid of them like they’re an overload, a mother load, the eucalyptus throws off its skin, is there a human comparison? I was under the eucalyptus when everything came down, all the bench legs were under water, it was raining on the sea, the fishing boats were still, the light storm rocked them, not a path out of the yard that wasn't under water, only red brick showed from the edge, along the patch where I grew sweet basil sleeves.  I walked by the line of bricks, the slant and the unevenness, later, without her, later, covering the wild mint and sweet basil with plastic against the heavy rain, every one of them, even the most mundane and trivial efforts I made in January, could be said to have been against that conspiracy of his, that sincere but inexact desire to close down, his half any way, not my part of the bargain.

But I was reading about microbes, I was attracted to them because they flourish in areas of extreme heat and pressure, and no way outta' that world--when it all came down I couldn't even digest a little rice milk and banana in the morning—just one time I needed to flourish in a way that had nothing to do with my gut, or the other thing, I needed to flourish without needing every drop of juice and pulp of every thing I wanted to put into it--what I needed was to be so plain there could be no confusion about what I felt.

One time at a time. Every little error. They add up. Waited too long. Is that it?  Who was it supposed to lead to? Bad to you. To them. Up until. Even at Pacifica Point. Even with her. But not only that. His hang-ups. My schisms. Self-worth. Self-warts. Frozen this. Frozen that. The old double-demia. D & D. To see all of it. To un-schmuck myself.  The ongoing discontinuous confrontation.  Two minutes here. Half and half a minute there. That time. Those two. His fantasy. A siren to himself. He had to tell me. I had to ask. He had to show me. I had to look. Comin’ through comin’ through. Back off if you know what’s good. The vast minimum he didn’t know he set himself up for. My myth. His job. The usual unavoidable. He went from losing a step to just being lost. The bottles of things he needs to take are adding up. The roots coming out the bottom of the planter--in his opinion they were not a sign. His opinion. I’ve been a man a long time. I’ve been wiping my ass right for a long time, I know when something’s a sign, he said. Whatever he thinks, I saw the shadow of a hummingbird and it was a sign--of beauty doubled. There’s a deeper dryness further on down the road. It too has a double. And you see what you want to see. His choice in the matter, but one that goes against him, and no love lost there.  Every extreme wants the flip side. That side. That's me—"Flip." For a while I was nobody's company.  That collision course.  That fusion. What I'd like to do, what I'd like to do. Easy to say.


Play Wagner

Pitt and Hopper wanted to know how Arlon’s character could be acted by either of them, if they were adequate, what they needed to wear and how much did they need to sweat to represent him, how should they stand without flinching in police helicopter racket and show what expression in the way they set their jaws, to what degree would they shred to that regular noise from the inside without letting on, how should they smell the armpits of their shirts and how often and what expression to give when they do it, and what facial what spinal expression wheel-chairing his Alzheimered father (“I’ve got a nickel in my pocket, I’ve got a nickel in my pocket, I’ve got a nickel in my pocket”) pointing to the face saying it’s the city, and do they ever stop or let on if they do stop remembering the pewter dolphin necklace hanging from his dead sister's throat, how much do they need to convey they are thinking about Arlon’s  idea of death's matter-of-fact accountant looking down at her and flossing his teeth with a busted guitar string, and in what way should they let on that bad luck follows the bitter heart, how long do they have to run on cold, and when, which days, are there particular days, are there cycles, does he always recognize them, and following what moods do they need to wear his lucky string tie to represent him, and which tools, work clothes, type of knee pads, glove thickness, what size respirator should they use to bring back that day of a drunk carpenter doing a floor-stripping job alone, that mean period coming to an end when he lost his cool at Venice Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue, that one last puke-hole of an oak floor job before he disappeared up north for nine years—

but that wasn’t for sale to them, he doesn't say a thing about that time to anyone, they could imitate the munchkins of Trip Street and Vine for all he cared, but the floor job, what he could show them about the planing, the leveling, the shaded stain blending, the breathing old lacquer shavings, Vero thane fumes, how they should look at swollen hardwood splintered fingers and palms, how many are probable, what do they need to know about oak dust paint-thinner lung-fuck, finger hair chemically burnt off, and how much pain-killer wine at the end of it to pour down to represent what led to the disappearing act up North for nine years—nothing, zilch for those two about all that, they ought to be doing Paul Wagner, he said, that 212 pound kid in the seventh grade who boasted he fingered his German Shepherd dog—but how much would they have to persecute him for doing it, for freaking apart some division of things—how could they show that—they wanted to know how many punches and how much spit from everyone in that crowd of boys would they have to give him to make that kind of thing real—and what would be the expression noticing Wagner stopped between buildings checking out Jack Arlon to see if he were coming after him, and what to show in the other expression sensing his fear and not going after him, how to gesture being outside the vigilante accomplice dimwit retaliation frenzy—and with what movement coiled-in-on-himself and thinking how that kid with his dog made him sick with the smell and the overpowering of the animal he imagined, and to just let him be—how to show the rupture, the stopped moment, the strapped moment, the stopped motion, the battered risk—and could you actually show someone thinking about the frenzy the world is in the wrong side of, the raw side of, one of them? And the boys with dumb glazed hormone eyes waiting for the dummy target they tormented for drooling in half sleep once on his math book during third period—“Wagner The Fat” with his long shirt sleeves buttoned hiding bruises where they snapped punches at him at school when they found him, since finding out about the finger-job, all of them, that day he drooled on the equations—spotting Wagner running from the window, they circled and rode their bikes over the grass and through the hydrangeas in front of the duplex where he lived with his grandmother, the chorus yelling for him to bring his dog out in his grandmother's bra—play Wagner, find him, ask Wagner about it—who has the guts to play a fifty-one year-old Paul Wagner, Pitt, or Hopper, or who will it be?


Nothing But An Ear

More than anything I thought too much about music, the way it back lapped and sputtered, the way the swampish tangles hung in the well. That too was music, even if I listened and didn't know what brimmed in there exactly, even if my good ear was nothing but a hard lobe of padded fur. That was before the last trip over. A particular mechanism in the ear stopped working, it worked until distraction, then some overwrought immune-system shield genetic breakdown deficiency.

On the last trip over, for most of one night that didn't end like it should've, I was with a whore from Kent. Coming out of a hotel she put her hand around my arm and started some agitated story: her mother's meat knife, Rastafarians in with her mother kidnapping her four-year old boy, Rastafarians stealing a jar of pink rum, her mother stealing her pet cat with three legs. I was there at the exact succession of complaints that didn't end like they should've. I didn't know what was hallucinated or true about her ravages, in my head of caved in speakers I was thinking about the predicament of both. She wanted cigarettes and ale, I bought them for her, I bought waffle-cream sandwiches, bread, ale, brown laces, and ale, chocolate, half a fried fish, and ale.

Before the last trip after I held down a series of jobs that went nowhere, I listened, I always listened, always, my music. I didn't know what brimmed, what cooked, what the limit was, if I would work the whole season or what. I was in every hand until the end because I could frame a floor or a roof, frame anything, set all the moldings--and doors--I could replace doors, fix doors, hang new doors--I was Doren the frigging Doorman--I inserted windows, installed cabinets, tiled, helped the painters--what labor-cousins of donkeys some of us are. And more was needed, always hard up for cash, we'd hear a lay-off was coming and it became a series of back room and jobsite theories on how to win at the track, at Vegas, at Gardena, somewhere. At the tile stage, after the last trip, at another job, we had a picture on the wall of a woman obviously with the most unavailable breasts, not only because she was on the wall but also from a part of France we never heard of (though two of us could pronounce it). If I got close to speaking here about what that photographer celebrated, you would also pause, even if you were neutered in a hard-hat like at least half of the crew on that job was. No other music but those swelled nipples, another music mostly of what could not be had. Not unlike the necessities or better products we could not possess. Think of it. What a system. At that job one of the little kings in the System was the guy whose house we were building. He said the picture was offensive, I wasn't impressed, I didn't care if a majority was impressed, no one took it down, his authority made me sick, he couldn't dock our wages, so I was shameless, I wasn't unkind. Not everybody's interpretation. Not everybody's balance.

And what if I'd been shuffling around between jobs distracted, holding off going in to the deli, thinking about The Joker Japanese Massage rather than eating, I was finally standing still, which was something. Eating the few cancer peanuts I had left, then crouching down by a group watching the cat, laughing at “The Psychic Cat.” She wore a miniature tutu, the guy with a red bandanna used a plastic child's wand, tapping the cat on her butt to get her started, to get her reaching with both paws into the box for a folded-up fortune, she tilted her muzzle then she stood on her hind legs, holding it up between her paws. And what if I rotted into the one who paid twice for a fortune, and never read it? A few of the others kicked over some change, the guy adjusted his bandanna, then pulled off bits from a Kaiser roll for himself and “The Psychic Cat.” Maybe some Gypsy trade, some carny wanderer, someone driven outside of everything to make it, another silent and loud farter like Job or Confucius. And what if more than the tiny rhinestone tiara pinned around her ears, what if more than the cat herself able to hold the fortune up in her paws and stand on hind legs, what if the wand is what commanded my attention? The wand is what got things started, what the animal responded to. But it’s not clear to me, because I'm not sure about the psychic part, because I'm dense, because in this ordinary life I wake up to a digital rooster from the apartment next to mine, because some side of me is always standing in central Oregon at Jump-off Joe Creek, and because I never see the psychic things for what they are--more of what my enemies wished for me could've happened.

Then after cabinets and tile and the following trip over I went back to work and got ripped-off a little painting an old couple’s house. And what if they boasted about their Green Beret son, what if they kept calling the Kennedy's "lace curtain Irish." That was their music. I kept my ideas about  imperialism and royalty's window treatment, legal torture and murder and suicidal adventurism in a green wool cap to myself, so they'd ask me to paint their miserable little wooden structure. It's not like it wasn't me 15 years ago driving a green van, looking for work. It's not like I couldn't be a watchman in a basement sometime soon. I was still nothing but an ear, you can believe that, I heard what I heard, even if only something the size of a crushed sesame seed came through clearly.

During that twelve-year series of jobs that got me this far I saw people everyday in eleven trades, as I saw on that last trip a great mix of us in London, and among the whores of Rome, and then always working in restaurants next to the Mexicans of California, and the Mexicalians of Meso-America, and the Cancunians of Cancunia, the whole West Coast of hair, eyes, briefcases, sideburns, marimbas, etched v-lips in tight shorts--and the Port Angeles to Port San Diego people, and parts of Colorado, Palm Springs, Pasadena, Pittsburgh, people coming out of coffee shops, out of sex shops, out of art institutes, out of nuclear facilities (of all the oxymorass), coming out of the ground (I think it was a mine), coming out of sewers (I don't think they were workers), coming out of a Cretan bakery, coming out of the last zoo I'll ever be in--the healthiest people, the sanest people I ever saw: no award. All--all just trying to get by in the scorpion-economy, or else what?

I made it as far as a partial and inexact  categorization of a type of backward music. I studied those frogs, I advanced into the individual characteristics of their chorus, which was, after all, too formal, too delicate for my likes. I said: everything is uneven, everything is scattered. I said: I eat all this grease and salt every night listening to and naming whatever backlaps and sputters out there because I wasn’t in the kind of balance, the type of work, the essential even erotic particular emotional parasympathetic non-Euclidian  humanly minimum acceptable relationship I needed to be  in, so the hell with it. I was out of what you need to get past the frogs. I said: you don't have to care, you don't have to like it, you don't have to listen, I defend the music in the well--and I select the music of amphibians over the music of other mechanisms, other organs, other instruments in or distant from France, Cancunia, Ukraine. No way around the connection between the Psychic Cat standing on her hind legs taking instructions from a plastic wand, and me working for Green Beret progenitors. Twenty-three years I thought the opposite. Coming through the morning after wine--I say: my thoughts are clearer than ever now, my flaws have been strengthened, and there’s nothing to go on in the great fairy tales, but there’s always a wolf in the woods. Farther on down the drain, the truth in folk sayings doesn't change a thing either--but I say: there is a donkey that carries the donkey. That's my donkey. I see him trotting off lop-sided with his double donkey load away from people eager to give up their homes, lay out their cash, and hurry it up for the line leading into the woods.

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