The face of destitution is not particularly attractive. A crimson, 2-inch scar graces its cheek, and jowls dangle from underneath its chin. Actually, now that I think of it, it bears a striking resemblance to the face of my junior high p.e. teacher, Mr. Seizman, except he also suffered from psoriasis.
I came upon this hyperbolical visage for the first time while clambering over a bevy of rocks in northern Maine. I was in search of a lost diamond ring. I didn’t lose the ring, and truthfully, I don’t even think it existed. I just figured misplaced jewelry seemed like the proper motivation for a New England adventure.
As I maneuvered my leg over a particularly impressive boulder my foot slipped and became stuck in a small crevice. With one large wrench I set it free, and as I danced around in a pain-induced jig I sputtered my signature curse, “Oh, ANATOLE FRANCE!”
To my surprise, my literary expletive was answered by a mysterious something-or-other.
“You know he had a puny brain.”
“Wh-who’s there?” I squeaked, my aching appendages frozen in mid-air. “Answer me!” I tried to sound courageous, but a constant issue with phlegm has always made me sound more like an irritated kitten than anything else.
“Really puny,” the voice continued. “And I heard that after he died the doctors cut a cross-section of it only to discover that it resembled Jesus Christ.”
My eyes roamed around, trying to find the source of the disembodied voice. I was prepared to detect any form of movement among the rocks, believing that my companion must be one of those nature-seeking weirdos who dress in camouflage for “kicks”. However, the only thing I did see was a small pill bug, dancing a noontime waltz near my feet.
“Apparently some woman in Alabama got her hands on it. The brain, I mean. She was in the hospital for an emergency corn removal and somehow her nurse served it to her thinking it was just some spam. Luckily the broad saw Jesus and decided to showcase it in her house next to her collection of Pez dispensers.”
I slowly bent down toward the black exoskeleton at my toes, my head cocked to one side to listen to the insect’s mindless ramblings.
“I myself bought a toe on the black market once, thinking it had belonged to the Marquis de Sade. Turns out it was just an over boiled frankfurter.”
My hand was closing in. One more utterance and my talkative friend would be rolling along the creases of my palm.
“It’d be easier if you just looked up.”
“Huh?” My fingers closed around the pill bug, and I shook it like pair of dice just to be sure it knew who was boss.
“Up here. Unless you’re busy with that bug.”
I followed the directions and looked up. Perched on a rock like a model mountain goat was Jerry Garcia. I gasped and everything went black.
Upon coming to I realized it wasn’t really the drug-addled rock star back from the dead, but merely one of his bedraggled goonies, complete with grizzly facial hair and cloud of skuzz. He took me in with bloodshot eyes, and I stifled the urge to puke when his stink reached my nostrils.
“Tell me who you are.” I demanded.
“Raymond. Raymond Morber.” He scratched the inside of his right ear with a yellow talon.
“Yeah right,” I scoffed. “How am I supposed to believe you’re THE Raymond Morber?”
“Oh my god! It is you!”
Only the real Raymond Morber could sigh like Raymond Morber just did. His sighs were infamous for carrying all human emotions in one gust of air. One sigh from this guy and you fell in love.
“But-but where have you been? Rumor had it you’d leapt into the Atlantic and were being raised by a community of sea turtles.”
“Ah, yes.” he mused. “A great bunch of girls.”
“So it’s true?” I was amazed. “But why, Raymond? Why’d you leave? You had everything. You were supposed to start shooting a biopic based on the life of Señor Wences. You had the Academy practically eating out of your beautiful, tanned hand.”
Raymond Morber had been Hollywood’s leading man. We’d all followed his entire life, from when he started as Jimmy, the loveable deaf kid on the family sitcom “Crash Course” to his more recent stint as a civil war soldier gone mad in the epic, “Mr. Abolitionist”.
A few years ago Raymond began to rebuke his golden standing in the public eye. American families clustered around their breakfast tables to whisper about his delinquency. Tabloids detailed numerous accounts of his out of character misdeeds. “RAYMOND MORRIS TRIPS KATHLEEN TURNER AT FILM OPENING”; “SILVER SCREEN HUNK BREAKS THE RULES: FEEDS ANIMALS AT THE ZOO”; “MORRIS CHEATS AT SCRABBLE, DISAPPOINTS THOUSANDS”
And now I was conversing with him, the country’s most prized possession. I felt faint once again, but the frightening possibility of impaling my eye on a stony crag kept me upright. I slowly hoisted myself up next to Raymond and set my chin on my knee, looking up at him with an expression that I hoped was appropriately coy. He glanced at me and then scratched his underarm. I covertly plugged my nose.
“You know,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure what happened. Nothing really changed. I was just going from day to day, and then, suddenly, I started to notice this electric surge within me and I just...started to go bad. For no reason. I mean, there was that time I was struck by lightning. But other than that...”
“Sometimes these things just happen,” I promised him. “Why, just last winter I was sitting in front of my fireplace and all of a sudden I got this terrible urge to wash the dishes in the kitchen sink. And I did. Just like that. Some of us are just more in tune with the paranormal, I guess.”
I noticed by the way that he was scooting away from me that his inner strife was not being reconciled. I stuck my hand out and patted his shin, saying-
“I know how you feel.”
Raymond laughed and stood up.
“You know how it feels to be a troglodyte in Maine? You know how it feels to look at your reflection every morning in a stagnant pond and think ‘man, I look like crap’? You KNOW how it feels to remember the touch of famous Brazilian supermodels and the way your old personal chef used to warm milk to just the perfect temperature on those nights when you missed your mother? You know, huh?”
Raymond was obviously in desperate need of my help.
“Hey Ray,” I said. “Why not make a change now? Leave the caverns and set up shop with me. We could make a franchise, a new superhero team. You’d clean up well. I look good in spandex. Whaddya say?”
He looked me over with a sneer (which I knew was a front for his love) and said,
“You left your pill bug over there, behind you.”
I turned and looked on the ground and lo-and-behold my miniscule friend was sizing up a similarly shaped pebble.
“Well, hey, thank—“ I turned back to where Ray had been just a fraction of a second earlier, but all I could see was a looming rock and what looked to be a moldy hotdog carefully placed on top.
And so ended my brush with fame. At the time my heart was broken, I spent 3 long days and nights living among those rocks, crying for Raymond to return to me. Even after I returned home I was in a daze, my friends didn’t know what to do with me as I had seemed to have lost all normal forms of communication and had to resort to urinating in plastic baggies and writing out my conversations on the wall of my closet. Time proved to be the only remedy, and 2 years and 5 days later I am able to appreciate the irony of the situation; a man with a beard (my mother’s obstetrician) brought me into this world, a man with a beard (Ray-Ray) stifled my dreams, and in the future a man with a beard (a gypsy in Louisiana told me I’d meet him in a rest-home) will smother me with a loaf of bread and falsely inherit my earthly belongings. Such is the circle of life. But sometimes, when the moon is out and the wind bristles through the leaves, I think of Raymond Morber and my head starts to ache and I know, deep within my soul, that he must be thinking of me too.
interferes with his vision and movement
he lies at her feet until she licks it off
and swallows it bit by bit
after bieng pulled out of her, tied at the feet,to lie in a bony pile in the smelly wet hay
and then he gets up after a while
March “no”, write “no”, “no more”, wrapping the stumble in the slouch, wrapping the slumber in the lope,
The false glimmering enticingly in the hot sunlight,
The year winds itself about the day,
The month slides down the spine of the journey
The cold gasping trout asking, asking, asking, his gills stammer, he is an incredulous wonderer just like us
As our boots in the dust as our mules as our tall ass fences as our screens
As our asphalt
Steal us, help us, segregate us, blind us,
* * *
I had bought her a five dollar box of Butter Waffle cookies, French. As she slept I placed it on her pink linoleum table, the cat didn't meow when I came in, the floor didn't creak, the air conditioner didn't stop its particular hum. I just didn;t make an enterance. Her table was strewn with magazines, balls of cat fur, keys and cigarette butts, she didnt smoke though, i noted. In the middle of it all sat a gleaming Joan Diddion anthology, with a copper cover. There it sat next to the chaos of it all. A bible of sorts, maybe a medallion of travel of the Golden State life (1:23) left behind. I placed the butter waffled cookies adjacent to the "bible". And i awaited on her cold kitchenette pastle colored chairs till early evening when she awoke, saw my face and served me coffee without a single word. The polluted sunset was a neon orange that night, partically crimsion. It bounced of her misshaped back in chuncks of blocked color. Caressing her ass, calves and neck in this apocoliptic sort of romance light. She riffled through her silverware drawer for a match. Her dark green silk garment tied around her hips
:this is my dawn isn't it wonderful like this?!"
She stopped and looked at me for ages, seemed like.
:because its supposed to be the treat at the end of the day. Its gluttonous to enjoy it once you awake"
"I don't believe that." She says.
I don't kiss her. I never have. I cherish her. Her face pock ridden and dirty. Her eyes dull and human. I wish i could play fancy and describe different worlds between her and I. But there lies nothing. I like it like that.
Entertained by her tight green robe and the fast fading sun, I Realised she hadn't noticed the butter cookies. I pushed them close to her, as if a rustle of cardboard would maker her turn. I began changing my body position and taping my fingers against her linolem table. NOthing. She kept looking at her two plates (pink, blue) five bowls (2 porecline, 1 white, 2 green) the six cups (3 mugs, 3 fragile wine glasses) the sun was gone by now. Darkness settled on her figure and on her barren cupboards and scuffed hardwood floor.
"Turn on a light!"
She said faintly dabbing hr head with her index and middle finger.
"I bought you butter cookies."
She cocked her head towards them, creeping towards the box as if examining an exotic beast before handling it in a tap act.
"A five dollar box of cookies!" I said.
She looked timid before them. Picking up the box and reading the fonts and words about it.
"Juuuules Destrooper-Product of Belgium- Paris Butter Waffles."
Her face eased inbetween words.
Opening the silver plasitic, fondeling the fragile geomeetric cookie in her hand Digesting them before her afternoon of 8:00 pm.