Tag Archives: Series

The Loop

Daniel was told by a psychiatrist
that there were past lives,
well…
the psychiatrist crossed his arms.
It’s more like a library of other lives
that one
if bored enough,
could pain themselves into seeing.

Black spaces
summoned into light with a dog whistle.
It must be pushed through a canal
or blown like air into the bottom of a flume.
Worlds within worlds,
hearts within hearts.
He imagined in this space he used to be a viking.
Or an alien.
Although in reality, he knew it didn’t work like that.
He couldn’t get the fantasies off his mind
as he stared out his apartment window
at five in the morning,
drinking coffee since two-thirty.
He looked at his neighbors window.
Watching the strip of light
beneath a bedroom door.

Daniel was told
by a stub-fingered card counter
that he met in Salinas,
that he could get there,
if he stayed up for three days
and opened all the doors and windows
and ate particular seeds.
He was not allowed to roast them.
Or drink more then one glass of water a day.
So that’s what Daniel did.
This is what he saw.
.
Green-gray sky
dirt road kicking red dust.
Lloyd’s olive work pants layered in soot and ash,
worn Atlas gloves in the back pocket.
They talked about who they used to love.
The conversation was very short.
Dawn in a white dress,
walking barefoot,
beside Lloyd back to their house.
Her thumb carried her open-toed shoes
that she slung over her shoulder.
Dawn swayed back and forth on the road.
The hills collapsed and rose near the horizon.
They were not rolling,
They inhaled and exhaled,
breathing body of Atlas,
ruddy lungs of under,
a place Daniel would say,
and did say
“you could walk all over,
or stay still,
and have the same experience.”
Lloyd pulled a cigarette from his ear
and cupped his hands as he lit a match.
The fire brightened his face.
He continued talking.
After thirty seconds,
Dawn stopped listening to Lloyd’s joke-chatter
the words Daniel could hear but not make out,
but he could tell it was nervous chatter,
based on the way Dawn looked more at the trees
and the queer tone of sky,
the lips of heaven.
She asked him to stop talking.
Because she had stopped moving.
And he had walked ahead.
And she reached for Lloyd’s wrist.
And he turned his wide body around.
She wanted to tell Lloyd a story.
It was time to match the blueprint
against something other than structured chaos,
too familiar with the way,
that someone lost in the forest
continues to make the four wrong turns,
stuck in a self-imposed circle,
damned to the loop.
The story involved choices.
Best described as a lack of choice.
And more like
“Well, shit just happens.”
The story was about no choices
in that, let us say
that a train on a lay of track
has a choice.
It can continue.
It can return,
step-by-step,
rail-by-rail
or
it can stop and rust.
A story told in the middle,
like the one Dawn (finally) tells,
as Lloyd pinches his tongue
and they walk
in the way and the waiting,
a world and a blade of grass
sitting between them.
Same thing.
A story, a device to suggest another story.
The narrow choices of the train
swallowing coal and cinder like Dimetapp.
.
“They had dated for a year but never slept together.
Well, they slept in the same bed.
But, you know.
He had…drug-store problems, I think he felt
something…small, I guess,
like in the shadow of his brother.
Ovid.
His brother’s name was Ovid.
Ricky was, like, a simpler name.
I dunno.”
Dawn laughed at herself.
“Ricky is an alright name.”
She stopped walking and softly kicked at a pebble
that limped along the space between the grass and the road.
A sad pebble.
It plopped in the ditch water,
and Lloyd,
realized there was a ditch there,
and tossed his loose smoke there,
spitting tobacco from his lips.
“It’s hard to say what happened
though none of our friends…
and then before it made sense,
she had fallen down the stairwell.
It sounded awful.
I was asleep on the couch.
It was that abode house…
you remember it, I bet.
You were there, I think.
The one on Anodyne St.”
Lloyd nodded.
Lloyd didn’t remember the house.
“The house with the really hard couch, it was like,
a wicker basket.
The stairs were hard but sort of like clay.”
There was an emphasis and her Texas twang sat up on clay.
“She made like, a soft thud.
I looked a the step later.
There was a dent.
..
But, I guess it could’ve been damaged from before.
Oz thought she was dead.
She was sprawled out,
she didn’t even react,
that girl,
she was like perfectly still.
I can’t believe I don’t remember her name.
Ricky stepped over her to get to the car.
There was a cab outside,
to take them to the airport.
They had a flight that day!
Oh my god, I remember now.
God.
He was high.
He was always…high.
It goes without saying, I guess…
those times…
I guess if he weren’t high.
He just wouldn’t be Ricky.
..
..
I don’t think he thought,
but I don’t think it would’ve been any different,
if he knew we were awake.”
Lloyd heard a frog hiccup.
He wanted to go find it and say hello,
but he could tell Ovid about it when they got back inside.
“Oz and I tried to go back to sleep.
He did.
…I couldn’t.
…She snapped clean to while I stood…
it was just like she just…
and Ricky…
I asked her if she was flying or if Ricky was just going alo…
they were both…
his cab was gone…
no waiting…
she made me promise I would
teach English in Taiwan.
She gripped my wrist
and she moved in to kiss me…
and…she nearly was gonna miss her flight…
and…I got her in a cab
and…she mouthed “Taiwan” to me as it sped off.”
..
“But you weren’t there, Lloyd, were you?
I thought you were Oz.
…a cab came back,
It was Ricky.
He was the one that missed his flight.
He had left maybe an hour before her.
He saw through security, and something happened.
Something always happened.
Or, I guess the right things just never happened.
She ended up boarding before he did.
He just laughed and said it was “bullshit,
that shit just happened.”
and
“Fuck that”.
And Ricky said he walked out of the airport.
And hailed a cab.
And as the family in his cab got out,
paying the cabby,
Ricky vomited on the child.”
.
They went inside the house.
Ovid wasn’t home, but Lloyd would remember
to talk about the frog tomorrow.
Notes in the blueprints
a ledger of a past,
here in the sequestered,
sleeping among the horses in the stable.
Their house with no doors
wind of the deflating hills
moving through the house like an outlaw.
Gin poured into plastic cups,
that neither of them drank,
silent on the elevator,
sitting out on the villa,
red clay birthing
a simple name without words.
Dreams revealing the nature of their loops.
They took their four turns
while looking at each other on the villa
and Lloyd said
that in his last life, he dreamed he was a cartographer.

Chapter Two

I had a hangover when I saw the birds. In a flurry, their movements blossomed above a cascade of cars belting northbound. There were two flocks. They approached and admired each other, seeming to bow almost, a mutuality recognized, and the pair began this festive dance, the one group swayed and mixed with the second group, they bulged and proceeded to collaborate, birds from the first mixed into the second, then they split, then reformed under new factions, only to recalibrate, to sway and turn as a unit and mash quick and elegant back into one, to collide in a periscope of nature, a silent paradox that split upward, that split in half, that stood as simple and transparent as sheared paper against the horizon , that fluttered in diagonals and deft shifts, sublime movement appearing at once dark as it dove against the cliff face and bright as the fever of an autumn sun as it climbed upwards, altogether gallant and lifeless, two identical forms merging and deviating back into two different yet identical forms again, they spread apart a final time only to be reunited, as one true flock, that flys under some autonomous principal, to some imbued forever distant destination, answering only to their flock, to their deathless drone, as they moved past the view of my windshield.

I looked back on the highway, the other cars breezed past my peripheral view, silent and choiceless, I can’t hear them, they can’t hear me, I can’t hear their nature, they cannot allow for the possibility that their ramifications to be true, that their force is a tangible entity, that they themselves must reckon with.  The speed, the noise, the numbers, the danger, the blurring of steel into gargantuan bullets, falsely silent within the confines, the stereos as antiseptic, all this, all that this is, is impeded upon. You don’t notice when things drip past the point of no return, when there is no hope, but despair isn’t an option, since obliviousness has taken hold, since you’re at the helm, after so much time, chaos and disintegration unwillingly becomes the norm. And it takes an explosive event to knock you back to the ground. It always come as a surprise when it happens, surely unbelievable, but in the afterglow it becomes more comprehensibly right, accurate, needed even. But everything is so damn wonderful before this happens.

I keep on learning the same thing over and over again, only in a different tone, with a different name. I don’t know if that it makes it more true, or me more incapable of changing anything. Maybe this is a universal truth that bears repeating, that bears to be stamped down into permanence. I get discouraged too easily, I guess. So I paid my bills off, unplugged the phone, picked up my mail and left town for a couple of days.


Chapter One

This is the official first chapter of a fictional series that I have been working on in my head as well as on pieces of paper for about nine months now. A previous chapter has already been published through this outlet. It is the previous post. Expect more and in a linear fashion.

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I’ve learned that some people don’t actually get any better, that they may think the prospects in life are improving, but in reality they will plateau at a young age and repeat the only trick they can perform much confidence or skill.  Some people don’t get any worse either, they lay like a wanton ship at a dock, gathering rust from the inside out. Some people don’t get any good, ever. But I’m pretty sure they are aware of that unfortunate fact. Some people think they move free, untethered, but they are in fact stagnant, playing human in some cosmic hallucination and are falling like wounded birds, one into a marsh, bruised and battered, staring listlessly at the fading stars with a blossoming smile of adoration. And I can’t help but think what a burden it must be to love one of them.

The phone would ring. Or it rang. I’m getting lost in tenses. Either way, the bottom line is that phone has been making noises and I haven’t been touching it. I stopped opening the mailbox, stopped checking my email and stopped paying the bills.  I’ve been regularly masturbating, working, reading and sleeping in no particular order. I will sometimes perform two of these simultaneously. Usually I do one at a time and is not very exciting. Some days I’ll go out and meet some friends at a bar. I’ll look around noisy and impatient, at the sea of smiling faces and complicated and swallow my two drinks intimidated by the circuits and volts of life, then quickly I’m behind the wheel going home.

Honestly, I’ve been staying busy. This isn’t a confession of my depression and my isolation, of a person admitting they are in fact very complicated and deep. I’m jovial, polite and slightly shallow. I see shows. I go to lectures. I listen to my professor. But these activities are too distant. I’m the recipient in these situations, not the acting, pushing and pumping agent breathing and teeming with life and experience. It’s odd. Giving really is much better than receiving. The calls were flooding in, and now I’m overflowing with advice, most of it good, but in such a heavy volume and it weighs me down, like a nation founded on good intentions. The mantra’s are slowly becoming the man. I am concerned. The wise words get floundered, misnamed and swallowed between brushing shoulders and exaggerated sighs, in those dark, uncounted places where strangers congregate and play human. The benefit is that I’m getting much better at convincing myself I am better. However, most people see through myself.

I am doing different things, to trick myself. When I’m getting antsy, I go for long walks in the woods as twilight approaches and get high and read poetry. Mostly Thomas and Tennyson. Berryman when I feel adventurous. I go out to dinner with friends, and I focus on them and our conversations. I am occupied and happy when I am given the chance to pursue what I want to do. The situation isn’t the same at work. I have entirely too much freedom, but not the kind I enjoy. The kind where you have to look over your shoulder to make sure you’re aren’t having too much fun or being watched. And when I’m not actually doing anything, which is often, I am vulnerable to this unending self-consumption, the fever dreams of my imagination. I become lost in the thicket of what isn’t and what may be, and that ball in my stomach reemerges. That’s why she told me to start writing this down – to let it out. Then I can relax. And I’m here again, the branches sway, the light catches the room, and my mind follows loosely like a bastard seeking the warm solace of to be held, and to be felt, and to be acknowledged, and the power of the following recognitions bask. I guess Conrad was right when he said imagination was the enemy of man.

There is another precipitatory concern in all this, there is a worry, that these new ways of living is the dawn of a new age of personal habits. The when, how and why of my drinking. The rationale behind my sleep pattern. My taste in art and the capacity it has grown to function as a diversion. My life could be considered a mess. I figure that the problem with habits is that you do not force them, cannot will them, you can repeat something often and religiously, but until it is unconscious and subliminal, until you hear and feel yourself doing it before you see and know, it is not a habit. It is a pattern. It is a habit when it becomes that sudden incalculable manuever. It is when intent meets nature, a black gauze becomes cast over memory, and the revelatory unknowable has become awakened to an unfortunate truth. Then suddenly I’m saddled with a ritual. At least I’m not smoking anymore.

Take my running for example. The urge began as this notion pulsating in my chest, quietly clamoring for motion. A mumbling voice repeating “You should go for a run.” I started on a treadmill with a coworker on a day we both had off, where the sun breathed in through studded concrete and the reflection of the pool held in the back of his apartment complex last summer.  I would be trotting hard and fast with heavy, full feet, like an elephant, pounding and trampling on the scrolling black tarp that forced away the dissenting voices. I couldn’t quit. My coworker couldn’t quit. That unbridled shame would be come public, a level up from that silent guilt that sticks within the tar of your chest when you quit in private. I wasn’t ready for my shame to be public then, at least not last summer.  I didn’t have a reason to quit either.

I started running on the street, something I never tried before. I didn’t know how to start, I stumbled and prodded like an awkward boy until my feet answered the questions and took me off at a brisk pace into the dusklight, between street lights, under an unconsistent canopy did my breath falter, but I continued on, like a strong willed soldier with weak judgment. And then the pain set in. I looked at the moon. I heard a voice remind me that Machines know me better that I know myself. So I breathe in, and relax, and try something different.