Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Double Wide Love

It ain’t easy
the greens of plus and minus
eraseable tethers
victory of moss over stone

this be big as rain,
big as the next big thing
that ain’t as big as this

Matters of fact invade
the pleasuredome,
scratching the itch,
the collision of love’s barriers
clanging: big gong,

big bong, big

actuarial bliss.

[Methinks he hasn't a clue.]

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My Mentor, My Minotaur

[Once a week, at faculty meetings at the Urchin Institute, individuals are "mugged" in appreciation for their services. A mug is passed from recipient to recipient. I was mugged last week. This is my tale to introduce my own muggee for the week.]

My Mentor, My Minotaur

I heard the bellowing down the hall. Three-thirty in the afternoon. He was hungry and I was late. I looked for a freshman to feed him, but there was none to spare. I’d been on a binge myself, of late.

I crept down the hall, so glad Mr. Acord had straightened out all the halls. Those labyrinths will mess with your heads, O my brothers.

“You’re late,” growled his Minotaurship, ever one for the obvious.

“I bring gifts,” I meowed.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” said the beast.

I handed him the twizzlers.

“Junk,” he said. “Do I look like junk food to you?”

“No, your Ghastlitude. It’s just—”

“Spare me the excuses,” he said. “I know Canales has the Fort Knox of chocolate next door, and you bring me twizzlers?” Outrage notwithstanding, he stuffed the entire wad of twizzlers into his maw—cellophane, cardboard, and all.

“Might I hazard a question anyway, your Appallingness?”

“Mmmph,” he replied.

“Hecklers,” I said.

“Good teachers have no hecklers,” he said.

“I understand,” I said. “But surely, in your early—”

“I was born ready,” he said. “There was never early.”

“Theoretically speaking, then,” I said.

“Theoretically speaking, I should eat you. Save Karulak your salary. Save those heathens your over-reliance on proofreading selections from Ulysses S. Grant.”

“Rutherford B. Hayes.”

“Whatever.” The beast scraped a hoof-sized fist across the roof of his mouth. There was purple twizzler lodged up there. And, I think, half a finger. I inventoried the digits of the upper school. Zwango’d been nursing a large Band-Aid since Wednesday.

“Have you nothing more than my own annihilation to suggest, Your Grisliness?”

He reached beneath his ample rump and pulled out two perilous knitting needles and yarn the color of candy corn. He handed them to me.

“I’d rather not stab myself, Your Unspeakableness.”

“Silly man. They’re not weapons. I’m done with you. You need a new minotaur. This one soothed even my savage beast. Well, as much as can be expected.”

“You don’t mean Werner?”

“I do indeed, me boy. She’s far and away the only MANN who can help you.”

[For Megan Werner-Mann: Muggee Extraordinaire: 10.24.07]

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Were Nothing

“I’m here for Snood,” I said.
“Snood’s not here for you,” said the blonde plate.
“And you are?”
“Not Snood.”
“Your day job?”
“Not Snood, both day and night,” said the dish. Blue plate she were. Very blue. “Not the Madonna either, if that’s what you mean.”
“Not sure what I mean. I’m still reckoning.”
“Day of?”
“Not quite that Anglican.”
“Nor that nautical.”
“I’ve seen you before,” said the Snoodnot. “’72, crisp fall in the quad, the conversation was dangling: derelict poetry. Looked like a bachelor party to me.”
“Most poetry does. My beatnik government tutor. He was 259 dissertation pages and 9 Pound cantos short of expulsion.”
“What I heard was Ram Dass.”
“Actually, it was Laing.”
“k. d.?”
“R. D.”
“That would account for it.”
“Politics of experience, be here now, and Marcuse.”
“That would account for – ”
“I’ve known better syncretism.”
“Wash and wear, no doubt.”
“Had a taco dog once, labored through Eros and Civilization. Knitted a purple scarf to see him through.”
“That’ll make an English major of the finest rodent.”
“It certainly did me.”
“And Professor Jumpstart?”
“He’s at the Fogg.”
“Smartypants. At. Archivist. Once “King of Hearts” stopped playing at the Central, he ran dry. Turns out he was riffing off the credits. Now, he writes love notes to Twombly.”
“Grace. Cy’s baby sister. You might call her the Anti-Cy.”
“Never knew he had –“
“She never meant for you to.”
“Reckless recluse.”
“Happens to the best.”
“Must it?”
“It must.”
“What exactly was it brought you to Snood?”
“He fired at mid-range. I was wondering if he could lighten up.”
“For instance?”
“Kid on the bus says, ‘What if everything was candy, except us and our clothes?’”
“Pepper spray would be skittles.”
“Just what he said.”
“Undoubtedly. The logic is embedded in the Faidoni.”
“I hope it has better sense than that.”
“Deborah Harry has more sense than that.”
“Then, said the Mighty Tundra, our tables would be brownies and our mirrors, rock candy.”
“Bus-kid again, I assume. Parents sound vegan. I used to sandpaper with spelt.”
“Facial scrub, too.”
“Have we flirted enough?”
“How about –“
“That’ll do.”
“You in for the night?”
“I’m in for the century.”
“Grilled veggie tacos?”
“I wouldn’t want to insult the mutt.”
“Taco? Long gone.”
“Too much arugala?”
“Too little –“
“Let me guess. Too little Krall.”
“Amazing. How –“
“Look of Love album. They like her toes.”
“Seems she does, too.”
“A little too fond.”
“Paraphernalia has its place.”
“So does Milton.”
“No need to be extreme.”
“Is it any wonder?”
“Never on a Sunday.”
“And never in tweed. Pick me up at 8. We’ll check your parallel parking, see if it’s a date.”

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

My New Best Friend

Wreckless Eric (www.wrecklesseric.com): I have no real idea why, but I've just spent an hour or so snarfing around in his archives, so he is now one of my right margin BLINKS. The world probably won't be a better place if we all tune in, but it certainly won't be any worse: Scotch on the rocks or raw tofu or English Peas or remaindered Carpenters or ____________ (insert your own acquired taste). If you're looking for the "thread," its immediate predecessors were The Proclaimers, The Monkees, and Stranger Than Fiction. Just preceding that thread were Ruthann Friedmann, Subud, Jo Mapes, We Five, Peter (no, not Jorma) Kaukonen, and me last blerg. It's called resting: it's the Sabbath.

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"There's a Town I'd Like to Go Back To"

Friday evening, I surfed through to a blog that had yet another word association game/exercise: writing in response to five words. I was feeling up for a little riff, but then I looked at the words: vineyard, root, rescue, perseverance, and divided. I lost my riff-raff pretty quickly after that: too damn serious for this Friday night end of week noggin. So, for moi, I proposed the following. For y’all out there in Riffland, I say, go the vineyard route, steal mine, or just ante up your own five gems. Herewith:

jam: “Jam up and jelly tight.” Not a clue in the world what this means, but it sounds awfully fine, and I have invoked it reverently for years. It’s definitely got a George Clinton P-Funk attitude, though come to think of it, Lady Ivory (Teena Marie) could just as easily be the jelly AND the jam. She might prefer the honey comb, but it ain’t always about what’s in the jar, now is it? Mistress Google-a chimes in with a Tommy Roe hit from the 60s, and that’s about all I need to scurry right on along to:

uptight: Stevie (Little or Big) would have done a helluva lot better than “dizzy” Tommy with the jam, though Stevie, too, fell into oblivion with The 1980s Song That Shall Not Be Named, but way way back before he morphed into just plain awesome superstition ain’t the way el toro negro, he was jammin’ along to his uptight outasight beat, Motown horns thrown in for good measure, and I was riding along in the car around the nooks and crannies of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, falling in love with now Patty, now Judy, now Elaine, now Norma, now Jackie, now Susie (just as the Buckinghams dropped “Susan” into the airwaves). Remember a moonlit post-party stroll around the base (we were eighth graders, for godsakes!), Ms Norma’s white jeans were as white as that brilliant moon, against gorgeous coffee skin, what ever happened to the Supremes’ “Whisper You Love Me, Boy”?

flimps: Flower imps: Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Montgomery, Alabama: no, not a bunch of hayseed yahoos warping the Bard, but wondrous productions in that splendid theater. Black swans on the lake. Greta Lambert strutting her stuff in “School for Scandal,” “Hedda Gabler,” “The Tempest,” “Betrayal,” and glory beyond glory, “On the Verge.” It’s rumored there is theater to be had here in Tres Leches, but I fear shady comparisons to Alabama and the Oregon Fest as well.

cloister: Sounds like an orphan from the vineyard route, but think Poor Clares in New Orleans, site of some of the city’s best pralines. NOLA being the epicenter of all things praline (here in Tejas, it was always “pray-leen,” while in the epicenter it was “prah-leen,” like saying the quotidian “hummus” instead of the high church Armenian “hah-mōs”). If not the Clares, think Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, or the dearly beloved Black Madonna right here in Tres Leches, site of the improvised nuptials of two of her pilgrims on March 8, 1998. Not a site for pralines, but the sweetest baby boy certainly came tumbling months later. Of course, in deference to Tres Leches’ own art of the praline, we cannot leave out Mi Tierra, a 24/7 Christmas-lit haven of generally dreadful and overpriced tourist food: still, there was that glorious 3.08.1998, where, at 5 o’clock in the morning, said pilgrims found succor in the red vinyl booth with some fine chorizo and egg tacos, and the coffee was fine (love, the eternal equalizer), and the first of many to come Patina poems rolling out on the napkins. Pralines bought at the “altar,” and then broken and dropped at various ancestral graves around the city: father and paternal grandparents at Fort Sam as the winds blew mightily, and then down to greet the Green Fairy and her parents (the maternal g/p’s, and come to the think of it, the maternal great-grandmother, too) at St. John’s Lutheran cemetery, eastside, South New Braunfels Avenue. This peregrination was also the day of being temporarily lost, and saying, “let’s stop at the first stop we come to for directions,” and the first stop was indeed a convenience store named “The First Stop.” Now that, pilgrims, is Prompt Succor.

jicama: Have mercy, one of the best salads I have ever had was laden with it, but if pressed, I couldn’t tell you what the fruit itself looks like, though its flesh looks to me like a scrumptious pear. We had a pair of pears this past week for dessert that were dripping with their own natural honey. Jicama, the word, reminds me of jacala, the word. There are jacalas that dot the King William ‘hood here in Tres Leches: for unknown reasons, I think of cottages with coyote fences, in all probability a completely autistic association, a practice (hermetic, autistic, oft self-referential association) to which I am amply given. The word “association” invariably conjures up those warblers of the 60s who, beyond their own word associations (cherish, perish, garish), tossed off two very fine albums (Renaissance and the “Stonehenge” album) that, while breaking the syrupy Never My Love mold, still hastened their demise. Associate to association and Chicago’s Cryan Shames are never far behind, A Scratch in the Sky a masterpiece that never warbled very far beyond the Windy City itself, but certainly reached highly scratched vinyl status through infinite replayings on one Texas boy’s box, believe me, their Windy brothers the Buckinghams didn’t stand a chance, by comparison, though the confections of “Kind of a Drag” and “Don’t You Care” were praline enough. Who would have predicted the Zawinul-penned “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” to come tumbling out in the summer of, what, 1967? Rascals’ blue-eyed soul all over again. Nyro was rumbling in the fore, but I maintain the masterpiece is her middle-aged Angel in the Dark, just as Lady Ivory brought it all tumbling with her just shy of 50 throwdown CD La Doña. Avalanche of associations coming now: Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Ain’t That a Bitch,” TM’s “Ooh La-La-La,” Sergio Mendes/Lani Hall’s Equinox—the music never stops tumbling in Tres Leches. It’s all una ensalada, no?

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


The last time I saw Gerald, he told me he’d finally found the purpose to his life.

“I finally found the purpose to my life,” he said.

I told him that I already said that as the opening paragraph to my story about his having found the purpose to his life.

“What did you say in the paragraph?” he said.

“That the last time I saw you, you told me you had finally found the purpose to your life.”

“Is this the last time you saw me?” he said.

“Probably,” I said.

“Why is that?”

“Because I finally found the purpose to my life.”

“And what is that, pray tell?”

“To write the story of your having found the purpose to your life.”

“Wow, really?”


“Must you actually leave to tell this story?”

“It’s recommended.”

“By whom?”

“Family physicians. Food artists. Canine grief therapists.”

“That’s a wide sample, mon frere.”

“It is a wide sample. Very wide. It’s even wide in French.”

“Speaking of French, is it ‘to’ or ‘for?’”

“To or for what?”

“Purpose to your life or purpose for your life?”

“I think it’s ‘of.’”

“But, you typed ‘to.’”

“Well, in truth, Gerald, I haven’t typed anything yet. You keep yapping at me.”

“Could you put ‘of’ instead of ‘to’? It would mean a lot to me. It would mean almost as much as my Leif Erickson CD.”

“Leif had a CD? Isn’t that pushing things a bit? Vikings in the studio?”

“Who’s pushing? You never heard of his jamming with Hendrix at Electric Ladyland?”

“Wait a minute. You mean Leaf Erickson.”

“Right. Leif.”

“No. Leaf. Background vocals on ‘The Wind Cries Mary’?”

“There are no background vocals on ‘The Wind Cries Mary.’”

“Exactly. That’s Leaf.”


“Yes. Leaf.”

“I’m bewildered.”

“Is that it?”

“Is that what?”

“The purpose of your life.”

“Is what the purpose of my life?”


“It certainly seems to be the purpose to yours,” said Gerald, as he leaved…leafed…leifed…lephed.

I haven’t seen him since.

[This wasn't the assignment. Shh. Don't tell the urchins...]

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