Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gestures and Lies

How did this happen?

How did I go to sleep one man and wake up another?

How did I earn this suspicion in my wife’s eyes, when I swore I never would? How did I manage that? Who is this guy my kids are talking to like he knows anything? I wouldn’t trust that guy. I’m not sure they trust that guy either, and good. I'm glad. Look at him. That guy with his face falling apart day by day, working its way from the hair down or from the chin up, makes no difference. Either way, any sane person would walk the other way. Where's the money gone, while we're at it? How the hell did it ever come to this?

Why do my students shoot glances across the room at each other all of a sudden whenever I grab my nose in confusion? Arched eyebrows, smirks, the whole nine yards. They never used to do that. Since when did that start happening? How did I end up with students anyway? Who are these kids? I have no business with these kids. I have no business teaching. Why should they believe a word I say? I don’t believe a word I say. Even my gestures are lies.

Why do I have a phone all of a sudden, when I swore I never would? Why do I have all these books? I’m never going to read all these books. A fire would be useful, something quick, precise and total. What’s with all these pens out of ink, spilling out of every coat pocket? What's with all these notebooks, when every one stops on the 10th page?

When am I ever going to wear these clothes I buy in unexpected rushes of vanity and blindness? Look at these clothes, what an assortment. What even exactly am I waiting for, a barn dance or a night at the Oscars? Some lecture at the Sorbonne where they can all applaud my integrity? Who am I kidding?

Make up your mind, you're a grown man. Make up your mind.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bellevue, WA. 1979

Strange as it is, woke up with this really strong longing for days back in Washington State, circa 1979 or so. Dirt bikes, goose-down jackets and torn up Wranglers, long tangled hair, BB guns and comic book collections and parents either stoned or straight behind the wheels of their Hondas and Datsuns. John Lord's brother out in the swamps, shooting up ducks with his Sear's-bought over and under and leaving hard plastic shells for us all to collect the next day. Arby's and the view from the school roof and old truckstop motels and new malls and Pizza and Pipes and catching raw snakes in our soft teenage hands. Scary movies at the Crossroad Cinema. One day back, this morning I probably would have given anything. I woke up with the taste of it in my mouth. I woke up and I could smell it, could feel the cool wall above my bed. Kiss posters and Casablanca posters and clothes thrown in the corner. Could look out the living room window and see the sun glinting off the side of Mt. Rainier as Mom makes her way made her way back from nursing school down at B.C.C. and dad stirred the spit-pea soup over the electric stove and the TV news nattered on. That world before the next one, and the next one so many worlds before now.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fever Dream

He had been working on a house, he kind of entered into the deal before he really knew he was sick but he suspected something. Anyway, he was working on it, old hippie artistry combined with old hippie craft, and pretty soon they had something going. Some kids from UK heard about it, made a little half-hour film of this house that his wife got shown at the UK film department. We brought some champagne, sat in the lobby and he sat really frail but dandy in his white suit and panama hat. Long red beard and hair tied back, same as my first memory of him, riding along beside him in his old Ford pick-up, happy and proud and five years old, bare feet pressed against the windshield, translucent footprints against the glare. All of his friends came along to the show. I came along, some of my students showed up. They put an article in the Lexington papers, which appeared a couple of days later, and reading it that's how I knew what happened next, read about it over a plate of scrambled eggs.

When she drove him back from the hospital the last time he threw up a couple of times in the car, into one of those almost-translucent blue hospital bags they give you. She had brought along the bags, this wasn't anything unexpected and there was no shame in it. No apologies. He was too weak to really hold the edges of the thing with any certainty, the knuckles stood out against his tanned freckled hands. They'd been together for 54 years, and he insisted on wearing the Panama hat. When they pulled up to the house Bob Weir was parked in front of it, swear to God. Bob Weir behind the wheel of an old Honda Civic. She explained everything, he came in and they played for a little while. Bob slowed down but he kept up. Then he went upstairs to bed, and that's where he died.