A late Winter breeze licks
The very last of Summer
From your skin.
Bony tree fingers curl around
Invisible cords of Light
Having shed last year’s verve
Take my hand and walk
Through this death Womb
With me, into irenic Spring!
A late Winter breeze licks
The very last of Summer
From your skin.
Bony tree fingers curl around
Invisible cords of Light
Having shed last year’s verve
Take my hand and walk
Through this death Womb
With me, into irenic Spring!
i’ve got the itch
for steel black stilettos
and long thin lines
waists and flesh bends
that shift Night’s glow
into red-light silhouettes.
and you come near
fearlessly dressed to
the nines, capable of
stealing what chastity
remains in me.
and red on black, nails
screaming sex in staggering
explosions of crimson
trip carelessly across
lips, a sacred sanguine
hue, shifting shapes
around a mouth
ready to eat
140 Miles to Andersonville and bleeding
street lights dance in harmonic pulses
strained quietly by drops and smears
through quick beating blades often
repeating and repositioning over
time and space – pause – alive.
but another waits for me beside
the tall stubborn post, beat upon
by fog and mildew, bones and sinews
and I yearn to be with her as tempest
rains drive me slower, slower, and slower still
damning each passing mile between me and her standing
alone and wet, just 140 lone miles from Andersonville
at peace in furor I pray she waits for me.
for twenty-seven years i have
lusted after your
black on white on black
each finger on your body
is me reaching out of my
dark places and into your
essence. the tones we
vibrate from your lungs,
cedar and pine, crystallize
before me as they strike
bitter chords within.
soul and marrow are broken
asunder beneath the
weight of this struggle.
our search among strings of
steel and velvet and
lacquer finish for those
timbres that will set
my heart in tune.
for once, home will
be in the subtle
motifs you play
with red nails
resonated by your shimmering skin.
it is a fickle thing,
that which ties us to
large millstones then
casts us into the Sea.
we plunge, headlong
into black waters where
scamps and reprobates
descended long before.
hoping for a midnight lark
with friends near and far
on the rippled sands
of the inhumed sea bed.
when i finally hit the bottom,
who will come to my
side and cut loose this
so that i too can frolic on the Ocean floor,
with all the Sinners in their Ribald Soirée.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones
—those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them to have a
large millstone hung around their neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea”
~ The Gospel According To Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 6.
The small studio apartment was right out of a Shabby Chic episode. The coffee table was an old iron gate; turned on its side with four iron rods welded to each corner. It was topped with a perfectly cut piece of translucent glass. Positioned on the table was an assortment of candles, a wire mesh bowl of potpourri, and a note. The note, a letter, was written on Martha Stewart custom stationary ordered online and written in picture perfect calligraphy. There was no signature. Beyond the table, in the back of the tiny 25th story apartment was a pair of rustic French doors that opened to a small balcony overlooking the city. This particular day, the city had lost its perpetual buzz. That low 60 megahertz hum that lives and breathes in every City. It’s a hum that you feel when you wake up, when you shower, when you walk through the park towards the bus stop, when you hail a cab, when you sip some bohemian java at the corner coffee house, when you bump into an old roommate at the cleaners, when you prick your finger, and when you stare, helplessly, into the mirror at a face that becomes more the stranger with each passing day. This is where we find Adeline. Standing, white Ralph Lauren towel wrapped tightly around her wet head. A few locks of brown hair hang heavily down from the back of the towel, sticking to her neck. She is leaning against the sink, staring intently at the blurred reflection before her. Steam still billows from the behind the shower curtain, as she never turned the water off. She peers into the mirror, wiping away the fog with one stroke of her hand, leaving a face reflecting nothing.
“It’s that hum,” she thinks, while pulling her upper lip up with her index finger, inspecting her teeth. She furrows her brow and makes a grunting “Grrrrrr” sound.
She reaches behind her and opens the bathroom door. A cool rush of air sweeps through the bathroom, stirring up an angry flock of goose bumps across the damp skin of her back. Shivering, she removes the towel from the Pier One chrome towel rack behind her and dries off quickly, covering herself with a fluffy, Bath and Body Works terrycloth robe. She turns off the water in the shower and heads for the balcony. As she passes the Shabby Chic table, she reaches down and picks up the letter.
“No hum?” she thinks. “It’s so quiet…”
City people never hear the hum until they leave the city. It’s why city people can’t really go camping. There is no hum. No buzz. Just silence. Silence is the worst enemy of the lonely. That’s why the lonely love the city. It’s big towering buildings. It’s alleys and corner shops. And that beautiful, comforting, hollow hum. It’s a sweet repose to them. It’s a constant reminder that there are, indeed, eight million other miserable people living in other high-rise, custom furnished, name brand cells. It’s a reminder that you aren’t the only lonely person alive. It’s a reminder that you aren’t the only one left. The hum that brought Adeline to the City, is the very same one that will not let her leave.
She was awakened early this morning by the thundering sound of silence. She had been tossing; sheets wet from sweat, her breathing irregular, whimpering in her sleep when she heard it. Nothing. No hum. No buzz. No sound. She awoke paralyzed with fear. There was just the faint thud of her own heart. Have you ever listened to a recording of silence? Take a microphone and tape recorder and just let it sit in a totally silent room? Play that tape back and the sound could deafen you. There is certainly a lot of noise in silence. A torturous noise. For a brief moment she thought that she must have been back home. With mom downstairs cooking breakfast, dad in the garage kicking the lawnmower. Her younger sister, asleep beside her, having snuck into her bed late during the night. The clean, white country sunlight pulsing in through the sheer cotton curtains above her bed like an angel from heaven sent for the sole purpose of waking Adeline up each morning. Here, in this place there was no hum. No noise. She looked around the dark room in silence for several moments before she realized that she was indeed home. Her 25th floor apartment home. Her trendy little pad with the iron fence table and candle armada. The silence was horrible. She got out of bed and went to take a shower. Before stepping in, she took a few of the pills that her doctor had given her. Half way through the shower, her head dizzy from the hot water and silence, she took a couple more pills, having forgotten if she had taken them at all.
Now, showered and dry, she holds the letter in her hand and heads for the balcony.
I am Adeline Donnor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Donnor of Dublin, Georgia.”
She removes the floor bonsai plants from the balcony railing and places them on the table. Using her hand, she wipes off the concrete slab that surrounds the balcony. Never looking up from the letter she continues,
“I came to this City to find a life of my own. My plans back home were already made for me. My future husband was there, my family was there, my life was there. But you, beautiful City, urged me. You seduced me. Since I was a little girl I could hear you calling. Calling me to come and discover myself. To discover you.”
Holding the letter tightly in her hand, she pulls her robe up over her knees and steps up onto the concrete railing.
“I have discovered you, and you are found wanting. My Pandora’s box. When I first came here, you were so inviting. I would lie in my bed and listen to your voice. Listen to you speak promises to me. Now, your once soothing voice has become a dreadful hum. And where are you now? In my hour of need? Where is your voice? I hear no hum, only silence.”
She steadies herself and stands atop the railing. She begins to read aloud; screaming the words of her letter to the City. Her protests are pushed backed into her mouth by the wind. As if some adversary were trying to cram the paper back into her throat.
“You have failed me City. You have given me nothing but loneliness. You have trapped me here. You have cheated me. I never should have left my home. Never should have been tempted by your seducing stare. I used to lie in my bed and dream of you. And hear you whispering. Now, I hear nothing.”
“But you will hear me.”
Dropping the note behind her, Adeline Donnor let herself fall. Her eyes were closed as she plunged serenely from her balcony. Her white terrycloth robe flapped behind her like wings. The silence of that morning was broken by her scream. A shrill, desperate scream. The scream a rabbit makes just as it escapes from the deadly jaws of some foe. Although free, terrified. Her voice echoed off of buildings and rose through the early morning air.
Her wail was cut short by the sudden slice of death. Her frail body lay broken on the sidewalk buried partly by her terrycloth shroud. And on cue, the City began to hum.
You rise in Matron deity
from a cold delitescence
in garbs of sickly pale.
I ponder Your plight
as You ascend regal stairs
and sit in such dread
over men, good and evil.
for Your fall is a great one indeed
like Saul, Caesar, I
each one: a swirling penultimate
an irony of ironies.
we marvel at Your power
of stirring and fortitude.
an endless offing – You defeated Them all
Neptune, Poseidon, Thetis, Triton.
all are but lone sepoys
trudging on through hot sands and east winds.
bound by Your beck and call.
each marching as cannon fodder
in timely routines, ebbs and flows
yet in vain scandal You hide
Your fearful cheeks – in wax, in wane
still we all count subtly by You.
and I too shall one day succumb
to Your Atlas pull
and let old Earth fall limply beneath my feet
and soar upwards into Your gentle bosom
avi numerantur avorum; “Happy is he with such a Mother”
Everything was a blur.
People. Sidewalk. Feet. Birds eating crumbs. Sidewalk. More people. Crosswalk. Curb. Traffic light. The sound of chatter. A scream. The squealing of tires. Car fender. Pain. Sound of snapping bone. A shriek. The curb. The sky. Darkness. Gray. Light. Blue. Blue light. Blue…sky. Wonderful blue sky.
Anthony Bastionne never saw the taxi. Always the careful man, the gentleman, the “Go-To” guy, the “friend” of nearly every woman in Philadelphia; he never thought he would find himself lying in the intersection of Broad and Locust St, blood trickling from his nose, fighting for his life. Yet, here he was, lying on his back, suit pants ripped halfway up his left leg, right arm bent into an impossible position, and, worst of all, a panicked crowd emerging from the storefronts in this busy intersection. He had always walked this route from the corner coffee shop, to Jack “The Pudding Man” Lemron’s newspaper stand, past the luggage store, over the two homeless nomads camped out over the warm subway exhaust vents, and finally across the intersection to his high rise office building. If he had walked it once, he had walked it a thousand times. He could walk it blindfolded. This particular February day he had been in a hurry. A terrible bolt of pain rocketed through his body as he felt a concerned taxi cab driver try to fix his arm. He let out a desperate howl of pain and the man did his best to put the arm back in its previous twisted position. Not a good idea. More pain. More screams. The once serene view of the blue sky turned dim and covered with black spots. The pain quickly subsided and he returned his hollow gaze back towards the inviting blue above. The crowd stood and stared. Helpless. Intrigued.
“What happened?” he murmured as a soft spray of blood and spit went spewing from his mouth like a red, misty cloud.
“I am so sorry sir. I tried to stop. But you stepped right in front of me. The light. It was green! The light was green and you just stepped out in front of me! I never saw…” The cab driver stammered and shook while pleading with the man, and the onlookers.
The Cabby’s words, at first as clear as the sky hovering above Anthony, began to trail off into a garbled echo as he rolled his head back. His mind, a clouded jumble of images, began to clear slowly. “Why was I in such a hurry?” he thought. “Why was I…?” And he was gone.
Anthony Bastionne was a 32-year-old semi-virgin. He wasn’t ugly, or deformed, or a sociopath. He was just Anthony. The term, semi-virgin, was his own invention. When he was 21 years old, he met Wanda Padsworth. She was a rotund, lovable girl with real homegrown, corn fed freckles. They were studying for their shared course: “Elizabethan History: A Study of Homogenous Living in a Nepotistic Empire.” Obviously this was not a class that either one of them would ever use. One night they had been working late on a project in the basement of the college library. Leaning over the table to grab some papers, Wanda raised up just as Anthony was moving his head from side to side, rubbing his neck. The impact of forehead to cheekbone rattled them both to the point of crying. Anthony, shocked and in pain, flailed his arms attempting to rub his forehead, but rather, his right hand caught Wanda’s left eye and sent them both tumbling backwards onto the hard concrete floor. Anthony bumped his head and Wanda, all of Wanda, fell atop Anthony with a muffled thud that would gratify any special effects soundman. After a bit of groaning, Anthony opened his eyes to see that bright, beautifully freckled face staring intently into his eyes. They were basically nose-to-nose. Closing her eyes and smiling, Wanda leaned in, licked her lips slightly, and kissed Mr. Anthony Bastionne squarely, tenderly on the lips. His mind raced, his head, woozy from the fall, spun, his lips quivered, and his loins reminded him that he was male afterall. She pulled away from him and flashed him her typical imp smile. With his heart beating like a juiced up Energizer bunny, Anthony struggled for something to say. He had so longed to be with a girl, to be kissed by a girl, to be noticed by a girl; yet, his mouth was so dry that swallowing may have caused internal injuries.
“I…I…” he stuttered. “I think you are lying on my notes, Wanda.”
Whew! Release! He had broken the silence.
“WHAT?” Wanda yelled, throwing her hands up over her head. “That’s all I get?”
She quickly gathered her notes, her composure, and her dignity and left Anthony, still lying on the cold concrete floor.
That was the first and last time he had ever been with a girl. Since his odds were so low, the term semi-virgin helped to dilute his true status as a man with his ever-ridiculous relationships with women. Anthony was not a Tom Cruise. He was hardly a Tom Arnold. He was that token male friend that beautiful women always seem to have. Anthony was the “I don’t like you `that’ way”, the “You’re such a great listener”, and the “Can I tell you about this guy I met” guy-friend that girls have. After years of ruining these “friendships”, Anthony had decided that this was simply his best attempt at companionship. Besides who knows, perhaps one day, one of them would realize that best friends make the best husbands.
In the dark distance, Anthony heard the wail of a siren approaching. He cracked one eye only to see the stares of the crowd of people and the clear blue behind them. It was as if they could see right through him. A gentle hand reached down and wiped some of the blood off of his face.
“You’re going to be alright.” The angelic voice assured him. A voice so warm it felt like honey pouring over his mind.
He closed his eyes and remembered. He was hurrying to his office to meet Amanda. Amanda, the tall brunette they had just hired in Accounting. The Amanda that had just moved to the City from Austin with a sweet accent, no friends, no prospects and the most beautiful blue eyes he’d ever seen. As blue as the comforting sky holding his life in it’s hands. He had been rushing back to the office in response to a voice mail she had left him. He had been walking down the street and felt the buzz in his trouser pocket as his cell phone went off. He had missed the call but immediately called to check his messages.
“Um…hi..um Anthony. I was trying to catch you before I left for the day. I was uh wondering. Well, since you are the only person I know in the city if maybe you.. um I was hoping that maybe after you get off I could meet you for.. you know..coffee or something. I hear there is a great coffee shop down the street and well, I just thought we could go out and..talk or something. I’ll be at the office for about 10 more minutes if you get the message..call me.”
Only Anthony hadn’t called. He had started to run. He ran, in his gray suit, with his tie flying back over his shoulders like Zorro’s cape. He ran like there was no tomorrow. A woman had just asked him out. As he breezed past the city crowds, he frantically called her number. No answer. He called his voice mail again. Yes, it was still there. A date.
“Oh God what if I punch her in the eye too?” he laughed at himself as he rounded past Jack “The Pudding Man” Lemron’s newspaper stand.
Approaching the busy intersection of Broad and Locust, he glanced up, through the piercing sunlight and saw two pigeons flying. Looking back ahead of him, he saw nothing but the big bright splotches you see after catching too much sun directly in your eyes. He knew he was close to the crosswalk. As he tried to stop, his loafers merely skidded across the pavement, dropping him off the curb. He felt his ankle turn over as his foot fell awkwardly onto the street, his body tumbling forward. That is when he heard the scream. The tell-tale squeal of tires. He saw the flash of a chrome fender. And he felt the impact. The pain caused by the speeding taxi was so intense that he could no longer hear, and time was slowed to a crawl. He had always thought that scenes like this in movies were in slow motion to add drama. He was wrong. They were in slow motion because that is how they really happen. He saw his world turn end over end. His feet in the air, with the sky as a backdrop. His feet in the air, with the side of the building as the backdrop. The pavement, inches from his face. The windshield of the taxi cab. He could, for a split second, see the terror on the eyes of the helpless cab driver. From there on, everything was a blur.
Now, desperate to get back to the office, he struggled to get up. Nothing. He moved his feet. Nothing. His brain ordered his legs to move. Nothing. He looked back up into the blue sky and was reminded of Amanda’s eyes. This eased the pain. He would be okay he thought. After all, he had a date.
The rest of Anthony Bastionne’s life was spent in the intersection at Broad and Locust in downtown Philadelphia. He opened his eyes only twice more. Once to acknowledge that he had heard the EMT say that they needed to get him onto a stretcher. Although he imagined that the stretcher was a long, white limousine for he and Amanda. The second time he opened his eyes he saw a beautiful brunette standing off in the crowd. A beautiful brunette with eyes as blue as the vast Texas sky.
seven seagulls abiding time
at my cistern feet
overburned and lucid they
wander like an aimless battalion
pecking and grinning
a ceaseless buzz of churning gobbles and croaks
pancakes of tide and salt water
spread out from the great Deep and
I am left to muse at the wonder of it all.
one blustery day
at Heaven’s well
crunchy sand and billowy plows
dig furrows beneath me
and the seven sisters dance and spew
a garble of lovely charms
swallowing me up in their chivalry
swallowing me up in their gaze.
Why do you trouble yourself in a house that is not your own? Let the sight of a dead man be a teacher for you concerning your departure from hence.
~~St. Isaac the Syrian
The darkness of the night sky slowly began to give way to morning. The once quiet landscape eased into its daily birth pangs as gray, diffused light seeped from the sky – draping everything in it’s dissolving, misty shroud. The secret lives of the night shrunk away into their hiding places as yet another New World awakened. In the distant horizon, the glowing edge of the sun pressed its way up into the red abyss; scorching earth, wind and the sky with firelight. Birds began their morning song, the night chill evaporated, the lone coyote hushed his bellow and Rayne Seymour rolled over in his bed, moaning and nursing the worst hangover of his life. Lying on his back, he slowly cracked an eye, as if the coming sunlight might somehow blind him as judgement for his previous night of selfish debauchery. Rather, as his gaze focused on the tile ceiling, nothing happened. Nothing – the story of his life. His head throbbed with pulsing intensity, filled with crazed half-real, half-dreamed images from the before-mentioned night of revelry. Images of the Crow’s Nest Bar and Grille’s kamikaze shooters, the slurred conversation with one of the Johnson Twins, asking the bartender if he was related to Larry King, and the inevitable nose-dive into the damp grass three blocks from his trailer. He sat up slowly in bed and scratched his arms. As he sat zombie-eyed, a small stream of drool crawling down his chin, the awakening nature outside connected with his nature inside and he rushed, stumbling over a basket of laundry, towards the bathroom. A few painful seconds later and not even both of the Johnson twins covered in rose petals could have lured him away from his porcelain throne.
Rayne Seymour was the biggest disappointment that the town of Eagle Pass, Texas had ever experienced. He was from the wealthiest family in town. He was the best looking boy in town. He was the most talented quarterback to ever grace the field in all of South Texas Division 5A high school football. He was an all around sure thing and, unfortunately, he knew it. Having graduated Salutatorian (only because no teacher had the heart to give him a fair grade), he went to the University of Texas on a full, football/academic scholarship. College life, however, brought the high school hero from celebrity to nobody – and fast. Three months later, Rayne Seymour quit college and headed home: a failure. During his entire life, he knew that he was the best, but he also knew how inadequate he was. Each of us has that secret, personal place where we can go and sit and observe the `real’ us. The facades and masks that we wear are made of glass in this inner sanctum. It was here that Rayne Seymour would spend the rest of his life. Immersed in his own failure, self-pity, and self-hate, Rayne retreated totally from his family, friends and fans and moved out to Shady Grove Trailer Park. Once, while leaving the local drug store with a box of nasal spray and a bag of gummy worms, Rayne overheard two old men gabbing on the front steps of the store.
“Yeah that boy, what a let down!” one old man scoffed as he spit tobacco into an old Pepsi can. “He’s lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.”
The old coot chuckled, nearly choking on his wad of chew. The other codger just grunted and nodded his approval as they both watched Rayne’s back as he crossed the street. He could hear their whispers everywhere he went, see the look of hurt disappointment in the eyes of total strangers, and feel the piercing stab of their stares – as if by some evil scheme, he had single-handedly ruined the entire town. He would never amount to anything, they knew it – and he knew it. He got a job at a plastic factory outside of town, took to drinking beer, seducing drunken sometimes-single moms, and never touched a football again. In fact, he never did anything of significance again, and he believed that he never would. In a few short moments, a cold, early morning baptism would change everything.
Finishing his morning deposit to the septic tank, Rayne stared glassy-eyed into the mirror and brushed his teeth. It was 6:45 and he had to be at work in 20 minutes. He treated his headache with 4 aspirin, got dressed, gave up on combing his hair and donned an old John Deere hat instead, took a swig of warm beer from a can on the table beside his bed and disappeared out the front door into a full blown shower of sunlight. He squinted and used his hand to shade his face from the sun. He closed the door to the truck and started the old engine. It groaned and grunted with modest disapproval before firing up, belching a dark black cloud from the exhaust pipe. He popped the truck in gear, backed down the driveway and peeled out, nearly ramming several mailboxes down the dusty road.
Prove your love and zeal for wisdom in actual deeds.
~~St. Callistus Xanthopoulos
Fanny Mae Lotterhorne had been driving her school bus since two years after graduating from school herself. That was 56 years ago. She was nearly 10 years past the legal age limit according to the Eagle Pass Board of Education, but no one had the heart to fire her. Fanny Mae had lived through more loss than most people read about in a month’s worth of newspapers, and driving her kids to and from school everyday was her life. She had received the Eagle Pass Board of Education’s Most Valuable Employee Award 15 times. She was the Susan B. Anthony of southwest Texas bus drivers. She had single-handedly lobbied the Eagle Pass Board of Education for 5 different pay increases and a benefits package for the district’s drivers. She had also been invited to the Governor’s mansion in Austin four times to receive awards for her dedication to children. For Fanny Mae, this was a morning like any other morning. Like countless times before, she had just picked up the Dewly kids (all seven of them) and was rounding the curve at Eagle Pass Lake. The old dirt road was barely wide enough for two cars to pass without one of them skimming the shoulder. The big yellow bus rumbled along, kicking a massive cloud of dust in her wake.
“MOMMA’S DON’T LET YER BABIES GROW UP TO BE COWBOYS…” Rayne’s scratchy AM radio blared as his old Ford careened along the dusty road. He was leaning back in his seat; hat pulled down, sipping on a cold bud skidding back and forth across the road on his approach to the big curve at Eagle Pass Lake. If he hit the curve at just the right speed, just the right angle, he could fish-tail his truck around the curve, spitting up a terrible storm of dust and gravel, just like the dirt track boys did. He gripped the steering wheel and pressed down on the accelerator.
“Okay now Jesse, that’s quite enough. You let go of Darlene’s hair and sit back down. I don’t want to have to…”
Fanny never finished that sentence. She looked down from her big overhead mirror just in time to see the light blue pickup truck skidding sideways. Her small hands were too weak to turn the big steering wheel any faster than she did, but it was enough to avoid a head on collision. The big lanky bus began to groan and spin gracefully across the road.
Rayne never saw the bus, he was fumbling with a half-smoked cigarette he had dropped in his lap and looked up just in time to see the big words, “Eagle Pass Elementary School” in big black lettering on a yellow background. The front end of the pickup slammed into the side of the school bus with terrifying force. Rayne’s head slammed into the steering wheel and he was thrown sideways into the passenger side floorboard as the truck tipped onto its side. Shattered glass and dirt filled the cab as the truck skidded on its side and stopped against a tree. The bus, already sliding out of control, shook violently when the pickup slammed into its side. Two of the second graders sitting on that side were thrown into the air and slammed into the seats on the opposite end of the bus. Fanny Mae struggled with the wheel, held tightly to her seat by the seat belt, as the bus slipped from the road to the dry brown grass. The back wheel struck a large rock and tipped the old yellow bus onto its side as it slid towards Eagle Pass Lake. The empty morning air was filled with the sound of children screaming, metal scraping rock, shattering glass, and a tremendous splash. The bus bore down into the muddy bottom of the lake, half-submerged in the brown, cloudy water. The inside of the school bus filled quickly with water, the twelve young passengers crying and climbing on top of seats were trying to crawl out the shattered window openings, but the water level inside the bus was about two feet below the windows. Fanny Mae struggled to remove her seat belt as she felt the rising water. Her desperation and shaking hands worked to no avail. She glanced back to see all of her passengers still alive and struggling to stay afloat. The old bus groaned and slid a few inches more into the waters. The water level continued to slowly rise, Fanny Mae’s hands struggled frantically on the stubborn seatbelt as Fanny Mae’s shoulders became submerged. She screamed for help.
Darkness gave way to light and a burning, stinging sensation as Rayne slowly opened his eyes. He was lying in a fetal position, crammed into the passenger side floorboard of his upturned pickup. The old truck had come to rest on the driver’s side against a tree. The cab was covered in glass, dirt and some blood. Rayne let out a loud, long moan as he reached up and took hold of the passenger side door handle, located above his head. Using all of his strength, he pulled himself up and positioned his feet so that he was standing on the driver’s side door. His head throbbed and as he wiped his forehead, he pulled his hand away to find it covered with blood. He gingerly began picking the shards of glass out of the passenger side window so that he could crawl out when he heard the screams.
“Help us! Please, Oh God, the children, Help us! We will all drown!”
His mind raced. Images flew past in his mind; he was coming to Eagle Pass Lake, the burning cigarette, the perfect fishtail, “Eagle Pass Elementary School”, and the crash. Like a gun going off he reached up and grabbed the door handle with one hand. His other hand stretched up and out the window and grabbed the side mirror. With all of his strength he pulled himself up and out. Tiny shards of glass ripped his flannel shirt and cut him down his left side as he wiggled his way through the opening. Across the road he saw the bus, lying on its side, three-quarters submerged in the muddy, brown water.
“Oh Christ!” he thought. “I’m coming, hold on. I’m coming” he yelled across the road.
As soon as he had pulled himself halfway through the window, he lost his balance and fell headlong into the grass. Dazed, he scrambled, only half-conscious to his feet and stumbled across the road towards the bus. The once quiet morning was filled with the muffled cries of children. He stumbled across the road, blood dripping down his cheeks and sides. The last thing he remembered was the refreshing sensation that filled his body as he dove into the water towards the bus.
Nothing endures but change.
~~Heraclitus of Ephesus
As far as anyone could remember, nothing like what happened that morning had ever happened in Eagle Pass before. In 1971, an abandoned barn had burned down after being struck by lightning. In 1983 Mrs. Lamar had slipped in the Jone’s Pharmacy and broke her hip, which brought on Eagle Pass’ first civil law suit – later settled out of court. And now, the crash at Eagle Pass Lake.
The Eagle Pass Daily News read:
Yesterday morning, at the sharp curve at Eagle Pass Lake, Fanny Mae Lotterhorne and her twelve students were nearly killed when an oncoming truck slammed into their school bus. The driver of the truck, identified as Rayne Seymour of Eagle Pass, was speeding and driving while intoxicated, authorities believe. While attempting to avoid the collision, Ms. Lotterhorne lost control of the school bus just as Mr. Seymour’s truck hit the bus broadside. Mr. Seymour’s truck then flipped and came to rest against a tree. The school bus, slid across the road, flipped onto it’s side and landed in the waters of Eagle Pass Lake. Mr. Seymour, cut and bruised, got out of his truck and headed for the water. He single-handedly rescued all twelve children from the submerged bus, including one child who had sustained a broken leg. He was able to pull an unconscious Fanny Mae Lotterhorne from her driver’s seat and performed rudimentary CPR until she regained consciousness. This incident is still being investigated by local authorities. When troopers arrived on the scene, they found Mr. Seymour unconscious, surrounded by the terrified, shivering students. Mr. Seymour is being held in the Eagle Pass City Jail and is expected to post bond this afternoon. Mixed emotions of gratitude and anger are spreading throughout the town. One local man, outside the Drug Store was quoted, “Yeah I know that boy. He was the star quarterback that quit his scholarship and school. I seen him nearly everyday of his life. Never been the same since coming back from college. Why he’s jumpy all right. As jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”
It’s in the
Finding the warm
Flesh of your
Toes under the
Covers of my
“I saw the whole goddamned thing!” He thought, staring at the ground.
He stared so intently; such vivid concentration on nothing, he wondered if he’d ever look up again. He thought that maybe, before people went catatonic, that they just started staring at something, and got so involved in whatever it was, that they found it was impossible to look at anything else. Even long after the object was
gone. So here he was, standing in the middle of the sidewalk, head down, shoulders slumped, dressed in jeans and T-shirt, staring at the pavement like a stone.
“Look up! Look up you dumbass! Pick up your head and move! Move!”
No chance, he thought. In the distant, as though through a long tunnel, he heard a few screams, commotion, wind. He traced a crack in the sidewalk with his eyes. He watched aimlessly as the crack grew and grew, until it appeared as a giant canyon. And he was falling. Falling into a dark, smelly canyon. He reached out his arms, trying to stop his fall. He glanced over and saw the walls of the canyon. They were greasy and covered with faces. Hundreds of thousands of faces. He blinked, rubbed his eyes. All of the faces were the same. All of them staring at him. Screaming. Some of them only had one eye. There was a red, dark hole where the other eye belonged; and even its emptiness looked as if it were staring.
“Sir. Your name please? Sir, can you hear me?”
Farther and farther he fell into the summoning abyss. Tumbling end over end into the crack in the concrete. The farther he fell the more eyeless faces he saw. Each one more grotesque that the others. More red. Soon everything was red. He looked at his hands and they were red, the morbid faces on the greasy, canyon walls, his clothes, the ground, the sky, all red. The wind even appeared to be red.
“Sir! YOUR NAME PLEASE! I AM ASKING YOU FOR THE LAST TIME!”
With a jerking pulse he stopped falling. But the ground was still far, far below him. He lay, in the sky, suspended, surrounded by the horrid, one-eyed bloody faces. Bloody? The red was blood. It was everywhere. On his hands, his shirt, his jeans, the canyon walls, the faces – each one the same. He could smell it. An acrid meaty smell. Mixed with sulfur. He could taste it too. Salty and rich. He floated in mid air, in the canyon, in the crack on the sidewalk.
“I must be swimming in it. Swimming in all this blood. Those one-eyed faces are flooding everything.”
His stomach turned. Twisted and aching. At the bottom of the canyon he saw a green van. A bumper sticker on the back read “Clinton, Kiss my ass!” It was idling. Two men sat in the van and they looked out the windows up at him. They pointed and laughed. One of the men only had four fingers on one hand. They both pointed and laughed. As they laughed, blood spilled from their mouths. He could see that one of them had really bad teeth. They laughed at the one-eyed faces on the canyon walls too. Screamed and laughed. One of the men shouted, “Hey fag! Eat this!”
“Sir! Do you know where you are? What is your name?”
Soon he was flying again. This time, he was flying back up through the canyon. He flew up so fast that his stomach lurched inside him and he vomited. As he did, he heard singing. It was Paul. His friend. The one-eyed faces were also singing.
“I never ever saw the northern lights,
never really heard of cluster flies,
never ever saw the stars so bright,
in the farmhouse things’ll be alright”
The whole world seemed to sing and the canyon, the greasy, blood-stained, one-eyed faces grew smaller and smaller. More singing.
“Woke this morning to the stinging lash,
every man rise from the ash.
Every betrayal begins with trust.
Every man returns to dust.”
The canyon was gone, a siren flew by, the sidewalk had turned red. The bloody trickles filled in the crack and ran towards the curb. Slowly, he looked up.
“They killed him.” He muttered in a cold monotone. “I saw the whole goddamned thing. They drove right up and shot him in the face. This is his blood all over me. They shot him right in the face. Drove up and plucked him right off the street. My name is Darrin. Darrin Scott.”
And he fell into the officer’s arms.
**Song lyrics are Farmhouse by Phish**
Maybe I’ll just stop the car right here in the middle of this fucking interstate. Just slam on the brakes, lay the seat back, cross my arms over my chest, lie back and wait. All of this seems like a splendid idea until I get to the “wait” part. What am I waiting for? Am I waiting for you to notice me? Am I waiting for me to give up on you? Maybe I’m waiting for a big airplane, flying at 35,000 feet, to lose control of it’s luggage door and inadvertently spill out a custom made Louis Vuitton leather tote; which, after tumbling 35,000 feet, lands squarely on the roof of my car, hopefully tearing it like gravel through wet toilet paper and impaling me like a Martini olive? Maybe? One can only hope. Either way, goddamnit, I’m going to slam on the brakes and stop this car right here in the middle of traffic. I really don’t care. I stopped caring ages ago. Or maybe I started caring ages ago and you stopped. Either way, this is one fine and dandy cotton candy mess you rolled us up into now.
I feel like a few fringe tobacco leaves hanging out of that nasty cigarette in your mouth; about to be burned. Burned to crisp. Burned so that you can shake the shakes bitch. I can see your hands trembling. Greasy fingernails and all. Maybe if I slam on the brakes hard enough you’ll swallow that weed. Choke on the ashes. Maybe you’ll hit your forehead on the dashboard and snap out of it. Or you might get knocked crazy. I think you’re going crazy already to be totally honest. I don’t mean “gimme another hit of Prozac, Doc” crazy. No. I’m talking rip off your clothes and run up the hillside by the highway naked and squat down in a patch of moss and throw your own shit at passing cars kind of crazy. Oh, I’m the crazy one?
Sometimes I see big black spots you know. I’ll be walking around town or bending over to pick up a penny off the sidewalk and BAM! Dots. Big, black slimy blotchy dots. Looks like I’m staring at the world through a piece of Swiss cheese. And you know, after spending all these years with you, I feel like Swiss cheese. I feel like a big, dumb, gullible hunk of Swiss cheese. Ever get a hankerin’ for a hunk o’ cheese? When your ten-gallon hat is feelin’ five gallons flat? Yeah, like that. Why are you laughing at me? I’m dead serious. I’m gonna stop this fucking car right here in the middle of the street. I don’t care. Well I know it’s stupid and pointless, just like the rest of my life. But.
You know, it’s been so long since I’ve heard you laugh. Why do you have to be such an ass? Sometimes I don’t see your face; I see this big hairy ass sitting on your shoulders. Ever seen an ass smile? It’s really disgusting. And that’s not funny. I’m serious. If that luggage doesn’t flatten me soon, you’ll be laughing your way to a fucking nudist funny farm. I’ve already ordered you a nice white butterfly net. Did you know your eyes literally sparkle when you laugh? They do. Like diamonds. Of course sometimes, they look like they’ve been glued to a big hairy, smiling ass. I’m crazy? Yeah, well, maybe I am.
“You can’t catch `em that way.” She muttered with that sly smile only Grandmothers can muster.
“Oh yes I can!” I argued, defiantly.
“Suit yourself then, but them hush puppies and fries ain’t gonna taste right without a fish to put on your plate. Why do you have to be…? What’s that word you like to use? Obsessive?” She snickered, as her pole bent fiercely – another fish.
Score for Grandma – 5. Score for me – goose egg!
“Listen Grandma. I know how to fish. I mean, there is no way the fish are gonna go after a worm that’s just lying there on the bottom. It’ll probably just get buried in all the mud. Worms wiggle you know! I like for mine to wiggle.”
I stood there on the edge of the dock, shaking my fishing pole every which way but still. I was hoping to give the worm a life-like appeal deep in the muddy depths, all the while watching her old hands unhook another four or five pounder. She was leaning against the railing, donning some faded blue jeans (Grandmas in blue jeans should rule the world) and a white T-shirt that read “World’s Greatest Grandma.” It looked like a thousand craft stores just up and vomited all over her shirt, but she loved it. It was her favorite. I gave it to her.
“Why aren’t these god damned fish biting!” I belched.
“Michael Cowan! What on earth did you just say? You know better than to talk that way! When we get back, I am washing your mouth out with soap.” She huffed, giving me that exasperated Grandma look.
“Grandma, I’m 24 years old…” (I’m 37 now.)
“I don’t care if you’re 54 years old. I ain’t gonna have talkin’ like that on my pond, it scares the fish away”
We stood there in silence, fishing. My bait, dancing like a drunkened fool on a mucky stage; hers being gobbled up just as soon as she could get it stilled in the water. I peeped over my shoulder, pretending to be looking at the trees, and glanced at her. Her eyes were squinting in the bright afternoon sun. Her wrinkled hands remained as strong as they were at 18. Her bucket was swarming with fresh catfish. I glanced down at my bucket; just a few pine needles floating around in the brown water. At that moment she became the coolest person alive. She was wearing a pair of Tevas I had given her for Christmas and she loved them. I knew she loved them because she wore them all the time. Well, at least every time I saw her she was wearing them. She muttered something under her breath; probably reliving an argument she had had with my Grandpa earlier that morning about who was going to go out and get the paper…at 4am! My grandma had always been such a big part of my life. Never took a vacation without her. Never had a Christmas without her. The greatest thrill of any summer, was being at her farm, standing on the dock fishing for supper. As I admired her strength, love, beauty, wisdom, I felt a tingle on my hand. Then another. In my thoughts, I had forgotten keep my bait on the move.
“Silly old broad was right…again!” I thought just as I glanced back to see the bobber slip under the surface of the water.
As I reeled in my first catch of the day, I saw my grandma’s face in the rippling reflection. It was a smile. A sly smile that only Grandmothers can muster.
I don’t usually post video/music. In fact, I never do. But I can’t say never because now I’m posting one. And only one. My band is called Radiolucent. Think Southern Rock, Country, Soul music.
Mike Mann wrote this song, and we were playing at a little dive called The Nick in Birmingham Alabama. Wretched little place, but still pretty cool. Anyways, someone recorded this video and here it is. (That’s me on piano in the hat.)
the night was heavy and dark
like stone air descending through
our lambent slanted windows.
you jerked and rolled about
in your sleep, dubiously you
rattled off strung-out demon
words and whispers. what sort
of wrathful spirit sunk his miserable
talons into your shoulders? you collided
with an empty evening reaching
out with sleep stained hands for
faces that weren’t there.
“Who is cooking in the kitchen?” were the
last words spilled before you were
heaved back into blackness.
all I could do was watch and pray;
forsaken, impotent, and unfit. like
dying, we’re forced to meet sleep alone.
lie down for me and
wink in that way that
makes me squint in
your eye light. fill me
with last years’
chocolate and i will fill you
seven days straight
with not a soul in sight.
girl, let me impart to you
all things pink and red and
tender. and with hot fingered
glass i will shred these
tissue papered sheets
in search of your perfect rose.
heart candy lips read:
dusk falls and she blooms
this side of v-day.
today shone of your eyes, dizzy with
cloudless blue, blemished by our one
sun blister bouncing on horizons.
while brown fingers poked holes
in the crystal sky. she tilted her head
and smiled, sun specks spiraling
in her eyes, and with a wave of the
hands, and a lilt in the leap, she
kissed Winter goodbye.
You came to me a tempest.
Blonde sunshine bronzed in a
Furnace of sweet summer-kissed skin.
I succumbed to you; to the wafting
Of your desire drenched flowers. To
The enchantment of rose petal lips.
We swam deep, didn’t we? Limbs and
Laughs intertwined in August dances
Under a blood red moon. We drank
Life’s bitter brew deeply, letting the
Sharp poison of passion mingle with the
Blood and water within that simply
Wasn’t ours to shed. Yet, we cut, and
Bled out right there in the shadows of
Secret love. And as forbidden as a Capulet
And Montague we stole away into Lust’s
Darkest evening. Sweet Luna hid her face
As our bodies, plucked from the Tree of
Knowledge of Good and Evil, were eaten
In hidden haste. Tonight, as you dream against
Another’s arm, I am confronted with the heart
Prick of all swell tragedies. Before you press
The glass of hemlock to your lips, I will disappear,
In a mist of sorrow and joy and fear and love.
This love, tender and tumultuous, will electrify your
Wicks and burn you fully at both ends. It
Is an insatiable crave molded in deep caverns
By hands of honest deceit. It yearns to
Satisfy and destroy. Sanctify and rot.
But you, my dear, my angel, my clipped-winged
Robin will not perish on my account. You must
Gather your brood and fly to a nest of sweet
Shade that I simply can no longer muster.
‘Twas truly better to have loved and lost
You, than to have never felt the burn of
Such sweet summer-kissed skin against mine.
Look my Love! My muse! Our tired sun
Has passed over the Tropic and Autumn
Has arrived. Now fly. Fly. Fly. Fly. Away.
Between these lines we will meet
You and I, captivated by the pause,
The breath, the heat, then the kiss.
With expressions obscure I will allure you;
Staging a coup of conscience within your
Heart. Yes, even steel fortresses buckle
And fall under the weight of words so sublime.
What hole can you dig deep enough to escape
The winds of my thoughts for you; what ocean
Will bear you up against the storms of this love?
Will God save your soul from my passion,
Resurrected again, after three days in the dark?
Will His hands hold you up when all my
Sordid desires are spent to drag you down?
Will your rescuer from this love arrive in time
Or will He relinquish you to me. Bereft.
A hardened heart, seasoned for naught.
Methinks yours shall soon be mine.
You are not alone in this.
You are not alone anymore.
With a hand made soft by Winter, I will
Snatch you away from Him. Not for
Eternity. Simply for tonight.
Your will subdued and aligned
with a wretch like me. Fret not
My love for what He and His oceans
Failed to do; I will bear you up over me.
And never again will you know
The sting of want.