We owe it to one another, whatever it is on our minds. Lately, I keep thinking I’ve found my singing voice and every time it is like turning on an electric shaver and feeling smooth and clean in the mirror. It’s an interesting feeling, singing. Your voice is a hidden arrangement of singing organs, a wind-up mechanism in a box, your smallest muscles and an air balloon. You straighten your back and the front-and-center of you toys at the sensations of itself, it takes something like the fingers on a violin to touch a vocal cord, and then not even. Your voice moves when you sing, but it doesn’t go anywhere, it radiates, it doesn’t dance. Singing is so powerful you can do it on the curb and passersby will unconsciously be compelled to hand you a dollar bill. Singing touches an audience because it strikes within us a natural expression that we are all physically capable of attempting. Don’t fret about the nervousness, if the nervousness excites you. Use your voice to show to them that you have a divine understanding of exactly who you are and what you are prepared to add to the environment you are singing in. Do it because you just cleared your throat, because there’s some tricks you’ll learn, because it’ll make you rich in a cheesily-metaphorical way, because you’ve been practicing for no reason, because it puts the shiny on soap bubbles, because you’re a rock star and doing it’s just passing the news.
I feel absolutely withered and flaking at the edges, like a dead leaf with a cigarette butt put out in the center of it. If you were to tell me, “We are defined by what we make” then I am certainly a mound of fallen hairs and skin rashes. My brain is lopsided and swollen irregularly, my neck does not know what is perpendicular from what is the ground. My entire body is a wide-cast net out in the ocean and the only things it has picked up are used diapers, chip bags, and car exhaust. I’ve got a story to tell, a story in me, and it comes out as wretched coughing. Self-belief is self-made, it’s an outfit you wear. You can go home and you can read a book or you can leave and stare down a cloud, and who can tell which muscle has atrophied, giving one activity up for the other? Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me. My soul is a compost heap, and it needs turning. Warn your children about me tomorrow, the day I take my dust to the street to make my bed with it and sleep in it. Pull my wings up under the lamplight, make them burn and fan their own flames; let them smoke up and up and put them out on the concrete ashtray, I don’t mind — I never had wings, anyway.
Whoever crammed so much fucking resonance into the phrase “…and no one said a word” had to have been an awkward and reaching melodramatist to point out a thing like silence, where so many soliloquys play out at once like radios all tuned to different stations but all with the volume turned down. There are so many episodes where no one said a word. We think no one out there understands how we’re such stimulated people, that’s why we talk so much. We want everyone to know our brains work, we’re afraid that they can’t tell that our brains work. Afraid they don’t care that we think. I want you to take that for granted, I want us to take for granted that so much magic happens in our little skulls. I want you to enjoy quietly perching sometimes. Try silence and, if this applies to you, try enjoying it without a cigarette. Realize a smoker is just a jittery fellow in a confused relationship with the act of breathing. Out on the road, with my family, that is the quietest. The highway carries its own conversation, points its own way through us. I tend to fall asleep on road trips, as if to withhold attention from the limelight hogging road. I prefer to simply wake up at my destination, always — well, what a lazy motherfucker, you’re probably thinking, which is agreeable. We look for ways to keep the vastness of the imagination alive. My eyes black out behind my eye lids as a way of reaching out into space. How can we speak without pointing? There’s got to be something there if you’re pointing. Some general ideas came together and one of them asked the group “What can kill you or save you and you can see it and hear it and feel it but you can’t touch it, you can shape it with any limb or tool, it rules rules, it marks marks, it signifies signs, it…” and the guy just went on and on with the premise to the riddle and everyone knew the answer but no one said a word.
Don’t make complaints, make demands! (Karma) compels you to proofread its rough draft. Remember when we were children and waiting on a small knick or wound, because we coveted the band-aid? What a rotten vanity! Then instead of waiting on the knick or wound, wore the band-aid anyway. When we become old, our skin starts wrinkling and we hope the folds will tell some kind of story, for fear of appearing ugly for it. I want to pay you a gift equal to the one you have given me, but yours was spontaneous and so what am I expected to do? There is no greater gift than the moment, no greater property. If our very first orgasm was the mark of losing our virginity, we would nearly all have lost our virginity to ourselves. In French, you can call it ‘the little death’. There’s a light in you, and it is the light at the end of my tunnel. In a Russian doll scenario one of us has got to be the container of containers within the other. We are altogether in a state of compulsory psychiatric service. I am talking teamwork, here. We are the parts that the bulletproof vest covers, and that it does not cover. Would it not be a little interesting to find out that there is a God but this God has nothing to do with us humans or our history? Perhaps that this God is in the form of a fungus, or that this God actually created dolphins on the Sixth Day? And when God’s chosen dolphins swam about the garden of Eden, God asked them to name every plant and animal, but the dolphins gave them all the same name — which is e-e-e-e-e-e, the sound of their laughing. And then God laughed, too. And saw that it was good.
Everyone has roles to play in various situations. When I am in a conversational situation, my role is to play the Bringer Of Irrelevant Information Into The Mix. Maybe the phenomenon is that most people have a hunchy gut understanding of precisely what a discussion’s objective is — and I don’t. But, I mean, how many different types of butterfly can you catch? Maybe the possibility of the net is wider, less distinguishing. Maybe this net is so wide it can’t even possibly be crafted and labeled Butterfly Net. Maybe its lost itself in some flesh foregone ubiquitous encompassing. Maybe the net is completely invisible, due to its vastness. What do you do with it? That there are no rules proves to be the most difficult rule to master.
What can I tell you about a thing like love? I can tell you all of the steps: waking up with your head aimed in the right direction, slow gestures with a prowling affection, painting life into the ear with powdered breaths beneath the awning of night, smiles in parallel, and the Houston skyline. All of the steps, and then perhaps your mind’s palm touches something green enough to take the idea and spread the idea of green in all of the world that you are touching and will touch in the constant accident of being. What can I tell you about a thing like love? It is a daily meditation, when quiet. When you are away from your lover you can still practice the deserving of love, practice being qualified to give love. Imagine an aquarium, fat glass barriers radiating, on the other side water-born animals, slow as if feeling, shimmery scaled bags of muscle suspended by choice altitudes. Imagine the irritating thickness of the glass tank walls. Imagine in your strong hand a hefty pickaxe. Imagine your confrontation with the aquarium tank. Imagine striking the glass with the pickaxe, just to strike it — and for what its worth if you can imagine the complete idiot surprise as salt water sprays out from the tank wall, and a flood of sea life drops in engorgeous waves over your dumbfounded body — that’s what I can tell you about a thing like love — a reckless curiosity, a slippery tragedy, and topplingly too much. By principle, I would not touch her. But she trajected the missile of her body to my lips one afternoon by the window of a tea house — and, of course, in the typical extravagance of love, I exploded. Toe to scalp, kind of thing, hairs jutting like balled lightning. My loins raised like an army, deployed like an army, marched through the thick and thin of her like an army, fought for her honor like an army. Some minutes I lean on a flat surface and my tear ducts kind of fold over into the basin of my stomach, because love is an exercise in helplessness. Her health is fragile, her hands tiny, her feet are their own glass slippers. In the nighttime hours when we are apart her mind races in an Acme desert, fluttering near to far alongside chaos. What can I tell you about a thing like love? It leaves dust. The dust of anything is literally the small bits of it that the body has shed away: stardust, pixie dust, the old dusty road is really a record of its travelers. All of that personal icky dust you sweep under the rug — the parts of you you’re in a habit of hiding, the boogers and the cheetos and the dirty laundry and the little mistakes you still remember you made that make you even now want to bite your own teeth — together you can crawl underneath the rug with a flashlight making scary flashlight faces and cuddling like giggly piggies in a green pasture of warm airborne fuzzies, and together you can construct this womb, you can expose the still-brilliant child within you and be a better lover for it, because what I can tell you about a thing like love is that in a world of falsely advertised no risk guarantees you can plan like hell for it and then laugh at your own plans together while tripping on each others feet while your dancing in your bedroom together while rocking on the teetered weight of your never ending clumsiness together. The dust of love you’ll find in strands of hair on the pillow, in once-familiar scents of foreign places, in tiny messenger pigeons sailing after her like prayers believed-in, in tethery trails in rows of particular-residue glowing illiterately, always threatening the flip-switch in you that refuses to stop putting it into words.
This is a loose-ness:
"A furry white rabbit was eating her sandwich last Tuesday, and thus began my sentence," wrote the furry white rabbit’s rabbit lover, who was a local musician and occasional blog-writer, but never took any of it too seriously, at least not to his furry love, but who knows? Maybe one day, — and on that day, and hopefully by accident (all romance is accidental) — he’ll take that transformation like a coin and flip on it some, instead of strung out on LSD, incidentally as he is, figuring out common twenty-five-year-old human things like how to masturbate only because it feels good and not because it makes for anything interesting to write about.
Of all my life’s curses, gravity was first.
It’s about believing in your ideas — actually having feeling for them, and such. It’s about cultivating a sense of deliberation. It’s about critique. It’s about pitting taste against talent. It’s about testing your taste against your creative capability. It’s about constructing a home with the impetus — feeding, warming, romancing, that kind of thing. It’s about staying in for breakfast-in-bed with your impetus. But it’s not about trusting yourself.
Why do you want to speak when you do not yet know your place in the world? You can’t know your place in the world. Speaking is only one form of mis-communication. You speak because it feels good, lapping that tongue against your teeth, like french kissing the image of you, the image that you are portraying at that very moment, just moving — moving the lips, shaking the throat, warm air or cigarette fume rolling out, fat tongue, firm tongue, tickling yourself for whatever comes out. Your lips lean back, your tongue crosses its legs, your esophagus smokes a stogie. My, my, what a character, that mouth.
I squeaked my brakes at the intercom at the drive-through.
"Blah, blah, blah, how can I help you?"
"Number 4, please, no pickles. Now, don’t mess it up because last time there was pickles."
"Will that complete your order?"
"Dude, I’m serious. About the pickles."
"Not a problem, sir."
"Say, do you have to pay for your food when you get it here?"
"What? Yeah, you have to pay." (Like, duh.)
"No, I mean do YOU have to pay? Or is the food free?"
"Oh, well I get like a little discount, sure, but not free."
He’s still talking to me through the little voice-box, this loud scratchy voice, I think the speakers were turned up too loud or something.
"Say, man, have you eaten yet? Let me buy your meal today, call it like a tip or something."
"Aw, that’d be great." Doesn’t miss a beat, what a humble guy.
We complete the transaction, I let him take his order and drive through to the window. I bet the guy’s baked. He’s the kind of guy that should probably shave his mustache, because it doesn’t really work for his face.
"That’ll be $$$."
"Hey, dude, before I pay, I want to check the bag to make sure the order’s right. Is that okay? Can I do that, huh?"
"You want to check the bag before you pay?"
"Yeah, yeah. I just— let me have a look at the sandwich.. I want to make sure there’s no pickles."
He pauses. Nearly an awkward silence, what am I supposed to do, smile? He hands me the bag and instead of checking what’s in it, I just drive off without paying.
I know, I know, I’m a terrible person. But, thinking about the drive-through tender I can imagine when reporting to the manager he would describe the hit-and-run as if I had run off with the order in its entirety — including the meal he’d ordered for himself, on my tab (consider it still open!) and ate whatever it is he thought he was getting.
"This sandwich is greasy. Oh, look, it splits in half!"
"When I was driving home just now I started thinking maybe all this time, I’ve been driving for twelve years, maybe I never knew how to drive in the first place. And want to know what happened?"
"Can’t talk, I’m chewing."
"I, immediately, forgot how to drive. I was just, like, ‘Does this wheel TURN? Or something?’ And so I’m like swerving out of control and these two dudes are crossing the road to get to the bar and as I pass them they, like, KICK my car. And I hit the breaks (the whole forgetting how to drive thing was over pretty quick), and I get out of the car and I yell at them, but not like ‘Hey!’ or anything not even ‘hey’, I just yell, I’m like screaming no words at them like I was going to fight them. Then I just stopped and sat back in my car, thinking what am I kidding me?"
"Did you just say, ‘What am I kidding me’?"
"Jesus, c’mon. Look. I got pickles in my order."